Those who desire to study further the mystical and spiritual meanings will find much helpful suggestion in such books as The Argument and Mystery of Parsifal, by Charles T. Gatty, F.S.A. (London); A Study of Parsifal, by Alfred Gurney, M.A. (London); Parsifal,—the Finding of Christ through Art, by A.R. Parsons (New York); or My Musical Memories, by Rev. H.R. Haweis (chapter on “Parsifal").
It may be some time before the real Parsifal as given at Bayreuth is fully appreciated by the English-speaking public, although shortly the special conditions which have hitherto reserved its production to Bayreuth alone will be released, and the great drama will be heard in other musical centres. This version is intended to be a vivid reminder of the drama to those who have seen it at Bayreuth, and also to give to those who have not seen it a fuller glimpse of the majestic story than has hitherto been possible to find in English. The genius of Wagner as a musician has so far overshadowed all else, that his genius as a poet and as an exquisite reteller of the old legends has not been fully appreciated.
Galahad, as Tennyson portrays him, will always hold the first place with English readers as the ideal knight of the Holy Grail. The matchless diction of Tennyson has given the less perfect form of the legend a supreme charm and beauty. But Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parsifal, as spiritualized and humanized in Wagner’s lyric drama, will be seen to be in fuller accord with the whole cycle and development of the Grail legends, and at the same time gives the nobler story. It is a consummate parable of the contending passions and the heavenly aspiration, the ineffable pity and the mystic glory, of the human heart. It portrays an intensely human and heroic life, imaginatively identified with that of the very Christ.
“However mediaeval the language and symbolism of Parsifal may be,” says a modern critic, “one cannot but acknowledge the simplicity and power of the story. Its spiritual significance is universal. Whatever more it may mean, we see clearly that the guileless knight is Purity, Kundry is the Wickedness of the world expressed in its most enticing form, and King Amfortas suffering with his open wound is Humanity. One cannot read the drama without a thrill, without a clutching at the heart, at its marvellous meaning, its uplifting and ennobling lessons.”
Baltimore, Maryland, January 7th, 1903.
THE COMING OF PARSIFAL
Within a noble stretch of mountain woods,
Primeval forest, deep and dark and grand,
There rose a glorious castle towering high,—
And at its foot a smiling, shimmering lake
Lay in the still lap of a verdant glade.
’T was daybreak, and the arrows of the dawn
Were shot in golden glory through the trees,
And from the castle came a trumpet blast
To waken life in all the slumbering host,—
Warriors and yeomen in the castle halls.