The Jewess of Toledo
F N Z GP. I LLP,'R Z I
A TF, .iNSL\TIO10N BY
A\RTHUR LUR Li R H.\ R L.
JEWESS OF TOLEDO
THE REGISTER PRESS
YARMOUTH PORT, MASSACHUSETTS
J a,. ,7
BY THE REGISTER PRESS
PRINTED AT THE REGISTER PRESS
YARMOUTH PORT, MASSACHUSETTS
U. S. A.
JEWESS OF TOLEDO
Historical Tragedy in five eAts
THE REGISTER PRESS
YARMOUTH PORT, MASSACHUSETTS
BY THE REGISTER PRESS
PRINTED AT THE REGISTER PRESS
YARMOUTH PORT, MASSACHUSETTS
U. S. A.
THE JEWESS OF TOLEDO
ALFONSO VIII, the NOBLE, King of Castile.
ELEANOR OF ENGLAND, DAUGHTER OF HENRY II, his wife.
THE PRINCE, their son.
MANRIQUE, COUNT OF LARA, Almirante of Castile.
DON GARCERAN, his son.
DORA CLARA, Lady in Waiting to the Queen.
The QUEEN'S MAID.
ISAAC, the Jew.
RAET his daughters.
RAMIRO, the King's page.
NOBLES, LADIES OF THE COURT, PETITIONERS, SER-
VANTS AND CITIZENS
PLACE OF THE ACTION: TOLEDO AND VICINITY
TIME: ABOUT 1195 A.D.
In the Royal Garden of Toledo.
Enter Isaac, Rachel and Esther
Stay, go not inside this garden!
You must know it is forbidden!
When the king here takes his pleasure,
Jews must never God will judge them!-
Jews must never enter here.
Do you hear me?
Yes, I hear you.
Will you heed me?
Hear, but will not heed you.
Oy, oy, oy! How God does try me!
Yet I gave the poor my penny,
Said my prayers, observed the fasts,
Never tasted foods forbidden,
Oy, and yet God tries me thus!
Oh, what makes you pull my sleeve?
Here I am, here I will stay.
I want once to see the king,
See the court and how they act,
All their gold and precious jewels.
He is white and pink, they tell me,
Young and fair: I want to see him.
And in case the servants catch you?
I would tease till I got free.
Like your mother, I suppose?
She too leered at handsome Christians,
Hankered after Egypt's flesh-pots;
Had she not been closely watched,
I might think may God forgive! -
That your folly came through her,
Heritage of loathsome Christians;
But my first wife, her I praise,
Praise your mother, good like you,
E'en though poor. What profit had I
Of the riches of that second?
She spent money as it pleased her,
Giving feasts and showy banquets,
Buying finery and jewels.
Like her mother is this daughter!
Decked with trinkets, all about her,
Clad in bright and showy raiment,
Proud like her of Babylon.
Am I not fair,
Am I not rich ?
Though vexed they be,
What's that to me? La-la, la-la.
Thus she walks in costly shoes;
Wears them out without a thought,
Every step costs me a threepence.
Precious stones set in her earrings,
If a thief comes, takes them from her,
Or if lost, what eye can find them?
takes off an earring
Watch as I remove and hold it,
How it shines and how it shimmers!
Yet I value it so little,
If it strikes me, you can have it;
Even cast it from me. Look!
moves her hand as if to throw the earring away
runs in the direction indicated
Dear, oh dear! Where did it fall?
Dear, oh dear! How can I find it?
searches in the bushes
What possessed you? That fine jewel -
Do you think I am so foolish
And would throw away a treasure?
Look you, in my hand I hold it,
Put it in my ear again,
White and small to grace my cheek.
Come, look here, father,
See, the jewel has been found.
I was jesting.
Then may God- !
Jesting, were you! And now, come!
Father, anything but that.
I, for once, must see the king;
He, the king, see me; yes, me.
When he comes and when he asks:
Who, pray, is that pretty Jewess?
Tell your name, girl. Rachel, Sire,
Isaac's Rachel, I shall say.
He, perhaps, will pinch my cheek.
All will call me pretty Rachel.
Though with jealousy they burst,
Though it vex them, what care I?
There come the mighty.
Lord of Hosts, what will befall me?
Rehoboam and his vassals!
But father, listen.
Well, then stay. You, Esther, come!
Leave the foolish girl alone here.
Let the unclean-handed see her,
Let him touch her, even slay her!
She herself has wished it so.
Do, father, stay!
Hurry on! Come, Esther, come!
Don't leave me alone! I tell you!
Wait! They're leaving Heavens above!
Don't leave me alone! I tell you!
They are coming. Sister! Father!
hurries after them
Enter the king, the queen, Manrique de Lara
Nay, let the crowds draw near! I do not mind;
Whoever calls me king, he points me out
Among the many as the highest; thus
The people are a part of mine own self.
turns to the queen
And you, no lesser portion of my being,
I bid you welcome in this loyal town,
Yes, welcome in Toledo's ancient walls.
Look round about and let your heart beat faster,
For here you stand beside my spirit's fount.
Here is no square, no house, no stone, no tree,
That is not witness of my childhood lot.
As I in fear before my uncle's wrath,
That evil man, who ruled Leon as king,
An orphan child, whose mother early died,
Through lands now hostile, though my own, took flight,
Castilians leading me from town to town,
As secretly as though they hid a theft,
Since death kept menacing both host and guest,
My footsteps watched, beset from every side,
Brave men, among them such as Don Estevan
Illan, long since within his cool turf-covered grave,
And like this man, Manrique, Count of Lara,
Conveyed me here, the stronghold of our foe,
And hid me in the tower of Saint Roman,
That you can see high over yonder roofs.
There I lived hidden but in time they sowed
The seed of rumor in the burghers' ears.
Then on Ascension Day when worshippers
In throngs assembled by the temple door,
They led me out upon the parapet
And showed me to the people, calling down:
Here in your very midst, here stands your king,
The heir of ancient princes; of their right
And of your rights the willing champion.
I was a child and wept, or so they said.
But I can hear it still, that piercing cry,
One word from out a thousand bearded throats,
A thousand swords grasped in a single hand,
The people's hand. God gave us victory,
Leon was forced to flee; and on and on,
I, more a standard than a warrior yet,
An army all about me, crossed my lands
And won us triumphs with my boyish smile;
They taught me meanwhile, gave me constant care,
Blood from their wounds became my mother's milk.
While other princes bear the name of father
Of their own folk, I call myself the son,
For what I am, I owe their loyal help.
If everything you are, most noble Sire,
Is fruit of our example, of our words,
Then we accept your thanks and may rejoice
If what we taught you, if the care we took
Show now in so great fame, such valiant deeds,
Thanks then are due us both, to us and you.
to the queen
Well may you rest your lovely eyes on him:
Of all the kings who ever ruled in Spain
Not one compares with him in noble thought.
Old age most often turns to finding fault,
I too am old and carp and cavil much,
And often when in council my opinions
Were vanquished by his high and princely word,
I, angered secretly, I mean, in passing -
Sought out some evil charge against my king
To prove, God knows how gladly, some misdeed;
Yet always I returned, reduced to shame,
The guilt was mine, while he stayed undefiled.
Why, Lara, can one teach and flatter, too?
But let us not dispute of this or that;
Am I not bad, the better then for you,
Although I fear a man devoid of fault
Might be devoid of excellence as well;
For as a tree with roots away from light
Draws up a somewhat turbid nurture from the soil,
So does the tree trunk known as wisdom draw,
Though its high branches reach to heaven's door,
Its nutriment and strength from turbid earth,
Alan's mortal dust, so close allied to sin.
Can le be just who never has been hard?
He who is mild, is seldom void of weakness,
The brave become too violent in war.
The faults we vanquish are our only virtue,
Without a struggle there can be no strength.
They never gave me time to go astray:
A boy, a helmet on my trembling head.
A lad, with lance in hand astride a horse,
Eyes always turned where hostile menace lurked,
I had no glance to see the joy life holds,
And all that charms and lures, seemed strange and far.
That women lived and breathed, I came to know
In church the (lay I wedded her, my wife,
A woman faultless, if there ever was,
Whom I might love, quite frankly, even more,
Were sometimes need, instead of praise, of pardon too.
to the queen
Now, now, fear not, why it was but a jest!
Yet one does wrong to praise a day not ended
Or call the devil, lest he may appear.
But now instead of argument let us
Enjoy the respite granted us in peace.
The feuds within our land for once are stilled.
The Moor, they say, prepares himself anew
And hopes his kin in Africa will help,
Ben Jussuf and his battle-seasoned troops.
New war will come and with it new distress.
Let us till then, our bosoms free for peace,
Draw in the breath of unaccustomed joy.
Are there no messages ?- But I forget!
Do you not look about you, Leonore,
To learn what we have done for your delight?
What should I see ?
Alas, poor Almirante!
We missed the mark, although we bravely tried.
For days and weary weeks we have been digging
And hoped we might transform this garden plot,
That bears mere oranges and gives but shade,
Into a pattern England makes and loves,
The austere land of her, my austere wife.
Alas, she smiles, in silence shakes her head.-
So are Britannia's children, each and all:
You must cleave closely to established forms
Or be rejected with a haughty smile.
At least admit we meant well, Leonore,
And briefly give these men a word of thanks,
Who for us here, God knows how long, have toiled.
I thank you, noble sirs!
Let us move on!
The day is marred. I hoped I might have shown
Some meadows, cottages in English style
And this and that your garden will contain;
All that is wrong. Do not pretend, my love!
It is so; let us think of it no more.
Some time for state affairs will thus be left,
Ere Spanish wine add spice to Spanish fare.
No messenger has yet come from the front?
We chose Toledo with this end in view
That we be near advices from the foe;
And yet no messenger?
A messenger has come.
points to the queen
My wife is used to council and to war,
The queen shares all decisions with the king.
In this case more than any message, though,
The messenger himself -
Ah, Garceran! Have him brought in!
to the queen
Our young friend greatly sinned, we grant you that,
When he, disguised, stole into women's quarters
To look in secret on the girl he loved.
You, Dofia Clara, need not bow your head.
The man is honest although young and rash,
A comrade of my early boyhood days;
Now failure to forgive were even worse
Than frivolous acceptance of his fault.
Of penance he by now has done enough
In months of exile on the far frontier.
At a nod from the queen, one of her ladies leaves
And yet she goes: 0 modesty,
More chaste than chastity!
Be welcome, friend.
Give me your news. Are men there all afraid
As you, and like you, shy as little girls?
