And at the trumpet Gurnemanz rose up,—
Ancient and faithful servant of the Grail,—
Who sleeping lay under a spreading oak,
And called aloud to two youths sleeping yet:
“Hey! ho! ye foresters, loving the woods,
Loving your sleep as well. Wake with the day!
Hear ye the trumpet! Come, let us thank God
That we have power to hear the call of life,
And power to answer as the duty calls!”
And up they started, knelt in prayer with him,
And offered unto God their morning praise.
Then Gurnemanz: “Up now, my gallant youths,
Prepare the royal bath, and wait the King!...
Behold, his litter now is coming forth,
I see the heralds coming on before....
Hail, royal heralds! Hail and welcome both!
How fares my Lord Amfortas’ health to-day?
I hope his early coming to the bath
Doth presage nothing worse. I fain had thought
The healing herb that Sir Gawain had found
With wisest skill and bravest deed might bring
Some quick and sure relief unto the King.”
To whom the herald-knight did make reply:
“Thou knowest all of this dread secret wound,—
The shame, the sorrow, and the depth of it,
Its evil cause and the dark curse upon it,—
And yet forsooth thou seemest still to hope?...
The healing herb no soothing brought, nor peace.
All night the sleepless King has tossed in pain,
Longing for morning and the cooling bath.”
Then Gurnemanz, downcast and saddened, said:
“Yea, it is useless, hoping thus to ease
The pain unless we use the one sure cure,—
Naught else avails although we search the world.
Only one healer and one healing thing
Can staunch the gaping wound and save the King.”
And eagerly the herald asked: “What cure
And who the healer that can save the King?”
But Gurnemanz quick answered: “See the
Is needing thee, for here doth come the King!”
But as he spake, e’er yet the King appeared,
Another herald, looking far away,
Beheld a woman coming, riding wild,
And quick exclaimed: “See there, a flying witch!
Ha! how the devil’s mare is racing fast
With madly flying mane! Nearer she comes!...
’Tis Kundry, wretched Kundry, mad old Kundry—
Perhaps she brings us urgent news? Who knows?
The mare is staggering with weariness,—
No wonder, for its flight was through the air,—
But now it nears the ground, and seems to brush
The moss with sweeping mane. And now, look ye!
The wild witch flings herself from off the mare
And rushes toward us!”
And Kundry came,
Her dark eyes flashing wildly, piercing bright;
Her black hair loose; her rude garb looser still,
Yet partly bound with glittering skins of snakes;
And panting, staggering ran to Gurnemanz,
And thrust into his hands a crystal flask
With the scant whisper, “Balsam—for the King!”
And on his asking, “Whence this healing balm?”
She answered: “Farther than thy thought can guess.
For if this balsam fail, then Araby
Hath nothing further for the King’s relief.
Ask me no further. I am weak and worn.”