The Genesis of Parsifal
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Wolfgang Golther is best known to those with an interest in the life and works of
Richard Wagner as the editor of the correspondence between Wagner and Mathilde Wesendonk, including the so-called Venice Diary.
Subsequently Dr. Golther published two books in which he surveyed Wagner's sources and related literature. One of these concerns the legend of
Tristan and Isolde, the other concerns the legend of Parsifal and the Grail: Parzival und der Gral in der Dichtung des Mittelalters und
der Neuzeit. The following short extract has been translated from the chapter
headed "Richard Wagner's Parsifal". When reading Dr. Golther's attempts to
reconstruct the lost 1857 sketch of Parsifal the reader should keep in mind
that, although plausible and informed, it is no more than guesswork.
Left: Marienbad seen from the Cross Well, drawn in 1843. Wagner visited this spa in
July 1845 Wagner took a cure at the Marienbad Spa, where he read poems by Wolfram in the editions of Simrock (1842) and San Marte (1836),
also the poem Lohengrin in that of Görres (1813) with its confused but rich
In the deep woodlands, lying beside the brook, I conversed with
Titurel and Parzival in the strange and nevertheless so
intimately homely poems of Wolfram. From this encounter
first came the son of Parzival,
Lohengrin, who was sent by the Grail:
In fernem Land, unnahbar euren Schritten,
liegt eine Burg, die Montsalvat genannt;
ein lichter Tempel stehet dort inmitten,
so kostbar, als auf Erden nichts bekannt;
drin ein Gefäss von wundertät'gem Segen
wird dort als höchstes Heiligtum bewacht:
Es ward, dass sein der Menschen reinste pflegen,
herab von einer Engelschar gebracht;
alljährlich naht vom Himmel eine Taube,
um neu zu stärken seine Wunderkraft:
Es heisst der Gral, und selig reinster Glaube
erteilt durch ihn sich seiner Ritterschaft.
In distant land, untrod by mortal footsteps,
there stands a castle, Montsalvat by name;
in its midst, there stands a shining temple
so glorious that none on earth can compare.
Within, a vessel of wondrous power
is guarded as the holiest of treasures:
so it might be tended by the purest of men,
a host of angels brought it to this earth.
Once every year a dove descends from Heaven
to strengthen anew its wondrous power:
'tis called the Grail, and blessing of purest faith
it does confer on its devoted knights.
Left: Titurel Receives the Grail and Spear, oil painting by Franz Stassen.
prelude to his Lohengrin, entitled the holy Grail, describes --
according to Wagner's own program note written for the Zurich music festival of 18
May 1853 and later published in volume 5 of the Gesammelte
Schriften1-- the Grail
borne aloft by a host of angels. The divine vessel is revealed with increasing
clarity to the senses of the onlookers as it approaches the earth. The angelic host
ascends again and disappears in the bright light of the blue ether from whence it
came. But the Grail remains behind in the care of the purest
humans, into whose hearts its contents have been poured.
his autobiography Wagner relates, how in the autumn of 1854 he was uncertain about
how to make further use of the material.
I wove into the last act an episode I
later did not use: this was a visit by Parzival, wandering in search of the Grail, to
Tristan's sickbed. Hans von Wolzogen supplements these remarks by the following
report, published in the Bayreuther Blätter of 1886, page 73:
Parzival searching for the Grail was to
appear at Kareol as a pilgrim, while Tristan lies there on his deathbed, in the
depths of despair and love's suffering. So the one desiring, who will find
salvation through compassion, and the other renouncing, who curses himself in
atonement for his guilt and endures love's suffering unto death, would be seen
together. Here death! There new life! It was intended that a melody associated with
the wandering Parzival should sound
in the ears of the mortally wounded Tristan, as it were the mysteriously faint
receding answer to his life-destroying question about the "Why?" of existence. Out
of this melody, it may be said, grew the stage-dedicatory festival-drama.
pilgrim journey of Parzival is
preserved on a sheet of manuscript, which Richard Wagner sent to Frau Mathilde Wesendonk:
: "Wo find' ich dich, du
heil'ger Gral, dich sucht voll Sehnsucht mein Herze".
the original draft of the Tristan drama, preserved in a small note book
during the years 1854-55, Hans von Wolzogen quoted this Parzival scene in the Bayreuther Blätter of 1915, page
Third act - Tristan on his sickbed in the palace
garden. Battlements to the side. Awaking from sleep he calls out to the squire, who
is keeping watch on the battlements, asking whether he sees anything. There is
nothing to be seen. At his call he comes finally. Reproaches - apology. A pilgrim
had to be received. There and then. Tristan's impatience. The squire still sees
nothing. Tristan considers. Doubts. Singing receding from below. Who is it? Squire
tells of the pilgrim - Parzival.
