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The Bride of Messina, and On the Use of the Chorus in Tragedy   By: (1759-1805)

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By Frederich Schiller

Translated by A. Lodge



ISABELLA, Princess of Messina. DON MANUEL her Sons. DON CAESAR BEATRICE. DIEGO, an ancient Servant. MESSENGERS. THE ELDERS OF MESSINA, mute. THE CHORUS, consisting of the Followers of the two Princes.


A spacious hall, supported on columns, with entrances on both sides; at the back of the stage a large folding door leading to a chapel.


ISABELLA. Forth from my silent chamber's deep recesses, Gray Fathers of the State, unwillingly I come; and, shrinking from your gaze, uplift The veil that shades my widowed brows: the light And glory of my days is fled forever! And best in solitude and kindred gloom To hide these sable weeds, this grief worn frame, Beseems the mourner's heart. A mighty voice Inexorable duty's stern command, Calls me to light again. Not twice the moon Has filled her orb since to the tomb ye bore My princely spouse, your city's lord, whose arm Against a world of envious foes around Hurled fierce defiance! Still his spirit lives In his heroic sons, their country's pride: Ye marked how sweetly from their childhood's bloom They grew in joyous promise to the years Of manhood's strength; yet in their secret hearts, From some mysterious root accursed, upsprung Unmitigable, deadly hate, that spurned All kindred ties, all youthful, fond affections, Still ripening with their thoughtful age; not mine The sweet accord of family bliss; though each Awoke a mother's rapture; each alike Smiled at my nourishing breast! for me alone Yet lives one mutual thought, of children's love; In these tempestuous souls discovered else By mortal strife and thirst of fierce revenge.

While yet their father reigned, his stern control Tamed their hot spirits, and with iron yoke To awful justice bowed their stubborn will: Obedient to his voice, to outward seeming They calmed their wrathful mood, nor in array Ere met, of hostile arms; yet unappeased Sat brooding malice in their bosoms' depths; They little reek of hidden springs whose power Can quell the torrent's fury: scarce their sire In death had closed his eyes, when, as the spark That long in smouldering embers sullen lay, Shoots forth a towering flame; so unconfined Burst the wild storm of brothers' hate triumphant O'er nature's holiest bands. Ye saw, my friends, Your country's bleeding wounds, when princely strife Woke discord's maddening fires, and ranged her sons In mutual deadly conflict; all around Was heard the clash of arms, the din of carnage, And e'en these halls were stained with kindred gore.

Torn was the state with civil rage, this heart With pangs that mothers feel; alas, unmindful Of aught but public woes, and pitiless You sought my widow's chamber there with taunts And fierce reproaches for your country's ills From that polluted spring of brother's hate Derived, invoked a parent's warning voice, And threatening told of people's discontent And princes' crimes! "Ill fated land! now wasted By thy unnatural sons, ere long the prey Of foeman's sword! Oh, haste," you cried, "and end This strife! bring peace again, or soon Messina Shall bow to other lords." Your stern decree Prevailed; this heart, with all a mother's anguish O'erlabored, owned the weight of public cares. I flew, and at my children's feet, distracted, A suppliant lay; till to my prayers and tears The voice of nature answered in their breasts!

Here in the palace of their sires, unarmed, In peaceful guise Messina shall behold The long inveterate foes; this is the day! E'en now I wait the messenger that brings The tidings of my sons' approach: be ready To give your princes joyful welcome home With reverence such as vassals may beseem... Continue reading book >>

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