Richard Wagner: Parsifal

Bühnenweihfestspiel ("stage dedication play") in three acts

Richard Wagner

26 July 1882, Bayreuth (Festspielhaus)

AMFORTAS (Baritone)
KLINGSOR (Baritone)
KUNDRY (Soprano)
FIRST and SECOND KNIGHTS of the Grail (Tenor/Bass)
A VOICE (Contralto)
Klingsor's FLOWER MAIDENS (Soprano/Alto)

brotherhood of the knights of the Grail - young men - boys

The region and castle, "Monsalvat", of the Guardians of the Grail: scenery like that of the northern mountains of Gothic Spain.
Later, Klingsor's enchanted castle on the southern slopes of the same mountains, facing Moorish Spain.

The Middle Ages


Domain of the Grail.

A forest, shady and forbidding, yet not gloomy. A clearing in the centre. Up left climbs the path to the Grail Castle. The ground slopes away at the back to a deepset forest lake. Daybreak. Gurnemanz, elderly but active, and two esquires of tender age lie sleeping beneath a tree. The solemn reveille of the trumpets rings out left, as from the Grail Castle.

Hey there! Forest guardians you,
and slumberous guardians at that –
At least wake up with the morning.
You hear the call? Then thank God
That you have been called to hear it!
He kneels with the Esquires, and together they offer up their morning prayer in silence.
Now off, my boys! Look to the bath.
'Tis time to await the King there.
I see the heralds drawing near,
Before the litter which bears him.
Two Knights appear.
Greetings! How is Amfortas today?
He has ordered his bath full early.
The healing herb that Gawain by guile
And daring won for him no doubt
Has soothed him?

You who know everything think that?
The pains quickly returned to sear the more:
Sleepless with the malady,
He eagerly gave orders for his bath.

Fools are we, to hope for comfort there,
Where only cure can ease! For every herb,
For every potion, search and hunt
Through all the world:
One thing alone can help him,
One man alone!

Then name him!

Tend to the bath!

Look there! ‘Tis she, the wild rider!

Hey! The mane of her devil's mare streams out!

Aha! Is that Kundry?

She's sure to bring important tidings.

The mare stumbles.

Did she fly through the air?

Now she crouches on the ground.

Her mane sweeps the moss.

The wild woman flings herself off.

Kundry rushes in, almost falling. Her garments are wild. Her black hair flies loose.

Hastening up to Gurnemanz and pressing upon him a small crystal vessel:
Here! Take it! Balsam ...

You brought this from where?

From further than you can imagine:
If the balsam does not help, Arabia
Holds nothing else to cure him. Ask no more!
I am weary.

A train of Esquires and Knights, bearing and accompanying the litter on which Amfortas lies, enters left.

He comes, they bear him aloft.
Alas! How can I bear to see him,
In the pride and flower of his manhood
Lord of his conquering race,
Now a slave to his malady!
Have care! Listen, the King groans.

The Esquires halt and lower the litter.

So ‑ good! I thank you!
A little rest.
After a stormy night of pain,
Now the morning splendour of the forest!
In the sacred lake
There its wave will surely freshen:
Grief is overcome,
The night of pain grows light. Gawain!

Lord! Gawain did not wait;
As the power of his healing herb,
Though laboriously won,
Did deceive your hopes,
He has sped away
To quest anew.

Without leave! He shall atone
For keeping thus the Grail's command!
Woe betide this bold and daring fellow,
Should he fall into Klingsor's snares!
Let no man break my peace!
I await him who is assigned to me:
"By his pity knowing,"
Was that not it?

You told it to us so.

"The pure fool."
Methinks I know him now:
I would call him Death!

Handing Kundry's phial to Amfortas
But first try once more with this!

Whence came this strange vessel?

For you it was brought from Arabia.

And who procured it?

There she lies ‑ the wild woman.
Get up, Kundry! Come!

You Kundry?
Must I thank you once again,
You shy and restless maid?
Very well, I'll try this balsam,
As thanks for your loyalty.

Not thanks! Ha ha! What will it help!
Not thanks! Away! Away to the bath!

Amfortas gives the signal to move off; the retinue disappears.

Hey, you there!
Why d'you lie there like a wild beast?

Are not beasts sacred here?

Yes! But as yet we know not
Whether you are sacred.

With her magic potion I'm sure
She'll ruin the Master completely.

Hm! What harm has she ever done you?
When all stand uncertain
How to send tidings to Brothers fighting
In far off lands and hardly knowing where,
Who, before you are resolved,
Storms away, flies there and back,
Tending the message with care and devotion?
You do not keep her, she ne'er comes near,
She's nothing in common with you:
Yet when in danger there's need of help,
Her zeal bears her like an arrow through the air,
Nor does she ever ask for thanks.
I say if this is harm,
'Twould do you some good.

But she hates us; see
How spitefully she looks at us!

A heathen she is, a sorceress.

Yes, under a curse she may be.
Today she lives here, perhaps anew,
To atone for guilt in her earlier life,
Still unforgiven.
If now she atones with deeds
Which aid our Knighthood,
Then she does well and truly,
Serves us and helps herself.

Then perhaps it is her guilt
Which has brought us so much distress?

Yes, whene'er she long did stay away,
Then misfortune broke upon us.
And I've known her long:
But Titurel. has known her longer.
While building the castle there,
He found her sleeping in the undergrowth,
Benumbed, lifeless ‑ as if dead.
And thus I myself did lately find her,
When the disaster scarce had struck,
Whereby the evil one across the mountains
Brought us to disgrace.
to Kundry:
Ho! You! Listen: tell me
Where you were roaming
When our master lost the spear?
Why did you not help us then?

I never help.

She says so herself.

If she's so true, in battle so bold,
Then send her for the missing Spear!

That's another matter ‑ to all it is forbidden.
Oh wonder of wonders, holy Spear!
I saw thee wielded by unholiest hand!
Armed with that, Amfortas -
Most bold, who could prevent your
Mastering the sorcerer?
Close by the castle, the warrior was drawn from us:
A wondrous lovely maid bewitched him.
In her arms he lay entranced;
The Spear dipped toward him - -
A deathly cry!
I rushed upon the scene,
And, laughing, Klingsor disappeared,
The holy Spear he had wrested.
Covering the King's flight I gave battle,
But a wound was burning in his side,
This wound it is that will never close.

to Gurnemanz:
Then you knew Klingsor?

to the returning Esquires:
How is the King?

