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The Valkyrie: Page 442
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love, the mightiest scorn (#40 or #64?:) of the saddest of hearts (:#40 or #64?): (#87) it rang in my ear (#87) and my eye beheld what, deep in my breast, caused my heart to tremble in holy awe. (#81/#89) Shy and startled I stood there in shame: (#81/#89) (#89?:) all I could think of was how to serve him (:#89?): (more animatedly: #94?:; #47 vari or #82 vari?:) victory or death to share with Siegmund (:#94?; :#47 vari or #82 vari?) (#89 vari?:) this I now knew (#89 vari: [not #37?]) was the fate I must choose (:#89 vari)! (#81A vari or #81B?) (slowly: [[ #96b: ]]) Inwardly true to the will which inspired this love in my heart and which bound me to the Waelsung (:#96b) (#96b) (more broadly) (#19 harmony?:) I flouted your command (:#19 harmony?)!

 

In one of the most terribly moving monologues of the entire Ring (or Wagner’s entire output), Bruennhilde describes in detail the overwhelmingly sympathetic impression made upon her by Siegmund’s plight (“Noth”). Siegmund’s “Noth” has revealed to her the full tragic implications of Siegmund’s unwitting involvement in Wotan’s plan for redeeming the gods, which employs mankind’s noblest impulses in a futile fight not only against the dead weight of the social establishment with its prejudices, traditions, and beliefs, which after all can be reformed or changed over time, and often have been, but more importantly, against the prosaic truths inevitably revealed over time by science about the very nature of man, which are not subject to reform or redemption. She emphasizes that her passionate change of mind to support Siegmund, and die for him if needs must, was not a matter of intellect (“Not wise am I”), but of the heart. Unlike Wotan, who has labored under his ever more conscious awareness of the irresolvable contradictions which beset his futile quest to preserve man’s belief in the gods, Bruennhilde has acted solely upon feeling, which is freed from conceptual contradiction. We hear #66 along with #81A as Bruennhilde describes how Wotan’s awareness of this contradiction compelled him to sacrifice his only hope, Siegmund, demonstrating, by the way, that #66 expresses the Waelsungs’ tragic fate, as unwitting agents of Wotan’s futile hope for redemption, and their sympathetic nature, not merely Sieglinde’s fate or her sympathy for the Waelsung’s “Noth.” Thanks to his revelation of the meaning of existence (Erda) when he briefly wore Alberich’s Ring in R.4, Wotan foresees the inevitable end of all human self-deceptions where no one else sees them, and so he can’t find hope where Bruennhilde does, in mere feeling. This is that “something else” which, according to Bruennhilde, Wotan had to see, which so sorely pained his heart that he had to give up his hope of finding redemption through Siegmund.

For an illustration of the depth of Wotan’s self-loathing and anguish, we have to grasp what is at stake for him. If Siegmund, surely the most sympathetic – with the exception of Bruennhilde – and genuinely loving and courageous of all heroes of the Ring, is ultimately nothing more than a puppet of natural law and Wotan’s idiosyncratic training (socialization which values individualistic heroism as proof of man’s transcendent value, part of our religious heritage), then what hope is there? Wotan is convinced that Alberich’s threat to make all the living renounce love as he has, and his prophecy that in the long run all, even the gods, will renounce love for the sake of gold and its power, has more substance than all that Bruennhilde can convey to him of Siegmund’s stand-alone heroism and compassion. He is convinced of this because he knows it is true of himself, and it is Wotan who invented the ideal represented by Siegmund in the first place. So Wotan sees Siegmund as merely a function of Wotan’s own cowardice and self-deceit, and assumes Alberich will win in

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