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and Palomides; Home
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Title: Pelleas and Melisande
Release Date: August 30, 2004 [EBook #13329]
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK PELLEAS AND
Produced by Charles Aldarondo, Leah Moser and the Online Distributed
Pelleas and Melisande
ALLADINE AND PALOMIDES
_Translated by_ RICHARD HOVEY
STONE AND KIMBALL
PREFACE (by Maurice Maeterlinck)
PELLEAS AND MELISANDE
On m'a demande plus d'une fois si mes drames, de _La Princesse
Maleine_ a _La Mort de Tintagiles_, avaient ete reellement ecrits pour un theatre de marionettes,
ainsi que je l'avais affirme dans l'edition originale de cette sauvage petite legende des malheurs
de Maleine. En verite, ils ne furent pas ecrits pour des acteurs ordinaires. Il n'y avait la nul desir
ironique et pas la moindre humilite non plus. Je croyais sincerement et je crois encore
aujourd'hui, que les poemes meurent lorsque des etres vivants s'y introduisent. Un jour, dans un
ecrit dont je ne retrouve plus que quelques fragments mutiles, j'ai essaye d'expliquer ces choses
qui dorment, sans doute, au fond de notre instinct et qu'il est bien difficile de reveiller
completement. J'y constatais d'abord, qu'une inquietude nous attendait a tout spectacle auquel
nous assistions et qu'une deception a peu pres ineffable accompagnait toujours la chute du
rideau. N'est-il pas evident que le Macbeth ou l'Hamlet que nous voyons sur la scene ne
ressemble pas au Macbeth ou a l'Hamlet du livre? Qu'il a visiblement retrograde dans le
sublime? Qu'une grande partie des efforts du poete qui voulait creer avant tout une vie
superieure, une vie plus proche de notre ame, a ete annulee par une force ennemie qui ne peut
se manifester qu'en ramenant cette vie superieure au niveau de la vie ordinaire? Il y a peut-etre,
me disais-je, aux sources de ce malaise, un tres ancien malentendu, a la suite duquel le theatre
ne fut jamais exactement ce qu'il est dans l'instinct de la foule, a savoir: _le temple du Reve_. Il
faut admettre, ajoutai-je, que le theatre, du moins en ses tendances, est un art. Mais je n'y
trouve pas la marque des autres arts. L'art use toujours d'un detour et n'agit pas directement. Il a
pour mission supreme la revelation de i'infini et de la grandeur ainsi que la beaute secrete, de
l'homme. Mais montrer au doigt a l'enfant qui nous accompagne, les etoiles d'une unit de Juillet,
ce n'est pas faire une oeuvre d'art. Il faut que l'art agisse comme les abeilles. Elles n'apportent
pas aux larves de la ruche les fleurs des champs qui renferment leur avenir et leur vie. Les
larves mourraient sous ces fleurs sans se douter de rien. Il faut que les abeilles nourricieres
apportent a ces nymphes aveugles l'ame meme de ces fleurs, et c'est alors seulement qu'elles
trouveront sans le savoir en ce miel mysterieux la substance des ailes qui un jour les
emporteront a leur tour dans l'espace. Or, le poeme etait une oeuvre d'art et portait ces obliques
et admirables marques. Mais la representation vient le contredire. Elle chasse vraiment les
cygnes du grand lac, et elle rejette les perles dans l'abime. Elle remet les choses exactement au
point ou elles etaient avant la venue du poete. La densite mystique de l'oeuvre d'art a disparue.
Elle verse dans la meme erreur que celui qui apres avoir vante a ses auditeurs l'admirable
_Annonciation_ de Vinci, par exemple, s'imaginerait qu'il a fait penetrer dans leurs ames la
beaute surnaturelle de cette peinture en reproduisant, en un tableau vivant, tous les details du
grand chef-d'oeuvre florentin.
Qui sait si ce n'est pas pour ces raisons cachees que l'on est
oblige de s'avouer que la plupart des grands poemes de l'humanite ne sont pas sceniques?
