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Siegfried: Page 461
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Siegfried

Siegfried: Act One, Scene One - Mime's forge: Mime and Siegfried

[S.1.1: A]

Siegfried begins with a foreboding prelude initiated by a new motif, #101, which, according to Cooke, is basically Loge’s #36 with #19’s harmony. It is generally called “Scheming,” but it is mainly associated with Mime’s scheming. It is related to #27, #36, #44 (the original motif associated with Mime in R.3), and #116. The curious thing about this family of motifs is that in two cases, namely, #27, and #116, the motif represents the subterfuge, dishonesty, and even self-deception at the root of Wotan’s rule by the laws engraved on his spear of authority, a rule sustained by Loge’s cunning aid. The prelude is composed of this and other relevant motifs, such as #5, the motif representing Alberich’s anguish (“Wehe!”) at being rejected by the Rhinedaughters, #41, the motif which symbolizes Nibelung labor as a symbol of the Fall, #45, generally known as the “Power of the Ring,” #46, the “Hoard Motif,” variations of the “Ring Motif” #19, and finally, the motif of Wotan’s Grand Idea (the Sword Motif) #57. At the end of the prelude we find Mime striving futilely to forge a sword which his foster son Siegfried can’t snap in two:

(Prelude: … a cave in the forest; inside it is a natural forge, with a large set of bellows. At the anvil in front of it sits Mime, busily hammering at a sword. [[ #101 ]]; #46; #41; #5a over #41; #46 over #5/#41; #46b; #46/#41; #5b/#41; #45/#41; #19 varis; #57, #41 over #5b/#41/#5a)

 

Mime: (pausing) Punishing torment! Toil without purpose! (#41>>:) The finest sword that ever I forged would have held quite firm in giants’ hands: (#41>>:) but the rascally lad for whom I wrought it bends and snaps it in two as though I’d made some childish trinket (:#41)! (Mime ill-humouredly throws the sword down on the anvil, sets his arms akimbo and stares at the ground in thought. [[ #101 ]]; #57 frag; #41) One sword there is (#57 frag) which he’d never shatter: (#57?) Nothung’s fragments he’d not defy, (#41) [[ #102?: ]] could I but weld the mighty shards (:#102?) which no art [“Kunst”] of mine can piece together. (#57) (#41:; #92 on horn?:) If only I could forge it for that hothead, I’d find a due reward for all my shame (:#41; #92?)!

After this gloomy prelude, which conveys Mime’s brooding over how he will win his brother Alberich's Hoard and Ring, and describes the spooky cave and forest which lies near to Neidhoehle (Envy-Cave), where Fafner has – using the Tarnhelm – transformed himself into a serpent, Mime informs us that he’s been futilely laboring to produce a sword which his foster-son Siegfried could wield, but that Siegfried snaps them all in two. But, as Mime says, Nothung alone (which Mime either received, or stole, from Siegfried’s dying mother Sieglinde) would do, though Mime’s art (Kunst) is unable to re-forge its pieces into a new sword. Near the end of this passage our next new motif, #102, seems to make its first furtive appearance as Mime declares in exasperation: “Could I

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