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 Farewell
By Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874–1929)
Closing scene of ‘The Adventurer and the Singer’: Translation of Bayard Quincy Morgan
  [The Baron is introduced into Vittoria’s house by her husband, whom he has met by chance, and sees there his son, her supposed brother Cesarino. But being warned of danger if he remains in Venice, he takes hurried leave in order to enjoy one more amour before his time in Venice is up. The closing lines follow.]

[She turns once more, advances to him; with altered voice.]
Antonio, thou knowst how yesternight
I came to thee? That memory shall be thine:
I came, so much the slave of an enchantment        5
That issued from thee—and yet not from thee—
That I was scarce the mother of thy child,
No longer I myself, the prima donna,
But thine to hold, thy silly artless creature,
The little, long since dead Vittoria.        10
How glad I am that thou perceived it not,
And now hast giv’n me to myself again.
I might be grateful too, that, thanks to thee,
Once more I still could feel so—
  Baron  [advancing]—                    O Vittoria!
  Vittoria  [rebuffing him with a slight gesture, softly]—Too late.
[The servant comes from the rear.]
  Vittoria  [nodding to the servant, with a smile, aloud]—    Your gondola, I see, is waiting,
Sir Baron!
[She bends her head, the Baron bows low.  Both pass off.  The Baron disappears in the background with the servant.  Vittoria remains standing at the door and looks after him until he disappears.]
  Vittoria—What really going? Can he? Yes, he’s going!
He’s going. Why should I weep? A kindly fate
Is bringing all things to a gentle ending,
And I keep all I have, for he is going        20
From out whose mouth the lightning might have fallen:
For now he’s prancing to a dancer’s piping,
Aye, and the lodestone, where his rotten bark
Will one day yield its bolts and go to pieces,
Is any dwelling from whose open windows        25
Thin, painted lips smile down upon the pavements.
[She sits in a chair, claps her hands to her face, and weeps.  After a time she rises and walks up and down.]
He goes and does not even turn his head
To see the house in which his child is dwelling.
Methinks I wished that it might happen so!
Or have I lied and duped my very self?        30
How lightly, gayly all this found its end!
Had I not seen him as I did yestre’en,
I never could have played my part this morning.
And then again: were something of that ore
That in the title “Father” peals and rings        35
But mingled with his nature’s plastic clay,
He had not thus departed from this threshold.
Upon what cobweb or what heavy chain
Of iron dost thou hang our little fates,
O Master?  [Pause.]
                Well, I see that this is so.
The streams of life, they take a certain course,
And who made music—soon there comes a day
When he knows her no more, and turns away
And leaves her: even so it happened here.
Am I then not the music that he made,        45
I and my child? Is there no fire in us,
That once was flaming fire in his soul?
Whatever kindling set the fire to burning:
The flame’s from God, to God again returning!
[With light tread she passes from the stage.]
[The stage remains empty a moment.  Then Cesarino enters.  He calls.]
  Cesarino—Vittoria! Vittoria!
[He stands listening with growing intentness in the middle of the stage.  Then he runs to the door, listens, and cries with quivering voice:]
Lorenzo, quick! she’s singing wondrously,
It makes my blood stand still in every vein!
She’s singing Ariadne’s glorious song,
That she would never sing for years and years:
The lovely aria, you know, where she is standing        55
On Bacchus’ chariot! Come, Lorenzo, come!

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.