Becket and other plays
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Part 4 out of 6
SYNORIX (_watching her_).
(_Aside_.) The bust of Juno and the brows and eyes
Of Venus; face and form unmatchable!
Why do you look at her so lingeringly?
To see if years have changed her.
Love her, do you?
I envied Sinnatus when he married her.
She knows it? Ha!
She--no, nor ev'n my face.
Nor Sinnatus either?
No, nor Sinnatus.
Hot-blooded! I have heard them say in Rome.
That your own people cast you from their bounds,
For some unprincely violence to a woman,
As Rome did Tarquin.
Well, if this were so,
I here return like Tarquin--for a crown.
And may be foil'd like Tarquin, if you follow
Not the dry light of Rome's straight-going policy,
But the fool-fire of love or lust, which well
May make you lose yourself, may even drown you
In the good regard of Rome.
Tut--fear me not;
I ever had my victories among women.
I am most true to Rome.
I hate the man!
What filthy tools our Senate works with! Still
I must obey them. (_Aloud_.) Fare you well. [_Going_.
A moment! If you track this Sinnatus
In any treason, I give you here an order
[_Produces a paper_.
To seize upon him. Let me sign it. (_Signs it_.) There
'Antonius leader of the Roman Legion.'
[_Hands the paper to_ SYNORIX. _Goes up pathway and exit_.
Woman again!--but I am wiser now.
No rushing on the game--the net,--the net.
[_Shouts of_ 'Sinnatus! Sinnatus!' _Then horn. Looking off
He comes, a rough, bluff, simple-looking fellow.
If we may judge the kernel by the husk,
Not one to keep a woman's fealty when
Assailed by Craft and Love. I'll join with him:
I may reap something from him--come upon _her_
Again, perhaps, to-day--_her_. Who are with him?
I see no face that knows me. Shall I risk it?
I am a Roman now, they dare not touch me.
_Enter_ SINNATUS, HUNTSMEN _and hounds_.
Fair Sir, a happy day to you!
You reck but little of the Roman here,
While you can take your pastime in the woods.
Ay, ay, why not? What would you with me, man?
I am a life-long lover of the chase,
And tho' a stranger fain would be allow'd
To join the hunt.
Strato, my name.
No Roman name?
A Greek, my lord; you know
That we Galatians are both Greek and Gaul.
[_Shouts and horns in the distance
Hillo, the stag! (_To_ SYNORIX.) What, you are all unfurnish'd?
Give him a bow and arrows--follow--follow.
[_Exit, followed by Huntsmen_.
Slowly but surely--till I see my way.
It is the one step in the dark beyond
Our expectation, that amazes us.
[_Distant shouts and horns_.
[_Exit_ SYNORIX. _Shouts and horns_.
SCENE II.--_A Room in the Tetrarch's House_.
Frescoed figures on the walls. Evening. Moonlight outside. A couch
with cushions on it. A small table with flagon of wine, cups, plate of
grapes, etc., also the cup of Scene I. A chair with drapery on it.
CAMMA _enters, and opens' curtains of window_.
No Sinnatus yet--and there the rising moon.
[_Takes up a cithern and sits on couch. Plays and sings_.
'Moon on the field and the foam,
Moon on the waste and the wold,
Moon bring him home, bring him home
Safe from the dark and the cold,
Home, sweet moon, bring him home,
Home with the flock to the fold--
Safe from the wolf'----
(_Listening_.) Is he coming? I thought I heard
A footstep. No not yet. They say that Rome
Sprang from a wolf. I fear my dear lord mixt
With some conspiracy against the wolf.
This mountain shepherd never dream'd of Rome.
(_Sings_.) 'Safe from the wolf to the fold'----
And that great break of precipice that runs
Thro' all the wood, where twenty years ago
Huntsman, and hound, and deer were all neck-broken!
Nay, here he comes.
_Enter_ SINNATUS _followed by_ SYNORIX.
I tell thee, my good fellow,
My arrow struck the stag.
But was it so?
Nay, you were further off: besides the wind
Went with _my_ arrow.
I am sure _I_ struck him.
And I am just as sure, my lord, _I_ struck him.
(_Aside_.) And I may strike your game when you are gone.
Come, come, we will not quarrel about the stag.
I have had a weary day in watching you.
Yours must have been a wearier. Sit and eat,
And take a hunter's vengeance on the meats.
No, no--we have eaten--we are heated. Wine!
Who is our guest?
Strato he calls himself.
[CAMMA _offers wine to_ SYNORIX, _while_ SINNATUS _helps
I pledge you, Strato. [_Drinks_.
And I you, my lord. [_Drinks_.
SINNATUS (_seeing the cup sent to_ CAMMA).
A strange gift sent to me to-day.
A sacred cup saved from a blazing shrine
Of our great Goddess, in some city where
Antonius past. I had believed that Rome
Made war upon the peoples not the Gods.
Most like the city rose against Antonius,
Whereon he fired it, and the sacred shrine
By chance was burnt along with it.
Had you then
No message with the cup?
Why, yes, see here.
[_Gives him the scroll_.
'To the admired Camma,--beheld you afar off--loved you--sends you this
cup--the cup we use in our marriages--cannot at present write himself
'A GALATIAN SERVING BY FORCE IN THE ROMAN LEGION.'
Serving by force! Were there no boughs to hang on,
Rivers to drown in? Serve by force? No force
Could make me serve by force.
How then, my lord?
The Roman is encampt without your city--
The force of Rome a thousand-fold our own.
Must all Galatia hang or drown herself?
And you a Prince and Tetrarch in this province--
Well, well, they call it so in Rome.
A noble anger! but Antonius
To-morrow will demand your tribute--you,
Can you make war? Have you alliances?
Bithynia, Pontus, Paphlagonia?
We have had our leagues of old with Eastern kings.
There is my hand--if such a league there be.
What will you do?
Not set myself abroach
And run my mind out to a random guest
Who join'd me in the hunt. You saw my hounds
True to the scent; and we have two-legg'd dogs
Among us who can smell a true occasion,
And when to bark and how.
