Chastelard, A Tragedy

Part 1 out of 3

Algernon Charles Swinburne, _Chastelard, a tragedy_ .
Boston: E.P. Dutton, 1866. (author's edition)



Guards, Burgesses, a Preacher, Citizens, &c.

Another Yle is there toward the Northe, in the See Occean,
where that ben fulle cruele and ful evele Wommen of Nature:
and thei han precious Stones in hire Eyen; and their ben of
that kynde, that zif they beholden ony man, thei slen him anon
with the beholdynge, as dothe the Basilisk.

MAUNDEVILE'S Voiage and Travaile, Ch. xxviii.




SCENE I.--The Upper Chamber in Holyrood.

The four MARIES.

MARY BEATON (sings):--

Le navire
Est a l'eau;
Entends rire
Ce gros flot
Que fait luire
Et bruire
Le vieux sire

Dans l'espace
Du grand air
Le vent passe
Comme un fer;
Siffle et sonne,
Tombe et tonne,
Prend et donne
A la mer.

Vois, la brise
Tourne au nord,
Et la bise
Souffle et mord
Sur ta pure
Qui murmure
Et se tord.

You never sing now but it makes you sad;
Why do you sing?

I hardly know well why;
It makes me sad to sing, and very sad
To hold my peace.

I know what saddens you.

Prithee, what? what?

Why, since we came from France,
You have no lover to make stuff for songs.

You are wise; for there my pain begins indeed,
Because I have no lovers out of France.

I mind me of one Olivier de Pesme,
(You knew him, sweet,) a pale man with short hair,
Wore tied at sleeve the Beaton color.

I know, blue scarfs. I never liked that knight.

Me? I know him? I hardly knew his name.
Black, was his hair? no, brown.

Light pleases you:
I have seen the time brown served you well enough.

Lord Darnley's is a mere maid's yellow.

A man's, good color.

Ah, does that burn your blood?
Why, what a bitter color is this read
That fills your face! if you be not in love,
I am no maiden.

Nay, God help true hearts!
I must be stabbed with love then, to the bone,
Yea to the spirit, past cure.

What were you saying?
I see some jest run up and down your lips.

Finish your song; I know you have more of it;
Good sweet, I pray you do.

I am too sad.

This will not sadden you to sing; your song
Tastes sharp of sea and the sea's bitterness,
But small pain sticks on it.

Nay, it is sad;
For either sorrow with the beaten lips
Sings not at all, or if it does get breath
Sings quick and sharp like a hard sort of mirth:
And so this song does; or I would it did,
That it might please me better than it does.

Well, as you choose then. What a sort of men
Crowd all about the squares!

Ay, hateful men;
For look how many talking mouths be there,
So many angers show their teeth at us.
Which one is that, stooped somewhat in the neck,
That walks so with his chin against the wind,
Lips sideways shut? a keen-faced man--lo there,
He that walks midmost.

That is Master Knox.
He carries all these folk within his skin,
Bound up as 't were between the brows of him
Like a bad thought; their hearts beat inside his;
They gather at his lips like flies in the sun,
Thrust sides to catch his face.

Look forth; so--push
The window--further--see you anything?

They are well gone; but pull the lattice in,
The wind is like a blade aslant. Would God
I could get back one day I think upon:
The day we four and some six after us
Sat in that Louvre garden and plucked fruits
To cast love-lots with in the gathered grapes;
This way: you shut your eyes and reach and pluck,
And catch a lover for each grape you get.
I got but one, a green one, and it broke
Between my fingers and it ran down through them.

Ay, and the queen fell in a little wrath
Because she got so many, and tore off
Some of them she had plucked unwittingly--
She said, against her will. What fell to you?

Me? nothing but the stalk of a stripped bunch
With clammy grape-juice leavings at the tip.

Ay, true, the queen came first and she won all;
It was her bunch we took to cheat you with.
What, will you weep for that now? for you seem
As one that means to weep. God pardon me!
I think your throat is choking up with tears.
You are not well, sweet, for a lying jest
To shake you thus much.

I am well enough:
Give not your pity trouble for my sake.

