Parsifal - Operntext in English

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015
PARSIFAL
OPERNTEXT in ENGLISH



'Parsifal - Ritter des Grals'
© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015

ACT I

Scene 1

In the domain of the Grail
Forest, shady and solemn but not gloomy
Rocky soil. A clearing in the centre. On the left a path rises to the castle. The background slopes down in the centre to a deep-set forest lake.
Daybreak. Gurnemanz (elderly but vigorous) and two youthful squires are lying asleep under a tree. From the left, as if from the castle, sounds a solemn reveille on trombones.

GURNEMANZ:
(waking and rousing the squires)

Ho there! You guardians of the woods,
or rather guardians of sleep,
at least wake at morn!

(The two squires leap up)

Do you hear the call? Give thanks to God
that you are called to hear it!

(He sinks to his knees with the squires
and joins them in silent morning prayer;
as the trombones cease they slowly rise)

Now up, my children! See to the bath.
It is time to await the King there.



I see the heralds already approaching
in advance of the litter bearing him.

(Two knights enter)

Greetings to you! How fares Amfortas today?
Right early does he seek the bath:
I assume the healing herb that Gawain
won for him by craft and daring
has brought him some relief?

2ND KNIGHT:
You assume this, you who know all?
His pain soon returned
even more searingly:
sleepless from his grievous infirmity,
he eagerly bade us prepare the bath.

GURNEMANZ:
(sadly bowing his head)

We are fools to hope for relief
when only recovery can relieve him!
Search and hunt far and wide through the world
for every simple, every potion,
there is but one thing can help him
only one man!

2ND KNIGHT:
Tell us who he is!

GURNEMANZ:
(evasively)

See to the bath!

(The two squires, who have returned to the background, look off right)

2ND SQUIRE:
See there, the wild rider!

1ST SQUIRE:
Hey!
How the mane of her devil's mare is flying!

2ND KNIGHT:
Ha! Is Kundry there?

1ST KNIGHT:
She must be bringing momentous news!

2ND SQUIRE:
The mare is staggering.

1ST SQUIRE:
Has she flown through the air?

2ND SQUIRE:
She is crawling over the ground.

1ST SQUIRE:
And her mane is sweeping the moss.

(They all eagerly look off right)

2ND SQUIRE:
The wild woman has flung herself off.

2ND SQUIRE:
The wild woman has flung herself off!

(Kundry rushes in, almost staggering. She is in wild garb, her skirts tucked up by a snakeskin girdle with long hanging cords; her black hair is loose and dishevelled, her complexion deep ruddy-brown, her eyes dark and piercing, sometimes flashing widly, more often lifeless and staring. She hurries to Gurnemanz and presses on him a small crystal phial.)




KUNDRY:
Here! Take this! Balsam...

GURNEMANZ:
Whence have you brought this?

KUNDRY:
From farther away than you can imagine.
Should the balsam not help,
then Arabia hides
nothing more to heal him.
Ask no further. I am weary.

(She throws herself on the ground)
(A train of squires and knights appears from the left, carrying and escorting the litter on which lies Amfortas. Gurnemanz has at once turned from Kundry to the approaching company.)

GURNEMANZ:
(as the train appears)

He is coming, they are bringing him along.
Alas! How it grieves my heart
to see the Liege Lord of a conquering race
in the pride and flower of his manhood
fall a slave to his sickness!

(to the squires)

Carefully! Hear! The king groans.

(The squires halt and set down the litter)

AMFORTAS:
(raising himself a little)

That will do! I thank you. A brief rest.
After a night of wild distress,
now the woodland splendour of morning!
In the holy lake
may the waters refresh me,
ease my anguish
and brighten my night of pain.
Gawain!

2ND KNIGHT:
My lord, Gawain did not stay;
For when the power of his healing herb,
won as it was with such difficulty,
yet disappointed your hope,
he set forth at once upon a new search.

AMFORTAS:
Without permission! He will have to atone
for flaunting the Grail's command!
Ah, woe to him, that defiant bold spirit,
should he fall into Klingsor's snares!
Let none thus disturb my peace!
I await the one appointed to me:
"enlightened through compassion"
was that not it?

GURNEMANZ:
So you told us.

AMFORTAS:
"The innocent fool!"
It seems to me that I know him:
would that I might name him as Death!

GURNEMANZ:
(handing Kundry's phial to Amfortas)

But first try once more with this!

AMFORTAS:
(examining it)

Whence came this strange vessel?

GURNEMANZ:
It was brought you from Arabia.

AMFORTS:
And who obtained it?

GURNEMANZ:
There she lies, the wild woman.
Up, Kundry! Come!

(Kundry refuses and remains on the ground.)

AMFORTAS:
You, Kundry?
Have I to thank you again,
you restless, timorous maid?
Well then!
I will try your balsam now:
let this be thanks for your devotion.

KUNDRY:
(writhing uneasily on the ground)

No thanks! Ha, ha! How will that help?
No thanks! Away to the bath!

(Amfortas gives the signal to move on. The procession passes into the far background. Gurnemanz, gazing sadly after it, and Kundry, remains still; stretched on the ground. Squires come and go.)

3RD SQUIRE:
(a young man)

Hey, you there!
Why do you lie there like a wild beast?

KUNDRY:
Are not beasts holy here?

3RD SQUIR:
Yes, but whether you are holy
we don't yet know.

4TH SQUIRE:
(likewise a young man)

With her magic balm, I fancy,
she'll wholly undo our master.

GURNEMANZ:
Hm! Did she ever harm you?
When you all stood perplexed,
not knowing how, and scarcely even where,
to send tidings to our brothers
fighting in far-off lands,
who, before you can even ponder,
rushes and flies there and back,
bearing the message faithfully and successfully?
You do not support her, she never approaches you,
she has nothing in common with you;
yet when help is wanted in danger,
her zeal speeds her through the air,
and she never looks to you for thanks.
I say if this be harm,
it works out well for you.

3RD SQUIRE:
But she hates us: just see
how balefully she glares at us!

4TH SQUIRE:
She's a heathen, a sorceress.

GURNEMANZ:
Yes, she may be under a curse.
She lives here now perhaps reincarnated,
to expiate some sin
from an earlier life
not yet forgiven there.
Now she makes atonement by such deeds
as benefit out knightly order;
she has done good, beyond all doubt,
serving us and thereby helping herself.

3RD SQUIRE:
Then perhaps it was this guilt of hers
which brought upon us such dire distress?

GURNEMANZ:
(recollecting)

Yes, when she remained for long away from us,
misfortune indeed befell us.
I have known her a long time,
but Titurel has known her longer yet.
While he was building the castle there,
he found her asleep in the undergrowth in the wood,
numb, lifeless as if dead.
So I myself again lately found her
shortly after we had suffered that misfortune
which that evildoer beyond the mountains
brought upon us in such shame.

(to Kundry)

Ho, you! Listen and say:
Whereabouts were you roaming
when our master lost the Spear?

(Kundry is gloomily silent)

Why did you not help us then?

KUNDRY:
I never help.

4TH SQUIRE:
She says so herself.

3RD SQUIRE:
If she is so true, so bold in daring,
then send her after the missing Spear!

GURNEMANZ:
(gloomily)

That is quite different:
it is forbidden to all.

(with deep emotion)

O wondrous-wounding
hallowed Spear!
I saw thee wielded
by unhallowed hand!

(absorbed in recollection)

All too daring Amfortas, thus armed,
who could have prevented you
from vanquishing the sorcerer?
Hard by the keep our hero was drawn away:
a woman of fearsome beauty bewitched him;
in her arms he lay intoxicated,
letting fall the Spear.
A deathly cry! I rushed in:
Klingsor, laughing, was vanishing from there,
having stolen the holy Spear.
Fighting, I guarned the king's flight;
but a wound burned him in the side;
this wound it is which never will heal.

