[With arms outstretched toward the side door.]
THE POOR MUSICIAN (1848) BY FRANZ GRILLPARZER
TRANSLATED BY ALFRED REMY, A.M.
Professor of Modern Languages, Brooklyn Commercial High School
In Vienna the Sunday after the full moon in the month of July of every year is, together with the following day, a real festival of the people, if ever a festival deserved the name. The people themselves attend and arrange it; and if representatives of the upper classes appear on this occasion, they may do so only in their capacity as members of the populace. There is no possibility of class discrimination; at least there was none some years ago.
On this day the Brigittenau, which with the Augarten, the Leopoldstadt and the Prater, forms one uninterrupted popular pleasure-ground, celebrates its kermis. The working people reckon their good times from one St. Bridget’s kermis to the next. Anticipated with eager expectation, the Saturnalian festival at last arrives. Then there is great excitement in the good-natured, quiet town. A surging crowd fills the streets. There is the clatter of footsteps and the buzz of conversation, above which rises now and then some loud exclamation. All class distinctions have disappeared; civilian and soldier share in the commotion. At the gates of the city the crowd increases. Gained, lost, and regained, the exit is forced at last. But the bridge across the Danube presents new difficulties. Victorious here also, two streams finally roll along: the old river Danube and the swollen tide of people crossing each other, one below, the other above, the former following its old bed, the latter, freed from the narrow confines of the bridge, resembling a wide, turbulent lake, overflowing and inundating everything. A stranger might consider the symptoms alarming. But it is a riot of joy, a revelry of pleasure.
Even in the space between the city and the bridge wicker-carriages are lined up for the real celebrants of this festival, the children of servitude and toil. Although overloaded, these carriages race at a gallop through the mass of humanity, which in the nick of time opens a passage for them and immediately closes in again behind them. No one is alarmed, no one is injured, for in Vienna a silent agreement exists between vehicles and people, the former promising not to run anybody over, even when going at full speed; the latter resolving not to be run over, even though neglecting all precaution.