Deep impression. Love and agony. My mother died, when she bore me; now I live, born
to die. Why so? - Parzival's
refrain - repeated by the shepherd - the whole world nothing but unsatisfied
longing! How is it to be stilled? - Parzival's Refrain.
Right: In the deep woodlands, lying beside the brook... This brook runs
autobiography tells how the first draft of an independent Parzival-drama came into
Beautiful spring weather now set in; on Good Friday I awoke to find the sun shining brightly into this
house for the first time; the little garden was blooming and the birds singing, and
at last I could sit out on the parapeted terrace of the little dwelling and enjoy
the longed-for tranquillity that seemed so fraught with promise. Filled with this
sentiment, I suddenly said to myself that this was Good
Friday and recalled how meaningful this had seemed to me in Wolfram's Parzival. Ever since that stay in Marienbad,
where I had conceived Die Meistersinger and Lohengrin, I had not
taken another look at that poem; now its ideality came to me in overwhelming form,
and from the idea of Good Friday I quickly sketched out an
entire drama in three acts.
Left: The little dwelling; the "Asyl".
von Wolzogen again supplements this report from Wagner's verbal account in the
Bayreuther Blätter of 1885, page 48:
A wonderful morning was ascended over lake and
mountains of Zürich and its surroundings. The Master looked down from the heights
of his newly-won, tranquil "Asyl" into the sunny charms of the spring morning:
You are not to carry weapons on the day, when our Lord died on the cross!,
he seemed to hear as if from angel tongues in the great peace of this solemn world.
It was a far distant voice, a Grail sound resounding from
the days of his Lohengrin, a slowly fading memory from the time, when he
once had communed, in the Bohemian forest, with Wolfram's
poem of Parzival. Before him the picture of the Crucified floated; and,
quietly putting aside the armour of philosophically-clarified world-criticism and
the weapon of historically- sharpened world-denial, he sketched the poem of his
report does not, in fact, agree with the historical data: the Wagners only moved into
the "Asyl" on 29 April 1857, while Good Friday fell in 1857
on 10 April, before Wagner had stayed in the "Asyl". The whole account points however
to a deeply internal experience, which stuck indelibly in his memory, even if the
incidental circumstances became confused.
, riding proud,
armed and finely-dressed, meets the grey pilgrim-knight on Good Friday, in this
painting from Ludwig
's castle of Neuschwanstein.
what did this Zürich draft of Parzival look like, this sketch which was
written down immediately? We may assume2 with some
certainty that, in the main, it closely followed Wolfram.
Also that many motives, which were added from other sources and from renewed study of
the source material, were first introduced in later versions. First, following Book 9
of Wolfram's Parzival, Wagner would have sketched
the third act: the stay in the forest cell of Trevrizent is the core and crux of Wolfram's
whole poem. In accordance with his own experience however this was located in a
charming spring landscape, the shining, flowery meadows of Wagner's drama, instead of
the harsh, wintry landscape described in the romance. The grey pilgrim-knight who
reprimands Parzival for riding proud,
armed and finely-dressed on Good Friday, became merged with
the hermit Trevrizent. Since the
Good Friday magic is the starting point of the whole drama
and therefore from the outset would have been recorded in detail, it probably
appeared already in the Zürich draft in words which essentially agree with the final
poem, perhaps similar to these appearing in the Munich  Prose Draft:
You see it is not so: today all animal creation is
glad to gaze up at the Redeemer. Not being able to see Him on the Cross, it gazes
up at man redeemed: who, through God's loving
sacrifice, has a feeling of holiness and purity; the meadow flowers notice that man
does not trample them today, but, as God took pity on mankind, spares them: now all that is blooming
and soon to die, gives thanks; it is Nature's day of
undry, as the penitent Magdalen, has her model in
Wolfram at the beginning of Book 9 in the anchoress
Sigune, whom Parzival visits first. The Zürich draft probably brough together
Sigune (i.e. Kundry), the grey pilgrim-knight, Trevrizent (i.e. Gurnemanz) and Parzival in one scene, at the hermit cell, and led from there with
omission of the events which intervene in Wolfram's poem
directly to the Grail castle and the healing of Amfortas. The Holy
Spear, the Christ-lance, which first appears only in a note following the Munich
Prose Draft of 1865, was missing from the Zürich draft.