(The 1st and 2nd Squires return from the lake.)

3RD SQUIRE:
(to Gurnemanz)

Then you know Klingsor?

GURNEMANZ:
(to the two returning squires)

How fares the King?

1ST SQUIRE:
The bath has refreshed him.

2ND SQUIRE:
The balsam eased the pain.

GURNEMANZ:
(to himself)

This wound it is which never will heal!

3RD SQUIRE:
But father, speak and tell us plainly:
you knew Klingsor, how could that be?

(The 3rd and 4th squires have already sat down at Gurnemanz's feet; the other two join them under the great tree.)

GURNEMANZ:
Titurel, the godly hero,
knew him well.
For to him, when savage foes' craft and might
threatened the realm of the faith,
the Saviour's angel messengers
once came down in holy solemn night:
the sacred vessel, the precious holy Cup
from which He drank at the last love-feast,
in which too His divine blood flowed from the Cross,
and with it that same Spear which shed it
the supremely wondrous wealth of these treasured witnesses
they gave into our King's charge.
For these holy relics he built this sanctuary.
You who were called to its service
by paths denied to sinners,
you know that it is given
only to the pure to become one of the brothers
to whom the Grail's mighty power grants
the strength to work divine salvation.
Therefore it was forbidden to Klingsor, of whom
you ask, though he expended much effort on it.
Yonder in the valley he lived secluded;
beyond lies a rich heathen land:
I never knew of what sin he was guilty there,
but he then wished to atone and indeed become sanctified.
Powerless to stifle the sin within him,
on himself he laid dastardly hands
which he then turned towards the Grail,
from which its guardian drove him out in scorn.
At which, wrath taught Klingsor
how his deed of shameful sacrifice
could give him knowledge of evil magic;
this he now found.
He transformed the desert into a magic garden
in which bloomed women of infernal beauty;
there he awaits the knights of the Grail
to lure them to sinful joys and hell's damnation:
he gains control of those he entices;
full many of us has he ruined.
When Titurel, much burdened with age,
had conferred sovereignty on his son,
Amfortas could not wait
to subdue this plague of sorcery.
You know what happened there;
the spear is now in Klingsor's hands:
if he can wound even a holy man with it,
he fancies the Grail already firmly his!

(Kundry has been turning violently back and forth in furious agitation.)

4TH SQUIRE:
Before all else now, the spear must be ours again!

GURNEMANZ:


Before the looted sanctuary
Amfortas lay in fervent prayer,
anxiously imploring some sign of salvation:
a blessed radiance emanated from the Grail;
a holy vision
clearly spoke to him
this message in words of fire:
"Enlightened through compassion,
the innocent fool;
wait for him,
the appointed one".

THE FOUR SQUIRES:
(deeply moved)

"Enlightened through compassion,
the innocent fool..."

(From the lake are heard shouts and cries from the knights and squires.)

KNIGHTS and SQUIRES:
Alas! Alas! Hoho!
Up! Who is the miscreant?

(Gurnemanz and the four squires start up and turn in alarm. A wild swan flutters unsteadily from over the lake. The swan, after a laboured flight, falls to the ground exhausted; the 2nd knight draws an arrow from its breast.)




Parsifal and the Swan


GURNEMANZ:
What is it?

4TH SQUIRE:
There!

3RD SQUIRE:
Here!

2ND SQUIRE:
A swan!

4TH SQUIRE:
A wild swan!

3RD SQUIRE:
It's wounded!

ALL KNIGHTS and SQUIRES:
Alas! Alas!

GURNEMAN:
Who shot the swan?

1ST KNIGHT:


The king hailed it as a happy omen
when the swan circled over the lake;
then an arrow flew...

SQUIRES and KNIGHTS:


It was he! He shot it! Here's his bow!
Here's the arrow, like his.

GURNEMANZ:
(to Parsifal)

Are you the one who killed this swan?

PARSIFAL:
Indeed! Whatever flies I can hit in flight!

GURNEMANZ:
You did this? And you're not worried by the deed?

SQUIRES and KNIGHTS:
Punish the offender!

GURNEMANZ:
Unprecedented act!
You could murder, here in the holy forest,
where tranquil peace surrounded you?
Did not the woodland beasts tamely come near
and innocently greet you as friends?
What did the birds sing to you from the branches?
What harm did that faithful swan do you?
Seeking his mate, he flew up
to circle with it over the lake
and gloriously to hallow the bath.
This did not impress you? It but tempted you
to a wild childish shot from your bow?
He was pleasing to us: what is he now to you?
Here look! Here you struck him,
the blood still congealing, the wings drooping lifeless,
the snowy plumage stained dark,
the eyes glazed do you see his look?

(Parsifal has followed Gurnemanz with growing emotion; now he breaks his bow and hurls his arrows away)

Now do you appreciate your misdeed?

(Parsifal passes his hand over his eyes)

Say, boy, do you realise your great guilt?
How could you commit this crime?

PARSIFAL:
I didn't know.

GURNEMANZ:
Where are you from?

PARSIFAL:
I don't know.

GURNEMANZ:
Who is your father?

PARSIFAL:
I don't know.

GURNEMANZ:
Who sent you this way?

PARSIFAL:
I don't know.

GURNEMAN:
Your name, then?

PARSIFAL:
I had many,
but I know none of them any more.

GURNEMANZ:
You know nothing of anything?

(aside)

Such a dullard
I never found before, save Kundry!

(to the squires, who have assembled in increasing numbers)

Now go!
Do not neglect the King in the bath! Help here!

(The squires reverently lift the dead swan on to a bier of fresh branches and move away with it towards the lake. At length only Gurnemanz, Parsifal and, apart, Kundry remain behind.)

GURNEMANZ:
(turns back to Parsifal)

Now say! You know nothing I ask you:
tell me what you do know,
for you must surely know something.

PARSIFAL:
I have a mother, whose name is Heart's Sorrow.
The woods and wild moors were our home.

GURNEMANZ:
Who gave you the bow?

PARSIFAL:
I made it myself
to scare the savage eagles from the forest.

GURNEMANZ:
But you yourself seem eagle-like and nobly born.
Why did your mother not let you
learn to use better weapons?

KUNDRY:
(who during Gurnemanz's recital of the fate of Amfortas has been violently writhing in furious agitation, now, still lying in the undergrowth, eyes Parsifal keenly and, as he is silent, hoarsely calls)

His mother bore him fatherless,
for Gamuret was slain in battle!
To preserve her son from a similar
untimely hero's death, she reared him up
in the desert to folly, a stranger to arms the fool!

(she laughs)

PARSIFAL:
(who has listened to her with sudden attention)

Yes, And once, along the forest's edge,
came a glittering array of men
mounted on fine creatures:
I wanted to be like them;
they laughed and galloped off.
I ran after them but could not overtake them;
through deserts I wandered, up hill and down dale;
often night fell, and again came day;
my bow had to defend me
against wild beasts or giants.

(Kundry has risen and moved towards the men.)

KUNDRY:


Yes! Robbers and giants engaged his strength:
they learned to fear the fierce boy.

PARSIFAL:
(in surprise)

Who fears me? Say!

KUNDRY:
The wicked!

PARSIFAL:
They who threatened me, were they wicked?

(Gurnemanz laughs)

Who is good?

GURNEMANZ:

Your mother, whom you deserted,
and who now frets and grieves for you.

KUNDRY:
She grieves no more: his mother is dead.

PARSIFAL:
(in fearful alarm)

Dead? My mother? Who says so?

KUNDRY:
As I rode by I saw her dying:
she bade me greet you, fool.

(Parsifal springs furiously at Kundry and seizes her by the throat.)

GURNEMANZ:
(restrains him)

Insane youth? Again violent?