If so, our realm's defense is poor enough.
A man of courage, Sire, fears not a foe;
But noble ladies' righteous wrath unmans.
When wrath is righteous, yes! And do not think
My views of usage and propriety
Are less severe, less serious than my wife's.
Yet wrath must have its limits, like all else.
Once more, then, Garccran, give me your news.
Our enemy, despite the peace, makes trouble?
We fought as though it was mere make-believe,
With bloody wounds on their side, Sire, and ours;
This peace so-called so much resembled war
That broken faith alone distinguished them.
Of late the hostile forces have not stirred.
Ah, that is bad.
We think so, too, believing
They now make ready for a fiercer blow.
For daily ships convey men and provisions
From Africa to Cadiz, so we hear,
Where secretly a mighty army forms,
Which Jussuf, now become the ruler of Morocco,
Will join with forces he recruited there;
They then may launch the blow that threatens us.
Well, if they strike, we blow for blow strike back.
Their king leads them; just so your king leads you;
And if God lives, as He most surely lives,
And justice dwell upon His lips, I hope
For victory with justice and with God.
The peasant's bitter need I pity most,
Placed highest, I expect the hardest lot.
Let all my people congregate in church,
Beseeching God, who grants the victory;
See that the sacred relies are exposed,
That all may pray who soon will join the fight.
Without this word your wish has been fulfilled;
Bells toll their summons out across the land
And to the temples crowding, people come;
Their zeal has though, mistaken as so often,
Turned on adherents of that other creed
Whom trade and profit scattered through our land.
And here and there a Jew was roughly treated.
And you stand idly by? I swear to God:
Who trusts himself to me, him I protect;
Their faith is their concern, their conduct mine.
The people call them spies in Moorish pay.
None can betray the things he does not know,
And as I always have despised their Mammon,
I never yet have asked for their advice.
No Jew nor Christian, only I decide
What is to be. Hence, by your heads, I say -
A WOMAN'S VOICE
There is an old man, Sire,
He seems to be a Jew, pursued by guards.
Two girls are with him. One of them see there! -
Runs toward us.
Right, for here she will be safe.
God's lightning blast the man who does her harm.
calls into the wings
Come here to us!
Enter Rachel, in flight
0 God, they'll kill me next.
My father, too! Is nowhere any help?
sees the queen and kneels before her
Most high and noble lady, give me shelter,
Stretch out your hand and keep your servant safe.
And I will serve you, too; not Jewess, slave.
tries to take the hands of the queen, who turns
away from her
Here too no help, fear everywhere, and death.
Where shall I flee ?
Ah, look, here stands a man
Whose eyes like moonlight shed cool rays and comfort,
And all about him tells of majesty.
You can protect me, sir, oh, and you will.
I do not want to die, not die. No, no!
throws herself down before the king, her hands
clasp his right foot, her head is bowed to
to several who approach
Leave her Fright almost robs her of her senses,
Her trembling makes me tremble with her too!
And everything I have,
takes off her bracelet
my bracelet here,
The necklace, also this most precious cloth,
takes off a cloth she wears like a shawl around
It cost my father forty pounds, no less.
Real Indian weave, I gladly give it up,
But spare my life, I do not want to die!
sinks back to her former position
Isaac and Esther are led in
How has this man offended?
as all remain silent
Sire, you know
It is forbidden that this people enter
The royal gardens when the court is here.
Well, if it is forbidden, I allow it.
He is no spy, Sire, but a simple merchant.
The letters that he carries are in Hebrew,
Not Arabic, not in the Moorish tongue.
I know, I know!
points to Rachel
And this girl?
Is my sister!
Then help her up and take her home.
as Esther approaches her
They will arrest me, they will bear me off
And surely slay me.
points to the ornaments she has taken off
Here my ransom lies.
Here let me stay and let me sleep a while.
lays her cheek against the king's knee
Here I found safety, here a place to rest.
to the king
Will you not go?
You see that I am caught.
You may be caught, but I am free. I go.
exit with her attendants
One more rebuff! With their false modesty
They bring about what they would drive away.
to Rachel, sternly
I say to you, get up! Give back her scarf
And let her go.
O, Sire, a little while -
My limbs are lamed I fear I cannot walk.
rests her elbow on her knee, supporting her head
with her hand
And has she always been so timid?
Not at all.
A while ago she acted all too bold,
Defied us, wanted, sir, to see you.
The cost was high.
And usually at home
She likes to clown and plays with man or dog
And makes us laugh, however grave we are.
I almost wish, indeed, she were a Christian
And here at court, where life is dull enough,
A bit of jest would prove a welcome change.
Illustrious Sire and King!
occupied with Rachel
Stand up! Stand up !
rises, takes off Esther's necklace, placing it with
the other things
Give everything you have,
It is my ransom.
Good, so let it be.
How seems all this to you?
To me, Sire, seems?
Do not pretend! Yours is a practiced eye.
1 never looked on women much myself,
But she seems fair to me.
She is, my lord!
Then summon strength, for you shall lead her home.
stands in the centre of the stage, with trembling
knees and head bowed down, pushing up
Put on my bracelet. Careful now, that hurts.
My necklace too But that is on, of course.
The scarf you keep, I feel so hot and choked.
See she gets home!
But, Sire, I fear -
The crowd is much wrought up -
You may be right.
Although the king's sole word is shield enough,
'Tis better to avoid all provocation.
arranges Rachel's dress at her throat
See how your dress is pulled awry and torn.
Take her for now to any of the shelters
Within the garden, then, when evening comes -
Your further orders, Sire ?
What's that? I see!
to Esther and Rachel
Are you not ready yet?
We are, my lord.
And when the evening comes and crowds disperse,
Then take them home, and so there is an end.
Come, lovely heathen!
Heathen? That is nonsense!
to Rachel, who prepares to leave
Will you not thank the king for so much grace?
still exhausted, turns to the king
Receive my thanks, lord, for your strong protection!
Would I were not this poor and wretched thing,
with a motion of her hand across her throat
This neck, made shorter by the hangman's hand,
This breast a shield to guard you from your foe -
But that you do not wish.
A pretty shield.
Be on your way, with God. And Garceran,
lowers his voice
I do not wish this girl, this ward of mine,
By any rude or forward acts to be
Insulted, nay, disturbed -
with her hand on her forehead
I cannot walk.
as Garceran offers her his arm
Withdraw your arm! You let her sister help her.
And you, old man, keep watch, look to your daughter,
The world is evil, guard your treasure well.
Exit Rachel with her kin, led by Garceran
watches them as they go
She falters still. Her being, soul and body,
A sea of fear with wave succeeding wave.
puts down his foot
I feel she held my foot so tightly clasped
It almost pains. How strange in fact it is,
A craven man quite justly is despised,
While woman shows her strength by being weak.
You, Almirante, what think you of this?
I think the way. Sire, you now punished him,
My son, was no less subtle than severe.
Yes, selecting him to guard this rabble.
The punishment may, friend, not be so hard.
I never sought out women much myself,
points to his attendants
These, though, may take a different point of view.
But now away with such confusing scenes.
We go to dine, I must renew my strength,
And when we pledge this joyous day with festive toast
Let each recall to mind the thoughts he treasures most.
Stand not on rank or order! Go! Lead on!
Exit the king between courtiers drawn up in
ranks on either side of the stage
The curtain falls.
Shallow stage, showing part of the garden. To
the right a garden-house with a balcony and a door
to which several steps lead up.
Enter Garceran, through the door
Thus I shall save myself while I still can.
The girl is fair, and something of a fool;
But love is folly, so a foolish woman
Is more a danger than the slyest one.
Besides, I must restore my good repute,
And bring my ardent love for Dofia Clara -
Least prone to speak of all who never speak -
Again to honor while there still is time;
A wise man counts escape a victory.
Enter a page of the king
What, Robert, brings you here?
The king, my lord, commanded me to see
If you still tarried here with her, your ward.
If we still tarried? He commanded Friend,
You were to see if I had strayed upstairs?
Tell him the girl is in the garden-house
And I outside. That news will be sufficient.
He comes himself!
Enter the king wrapped in a cloak; exit the page
Was it not you yourself who ordered
That not until the dark of evening came -
Yes, yes, I did! But to my later judgment
It seems far wiser that you move by day -
They call you bold.
And so, my lord, you think ?
I think you honor what the king has pledged
Who would not have molested what he guards.
But habit is the master of mankind,
Our wills will often only what they must.
And so be off. But what about your ward?
To start with, there was weeping without end,
But time brings comfort, as the saying goes;
And so it was; scarce had the fright worn off,
When cheerful moods, yes, merriment, returned.
Then only did one see each shining thing;
The silk upon the walls was much admired,
The curtains' worth was figured by the yard,
Now all has been arranged and there is calm.
And does she seem at all to long for home?
Almost, and then again, it seems not so.
The careless rarely fret ahead of time.
You did not fail, of course, to cast the lure
Of talk before her, as you always do?
How did she take it?
Not unkindly, Sire.
You lie! -You hardly know your luck, my boy!
You hover like a bird in cloud-free skies
And swoop down only where a berry lures,
And at a glance know what is best to do.
I am a king and words I speak cause fear,
But I should be afraid myself if faced
The first time by some woman quite unknown.
Just how do you begin? Teach me a bit,
I am a novice in such things as those,
Am not much better than a grown-up child.
You heave a sigh?
Fie, Sire, how out of style!
Well then, make eyes? And you Sir Gander stare
Till Lady Goose stares back. Is that the way?
And then perhaps you take your lute in hand
Below the balcony, as you would here,
To sing some croaking ditty while the moon,
A wan procurer, sparkles through the trees
And flowers' intoxicating scents arise,
Until the favoring moment is at hand,
The father, brother, husband even, leaves
The house, maybe on similar errand bent,
And then her servant softly whispers: Pst!
You enter, feel some fingers, soft and warm,
Grasp yours; they lead you through a maze of halls
Which, darker than the grave, and on and on,
Increase desire, till scent of sandalwood
And pallid light that shines beneath the door
Give notice that your lovely goal is near.
A door swings back, and there where candles glow,
Against dark velvet nestling, limbs relaxed,
With ropes of pearls around her gleaming arm,
Her head thrown gently back, reclines your love.
Her golden hair not golden, I mean black -
Those coal-black raven locks and all the rest!
You see how well you teach me, Garceran;
What difference if Christian, Moorish,-Jewish!
As frontier fighters we have certain rights
To Moorish women; but a Jewess, Sire -
Yes, now pretend you choose and pick your fare!