My good Lord Sinnatus,
I once was at the hunting of a lion.
Roused by the clamour of the chase he woke,
Came to the front of the wood--his monarch mane
Bristled about his quick ears--he stood there
Staring upon the hunter. A score of dogs
Gnaw'd at his ankles: at the last he felt
The trouble of his feet, put forth one paw,
Slew four, and knew it not, and so remain'd
Staring upon the hunter: and this Rome
Will crush you if you wrestle with her; then
Save for some slight report in her own Senate
Scarce know what she has done.
(_Aside_.) Would I could move him,
Provoke him any way! (_Aloud_.) The Lady Camma,
Wise I am sure as she is beautiful,
Will close with me that to submit at once
Is better than a wholly-hopeless war,
Our gallant citizens murder'd all in vain,
Son, husband, brother gash'd to death in vain,
And the small state more cruelly trampled on
Than had she never moved.
Sir, I had once
A boy who died a babe; but were he living
And grown to man and Sinnatus will'd it, I
Would set him in the front rank of the fight
With scarce a pang. (_Rises_.) Sir, if a state submit
At once, she may be blotted out at once
And swallow'd in the conqueror's chronicle.
Whereas in wars of freedom and defence
The glory and grief of battle won or lost
Solders a race together--yea--tho' they fail,
The names of those who fought and fell are like
A bank'd-up fire that flashes out again
From century to century, and at last
May lead them on to victory--I hope so--
Like phantoms of the Gods.
Well spoken, wife.
Madam, so well I yield.
I should not wonder
If Synorix, who has dwelt three years in Rome
And wrought his worst against his native land.
Returns with this Antonius.
What is Synorix?
Galatian, and not know? This Synorix
Was Tetrarch here, and tyrant also--did
Dishonour to our wives.
Perhaps you judge him
With feeble charity: being as you tell me
Tetrarch, there might be willing wives enough
To feel dishonour, honour.
Do not say so.
I know of no such wives in all Galatia.
There may be courtesans for aught I know
Whose life is one dishonour.
My lord, the men!
Our anti-Roman faction?
Ay, my lord.
(_Aside_.) I have enough--their anti-Roman faction.
Some friends of mine would speak with me without.
You, Strato, make good cheer till I return.
I have much to say, no time to say it in.
First, lady, know myself am that Galatian
Who sent the cup.
I thank you from my heart.
Then that I serve with Rome to serve Galatia.
That is my secret: keep it, or you sell me
To torment and to death. [_Coming closer_.
For your ear only--
I love you--for your love to the great Goddess.
The Romans sent me here a spy upon you,
To draw you and your husband to your doom.
I'd sooner die than do it.
[_Takes out paper given him by Antonius_.
This paper sign'd
Antonius--will you take it, read it? there!
(_Reads_.) 'You are to seize on Sinnatus,--if----'
SYNORIX. (_Snatches paper_.)
What follows is for no wife's eyes. O Camma,
Rome has a glimpse of this conspiracy;
Rome never yet hath spar'd conspirator.
Horrible! flaying, scourging, crucifying------
I am tender enough. Why do you practise on me?
Why should I practise on you? How you wrong me!
I am sure of being every way malign'd.
And if you should betray me to your husband------
Will _you_ betray him by this order?
I tear it all to pieces, never dream'd
Of acting on it. [_Tears the paper_.
I owe you thanks for ever.
Hath Sinnatus never told you of this plot?
A child's sand-castle on the beach
For the next wave--all seen,--all calculated,
All known by Rome. No chance for Sinnatus.
Why said you not as much to my brave Sinnatus?
Brave--ay--too brave, too over-confident,
Too like to ruin himself, and you, and me!
Who else, with this black thunderbolt of Rome
Above him, would have chased the stag to-day
In the full face of all the Roman camp?
A miracle that they let him home again,
Not caught, maim'd, blinded him.
(_Aside_.) I have made her tremble.
(_Aloud_.) I know they mean to torture him to death.
I dare not tell him how I came to know it;
I durst not trust him with--my serving Rome
To serve Galatia: you heard him on the letter.
Not say as much? I all but said as much.
I am sure I told him that his plot was folly.
I say it to you--you are wiser--Rome knows all,
But you know not the savagery of Rome.
O--have you power with Rome? use it for him!
Alas! I have no such power with Rome. All that
Lies with Antonius.
[_As if struck by a sudden thought. Comes over to her_.
He will pass to-morrow
In the gray dawn before the Temple doors.
You have beauty,--O great beauty,--and Antonius,
So gracious toward women, never yet
Flung back a woman's prayer. Plead to him,
I am sure you will prevail.
Still--I should tell
Will he let you plead for him
To a Roman?
I fear not.
Then do not tell him.
Or tell him, if you will, when you return,
When you have charm'd our general into mercy,
And all is safe again. O dearest lady,
[_Murmurs of_ 'Synorix! Synorix!' _heard outside_.
I will, I will.
And I will not betray you.
(_As_ SINNATUS _enters_.) Stand apart.
_Enter_ SINNATUS _and_ ATTENDANT.
Thou art that Synorix! One whom thou hast wrong'd
Without there, knew thee with Antonius.
They howl for thee, to rend thee head from limb.
I am much malign'd. I thought to serve Galatia.
Serve thyself first, villain! They shall not harm
My guest within my house. There! (_points to door_) there! this door
Opens upon the forest! Out, begone!
Henceforth I am thy mortal enemy.
However I thank thee (_draws his sword_); thou hast
saved my life.
SINNATUS. (_To Attendant_.)
Return and tell them Synorix is not here. [_Exit Attendant_.
What did that villain Synorix say to you?
Wherefore should you doubt it?
One of the men there knew him.
And he perhaps mistaken in the face.
Come, come, could he deny it? What did he say?
What _should_ he say?
What _should_ he say, my wife!
He should say this, that being Tetrarch once
His own true people cast him from their doors
Like a base coin.
Not kindly to them?
O the most kindly Prince in all the world!
