Now that the maiden and the man, Isolt and Tristan, both had shared of the drink, she who disquiets every peace, Passion, predator on every heart, stole at once into theirs. Hardly were they aware of it, she raised her banner of victory and drew them both into her sway. Those who once were two and duple now were one and unity. Never more would they two discord one with the other. Isolt's antipathy was gone. Passion, the conciliator, had purified both their minds of every disaffection and so united them with love that each before the other was like a mirror clarified. They two had but one heart— her sorrow was his pain, his pain was her sorrow. Both accorded perfectly in pleasure and in suffering, yet each held in reserve his and her own doubt and shame. She felt shame, so did he. She doubted him, as he did her. However blind their hearts' desire to their common purpose was, still these first stirrings meant an embarrassment to both that concealed their longings from each other.
When Tristan felt the pangs of passion, his first thought was for his loyalty and honor, and at once tried to retreat— "No, no," he said to himself, "not that, Tristan, get hold of yourself— pay no attention to such thoughts." And yet that's where his heart would go. He fought against his own will, desiring against his desire, 11750 striving forward and away. The man, so entrapped, struggled in his bondage often and repeatedly and kept it up with persistence. As a man of loyalty, two great concerns afflicted him. He had but to see Isolt, and at once sweet Passion made use of her to sear his whole heart and mind. Yet when he thought of honor, that distracted him once again. But then Passion counterattacked, his hereditary sovereign, and to her he had to yield. His loyalty and his honor pressed him with their concerns, but Passion pressed him even harder, inflicting worse than woe— she caused him more anguish than loyalty and honor together. His heart laughed at sight of Isolt, and yet he looked away from her. But when she was not in his sight, that was his greatest distress. Often he took firm resolve, as does one who is imprisoned, to find some way to escape, conceiving one plan or another— "Do something, whether this or that to transform this longing. Point your desires elsewhere!" But the noose never slackened. He searched within his heart and mind, hoping to find some sign of change, but there was nothing else in them other than Isolt and Passion.
It was the same for Isolt. She strove against a life that had become unbearable. When she recognized the trap that spectral Passion had laid for her and understood that her senses were ensnared in it, she sought a firmer foothold by means of which to get free. But the snare only tightened, drawing her ever down and back. The beauty fought against it all, 11800 resisting at every step, following most unwillingly. She strove this way and that, twisting one way and another with both her feet and her hands, but succeeded only in tangling both her hands and her feet in the sweet entrapment of the man and Passion. Her senses thus so tightly bound were unable to make any move, cross any bridge, climb any stair, not half a foot or half a step, without bringing Passion with her. Isolt might think what she would, conceive whatever idea, there was nothing to it except Passion and Tristan, which she carefully kept secret. Then her heart and her eyes began to work differently. Modesty drove her glance away while Passion attracted it. This conflicting company, maid and man, Passion and reserve, distressed and confused her— the maid desired the man but kept her eyes off him. Modesty longed for touch but couldn't let that be known. Where would it end? Modesty and maiden, as all the world will tell you, are very delicate things, blooming only fleetingly and enduring but a moment.
Isolt at last gave up the fight and did what she had to do. As the loser, she surrendered her body and her mind to the man and to Passion. She stole glances in his direction and secretly looked him over. Now her clear eyes and senses agreed well among themselves. Both her heart and her eyes sought their prey, the man, stealthily and affectionately. The man returned her scrutiny with gentle invitation. He, too, began his retreat, 11850 since Passion yielded him no option. Man and maiden now provided a feast for each other's eyes at every hour of the day, within the bounds of modesty. To each of them, now in love, each seemed finer than before. This is love's law, desire's way, still today, and has long been and will be while desire reigns among lovers everywhere, that they grow more pleasing to each other as love grows stronger between them, with its blossoms and its fruits in all their sweetness, than at its first tender shoots. Desire in its fruitfulness ripens from its slender start. This is the seed it bears so that it never dies away. It pleases now more than then. Thus love grows lovelier than then. If love remained the same as then, It soon would die, both now as then.
|Next Episode||Index of Episodes|