Let me perish, but first
let me summon, in dazzling hope,
bliss as yet unknown.
Life’s sweetness is known to me!
I drink the magic potion of desire!
I am beset by visions!
Everywhere, everywhere I look,
I see my fatal tempter!
Wherever I look, I see him!
(She goes to the writing table, sits down, writes, then pauses.)
No, that’s all wrong!
I’ll begin again!
(she tears up the unfinished letter)
Ah, what’s the matter with me! I’m all on fire! I don’t know how to begin!
(She writes, then pauses and reads it over.)
‘I write to you, – and then?
What more is there to say?
Now, I know, it is within your power
to punish me with disdain!
But if you nourish one grain of pity
for my unhappy lot,
you will not abandon me.
At first I wished to remain silent;
then, believe me, you would never
have known my shame,
(She puts the letter aside.)
O yes, I swore to lock within my breast
this avowal of a mad and ardent passion.
Alas, I have not the strength to subdue my heart!
Come what may, I am prepared!
I will confess all! Courage!
He shall know all!
‘Why, oh why did you visit us?
Buried in this remote countryside,
I should never have known you,
nor should I have known this torment.
The turbulence of a youthful heart,
calmed by time, who knows? –
most likely I would have found another,
have proved a faithful wife
and virtuous mother…’
Another! No, not to any other in the world
would I have given my heart!
It is decreed on high,
It is the will of heaven: I am yours!
My whole life has been a pledge
of this inevitable encounter;
I know this: God sent you to me,
you are my keeper till the grave!
You appeared before me in my dreams;
as yet unseen, you were already dear,
your wondrous gaze filled me with longing,
your voice resounded in my heart
long ago … no, it was no dream!
As soon as you arrived, I recognized you,
I almost swooned, began to blaze with passion,
and to myself I said: ‘Tis he!
I know it! I have heard you …
Have you not spoken to me in the silence
when I visited the poor
or sought in prayer some solace
for the anguish of my soul?
And just this very moment,
was it not you, dear vision,
that flamed in the limpid darkness,
stooped gently at my bedside
and with joy and love
whispered words of hope?
(She returns to the table and sits down again to write.)
‘Who are you’? My guardian angel
or a wily tempter?
Put my doubts at rest.
Maybe this is all an empty dream,
the self?deception of an inexperienced soul,
and something quite different is to be …’
(She rises again and paces pensively to and fro.)
But so be it! My fate
henceforth I entrust to you;
in tears before you,
your protection I implore,
Imagine: I am all alone here!
No one understands me!
I can think no more,
and must perish in silence!
I wait for you,
I wait for you! Speak the word
to revive my heart’s fondest hopes
or shatter this oppressive dream
with, alas, the scorn,
alas, the scorn I have deserved!
(She goes swiftly to the table, hurriedly finishes the letter and signs and seals it.)
Finished! It’s too frightening to read over,
I swoon from shame and fear,
but his honour is my guarantee
and in that I put my trust!