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Of this his occasional sneers at the clergy are perhaps a better proof than the morality of much of his work. That his home was in Strasbourg is supported by the fact that the earliest manuscripts of Tristan , dating from the first half of the 13th century, show features of Alemannic and specifically Alsatian dialect. Gottfried's rhetorical style is very distinct among his contemporaries. It is incredibly complex, marked by the extensive use of symmetrical structure in his organization of Tristan as a whole, as well as in the structure of individual passages.

Gottfried also uses detailed word and sound patterns, playing with such things as rhyme, alliteration, and assonance. See Batts for a detailed analysis. One of the greatest hallmarks of Gottfried's style is his skillful use of irony , to both humorous and tragic effects. He may also have relied on irony to disguise his criticisms of contemporary society in order to avoid censure. Gottfried states that the Tristan of Thomas of Britain , an Anglo-French work of around , was the source of his work.

Unfortunately, Thomas's work, too, is fragmentary and there is little overlap with Gottfried's poem, making it difficult to evaluate Gottfried's originality directly. However, Thomas's Tristan was the source of a number of other versions, which makes it possible to get some idea of style and content. It is clear that while Gottfried's statement of his reliance on and debt to Thomas is correct, he both expanded on his source and refined the story psychologically. The discovery in of the Carlise Fragment of Thomas's Tristan , which includes material from one of the central parts of the story, the Love Grotto episode, promises a better understanding of Gottfried's use of his source.

Tristan Isolde, First Edition

The text of Tristan is 19, lines long, and is written, like all courtly romances , in rhyming couplets. The first section ll. The initial letters of the quatrains, indicated by large initials in some manuscripts , form an acrostic with the names Gotefrid-Tristan-Isolde , which runs throughout the poem.

In addition, the initial letters of the quatrains in the prologue give the name Dieterich , which is assumed to have been the name of Gottfried's patron. The story starts with the courtship of Tristan's parents. Blanschfleur becomes pregnant and the couple steal back to Parmenie, but Riwalin is killed in battle. When she hears the news, Blanschfleur dies, but the baby is delivered and survives. He is named Tristan because of the sorrowful circumstances of his birth.

Tristan grows up in Parmenie, passed off as the son of Riwalin's marshal Rual li Fointeant, becoming the perfect courtier. While on board a merchant ship which has docked in Parmenie, Tristan is abducted by the Norwegian crew. Once at sea, the ship is struck by a tempest, the crew conclude that they are being punished by God for abducting Tristan, so they set him ashore in a country that turns out to be Cornwall. Tristan encounters a hunting party, whom he astonishes with his skill, and he accompanies them to Marke's court, where his many accomplishments make him popular, particularly with Marke.

Eventually, after years of searching, Rual comes to Cornwall and finds Tristan, who is now revealed as Marke's nephew. Tristan is knighted. Cornwall is being forced to pay tribute to the Gurmun, King of Ireland , collected by his brother, the monstrous Morold. Tristan challenges Morold to a duel and defeats him, though he becomes wounded by Morold's poisoned sword.

In order to seek a cure Tristan travels to Ireland incognito under the name Tantris , and contrives to get himself cured by Gurmun's Queen Isolde Isolde the Wise. He is struck by the beauty and accomplishments of her daughter, Isolde the Fair, and returns to Cornwall singing her praises. Jealous of Tristan, Marke's councillors press him to marry, so that Tristan can be ousted as heir. Hoping that he will be killed in the process, they suggest Tristan be sent to Ireland to woo Isolde for Marke.

Tristan travels to Ireland as Tantris and kills a dragon which has been threatening the countryside, thus winning Isolde's hand. However, observing that the splinter previously found in Morold's skull matches Tantris's sword, Isolde realises Tantris is in fact Tristan, and threatens to kill him as he sits in the bath.

Major sources for the 'Ring' appear to have included: Das Nibelungenlied , an early 13th century epic poem in Middle High German. There are several editions available in English. Wagner studied various German editions by Pfizer, Simrock and Vollmer respectively. Several poems from the Elder Edda , or 'Poetic Edda'. The definitive reference for this collection of Old Icelandic poems is the critical edition by Ursula Dronke, with parallel text in ON and English.

