In Heaven. The LORD on His throne, surrounded with glory. A host of ANGELS kneeling before him. The FOUR ARCHANGELS stand by the throne. There shines a great radiance.
THE CHOIR OF ANGELS
Glory and praise to God on high eternal,
Let earth and heaven laud the majesty
Of Him Who hath called all things into being,
And on Whose will depends their destiny.
He the whole sum of might, and bliss and knowledge,
Our part but His great shadow on us thrown,
Praise Him Who in His boundless mercy grants us
A measure of that light which is His own.
The everlasting thought issues incarnate,
The high task of creation is complete,
The Lord awaits from every creature breathing
A worthy tribute at His holy feet.
The task is done; the Maker rests. And lo!
The engine turns. A million years shall flow,
Ere round its axle shall the wheel run slow,
And a new cog be needed. Up, away,
Spirits who guard my world, rest not nor stay,
Rush on your timeless race with pinions fleet,
And let me once again delight to see
Your whirring wings in flight beneath my feet.
The Guardian Spirits of the stars, driving before them spheres, constellations and comets of diverse greatness and colour, race away from before the throne. The music of the spheres is heard as a murmur.
THE CHOIR OF ANGELS
See how proudly whirls your planet,
Confident in flaming glory,
Yet but the unwitting servant
Of a dim, far constellation.
Lo, this little star that glimmers,
Seems a pale lamp, yet the vast world
Of a myriad creation.
Two spheres strive against each other,
Rush together, fly asunder,
Yet a wondrous brake the combat,
Guiding both along their orbit.
One speeds past in roaring thunder,
And the distant gazer shudders,
Yet a million on that mighty
Star find peace and joy abundant.
See how modest shines the destined
Star of love. To mankind ever
May the guiding hand preserve it
An eternal consolation.
There are worlds born into being,
Here the tomb of worlds that perish;
To the vain a solemn warning,
To despairing souls a promise.
Swiftly speeds the fearful comet
Raging through the troubled heaven,
Yet the Lord’s command directs it
On its endless curve revolving.
Come, beloved, youthful spirit,
With thy orb that ever changes,
Wearing now the cloak of sadness,
Now of joy, now white, now verdant,
Come, receive high heaven’s blessing.
Onward, onward, ne’er despairing.
Mighty powers shall strive together
In thy narrow boundaries wrestling.
Fair and foul, and tears and laughter,
Spring and winter shall possess thee,
Light and shade shall come upon thee,
The Lord’s favour and His anger.
The Guardian Spirits of the stars withdraw.
THE ARCHANGEL GABRIEL
Thou that infinite space hath measured,
Framing matter in void primaeval,
And the depth and the height hath called
With Thy word alone into being,
Hail to Thee, Mind Eternal.
THE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL
Thou, uniting the ever-changing,
With the changeless, hath time created,
And eternity, formed of mankind
Single members and mighty nations,
Hail to Thee, Strength Eternal.
THE ARCHANGEL RAPHAEL
Thou hast compassed all things with glory.
Raised the body to conscious knowledge;
Thou hast made the world a partaker
Of Thy wisdom divine, eternal.
Hail to Thee ever, Goodness.
Prostrates himself. Pause.
Thou, Lucifer, art silent. In thy pride
Thou standest confident. Hast thou no word
Of praise? Doth my creation please thee not?
What should then please me? That Thou hast endued
A little dust with diverse qualities,
Which, ere they shewed themselves, Thou hadst perchance
Not felt, or if Thou hadst, Thou couldst not change;
That a few spheres this way or that revolve,
That one attracts another or repels,
That in a few worms dawns a consciousness,
Till all be fulfilled and till all grow cold
And only indistinguishable dust remain?
Why, man too, almost, if he should but learn,
Might in his kitchen seethe as good a broth,
In Thy great kitchen Thou hast placed man
And seest, indulgent, how he spoils the food,
A very bungler, thinks himself a god.
But if he prove a waster, and shall mar
What Thou Thyself hast cooked, then shall flame forth
Thy wrath, too late; yet what couldest Thou hope
From a vain dabbler else than foolishness?
What purpose doth thy whole creation serve?
Thou hast a poem written to Thy praise,
And placed the record in a bad machine,
And art not wearied yet eternally
That the song rings unchanging in thine ears.
Is such a plaything worthy of ripe age
On which a child alone could set its heart,
A spark of life within a little clay
Aping its Lord, a wretched counterfeit,
No image of its Master; Liberty
Striving with Fate, and Fate with Liberty,
And no resolving chord of harmony?
Thy part is to pay homage, not to judge.
The fruit of mine own nature, nought beside
Can I give Thee;
pointing to the angels
this abject band may give
Thee praise enough, and it beseems them so.
For Thou has formed them as the light the shade,
But I live ageless from eternity.
Ah, insolent, where was thy realm, thy might,
Before primaeval matter first was born?
That I might peradventure ask of Thee.
Before time was I purpose. That which now
Is perfected, lived in my thought before.
And hast Thou not felt in Thy consciousness
A void, a barrier to all that is,
That yet through it compelled Thee to create?
That barrier was called Lucifer,
The ancient spirit of age-old denial.
Thou hast prevailed, for so my fate is set
That in my conflict I should ever fall,
Yet rise again to fight with strength renewed.
Thou hast the substance formed; the gain is mine.
For there beside life, death stands; grief by joy,
The shadow by the light, despair by hope,
And where Thou art, there I am, everywhere;
And he who knows Thee, shall he homage pay?
Rebellious spirit, forth from me, begone!
I could destroy thee, yet, I will not so.
Fight on amid the mire, outcast, abhorred,
A homeless exile from the spirit host,
And may this thought eternally torment
The desolation of thy heart: in vain
The fetters thou dost shake, thou can’st not win
The victory in battle with the Lord.
Thou can’st not me so lightly cast aside,
Like some poor paltry tool grown valueless.
For we both have created, and I claim
THE LORD with scorn
Then as thou willest, let it be.
Look on the earth. Two slender trees among
The trees of Eden, in the garden’s midst
I curse. Henceforth they are thine, Lucifer.
Thou measurest with niggard hands. Thou art
A great Lord, and an inch sufficeth me.
Where the eternal ‘Nay’ his foot shall set,
Thy world shall at his treading crumble yet.
THE CHOIR OF ANGELS
Away, accursed from before the Throne,
Hail to the Lawgiver, our God alone.
In Paradise. In the centre the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Eternal Life. ADAM and EVE enter. Animals of various kinds surround them in calm trust and without fear. Through the open door of heaven shines the glory, and the soft music of angelic choirs is heard. Sunshine.
Ah life, ah life, how sweet, how beautiful.
And to be lord and master over all!
To feel that we are cared for, and that God
Only our simple thanks would have us give
For all the blessings He hath given us.
Thy nature is to lean on others, Eve.
But I grow thirsty: see how temptingly
This fruit hangs from the bough.
I’ll pluck for thee.
THE VOICE OF THE LORD
Stay, Adam, stay! The whole world gave
I thee, But touch not these two trees, touch not, touch not!
Another spirit guards their tempting fruit,
And he who eats thereof shall die the death.
There, on the vine, the purple clusters hang,
And yonder, cooling shade may yield thee rest
Where the noon glows in burning radiance.
A strange command, but yet a solemn one.
Why is it that these two trees fairer are
Than others? Why are they forbidden us?
The sky, why is it blue? Why green the grove?
It is enough they are so. Let us bow
To the command. Come, follow after me.
They rest in an arbour.
Lean on my breast, and let me cool thy brow.
A great gust of wind. LUCIFER appears amidst the leaves.
Hark, Eve! What is that sound? I never heard
Its like. As though some strange and evil force
Had broken forth on us.
I am afraid.
The music of the Heaven, too, has ceased.
It seems I hear it in thy bosom yet.
If there above the light is veiled with cloud,
I find it, Adam, in thine eyes below;
And where else should I find it save in thee,
Since thy fierce longing called me into life,
As when the lordly sun, proud in his strength,
Lest in the universe he stand alone,
Paints his own likeness on the water’s breast,
And dallies with it, overjoyed to think
He has a comrade, and forgets it is
Nought but a pale reflection of his fire,
That would with his own glory pass away.
Speak not in this wise: make me not ashamed.
What is the voice, if none can understand?
What is the light, if it illumine not?
What should I be, if I found not in thee,
As finds a voice its echo, or the light
The bloom it nurtures, myself fairer grown.
In thee in whom my own self I may love?
Why do I hearken to this tender play?
I will not look, for else such shame it were
That cold and calculating intellect
Should gaze with envy on their childish hearts.
A bird begins to sing on a bough near-by.
Hark, Adam! Tell me, dost thou understand
This little merry love song trilling forth?
I listened to the babbling of the stream,
And as I think it sang the same sweet song.
What strange and wondrous harmony is this,
A single meaning in a thousand tongues.
Why do I thus delay? On, straightway to the task.
I swore destruction and I must destroy.
And yet now do I stand, and hesitate:
Knowledge, ambition: Weapons that beguile:
Yet fight I not anew with them, in vain
Against that strength which guards them, that which keeps
Their souls from languor, faintness and despair,
Raising the fallen once again—the heart?
But why this brooding—who dares, gains the fight.
A new blast of wind. LUCIFER appears before the terrified pair. The glory is veiled. LUCIFER laughs.
Why are ye so afraid?
EVE starts to flee.
Let mine eyes look upon thy loveliness.
EVE stays and slowly gathers courage.
The pattern of this excellence shall be
A million times renewed.
Dost thou fear me,
I fear thee, miserable one!
A worthy ancestor of the proud race
Hail, brother spirit!
Who art thou?
Dost thou come from beneath or from above?
As thou wilt have it. ’Tis the same to us.
I knew not there were others of our kind.
Ah! There are many things thou knowest not,
And thou shalt not know. Hath the Ancient then,
Created thee from dust for thee to share
The vast and mighty universe with him?
Thou praisest him and he maintaineth thee,
Telleth thee what to take and what to shun,
And guardeth thee as he would guard a sheep.
Thou has no need of thought or Consciousness.
Of Consciousness? Am I not conscious then?
Do I not feel the blessed light of day,
And the delight of knowing that I live,
And all the boundless favour of my God,
Who of this earth hath made me overlord?
So might this little maggot also feel
That eats the fruit before thou taste thereof;
So might the eagle swooping on his prey.
What renders thee more noble then than these?
A little spark, a light that dawns in you,
The stir of an immeasurable force,
Like to the single wavelets of a brook
That glitter for a second, and fall back
Into the grey depth of their common bed.
Yea, there may well be, one thing, Consciousness,
Yet stiff and numb in thy unwitting heart,
Maturity would give, thee, trust to stand
In thine own strength, to choose betwixt the Good
And Evil, that thou should’st command thy fate,
And free thee from the care of Providence.
Yet, peradventure, it were best for thee
In the warm shelter of thy little world
To increase, like the worm, and live thy life
Unknowingly, until thy days shall end.
Contentment in our trust doth bring great ease:
Noble, but hard it is, to stand alone.
Thou speakest great things, and my head grows faint.
I listen to thy words with eagerness.
Thou tellest of things new and beautiful.
Yet knowledge only were not strong enough,
And for the mind, its great works to achieve,
Knowledge must join with immortality.
What can he do who lives but for a day?
Knowledge and life lie in these two trees hid.
And he who formed them has forbidden them.
Of this, if thou taste, thou shalt know, as God;
Of that, if thou taste, thou shalt e’er be young.
How harsh is our Creator, and how stern.
But if thou dost deceive us?
The glory shines faintly.
THE HEAVENLY CHOIR
Woe to thee,
Woe to thee, World, Age Old Denial tempst!
THE VOICE OF THE LORD
Oh man beware!
What is that voice again?
The wind that shakes the branches.
Sun, wind and rain
Help not in vain
Man’s race to gain.
A blast of wind; the glory is veiled.
Mine are these two trees, mine!
Who art thou then?
Since thou art like to us to look upon.
See how the eagle soars amid the clouds,
Look on the mole that blindly turns the soil,
Each has its own horizon, and the land
Of spirits lies far, beyond thy sight.
Man is the noblest thing to thee, a man.
So to a dog the highest is a dog.
And he would honour thee if he should greet
Thee comrade-wise. But as thou lookest down
Upon a dog, and higher far than he,
Standest above him, like his destiny,
And dealest him a blessing or a curse,
As if a god, so, on the race of man
Look down the proud and mighty spirit host.
And art thou of that host a member then?
Yea, mightiest among that mighty throng,
I stood in Heaven beside the throne of God
And in His glory once I held my part.
Why did’st thou not remain in Heaven’s light,
Why hast thou come down to our realm of earth?
It wearied me to take the second place,
To live a life unchanged, monotonous,
To hearken to the childish minstrelsy
Of angel choirs that praise unceasingly
And nothing hold as bad. Conflict, discord,
These would I have, that new force bring to birth,
New worlds create, where in itself the soul
Can great be, where the bold may join with me.
If we should choose the course God hath not set
He hath declared that he would punish us.
Why should he punish? For if he hath fixed
The way that he would have us follow, so
He hath ordained it, that no sinful lure
Should draw us otherwhere; why hath he set
The path athwart a giddy yawning gulf
To doom us to destruction? If, likewise,
Sin hath a place in the eternal plan,
As storm amid the days of sunlit warmth,
Who would the angry storm more guilty deem
Than the life-giving brightness of the sun?
Lo, now appears the first philosopher.
Fair sister, many shall succeed to thee
And argue in a million ways anew,
And many shall go mad with reasoning
And many shall turn back afraid; not one
Shall reach their haven. Let us leave aside
This speculation. For to everything
So many facets are there, that should we
Strive to find out the nature of this all
We should know less than when we first began
And never seize the hour to act and dare,
For speculation stifles bold resolve.
Then will I pluck a fruit from this fair tree.
God’s curse lies on it.
Yet reach forth thine hand.
Come on us what may come. Let us be wise
And know all things, as God.
First EVE and then ADAM taste of the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.
But let us too
Be ever young.
Haste, hither, hither come.
This is the tree of immortality.
He leads them to the second tree. A CHERUB with a flaming sword stands in their way.
Hence, hence sinners, hence, away!
THE VOICE OF THE LORD
Adam, Adam, thou hast forsaken me.
And I leave thee; see what thou dost alone.
Believe it not.
’Tis but the shudder of awakening. Hence,
Hence, Eve, no matter whither, let us go.
This place is alien and desolate.
THE CHOIR OF ANGELS
Ah, weep ye, angels, joy is fled, and mirth.
Falsehood prevails, and hath destroyed the earth.
A rich landscape outside Paradise. A little rough hut. ADAM is driving stakes into the ground to make a fence. EVE is making an arbour. LUCIFER.
This place is mine. Instead of the great world
This plot shall be my home, my own domain.
I guard it from the prowling beasts of prey
And have it yield me fruit in harvest time.
I build a shady arbour, like the first
In that fair garden, for I would bring back
The lost delight of Eden.
Ah, great things
Ye speak of. Family, possession, these
Shall be twin levers that shall move the world,
All weal and woe shall from these twain be born,
Twin forces, these shall grow unceasingly
Till nations rise, and trade and commerce come,
Twain parents of all great and noble things,
Twain parents who their offspring shall devour.
Thou speakest riddles. Thou didst promise me
Knowledge, and I renounced the happiness
Of trust instinctive, that I might be great.
What have I gained?
Dost thou not feel it, then?
I feel that as God cast me off from Him,
And thrust me out with empty hands to roam
The waste, I left God, too. I have, myself
Become my own god, and what I attain,
Is mine, and fitly. This, my strength and pride.
Vain puppet, that would mock at Heaven now;
Wilt thou so bold be when the lightning glares?
And I am proud in this one thought alone
That I shall be the mother of the world.
A glorious ideal of woman’s heart
The curse of sinners to perpetuate.
What owe I God? Existence, nought beside.
Life, to be worth the burden ’tis to live,
Must be the recompense of weary toil.
The pleasure that a draught of water gives
I must earn thirsty in the heat of noon.
The honey of a kiss is bought with that
Which follows on the kiss—despondency.
And if the bonds of thankfulness are loosed
And fallen from me, if I freedom have
To build my destiny, or cast it down,
Stretching with groping fingers towards my goal,
There was no need, it may be, of thy help,
For this I could have done by mine own strength.
Thou hast not freed me from the heavy chains
Which bind my straining body to the earth.
I feel a bond, no stronger than a hair,
How it be named, I know not, that prevents
My longing soul from soaring proud and free.
See, if I leapt, my body would fall back,
If what the distance hides I strove to seek,
My eyes and ears their service would deny,
And if imagination raises me
To higher spheres, then hunger drags me down
An abject creature to the earth again.
Stronger than I the bond that fetters thee.
Ah, then thou art a spirit weak indeed:
This spider’s web unseen, this thing of nought
Which ten score thousand creatures would not mark,
For though they struggle, taken in its net,
They yet believe they are at liberty,
This thing which only some few chosen souls perceive
Defies thee, and thou can’st not vanquish it.
And this alone hath strength to challenge me,
For ’tis a spirit, like to me. Because
It works in silence, hidden, dost thou think
It is not strong? Believe it not; that which
A world doth shatter and a world create,
Is hidden in a darkness absolute.
For who should view it would grow faint with fear.
The work of man doth sparkle and resound,
Enduring but an hour, and then is gone.
Grant me to gaze upon this hidden force,
A moment’s glance, thou know’st my heart is bold,
Which thus can sway me. For I am myself
A unity complete and separate.
‘I am.’ Vain words. Thou wert and thou shalt be.
All life is an eternal rise and fall,
Yet gaze around and see with spirit eyes.
As ADAM speaks the following lines everything becomes visible.
What stream is this that wells up ceaselessly,
Swift flowing ever upward to the height,
Then parts in twain, and with deep thunder falls
Upon the twin poles of the earth?
Which life brings to the land of snow and ice.
And these two flaming streams that roar and flow
So near, I fear lest I be swept away,
And yet I feel their quickening glow and force,
What are they? Lo, their glory makes me swoon.
What thou dost see is Magnetism named.
The earth beneath me quakes. That which before
I held as formless and immovable,
Is seething matter, irresistibly
Striving for ordered shape, and life. Lo, here
It cools to crystal, there it doth become
A tender bud. Ah, in this tumult wild,
What shall become of that self locked in me,
In which I trusted, foolish that I was,
As in a solid and enduring tool,
To serve me in my longing and intent?
Poor pampered child that sorrow and delight
Alike dost bring me, wilt thou only sink
To be a little dust, while what of thee
Remains yet, water, and thin, formless air
Which, but a while since, glowed with joy of life,
With mine own being, cloudward mounts on high
In aery vapour? Lo, my every word,
My every thought consumes a part of me.
I burn! And it may be, the baleful fire
A hidden spirit fans, that he may warm
Himself beside my ashes. Hence, dire vision, hence,
Lest I go mad. Ah, frightful ’tis to stand
In battle midst a hundred elements,
Tortured by desolation and despair.
Why did I cast away that providence
Which instinct felt, yet knew the value not
That providence, which wisdom seeks, in vain!
My heart is troubled likewise, for if thou
Shalt fight in battle with fierce beasts of prey,
And I our garden tend in weariness,
I lift my eyes, and in the whole wide world
No kinsman is there in the earth or heaven,
No friend to strengthen and protect. Not thus
Once was it in more happy days of peace.
If then so puny are your souls, forsooth,
That ye should shrink without a hand to guide,
If ye must needs be subject and obey,
Behold, I give to you a demigod
Who shall more kindly than the Ancient be.
The spirit of this earth; I know him well,
A fair and modest youth from Heaven’s choir.
Come, spirit, come straightway,
Know, thou can’st not forbear:
The everlasting Nay
Calleth, none else would dare.
Flames burst from the earth; a heavy dun cloud appears girt with a rainbow and sounding with thunder.
Who art thou, shape of fear? Not thee I called.
The genius of the earth is calm and mild.
THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT OF THE EARTH
He whom in Heaven’s choir thou heldest weak
Is in his own sphere strong and infinite.
Lo! I am here, since I must needs obey
The spirit’s word, yet know, one thing it is
To summon, but another to command.
Thou wilt fall back, if mine own form I take
And these two worms here perish, crushed and slain.
How shall man in thy haughty presence stand,
If he would pay thee homage as a god?
THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT OF THE EARTH
In water, in the clouds and in the trees,
In all things I am immanent, where’re
He gaze with strong intent and trusting heart.
He vanishes. The springs and groves are peopled with fleeting nymphs.
Ah, look on these fair faces greeting us
In smiling comradeship. No more is there
Lonely despair in desert wilderness.
For happiness is come to us in them.
They give us courage in the time of grief
And wholesome counsel in perplexity.
And nowhere better can ye counsel ask,
Who, what ye ask, already have resolved,
Than from these kindly fleeting presences
that speak in answer as ye ask of them,
And smiling gaze on him whose heart is pure,
Yet shrink appalled from the despairing soul.
These wait upon you in a hundred shapes
And ever changing in a hundred ways;
The hale form of the wise philosopher,
And the ideal of hearts forever young.
What profiteth the glitter of these shapes
That like a mirage fade as I draw near
And add one riddle more to vex my brain?
Beguile my heart no further, Lucifer.
Let me know all as thou did’st promise me.
One day thy knowledge shall prove bitterness,
And thou shalt yearn for ignorance again.
Have patience, yet. Thou knowest, thou must earn
Through weary fight a moment’s ecstasy.
Thou must through many schools pass, many times
Cherish false hope ere all things thou shalt know.
For thee of patience easy ’tis to speak
For thee before doth stretch eternity.
I have not eaten of the Tree of Life,
Time hastens and my days pass fleeting by.
All that hath life, hath equal part in life;
The hoary tree, the moth that lives a day,
Feel, love, rejoice, and perish, when each one
Its life hath led, its purpose hath fulfilled.
Not time progresseth; it is we who change;
A century the same is as a day.
Fear not, thou shalt accomplish thy desire,
But think not that man’s essence is enclosed
In this mean body formed of dust and clay.
Look on the anthill or the swarm of bees,
A thousand workers hasten to and fro,
Blindly perform their task, then pass away,
Yet the whole mass endures, a unity,
And, with a common spirit, lives and works,
Brings to accomplishment a conscious plan,
Until the end come and the whole doth cease.
’Tis true thy earthly body shall decay,
But thou shalt live on in a hundred forms,
And nothing need begin once more anew.
If thou sin, in thy son thou shalt atone,
In him thy body’s weakness shalt prolong;
What thou hast felt and learned and come to know
Shall be thy portion for a million years.
To age belongeth it to view the past:
Not thus the longing of my flaming heart,
For on my future I would gaze to know
What I must suffer and wherefore I fight.
And if then life shall be so oft renewed
I would know if my beauty shall endure.
So be it. I will lay a spell on you.