_Lear, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, Antoine et Cleopatre_, ne peuvent etre representes, et il est
dangereux de les voir sur la scene. Quelque chose d'Hamlet est mort pour nous du jour ou nous
l'avons vu mourir sous nos yeux. Le spectre d'un acteur l'a detrone, et nous ne pouvons plus
ecarter l'usurpateur de nos reves. Ouvrez les portes, ouvrez le livre, le prince anterieur ne
revient plus. Il a perdu la faculte de vivre selon la beaute la plus secrete de notre ame. Parfois
son ombre passe encore en tremblant sur le seuil, mais desormais il n'ose plus, il ne peut plus
entrer; et bien des voix sont mortes qui l'acclamaient en nous.
Je me souviens de cette mort de
l'Hamlet de mes reves. Un soir j'ouvris la porte a l'usurpateur du poeme. L'acteur etait illustre. Il
entra. Un seul de ses regards me montra qu'il n'etait pas Hamlet. Il ne le fut pas un seul instant
pour moi. Je le vis s'agiter durant trois heures dans le mensonge. Je voyais clairement qu'il avait
ses propres destinees; et celles qu'il voulait representer m'etaient indiciblement indifferentes a
cote des siennes. Je voyais sa sante et ses habitudes, ses passions et ses tristesses, ses
pensees et ses oeuvres, et il essayait vainement de m'interesser a une vie qui n'etait pas la
sienne et que sa seule presence avait rendue factice. Depuis je le revois lorsque j'ouvre le livre
et Elsinore n'est plus le palais d'autrefois....
"La verite," dit quelque part Charles Lamb, "la verite
est que les caracteres de Shakespeare sont tellement des objets de meditation plutot que
d'interet ou de curiosite relativement a leurs actes, que, tandis que nous lisons l'un de ses
grands caracteres criminels,--Macbeth, Richard, Iago meme,--nous ne songeons pas tant aux
crimes qu'ils commettent, qu'a l'ambition, a l'esprit d'aspiration, a l'activite intellectuelle qui les
poussent a franchir ces barrieres morales. Les actions nous affectent si peu, que, tandis que les
impulsions, l'esprit interieur en toute sa perverse grandeur, paraissent seuls reels et appellent
seuls l'attention, le crime n'est comparativement rien. Mais lorsque nous voyons representer ces
choses, les actes sont comparativement tout, et les mobiles ne sont plus rien. L'emotion sublime
ou nous sommes entraines par ces images de nuit et d'horreur qu'exprime Macbeth; ce solennel
prelude ou il s'oublie jusqu'a ce que l'horloge sonne l'heure qui doit l'appeler au meurtre de
Duncan; lorsque nous ne lisons plus cela dans un livre, lorsque nous avons abandonne ce poste
avantageux de l'abstraction d'ou la lecture domine la vision, et lorsque nous voyons sous nos
yeux, un homme en sa forme corporelle se preparer actuellement au meurtre; si le jeu de l'acteur
est vrai et puissant, la penible anxiete au sujet de l'acte, le naturel desir de le prevenir tout qu'il
ne semble pas accompli, la trop puissante apparence de realite, provoquent un malaise et une
inquietude qui detruisent totalement le plaisir que les mots apportent dans le livre, ou l'acte ne
nous oppresse jamais de la penible sensation de sa presence, et semble plutot appartenir a
l'histoire; a quelque chose de passe et d'inevitable."
Charles Lamb a raison, et pour mille raisons
bien plus profondes encore que celles qu'il nous donne. Le theatre est le lien ou meurent la
plupart des chefs-d'oeuvre, parce que la representation d'un chef-d'oeuvre a l'aide d'elements
accidentels et humains est antinomique. Tout chef-d'oeuvre est un symbole, et le symbole ne
supporte pas la presence active de l'homme. Il suffit que le coq chante, dit Hamlet, pour que les
spectres de la nuit s'evanouissent. Et de meme, le poeme perd sa vie "de la seconde sphere"
lorsqu'un etre de la sphere inferieure s'y introduit. L'accident ramene le symbole a l'accident; et
le chef-d'oeuvre, en son essence, est mort durant le temps de cette presence et de ses traces.
Les Grecs n'ignorerent pas cette antinomie, et leurs masques que nous ne comprenons plus ne
servaient probablement qu'a attenuer la presence de l'homme et a soulager le symbole. Aux
epoques ou le theatre eut une vie veritable, il la dut peut-etre uniquement a quelque
circonstance ou a quelque artifice qui venait en aide du poeme dans sa lutte contre l'homme.