Other cheaper editions are available; but please note that the W. Auden text is a paraphrase, rather than a literal translation. Wagner studied various German editions of the poems see Appendix C of Elizabeth Magee's book for details of which poems and editions he read and when. Wagner also referred to Snorri's 'Heimskringla'. Grimm's 'Heroic Sagas' Heldensage. As well as the Nibelungenlied and the Sigurd Fafnirsbane poems of the Edda, various later versions of the story of Siegfried , including 'The Song of Horny Siegfried' it's a reference to his thick skin!

Can be found in modern French and English editions; make sure you get one with the Continuations. DM's opera site. Composers Operas Links Forum About. Act Two: In Marke's royal castle in Cornwall. Act Three: Tristan's castle in Brittany. Ritter und Knappen.

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Dritter Aufzug: Tristan Burg in Bretagne. Voice of a young sailor Tent-like cabin on the fore-deck of a sea-going ship, richly hung with tapestries, at first drawn together upstage; at one side a narrow companion-way leads down to the lower deck of the ship. Isolde on a couch, her face hidden in the cushions. Fresh the wind blows towards home: my Irish child, where are you now? Is it your wafting sighs that swell my sails?

Blow, blow, you wind! Ah, alas, my child!

Tristan und Isolde by Friedrich Huch

Irish girl, you wild, adorable girl! She looks about her, distractedly Brangaene, you?


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Tell me, where are we? Frisch weht der Wind der Heimat zu: mein irisch Kind, wo weilest du? Wehe, wehe, du Wind! Sag', - wo sind wir? Not today, not tomorrow!

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My mistress! Unworthy of your ancestors! How, o Mother, did you dispose of the power of ruling sea and tempest? O feeble art of the sorceress, still cooking up curative potions! Be stirred in me once again, bold power; rise up from my breast where you have lain concealed!

Give ear to my will, half-hearted winds! Off to battle and turbulent elements! To the furious vortex of raging tempests! Shake from her slumber this somnolent sea, awaken from her depths her malevolent greed! Show her the prize that I have to offer! Let her smash this insolent ship and gorge on her shattered wreckage! And whatever has life on her, that faint breath I leave as reward for you winds! Nicht heut, noch morgen! Unwert der Ahnen! Zeigt ihm die Beute, die ich ihm biete!

Und was auf ihm lebt, den wehenden Atem, den lass' ich euch Winden zum Lohn! Ach The evil that I foresaw! My lady! Dear heart! What have you been keeping from me for so long? Not a tear did you shed for father and mother; scarcely a parting word did you have for those left behind. Leaving your homeland, cold and mute, pale and silent on the voyage; without food, without sleep, numb and wretched, wild and distraught.

How could I bear to see you thus, to mean nothing to you, to stand before you as a stranger? Oh tell me now what troubles you! Let me know what is tormenting you! My lady Isolde, dearest beloved! If she is to hold herself of worth in your eyes, place your trust in Brangaene now. My heart is stifled! Open up! Open wide there! Teures Herz! Was bargst du mir so lang? Herrin Isolde, trauteste Holde! Mir erstickt das Herz! Knights and Squires. The length of the ship can be seen as far as the helm and over the stern out to sea towards the horizon. Sitting on deck around the main mast are sailors working on the rigging lines; beyond them, on the poop, can be seen knights and squires at rest; at some distance from them stands Tristan, his arms folded, gazing pensively out to sea; at his feet reclines Kurwenal, relaxed.

ISOLDE whose gaze immediatly falls on Tristan, and remains coldly fixed on him, to herself in a hollow voice Chosen for me, lost to me, splendid and strong, bold and cowardly! Head destined for death! Heart destined for death! Tell me, how does he strike you? Weh, ach wehe, mein Kind! Todgeweihtes Haupt! Todgeweihtes Herz! ISOLDE mocking her Who timidly flees from the blow whenever he can, because he has won a corpse as a bride for his master! Do you think it sinister, my tale? Ask him yourself, then, the free man, whether he dares to approach me! This bashful hero forgets the correct address demanded by honour and well-bred attention to his mistress, lest her gaze fall upon him, the hero without peer.