Ye shall look on the future to its end,
Viewed in the flitting phantoms of a dream.
But when ye see how foolish the intent,
How grievous is the conflict to be fought,
Lest ye be overwhelmed in grey despair,
And leave the battle, smitten to the heart,
I give to you one little shining ray,
To comfort you, that all things which ye saw
Were but illusion. Lo, this ray is hope.
LUCIFER leads ADAM and EVE into the hut. They fall asleep.
In Egypt. Before an open porch. ADAM, as Pharaoh, young, sits on a throne. LUCIFER as his minister. At a respectful distance a magnificent retinue. In the background, slaves at work on a pyramid under Overseers with whips. Bright sunshine.
My lord, thy people who would happy be
To shed their blood for thee, disquieted ask
Why doth great Pharaoh, lord of all the earth
Brood, pensive, on his throne, and take no rest.
Why dost thou sacrifice the joys of day,
The fair dream visions of cool dusky night,
And dost not to thy slave, whom it beseems,
Commit the care of thy great purposes?
Since on the whole earth all that man may find
Of glory, might and happiness is thine:
A thousand rich dominions own thee lord,
For thee alone the fragrant flowers blow,
For thee alone the fruit glows on its bough;
A thousand women sigh for love of thee;
The fair-haired beauty with her drooping eyes,
Slender and frail as some shy, fleeting nymph,
The dark enchantress, of the burning lips,
And eyes aflame with passion’s glowing fire:
All, all are thine: thy passing whim their fate;
All feel they have their life work well performed
If they have given thee a moment’s joy.
My heart finds no delight in all these things.
They come but as a due that must be paid.
I fight not for them, and I cannot thank
Myself for them. But in this mighty work
Which I do build, I deem that I have found
The path that leads to greatness which is true.
For nature at this art of man is dumb,
Which for a thousand years shall voice my name.
No earthquake, no wild storm shall cast it down.
Man has become more powerful than God.
Ah Pharaoh, lay thy hand upon thy heart,
Say, does this vision bring thee happiness?
Nay, for I feel a void, a void unnameable,
But yet I care not: bliss I did not seek,
Glory alone, and that before me shines.
But let my grief my people never know,
For should they pity, they would not adore.
How if thou shouldst that glory find to be
A foolish toy that charms but for an hour?
It cannot be.
But if it were?
I would leave life, and dying, curse the world.
Thou wilt not die, though thou shalt come to know.
Nay, with thy old success, begin anew.
The Overseers beat one of the working slaves so fiercely that he runs in anguish to the porch of Pharaoh and falls before the throne.
Mercy, great lord!
EVE, as his wife, rushes forward front the workers, and embraces her husband with passionate sobs.
Thou askest but in vain.
He understands not who hath never known
Our suffering. The cry of woe is faint,
And high the throne. Why callest thou not me,
For I will shield thee, and the blows shall fall
Upon my body.
ADAM to the Overseers who press forward and would tear her away.
Let her be. Begone!
What strange emotion steals upon my heart?
Who is this woman and what spell hath she
To draw great Pharaoh from his mighty throne
To seek her lying lowly in the dust.
Lo, this again is one of those frail threads
With which thy Lord hath compassed thee around
To mock thee, and to have thee bear in mind
Thou wert a sluggish caterpillar once,
If thou would’st spread thy wings, a butterfly.
This little thread, but mark how strong it is,
It slips from out the fingers and therefore
I cannot snap it.
ADAM descends from the throne.
See thou break it not.
For all its wounding, it is sweet to me.
But yet it ill becomes a great, wise king
To groan beneath it.
What then should I do?
A wise man can do nought else than deny
This hidden thread exists: Matter and strength
Must sweep it roughly, with a laugh away.
I cannot laugh and I cannot deny.
Thy blood, beloved, trickles from thy wounds,
See I will stanch it. Dost thou suffer sore?
My life is pain: the pain will not be long.
Ah nay, why hast thou lived till now to die
In suffering, now, when thou hast found me?
Why lives the slave? To carry stone to raise
The pyramid of Pharaoh, and to leave
His offspring for the yoke, and then to die.
A million for one!
How terrible these words from fading lips!
’Tis but the raving of a slave that dies.
But what said he?
Great Pharaoh, it is nought.
And I am satisfied to think there is
One slave the less upon this crowded earth.
One wretched slave to thee. To me the world.
Alas, beloved, who will love me now?
Not I. Forget me evermore, forget.
Lo, I will love thee. Bear the dead man hence.
They take up the corpse.
Come, lady, by my side upon the throne
Thy place shall be: for thou art queen of grace
As I am lord of strength: fate hath decreed
That we should find each other.
I know thy word ordains my destiny.
I am thy slave: yet grant a little while
For me to grieve, and then speak thy command.
No more that word. Oh, shall my power, then,
Never exceed that word, the word ‘command’?
Let it suffice if, for the present hour,
That which thou dost command grieve not my heart.
Great Pharaoh, be not jealous that I weep
In sorrow’s first regret for my dead love.
How fair he is in death, how beautiful.
Flings herself on him.
How fair in death? The dead cannot be fair.
This tranquil stillness mocks our purposes,
And smiles in pity on our vanity.
A slave who thee defieth, and hath said
‘Lo, I was stronger than thy chains, o King!’
Peace to the dead, but to the living, hail!
He cannot feel thy tear: without thy smile
I suffer torment.
They bear away the dead man. ADAM leads EVE to the throne.
Woman, come to me!
How sweet it is to rest upon thy breast.
A cry of pain from amongst the workers. EVE shudders.
Why dost thou shudder?
Dost thou not hear, then,
The people’s cry?
I had not heard before.
The music is not sweet. But pay no heed.
Kiss me, and yet again: forget the world!
Silence this wailing, let it cease forthwith.
I cannot still it. ’Tis the people’s right,
And, with the yoke, is its inheritance.
Again a moan. EVE utters a cry. ADAM rises up.
Lady, thou sufferest: and I know not how
To help thee. Through thy heart this cry of pain
Strikes like a flash of lightning on my head.
And, as I feel, the whole world cries for aid.
Oh, Pharaoh, crush me, but forgive it me,
If, when the people moan, I cannot rest.
I know full well I am thy slave. To give
Thee pleasure is the purpose of my life.
All I forget beside, greatness, despair,
Hopes, visions, and the dead, that I may smile
And yield my lips to thee. But when I hear
The people, with its million outstretched arms,
Groaning beneath the lash of hissing scourge,
As doth the smallest member feel the pain
Of the whole aching body, so I too,
A daughter of the people, in my heart
Suffer the torment of its grievous woe.
And I with thee. A million for one!
So spake the dead man too.
Pharaoh, great King,
Thy face is darkened, and I am the cause.
Drive me from thee, or teach me to grow deaf.
Thou should’st thyself a better teacher prove,
For I have learned of thee to hear this cry.
But no more will I hear it. Let the slaves
Be free. What doth the glory profit then,
Which, if a million perish, one shall gain?
Shall one be happy if a million weep,
In whom, too, breathes the breath of that one man?
Joy once, torment a million times I feel.
Pharaoh, thou art beside thyself. Lo, fate
The common herd dooms, like a beast, to turn
The mill of any sovereignty that rules;
To this end was it formed: deliver it,
It will not gain by what thou throwst away,
And will tomorrow seek another lord.
Couldest thou set thy foot upon its neck
Unless it felt the need to serve a lord,
If, in its breast it did but know itself?
Why groaneth it then, as if servitude
Caused it to suffer?
Suffering it feels,
Yet knows the reason not. For all men strive
For power; and this longing, not the love
Of man for man, the people driveth on
To follow freedom, though to consciousness
This longing wakes not; only ’tis an urge
Driving it onward to seek all such things
As shall be new, and shall repudiate
That which exists already, and therein
It hopeth to see realised the dreams
It ever cherisheth of happiness.
The people is an ocean, and no ray
Of light can pierce its depths for ever dark,
Only the wave upon its surface shines,
And, it may be, thou art that wave, o King.
And wherefore I?
Thou, or one like to thee,
In whom the instinct of the people grows
To consciousness, who to thy splendid throne
Doth force his way, the champion adored
Of freedom, while the people nought achieves,
For though his name be changed, the lord remains.
Thy logic doth an endless circle trace,
From which it doth seem, there is no escape.
There is escape. Give to a chosen few
A ring, a chain, or any other toy,
And say ‘Lo, I do raise thee from the crowd,
And dub thee noble.’ They shall deem they are,
And look upon the people with disdain,
Yet gladly brook that thou shouldst hold them mean.
Beguile me with no specious argument.
Away with servitude. Let all be free.
Proclaim it them; but hasten, so it be
Too late already if I should repent.
Speed on in thy vain pride upon thy way,
Deem that thou goest, though fate driveth thee.
LUCIFER goes out.
And let this work cease, ere it be complete,
A warning sign to him who would be great,
The riddle of our weakness and our strength.
Outside, a great cry of joy. The workmen disperse. LUCIFER returns.
Rejoice, o slave, for greatness bows to thee,
Yet think not greatness was constrained to bow.
Be comforted, beloved of my soul.
Ah, Pharaoh, what doth glory profit thee,
That glides between us like a serpent cold?
But it is great, yea great!
Away with it.
The cry of grief is dumb and troubles not
Our bliss. When thou dost lean upon my breast
What wouldst thou else?
Oh, woman, seest thou
So little and so dimly? Yet therefore
Is proud ambitious man toward thee drawn,
For only weakness can be loved by strength.
So in protecting arms the mother bears
Her little child so helpless and so frail.
Ah, Pharaoh, with this idle, witless talk
I weary thee already, it may be.
But if I be no wiser, pardon me.
Ah, strive not to be wiser, dearest love,
Of knowledge have I for myself enough,
I lean not on thy breast because thou art
Mighty and great, and wise all things to know,
For in my books I may find wisdom writ.
Speak, only speak and let me hear thy voice,
And let its music stream into my heart.
I care not what thou speakest, for who asks
What sings a little bird, yet with delight
We hearken to its liquid melody.
A flower be thou only, profitless
Yet beautiful, and therefore love I thee.
For one thing only long I in my heart,
Madly it may be, but yet grant it me,
I would upon the future boldly gaze
To know, when some few thousand years have passed,
Shall my renown endure?
While thou didst kiss,
Didst thou not feel a gentle, cooling breeze
That swept across thy face and then flew on?
A little wave of dust doth mark its flight,
That mounts a few short inches in a year,
And some few cubits in a thousand years;
Yet a few thousand years shall overwhelm
Thy pyramids, and thy great name shall be
Buried beneath a barrier of sand.
Jackals shall in thy pleasure gardens howl,
And, in the desert, dwell a servile race.
While Lucifer speaks all this becomes visible.
All this no raging storm shall bring to pass,
No shuddering upheaval of the earth,
Only a little breeze that gently plays!
LUCIFER with scorn
But yet fear not, for alone
Thy spirit perisheth, thy body stays,
A mummy, a quaint show for heedless boys
The writing faded from its wizened brow,
To show if thou of old wert slave or king.
A Mummy rises up and appears before the throne, and slowly rolls down the steps of it.
Back, foul delusion, hellish form! Begone!
Ambition is but folly, striving vain.
Ever I hear ‘A million for one!’
A million must live and live through me.
And in a free land only may they dwell.
Let the one perish if the many live,
Which maketh of its units one great whole.
Dost thou forsake me too who am thy love?
Thee, and my throne, and all things do I leave.
Lead on, lead on, to new goals, Lucifer,
Much time already have I tarried here
In this blind path.
Goes forward with a drawn sword.
O King, if thou return
With shattered hope, thy heart shall find in mine
Yea, I feel that I shall find
Thee once again, and in a nobler form,
And then thou shalt not kiss me as a slave,
But as an equal with a happy heart.
Haste not so fast: the time sufficeth thee;
And nearer than thy hopes the goal may be:
And thou shalt weep its foolishness to know,
While I shall laugh. Come, let us onward go.
In Athens. A public square with a tribune for speaking in the centre. In the foreground on one side the open porch of a temple with statues of gods, garlands, and an altar. EVE as Lucia, the wife of Miltiades, the commander of the army, with her son KIMON, accompanied by a few slaves who bear objects for sacrifice, comes before the temple. In the square people in rags are moving to and fro. A sunny morning.
Hither, come hither, dearest son, and see.
Thy father yonder in his speedy ship
Sailed forth to fight on a far, hostile land.
For there beyond, there dwells a cruel race
That threatens our fair nation’s liberty.
Come, Kimon, let us pray the mighty gods
That Heaven shall protect our people’s right
And bring thy valiant father safe again.
Why hath my father fared so far away,
This ragged cowardly people to protect,
And left his lovely wife to grieve at home?
Nay, judge thy noble father not, for God
Doth on such children lay his heavy curse.
Only a loving woman hath the right
To mourn the mighty exploits of her lord,
And shame would feel if he did not such deeds.
Thy father hath done what befits a man.
Then dost thou fear that he will vanquished be?
Nay, boy, he is a hero, and will gain
The victory; one thing I fear alone
That of himself he prove not vanquisher.
How meanest thou?
There is a mighty word
That fires men’s hearts, ambition! In the slave
It sleeps; or in his narrow soul debased,
Sinks to be crime, but, nourished with the blood
Of freedom, grows to greatness, and the pride
Of citizenship; and all noble things
Waketh to life; but if it prove too strong,
It turneth on its mother, strives with her
Until one or the other bleed to death.
If in his heart ambition should wax bold,
And he should e’er this sacred land betray,
My curse were on him. Let us pray, my son.
They withdraw into the temple. Meanwhile the square becomes more and more thronged.
FIRST VOICE FROM THE CROWD
No stirring news of warfare, it would seem
Our army hath not met the enemy.
SECOND VOICE FROM THE CROWD
And in the city all men sleep. Does none
Perchance yet form a plan that, as of old,
Must, ere it may be carried out, receive
The sanction of the sovereign people’s voice?
To this place early am I come today,
Yet have I met no client for my vote.
FIRST VOICE FROM THE CROWD
A weary life, my friends, what shall we do?
THIRD VOICE FROM THE CROWD
A little uproar would not come amiss.
Meanwhile EVE has lit the fire on the altar, washed her hands and prepared for the sacrifice to be offered. Her Attendant Maidens begin a hymn which mingles, verse by verse, with the scene that follows. The square is filled with citizens and people. Two demagogues fight for the tribune.
Away, this place is mine, if I speak not,
The country is in peril, get thee gone!
The crowd cheer.
Nay, but the State will perish if thou speak.
The crowd laugh and clap.
Base hireling, get thee gone.
No hireling thou,
For none would hire thee. Citizens, in grief
I raise my voice, for to a noble mind
Woeful it is to bring a great man low.
And yet I must, before your judgement seat,
From his triumphal chariot drag him down.
Thou knave, a good beginning dost thou make,
Go, deck with bloom the beast thou hast ordained
Away from here, begone!
VOICES FROM THE CROWD
Why do we hearken to this scoffing rogue.
They try to pull the Second Demagogue down.
Yet though my heart is sad, I needs must speak,
For greater than its general do I hold
The welfare of the people’s sovereignty.
This hungry, venal rabble that doth watch,
Like to a dog, for broken bread that from
Its master’s table falls. Ye race of cowards,
I envy not the sorry meal ye make.
VOICES FROM THE CROWD
Down with the traitor! Down with him!
They grow more violent. EVE sacrifices two doves and incense on the altar.
O holy Aphrodite, hear my prayer,
Deign to accept the scent of sacrifice;
I ask thee not for laurels for my lord,
But peace at home to cheer his valiant heart.
In the smoke of the sacrifice EROS appears, smiling. The GRACES surround him and scatter roses on him. The group of worshippers are silent in devotion.
THE ATTENDANT MAIDENS
Oh, hear her prayer.
Thy pure heart shall be
A blessing on thee.
And the Graces guard
And cherish thee.
THE ATTENDANT MAIDENS
Hail! Aphrodite, hail!
O people, hear the accusation, hear!
Miltiades the country hath betrayed.
Thou speakest falsehood; hear, o people, else
Too late shall ye repent of evil done.
FIRST VOICE FROM THE CROWD
Thou impudent deceiver, down from hence!
They pull him down into the crowd.
The flower of thy youth he doth command,
He, who has taken Lemnos at one blow,
Now, halting, waits at Paros, bought with bribes!
THIRD VOICE FROM THE CROWD
Death to him! Death!
Cry death to him, ye knaves
Or never look to me for help again.
The sacrifice ends. The Deities vanish.
What tumult sounds without? Come, see my son.
The people on a traitor sentence pass.
Advancing to the steps of the porch.
My heart doth ever tremble if I see
This hungry people judge the strong and great.
For if the noble fall into the mire,
The mob looks on with cruel joy and mocks,
As though it saw its baseness justified.
SECOND VOICE FROM THE CROWD
My master, I am hoarse, yet I would cry.
Lo, here is something that shall ease thy throat.
SECOND VOICE FROM THE CROWD
What shall I speak?
Why, cry death to the knave!
SECOND VOICE FROM THE CROWD
For whose death doth the people shout?
SECOND DEMAGOGUE stepping up to her.
For whose death else than his who stands a head
Above his fellows? That they cannot brook.
They seek to kill Miltiades! Ye gods!
And thou, Old Crispos, whom from slavery
My Lord did free, dost thou cry death to him?
I ask forgiveness, lady; one alone
May live of us two. I three children have;
And he who bids me vote supports us all.
Woe to thee, if thy fate degrades thee so.
But yet I pardon thee if thou dost starve.
But thou, Thersites, and ye all, ye all,
Who sleep in peace, content and prosperous,
Because Miltiades your enemies
Hath driven from your gates! Oh, thankless men!
Ah, lady, though it grieves me to the heart,
What can we do? It is the people’s voice,
And who would risk the loss of all he hath
In rash defiance of the raging tide?
Then I the people’s sentence do declare.
LUCIFER, as a soldier with terrified face, rashes in.
All, all is lost. The foe is at the gates.
It cannot be. Stands not our general
Victor before them?
Lo, he is the foe.
What ye do plot against him he hath learned.
And noble anger stirs within his breast.
And whilst ye prate, he comes with fire and sword.
Ye traitors, ye have brought all this on us.
VOICES FROM THE CROWD
Down with them! Long live our great general!
Woe to us, let us flee, each for himself!
Oh, all is lost!
Nay, let us homage pay
And meet him at the gates.
O ye great gods!
Grievous the judgment of thy death, my lord,
But yet more bitter ’tis thou nast deserved
The condemnation—though thy life be spared.
FIRST VOICE FROM THE CROWD
Come, seize his wife; if any harm shall come
Upon our town, she and her son shall die.
For thee, my lord, I gladly yield my life.
But let my son be spared his country’s curse.
Fear not for me, my mother, come with me.
This holy place shall shield us from all hurt.
They escape from the pursuers into the porch of the temple. Two Nymphs let fall a chain of roses behind them in front of the crowd, who thereon draw back. From without, trumpets sound, and the crowd with cries of fear disperse. The Nymphs vanish.
LUCIFER laughing, rubs his hands.
A good jest was it. Excellent it is
That when hearts break, the intellect doth laugh.
Turns towards the temple.
If but the sight of this for ever young,
Eternal beauty did disturb me not.
I shiver in this realm of mystery,
Which on the shameless casts a veil of shame,
Renders the sinner noble, destiny
Sublime makes, with the blossoms of the rose,
And with the kisses of simplicity.
Why doth my world its coming so delay,
Perverted form, and terror, doubt and fear
To put to flight this dream that raises man
When he doth faint, to rise to fight anew?
But we shall see, when death’s dark horror comes
And casts its shadow, if this tedious play
Of foolish puppets doth not reach its end.
He mingles with the Crowd.
ADAM, as Miltiades, is brought in wounded at the head of armed troops. The Crowd and the Demagogues in supplication before him.
VOICES FROM THE CROWD
Long live our general! Mercy, great lord!
What have ye done, that mercy ye implore?
What can the strong ask of the weak? ’Tis strange,
My wife comes not to greet me, nor my son,
Some evil surely hath befallen them.
Why art thou come, Miltiades, if I
No joy may feel that thou art come? My son,
Succour thy mother, for she sinks in shame,
Thy father leaveth no good name to thee.
What means this? At my feet the people fall,
My wife doth curse me, while my breast doth bleed,
Wounded in battle for my native land.
Thy country and my heart bleed more than thou.
Why comest thou with men in armour here?
Doth not such escort then befit my rank?
I come, because my grievous wound forbids
That I my office rightly may perform.
I come to yield up my authority
Into the hands of those who sent me forth,
The sovereign people, and account to it.
to the soldiers
My valiant friends! I take my leave of you,
Well have ye merited your hearth and home.
Pallas Athene, lo, I dedicate
To thee, upon thine altar, this my sword.
He has himself conducted up the steps of the temple. The soldiers disperse.
EVE throwing herself upon his neck
Where is the wife more happy than thine own?
Beloved husband, great Miltiades,
See how thy son grows like thee, and how tall
And handsome is he!
Ah, beloved ones!
Well knew I that, whate’er my father does,
Is well done.
Kimon, make me not ashamed,
His wife should have had firmer faith than thee.
My son, give to the gods thy father’s sword.
KIMON hangs the sword above the altar.
O Pallas, guard this precious sword until
The time shall come for me to seek it here.
And let the mother at this sacrifice
Twofold burn incense. Pallas, save and bless.
She sacrifices incense.
FIRST DEMAGOGUE on the tribune
Spake I not truth, that he a traitor is,
Bought by Darius? A pretence his wound,
He will not fight against the Persian host.
VOICES FROM THE CROWD
Death to him, death!
What tumult sounds without?
Miltiades, that cry is terrible!
The crowd doth call thee traitor once again.
The charge gives food for mirth, a traitor I,
The victor of the fight at Marathon?
Alas, an evil folk thou findest here!
Why tarry ye? Seize him!
The mob presses towards the temple, LUCIFER among them.
Stay in this holy place, here art thou safe!
Ah, why hast thou disbanded all thy host?
Why didst thou not destroy this haunt of crime?
This rabble doth deserve nought else than chains,
Which feels that thou wert born to be its lord,
Since thou more great and noble art than all,
And slays thee lest it fall before thy feet.
Do ye hear what this traitor’s wife doth speak?
It is the woman’s right that she protect
Her husband, though he should a sinner prove,
And how much more Miltiades, my lord,
Whose heart is pure, from such base dogs as ye.
Why doth the people’s sovereignty permit
FIRST VOICE FROM THE CROWD
How if she doth speak the truth?
Who holds to them is suspect. Shout aloud,
Ye scurvy ragged knaves, or starve to death!
VOICES FROM THE CROWD
Death to him!
Cover the boy’s eyes. My blood
He must not see; away, wife, from my breast.