The bath has freshened him.

The pain yielded to the balm.

This wound it is that will never close!

But tell us all about it, sir;
You knew Klingsor ‑ how was that?

Titurel, the bold warrior, he knew him well.
To him, when savage foe with might and guile
Menaced the realm of holy faith,
To him there came in the fastness of night
The blessed messengers of the Saviour:
The sacred‑cup from which He drank
At the last meal of Love, this holy noble goblet,
Into which on the Cross His Blood divine did flow,
And the Spear that shed it,
This highest gem of the witness‑treasures,
They gave into our sovereign's care.
A shrine he built for the sacred relic.
And you who are assembled in its service,
Brought here by ways unfound by sinners,
You know that only to the pure
Is it granted to join
The Brothers, strengthened for Salvation's
Highest works by the Grail's wondrous power.
Thus to him, of whom you ask, to Klingsor,
it was denied, however much he toiled.
There in the valley he had settled;
Beyond lies rank heathenland:
I never knew how he there had sinned,
But now he wished to atone, even become holy.
Unable to still the sin within,
The hand of violence he laid upon himself
Then turned toward the Grail –
The Guardian drove him off with scorn.
At this, Klingsor's fury taught him
How his act of ignoble sacrifice
Might lead to evil sorcery:
This he soon found.
The wilderness he made into a garden of bliss,
Wherein there grow women of devilish grace;
There he awaits the Knight of the Grail,
With evil intent and horrors of hell:
Whom he entices is won:
Many already he has ruined for us.
When Titurel, stricken in years,
Gave his realm to his son,
Amfortas, ill‑content,
Dared to end the witching plague.
What happened then, you know:
The Spear is now in Klingsor's hand;
With that, even saints he can wound,
Already he thinks the Grail is torn from us!

Then first of all: the Spear shall return!

Ha! 'Twere fame and glory to him who brought it back!

Before the deserted shrine
In fervent prayer Amfortas lay,
Beseeching a sign of deliverance;
A blessed radiance flowed then from the Grail;
A holy vision
Now clearly speaks to him
By signs of words brightly beheld:
"By his pity knowing, the pure fool,
Wait for him whom I have chosen."

“By his pity knowing,
The pure fool­ –“

From the lake is heard shouting. Gurnemanz and the four Esquires start up and turn in alarm.

Shame! Shame! ‑ Hoho! ‑ Away!
Who caused this outrage?

A wild swan flutters struggling from the lake, followed on stage by Esquires and Knights.

What's wrong?



A swan!

A wild swan!

And wounded!

Ha shame! Shame!

Who shot the swan?

After a painful flight, the swan sinks exhausted to the ground; the Second Knight draws an arrow from its breast.

The King hailed it as a happy omen,
As it circled o'er the lake –
Then an arrow sped ...

Knights and Esquires lead Parsifal in.

He it was! ‑ His the shot! -
And this the bow!

Here's the arrow, just like his.

Are you he that felled this swan?

Of course! I hit everything in flight!

You did that?
And had you no fear at the deed?

Punish the miscreant!

An unheard‑of act!
Could you murder, here, in the holy forest,
Whose quiet peace embraced you?
Did not the beasts of the thicket approach you tamely?
With greetings both friendly and true?
What sang the birds from the branches to you?
How did the good swan harm you?
Seeking his mate, he flew aloft,
To circle with her above the lake,
Which thus he made a consecrated bath.
Did you not wonder at it?
Were you tempted only to a wild and childish shot?
It was our friend: what is it to you?
Come! Look! Here you struck it,
The blood still thickens,
Dully hang its wings,
Its snowy plumage darkly stained,
Dimmed its eye ‑ do you see the look?
Parsifal has listened to Gurnemanz with growing emotion: now he snaps his bow and hurls the arrow from him.
Are you conscious of your sinful deed?
Speak, boy! D'you realise your great guilt?
How could you do it?

I did not know.

Where are you from?

I know not.

Who is your father?

I know not.

Who sent you this way?

I know not.

Your name then?

I had many,
But I no longer know them.

You know nothing at all?
So dull a person I've never found, save Kundry!
to the Esquires
Now go! Neglect not the King's bath!
Your help!

The Esquires reverently lift the dead swan onto a litter of fresh twigs and leave with it towards the lake. Finally only Gurnemanz and Parsifal remain, with Kundry to one side.

turning again to Parsifal:
Now speak: you know nothing of what I ask;
Now tell me what you do know –
For surely you must know something.

I have a mother; Herzeleide is her name.
In the wood and in wild grassland was our home.

Who gave you the bow?

I made it myself to chase
The wild eagle from the forest.

Yet you appear noble and highly born,
Why did not your mother
Have you taught better weapons?

As Parsifal pauses, Kundry calls out in a rough voice.

Fatherless his mother bore him;
When Gamuret was slain in battle!
To save her son
From that same untimely hero's death,
In the wilderness, and ignorant of arms,
She reared him as a fool ‑ As fool she was!

And once by the forest edge
Rode splendid men
On beasts of beauty:
I wished to be like them:
They laughed and sped away.
I ran after,
But could not overtake them.
Through desert I came,
O'er hill, down dale;
Oft was it night, then again day:
My bow had to protect me
'Gainst wild beast and giants ...

Yes! Thieves and giants met his strength;
The stripling they learned to fear.

Who fears me? Tell me!

The wicked!

Those that menaced me, were they wicked?
Who is good?

Your mother, from whom you've run away,
Who now grieves and mourns for you.

Her grief is ended: his mother is dead!

Dead? My mother? Who says this!

I was riding past and saw her die:
She bade me greet you ‑ fool.

Parsifal springs at Kundry in a rage, seizing her by the throat. Gurnemanz restrains him.

Are you mad, boy! More violence?
What harm has she done you? She spoke true;
For Kundry never lies, whate'er she's seen.

seized with violent trembling:
I feel faint!

Seeing Parsifal's condition, Kundry at once hastens to a spring in the wood and brings a horn of water which she sprinkles over him and then gives him to drink.

Well done! That accords with the mercy of the Grail.
Who pays ill with good o'ercomes it.