(After Gurnemanz has freed Kundry, Parsifal stands as if dazed, seized with violent trembling)

What has the woman done to you? She spoke the truth;
for Kundry never lies, though she has seen much.

PARSIFAL:
I am fainting!

(Kundry, perceiving Parsifal's condition, at once hastens to a spring in the wood and now brings water in a horn, sprinkles Parsifal with it and then gives it to him to drink.)

GURNEMANZ:
Well done, according to the Grail's mercy:
they vanquish evil who requite it with good.

KUNDRY:


I never do good; I long only for rest,

(while Gurnemanz tends Parsifal in a fatherly way, she creeps unobserved by them towards a thicket in the wood)

only rest in my weariness.
To sleep! O that no one would wake me!

(starting in fear)

No! Not sleep! Horror seizes me!

(She falls into a violent trembling, then lets her arms and head drop wearily and totters away)

In vain to resist! The time has come.

(By the lake a movement is seen, and at length in the background the train of knights and squires returning home with litter)

Sleep, sleep, I must.

(She sinks down behind the bushes and is not seen further.)

GURNEMANZ:
The king is returning from the bath;
the sun stands high;
now let me lead you to our hallowed feast;
for if you are pure, the Grail
will be meat and drink to you.

(He has gently taken Parsifal's arm round his neck and put his own arm round the boy's body: in this way he leads him with very slow steps.)

PARSIFAL:
Who is the Grail?

GURNEMANZ:
That cannot be said;
but if you yourself are called to its service
that knowledge will not remain withheld.
And see!
I think I know you aright;
no earthly path leads to it,
and none could tread it
whom the Grail itself had not guided.

PARSIFAL:
I scarcely tread,
yet seem already to have come far.

GURNEMANZ:
You see, my son,
time here becomes space.

Scene 2

Gradually, while Gurnemanz and Parsifal appear to walk, the scene has changed more perceptibly: the woods have disappeared, and in the rocky walls a gateway has opened, which closes behind them. The way leading upwards through walls of rock, the scene has entirely changed. Gurnemanz and Parsifal now enter the mighty hall of the castle of the Grail.



Alfred Roller - 1934

GURNEMANZ:
(turning to Parsifal, who stands as if bewitched)

Now observe well, and let me observe,
if you are a fool and innocent,
what knowledge may be divulged to you.

(On both sides at the far end the doors are opened: the knights of the Grail enter from the right and range themselves by the Feast-tables.)

KNIGHTS OF T GRAIL:
At this latest love-feast,
prepared day after day,

(A procession of squires
passes rapidly across the scene
into the background)

as on the last occasion
may it refresh us today.

(A second procession of squires
crosses the hall)


The meal will renew him
who delights in doing good:
may he derive comfort,
and receive the supreme gift.

(The assembled knights station themselves at the tables)

VOICES OF YOUTHS:
(from halfway
up the dome)

As once His blood flowed
with countless pains
for the sinful world
now with joyful heart
let my blood be shed for
the great Redeemer.
His body, that He gave to purge our sin,
lives in us through His death.




(From the left door Amfortas is carried in on a litter by squires and serving brothers: before him walk the four squires bearing the covered shrine of the Grail. This procession moves to the centre background, where stands a raised couch on which Amfortas is set down from the litter; before it is an oblong stone altar on which the squires place the covered shine of the Grail.)





VOICES OF BOYS:
(from the apex of the dome)

The faith endures,
the dove, the Saviour's
loving messenger, hovers.
Drink the wine
poured out for you
and take the bread of life!

(When all have taken their places, and after a complete silence, the voice of Titurel is heard in the extreme background from a vaulted niche behind Amfortas's couch, as if from a tomb.)

TITUREL:
Amfortas, my son, are you in your place?

(long silence)

Shall I again today look on the Grail and live?

(long silence)

Must I die without my Saviour's guidance?

AMFORTAS:

Alas! Woe is me for my pain!
My father, oh once more
serve the Office!
Live, live and let me die!

TITUREL:

Within the grave I still live by the Saviour's grace,
but I am too feeble to serve him.
In His service you may expiate your sin!
Uncover the Grail!

AMFORTAS:

No! Leave it covered! Oh!
May no man, no man undergo this torture
wakened in me by the sight which transports you!
What is the wound, its raging pain,
against the distress, the torments of hell,
in this Office to be accursed!
Woeful inheritance to which I am called,
that I, the only sinner of all my people,
must tend what is supremely sacred,
invoking its blessing on the righteous!
O punishment, unparalleled punishment
of ah! the wronged Lord of mercy!

For Him, for His holy greeting,
must I ardently yearn;
by the repentance of my inmost soul
must I reach Him.
The hour draws near:
a ray of light descends upon the holy vessel:
in covering falls.

The divine contents of the sacred chalice
glow with radiant glory;
thrilled by the agony of ecstasy,
I feel the fount of divine blood
pour into my heart:
the ebb of my own sinful blood
in mad tumult
must surge back into me,
to gush in wild terror
into the world of sinful passion:
it breaks open the door anew
and now rushes out
here, through the wound, like His,
struck by a blow from that same Spear
which pierced the Saviour,
from whose wound the Holy One
wept tears of blood for man's disgrace
in the heavenly yearning of pity
and now from my wound, in holiest Office,
the custodian of the most divine treasure
and guardian of its redeeming blam
spills forth the fevered blood of sin,
ever renewed from the fount of longing
that ah! no repentance of mine
can ever still! Mercy! Mercy!
All-merciful one, have mercy on me!
Take back my inheritance,
heal my wound,
that I may die holy,
pure and whole for Thee!

(He sinks back as if unconscious)

BOYS and YOUTHS:
(from halfway up the dome)

"Enlightened through compassion,
the innocent fool:
wait for him,
the appointed one!"

KNIGHTS:

Thus ran the promise made to you:
wait confidently;
serve the Office today!

TITUREL'S VOICE:

Uncover the Grail

(Amfortas raises himself slowly and with difficulty. The acolytes remove the cover from the golden shrine and take from it the "Grail" [an antique crystal chalice], from which they also remove a covering, and place it before Amfortas.)

VOICES:
(from high up)

"Take this My body,
take My blood,
in token of our love!"

(While Amfortas bows devoutly in silent prayer before the chalice, an increasingly dark twilight extends over the hall.)

BOYS:
(from high up)

"Take this My blood,
take My body,
in remembrance of Me!"




(Here a dazzling ray of light falls from above on the crystal cup,, which now glows in a brilliant crimson, shedding a soft light on everything. Amfortas, transfigured, raises the Grail aloft and waves it gently round to every side, blessing the bread and wine with it. All are on their knees.)

TITUREL'S VOICE:

O heavenly rapture!
How brightly Our Lord greets us today!

(Amfortas sets down the Grail again, and its glow gradually fades as the darkness lifts: at this the acolytes replace the vessel in the shrine and cover it as before. - Daylight returns. The four squires, after closing the shrine, now take from the altar-table the two wine-flagons and two baskets of bread, which Amfortas had previously blessed by passing the chalice of the Grail over them, distribute the bread among the knights and fill with wine the cups standing before them. The knights seat themselves at the feast, as does Gurnemanz, who has kept a place empty beside him and signs to Parsifal to come and partake of the meal; Parsifal however remains standing apart, motionless and silent, as if completely transported.)




Wieland Wagner


VOICES OF BOYS:
(from high up)

Wine and bread from the Last Supper
the Lord of the Grail once turned,
through the power of pity and love,
into the blood which He shed,
into the body which He broke.

VOICES OF YOUTHS:
(from halfway up the dome)

Blood and body of that holy gift,
the loving spirit of blessed consolation,
now turn for your refreshment
into the wine poured out for you,
into the bread that feeds you today.

KNIGS:
(first half)

Take of the bread,
turn it confidently
into bodily strength and power;
true until death,
steadfast in effort,
to work the Saviour's will!

