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Four Mystery Plays

Rudolf Steiner e.Lib Document

Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

Mystery Plays
Main Index
Cover Sheet
1. Portal
Scene 1
Scene 2
Scene 3
Scene 4
Scene 5
Scene 6
Scene 7
Scene 8
Scene 9
Scene 10
Scene 11
2. Probation
Scene 1
Scene 2
Scene 3
Scene 4
Scene 5
Scene 6
Scene 7
Scene 8
Scene 9
Scene 10
Scene 11
Scene 12
Scene 13
3. Guardian
Scene 1
Scene 2
Scene 3
Scene 4
Scene 5
Scene 6
Scene 7
Scene 8
Scene 9
Scene 10
4. Awakening
Scene 1
Scene 2
Scene 3
Scene 4
Scene 5
Scene 6
Scene 7
Scene 8
Scene 9
Scene 10
Scene 11
Scene 12
Scene 13
Scene 14
Scene 15

Four Mystery Plays

The Soul's Probation

Scene 5

A mountain glade, in which is situated Felix Balde's solitary cottage. Evening. Dame Felicia Balde, Capesius, then Felix Balde; later on Johannes and his Double; afterwards Lucifer and Ahriman. Dame Felicia is seated on a bench in front of her cottage.

Capesius (arriving, approaches her):
I know an old friend will not ask in vain
For leave to stay and rest awhile with thee
Since now, e'en more than any former time,
He needs what in thine house so oft he found.

When thou wast still far off, thy wearied step
Told me the tale which now thine eyes repeat;
That sorrow dwelleth in thy soul to-day.

Capesius (who has seated himself):
Even of onetime 'twas not granted me
To bring much merriment into thy home;
But special patience must I crave to-day
When, heavy-hearted and of peace bereft,
I force my way unto the home of peace.

We were right glad to see thee in the days
When scarce another man came near this house,
And thou art still our friend, despite events
That came between us, e'en though many now
Are glad to seek us in this lonely glade.

The tale is true then which hath reached mine ears,
That thy dear Felix, so reserved of yore,
Is nowadays a man much visited?

'Tis so; good Felix used to shut us off
From everyone —; but now the people throng
To question him, and he must answer them.
His duty bids him lead this novel life.
In former days he cared not to impart,
Save to his inner self, the secret lore
Concerning spirit-deeds and nature's powers
By rock and forest unto him revealed.
Nor did men seem to value it before.
How great a change hath now come o'er the times!
To many men lending a willing ear
To what they counted folly in the past,
Greedy for wisdom, Felix can reveal.
And when my dear good husband has to talk

(Felix Balde comes out of the house.)

Hour upon hour on end, as oft he doth,
I long for those old days of which I spake.
How oft would Felix earnestly declare
That in the quiet heart enshrined, the soul
Must learn to treasure up the spirit-gifts
From worlds divine in mercy sent to her.
He held it treachery to that high speech
Of spirit, to reveal it to an ear
That was but open to the world of sense.

Felicia cannot reconcile herself
To this much altered fashion of our life.
As she regrets the loneliness of old,
So she deplores the many days that pass
In which we have but few hours for ourselves.

What made thee strangers welcome to a house
That shut them out so sternly heretofore?

The spirit-voice which speaks within my heart
Bade me of yore be silent; I obeyed.
Now that it bids me speak I show myself
Equally faithful unto its command.
Our human nature undergoes a change
As earth's existence gradually evolves.
Now are we very near an epoch's close;
And spirit-knowledge therefore must in part
Be now revealed unto every man
Who chooseth to receive it to himself.
I know how little what I have to tell
Is in agreement with man's current thought;
The spirit-life, they say, must be made known,
In strict and logical thought sequences,
And men deny all logic to my words.
True science on a firm foundation based,
Cannot, they say, regard me otherwise
Than as a visionary soul who seeks
A solitary road to wisdom's seat,
And knows no more of science than of art.
Yet not a few declare it worth their while
The tangle of my language to explore,
Because therein from time to time is found
Something of worth, to reason not opposed.
I am a man into whose heart must flow,
Untouched by art, each vision he may see.
Nought know I of a knowledge lacking words.
When I retreat within mine inmost heart
And also when I list to nature's voice,
Then such a knowledge wakes to life in me
As hath no need to seek for any words;
Speech is to it as intimately linked
As is his body's sheath to man on earth;
And knowledge such as this, which in this wise
Reveals itself to us from spirit-worlds,
Can be of service even unto those
Who understand it not. And so it is
That every man is free to come to me
Who will attend to what I have to say.
Many are led by curiosity
And other trivial reasons to my door.
I know that this is so, but also know
That though the souls of just such men as these
Are not this moment living for the light,
Yet in them have been planted seeds of good
Which will not fail to ripen in due time.