I never do good.
Sadly she turns away, and whilst like a father, Gurnemanz tends Parsifal, she creeps unobserved by either towards a thicket in the wood.
All I want is rest,
Only rest ‑ I’m oh so weary.
Sleep! Oh that none would wake me! No!
starting in fear:
Not sleep!
Terror grips me!
She begins to tremble violently, then her arms fall listlessly.
Powerless to resist!
The time has come.
Sleep - sleep ‑ I must!

Kundry sinks down behind the bushes and from now on remains unobserved. Meanwhile there is a movement from the direction of the lake and at last can be seen the retinue of Knights and Esquires returning home with the litter.

The King returns from bathing;
The sun stands high:
Now let me lead you
To the holy Meal,
For if you are pure,
The Grail will give
You food and drink.

Gurnemanz has gently laid Parsifal's arm about his neck, and, with his own arm about the boy's body, he leads him slowly: here the scene begins imperceptibly to change.

Who is the Grail?

There's no saying; but
If you are the chosen one,
The knowledge shall not escape you. And lo!
Methinks I knew you aright:
No way leads through the land to it,
And no one could find it,
Save the Grail lead him here.

I hardly move,
Yet far I seem to have come.

You see, my son, time
Changes here to space.

The woods disappear, and in a rocky wall, there opens a gateway through which they pass. Trumpets. A peal of bells, swelling and dying. Gumemanz and Parsifal enter the mighty Hall of Grail Castle.

Now take good heed and let me see,
If you be a fool and pure,
What knowledge may be granted you.

A hall of columns, with a cupola spanning the refectory. At both sides of the background, the doors are open, from the right enter the Knights of the Grail, who line up around the dining‑tables.

At the last Meal of Love,
Prepared day by day,
A procession of Esquires quickly crosses the scene.
As at the last Supper,
May it mfort us today
A second procession of Esquires crosses the scene.
For whom a good deed gladdens,
The meal will be renewed:
Let him draw nigh refreshment,
Receive the highest gift.

The assembled Knights arrange themselves at the dining-tables, Amfortas is borne in upon a litter by Esquires and serving Brothers. Before him four Esquires bear the veiled shrine of the Grail. An oblong stone table, upon which the boys place the veiled shrine.

For the sinful world,
With a thousand pains,
As once His Blood did flow,
Now to Him the Saviour
With joyful heart
My blood be shed:
The Body He gave in expiation
Lives on in us by His Death!

The Faith liveth,
The Dove soareth,
The Saviour's gracious Herald:
Enjoy the wine,
Flowing for you,
And take of the Bread of Life!

When all have taken their places, a general silence falls, and from the depths of a vaulted niche behind Amfortas' couch is heard the voice of old Titurel, as though from the grave.

Amfortas, my son, are you in your place?
Shall I see the Grail once more and live?
Must I die, unguided by the Saviour?

Woe! Woe is me the pain!
My father, oh! Once more perform this office yourself!
Live, live, and let me die!

In the tomb I live by the Saviour's Grace:
Too weak am I to serve him.
Wipe out your guilt in service!
Reveal the Grail!

No! Leave it covered!
Oh, may no one know the torment
Which this sight in me arouses,
Yet you delights!
What is the wound,
The fury of its pain
'Gainst the distress, the hellish pangs
Of being condemned to this office!
Woeful lot that I have inherited,
That I, the only sinner among them all,
Should tend the Holy of Holies,
Should beseech its blessing on the pure!
Oh judgment! Peerless judgment
Of the ‑ alas! ‑ offendect merciful One!
For Him and for His Sacred greeting
Must I longing yearn;
From the redeeming penance of my inmost soul
Must I reach out to Him.
The hour draws near: a ray of light
Descends upon the holy relic –
The covering falls.
The liquid divine of the sacred Cup
Glows with brilliant power;
Thrilled by the pangs of most blissful joy,
I feel the spring of holiest blood
Flow into my heart:
My own sinful blood –
Crazily surging –
Must then flow back in me,
Gush with savage dread
Into the world of sinful lust;
Anew it bursts its bounds
And forth it streams,
Here through the wound, so like to this,
Inflicted by that same Lance's thrust,
That opened the Redeemer's wound,
Through which, with tears of blood,
The One Divine wept o'er Man's disgrace
In pity's holy longing,
And now from me, in holiest office,
The guardian of godliest treasures,
Custodian of redemption's balm,
There wells my hot and sinful blood,
Ever replenished from the spring of yearning,
Alas, by repentance never staunched!
Have mercy! Have mercy!
Thou All Merciful! Have mercy!
Take my heritage, heal the wound,
That holy I may die, pure and whole in Thee!

“By his pity knowing, the pure fool:
Await him whom I have chosen!”

Thus was it promised to you; wait consoled,
This day perform your office!

Reveal the Grail!

Amfortas raises himself slowly and painfully. The boys uncover the golden shrine and take from it an antique crystal goblet and set it before Amfortas.

“Take this my Body,
Take this my Blood,
In token of our Love!”

As Amfortas bows reverently in silent prayer before the chalice, a deepening twilight spreads through the hall becoming utter darkness.

"Take this my Blood,
Take this my Body,
In remembrance of me!"

Here a dazzling ray of light from above falls on the crystal goblet which now glows, with a purple brilliance, casting everywhere a gentle light. Amfortas, with transfigured expression, raises the Grail aloft and proffers it on every side, whereupon he consecrates bread and wine. All are kneeling.

Oh heavenly bliss, how brightly
Greets this day our Lord!

Amfortas sets the Grail down: It grows dimmer: the boys replace it in the shrine and cover it as before. Daylight returns.

Wine and Bread of that Last Supper,
Once the Lord of the Grail did change,
Through compassion's mighty Love
To the Blood, which He did shed,
To the Body, which He gave.

The four Esquires now take from the altar‑table the two pitchers of wine and baskets of bread, previously blessed by Amfortas with the Grail‑Chalice. They distribute the bread to the Knights and fill their cups with wine; the Knights sit down to table, including Gurnemanz who keeps a seat vacant by him and with a gesture invites Parsifal to take part in the meal. Parsifal, however, remains standing to one side, stiff and motionless, as though completely entranced.

Blood and Body of the holy gift
Now changes to refresh you.
Through the loving spirit of blessed solace,
To the Wine, poured out for you,
To the Bread, given for you to eat.