Ainsi, sous Elisabeth, par exemple, la declamation etait une sorte de melopee, le jeu etait
conventionnel, et la scene aussi. Il en etait a peu pres de meme sous Louis XIV. Le poeme se
retire a mesure que l'homme s'avance. Le poeme veut nous arracher du pouvoir de nos sens et
faire predominer le passe et l'avenir; l'homme, au contraire, n'agit que sur nos sens et n'existe
que pour autant qu'il puisse effacer cette predomination. S'il entre en scene avec toutes ses
puissances, et libre comme s'il entrait dans une foret; si sa voix, ses gestes, et son attitude ne
sont pas voilees par un grand nombre de conventions synthetiques; si l'on apercoit un seul
instant l'etre vivant qu'il est et l'ame qu'il possede,--il n'y a pas de poeme au monde qui ne recule
devant lui. A ce moment precis, le spectacle du poeme s'interrompt et nous assistons a une
scene de la vie exterieure, qui, de meme qu'une scene de la rue, de la riviere, ou du champ de
bataille, a ses beautes eternelles et secretes, mais qui est neanmoins impuissante a nous
arracher du present, parce qu'en cet instant nous n'avons pas la qualite pour apercevoir ces
beautes invisibles, qui ne sont que "des fleurs offertes aux vers aveugles."
Et c'est pour ces
raisons, et pour d'autres encore qu'on pourrait rechercher dans les memes parages, que j'avais
destine mes petits drames a des etres indulgents aux poemes, et que, faute de mieux, j'appelle
Pelleas and Melisande.
_To Octave Mirbeau_.
witness of deep friendship, admiration, and gratitude.
ARKEL, _King of
GENEVIEVE, _mother of Pelleas and Golaud_.
}_grandsons of Arkel._
LITTLE YNIOLD, _son of Golaud (by a former marriage)._
_Servants, Beggars, etc._
Pelleas and Melisande.
SCENE I.--_The gate of the castle._
Open the gate! Open
Who is there? Why do you come and wake me up? Go out by the
little gates; there are enough of them!...
A MAIDSERVANT _(within)._
We have come to wash
the threshold, the gate, and the steps; open, then! open!
ANOTHER MAIDSERVANT _(within)._
There are going to be great happenings!
THIRD MAIDSERVANT _(within)._
There are going to
be great fetes! Open quickly!...
Wait! wait! I do
not know whether I shall be able to open it;... it is never opened.... Wait till it is light....
It is light enough without; I see the sunlight through the chinks....
Here are the great keys.... Oh! oh! how the bolts and the locks grate!... Help me! help me!...
We are pulling; we are pulling....
It will not open....
Ah! ah! It is opening! it is opening slowly!
How it shrieks! how
it shrieks! it will wake up everybody....
_[Appearing on the
threshold.]_ Oh, how light it is already out-of-doors!
The sun is rising on
It is open.... It is wide open!... [_All the maidservants appear on the threshold
and pass over it._]
I am going to wash the sill first....
We shall never be able to clean all this.
water! fetch the water!
Yes, yes; pour on water; pour on water; pour on all the water of
the Flood! You will never come to the end of it....
SCENE II.--_A forest._ MELISANDE
_discovered at the brink of a spring._
I shall never be able to get
out of this forest again.--God knows where that beast has led me. And yet I thought I had
wounded him to death; and here are traces of blood. But now I have lost sight of him; I believe I
am lost myself--my dogs can no longer find me--I shall retrace my steps....--I hear weeping.... Oh!
oh! what is there yonder by the water's edge?... A little girl weeping by the water's edge? [_He
coughs._]--She does not hear me. I cannot see her face. [_He approaches and touches_
MELISANDE _on the shoulder._] Why weepest thou? [MELISANDE _trembles, starts up, and
would flee._]--Do not be afraid. You have nothing to fear. Why are you weeping here all alone?
Do not touch me! do not touch me!
Do not be afraid.... I will not do you
any.... Oh, you are beautiful!
Do not touch me! do not touch me! or I throw myself
in the water!...
I will not touch you.... See, I will stay here, against the tree. Do not be
afraid. Has any one hurt you?
Oh! yes! yes! yes!... [_She sobs profoundly._]
Who has hurt you?
Every one! every one!
GOLAUD. What hurt have
they done you?
I will not tell! I cannot tell!...
Come; do not weep so.
Whence come you?
I have fled!... fled ... fled....