(second half)

Take the wine,
turn it anew
into the fiery blood of life.

(both half)

Rejoicing in the unity
of brotherly faith,
let us fight with holy courage!

(The knights rise and pace from either side to the centre, where they solemnly embrace during the ensuing)

ALL THE KNIGHTS:

Blessed in faith!
Blessed in love!

YOUTHS:
(from halfway up the dome)

Blessed in love!

KNABEN:
(from the summit of the dome)

Blessed in faith!

(During the meal Amfortas, who has taken no part in it, has gradually relapsed from his inspired exultation: he bows his head and holds his hand on the wound. The acolytes approach him; their movements reveal that his wound is bleeding anew: they tend Amfortas, assisting him back on to his litter and, while all prepare to depart, they bear out Amfortas and the holy shrine in the order in which they entered. The knights likewise fall into solemn procession and slowly leave the hall. The daylight fades. Squires again quickly pass through the hall.)

(Parsifal, on hearing Amforta's previous loud cry of agony, had made a violent movement towards his heart, which he clutched convulsively for a long time: now he again stands motionless, as if petrified. Gurnemanz ill-humouredly approaches Parsifal and shakes him by the arm.)

GURNEMANZ:

Why are you still standing there?
Do you know what you have seen?

(Parsifal presses his heart convulsively and slightly shakes his head)

GURNEMANZ:


So you are only a fool then!

(He opens a narrow side-door)

Off with you, and go on your way!
But heed Gurnemanz:
in future leave the swans here in peace;
a gander should look for a goose!

(He pushes Parsifal out and bangs the door
angrily upon him)

A VOICE:
(from the high up)

"Enlightened through compassion,
the innocent fool."

VOICES:
(from the mid-height and the summit)

Blessed in faith!

Act 2

Top Act 1 Act 3
Scene 1

Klingsor's magic castle.
The inner keep of a tower open to the sky. Stone steps lead to the battlements on the tower wall. The stage represents the projecting wall of the tower, which leads down into darkness below. Implements of witchcraft and necromantic apparatus.

KLINGSOR:
(on the projecting wall, to one side,
sitting before a metal mirror)

The time has come.
My magic castle lures the fool,
whom I see approaching from afar, shouting boyshly.
In deathly sleep the woman is held fast by the curse
whose grip I have the power to loosen.
Up then! To work!

(He descends slightly towards
the centre and lights incense,
which instantly fills the background
with blue smoke. Then he seats
himself again before his magic mirror
and call with mysterious gestures
into the depths:)

Come up! Come up! To me!
Your master calls you, nameless one,
primaeval witch, rose of hell!
You were Herodias, and what else?
Gundryggia there, Kundry here!
Come here! Come hither, Kundry!
Your master calls: obey!

(Kundry's shape arises in the
bluish light. She seems asleep.
Gradually however she moves
like one awaking.
Finally she utters a terrible scream.)

Are you waking? Ha!
To my power you fall again today,
at the right time.

(Kundry itters a laud wail
that subsides to a
frightened whimper.)


Say, where have you been roaming again?
Fie! There among the knights and their circle
where you let yourself be treated like beast!
Do you not fare better with me?
When you captured their master for me
ha ha! - that chaste guardian of the Grail
what drove you forth again?

KUNDRY:
(hoarsely and brokenly,
as if striving
to regain speech)

Oh! Oh!
Blackest night!
Frenzy! O rage!...
O misery!...
Sleep... Sleep...
Deep sleep!... Death!

KLINGSOR:

Did another awaken you? Eh?

KUNDRY:


Yes... My curse!...
O yearning... Yearning!

KLINGSOR:

Ha ha! There, for the saintly knights?

KUNDRY:

There... There I served.

KLINGSOR:

Yes, to make good the wrong
that you had maliciously done them?
They will not help you;
if I bid the right price
they are all venal;
the steadiest will fall
when he sinks in your arms,
and so be brought low by the Spear
which I myself seized from their master.
Now today we have the most dangerous to meet;
he is shielded by his foolishness.

KUNDRY:

I... Will not... Oh!... Oh!

KLINGSOR:

You will, because you must.

KUNDRY:

You... Cannot... Force me.

KLINGSOR:

But I can hold you.

KUNDRY:

You?

KLINGSOR:

Your master.

KUNDRY:

By what power?

KLINGSOR:

Ha! Since only with me
does your power avail you nothing.

KUNDR:
(laughing shrilly)

Ha ha! Are you chaste?

KLINGSOR:
(furiously)

Why do you ask this, accursed witch?

(He sinks into gloomy brooding)

Dire distress!
So now the fiend mocks me
that once I strove after holiness?
Dire distress!
The pain of untamed desire,
most horrible, hell-inspired impulse
which I had throttled to deathly silence
does it now laugh aloud and mock
through you, bride of the devil?
Beware!
One man already repents his contempt and scorn,
that proud man, strong in holiness,
who once drove me out.
His race I ruined;
undredeemed shall the guardian
of the holy treasure languish;
and soon I know it
I myself will guard the Grail
Ha ha!
How did you like the hero Amfortas
whom I ensnared to your charms?

KUNDRY:

O anguish! Anguish!
He too was weak!... Weak are they all!
All fall victim
to my curse!
O endless sleep,
only release,
how can I win you?

KLINGSOR:

Ha! He who spurns you sets you free:
attempt it with the boy who is drawing near!

KUNDRY:

I... Will not!

KLINGSOR:
(hastily mounting the tower wall)

He is already mounting the tower.

KUNDRY:

Alas! Alas!
Did I wake for this?
Must I? Must I?

KLINGSOR:
(looking down)

Ha! The boy is handsome!

KUNDRY:

Oh! Woe is me!

KLINGSOR:
(leaning out, blows a horn)

Ho, guards! Ho, knights!
Heroes! Up! Foes are at hand!




Ha! How they rush to the ramparts,
my deluded garrison,
to defend their beautiful witches!
Yes! Courage! Courage!
Ha ha! He is not afraid;
he has disarmed brave Sir Ferris,
whose weapon he sturdily wields against the throng.

(Kundry breaks into wild hysterical laughter,
which turns to a convulsive cry of woe.)

How ill does his ardour accord with the dullards!
He has struck one in the arm, another in the thigh!
Ha ha! They weaken; they flee.

(Kundry vanishes. The bluish light
is extinguished, leaving total darkness
below, in contrast to the bright
blue sky above the walls)

Each takes home a wound!
Not one of them do I grudge!
May the whole brood of knights
thus wreak havoc on each other!
Ha! How proudly he now stands on the rampart!
How happily flushed are his cheeks
as in childish amazement
he gazes at the deserted garden!
Ho, Kundry!

(He turns towards
the far background)


What? Already at work?
Ha ha! I well know the spell
that forever binds you to serve me again!

(looking out again)

You there, innocent lad,
whatever
prophecies were made you,
too young and dull,
you fall into my power;
once deprived of purity
you will remain my slave!

Scene 2

He rapidly sinks with the whole tower; at the same time the magic garden rises and fills the whole stage. Tropical vegetation, luxuriant display of flowers; towards the rear the scene is bounded by the battlements of the castle walls, flanked by projecting parts of the castle itself, [in a rich Arabian style] with terraces.

Upon the rampart stands Parsifal, gazing down into the garden in astonishment. From all sides beautiful maidens rush in, first from the garden, then from the palace, in wild confusion, singly then in numbers; they are clad in soft-colored veils hastily donned, as if just startled out of sleep.



Parsifal and the Flower Maidens

MAIDENS:
(entering from the garden)

Here was the uproar! Here! Here!
Weapons! Angry clamour! Woe is us!

MAIDENS:
(entering from the castle)

Who is the miscreant?
Where is the miscreant?
Vengeance!