Perhaps the healing was effected as in Wolfram, by Parzival asking the compassionate question about the suffering of the king. So the third act
consolidated the action of Wolfram's Book 9 with details
from Books 15-16 (appointment of Parzival to the office of king and introduction into the Grail castle) to produce an impressive dramatic account in two
Grail, which already appears in Lohengrin as a
vessel of wondrous power, was interpreted by Wagner in accordance with the
French romances, whose contents had been communicated by Simrock and San Marte, as
the chalice of the Last Supper, in which Joseph of Arimathea caught the blood of the
Saviour at the cross, not as Wolfram's magic stone. From the outset the Master went beyond and
around Wolfram for the sake of clarity and descriptiveness.
By concentrating on that which he found to be significant and important, and by
leaving out the wonderful extravagances of Wolfram's
imagination, Wagner achieved a poetic form that was concise and strong.
simplifications of the third act affected the first act (corresponding to Wolfram's Book 5), the first visit by
Parzival to the Grail castle. Here too the act was divided into two main scenes: the
first based around Amfortas taking a
soothing bath in the holy lake (not fishing as in Wolfram!
see Parzival 491, 6)3 and with the Grail ceremony in the temple. With the view of the Grail as a vessel containing the holy blood, the solemn ceremony was
given a chalice as in a church service. The old squire (Gurnemanz, who had merged with the hermit Trevrizent of the third act into one
character), Amfortas and the
marvellously wild Grail messenger carried the action. The Grail messenger was present, cowering in a corner, in the painful
scene with Amfortas and stared
with a strangely inquisitive look, sphinx-like at Parzival. The compression to the drama prevented a direct
representation of the forest life of the young Parzival (Wolfram's Book 3), particularly
since the young Siegfried already contained such a picture on the beauty of which
Wagner could scarcely improve. In the drama Parzival enters the domain of the Grail as a
fool, in the epic as a knight. He plays the fool with Wolfram earlier, at the court of King Arthur. In the drama
effective contrasts resulted from this compression: the fool in the first act, the
knight in the third act. Particular scenes from Parzival's youth , e.g. the meeting in the forest of the boy with the
"shining men", the knights, are introduced into his first act dialogue with the old
the second act Wagner diverged more freely from Wolfram,
choosing as the scene of the action the magic castle of Klingsor with the seductive woman, contents of Wolfram's books 10-13. The adventures of Gawain were transferred to Parzival and thus a contrast, unknown to Wolfram, was established between the Grail
castle and Klingsor's castle of
wonders. In Wolfram the centre of the action here is the
beautiful Orgeluse, whose charms no knight (with the
single exception of Parzival) can
resist, in whose service Anfortas is
wounded by the poisoned spear. Originally Wagner's Zürich draft kept distinct the
three women described by Wolfram: the wild Grail messenger (Kundry) in the first act, Orgeluse in the
second act, Sigune in third act. Only in the letters to
Mathilde Wesendonk of 2 March 1859 and 1 August 1860 does Kundry become the
world-demonic woman. The rebirth teachings that Wagner addressed in the Buddha-drama that he sketched in 1856 had an influence on the later
development, although certainly not during the early development, of the Kundry figure. Another idea came from Wolfram, in which (318, 24)4 the
Grail messenger Kundry appears again in the magic castle, where another Kundry, the
beautiful sister of Gawain (334,
20)5 is held captive. In Wolfram's poem however these characters have nothing in common
except the name. Thus one discovers some threads which lead from scattered places in
Wolfram's poem to the drama, which were hardly present in
the Zürich draft but which occurred to Wagner when he returned to the poem. Thus e.g.
