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The Valkyrie: Page 454
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“He [Wagner] says there are certain things human beings have been able to express only in symbols, and the church has committed the crime of consolidating these and forcing them on us as realities through persecution; it is permissible for art to use these symbols, but in a free spirit and not in the rigid forms imposed by the church; since art is a profound form of play, it frees these symbols of all the accretions the human craving for power has attached to them.” [1012W-{4/27/80} CD Vol. II, p. 470]

We’re reminded that the Rhinedaughters, in their roles as the three muses for song, dance, and drama, celebrated the pre-fallen Rhinegold in a playful song-and-dance, a game, whose lack of practical use (the game’s powerlessness) inspired Alberich with contempt. It’s also clear from our extract above that the art which Bruennhilde, his muse, will inspire Siegfried to produce, will, at least ostensibly, be freed from all the “accretions” which man’s craving for power has attached to religious symbols, i.e., in a sense, will free Valhalla (#20abcd) from its origin in Alberich’s forging of his Ring of consciousness (#19). In this Wagner echoes Feuerbach, who notes that religious faith, unlike art, is unfree, because its insistence that its myths are true, that its mythic beings are real beings who can make and keep real promises to free us from pain and death, and grant us eternal bliss, proves it to be motivated by egoism, a craving for the power that only truth, only actuality, can bring. It is this Rhinedaughter-like playfulness and seeming innocence which Siegfried will inherit. This brings to mind what Loge suggested to the Rhinedaughters in the finale of The Rhinegold, that the Rhinegold’s light, which the Rhinedaughters celebrated, but which Alberich’s theft of the Rhinegold had put out, is restored in the glory of the gods, and Siegfried’s loving union with Bruennhilde, Wagner’s metaphor for his own unconscious artistic inspiration, is the ultimate glory of the gods.

[V.3.3: F]

Wotan now sings an even more extensive aria of unforgettable beauty, based on a new motif #99, expressing his nostalgia for all that he will forever lose in severing himself from Bruennhilde and leaving her to be won by the hero who will be freer than him, the god. He extols Bruennhilde’s virtues, especially her radiant pair of eyes, and then delivers his parting kiss as he takes away her godhead and puts her to sleep:

(Moved and inspired, Bruennhilde sinks down on Wotan’s breast; he holds her in a long embrace. she throws back her head once more and, still embracing him, gazes with solemn emotion into Wotan’s eyes. #77 vari?; #96b; #98 [repeated numerous times])

 

Wotan: (#voc aria/#98 vari orch:) That radiant pair of eyes which I often caressed with a smile when a kiss requited your battle lust and, childishly lilting, the praise of heroes flowed from your lovely lips: - (#98) this glittering pair of eyes which often glistened on me in the storm (#98) when the yearning for hope would sear my heart and I wished for worldly delights amidst wildly weaving

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