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Amy Lowell - The Cremona Violin

来源: 英语作文网 时间: 2016-03-22 阅读:
Part FirstFrau Concert-Meister Altgelt shut the door.A storm was rising, heavy gusts of windSwirled through the trees, and scattered leaves beforeHer on the clean, flagged path.  The sky behindThe distant town was black, and sharp definedAgainst it shone the lines of roofs and towers,Superimposed and flat like cardboard flowers.A pasted city on a purple ground,Picked out with luminous paint, it seemed.  The cloudSplit on an edge of lightning, and a soundOf rivers full and rushing boomed through bowed,Tossed, hissing branches.  Thunder rumbled loudBeyond the town fast swallowing into gloom.Frau Altgelt closed the windows of each room.She bustled round to shake by constant movingThe strange, weird atmosphere.  She stirred the fire,She twitched the supper-cloth as though improvingIts careful setting, then her own attireCame in for notice, tiptoeing higher and higherShe peered into the wall-glass, now adjustingA straying lock, or else a ribbon thrustingThis way or that to suit her.  At last sitting,Or rather plumping down upon a chair,She took her work, the stocking she was knitting,And watched the rain upon the window glareIn white, bright drops.  Through the black glass a flareOf lightning squirmed about her needles.  "Oh!"She cried.  "What can be keeping Theodore so!"A roll of thunder set the casements clapping.Frau Altgelt flung her work aside and ran,Pulled open the house door, with kerchief flappingShe stood and gazed along the street.  A manFlung back the garden-gate and nearly ranHer down as she stood in the door.  "Why, Dear,What in the name of patience brings you here?Quick, Lotta, shut the door, my violinI fear is wetted.  Now, Dear, bring a light.This clasp is very much too worn and thin.I'll take the other fiddle out to-nightIf it still rains.  Tut! Tut! my child, you're quiteClumsy.  Here, help me, hold the case while I --Give me the candle.  No, the inside's dry.Thank God for that!  Well, Lotta, how are you?A bad storm, but the house still stands, I see.Is my pipe filled, my Dear?  I'll have a fewPuffs and a snooze before I eat my tea.What do you say?  That you were feared for me?Nonsense, my child.  Yes, kiss me, now don't talk.I need a rest, the theatre's a long walk."Her needles still, her hands upon her lapPatiently laid, Charlotta Altgelt satAnd watched the rain-run window.  In his napHer husband stirred and muttered.  Seeing that,Charlotta rose and softly, pit-a-pat,Climbed up the stairs, and in her little roomFound sighing comfort with a moon in bloom.But even rainy windows, silver-litBy a new-burst, storm-whetted moon, may giveBut poor content to loneliness, and itWas hard for young Charlotta so to striveAnd down her eagerness and learn to liveIn placid quiet.  While her husband slept,Charlotta in her upper chamber wept.Herr Concert-Meister Altgelt was a manGentle and unambitious, that aloneHad kept him back.  He played as few men can,Drawing out of his instrument a toneSo shimmering-sweet and palpitant, it shoneLike a bright thread of sound hung in the air,Afloat and swinging upward, slim and fair.Above all things, above Charlotta his wife,Herr Altgelt loved his violin, a fineCremona pattern, Stradivari's lifeWas flowering out of early disciplineWhen this was fashioned.  Of soft-cutting pineThe belly was.  The back of broadly curledMaple, the head made thick and sharply whirled.The slanting, youthful sound-holes throughThe belly of fine, vigorous pineMellowed each note and blewIt out again with a woody flavourTanged and fragrant as fir-trees areWhen breezes in their needles jar.The varnish was an orange-brownLustered like glass that's long laid downUnder a crumbling villa stone.Purfled stoutly, with mitres which pointStraight up the corners.  Each curve and jointClear, and bold, and thin.Such was Herr Theodore's violin.Seven o'clock, the Concert-Meister goneWith his best violin, the rain being stopped,Frau Lotta in the kitchen sat aloneWatching the embers which the fire dropped.The china shone upon the dresser, toppedBy polished copper vessels which her skillKept brightly burnished.  It was very still.An air from `Orfeo' hummed in her head.Herr Altgelt had been practising beforeThe night's performance.  Charlotta had pleadWith him to stay with her.  Even at the doorShe'd begged him not to go.  "I do imploreYou for this evening, Theodore," she had said."Leave them to-night, and stay with me instead.""A silly poppet!"  Theodore pinched her ear."You'd like to have our good Elector turnMe out I think."  "But, Theodore, something queerAils me.  Oh, do but notice how they burn,My cheeks!  The thunder worried me.  You're stern,And cold, and only love your work, I know.But Theodore, for this evening, do not go."But he had gone, hurriedly at the end,For she had kept him talking.  