A House of Pomegranates

Ein Granatapfelhaus

Übersetzt von Wilhelm Cremer
Synchronisation und Ergänzungen © Doppeltext 2022








It was the night be­fore the day fixed for his coron­a­tion, and the young King was sit­ting alone in his beau­ti­ful cham­ber.
His courtiers had all taken their leave of him, bow­ing their heads to the ground, ac­cord­ing to the ce­re­mo­ni­ous us­age of the day,
and had re­tired to the Great Hall of the Palace, to re­ceive a few last les­sons from the Pro­fess­or of Etiquette;
there be­ing some of them who had still quite nat­ur­al man­ners,
which in a courtier is, I need hardly say, a very grave of­fence.
The lad — for he was only a lad, be­ing but six­teen years of age — was not sorry at their de­par­ture,
and had flung him­self back with a deep sigh of re­lief on the soft cush­ions of his em­broidered couch,
ly­ing there, wild-eyed and open-mouthed, like a brown wood­land Faun,
or some young an­im­al of the forest newly snared by the hunters.
And, in­deed, it was the hunters who had found him, com­ing upon him al­most by chance as, bare-limbed and pipe in hand,
he was fol­low­ing the flock of the poor goat­herd who had brought him up, and whose son he had al­ways fan­cied him­self to be.
The child of the old King’s only daugh­ter by a secret mar­riage with one much be­neath her in sta­tion
— a stranger, some said, who, by the won­der­ful ma­gic of his lute-play­ing, had made the young Prin­cess love him;
while oth­ers spoke of an artist from Rimini, to whom the Prin­cess had shown much, per­haps too much hon­our,
and who had sud­denly dis­ap­peared from the city, leav­ing his work in the Cathed­ral un­fin­ished
— he had been, when but a week old, stolen away from his moth­er’s side, as she slept,
and giv­en into the charge of a com­mon peas­ant and his wife, who were without chil­dren of their own,
and lived in a re­mote part of the forest, more than a day’s ride from the town.
Grief, or the plague, as the court phys­i­cian stated, or, as some sug­ges­ted,
a swift Itali­an pois­on ad­min­istered in a cup of spiced wine,
slew, with­in an hour of her waken­ing, the white girl who had giv­en him birth,
and as the trusty mes­sen­ger who bare the child across his saddle-bow
stooped from his weary horse and knocked at the rude door of the goat­herd’s hut,
the body of the Prin­cess was be­ing lowered into an open grave
that had been dug in a deser­ted church­yard, bey­ond the city gates, a grave where it was said
that an­oth­er body was also ly­ing, that of a young man of mar­vel­lous and for­eign beauty,
whose hands were tied be­hind him with a knot­ted cord, and whose breast was stabbed with many red wounds.
Such, at least, was the story that men whispered to each oth­er.
Cer­tain it was that the old King, when on his deathbed, wheth­er moved by re­morse for his great sin,
or merely de­sir­ing that the king­dom should not pass away from his line,
had had the lad sent for, and, in the pres­ence of the Coun­cil, had ac­know­ledged him as his heir.

Oscar Wilde
A House of Pomegranates / Ein Granatapfelhaus
Zweisprachige Ausgabe
Übersetzt von Wilhelm Cremer

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