Let not the lightning that the rock doth blast,
Smite thee. Alone I die—why should I live?
I mark how foolish is that liberty
Which I have ever striven to defend.
Why waver ye so long?
VOICES FROM THE CROWD
Death, death to him!
I curse this craven people not; the fault
Lies not in them, by nature are they base,
Since misery hath branded them as slaves,
And slavery hath rendered them the tools
Of murder in a few proud rebels’ hands.
And I alone was mad that I believed
That such a people needed liberty.
Thou hast thyself pronounced thine epitaph,
And that of many great ones after thee.
Lead me down hence: no longer will I claim
He causes himself to be conducted down the steps. He gives EVE tenderly into the hands of her Attendant Maidens.
I am ready, come.
Lo, speak, defend thyself; all is not lost.
My wound should sore torment me if I spake
In my defence.
Yet speak and save thyself.
A short while since the people fawned on thee.
Ah, therefore were it vain; its own disgrace
This sullen people never will forgive.
Thou art then undeceived?
Ah, truly so.
Thou seest that thou wert a nobler lord
To this besotted mob than it to thee?
It may be, yet the ruin is the same;
And fate the same is, though its name be changed.
To strive with it is idle, and no more
Will I maintain the combat. But yet why
Should any noble heart strive toward the heights?
Ah, let him live for self and pleasure seek,
With which to gratify his fleeting life,
And stagger, drunken, to the land of shades.
To new ways lead me onward, Lucifer,
Onward, that I may gaze and laugh to see
The virtues and the woes of other men,
And pleasures only for myself desire.
Thou, woman, who, it seemeth to my heart,
Once, with thy magic, in the desert set
A garden for me, if thou, of my son,
Like a good mother, make a citizen;
Mad wert thou, worthy to be laughed to scorn
By any painted prostitute who sits
Within a tavern, fired with wine and lust,
Virtue deny, with pleasure sate thyself!
On, to the scaffold, to my punishment,
Not as for some base deed, but for the cause
That noble hopes and aims possessed my soul.
Meanwhile a block is brought before the steps. LUCIFER stands beside it with an axe. ADAM bends his head.
Let him be put to death. Long live the State!
LUCIFER in a whisper to ADAM
A fine farewell. But bravest warrior,
Doth not the horror of death’s icy blast
Make thee to shudder somewhat in strange dread?
Pallas, thou hast not hearkened to my prayer.
From the temple issues the Genius of Death as a gentle-eyed youth. He approaches Adam with a reversed torch and with a wreath.
Pallas hath heard. The gods be with thee, wife.
My heart is now at peace, my Lucia.
A curse on thee, world of illusion vain!
Thou hast my triumph thwarted once again.
A curse upon thee, people brutish, mean;
Thou hast destroyed the fount of happiness.
Its blossom fresh lies withered in the dust.
Yet not so sweet was liberty to thee,
As it was grievous to my mourning heart.
Rome. An open porch with statues of the gods, vessels with fragrant incense burning in them, with a view over the Apennines. In the centre a table laid and three couches. ADAM as Sergiolus, LUCIFER as Milo, and CATULUS, all voluntuaries. EVE as Julia, HIPPIA and CLUVIA as courtesans, richly and shamelessly apparelled, are revelling. On a raised platform a gladiatorial combat is in progress, slaves stand ready to receive orders. Flute-players are playing. Twilight; later, night.
How agile and how skilled, Sergiolus,
This gladiator with his crimson band,
I wager he prove victor in the fight.
No, by great Hercules!
Why which of us believeth in the gods?
’Twere better thou shouldst swear by Julia!
So be it!
Thou hast sworn a mighty oath
Setting one idol in another’s stead.
Swearest thou by her beauty or thy love,
Or by her faithfulness to thee, perchance?
Beauty doth fade, but if it faded not,
What charms one day were wearisome the next
A woman with less grace would steal thy heart
With the enchantment of new spells unknown.
I do swear by her faithfulness to me.
Who hath upon his mistress lavished more
Ah, canst thou ever her embrace?
And if thou couldst, thou, who dost vainly yearn
For joy to which thou never canst attain,
Since in each woman thou canst only find
A single portion of the sum of bliss,
While the ideal of beauty and delight
Flees, an elusive phantom, from thy grasp,
How knowst thou if she, too, no caprice have,
No fond delusion that beguileth her?
A gladiator’s muscles torn…
Thou speakest truth, but no more, Hippia!
Why thirst we for delight as Tantalus,
If we have not the strength of Hercules
And cannot change, like Proteus, our form,
And a despised slave, his toil fulfilled,
Doth such an hour enjoy as all in vain
His master seeketh? Is it, then, the truth
That pleasure is like water, that doth bring
Joy to the faint who drinketh but a draught,
But death to him who leaps into its waves?
How fine this discourse on morality
To grace the wine cup and our lovely guests!
But do we make the wager?
If I lose,
Then Julia is thine.
And if thou win?
Thy horse is mine.
A month hence buy her back
Or I will thrust her in my lamprey pond.
How fine and plump this fish, fair Julia:
Taste it, for thou shalt fatten others soon.
And shall no ugly worm feed on thee too?
Let him who lives rejoice, or if perchance
Rejoice he cannot, let him learn to laugh.
ADAM to his gladiator
Hey, fight thy best!
CATULUS to his gladiator
Now, bravely, on to him!
Catulus’ gladiator falls and from the ground raises his fingers to beg for his life. ADAM is about to make the sign of mercy, but Catulus arrest his hand and, clenching his fingers, turns his thumb downwards towards the gladiator.
Recipe ferrum! Cowardly dog! Of slaves
I have enough still, and I will not be
A miser. Ladies, who would you begrudge
This little scene exciting; sweeter far
Are kisses, love more ardent, if there flow
A little blood.
Meanwhile his victorious opponent has killed the gladiator.
Kiss me, the horse is mine,
My Julia. Bear away this body. Ho!
Dancers, begin your merry comedy,
Enough to-day fighting.
They take away the corpse; dancers occupy the raised platform.
Come, kiss me, I can never look for long
Whilst others yield to fond embrace.
My Hippia, shall we not follow them?
But cleanse thy lip, lest there be poison there;
So, now my sweet, let us make merry too.
Why beats thy heart so fast, my Julia?
My head upon thy bosom cannot rest.
Hear ye, this madman babbles of the heart!
My dear one, see, I leave thy heart to thee,
Do what thou wilt with it, so I know not.
But let my lips ne’er lack thy kisses glow.
Ah generous! I pledge thee in this cup.
So then, ’tis well. Thy arms are soft, my love,
But let me rest in thy embrace. Ah, see,
My garland from my head slips to the ground.
to the dancing girls
Lo, what a triumph of the dancers’ art,
What glowing fire, what rhythm and what grace!
My fingers I will lay upon thine eyes,
If thou see there a charm for which I strive;
I cannot draw a word of praise from thee.
pointing to Lucifer
But look upon that bitter face. This man,
What pleasure finds he in yon lovely form,
If he can let his mistress idly dream, whilst he
Watches with mocking smile, and coldly eyes
The hundred sweet, albeit foolish things
That cast a fragrance on our happy feast.
Why truly, such a churlish face would cast
An icy gloom on all the realm of song.
He who this hour’s enchantment doth resist
And yields his soul not to the tide of joy
Is no good man and would he stayed at home.
I fear almost lest this unhappy man
Hath been already stricken by the plague
Which rages in the city.
Come, no more!
Away with these grim fancies. Friends, a song!
Who best knows how to sing a roundelay?
Of wine and love no measure
Shall ever dull our pleasure.
New fragrance rare
Each cup doth hold,
And ecstasy doth shine on us
As shines the sun on headstones grey,
With radiant gleams of gold.
Of wine and love no measure
Shall ever dull our pleasure,
Each maiden hath
New charms untold,
And ecstasy doth shine on us,
As shines the sun on headstones grey,
With radiant gleams of gold.
A good song. Cluvia, what wilt thou sing?
Hey, a mad world was it long ago,
When a lover sought to cheer her woe,
Widowed Lucrece did his suit deny,
Cold her breast, love’s pleasures did she fly,
And, resisting Cupid’s flaming dart
Plunged a dagger in her grieving heart.
The world is wiser now, rejoice we may
That in a wiser world we live to-day.
Hey, a mad world was it long ago,
Brutus would rise up to fight the foe,
Leave his lovely home, with sword and shield
Like a common soldier take the field.
Why? A ragged people to defend.
Death on bloody battlefield his end.
The world is wiser now, rejoice we may
That in a wiser world we live to-day.
Hey, a mad world was it long ago,
Ghostly fears brought hearts of heroes low,
They held holy what to us is mirth;
If such madmen now were on this earth
They should at our Roman people’s feasts
Be a show for us, and food for beasts.
The world is wiser now, rejoice we may
That in a wiser world we live to-day.
Cluvia, thou hast Hippia surpassed.
I would that I myself had made that song.
Julia, thou hast no song, why art thou sad,
When all around are gay and full of mirth?
Art thou then loath to lean upon my breast?
Ah nay; but, my Sergiolus, forgive,
If happiness make grave my countenance;
The happiness which laughs, I deem untrue.
Yea, with the sweetest moment of our joy
Is mingled an unutterable pain.
Perhaps it seems our bliss is but a flower,
So doth it seem to me.
And when I hear the music and the song,
I think not on the purport of the words,
The tide of sound doth lull me in its waves,
And then I feel I slumber in a dream,
And float upon a stream of harmony
Far back into the past, where once I played
Beneath the sunny palm-trees, innocent
In childhood’s distant days. My soul was called
Toward all things great and noble—But forgive,
’Tis but the magic of a foolish dream,
I kiss thee once again-and, lo, I wake.
Away with dance and music, I grow sick
With this eternal stream of sweet delights.
My heart already yearns for bitterness,
Wormwood in wine, for kisses, stinging wounds,
And on my head distress and heaviness.
The dancers withdraw; a cry of pain is heard from without.
What cry is that which smites upon my heart?
They do but crucify a few mad fools
Who dream of justice and of brotherhood.
And rightly so. Why stayed they not at home?
To seek their pleasure, and the world forget?
Why have they mixed in other men’s affairs?
The beggar for his brother would the rich,
Yet make the beggar rich, the rich man poor,
And he would nail the other to a cross.
Then let us laugh at misery and wealth,
And mock the plague that rages in the town,
And all things that the Fates ordain for us.
New cry of pain.
ADAM to himself
Ah, then I feel I slumber in a dream
And float upon a stream of harmony,
Far back into the past. My soul was called
Toward all things great and noble.—Julia,
Did’st thou speak those words?
Yea, those words I spake.
Meanwhile it has grown dark. Before the porch passes a funeral procession with flutes and torches and mourning women. For a few moments dead silence reigns among all the revellers.
It seems our gaiety is overcast,
Is wit then silent, is there no more wine?
Because our surly friend hath drunk his fill?
Or, peradventure one of us doth fear,
Or is just now converted.
ADAM throwing his cup at Lucifer
If so thou thinkest!
Then, to join us, friends,
Straightway a new guest will I now invite.
Perchance he shall restore our mirth again.
Ho, slaves, bring in our friend who journeyeth
With light of torches, let him rest awhile,
We would but offer him a draught of wine.
They bring in the corpse on an open bier and place it on the table. The escort remains in the background. LUCIFER raises his wine cup to the corpse, in greeting.
Drink, friend, thy turn to-day; to-morrow, mine!
HIPPIA to the corpse
Perchance thou wouldst a kiss?
Embrace him then,
And steal the obol hidden in his mouth.
If thee I kiss, why may I not kiss him?
She kisses the dead man. The apostle PETER steps forward from among the mourners.
Hold, thou dost suck the plague into thyself!
ALL recoil in horror and rise from their places.
The plague! The plague! Away from hence, away!
Ah, wretched generation, race of cowards,
While happiness and ease doth smile on thee
Thou spreadest like a butterfly thy wings
To wanton in the sunlight, and dost mock
God, and all virtue tramplest underfoot.
But if the moment come, when at thy door
Disaster knocketh, if thou dost but feel
God’s awful finger laid upon thy head,
Thou cringest, craven, bowed in base despair.
Dost thou not feel that Heaven’s punishment
Weighs hard upon thee? Lift thine eyes and see!
The city is laid waste. A barbarous
And savage horde doth trample underfoot
Thy golden harvest. Order perisheth,
No man commandeth, no man doth obey.
Murder and theft stalk shameless through the land,
And after, follow terror and grey care.
No help or stay is found in earth or heaven.
Thou can’st not lull with passion rapturous
That voice that speaks within thy deepest heart,
And vainly urges thee to nobler ends!
Thou dost not feel contentment, verily,
And only loathing now doth pleasure yield.
Thy lips do tremble and with haggard eyes
Thou gazest vainly: in the ancient gods
Thou dost believe no more, they are but stones.
The statues of the gods crumble and full into dust.
They crumble, and thou findest no new God
To lift thee once again from dust and clay.
Yet see, what is more mighty to destroy
Than plague that spreadeth in thy city death.
From their soft couches thousands rise to seek
The empty wilderness of Thebais
To live as anchorites that shun the world,
There seeking, for their senses numbed, that which
May yet excite, that which may yet uplift.
Base generation, thou shalt perish from
This great world that shall now be purified.
HIPPIA collapsing in front of the table
O woe is me, I writhe in agony,
An icy sweat, the flames of Orcus burn!
The plague, the plague, my life is gone from me!
Is there not one of you to succour me
Who have with me so much of pleasure shared?
To-day thy turn; to-morrow mine, fair one.
Then kill me, kill me, or my curse on thee!
PETER stepping up to her
Curse not, my daughter, curse not, but forgive.
Lo, I will succour thee and the Great God,
The everlasting God of sacred love.
Lift up thy heart to him. See, now thy soul
Is by this water cleansed from sin and dross
And flies to Him.
He baptizes her with a dish taken from the table.
My father, I have peace.
CATULUS setting forth
I turn my steps to Thebais to-day,
This world of sin is loathsome to me now.
Stay, Catulus, for I will go with thee.
She goes with Catulus.
ADAM absorbed in thought, advances to the front. EVE follows him.
Art thou here, Julia? What wouldest thou
Where death hath slain our mirth and happiness?
And is not then my place there, where thou art?
Sergiolus, thou couldst have found so much
Nobility in this poor heart of mine
Where thou didst only seek for passing joy.
And in my heart lay too nobility.
Alas, what might have been! To perish thus
Meanly and miserably. If God be,
kneels and raises hands to heaven
If he hath care for us and governeth,
Let him a new race bring upon the earth,
Create a new ideal for mankind,
Reviving with fresh blood our outworn race,
Inflaming with new ardour noble hearts
To strive on, upward. All that which was ours
Is worn out now, and we have little strength
To form a new world. Hear us, O my God!
In the sky the Cross appears in glory. From behind the mountain the glare of burning towns is seen. From the hilltops half-savage hordes swarn down. From the distance a hymn is heard.
LUCIFER to himself
This sight doth send a tremor through my heart,
But is it not my part to fight with man?
That which I cannot do he doth for me,
And such like play before hath met mine eyes,
And when the glory slowly hath grown dim
Doth yet remain a sign, the cross of blood.
The Lord hath heard. Lift up thine eyes and see,
The outworn earth begins to be reborn.
These warriors clad in the pelt of beasts,
Savage and barbarous, who burn with fire
Fair cities, these, whose horses trample down
The harvest that dead centuries have sown,
And find their stable in deserted shrines,
These shall renew with red and virile blood
The outworn veins of an exhausted race;
And these, who in the circus raise their hymn,
While ravening tigers tear them limb from limb,
These shall a vision new bring to this earth,
The freedom of all men, and brotherhood,
These wondrous forces that shall shake the world.
I feel the soul doth yearn for other things
Than that sweet sloth that pillowed slumber brings
The heart’s blood, slowly bleeding, joy may give:
A greater joy is a new life to live.
Be this thy purpose. Glory give to God.
For thyself, work. The will of man is free
To bring to fullness that which lies in him,
And only one command doth bind him: love!
Up then, up to the fight with high resolve
To follow this new faith; a new world form,
The flower of which shall knightly virtue be;
The poetry, the lofty form ideal
That standeth by the altar—womanhood!
He leans on Peter anid departs.
For that which cannot be, doth burn thy heart;
Yet worthy of the man to play the part.
God is well pleased this faith man heavenward bear,
And I, for it shall drive him to despair.
He follows after.
In Constantinople. A public square with a few CITIZENS lounging about. In the centre, the palace of the Patriarch, to the right a convent, and on the left a grove. ADAM as Tancred, in the prime of manhood, with other knights at the head of CRUSADERS returning from Asia, with waving flags and the beating of drums. LUCIFER as his esquire. Evening; later, night.
Lo, hither comes again a savage host.
Haste, let us run to bar the doors and gates,
Lest, once again, they rob and plunder us.
And hide our women; this wild rabble well
The pleasure of seraglios doth know.
Our women too, the right of conquerors.
Stay, wherefore do ye flee before our face?
See ye not then this sacred sign we bear,
Which binds us brethren in the same high cause.
To Asia have we borne our holy faith,
The law of love, that those fierce millions
Among whom once Our Saviour’s cradle lay,
Should feel the sweet salvation of its grace.
And is there then no love within your hearts?
Full often have we heard such words before,
But yet our homes were burnt above our heads.
ADAM to the Knights
See, ye may mark here this accursed fruit;
If some base brigand, with vile wickedness,
This sacred standard holdeth in his hands,
And flattering the passions of the mob,
Forceth his way, unbidden, to command.
My knightly friends, while our good swords do fight
For honour spotless, for God’s glory, for
Defence of woman, and fair chivalry,
Our task shall be this monster to restrain
And lead it, though against its will, to work
Unceasingly for great and noble ends.
Fair words, yet if the people shall no more
Have trust in thee as leader? Say, how then?
The victory is where the spirit is
And I will strike them down.
And if they too
Have spirit, wilt thou then descend to them?
And wherefore then descend? A nobler way
It were to lift them to a fairer height.
For lack of comrades to desert the field
Were just as base as not to welcome him
Who comes to aid thee in the fight, lest he
Should share the triumph of the victory.
See, see, how fallen is that noble faith
For which the martyrs in the circus died.
Is this then liberty for every man?
How wonderful a thing this brotherhood!
Mock not. Think not I hold not fast this faith,
For this cause do I consecrate my life.
For he in whom this sacred spark doth glow
May fight and win, and him who onward strives
Toward the goal of knighthood, we receive,
And to our Order with a sword’s blow, raise;
But we the Order’s treasures must protect
Against this angry strife which yet doth rage;
Ah, would the time should speedily draw nigh,
Then, only, our redemption’s day shall come
When all divisions cease, for all are pure.
But I should doubt that happy day should dawn
Unless the mighty task had been begun
By God Himself, the Great and Holy God.
Ah, friends, ye see what welcome meets us here,
Ungreeted in the turmoil of this town.
And we can do nought else than pitch our camp
Within this grove, as often have we done
In pagan lands, till time grow happier.
Forward, and I will follow you. Each knight
For all those with him renders me account.
The army of Crusaders pitch camp.
Alas, that once again thy fair resolve
Only that famous apple bears, without,
Ruddy and ripe, but inside, only dust.
Stay, hast thou faith in higher things no more?
And if I had, what profit, if thy race
Hath none? This knightly Order thou dost set,
Like to a lighthouse midst the ocean’s waves,
Will one day be extinguished, and shall fall,
Half ruined, in the waters, and shall then
Become a rock more perilous to him
Who journeyeth on bold adventure’s path
Than any other reef, where never shone
A lighthouse built to guide seafaring men.
All things that live and shed on others grace
Die in their time; this spirit doth depart,
The body yet abides, a rotting corpse
That spreads a foul contagion on the new
And growing world around it. So with us,
The glories of the past do yet remain!
Yet when our Order hath decayed, perchance
Its holy doctrines may the people reach,
And then there comes no danger through its fall.
The holy doctrines—this sacred doctrine
Has ever been your curse, since ye, by chance,
Stumbled upon it; for ye have it so
Refined and sharpened and divided up
That it shall madness or a fetter be
To chain you. Though man’s mind can never grasp
Exactitude, ’tis this, proud race of man,
Ye ever seek, and seek it to your curse.
Look on this sword, a hair’s breadth less or more,
Yet, in its essence, it has not been changed,
And so forever couldst thou add or take,
But where the point exact to mark the bounds?
And yet thy senses should be quick to note
When in the breadth of blade the change were great.
But wherefore do I strive in argument?
Speech wearieth. Yet gaze around and see.
A few CITIZENS again appear.
My friends, my men are tired and shelter seek,
And in the capital of Christendom
Perchance, not vainly?
We would know if thou
Art not a heretic, than pagans worse?
Speak, which dost thou confess, that we may know,
Homousion or Homoiusion?
I understand not this.
Admit it not.
Here, it is now the thing of chief import.
See, he doth doubt: that too is heresy!
Begone! Come, let us shut ourselves within
Our houses, and a curse upon the man
Who shelter giveth them.
They disperse. The PATRIARCH in princely pomp issues with his retinue from his palace. A number of MONKS, accompanying HERETICS in chains, follow him. Behind these come soldiers and the populace.
I am amazed.
Tell me, who is this prince who draweth nigh,
So proud and with so arrogant a gaze?
The first Apostles’ heir—the Patriarch.
And this bare-footed rabble, that beneath
A feigned humility yet with grim joy
Doth follow these poor captives bound in chains?
These? They are Monks. They Christian Cynics are.
None such among my mountains have I seen.
Thou shalt see later. Leprosy doth spread,
Thou knowest, slowly. But take heed, beware
Lest thou insult these men who know not sin
And therefore are relentless.
What can be
The virtue that abideth in these hearts?
Endurance of torment dire, terrible;
Self-abnegation; these their virtues are,
Which first thy Master shewed forth on the Cross.
And by His suffering redeemed the world.
But these mean cravens do but God blaspheme
As rebels who despise His gracious gifts.
He, who to crush a flea, such weapon grasps
As he might wield with courage ’gainst a bear,
A fool is.
Yet if they look on the fly
As though it were a bear? Have they no right,
Whose heart unflinching onward urges them,
To drive all men who life enjoy, to Hell?
I see as Thomas, and cannot believe.
But on these visions will I steadfast gaze.
Approaches the PATRIARCH.
Knights of the Holy Sepulchre we are,
My Father, and a weary road have trod.
We would have rest, but can no shelter find
In this great town. Thou hast authority.
My son, I have not now the time
For such small things. God’s glory and my flock
Do claim my service. I must judgment give
On heretics that grow like noxious weeds
And spread foul poison. Though with fire and sword
We root them out, yet ever do they come
In ever greater numbers, sent by hell.
But if ye be Crusaders, wherefore seek
In distant lands the pagan Saracens,
When here the foe is yet more dangerous.