Take of the Bread,
Change it boldly
Into body's power and strength,
True unto death,
Steadfast in labour,
To do the Saviour's works!
Take of the Wine,
Change it anew
Into fiery blood of life,
Gladly united,
Brotherly true,
To fight with valour blessed!

Blessed in faith and love!
Blessed in faith!

Amfortas now bows his head and holds his hand to the wound which bleeds afresh. Amfortas and holy shrine are borne away. The Knights form a solemn procession and slowly leave the hall. The doors are closed. Parsifal still stands unmoving, as if transfixed.

Peevishly approaching Parsifal and shaking his arm:
Why are you still here?
D'you know what you have seen?

Parsifal clutches at his heart and then slightly nods his head.

very annoyed:
You are nothing but a fool!
opens a narrow side‑door:
Out with you, be on your way!
But my advice is:
In future leave the swans in peace,
A gander needs a goose!

He pushes Parsifal out and slams the door behind him.

"By his pity knowing, the poor fool."

Blessed in faith!


Klingsor's Magic Castle
Inside the inner keep of a tower, open above. Steps lead up to the crenellated edge of the tower‑wall. Magic and necromantic paraphernalia.

Seated in front of a metal mirror:
The time has come.
Already my magic castle lures the fool
I see approaching from afar, childishly exultant!
In a sleep of death my curse does hold her fast,
Its grip can only I relax.
Up then! To work!
He calls into the blackness below with mysterious gestures.
Arise! Arise! To me!
Your Master calls you, nameless one,
She‑devil of old! Rose of Hell!
Herodias you were ‑ and what besides?
Gundryggia there, Kundry here!
Come here! Here, I say! Kundry!
Your master calls: arise!
Kundry rises. She appears to be asleep.
You awaken? Ha! Again in good time
You have fallen beneath my spell.
Tell me, where have you been roving again?
Tut tut! Among that set of knights
Where they treat you like a beast!
Don't you like it better with me?
When you had captured their master for me –
Haha! ‑ that chaste guardian of the Grail! –
What drove you forth again?

Oh! Oh! Deep night ...
Madness ... Oh! Rage ...
Oh lament! Sleep ... Sleep ...
Deep sleep ... Death!

Then someone woke you, eh?

Yes ... my curse.
Oh ... ! Yearning ... Yearning ... !

Haha! For those saintly knights?

There ... there ... I served.

Yes ‑ to repair the harm
You maliciously brought on them?
They'll not help; venal are they all,
If I offer them the right price:
The strongest falls when he sinks in your arms,
And so falls to the Spear
I wrested from their master himself.
Now we've the most dangerous of all to conquer:
The shield of foolishness protects him.

I will not. Oh ... Oh!

Indeed you will ‑ for you must.

You... cannot ... hold me.

But I can grip you.

You? ...

Your master.

By what power?

Ha! Because only ‘gainst me
Is your power as naught.

Haha! Are you chaste?

Why d'you ask, accursed wench?
What fearful fate!
Laughs the devil at me now,
Because I once strived for holiness?
What fearful fate!
The torture of unbridled longing,
The hellish goad of monstrous impulse,
Which I compelled to a death of silence,
Does it now laugh and mock
Through you, the devil's bride?
Beware! Already there's one who pays
For his scorn and contempt, the proud one,
Strong in his sanctity,
Who once rejected me:
His race fell to me; unredeemed
Shall the guardian of the Holies languish,
And soon, I think,
I shall guard the Grail myself.
Haha! Did you like Amfortas the warrior,
Whom I gave to you in bliss?

Oh! Lament! Lament! Weak even he,
Weak are they all, all fallen with me
Beneath the curse!
Oh eternal sleep, the only salvation,
How, how can I win thee?

Ha! He that defies you will set you free:
Try it on the boy who approaches!

I will not!

Already he climbs the stronghold.

Oh! Woe! Woe! Did I awake for this?
Must I? Must?

Ha! He is fair, the boy!

Oh! Oh! Woe is me!

Ho! You Guardians! Ho! Knights!
Warriors arise! The foe is near!
Ha! How they storm to the ramparts,
These deluded serfs,
To protect their lovely witches!
So! Courage! Courage! Haha!
He fears them not:
He has seized the sword of the warrior Ferris,
And wields it now with might against the host.
How badly the fools fare 'neath his ardour!
One he slashed in the arm, another in the thigh!
Aha! They give way!
Kundry vanishes.
They flee!
Each has a wound to carry home!
How willingly I grant you it!
May thus the whole breed of knights
Slaughter themselves!
Ha! How proudly he stands upon the ramparts!
How the roses in his cheeks do bloom,
As like a child he gapes
At the sight of the solitary garden!
Hey! Kundry!
He cannot see her.
What? Already at work?
Haha! The spell I chose well,
Which ever summons you to my service!
You there, childish boy,
Let prophecies say what they will,
Too young and stupid,
You fall into my power:
Strip you of your purity –
And then you are mine!

He sinks rapidly with the whole tower: immediately, the magic garden rises into view. It is bounded at the back by the battlements of the citadel wall. On the wall stands Parsifal, gazing down in wonder into the garden. From all directions lovely maidens rush in. They are clad in veils of delicate hues, hastily wrapped about them, as if they had just been startled from sleep.

Here ‑ The noise came from here! -
Weapons ‑ wild cries ‑ Who is the
evil one? ‑ Alas! ‑ where is
the evil one? ‑ Revenge! –
My beloved was wounded –
Where shall I find my own? –
I awoke alone! –
Where have they fled? –
Where is my beloved? –
Where shall I find my own? –
I awoke alone! –
Where are our darlings? –
Within the palace! –
Woe! Oh Woe! –
We saw them, their wounds
Let's help them! ‑ Who is our foe? ‑
They see Parsifal and point him out.
There he stands! -
Look, there he is! There! -
Where? ‑ There! ‑ There! -
I saw it ‑ With my Ferris'
sword in his hand! ‑ He stormed
the citadel! ‑ I heard the
Master's horn. ‑ Yes, we heard his
horn.‑ I saw my sweetheart's
blood. ‑ My warrior
came. ‑ They all
came. ‑ They all came,
yet each his sword did strike! -
Woe! Woe! ‑ He felled my
beloved. ‑ He struck my
friend. ‑ The sword still drips with blood! -
My darling's foe! ‑ Why bring
such disaster? ‑ You there! ‑ Oh woe! -
Oh woe! ‑ What a disaster! -
Accursed you shall be!
Parsifal leaps down into the garden.
Ha! You are bold! How dare you approach?
Why did you strike down our lovers?

