Schiller. The Bride of Messina (play)

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THE BRIDE OF MESSINA

AND

ON THE USE OF THE CHORUS IN TRAGEDY.

By Frederich Schiller

THE BRIDE OF MESSINA

DRAMATIS PERSONAE.

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.

SCENE I.

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.

DONNA ISABELLA in mourning; the ELDERS OF MESSINA.

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!

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