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The Rhinegold: Page 113
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Flosshilde: The sleeping gold you guard badly; pay better heed to the slumberer’s bed (#3:) or you’ll both atone for your sport (:#3).


[All three sisters dart after each other like fish in laughing play]

Here, in Woglinde’s lullaby, #4, the first words of the Ring, in which onomatopoeic syllables evolve into meaningful words, we find Wagner’s metaphor for the origin of human language, which grew out of instinctive animal utterance, instinctive feeling. Wagner identified ur-melody, or mother-melody, with instinctive feeling, and therefore with music in a figurative sense. Out of this primal feeling, according to Wagner, evolved language, and therefore ultimately human drama:

“Starting with an infinitely confluent fund of Feeling, man’s sensations gradually concentrated themselves to a more and more definite Content; in such sort that their expression in that Ur-melody advanced at last, by Nature’s necessary steps, to the formation of Absolute Word-speech.” [535W-{50-1/51} Opera and Drama: PW Vol. II, p. 281]

“This [i.e., Greek] Tragedy’s basis was the Lyric, from which it advanced to word-speech in the same way as Society advanced from the natural, ethico-religious ties of Feeling, to the political State.” [512W-{50-1/51} Opera and Drama: PW Vol. II, p. 200-201]

Woglinde’s Lullaby #4 gives birth to the two famous Woodbird Songs, which Siegfried is finally able to understand after tasting the blood of the Giant Fafner after he’s slain him, namely, #128 and #129. And #174, the Rhinedaughters’ second and final lament for the gold Alberich stole from them, is a loose inversion of #4.

[R.1: C]

By singing her lullaby, #4, it is as if the Rhinedaughter Woglinde wishes to keep the world from waking. But her effort is futile, because the Nibelung dwarf Alberich suddenly makes his appearance scrambling up the rocks at the bottom of the Rhine to observe the three Rhinedaughters in play, spellbound by their beauty. The Rhinedaughters cruelly decide to teach him a lesson, so that, in spite of appearances, he’ll learn he can never obtain love from them. Their mockery of his desire for love expresses the fact that, at least for Alberich, there is no love (in man’s ideal sense) in Nature:


(#5?: Meanwhile Alberich has emerged from a dark gully below and climbed up on to one of the rocky ledges. He pauses, still surrounded by darkness, and with increasing delight watches the Rhinedaughters playing: [[#6 foreshadowed in slow variant]]).


Alberich: Ha! Ha! You nixies! How dainty you are, you delectable creatures [“neidliches Volk”]! From Nibelheim’s night I’d gladly draw near if only you’d look on me kindly. (…)

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