SOME MAIDENS:

My beloved wounded?

OTHERS:

Where can I find mine?

OTHERS:

I awoke alone!
Where have they fled?

OTHERS:

Inside the palace!
Alas! Alas! We saw them
with bleeding wounds.
Up, to their aid!
Who is the foe?

(They perceive Parsifal
and point him out.)

There he stands!
See him there, see him there!
My Ferris's sword
is in his hand!
I see my beloved's
blood on it.
I saw him; he climbed the rock!
I heard the master's horn.
My knight ran hither,
they all came, but each
encountered his weapon.
He wounded my lover.
He struck my friend.
Still bloody is his weapon!
You there! You there!
Why create such distress?
May you be accursed!

(Parsifal jumps down lower into the garden.)

THE MAIDENS:


Ah, audacious one! You dare to approach!
Why did you smite our lovers?

PARSIFAL:


Lovely children, how could I not smite them?
They barred my way to you, my fair ones.

MAIDENS:

Were you seeking us?
Had you seen us already?

PARSIFAL:

Never yet have I seen so fair a company:
do you not think me right in calling you fair?

THE MAIDENS:



Then you do not mean to harm us?

PARSIFAL:

I could not do so.

MAIDENS:

Yet you have
caused us many woes!
You smote our playmates!
Who now will play with us?

PARSIFAL:

I will, gladly!

(The maidens' surprise has changed to gaiety and now break into merry laughter. - As Parsifal comes ever nearer to the
excited groups, the maidens of the first Group and of the first Chorus slip away unperceived behind the banks of flowers to
complete their floral adornment.)

THE MAIDENS:
(second Group and second Chorus)

Are you kind? Then do not stay afar!
And if you do not chide us,
we will repay you:
we do not play for gold,
we play for love's dues.
If you bring us consolation
you shall win it from us!

(The maidens of the first Group and first Chorus return wholly dressed in flowers, looking like flowers themselves, and at
once rush upon Parsifal.)

THE ADORNED MAIDENS:
(one at a time)

Leave the boy! - He belongs to me!
No! No! To me! To me!

THE OTHERS MAIDENS:

Ah, the minxes! They secretly adorned themselves.

THE MAIDENS:
(as they dance round Parsifal
in ever-changing circles
with the charm of children
at play)

Come, come,
handsome boy!
I'll be your flower!
All my loving care
is for your delight and bliss!

PARSIFAL:
(standing in happy calm
amidst the maidens)

How sweet you smell!
Are you flowers then?

THE MAIDENS:



The garden's pride
and perfumed essence
our master plucked us in Springtime!
We grow here
in summer and sunlight
to bloom for your delight.
Now be friendly and kind,
do not grudge the flowers their due!
If you cannot love and cherish us,
we shall wither and perish.

FIRST MAIDEN:

Take me to your bosom!

SECOND MAIDEN:

Let me cool your brow!

THIRD MAIDEN:

Let me touch your cheek!

FOURTH MAIDEN:

Let me kiss your lips!

FIFTH MAIDEN:

No! I! I am the fairest!

SIXTH MAIDEN:

No! I, I smell sweeter!

PARSIFAL:
(gently restraining their charming
impetuosity)

You wild throng of lovely flowers,
if I am to play with you, give me some room!

MAIDENS:

Why do you scold us?

PARSIF:

Because you are quarrelling.

MAIDENS:

We are only quarrelling over you.

PARSIFAL:

Have done, then!

FIRST MAIDEN:


Let him be: see, he favours me!

SECOND MAIDEN:

No, me!

THIRD MAIDEN:

Rather me!

FOURTH MAIDEN:

No, me!

SOME MAIDENS:
(to Parsifal)

You avoid me?

SOME OTHERS:

You drive me away?

SOME OTHERS:

Are you afraid of women?

SOME OTHERS:

Don't you dare?

FIRST MAIDEN:

How meanly timid and cold you are!
Would you have the flowers woo the butterfly?

SOME OTHERS MAIDENS:

How faint-hearted he is! How cold he is!

SOME MAIDENS:

Leave him to his folly!

OTHERS MAIDENS:

We give him up for lost.

OTHERS MAIDENS:

Then let him be our choice!

MANY MAIDEN:

No, he belongs to me!
No, ours! And me!

PARSIFAL:
(half angrily driving
the maidens off)

Have don! You shall not catch me!

(He makes to escape, but on hearing Kundry's voice pauses in surprise.)

KUNDRY:

Parsifal! Stay!

(The maidens are terror-struck and shrink back at once from Parsifal)

PARSIFAL:

"Parsifal"...?
Once in a dream my mother called me that.

KUNDRY:


Stay here! Parsifal!
Bliss and surpassing delight await you.
You wantoning children, let him be;
flowers soon to wither,
with you he is not destined to play.
Go home, tend the wounded;
many a lonely hero awaits you.

THE MAIDENS:
(reluctantly leave Parsifal)


Must we leave you? Must we not see you?
Alas! Oh what sorrow!
We would gladly be parted from all men,
to be with you alone.
Farewell, farewell!
You charming, fair boy,
you fool!

(With this last, the maidens
disappear laughing
into the castle.)

PARSIFAL:

Have I just dreamt all this?

(He looks round timidly to the side from which the voice came. There now appears, through an opening in the banks of flowers, a
young woman of great beauty Kundry, completely transformed - on a couch of flowers, wearing a light, fantastic, veil-like robe of
Arabian style.)

PARSIFAL:


Did you call me, who am nameless?

KUNDRY:

I named you, foolish innocent,
"Fal parsi",
you innocent fool, "Parsifal".
Thus when he fell in Araby
your father Gamuret called his son,
to whom, still in his mother's womb,
he gave his dying greeting with this name.
I waited for you here to tell you this:
what drew you here, if not the wish to know?

PARSIFAL:

I never saw, nor dreamt of, what now
I see, and which fills me with dread.
Do you too bloom in this bank of flowers?

KUNDRY:

No, Parsifal, you foolish innocent!
Far, far away, is my home.
I tarried here only that you might find me.
I came from afar, where I have seen much.
I saw the child on its mother's breast,
its first lisping still laughs in my ear;
though sad at heart,
how Heart's Sorrow also laughed,
that in her grief the apple of her eye
should cry for joy!
She fondly lulled to sleep with caresses
the babe cradled gently on soft moss;
with anxious care a mother's yearning
guarded its sleep,
and the hot dew of a mother's tears
woke it at morn.
She was all mourning, child of sorrow,
for your father's love and death.
To shield you from like peril
she deemed it her highest duty's task.
She strove to hide and shelter you safe
afar from weapons and from men's strife and fury.
She was all concern and foreboding
lest you should ever acquire knowledge.
Do you not still hear her cry of distress
when you roamed late and far?
Oh! How great was her joy and laughter
when she sought and found you again;
when her arms clapsed you tight
did you perhaps fear her kisses?
But you did not consider her woe,
her desperate grief,
when you finally did not return
and left no trace behind!
She waited night and day
till her laments grew faint,
grief consumed her pain
and she craved for death's release:
her sorrow broke her heart,
and Heart's Sorrow died.

PARSIFAL:
(whose rising emotion has culminated
in terrible perturbation, sinks overcome
with distress at Kundry's feet)

Woe is me! Alas! What have I done? Where was I?
Mother! Sweet, dear mother!
Your son, your son it was who killed you!
Fool! Blind, blundering fool,
where did you wander, forgetting her
forgetting yourself too?
O dearest, beloved mother!

KUNDRY:

If grief were still a stranger to you,
the sweetness of consolation
would never comfort your heart;
now assuage that distress,
that woe for which you grieve,
in the solace which love offers you.

PARSIFAL:
(sinking deeper and deeper
in his grief)

How could I forget my mother my mother!
Ah! What else have I forgotten?
What have I ever remembered yet?
Only dull stupidity dwells in me.