I wager if the girl we have within
Had merely glanced at you, your love would flame.
I love them not, these people, but I know
That what disfigures them, we cause ourselves.
We lame them, then are angry if they limp.
And something great moreover, Garceran,
Is in this tribe of restless, roving shepherds:
We are but of today, but they extend
Back to creation's cradle, back to times
When God in Eden walked about with man,
When Cherubim were guests of patriarchs,
The triune God was judge and justice both.
Amid this world of fancy, truth is found
In Cain and Abel, in Rebecca's wisdom,
In Jacob, wooing Rachel with his service -
That girl, what is her name?
I know not.
In Ahasuerus, who held out his sceptre
Toward Esther who, his wife, herself a Jewess,
Became the guardian angel of her race,
The Christian like the Moslem finds his line
Goes back to them, this oldest folk, the first;
So it is they doubt us, not we doubt them.
And if, like Esau, they have sold their birthright,
We ten times daily crucify our Lord
By sins that we commit, by our misdeeds,
While they, the Jews, have done the deed but once.
Now let us go. Or rather, you remain!
Escort her home, take note of where she lives.
Perhaps sometime when weary cares oppress me,
I'll visit her, take pleasure in her thanks.
about to leave, hears a noise in the garden and
Some noise within. It seems almost
They give your lately lavished praise the lie
By quarrels among themselves.
walks toward the house
Why should they quarrel?
Enter Isaac, coming from the garden-house
speaks over his shoulder to someone within
Then stay here if you will and risk your necks!
You barely got off once. I'11 save my skin.
Ask what is wrong!
What is it, my good man?
Ah you, kind nobleman, who are our guard.
My darling Rachel speaks so much of you,
You won her heart.
Come, come! No idle talk -
Who is that man?
No matter; you reply.
Why was there such disturbance overhead?
speaks up at the window behind
You see? Your time is coming. Wait a bit.
Now you yourself have seen my little Rachel,
Seen how she wept and moaned and beat her breasts,
Her mind half crazed. Well, sir, upon my life,
Scarce did she know the time of danger passed,
When her old wantonness returned in force;
She laughed, she danced and sang, half mad again;
She moved the sacred objects from their shrine
That death protects and makes the noise you hear.
Does not a chain of keys hang from her waist?
Well, these she tries on every cupboard, sir,
That stands along the wall, and opens it;
Within hang garments, now, of every sort:
A beggar next a king, and angels, devils,
A motley crew -
aside to Garceran
Left from the masquerade.
From these she chooses for herself a crown
Adorned with plumes not gold, but gilded tin,
You tell it by the weight, worth twenty pence -
Then round her shoulders hangs a trailing gown
And says she is the queen.
speaks again over his shoulder
Just so, you fool!
And even worse the room nearby contains
A picture of our king, whom God preserve!
She takes it from the wall, bears it about,
Calls it my husband, speaks with loving words
And hugs it to her breast.
The king goes with determined steps toward the
My royal master!
God help me!
with calm voice, as he stands on the steps
I would see that farce near by.
Besides, the time draws near that you depart.
I would not have you miss the hour that serves.
But you, old man, must come. For not alone,
Not unobserved, would I approach your daughters.
enters the house
Was that the king? God help me!
And if he draws his sword, we all are doomed!
Go in with him! And as for having fear,
1 aum afraid, not for your daughter, nor for you.
pushes Isaac, who still hesitates, through the
door, and follows him
Large hall in the garden-house. A door at the
rear, left; another at the front, right.
Rachel, a plumed crown on her head and a gold
embroidered mantle around her shoulders,
is trying to drag an armchair from the room
at the right. Esther has come in through
the main entrance
Here shall this big chair stand, here in the middle.
In Heaven's name now, Rachel, pray take care;
Your rashness else will plunge us in misfortune.
The king has given us this house to use;
So while we live here, it belongs to us.
They have dragged the chair to the centre of the
looks at herself
My train looks well on me, I think. And you?
And when I nod my head, these feathers nod.
One thing is lacking still and wait, I'll get it.
goes back through the side door
Would we were far from here and safe at home.
And father is not back, whom she drove off.
comes back with a picture without a frame
A portrait of the king, slipped from its frame,
This I shall take along.
Have you gone mad?
How often have I warned you!
Did I ever heed?
By Heaven, no!
Nor will I heed you now.
I like this picture. See how fair it is.
I'll hang it in my room, close by my bed.
At night and in the morning I shall look
And looking, think well, what you think about
When you have shaken off the weight of clothes
And then feel free of all this heavy load.
Yet, lest they should believe T meant to steal
- For I am rich and have no need of stealing -
You wear my picture there about your neck,
And we shall hang it in the other's place
So he can look at that as I at his
And thus remember me if he forgot me.
Bring me the footstool there; you see I am the queen
And I will pin the king upon this chair.
They say that witches who force men to love
Thrust needles, thus, in images of wax,
And every prick will reach the heart of him
Whom they would charm, to stay or quicken life.
fastens the picture to the back of the stool with
pins on its four corners
If only every single prick drew blood,
Then I should drink it down with thirsty lips
And take my pleasure in the harm I wrought.
It hangs before me, beautiful but mute;
But I shall talk to him as would a queen
In this becoming mantle and the crown.
sits down on the footstool and gazes at the
You hypocrite, for all your pious airs
I know your wiles, yes, each and every one.
The Jewess pleased you, that you must admit!
And she is fair upon my royal word,
To be compared, I think, but with myself.
The king, followed by Garceran and Isaac, has
entered and placed himself behind the chair
against the back of which he leans his arms,
as he watches
But I will not allow it, I, your queen;
For I am jealous, sharper than a weasel.
Your silence only makes your guilt the more.
Confess! She pleased you? Answer yes!
Rachel starts violently, looks at the picture, then
looks up, recognizes the king and remains
motionless on the footstool
Why be afraid? You wished me to say yes;
I did. Take heart, you are in friendly hands.
as he stretches his hand toward her, she leaps
from her seat and flees to the door right,
where she stands with bowed head and
Is she so shy?
Not always, please, my lord.
Not shy, but quickly frightened.
Am I so fearful?
shakes her head violently
Well then, compose yourself, I pray, dear child.
I liked you, yes; I say it once again;
And if this holy war sends me safe home,
To which my honor summons and my duty,
Then in Toledo I may ask for you.
Where do you live?
Sire, in the Jewish quarter,
Ben Mathaes' house.
If we are not by chance
Thereto I pledge my word!
Those whom I choose to guard are guarded well.
And if you are so talkative at home
And gay of heart as lately with your folk,
Not shy as now, I'll come and chat a while
And catch my breath from airless days at court.
But now depart, it is high time to go.
You, Garceran, escort them; but you must
First put my picture back where it belongs.
rushes to the picture pinned to the stool
Your picture, it is mine.
Back whence you took it; put it in its frame.
Don't touch that picture, nor remove those pins,
Or I shall fix it with a deeper thrust,
thrusts a pin at the picture
Like this, right through the heart.
Hold off! By Heaven,
You nearly frightened me. Who are you, girl?
Do you use secret arts the law calls crimes?
It seemed as though I felt in my own breast
The thrust aimed at the picture.
She is but pampered, an unruly child,
Quite ignorant of all forbidden arts.
She thought of it and did it, that is all.
One should not trifle wantonly like this.
It forced the blood up to my very eyes
And objects round about still seem confused.
Is she not fair?
She is, my lord and king!
And how that stirs and swells and gleams and glows.
Rachel has meanwhile removed the picture and
rolled it up
So you refuse to leave the picture here?
I'm taking it.
Then put your faith in God,
He will prevent whatever evil threatens.
Now go in haste. Take, Garceran,
The path that cuts the garden to the rear.
The people are aroused; and weak folk like
To test their weakness on those weaker still.
at the window
But see, my king, there comes the court in full,
The queen herself leads on her retinue.
This way? 0 God! Is there no other door?
1 loathe the workings of their narrow minds.
points to the side door
Will this room serve your need?
What do you mean?
Am I to hide myself before my servants?
And yet I fear the pain the queen may feel,
She might believe what I myself believe.
And so I save my troubled majesty.
See to it that you quickly have her go.
exit into the side room
Did I not say: this way misfortune lies?
Enter the queen, accompanied by Manrique de
Lara and several others
I was informed his Majesty is here.
He was, but he has gone.
And here, the Jewess.
Arrayed, like lunacy set loose and free,
In all the tinseled state of puppet plays.
Take off the crown; which is not yours to wear,
Not even as a jest; the mantle, too
Esther has taken them both off from her
What has she in her hand?
It is my own.
That we shall see.
Think not we are so poor
That we should stretch our hands for alien goods.
goes toward the side door
Make thorough search within this room to see
If anything be gone; if greed, perhaps,
Has joined itself with impudence, as here.
bars the way
Here, father, I call: Halt!
Do you not know me?
You and myself. There are, you know, some duties
Which even fathers' rights do not outweigh.
Straight look me in the eye. He shifts his glance.
And so of two sons I am robbed this day.
to the queen
Will you not go?
I would, and yet I cannot;
Rather, I can, by Heaven, for I must.
Although your task here ill befits a knight,
I must commend the loyal way you serve.
To see were death but I can bear and suffer;
And if, ere evening comes, you see your king,
Tell him that to Toledo I have gone -alone!
Exeunt the queen and her attendants
An evil fate that chose of all the days
This very one to bring me home from war.
to Esther, who is occupied with her
The threat of death would not have made me yield.
But now, we beg of you, take us away.
First I must ask the king what is his wish.
knocks at the side door
Most gracious Sire! No sign of life! What if
Some mishap ? Come what may, I must go in.
The king steps out and walks to the front of the
stage, while the others withdraw to the rear
So honor and the world's repute are not
A level road on which straightforward steps
Decide the course and ends determine worth;
Is it, perhaps, a juggler's tight-stretched rope
On which one misstep plunges from the heights
And any lack of balance calls forth laughter?
Must I, decorum's model yesterday,
Avoid today my servants' every glance?
Then sue no more for favors, fortune's smile!
Yourself determine where your paths should lead.
What, you still here?
We wait for orders, Sire.
Would you had always waited for an order
And were still waiting at the far frontier.
Your presence spreads contagion, Garceran.
Just princes aim to punish every fault,
Their own as well. But, as they are exempt,
Their wrath not rarely falls on other heads.
Not mine. You need not worry, Garceran!
Our friendly feelings for you have not changed.