Up, storm their villages and root them out,
Destroy the old, the woman, and the child.
Thou wouldst not have us slay the innocent!
The serpent, too, is harmless, while ’tis small,
Or if it shall have lost its poison fang.
But dost thou spare it, then?
The sin must be
In truth abhorrent that the Church of love
Can fire with such fierce anger.
Hear, my son:
Love is not that which flattereth the flesh,
But that which leadeth back, if it must be,
By sword’s edge or the flames, the soul to Him
Who hath said ‘Not peace but a sword I bring
Upon the earth!’ These falsely do proclaim
Within the doctrine of the Trinity
The Homoiusion, whereas the Church
Hath testified that the Homousion
The true faith is for all men to believe.
The fire already burns, death, death to them!
My friends, renounce this little letter ‘i’.
If life ye scorn, a nobler sacrifice
Ye may make in the holy war to wrest
The Holy Sepulchre from pagan hands.
AN AGED HERETIC
Tempt us not, Satan, we do give our lives
For our true faith where God hath bidden us.
ONE OF THE MONKS
Thou shameless one, dost thou boast that thou hast
The true faith?
THE AGED HERETIC
And the Rimini Synod,
Went it not with us, and a score beside
Of other councils?
Error let them false.
But at Nicaea and at other times
When synods of the true believers met,
Was judgment in our favour not declared?
THE AGED HERETIC
Apostates! Shameless ones who yet essayed
To vie with us: Come, give me answer, say:
Have ye one Father of the Church to match
The two Eusebiuses? Arius?
Have ye one like to Athanasius?
THE AGED HERETIC
And have ye martyrs?
Yea, and more than ye.
THE AGED HERETIC
Fine martyrs whom the devil doth beguile
With false deceits to death and flames of hell.
I say that ye are that great Babylon,
The Harlot that Saint John doth write of, who
Shall perish from the surface of the earth.
The seven-headed dragon, Antichrist,
Ye are of which Saint John doth speak. Base dogs,
Deceivers, boon companions of the Fiend.
THE AGED HERETIC
Thieves, serpents, gluttons and lewd profligates!
Away with them! Too long we tarry here.
Glory to God, and to the stake with them!
THE AGED HERETIC
Glory to God. Well spoken, wicked one!
The sacrifice doth to God’s glory, die.
Strong are ye, and ye do that which ye will.
But if your deeds be good shall Heaven judge.
Already numbered are your sinful days
And from our blood new warriors shall spring.
The cause doth live and burns, a glowing flame
To light the world for centuries to come.
For us, my friends, shall death be glorious!
THE HERETICS singing in chorus
My God, my God, look upon me; why hast thou forsaken me: and art so far from my health, and from the words of my complaint?
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not: and in the night season also I take no rest.
And thou continuest holy… (Psalm XXII. v. 1, etc.)
MONKS break in, in chorus
Plead thou my cause o Lord, with them that
strive with me: and fight against them that
fight against me.
Lay hand upon the shield and buckler: and stand
up to help me.
Bring forth the spear and stop the way against
them that persecute me… (Psalm XXXV. v. 1, etc.)
Meanwhile the PATRIARCH and the procession depart. A few MONKS mingle with the Crusaders with tracts in their hands.
Why standest thou so silent? Tremblest thou?
Seems this a tragedy? Nay, rather deem
This scene a comedy and be thou gay.
Alas! Jest not. That for this letter ‘i’
To think they pass so resolute to death.
Ah, then, what is there noble and sublime?
Perchance that which, to others, folly seems.
A hair’s breadth only doth divide the two,
Sublimity and folly. In the heart
One voice alone may judge betwixt the twain:
This judge mysterious is—sympathy,
Which deifies or slays with mockery.
Why were mine eyes this evil forced to see!
This strife unworthy in unyielding creeds:
This deadly poison banefully distilled
From that most glorious, most fair of flowers.
This lovely blossom once full well I knew
When persecution tried our growing faith.
What foe hath trod this flower in the dust?
The foe is victory, that scattereth
And doth a hundred new desires create.
Defeat, which bindeth close, doth martyrs breed,
And on these heretics is laid defeat,
Uniting them; enduing them with strength.
In truth I would my sword now lay aside
And to my northern land return again,
Where, in the shadow of the forest old,
Manhood and simple-heartedness defy
The poison of this smooth and subtle age,
If ever heard I not a secret voice
That tells me I must mould this age anew.
A vain endavour: for thou canst not set
One man against the age in which he lives.
The one is but a swimmer in the stream
Of time which bears him up or lets him sink,
He doth not guide its flow. Yea, history
Hath counted great those who their century
Have comprehended, children of their time,
Not those who have new doctrines brought to birth.
The day dawns not when cocks begin to crow,
But cocks do crow because that day hath dawned.
They yonder, who in chains pass on to death,
Martyrs surrounded by a mocking crowd,
See one step forward only; this new faith
Dawns in their midst, and that for which they die,
Their heirs will think no more of than the air
They breathe. But let us cease. Look to thy camp.
Why go these scurvy monks within the ranks?
What traffic make they? What wares do they cry
With such loud clamour and such gesture wild?
Come, let us hearken.
A MONK offering his tracts among the press of Crusaders
Buy, buy the saving doctrine here proclaimed
Of penitence, and let it be your guide
In all distress and doubt. This teacheth you
How many years shall suffer pain in hell
The murderer, the profligate, and he
Who robbeth shrines and perjureth himself.
This tract doth teach you how the rich may gain
A year’s release from purgatory with
Some twenty Solidi; the poor with three;
And he who hath no means to pay, may win
With some few thousand scourgings, clemency.
Buy this good book that ye may read therein.
Give me one, holy Father—and us too!
Ah, evil merchants and more base who buy!
Come, draw thy sword. Break up this huckstering.
I crave your grace. This monk hath been of old
My comrade, and I do not hate his kin.
And if the honour of the Lord increased
My honour too was magnified with his.
Thou only hast now somewhat lagged behind.
EVE as Isaura, and HELENA, her maid, rush, uttering piercing cries, to ADAM, pursued by a few Crusaders who immediately make away on seeing him.
Ah, save me!
ADAM supporting her
Noble lady, have no fear.
Here thou art safe. Come, lift thy lovely eyes.
What magic lies in them! But what hath passed?
We were delighting in the fragrant air
Amid the garden’s green and shady calm,
And rested, free of care, upon the sward,
And hearkened to the nightingale’s sweet notes,
When, from behind a thicket dense, we saw
Men’s eyes that burned with glowing, wild desire.
We fled in terror, but with straining breath
And rushing feet four soldiers followed us
And would have seized us, when we ran to thee.
I know not if I would thou shouldst awake;
Thou mayest leave me like a fading dream.
How can a body so transfigured be,
So like a spirit, pure, adorable?
So like a spirit! Truly, destiny
No better punishment could lay upon
A lover for his folly than to grant
All that for which his mistress he doth claim.
It seems that once before I knew thy face,
We knelt together by the throne of God.
I pray thee earnestly to bear in mind
Thy love is pleasant if there are but two,
But brings no whit savour to a third.
She looks up, smiles! O Heaven, praise to thee!
Knight, thou hast saved me, how can I thank thee?
Are not these words from thee a rich reward?
LUCIFER to Helena
Poor recompense, and is there none for me?
And wherefore owe I gratitude to thee?
Dost thou then think the noble knight thee too
Hath rescued? Truly that were vanity.
But if the knight the lady fair doth save,
Why surely doth his squire rescue her maid.
What have I gained? If I give thee my thanks,
It may be then my lot is perilous,
And if I give thee none, then I am lost.
But not uncomely those who followed us.
O Lady, whither shall I lead thee? Speak!
The portal of the Convent is hard by.
The Convent, dost tho say? Oh, but its door
Doth not bar out fair hope when it doth close?
Give me a token, that upon this cross
I may it set, that while I fight in faith,
It may bring back to me my fairest dream,
And I may not grow weary through the years
That must pass ere my prize shall crown my race.
This ribbon take.
This ribbon, black as night?
It is the sign of sorrow, give me hope!
This is my token, nought else can I give;
Hope groweth not within the Convent walls.
Nor love; and lady where thou dost abide,
How should there not be love? Thy dress doth show
Thou hast not taken yet the convent veil.
Ah, with thy questions torture me no more,
’Tis grief to me to see thy sorrow grow.
And shall this gloomy wall shut thee in too?
Yea, but the key lies not beneath the sea.
Great pity, I could pen an elegy
On this sad scene.
Deceiver, get thee gone!
Wherefore? The thought were great that I should dive
And seek the key beneath the ocean’s depths.
I would not that from thee.
But see, I go!
The monsters of the deep do gape for me.
Back, back, I faint for fear. The key, perchance,
May rather be beside my casement found.
Ah, let at least thy name be known to me,
That I may think of thee when I do pray,
And ask that thou be blest, if thou refuse
To let me share the sorrow of thy lot.
Isaura is my name, and thine, o Knight?
For prayer well beseems the sisterhood.
Tancred am I.
Tancred, God be with thee.
Isaura, do not leave me in such haste;
Else, if thou leave me thus, I curse this name
Which now first thou uttered leaving me.
Short was the moment, yea short for a dream,
How may I lengthen it if thou remain
A secret veiled, whose fate, dear to my heart,
Yields me no thread to weave bright fantasies?
Then thou shalt hear the course my fate hath run.
My father, as thee, of the Holy Sepulchre
A Knight was, and once, in the pagan land,
The fierce foe stormed the camp with shouts and cries
And fire and sword; no hope left of escape.
’Twas then he to the Blessed Virgin vowed
That if he should return, he would to her
Me, was but then a child then, dedicate.
He did return, and then, to keep his oath,
I took the Sacrament.
O Mother, thou
Blessed embodiment of stainless love,
Didst thou not turn aside affronted from
A vow unholy that thy holiness
Doth sully with a stain of grief and sin,
And change the grace of Heaven to a curse?
HELENA to Lucifer
And hast thou no desire to know my fate?
I know already. Thou loved, wast deceived,
Then loved anew, and, then thou didst deceive.
Again thou hast loved, of thy hero grown
Aweary, and thy empty heart doth crave
A lover now.
Why, art thou then the Fiend?
I did not think that thou so modest art
That thou shouldst deem my heart is empty now.
LUCIFER to Adam
Hasten, my lord, thou canst not say farewell,
And I cannot prevent my victory.
Isaura, all thy words do pierce my heart;
Oh, sweeten with a kiss the poisoned wounds!
Knight, thou hast heard my vow: what wouldest thou?
But I am not forbidden to love thee?
Thou happy art. How could I thee forget?
Tancred, I must begone, my strength grows faint.
Farewell, in Heaven I shall see thy face.
Farewell. For ever shall I think on thee.
She enters the Convent.
Faint-hearted; am I then all things to do?
The key will be outside the casement; not
In the sea.
ADAM coming to himself
Too late, so ends the tale.
See, Tancred, see how mad this race of thine,
Now woman it doth think on as the aim
Of brutal passion, and with uncouth hands
Brusheth aside from woman’s brow the bloom
Of poetry, and so itself doth rob
Of love’s most gracious blossom, heedlessly;
Or else it setteth woman in a shrine
And bleedeth for her, vainly combating,
While, like a sterile bloom, love’s kiss doth fade.
Why doth it not respect and honour her
As woman, in the realm of womanhood?
Meanwhile it has grown completely dark. The moon rises. EVE as Isaura and HELENA are seen at the window.
How longingly he gazed and trembled sore:
This mighty hero trembled, and for me.
But virtue and my faith command my heart,
Here shall I die, a holy sacrifice.
’Tis marvellous how mad is womankind,
For if from form and use it break away,
It rushes after pleasure like a beast,
And tears the mask of honour from its face,
Wallowing shameless in the filth and mire;
If it break not away, it taketh fright
At its own shadow, and its fairest charms
Leaveth to wither in unfruitfulness,
Robbing itself and others of delight.
Why holdeth it not to the middle way?
A little love-making, so it be done
In seemly wise, I cannot see can hurt;
For woman not mere spirit only is.
Look, Helena, standeth he yet below?
How could he have so lightly gone away?
I would that once again I heard his voice.
ADAM to Lucifer
Look back, doth she still at the window stand?
Could she not grant me one glance from her eyes?
Saw I but only once her slender form!
Isaura, be not wroth, I am yet here.
For both of us ’twere better thou shouldst go.
When hearts are torn they may heal easily,
But if once more they break, ’tis grievous pain.
Dost not thou fear to gaze into the night
That like a mighty heart love doth beat,
When we, we only, are forbidden love?
Fearest thou not its magic vanquish thee?
All this to me seems but a fleeting dream,
Which tempts me from high Heaven to this earth.
Upon the waves of air sweet music sounds;
A thousand faces from behind each leaf
Do smile on me with kisses on their lips;
But they no longer, Tancred, speak with us.
Why, why a barrier this cruel wall?
I, who so many pagan lines have stormed,
Have I not strength this rampart to surmount?
Nay, for the spirit of the age stands guard;
Stronger than thou.
Hah, who doth speak these words?
In the background the light of flames ascending from the stake flares up.
THE VOICES OF THE HERETICS singing in the distance
Deliver my soul from the sword: my darling from the power of the dog.
Save me from the lion’s mouth: thou hast heard me also from among the horns of the unicorns.
I will declare thy Name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
(Psalm XXII. v. 20–22.)
Have mercy on their sinful souls, o Lord.
What song of dread!
Thy bridal song they sing.
So be it, I am steadfast, unafraid.
For thee, my dearest love, all will I dare.
THE VOICES OF THE MONKS singing in the distance
Let them be clothed with rebuke and dishonour
that boast themselves against me.
Let them be glad and rejoice, that favour my
righteous dealing, yea let them say always:
Blessed be the Lord, who hath pleasure in the
prosperity of his servant.
At the beginning of the chant, ADAM, who had advanced to the gate of the Convent, again halts. An owl hoots from the tower, WITCHES fly through the air and before the door a SKELETON rises from the ground and confronts ADAM threateningly.
EVE hastily closing the casement
God help us!
Leave this sacred threshold, go!
Who art thou, phantom?
I lie hid within
Thy every close embrace, thy every kiss.
Harvest ill from wholesome seed,
Snakes the turtle-dove doth hatch.
Isaura, come, we call!
What shapes of dread!
Have ye been changed, or am I changed myself?
I knew you in the past, when ye could smile.
What here reality and what here dream?
My arms are feeble through your magic spell.
Unwitting, in what pleasant company
I find myself; this happiness of old
I hoped for. Lo, this modest lovely band
Of witches doth in shamelessness surpass
By far the nymphs that sport with naked feet.
And this old comrade death, who doth portray
Stern virtue’s form distorted, doth the son
Of earth make to abhor its face in dread.
To all, my greeting, I grieve I have not
The time to while away the night with you.
The Phantoms disappear.
Up, Tancred, up, thy love hath shut thee out.
Why stand we in the darkness of the night
The wind blows chill, the ague thou wilt take.
And Helena doth come, and what do I?
The devil hath small skill in lover’s arts,
And would be mocked at to eternity,
And so he would his strength himself destroy
’Tis strange that man, with heart aflame, doth yearn
And plead for love and only torment gain.
The devil, with his heart of ice, from love
May scarce escape to save his liberty.
Lead me to new fields, onward Lucifer!
I fought for sacred visions; in their base
Interpretation I have found a curse.
To honour God, man has been sacrificed,
Man has too low sunk to fulfil my dream.
I strove our pleasures worthier to make;
Man set the brand of sin on man’s delight:
I lifted high the sword of chivalry;
It stabbed me to the heart. To new worlds, on!
I have shewn forth enough what I am worth,
Who have fought battles, and denied myself,
And I may leave the field and no shame feel.
Let there be nothing more to fire my heart,
And let the world move onward as it will,
No longer will I guide the wheels of it,
But look indifferent on its lurching course;
I am a’weary, and I would have rest.
Have rest, repose, but scarcely do I deem
Thy spirit, that untiring ceaseless force,
Will let thee rest. Come, Adam, follow me.
In Prague. The garden of the Imperial Palace. To the right an arbour, to the left the tower of an observatory. Before it is a wide balcony with Kepler’s writing-table, chair and astronomical implements. LUCIFER as Kepler’s Famulus is on the balcony. In the garden groups of courtiers and ladies are walking; among them EVE as Barbara, the wife of Kepler. The Emperor RUDOLPH is deeply engaged in conversation with ADAM as Kepler. In the background is flaming a pyre for a heretic who is being burned at the stake. Evening; later, night. Two COURTIERS come into the foreground.
Who burneth yonder in the glowing fire,
A heretic or sorceress, thinkest thou?
I know not. ’Tis a fashion long outworn
In suchlike scenes an interest to take.
Alone the rabble gather at the stake
And shout no more aloud in frenzied joy,
But murmur sullenly or silent, gaze.
A solemn ceremony, in my time,
Marked such a scene. The court and noblemen
All took their part. Ah, how old times have changed!
They move on.
This blaze is welcome on a chilly night.
In truth from olden time it hath me warmed.
But now I fear lest it shall soon die out.
Not because man’s resolve doth quench its flames,
Nor yields it place to a new attitude,
But in this listless age no man is there
To cast a new log on the embers red.
And I may freeze.—Every great intent
Ends but is petty ruin, vanity.
He goes into the tower. RUDOLPH and ADAM advance into the foreground.
Kepler, draw up my horoscope for me.
Last night my dreams were evil, and I fear
In what conjunction is my ruling star.
A sign of ill within its realm appeared
A short while since, there, by the Serpent’s head.
It shall be done, my Lord, as thou hast said.
When the climacteric days shall have passed,
Again we will begin our mighty work
Which, but a short time since, did not succeed.
I Hermes Trismegistus have anew
Conned deeply, and Synesius; new read
Albertus Magnus, Paracelsus, and
The Key of Solomon and other works,
Until I found the error that we made.
When we did make the Aged King a draught
To draw the sweat, then both to us appeared
The Raven and the Lion; after them
The twofold Mercury revealed itself
Under the influence of these planets twain.
And the salt of the Philosopher’s Stone
Sank to the bottom of the alembic.
But then we erred because we married not
Damp Fire and Water Dry, and so was lost
That rare elixir which into the veins
Of age youth poureth, and the virtue hath
To change vile brass to pure and ruddy gold.
I understand, my Lord.
One word beside,
A rumour ill of thee runs through the Court,
That thou dost hold to doctrines new and strange,
And questionest the teaching of the Church,
And that, now, when thy mother lieth held
In prison, charged with grievous sorcery.
On thee will come suspicion grave if thou
Dost strive so stubbornly and ceaselessly
To gain her liberty.
My noble liege,
She is my mother and I am her son.
Thy mother, rather, is the Holy Church.
Let the world be; it is well as it is.
Strive not with clumsy hand its faults to mend.
Have I not lavished favours upon thee?
Thy father, well thou knowest, kept an inn.
I placed your noble rank beyond all doubt,
Though no small hindrance lay there in the path,
I set thee near my throne, and only thus
Thou hadst the hand of thy fair Barbara.
Therefore I say again, take heed, my son.
Departs. ADAM remains in deep thought and stands at the steps of the balcony. Two COURTIERS advance to the foreground.
See, the astrologer is wrapped in thought.
The luckless man is never at his ease.
He striveth vainly with his new estate:
The peasant birth always proclaimeth him.
He doth not comprehend that a true knight,
Although he worship woman as divine,
Would ready be to shed his blood for her,
If calumny her virtue e’er should stain.
In homage he suspects a hidden aim.
EVE, with another group, joins the two Courtiers and laughingly taps the SECOND COURTIER on the shoulder with her fan.
Come, gentle knight, have pity upon me.
I die with laughter at thy merry jests.
See, see, how solemn these two gentlemen!
The blighting spirit of these doctrines new
Perchance ye also now hath seized upon.
Away from me’. I cannot bear these folk
Who in their churlish melancholy hearts
Do envy us our shining world serene
And would a new one set instead of it.
Fair lady, we are guiltless of this charge;
In such a presence, who would seek a change?
But if I be mistaken not, there stands
A man who bears this dark sign in his face.
My husband? Ah, for God’s sake, gentlemen,
From such suspicion spare him in my sight,
For I am joined in holy bonds to him.
And he is sick, his body hath no health.
Perchance thy radiant eyes do cause him hurt?
Why in suspicion jealous, doth he that
Which no man else would dare, thy honour wound?
Ah would that I thy champion could be
And fling my gauntlet in the villain’s face.
Meanwhile they reach ADAM.
Ah, master, I am happy that we meet.
I would a journey take to my estates
And seek to know what weather shall befall.
And I would know the star which ruled the birth
Of my sweet son; last midnight was he born.
To-morrow both your biddings shall be done.
The company disperses, let us go.
Here is the stairway, so, Madam, good-night.
An hour hence.
Yonder, in the arbour, there!
Fair sirs, good-night. Come, Johann, it grows late.
All depart. ADAM and EVE on the balcony. ADAM sinks into an arm-chair. EVE stands before him. It grows darker.
Johann, I must have money, all is spent.
Nay, not one farthing. Thou hast taken all.
And must I suffer ever poverty?
The ladies of the Court, like peacocks, shine,
And I feel shame to be so seen of them.
Why, when some gallant bows to kiss my hand
And, smiling, vows that I am queen of all,
I feel shame for thee, that thou dost allow
The queen in such mean garments to appear.
Do I not, weary, toil by night and day,
Betray I not my knowledge for thy sake,
And render vile my skill, when I draw out
Vain weather prophecies and horoscopes?
For I conceal that which my mind hath grasped,
And that proclaim which I know well is false.
I blush in shame, for I have worse become
Than were the Sibyls, for they yet believed,
That what they spake was true, while in my words
I have no faith. All this I do for thee,
Yet, what reward is mine for my deceit?
For in this wide world nothing would I have,
Only the night and the star-scattered sky,
Only the secret music of the spheres.
All else be thine—and, bear in mind, that if
The emperor’s treasury is empty oft,
Though one may ask, dues are but slowly paid,
To-morrow what I gain thou mayest have,
But little thanks, alas, I have from thee.
Thou dost reproach me that thou hast so much
Sacrificed for me. Left I nought for thee?
When I, the daughter of a noble house,
To thine own doubtful rank my future joined?
Didst thou not rise then to a higher place
Because of me? Ingrate, say, didst thou not?
Are mind and knowledge, then, of doubtful rank?
The ray that shines from heaven’s ageless fire
Upon my brow, are these obscurity?
Where if not here is found nobility?
A crumbling image, lifeless, without soul,
This men call noble; my nobility
Is young for ever and for ever strong.
O woman, if thou couldst but comprehend,
And thy soul were so kindred, as I thought
When first our lips did kiss, thou wouldst be proud
To share my life, and wouldst not otherwhere
Seek happiness. Thou wouldst not shew the world
All the abiding sweetness in thy heart,
And keep for our own hearth thy bitterness.
