The fair Magelone and Count Peter of Provence
by Ludwig Tieck (1773-1853)
(1) Long ago in Provence there lived a young count Peter. At a tournament arranged by his father he meets a singer who advises him to venture into the wide world and get to know foreign climes and people. The singer takes his lute and sings for Peter Keinen hat es noch gereut ... durch die Welt zu fliegen (No man yet has rued ... To fly through the world). Peter decides to take leave of his home and parents. When he shares the poet's view with his parents, they give him their blessings and his mother gives him three rings for him to give to the woman he will love.
(2) In the morning sun count Peter rides away singing loudly Traun! Bogen und Pfeil (In truth! bow and arrow are fit for the foe). After many days' journey, he comes to "the noble city of Neapolis." There, the king has prepared a tournament in honor of a noble knight, Herr Heinrich von Cappone.
(3) Peter participates in the tournament and is victorious in all combats. Even in a second tournament, he is the winner. The king invites him to his table where Peter is placed opposite the king's daughter Magelone. Completely charmed by her beauty Peter retires to a beautiful garden. From afar sounds sweet music and Peter, indulging in his dreams, sings Sind es Schmerzen, sind es Freuden? (Are these sorrows, are these joys?).
(4) The meeting with the foreign knight also gave Magelone warm feelings. She sends her nurse to ask his name, but Peter answers only that he belongs to a distinguished noble family. He sends her one of the three rings which he got from his mother and a song - Liebe kam aus fernen Landen (Love came from far-off lands) - as an expression of his love.
(5) The nurse meets Peter a second time. He explains to her that Magelone is his great love and asks her to deliver the second of the three rings to Magelone and a sheet with the song So willst du des Armen dich gnädig erbarmen? (So you’ll kindly pity a poor man?).
(6) The following morning Peter and the nurse meet again. The nurse tells him how Magelone feels and promises that the two lovers can meet the next day in her chambers. Peter is beside himself with happy anticipation, time seems to stand still and the next day, before he sets off to meet Magelone, he sings Wie soll ich die Freude, die Wonne ertragen? (How then shall I bear the joy and how the bliss?) .
(7) In the nurse's chamber Peter and Magelone declare their love. Peter gives Magelone the third ring and she gives him a gold chain. Soon they must be separated. Peter ilar home, takes out his lute and sings, overwhelmed with happiness, War es dir, dem diese Lippen bebten? (Was it for you these lips quivered?).
(8) The King of Naples wants Magelone to marry Herr Heinrich von Cappone and announces a new tournament in her honor. Peter once again emerges victorious. To put Magelone to the test, he says he must return to his parents. She is willing to follow. While preparing their escape, he takes his old lute and sings farewell Wir müssen uns trennen, geliebtes Saitenspiel (We must part, beloved lute).
(9) Under cover of darkness Peter and Magelone leave the king's palace. All night they ride through the woods alone and when their flight is discovered the next morning, they have already come far from Naples. At noon Magelone feel a great fatigue, she lies down to rest in the shade of a tree while she sleeps Peter sings Ruhe, Süßliebchen (Rest, my sweetheart,).
(10) Peter discovers next to Magelone a cloth bag containing the three rings he had given her. Suddenly a raven flies down, takes the bag and flies away to the sea. Peter pursues him, the raven drops its prey in the water among the rocks, Peter finds an old rowboat which he takes in order to retrieve the bag. When a storm blows up suddenly the boat drifts out to the open sea and when night falls Peter is far from land, alone among the waves. He sings So tönet denn, schäumende Wellen (Resound, then, foaming waves) [by Brahms: Verzweiflung (Despair)].
(11) When Magelone wakes up and cannot find Peter she first thinks that he has abandoned her. She is devastated but soon realizes that there must have been an accident. She decides not to return to the court of Naples but to live a secluded life in piety. She wanders many days until she meets an old shepherd and his wife, who receive her in their simple cottage. Magelone helps in the house and sometimes, when she is alone and guarding the house, she sings Wie schnell verschwindet so Licht als Glanz (How soon they vanish, Radiance and light).
(12) Peter, in his rowboat, is picked up by a large sailing vessel. The crew, consisting of Moors and Gentiles, decide to give him to the Sultan as a present. The Sultan is pleased by the lovely lad and entrusts the supervision of a beautiful garden to him. When Peter walks alone among the flowers and thinks of Magelone he often produces a zither and sings *Muß es eine Trennung geben?**(Must there be a parting?)*.
(13) Peter had now lived for nearly two years at the Sultan's court. He is well liked and can move freely but is homesick for his parents and Magelone. The Sultan has a beautiful daughter named Sulima. She is in love with Peter. One day, she suggests that together they will flee. Peter hesitates, but agrees finally and Sulima prepares the escape. Afterward, the appointed evening has come and Peter regrets his decision. He gets hold of a rowboat, takes to the sea and while he rows further away from the beach he hears a beautiful song: Geliebter, wo zaudert dein irrender Fuß? (Beloved, where do you tarry and stray?). [By Brahms: Sulima] It is Sulima giving the agreed sign to escape. Peter rows with all his might to get away from the land, "love want to pull him back, love drives him forward," the song is becoming weaker and finally silenced completely.
(14) When Sulima's song has died away Peter gathers courage, lets the boat drift and sings Wie froh und frisch mein Sinn sich hebt (How briskly and brightly my spirits soar). The sun rises, a ship approaches and picks up Peter. They are Christians on their way back to France.
(15) The return journey offers Tieck many lyrical intricacies that Brahms skips. The story has a happy ending, Peter is reunited with Magelone. They travel back to his parents in Provence and celebrate a wedding. Even the King of Naples is pleased with this happy end. In the place where Peter regained his Magelone he erects a magnificent summer palace and appoints the shepherd the governor. In front of the castle Peter and Magelone plant a tree and then they sing Treue Liebe dauert lange, überlebet manche Stund (True love abides - outlives many an hour) - and every spring they return and sing the same song at the same location.