Yet now take them away, for good and all:
Caprice in others is in princes guilt.
as Rachel approaches him
Enough! But lay aside this picture first,
Return it to the place you took it from.
I wish it. So, make haste.
Then you come, too.
as they approach the side door together
My portrait, are you wearing it today?
What do you want?
My way, no matter what.
They disappear through the side door
Await me at the front; I soon will follow.
There we will wash away in Moorish blood
The equal shame that we have shared this day
So we can once more meet the eyes of men.
Rachel and Esther return
It has been done.
Away, without farewell.
Receive, 0 Sire, the thanks we give.
Give no thanks, then.
I will, but later on.
Not later, never!
I know better.
They go, accompanied by Garceran and followed
by old Isaac, bowing obsequiously
High time for her to go; to tell the truth,
The heavy tedium of our life at court
Makes something that will lighten it a need.
And yet this girl, though she has beauty, charm,
Seems overbold and violent at heart;
A wise man then, and prudent, will take care -
Enter a servant
Prepare our mounts.
Sire, to Toledo?
To Alarcos, boy.
We start for the frontier, we go to war;
Make ready only what we need the most.
Four threatening eyes await me in Toledo:
Two full of tears, two others full of fire.
She fought to keep my picture in her hands,
Defying firmly even death itself.
But then I spoke a word of stern command
And back it went to where it hung before.
An artful bit of acting, nothing else.
I wonder if she fixed it in its frame?
Since, when I go, I leave this place for long,
Let all be as it was and undisturbed
And every trace of this affair wiped out.
goes into the side room. A pause during which
the servant takes up from the chair the
clothes which Rachel has taken off and
hangs them over his arm, keeping the crown
The King returns, holding in his hand Rachel's
My picture gone and this one in its place -
It is her own. It seems to burn my hand.
hurls the picture to the floor
Away with you! Can pertness go thus far?
That must not be! For while I think of her
With just abhorrence, this, her painted likeness,
Makes flame the embers glowing in my breast.
To think she holds my picture in her hands!
They talk of magic and forbidden arts
This folk employs with symbols such as this,
And something as of magic chills my flesh.
to the servant
Here, pick this up and straightway hurry on
Until you overtake them.
Why, Garceran, of course, and those two with him.
Return this to the girls and then demand -
What, noble Sire?
Shall I make my own servants
My confidants to share with me my shame?
I will myself force the exchange, if need be.
Well, pick it up I will not touch the thing.
The servant has picked up the picture
How clumsy, boy! Now put it in your bosom;
But there a stranger's warmth would keep it warm!
Here! I myself will take it. Come with me;
We must catch up with them.
On second thought,
Now that distrust is rife, some mischief might
Befall them, yes, an act of violence.
No other escort serves as well as I.
You, follow me!
looks at the picture and then puts it in his bosom
Is not that castle there
Retiro, where my forbear once, Don Sancho,
Hid with a Moorish girl from all the world -
It is, illustrious Sire.
But we will copy
Our forbears in their bravery, their worth,
Not in their weakness when they basely fall.
A man's first task is conquest of himself-
Then let him face all foreign conquerors.
Retiro is its name? What was my plan?
Oh yes, to leave! And seal your lips! Of course,
You do not know. So much the better. Come!
exit with the servant
The curtain falls.
Garden of the royal country seat, the Castle
Retiro. At the rear flows the river Tagus. Toward
the front, right, a roomy arbor.
To the left, several petitioners in a row, with
petitions in their hands; Isaac stands near
You have been told no one must loiter here.
For here my daughter soon will take her airing,
And lie with her, yes he; I say not who.
So tremble and begone! And your requests
Take to the king's advisors in Toledo.
takes the petition of one of them
Let's see! Rejected, go!
You held it wrong.
Because the whole request is also wrong,
And so are you. You cause disturbance, go.
Oh, Isaac, sir, you know me from Toledo.
I know you not. In recent days I find
My eyes have both become a trifle weak.
Well, I know you, however; and this purse,
The one you lost, I here restore to you.
The purse I lost? It is the very one,
Of good green silk, had ten piastres in it.
Twenty? Well, my eye is good;
It is my memory that grows weak at times.
This paper, I suppose, gives your account
In full, of what you found and where and how.
And this report you have for higher quarters
Is not now needed; give it here to me,
That I may file it in its proper place
And odor of your honesty may rise.
The petitioners hold out their petitions; he takes
one in each hand and flings them to the
No matter what it is, here is your answer.
to a third
You wear a ring upon your finger here,
The stone is good. Let's see!
The petitioner gives him the ring
This flaw, of course,
Destroys its lustre; here, you take it back.
puts the ring on his own finger
But you have put it on your hand.
Why, so I have! I thought I gave it you.
The ring sits tight. Why should I maim myself?
Keep it; but, please, take my petition also.
busies himself with the ring
I keep them both in memory of you.
The king shall weigh the ring; that is, your words,
Though your petition has a serious flaw,
I mean, of course, the stone you understand.
Now all of you, be gone! Have I no club?
Must I be bothered with this Christian rabble?
Garceran has meanwhile entered
Good luck! You sit among the reeds and pitch
The pipes you cut, I think, a bit too high.
My task it is to keep intruders out.
The king is not here, says he is not here.
Whoso disturbs him you too, Garceran,
I must bid you begone. I have no choice.
You asked not long ago to have a club.
When you have found one, bring it here. It would,
It seems, befit your back more than your hand.
Now you flare up. All Christians are the same,
Direct and frank, outspoken. But cleverness
And caution, supple patience, these they lack.
The king enjoys the talks he has with me.
It needs a bore to furnish entertainment
When boredom takes to flight before itself.
We talk affairs of state and of exchange.
The new decree derives from you, perhaps,
Which makes a threepence worth but twopence now?
Friend, money lurks behind all things we do.
The enemy approaches, you buy arms;
The soldier serves for pay and pay is money;
You eat, you drink up money; what you eat
Is bought and bought with money, nothing else.
The time will come when each man is a draft,
And one, my friend, made payable at sight.
I am the king's advisor. Should you care
Yourself to join your cause with Isaac's fortune -
To join my cause with yours? It is my curse
That chance and damnable appearances
Entangled me in folly's foul concerns
Which harshly test both duty and my oath.
My Rachel mounts in favor day by day.
Oh, why could not this king have spent his youth,
The thoughtless turbulence of boyhood years,
In play and trifling much as others do?
With only men about him as a child,
Cared for, brought on to man's estate by men,
Sustained before his time on wisdom's fruit,
His marriage even treated as a deal,
He, for the first time, chances on a woman,
A female being, nothing but her sex,
Who venges folly on the child of wisdom.
Good women are in part, or wholly, men;
It is their faults that turn them into women.
In his case even opposition fails
Which bitter knowledge gives those oft deceived:
The wanton game becomes a serious thing.
But this shall not last long, I pledge my word.
The foe is at our borders and the king
Must head his troops; I come to lead him there,
Then your mirage will be reduced to nought.
See if you can succeed. You must be with us,
Or else against us. You will break your neck
If you attempt to clear the wide abyss.
The sound of flutes is heard
Hear that? With cymbals and with trumpets they approach
As Ahasuerus came, the king, with Esther,
Who raised our folk to glory and to fame.
Must I see mirrored in this wanton king
My image as I was in former days,
Shamed for myself in him, for him in me?
A boat with the king, Rachel and attendants on
board appears on the river and comes along-
Make fast! Here is the landing, here the arbor.
The boat is rocking; stop, or I shall fall.
The king has leapt ashore
And here upon this board that swings and sways
Am I to come ashore?
Here, take my hand.
No, no! I'm giddy!
Giddy? Aye, very true.
helps her ashore
Now it is done, the superhuman task.
No, never will I board a boat again.
seizes the king's arm
Allow me, dear my lord! I am so weak
And feel my heart, it pounds as though in fever.
Fear is a woman's right, which you abuse.
And now, hard hearted, you deny me your support;
Besides, this garden's paths are nowhere strewn
With sand, but rudely with the sharpest stones
For men to stamp on, not for women's steps.
Lay her a carpet, then; let us have peace.
I feel that I am nothing but a burden.
Oh, if my sister only could be here!
For I am ill and weary unto death.
No other cushions here?
throws the cushions in the arbor violently about
No, no, no, no!
The weariness has luckily grown less.
catches sight of Garceran
Ah, Garceran, see what a child she is.
A pampered one, it seems.
So are they all.
It suits her well.
Depending on one's taste.
Look, Garceran, I realize my wrong;
But I know also that a simple nod,
One word suffices wholly to dissolve
This dream play to the nothingness it is.
And so I bear it since it is a need
Amid the troubles my own guilt has caused.
How does the army?
As you long have known,
The enemy prepares.
And so shall we.
A day or two to finish with this trifling,
To banish it, forgotten, from my heart
Forever, then comes time and with it counsel.
The counsel, yes, perhaps; but time will fly.
We shall catch up with time by deeds we do.
They talk now and, alas, I know of what:
Of blood, of war, wild battles with the Moors,
And that man there is making plots against me
And lures his master to the field, far off,
To free a path to reach me for my foes.
And yet, Don Garceran, I like you well;
You know what treatment pleases gentle ladies;
They praise your bold attack when you pay suit,
Your daring exploits in the courts of love.
You are not like your master, who, the king,
Even when love meets love's embrace, is rude;
Who soon repents each kindly word he speaks;
And whose affection is a hidden hate.
Come here and sit by me! I want to speak,
Not mope alone amid this noisy crowd.
You will not come. Of course, they hold you back.
They grudge me every comfort, every joy,
And keep me like a slave shut up alone.
If only I were home in Father's house,
Where all was at my service, at my wish,
While here I am rejected and despised.
Go sit by her!
You bid me?
Go on, go!
Sit here by me! No, nearer, nearer; thus!
Once more I say I like you, Garceran.
You are a perfect knight in very fact,
Not in name only as they learned to be,
Those proud Castilians, iron hard and cold,
Taught by their foes, the hostile Moorish folk.
But what these others do with grace and skill,
Expressing qualities they have from birth,
Those crudely imitate and stay uncouth.
Give me your hand; but see how soft it is,
And yet you wear a sword no less than they.
You are at ease, though, in a lady's chamber
And know good manners, what is said and done.
Is not this ring a gift of Doila Clara,
One all too pale to live with pink-cheeked love,
Were not the color lacking in her face
Supplied by endless waves of blushing shame.
But here I see you wear still other rings;
How many sweethearts have you ? Well? Confess.