Would clap his honest citizens on the back,
Bandy their own rude jests with them, be curious
About the welfare of their babes, their wives,
O ay--their wives--their wives. What should he say?
He should say nothing to my wife if I
Were by to throttle him! He steep'd himself
In all the lust of Rome. How should _you_ guess
What manner of beast it is?
Yet he seem'd kindly,
And said he loathed the cruelties that Rome
Wrought on her vassals.
Did he, _honest_ man?
And you, that seldom brook the stranger here,
Have let him hunt the stag with you to-day.
I warrant you now, he said _he_ struck the stag.
Why no, he never touch'd upon the stag.
Why so I said, _my_ arrow. Well, to sleep.
[_Goes to close door_.
Nay, close not yet the door upon a night
That looks half day.
True; and my friends may spy him
And slay him as he runs.
He is gone already.
Oh look,--yon grove upon the mountain,--white
In the sweet moon as with a lovelier snow!
But what a blotch of blackness underneath!
Sinnatus, you remember--yea, you must,
That there three years ago--the vast vine-bowers
Ran to the summit of the trees, and dropt
Their streamers earthward, which a breeze of May
Took ever and anon, and open'd out
The purple zone of hill and heaven; there
You told your love; and like the swaying vines--
Yea,--with our eyes,--our hearts, our prophet hopes
Let in the happy distance, and that all
But cloudless heaven which we have found together
In our three married years! You kiss'd me there
For the first time. Sinnatus, kiss me now.
First kiss. (_Kisses her_.) There then. You talk almost as if it
Might be the last.
Will you not eat a little?
No, no, we found a goat-herd's hut and shared
His fruits and milk. Liar! You will believe
Now that he never struck the stag--a brave one
Which you shall see to-morrow.
I rise to-morrow
In the gray dawn, and take this holy cup
To lodge it in the shrine of Artemis.
If I be not back in half an hour,
Come after me.
What! is there danger?
None that I know: 'tis but a step from here
To the Temple.
All my brain is full of sleep.
Wake me before you go, I'll after you--
After _me_ now! [_Closes door and exit_.
CAMMA (_drawing curtains_).
Your shadow. Synorix--
His face was not malignant, and he said
That men malign'd him. Shall I go? Shall I go?
'He never yet flung back a woman's prayer'--
I go, but I will have my dagger with me.
SCENE III.--_Same as Scene I. Dawn_.
Music and Singing in the Temple.
_Enter_ SYNORIX _watchfully, after him_ PUBLIUS _and_ SOLDIERS.
Do you remember what
I told you?
When you cry 'Rome, Rome,' to seize
On whomsoever may be talking with you,
Or man, or woman, as traitors unto Rome.
Right. Back again. How many of you are there?
Some half a score.
[_Exeunt Soldiers and Publius_.
I have my guard about me.
I need not fear the crowd that hunted me
Across the woods, last night. I hardly gain'd
The camp at midnight. Will she come to me
Now that she knows me Synorix? Not if Sinnatus
Has told her all the truth about me. Well,
I cannot help the mould that I was cast in.
I fling all that upon my fate, my star.
I know that I am genial, I would be
Happy, and make all others happy so
They did not thwart me. Nay, she will not come.
Yet if she be a true and loving wife
She may, perchance, to save this husband. Ay!
See, see, my white bird stepping toward the snare.
Why now I count it all but miracle,
That this brave heart of mine should shake me so,
As helplessly as some unbearded boy's
When first he meets his maiden in a bower.
_Enter_ CAMMA (_with cup_).
The lark first takes the sunlight on his wing,
But you, twin sister of the morning star,
Forelead the sun.
Where is Antonius?
Not here as yet. You are too early for him.
[_She crosses towards Temple_.
Nay, whither go you now?
To lodge this cup
Within the holy shrine of Artemis,
And so return.
To find Antonius here.
[_She goes into the Temple, he looks after her_.
The loveliest life that ever drew the light
From heaven to brood upon her, and enrich
Earth with her shadow! I trust she _will_ return.
These Romans dare not violate the Temple.
No, I must lure my game into the camp.
A woman I could live and die for. What!
Die for a woman, what new faith is this?
I am not mad, not sick, not old enough
To doat on one alone. Yes, mad for her,
Camma the stately, Camma the great-hearted,
So mad, I fear some strange and evil chance
Coming upon me, for by the Gods I seem
Strange to myself.
Where is Antonius?
Where? As I said before, you are still too early.
Too early to be here alone with thee;
For whether men malign thy name, or no,
It bears an evil savour among women.
Where is Antonius? (_Loud_.)
Madam, as you know
The camp is half a league without the city;
If you will walk with me we needs must meet
Antonius coming, or at least shall find him
There in the camp.
No, not one step with thee.
Where is Antonius? (_Louder_.)
SYNORIX (_advancing towards her_).
Then for your own sake,
Lady, I say it with all gentleness,
And for the sake of Sinnatus your husband,
I must compel you.
CAMMA (_drawing her dagger_).
Stay!--too near is death.
SYNORIX (_disarming her_).
Is it not easy to disarm a woman?
_Enter_ SINNATUS (_seizes him from behind by the throat_).
SYNORIX (_throttled and scarce audible_).
SYNORIX (_stabbing him with_ CAMMA'S _dagger_).
What! will you have it?
[CAMMA _utters a cry and runs to_ SINNATUS.
SINNATUS (_falls backward_).
I have it in my heart--to the Temple--fly--
For _my_ sake--or they seize on thee. Remember!
CAMMA (_runs up the steps into the Temple, looking back_).
SYNORIX (_seeing her escape_).
The women of the Temple drag her in.
Publius! Publius! No,
Antonius would not suffer me to break
Into the sanctuary. She hath escaped.
[_Looking down at_ SINNATUS.
'Adulterous dog!' that red-faced rage at me!
Then with one quick short stab--eternal peace.
So end all passions. Then what use in passions?
To warm the cold bounds of our dying life
And, lest we freeze in mortal apathy,
Employ us, heat us, quicken us, help us, keep us
From seeing all too near that urn, those ashes
Which all must be. Well used, they serve us well.