You lovely children,
Was I not forced to strike them?
They barred the way
To you, my fair ones.

You wanted to get to us? -
Have you seen us before?

Ne’er have I seen so pretty a group:
If I call you beautiful, does that seem fitting?

Then you will not strike us?
Won't strike us?

That I would not.

Yet great injury you've done us,
- great and much! -
You struck down our playmates!
Who will play with us now?

I'll do that gladly!

The girls burst into gay laughter. One group slips away unnoticed behind the flower‑hedges to complete their floral garb.

If you are our friend,
Stray not far from us. -
And if you do not scold us,
We will make it up to you:
We do not play for gold -
We play for love's reward. -
If you think to comfort us,
Comfort you must gain from us!

The girls of the first group return, looking just like flowers, and throw themselves at Parsifal.

Leave the boy! -
He's mine! ‑ No! No! -
No! Mine!

Oh how cunning!
They dressed up in secret!
Oh how cunning!

The rest of the girls leave the scene to bedeck themselves similarly.
Come! Come! Fair lad!
Come! Come! Let me bloom for you!
Come, to refresh and delight you
Shall be my labour of love!
Come, fair lad!

The 2nd group returns.
Come, come, fair lad!
Let me bloom for you,
To delight and refresh you
Shall be my labour of love!

How fragrant and fair!
Are you then flowers?

The jewels of the garden, fragrant spirits,
Plucked in the spring by our master!
Here we grow 'neath the summer‑sun,
Blissfully blooming for you.
So be kind and gentle with us!
Do not stint the flower's reward!
If you cannot love and cherish us,
We wither and die.
Take me to your breast!
Come, fair lad!
Let me blossom for you!
Let me cool your brow!
Let me touch your cheek!
Let me kiss your lips! -
No! I! I am the fairest. -
No! I am the fairest! -
I am fairer! -
No! My fragrance is sweeter -
No! I! -
Yes! I! -

gently repulsing their graceful advances:
You wild throng of flowers fair,
If I am to play with you, then give me room!

Why struggle?

Because you quarrel.

We quarrel over you.

Then don't!

Let him go ‑ see, he wants me! -
Me rather! ‑ No, me! -
No, he wants me! ‑ You
Keep me away? ‑ You drive
me off? ‑ You drive me away? -
What, are you afraid of women? -
Can you not trust yourself? -
You are naughty to be hesitant and cold!
Would you have the flowers woo the butterfly? -
So hesitant and cold! -
How cold he is! How hesitant!
Away! Let's leave the fool!
We give him up for lost.
Yet'he is our chosen one!
No, ours! ‑ No, ours! -
No, he belongs to me! -
No, he belongs to us! -
He’s mine! Yes, mine! etc.
No, ours! Yes, ours! etc.

Leave me! You'll not trap me!

Parsifal! Stay!

about to flee, he hears Kundry's voice
Once my mother called me that in a dream.

The girls start at the sound of Kundry's voice and immediately leave Parsifal.

Stay, Parsifal!
Bliss and happiness together greet you.
Childish flirts, leave him alone;
Flowers soon to fade, he was
Not meant for your sport.
Go home ‑ tend the wounded,
Many lonely knights await you.

Leave you! Avoid you!
Oh shame! What torment!
Woe! Willingly we'd forsake all others
To be alone with you.
Farewell! Fair and proud -

The girls disappear laughing into the castle. Through the opened hedge, there appears a youthful woman of great beauty ‑ Kundry, in a completely different form ‑ lying on a bed of flowers, clad in a revealing, fanciful garment.

Have I dreamt all this?
Did you call me who have no name?

I named you, foolish pure one, "Falparsi",
You, pure fool: "Parsifal".
Thus, as he died in Arabian land,
Your father Gamuret called to his son;
Greeting him, still within his mother's womb,
With this name upon his death‑bed.
To tell you this I tarried here:
What drew you here, if not the wish to know?

Ne'er have I seen or dreamed what I now behold -
And it fills me with dread.
Did you also bloom in this grove of flowers?

No, Parsifal foolish and pure!
Far, far away is my home.
Only that you might find me have I tarried here;
From far off I came, and much have seen.
I saw the child at its mother's breast,
Its earliest gurgles laugh still in my ear.
With sorrow in her heart, how even
Herzeleide did laugh then too,
When the delight of her eyes offered joy to her pain.
Softly couched in gentle mosses,
Caressing, she lulled him to sleep;
Fearful in care,
Her motherly yearning watched o'er his slumbers;
In the morning he woke
To the warm dew of his mother's tears.
All tears she was, child of sorrow,
Tears for the love and the death of your father.
To guard you against like perils
Was her highest duty's command.
Far from arms, the strife and fury of warriors,
She hoped to hide and shelter you in peace.
Ever caring she was and oh so fearful:
Ne'er must you learn anything.
Can you not still hear the cry of her lament,
When late and far you lingered?
Oh what joy and laughter it gave her
When, searching, she caught you!
As her arm fiercely clasped you,
Were you not frightened at her kisses?
Yet her grief you perceived not,
Nor the surging of her pain,
When at last you did not return
And all trace of you was lost.
She waited day and night,
Until her wailing ceased:
Her grief consumed the pain,
She courted silent death:
Sorrow broke her heart -
And Herzeleide died.

Sinks, shocked and overcome with pain, at Kundry's feet.
Alas! Alas! What have I done? Where was I?
Mother! Sweet, gentle mother!
Your son, your son has to be your murderer!
Oh fool! Stupid, blundering fool!
Where were you roaming, oblivious of her? -
Oblivious of you ‑ you.
Dearest beloved mother!

Have you ne'er known pain,
Then comfort's balm has ne'er refreshed your heart;
This calamity you bemoan,
This distress, now atone for it in the comfort
Which love offers you.

My mother, my mother,
Could I forget you!
Oh what else have I forgotten?
What have I ever remembered?
Dull folly alone dwells within me.

Kundry gently touches Parsifal's ternples and slips an arm confidingly about his neck.