Now she satAlone again, always alone, the trendOf all her thinking brought her back to thatShe wished to banish.  What would life be?  What?For she was young, and loved, while he was movedOnly by music.  Each day that was proved.Each day he rose and practised.  While he played,She stopped her work and listened, and her heartSwelled painfully beneath her bodice.  SwayedAnd longing, she would hide from him her smart."Well, Lottchen, will that do?"  Then what a startShe gave, and she would run to him and cry,And he would gently chide her, "Fie, Dear, fie.I'm glad I played it well.  But such a taking!You'll hear the thing enough before I've done."And she would draw away from him, still shaking.Had he but guessed she was another one,Another violin.  Her strings were aching,Stretched to the touch of his bow hand, againHe played and she almost broke at the strain.Where was the use of thinking of it now,Sitting alone and listening to the clock!She'd best make haste and knit another row.Three hours at least must pass before his knockWould startle her.  It always was a shock.She listened -- listened -- for so long before,That when it came her hearing almost tore.She caught herself just starting in to listen.What nerves she had:  rattling like brittle sticks!She wandered to the window, for the glistenOf a bright moon was tempting.  Snuffed the wicksOf her two candles.  Still she could not fixTo anything.  The moon in a broad swathBeckoned her out and down the garden-path.Against the house, her hollyhocks stood highAnd black, their shadows doubling them.  The nightWas white and still with moonlight, and a sighOf blowing leaves was there, and the dim flightOf insects, and the smell of aconite,And stocks, and Marvel of Peru.  She flittedAlong the path, where blocks of shadow pittedThe even flags.  She let herself go dreamingOf Theodore her husband, and the tuneFrom `Orfeo' swam through her mind, but seemingChanged -- shriller.  Of a sudden, the clear moonShowed her a passer-by, inopportuneIndeed, but here he was, whistling and striding.Lotta squeezed in between the currants, hiding."The best laid plans of mice and men," alas!The stranger came indeed, but did not pass.Instead, he leant upon the garden-gate,Folding his arms and whistling.  Lotta's state,Crouched in the prickly currants, on wet grass,Was far from pleasant.  Still the stranger stayed,And Lotta in her currants watched, dismayed.He seemed a proper fellow standing thereIn the bright moonshine.  His cocked hat was lacedWith silver, and he wore his own brown hairTied, but unpowdered.  His whole bearing gracedA fine cloth coat, and ruffled shirt, and chasedSword-hilt.  Charlotta looked, but her positionWas hardly easy.  When would his volitionSuggest his walking on?  And then that tune!A half-a-dozen bars from `Orfeo'Gone over and over, and murdered.  What FortuneHad brought him there to stare about him so?"Ach, Gott im Himmel!  Why will he not go!"Thought Lotta, but the young man whistled on,And seemed in no great hurry to be gone.Charlotta, crouched among the currant bushes,Watched the moon slowly dip from twig to twig.If Theodore should chance to come, and blushesStreamed over her.  He would not care a fig,He'd only laugh.  She pushed aside a sprigOf sharp-edged leaves and peered, then she uproseAmid her bushes.  "Sir," said she, "pray whoseGarden do you suppose you're watching?  WhyDo you stand there?  I really must insistUpon your leaving.  'Tis unmannerlyTo stay so long."  The young man gave a twistAnd turned about, and in the amethystMoonlight he saw her like a nymph half-risenFrom the green bushes which had been her prison.He swept his hat off in a hurried bow."Your pardon, Madam, I had no ideaI was not quite alone, and that is howI came to stay.  My trespass was not sheerImpertinence.  I thought no one was here,And really gardens cry to be admired.To-night especially it seemed required.And may I beg to introduce myself?Heinrich Marohl of Munich.  And your name?"Charlotta told him.  And the artful elfPromptly exclaimed about her husband's fame.So Lotta, half-unwilling, slowly cameTo conversation with him.  When she wentInto the house, she found the evening spent.Theodore arrived quite wearied out and teased,With all excitement in him burned away.It had gone well, he said, the audience pleased,And he had played his very best to-day,But afterwards he had been forced to stayAnd practise with the stupid ones.  His headAched furiously, and he must get to bed.Part SecondHerr Concert-Meister Altgelt played,And the four strings of his violinWere spinning like bees on a day in Spring.The notes rose into the wide sun-moteWhich slanted through the window,They lay like coloured beads a-row,They knocked together and parted,And started to dance,Skipping, tripping, each one slippingUnder and over the others soThat the polychrome fire streamed like a lanceOr a comet's tail,Behind them.Then a wail arose -- crescendo --And dropped from off the end of the bow,And the dancing stopped.A scent of lilies filled the room,Long and slow.  