I heard a saying in Egypt, that ambition
Is like the sea wave, which the more you drink,
The more you thirst--yea--drink too much, as men
Have done on rafts of wreck--it drives you mad.
I will be no such wreck, am no such gamester
As, having won the stake, would dare the chance
Of double, or losing all. The Roman Senate,
For I have always play'd into their hands,
Means me the crown. And Camma for my bride--
The people love her--if I win her love,
They too will cleave to me, as one with her.
There then I rest, Rome's tributary king.
[_Looking down on_ SINNATUS.
Why did I strike him?--having proof enough
Against the man, I surely should have left
That stroke to Rome. He saved my life too. Did he?
It seem'd so. I have play'd the sudden fool.
And that sets her against me--for the moment.
Camma--well, well, I never found the woman
I could not force or wheedle to my will.
She will be glad at last to wear my crown.
And I will make Galatia prosperous too,
And we will chirp among our vines, and smile
At bygone things till that (_pointing to_ SINNATUS) eternal peace.
_Enter_ PUBLIUS _and_ SOLDIERS.
Twice I cried Rome. Why came ye not before?
Why come we now? Whom shall we seize upon?
SYNORIX (_pointing to the body of_ SINNATUS).
The body of that dead traitor Sinnatus.
Bear him away.
_Music and Singing in Temple_.
SCENE.--_Interior of the Temple of Artemis_. Small gold gates on
platform in front of the veil before the colossal statue of the
Goddess, and in the centre of the Temple a tripod altar, on which is a
lighted lamp. Lamps (lighted) suspended between each pillar. Tripods,
vases, garlands of flowers, etc., about stage. Altar at back close to
Goddess, with two cups. Solemn music. Priestesses decorating the
(_The Chorus of_ PRIESTESSES _sing as they enter_.)
Artemis, Artemis, hear us, O Mother, hear us, and bless us!
Artemis, thou that art life to the wind, to the wave, to the glebe,
to the fire!
Hear thy people who praise thee! O help us from all that oppress us!
Hear thy priestesses hymn thy glory! O yield them all their desire!
Phoebe, that man from Synorix, who has been
So oft to see the Priestess, waits once more
Before the Temple.
We will let her know.
[_Signs to one of the Priestesses, who goes out_.
Since Camma fled from Synorix to our Temple,
And for her beauty, stateliness, and power,
Was chosen Priestess here, have you not mark'd
Her eyes were ever on the marble floor?
To-day they are fixt and bright--they look straight out.
Hath she made up her mind to marry him?
To marry him who stabb'd her Sinnatus.
You will not easily make me credit that.
_Enter_ CAMMA _as Priestess (in front of the curtains_).
You will not marry Synorix?
My girl, I am the bride of Death, and only
Marry the dead.
Not Synorix then?
At times this oracle of great Artemis
Has no more power than other oracles
To speak directly.
Will you speak to him,
The messenger from Synorix who waits
Before the Temple?
Why not? Let him enter.
[_Comes forward on to step by tripod.
Enter a_ MESSENGER.
Greeting and health from Synorix! More than once
You have refused his hand. When last I saw you,
You all but yielded. He entreats you now
For your last answer. When he struck at Sinnatus--
As I have many a time declared to you--
He knew not at the moment who had fasten'd
About his throat--he begs you to forget it.
As scarce his act:--a random stroke: all else
Was love for you: he prays you to believe him.
I pray him to believe--that I believe him.
Why that is well. You mean to marry him?
I mean to marry him--if that be well.
This very day the Romans crown him king
For all his faithful services to Rome.
He wills you then this day to marry him,
And so be throned together in the sight
Of all the people, that the world may know
You twain are reconciled, and no more feuds
Disturb our peaceful vassalage to Rome.
To-day? Too sudden. I will brood upon it.
When do they crown him?
Here by your temple.
Come once more to me
Before the crowning,--I will answer you.
Great Artemis! O Camma, can it be well,
Or good, or wise, that you should clasp a hand
Red with the sacred blood of Sinnatus?
Good! mine own dagger driven by Synorix found
All good in the true heart of Sinnatus,
And quench'd it there for ever. Wise!
Life yields to death and wisdom bows to Fate,
Is wisest, doing so. Did not this man
Speak well? We cannot fight imperial Rome,
But he and I are both Galatian-born,
And tributary sovereigns, he and I
Might teach this Rome--from knowledge of our people--
Where to lay on her tribute--heavily here
And lightly there. Might I not live for that,
And drown all poor self-passion in the sense
Of public good?
I am sure you will not marry him.
Are you so sure? I pray you wait and see.
[_Shouts (from the distance_), 'Synorix! Synorix!'
Synorix, Synorix! So they cried Sinnatus
Not so long since--they sicken me. The One
Who shifts his policy suffers something, must
Accuse himself, excuse himself; the Many
Will feel no shame to give themselves the lie.
Most like it was the Roman soldier shouted.
Their shield-borne patriot of the morning star
Hang'd at mid-day, their traitor of the dawn
The clamour'd darling of their afternoon!
And that same head they would have play'd at ball with
And kick'd it featureless--they now would crown.
[_Flourish of trumpets_.
_Enter a Galatian_ NOBLEMAN _with crown on a cushion_.
Greeting and health from Synorix. He sends you
This diadem of the first Galatian Queen,
That you may feed your fancy on the glory of it,
And join your life this day with his, and wear it
Beside him on his throne. He waits your answer.
Tell him there is one shadow among the shadows,
One ghost of all the ghosts--as yet so new,
So strange among them--such an alien there,
So much of husband in it still--that if
The shout of Synorix and Camma sitting
Upon one throne, should reach it, _it_ would rise
_He!_... HE, with that red star between the ribs,
And my knife there--and blast the king and me,
And blanch the crowd with horror. I dare not, sir!
Throne him--and then the marriage--ay and tell him
That I accept the diadem of Galatia--
[_All are amazed_.
Yea, that ye saw me crown myself withal.
