Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Awakening to Sight
By Henrik Hertz (1798–1870)
From ‘King René’s Daughter’: Translation of Sir Theodore Martin

Enter Ebn Jahia, the Moorish Physician, leading Iolanthe by the hand.  He beckons to the others to retire.

IOLANTHE—            Where art thou leading me?
O God! where am I? Support me—oh, support me!
  Ebn Jahia—Calm thee, my child!
  Iolanthe—                    Support me—oh, stand still!
I ne’er was here before—what shall I do
In this strange place? Oh, what is that? Support me!        5
It comes so close on me it gives me pain.
  Ebn Jahia—Iolanthe, calm thee! Look upon the earth!
That still hath been to thee thy truest friend,
And now, too, greets thee with a cordial smile—
This is the garden thou hast ever tended.        10
  Iolanthe—My garden—mine? Alas! I know it not.
The plants are terrible to see—take care!
They’re falling on us!
  Ebn Jahia—                Cease your fears, my child:
These stately trees are the date-palms, whose leaves
And fruit to thee have been long known.
  Iolanthe—                            Ah, no!
Indeed, I know them not!  [Raises her eyes toward the sky.]  This radiance, too,
That everywhere surrounds me—yon great vault,
That arches there above us—oh, how high!—
What is it? Is it God? Is it his spirit,
Which as you said pervades the universe?        20
  Ebn Jahia—Yon radiance is the radiance of the light.
God is in it, like as he is in all.
Yon blue profound that fills yon airy vault,
It is the heaven, where, as we do believe,
God hath set up his glorious dwelling-place.        25
Kneel down, my child! and raise your hands on high,
To heaven’s o’er-arching vault, to God—and pray!
  Iolanthe—Ah, teach me, then, to pray to him as I ought.
No one hath ever told me how I should
Pray to this Deity who rules the world!        30
  Ebn Jahia—Then kneel thee down, my darling child, and say—
“Mysterious Being, who to me hast spoken
When darkness veiled mine eyes, teach me to seek thee
In thy light’s beams, that do illume this world;
Still, in the world, teach me to cling to thee!”        35
  Iolanthe  [kneels]—Mysterious Being, who to me hast spoken
When darkness veiled mine eyes, teach me to seek thee
In thy light’s beams, that do illume this world;
Still, in the world, teach me to cling to thee!—
Yes, he hath heard me. I can feel he hath,        40
And on me pours the comfort of his peace.
He is the only one that speaks to me,
Invisible and kindly, as before.
  Ebn Jahia—Arise! arise, my child, and look around.
  Iolanthe—Say, what are these, that bear such noble forms?        45
  Ebn Jahia—Thou know’st them all.
  Iolanthe—                        Ah, no; I can know nothing.
  René  [approaching Iolanthe]—Look on me, Iolanthe—me, thy father!
  Iolanthe  [embracing him]—My father! Oh, my God! thou art my father!
I know thee now—thy voice, thy clasping hand.
Stay here! Be my protector, be my guide!        50
I am so strange here in this world of light.
They’ve taken all that I possessed away—
All that in old time was thy daughter’s joy.
  René—I have culled out a guide for thee, my child.
  Iolanthe—Whom mean’st thou?
  René  [pointing to Tristan]—        See, he stands expecting thee.
  Iolanthe—The stranger yonder? Is he one of those
Bright cherubim thou once didst tell me of?
Is he the Angel of the light come down?
  René—Thou knowest him—hast spoken with him. Think!
  Iolanthe—With him? with him?  [Holds her hands before her eyes.]  Father, I understand.        60
In yonder glorious form must surely dwell
The voice that late I heard—gentle, yet strong;
The one sole voice that lives in nature’s round.
[To Tristan, who advances towards her]—
Oh, but one word of what thou saidst before!
  Tristan—O sweet and gracious lady!
  Iolanthe—                        List, oh list!
With these dear words the light’s benignant rays
Found out a way to me; and these sweet words
With my heart’s warmth are intimately blent.
  Tristan  [embraces her]—Iolanthe! Dearest!
  René—                    Blessings on you both
From God, whose wondrous works we all revere!        70

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