Yes; but whence have
I am lost!... lost!... Oh! oh! lost here.... I am not of this place.... I was not
Whence are you? Where were you born?
Oh! oh! far
away from here!... far away ... far away....
What is it shining so at the bottom of the
Where?--Ah! it is the crown he gave me. It fell as I was weeping....
A crown?--Who was it gave you a crown?--I will try to get it....
No, no; I
will have no more of it! I will have no more of it!... I had rather die ... die at once....
could easily pull it out. The water is not very deep.
I will have no more of it! If you
take it out, I throw myself in its place!...
No, no; I will leave it there. It could be reached
without difficulty, nevertheless. It seems very beautiful.--Is it long since you fled?
Yes, yes!... Who are you?
I am Prince Golaud,--grandson of Arkel, the old King of
Oh, you have gray hairs already....
Yes; some, here, by
And in your beard, too.... Why do you look at me so?
looking at your eyes.--Do you never shut your eyes?
Oh, yes; I shut them at
Why do you look so astonished?
You are a giant?
am a man like the rest....
Why have you come here?
I do not know,
myself. I was hunting in the forest, I was chasing a wild boar. I mistook the road.--You look very
young. How old are you?
I am beginning to be cold....
Will you come
No, no; I will stay here....
You cannot stay here all alone. You
cannot stay here all night long.... What is your name?
cannot stay here, Melisande. Come with me....
I will stay here....
will be afraid, all alone. We do not know what there may be here ... all night long ... all alone ... it
is impossible. Melisande, come, give me your hand....
Oh, do not touch me!...
Do not scream.... I will not touch you again. But come with me. The night will be very
dark and very cold. Come with me....
Where are you going?...
I do not
know.... I am lost too....
SCENE III.--_A hall in the castle_. ARKEL _and_
Here is what he writes to his brother Pelleas: "I found
her all in tears one evening, beside a spring in the forest where I had lost myself. I do not know
her age, nor who she is, nor whence she comes, and I dare not question her, for she must have
had a sore fright; and when you ask her what has happened to her, she falls at once a-weeping
like a child, and sobs so heavily you are afraid. Just as I found her by the springs, a crown of
gold had slipped from her hair and fallen to the bottom of the water. She was clad, besides, like
a princess, though her garments had been torn by the briers. It is now six months since I married
her and I know no more about it than on the day of our meeting. Meanwhile, dear Pelleas, thou
whom I love more than a brother, although we were not born of the same father; meanwhile
make ready for my return.... I know my mother will willingly forgive me. But I am afraid of the
King, our venerable grandsire, I am afraid of Arkel, in spite of all his kindness, for I have undone
by this strange marriage all his plans of state, and I fear the beauty of Melisande will not excuse
my folly to eyes so wise as his. If he consents nevertheless to receive her as he would receive
his own daughter, the third night following this letter, light a lamp at the top of the tower that
overlooks the sea. I shall perceive it from the bridge of our ship; otherwise I shall go far away
again and come back no more...." What say you of it?
Nothing. He has done what he
probably must have done. I am very old, and nevertheless I have not yet seen clearly for one
moment into myself; how would you that I judge what others have done? I am not far from the
tomb and do not succeed in judging myself.... One always mistakes when one does not close his
eyes. That may seem strange to us; but that is all. He is past the age to marry and he weds like
a child, a little girl he finds by a spring.... That may seem strange to us, because we never see
but the reverse of destinies ... the reverse even of our own.... He has always followed my
counsels hitherto; I had thought to make him happy in sending him to ask the hand of Princess
Ursula.... He could not remain alone; since the death of his wife he has been sad to be alone;
and that marriage would have put an end to long wars and old hatreds.... He would not have it
so. Let it be as he would have it; I have never put myself athwart a destiny; and he knows better
than I his future. There happen perhaps no useless events....
He has always been
so prudent, so grave and so firm.... If it were Pelleas, I should understand.... But he ... at his
age.... Who is it he is going to introduce here?--An unknown found along the roads.... Since his
wife's death, he has no longer lived for aught but his son, the little Yniold, and if he were about to
marry again, it was because you had wished it.... And now ... a little girl in the forest.... He has
forgotten everything....--What shall we do?...
Who is coming in
It is Pelleas. He has been weeping.
Is it thou, Pelleas?--Come a
little nearer, that I may see thee in the light....