Kundry's call to Parsifal in the second
act originates from a meeting of the fool with his cousin Sigune (140, 16)6 in which she reveals
the name that he had forgotten, and her curse on him from the Grail messenger's curse in Book 6 (315, 20)7.
few images from Wolfram's poem stuck in Wagner's memory,
from which be was able to outline immediately the
entire drama in three acts
on the "Good Friday" in 1857. How reliably Wagner's memory
held after several years is shown by the letter to Uhlig of November 1851, where
Wagner had asked for the Völsungasaga from the Dresden library in order to
complete the poem of the Valkyrie but almost immediately recognized that he
did not need this source after all. Just as little as he needed the Marienbad draft
of 1845, which Frau Wesendonk sent him on 25 December 1861 to Paris, to complete the
poem of the Meistersinger. With amazing fidelity he recalled the contents of
Wolfram's Parzival, in order to compress that
content, in the mysterious instant of poetic conception, into
situations of violent intensity.
the Parzival-drama in the course of time developed further and changed
under completely different circumstances of work and life, we read in the letters of
the years 1858-60 about which basic ideas moved into or out of focus. The
Parzival-drama, like Goethe's Faust, was an ever-present, quietly maturing
work, often perhaps only present in thoughts or in marginal notes added to the old
draft, until the time arrived for a new draft. In the letter in the Venice Diary of
Richard Wagner of 1 October 1858 we can see that the subject of compassion or
fellow-suffering was inseparably connected with the Parzival-drama from the outset.
I recognize in this compassion [Mitleid] the most salient feature of my moral
nature, and presumably it is this which finds expression in my art. Wagner speaks
of his compassion for animals, those who, in contrast to humans, cannot be raised by
their own suffering to the height of resignation:
... their absolute, redemption-less suffering without
any higher purpose, their only release being death, which confirms my belief that
it would have been better for them never to have entered upon life. And so, if this
suffering can have a purpose, it is simply to awaken a sense of compassion [des
Mitleidens] in man, who thereby absorbs the animal's defective existence, and
becomes the redeemer of the world by recognising the error of all existence. (This
meaning will one day become clearer to you from the Good
Friday morning scene in the third act of Parzival.)
chopenhauer had expressed similar thoughts:
boundless compassion with all
living natures is the firmest and surest guarantee of morality... The moral incentive
advanced by me as the genuine, is further confirmed by the fact that the animals are
also taken under its protection. In other European systems of morality they are badly
provided for, which is most inexcusable... Since compassion for animals is so
intimately associated with goodness of character, it may be confidently asserted that
whoever is cruel to animals cannot be a good man... However the quality of the heart
exists in a basic, universal compassion with everything that lives, although firstly
arsifal in its definitive shape is the tragedy of compassion, the ethical basis
of world redemption. In his last writings, as is well-known, Wagner advocated a
religion of compassion. We will have to discuss this idea in the action of the drama
in more detail. For the present it is enough to say that already in the original
version, in the Zürich draft of the Parzival-drama, this ethical basic idea would
have been clearly and certainly expressed.
the letter to Mathilde Wesendonk of 19 January 1859 we
read that Savitri [Prakriti] (in the
Indian drama Die Sieger, which was sketched in 1856) and
fill my mind with a sense
of presentiment and strive initially to form themselves into a poetic idea. On 2
March 1859 Wagner writes:
has occupied me a lot; in particular my own creation, a marvellously world-demonic
woman, becomes ever more alive and definite. If I manage to write this poem, I will
have made something very original. And on 23 May he announced that he had a
completely new concept for the Parzival-drama again. The letter of 30 May 1859
continues to develop the thought of Amfortas as the work's center of attention and main subject,
third act Tristan with an inconceivable intensification. The mood of the third
act of Tristan -
a truly alternating fever, deepest suffering and
languishing, and then directly an outbreak of rejoicing and shouting for joy -
moves the suffering Amfortas into the
foreground, behind which Parzival is
nearly lost from view. The suffering of Amfortas is described like this:
With the spear-wound and
probably still another too -- in his heart -- the wretched man knows of no other
longing in his terrible pain than the longing to die; in order to attain this
supreme solace, he demands repeatedly to be allowed a glimpse of the Grail in the hope that it might at least close his wounds, for
everything else is useless, nothing - nothing can help him; but the Grail can give him one thing only, which is precisely that he
cannot die; its very sight increases his torments by conferring
immortality upon them. The Grail, according to my
own interpretation, is the goblet used at the Last Supper, in
which Joseph of Arimathea caught the Saviour's blood on the Cross. What terrible
significance the connection between Anfortas and this particular chalice now acquires;
he, infected by the same wound as was dealt him by a rival's spear
in a passionate love-intrigue, -- his only solace lies in the benediction of the
blood that once flowed from the Saviour's own, similar, spear-wound as He languished upon the Cross, world-renouncing,
world-redeeming and world-suffering! Blood for blood, wound for wound -- but what a
gulf between the blood of the one and that of the other, between the one wound and
the other! Wholly enraptured, he is all devotion and all ecstacy at the miraculous
proximity of the chalice which glows red in its gentle, blissful radiance, pouring
out new life -- so that death cannot come near him! He lives, lives anew, and more
terribly than ever the sinful wound flares up in him - His wound!