Let me, I pray thee, freely speak my mind.
I have admired thee now these many years;
Yet up till now I have not grasped the sense
Which underlies thy strange mysterious words.

It surely will unfold itself to thee;
For with a lofty spirit dost thou strive —
And noble heart, and so the time must come
When thou thyself shalt hear the voice of truth.
Thou dost not mark how full of rich content
Man, as the image of the cosmos, is:
His head doth mirror heaven's very self:
The spirits of the spheres work through his limbs
And in his breast earth-beings hold their sway.
To all of these opposed, in all their might
Appear the demons, natives of the Moon,
Whose lot it is to cross those beings' aims.
The human form as it before us stands,
The soul through which we live and feel and strive,
The spirit that illuminates our path:
All these, full many gods have worked to mould
Throughout the ages of eternity;
And this their purpose was: to join in one,
Forces proceeding out of all the worlds
Which should, in combination, make mankind.

Thy words come near to causing me alarm,
For they regard mankind as nothing else
Than products of divine activities.

And so a man who sets himself to learn
True spirit science must be meek indeed.
Whoso, in vanity, self knowledge seeks,
For him the gates of wisdom open not.

Once more, no doubt, will Dame Felicia
Come to mine aid, as she so oft hath done,
And make a picture for my seeking soul,
Which, being warmed thereat, may rightly grasp
The real true meaning in thy words contained.

Dear Felix oft hath told me in the past
The very words which now he spake to thee.
They freed a vision in mine heart, which I
Did promise, then and there, I must relate
Some day to thee.

Oh do so, dearest dame;
I sorely crave refreshment, such as thou,
Out of thy picture-storehouse canst provide.

