Fair Cunigonde said, with a lip of scorn,
To the knight DELORGES—“If the love you have sworn
Were as gallant and leal as you boast it to be,
I might ask you to bring back that glove to me!”
The knight left the place where the lady sate;
The knight he has pass’d thro’ the fearful gate;
The lion and tiger he stoop’d above,
And his fingers have closed on the lady’s glove!
All shuddering and stunn’d, they beheld him
The noble knights and the ladies fair;
But loud was the joy and the praise, the while
He bore back the glove with his tranquil smile!
With a tender look in her softening eyes,
That promised reward to his warmest sighs,
Fair Cunigonde rose her knight to grace;
He toss’d the glove in the lady’s face!
“Nay, spare me the guerdon, at least,” quoth he;
And he left forever that fair ladye!
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE DIVER CARL GEHRTS]
[The original of the story on which Schiller has founded this ballad, matchless perhaps for the power and grandeur of its descriptions, is to be found in Kircher. According to the true principles of imitative art, Schiller has preserved all that is striking in the legend, and ennobled all that is common-place. The name of the Diver was Nicholas, surnamed the Fish. The King appears, according to Hoffmeister’s probable conjectures, to have been either Frederic I. or Frederic II., of Sicily. Date from 1295 to 1377.]
“Oh, where is the knight or
the squire so bold,
As to dive to the howling charybdis below?—
I cast in the whirlpool a goblet of gold,
And o’er it already the dark waters flow;
Whoever to me may the goblet bring,
Shall have for his guerdon that gift of his king.”
He spoke, and the cup from the terrible
That, rugged and hoary, hung over the verge
Of the endless and measureless world of the deep,
Swirl’d into the maelstrom that madden’d the surge.
“And where is the diver so stout to go—
I ask ye again—to the deep below?”
And the knights and the squires that gather’d around,
Stood silent—and fix’d on the ocean their eyes;
They look’d on the dismal and savage
And the peril chill’d back every thought of the prize.
And thrice spoke the monarch—“The cup to win,
Is there never a wight who will venture in?”
And all as before heard in silence the
Till a youth with an aspect unfearing but gentle,
’Mid the tremulous squires—stept out from the ring,
Unbuckling his girdle, and doffing his mantle;
And the murmuring crowd as they parted asunder,
On the stately boy cast their looks of wonder.