Schiller: “The Glove”
THE GLOVE (1797)
Before his lion-court,
To see the gruesome sport,
Sate the king;
Beside him group’d his princely peers;
And dames aloft, in circling tiers,
Wreath’d round their blooming ring.
King Francis, where he sate,
Raised a finger–yawn’d the gate,
And, slow from his repose,
A LION goes!
Dumbly he gazed around
The foe-encircled ground;
And, with a lazy gape,
He stretch’d his lordly shape,
And shook his careless mane,
And–laid him down again!
A finger raised the king–
And nimbly have the guard
A second gate unbarr’d;
Forth, with a rushing spring,
A TIGER sprung!
Wildly the wild one yell’d
When the lion he beheld;
And, bristling at the look,
With his tail his sides he strook,
And roll’d his rabid tongue;
In many a wary ring
He swept round the forest king,
With a fell and rattling sound;–
And laid him on the ground,
The king raised his finger; then
Leap’d two LEOPARDS from the den
With a bound;
And boldly bounded they
Where the crouching tiger lay
And he gripped the beasts in his deadly hold;
In the grim embrace they grappled and roll’d;
Rose the lion with a roar!
And stood the strife before;
And the wild-cats on the spot,
From the blood-thirst, wroth and hot,
Now from the balcony above,
A snowy hand let fall a glove:–
Midway between the beasts of prey,
Lion and tiger; there it lay,
The winsome lady’s glove!
Fair Cunigonde said, with a lip of scorn,
To the knight DELORGES–“If the love you have sworn
Were as gallant and leal as you boast it to be,
I might ask you to bring back that glove to me!”
The knight left the place where the lady sate;
The knight he has pass’d thro’ the fearful gate;
The lion and tiger he stoop’d above,
And his fingers have closed on the lady’s glove!
All shuddering and stunn’d, they beheld him there–
The noble knights and the ladies fair;
But loud was the joy and the praise, the while
He bore back the glove with his tranquil smile!
With a tender look in her softening eyes,
That promised reward to his warmest sighs,
Fair Cunigonde rose her knight to grace;
He toss’d the glove in the lady’s face!
“Nay, spare me the guerdon, at least,” quoth he;
And he left forever that fair ladye!
The Knight scorns Cunigonde