Grandfather, I received another letter
at the same time as my brother's; a letter from my friend Marcellus.... He is about to die and calls
for me. He would see me before dying....
Thou wouldst leave before thy brother's
return?--Perhaps thy friend is less ill than he thinks....
His letter is so sad you can see
death between the lines.... He says he knows the very day when death must come.... He tells
me I can arrive before it if I will, but that there is no more time to lose. The journey is very long,
and if I await Golaud's return, it will be perhaps too late....
Thou must wait a little while,
nevertheless.... We do not know what this return has in store for us. And besides, is not thy
father here, above us, more sick perhaps than thy friend.... Couldst thou choose between the
father and the friend?...
Have a care to keep the lamp lit from this evening,
SCENE IV.--_Before the castle. Enter_ GENEVIEVE _and_
It is gloomy in the gardens. And what forests, what forests all about
Yes; that astonished me too when I came hither; it astonishes
everybody. There are places where you never see the sun. But one gets used to it so quickly....
It is long ago, it is long ago.... It is nearly forty years that I have lived here.... Look toward the
other side, you will have the light of the sea....
I hear a noise below us....
Yes; it is some one coming up toward us.... Ah! it is Pelleas.... He seems still tired
from having waited so long for you....
He has not seen us.
I think he
has seen us but does not know what he should do.... Pelleas, Pelleas, is it thou?...
Yes!... I was coming toward the sea....
So were we; we were
seeking the light. It is a little lighter here than elsewhere; and yet the sea is gloomy.
We shall have a storm to-night. There has been one every night for some time, and yet it is so
calm now.... One might embark unwittingly and come back no more.
leaving the port....
It must be a big ship.... The lights are very high, we shall see it in a
moment, when it enters the band of light....
I do not know whether we shall be able
to see it ... there is still a fog on the sea....
The fog seems to be rising slowly....
Yes; I see a little light down there, which I had not seen....
It is a
lighthouse; there are others we cannot see yet.
The ship is in the light.... It is
already very far away....
It is a foreign ship. It looks larger than ours....
It is the ship that brought me here!...
It flies away under full sail....
the ship that brought me here. It has great sails.... I recognized it by its sails.
will be a rough sea to-night.
Why does it go away to-night?... You can hardly see it
any longer.... Perhaps it will be wrecked....
The sight falls very quickly....
No one speaks any more?... You have nothing more to say to each
other?... It is time to go in. Pelleas, show Melisande the way. I mast go see little Yniold a
Nothing can be seen any longer on the sea....
It is the other lighthouses.... Do you hear the sea?... It is the wind
rising.... Let us go down this way. Will you give me your hand?
See, see, my
hands are full....
I will hold you by the arm, the road is steep and it is very gloomy
there.... I am going away perhaps to-morrow....
Oh!... why do you go away?
SCENE I.--_A fountain in the park.
Enter_ PELLEAS _and_
You do not know where I have brought you?--I often come to sit here,
toward noon, when it is too hot in the gardens. It is stifling to-day, even in the shade of the trees.
Oh, how clear the water is!...
It is as cool as winter. It is an old
abandoned spring. It seems to have been a miraculous spring,--it opened the eyes of the blind,--
they still call it "Blind Man's Spring."
It no longer opens the eyes of the blind?
Since the King has been nearly blind himself, no one comes any more....
How alone one is here!... There is no sound.
There is always a
wonderful silence here.... One could hear the water sleep.... Will you sit down on the edge of the
marble basin? There is one linden where the sun never comes....
I am going to lie
down on the marble.--I should like to see the bottom of the water....
No one has ever
seen it.--It is as deep, perhaps, as the sea.--It is not known whence it comes.--Perhaps it comes
from the bottom of the earth....
If there were anything shining at the bottom,
perhaps one could see it....
Do not lean over so....
I would like to touch
Have a care of slipping.... I will hold your hand....
No, no, I
would plunge both hands in it.... You would say my hands were sick to-day....
take care! take care! Melisande!... Melisande!...--Oh! your hair!...
upright)._ I cannot,... I cannot reach it....
Your hair dipped in the water....
Yes, it is longer than my arms.... It is longer than I....
was at the brink of a spring, too, that he found you?
What did he
say to you?
Nothing;--I no longer remember....
Was he quite near you?
Yes; he would have kissed me.