How infinitely did I love thee; yea,
I love thee now, but with what bitter sting
The sweetness of the honey in my heart.
Thy heart would make thee noble, well I know,
If thou couldst be but woman. Destiny
Hath brought thee low, which setteth woman up
To be an idol: as once chivalry
Held woman as divine: the knight believed
In woman then; then was a mighty age.
Now none believe; for giants there are dwarfs,
And this idolatry veils only sin.
l could part from thee and tear out my heart;
Perchance without thee I might gain more peace,
And thou without me find more happiness.
But law and custom hold us, and the Church
Doth bind us with her rule. Together we
Must yet endure until death sever us.
He buries his head in his hands. EVE, touched by his grief, caresses him.
Nay, Johann, grieve not if I do but speak
Sometimes of this or that, with thoughtless words.
I would not make thy heart grow sorrowful.
But thou dost see the wonder of the Court,
The ladies are so proud and high of mien,
How should I yet begin to brave their looks?
Thou art not angry with me? Then, good-night!
Forget the money not to-morrow morn!
How strangely baseness and nobility
Are joined in woman, sweet with bitter blent.
Wherefore doth she yet bind us? ’Tis because
Her soul is fair, but evil is the age
In which she hath been born. Hey! Famulus!
Lucifer enters with a lamp and sets it on the table.
Dost thou command me, master? Here am I.
A horoscope and weather prophecy
Must be drawn up. Prepare them speedily.
All must be glittering and brilliant,
For who would money give to know the truth?
Yet see they be not unbelievable.
Perchance I could not make such prophecy
As should give cause for parents to be wroth.
Shall not each babe a new Messiah be,
A shining star to light its house and line,
Who, only afterwards shall grow into
The wonted knave, as thousands like to to him.
Writes. Meanwhile EVE has reached the arbour. The THIRD COURTIER advances to meet her.
How long thou dost torment me, cruel one.
Is then the sacrifice so great for thee
To bear the rigours of the cold night wind,
While I a kindly husband yet deceive,
And I draw down Heaven’s curse upon myself,
And brave the judgment of the world for thee?
Ah, Heaven’s curse, the judgment of the world
Pierce not the secrets of this arbour dark.
I did desire an age that strives for nought,
When none should seek to change life’s ordered course
And wander from accustomed quiet ways.
Then could I smile in calm indifference
And heal me of the wounds of weary strife.
That age is come, and what avails it me,
If in this breast the soul doth always dwell,
The gift bestowed by Heaven on foolish Man,
Which spurs him on and will not grant him rest,
And leaps to combat with fond slothful joys.
Ho, Famulus! Bring wine, I am a’cold.
The world is icy; I must fire its soul.
In this dull age we must have vision, life,
And free us from the mire that clings to us.
LUCIFER brings wine. ADAM sips the wine during this scene.
Spread forth, spread forth, o Heaven infinite,
Thy mystic hallowed scroll before mine eyes;
If I may know the wisdom writ therein,
I shall this present weary age forget.
Thou art eternal; all things else do pass;
Thou dost exalt, while all else doth cast down.
O Barbara, if thou couldst be my wife,
If God would call thy husband from this world,
That he might heaven better comprehend,
For in this life he ever seeks the skies.
Keep silence, Knight, so sore I pity him
That my salt tears withhold my kiss from thee.
Thou dost but jest.
Nay, ’tis the truth I speak.
What man may understand this mystery?
For sure, thou dost not love me, Barbara.
Say, if I suffered lonely banishment,
What couldst thou do for me, who love thee so?
In very truth, I could not tell thee now.
Oh, would an age might once dawn that should melt
This cold indifferent world, and with new strength
Confront the outworn lumber of the past,
Rise up to judge, to punish, and raise up.
He rises and totters to the edge of the balcony.
And shrink not from the means to gain its goal,
That should not fear to speak the mystic word
That shall, resistless as an avalanche,
Advance along the course decreed by fate
And crush him who hath uttered it, perchance.
The strains of the Marseillaise are heard.
I hear the anthem of the age to come,
Lo, I have found the mighty kindling word,
The talisman that makes the old world young.
The scene changes suddenly to the Place de Grève in Paris. The balcony becomes a scaffold, the table a guillotine. LUCIFER stands beside the guillotine, as an executioner. ADAM, as Danton, from the edge of the scaffold harangues a thronging CROWD. Drums sound and a ragged company of RECRUITS appears and forms a line around the scaffold. The sun shines brightly.
ADAM as if continuing Kepler’s speech
Freedom, equality, fraternity!
And death to him who doth not these avow!
So say I too. Two battle cries protect
Our sacred cause attacked on every hand,
The one we utter for the true of heart,
‘France is in peril!’ And they are awake!
But traitors hear the thunder of our cry
‘Tremble ye guilty!’ And they are destroyed.
Against us kings have risen; we have cast
The head of France’s King before their feet;
Against us priests have risen; we have snatched
Their lightning from their hands, and set again
Reason, oppressed of old, upon her throne.
But not in vain the second great call rings.
Which France has sent forth to all better men.
Eleven armies fight upon our bounds,
Unceasingly our valiant youth doth press
To fill the ranks of heroes that are slain.
Who sayeth madness and the lust of blood
Shall decimate the sons of sacred France?
If in the furnace boils the molten ore
The dross shall fall away, the gold remain.
And if we too shall drench our hands in blood
Let others deem us monsters; what care I?
If France be great and win her liberty.
Arms! Give us only arms and generals!
Good, good, ’tis nought save weapons that ye ask
While yet ye lack so many things beside.
Your garments are in rags, your feet are bare,
But with the bayonet all is to be won,
For ye shall conquer, yea, invincible
The people is! One of our generals,
Who, at the head of France’s soldiers let
Himself be vanquished, has paid—with his blood!
’Tis a true word that ye speak.
The people hath no other treasure than
The blood it sheds in lavish sacrifice
To save the nation. And that man who hath
The people’s sacred treasure in his charge,
And by it cannot overcome the world
He is a traitor.
An OFFICER steps forward from theRecruits.
Citizen, set me
In his place: I will wipe out this disgrace.
Thy confidence, my friend, deserves all praise.
Yet on the field of battle thou must prove
That thou art able to make good thy words.
The pledge lies in my soul, and I, too, heve
A head worth more perchance, than that which fell.
Who, if I ask for it, will vouch for thee?
What surety need I other than myself
Who hold my life as nothing, Citizen?
Nay, speak not thus, youth thinks not on this wise.
Once more I ask thee, Citizen, send me.
Have patience yet, and thou shalt reach thy goal.
I see thou dost not trust me. Thou shalt learn
To think of me more highly, Citizen.
Shoots himself through the head.
My heart is sad. He should have met his death
By foeman’s bullet. Bear his body hence.
Farewell, we meet when victory is won.
The RECRUITS march away.
Ah, if I too might share your destiny!
But conflict, never glory is my lot;
No noble death on field of war is mine.
My foe lies ambushed deep and waits to spring
Unwarned on me and this beloved land.
Point but thy finger at him and he dies!
The man at whom my finger I could point
Is dead already.
Nay, but Citizen,
What of the suspects? Since upon whom lies
Suspicion, he is guilty, for on him
The people’s condemnation weighs and they judge well.
Death to the aristocracy. On, on!
Forward and let us seek the prison cells,
The people shall judge and its sentence pass.
The people’s law is sacred, sovereign.
The CROWD begins to move towards the prison.
The danger lies not there, the heavy bars,
The foetid air that stiftes mind and strength,
Are your allies; leave them to do their task.
But treachery lifts high its head and laughs,
And whets its knife where the Convention sits.
On then to the Convention, since not yet
It hath been purged of traitors. Let us go
First to the prisons, after, we will seek
The Hall of the Convention, and ere then
Let every traitor’s name be known to us.
The CROWD departs with threatening cries. Meanwhile several SANS-CULOTTES drag a young MARQUIS and EVE as his sister in front of the scaffold.
Once more we bring two young aristocrats.
This haughty face, this linen fair and white
Are proof enough that they are guilty both.
A noble pair. Come up and speak with me.
We will go seek our comrades, where is work
Awaiting us; where traitors death awaits.
The SANS-CULOTTES go away with the remainder of the CROWD. The youth and girl move nearer to ADAM. Only a few guards remain standing near the scaffold.
I know not why my heart is drawn to you,
But I will save you, though I risk my life.
No, Danton, thou thy country dost betray
If we be guilty and thou sparest us;
But if we be not, thy vain clemency
We do reject.
Who speaks to Danton thus?
I am a Marquis…
Hold, dost thou not know
There is no rank save that of Citizen?
I had not heard my Sovereign had annulled
The titles of nobility.
Rash youth, no more!
Enter our ranks and fame awaiteth thee.
The King doth not permit me, Citizen,
To join the army of an alien force.
Then, thou wilt die.
And there will be one more
Of my long line who died to serve his King.
Why dost thou rush so wildly upon death?
And dost thou deem this lofty privilege
Befits you only, people’s men, forsooth?
Dost thou defy me? I too challenge thee.
Who shall prove stronger? I will save thee yet
Despite thyself, and for this deed of mine
Posterity more sober, in whose heart
The fires of passion are but embers cold,
Shall give me thanks. Guards, lead this young man hence
And bring him to my lodging. Guard him well.
Some of the armed Guards escort the Marquis away.
Be strong, my brother.
Sister, God keep thee.
Here is a head no worse than Roland had.
Such bitter words come ill from tender lips.
The scaffold softer words do not befit.
This dreadful scaffold is become my world;
When thou didst set thy foot on it, there came
A ray from heaven bringing holiness.
The priests mock not upon its way to death
The beast with garlands decked for sacrifice.
Know that I am myself the sacrifice.
And even though men envy me my power,
No happiness is mine, I scorn life, death;
And gaze upon my kingly throne from which
Men’s heads fall, day by day beside me there,
And wait until for me, too, come the turn.
Amid the bloodshed, solitude torments
My heart that feels how good it were to love.
O woman, if thou couldst me for one day
Teach this heaven’s wisdom, I would bow my head
Upon the morrow, ’neath the axe, content.
In this dread world thou dost yet yearn for love?
Doth not thy conscience weigh upon thy soul?
Conscience! It is the privilege
Belonging to the multitude. The man
Of destiny hath no time to look back.
When stayed the tempest in its headlong flight
Because the frail rose trembled in its path?
And who would, in rash folly, judgment pass
On him who lives before the nation’s eye?
Who sees that hidden thread, that, on life’s stage,
Brings on a Brutus or a Catiline?
And do men think of him whose fame spreads far,
That he is man no longer, but a god,
And hath no feeling for the hundred cares
That daily fill life of all mankind?
Nay, those who sit on thrones have hearts to beat.
If Caesar could have loved, perchance his love
Had known him but a man, and had no thought
That all the world should tremble at his nod.
And if I speak the truth, then tell me why
Thou couldst not love. Art thou not woman then
And I a man? They say the heart doth hate
Or love as man is destined at his birth.
I feel this heart of mine is kin to thine.
Ah, lady, canst thou not this understand?
And if I could, it would avail me nought.
Another god than He whom in my heart
I worship is thy guide. And never thus
Can we, the one the other understand.
Ah, leave these outworn ideals of thine.
Why dost thou sacrifice to banished gods?
For woman, such an altar doth befit
As glows with youth eternal—’tis the heart.
There may be martyrs of abandoned shrines.
O Danton, ’tis more noble to protect
A ruined faith with love and piety,
Than to salute the newly-risen powers:
And it beseemeth woman to protect.
No man hath seen the heart of Danton melt,
And now if friend or enemy should see
That he whom fate hath driven with her lash
Like some fierce hurricane to cleanse the world,
Halts now upon on the scaffold, heart aflame
For a young girl, and eyes fill with tears,
He would predict that Danton’s fall was nigh,
And laugh, and men should be afraid no more
Yet still I beg of thee a ray of hope.
If, when thy soul, at peace beyond the grave,
Be cleansed from all the bloodshed of this age.
Speak no more, maiden, speak no more!
I have no faith in life beyond the grave,
And fight despairingly against my fate.
The CROWD returns in a ferocious mood with bloodstained weapons and with several heads on pikes. Some of them press forward to the scaffold.
Justice is done! How proud these nobles were.
A SANS-CULOTTE giving to Danton aring
This ring I give thee for the nation’s good.
There was one villain pressed it in my hand
When at this scoundrel’s throat I held my knife.
These aristocrats deem that we are thieves—
Dost thou live yet? Follow thy brother, girl!
He stabs Eve. She falls at the back of the scaffold.
ADAM covering his eyes
It is the end. Fate, who can vanquish thee?
And now to the Convention. Lead us on—
Hast thou drawn up the list of traitors’ names?
The CROWD moves away from the scaffold. EVE, transformed as a ragged and furious woman of the people, comes forward from the rest and, with a dagger in one hand and a bloody head in the other, rushes towards Danton.
Danton, behold this plotter’s bloody head!
He would have killed thee: by my hand he died!
If he could have my place here better filled,
Thou hast done ill, if not, thou has done right.
I have done right, and my reward I claim.
Danton, thou great man, pass a night with me!
What sympathy could wake in such a breast?
What tenderness could in this tigress dwell?
Why, truly, thou, too, Citizen, it seems,
Art turned aristocrat, or else perchance
A fever makes thee talk like a romance.
Thou art a man, and I a woman young;
My admiration leads me here to thee!
This makes me shudder, let mine eyes not see,
This dire delusion is unbearable.
And yet what wondrous likeness. One who deemed
He saw an angel, and then gazed once more
And knew that he that angel fallen saw,
He would have been as I. And yet the face,
The figure and the speech are like to hers.
Yea, all seem but the same, save that there lacks
A something that the tongue can never name,
Which changeth all to leering mockery.
The glory of that one withstood my lust,
From this one, loathsome, reek the fires of hell.
What dost thou murmur, Danton, to thyself?
I count I shall not have as many nights
As there are traitors yet at liberty.
To the Convention! Name the traitors! On!
Meanwhile ROBESPIERRE, SAINT-JUST and other members of the Convention appear with another CROWD and stand on a hastily constructed platform.
How should he name them? He is chief of them.
The CROWD murmurs.
Saint-Just, thou durst accuse me. Knowest thou
That I am strong?
The People was thy strength
But it is wise and knows thee now and shall
Now the Convention’s sentence ratify.
I own no other court to judge of me
Beside the People, and it is my friend.
Again a loud murmur runs through the CROWD.
Thy friend is he who is thy country’s foe,
The sovereign People shall be now thy judge.
I charge thee traitor at the People’s court.
Thou hast misused the monies of the State,
Shown sympathy to the aristocrats,
And sought to rule as tyrant in this land.
Saint-Just, beware, my words shall ruin thee,
Thy charge is false…
Why do ye let him speak?
Ye know his tongue is smooth as is a snake.
Arrest him, in the name of Liberty!
Let us not hear him. No more! Death to him!
They surround him and arrest him.
Then hear ye not, and I too will not hear
This idle charge. Let us not strive with words,
Nor have ye won the victory in deeds.
Thou hast forestalled me, Robespierre. This
Is all the matter. Boast thou nought of it.
I lay the weapon down myself.—Enough.
But now I summon thee before three months
To follow me upon this road.
Come, executioner. A giant dies.
He lays his head beneath the guillotine.
The whole setting suddenly changers to the SCENE VIII. ADAM again as Kepler, is seen with his head bowed over the writing-table. LUCIFER, as his Famulus, stands beside him and taps him on the shoulder. The morning dawns grey.
Adam, awake! This time the knife falls not.
Oh, where am I, and where are fled my dreams?
The dreams passed with the rapture of the night.
In this sick time and in this aging breast
Can only wine fumes greatness then create?
Majestic visions opened to mine eyes;
Who seeth not the spark of God is blind,
Though it be dimmed with foulness and with blood.
How mighty was the virtue and the sin;
Yea, both were crowned with wonder and with awe.
Resistless force on either set its seal.
Ah, why did I awake to gaze around
And better mark the evil of this age
Where sin lies hid beneath a smiling mask
And narrow custom is for virtue held.
The ecstasy of a wine drunken night
Yields to the grey despondency of dawn.
EVE coming out of the arbour
Begone from me; my heart deceived me not,
Thou wouldest have me take my husband’s life!
Dost thou think she whom thou didst falsely name
Thy heart’s ideal plays the murderess?
THE THIRD COURTIER
For God’s sake calm thyself; if we be heard,
Disgrace and shame shall come upon us both.
And these two women, were they but a dream?
What mean I? ’Twas one woman in two shapes
That changed, as change the tumults of my fate,
Like to a wave that gleams and then grows dark.
Ah, so, with thee disgrace outweigheth all!
Thou carest not for crime, so it be hid,
Thou knight whose name must be beyond reproach!
Woe to you, thus at woman do ye mock,
Until the ancient pride of chastity
She cast away as prejudice, and then
Ye look with scornful smile upon the wretch
Ye use as the base tool of your desires—
Begone! Henceforth I see thee nevermore.
THE THIRD COURTIER
Thou art too much distressed. We shall be held
Fit food for mirth if we so solemnly
Treat things of every day. And we shall meet
Again with smiles and kisses, and of that
Which now hath happened we shall speak no more.
The miserable hound!
See now, here am I, with my sin and tears.
It was then but a dream, and ’tis the end.
But not the end of all, for stronger is
The idea than matter. Violence
May destroy matter; the idea lives
For ever, and I feel my visions grow
In height majestic, making all things pure,
Until, though slowly, they shall fill the world.
Dawn grows apace. The youths already wait
Impatient for the master to appear
That they may gather wisdom from his words.
He rings a bell fitted to the observatory.
Ah, do not make a mock of my poor art;
I blush for shame when men do praise my skill.
Yet dost thou not teach many brilliant youths?
I teach not, but do only fill their minds
With sounding words they cannot understand.
They have no skill to choose this path or that,
The ignorant admire, and deem that we
Summon up spirits with these wondrous words,
And yet ’tis all a ruse, a clever play
Of some glib conjurer before his booth.
A STUDENT enters with quick steps and goes on to the balcony.
In thy great kindness thou didst bid me come,
And promised me that thou wouldst satisfy
My thirst for wisdom and that thou wouldst grant
That I should travel further on the path
Of knowledge, than for others it were meet.
’Tis true, ’tis true, thy diligence is great
And makes thee worthy of this privilege.
Lo, I am here and tremble with desire
That into Nature’s workshop I may look,
To grasp the whole, and better to enjoy:
To feel my greater knowledge, and be lord
Both in the world of matter and of mind.
Thou wouldest much. Thou, but a tiny speck,
To grasp the wonder of the universe!
For lordship, pleasure, knowledge thou dost ask,
And if thy heart failed not within thy breast
And thou shouldst gain all this, thou wert a god.
Ask less. Perchance thou mayest less attain.
Reveal, great master, what thou wilt to me
Of secret wisdom. All shall profit me,
For I feel that I nothing comprehend.
I see that thou art worthy. So, ’tis well.
And I will lead thee to the inmost shrine
And thou shalt see the truth as I do see;
But listens not some uninitiate?
For truth is terrible, and deadly if
It reach the people in this present age.
The time shall come, ah, would it were here now,
When men shall speak the truth upon the streets,
But then the People will have come of age.
Give me thy hand, and swear not to betray
What thou shalt hear! So, hearken to my words.
I tremble with desire and reverence.
What didst thou say to me a moment since?
‘I nothing comprehend.’ ’Tis but the truth.
ADAM speaking with caution
Nor I myself; nor any man beside.
Philosophy is but the poetry
Of unknown things that we have not yet grasped.
Of many doctrines ’tis the best for man,
For in itself it findeth calm delight
Midst broidered phantasies of its own world.
But it has other rivals numberless,
Who draw, with solemn faces, in the sand,
And prove most wisely that straight lines be curved,
Naming the circle sanctuary, till
A man should laugh to see the comedy,
When all is done with such a solemn grace.
And while with anxious breast and beating heart
All would avoid the drawings in the sand,
There lie hid snares to trap the overbold
Who step beyond the border of the pit,
And thus thou seest, ever in our path
Stands idle folly, held as piety,
To guard the threshold of authority.
I understand thee. Shall this ever be?
The time shall come when all this shall be mocked.
The statesman whom have considered great,
The orthodox ones that we have admired,
Posterity shall deem comedians,
When greatness that is true shall take their place:
Men of simplicity and naturalness,
Who only leap when they must cross a trench
And take their road there where the way is clear.
And then that science which, deep, intricate,
Now leads to madness, though no man shall learn,
Yet all will understand, for truth shall dawn.
It was, then, in this language clear and plain
That, long ago, the first Apostles spoke.
Yet even though all else be vanity,
Take not from me the faith I hold in art.
And to learn art we must submit to rules.
Art, too, is then most perfect when concealed
In such a way it is not perceived.
Must we then halt at cold reality?
The quest of the ideal fires our work.
’Tis true into the work it breathes a soul,
And doth with Nature give it equal rights,
And bringeth it to plenitude of life,
When else it were a creature dead and cold.
Yet when for the ideal thou dost strive
Think not great, living Nature to outdo:
And leave the pattern and the rule aside.
He that hath strength and God within his heart
Shall be an orator or he shall grave
With cunning chisel, or sweet music make,
And sobs shall wring his breast if he have grief,
And if joy bring him slumber, he shall smile,
Though by new ways he will attain the goal.
And by his work shall precepts new set forth:
Abstraction, to a puny race of dwarfs
Fetters perchance may give, but never wings.
Then tell me, master, what is left for me
Who have in study passed so many nights?
Am I then equal only to the dolt,
And is my labour only all in vain?
’Tis not in vain, for now thou hast the right
To look in scorn upon its tempting snares.
Who turns his back on danger never faced,
He is a craven. But the hero proved,
The brawler’s challenge safely may ignore,
Suspicion cannot touch his courage calm.
Then take these yellowed parchments, and these books,
Mildew and dust lie thick upon the leaves.
Cast all into the fire. These make us lack
The strength to walk untrammelled on our way
And spare us from the effort of clear thought,
These bring the errors of past centuries
To prejudice the new and growing age.
Into the fire with them. Let us go forth.
Why dost thou ever ponder, while life speeds,
Within the dimness of four narrow walls
To learn what is a song, if woods be green?
Dost thou think life flies with so tardy wings
That thou wilt study theory till thy death?
We two will bid the school a long farewell.
Thy golden youth shall lead thee to the joy
Of sunlight and the merry dance and song.
Lead, enigmatic Spirit Guardian,
Me to that new world which shall come to be
If it shall comprehend the ideals
Of a great man, and to the hidden thought
Give free speech spoken in true liberty,
On the accursed dust of ruins old.