Confession will end guilt with remorse,
And the knowledge will turn folly into sense.
Learn to know the love
That enveloped Gamuret,
When Herzeleide's searing passion
Seized him!
She who gave you body and life,
And before whom death and folly must flinch,
She offers you today, as the last greeting of
A mother's blessing, the first kiss of love!

She now presses her lips to his mouth in a long kiss. At this, Parsifal suddenly starts up with a gesture of extreme fear: he clutches at his heart, as though to overcome a rending pain.

Amfortas! The wound! The wound!
It burns in my side! Oh wailing! wailing!
A terrible wailing
Cries from the depths of my heart.
Oh! Oh wretch! Most miserable!
The wound I saw bleeding,
And now it bleeds in me!
Here ‑ here!
No! No! 'Tis not the wound.
May its blood pour forth in streams!
Here! Here, the torch in my heart!
The longing, the terrible longing
That seizes me in all my being and compels!
Oh torment of love! How everything shudders,
Quakes and twitches in sinful desires!
My gaze is fixed upon the Holy Cup:
The Holy Blood glows:
Redemption's bliss, divinely mild,
Thrills every soul, far and near:
Only in this heart will the torment not yield.
I hear the Saviour's lament,
The lament, oh the lament
O'er the desecrated sanctuary:
"Deliver, rescue me
From guilt-stained hands!"
Thus cried the godly lament
Thundering loud to my soul.
And I, the fool, the coward,
I fled to wild and childish deeds!
Despairingly he throws himself upon his knees.
Redeemer! Saviour! Lord of Grace!
How may I, sinner, erase my guilt?

Oh warrior promised! Flee from madness!
Look up, be kind to your darling who comes to you!

Parsifal gazes up at Kundry, whilst she stoops over him with the caresses he now describes.

Yes! This voice! So she called to him;
And that look, I know it well -
And this one too, laughing at him so turbulently;
Yes ‑ thus her lips trembled for him,
Thus did her neck bend
And her head boldly rise;
Thus fluttered her tresses,
Thus she slipped an arm about his neck,
Gently caressed his check;
In league with every torture,
Her mouth kissed away the salvation of his soul!
Ha! this kiss!
Destroyer! Away from me!
For ever, ever from me!

Cruel! If in your heart you feel
Only the pains of others,
Then now feel mine!
If you are a redeemer,
What prevents you, fiend,
From uniting us in salvation?
For eternities I've watched for you,
The saviour, come oh so late!
Whom once I dared to scorn.
Oh if you but knew the curse,
That in sleep and waking,
Death and life, pain and laughter,
Steeled me anew for fresh sorrows,
The curse that racks my being without cease!
I saw Him - Him -
And laughed ...
Then his glance fell on me!
Now from world to world I seek him,
To meet him once again.
In dire distress I feel his eye is near,
His gaze resting upon me.
Then that accursed laugh returns:
A sinner sinks into my arms!
Then I laugh and laugh and cannot weep,
But only shriek and shout, rage and rant
In the darkness of ever recurring madness,
From which remorseful I scarce awake.
For whom I yearned in mortal pining,
Whom I acknowledged, the stupid, the scorned:
Let me weep upon his breast,
Let me but spend one hour with you,
And, though by God and world rejected,
Be absolved and redeemed!

For all eternity you would be damned
With me, if for one hour
I were to forget my mission
In your embrace!
For your salvation too I am sent,
If you will but turn from desire.
The cleansing that shall end your suffering,
Comes not from the spring from which that flows;
Salvation shall never be granted you
Until that spring dries up within you.
'Twas another thing, another alas!
For which I saw pining in grief
The Brothers there, in terrible need,
Torturing, slaying themselves.
But who can know it clearly,
The true source of the one salvation?
Oh misery, flight of all deliverance!
Oh darkness of worldly fancy:
In hot pursuit of highest salvation,
To pine for the spring of perdition!

Then it was my kiss
That made you see so much, so clearly?
The full embrace of my love
Aids you then to reach the Godhead.
Redeem the world, if this be your office:
If that hour made you a god,
Then for it let me be eternally damned
And my wound never heal!

Redemption, wanton, I offer you as well.

Let me love you, godly one,
Then would you give me redemption.

Love and redemption shall be yours,
If you but show me the way to Amfortas.

You shall never find him!
Fallen, let him perish,
The wretch, greedy for shame,
Whom I laughing scorned ‑ haha!
His own Spear felled him!

Who dared wound him with the holy weapon?

He ... He ... who once punished my laughter:
His curse, ha, it gives me strength;
Against even you I’ll call the Spear,
If you honour that sinner with pity!
Ha, madness!
Pity! Pity me!
One hour be mine!
And one hour let me be yours ...
And you shall be shown the way!

She tries to embrace him. He thrusts her violently from him.

Go, wretched woman!

Kundry rises in wild wrath and calls into the background.

Help! Help! To me!
Seize the impudent fellow! To me!
Bar his path!
Bar his way!
And were you to escape from here,
And find all the ways in the world,
The way you seek,
that You shall not find:
For the paths and ways
That lead you from me,
I curse them for you:
Wander! Wander!
Be like me!
I give you to him for company!

Klingsor has appeared on the wall. He aims a spear at Parsifal.

Stand still! I've the right weapon to hold you!
His master's Spear shall fix the fool!

He hurls the Spear, which hovers over Parsifal's head.

grasping the Spear
With this sign I banish your magic:
Just as it shall heal the wound
You caused with it,
In rack and ruin
Shall it now destroy this fraudulent luxury!

He swings the spear in the sign of the Cross: the castle collapses as if through an earthquake. The garden rapidly shrivels to a desert; Kundry falls with a shriek. Parsifal, hastening away, pauses on the height of the ruined wall and turns back to Kundry.

You know where you can find me again!

Kundry raises herself and gazes after him.


A pleasant spring landscape in the Grail's domain. Gently rising flowery meadows. At the forest edge in the foreground, a spring; a simple hermit's hut. It is early morning. Gurnemanz, grown very old and dressed as a hermit, but for the tunic of a Knight of the Grail, comes out of the hut and listens.

