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The Glove by Friedrich Schiller
By Rider, 30 April 2007; Revised
Category: AE Magazine Columns and General Articles
The Glove is a poem by Friedrich Schiller speaking of bravery in face of danger and the decision of the knight. It might not have been entirely accurate historically but the value it has overweights the lacks in the accuracy.
As it is unsure, who the King Francis was, we don’t have an idea if he had access to lions and such creatures. We, assuming that he was either Francis I or Francis II of the Holy Roman Empire, then he would certainly have access to many exotical beasts and animals. I’d consider the possibility of the King’s identity lying in one of those persons extremely high. The third person for that role would be Francois I of France who lived in the 16th century. Such courtly manners were more of a role during those times but also, the access to animals was more limited.
The situation posed in the poem is very interesting and gives us a clue of what a knight might have thought of in the field being commanded there for lust and pleasure.
Friedrich Schiller was born in 1759 and was named after King Frederick II the Great of Prussia. He was a dear friend to Johann Wolfgang Goethe. Schiller did, during his life many different things, including writing about history and dramas, poems and philosophical texts. He died in 1805.
Before his lion-court
Impatient for the sport,
King Francis sat one day;
The peers of his realm sat around,
And in balcony high from the ground
Sat the ladies in beauteous array.
And when with his finger he beckoned,
The gate opened wide in a second
And in, with deliberate tread,
Enters a lion dread,
And looks around
Yet utters no sound;
Then long he yawns
And shakes his mane,
And, stretching each limb,
Down lies he again.
Again signs the king, -
The next gate open flies,
And, lo! with a wild spring,
A tiger out hies.
When the lion he sees, loudly roars he about,
And a terrible circle his tail traces out.
Protruding his tongue, past the lion he walks,
And, snarling with rage, round him warily stalks
Then, growling anew,
On one side lies down too.
Again signs the king, -
And two gates open fly,
And, lo! with one spring,
Two leopards out hie.
On the tiger they rush, for the fight nothing loth,
But he with his paws seizes hold of them both
And the lion, with roaring, gets up, - then all's still,
The fierce beasts stalk around, madly thirsting to kill.
From the balcony raised high above
A fair hand lets fall down a glove
Into the lists, where 'tis seen
The lion and tiger between.
To the knight, Sir Delorges, in tone of jest,
Then speaks young Cunigund fair;
"Sir Knight, if the love that thou feel'st in thy breast
Is as warm as thou'rt wont at each moment to swear,
Pick up, I pray thee, the glove that lies there!"
And the knight, in a moment, with dauntless tread,
Jumps into the lists, nor seeks to linger,
And, from out the midst of those monsters dread,
Picks up the glove with a daring finger.
And the knights and ladies of high degree
With wonder and horror the action see,
While he quietly brings in his hand the glove,
The praise of his courage each mouth employs;
Meanwhile, with a tender look of love,
The promise to him of coming joys,
Fair Cunigund welcomes him back to his place.
But he threw the glove point-blank in her face:
"Lady, no thanks from thee I'll receive!"
And that selfsame hour he took his leave.