London. A fair between the Tower and the Thames. A motley and noisy Crowd surges, murmuring, to and fro. ADAM, as an elderly man, stands with LUCIFER on a bastion of the Tower. Towards evening.
CHORUS sounding as the
voice of the murmur of the Crowd, and accompanied by soft music.
Ever roars life’s boundless ocean,
With each wave new worlds arise,
Downward sinks one mighty billow,
Mounts another to the skies.
Now thy fear the man shall perish,
By the many, crushed and slain;
Now thou fearest lest a million
Die that one may live and reign.
This day thou for learning tremblest,
And that day for poetry;
Seekest in the path of order
To confine the raging sea.
Thou shalt draw out water only,
Though thou strive and toil and weep;
Thunders on the ceaseless ocean,
Laughs, with laughter loud and deep,
Let it roar, and let it thunder,
Life to life shall set the bounds;
In the turmoil nought shall perish,
Life the old and new doth cherish,
Hark, the mystic song resounds.
For this, for this I have for ever sighed;
Till now I walked within a labyrinth;
Now stands before me life: the veil is riven;
This kindling music doth man’s heart inflame.
The voice of grief, the sigh, the heavy groan
Are music in a strain that sounds on high
As sweet as doth a chant within a church.
So doth God hear, and therefore doth he deem
The he hath made this world in all ways good.
But far below, the song sounds otherwise,
Where, with the music, beats the aching heart.
Thou doubting mocker, is not fairer then
This world than all those other worlds ere now,
Through which thou hast, tormented, made me pass?
The hoary barriers are broken down,
The dreadful phantoms, which the past doth leave,
Though clothed in hallowed glory, to torment
The future race of man; they are no more.
A course unfettered doth the soul await;
No longer pyramids are built by slaves.
The groaning of the slaves on Egypt’s sand
Would not have reached to such a height as this;
And, save for that, how godlike was their work!
And did not once in Athens worthily,
The sovereign people, when it sacrificed
A great man, well beloved, the State to save
From peril might else have threatened it,
If we from such a height all things can view
And tears and idle doubt mar not our sight?
Be still, eternal sophist, hold thy peace!
But even though there were no longer woe;
Instead, were changeless, smooth monotony.
Where were the heights that beckon? Where the depths
That terrify? Where then the chequered hues
That once were life itself? No more a sea
Would flow surging and sinking in its tide;
Nought but a marshy level, full of frogs.
The welfare of the many makes amends.
So dost thou judge, upon thy lofty seat,
Of life that moves below, beneath thy feet,
As history doth judge of ages fled;
It hears no more the falling sigh, the groan,
And writes alone the music of the past.
So! Satan hath been stirred to feel romance,
Or be a doctrinaire? Achievements both!
LUCIFER pointing to the Tower
’Tis not so strange, when in this new young world
We stand upon the terror of the old.
No more from this grey rampart will I gaze,
But boldly go down into this new world.
I fear not lest I find not midst its waves
The light of poesy and noble thoughts.
Perchance they may no more reveal themselves
In heaven-shaking vast titanic strife,
But in their modest realm they may yet shape
A world more lovely and beneficent.
Thy fear were vain. While matter yet exists,
So long shall yet endure my power, too;
Denial, that doth ever war with it,
And while the heart of man shall beat, and while
His mind doth ponder, and while yet endures
Existing order, his desires to bar,
So long shall live too, in the spirit world,
Poem and ideal to say it ‘Nay’.
Tell me, in what form shall we clothe ourselves
When we descend to yonder multitude?
For in this guise, we cannot stir from here
Where shadows of the past around us float.
Waht form thou wilt. None stands above the rest,
Thanks to his fate. Then let us forward go
Toward the people, and its spirit know.
They both descend into the interior of the Tower and soon emerge, clad as workmen, through the gate and mingle with the Crowd. A puppet SHOWMAN is standing beside his booth on which is perched a monkey on a chain, and wearing a red coat.
This way, my masters, come, this way, this way!
The show will soon begin; this way, this way!
How first the serpent woman did beguile,
For she was eager overmuch to know,
And then how woman brought to his plight man.
See with what dignity this nimble ape
Shall play the part of man. Then shall you see
A bear that dances with a master’s grace.
This way, my masters, come, this way, this way!
The CROWD press around the booth.
Ah, Adam, here our history is shewn.
The piece is excellent that can be played
When twice three thousand years are past and dead,
And yet delight the merry heart of youth.
Away from this dull jesting, let us on!
Dull jesting! See how they delight in it;
These red-cheeked lads who but an hour ago
Were in the school-room, nodding at their desks,
When some dull text of Nepos was construed,
And who shall tell us which are right; are they
Who leap across life’s threshold, confident
In all their waking strength, or he who bows
The hoary head of age, and wearily
Passes with stumbling footsteps forth from life?
Doth Shakespeare please thee more than pleaseth them
This travesty distorted that they watch?
Distortion: it is that I cannot bear.
Somewhat of Ancient Greece still clings to thee.
I am the son, or father, as thou wilt,
(For in the spirit world it matters not)
Of the new movement called Romanticism.
And just in this distortion I delight.
A grinning ape that counterfeits man’s face;
Magnificence; then pelting it with mud;
Concupiscence; a penitent’s hair shirt;
A hymn to chastity from harlot’s lips;
The worship of the worthless and the small;
The curse the worn out rake doth hurl at love;
All this makes me forget my kingdom dies;
For in new forms reborn, I live anew.
SHOWMAN tapping Adam on the shoulder
Why take ye this good place? Know, my fine bird,
He only gives the crowd a spectacle
For nought, who, tired of life gets himself hanged.
ADAM and LUCIFER move away. A young GIRL comes, selling violets.
Sweet violets, the messengers of spring,
Sweet violets, sweet violets, come buy!
A little flower gives the orphan bread
And even poverty may render fair.
A MOTHER buying
To put into the hands of my dead child.
A GIRL buying
The fairest jewel for my long, dark hair.
Sweet violets, sweet violets, come buy!
She passes on.
A JEWELLER in his booth
Always we meet a rival in these weeds;
We cannot drive them out of fashion still.
And yet a slender neck alone beseems
The precious pearl, for which the diver braves
With courage desperate the hidden depths
That veil the monsters of the ocean bed.
Two GIRLS approach, together.
What splendid silks, what store of precious gems!
If these were fairings for a lad to buy!
A man to-day would suchlike only give
For favours modest maids would best deny.
And not for these. Men have to-day no taste.
They on rich food and trulls their money waste.
Men are so vain that, blind, they pass us by.
Or else, to court a girl, they are too shy.
They pass on. Beneath an arbour, drink is being served; around the table WORKMAN are carousing. In the background, music and dancing. Soldiers, burghers and all manner of folk are enjoying themselves and strolling about.
INNKEEPER among his guests
Come, masters, yesterday is past and gone,
To-morrow never comes. Let us be gay.
God feeds the birds that fly above the trees,
And all is vanity, the scriptures say!
I find good sense in this philosophy.
Come, let us sit upon this shady seat,
And see how well the people are content
At little cost: bad music and thin beer.
FIRST WORKMAN at a table
The devil’s work are the machines, I say.
They snatch the bread away from workmen’s mouths.
Well, if the drink remain, let us forget.
The rich, the devils are who suck our blood.
If one came here, I’d send him down to hell.
Ay, more to-day should get what they deserve.
What were the gain? He will be hanged to-day.
Our lot will be just as it was before.
Idle talk. Let the rich man come to me;
I’d hurt him not, but seat him by my side,
And let us see who is the master then
And who the man who can his pleasure take.
INNKEEPER to Adam
What will ye have, my masters?
Nought at all.
Then off with you, ye worthless vagabonds.
Think ye I steal the money that I take,
Or that my wife and children are to beg?
ADAM rising up
Thou darest speak thus…
Leave the rogue; let be.
Then, let us go. Why longer stay to see
How man doth sink to be but a brute beast.
Come, this is that for which I long have sought.
Here may we take our pleasure at our ease.
This din and tumult, and this laughter wild,
This flame of bacchic fire, that every cheek
Suffuses with a rosy shining glow,
As though a fond mask on a tear-stained face,
Is this not excellent?
It sickens me.
Meanwhile they approach the dancers. Two BEGGARS come up, wrangling.
This stand is mine: it hath been granted me.
Have pity on me, else I die of want,
Two weeks are gone, and I can find no work.
Then art thou no true beggar, ’tis the proof.
Bungler, begone, or I will call the watch.
The SECOND BEGGAR slinks away. The FIRST BEGGAR takes his place.
Give alms, my masters, to the suffering.
I pray you by the sacred wounds of Christ.
A SOLIDER drags away the GIRL who is dancing with a JOURNEYMAN.
Away, thou clod! Begone, dost thou believe
Thou art a man of any consequence?
I’ll make the feel, if thou dost not believe.
Nay, touch him not. ’Twere better to give place.
Authority and favour, both are his.
Why doth he use us with such proud contempt?
Already, like a leech, he sucks our blood!
A TROLLOP singing
Golden apples once were taken,
Though the dragons kept the tree,
Long dead they; the watch forsaken,
And the golden fruit grows free.
Foolish he who finds it fair,
Yet to gather will not dare.
She throws her arms around a youth.
LUCIFER lost in contemplation of the revellers
This song doth please me: let the rich man show
What is the treasure which he doth possess,
Within the iron chest whereon doth crouch
The miser, gold is worth no more than sand.
How moving is this raw lad’s jealousy,
Who hangs upon each glance his girl doth give,
How precious is to-day he knoweth well,
And though he think not on it, that his love
To-morrow in another’s arms shall be.
ADAM to one of the Musicians
Why doth thou use thy talent, man, so ill?
Dost thou find pleasure in what thou dost play?
Find pleasure? Nay. A torment rather ’tis
To play it day by day and watch, and watch
How men do dance and shout and cry for more.
These wild shouts haunt my dreams upon my bed;
But I must live, and know no other way.
LUCIFER still absorbed in contemplation
Ah, who would think such wise philosophy
Could flow from this swift play of flitting youth?
This maid doth know the pleasure of this hour
Is not the last her life shall bring to her,
And while she doth embrace, her eyes do seek
Already a new lover. Children dear,
How well in you my joy fulfilment finds,
For that ye labour, smiling, for my ends.
Let sin and grief my blessing be on you.
SECOND JOURNEYMAN singing
He whose weekly work is done,
Light of heart may quaff his beer,
Kiss his mistress’ rosy cheek
And the devil need not fear.
A few closing chords of music from a church are heard. EVE comes out, as a burgher’s daughter, with her MOTHER. She holds a prayerbook and a bunch of flowers in her hands.
This way, this way, sweet mistress, none can give,
Thee better service or more cheap than I.
Believe him not, his measure falleth short,
And stale are all his wares. This way, fair maid.
Ah, Lucifer, thou wouldest have us stay
Amid this sordid scene when, scarce perceived,
Salvation shines embodied, before me?
’Tis no new thing to see a pretty maid.
She comes forth from the church. How fair, how fair!
She went there to be seen; perchance to see.
Nay, touch her not with thy cold mockery.
The grace of worship rests yet on her lips.
Thou art a convert then to piety.
A witless jest, for in my heart be cold,
’Tis ill for me; but in this maiden breast
I would have reverence and simple faith,
And holy song and music of the past;
The petals of the bloom of innocence.
Nay, shew to me this sight of heaven then,
Since of the devil thou canst scarcely ask
That he should ever seek to know thy taste:
Enough, if then he see this gratified.
What else than heaven is this lovely maid?
So thinks the woodpecker that finds a grub
And marks with jealous eye the tasty bit
And vows it is the best food in the world,
While yet the ring-dove loathes to look on it.
Himself his own salvation man doth find,
And oft where fellow-men have made a hell.
What dignity, what virgin purity.
I feel not in me boldness to draw near.
Courage, thou art no novice with fair maids.
If we watch well, she also may be bought.
Perchance more dearly than the rest.
Meanwhile a YOUTH comes shyly up to EVE and offers her a honey-cake made in the shape of a heart.
Fair maiden, I beseech thee to be kind
And this fairing I bring thee to accept.
Thou art good, Arthur, to remember me.
’Tis long since we have seen thee; wherefore so?
They speak in a low tone. ADAM watches them anxiously till the YOUTH leaves.
Can then this stripling gain so easily
That treasure I, a man, desire in vain?
How sweetly doth she speak with him and smile,
Nay, waves her hand to him: I cannot look.
I must speak with her.
THE MOTHER to Eve
Arthur’s parents, true,
Have wealth enough, but yet I know how
They look upon his friendship with thee, girl.
Therefore cast not his rival quite away
Whose bunch of flowers thee surprised to-day.
Fair ladies, let me bear you company,
Lest in the thronging crowd ye suffer hurt.
Thinkest thou then my daughter is a maid
Whom any man may offer pretty words?
What others could he speak? So many times
Of woman pure and perfect have I dreamed.
Thou mayest dream of aught that pleaseth thee,
But he on whom this maid her charms bestows
Can never be a ne’er-do-well like thee.
ADAM stands confused. a GIPSY WOMAN approaches EVE.
THE GIPSY WOMAN
Ah, wonder of the earth and sweetest maiden,
Shew me thy dainty hand so soft and white,
And let me tell how destiny comes laden
With all good gifts to make thy fortune bright.
Looks at her hand.
I see a handsome husband—very nigh—
Fair children, health and wealth and property.
EVE gives her a coin.
LUCIFER pointing at Adam
Come, beldame, tell the fortune of my friend.
THE GIPSY WOMAN
I see not clear; ’tis hunger or the rope.
ADAM to Eve
Oh, drive me not thus from thy presence forth;
I feel thou wast created for my heart.
My mother, bid him go.
Begone, thou rogue!
Or I will call the watch.
Nay, let him be,
He may his wits recover, and indeed
He hath done us no wrong, though strange his words.
They move away.
Oh, is there no place, sacred poesy,
Left for thee in this dull, grey world of prose?
For sure there is a place. This honey-cake,
This posy, and the dance, what else were they
Than poesy? Be not so delicate,
And thou shalt have enough whereof to dream.
What profit, if yet greed and avarice
Lurk ever in them, and nowhere is found
Nobility which serves not selfish ends?
Still is some found within the school-room walls,
Where life is yet untrammelled by the world.
Lo, hither come the lads we think upon.
A few LADS strolling by.
’Tis holiday, farewell to musty books!
Come, let us have the best of holidays!
Forth to the fields, I hate the city’s streets
And all the narrow rules and busy trade!
And let us find someone to quarrel with,
’Tis rousing sport and doth beseem a man.
Then let us snatch the maidens from the arms
Of these good soldiers. We shall have war then!
And then flee with them to the meadows green,
For we have coin for music and for beer,
And with the memory of battles won
We shall be just as fine as any duke!
Good, splendid, we will vex the Philistines!
And drawing closer yet our friendship’s bond
Our pleasures we will take while yet we may,
Till, it may be, our country claim our hearts
And in a nobler warfare we shall strive.
They move away.
Such sights are pleasant in this flat, dull world.
I feel the hope here of a better age.
Thou soon shalt see what comes of this thy hope,
When once the school-room dust is shaken off.
These manufacturers approaching us
Were in their youth just such as are these boys.
Two MANUFACTURERS approach, conversing.
’This useless, I no longer can withstand
The press of others who compete with me.
All seek the cheapest merchandise, and I
Most lower the high standard of my wares.
The wages that we pay must be decreased.
Impossible. The workmen now rebel,
And say they have not means to live, the dogs!
And there may be some cause for their complaint.
But who doth tell them to take wives, or say
That they shall children breed that must be fed?
We must see to it that they work the more;
Ay, let them work till midnight in our shops;
Enough to rest the second half of night,
Time spent in sleep is lost to trade and goods.
They move away.
Away with them. Why wouldst thou have me see?
But tell me, whither is the maiden gone?
Now, Lucifer, thy power prove to me,
Help me to gain her ear.
Wastes not his might on folly such as this.
That which is nought to thee, to me is all.
Win her then.—Learn, though, to control thy heart.
Shrink not from falsehood. When I question thee,
Reply, and she shall fall into thy arms.
Aloud, so that the GIPSY WOMAN listening behind may hear.
Thou seest now, my lord, how wearisome
To go disguised among this teeming throng.
For we do ever meet with fresh affronts.
If these good folk but knew that our four ships,
Returned from India, do even now
Approach the harbour, they with other looks
Would welcome us.
Thou speakest truth, perchance.
THE GIPSY WOMAN aside
I should gain much by this discovery.
I pray thee hear. Thou didst disguise thyself,
And I did punish thee with boding words,
For nothing lieth hidden from my sight,
Who am, long since, an old friend of the Fiend.
It wanted nought but that, thou lying hag!
THE GIPSY WOMAN
Thy vessels come to-day within the port;
But better fortune yet I tell thee of.
A lovely maid hath lost her heart to thee!
How can I win her?
THE GIPSY WOMAN
She is almost thine.
She bade me go.
THE GIPSY WOMAN
And therefore shall be thine.
A little while and she shall come again,
Remember then the words I spake to thee.
The witch will overmatch thee, Lucifer.
Her splendid merits I do not dispute;
Now doth she do the devil’s work for him.
A MOUNTEBANK on a cart, accompanied by the sound of a trumpet, surrounded by a CROWD, appears and takes his place in the centre of the stage.
Make way, make way, and give due reverence:
My head is hoary grown in wisdom’s lore,
While I have sought with never-flagging toil
The jewels hid in nature’s treasury.
What is this wondrous madman, Lucifer?
’Tis Science, grown a mountebank, to live.
As thou didst live once, buried in thy tomes;
But now more noise is needed than before.
Yet never did I bear myself as he.
Shame on him!
He cannot otherwise;
And in his heart he feareth lest anon
Men read upon his headstone graven deep:
Ex gratia speciali
Mortuus in hospitali.
He who has spent, for others, days and nights,
Has surely earned the right to some reward.
I have toiled for the welfare of mankind,
And lo, here is the crown of all my toil.
This phial holds the elixir of life
That maketh young the old and suffering.
Of this, in years of old the Pharaohs drank;
This was the magic potion Tancred drained;
This unguent Trojan Helen fairer made;
And this is Kepler’s famed Astrology.
Hear’st thou his wares? The golden age that we
Sought in the future, in the past he finds.
The present never is in honour held,
No man is great within his bedroom walls.
’Tis as the wives we married ten years since;
We know full well the wrinkles and the lines.
Come buy, who will: the chance came not before.
Come buy, come buy, for it shall come no more.
ONE FROM THE CROWD
For all things I have use, so, give me here!
I thank thee, master, though it cost me dear.
Thou seest none believe, and yet they buy,
All eager some new wondrous ware to try.
EVE returns with her Mother, the GIPSY WOMAN follows whispering to them.
Thy words are vain; we know them all full well.
THE GIPSY WOMAN
Then may I ne’er be saved, if they be false,
That lord is so aflame with love for thee,
Already would he thee his Mistress make,
Thou wouldst be a fine lady, richly lodged,
And drive in coach and four, to ball and play.
If we consider well, ’twere better far
Than fade and wither, like an aging wife,
And languish in a cobbler’s musty shop.
THE GIPSY WOMAN
See, there he stands, his eyes are seeking thee.
It is not nice he hath not found me yet;
His hand are fine, his bearing, as a lord’s.
His friend I find no fault with, though perchance
His nose is somewhat crooked, and his legs
Are not too straight. But yet he seems a man.
Of such respectability and years.
I will go on, my daughter; it were best
If to yourselves I left you for a while.
THE GIPSY WOMAN to Adam
See now the beauty, how she sighs for thee!
I fly to her, what joy, what wondrous bliss!
THE GIPSY WOMAN
Forget not her who brought you twain to meet.
LUCIFER gives her money.
He giveth money, I thy hand do press.
THE GIPSY WOMAN starting back with a scream
Ah, what a grip!
It would delight thee more,
If thou wert that thou claimedst to be, hag!
EVE to Adam
Perchance for me a fairing wouldst thou buy,
That magic unguent there, that beauty gives.
The magic spell of woman in thy face
More loveliness than any unguent gives.
Meanwhile the MOUNTEBANK departs.
Thy words are sweet.
Nay, make me not ashamed;
Pearls, diamonds shall grace that slender neck,
Not that the jewels render thee more fair,
But since the finest setting they beseem.
Yonder I saw great store of precious stones,
But richer than befits a simple maid.
Nay, let us see.
Thou needst not go so far.
I chance to have with me a jewel rare.
He produces some jewels which EVE gazes on with great pleasure and tries on.
How beautiful, all eyes shall envy me.
ADAM pointing to the honey-cake made in the form of a heart
But let me see no more that heart!
I’ll cast it from me if thou like it not.
She throws it down.
’Tis well, and I will set my heel on it.
He treads on it.
Was that a cry, or did I nought but dream?
Meanwhile a CONDEMNED MAN is brought across the stage on a cart; the CROWD presses after.
VOICES FROM THE CROWD
Come, hasten! Said I not he was afraid?
Yet still defiant. Up, and follow him!
What noise is this? What means this thronging press?
A hanging. Why, ’Tis well that we are here.
Come, go we too. This sight doth draw me on.
And ’tis a time to wear my sparkling gems.
What hath the poor wretch done?
I do not know.
It matters not. But yet will I tell thee.
In Lovel’s workshop he hath laboured long,
But lead is poison, and its fumes he breathed.
Then long weeks did he in the sick house lie,
And it befell his wife was left in want,
And Lovel’s son was young and generous;
They found each other, and all else forgot.
Bravely, comrade! Thou halt a martyr’s death.
Thy name shall be most glorious to us!
The man recovered, but found not his wife;
His place was filled; for work he sought in vain.
His heart grew hot, he dared to utter threats.
And Lovel’s son made answer with his fist;
The wretched man saw, and caught up a knife
They bear him now. Old Lovel is gone mad.
At the last words LOVEL approaches, half-crazed with grief.
’Tis false, ’tis false, I am not mad, not mad!
Do I not know what my son’s wound doth breathe?
Take all, take all my wealth, take all from me,
Let me not understand the whispered words,
Lest I grow mad indeed, grow mad indeed!
Fear not, the day of reckoning shall come.
FIRST WORKMAN to the Condemned Man
Look boldly up, ’tis they have done the shame!
The CONDEMNED MAN proceeds with his escort.
Why dost thou haunt me, spectacle of dread?
Who now would tell which hath the greater guilt?
Perchance the sin lies in Society;
Where that grows rotten, crime doth breed apace.
Society, yea.—Take my gold, take all!
Let me know not the message of his wound.
Come forward, else we shall not find a place.
I thank thee, Fate, thou hast not made me judge.
’Tis easy, laws upon a couch to write,
’Tis easy, from the surface, men to judge;
How hard it is for him who probes the heart
And seeks to pierce the secrets of its depths.
So heard, no trial would an ending have,
No man doth wrong, because it is the wrong.
