Georg Friedrich Händel

Acis and Galatea

A Masque

Libretto von John Gay

Uraufführung: 1721, Cannons Castle, London

Actors

Acis
Galatea
Damon
Polypheme
Chorus

Act I.

CHORUS.
O the pleasure of the plains!
Happy nymphs and happy swains!
Harmless, merry, free and gay,
Dance and sport the hours away.
For us the zephyr blows,
For us distils the dew,
For us unfolds the rose,
And flowers display their hue.
For us the winter's rain,
For us the summer's shine,
Spring swells for us the grain,
And autumn bleeds the vine.
GALATEA.
Ye verdant plains, and woody mountains,
Purling streams, and bubbling fountains,
Ye painted glories of the field,
Vain are the pleasures which ye yield.
Too thin the shadow of the grove,
Too faint the gales to cool my love.

Air.

Hush ye pretty warbling quire;
Your thrilling strains
Awake my pains,
And kindle fierce desire.
Cease your strains, and take your flight,
Bring back my Acis to my sight.

Air.

ACIS.
Where shall I seek the charming fair?
Direct the way kind genius of the mountains;
O tell me if you saw my dear,
Seeks she the groves, or bathes in crystal fountains.
DAMON.
Stay, shepherd, stay,
See how thy flocks in yonder valley stray;
What means this melancholy air?
No more thy tuneful pipe we hear.

Air.

Shepherd! what art thou pursuing?
Heedless running to thy ruin,
Share our joy, our pleasure share:
Leave thy passion till to-morrow,
Let the day be free from sorrow,
Free from love, and free from care.
ACIS.
Lo! here my love!
Turn, Galatea, hither turn thine eyes,
See at thy feet the longing Acis lies.

Air.

Love in her eyes fits playing,
And sheds delicious death;
Love on her lips is straying,
And warbling in her breath.
Love on her breast fits panting,
And swells with soft desire;
No grace, no charm is wanting
To set the heart on fire.
GALATEA.
O didst thou know the pains of absent love,
Acis would ne'er from Galatea rove.

Air.

As when the dove
Laments her love,
All on the naked spray;
When he returns,
No more she mourns,
But loves the live-long day.
Billing, cooing,
Panting, wooing,
Melting murmurs fill the grove,
Melting murmurs, lasting love.

Duet and Chorus.

ACIS AND GALATEA.
Happy we
What joys I feel, what charms I see.
Of all youths thou dearest boy;
Of all nymphs thou brightest fair,
Thou all my bliss, thou all my joy.
Act II.
CHORUS.
Wretched lovers! fate has past
This sad decree, no joy shall last:
Wretched lovers, quit your dream,
Behold the monster Polypheme:
See what ample strides he takes,
The mountain nods, the forest shakes,
The waves run frighted to the shores,
Hark! how the thund'ring giant roars.
POLYPHEME.
I rage, I melt, I burn,
The feeble god has stabb'd me to the heart,
Thou trusty pine, prop of my godlike steps,
I lay thee by.
Bring me an hundred reeds, of decent growth,
To make a pipe for my capacious mouth,
In soft enchanting accents let me breathe,
Sweet Galatea's beauty, and my love.

Air.

O ruddier than the cherry,
O sweeter than the berry,
O nymph more bright,
Than moon-shine night,
Like kidlings blythe and merry;
Ripe as the melting cluster,
No lilly has such lustre,
Yet hard to tame,
As raging flame,
And fierce as storms that bluster.
POLYPHEME.
Whither fairest art thou running,
Still my warm embraces shunning.
GALATEA.
The lion calls not to his prey,
Nor bids the wolf the lambkin stay.
POLYPHEME.
Thee, Polyphemus, great as Jove,
Calls to empire, and to love;
To his palace in the rock,
To his dairy, to his flock,
To the grape of purple hue,
To the plumb of glossy blue,
Wildings which expecting stand,
Proud to be gather'd by thy hand.
GALATEA.
Of infant limbs to make my food,
And swill full draughts of human blood;
Go monster, bid some other guest,
I loath the host, I loath the feast.

Air.

POLYPHEME.
Cease to beauty to be suing,
Ever whining love disdaining;
Let the brave their aims pursuing,
Still be conquering not complaining.

Air.

DAMON.
Would you gain the tender creature,
Softly, gently, kindly, treat her,
Suffering is the lover's part;
Beauty by constraint possessing,
You enjoy but half the blessing,
Lifeless charms without the heart.
ACIS.
His hideous love provokes my rage,
Weak as I am, I must engage.
Inspir'd by thy victorious charms,
The god of love will lend his arms.

Air.

Love sounds the alarm, and fear is flying,
When beauty's the prize, what mortal fears dying;
In defence of my treasure
I'd bleed at each vein,
Without her no pleasure,
For life is a pain.

Air.

DAMON.
Consider fond shepherd how fleeting the pleasure,
That flatters our hope in pursuit of the fair;
The joys that attend it by moments we measure,
But life is too little to measure our care.
GALATEA.
Cease, O cease thou gentle youth,
Trust my constancy and truth;
Trust my truth, and powers above,
The powers propitious still to love.

Trio.

ACIS.
The flocks shall leave the mountains,
The woods the turtle dove,
GALATEA.
The nymphs forsake the fountains,
E'er I forsake my love.
POLYPHEME.
Torture, fury, rage, despair,
I cannot, cannot bear.
ACIS.
Not show'rs to larks so pleasing,
Not sunshine to the bee,
GALATEA.
Not sleep to toil so easing,
As those dear smiles to me.
POLYPHEME.
Fly swift thou massy ruin fly!
Die, presumptuous Acis, die.
ACIS.
Help, Galatea, help ye parent-gods,
And take me dying to your deep abodes.
CHORUS.
Mourn all ye muses, weep ye swains,
Tune, tune your reeds to doleful strains,
Groans, cries, and howlings, fill the neighbouring shore,
For ah! the gentle Acis is no more.

Air.

GALATEA.
Must I my Acis still bemoan,
Inglorious crush'd beneath that stone.
CHORUS.
Cease Galatea, cease to grieve,
Bewail not whom you can't relieve.
GALATEA.
Must the lovely charming youth,
Die for his constancy and truth?
Say what comfort can you find,
For dark despair o'erclouds my mind.
CHORUS.
Call forth thy pow'r, employ thy art,
The goddess soon can heal the smart;
To kindred gods the youth return,
Thro' verdant plains to roll his urn.
GALATEA.
'Tis done; thus I exert my pow'r divine,
Be thou immortal tho' thou art not mine.

Air.

GALATEA.
Heart the seat of soft delight,
Be thou now a fountain bright;
Purple be no more thy blood,
Glide thou like a crystal flood.
Rock, thy hollow womb disclose;
The bubbling fountain, lo! it flows.
Thro' the plains he joys to rove,
Murm'ring still his gentle love.
CHORUS.
Galatea dry thy tears,
Acis now a god appears;
See how he rears him from his bed,
See the wreath, that binds his head.
Hail thou gentle murm'ring stream,
Shepherd's pleasure, muse's theme.
Thro' the plain still joy to rove,
Murm'ring still thy gentle love.

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