So be it then. There once did live a boy,
The only child of needy forest-folk,
Who grew up in the woodland solitudes;
Few souls he knew beside his parents twain.
His build was slender, and his skin wellnigh
Transparent; marvels of the spirit hid
Deep in his eye; long could one gaze therein.
And though few human beings ever came
Into the circle of his daily life,
The lad was well befriended none the less.
When golden sunshine bathed the neighbouring hills,
With thoughtful eyes he drew the spirit-gold
Into his soul, until his heart became
Kin to the morning glory of the sun.
But when the morning sunshine could not break
Through dense dark banks of cloud, and heaviness
Lay on the hills around, his eye grew sad,
And sorrow took possession of his heart.
Thus his attention only centred on
The spirit-fabric of his narrow world,
A world that seemed as much a part of him
As did his limbs and body. Woodlands all
And trees and flowers he felt to be his friends;
From crown and calyx and from tops of trees,
The spirit beings spake full oft to him,
And all their whisperings were lucid speech.
Marvels and wonders of the hidden worlds
Disclosed themselves unto the boy when he
Held converse in his soul with many things
By men deemed lifeless. Evening often fell,
And still the boy would be away from home,
And cause his loving parents much concern.
At such times he was at a place near by
In which a spring rose gushing from the rocks,
To fall in misty spray upon the stones.
When silver moonbeams would reflect themselves,
A miracle of colour and of light,
Full in the rush of hasting waterdrops,
The boy could spend beside the rock-born spring
Hour after hour, till spirit-shapes appeared
Before the vision of the youthful seer
Where moonbeams shivered on the falling drops.
They grew to be three forms in woman's shape,
Who spoke to him about those things in which
His yearning soul made known its interest.
And when upon a gentle summer night
The lad was once more sitting by the spring,
A myriad particles one woman took
From out the coloured web of waterdrops
And to the second woman handed them.
She fashioned from the watery particles
A gleaming chalice with a silver sheen
And handed it in turn unto the third.
She filled the vessel with the silver rays
Of moonlight and then gave it to the boy,
Who had beheld all this with inner sight.
During the night which followed this event
He dreamed a dream in which he saw himself
Robbed of this chalice by some dragon wild.
After this night had passed, the boy beheld
But three times more the marvel of the stream.
Then the three women stayed away from him
Although he sat and mused beside the spring
That gushed beneath the moonlight from the rock.
And when three times three hundred sixty weeks
Had passed, the boy had long become a man,
And left home, parents, and his woodland nook
To live in some strange city. There one eve
He sat and thought, tired with the day's hard toil,
Musing on what life held in store for him,
When suddenly he felt himself caught up
And set again beside that rock-bound spring;
The women three, he there beheld once more,
And this time clearly he could hear them speak.
These were the words the first one spake to him:
‘Think of me always whensoe'er thou art
O'ercome by loneliness, for I am she
Who lures the inner vision of mankind
To starry realms and heavenly distances.
And whosoever wills to feel my sway
To him I give a draught of life and hope
Out of the magic goblet which I hold.’
The second also spake these words to him:
‘Forget me not at times when thou art nigh
To losing courage on life's battlefield.
I lead men's yearning hearts to depths of soul
And also up to lofty spirit-heights.
And whosoever seeks his powers from me,
For him I forge unwavering faith in life
Shaped by the magic hammer which I wield.’
The third one gave her message in these words
‘Lift up thy spirit's eye to gaze on me
When by life's riddles thou art overwhelmed.
'Tis I who spin the threads of thought that lead
Through labyrinths of life and depths of soul.
And whosoever puts his trust in me
For him I weave the rays of living love
Upon this magic loom at which I sit.’
Thus it befell the man, and in the night
That followed on his visions he did dream,
How that a dragon wild in circles crept
Round him, but was not able to draw near.
He was protected from that dragon's claws
By those same beings whom he saw of old
Seated beside the spring among the rocks,
Who had gone with him, when he left his home,
To guard him in his strange environment.

Accept my thanks, dear dame, before I go,
For this rich treasure thou hast given me.

(Stands up to depart; Felix and Dame Felicia go into the house.)

(alone and at some distance)

I feel the health that such a picture brings
Into my soul, and how to all my thoughts
It can restore the forces they had lost.
Simple the tale unfolded by the dame,
And yet it rouseth powers of thought in me
That carry me away to worlds unknown....
Therefore will I in this fair solitude
Myself to dreams abandon, which so oft
Have sought to usher thoughts into my soul,
Thoughts which have proved themselves of higher worth
Than many a fruit of weeks of close research.

(He disappears behind some thick bushes. Enter Johannes, sunk in deep thought.)

Johannes to himself:
Was this some dream, or was it truth indeed?
I cannot bear the words my friend just spake
In calm serenity and yet so firm
About our separation which must come.
Would I might think it was but worldly sense,
That sets itself against the spirit's trend,
And, like a mirage, stands between us twain. —
I cannot, and I will not let the words
Of warning which Maria spake to me
Thus quench the sounding voice of mine own soul
Which says ‘I love her,’ says it night and day.
Out of the fountain of my love alone
Springs that activity for which I crave.
What value hath my impulse to create
Or yet my outlook on high spirit-aims
If they would rob me of that very light
Which can alone irradiate myself?
In this illumination must I live,
And if it is to be withdrawn from me
Then shall my choice be death for evermore.
I feel my forces fail me at this hour
As soon as I would set myself to think
That I must wander o'er a path whereon
Her light doth shed no more its radiant beam.

A mist begins to form before mine eyes
Which shrouds the marvels o'er, which used to make
These woods, these cliffs a glory to mine eyes
A fearful dream mounts from abysmal depths
Which shakes me through and through with fear and dread —

O get thee gone from me; — I yearn to be
Alone to dream my dreams;
In them at least I still can fight and strive
To win back that which now seems lost to me.