Each large white bloomBreathed a sound which was holy perfume from a blessed censer,And the hum of an organ tone,And they waved like fans in a hall of stoneOver a bier standing there in the centre, alone.Each lily bent slowly as it was blown.Like smoke they rose from the violin --Then faded as a swifter bowingJumbled the notes like wavelets flowingIn a splashing, pashing, rippling motionBetween broad meadows to an oceanWide as a day and blue as a flower,Where every hourGulls dipped, and scattered, and squawked, and squealed,And over the marshes the Angelus pealed,And the prows of the fishing-boats were spatteredWith spray.And away a couple of frigates were startingTo race to Java with all sails set,Topgallants, and royals, and stunsails, and jibs,And wide moonsails; and the shining railsWere polished so bright they sparked in the sun.All the sails went up with a run:"They call me Hanging Johnny,Away-i-oh;They call me Hanging Johnny,So hang, boys, hang."And the sun had set and the high moon whitened,And the ship heeled over to the breeze.He drew her into the shade of the sails,And whispered talesOf voyages in the China seas,And his arm around herHeld and bound her.She almost swooned,With the breeze and the moonAnd the slipping sea,And he beside her,Touching her, leaning --The ship careening,With the white moon steadily shining overHer and her lover,Theodore, still her lover!Then a quiver fell on the crowded notes,And slowly floatedA single note which spread and spreadTill it filled the room with a shimmer like gold,And noises shivered throughout its length,And tried its strength.They pulled it, and tore it,And the stuff waned thinner, but still it bore it.Then a wide rentSplit the arching tent,And balls of fire spurted through,Spitting yellow, and mauve, and blue.One by one they were quenched as they fell,Only the blue burned steadily.Paler and paler it grew, and -- faded -- away.Herr Altgelt stopped."Well, Lottachen, my Dear, what do you say?I think I'm in good trim.  Now let's have dinner.What's this, my Love, you're very sweet to-day.I wonder how it happens I'm the winnerOf so much sweetness.  But I think you're thinner;You're like a bag of feathers on my knee.Why, Lotta child, you're almost strangling me.I'm glad you're going out this afternoon.The days are getting short, and I'm so tiedAt the Court Theatre my poor little brideHas not much junketing I fear, but soonI'll ask our manager to grant a boon.To-night, perhaps, I'll get a pass for you,And when I go, why Lotta can come too.Now dinner, Love.  I want some onion soupTo whip me up till that rehearsal's over.You know it's odd how some women can stoop!Fraeulein Gebnitz has taken on a lover,A Jew named Goldstein.  No one can discoverIf it's his money.  But she lives alonePractically.  Gebnitz is a stone,Pores over books all day, and has no earFor his wife's singing.  Artists must have men;They need appreciation.  But it's queerWhat messes people make of their lives, whenThey should know more.  If Gebnitz finds out, thenHis wife will pack.  Yes, shut the door at once.I did not feel it cold, I am a dunce."Frau Altgelt tied her bonnet on and wentInto the streets.  A bright, crisp Autumn windFlirted her skirts and hair.  A turbulent,Audacious wind it was, now close behind,Pushing her bonnet forward till it twinedThe strings across her face, then from in frontSlantingly swinging at her with a shunt,Until she lay against it, struggling, pushing,Dismayed to find her clothing tightly boundAround her, every fold and wrinkle crushingItself upon her, so that she was woundIn draperies as clinging as those foundSucking about a sea nymph on the friezeOf some old Grecian temple.  In the breezeThe shops and houses had a qualityOf hard and dazzling colour; something sharpAnd buoyant, like white, puffing sails at sea.The city streets were twanging like a harp.Charlotta caught the movement, skippinglyShe blew along the pavement, hardly knowingToward what destination she was going.She fetched up opposite a jeweller's shop,Where filigreed tiaras shone like crowns,And necklaces of emeralds seemed to dropAnd then float up again with lightness.  BrownsOf striped agates struck her like cold frownsAmid the gaiety of topaz seals,Carved though they were with heads, and arms, and wheels.A row of pencils knobbed with quartz or sardDelighted her.  