Oh, he knows well why! To the proud one go and tell him what your mistress says: ready to attend me, he is to come to me at once. At Isolde's premptory wave Brangaene withdraws and, abashed, walks along the deck, past the crew at their work, to the helm. Isolde, following her with a wild gaze, moves back towards the couch, where she remains seated during the following action, her eyes unswervingly fixed on the helm KURWENAL who sees Brangaene coming, tugs, without getting up, at Tristan's garment Watch out, Tristan, an envoy from Isolde.

Frag ihn denn selbst, den freien Mann, ob mir zu nahn er wagt? Oh, er weiss wohl, warum! Zu dem Stolzen geh, meld ihm der Herrin Wort! Meinem Dienst bereit, schleunig soll er mir nahn. Botschaft von Isolde. He quickly composes himself and Brangaene comes up to him and makes obeisance From my lady? What has the faithful maid, obedient to her, courteously come to tell me?

Before the sun sets we shall reach land. May whatever my lady commands be faithfully carried out. TRISTAN There where the green pastures still appear blue to the eye, my King is waiting for my lady; to escort her to him I shall soon approach the radiant one: to none other would I grant this grace. Tristan, listen well.

The lady requires you to attend her, and to proceed to where she awaits you. If the foolish maid cannot make it clear, then hear my lady's words! Thus, she said, I should speak to you: Let her command teach the vainglorious one to fear his mistress, Isolde! He who Cornwall's crown and England's succession bestows upon the Irish girl, he cannot be in thrall to the maid, he who gives her to his uncle.

A lord of the world, Tristan the hero! That's my call, that's what you'll say, though a thousand Lady Isoldes should vent their rage upon me! Ein Herr der Welt Tristan der Held! Ich ruf's: du sag's, und grollten mir tausend Frau Isolden! But his head is hanging in Ireland as tribute paid to England: hail to our hero, Tristan, he knows how to exact tribute! Isolde stands up with a gesture of hopeless rage. To suffer this! I want to know exactly! BRANGAENE When I called him here to you, where he was standing, he said, he served you faithfully, the most honourable lady; were he to leave the helm at this very hour, how could he safely steer the craft to King Mark's land?

Dies zu dulden! Genau will ich's vernehmen. If you sensed my disgrace, hear now what it meant for me.

As they mockingly sing behind my back, well might I make reply about a boat which, small and frail, drifted along the irish coast. In it a sick and ailing man lay miserably dying. Isolde's crafts became known to him; with healing ointments and soothing lotions, the wound which tormented him she faithfully nursed. He who with sly cunning called himself "Tantris" Isolde soon recognised as Tristan since in his sword, as he lay there, she perceived a notch into which, as she found with nimble fingers, there fitted exactly a splinter which once, in the head of the Irish knight, had been sent back to mock her.

Then a cry awoke from the depths of my heart! With the gleaming sword I stood before him, ready to averge on him, the presumptuous one, Lord Morold's death. From his bed, he looked up - not at the sword, not at my hand - he gazed into my eyes. Isoldes Kunst ward ihm bekannt; mit Heilsalben und Balsamsaft der Wunde, die ihn plagte, getreulich pflag sie da. Da schrie's mir auf aus tiefstem Grund! Von seinem Lager blickt' er her, - nicht auf das Schwert, nicht auf die Hand, - er sah mir in die Augen.

Seines Elendes tormented me! The sword - I dropped it! The wound that Morold smote, I healed it so that he recovered and returned home Where were my eyes? The guest that once I helped to nurse? Our Lord Tristan! With a thousand oaths he swore to me eternal gratitude and loyalty. Hear now how a hero keeps his oath! He whom, as Tantris, I let go unidentified, as Tristan boldly soon returned; on a proud ship, from a lofty deck he demanded the Irish successor as a bride for Cornwall's feeble king, for Mark, his uncle.