From over there the groaning came.
No beast wails so pitifully,
Especially on this, the holiest of mornings.
Hollow groaning of Kundry's voice
Methinks I know this cry of lament.
He strides up to the thorny thicket, and wrenches the bushes apart.
Ha! She here again?
The rough and wintry thorns
Have kept her hidden ‑ how long I wonder?
Up! Kundry! Up!
The winter's fled and springs is here!
Awake! Awake to spring!
Cold and stiff! This time
I would have thought her dead;
And yet it was her groaning I heard!

Gurnemanz rubs Kundry's hands and temples vigorously as she lies stiffly stretched out before him. At last life seems to waken in her ‑ she awakens fully. The wildness has vanished from her expression and bearing. She rises, arranges her hair and dress and moves away like a maid in service.

Crazy woman! Have you no word for me?
Is this my thanks for rousing you
Once more from the sleep of death?

To serve ‑ to serve.

That will not trouble you:
There are no more messages to send -
Each finds herbs and roots for himself.
This we learned in the forest from the beasts.
Kundry sees the hut and enters.
How differently she moves than of old!
Has the holy day brought this about?
Oh peerless day of grace.
In truth, for her salvation I was able this day
To drive the sleep of death from this poor thing.

Kundry comes out of the hut; she carries a pitcher; glancing into the wood, she sees someone approaching and turns to Gurnemanz.

Who's that approaching the sacred spring?
Kundry goes slowly into the hut with her filled pitcher and sets to work.
In forbidding accoutrements of war?
He is not of the Brothers?
From the wood, Parsifal appears, encased in black armour, with closed visor and lowered spear. He slowly approaches and sits down on the little grassy mound by the spring.
Hail, my guest!
Have you lost your way? Shall I direct you?
Parsifal gently shakes his head.
Have you no greeting to offer me?
Eh? What? If your vows
Constrain you to silence,
Mine bid me
Tell you what is proper.
Here you are on hallowed ground:
So one does not come here with arms,
Visor closed and with shield and spear;
And on this day of all! Know you not
Which holy day this is?
Parsifal shakes his head.
Hm! Then where are you from?
'Mong what heathen have you tarried,
Not to know that today
Is the holiest of holies, Good Friday?
Lay aside your weapons quickly!
Grieve not the Lord who this day,
Defenceless, gave his holy blood
In expiation of the sins of the world!

After further silence, Parsifal thrusts the Spear into the ground before him, lays down his sword and shield in front of it and opens his helmet, which he removes from his head and places with the weapons; then he kneels in silent prayer before the Spear.

softly to Kundry
You recognize him? He it was
That once slew a swan.
Kundry gently nods her affirmation.
Indeed, 'tis he the fool
Whom I drove away in anger.
Ha! What paths has he found?
That Spear, I know it.
Oh that I should wake
To see this holiest day!

Parsifal rises slowly from his prayer, recognizes Gurnemanz and gives him his hand in greeting.

How glad I am to find you again!

Then you still remember me?
You still know me,
Bowed with grief and care?
How did you come today ‑ from where?

'Long paths of error and suffering
I have come;
Can I at last believe myself free of them,
Now that I hear again the rustling of this forest,
And greet you anew, old friend? ...
Or do I stray still?
Everything seems changed.

Then tell me to whom you seek the way?

To him whose deep lament
I once did hear with foolish wonder,
To whom I now deem myself
Chosen to bring redemption.
Yet alas! ne’er finding
Redemption's path, in pathless wanderings
I was driven about by a savage curse:
Countless perils, battles and conflicts
Forced me from the path,
Just when I thought to find it.
Then would I despair
Of keeping safe the holy relic,
Protecing, guarding which,
I garnered wounds from weapon upon weapon;
For this itself
I dared not wield in battle;
Undefiled I've borne it at my side,
And now I bring it home,
Glittering pure and bright -
The Grail's holy Spear!

O grace! Happiness sublime!
O miracle! Holy illustrious miracle!
to Parsifal
Oh Sir! If curse it was
That drove you from the true path,
Believe me, it has lifted.
Here you are, in the land of the Grail,
Its Knights await you.
Oh they have need of the comfort,
The comfort that you bring!
From the day that you were here
Our grief, of which you know,
Our fears grew into dire distress.
Amfortas, to resist his wounds,
The torment of his soul,
In wrathful defiance now
Lusts for death. No plea
Nor misery of his Knights could move
Him to perform his holy office.
In its shrine, the Grail
Has long remained locked:
Thus its sin‑repentant guardian,
Since he cannot die
Whilst he looks upon it,
Hopes to force his death
And with his life the torment end.
The holy manna is now denied us,
And common fare must be our nourishment:
And so our warriors' strength has waned.
Now no message ever comes for us,
No call to holy wars
From far away: wan and wretched,
The despondent leaderless Knights limp around.
In this wooded corner, I hid myself quietly
Waiting for death,
To whom my bold warrior‑lord has already succumbed;
For Titurel, the holy warrior,
No longer refreshed by the sight of the Grail,
Is dead, a man, as all men!

And 'twas I, I who brought about all this misery!
How with guilt of sin offensive
This foolish head is ever laden,
For no repentance, no atonement
Relieves me of my blindness.
Chosen for deliverance,
I am lost in the maze -
Every path of deliverance vanishes!

Parsifal threatens to swoon. Gurnemanz seats him gently on the grassy mound. Kundry fetches a bowl of water with which to sprinkle Parsifal.

Gently turning Kundry away:
Not so! The holy spring itself
Shall strengthen our pilgrim's bath.
I think he has a lofty work
To do this day,
A holy office to perform:
Therefore, he must be cleansed of stain
And the dust of long wanderings
Washed from him!

They both help Parsifal to the edge of the spring. During the following, Kundry removes his greaves and Gurnemanz his breastplate.

Am I to be taken to Amfortas today?

Surely; the mighty castle awaits us:
The funeral rites of my dear lord
Call me there.
Once more to reveal to us there the Grail,
Once more to perform this day
His long neglected office,
To sinctify his illustrious father
Who perished through his son's guilt,
For which he now atones -
This Amfortas has promised us.

Parsifal watches Kundry who is bathing his feet with eager humility.

to Kundry
You have washed my feet,
Now let my friend bathe my head!

Gurnemanz scoops up some water from the spring with his hand and sprinkles Parsifal's head.

The blessing of purity be upon you, pure one!
So may every burden of guilt depart from you!