And rings of every sizeTurned smartly round like hoops before her eyes,Amethyst-flamed or ruby-girdled, jarredTo spokes and flashing triangles, and starredLike rockets bursting on a festal day.Charlotta could not tear herself away.With eyes glued tightly on a golden box,Whose rare enamel piqued her with its hue,Changeable, iridescent, shuttlecocksOf shades and lustres always darting throughIts level, superimposing sheet of blue,Charlotta did not hear footsteps approaching.She started at the words:  "Am I encroaching?""Oh, Heinrich, how you frightened me!  I thoughtWe were to meet at three, is it quite that?""No, it is not," he answered, "but I've caughtThe trick of missing you.  One thing is flat,I cannot go on this way.  Life is whatMight best be conjured up by the word:  `Hell'.Dearest, when will you come?"  Lotta, to quellHis effervescence, pointed to the gemsWithin the window, asked him to admireA bracelet or a buckle.  But one stemsUneasily the burning of a fire.Heinrich was chafing, pricked by his desire.Little by little she wooed him to her moodUntil at last he promised to be good.But here he started on another tack;To buy a jewel, which one would Lotta choose.She vainly urged against him all her lackOf other trinkets.  Should she dare to useA ring or brooch her husband might accuseHer of extravagance, and ask to seeA strict accounting, or still worse might be.But Heinrich would not be persuaded.  WhyShould he not give her what he liked?  And inHe went, determined certainly to buyA thing so beautiful that it would winHer wavering fancy.  Altgelt's violinHe would outscore by such a handsome jewelThat Lotta could no longer be so cruel!Pity Charlotta, torn in diverse ways.If she went in with him, the shopman mightRecognize her, give her her name; in daysTo come he could denounce her.  In her frightShe almost fled.  But Heinrich would be quiteCapable of pursuing.  By and byShe pushed the door and entered hurriedly.It took some pains to keep him from bestowingA pair of ruby earrings, carved like roses,The setting twined to represent the growingTendrils and leaves, upon her.  "Who supposesI could obtain such things!  It simply closesAll comfort for me."  So he changed his mindAnd bought as slight a gift as he could find.A locket, frosted over with seed pearls,Oblong and slim, for wearing at the neck,Or hidden in the bosom; their joined curlsShould lie in it.  And further to bedeckHis love, Heinrich had picked a whiff, a fleck,The merest puff of a thin, linked chainTo hang it from.  Lotta could not refrainFrom weeping as they sauntered down the street.She did not want the locket, yet she did.To have him love her she found very sweet,But it is hard to keep love always hid.Then there was something in her heart which chidHer, told her she loved Theodore in him,That all these meetings were a foolish whim.She thought of Theodore and the life they led,So near together, but so little mingled.The great clouds bulged and bellied overhead,And the fresh wind about her body tingled;The crane of a large warehouse creaked and jingled;Charlotta held her breath for very fear,About her in the street she seemed to hear:"They call me Hanging Johnny,Away-i-oh;They call me Hanging Johnny,So hang, boys, hang."And it was Theodore, under the racing skies,Who held her and who whispered in her ear.She knew her heart was telling her no lies,Beating and hammering.  He was so dear,The touch of him would send her in a queerSwoon that was half an ecstasy.  And yearningFor Theodore, she wandered, slowly turningStreet after street as Heinrich wished it so.He had some aim, she had forgotten what.Their progress was confused and very slow,But at the last they reached a lonely spot,A garden far above the highest shotOf soaring steeple.  At their feet, the townSpread open like a chequer-board laid down.Lotta was dimly conscious of the rest,Vaguely remembered how he clasped the chainAbout her neck.  She treated it in jest,And saw his face cloud over with sharp pain.Then suddenly she felt as though a strainWere put upon her, collared like a slave,Leashed in the meshes of this thing he gave.She seized the flimsy rings with both her handsTo snap it, but they held with odd persistence.Her eyes were blinded by two wind-blown strandsOf hair which had been loosened.  Her resistanceMelted within her, from remotest distance,Misty, unreal, his face grew warm and near,And giving way she knew him very dear.For long he held her, and they both gazed downAt the wide city, and its blue, bridged river.From wooing he jested with her, snipped the blownStrands of her hair, and tied them with a sliverCut from his own head.  But she gave a shiverWhen, opening the locket, they were placedUnder the glass, commingled and enlaced."When will you have it so with us?"  He sighed.She shook her head.  He pressed her further.  "No,No, Heinrich, Theodore loves me," and she triedTo free herself and rise.  He held her so,Clipped by his arms, she could not move nor go."But you love me," he whispered, with his faceBurning against her through her kerchief's lace.Frau Altgelt knew she toyed with fire, knewThat what her husband lit this other manFanned to hot flame.  