TRISTAN AND ISOLDA. ACT I.
[A pavilion erected on the deck of a ship, richly hung with tapestry, quite closed in at back at first. A narrow hatchway at one side leads below into the cabin.]SCENE I.
ISOLDA on a couch, her face buried in the cushions.— BRANGÆNA holding open a curtain, looks over the side of the vessel.
THE VOICE OF A YOUNG SAILOR (from above as if at the mast-head).
ISOLDA (starting up suddenly).What wight dares insult me?
(She looks round in agitation.)
Brangæna, ho!Say, where sail we?
BRANGÆNA (at the opening).Bluish stripesare stretching along the west:swiftly sailsthe ship to shore;if restful the sea by evewe shall readily set foot on land.
ISOLDA. What land?
BRANGÆNA. Cornwall's verdant strand.
ISOLDA. Never more!To-day nor to-morrow!
BRANGÆNA. What mean you, mistress? say!
(She lets the curtain fall and hastens to ISOLDA.)
ISOLDA (with wild gaze).O fainthearted child,false to thy fathers!Ah, where, mother,hast given thy mightthat commands the wave and the tempest?O subtle artof sorcery,for mere leech-craft followed too long!Awake in me once more,power of will!Arise from thy hidingwithin my breast!Hark to my bidding,fluttering breezes!Arise and stormin boisterous strife!With furious rageand hurricane's hurdlewaken the seafrom slumbering calm;rouse up the deepto its devilish deeds!Shew it the preywhich gladly I proffer!Let it shatter this too daring shipand enshrine in ocean each shred!And woe to the lives!Their wavering death-sighsI leave to ye, winds, as your lot.
BRANGÆNA (in extreme alarm and concern for ISOLDA).Out, alas!Ah, woe!I've ever dreaded some ill!—Isolda! mistress!Heart of mine!What secret dost thou hide?Without a tearthou'st quitted thy father and mother,and scarce a wordof farewell to friends thou gavest;leaving home thou stood'st,how cold and still!pale and speechlesson the way,food rejecting,reft of sleep,stern and wretched,wild, disturbed;how it pains meso to see thee!Friends no more we seem,being thus estranged.Make me partnerin thy pain!Tell me freelyall thy fears!Lady, thou hearest,sweetest and dearest;if for true friend you take me,your confidant O make me!
ISOLDA. Air! air!or my heart will choke!Open! open there wide!
(BRANGÆNA hastily draws the centre curtains apart.)SCENE II.
[The whole length of the ship is now seen, down to the stern, with the sea and horizon beyond. Round the mainmast sailors are ensconced, busied with ropes; beyond them in the stern are groups of knights and attendants, also seated; a little apart stands TRISTAN folding his arms and thoughtfully gazing out to sea; at his feet KURVENAL reclines carelessly. From the mast-head above is once more heard the voice of the young sailor.]
THE YOUNG SAILOR (at the mast-head invisible).The wind so wildblows homewards now;my Irish child,where waitest thou?Say, must our sails be weighted,filled by thy sighs unbated?Waft us, wind strong and wild!Woe, ah woe for my child...!