COUNT HOHENZOLLERN, of the Elector’s suite.
VON DER GOLZ }
COUNT GEORGE VON SPARREN STRANZ }
SIEGFRIED VON MOeRNER } Captains of Cavalry
COUNT REUSS }
A SERGEANT }
Officers. Corporals and troopers. Ladies- and Gentlemen-in-waiting. Pages. Lackeys. Servants. People of both sexes, young and old.
THE PRINCE OF HOMBURG (1810)
By HEINRICH VON KLEIST
TRANSLATED BY HERMANN HAGEDORN, A.B.
Author of A Troop of the Guard and Other Poems
Scene: Fehrbellin. A garden laid out in the old French style. In the background, a palace with a terrace from which a broad stair descends. It is night.
The PRINCE OF HOMBURG sits with head bare and shirt unbuttoned, half-sleeping, half waking, under an oak, binding a wreath. The ELECTOR, ELECTRESS, PRINCESS NATALIE, COUNT HOHENZOLLERN, CAPTAIN GOLZ and others come stealthily out of the palace and look down upon him from the balustrade of the terrace. Pages with torches.
HOHENZOLLERN. The Prince of Homburg, our most
Who these three days has pressed the flying Swedes
Exultant at the cavalry’s forefront,
And scant of breath only today returned
To camp at Fehrbellin—your order said
That he should tarry here provisioning
Three hours at most, and move once more apace
Clear to the Hackel Hills to cope with Wrangel,
Seeking to build redoubts beside the Rhyn?
ELECTOR. ’Tis so.
HOHENZOLLERN. Now having charged the commandants
Of all his squadrons to depart the town
Obedient to the plan, sharp ten at night,
He flings himself exhausted on the straw
Like a hound panting, his exhausted limbs
To rest a little while against the fight
Which waits us at the glimmering of dawn.
ELECTOR. I heard so! Well?
HOHENZOLLERN. Now when the hour strikes
And in the stirrup now the cavalry
Expectant paws the ground before the gates—
Who still absents himself The Prince of Homburg,
Their chief. With lights they seek the valiant man,
With torches, lanterns, and they find him—where?
[He takes a torch from the hand of a page.]
As a somnambulist, look, on that bench,
Whither in sleep, as you would ne’er believe,
The moonshine lured him, vaguely occupied
Imagining himself posterity
And weaving for his brow the crown of fame.
HOHENZOLL. Oh, indeed! Look down here: there he sits!
[From the terrace he throws the light on the PRINCE.]