And you would not?
Why would you not?
Oh! oh! I saw something pass at the bottom of the
Take care! take care!--You will fall! What are you playing with?
With the ring he gave me....
Take care; you will lose it....
No, no; I am
sure of my hands....
Do not play so, over so deep a water....
do not tremble.
How it shines in the sunlight I--Do not throw it so high in the air....
It has fallen?
It has fallen into the water!...
Where is it? where is it?...
I do not see it sink?...
I think I see
Yes, yes; down yonder....
Oh! oh! It
is so far away from us!... no, no, that is not it ... that is not it.... It is lost ... lost.... There is nothing
any more but a great circle on the water.... What shall we do? What shall we do now?...
You need not be so troubled for a ring. It is nothing.... We shall find it again, perhaps.
Or else we will find another....
No, no; we shall never find it again; we shall never
find any others either.... And yet I thought I had it in my hands.... I had already shut my hands,
and it is fallen in spite of all.... I threw it too high, toward the sun....
Come, come, we
will come back another day;... come, it is time. They will come to meet us. It was striking noon at
the moment the ring fell.
What shall we say to Golaud if he ask where it is?
The truth, the truth, the truth....
SCENE II.--_An apartment in the castle._
GOLAUD _discovered, stretched upon his bed;_ MELISANDE, _by his bedside_.
ah! all goes well; it will amount to nothing. But I cannot understand how it came to pass. I was
hunting quietly in the forest. All at once my horse ran away, without cause. Did he see anything
unusual?... I had just heard the twelve strokes of noon. At the twelfth stroke he suddenly took
fright and ran like a blind madman against a tree. I heard no more. I do not yet know what
happened. I fell, and he must have fallen on me. I thought I had the whole forest on my breast; I
thought my heart was crushed. But my heart is sound. It is nothing, apparently....
Would you like a little water?
Thanks, thanks; I am not thirsty.
you like another pillow?... There is a little spot of blood on this.
No, no; it is not worth
while. I bled at the mouth just now. I shall bleed again perhaps....
Are you quite
sure?... You are not suffering too much?
No, no; I have seen a good many more like
this. I was made of iron and blood.... These are not the little bones of a child; do not alarm
Close your eyes and try to sleep. I shall stay here all night....
No, no; I do not wish you to tire yourself so. I do not need anything; I shall sleep like a child....
What is the matter, Melisande? Why do you weep all at once?...
MELISANDE _(bursting into
I am ... I am ill too....
Thou art ill?... What ails thee, then; what ails thee,
I do not know.... I am ill here.... I had rather tell you to-day; my lord,
my lord, I am not happy here....
Why, what has happened, Melisande? What is it?...
And I suspecting nothing.... What has happened?... Some one has done thee harm?... Some
one has given thee offence?
No, no; no one has done me the least harm.... It is
not that.... It is not that.... But I can live here no longer. I do not know why.... I would go away, go
away!... I shall die if I am left here....
But something has happened? You must be
hiding something from me?... Tell me the whole truth, Melisande.... Is it the King?... Is it my
mother?... Is it Pelleas?...
No, no; it is not Pelleas. It is not anybody.... You could
not understand me....
Why should I not understand?... If you tell me nothing, what will
you have me do?... Tell me everything and I shall understand everything.
I do not
know myself what it is.... I do not know just what it is.... If I could tell you, I would tell you.... It is
something stronger than I....
Come; be reasonable, Melisande.--What would you have
me do?--You are no longer a child.--Is it I whom you would leave?
Oh! no, no; it is
not that.... I would go away with you.... It is here that I can live no longer.... I feel that I shall not
live a long while....
But there must be a reason nevertheless. You will be thought mad.
It will be thought child's dreams.--Come, is it Pelleas, perhaps?--I think he does not often speak
Yes, yes; he speaks to me sometimes. I think he does not like me; I have
seen it in his eyes.... But he speaks to me when he meets me....
You must not take it
ill of him. He has always been so. He is a little strange. And just now he is sad; he thinks of his
friend Marcellus, who is at the point of death, and whom he cannot go to see.... He will change,
he will change, you will see; he is young....
But it is not that ... it is not that....