KUNDRY:
(still half reclining,
bends over Parsifal's head,
gently touches his forehead
and fondly puts her arm
around his neck)

Confession
will end guilt in remorse,
understanding
changes folly into sense.
Learn to know the love
that enfolded Gamuret
when Heart's Sorrow's passion
engulfed him in its fire!
She who once
gave you life and being,
to subdue death and folly
sends
you this day,
as a last token of a mother's blessing,
the first kiss of love.

(She has bent her head completely over his and gives him a long kiss on the lips)

PARSIFAL:
(suddenly starts up with a gesture
of the utmost terror:
his demeanour expresses
some fearful change;
he presses his hands hard
against his heart as if to master
an agonising pain.)

Amfortas!
The wound! The wound!
It burns within my heart!
O sorrow, sorrow!
Fearful sorrow!
From the depths of my heart it cries aloud.
Oh! Oh!
Most wretched!
Most pitiable!
I saw the wound bleeding:
now it bleeds in me!
Here here!
No, no! It is not the wound.
Flow in streams, my blood, from it!
Here! Here in my heart is the flame!
The longing, the terrible longing
which seizes and grips all my senses!
O torment of love!
How everything trembles, quakes and quivers
in sinful desire!

(As Kundry stares at Parsifal
in fear and astonishment,
he falls into a complete trance)
(in a low voice, with horror)

My dull gaze is fixed on the sacred vessel;
the holy blood flows:
the bliss of redemption, divinely mild,
trembles within every soul around:
only here, in my heart, will the pangs not be stilled.
The Saviour's lament I hear there,
the lament, ah! The lamentation
from His profaned sanctuary:
"Redeem Me, rescue Me
from hands defiled by sin!"
Thus rang the divine lament
in terrible clarity in my soul.
And I - fool, coward,
fled hither to wild childish deeds!

(He flings himself in despair
on his kness)

Redeemer! Saviour! Lord of grace!
How can I, a sinner, purge my guilt?

KUNDRY:
(whose astonishment has changed
to passionate admiration,
hesitantly tries to approach Parsifal)

Honoured hero! Throw off this spell!
Look up and greet your fair one's coming!

PARSIFAL:
(still kneeling, gaze fixedly
at Kundry, who bends over him
with the cressing movements
indicated in the following)


Yes! This was the voice with which she called him;
and this her look, truly I recognise it
and this, smiling at him so disquietingly;
the lips - yes - thus they quivered for him,
thus she bent her neck
thus boldly rose her head;
thus laughingly fluttered her hair
thus her arms were twined around his neck
thus tenderly fawned her features!
In league with the pangs of every torment,
her lips kissed away
his soul's salvation!
Ah, this kiss!

(He has gradually risen
and thrusts Kundry
from him)


Corrupter! Get away from me!
Forever, forever away from me!

KUNDRY:
(with the ulmost passion)

Cruel one!
If you feel in your heart
only others' sorrows,
then feel mine too!
If you are a redeemer,
what maliciously stops you
from uniting with me for my salvation?
Through eternities I have waited for you,
the saviour so late in coming,
whom once I dared revile.
Oh!
If you knew the curse
which afflicts me, asleepp and awake,
in death and life,
pain and laughter,
newly steeled to new affliction,
endlessly through this existence!
I saw Him - Him
and mocked...!
His gaze fell upon me!
Now I seek Him from world to world
to meet Him once again.
I darkest hour
I feel His eyes turn on me
and His gaze rest upon me.
The accursed laugher assails me once again:
a sinner sinks into my arms!
Then I laugh - laugh
I cannot weep,
can only shout, rage,
storm, rave
in an ever-renewed nightmare
from which, though repentant, I scarcely wake.
One for whom I yearned in deathly longing,
whom I recognised though despised and rejected,
let me weep upon his breast,
for one hour only be united to you
and, though God and the world disown me,
in you be cleansed of sin and redeemed!

PARSIFAL:

For evermore
would you be damned with me
if for one hour,
unmindful of my mission,
I yielded to your embrace!
For your salvation too I am sent,
if you will turn aside from your desires.
The solace to end your sorrows
comes not from the source from which they flow:
grace shall never be bestowed on you
until that source is sealed to you.
Another grace - ah, a different one,
for which, pitying, I saw the brotherhood
pining in dire distress,
scourging and mortifying their flesh.
But who can know aright and clear
the only true source of salvation?
O misery that banishes all deliverance!
O blackness of earthly error,
that while feverishly pursuing supreme salvation
yet thirsts for the fount of perdition!

KUNDRY:
(in wild ecstasy)

Was it my kiss
which thus revealed the world to you?
The full embrace of my love
then would raise you to godhead.
Redeem the world, if this is your destiny:
make yourself a god for an hour,
and for that let me be damned forever,
my wound never be healed!

PARSIFAL:

I offer redemption to you too in your sin.

KUNDRY:

Let me love you, godlike as you are,
and you would then give me redemption.

PARSIFAL:

Love and redemption shall be yours
if you will show me
the way to Amfortas.

KUNDRY:
(breaking out in fury)

Never shall you find him!
Let the fallen one perish,
that woeful
seeker after shame
whom I derided, at whom I laughed!
Ha ha! He fell by his own spear!

PARSIFAL:

Who dared to wound him with the holy weapon?

KUNDRY:

He - he
who once punished my laughter:
his curse - ha! - gives me strength;
I will call the Spear against you yourself
if you accord that sinner mercy!
Ah, this is madness!
Pity! Pity on me!
Be mine for one hour!
Let me be yours for one hour,
and you shall be led
on your way!

(She tries to embrace him. He thrusts her aside violently)

PARSIFAL:

Away, evil woman!

KUNDRY:
(starting up in wild fury
and calling into the background)

Help! Help! Hither!
Seize the miscreant! Hither!
Bar his path!
Bar his passage!
And though you flee from here and find
all the roads in the world,
that road you seek,
that path you shall not find,
for any path and passage
that leads you away from me
I curse for you.
Stray and be lost!
You whom I know so well,
I give him into your power!

KLINGSOR:
(has appeared on the rampart
and brandishes a lance at Parsifal)

Halt! I have the right weapon to fell you!
The fool shall fall to me through his master's Spear!

(He hurls the Spear, which remains poised above Parsifal's head.)

PARSIFAL:
(seizing the Spear in his hand
and holding it above his head)

With this sign I rout your enchantment.
As the Spear closes the wound
which you dealt him with it,
may it crush your lying splendour
into mourning and ruin!

(He has swung the Spear in the sign of the Cross; the castle sinks as if by an earthquake. The garden swiftly withers to a desert; faded flowers
are strewn on the ground. - Kundry falls to the ground with a scream)
(Parsifal pauses once more as he hastens away, and at the top of the ruined wall turns back to Kundry.)

PARSIFAL:

You know where
you can find me again!

(He hurries away. Kundry has raised herself a little and gazes after him)

Act 3

Top Act 2
Scene 1

In the domain of the Grail.
A pleasant, open spring landscape with a background of gently rising flowery meadows. The edge of the forest forms the foreground, and extends to the right to rising rocky ground. In the foreground, by the side of the wood, a spring; facing it, a little further back, a humble hermit's hut leaning against a mass of rock. Very early morning.

(Gurnemanz, now a very old man, clad as a hermit only in the tunic of the knights of the Grail, comes out of the hut and listens.)

GURNEMANZ:

From yonder came the groaning.
No beast cries so piteously,
least of all today on this most holy morning.
I seem to know that sound of lamenting.