What if I made of you the same demand ?
I never yet have loved. But I could love
If I should meet the madness in some breast
That would fill mine, had once my heart been stirred.
Till then I follow customs like the rest,
Traditional in love's idolatry,
As in a foreign temple one would kneel.
has meanwhile been pacing back and forth from
the front to the rear of the stage; he now
turns to one of the servants at the front,
left, and addresses him in an undertone
Go get my arms, a coat of mail complete;
With them await me near the garden-house.
I leave for camp where I can be of help.
Exit the servant
Look at your king! He thinks he is in love,
Yet when I speak to you or press your hand,
He does not trouble; like a business man
He rounds out crowded, noisy hours with work,
Content if night but close the day's account.
Be gone! You are like him, like all the others too.
Would that my sister came! She is cool-headed,
Is wiser far than I; but if the spark
Of purpose and resolve falls in her breast,
She blazes forth like me in towering flames.
Were she a man, she would be strong; you all
Would be submissive to her dauntless eye;
But I will sleep meantime until she comes;
Myself a dream but of a single night.
lays her head nestling in her arm on the cushion
steps up to the king, who has stopped pacing
back and forth and now regards Rachel as
his eyes still fixed on Rachel
What say you?
If you please,
I shall return to camp to join the troops.
The troops have left the camp you say; but why?
You did not hear me. I would go to camp.
And there tell stories, state opinions, gossip ?
Of me, of what has happened here.
For that I first would have to understand.
Ah!- You believe in miracles?
Of late, sir, yes.
Why only, friend, of late?
We mostly love alone what we respect,
But love what we despise, my royal master -
Despise is, I should say, too harsh a word;
Disdain, perhaps, but still miraculous.
The miracle has grown a little old
And first was worked that day in paradise
When God created Eve from Adam's rib.
But after it was done, he closed the breast
And at the entrance placed the will on guard.
Rejoin the troops; but not alone, with me.
The sun has stolen in to my retreat,
Who will support that curtain on the side?
looks off-stage to the right
There go two men, who carry heavy weapons;
The lance would serve my purpose very well.
calls into the wings
Come here! This way! do you not hear? Make haste!
Enter the servant, returning with the king's
helmet and lance, accompanied by a sec-
ond servant bearing the king's shield and
Here with your lance, good man, and thrust its point
Deep down into the earth that it will keep
The roof supported on the sunny side
And make the shadow broader which it casts.
- Do as I say! Enough! That other man,
He takes his house along as does the snail,
If not, more like, a house for someone else.
- Hold up the shield! -A mirror, as I live!
Crude, yes, like all else here, but it will serve.
The shield is held out before her
One can arrange one's hair, put back a curl
That carelessly has ventured too far out,
Rejoicing God so made us as to please.
This bulging shield distorts. May Heaven help!
What puffed-up cheeks are these. No thanks, my friend;
We want no fullness other than our own.
- The helmet next! Ill-suited to make war,
Concealing what most often wins, the eyes,
But made expressly for the strife of love.
Now put the helmet on my head ? You hurt me! -
In case one's love rebels and stands on pride,
The visor down!
lets the visor down
And he stands in the dark.
But should he plan, perhaps, to go away,
Send for his arms, to leave us here alone,
Then up the visor goes.
lifts the visor
Let there be light!
The sun will conquer, scattering all the mists.
goes toward her
You silly, playful, wise, yet foolish child.
Stand back!-Give me the shield! Give me the lance!
They come on me with force. I shall fight back.
Lay down your arms! No harm will touch you here.
takes both her hands
Enter Esther from the rear, left
Ah, you, my little sister! Welcome here!
Off with this masquerade! Be quick! Be quick!
The helmet, not my head. What louts you are!
runs to greet her
Now welcome once again, dear sister mine.
How I have longed to have you at my side!
I hope you bring the bracelet and my clasps,
The balms and scents Toledo has for sale
And which I ordered there and had reserved?
I bring them but with other, graver things:
With evil news, an unbecoming jewel.
Illustrious lord and prince! Her Majesty,
The queen, has quit Toledo's walls to seek
The pleasure palace where it was we first,
To our misfortune, Sire, laid eyes upon you.
Together with her went your noble father,
Manrique Lara, who by open letters
To each had summoned all the realm's grandees
To join in counsel for the common good
As though the kingdom were without a head
And you had died, who are its lord and king.
You must be dreaming.
Sire, I wake and watch,
And must keep watch to keep my sister safe,
Whom they now threaten and will make their victim.
God help me now! Have I not begged you long
To go away from here, Sire, back to court
And there break up my enemies' designs?
But you remained. And see, here are your weapons;
The helmet, shield and here is your great spear.
Shall I collect them ?-No, I am too weak.
Care for that foolish creature who ten times
Can contradict herself with every breath.
I shall appear at court; I need no arms;
With open breast and with defenseless hands
I there shall step within my subjects' midst
And ask: What rebel dares to lift a voice?
They are to know their king still lives these days
And though the sun may set when evening comes,
The morning brings to life its brilliant rays.
Come, Gareeran !
You find me ready, Sire.
But what, Sire, is our fate?
Oh stay, please stay!
The castle is secure, the keeper true,
He will protect you with his very life.
For though I feel that I in much have erred,
I would have no one suffer who, relying
On my protection, shared my guilt and error.
Come, Garceran! Or rather, lead the way;
For if I found those nobles still assembled,
Uncalled by me, by me unauthorized,
I then must punish, though against my will.
And so, bid them disperse, and quickly too,
And to your father say: Though he was guard
And ruler for me when I was a lad,
I now know how to guard my rights myself
Against him, and against them all combined.
Now come And you, farewell
Have done I need my strength and steadfast will
And would not weaken them with fond farewells.
When I have done my duty, news will come;
How I will act and what the future holds
Are wrapped in darkness still, and night. I pledge
My word to guard and shield you, come what may.
Come, Garceran! God be with us and you.
Exeunt the king and Garceran, to the left
IHe does not love me, I have known it long.
Oh sister, useless is that tardy knowing
That comes when harm has taught us what to know.
I warned you; you would never give me heed.
He was so hot and ardent at the start.
And now he coolly evens out his haste.
But what will come of me who trusted him?
Let us escape!
The streets are full of men,
And all the country rises up against us.
And I am then to die and am still young,
And want so much to live. Well, not to live;
No, to be dead, unwarned and unprepared.
The instant we are dying only shakes us.
her arms about Esther's neck
I am unhappy, sister, past all hope!
after a pause, her voice broken by sobs
And has the necklace amethysts, for sure,
The one you brought?
It has. And also pearls
As glowing as your tears and just as many.
I do not care to see it. Later, maybe,
If our arrest endures too long a time
And endless tedium calls for some diversion,
I'll put it on and deck myself for death.
Look, who draws near! Ha-ha, ha-ha! If that
Is not our father, and armed from top to toe.
Enter Isaac from the left, a helmet an his head
and wearing a cuirass under his gabardine
Yes, I, the father of a wayward brood
Who bring me to the grave before my time.
In armor, yes. Is murder not afoot?
Will flesh alone turn off a dagger's thrust?
An unexpected blow can split your skull.
What's more, the cuirass hides my drafts and bills.
Its pockets hold the gold that I have saved,
That I shall bury, keeping soul and body
From poverty and death. And if you mock,
My curse on you will be that patriarch's,
Named Isaac, too, like me; you with the voice
Of pious Jacob but with Esau's hands,
Though here reversed, my first-born stays the first;
My care shall be myself. Our ways have parted!
The drawbridge has been raised.
Proof that the king has passed the castle gates.
He hurries off! Will he come back again?
I fear me: No! I have the worst to fear.
her head sinks on Esther's breast
And yet I loved him, sister, with real love.
The curtain falls.
Large hall with a throne in the foreground,
Next to the throne and running in line with it
to the left, several chairs upon which eight
or ten Castilian nobles are sitting. Nearest
to the throne, Manrique de Lara, who has
And so we then are gathered here in sorrow,
Not many, only those for whom the time,
Short as it was, the fact too that their homes
Were near, made prompt attendance possible.
And others, not a few will join our ranks;
But even so we must take action now,
Forced by the pressing, by the general need
Which will not brook postponement. Missing here,
Above all in our solemn group, is he
In whom the right is vested to preside,
But also even to convene this council,
So that we are half lawless at the start.
And hence, my noble lords, I took good care
To ask her royal majesty, our queen,
So deeply is our matter her concern,
To take the seat that is her right among us
So we may know we are not masterless,
Nor contumaciously have here convened.
The matter for our council on this day
Is, as I hope and fear, now known to all.
It happens that the king, that our great ruler,
Great not through station, rank or caste alone,
No, but through gifts so that, when we glance back
To scan the open book of bygone times,
We scarcely look upon his like again,
Except that strength, the power behind all good,
Once it begins to stray from proper paths,
Sets evil moving with an equal force -
It happens that the king has left the court,
Lured by a woman's wantonness of heart,
A matter no way meet for us to judge. -
- The queen!
The queen, accompanied by several ladies, enters
from the right. After she has indicated by
a movement of her hand that the nobles,
who have arisen, are to resume their seats,
she mounts the throne
Do you permit, Your Majesty?
Let me repeat the words I used:
A matter no way meet for us to judge.
But now the Moor is arming at our borders
And threatens war against our hard-pressed land;
It is the right and duty of the king,
With forces he enlists and calls to arms,
To offer opposition to this peril.
The king, though, is not here. But he will come,
I know. If only since he is enraged
At our assembling here of our own will.
But if the cause remains that led him off,
Then he will enter those old bonds anew
And we again be orphaned as before.
The queen nods permission
But first the girl must go.
Proposals have been made of various kinds.
One group would try to buy her off with gold,
Another send her from the realm in chains
To some safe prison in far distant lands.
But gold the king has, too; and though far off,
Might never fails to find the thing it seeks.
A third proposal -
As the queen has arisen
Please, Your Majesty.
You are too gentle for our bitter task.
Your very kindness, which no firm resolve
Renewed from time to time and fortified,
Has more than all, perhaps, estranged our king.
I find no fault, I merely state the fact.
You may, therefore, forgo your own opinion.
Yet, would you have your say, I beg you, speak.
What flowery fate, what flattering punishment
Seems fitting for our monarch's paramour?
In truth ?
You hear the word, my lords.
That was the third proposal which before,
Although a man, I did not dare pronounce.
Is wedlock not the holiest estate
Since it exalts as right things else forbidden,
And what each normal person feels a horror
It takes within the realm of pious duty ?
