Saturday, May 07, 2016

Tannhauser and Venus

"The legend of Tannhauser is that he was riding through Hoesel Vale, on his way to Wartburg, when, as he was passing a cliff he saw a female figure of unearthly beauty, whom he recognized as Venus. She spoke to him enchanting words, strains of sweetest music meanwhile filling the air, a roseate light glowing around and charming nymphs scattering roses at her feet. He left his horse and followed the charmer, at the tread of whose feet flowers sprang up, till he entered a mountain cave and found himself in the palace of Venus. Here he passed seven years in revelry and debauchery, surrounded by all the pleasure and magnificence of the heathen goddess' home. 
Finally he was filled with satiety and loathing, and longed for the blue sky and fresh breezes of the outside world. In vain he besought from Venus permission to depart. In his despondency he called upon the Virgin Mary, and a passage opened to him, and he stood once more upon the earth. He delighted in all the beauties of rural nature around him. Then the tones of the church bell fell upon his ear so long used to Bacchanal songs, and he hastened to make his confession. The priest was horror struck at the recital of his foul crimes, and refuse him absolution. He went from one to another to seek relief till he came to the Pope himself. The Pope listened to his confession of appalling guilt and earnest prayer for absolution. He thrust the penitent indignantly away, exclaiming, "Guilt such as thine can never, never, be remitted. Sooner shall this staff in my hand grow green and blossom, than that God should pardon thee."

  Tannhauser, disheartened, decided to return to the only asylum that would receive him. Three days after his departure the Pope discovered that his staff had burst into leaves and flowers. He hastened to send messengers after the penitent with his blessing. They could only discover that a weary man had just entered the Hoesel Vale." 

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