If Morold were alive, who would ever have dared to bring such shame upon us? For this vassal prince of the Cornish to suit for the crown of Ireland! Ah, I am lost! Yes, I it was who, in secret, brought the shame upon myself! The avenging sword, instead of wielding it, I impotently let it fall! Now I am in the vassal's bondage! How could I have foreseen that it would cause you such grief? Die Morold schlug, die Wunde, sie heilt' ich, dass er gesunde, und heim nach Hause kehre, - mit dem Blick mich nicht mehr beschwere!

Wo hatt' ich die Augen? Der Gast, den einst ich pflegen half? Er schwur mit tausend Eiden mir ew'gen Dank und Treue! Ach, wehe mir! Ich ja war's, die heimlich selbst die Schmach sich schuf. Nun dien ich dem Vasallen! Credulous heart! Despairing silence, feeble courage! How differently Tristan paraded what I had kept concealed! She who in silence gave him his life, from the enemy's fury quietly hid him, who silently lent her sanctuary to save him, both her and all that he abandoned!

Boasting of victory, glorious and bold, loud and clear he pointed to me: "There's a treasure, my lord and uncle; how about that for a wife? This trim Irish girl I'll bring back to you; knowing well the way, with a wave I was off to Ireland; Isolde - she's yours! What a splendid bit of adventure!

Death for us both! Beautiful one! Golden mistress! Dear Isolde! She gradually draws Isolde to the couch Listen to me! Sit here! What madness! What vain anger! Zahmer Mut, verzagtes Schweigen! Wie anders prahlte Tristan aus, was ich verschlossen hielt! Die schweigend ihm das Leben gab, vor Feindes Rache ihn schweigend barg; was stumm ihr Schutz zum Heil ihm schuf, - mit ihr gab er es preis!

Die schmucke Irin hol ich her; mit Steg und Wegen wohlbekannt, ein Wink, ich flieg nach Irenland: Isolde, die ist euer! Fluch deinem Haupt! Tod uns beiden! Goldne Herrin! Lieb' Isolde! Setz dich her! Welcher Wahn! What Lord Tristan ever owed you, how better could he repay it than with the most splendid of crowns?

Tristan and Iseult

Thus could he loyally serve his noble uncle. To you he gave the world's most desirable prize - his own inheritance, nobly and in good faith; he relinquished it at your feet to hail you as Queen! Isolde turns aside And if he secured Mark as a husband for you, why did you scorn the choice? Can you not see its value? Of noble blood and gentle disposition, who can compare with the man in power and glory? He whom a bold hero so faithfully serves, who might not share his fortune and live beside him as his wife?

How could I bear the torment? Unloved, always? She comes close, reassuring and embracing Isolde Where is the man who would not love you? Isolde wendet sich ab Und warb er Marke dir zum Gemahl, wie wolltest du die Wahl doch schelten, muss er nicht wert dir gelten? The power of love would constrain him secretively and confidentially to Isolde Do you not know our mother's craft? Do you imagine that she, who considers everything, would have sent me away with you without means of help into foregin land?

Vengeance for the treachery! Easement for the heart's distress! Fetch me that chest over there! She fetches a small golden chest, opens it and shows its contents In this your mother arranged the powerful magic draughts. For pain and wounds here is ointment; for evil poisons antidote She draws out a flask The finest draught I keep here. She takes a flash and shows it This is the potion that I need! Lower mast, take in sail! Wretched that I am! Near to land! Am Untermast die Segel ein!

Weh mir! Nahe das Land! Up, you ladies! Lively and cheerful! Make ready! Come along, smartly now! He therefore requests Lady Isolde to hurry and to prepare for landing so that he may escort her. ISOLDE after at first shrinking back in fear at the message, composes herself and, with dignity Convey to Lord Tristan my greetings, and tell him what I say: If I am to walk at his side to stand before King Mark, it would not be done with due propriety and custom unless I received restitution in advance for guilt still unatoned.