[_Puts on the crown_.
I wait him his crown'd queen.
So will I tell him.
Music. Two Priestesses go up the steps before the shrine, draw the
curtains on either side (discovering the Goddess), then open the gates
and remain on steps, one on either side, and kneel. A priestess goes
off and returns with a veil of marriage, then assists Phoebe to veil
Camma. At the same time Priestesses enter and stand on either side of
the Temple. Camma and all the Priestesses kneel, raise their hands to
the Goddess, and bow down.
[_Shouts_, 'Synorix! Synorix!' _All rise_.
Fling wide the doors, and let the new-made children
Of our imperial mother see the show.
[_Sunlight pours through the doors_.
I have no heart to do it. (_To Phoebe_). Look for me!
[_Crouches_. PHOEBE _looks out_.
[_Shouts_, 'Synorix! Synorix!'
He climbs the throne. Hot blood, ambition, pride
So bloat and redden his face--O would it were
His third last apoplexy! O bestial!
O how unlike our goodly Sinnatus.
CAMMA (_on the ground_).
You wrong him surely; far as the face goes
A goodlier-looking man than Sinnatus.
How dare she say it? I could hate her for it
But that she is distracted. [_A flourish of trumpets_.
Is he crown'd?
Ay, there they crown him.
[_Crowd without shout_, 'Synorix! Synorix!'
[_A Priestess brings a box of spices to_ CAMMA,
_who throws them on the altar-flame_.
Rouse the dead altar-flame, fling in the spices,
Nard, Cinnamon, amomum, benzoin.
Let all the air reel into a mist of odour,
As in the midmost heart of Paradise.
Lay down the Lydian carpets for the king.
The king should pace on purple to his bride,
And music there to greet my lord the king. [_Music_.
(_To Phoebe_). Dost thou remember when I wedded Sinnatus?
Ay, thou wast there--whether from maiden fears
Or reverential love for him I loved,
Or some strange second-sight, the marriage cup
Wherefrom we make libation to the Goddess
So shook within my hand, that the red wine
Ran down the marble and lookt like blood, like blood.
I do remember your first-marriage fears.
I have no fears at this my second marriage.
See here--I stretch my hand out--hold it there.
How steady it is!
Steady enough to stab him!
O hush! O peace! This violence ill becomes
The silence of our Temple. Gentleness,
Low words best chime with this solemnity.
_Enter a procession of Priestesses and Children bearing
garlands and golden goblets, and strewing flowers_.
_Enter_ SYNORIX (_as King, with gold laurel-wreath crown
and purple robes), followed by_ ANTONIUS, PUBLIUS,
_Noblemen, Guards, and the Populace_.
The wheel of Fate has roll'd me to the top.
I would that happiness were gold, that I
Might cast my largess of it to the crowd!
I would that every man made feast to-day
Beneath the shadow of our pines and planes!
For all my truer life begins to-day.
The past is like a travell'd land now sunk
Below the horizon--like a barren shore
That grew salt weeds, but now all drown'd in love
And glittering at full tide--the bounteous bays
And havens filling with a blissful sea.
Nor speak I now too mightily, being King
And happy! happiest, Lady, in my power
To make you happy.
Our faithful friend of Rome, tho' Rome may set
A free foot where she will, yet of his courtesy
Entreats he may be present at our marriage.
Let him come--a legion with him, if he will.
(_To_ ANTONIUS.) Welcome, my lord Antonius, to our Temple.
(_To_ SYNORIX.) You on this side the altar.
(_To_ ANTONIUS.) You on that.
Call first upon the Goddess, Synorix.
[_All face the Goddess. Priestesses, Children, Populace,
and Guards kneel--the others remain standing_.
O Thou, that dost inspire the germ with life,
The child, a thread within the house of birth,
And give him limbs, then air, and send him forth
The glory of his father--Thou whose breath
Is balmy wind to robe our hills with grass,
And kindle all our vales with myrtle-blossom,
And roll the golden oceans of our grain,
And sway the long grape-bunches of our vines,
And fill all hearts with fatness and the lust
Of plenty--make me happy in my marriage!
Artemis, Artemis, hear him, Ionian Artemis!
O Thou that slayest the babe within the womb
Or in the being born, or after slayest him
As boy or man, great Goddess, whose storm-voice
Unsockets the strong oak, and rears his root
Beyond his head, and strows our fruits, and lays
Our golden grain, and runs to sea and makes it
Foam over all the fleeted wealth of kings
And peoples, hear.
Whose arrow is the plague--whose quick flash splits
The mid-sea mast, and rifts the tower to the rock,
And hurls the victor's column down with him
That crowns it, hear.
Who causest the safe earth to shudder and gape,
And gulf and flatten in her closing chasm
Domed cities, hear.
Whose lava-torrents blast and blacken a province
To a cinder, hear.
Whose winter-cataracts find a realm and leave it
A waste of rock and ruin, hear. I call thee
To make my marriage prosper to my wish!
Artemis, Artemis, hear her, Ephesian Artemis!
Artemis, Artemis, hear me, Galatian Artemis!
I call on our own Goddess in our own Temple.
Artemis, Artemis, hear her, Galatian Artemis!
[_Thunder. All rise_.
Thunder! Ay, ay, the storm was drawing hither
Across the hills when I was being crown'd.
I wonder if I look as pale as she?
Art thou--still bent--on marrying?
These are strange words to speak to Artemis.
Words are not always what they seem, my King.
I will be faithful to thee till thou die.
I thank thee, Camma,--I thank thee.
CAMMA (_turning to_ ANTONIUS).
Much graced are we that our Queen Rome in you
Deigns to look in upon our barbarisms.
[_Turns, goes up steps to altar before the Goddess.
Takes a cup from off the altar. Holds it towards_
ANTONIUS. ANTONIUS _goes up to the foot of the
steps, opposite to_ SYNORIX.
You see this cup, my lord. [_Gives it to him_.
The many-breasted mother Artemis
Emboss'd upon it.
It is old, I know not
How many hundred years. Give it me again.
