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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 8

The same. The First Preceptor; Joseph Keane then the Grand Master with Simon; later the First and the Second Master of Ceremonies. Joseph Keane is there first; the Preceptor approaches him.

First Preceptor:
Thou didst send word thou wouldst have speech with me.
What is the news that thou art come to bring?

Most weighty matters both to thee and me.
Thou knowest the master miner Thomas here,
Who renders service to thee?

First Preceptor:
Well I know
The worthy man; we prize him for his skill,
And his subordinates hold him in love.

And dost thou know my child, Cecilia, too?

First Preceptor (moved):
It hath so chanced that I have seen the maid
When I have met thee with thy family.

It happened that soon after Thomas came
He paid us frequent visits in our home.
They grew more frequent; it was evident
That to Cecilia his whole heart went out.
We did not marvel that this should be so.
But, knowing the girl's nature, it was long
Ere we could think that she returned his love.
Her life was well nigh one continuous prayer,
And almost all society she shunned.
Yet ever doth it now appear more clear
That to this stranger she hath giv'n her heart.
And as things are, we feel ourselves compelled
Not to oppose the wishes of our child;
Thomas she loves, and she would marry him.

First Preceptor (with faltering movements):
Why runs this marriage counter to thy will?

My lord, there is no need for me to tell
Of my devotion to the brotherhood.
My heart would have to bear a heavy load
If my child's love, in its entirety,
Were cast upon the side of those who say
That you and I alike are heretics.
The monk who now o'er yonder abbey rules
Close by our home, and who doth ever seek
To thwart the mission of the brotherhood,
Hath won dominion o'er our daughter's soul.
As long as she is still beneath my roof
So long shall I too not abandon hope
That she may yet again retrace the path
Which leads from spirit-darkness unto light.
But I shall have to give her up for lost
When she shall have become the wife of one
Who, like herself, looks for salvation's light
According to the precepts of that monk.
His Reverence hath had complete success
In foisting such opinions as he holds
On Thomas, who receives them in full faith.
A thrill of terror would run over me
To hear the curses pour from Thomas' lips
Whene'er our speech should touch the brotherhood.

First Preceptor:
Our enemies are many if one more
Is added it cannot affect us much.
Thy words have not yet made it clear to me
What my concern is with this tale of love.

My lord, thou seest this packet in mine hand.
Its contents warrant me to come to thee.
My wife and I alone have read the lines;
None else in these parts knows a word of them.
Now must they be made known to thee as well —
The maid who passeth for our flesh and blood
Is not the offspring of my wife and me.
We undertook the training of the child
When her own mother died. What I have still
To say will make it seem unnecessary,
To tell at length how all this came to pass.
For long we knew not who her father was;
The girl to-day knows not her parentage;
Father and mother she beholds in us.
And such a state of things might have gone on
Since we do love her as our very own.
But some years later than her mother's death
The papers that I hold were brought to us;
They make it plain who our child's father is
I cannot tell if he is known to thee.

(The Preceptor loses control over himself.)

But now I know — am sure ...
... that thou art he.
There is no need for me to tell thee more.
But since it is thy child who is concerned
I beg thee to extend to me thine aid.
United our endeavours may succeed
To save her from the darkness that impends.

First Preceptor:
Dear Keane. Thou hast been ever true to me,
And I would fain still further count on thee.
Neither within nor yet without these walls
Must any in this country ever know
The truth of my relation to this girl.

My word thereon. I mean no harm to thee;
I only beg that thou wilt lent thine aid.

First Preceptor:
Thou dost perceive that at the present time
I cannot talk with thee at greater length
I pray thee come to-morrow.

I will come.


First Preceptor:
How cruelly my fate fulfils itself.
I left my wife and child in misery,
Since they seemed hindrances upon the path
Along which vanity did beckon me.
It led me on to join this brotherhood.
In words of solemn import I then vowed
My service to the cause of human love
Albeit I was laden with the guilt
Arising from the opposite of love.
The brotherhood's clear vision, as applied
To acts of men, is manifest in me.
It welcomed me a brother in its ranks
And forthwith laid on me its rules severe.
To self-examination Was I led
And knowledge of myself, which otherwise
In other walks of life I had not found.
And then when, under Fate's decree, my son
Came and dwelt near me, I was fain to think
That mighty Powers were merciful to me
In showing how to expiate my sin.
I knew long since that this Keane's foster-child
Was none else than the daughter whom I left.

The brotherhood is near its overthrow,
Each brother resolute to meet his death,
Convinced that those high purposes will live
For which he makes his life the sacrifice.
But I, alas, have felt for many days
I was not worthy of this glorious end.
My purpose ever ripened to make known
My case unto the master, and to crave
Permission to forsake the brotherhood.
I had in mind thenceforward to devote
My days unto my children, and so far
As in this earth-life yet is possible,
To offer penance. But I clearly see,
That 'twas not filial longing brought my son
To this same spot to seek his father out,
Although his good heart made him thus believe.
But he was led by forces in the blood
Which drew him to his sister. Other ties,
Blood-born, were loosened by a father's guilt,
Or else yon monk had never had the power
To rob me so entirely of my son.
Indeed the robbery is so complete,
That with the brother will the sister too
From my paternal longings be estranged.
And so nought else remains for me but this,
To take immediate measures to ensure
That they shall know the truth about themselves,
And then with resignation to await
The penance laid upon me by those powers
Who keep the reckoning of our misdeeds.


(After an interval the Grand Master and Simon enter.)

Grand Master:
Henceforward, Simon, in the castle walls
Thou must abide, for since that lying tale
Was published that thou art a sorcerer,
Peril awaits thine every step outside.