Let him then seek my grace. Kurwenal grimaces sourly. Isolde continues, more forcefully Mark it well and report it true! Ihr Frauen! Frisch und froh!


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Fertig nun, hurtig und flink! Nicht woll ich mich bereiten, ans Land ihn zu begleiten; I shall not walk at his side to stand before King Mark; he must first seek forgiveness and forgetting, according to propriety and custom, for unatoned guilt. Such my grace would grant him! He returns quikly to Tristan. Bid the world farewell for me, bid my mother and father farewell!

What are you thinking of? Do you intend to flee? Whither am I to follow you? I shall stay here and wait for Tristan. Faithfully carry out my orders, the draught of reconciliation - prepare it quickly; you know, the one I showed you? Pour it out into the golden goblet; it will hold it all. Was sinnst du? Wolltest du fliehn? Wohin soll ich dir folgen? Hier bleib ich, Tristan will ich erwarten. Have pity on me, poor wretch! Do you not know my mother's craft?

Do you imagine that she, who considers everything, would have sent me away with you without means of help into a foregin land? For pain and wounds she gave ointment, for evil potions antidote; For sharpest pain, for extreme anguish she gave the death potion. Let Death now thank her. Schone mich Arme! Der Tod nun sag ihr Dank! Brangaene rises, horrified and confused.

Brangaene, almost fainting, moves upstage. Isolde, summoning up all her strength for the crisis, moves slowly and with great dignity towards the couch and, leaning against it, fixes her gaze on the entrance. A debt of blood exists between us! There he stood, glorious, bold and strong; but what he swore I did not swear; I had learned to keep silent. When in my quiet chamber he lay sick, and I stood quietly before him with the sword, my lips were silent, I held my hand - but what once with my hands and lips I praised I swore to keep silent.


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  • Now I will discharge my oath! Blutschuld schwebt zwischen uns. Da stand er herrlich, hehr und heil; doch was er schwur, das schwurt ich nicht: zu schweigen hatt' ich gelernt. Da in stiller Kammer krank er lag, mit dem Schwerte stumm ich vor ihm stund: schwieg da mein Mund, bannt' ich meine Hand, - doch was einst mit Hand und Mund ich gelobt, das schwur ich schweigend zu halten. Nun will ich des Eides walten. He was betrothed to me, the bold Irish hero.

    I had blessed his weapons, for me he went into battle. When he fell my honour fell too. With heavy heart I took the oath, swearing that if a man did not atone for his murder, I, the maid, would venture to do so. Sickly and feeble, in my power, why did I not strike you down then? You know well why that was so. I nursed his wounds so that, restored to strength, he would be slain in vengeance by that man who had won Isolde from him.

    But now you yourself can speak your lot! Since all men have bound themselves to him, who now has to slay Tristan? Do you value so lightly what he owes you, bringing the irish maid to him as his bride? Siech und matt in meiner Macht, warum ich dich da nicht schlug? Das sag dir selbst mit leichtem Fug. Dein Los nun selber magst du dir sagen!

    Put up your sword! When I wielded it before, when vengeance tore at my breast, when your measuring gaze stole my likeness, to see if I would suit King Mark as a wife, the sword - I let it sink. Let us now drink reconciliation! She makes a sign to Brangaene. Brangaene shudders, wavers and hesitates. Isolde urges her on with more emphatic gestures.

    Upper mast, take in sail! Tristan, do I win reconciliation? What have you to say to me? If I grasp what she concealed, I shall conceal what she does not grasp. You are evading me. Do you refuse to make atonement? Wahre dein Schwert! Da einst ich's schwang, als mir die Rache im Busen rang: - als dein messender Blick mein Bild sich stahl, ob ich Herrn Marke taug als Gemahl: - das Schwert - da liess ich's sinken. Am Obermast die Segel ein! Was hast du mir zu sagen? We have arrived.