(muffed groaning in Kundry's voice.
Gurnemanz walks firmly
to a densely overgrown
thorn thicket at the side,
forces the undergrowth
apart, then stops
suddenly)

Ha! She here again?
The rough wintry thorn
has been concealing her: for how long?
Up! Kundry! Up!
Winter has fled, and Spring is here!
Awake! Awake to the Spring!
Cold and stiff!
This time she may well be dead:
yet it was her groaning I heard.

(He drags Kundry, quite stiff and lifeless, out of the bushes and carries her to a nearby grassy mound. He does his utmost to restore Kundry's numb circulation. Gradually life seems to return to her. When at last she opens her eyes, she utters a cry. Kundry is in the coarse robe of a penitent, similar to that in Act One, but her face is paler and the wildness has vanished from her looks and behaviour. She gazes long at Gurnemanz. Then she rises, arranges her cloathing and hair and at once sets to work like a serving-maid.)

GURNEMANZ:

You crazy woman!
Have you no word for me?
Are these your thanks
for having woken you again
from deathly sleep?

KUNDRY:
(slowly bows her head: then hoarsely
and brokenly brings out the words)

Let me serve... Serve!

GURNEMANZ:
(shaking his head)

It will give you little work!
We send out no more on messages:
herbs and roots
each finds for himself;
we've learnt that from the beasts in the forest.

(Kundry has meanwhile been looking about her, noticed the hut and gone inside.)

GURNEMANZ:
(gazes after her in astonishment)

How differently she moves from before!
Has the holy day brought this about?
O day of mercy beyond compare!
In truth it was for her salvation
that I was able to awake that poor soul
today from the sleep of death.

(Kundry returns from the hut: she carries a water-pitcher and goes with it to the spring. Looking into the forest, she perceives someone coming from the distance and turns to Gurnemanz to point this out to him.)



Parsifal - Knight of the Grail
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

GURNEMANZ:
(looks into the wood)

Who there is approaching the holy spring,
in sombre apparel of war?
That is none of the brethren!

(Kundry moves away with the filled pitcher into the hut, where she busies herself.)

(Parsifal emerges from the forest, entirely accoutred in armour: with closed helm and lowered spear he strides slowly forward with head bowed, dreamily and uncertainly, and seats himself on the small grassy mound by the spring.)

GURNEMANZ:
(after gazing long in astonishment
at Parsifal, now draws nearer to him.)

Greeting, guest!
Have you lost your way, and may I direct you?

(Parsifal gently shakes his head)

Do you offer me no greeting?

(Parsifal bows his head)
(Gurnemanz angry:)

Hey! What?
If your vows
constrain you to be silent to me,
then mine charge me
to tell you what is fitting.
Here you are in a hallowed place:
no man comes here armed,
with vizored helmet, shield and spear;
and today of all days! Do you not know
what holy day this is?

(Parsifal shakes his head)

No? Then whence come you?
Among what heathen have you dwelt,
not to know that today
is the supremely holy Good Friday?

(Parsifal bows his head still lower)

Lay down your weapons!
Do not offend the Lord, who today,
bereft of alla arms, offered His holy blood
to redeem the sinful world!

(Parsifal rises after a further silence, thrusts the Spear into the ground before him, lays shield and sword beneath it, opens his helmet, takes it from his head and lays it with the other arms, then kneels before the Spear in silent prayer. Gurnemanz watches Parsifal with astonishment and emotion. He beckons to Kundry, who has just emerged from the hut. Parsifal raises his eyes devoutly to the spearhead.)

GURNEMANZ:
(to Kundry)

Do you recognise him?
It is he who once killed the swan.

(Kundry assents with a slight nod of the head)

It is indeed he, the fool
whom I wrathfully drove away.

(Kundry gazes fixedly, but calmly at Parsifal)

Ah! How did he find the way?
The Spear! I recognize it!

(with great emotion)

O most holy day
for me to awaken to now!

(Kundry has turned her face away.)

PARSIFAL:
(rises slowly from prayer, looks calmly
about him, recognises Gurnemanz
and gently offers his hand in greeting.)

I rejoice to have found you again!

GURNEMANZ:

Then you still know me too?
You recognise me again,
though grief and care have bowed me so low?
How have you come now, and from where?

PARSIFAL:

Through error and the path of suffering I came;
may I not think myself freed from it,
now that I hear again
the murmur of the forest
and greet you anew, good old man?
Or do I still err?
Everything seems changed.

GURNEMANZ:

But tell me, to whom were you seeking the way?

PARSIFAL:

To him whose deep lamenting
I once heard in foolish wonder,
to bring him salvation
I dare think myself ordained.
But ah!
An evil curse drove me about
in trackless wandering,
never to find the way to healing;
numberless dangers,
battles and conflicts
forced me from my path
even when I thought I knew it.
Then I was forced to despair
of holding unsullied the treasure
to defend and guard which
I earned wounds from every weapon;
for I dared not wield this
itself in conflict;
unprofaned
I have borne it beside me
and now bring it home,
gleaming clean and bright before you,
the holy Spear of the Grail.

GURNEMANZ:
(breaking out in a transport of joy)

O mercy! Bounteous grace!
O wonder! Holy, highest wonder!

(after somewhat composing himself)

Sir knight! If it was a curse
which drove you from the rightful path,
be sure its power is broken.
Here you are: this is the domain of the Grail
whose brotherhood awaits you.
Ah, it needs the healing,
the healing that you bring!
Since the day you tarried here,
the sorrow then made known to you, the anguish,
increased to the extremes of distress.
Amfortas, fighting against his wound,
which brought torment to his soul,
in maddened defiance craved only for death.
No entreaties, no misery of his knights
could move him to perform again his holy office.
The Grail has long lain enclosed within the shrine;
thus its guardian, repentant of his sin,
hopes to hasten his end,
since he cannot die
while he beholds it,
and with his life to end his torment.
The divine bread is now defined us,
and common food must sustain us;
thereby our heroes' strenght is exhausted.
Never more do messages come here
or calls from afar to holy war;
our dispirited and leaderless knighthood
wander about, pale and woeful.
In this corner of the forest I myself lie hidden,
silently awaiting that death
to which my aged warrior lord surrendered.
For Titurel, my holy hero,
whom the sight of the Grail no longer revived,
is dead - a man like all men!

PARSIFAL:
(springing up
in intense grief)

And it is I, I,
who caused all this woe!
Ah! What transgression,
what burden of guilt
must my foolish head
have borne from eternity,
since no repentance, no atonement
can free me of my blindness;
though I was appointed for deliverance,
the last path of deliverance escapes me,
lost as I am in hopeless error!

(He seems about to fall in a faint. Gurnemanz holds him upright and sets him down on the grassy mound. Kundry hurriedly fetches a blowl of water with which to sprinkle Parsifal)

GURNEMANZ:
(gently repulsing Kundry)

Not with this!
The holy spring itself
shall refresh and bathe our pilgrim.

I suspect he has today
to fulfil a lofty task,
to perform the holy office.
Then let him be free of stain,
and the dust of lengthy wanderings
now be washed from him.

(Parsifal gently led by the two to the edge of the spring. During the following Kundry loosens his greaves while Gurnemanz removes his body armour.)

PARSIFAL:


Shall I be led today to Amfortas?

GURNEMANZ:
(as he busies himself)

Assuredly; the great castle awaits us:
the solemn death-rites of my dear lord
summon me within.
Once more to reveal to us the Grail,
once more to serve today
the long-neglected Office
to sanctify the noble father
slain by his son's misdeed,
which he thus now may expiate
this Amfortas has vowed to us.

(Kundry bathes Parsifal's feet with humble zeal. Parsifal watches her in silent wonder.)

PARSIFAL:
(to Kundry)

You wash my feet,
now bathe my head, oh friend!

GURNEMANZ:
(scoops his hand in the spring
and sprinkles Parsifal's head)

May this purity bless you, pure one!
Thus may the load
of all guilt be washed away!

