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Twilight of the Gods: Page 750
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woman (#150:; #149?:) who grudges you naught (#149?) but can give you (#150:) no more (:#150; :#149?)! (#148)

 

Siegfried: (#103 voc?:) You gave me more, o wondrous woman (:#103 voc?), (#150:) than I know how to cherish [“als ich zu wahren weiss,” i.e., than I know how to keep, or guard] (:#150): (#150) (#149:) Chide me not if your (#150:) teaching has left me untaught! (:#149; :#150).

 

Another major new motif, #149, has been introduced further along in the prelude. Cooke recognized this beautiful motif (which he designated “Bruennhilde as Siegfried’s Mortal Wife”) as part of a family of musically related motifs expressing the concept of man’s inspiration by woman, which include #8, #23, and #93. I don’t believe the concept of “Woman’s Inspiration” fully captures this family’s essence, though #149 clearly represents Bruennhilde’s inspiration of Siegfried’s heroic deeds (of art). For instance, #8 was introduced in R.1 as one of the motifs expressing the Rhinedaughters’ cruel, mocking seduction of Alberich. #23 in R.2 represented at its inception Fricka’s effort to sustain Wotan’s fidelity by offering him the domestic tranquility of their new home Valhalla, so he wouldn’t seek romantic adventures outside the home. But Bruennhilde is inspiring Siegfried to leave their home to undertake adventures, and she asks herself what value her love could have if it didn’t serve this purpose. And #93 is of course the motif associated permanently with Sieglinde’s apostrophe to Bruennhilde’s love for the Waelsungs and for Siegfried in particular, “Sublimest Wonder.” It is #93, significantly, that Wagner chose as the capstone of the entire Ring drama, since it is heard throughout the finale of the last of the four dramas, Twilight of the Gods, and expresses Bruennhilde’s ecstatic longing to reunify with the dead Siegfried by immolating herself on his funeral pyre, as well as her resignation to all that has passed, both good and evil. What seems to link the four motifs of this family conceptually is the connection between the old and the new Valhallas, i.e., between the realms of revealed religion and unconsciously inspired art, which, taken together, represent the realms of feeling as opposed to thought (Alberich’s Ring). #8, expressing the love the Rhinedaughters would offer Alberich if they really cared for him, if he was their proper wooer, sets them apart from him because he represents the power of thought, of ideas, as opposed to feeling, as opposed to love.

At least in this case, #149, there is ample evidence for Cooke’s reading of this motif as representing inspiration by woman, though its meaning runs deeper than simple inspiration per se. Cooke, like so many others, evidently interpreted the “new adventures” which Bruennhilde inspires Siegfried to undertake as merely that, heroic adventures. But the only adventure we will witness Siegfried undertake (besides, obviously, his journey to Gibichung Hall, where he meets the agents of his demise, Hagen, Gunther, and Gutrune) during the entire course of Twilight of the Gods, is his unwitting abduction of his own true love Bruennhilde, in order to hand her over as wife to his new comrade Gunther, the Gibichung. And in this instance Siegfried’s action is undertaken under the Gibichung (and Nibelung) Hagen’s influence, under the spell of Hagen’s potion. Interestingly, the only true candidate for an heroic adventure which Siegfried undertakes in Twilight of the Gods is not a heroic action or deed in the strict sense of the word, but rather, the performance of a song narrating the story of his heroic life, prompted by Hagen’s question, how did Siegfried come to understand the voices of the Woodbirds. Siegfried, at Hagen’s behest, will sing to the assembled

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