My heart is sore indeed to find that men
Assail in ignorance a proffered aid
Whose only object is to do them good.

Grand Master:
Those who, by grace of lofty spirit-powers,
Can turn their gaze upon the souls of men,
Will see the enemies therein arrayed
Which fight against the nature of the soul.
The battle which our mortal foes prepare
Is but the emblem of that greater strife
Waged in the heart incessantly by powers
Which are at enmity amongst themselves.

My lord, in very truth these words of thine
Arouse an echo in my deepest soul.
Indeed my nature is not prone to dreams;
Yet when I walk alone through wood and field
A picture often riseth in my soul
Which with my will I can no more control
Than any object which mine eye beholds.
A human form appears in front of me
Which fain would grasp my hand in fellowship.
Such suffering on his features is expressed
As never yet I saw in any face.
The greatness and the beauty of this man
Seize firmly hold of all my powers of soul;
I fain would sink to earth and humbly bow
Before this messenger from other worlds.
Next moment like a raging flame, there comes
The wildest anger searing through my heart;
Nor can I gain the mastery o'er the power
That fans the opposition of my soul,
And I am forced to thrust aside the hand
Which is so lovingly held out to me.
So soon as to my senses I return
The radiant form hath vanished from my sight.
And thereupon, when I recall in thought
That which my spirit hath so often seen,
Before my soul this thought presents itself
Which moves me to the bottom of my heart.
I feel myself attracted by thy lore,
In which a Spirit-being is revealed
Descending from the Kingdom of the Sun,
To take a human form upon Himself,
In order to disclose Himself to men.
I cannot keep the glowing beauty out
That pours upon me from thy noble lore,
And yet my soul will not assent thereto.
The primal form of our humanity
In thy great Spirit-being I admit;
But still my individual self rebels
When I would turn to him in faith and love.
So must I ever wage an inward war
The archetype of every outer strife.
In sore distress, I seek in vain a clue
To solve the riddle of my life and fate:
How comes it that I understand so well
And yet that I in no wise can believe
The things thy noble teachings do reveal?
I follow thine example faithfully,
Yet find myself opposed at every point
To this example's goal and origin.
And when I must thus recognize myself,
A flood of doubt o'erwhelms my falt'ring faith
That in this life I may yet find myself.
Nay, worse than this, the dread doth haunt me oft
That this bewilderment of doubt may run
Through all the lives that I shall live on earth.

Grand Master:
The picture, which thou sawest, my good friend,
Before my spirit stood out strong and clear
Whilst thou didst paint it in those vivid words;
And as thou didst speak further, then it grew
In breadth before mine eyes until I saw
How cosmic aims are linked to human fate.


First Master of Ceremonies:
Dear brother, I must openly confess
That our Grand Master's clemency exceeds
My comprehension, when I needs must see
What bitter wrong our foes inflict on us.
Although they will not study what we teach
They scruple not to paint us in men's eyes
As heretics and messengers from hell.

Second Master of Ceremonies:
His clemency from our own teaching flows.
Can we proclaim life's highest aim to be
To understand the soul of every man,
And then misunderstand our foes ourselves?
There are amongst them many men indeed
Who follow in the footsteps of the Christ.
Yet even from the souls of such as these
The essence of our teachings must be veiled,
Though they should hear them with the outer ear.
Remember, brother, how reluctantly,
And with what inner conflict, thou vast led
To grant admission to the spirit-voice.
We know, from what the master path revealed,
That future men will see in Spirit-light
The lofty Being of the Sun, who trod This
Earth once only in a human frame.
This revelation we with joy believe
And gladly follow where our leaders tread.
Yet but a short time since these weighty words
Were said by him whom we acclaim as Head:
‘Your souls must ripen slowly, if indeed
With eyes prophetic ye would see to-day
That which the men of later days shall see;
And ye must not imagine,’ said our chief,
‘That after passing one initial test
Ye can have sight of things that are to be.
When ye shall have attained to certainty
That all mankind must needs be born again,
Ye then will have to meet the second test
Which sets your personal illusions free
To dim the radiance of the Spirit-light.’
This solemn warning, too, the master gave:
‘Ofttimes reflect, in meditation's hour,
How psychic monsters, of illusion born,
Beset the path of those who seek the light.
Who falls their victim may see even there
Human existence where the Spirit seeks
To be revealed to Spirit-light alone.
If ye would worthily prepare yourselves
To recognize, by help of inner sight,
The Light of Wisdom streaming from the Christ,
Over yourselves ye must keep watch and ward
Lest personal illusion blind you then
When your souls think that it is furthest off.’
With this injunction clearly held in view
We soon shall rid us of the vain belief
That in these times we can transmit these truths,
Whose beauty we confess within our souls,
In easy manner to posterity.
Rather must we take comfort from the fact,
That we to-day can meet so many souls
In whom the seed, although they know it not,
Already path been sown for future lives.
This seed can only manifest itself
In man, by opposition to those Powers
With which it later will ally itself.
In all this hatred which pursues us now
I do but see the seed of future love.

First Master of Ceremonies:
Certain it is that highest truth's intent
Can only in such manner be disclosed;
Yet hard it seems in this our present age
To shape our lives to follow out its aim.

Second Master of Ceremonies:
Here too I follow out our master's words:
‘It is not granted unto all mankind
To live Earth's future stages in advance.
But individuals there must ever be
Who can foresee what later days will bring,
And who devote their feeling to those Powers
Which loose all being from its present ties
To guard it safe for all Eternity.’

The curtain falls, while the two Masters of Ceremonies are still in the hall

Last Modified: 28-Apr-2024
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