Friday, August 27, 2010

The Robbers (Die Räuber)

Excerpts from Friedrich von Schiller's Die Räuber (1781):
FRANZ: Might is right, and the limits of our strength our only law.

FRANZ: I will crush everything that stands in the way of my becoming master.

MOOR: The bright spark of Promethean fire is burnt out.

MOOR: The law has cramped the flight of eagles to a snail's pace. The law never yet made a great man, but freedom will breed a giant, a colossus.

MOOR: Oh, if only Arminius's spirit still glowed in the ashes! — Give me an army of fellows like me to command, and I'll turn Germany into a republic that will make Rome and Sparta look like nunneries.

SPIEBELBERG: Necessity brings out the best in us! That's why I shan't be afraid of it comes to the worst. Danger fortifies our courage; our strength grows in adversity.

SPIEGELBERG: Your name shall be written in the stars! What does it matter where your soul goes?

ROLLER: Without Moor we're a body without a soul.

MOOR: See, the scales have fallen from my eyes! What a fool I was, to seek to return to the cage! My spirit thirsts for deeds, my lungs for freedom — murderers, robbers! at that word I trampled the law beneath my feet — men showed me no humanity when to humanity I appealed; so let me forget sympathy and human feeling! I have no father now, I have no love now, and blood and death shall teach me to forget that ever I held anything dear! Oh, my amusement shall be the terror of the dearth — it is agreed, I shall be your captain! and good fortune to the champion among you who lights the fiercest fires, who does the foulest murders, for I say to you he shall have a kingly reward! Gather round me every one, and swear loyalty and obedience till death! Swear by this man's right hand of mine!
ALL: We swear loyalty and obedience to you till death!

AMALIA: Now I am with Karl again — a beggar, did he say? Why then, the world is turned upside-down, beggars are kings and kings are beggars!

FRANZ: But must my plans submit to the iron yoke of mechanical laws? Is my high-flying spirit to be bound to the snail's pace of material necessity?

FRANZ: What can you do to him? How can a rat hurt a lion?

HERRMANN: Sooner may the bullet turn in its flight and tear the marksman's own bowels.

AMALIA: In Heaven's name, that is not Karl. Here, here — The whole, so different. These dull colours cannot reflect the divine spirit that shone in his fiery eye. Away with it! this is a mere man.

FRANZ: I am not one for stroking and fondling. I will set my pointed spurs into your flesh, and see what a keen whip will do.

SPIEGELBERG: Climate makes very little difference, genius will thrive in any soil.

RATZMANN: If he had given the devil his word that he would go to hell, he would never say a prayer, even though he could save himself with half an Our Father.

SCHWEITZER: We'll save him, or if we can't save him, then at least we'll light him a funeral pyre such as no king ever had, one that will burn them black and blue.

SCHWEITZER: By God, before a quarter of an hour was up, the north-east wind came and served us a treat — he must have had his grudge against the town too! — and helped the fire on its way to the topmost gables. And us meanwhile up and down the streets like furies — fire, fire! All through the town — shrieks and howls and rampage — the firebells start to ring, then up goes the powder-magazine in the air, as if the earth was split in two, and heaven burst, and hell sunk ten thousand fathoms deeper.

ROLLER: The hungry ravens croaking, thirty of them perched there on my half-rotten predecessor.

SCHUFTERLE: A baby, lying there as right as rain under the table, and the table just about to catch fire. — Poor little brute! I said, you're freeing! And threw it into the flames.

MOOR: I shall come amongst you, and terrible shall be my judgment upon you.

SCHWEITZER: We shall be upon them like the Flood and rain down on their heads like thunder-bolts.

MOOR: Now, lads! Now is the time! We are lost, or we must fight like wild boars at bay.
SCHWEITZER: Ha! I'll rip their bellies with my tusks till their tripes come bursting out by the yard! Lead on, captain! We will follow you into the jaws of death!
MOOR: Load all weapons. There is no shortage of powder?
SCHWEITZER: No, powder enough to blow the earth sky-high!

PRIEST: Image of that first loathsome rabble-rouser, who stirred up a thousand legions of innocent angels to fiery rebellion, and dragged them down with him to the pit of damnation.

MOOR: Thus says Moor, captain of murderers and incendiaries. It is true. I killed the Count, I plundered the Dominican church and set it alight, I cast firebrands into your city of bigots, I blew up the powder-magazine over the heads of pious Christians — but that is not all.

MOOR: Tell them my trade is retribution — vengeance is my calling.

MOOR: Who will be the first to abandon his captain in his hour of need?'
ROLLER: Not if nine circles of hell surrounded us! Every man who is not a dog, save your captain!
SCHWEITZER: Pardon in our bullets! Away, vermin! tell the magistrates who sent you that in Moor's band you could not find a single traitor. — Save, save the captain!
ALL: Save, save, save the captain!
MOOR: Now we are free — Comrades! I feel an army in my fist — death or liberty! — at least they shall take none of us alive!