The other laws the highest God ordained
Serve hut to make a good man's impulse strong;
But what is strong enough to hallow sin
Must be more binding than the Ten Commandments.
This woman now has sinned against that law.
However, if my husband's guilt endures,
Then I myself throughout the years now past
Have lived with him in sin, not as his wife;
And then our son was wrongly born, an outcast,
A shame unto himself, disgrace to us.
If you find guilt in me, then punish me:
I will not live, if I am soiled with sin.
Then let him from the princesses around
Select a wife, since only what he wants,
Not what is right, will satisfy his heart.
But if it be this woman taints our earth,
Then cleanse your king of taint, his land of blight.
I am ashamed that men must hear me speak,
And things scarce proper, too; but need compels.
But will the king submit to this, and how?
Oh, yes; because he ought, and therefore must.
He can take vengeance also on her slayers;
His first blow fall on me and pierce my breast.
resumes her seat
There is no other way, I must avow.
There die in war the noblest men we have
And by a death more terrible, more cruel:
Grown faint with thirst or under horses' hoofs,
With every pain made double, more acute,
Than does the convict on the gallows-tree;
Then sickness daily carries off the best,
God is no niggard with his creatures' lives;
Why, then, should we be timid where His word,
The sacred laws that He himself proclaimed,
Demand the death of him who has transgressed?
We will, in full accord, approach the king,
Beg him to put the obstacle away
Which keeps him far from us, us far from him.
If he refuse, the laws of war shall rule
Until our king and laws again are one,
And we by serving one can serve them both.
Enter a servant
And does this traitor dare?
Tell him -
On orders from His Majesty.
That changes all. Were he my deadly foe,
He has my ear, if his words are the king's.
Tell us your message, then be off: God speed.
Your Majesty, the queen, and you, my father,
And you beside, the noblest of the land,
I am convinced today as ne'er before
That to be trusted is man's greatest wealth,
While levity, though conscious of no wrong,
Can more than any wrong destroy and harm;
For one mistake the world may overlook,
But levity makes people fear them all.
And so today, though I feel cleansed of guilt,
I stand before you, in your eyes besmirched,
Atoning for my heedlessness in youth.
Of that another time; your message now.
Through me the king dissolves this parliament.
And did he give, when lie sent levity,
Him nothing tangible to take as proof,
No written word, at least, from his own hand?
He follows close behind.
That is enough.
And therefore, in his royal name, I here
Dissolve this parliament. You are dismissed.
But if you heed my wishes and advice,
Do not as yet return to your estates,
But rather tarry close, one here, one there,
To see if Don Alfonso acts for us,
Or we must do what duty bids, for him.
But you who are so skilled in serving princes,
If you, perhaps, were also sent to spy,
Be sure to tell your king what I advised,
That the estates, in fact, have been dissolved,
But also are prepared to join for action.
Once more then, face to face with all, I here
Disclaim all guilt for these confused affairs.
As chance alone had brought me from the front,
So it was chance the king selected me
To guard the girl against the people's rage;
And every warning, argument and reason
A man can think of to prevent a wrong
I urged; though all, indeed, without result.
Despise me, if you find my words untrue.
And Dofia Clara, you my destined bride,
As both our fathers wish and I as well,
There is no need to hide your noble head.
In truth not worthy of you was I ever? -
But no less worthy now than any time,
I stand before you and I swear: 'Tis so.
If it is so, and you are still a man,
Be a Castilian, take your place among us
And with us make your country's cause your own.
You are well known to those who guard Retiro,
The captain, if you ask, will let you in.
Perhaps we shall have need of such an entry
So be the king, our noble liege, prove deaf.
No word or act against my lord, my king.
The choice is yours! For now, join with these others;
The future may prove brighter than we think.
Enter servant from the left
His Majesty, the king!
points to the centre door and addresses the Es-
Quick, this way out!
to the servants
And you put back the chairs against the wall.
Let naught remind him of our meeting here.
who has stepped down from the throne
My knees give way; and no one lends me aid!
Strength and decorum formerly were one,
Of late their pact of friendship is undone,
Strength stayed with you, as always was its way,
Decorum fled to those grown old and gray.
Pray take my arm. My step may prove unsure!
Though strength has fled, decorum stayed secure.
leads the queen off to the right. The Estates
with Garceran have gone out through the
Enter the king from the left, behind him his
The bay is lame, you said ? I rode him hard;
Well, for the time I do not need him more.
See he is led, unmounted, to Toledo,
Where rest will soon restore him, best of cures.
I will myself beside my royal consort
And in her coach appear before the people
So they believe what their own eyes have seen:
That discord and dissension are now past.
Exit the page
I am alone. Does no one come to meet me?
Mere staring walls and silent furnishings.
They must have met here not so long ago.
Oh, but these empty chairs speak out more loudly
Than ever those who sat on them have done.
What good is served by pondering and brooding,
I have to make amends; then I'll begin.
Here is the entry to my wife's apartment,
Let me then tread this most unwelcome path.
approaches the side door, right
How now, the door is barred? Hallo, within!
It is the king, the master in this house,
For me there can be here no locks, no doors.
A lady in waiting opens the door and steps out
Why this blockade?
LADY IN WAITING
The queen, Your Majesty -
As the king shows himself determined to enter
The inner door she also locked herself.
I will not force my way. Inform her then
I have returned and now demand her presence -
Or rather say, as I have said: request.
Exit the lady in waiting
stands opposite the throne
Thou lofty seat, raised high above all others,
Grant that we never sink beneath thy plane,
But not dependent on those steps of thine
Maintain the standard of the great and good.
Enter the queen
goes toward her with outstretched hands
Lenore, I salute you!
You are welcome!
And not your hand?
To see you gives me joy.
And not your hand?
bursts into tears
O God, our Father!
Lenore, mine is not a leper's hand.
I go to battle, as I ought and must,
And foemen's blood will cover it completely;
Clear water, though, can wash away the stain,
And when you welcome me, it will be clean.
The water now of these material things
Has for our souls its spirit counterpart.
You as a Christian are so strong in faith
You think repentance can effect such change.
We others, counting less on words than deeds,
Do not incline to such a modest cure
Which takes the guilt away but not the harm,
Yes, is in part, but fear of new mistakes.
But if good resolutions, cheerfully assumed,
Are guarantees for now and time to come,
Take what I freely give, and give complete.
holds out both her hands
God knows how gladly!
No, not both your hands.
The right alone, though farther from the heart,
We give to seal alliances and treaties,
Perhaps to hint that not alone emotion
That has its seat established in the heart
But also reason, all that man desires,
Must give validity to what we pledged;
For man's emotions change with changing time,
But what his mind has weighed, remains in force.
offers him her right hand
That too! All of myself.
Your hand, it trembles,
releases her hand
I have no thought to treat you ill, my dear.
And do not think because I speak less mildly,
I therefore know less well how great my fault
Nor honor less the kindness which is yours.
One can condone, to understand is harder.
How could it happen! That I cannot grasp.
Until not long ago we lived as children.
As such they married us upon a time.
And we, we both lived on as docile children;
But children must grow up, increase in years,
And each new stage they enter as they grow
By some discomfort makes its presence known:
Most commonly some sickness that reveals
We are the same and yet are also changed;
And change is fitting in what stays the same.
And so it is with heart and mind as well:
They too expand, and in a wider orbit
Turn round about their former central point.
Such is the sickness we have undergone;
When I say: we, I mean that you yourself
Are not incapable of inner growth.
Let us not dully fail to hear this warning!
We will henceforward live like royal folk,
For we are that, no less; nor bar to us
The world and what of great it has and good;
And like the bees who with their treasured load,
When evening comes, wing homeward to their hive,
Enriched by gains their busy day has brought,
So we shall find each other at our hearth,
Now doubly sweet since it a while lacked warmth.
If you desire; to me there is no loss.
It will seem loss to you in recollection,
Once you have that by which one measures worth.
But now let us forget what went before!
I deem it wrong in striking out anew
To clutter up the path with odds and ends,
The rubbish from the storehouse of the past.
I here absolve myself from all my sins,
You in your purity have no such need.
Not so! Not so! Did you but know, my husband,
What sort of thoughts, calamitous and black,
Have found their way within my fearful heart.
Perhaps of vengeance, yes? So much the better,
For then you feel forgiveness is man's duty
And that no one is safe, no, not the best.
We will not look for vengeance, will not punish;
For that one, take my word, is free of guilt,
As is vulgarity, as is mere weakness
That offers no resistance and submits.
The guilt is wholly mine, and mine alone.
Oh, let me think what keeps and comforts me.
The Moorish folk and all who are their like,
They practice secret, yes, nefarious arts,
With pictures, symbols, spells and evil potions
Which in his breast pervert a person's heart
And make his will submissive to their own.
We are encompassed round by conjured works
And yet we are the conjurers ourselves.
What is far off, a thought can summon close;
What we despise, we later learn to love,
And in a world where miracles abound,
We are the greatest miracle ourselves.
She has your picture.
She must give it back;
And I will fasten it where all can see
And write beneath it for my late descendants:
A king, not all too evil in himself,
Forgot his office and the path of duty.
Thanks be to God, he found himself again.
But you yourself are wearing round your neck -
Her picture? That you also learned so soon?
takes the picture with its chain from his neck
and lays it on the table at the front, right
Then I shall lay it down, and may it lie there,
A bolt not harmful once the thunder sounds.
The girl herself, she shall be sent away!
Then let her with some man of her own people -
paces back and forth from the front to the rear
of the stage, now and then stopping short
But no, not that! The women of her race
Can please, are even good. Not so their men
With filthy hands and niggard greed of gain;
None such shall lay his finger on the girl.
For after all she was in better hands. -
Why should that trouble us! This way or that,
If near, if far! All this is their concern.
But will you keep this strength too, Don Alfonso ?
But see, you never knew the girl at all.
Take all the faults that dwell on this broad earth,
Like folly and like vanity, like weakness,
Yes, guile, defiance, coquetry and greed,
Put these together, then you have this woman.
And if you call it puzzling and not magic
That she attracted me, I will agree;
And would feel shame, were it not natural too.
paces up and down
Oh no, not natural, surely not, my husband.
One magic thing there is. We call it habit,
Not dominant at first, it then holds fast;
From things distasteful, hateful at the start,
It strips each trace that seemed unwelcome once,
Makes of repeated acts an urgent need.
This chain I wore and which, cast off, now lies
Removed forever breast and neck alike
Had grown accustomed to its weight and presence,
And chills pass through those empty spaces now.