His very devotions become a torment! Where is the end to it, where is redemption?
The sufferings of humanity endlessly drawn out! -- Would he, in the madness of his
despair, wish to turn away forever from the Grail and close
his eyes to it? He would fain do so in order to die. But -- he himself was
appointed Guardian of the Grail; and it was no blind,
superficial power which appointed him, -- no! It was because he was so worthy,
because there was no one who knew the Grail's miraculous
power as profoundly and as intimately as he knew it, just as his whole soul now
years, again and again, to behold the vision that destroys him in the very act of
worship, vouchsafing both heavenly salvation and eternal damnation!
[Concerning the Grail Wagner writes:]
I feel a very real admiration and sense of rapture at
this splendid feature of Christian mythogenesis, which invented the most profound
symbol that could ever have been invented as the content of the physical-spiritual
kernel of any religion. Who does not shudder with a sense of the most touching and
sublime emotion to hear that this same goblet, from which the Saviour drank as a
last farewell to His disciples and in which the Redeemer's indestructible blood was
caught and preserved, still exists, and that he who is pure in heart is destined to
behold it and worship it himself. Incomparable! And then the double significance of
this one vessel which also served as a chalice at the Last Supper, without doubt the most beautiful sacrament of
Christian worship! Whence, also, the legend that the Grail
(Sang Réal, whence San(ct) Gral) alone sustains the pious knights, vouchsafing them
food and drink for their repasts.
Concerning Parzival Wagner writes
in the same letter:
letter of 1 August 1860 describes the origin of the
Kundry-figure in its mysterious
transformations, which were animated by the Buddha-drama and
the rebirth teachings connected with it:
Parzival has again been stirring within me a
good deal; I can see more and more in it, and with ever-increasing clarity; one
day, when everything has matured within me, it will be an unprecedented pleasure to
complete this poem. But many a long year may pass before then! And I should like to
be satisfied for once with the poem alone. I shall keep my distance from it as long
as I can, and occupy myself with it only when it forces itself upon my
attention. This strange creative process will then allow me to forget just how
wretched I am.- Shall I prattle on about this? Did I not tell you once before that
the fabulously wild messenger of the Grail is to be one and the same person as the enchantress of the
second act. Since this dawned on me, almost everything else about the subject has
become clear to me. This strangely horrifying creature who, slave-like, serves the
Knights of the Grail with untiring eagerness, who
carries out the most unheard-of tasks, and who lies in a corner waiting only until
such time as she is given some unusual and arduous task to perform - and who at
times disappears completely, no one knows how or where?- Then all at once we meet
her again, fearfully tired, wretched, pale and an object of horror; but once again
untiring in serving the Holy Grail with dog-like devotion,
while all the time revealing a secret contempt for its knights; her eye seems
always to be seeking the right one,- and she has already deceived herself once -
but did not find him. But not even she herself knows what she is searching for: it
is purely instinctive.-
Then Parzival, the foolish lad, arrives in the land, she cannot avert her
eyes from him; strange are the things that must go on inside her; she does not know
it, but she clings to him. He is appalled - but he, too, feels drawn to her; he
understands nothing. (Here it is a question of the poet having to invent
everything!) Only the matter of execution can say anything here! - But you can gain
an idea of what I mean if you listen to the way that Brünnhilde listened to Wotan.
- This woman suffers unspeakable restlessness and excitement; the old esquire had
noticed this on previous occasions, each time that she had shortly afterwards
disappeared. This time she is in the tensest possible state. What is going on
inside her? Is she appalled at the thought of renewed flight, does she long to be
freed from it? Does she hope - for an end to it all? What hopes does she have of
Parzival? Clearly she attaches
unprecedented importance to him! - But all is gloomy and vague; no knowledge, only
instinct and dusky twilight?- Cowering in a corner, she witnesses Anfortas's agonized scene; she gazes with a
strangely inquisitive look (sphinx-like) at Parzival. He, too, is - stupid, understands nothing, stares in
amazement - says nothing. He is driven out. The messenger
of the Grail sinks to the ground with a shriek; she then
disappears. (She is forced to wander again.) Now can you guess who this wonderfully
enchanting woman is, whom Parzifal
[sic] finds in the strange castle where his chivalrous spirit leads him? Guess what
happens here and how it all turns out. I shall say no more today!-
these communications it appears that the scenerio of the Zürich draft was already
quite developed and that it had much in common with the later poem, whilst in other
elements it stayed closer to Wolfram's Parzival.