Kundry draws a golden phial from her bosom and pours its contents over Parsifal's feet, which she then dries with her hair.

Taking the phial from her and giving it to Gurnemanz:
You have anointed my feet,
Let now Titurel's comrade anoint my head,
To hail me this day as King!

Gurnemanz empties the phial completely over Parsifal's head.

Thus it was promised us;
And so, my blessing on your head,
That I may greet you as King.
You, so pure!
Compassionately enduring,
Piously knowing!
Having suffered
As did the Redeemed One,
Lift now from his head
The final burden!

Parsifal scoops up water unobserved from the spring, and, bending over Kundry, kneeling before him, moistens her head.

My first duty I hereby fulfil:
Receive baptism and believe in the Redeemer!
Kundry bows her head: she seems to be weeping copiously.
How very beautiful the meadow seems today!
I have come upon magic flowers
Which sickly twined about me to my head;
Yet ne'er have I seen such soft and tender
Stalks, blossoms, flowers,
Nor has anything smelled so childlike sweet
Or spoken so dearly to me.

That is the magic of Good Friday, lord!

Alas, the greatest Day of Pain!
On which everything that blooms,
Breathes, lives and lives anew
Should, it seems, but mourn ‑ ah, and weep.

You see, it is not so.
They are the repentant tears of the sinner
That drop today with holy dew
Upon both field and meadow:
Thus they flourish.
Now all creatures rejoice
At the Redeemer's gracious sign,
And dedicate their prayer to him.
Him upon the Cross they cannot see:
And so they look up to Man redeemed,
Who feels free of his burden of sin and shame,
Made pure and whole by the loving sacrifice of God:
Now stalk and flower of the meadows perceives
That this day no foot of man shall crush them,
But just as God with heavenly patience
Took mercy on him and suffered for him,
So Man today with pious grace
Spares them with gentle tread.
For this, all creation then gives thanks -
All'that blooms and shortly withers -
For Nature cleansed
Has gained this day her day of innocence.

I saw them fade, yet once they laughed -
Do they now yearn for redemption?
to Kundry
Your tears too became a dew of blessing.
You weep ‑ and lo! the meadows smile!

He kisses Kundry gently on the forehead. There is a distant pealing of bells.

Mid‑day: the hour is come.
Permit your servant, lord, to lead you!

Gurnemanz has fetched his Grail-Knight's cloak, with which he and Kundry enrobe Parsifal. Solemnly Parsifal takes up the spear and, together with Kundry, follows Gurnemanz who slowly leads the way. The scene changes gradually, similarly to Act 1. The forest recedes and rocky arches approach. The rocky walls open, revealing the Grail Hall as in Act 1. From one side enter Knights bearing the coffin with Titurel's body; from the other enter those bearing Amfortas upon his litter; in front of him is the covered shrine of the Grail.

1st Procession with Amfortas:
We bear the Grail in concealing shrine
To its holy office;
Whom have you in that gloomy shrine
That you mourning hither bear?

2nd Procession, as they pass one another:
This funeral shrine the warrior holds;
There lies the heavenly power,
Into whose care God once gave Himself:
Titurel we bear.

1st Procession:
Who did slay him that, in God's care,
Once God Himself protected?

2nd Procession:
Him slew the victorious burden of age,
When he no longer beheld the Grail.

1st Procession:
Who denied him the sight
Of the Grail's favour?

2nd Procession:
He whom there you bear,
The guilty guardian.

1st Procession:
We bear him today,
For this day, once more,
For the last time,
He will perform his office.

Amfortas is now set down on the couch behind the Grail. Table, and the Coffin before it: the Knights turn to Amfortas.

Woe, guardian of the Grail!
Ah, for the last time!
Be mindful of your duty! For the last time!

Yea, woe! woe!
Woe is me!
This I freely cry with you.
More freely would I accept death from you,
The mildest atonement for sin.

The coffin is opened. At the sight of Titurel's corpse, all break into a sudden wailing.

My father! Most blessed of warriors!
Purest of all, before whom the angels once bowed:
Desiring only to die myself,
To you I did give death!
Oh, you who now 'mid divine radiance
Behold the Redeemer himself,
Implore of Him, that His holy Blood,
If once more His Blessing this day shall quicken
The Brothers, while granting them new life,
May grant me death at last!
Death! To die... the only grace!
Perish the terrible wound, the poison
That gnaws and stiffens the heart!
My father! I call to you:
Do you call to him,
"Redeemer, give my son peace!"

Reveal the Grail!
Perform your duty!
Your father exhorts you:
You must! You must!

Amfortas jumps up and hurls himself into the midst of the retreating Knights.

No! No more! Ha!
Already I feel death closing round me;
Should I then return again to life?
Madmen! Who shall compel me to live?
But you could give me death!
He tears open his robe.
Here I am, and here the open wound!
Here flows the blood that poisons me:
Out with your weapons!
Thrust deep your swords,
Deep, to the hilt!
Up, you warriors,
Slay the sinner ‑ and his torment,
Then shall the Grail glow of itself for you!

Unnoticed by the Knights, Parsifal has appeared among them, accompanied by Gurnemanz and Kundry. He now steps forward, stretches out the Spear and touches Amfortas' side with its tip.

One weapon suffices -
The wound is healed only by the Spear
That caused it.

Amfortas' face lights up with holy joy; he seems to stagger under stress of great emotion; Gurnemanz supports him.

You are whole, purified and atoned!
For I now perform your office.
Blessed be your suffering
Which gave the timid fool
The highest power of pity,
The might of purest knowledge!

Parsifal strides to the centre, holding the Spear aloft before him.

This holy Spear,
I bring it back to you!
Oh, what a miracle of utter bliss!
From this which healed your wound,
Holy Blood I see flowing forth
In longing for its kindred source,
That flows there in the Grail's depth.
No more shall it be closed:
Reveal the Grail ‑ open the shrine!

Parsifal ascends the altar‑steps, takes the Grail from the shrine, opened by the youths, and sinks to his knees in silent prayer in its presence.

Highest holy Wonder!
The Redeemer redeemed! etc.

A ray of light: the Grail glows at its brightest. From the dome swoops a white dove which hovers over Parsifal's head. Kundry sinks, lifeless, to the ground. Amfortas and Gurnemanz kneel in homage to Parsifal who passes the Grail in blessing over the worshipping Knights.