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The Valkyrie: Page 340
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Bruennhilde: (startled, throwing down shield, spear and helmet and sinking down at Wotan’s feet in anxious solicitude) Father! Father! Tell me, what ails you? How you startle your child and fill her with fear! Confide in me: I’m true to you; see, (#40 or #64?:) Bruennhilde begs you (:#40 or #64?) (Lovingly and anxiously she rests her head and hands on his knees and lap. #40; #64)

 

Wotan: (Gazing at length into her eyes, after which he strokes her hair in a gesture of spontaneous tenderness. as if emerging from deep thought, he finally begins in whispered tones:) if I let it be spoken aloud, shall I not loosen my will’s restraining hold?

 

Bruennhilde: (very quietly: #25 voc major frag: #20a orch?:) To Wotan’s will you speak when you tell me what you will (:#25 voc major frag; :#20aorch?): (#? – [some chord changes suggest #59a and #15 as heard in T.3.3 when Bruennhilde sings “Ruhe! Ruhe!”:]) who am I if not your will (:#? – possible hint of #59a & #15?)? (#64?)

 

Wotan: (very quietly) What in words I reveal to no one, let it stay unspoken for ever: with myself I commune when I speak with you. (#81?)

Deryck Cooke examined this passage - in which Wotan expresses the depths of his despair - in detail from a motival standpoint, and said, strangely enough, that it illustrates just how little the meaning of the Ring owes to the words, or drama, since most of the meaning of this passage is carried by the resonances of the five motifs in play. [Cooke: P. 65-72] It is strikingly odd that Cooke said this, since he knew perfectly well that a large part of the resonance of these motifs at this moment of decision stems from their prior association with remarks and events located squarely in the language and drama of the Ring.

A new, compound motif, heard only a few times in the Ring, but of striking significance, is introduced here at the beginning of Wotan’s confession, #82. Dunning observed that #82 is a compound of #81’s four-note (grace-note) twist, Alberich’s #47 (which is itself an inversion of Wotan’s Spear Motif #21), and the last three notes of the motif associated with Erda’s knowledge of all that was, is, and will be, #53. While this entire passage expressing Wotan’s despair is dense with motifs and their associated meanings, Motif #82 is uniquely meaningful. #81 represents Wotan’s rising consciousness of the existential dilemma he can’t resolve, that the gods can only be redeemed by an autonomous, free hero, yet no such hero could ever be. Alberich’s #47, heard here in a new form associated with Wotan’s confession (it can in fact be considered the hallmark of his confession), calls to mind Alberich’s remarks in R.3 that he can trust Loge’s dishonesty (remembering here that Loge is the archetype for the Waelsung heroes) to betray the gods. #47 was also heard in R.3 in association with Alberich’s declaration that he will capture the gods in his golden grasp (i.e., that the gods will lust only for gold, and will therefore bring down Alberich’s

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