She told herself that fewWomen were so discreet as she, who ranNo danger since she knew what things to ban.She opened her house door at five o'clock,A short half-hour before her husband's knock.Part ThirdThe `Residenz-Theater' sparked and hummedWith lights and people.  Gebnitz was to sing,That rare soprano.  All the fiddles strummedWith tuning up; the wood-winds made a ringOf reedy bubbling noises, and the stingOf sharp, red brass pierced every ear-drum; pattingFrom muffled tympani made a dark slattingAcross the silver shimmering of flutes;A bassoon grunted, and an oboe wailed;The 'celli pizzicato-ed like great lutes,And mutterings of double basses trailedAway to silence, while loud harp-strings hailedTheir thin, bright colours down in such a scatterThey lost themselves amid the general clatter.Frau Altgelt in the gallery, alone,Felt lifted up into another world.Before her eyes a thousand candles shoneIn the great chandeliers.  A maze of curledAnd powdered periwigs past her eyes swirled.She smelt the smoke of candles guttering,And caught the glint of jewelled fans flutteringAll round her in the boxes.  Red and gold,The house, like rubies set in filigree,Filliped the candlelight about, and boldYoung sparks with eye-glasses, unblushinglyOgled fair beauties in the balcony.An officer went by, his steel spurs jangling.Behind Charlotta an old man was wranglingAbout a play-bill he had bought and lost.Three drunken soldiers had to be ejected.Frau Altgelt's eyes stared at the vacant postOf Concert-Meister, she at once detectedThe stir which brought him.  But she felt neglectedWhen with no glance about him or her way,He lifted up his violin to play.The curtain went up?  Perhaps.  If so,Charlotta never saw it go.The famous Fraeulein Gebnitz' singingOnly came to her like the ringingOf bells at a festaWhich swing in the airAnd nobody realizes they are there.They jingle and jangle,And clang, and bang,And never a soul could tell whether they rang,For the plopping of guns and rocketsAnd the chinking of silver to spend, in one's pockets,And the shuffling and clapping of feet,And the loud flappingOf flags, with the drums,As the military comes.It's a famous tune to walk to,And I wonder where they're off to.Step-step-stepping to the beating of the drums.But the rhythm changes as though a mistWere curling and twistingOver the landscape.For a moment a rhythmless, tuneless fogEncompasses her.  Then her senses jogTo the breath of a stately minuet.Herr Altgelt's violin is setIn tune to the slow, sweeping bows, and retreats and advances,To curtsies brushing the waxen floor as the Court dances.Long and peaceful like warm Summer nightsWhen stars shine in the quiet river.  And against the lightsBlundering insects knock,And the `Rathaus' clockBooms twice, through the shrill soundsOf flutes and horns in the lamplit grounds.Pressed against him in the mazy waveringOf a country dance, with her short breath quaveringShe leans upon the beating, throbbingMusic.  Laughing, sobbing,Feet gliding after sliding feet;His -- hers --The ballroom blurs --She feels the airLifting her hair,And the lapping of water on the stone stair.He is there!  He is there!Twang harps, and squeal, you thin violins,That the dancers may dance, and never discoverThe old stone stair leading down to the riverWith the chestnut-tree branches hanging overHer and her lover.Theodore, still her lover!The evening passed like this, in a half faint,Delirium with waking intervalsWhich were the entr'acts.  Under the restraintOf a large company, the constant callsFor oranges or syrops from the stallsOutside, the talk, the passing to and fro,Lotta sat ill at ease, incognito.She heard the Gebnitz praised, the tenor lauded,The music vaunted as most excellent.The scenery and the costumes were applauded,The latter it was whispered had been sentFrom Italy.  The Herr Direktor spentA fortune on them, so the gossips said.Charlotta felt a lightness in her head.When the next act began, her eyes were swimming,Her prodded ears were aching and confused.The first notes from the orchestra sent skimmingHer outward consciousness.  Her brain was fusedInto the music, Theodore's music!  UsedTo hear him play, she caught his single tone.For all she noticed they two were alone.Part FourthFrau Altgelt waited in the chilly street,Hustled by lackeys who ran up and downShouting their coachmen's names; forced to retreatA pace or two by lurching chairmen; thrownRudely aside by linkboys; boldly shownThe ogling rapture in two bleary eyesThrust close to hers in most unpleasant wise.Escaping these, she hit a liveried arm,Was sworn at by this glittering gentlemanAnd ordered off.  However, no great harmCame to her.  But she looked a trifle wanWhen Theodore, her belated guardian,Emerged.  