I must make haste to choose another chain,
The body's note of warning is not jest.
And now an end!
But that you ever thought
To venge yourself in blood on this poor fool--
That was not well.
steps to the table
But only see these eyes -
Not eyes, indeed, her body, throat and form,
Those God created with a master hand;
It was herself that later marred the lines.
Let us revere in her the hand of God
And not destroy what he in wisdom formed.
No, touch it not
This senseless talk again!
And if I really take it in my hand,
lays the picture on his hand
Am I another, then? I twine the chain
In jest, to mock you, thus about my throat,
Concealing next my breast the foe you fear,
Am I then less Alfonso, he who sees
That he has erred and who condemns his fault?
No more such nonsense, we have had enough.
draws away from the table
I only -
looks at her wildly
God help me!
Be not afraid, my wife. But use your reason;
And do not say the selfsame thing again:
It tells me in the end how you two differ.
points first to the table, then to his breast
The young girl there of course, she now is here -
Though she was foolish, made no other claim
And did not pose as wise, or good and modest.
It is the way that virtuous women have,
That they would make their virtue your reward.
If you are sad, they comfort you with virtue,
And if your mood is gay, again comes virtue
Which finally drives gaiety away
And points out sin as your unique salvation.
What we call virtue is a group of virtues,
Unlike, diverse, as time and state demand,
And not a hollow idol, without a fault
But just for that without all merit too.
Yes, I will take this chain from round my throat,
For it recalls to mind -
And then, Lenore,
That you have made our vassals your allies,
That was not good; was foolish, tactless.
If you are wroth with me, that is your right;
But these men, they, my subjects and dependents,
What do they want? Am I a child, a lad,
Who not yet knows the compass of his station?
Concern for state affairs they share with me
And duty binds me to a like concern.
But I, Alfonso, not the king, the man
Within my house, in my own life and person,
Do I owe an accounting to dependents?
Not so! And did I heed my wrath alone,
I should in haste return from whence I came
If but to show that neither to their judgment
Nor their consent must I subject myself.
steps forward and stamps his foot on the floor
And, finally, this graybeard, Don Manrique,
If he was once my guardian, is he still?
Don Manrique appears at the centre door. The
queen, wringing her hands, points to the
king. Manrique, making a reassuring ges-
ture with both hands, withdraws
Does he make bold to dictate to his king
The homespun precepts of his wise old age,
And even venture secret, brazen action ?
paces up and down, diagonally across the stage
I will investigate it, I, the judge;
And if the merest trace of wrong appear,
Of criminal intention, or an act,
The closer is the guilty one, yes, closest,
The harder will he pay for his presumption.
Not you, Lenore, no, you have been pardoned.
During the preceding, the queen has quietly
withdrawn through the side door, right
Where did she go? Am I left here alone?
Am I made out a fool in my own house?
approaches the side door, right
I'll follow her! The door is locked?
bursts the door open with a kick
Thus home and happiness I take by storm!
Don Manrique and Garceran appear at the
centre door. The latter takes a step across
Will you come too?
Will you not?
The rest precede. You'll follow?
I will follow.
They withdraw, the door closing behind them
The king returns and stands as though listening
Hark once again! No, nothing; all is still -
My consort's chambers void of life, forsaken.
But on returning, from the turret room,
I heard the noise of wheels and horses' hoofs
In rushing gallop hurrying away.
Am I alone? Ho, Garceran! Ramiro!
Enter a page from the side door, left
What news? And what goes on?
The castle is deserted; you and I
The only living beings in its walls.
The queen ?
By coach departed from the castle.
Back to Toledo then ?
I do not know.
I do know that the men -
Who one and all leaped quickly on their mounts,
Did not go by the main road to Toledo,
But rather took the way you came yourself.
Ha! To Retiro! Now the scales are falling
From these my eyes that see, but long were blind.
Their plan is murder, death! They go to slay her.
My horse! My horse!
Your horse, illustrious Sire,
Since he was lame, was sent upon your order -
Well then, another; Garceran's, your own.
They took the horses, every one, away;
Led them along, or else have turned them loose.
The stables have been emptied as the castle.
They think to be there first. I must be quick.
Get me a horse and though some farmer's nag,
My thirst for vengeance will provide him wings.
And if 'tis done? Then, God above, then grant
That I, not like a tyrant, but humane,
May punish guilt and those who have been guilty.
Get me a horse; else, being one with them,
You'll lose your head as shall they all,
stops at the door and makes a gesture of
The curtain falls.
Large hall in the castle of Retiro with one
central and two side doors. Signs of destruction
everywhere. At the front, left, an overturned dress-
ing table, its utensils in disorder. At the rear, right,
another overturned table; above it a painting, half
torn from its frame. In the centre of the room a
chair. It is dark.
From without, behind the central wall, the
sound of voices, footsteps and clash of
It is enough!
The signal sounds!
Sound of voices and footsteps dies out.
Pause.--Then old Isaac comes from the
side door, right, dragging along a rug
pulled over his head which he later lets
Can they be gone? I hear no noise.
Yes, there -
No, not a sound. I went and hid myself
When they in robber fashion sacked the castle,
I lay upon the floor all doubled up,
And used this cover as my roof and shield.
But now which way? All I have saved and earned,
1 dug down in the garden long ago;
I'll get it later when the uproar ceases.-
Where is the door? How shall I save my soul?
Enter Esther from the door, left
Who comes? Poor me!
Is that you, Rachel?
How say you? Rachel ? I am Esther only!
Only, you say? My one and only daughter,
The one and only, hence the best.
The only one and hence the best. Old man,
Do you know nothing of today's assault,
Nor know at whom their raging fury aimed?
I do not know and do not wish to know,
For Rachel has escaped and is secure.
Oh, she is shrewd.- God of my fathers!
Why dost Thou try me, me a poor, old man,
And speak to me out. of my children's mouths?
But I will not believe. It can't be. No!
sinks down beside the chair in the centre, lean-
ing his head against it
So then be strong through coward fearsomeness.
But I call others what 1 was myself.
When they appeared and I, aroused from sleep,
Into the last, remote and inmost room
Ran hurriedly to give my sister aid,
One roughly seized me then with forceful hand,
And flung me to the floor. And I, poor coward,
I swooned away, when it had been my task
To give my own to save my sister's life;
Or failing that, at least to die with her.
When I awoke, the evil deed was done.
Vain all attempts to bring her back to life.
Then I could weep, then I could tear my hair;
That is true cowardice, a woman's way.
They tell me this and that. I don't believe it.
Lend me your chair to sit upon, old man!
pushes the chair forward
My limbs grow weak and tremble under me.
Here will I stay and here will I keep watch.
Perhaps some one may think it worth his while
To burn the stubble, now the grain is garnered,
And will return and slay what still is left.
from the floor
Not me! Not me!-There comes one now. Hear that!
Not one, but more !-Save me, I flee to you.
runs to her chair and cowers on the floor
I will protect you, as a mother would,
In second childhood, old and gray with age.
And if death comes, then childless you will die,
I shall precede you in my sister's steps.
The king appears at the central door with his
page who carries a torch
Shall I press further on? Or rest content
With what I know before my eyes have seen?
All of the castle, wrecked, laid waste, destroyed,
Cries shrilly out from every ravaged corner:
It is too late! The horror has been wrought.
You with your cursed delay, must bear the blame,
Perhaps, indeed, you were in league with them.
But no, you weep and tears can tell no lies.
Look here, I also weep, but weep from rage,
From unappeased, hot passion for revenge.
Come put your torch here in this iron ring,
Then rouse the village; gather all the parish
And bid them with what weapons come to hand
March to the castle. I myself shall write,
When morning breaks, a summons to my folk,
Children of toil, of never-ending labor.
I at their head will go to seek revenge
And raze the castles of those haughty peers
Who, half as servants, half again as lords,
Serve but themselves and lord it over masters:
A ruler and the ruled; so it shall be.
My vengeance will wipe out this hybrid stock
With pride of blood, of that within their veins
And that of others, if their swords have shed it.
Leave your torch here and go! I'll stay alone
And hatch the progeny of my revenge.
The servant puts his torch in the ring beside
the door and withdraws
takes a step forward
What is it moves? Is any life left here?
Most gracious Sire, Lord Malefactor,
Have pity, kind assassin!
You, old man?
Do not remind me that she was your child
Lest it deface her image in my soul.
And you, are you not Esther?
Sire, I am.
And is it done?
I did not doubt
Since first I entered here. So mourn no more!
For know, the cup is full; an added drop
Would overflow and make the poison weak.
While she still lived, I was resolved to leave her.
Now she is dead, she can no more leave me.
And this her picture here on this my breast
Will dig down deep and sink its roots within.
Was it not I myself who murdered her ?
Had she stayed far from me, she would, a child,
Still play, her own delight, a joy to others.
Perhaps-although not that! I tell you, no!
No other should have ever touched her hand
And no man's lips have e'er approached her own,
No shameless arm She was the king's, his own;
Had I not seen her, she was no less mine,
For beauty's might belongs to might enthroned.
He speaks of Rachel?
Yes, of her, your daughter.
Though grief makes what is lost seem doubly dear,
I tell you still: you rate her worth too high.
You think so? I tell you, we are but shadows,
I, you, those others of the common crowd;
You may be good: your teachers taught you so;
If I am honest: well, I saw nought else;
And if those others murder, as they do,
Their fathers on occasion did the same.
The world eternally repeats itself
And seed from seed is its entire harvest.
But she was truth, not pure nor undefiled,
Yet all she did sprang from within herself,
Unbidden, unexpected and unique.
I felt, when I had seen her, that I lived,
And in the dreary humdrum of my days
She only had reality and form.
As in Arabian deserts, people say,
The traveller, long plagued by seas of sand,
Iead burning from the sun's relentless rays,
Comes suddenly upon a verdant isle,
Surrounded by a surge of arid waves,
There flowers unfold, green trees spread welcome shade,
The breath of herbs floats gently in the air
To arch, a second sky, beneath the first.
A serpent may be coiled beneath the bush,
A ravening beast, tormented, too, by thirst,
Has come, perhaps, to seek the cooling spring;
But still the way-worn traveller exults
And quaffs with greedy lips the soothing draught
And falls on grass of lush, luxuriant form.
Luxuriant form. Indeed! I wish to see her:
See once again her body's proud design,
The lips that drew in breath and breathed out life,
And which, grown silent now forevermore,
Accuse me that I guarded her so ill.