It is the cup belonging our own Temple.
[_Puts it back on altar, and takes up the cup
of Act I. Showing it to_ ANTONIUS.
Here is another sacred to the Goddess,
The gift of Synorix; and the Goddess, being
For this most grateful, wills, thro' me her Priestess,
In honour of his gift and of our marriage,
That Synorix should drink from his own cup.
I thank thee, Camma,--I thank thee.
It is our ancient custom in Galatia
That ere two souls be knit for life and death,
They two should drink together from one cup,
In symbol of their married unity,
Making libation to the Goddess. Bring me
The costly wines we use in marriages.
[_They bring in a large jar of wine_.
CAMMA _pours wine into cup_.
(_To_ SYNORIX.) See here, I fill it.
(_To_ ANTONIUS.) Will you drink, my lord?
I? Why should I? I am not to be married.
But that might bring a Roman blessing on us.
ANTONIUS (_refusing cup_).
Thy pardon, Priestess!
Thou art in the right.
This blessing is for Synorix and for me.
See first I make libation to the Goddess,
And now I drink. [_Drinks and fills the cup again_.
Thy turn, Galatian King.
Drink and drink deep--our marriage will be fruitful.
Drink and drink deep, and thou wilt make me happy.
[SYNORIX _goes up to her. She hands him the cup. He drinks_.
There, Gamma! I have almost drain'd the cup--
A few drops left.
Libation to the Goddess.
[_He throws the remaining drops on the altar
and gives_ CAMMA _the cup_.
CAMMA (_placing the cup on the altar_).
Why then the Goddess hears.
[_Comes down and forward to tripod_. ANTONIUS _follows_.
Where wast thou on that morning when I came
To plead to thee for Sinnatus's life,
Beside this temple half a year ago?
I never heard of this request of thine.
SYNORIX (_coming forward hastily to foot of tripod steps_).
I sought him and I could not find him. Pray you,
Go on with the marriage rites.
'Camma!' who spake?
Nor any here.
I am all but sure that some one spake. Antonius,
If you had found him plotting against Rome,
Would you have tortured Sinnatus to death?
No thought was mine of torture or of death,
But had I found him plotting, I had counsell'd him
To rest from vain resistance. Rome is fated
To rule the world. Then, if he had not listen'd,
I might have sent him prisoner to Rome.
Why do you palter with the ceremony?
Go on with the marriage rites.
They are finish'd.
Thou hast drunk deep enough to make me happy.
Dost thou not feel the love I bear to thee
Glow thro' thy veins?
The love I bear to thee
Glows thro' my veins since first I look'd on thee.
But wherefore slur the perfect ceremony?
The sovereign of Galatia weds his Queen.
Let all be done to the fullest in the sight
Of all the Gods.
Nay, rather than so clip
The flowery robe of Hymen, we would add
Some golden fringe of gorgeousness beyond
Old use, to make the day memorial, when
Synorix, first King, Camma, first Queen o' the Realm,
Drew here the richest lot from Fate, to live
And die together.
This pain--what is it?--again?
I had a touch of this last year--in--Rome.
Yes, yes. (_To_ ANTONIUS.) Your arm--a moment--It will pass.
I reel beneath the weight of utter joy--
This all too happy day, crown--queen at once.
O all ye Gods--Jupiter!--Jupiter! [_Falls backward_.
Dost thou cry out upon the Gods of Rome?
Thou art Galatian-born. Our Artemis
Has vanquish'd their Diana.
SYNORIX (_on the ground_).
I am poison'd.
She--close the Temple door. Let her not fly.
CAMMA (_leaning on tripod_).
Have I not drunk of the same cup with thee?
Ay, by the Gods of Rome and all the world,
She too--she too--the bride! the Queen! and I--
Monstrous! I that loved her.
I loved _him_.
O murderous mad-woman! I pray you lift me
And make me walk awhile. I have heard these poisons
May be walk'd down.
[ANTONIUS _and_ PUBLIUS _raise him up_.
My feet are tons of lead,
They will break in the earth--I am sinking--hold me--
Let me alone.
[_They leave him; he sinks down on ground_.
Too late--thought myself wise--
A woman's dupe. Antonius, tell the Senate
I have been most true to Rome--would have been true
To _her_--if--if---- [_Falls as if dead_.
CAMMA (_coming and leaning over him_).
So falls the throne of an hour.
SYNORIX (_half rising_).
Throne? is it thou? the Fates are throned, not we--
Not guilty of ourselves--thy doom and mine--
Thou--coming my way too--Camma--good-night.
CAMMA (_upheld by weeping Priestesses_).
Thy way? poor worm, crawl down thine own black hole
To the lowest Hell. Antonius, is he there?
I meant thee to have follow'd--better thus.
Nay, if my people must be thralls of Rome,
He is gentle, tho' a Roman.
[_Sinks back into the arms of the Priestesses_.
Thou art one
With thine own people, and tho' a Roman I
Forgive thee, Camma.
CAMMA (_raising herself_).
'CAMMA!'--why there again
I am most sure that some one call'd. O women,
Ye will have Roman masters. I am glad
I shall not see it. Did not some old Greek
Say death was the chief good? He had my fate for it,
Poison'd. (_Sinks back again_.) Have I the crown on? I will go
To meet him, crown'd! crown'd victor of my will--
On my last voyage--but the wind has fail'd--
Growing dark too--but light enough to row.
Row to the blessed Isles! the blessed Isles!--
Why comes he not to meet me? It is the crown
Offends him--and my hands are too sleepy
To lift it off. [PHOEBE _takes the crown off_.
Who touch'd me then? I thank you.
[_Rises, with outspread arms_.
There--league on league of ever-shining shore
Beneath an ever-rising sun--I see him--
'Camma, Camma!' Sinnatus, Sinnatus! [_Dies_.
The Count Federigo Degli Alberighi.
Filippo, _Count's foster-brother_.
The lady Giovanna.
Elisabetta, _the Count's nurse_.