AMALIA: Look, villain, what I can do to you now! I am a woman, but a woman in desperation — once dare to lay your lustful hands on my body — this steel shall pierce your loathsome breast, and my uncle's spirit will guide my hand!

AMALIA: I felt I was as strong as a fiery steed, fierce as the tigress pursuing the triumphant robber of her cubs.

MOOR: Why should man succeed where he imitates the ant, when he is thwarted where he is like the gods?

MOOR: And I so hideous in this fair world — and I, a monster on the glorious earth. . . . I alone cast out, I alone set apart from the ranks fo the blessed — not for me the sweet name of child — not for me the lover's melting glance — never, never more the bosom friend's embrace. Set about with murderers, in the midst of hissing vipers — fettered to vice with bands of iron — rocked giddily over the abyss of destruction on the frail reed of vice — I, I alone cast out, a howling Abaddon amidst the fair world's happy blossoms!

KOSINSKY: Men I am seeking, who can look death in the face and let danger play about them like a charmed snake, who value freedom more than life and honour, whose very name, sweet sound to the poor and the oppressed, strokes terror in the valiant and turns the tyrant pale.

KOSINSKY: I have always wished that I could see the man with destruction in his eye, there as he sat upon the ruins of Carthage — now I need wish it no longer.

KOSINSKY: What should I fear, if I do not fear death?

MOOR: Here you step beyond the bounds of humanity — you must either be more than a man, or you are a devil.

SCHWEITZER: Lead us to hell and I will follow you!

MOOR: Soil of my fatherland, I salute you! Sky of my fatherland! Sun of my fatherland! meadows and hills and forests! I salute you, from my heart I salute you all! — how sweet the breezes blow from the mountains of my home! with what joyous balm you greet the poor outcast!

AMALIA: This is the first Count, the founder of the line, who was ennobled by Barbarossa when he served under him against the corsairs.

AMALIA: Flee from my soul, treacherous, godless desires! in the heart where Karl reigns there is no place for mortal man.

MOOR: She knows that I roam an outcast, a wanderer in the desert, and her love flies through exile and desert to be with me.

MOOR: Unhappy because she loves me! Why, what if I were a murderer? What, my lady? What if you lover could count a man killed for each one of your kisses? Alas for my Amalia! she is an unhappy lady.
AMALIA: Ah! and I, I am happy! My only one is like the light of heaven itself, and heaven is grace and mercy! He could not bear to hurt the merest insect — his soul is as far from thoughts of blood as the pole fo day from midnight.

MOOR: Externals are but the varnish upon a man — I am my heaven and my hell.

MOOR: Did you ever dream that you were the arm of a greater majesty? the tangled knot of our destinies is unravelled! Today, today and invisible power has conferred nobility upon our handiwork! Bow down in adoration before him who decreed you this sublime fate, who led you to this place, who deemed you worthy to be the terrible angels of his dark judgment! Uncover your heads! Kneels in the dust, that you may stand up sanctified!

FRANZ: If I smash this Venus to pieces, then symmetry and beauty have ceased to exist.

MOSER: If you still stand firm in death, if your principles do not desert you even then, then the victory is yours.

MOSER: It will be an awakening as of one buried alive in the bowels of the churchyard.

FRANZ: Lord God, I have been no common murderer — Lord God, I have never stooped to trifles —
DANIEL: God have mercy on us, his prayer itself's a sin.

SCHWEITZER: Dead,? What? dead? Without me, dead? It's a lie, I tell you — see how quickly he will jump up! — Hey, you there! There's a father to be murdered.

MOOR: Swoon then, Amalia! — Die, father! Die through me a third time! — These your rescuers are robbers and murderers! Your Karl is their captain!

MOOR: Have I not heard death whistling towards me from more than a thousand musket-barrels, and without yielding a foot, and am I now to learn to quake like a woman? to quake before a woman? — No, no woman shall shake my manhood — Blood! blood! It is only something caught from a woman — give me blood to swill, and it will pass.

AMALIA: Murderer! Devil! Angel — I cannot leave you.

MOOR: Ah, what is this? She does not spit as me, she does not thrust me from her — Amalia! Have you forgotten? do you know who it is you are embracing, Amalia?
AMALIA: My only one, I shall never leave you!
MOOR: She forgives me, she loves me! I am pure as the heavenly aether, she loves me! Tears of gratitude to you, merciful God in Heaven! Peace has returned to my soul, the raging torment is past, hell is no more — See, O see, the children of light weep upon the neck fo the weeping devil.

ROBBER: Shame on your perjury! the spirit of Roller that died for you, Roller whom you summoned from the dead to be your witness, will blush for your cowardice, and rise armoured from his grave to punish you.

(Photograph shows a scene from a performance of Die Räuber at the open-air theatre in Hohenstein in 1931.)

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