What is it, then?--Can you not get used to the life one leads here? Is it too gloomy
here?--It is true the castle is very old and very sombre.... It is very cold, and very deep. And all
those who dwell in it, are already old. And the country may seem gloomy too, with all its forests,
all its old forests without light. But that may all be enlivened if we will. And then, joy, joy, one
does not have it every day; we must take things as they come. But tell me something; no matter
what; I will do everything you could wish....
Yes, yes; it is true.... You never see the
sky here. I saw it for the first time this morning....
It is that, then, that makes you weep,
my poor Melisande?--It is only that, then?--You weep, not to see the sky?--Come, come, you are
no longer at the age when one may weep for such things.... And then, is not the summer
yonder? You will see the sky every day.--And then, next year.... Come, give me your hand; give
me both your little hands. [_He takes her hands._] Oh! oh! these little hands that I could crush
like flowers....--Hold! where is the ring I gave you?
wedding-ring, where is it?
I think.... I think it has fallen....
has it fallen?--You have not lost it?
No, no; it fell ... it must have fallen.... But I
know where it is....
Where is it?
You know ... you know well ... the grotto
by the seashore?...
Well then, it is there.... It must be it is there....
Yes, yes; I remember.... I went there this morning to pick up shells for little Yniold.... There were
some very fine ones.... It slipped from my finger ... then the sea came in; and I had to go out
before I had found it.
Are you sure it is there?
Yes, yes; quite sure.... I
felt it slip ... then, all at once, the noise of the waves....
You must go look for it at once.
I must go look for it at once?
Now?--at once?--in the
Now, at once, in the dark. You must go look for it at once. I had rather have lost
all I have than have lost that ring. You do not know what it is. You do not know whence it came.
The sea will be very high to-night. The sea will come to take it before you.... Make haste. You
must go look for it at once....
I dare not.... I dare not go alone....
with no matter whom. But you must go at once, do you understand?--Make haste; ask Pelleas to
go with you.
Pelleas?--With Pelleas?--But Pelleas would not....
will do all you ask of him. I know Pelleas better than you do. Go, go; hurry! I shall not sleep until I
have the ring.
Oh! oh! I am not happy!... I am not happy!...
SCENE III.--_Before a grotto._
_Enter_ PELLEAS _and_ MELISANDE.
[_Speaking with great
agitation._] Yes; it is here; we are there. It is so dark you cannot tell the entrance of the grotto
from the rest of the night.... There are no stars on this side. Let us wait till the moon has torn
through that great cloud; it will light up the whole grotto, and then we can enter without danger.
There are dangerous places, and the path is very narrow between two lakes whose bottom has
not yet been found. I did not think to bring a torch or a lantern, but I think the light of the sky will
be enough for us.--You have never gone into this grotto?
go in; let us go in.... You must be able to describe the place where you lost the ring, if he
questions you.... It is very big and very beautiful. There are stalactites that look like plants and
men. It is full of blue darks. It has not yet been explored to the end. There are great treasures
hidden there, it seems. You will see the remains of ancient shipwrecks there. But you must not
go far in it without a guide. There have been some who never have come back. I myself dare not
go forward too far. We will stop the moment we no longer see the light of the sea or the sky.
When you strike a little light there, you would say the vault was covered with stars like the sky. It
is bits of crystal or salt, they say, that shine so in the rock.--Look, look, I think the sky is going to
clear.... Give me your hand; do not tremble, do not tremble so. There is no danger; we will stop
the moment we no longer see the light of the sea.... Is it the noise of the grotto that frightens
you? It is the noise of night or the noise of silence.... Do you hear the sea behind us?--It does
not seem happy to-night.... Ah! look, the light!...
[The moon lights up abundantly the entrance
and part of the
darkness of the grotto; and at a certain depth are seen three
old beggars with
white hair, seated side by side, leaning upon
each other and asleep against a bowlder.]
What is it?
There are ... there are....
[_She points out
the three Beggars._
Yes, yes; I have seen them too....
Let us go!... Let
Yes ... it is three old poor men fallen asleep.... There is a famine in the
country.... Why have they come to sleep here....
Let us go!... Come, come.... Let
Take care; do not speak so loud.... Let us not wake them.... They are still
sleeping heavily.... Come.
Leave me, leave me; I prefer to walk alone....
We will come back another day....
