A+ a-
Wagnerheim Logo
Wagnerheim Bookmark System
Siegfried: Page 612
Go back a page
612
Go forward a page

(The bird flutters up, circles over Siegfried and flies off, hesitantly, in front of him.)

 

Siegfried: (#voc?: [This music gives the impression of Siegfried’s last moment of childhood, his last childish utterance]) Thus shall the way be shown to me: (#92c or 71 vari “Hero” or #57 vari?:) wherever you flutter, there shall I follow (:#?; :#92c or #71 vari “Hero” or #57 vari?)!

 

(#129b varis; #132b; #129b varis: He runs after the bird, which teases him for a time by leading him inconstantly in different directions before finally setting off in a particular direction towards the back of the stage, with Siegfried in pursuit)

 

There are two distinct - though probably related - sources of the Woodbird’s description of the nature of the special kind of love which has possessed Siegfried. In V.3.1, after Bruennhilde had foretold that Sieglinde would suffer great “Noth” in order to bring the world’s greatest hero, Siegfried, to birth, Sieglinde ran off to take refuge near Fafner’s lair, where Wotan never tread. But before departing, she spoke to Bruennhilde of her hope that her child Siegfried would smile on Bruennhilde someday, and with her last, parting words, said: “let Sieglinde’s woe be your blessing.” If it is true that Wagner, as he said himself, intended the Woodbird to represent the dead spirit of Siegfried’s mother Sieglinde, this would lend the Woodbird’s poetic description of the love Siegfried will share with Bruennhilde special poignancy.

But there is more: we need to consider who Bruennhilde and Siegfried are, and what role they play in the entire Ring in relation to each other. Siegfried, it must be remembered, is Wotan, i.e., man’s religious longing for transcendent human value, reincarnate in the secular artist-hero. Bruennhilde is Wotan’s collective unconscious, in union with whom Siegfried will now seek artistic inspiration. Thanks to Bruennhilde, who protects Siegfried from suffering the wounds caused by Alberich’s curse on the Ring, the curse of consciousness, Siegfried will be able to draw inspiration from the source of man’s woe (or “Noth,” embodied by #66), Wotan’s unspoken secret, without having to pay the price of becoming conscious of it. As Wotan said of Loge, the archetype for the artist-hero Siegfried, Loge’s cunning can draw advantage from the enemy’s envy. Loge’s cunning consists in his capacity to employ art to transform what inspires horror and fear in man when he is conscious of this source of inspiration, into aesthetic bliss when the horrific source of inspiration remains repressed and therefore unconscious. Siegfried, in other words, is able to repress Wotan’s intolerable knowledge, and sublimate Wotan’s unconscious, dreadful thoughts into blissful feeling, through art, a profound form of play which renders the horrors of life harmless by taking aesthetic possession of them. This perhaps broadens our understanding of what the Woodbird means by her remark that lovers alone (i.e., authentically inspired artist-heroes and their muses of inspiration alone) can know what she means by her remark: “delighting in sorrow, I sing of love; blissful I weave my lay from woe.”

Siegfried has one more question for the Woodbird: will he be able to pass through the fire and waken Bruennhilde? The Woodbird answers that only he who does not know fear can achieve this,

Go back a page
612
Go forward a page
© 2011 Paul Heise. All rights reserved. Website by Mindvision.