She snuggled up against him, trembling,Half out of fear, half out of the assemblingOf all the thoughts and needs his playing had given.Had she enjoyed herself, he wished to know."Oh! Theodore, can't you feel that it was Heaven!""Heaven!  My Lottachen, and was it so?Gebnitz was in good voice, but all the flowOf her last aria was spoiled by Klops,A wretched flutist, she was mad as hops."He was so simple, so matter-of-fact,Charlotta Altgelt knew not what to sayTo bring him to her dream.  His lack of tactKept him explaining all the homeward wayHow this thing had gone well, that badly.  "Stay,Theodore!" she cried at last.  "You know to meNothing was real, it was an ecstasy."And he was heartily glad she had enjoyedHerself so much, and said so.  "But it's goodTo be got home again."  He was employedIn looking at his violin, the woodWas old, and evening air did it no good.But when he drew up to the table for teaSomething about his wife's vivacityStruck him as hectic, worried him in short.He talked of this and that but watched her close.Tea over, he endeavoured to extortThe cause of her excitement.  She aroseAnd stood beside him, trying to composeHerself, all whipt to quivering, curdled life,And he, poor fool, misunderstood his wife.Suddenly, broken through her anxious grasp,Her music-kindled love crashed on him there.Amazed, he felt her fling against him, claspHer arms about him, weighing down his chair,Sobbing out all her hours of despair."Theodore, a woman needs to hear things proved.Unless you tell me, I feel I'm not loved."Theodore went under in this tearing wave,He yielded to it, and its headlong flowFilled him with all the energy she gave.He was a youth again, and this bright glow,This living, vivid joy he had to showHer what she was to him.  Laughing and crying,She asked assurances there's no denying.Over and over again her questions, tillHe quite convinced her, every now and thenShe kissed him, shivering as though doubting still.But later when they were composed and whenShe dared relax her probings, "Lottachen,"He asked, "how is it your love has withstoodMy inadvertence?  I was made of wood."She told him, and no doubt she meant it truly,That he was sun, and grass, and wind, and skyTo her.  And even if conscience were unrulyShe salved it by neat sophistries, but whySuppose her insincere, it was no lieShe said, for Heinrich was as much forgotAs though he'd never been within earshot.But Theodore's hands in straying and caressingFumbled against the locket where it layUpon her neck.  "What is this thing I'm pressing?"He asked.  "Let's bring it to the light of day."He lifted up the locket.  "It should stayOutside, my Dear.  Your mother has good taste.To keep it hidden surely is a waste."Pity again Charlotta, straight arousedOut of her happiness.  The locket broughtA chilly jet of truth upon her, sousedUnder its icy spurting she was caught,And choked, and frozen.  Suddenly she soughtThe clasp, but with such art was this contrivedHer fumbling fingers never once arrivedUpon it.  Feeling, twisting, round and round,She pulled the chain quite through the locket's ringAnd still it held.  Her neck, encompassed, bound,Chafed at the sliding meshes.  Such a thingTo hurl her out of joy!  A gilded stringBinding her folly to her, and those curlsWhich lay entwined beneath the clustered pearls!Again she tried to break the cord.  It stood."Unclasp it, Theodore," she begged.  But heRefused, and being in a happy mood,Twitted her with her inefficiency,Then looking at her very seriously:"I think, Charlotta, it is well to haveAlways about one what a mother gave.As she has taken the great pains to sendThis jewel to you from Dresden, it will beIngratitude if you do not intendTo carry it about you constantly.With her fine taste you cannot disagree,The locket is most beautifully designed."He opened it and there the curls were, twined.Charlotta's heart dropped beats like knitting-stitches.She burned a moment, flaming; then she froze.Her face was jerked by little, nervous twitches,She heard her husband asking:  "What are those?"Put out her hand quickly to interpose,But stopped, the gesture half-complete, astoundedAt the calm way the question was propounded."A pretty fancy, Dear, I do declare.Indeed I will not let you put it off.A lovely thought:  yours and your mother's hair!"Charlotta hid a gasp under a cough."Never with my connivance shall you doffThis charming gift."  He kissed her on the cheek,And Lotta suffered him, quite crushed and meek.When later in their room she lay awake,Watching the moonlight slip along the floor,She felt the chain and wept for Theodore's sake.She had loved Heinrich also, and the coreOf truth, unlovely, startled her.  WhereforeShe vowed from now to break this double lifeAnd see herself only as Theodore's wife.Part FifthIt was no easy matter to convinceHeinrich that it was finished.  