The devil too, cites reasons for the crime,
And each thinks his own reason weightiest.
The man of law cuts through the tangled knot
That never could philanthropist untie.
Meanwhile they reach the Tower in a recess of which is the image of a saint.
Be pleased to rest a little here, my friend,
I would upon this shrine my blossoms lay.
Suffer her not, else we do lose the day.
Innocent child—I will not hinder her.
I have been wont since I was but a child,
To pray before this shrine when I passed near,
And now, too, so much doth it comfort me.
It will take but a moment, and we can,
By walking fast, make up the time we lose.
She sets the flowers by the image, but they suddenly wither and from her neck and arms the jewels slip down, turned to snakes.
Dear Lord, what is this? Dear Lord, what is this?
LUCIFER to Adam
In vain I warned thee!
Help, for God’s sake, help!
Be not so wild, the folk do gaze at us.
And thou shalt richer jewels have in place.
Away from me! O Heaven, send me aid!
For cunning tricksters and a wicked hag
Have brought disgrace upon a modest maid
A crowd begins to gather, and the GIPSY WOMAN approaches with the Watchmen.
THE GIPSY WOMAN
They should be here. They paid me with false coin.
It melted in my palm to quicksilver.
Not in the coin, but in thy palm, maybe
The fault lay. Adam, let us hasten hence.
It is not good to seek enjoyment here.
They disappear inside the Tower and, while the throng and the tumult increase, they appear again on the summit of the bastion.
One disenchantment more. Enough, I thought,
To overthrow the monsters of the past,
And set free forces freely to compete.
I thrust out from the engine one chief bolt
That keeps all parts together, reverence,
And set no other stronger in its place.
What competition, if one, sword in hand,
Confront another rival weaponless?
What independence, if a hundred starve,
If they will not submit to one man’s yoke?
It is nought but a dog-fight for a bone.
Instead, such a society I would
As should protect, not punish; courage give,
Not threaten, boldly work with common force;
Such as the mind of science should conceive,
Where, o’er its order, Reason should stand guard.
And it shall come, my heart doth know full well.
Lead on, lead on to this world, Lucifer.
Vain dreamer, since thy vision only sees
Disorder in this thronging crowd below,
Deemest thou there is never harmony,
No system in the workshop of this life?
Gaze, then, a while with spiritual eyes,
And mark the work they bring to plenitude,
Only for us, though; not for their poor selves.
It grows dark. The whole fair is seen as forming one crowd that digs a grave in the centre of the stage; it dances around it, while all, one after another, some silently, others after delivering farewell speeches, leap into it.
On the ground the spade shall ring:
Let the task to-day done,
’Tis too late accomplishing
When to-morrow dawns the sun.
Not a thousand years shall see
Ended what is yet to be.
All are hungry, all are fed,
Crib and coffin are but one;
Let to-day be perfected
Work to-morrow new begun.
Lo, to-day the one who dies,
Shall to-morrow new arise!
The bell tolls.
On the even sounds the chime,
Work is done, go rest, ’tis time.
They whom dawn wakes to life new
Shall the great work start anew.
Now the comedy at length is played,
Others, merry, not myself I made.
All have drunk their wine, and so to all
Good-night, and sweet sleep upon you fall.
Sold are all my blossoms. On my tomb
Other violets anon shall bloom.
THE GIPSY WOMAN
Each would know what fate before him lay,
Now in fear his eyes are turned away.
Vainly in my treasure joy I sought,
Now I find repose that costeth nought.
Ended is the week, the toil and stress,
Now I rest from all its weariness.
Sweet my dream, the waking was but pain,
Come, sweet dream, I follow thee again.
Strong and bold I was to challenge all,
Now within a miry pit I fall.
Passion dies, the face grows thin and old,
Will it be, below, so drear and cold?
THE CONDEMNED MAN
Chain, bide with poor dust, this body bind.
Through this gate a new law I shall find.
Each would have the other think him wise,
Now the truth all view with startled eyes.
Why dost thou gape, dread gulf, before my feet?
Think not my heart doth fail me at thy night.
Only the dust doth fall, clay turn to clay,
But I pass through in passage glorious.
The soul of love, of poesy, of youth,
Do point me on the road to heaven’s bliss.
Upon this earth the smile within my eyes
Brings joy alone if, as the sunlight glow,
It cast upon each face its radiance.
Casting her veil and cloak into the grave, she ascends, transfigured, to the skies.
Thine eyes are opened, Adam?
Eve! ’Tis Eve!
The court of a majestic Phalanstery built in the form of the letter ‘U’. The ground floor of the two wings is open and forms an open hall with pillars. In the hall to the right, workmen are busy among whirling machinery; to the left, a SCIENTIST is at study in a Museum containing the most varied objects of natural history, mechanical tools, astronomical and chemical instruments, etc. All these characters belong to the Phalanstery and wear the same uniform. ADAM and LUCIFER ascend from the earth in the centre of the court. Day.
What country is this, and what nation here?
Thou speakest in a language heard no more.
Was not one’s own country a concept small?
’Twas born of prejudice in olden days,
Fostered by narrow-minded rivalry.
Now the whole earth is one wide Motherland,
And all do strive toward a common end,
While over the smooth-flowing Order new,
With honour due revered, stands Science guard.
Why then, my soul’s ideal is fulfilled,
And all is good. For this I ever sought.
This only I regret—the Motherland.
That might perchance have yet survived, I deem,
In the new Order, also. Yea, man’s breast
Has need of barriers; the infinite
It feareth, and its own intensity
It loseth, if it broadens. It doth cling
To that which hath been, and shall come to be.
I fear lest man the great world may not love
As he doth love his parents’ hallowed grave;
And he who for his kin should shed his blood
Will for a friend shed, at the most, a tear.
I see thou hast rejected thine ideal
Before that ever it could be fulfilled.
Believe it not, but I am fain to know
What cause shall knit together all the world
And guide at length toward a noble aim
Enthusiasm, that within man’s heart
Burneth, a sacred everlasting flame,
Though often fanned with idle vanity
And lavished in the strife for empty dreams.
But speak, what place is this where we do stand?
Then lead me on that I may rest my soul
In that delight which, after conflict long,
Man hath received as recompense deserved.
One Phalanstery this, of countless such
Where dwell the men of new philosophy.
Then let us come.
Nay, hasten not so fast.
First we must cast aside our former shapes,
For if I came as Lucifer, and thou
As Adam, in this world of learned men,
None should believe in us; we should be killed
Or else be clapped within an alembic;
A study for the chemists.
Thou dost jest.
’Tis so within the world of Intellect.
Do what thou wilt, but do it speedily.
LUCIFER transforms them both to resemble the inhabitants of the Phalanstery.
Then take this cloak and now cut off thy locks.
Now are we ready.
Speak we to this man.
I greet thee, Doctor.
Nay, disturb me not
In my great work, I have no time to prate.
’Tis sad, for we are doctors designate,
And from the thousandth Phalanstery come,
Drawn by the great renown, to seek for thee.
I do avow ye shew a worthy zeal.
My work may rest unfinished for a space,
If that the heat decrease not in the still,
And if the matter shall prove tractable.
I was not then mistaken. There remains
In thee as well, who nature and mankind
Hast through thy filter strained, the muddy lees
So. Now we may converse.
Which branch of learning doth your study form?
We are not bound to any narrow field,
But seek to gain a vision of the whole.
Ye err, the great is hidden in the small.
So much there is to learn, so short our life.
’Tis true: I know full well it needs must be
That one, sand beareth, one, a stone doth hew;
Without their toil the building could not rise,
But they in darkness wander, unaware
What part their labour plays within the plan.
The architect alone the whole doth see,
And, though he know not how to shape one stone
’Tis he creates the work, like to a god.
Such architect were great in science too.
Therefore, great master, are we come to thee.
Ye have done well: I praise your eagerness.
Of science, all the branches manifold.
Are features, different and separate
Of one organic whole, and only when
Together, charm they.
As a woman fair.
But, notwithstanding, chemistry it is—
It is the centre, wherein dwells its life.
Thou art right!
Told me the same of mathematics, once.
All men, through vanity, believe themselves
The centre of that field their eyes can view.
For thine own study thou hast made good choice
I have no doubt of that.
But now this great museum let us see,
For ’tis the finest in the world to-day.
Here, by the taxidermist’s art displayed,
Are real specimens of beasts extinct.
These lived in thousands in the ancient world
Among our ancestors, then barbarous,
And shared with them the lordship of the earth.
And many wondrous tales are told of them.
This one, we read, for transport was employed.
The horse: but this is but a sorry nag
Of old, far other was the Arab steed.
This one, they say, was deemed the friend of man,
And dwelt with him, yet worked not for its food,
And had the mind its master’s thought to grasp,
And wait in faithful service on his word.
’Tis even said the sin of human kind
It took from man, the thought of property,
And gave its life to save its master’s goods.
I do but tell you what the writing say,
Not as I held it all for certainty.
Much madness was there in the days of old,
Of which this tale is one preserved to us.
This is the dog. All is as thou hast said.
Adam, beware, thou dost betray thyself.
This was the poor man’s slave in times long past.
As were the poor the oxen of the rich.
And this, the desert’s lord.
The lion, this.
And this the tiger, that, the speedy deer.
What beasts are yet alive then on the earth?
Why dost thou ask? ’Tis not the same with you?
The useful beast lives yet, and that for which
No substitute is yet by science known.
The pig and sheep, but not as once they bred
When nature formed them with a clumsy hand.
The pig is living fat, the sheep doth give
Its flesh and wool to serve the use of man.
Each, like the alembic, such service yields.
But, as I see, thou knowest all these things.
Then let us gaze at others. Metals, these.
See what a mighty block of coal is this!
Whole mountains of this substance once were formed,
And man might gather, ready to his hand,
That which is drawn with difficulty now
By science from the air. And this ore, here,
Man once called iron, and until it failed,
He had no need of aluminium.
And this small lump is gold, of great renown
And little use. When, in his blind belief,
Man worshipped higher beings than himself,
And even beings higher set than fate,
He deemed that gold was as these beings were,
And on its altars, rights, and ease of life
And all things sacred held, would sacrifice
To gain a little lump of magic gold,
For which he might have all things in exchange;
Yea, even bread. It is incredible!
Come, show us other things. All this I know.
In truth thou art a doctor wise indeed.
Then let us see the plants of ancient days,
See, this is the last rose that bloomed on earth,
A useless flower, one of thousands such,
That took the richest soil from waving corn,
The playthings of great children in old time.
’Tis strange that they were set upon such toys;
Such blooms grew in the garden of their mind;
Vain phantasies of faith and poetry,
And, lulled within the arms of idle dream,
The mind its vital force would dissipate,
And leave the aim of life an untilled field.
Here we have guarded as a rarity
Two such vain works. The first a poem is:
The writer once, when he in sinful pride,
Desired an individual renown,
Was Homer named. The poem doth describe
A world of vain illusion, Hades called.
Long since we have his every word proved false.
The other work, which now I shew to thee,
Here, the ‘Agricola’ of Tacitus,
Portrays the customs of a savage age,
A picture laughable yet sorrowful.
These few leaves yet endure of ancient script,
The testimony left from mighty days.
But they no more do fire the heart of man,
Nor stir this race degenerate of thine
To overthrow thy smooth and perfect world?
Thy words are apt; of this we take good heed.
The poison which is hid is perilous.
Therefore ’tis granted these to read alone
Whose years have passed the limit of three score,
And who to science dedicate themselves.
Yet fairy tales that nurses love to tell,
Do they not fill the children’s tender minds
With fancied things?
’Tis true, and therefore ’tis
Our nurses speak of truths numerical
And tell the children of geometry.
O criminals, have ye no thought to shrink
From robbing childhood of the golden days?
But go we further. These are instruments.
How strangely formed the products of their skill.
This is a cannon. On the barrel graved
Strange words that veil a meaning lost to us:
‘Ultima ratio regum.’ Its use
Who knows? And here we see a sword,
A weapon only used for killing man;
And he who slew with it was not condemned.
This picture by the human hand was limned,
And half his life the artist gave to it;
The subject, but an idle tale, it seems.
To-day such work the sun doth execute,
And while, of old, idealised and false,
To-day, a likeness true doth serve our ends.
But art—the spirit lives no more therein.
These hundred vanities and gaudy toys,
For children fit. This flower on a cup,
This arabesque upon a carven chair,
Are all the wasted handiwork of man.
Tastes water fresher from a painted cup?
Is rest more easy in a carven seat?
Now, all is fashioned by machinery,
In forms of service and simplicity.
Nay, such perfection is herein ensured
That he who turns no more than screws of brass
Stands by the lathe until his dying day.
Thus, there is then no life, no striving soul
That doth in art the craftsman’s skill surpass.
Where then, dots mind and force find field and scope
To prove their source in heaven’s glowing light?
If man would fight and gaze upon this world
Of ordered system, regularity,
He findeth not the joy that peril brings,
No savage beast yet lives to challenge him.
In Science I am disenchanted, too!
I see a school for children, dull and grey,
In place of happiness I claimed from it.
But doth not brotherhood unite the world?
Where doth man suffer want of needful things?
In truth, such thoughts do merit chastisement.
Then tell me which ideal doest thou set
To breathe into this people unity,
And with a common purpose fire its heart?
That all should have enough to live on; this,
This is the ideal that linketh us.
When man of old appeared upon the earth,
He found a larder stocked with plenteous food;
He needed but to stretch his hand and take,
To satisfy his every want and use.
He thus consumed unthinkingly, apace,
As maggots in a cheese, and warm and fed,
Had time to seek adventure, poesy,
In wondrous visions of his idle thought.
But when the final morsel now we reach,
We must be sparing, since we long have known
The cheese is nearly spent and we must starve.
Four thousand years and then the sun grows cold,
No more shall grass grow on the face of earth.
And this four thousand years remain for us
To learn how light and heat may be replaced—
For science, as I think, ’tis long enough.
Water, for heating, is the fuel best,
When oxidised, it best retains the heat.
The secrets of organic life may yield
Now, any day, to man’s discovery;
’Tis well our talk hath led us by this path,
Else had I now my alembic forgot,
For in this very work I labour now.
Man truly is grown very old, if now
He took to alembics to give him help.
Yet, even though success should crown thy work,
How monstrous the fulfilment, as a thought
Unvoiced, a love that loveth nought,
A being contrary to nature’s law,
To nothing kindred and to nothing strange,
Deprived of individuality.
And whence shall be the character thereof,
Shut off from suffering and streams of force,
Waking, within a narrow glass, to life?
See, see, it surges, glitters; here behold
There move swift forms that rise and fade again.
Within the warm and subtly sealed glass,
Affinity, reaction, interact;
And matter will be forced to do my will.
I marvel, yet I cannot understand:
Canst thou prevent the like from joining like.
The unlike from repelling the unlike?
Thou speakest foolishness. Such is the law
That matter governeth eternally.
I do perceive; yet tell me, on what base?
On what base? ’Tis a law, for so things are;
Experience doth teach us of its truth.
Thou art, then, Nature’s stoker, nought beside,
And she the rest doth bring to plenitude.
I set the bounds within the alembic,
And draw it from mysterious darkness forth.
I see no sign of life within as yet.
It cannot tarry long. I who have watched
The mysteries of all organic things,
Who have dissected life a hundred times…
Thou hast a hundred times a corpse described.
Yea, science follows but with halting feet
Existing, real, new experience,
And as poet whom a king doth pay,
Commemorates the great deeds of the age,
Hath yet no call the future to foretell.
Why do ye mock? Have ye no eyes to see,
A spark alone is wanting and life comes?
But whence shall come the spark thou yet dost lack?
We need but one step more to reach the goal.
Yet he who hath not made this final step,
Has nothing done nought and nothing doth he know.
All else our eyes have seen outside. This would
Lead to the holiest of mysteries.
Shall there come ever one to make that step?
Meanwhile the smoke above the alembic begins to condense. Thunder is heard.
THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT OF THE EARTH from the smoke
None ever shall. For me this alembic
Too narrow and too wide is. Thou dost know
Me, Adam, dost thou not? But these know not.
Didst thou not hear the word the spirit spoke?
Oh, gaze and see, vain man of puny might,
How couldst thou master that which floateth there?
A fit of madness. Thou dost make me fear.
The alembic bursts. The SPIRIT vanishes.
The alembic is shattered, yet the work
Once more I can begin. While yet the goal
Beckons me on, a little clod of clay,
The onset of blind chance, defeats us yet.
In olden days men called it destiny,
And it was held less shameful to be crushed
Beneath the stroke of fate, than ’tis to yield
To onset of blind chance.
A bell is heard
What meaneth this?
Work ceases, and the hour for leisure strikes.
Here come they from the workshops and the fields.
Now he who hath done ill meets punishment,
Now women and the children are assigned.
Let us go there. I, too, am needed there.
The men come in one long procession, the women in another, a few of them with children. EVE is among them. All form in a circle in the courtyard and an AGED MAN takes his place before them. ADAM, LUCIFER and the SCIENTIST stand in the foreground beside the Museum.
THE AGED MAN
LUTHER stepping forward from the line
Here am I!
THE AGED MAN
The furnace has been heated to excess.
In truth, thou seemst to have a passion for
Endangering the whole Phalanstery!
And who could the attraction ere withstand,
When wildly glares the fire with flying sparks
And roar of thunder, as with thousand tongues
The flames leap forward, thirsting to devour;
And yet to heap on fuel, stand unmoved,
Well knowing that its rage we yet control.
Thou knowest not the magic of the fire,
Who seest but the flames that seethe a pot.
THE AGED MAN
Thy words are idle. Thou shalt fast to-day.
LUTHER stepping back
But yet to-morrow shall I feed the fire.
What meets mine eyes here? This man I well know
For this was Luther.
THE AGED MAN
Two hundred and nine!
CASSIUS stepping forward
THE AGED MAN
Thrice already have I warned thee now.
Thou seekest quarrels when thou hast no cause!
CASSIUS stepping back
No cause! Because I do not make complaint?
A coward he who other help doth seek
While his own arm is strong, or thinkest thou
My foe was weaker? Why shewed he no fight?
THE AGED MAN
Give me no words. The fashion of thy skull
Doth not excuse thine evil violence.
For ’tis well formed and noble, but thy blood
Is hot and turbulent; but we shall find
Treatment for thee, until thou tamer grow.
Ah, Cassius, if thou but knew who fought
Beside thee at Philippi! Is the world
So changed to ill, and learning grown so blind
That such a noble heart is held as nought
And deemed a hindrance to the common weal?
THE AGED MAN
Number four hundred!
PLATO stepping forward
THE AGED MAN
Once more we find
Thou hast been sunk in dreaming phantasies,
And left to stray the herd thou shouldest watch.
Thou shalt keep wakeful, kneeling on hard grain.
PLATO stepping back
Though on hard grain I kneel, I yet shall dream.
Ah Plato, what a part is given thee
In that same world for which thou once didst long.
THE AGED MAN
MICHELANGELO stepping forward
Here! Here am I.
THE AGED MAN
Without permission thou thy workshop left.
Yea, for the chair leg do I fashion yet,
And in a shape that hath no art nor skill;
Long have I sought for leave to change the form,
That I might add the simplest ornament.
I am refused; I wished to carve the back
And change from work upon the leg. In vain.
And thus I was to madness nearly come.
And so I left the torment of my task.
He steps back.
THE AGED MAN
For this breach of the rules, go, seek thy room,
Thou shalt not now enjoy this fine, warm day.
O Michelangelo, within what hell
Thy soul must be, that thou canst not create!
How many that I knew, I see at hand,
How many spirits, mighty ones of old!
With him I fought—he died a martyr’s death;
This one, earth’s turning globe too narrow found.
And now, how uniform and dwarfed the State
Has made the Earth. Ah, Lucifer, away!
No longer can my soul this sight endure.
THE AGED MAN
To-day two children have fulfilled the time
When mother-care was needful for their health.
The Common Children’s School awaits them now.
Come, forward, then.
EVE and another woman step forward, each with her child.
What radiant vision!
So, this monotonous and dreary world
Possesses yet its poesy also!
Then, Adam, thou wilt not straightway depart?
Nay, let us find our reassurance here.
THE AGED MAN
Come, Scientist, look on these children well;
Examine the formation of their heads.
The SCIENTIST passes his hand over them.
Oh, what awaiteth me!
That voice, that voice!
Why dost thou for this common woman care,
Who hast the lips of Semiramis kissed?
But then I knew not her.
’Tis ever so,
This is the ancient song that lovers sing:
Each would believe he was the first to know
The flame of love, and never man before
Loved truly, and thus for a thousand years
The burden of the song hath been the same.
This child must learn the art of medicine;
That one shall be a shepherd.
THE AGED MAN
Hence with them!
They try to take the children away. EVE resists.
Nay, touch him not, the boy! The child is mine.
And who shall tear him from his mother’s breast?
THE AGED MAN
Away with them. Why tarry ye with her?
My little son. Lo, I have nourished thee
With my heart’s blood. What force is there to break
The bond between a mother and her child?
And am I then to yield thee evermore
And lose thee in the multitude and gaze
In vain with questing eyes to find mine own
Amid a hundred others all so like?
Oh, men, if ought ye hold as sacred yet,
Leave to the mother now her little child.
O blessed stranger, plead my cause for me.
THE AGED MAN
Thou playest, stranger, a game perilous.
If we let live the ancient prejudice
In favour of the ties of family,
Then speedily shall crumble and fall down
All that which sacred science hath achieved.
For science, icy hearted, what care I?
When nature speaketh, let it fall and yield.
THE AGED MAN
Enough. The child!
Ha! See ye touch him not.
There lies a sword and I will teach thee how
The sword is used.
Dream phantasy, move not!
He lays his hand on ADAM’s shoulder and ADAM grows numb.
And feel the fatal power of my hand!
My child, my child!
She collapses. The child is carried away.
THE AGED MAN
These women have no mates.
Let those stand forth who wish to wed with them.
I will her wed!
THE AGED MAN
Thy verdict, Scientist!
A nerve-sick woman and a man of whims
No healthy children breed and should not mate.
But I will not draw back, if she consent.
O man of noble heart, here am I, thine.
With all my heart, I love thee evermore.
And I do love thee everlastingly.
Nay, this is madness. Truly strange it is
In this enlightened age to look upon
A vision of the past; whence is it come?
From Eden’s garden, ’tis a lingering gleam.
THE AGED MAN
Nay, do not pity us.
Ours is the madness; your sobriety
We envy not you, for upon the earth
Great things and noble folly were as this,
Nor does calm prudence limits set to it.
The voice of spirits ’tis that on us lights
From purer worlds in song ineffable,
A witness that our souls to them are kin,
And we despise the dust of this vile earth
And seek a path to higher world than this.
He holds EVE in his embrace.
