Friday, May 8 (8th of May 1874)

Cosima Wagner Diaries

“As an artist I don’t think much of the spiked helmet,” R. said yesterday to the ladies, “and yet I recognize it as our only salvation.” Today he praises the ladies highly and says he was pleased to see them kiss my hand; when I refuse on any account to agree, he says, “Everyone who knows you must go down on his knees to you.”

Yesterday a Herr v. Gerstenberg, one of the editors of the A..A.Z., wrote to R. asking for an autograph. R. felt like telling him his opinion of this newspaper, which has been the doormat for all the filth which has been dumped on him by all and sundry over the years. — 

At lunch R. catches sight of the old man whom we have engaged to pump out the water, which is still tainted with iron; it reminds him of the maiden in the Odyssey who ground corn during the night. He is filled with pity: “The noise sounds primeval, it is like the squeaking of the spheres.”

During the morning he was reading the travel adventures of Vorstel and Will[1], and I found him with tears in his eyes. “That was a curious time!” he exclaims, “the time when we decided on our Tribschen — alternately filled with hope and plunged in gloom, it was terrible!” — 

As we are drinking our after-lunch coffee in the hall and he is looking at the pictures, he says: “What a strange night that must have been when Wotan subjugated Erda! That is my own invention entirely—know nothing about Zeus and Gaea, for instance, and nothing struck me in another poet, the way we are sometimes much struck by some feature which escapes other people. 

The night when Brünnhilde was begotten—it can only be seen as something divine; the urge to subjugate this prophetic woman, to learn all from her! Such outbreaks of natural force I have witnessed in the animal world—our only analogue for the divine is in the animal world.” — 

Soon afterward he exclaims: “Well, who would ever have thought that I would one day be sitting here with you in such comfort! And so whatever it was that put an end to our endeavours in Munich was for the best; it was the working of some awesome Will, which did not wish to see our love spoiled and destroyed, as would have happened in favorable circumstances, because it knew that such a love would not occur again and must therefore be put to use. It led us toward our union along cruel paths, telling itself, ‘Never mind, they will bear it.’ And that’s why I believe I shall live with you for many, many years.” “Nobody knows how much I love you—not even you yourself,” he cries out to me as we part. — 

My father sends me a telegram, pleased with my decision to go to Warsaw.

— Storm winds; in the evening finished The Tm Gentlemen of Verona. —

When I went into the garden and put on my hat, R. thought of the daughter of his godmother, Anna Trager, who asked him, when he was 8 years old, to tie the yellow velvet ribbons of her hat for her—that had made a deep impression on him. — Of Gentlemen of Verona R. says, “It was plays of this sort which paved the way for opera—the heights of tragedy are touched, but then everything ends happily.” — 

As he was getting undressed I heard him talking aloud and asked him what he had said. He thought it would make me laugh heartily, for what he had said was, “I ought to be fifteen years younger—or, better still, when I gave up my conducting job in Dresden, I should have been allowed to discover Cosima as a young lady of 20 years.”

[1] *R.’s nicknames for himself (Will) and Cosima (Vorstel) after Schopenhauer’s “The World as Will and Representation” (… als Wille und Vorstellung); travel adventure: the weeks of 1866 in Switzerland.

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