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The Valkyrie: Page 455
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fears: (#98) [[ #99: ]] for one last time let them joy me today (#98) with this valediction’s final kiss (:#99)! On a happier man (#98) their stars shall shine: (#98) on the hapless immortal they must close in parting (:#?)! (#87: He takes her head in both hands.) (#18 definitive:) and so –the god turns away from you (:#18 definitive): (#37:) so he kisses your godhead away (:#37).

 

(#? – Music from Wotan’s “that radiant pair of eyes … [etc.]:; #98: He lingeringly kisses both her eyes. #97: She sinks back, with eyes closed, into his arms, as consciousness gently slips away. He leads her tenderly to a low mossy bank, beneath a broad-branched fir-tree. He gazes at her, then closes her helmet: his eye then rests on the form of the sleeping woman, which he now covers completely with her Valkyrie’s great steel shield. Slowly he turns away, before turning round again with a sorrowful expression. (#20c; #97; #98; #87)

As Wotan expresses his anguish at the thought that he will, this moment, be looking into Bruennhilde’s eyes for the last time, Motif #99 is introduced, a motif of great tenderness, which when heard during a few key moments later in the Ring will call up remembrance of this sublimely tragic parting with overwhelming dramatic effect. #99 is in the same family as #22 (Fricka’s hope to preserve Wotan’s fidelity to her by offering him the consolations of Valhalla), #74 (the bliss of Siegmund’s and Sieglinde’s love), and #106 (which when introduced in S.1.1 will embody Siegfried’s longing for the love of his parents who, he does not yet realize, have both died tragically as a result of Wotan’s involvement of them in his own futile quest for redemption). We hear #87 as he takes Bruennhilde’s head in his hands to give her his final kiss (keeping in mind that Bruennhilde is the repository of the knowledge of the gods’ fate which her mother Erda imparted to Wotan), and then #18, in its original, definitive form, as Wotan says that he now turns away from her. As he proceeds to tell her that he kisses her godhead away, we hear #37, that segment of #18 which generally comes to stand for the whole motif later in the Ring. Both #18 and its fragmentary variant #37 are musical incarnations of man’s “Fall,” the loss of innocence. Here the meaning is not merely that Wotan is, like Alberich, renouncing love for the sake of power, because Wotan has now renounced power also. The meaning is rather the tragic price to be paid for standing up for love in the face of the loveless world, the loveless nature of both man and the cosmos of which he is a part, which Wotan has been forced to acknowledge without actually reconciling himself with it. He has not given up on love because his longing for redemption from reality will live on in the love which Bruennhilde and Siegfried share, i.e., her unconscious inspiration of Siegfried’s art.

We hear #20c again as Wotan walks her to the mossy bank to leave her, asleep in her armor, for the fearless hero Siegfried to wake, reminding us that Valhalla is figuratively reborn and lives on in the art which Siegfried and his muse will produce, just as Wotan himself is reborn, minus consciousness of his true identity and history, in Siegfried.

In a very curious, cryptic passage, representative of Wagner’s thinking during the period, towards the end of his career, when he embraced the concept of racial blood and racial inheritance of characteristics of personality, but only distantly related to our present concerns, he nonetheless

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