SCENE.--_An Italian Cottage. Castle and Mountains seen through
Elisabetta discovered seated on stool in window darning. The Count
with Falcon on his hand comes down through the door at back. A
withered wreath on the wall.
So, my lord, the Lady Giovanna, who hath been away so long, came back
last night with her son to the castle.
Hear that, my bird! Art thou not jealous of her?
My princess of the cloud, my plumed purveyor,
My far-eyed queen of the winds--thou that canst soar
Beyond the morning lark, and howsoe'er
Thy quarry wind and wheel, swoop down upon him
Eagle-like, lightning-like--strike, make his feathers
Glance in mid heaven. [_Crosses to chair_.
I would thou hadst a mate!
Thy breed will die with thee, and mine with me:
I am as lone and loveless as thyself. [_Sits in chair_.
Giovanna here! Ay, ruffle thyself--_be_ jealous!
Thou should'st be jealous of her. Tho' I bred thee
The full-train'd marvel of all falconry,
And love thee and thou me, yet if Giovanna
Be here again--No, no! Buss me, my bird!
The stately widow has no heart for me.
Thou art the last friend left me upon earth--
No, no again to that. [_Rises and turns_.
My good old nurse,
I had forgotten thou wast sitting there.
Ay, and forgotten thy foster-brother too.
Bird-babble for my falcon! Let it pass.
What art thou doing there?
Darning your lordship.
We cannot flaunt it in new feathers now:
Nay, if we _will_ buy diamond necklaces
To please our lady, we must darn, my lord.
This old thing here (_points to necklace round her neck_),
they are but blue beads--my Piero,
God rest his honest soul, he bought 'em for me,
Ay, but he knew I meant to marry him.
How couldst thou do it, my son? How couldst thou do it?
She saw it at a dance, upon a neck
Less lovely than her own, and long'd for it.
She told thee as much?
No, no--a friend of hers.
Shame on her that she took it at thy hands,
She rich enough to have bought it for herself!
She would have robb'd me then of a great pleasure.
But hath she yet return'd thy love?
She should return thy necklace then.
She knew the giver; but I bound the seller
To silence, and I left it privily
At Florence, in her palace.
And sold thine own
To buy it for her. She not know? She knows
There's none such other----
Speak freely, tho' to call a madman mad
Will hardly help to make him sane again.
Ah, the women, the women! Ah, Monna Giovanna, you here again! you that
have the face of an angel and the heart of a--that's too positive! You
that have a score of lovers and have not a heart for any of them--
that's positive-negative: you that have _not_ the head of a toad, and
_not_ a heart like the jewel in it--that's too negative; you that have
a cheek like a peach and a heart like the stone in it--that's positive
FILIPPO (_turns half round_).
Here has our master been a-glorifying and a-velveting and a-silking
himself, and a-peacocking and a-spreading to catch her eye for a dozen
year, till he hasn't an eye left in his own tail to flourish among the
peahens, and all along o' you, Monna Giovanna, all along o' you!
Sh--sh--Filippo! Can't you hear that you are saying behind his back
what you see you are saying afore his face?
Let him--he never spares me to my face!
No, my lord, I never spare your lordship to your lordship's face, nor
behind your lordship's back, nor to right, nor to left, nor to round
about and back to your lordship's face again, for I'm honest, your
Come, come, Filippo, what is there in the larder?
[ELISABETTA _crosses to fireplace and puts on wood_.
Shelves and hooks, shelves and hooks, and when I see the shelves I am
like to hang myself on the hooks.
Half a breakfast for a rat!
Three laps for a cat!
A supper for twelve mites.
One, but addled.
Half a tit and a hern's bill.
Let be thy jokes and thy jerks, man! Anything or nothing?
Well, my lord, if all-but-nothing be anything, and one plate of dried
prunes be all-but-nothing, then there is anything in your lordship's
larder at your lordship's service, if your lordship care to call for
Good mother, happy was the prodigal son,
For he return'd to the rich father; I
But add my poverty to thine. And all
Thro' following of my fancy. Pray thee make
Thy slender meal out of those scraps and shreds
Filippo spoke of. As for him and me,
There sprouts a salad in the garden still.
(_To the Falcon_?) Why didst thou miss thy quarry yester-even?
To-day, my beauty, thou must dash us down
Our dinner from the skies. Away, Filippo!
[_Exit, followed by_ FILIPPO.
I knew it would come to this. She has beggared him. I always knew it
would come to this! (_Goes up to table as if to resume darning, and
looks out of window_.) Why, as I live, there is Monna Giovanna coming
down the hill from the castle. Stops and stares at our cottage. Ay,
ay! stare at it: it's all you have left us. Shame upon you! She
beautiful! sleek as a miller's mouse! Meal enough, meat enough, well
fed; but beautiful--bah! Nay, see, why she turns down the path
through our little vineyard, and I sneezed three times this morning.
Coming to visit my lord, for the first time in her life too! Why,
bless the saints! I'll be bound to confess her love to him at last. I
forgive her, I forgive her! I knew it would come to this--I always
knew it must come to this! (_Going up to door during latter part of
speech and opens it_.) Come in, Madonna, come in. (_Retires to front
of table and curtseys as the_ LADY GIOVANNA _enters, then moves chair
towards the hearth_.) Nay, let me place this chair for your ladyship.
[LADY GIOVANNA _moves slowly down stage, then crosses
to chair, looking about her, bows as she sees the
Madonna over fireplace, then sits in chair_.
Can I speak with the Count?
Ay, my lady, but won't you speak with the old woman first, and tell
her all about it and make her happy? for I've been on my knees every
day for these half-dozen years in hope that the saints would send us
this blessed morning; and he always took you so kindly, he always took
the world so kindly. When he was a little one, and I put the bitters
on my breast to wean him, he made a wry mouth at it, but he took it so
kindly, and your ladyship has given him bitters enough in this world,
and he never made a wry mouth at you, he always took you so kindly--
which is more than I did, my lady, more than I did--and he so
handsome--and bless your sweet face, you look as beautiful this
morning as the very Madonna her own self--and better late than never--
but come when they will--then or now--it's all for the best, come when
they will--they are made by the blessed saints--these marriages.