He will not go; — then will I fly from him.

(He feels as if he were rooted to the ground.)

What are the bonds that hold me prisoner
And chain me, as with fetters, to this place?

(The Double of Johannes Thomasius appears.)

Ah! — whosoe'er thou art; if human blood
Doth course within thy veins, or if thou art
Some spirit only — leave me and depart.
Who is it? — Here some demon brings to me,
My own self's likeness, — he will not depart; —
It is the picture of my very self
And seems to be more powerful than that self. —

Double (as if to Maria):
Maria, I do love thee; — beating heart
And fevered blood are mine when at thy side.
And when thine eye meets mine, my pulse doth thrill
With passion's tremor: when thy dearest hand
Doth nestle in mine own, my body swoons
With rapture and delight.

Thou phantom ghost,
Of mist and fog compact, how dost thou dare
To utter blasphemy and so malign
The purest feelings of my heart. How great
A load of guilt must I have laid on me,
That I must be compelled to look upon
Such lust — befouled distortion of that love
That is to me so holy.

Double (as if to Maria):
I have lent
Full oft unto thy words a listening ear.
I seemed to draw them up into my soul
As 'twere some message from the spirit-world.
But more than any scene thy words disclosed
I loved to have thy body close to mine.
And when thou spakst of soul-paths I was filled
With rapture that went leaping through my veins.

(The voice of conscience speaks.)

This is the unconfessed
But not yet dispossessed
Apparently repressed
Still by the blood possessed —
The secret fire
Of passionate desire.

Double (with a slightly different voice):
I have no power to go away from thee;
Oft wilt thou find me standing by thy side;
I leave thee not till thou hast found the power
Which makes of me the very counterpart
Of that pure being which thou shalt become.
As yet thou hast not reached that high estate,
Which still deluded by thy personal self
Thou thinkest falsely that thou hast attained.

(Enter Lucifer and Ahriman.)

O man, o'ercome thyself.
O man, deliver me.
Thou hast defeated me
In thy soul's highest realm..,
But I am bound to thee
In thine own being's depth.
Me shalt thou ever find
Across thy path in life
If thou wouldst strive to shield
All of thyself from me.
O man, o'ercome thyself,
O man, deliver me.

O man, be bold and dare.
O man, experience me.
Thou hast availed to win
To spirit seership here,
But I must spoil for thee
The longing of thy heart.
Still must thou suffer oft
Deep agony of soul,
If thou wilt not remain
In all humility
Within my bounds.
O man, be bold and dare.
O man, experience me.

(Lucifer and Ahriman vanish; the Double also. Johannes walks, deep in thought, into the dark recesses, of the forest. Capesius appears again. He has, from his post behind the bushes, watched the scene between Johannes and the Double as if it were a vision.)

What have I seen and heard! It lay on me
Just like some nightmare. Came Thomasius
Walking like one who is absorbed in thought;
Then he stood still; it seemed as if he talked
With someone, and yet no one else was there.
I felt o'ercome as by some deadly fear;
And saw no more of what went on around.
As if I were asleep, and unaware,
I must have sunk into yon picture-world
Which I can now so clearly call to mind.
It can indeed have been but little time
I sat and dreamed, unconscious of myself;
And yet, how rich was yonder world of dreams,
What strange impressions doth it make on me.
Persons were there who lived in bygone days;
I plainly saw them move and heard them speak.
I dreamed about a spirit-brotherhood
Which strove with steadfast purpose to attain
Unto the heights which crown humanity.
Among them I could clearly see myself
And all that happened was familiar too.
A dream. — ... yet most unnerving was that dream.
I know that in this life I certainly
Can ne'er have learned to know the like of it.
And each impression that it leaves behind
Reacts like very life upon my soul.
Those pictures draw me with resistless power. —
O if I could but dream that dream again.

Curtain, whilst Capesius remains standing

Last Modified: 28-Apr-2024
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