BRANGAENA. My lord, Sir Tristan,
would have speech
with you at once.
TRISTAN. Is she with travel worn?
The end is near:
nay, ere the set of sun
sight we the land.
All that your mistress commands me,
trust me, I shall mind.
BRANGAENA. That you, Sir Tristan, go to her,— this is my lady’s wish.
TRISTAN. Where yonder verdant meadows in distance dim are mounting, waits my sov’reign for his mate: to lead her to his presence I’ll wait upon the princess: ’tis an honor all my own.
BRANGAENA. My lord, Sir Tristan, list to me: this one thing my lady wills, that thou at once attend her, there where she waits for thee.
TRISTAN. In any station where I stand I truly serve but her, the pearl of womanhood. If I unheeding left the helm, how might I pilot her ship in surety to King Mark?
BRANGAENA. Tristan, my master, why mock me thus? Seemeth my saying obscure to you? list to my lady’s words: thus, look you, she hath spoken: “Go order him, and understand it, I—Isolda— do command it.”
KURVENAL (springing up). May I an answer make her?
TRISTAN. What wouldst thou wish to reply?
KURVENAL. This should she say to Dame Isold’: “Though Cornwall’s crown and England’s isle for Ireland’s child he chose, his own by choice she may not be; he brings the king his bride. A hero-knight Tristan is hight! I’ve said, nor care to measure your lady’s high displeasure.”
[While TRISTAN seeks to stop him, and the offended BRANGAENA turns to depart, KURVENAL sings after her at the top of his voice, as she lingeringly withdraws.]
“Sir Morold toiled o’er mighty wave the Cornish tax to levy; In desert isle was dug his grave, he died of wounds so heavy. His head now hangs in Irish lands, Sole were-gild won at English hands. Bravo, our brave Tristan! Let his tax take who can!”
[KURVENAL, driven away by TRISTAN’S chidings, descends into the cabin. BRANGAENA returns in discomposure to ISOLDA, closing the curtains behind her, while all the men take up the chorus and are heard without.]
KNIGHTS AND ATTENDANTS.
“His head now hangs
in Irish lands,
sole were-gild won
at English hands.
Bravo, our brave Tristan!
Let his tax take who can!”
[ISOLDA and BRANGAENA alone, the curtain being again completely closed. ISOLDA rises with a gesture of despair and wrath. BRANGAENA falls at her feet.]
BRANGAENA. Ah! an answer
ISOLDA (checking herself on the brink of a fearful
How now? of Tristan?
I’d know if he denies me.
BRANGAENA. Ah! question not!
ISOLDA. Quick, say without fear!
BRANGAENA. With courteous phrase
he foiled my will.