    Before long we still be standing before King Mark. When you escort me, would it not be good if you were to speak to him thus: "My lord and uncle, look upon her. A more gentle wife you would never have won. Her betrothed I once slew, his head I sent home to her. The wounds which his arms inflicted she tenderly healed. My life lay in her power; the gentle maid gave it to me, and her land's shame and disgrace she gave me with it, to be your consort.

    Gracious thanks for such sweet gifts were awakened in me by a sweet draught of reconciliation. In it was contained her grace which absolved me from all guilt. Anchor away! Into the tide! Sails and mast to the wind! He seizes the goblet from her Well I know Ireland's queen and the wondrous power of her craft. Ihren Angelobten erschlug ich ihr einst, sein Haupt sandt' ich ihr heim; die Wunde, die seine Wehr mir schuf, die hat sie hold geheilt; mein Leben lag in ihrer Macht: - das schenkte mir die holde Magd und ihres Landes Schand und Schmach, die gab sie mit darein, dein Ehgemahl zu sein. Anker ab!

    Das Steuer dem Strom! Den Winden Segel und Mast! I shall take the goblet that I may be fully cleansed. And witness too the oath of reconciliation which I take, in gratitude to you. Tristan's honour, utter loyalty! Tristan's misery, keenest defiance! Heart's deceit, wishful dreaming! The only consolation in eternal mourning. Beneficent draught of forgetsulness, I drain you unweaveringly! Half is mine! She snatches the goblet Traitor! I drink to you!

    She drinks. Then she throws the goblet aside. In the grip of terror, they gaze steadily into each other's eyes in utmost agitation, but unmoving. In their eyes deadly defiance gives way to the glow of love. They are seized with trembling. They clutch convulsively at their hearts and raise their hands to their heads. Then their eyes seek out one another, are cast down again in confusion, and meet again with growing desire ISOLDE her voice trembling Tristan! They remain in silent embrace In the distance trumpets are heard den sie bot: den Becher nehm ich nun, dass ganz ich heut genese.

    Trug des Herzens! Traum der Ahnung! Ich trink sie dir! Sie trinkt. Dann wirft sie die Schale fort. Hail King Mark! BRANGAENE looking away in confusion and terror, has leaned over the rail, now turns to see the couple clasped in a loving embrace and moves downstage, wringing her hands in despair Ah! Inescapable eternal misery instead of an early death! The deceiving effects of foolish loyalty now bear their miserable fruit. How all our senses pulsate with bliss! Longing devotion's burgeoning blossoms, yearning love's blessed glow!

    My breast bursting with exultant delight! Broken free of the world, won for me! You my only awareness, utmost rapture of love! The curtains are pulled apart, the whole ship is crowded with knights and sailors waving joyfully over the side towards the shore which can be seen close by, with a high, rocky fortress.

    Tristan and Isolde remain lost in gazing at one another, unaware of what is happening arounf them BRANGAENE to the ladies who, at her command, have come up from below deck Quickly, the mantle here, the royal raiment! Listen, don't you hear where we are? Hail to King Mark! Long live the King! Wie alle Sinne wonnig erbeben! Jach in der Brust jauchzende Lust! Welten entronnen, du mir gewonnen! Mit reichem Hofgesinde, dort auf Nachen Lord Mark is approaching.

    Ah, how the journey delights him, winning a bride. What are they calling out? Am I alive? What was that draught? She falls on his breast, unconscious naht Herr Marke. Welcher Ruf? Fassung nur heut! Leb ich? Welcher Trank? Oh happiness in thrall to deceit! A garden with tall trees in front of Isolde's apartments with steps leading up to it at one side.

    A clear, pleasant summer's night. At the open door is placed a burning torch. Sounds of hunting. Brangaene, on the steps to the apartments, looks out after the hunting party as their sounds fade away into the distance. Thay are out of my hearing already. Helle, anmutige Sommernacht. Mir schwand schon fern der Klang. You are misled by the grove's whisperings, laughingly rustling in the wind. She listens I can hear the horns calling. ISOLDE listening again The calling of horns does not sound so sweet, it is the stream's gently murmuring waves flowing along so gaily.