THE AGED MAN
Why hear we yet? To the sick house with them.
Here must I swiftly aid. Come Adam, hence!
They sink into the ground out of sight.
Space. In the distance is seen a segment of the Earth, diminishing in size until it only appears as a star, and mingles with the others. The scene begins in semi-darkness which slowly changes to complete darkness. ADAM as an aged man with LUCIFER flying.
Far speed we on wild wings. Whither our flight?
Didst thou not yearn to free thee from the the dross
And soar to higher spheres, whence, thou didst say,
The voice of spirits kindred came to thee?
Thou speakest truth, but never deemed I then
The way would be so long and desolate.
So empty stretches space, so cold and still,
As though ’twere sacrilege to enter there.
Within my heart two warring feelings strive,
I feel the littleness of Earth, that bound
My soul in fetters; yea, from thence I flee—
Yet do I yearn for that which I have left.
Ah, Lucifer, look back upon our Earth;
First did the flowers vanish from our sight,
And then the swaying branches of the woods;
The well-known landscape, with its pleasant haunts
Merged fast into a flat plain, featureless,
And every landmark faded and grew dim.
Then dwindled mighty rocks to clods of earth,
The cloud that lightning veils and thunder’s roar—
The voice of God to them which dwell below—
We saw as vapour driven by the wind.
The boundless ocean’s ever surging waves,
Where are they now? A shadow on the globe
That turns and mingles with a thousand stars.
And yet that Earth was all the world for us.
O Lucifer, and she, and she is there!
Must she abide upon it, far from us?
So high are we now risen; from the sight
First fades the beautiful, and then the great
And mighty, till at length nought else remains
To us than mathematics, cold, remote.
Now fade the stars behind us as we fly,
I see no end, I feel no obstacle;
Without love, without conflict, what is life?
Here all is cold and terror, Lucifer.
It thus far only hast thou heart to go,
Then turn we back and play amid the dust.
Who speakest of return? On, ever on!
Pain but endureth till the final bond
Be broken that yet binds us to the Earth.
What meaneth this? I cannot freely breathe,
My senses grow confused, strength faileth me.
Was more than myth Anteus who alone
Might live when on the earth his feet were set?
THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT OF THE EARTH
Yea, more than myth this tale of ancient years.
Now knowest thou the Spirit of the Earth!
I only am the breath within thy mouth;
Here lies the bound; so far my realm doth reach.
Return and live; press on and be destroyed,
Like to a tiny threadworm that doth swim
Within a drop of water; yea, for thee
This tiny drop of water is the Earth.
I thee defy; thou threatenest in vain.
My body may be thine, my soul is mine!
The thought, the truth are infinite, and were
Before thy world of matter came to be.
THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT OF THE EARTH
Vain man, make trial! Dread shall be thy fall!
Breathed yet a fragrance ere the roses blew?
Came form ere body, ray before the sun?
If thou couldst see thy soul left desolate,
Circling through cold, immeasurable space,
Seeking in vain for meaning and for form
Which might express it in an alien world;
Feeling nought there, and comprehending nought,
Thou wouldest feel the terror. Knowest thou,
All thought, all feeling that within thee dwell,
Are but the radiance of that salf—some mass
Of matter thou art wont to name the Earth.
If it were else, it could no more exist,
And thau couldst, with the Earth, exist no more.
Thy fair and foul, thy heaven and thy hell
Thou dost but from my spirit take to thee;
That spirit breathing in thy little sphere.
Ah, what is here an everlasting truth
May be undreamt of in another world;
The here impossible, be natural there;
Weight not exist, life rest immovable.
What here is air may there, perchance, be thought;
What here is light, there peradventure, sound;
What here be growing, be a crystal there.
Thou shalt not daunt me; on doth press my soul!
THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT OF THE EARTH
Adam, Adam, the final moment nears!
Return; great, on the Earth, thou mayest be,
While if thou pass beyond the Universe,
God will not suffer thine approach to Him
And thou shalt be defeated and laid low.
Shall death not come anon to lay me low?
THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT OF THE EARTH
This vain word of the ancient lie speak not;
Speak not this word here in the spirit world.
All nature would in horror shrink thereat.
A secret ’tis whereof the seal doth guard
The Lord Himself: the Apple of the Tree
Of Knowledge could itself not break that seal!
Yet will I break the seal.
They continue their flight. ADAM utters a cry and becomes rigid.
This is my end!
So, th’ancient lie prevailed!
As he thrusts ADAM away from him.
Now may this puppet deity revolve
In space, like to a planet new, whereon
Life may arise perchance once more for me.
THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT OF THE EARTH
Too soon thine exultation, Lucifer!
He did but touch in flight this alien world;
’Tis not so easy from my realm to pass!
Thy home doth call thee! Son of Earth, revive!
ADAM recovering consciousness
I live once more. I feel it by my pain.
But yet the suffering is sweet to me.
To perish, to be nothing, doth appal.
Lucifer, lead me to my Earth again,
Where I have fought so many fights in vain,
That I may fight anew and happy be.
So many trials, and thou thinkest yet
Thy conflict new shall not prove profitless;
And thou shalt reach the goal? In very truth
Such childish folly could be man’s alone.
Such idle dreams allure me now no more.
The goal, I know I shall not reach, although
A hundred times to gain it I should strive.
It matters nothing. And what is the goal?
It is the ceasing of a worthy fight,
The goal is death, the battle is the life.
The fight itself the goal the man doth seek.
In very truth, brave comfort dost thou take;
If but the cause thou foughtest for were high;
But that for which thou bearest arms to-day,
To-morrow thou despisest, and dost find
Thy heart was kindled by a childish whim.
Didst thou not shed at Chaeronea once
Thy blood, a vanquished freedom to defend?
And didst thou later, not with Constantine
Fight, too, this world-wide empire to create?
Didst thou not perish in a martyr’s death,
And afterward then not oppose the faith,
And fight with weapons science lent to thee?
True is it, yet the issue was the same.
Though foolish my intent, it fired my heart,
My soul uplifted: thus it grew to be
A cause most high and holy. Though the cause
Were Cross or Science, Liberty or Might,
It matters not in what form worked the cause,
It yet advanced the progress of mankind.
Oh, lead me back to Earth to fight anew.
Already hast thou then forgot the words
That spake the Scientist when he foretold
Four thousand years should pass, and this thy world
Should freeze, ice-bound, and conflict be no more?
If that our science not our fate defy.
But I feel, I know, that it will defy.
And then—shall there be conflict, greatness, strength
Within that ordered world that Reason forms
Of science and of theory, that world
That thou didst gaze upon a while ago?
Let it but save our Earth—it too will pass,
As all things that their office have fulfilled,
And then the thought creative shall once more
Breathe into it the flaming breath of life.
Lead thou me back, for I now burn to see
Upon this Earth redeemed in what new cause
My heart shall be enkindled.
A mountainous, treeless landscape covered with snow and ice. The Sun appears as a red, rayless sphere amidst mist wrack. Dim daylight. In the foreground an Eskimo hut among a few stunted birches and junipers. ADAM as a broken-down aged man supporting himself with a staff, descends from the hillside, with LUCIFER.
Why walk we in this endless snowy waste,
Where death doth gaze on us with hollow eyes?
Only a seal the stillness breaks, that dives
Beneath the water, startled at our tread.
The very herbage wearies of the strife;
Only dwarfed bushes midst the lichen sway;
The moon glares red behind a veil of mist
Like to a lamp within a graveyard vault.
Lead me away to where the palm-trees grow,
To that sweet land of fragrance and the sun,
Where now at length the soul of man has grown
To reach complete awareness of its strength.
There are we now. This red globe is thy Sun.
Our feet do stand on the meridian.
Too strong for science destiny hath proved.
O dreadful world—to die were good alone!
I should not weep for what I leave behind.
Ah, Lucifer, once stood I long ago
Beside the cradle of the race of man;
And saw what glowing hopes within it rocked;
How many battles have I truly fought;
Now, as upon this giant sepulchre,
Whereon her mourning pall hath Nature cast,
I muse on Earth, the first and last of men:
I would fain know how my race met its end;
In noble conflict fell it worthily,
Or, miserably waning, did it pass
Inglorious, unworthy of lament?
Ah, if of thy great spirit thou art vain,
As thou delightest yet to name that force
That sends the blood pulsating through thy veins,
And doth the heart of youth with hopes inspire,
Seek not to contemplate thy latter end,
And stand by thine own death-bed. ’Tis a time
For an examination marvellous
Of reckonings without the master made.
The brain’s delirium shall drive away
The glowing visions that life’s fever brings;
And who shall know the seeming from the true?
The feeble cry that ends the final fight,
Mocks bitterly the battles of our life.
Why fell I not when I had risen high,
When strength and spirit in my heart I felt?
Far better were it so than that I heard
An austere spirit speak my epitaph
In cold indifference, who hath not shared
My conflict and doth not share in my death.
Once more thy race appeareth in the tears
That mark the harsh awakening of thy mind
From fond illusion to reality.
Be not disquieted, thy race yet lives.
See, yonder stands a dwelling place of man,
And there the owner doth the threshold cross.
An ESKIMO comes out of a hut, prepared for hunting seal.
This stunted form, this brutish countenance;
This, of my greatness, the usurping heir?
Why hast thou let me see this, Lucifer?
The comfort is more grievous than the pain.
Are there yet gods that bear rule over us?
See now, they have appeared to me on earth.
Yet who shall say if they be good or ill?
’Twere safer if I hide myself from them.
He is about to retreat.
A word with thee!
THE ESKIMO kneeling
Be merciful, my lord.
The first seal that I take shall be for thee
A sacrifice. Destroy me not, I pray.
By what right dost thou sacrifice a seal
To save thy life by taking other life?
Because I am the stronger: for I see
The fish doth eat the worm; the seal, the fish:
And thus, in turn, myself I eat the seal.
And the Great Spirit thou dost serve for food!
I know full well, but yet the little time
In which he deigns to let me live my life
I purchase with a sacrifice of blood.
Thus speaks the craven!
Hast thou done aught else?
Only this difference ’twixt thou and him.
He offers thee a seal, and thou mankind
To that divinity which thou hast formed
In thine own image as he hath in his.
I see that thou art wroth, and feel the cause;
That in my need I dared to raise my sighs
To that Sun-god beneficent and bright,
That asks not; only giveth; and who once
Here too, our old tales tell us, reigned of old.
Oh pardon me, and I will curse him now.
Almighty God, look down and veil thine eyes.
How fallen Man, Creation’s masterpiece!
THE ESKIMO to Lucifer
Thy comrade is sore angered, lacks he food?
Nay, he is wroth because he hungers not.
At such a time dull jesting comes amiss.
It is the truth, no jest. Thy reasoning
Becomes a man well fed. Thy friend has of
An empty stomach the philosophy.
Ye will not thus with argument prevail
Against each other. But ye both would reach
At once agreement, if he now were filled
And thou didst hunger. Yea, ’tis even so,
Whatever be the fancies in thy heart,
The beast within you hath the foremost claim,
And only when the beast he hath assuaged,
Doth man deem in his foolishness and pride,
The first part of his being he may scorn.
Well do thy words became thee, Lucifer,
Who ever dost delight in dragging down
All sacred things into the dust and mire.
Each great resolve, each deed of fair renown,
Are but the steam above a kitchen fire?
The foolish issue then of circumstance,
All bound alike by law material?
Yet is it otherwise? Or dost thou think
Leonidas had died within the pass,
If that, instead of bread and barley broth,
In a republic which no money knew,
Within a palace he had tasted of
The dainty meats of eastern luxury?
Had Brutus died, if he had hastened back
To find the charms of Portia, and rest
From heat of battle after food and wine?
Whence cometh crime and whence nobility?
Is not the one by want and foul air bred?
The other by sunlight and liberty?
Are both in form and spirit not revealed
Within the image of posterity?
How many who have said that they have made
With themselves settlement of their accounts,
And then have hanged themselves upon a tree;
But if unsought for hands have cut them down,
Then, the reviving contact of new life
Has made them to forget their settlement.
Had Hunyadi not come upon the earth,
Born to a worthy nation; if within
A Saracen’s tent his cradle had been rocked,
Where would have been the Champion of the Cross?
If Luther had been Pope of Rome, perchance,
And Leo, Doctor of Theology
Within a German university,
Mayhap the second had reformed the first,
The first against the second hurled his ban.
What fate had been Napoleon’s, unless
A nation’s blood had smoothed his mighty course?
Perchance to moulder in some barracks dim.
ADAM laying his fingers on Lucifer’s mouth
Enough, all things as thou dost shew them thus,
So real and so manifest do seem
Yet all the more pernicious. Fools alone
Doth superstition blind, and they see not
The spirit which doth act and move midst us.
A good man, none the less, would recognize
His brother, if thy doctrine slew him not.
Speak with thy comrade then; one lesson more
In knowledge of thyself will harm thee not.
Live on yet many in this dreary land?
Yea, many surely, more than I can count
Upon my fingers. True, I beat to death
Them that dwelt nigh me, but ’tis all in vain.
For ever come new folk, and seals are few.
Oh, if thou be a god, I pray thee grant
That there be less of men and more of seals.
Enough, enough. Come, Lucifer, away!
Nay, let us look at least upon his wife.
I will not look, for if that man sink low,
Our eyes upon an evil sight do gaze,
It calls forth in our hearts alone contempt,
But woman, the ideal, poetry’s
Embodiment, if she sink low,
She were a form of horror! Forth from hence!
Meanwhile LUCIFER has led ADAM to the hut; now he kicks open the door and within, EVE is seen as the wife of the ESKIMO. ADAM halts, struck with astonishment, upon the shreshold.
Nay, findest thou not one thou know’st in her?
Embrace her, else our friend were mortally
Offended if thou do not treat his wife
With all the honour courtesy requires.
I her embrace, who held Aspasia
Within these arms! This woman, in whose face
I see yet dawn the features that were hers,
But like as though, whilst yet her lips did kiss,
She became beast.
THE ESKIMO entering the hut
Wife, guests are come to us.
See that thou dost them hearty welcome bid.
EVE falls on ADAM’s neck and draws him into the hut.
I bid thee welcome, stranger, rest within.
ADAM releasing himself
Come, aid me, Lucifer. Away from hence!
Back from the future to the present, lead.
Show me no more the fury of my fate,
The battles fought in vain. Let me think well,
If I may yet the will of God defy.
Adam awake! Thy dream hath reached its end.
The scene changes to that of SCENE III. A landscape with palm-trees. ADAM again as a youth, still heavy with sleep, comes out of the hut, and gazes around in amazement. EVE slumbers within, LUCIFER stands in the centre. Bright sunlight.
O dreadful visions, whither are ye fled?
Around me all things live and smile as when
I left them. Broken is my heart alone!
Vain mortal! Wouldst thou then that Nature’s rule
Should fall asunder, that athwart the sky
A comet new should glare, or earth should quake,
Because a worm doth perish in the dust?
Did I but dream, or is it now I dream?
Is more than dream, forsooth, existence, which
Upon dead matter, for a moment, lights,
And then, with matter, perisheth itself?
Why this one flash of fleeting consciousness,
The horror of non-existence to view?
Lamentest thou? A craven only, he
Who doth receive, whithout a fight, the blow
Which he has still the power to escape.
But he who gazeth calm and undismayed
Upon the letters destiny doth trace,
Unmurmuring, in silence, he is strong,
That yet he stand unbowed beneath their weight.
Such destiny stands history above.
Thou art the tool alone of destiny.
Nay, nay, ’tis false, the will of man is free,
That liberty I verily have earned,
And did, for freedom, Paradise renounce.
Much have I learned from visions of my dreams;
Of much been undeceived. But now alone
On me dependeth it my course to change.
Yea, if forgetfulness, eternal hope
Were not the twin ally of destiny,
That while the one doth cicatrize the wound,
The other one a carpet doth spread forth
Athwart the gulf, and bid thee courage take,
That though a hundred fall, thou shalt leap o’er!
But thou, amongst a host of creatures strange,
Hast surely, in thy studies, known that worm
Which in a hawk or cat alone may live.
And yet before that it be fully grown
Must dwell within the body of a mouse.
No one or other mouse is marked as prey
For cat or hawk; the prudent may escape,
And, aged, die within its hidden lair.
But yet a law unbroken doth require
So many mice shall be food for their foes
As needs must be, for molluscs yet to live
Upon the earth when centuries have passed.
No one or other man is fettered fast,
But the whole race of man doth bear its chains;
Enthusiasm sweeps him on its tide;
To-day one cause doth fire him, and next day,
Another hope ariseth in his heart.
Still are there they who perish at the stake,
Still are there they who mock their sacrifice.
And he who doth the numbers count and weigh
May the consistency of Fate admire,
That marriage, death, vice, virtue, measures in
Due portion; yea, faith, madness, suicide.—
Enough! What thought has flashed athwart my brain?
Thee may I yet, o mighty God, defy.
Cry fate a hundred times: ‘Thus far yet live,’
I laugh aloud, for if I will, I die.
Am I not now alone upon this world?
Before me is this cliff—beneath, the deep.
One leap, one final act—then may I say:
The comedy is ended!
ADAM advances towards the cliff. EVE comes out of the door of the hut.
What folly speakest thou, dost thou not know
Each moment a beginning is and end?
Thousands of years thou hast seen; and for this?
Adam, why hast thou stolen thus away?
So cold the last embrace thou gavest me;
And in thy face doth care or anger show,
I fear thee now.
ADAM advancing further
Why followest thou me?
Why dost thou watch the every step I take?
Man, ruler of the earth, hath greater things
Than rest at ease in idle dalliance.
This understandeth not a woman’s heart;
Nought is she but a shackle on his feet.
Why didst thou not yet slumber for a while?
For now the sacrifice harder be,
That I must offer to the future age.
If thou wouldst hear, ’twere easier perchance.
For that which hitherto hath lain in doubt
Stands now assured, the future of mankind.
How meanest thou?
I know thy face will smile,
If I do whisper it. Come closer yet.
I am to be the mother of our child!
ADAM falling on his knees
Lord thou hast conquered; in the dust I lie.
Without Thee, and against Thee, vain my fight,
Raise me or strike me down. I bare my breast.
Worm, hast thou then thy greatness so forgot,
That thou dost owe to me?
I cast it off!
It was a vain illusion. This is peace!
Thou, foolish woman, wherefor dost thou boast?
Thy son in Eden was in sin conceived,
And shall upon the earth bring sin and grief.
If God so will, a second shall be born
In sorrow, who shall wash them both away,
And bring upon this wide world, brotherhood.
Slave! Dost thou dare rebellion against me?
Rise from the dust, brute beast!
ADAM rises. The heavens open. THE LORD appears in glory, surrounded by ANGELS.
Seek thou the dust,
O Spirit! None is great before my face.
LUCIFER bowed down
My curse, my bitter curse, my bitter curse!
Rise, Adam; be no more cast down, for now
Thou seest I have restored thee to my grace.
A family idyll seems now in sight;
A pretty scene for sentiment perchance,
But for my mind exceeding wearisome.
’Twere best I slipped away now.
He prepares to go.
I have for thee a word. Do thou remain.
Speak now, my son, what cause doth grieve thee so?
My Lord, dread visions have tormented me.
I know not what of truth within them lie.
O speak, tell me what fate awaiteth me;
Is this brief span of life all that I have,
In which my soul doth fight and, therein strained,
Like wine, that, when at length ’tis purified,
It be poured on the earth to slake the dust?
Or hast Thou for the wine a nobler use?
And shall man yet press on to greater heights
That, nobler grown, Thy throne he may draw near?
Or weary, die like beasts that turn a mill,
And never break the circle that they tread?
Is there a recompense for lofty souls,
Whom, for the blood they shed, the crowd doth mock?
O lift the veil, and I with thankfulness
Will bear whatever destiny is mine.
Nought can I lose by knowledge, for the doubt
That doth torment my soul is nether hell.
Seek not to pierce the veil the hand of God
In mercy draws across thy longing eyes.
If thou shouldst see, thy soul upon the earth
Rests but a little while, and there beyond
Eternity awaits it. Here no more
A virtue were it suffering to bear.
If thou shouldst see, the dust would drink thy soul.
What spurreth thee, because of high resolve,
The pleasure of the moment to renounce?
While now, thy future shining through the mist,
If thou beneath the weight of this short life
Be bowed, the feeling of eternity
Shall raise thee up from thy despondency.
But if thereby thou growest overproud,
This transient brief life shall set thee bounds.
Greatness and virtue, both shall stand secure.
Wondrous in truth the road that thou dost tread.
Greatness and virtue, so, shall be thy guide;
Twin names that have reality alone
If superstition, folly, prejudice
With ignorance stand not guard over them.
Why strove I greatness to achieve in Man,
Who kneaded is of sunlight and of dust,
A dwarf in knowledge, and in blindness great.
Mock not, o Lucifer! Ah, do not mock!
The clear creation of thy knowledge I
Have seen, and cold it has been to my heart.
But, o my Lord, who shall sustain me now,
That from the road I stray not, lost and faint?
Thou hast withdrawn thy guiding hand from me,
When of the Fruit of Knowledge I did taste.
Thine arm is strong, and lofty is thy heart:
A boundless field doth for thy labour call,
And if thou listenest, a voice shall sound
That shall not fail to warn thee and uplift.
Heark to that voice; but if, amid the stir
Of life the voice of heaven be not heard,
Yet hath this woman weak a purer soul,
And further from the taint of selfishness.
Lo, she shall hear the voice, and in her heart
It shall to melody and song be turned.
Twin gifts hath she and shall for ever stand
Beside thee in thy grief and happiness,
And smile on thee and bid thee courage take.
And thou too, Lucifer, art yet a link
Within my universe. Work on, work on!
Thy fond denial and thy knowledge cold
Shall be the leaven in the mind of man,
And though he stray a brief space from the road,
It matters not, he shall return to it.
But this shall be eternal punishment
For thee, that thou shalt see unceasingly
What thou dost seek to ruin and destroy,
Live, the new seed of beauty, nobleness.
THE CHOIR OF ANGELS
Freely to choose ’twixt good and ill,
How great the thought revealed,
To know too, that God’s mercy doth
Protect us as a shield.
Then boldly work, and grieve not, though
The multitude thee scorn,
Strive not for praise the world doth give:
Be high thy standard borne.
Esteem thyself, and feel thou shame
If thou do otherwise.
Such shame the vile to earth shall bind;
Lift brave hearts to the skies.
Yet in the glory of thy road,
Let not the thought thee blind
That what thou dost in praise of God
Is wrought of human mind.
Think not the Lord hath need of thee
His purpose to fulfil,
And thou receivest from Him grace,
If thou mayst work his will.
My heart doth know the meaning of the song.
I feel its meaning too: be it my guide!
But, ah, the end; if I could that forget!
O Man, strive on, strive on, have faith; and trust!