Hard to sayThat though they could not meet (he saw her wince)She still must keep the locket to allaySuspicion in her husband.  She would payHim from her savings bit by bit -- the oathHe swore at that was startling to them both.Her resolution taken, Frau AltgeltAdhered to it, and suffered no regret.She found her husband all that she had feltHis music to contain.  Her days were setIn his as though she were an amuletCased in bright gold.  She joyed in her confining;Her eyes put out her looking-glass with shining.Charlotta was so gay that old, dull tasksWere furbished up to seem like rituals.She baked and brewed as one who only asksThe right to serve.  Her daily manualsOf prayer were duties, and her festivalsWhen Theodore praised some dish, or frankly saidShe had a knack in making up a bed.So Autumn went, and all the mountains roundThe city glittered white with fallen snow,For it was Winter.  Over the hard groundHerr Altgelt's footsteps came, each one a blow.On the swept flags behind the currant rowCharlotta stood to greet him.  But his lipOnly flicked hers.  His Concert-MeistershipWas first again.  This evening he had gotImportant news.  The opera ordered fromYoung Mozart was arrived.  That old despot,The Bishop of Salzburg, had let him comeHimself to lead it, and the parts, still hotFrom copying, had been tried over.  NeverHad any music started such a fever.The orchestra had cheered till they were hoarse,The singers clapped and clapped.  The town was made,With such a great attraction through the courseOf Carnival time.  In what utter shadeAll other cities would be left!  The tradeIn music would all drift here naturally.In his excitement he forgot his tea.Lotta was forced to take his cup and putIt in his hand.  But still he rattled on,Sipping at intervals.  The new catgutStrings he was using gave out such a toneThe "Maestro" had remarked it, and had goneOut of his way to praise him.  Lotta smiled,He was as happy as a little child.From that day on, Herr Altgelt, more and more,Absorbed himself in work.  Lotta at firstWas patient and well-wishing.  But it woreUpon her when two weeks had brought no burstOf loving from him.  Then she feared the worst;That his short interest in her was a lightFlared up an instant only in the night.`Idomeneo' was the opera's name,A name that poor Charlotta learnt to hate.Herr Altgelt worked so hard he seldom cameHome for his tea, and it was very late,Past midnight sometimes, when he knocked.  His stateWas like a flabby orange whose crushed skinIs thin with pulling, and all dented in.He practised every morning and her heartFollowed his bow.  But often she would sit,While he was playing, quite withdrawn apart,Absently fingering and touching it,The locket, which now seemed to her a bitOf some gone youth.  His music drew her tears,And through the notes he played, her dreading earsHeard Heinrich's voice, saying he had not changed;Beer merchants had no ecstasies to takeTheir minds off love.  So far her thoughts had rangedAway from her stern vow, she chanced to takeHer way, one morning, quite by a mistake,Along the street where Heinrich had his shop.What harm to pass it since she should not stop!It matters nothing how one day she metHim on a bridge, and blushed, and hurried by.Nor how the following week he stood to letHer pass, the pavement narrowing suddenly.How once he took her basket, and once hePulled back a rearing horse who might have struckHer with his hoofs.  It seemed the oddest luckHow many times their business took them eachRight to the other.  Then at last he spoke,But she would only nod, he got no speechFrom her.  Next time he treated it in joke,And that so lightly that her vow she brokeAnd answered.  So they drifted into seeingEach other as before.  There was no fleeing.Christmas was over and the CarnivalWas very near, and tripping from each tongueWas talk of the new opera.  Each book-stallFlaunted it out in bills, what airs were sung,What singers hired.  Pictures of the young"Maestro" were for sale.  The town was mad.Only Charlotta felt depressed and sad.Each day now brought a struggle 'twixt her willAnd Heinrich's.  'Twixt her love for TheodoreAnd him.  Sometimes she wished to killHerself to solve her problem.  For a scoreOf reasons Heinrich tempted her.  He boreHer moods with patience, and so surely urgedHimself upon her, she was slowly mergedInto his way of thinking, and to flyWith him seemed easy.  But next morning wouldThe Stradivarius undo her mood.Then she would realize that she must cleaveAlways to Theodore.  And she would tryTo convince Heinrich she should never leave,And afterwards she would go home and grieve.All thought in Munich centered on the partOf January when there would be given`Idomeneo' by Wolfgang Mozart.The twenty-ninth was fixed.  And all seats, evenThose almost at the ceiling, which were drivenBehind the highest gallery, were sold.The inches of the theatre went for gold.Herr Altgelt was a shadow worn so thinWith work, he hardly printed black behindThe candle.  