SCENE IV.--_An apartment in the
castle,_ ARKEL _and_ PELLEAS _discovered._
You see that everything retains you
here just now and forbids you this useless journey. We have concealed your father's condition
from you until now; but it is perhaps hopeless; and that alone should suffice to stop you on the
threshold. But there are so many other reasons.... And it is not in the day when our enemies
awake, and when the people are dying of hunger and murmur about us, that you have the right
to desert us. And why this journey? Marcellus is dead; and life has graver duties than the visit to
a tomb. You are weary, you say, of your inactive life; but activity and duty are not found on the
highways. They must be waited for upon the threshold, and let in as they go by; and they go by
every day. You have never seen them? I hardly see them any more myself; but I will teach you
to see them, and I will point them out to you the day when you would make them a sign.
Nevertheless, listen to me; if you believe it is from the depths of your life this journey is exacted, I
do not forbid your undertaking it, for you must know better than I the events you must offer to
your being or your fate. I shall ask you only to wait until we know what must take place ere
How long must I wait?
A few weeks; perhaps a few days....
I will wait....
SCENE I.--_An apartment in the castle._ PELLEAS _and_
MELISANDE _discovered_, MELISANDE _plies her distaff at the back of the room._
Yniold does not come back; where has he gone?
He had heard something in the
corridor; he has gone to see what it is.
What is it?
... Can you see still to work there?...
I work as well in the dark....
I think everybody is already asleep in the castle. Golaud does not come back from
the chase. It is late, nevertheless.... He no longer suffers from his fall?...
he no longer suffered from it.
He must be more prudent; his body is no longer as
supple as at twenty years.... I see the stars through the window and the light of the moon on the
trees. It is late; he will not come back now. [_Knocking at the door._] Who is there?... Come in!...
_Little_ YNIOLD _opens the door and enters the room._
It was you knocking so?... That is not
the way to knock at doors. It is as if a misfortune had arrived; look, you have frightened little
I only knocked a tiny little bit.
It is late; little father will not
come back to-night; it is time for you to go to bed.
I shall not go to bed before
What?... What is that you are saying?
I say ... not before
you ... not before you....
[_Bursts into sobs and takes refuge by_ MELISANDE.]
What is it, Yniold?... What is it?... why do you weep all at once?
... oh! oh! because ...
Because what?... Because what?... Tell me ...
Little mother ... little mother ... you are going away....
But what has taken hold of
you, Yniold?... I have never dreamed of going away....
Yes, you have; yes, you have;
little father has gone away.... Little father does not come back, and you are going to go away
too.... I have seen it ... I have seen it....
But there has never been any idea of that,
Yniold.... Why, what makes you think that I would go away?...
I have seen it ... I have
seen it.... You have said things to uncle that I could not hear....
He is sleepy.... He
has been dreaming.... Come here, Yniold; asleep already?... Come and look out at the window;
the swans are fighting with the dogs....
YNIOLD _(at the window)._
Oh! oh! they are chasing the
dogs!... They are chasing them!... Oh! oh! the water!... the wings!... the wings!... they are
PELLEAS. _(coming back by_ MELISANDE_)._
He is sleepy; he is struggling against
sleep; his eyes were closing....
MELISANDE _(singing softly as she spins)._
Saint Daniel and
Saint Michael and Saint Raphael....
YNIOLD _(at the window)._
Oh! oh! little
MELISANDE _(rising abruptly)._
What is it, Yniold?... What is it?...
something at the window?...
[PELLEAS _and_ MELISANDE _run to the window._
What is there at the window?... What have you seen?...
Oh! oh! I saw something!...
But there is nothing. I see nothing....
Where did you
see something? Which way?...
Down there, down there!... It is no longer there....
He does not know what he is saying. He must have seen the light of the moon on the
forest. There are often strange reflections,... or else something must have passed on the
highway ... or in his sleep. For see, see, I believe he is quite asleep....
YNIOLD _(at the
Little father is there! little father is there!
PELLEAS _(going to the window)._
right; Golaud is coming into the courtyard....
Little father!... little father!... I am going to
[_Exit, running,--A silence._
They are coming up the stair....
GOLAUD _and little_ YNIOLD _with a lamp._
You are still waiting in the dark?
I have brought a light, little mother, a big light!... [_He lifts the lamp and looks at_
MELISANDE.] You have been weeping, little mother?... You have been, weeping?... [_He lifts
the lamp toward_ PELLEAS _and looks in turn at him._] You too, you too, you have been