(While Gurnemanz solemnly sprinkles the water, Kundry draws from her bosom a golden phial and pours part of its contents over Parsifal's feet, which she then dries with her hastily unbound hair)

PARSIFAL:
(gently taking the phial from Kundry
and handing it to Gurnemanz)

You have anointed my feet,
let Titurel's knight anoint my head,
that he may greet me today as king!

GURNEMANZ:
(empties the phial over
Parsifal's head, gently strokes it
and then folds his hands upon it)

Thus was it promised to us;
thus do I bless your head,
as king to greet you.
Pure of heart!
Pitying sufferer,
enlightened healer!
As you have endured the sufferings of the redeemed,
lift the last burden from his head!

PARSIFAL:
(unpercelved, he scoops up water from the
spring, bends over Kundry, still kneeling
before him, and sprinkles her head.)

My first office I thus perform:
Receive this baptism,
and believe in the Redeemer!

(Kundry bows her head to the ground
and appears to weep bitterly)
(Parsifal turns and gazes
in gentle rapture on wood and meadow,
which are now glowing in the morning light)

How fair seem the meadows today!
Once I came upon magic flowers
which twined their tainted tendrils about my head;
but never did I see so fresh and charming
the grass, the blossoms and flowers,
nor did they smell so sweet of youth
or speak with such tender love to me.

GURNEMANZ:

That is the magic of Good Friday, my lord!

PARSIFAL:

Alas for that day of utmost grief!
Now, I feel, should all that blooms,
that breathes, lives and lives anew
only mourn and weep!

GURNEMANZ:

You see that it is not so.
It is the tears of repentant sinners
that today with holy dew
besprinkle field and meadow:
thus they make them flourish.
Now all creation rejoices
at the Saviour's sign of love
and dedicates to Him its prayer.
No more can it see Him Himself on the Cross;
it looks up to man redeemed,
who feels freed from the burden of sin and terror,
made clean and whole through God's loving sacrifice.
Now grasses and flowers in the meadow know
that today the foot of man will not tread them down,
but that, as God with divine patience
pitied him and suffered for him,
so man today in devout grace
will spare them with soft tread.
Thus all creation gives thanks,
all that here blooms and soon fades,
now that nature, absolved from sin,
today gains its day of innocence.

(Kundry has slowly raised her head again and looks up at Parsifal with teaful eyes in calm and earnest enteaty)

PARSIFAL:

I saw them that once mocked me wither:
do they long for redemption today?
Your tears too are a dew of blessing:
you weep - and see, the meadow smiles.

(He kisses her gently on the forehead)

(A peal of bells in the far distance)

GURNEMANZ:

Midday:
the hour has come.
My lord, permit your servant to guide you!

Scene 2

Gurnemanz has brought out his mantle of the knights of the Grail, and he and Kundry invest Parsifal with it. Parsifal solemnly takes up the Spear and with Kundry follows Gurnemanz, who slowly leads the way. - The scene very gradually changes, as in Act One, but from right to left. After remaining visible for a time the three disappear completely from sight as the forest gradually vanishes and rocky vaults draw near in its place. In the vaulted passages the sound of bells increasingly grows in intensity. The rocky walls open disclosing once more, as in Act One, the great hall of the Grail, but without the festal tables. Dim lighting. From one side enter knoghts bearing Titurel's body in a coffin, from the other those carrying Amfortas on a litter, preceded by the covered shrine with the Grail.



Alfred Roller

(Singing)

FIRST PROCESSION:
(with the Grail and Amfortas)

We carry in its sheltering shine
the Grail to the holy Office;
whom do you shelter in yon gloomy shrine
and bear here in sorrow?

SECOND PROCESSION:
(with Titurel's body)

Within the shrine of mourning
lies the hero with the holy strength,
whom God Himself once took as His guardian:
we bear Titurel hither.

FIRST PROCESSION:

Who brought him low that, in God's keeping,
once guarded God Himself?

SECOND PROCESSION:
The conquering weight of years laid him low,
since he no more might look upon the Grail.

FIRST PROCESSION:
Who barred him from looking of the Grail?

SECOND PROCESSION:
He whom you carry there, its sinful guardian.

FIRST PROCESSION:
We bear him in today, because once more
for the last time
he will serve the Office.

SECOND PROCESSION:
(Amfortas is now set down
on the couch behin the altar
of the Grail, the coffin
placed in front; the knights
turn towards him.)

Alas! Alas! Guardian of the Grail!
For the last time!
Be mindful of your charge!

AMFORTAS:
(feebly raising himself a little)

Alas indeed! Alas! Woe be on me!
Thus I willingly cry with you.
More willingly yet would I accept from you death,
the lightest atonement for sin!

(The coffin is opened. At the sight of Titurel's body all utter a sudden cry of woe.)

AMFORTAS:
(raises himself high on his couch
and turns towards the body.)

My father!
Most blessed of heroes!
Most pure, to whom once the angels bowed:
I, who alone longed to die,
to you brought death!
O you who in divine radiance
do behold the Redeemer's very self,
entreat of Him that His holy blood,
if once more today His blessing
shall revive these my brothers,
as it gives them new life
may at least grant me death!
Death! To die!
Unique mercy!
Take from me the hideous wound, the poison,
paralyse the heart it eats away!
My father! As I call to you,
I beg you call to Him:
"Redeemer, grant my son repose!"

KNIGHTS:
(pressing closer
to Amfortas)

Uncover the Grail!
Serve the Office!
Your father exhorts you
You must! You must!

AMFORTAS:
(leaps up in wild despair
and rushes among
the knights, who recoil)


No! No more! Ha!
Already I feel the darkness of death enshround me,
and must I yet again return to life ?
Madmen!
Who would force me to live?
Could you but grant me death!

(He tears open his garment)

Here I am, here is the open wound!
Here flows my blood, that poisons me.
Draw your weapons! Plunge your swords
in deep - deep, up to the hilt !
Up, you heroes !
Slay the sinner with his agony,
then once more the Grail shall shine clear on you !


Paul von Joukowsky, - Bühnenbildentwurf zu Parsifal

(All have shrunk back in dread from Amfortas. Parsifal, accompanied by Gurnemanz and Kundry, has appeared unobserved among the knights and now steps forward and extends the Spear, touching Amfortas's side with its point.)

PARSIFAL:
But one weapon serves:
only the Spear that smote you
can heal your wound.

(Amfortas's features light up in holy ecstasy; he seems to stagger under overpowering emotion; Gurnemanz supports him.)

PARSIFAL:
Be whole, absolved and atoned!
For I now will perform your task.
O blessed be your suffering,
that gave pity's mighty power
and purest wisdom's might
to the timorous fool!

(Parsifal steps towards the centre,
holding the Spear aloft before him)

I bring back to you
the holy Spear!

(All gaze in supreme rapture
at the uplifted Spear
to whose point Parsifal raises
his eyes and continues ecstatically)

O supreme joy of this miracle!
This that could heal your wound
I see pouring with holy blood
yearning for that kindred fount
which flows and wells within the Grail.
No more shall it be hidden:
uncover the Grail, open the shrine!

(Parsifal mounts the altar steps, takes the Grail from the shrine already opened by the squires, and falls to his knees before it in silent prayer and contemplation. The Grail gradually glows with a soft light. Increasing darkness below and growing illumination from above.)

ALL:
(with barely audiable voices
from the middle and apex
of the dome)

Miracle of supreme salvation!
Our Redeemer redeemed!




(A beam of light: the Grail glows at its brightest. From the dome a white dove descends and hovers over Parsifal's head. Kundry slowly sinks lifeless to the ground in front of Parsifal, her eyes uplifted to him. Amfortas and Gurnemanz kneel in homage to Parsifal, who waves the Grail in blessing over the worshipping brotherhood of knights.)


Erlösung dem Erlöser !
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014



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