October 19th, 2006

Pretender/Terribilis

"restless, quietless, I wander up and down"

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Today's text was inspired by a 1513 engraving by Albert Durer depicting a knight with the Devil and Death (see a picture here). In 1815, Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué (the author of The Magic Ring) wrote the Gothic story "Sintram and His Companions" about this knight and his two pursuers. Here is an excerpt that describes how Sintram meets one of his soon-to-be companions:

He had not ridden far, in company with his old attendant, when he heard a strange indistinct sound proceeding from a neighbouring cleft in the rock; it was partly like the clapper of a small mill, but mingled with that were hollow groans and other tones of distress. Thither they turned their horses, and a wonderful sight showed itself to them.

A tall man, deadly pale, in a pilgrim's garb, was striving with violent though unsuccessful efforts, to work his way out of the snow and to climb up the mountain; and thereby a quantity of bones, which were hanging loosely all about his garments, rattled one against the other, and caused the mysterious sound already mentioned. Rolf, much terrified, crossed himself, while the bold Sintram called out to the stranger, "What art thou doing there? Give an account of thy solitary labours."

"I live in death," replied that other one with a fearful grin.

"Whose are those bones on thy clothes?"

"They are relics, young sir."

"Art thou a pilgrim?"

"Restless, quietless, I wander up and down."

"Thou must not perish here in the snow before my eyes."

"That I will not."


- from "Sintram and His Companions" by the Baron de la Motte Fouqué

Read "Sintram and His Companions" at Project Gutenberg.
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