The three main figures were [by 1860] already present: Amfortas, Parzival, Kundry. In the
Zürich draft Kundry as Grail messenger, in the sense that term is used by Wolfram, attends the communion celebration already in the first
act, at the same time with Parzival,
the stupid one. In the later poem [and in the 1865 Prose Draft] she first (in
attendance on Parzival) enters the
temple of the Grail, from which she was excluded as heathen
8 before, only after her baptism in the third act. As an old squire Gurnemanz has already appeared. On the other
hand there is still no reference to Klingsor. As in Wolfram, at this stage it is
the spear of a rival in a love-adventure that causes the wound of the Amfortas. The Holy spear,
which is the lance with which Longinus wounded the Saviour in the side and which is
kept beside the Grail as a relic, does not yet appear in the
story. Between the wound of the king and that of the Saviour, however, a mystical
connection had already been established.
The author then goes on to consider the 1865 Munich Prose Draft. The
reader might prefer to read it here.
A translation into English (or at least an
approximation to English) can be found in Wm. Ashton Ellis' edition of the
, volume 3, pages 231-233.
Here Dr. Golther explicitly assumes
that the 1857 draft closely followed Wolfram. He does not present any arguments to
support this assumption. He implicitly assumes
that no other source
material (whether of recent acquaintance or, like Wolfram, remembered from his
Dresden years) was influencing Wagner on that spring morning in 1857.
Footnote 3: Parzival
Book 9, verse 491, 6-9:
Footnote 4: Parzival
Brumbâne ist genant ein sê:
dâ treit mann ûf durch süezen luft,
durch sîner sûren wunden gruft.
Brumbane the lake is called:
where he finds fragrant breezes,
to dispel the stench of his wound.
Book 6, verse 318,
Footnote 5: Parzival
ich weiz vier küneginne
unt vier hundert juncfrouwen,
die man gerne möhte schouwen.
ze Schastel marveil die sint:
al âventiure ist ein wint,
wan die man dâ bezalen mac,
hôher minne wert bejac.
al hab ich der reise pîn,
ich wil doch hînte drûffe sîn.
I know of four queens
and four hundred maidens,
who are a delight to see.
They dwell in Castle Marvel:
all adventures are in vain,
compared to what one might win there,
a noble prize of highest love.
Although it will be a hard journey,
I intend to be there tonight.
Book 6, verse 334,
doch sagter mir vier vrouwen namn,
die dâ krônebære sint.
zwuo sint alt, zwuo sint noch kint.
der heizet einiu Itonjê,
diu ander heizet Cundrîê,
diu dritte heizt Arnîve,
diu vierde Sangîve.
So he named me four ladies,
who are entitled to wear crowns.
Two of them old, two still children.
Of these, one is called Itonje,
the second is named Cundrie,
the third is called Arnive,
the fourth Sangive.
The Cundrie mentioned here is "sweet Cundrie", sister of Gawain, and Itonje
is their younger sister. Queen Sangive is their mother. Queen Arnive is the mother
of King Arthur (the equivalent of Malory's Igraine).
Footnote 6: Parzival
Book 3, verse 140, 15-20:
Footnote 7: Parzival
ir rôter munt sprach sunder twâl
«deiswâr du heizest Parzivâl.
der nam ist rehte enmitten durch.
grôz liebe ier solch herzen furch
mit dîner muoter triuwe:
dîn vater liez ir riuwe».
She of the red lips spoke thus:
"You are indeed Parzival.
Your name means pierced-through-middle.
Such great love broke the heart
of your faithful mother:
your father left her sorrow."
Book 6, verse 315,
gunêrt sî iwer liehter schîn
und iwer manlîchen lide.
het ich suone oder vride,
diu wærn iu beidiu tiure.
A curse on your fair looks
and on your manly limbs.
Had I peace and joy to give,
you would go begging for them!
An alternative reading is that
has been excluded from the
temple as a woman
. The temple of the Grail
male preserve, in which a community of men guard the feminine symbol of the
, and where masculine values prevail. Parsifal as the
admits the woman and by doing
so restores balance to the community.