[_Raises her hands_.
Marriages? I shall never marry again!
ELISABETTA (_rises and turns_).
Shame on her then!
Where is the Count?
To fly his falcon.
Call him back and say
I come to breakfast with him.
To breakfast! Oh sweet saints! one plate of prunes!
Well, Madam, I will give your message to him.
His falcon, and I come to ask for his falcon,
The pleasure of his eyes--boast of his hand--
Pride of his heart--the solace of his hours--
His one companion here--nay, I have heard
That, thro' his late magnificence of living
And this last costly gift to mine own self,
[_Shows diamond necklace_.
He hath become so beggar'd, that his falcon
Ev'n wins his dinner for him in the field.
That must be talk, not truth, but truth or talk,
How can I ask for his falcon?
[_Rises and moves as she speaks_.
O my sick boy!
My daily fading Florio, it is thou
Hath set me this hard task, for when I say
What can I do--what can I get for thee?
He answers, 'Get the Count to give me his falcon,
And that will make me well.' Yet if I ask,
He loves me, and he knows I know he loves me!
Will he not pray me to return his love--
To marry him?--(_pause_)--I can never marry him.
His grandsire struck my grandsire in a brawl
At Florence, and my grandsire stabb'd him there.
The feud between our houses is the bar
I cannot cross; I dare not brave my brother,
Break with my kin. My brother hates him, scorns
The noblest-natured man alive, and I--
Who have that reverence for him that I scarce
Dare beg him to receive his diamonds back--
How can I, dare I, ask him for his falcon?
[_Puts diamonds in her casket_.
_Re-enter_ COUNT _and_ FILIPPO. COUNT _turns to_ FILIPPO.
Do what I said; I cannot do it myself.
Why then, my lord, we are pauper'd out and out.
Do what I said! [_Advances and bows low_.
Welcome to this poor cottage, my dear lady.
And welcome turns a cottage to a palace.
'Tis long since we have met!
To make amends
I come this day to break my fast with you.
I am much honour'd--yes-- [_Turns to_ FILIPPO.
Do what I told thee. Must I do it myself?
I will, I will. (_Sighs_.) Poor fellow!
Lady, you bring your light into my cottage
Who never deign'd to shine into my palace.
My palace wanting you was but a cottage;
My cottage, while you grace it, is a palace.
In cottage or in palace, being still
Beyond your fortunes, you are still the king
Of courtesy and liberality.
I trust I still maintain my courtesy;
My liberality perforce is dead
Thro' lack of means of giving.
Yet I come
To ask a gift. [_Moves toward him a little_.
It will be hard, I fear,
To find one shock upon the field when all
The harvest has been carried.
But my boy--
(_Aside_.) No, no! not yet--I cannot!
Ay, how is he,
That bright inheritor of your eyes--your boy?
Alas, my Lord Federigo, he hath fallen
Into a sickness, and it troubles me.
Sick! is it so? why, when he came last year
To see me hawking, he was well enough:
And then I taught him all our hawking-phrases.
Oh yes, and once you let him fly your falcon.
How charm'd he was! what wonder?--A gallant boy,
A noble bird, each perfect of the breed.
LADY GIOVANNA (_sinks in chair_).
What do you rate her at?
My bird? a hundred
Gold pieces once were offer'd by the Duke.
I had no heart to part with her for money.
No, not for money.
[COUNT _turns away and sighs_.
Wherefore do you sigh?
I have lost a friend of late.
I could sigh with you
For fear of losing more than friend, a son;
And if he leave me--all the rest of life--
That wither'd wreath were of more worth to me.
[_Looking at wreath on wall_.
That wither'd wreath is of more worth to me
Than all the blossom, all the leaf of this
New-wakening year. [_Goes and takes down wreath_.
And yet I never saw
The land so rich in blossom as this year.
COUNT (_holding wreath toward her_).
Was not the year when this was gather'd richer?
How long ago was that?
Alas, ten summers!
A lady that was beautiful as day
Sat by me at a rustic festival
With other beauties on a mountain meadow,
And she was the most beautiful of all;
Then but fifteen, and still as beautiful.
The mountain flowers grew thickly round about.
I made a wreath with some of these; I ask'd
A ribbon from her hair to bind it with;
I whisper'd, Let me crown you Queen of Beauty,
And softly placed the chaplet on her head.
A colour, which has colour'd all my life,
Flush'd in her face; then I was call'd away;
And presently all rose, and so departed.
Ah! she had thrown my chaplet on the grass,
And there I found it.
[_Lets his hands fall, holding wreath despondingly_.
LADY GIOVANNA (_after pause_).
How long since do you say?
That was the very year before you married.
When I was married you were at the wars.
Had she not thrown my chaplet on the grass,
It may be I had never seen the wars.
[_Replaces wreath whence he had taken it_.
Ah, but, my lord, there ran a rumour then
That you were kill'd in battle. I can tell you
True tears that year were shed for you in Florence.
It might have been as well for me. Unhappily
I was but wounded by the enemy there
And then imprison'd.
I see you quite recover'd of your wound.
No, no, not quite, Madonna, not yet, not yet.
My lord, a word with you.
Pray, pardon me!
[LADY GIOVANNA _crosses, and passes behind chair and
takes down wreath; then goes to chair by table_.
COUNT (_to_ FILIPPO).
What is it, Filippo?
Spoons, your lordship.
Yes, my lord, for wasn't my lady born with a golden spoon in her
ladyship's mouth, and we haven't never so much as a silver one for the
golden lips of her ladyship.
Have we not half a score of silver spoons?
Half o' one, my lord!
How half of one?
I trod upon him even now, my lord, in my hurry, and broke him.
And the other nine?
Sold! but shall I not mount with your lordship's leave to her
ladyship's castle, in your lordship's and her ladyship's name, and
confer with her ladyship's seneschal, and so descend again with some
of her ladyship's own appurtenances?
Why--no, man. Only see your cloth be clean.
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