HANSCHEN: “Have you prayed to-night, De...

Spring Awakening: A Children's Tragedy

Hanschen Rilow

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HANSCHEN: “Have you prayed to-night, Desdemona?” Thou wilt not appear to me after the Our Father, darling,——as in that moment of anticipated bliss when I saw thee contemplatively expectant of someone's coming, lying in Jonathan Schlesinger's shop window——just as enticing as thou art now, with these supple limbs, these softly arched hips, these plump, youthful breasts.——Oh how intoxicated with joy the great master must have been when his glance strayed over the fourteen-year-old original stretched out upon the divan!

Wilt thou not visit me for awhile in my dreams? I will receive thee with widely open arms and will kiss thee until thou art breathless. Thou drawest me onward as the enchanted princess in her deserted castle. Portals and doors open themselves as if by an unseen hand, while the fountain in the park below begins to splash joyously——

“It is the cause!——It is the cause!” The frightful beating in my breast shows thee that I do not murder thee from frivolous emotion. The thought of my lonely nights is strangling me. I swear to thee, child, on my soul, that it is not satiety which rules me. Who could ever boast of being satiated of thee!

But thou suckest the marrow from my bones, thou bendest my back, thou robbest my youthful eyes of their last spark of brilliancy.——Thou art so arrogant toward me in thy inhuman modesty, so galling with thy immovable limbs!——Thou or I! And I have won the victory.

Suppose I count them——all those who sleep, with whom I have fought the same battle here——: Psyche by Thumann—another bequest from the spindle-shanked Mademoiselle Angelique, that rattlesnake in the paradise of my childhood; Io by Corregio; Galathea by Lossow; then a Cupid by Bouguereau; Ada by J. van Beers—that Ada whom I had to abduct from a secret drawer in Papa's secretary in order to incorporate in my harem; a trembling, modest Leda by Makart, whom I found by chance among my brother's college books——seven, thou blooming candidate for death, have preceded thee upon this path to Tartarus. Let that be a consolation unto thee, and seek not to increase my torments at this enormity by that fleeting look.

Thou diest not for thy sins, thou diest on account of mine!——As protection against myself I go to my seventh wife-murder with a bleeding heart. There is something tragic in the rôle of Bluebeard. I believe the combined sufferings of his murdered wives did not equal the torments he underwent each time he strangled one of them.

But my thoughts will become more peaceful, my body will strengthen itself, when thou, thou little devil, residest no longer in the red satin padding of my jewel case. In place of thee, I will indulge in wanton joyousness with Bodenhausen's Lurlei or Linger's Forsaken One, or Defregger's Loni—so I should be all the quicker! But a quarter of a year more, perhaps thy unveiled charms, sweet soul, would begin to consume my poor head as the sun does a pat of butter. It is high time to declare the divorce from bed and board.

Brrr! I feel a Heliogablus within me? Moritura me salutat! Maiden, maiden, why dost thou press thy knees together?——Why now of all times?——In face of the inscrutable eternity?——A movement and I will spare thy life!——A womanly emotion, a sign of passion, of sympathy, maiden!——I will frame thee in gold, and hang thee over my bed! Doest thou not guess that only thy chastity begets my debauchery?——Woe, woe, unto the inhuman ones!——

One always perceives that they received an exemplary education——It is just so with me.

“Have you prayed to-night, Desdemona?”

My heart contracts,——madness!——St. Agnes also died for her reserve and was not half as naked as thou!——Another kiss upon thy blooming body——upon thy childish swelling breast—upon thy sweetly rounded—thy cruel knees——

“It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul, Let me not name it to you, you chaste stars! It is the cause!”——

The picture falls into the depths, he shuts the lid.

Wedekind, Frank. Spring Awakening: A Children’s Tragedy. Trans. Francis J. Ziegler, 1910. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/35242/35242-h/35242-h.htm

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