Do not, oh Sire! Now it is done,
Let it be done. Ours be the cry of mourning;
You must not cut your ties, Sire, with your folk.
You think so? I am king, do you recall?
Their crime has touched not her alone but me.
Just punishment of every guilty deed
I vowed upon my coronation day
And 1 will keep my promise unto death.
For this I must grow strong, must steel myself,
For all that man holds dear, in high esteem,
They will employ as means to curb my wrath:
Fond memories of care-free boyhood days,
The man's first meeting with his new-won bride,
.Friendship and gratitude, yes, mercy too,
All of my life, rolled roughly into one,
Will rise full armed to offer me resistance
And challenge me to battle with myself,
Hence I must first leave my old self behind.
Her image as I see it here and there,
On every wall, in this, in yonder corner,
Reveals her only in her early beauty,
With faults she had that were so charming too.
I want to see her broken, torn, maltreated;
To plunge myself in horror at the sight,
Compare each bloodstained scar upon her body
'WTith this portrayal here upon my breast
And learn to be a monster, like to like.
As Esther has risen
No further word! I will! And now this torch
Shall point me on my way, aflame like me,
Alight, because destructive and destroyed.
She is in yonder last and inmost room
Where I so oft-?
She is, she was, she will be.
takes the torch
Is not that blood I see upon my way?
It is the way to blood. Oh night of horror.
leaves by the side door, left
How dark it is.
We are in darkness, yes.
Surrounded by misfortune's fearful night.
At last the day is breaking. Let me try
If I can bear my body's weight so far.
steps to the window and draws the curtains
The dawn is close at hand, its feeble light
Sees, terrified, the horrors of destruction,
The difference from yesterday to now.
points to the jewels strewn on the floor
There see them lie, our fortune's sad remains,
Those glitt'ring baubles, stuff for whose sake we,
Yes, only we--not he who takes the blame -
My sister sacrificed, your foolish daughter.
Whatever comes is just. Those who complain
Accuse themselves and follies they have wrought.
sits down on the chair
I will sit here. Now that the king has come,
I fear not them nor any who may follow.
The centre door opens. Enter Manrique and
Garceran, behind them the queen, leading
her child by the hand; and other nobles
Come, enter here; each take his place in line.
We have in much transgressed, and wronged the king,
We sought the good, but not to keep the law.
Now to the law we must submit ourselves.
on the other side, with a quick movement sets
to rights the overturned table
Destruction, come to order! Lest they think
That we are cowardly or feel afraid.
See, here they are, those others!
What of that!
Their lot has been what ours may prove to be.
Take up your rank and stations, if you please.
Let me come first, I am the guiltiest.
Not so, Your Majesty! You spoke the word;
But when we urged the deed, you showed your fear,
Opposed us, plead for mercy, though in vain,
For stern necessity was now our law.
Nor should I like to have his first grim wrath
Discharge itself on heads that we revere
And are, next after him, our throne's sole hope.
I did the deed, not with my hand in truth,
But yet with words, with dreadful stern compassion.
I come before you then. And you, my son,
Have you the heart to answer like a man
For not preventing what you did not further
So that your aim to set the matter right
And your return are not without their guilt?
I am quite ready. My place is at your side,
And may on me the king's first fury fall.
calls over to them
You there, though you be murderers together
And merit every death and every pain,
Evil enough has been already done;
I would not have these horrors made still more.
The king is with my sister, there within;
And raging ere he went, what he there sees
Will goad him on to new, to greater fury.
I pity too that woman and her child,
Half guiltless; though but half, half guilty, too.
Go then while there is time, and fear to face
Revenge that is too frenzied to be just.
Know, woman, we are Christians.
As you showed.
My praise is for the Jewess, as God knows!
As Christians, also ready to atone
For our offence and freely yield ourselves.
Put off your swords. I have laid mine aside.
The sword a man wears speaks of self-defense.
Our very number hints we still rebel,
Dividing guilt that each should wholly bear.
All have laid their swords on the floor before
Thus we shall wait. Or rather let one go
Seek audience from the king forthwith and urge:
His country's need demands that he decide.
This way or that; e'en though he must repent
Too hasty acts of which we here were victims.
Go you, my son!
turns around after having taken several steps
See! Here the king himself.
The king rushes out of the apartment at the
side. After taking a few steps, he turns
about and stares fixedly at the door
0 God in Heaven!
Your Majesty, be calm.
The king steps forward. He halts, with arms
folded, before old Isaac who as if asleep
reclines in the armchair. He then steps
toward the front of the stage
to her father
Look, how your foes are trembling. Are you glad?
Not I. For naught can raise her from the dead.
The king at the front of the stage, gazes at his
hands and rubs one over the other as
though to wipe them clean. Then he does
the same over his body. Finally, he touches
his throat, moving his hands around it. In
this position, with his hands at his throat,
he stands still and stares straight ahead
Illustrious Prince and King! Our gracious Master!
You here? Well, that you come. I looked for you;
Yes, all of you. You spare me further search.
steps before them and measures them with
points to the weapons lying on the floor
We put our weapons off and laid them down-
I see swords here. You come to slay me then?
I pray, complete your work. Here is my breast.
opens his cloak
He took it off!
What did you say, fair lady?
The evil chain is gone from round his neck.
I'll go and bring it.
takes a few steps toward the side door and then
God, this madness still!
We know, indeed, how much we, Sire, have erred;
Not least in failing to entrust your cure
To you yourself and your own noble heart.
But time showed greater urgency than we.
The country rocks. The foe on our frontiers
Demands of us resistance and defense.
And one must punish foes, do you agree?
You warn in time; with such am I surrounded.
You mean me, King and Master?
Yes, I mean you. Although you have betrayed me,
You were my friend in other times. Come here.
Tell me, what think you of the girl within?
Well-whom you helped to slay-but of that, later.
What did you think when she was still alive?
Sir, she was fair.
Yes! And what more beside?
But wanton too and light, of cunning guile.
And that you hid from me while there was time?
I told you so.
And I would not believe?
How could that be? I bid you, speak!
She thinks it might be witchcraft.
"Which now believes what once was make-believe.
In part of course, it was but natural too.
By natural one should mean what God approves.
And was I not a king, fair-minded, good?
The idol of my subjects, all my folk,
Not lacking sense and most of all not blind.
I say to you: she was not fair.
An ugly line on cheek and chin and mouth,
A lurking something in her fiery glance
Envenomed and disfigured all her beauty.
I've looked on her again and have compared.
When I went in the room to spur my wrath,
Half frightened at my fury's mounting fire,
The outcome was not that I had foreseen.
Instead of wanton pictures from the past,
My wife and child, my people met my eye.
With that her features seemed to twist and turn,
Her arms to move and reach to hold me fast.
I flung her picture then where she lay dead,
And now am here and shudder, as you see.
Now go! Though it was you that have betrayed me,
I am half sad to punish all alike.
Go stand beside your father and the rest.
No difference, for you are guilty, all.
And not you too?
after a pause
The man is right; I too.
And yet what is the world, my sorry land,
If none is pure and all are soiled with guilt ?
Nay, here's my son. Come, stand within our midst;
You be the guardian spirit of our country,
Some higher judge may grant us pardon then.
Come, Dofia Clara, take him by the hand!
A happy fate, has granted you to pass,
Unsullied by the world, until this day
Upon your course through life; none is more worthy
To introduce young innocence to us.
But stay! Here is the mother. What she did,
She did it for her child. She is forgiven.
As the queen steps forward and bends her knee
Madofia, do you punish me ? You show me
The posture that befits me at your feet.
Castilians, hear me well! Here stands your king,
And here the queen, the regent in his stead.
I am a mere lieutenant of my son.
For as the pilgrims, on their gowns a cross,
For penance journey to Jerusalem,
Thus I will, mindful of the wrongs I did,
Lead you against your foe, those infidels
Who on the far frontier, from Africa
Menace my folk and this my quiet land.
If I return, and, with God's grace, as victor,
Then you shall say if I again be worthy
To guard the law which I of late transgressed.
On you this penance falls, on each, on me;
For in the closest columns of our foes
You all shall follow me, each one, forthwith.
And he who falls, does penance for us all.
Thus do I punish you and me. My son
Here place upon a shield, as on a throne,
For from today, he is our country's king;
And ordered thus, we'll go to face our folk.
A shield has been brought
My ladies, will you give my son your hands,
His first throne is unsteady like the second.
You, Garceran, remain here at my side:
We must for like frivolity atone;
Let us then fight as though our strength were like.
And when you free yourself of guilt as I,
Perhaps this quiet maiden, pure of heart,
Will hold you worthy of her love and glance.
You must remake him, Dofia Clara, but take care!
Make virtue seem not merely worth respect
But loveable as well. That wards off much.
Trumpets in the distance
Hear you? They call us. Those whom I have summoned
As aid against yourselves, they now are ready
To fight with us against our common foe,
The savage Moor who threatens our frontiers,
And whom I think to send with shame and wounds
Back to the desert wastelands where he dwells,
So that our country may be free from evil,
Within, without, well guarded and secure.
Lead on! Advance, and if God will, to triumph!
The procession has already formed. First, some
vassals; next the shield with the child
whom the women hold by both hands, then
the rest of the men. Last, the king, lean-
ing confidentially on Garceran
turns toward her father
You see, they are already calm and glad,
Already planning marriages to be.
They are the great, and slew for their atonement day
A victim from the ranks of little men,
And now clasp hands still reeking with its blood.
steps to the centre of the stage
But I, I prophecy to you, proud king:
Go forth, go forth, in your forgetful splendor -
You feel my sister's power no longer binds
Because the sharpness of her spell is dulled
And you threw off what once had lured you on.
When on the battle-field your wavering ranks
Are shaken by your foe's overwhelming force
And but a pure and strong and guiltless heart
Is fit to face the danger and its threats;
When you look upward then toward heedless heaven,
Then will the image of your murdered victim,
Not in the sumptuous beauty that beguiled you,
Defaced, deformed, as she displeased your eye,
Appear before your timorous quavering soul!
Then in repentance will you beat your breast,
Then think upon the Jewess of Toledo.
takes her father by the shoulder
Come, father, come, where we have work to do.
points to the side door
as though awaking
But first I'll get my gold.
You think of that
When face to face with sorrow and distress?
Then I take back the curse which I pronounced,
Then you are guilty too, and I- and she.
We too, as they, amid sin's liegemen live;
Then God forgive us as we them forgive.
stretches her arms out toward the side door
The curtain falls.