He and his old violinMade up one person.  He was not unkind,But dazed outside his playing, and the rind,The pine and maple of his fiddle, guardedA part of him which he had quite discarded.It woke in the silence of frost-bright nights,In little lights,Like will-o'-the-wisps flickering, fluttering,Here -- there --Spurting, sputtering,Fading and lighting,Together, asunder --Till Lotta sat up in bed with wonder,And the faint grey patch of the window shoneUpon her sitting there, alone.For Theodore slept.The twenty-eighth was last rehearsal day,'Twas called for noon, so early morning meantHerr Altgelt's only time in which to playHis part alone.  Drawn like a monk who's spentHimself in prayer and fasting, Theodore wentInto the kitchen, with a weary wordOf cheer to Lotta, careless if she heard.Lotta heard more than his spoken word.She heard the vibrating of strings and wood.She was washing the dishes, her hands all suds,When the sound began,Long as the spanOf a white road snaking about a hill.The orchards are filledWith cherry blossoms at butterfly poise.Hawthorn buds are cracking,And in the distance a shepherd is clackingHis shears, snip-snipping the wool from his sheep.The notes are asleep,Lying adrift on the airIn level linesLike sunlight hanging in pines and pines,Strung and threaded,All imbeddedIn the blue-green of the hazy pines.Lines -- long, straight lines!And stems,Long, straight stemsPushing upTo the cup of blue, blue sky.Stems growing mistyWith the many of them,Red-green mistOf the trees,And theseWood-flavoured notes.The back is maple and the belly is pine.The rich notes twineAs though weaving in and out of leaves,Broad leavesFlapping slowly like elephants' ears,Waving and falling.Another sound peersThrough little pine fingers,And lingers, peeping.Ping!  Ping!  pizzicato, something is cheeping.There is a twittering up in the branches,A chirp and a lilt,And crimson atilt on a swaying twig.Wings!  Wings!And a little ruffled-out throat which sings.The forest bends, tumultuousWith song.The woodpecker knocks,And the song-sparrow trills,Every fir, and cedar, and yewHas a nest or a bird,It is quite absurdTo hear them cutting across each other:Peewits, and thrushes, and larks, all at once,And a loud cuckoo is trying to smotherA wood-pigeon perched on a birch,"Roo -- coo -- oo -- oo --""Cuckoo!  Cuckoo!  That's one for you!"A blackbird whistles, how sharp, how shrill!And the great trees tossAnd leaves blow down,You can almost hear them splash on the ground.The whistle again:It is double and loud!The leaves are splashing,And water is dashingOver those creepers, for they are shrouds;And men are running up them to furl the sails,For there is a capful of wind to-day,And we are already well under way.The deck is aslant in the bubbling breeze."Theodore, please.Oh, Dear, how you tease!"And the boatswain's whistle sounds again,And the men pull on the sheets:"My name is Hanging Johnny,Away-i-oh;They call me Hanging Johnny,So hang, boys, hang."The trees of the forest are masts, tall masts;They are swinging overHer and her lover.Almost swooningUnder the ballooning canvas,She liesLooking up in his eyesAs he bends farther over.Theodore, still her lover!The suds were dried upon Charlotta's hands,She leant against the table for support,Wholly forgotten.  Theodore's eyes were brandsBurning upon his music.  He stopped short.Charlotta almost heard the sound of bandsSnapping.  She put one hand up to her heart,Her fingers touched the locket with a start.Herr Altgelt put his violin awayListlessly.  "Lotta, I must have some rest.The strain will be a hideous one to-day.Don't speak to me at all.  It will be bestIf I am quiet till I go."  And lestShe disobey, he left her.  On the stairsShe heard his mounting steps.  What use were prayers!He could not hear, he was not there, for sheWas married to a mummy, a machine.Her hand closed on the locket bitterly.Before her, on a chair, lay the shagreenCase of his violin.  She saw the cleanSun flash the open clasp.  The locket's edgeCut at her fingers like a pushing wedge.A heavy cart went by, a distant bellChimed ten, the fire flickered in the grate.She was alone.  Her throat began to swellWith sobs.  What kept her here, why should she wait?The violin she had begun to hateLay in its case before her.  Here she flungThe cover open.  With the fiddle swungOver her head, the hanging clock's loud tickingCaught on her ear.  'Twas slow, and as she pausedThe little door in it came open, flickingA wooden cuckoo out:  "Cuckoo!"  It causedThe forest dream to come again.  "Cuckoo!"Smashed on the grate, the violin broke in two."Cuckoo!  Cuckoo!" the clock kept striking on;But no one listened.  Frau Altgelt had gone.


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