If you be well sing out your song and laugh,
Though it were but to fret the fellows there.--
Now shall we catch her secret washed and wet
In the middle of her song; for she must weep
If she sing through.

I told you it was love;
I watched her eyes all through the masquing time
Feed on his face by morsels; she must weep.


Le navire
Passe et luit,
Puis chavire
A grand bruit;
Et sur l'onde
La plus blonde
Tete au monde
Flotte et fuit.

Moi, je rame,
Et l'amour,
C'est ma flamme,
Mon grand jour,
Ma chandelle
Blanche et belle,
Ma chapelle

De sejour.

Toi, mon ame
Et ma foi,
Sois, ma dame;
Et ma loi;
Sois ma mie,
Sois Marie,
Sois ma vie,
Toute a moi!

I know the song; a song of Chastelard's,
He made in coming over with the queen.
How hard it rained! he played that over twice
Sitting before her, singing each word soft,
As if he loved the least she listened to.

No marvel if he loved it for her sake;
She is the choice of women in the world;
Is she not, sweet?

I have seen no fairer one.

And the most loving: did you note last night
How long she held him with her hands and eyes,
Looking a little sadly, and at last
Kissed him below the chin and parted so
As the dance ended?

This was courtesy;
So might I kiss my singing-bird's red bill
After some song, till he bit short my lip.

But if a lady hold her bird anights
To sing to her between her fingers-ha?
I have seen such birds.

O, you talk emptily;
She is full of grace; and marriage in good time
Will wash the fool called scandal off men's lips.

I know not that; I know how folk would gibe
If one of us pushed courtesy so far.
She has always loved love's fashions well; you wot,
The marshal, head friend of this Chastelard's,
She used to talk with ere he brought her here
And sow their talk with little kisses thick
As roses in rose-harvest. For myself,
I cannot see which side of her that lurks,
Which snares in such wise all the sense of men;
What special beauty, subtle as man's eye
And tender as the inside of the eyelid is,
There grows about her.

I think her cunning speech-
The soft and rapid shudder of her breath
In talking-the rare tender little laugh-
The pitiful sweet sound like a bird's sigh
When her voice breaks; her talking does it all.

I say, her eyes with those clear perfect brows:
It is the playing of those eyelashes,
The lure of amorous looks as sad as love,
Plucks all souls toward her like a net.

What, what!
You praise her in too lover-like a wise
For women that praise women; such report
Is like robes worn the rough side next the skin,
Frets where it warms.

You think too much in French.


Here comes your thorn; what glove against it now?

O, God's good pity! this a thorn of mine?
It has not run deep in yet.

I am not sure:
The red runs over to your face's edge.

Give me one word; nay, lady, for love's sake;
Here, come this way; I will not keep you; no.
--O my sweet soul, why do you wrong me thus?

Why will you give me for men's eyes to burn?

What, sweet, I love you as mine own soul loves me;
They shall divide when we do.

I cannot say.

Why, look you, I am broken with the queen;
This is the rancor and the bitter heart
That grows in you; by God it is nought else.
Why, this last night she held me for a fool-
Ay, God wot, for a thing of stripe and bell.
I bade her make me marshal in her masque-
I had the dress here painted, gold and gray
(That is, not gray but a blue-green like this)-
She tells me she had chosen her marshal, she,
The best o' the world for cunning and sweet wit;
And what sweet fool but her sweet knight, God help!
To serve her with that three-inch wit of his?
She is all fool and fiddling now; for me,
I am well-pleased; God knows, if I might choose
I would not be more troubled with her love.
Her love is like a briar that rasps the flesh,
And yours is soft like flowers. Come this way, love;
So, further in this window; hark you here.


Good morrow, sir.

Good morrow, noble lady.

You have heard no news? what news?

Nay, I have none.
That maiden-tongued male-faced Elizabeth
Hath eyes unlike our queen's, hair not so soft,
And lips no kiss of love's could bring to flower
In such red wise as our queen's; save this news,
I know none English.

Come, no news of her;
For God's love talk still rather of our queen.

God give us grace then to speak well of her.
You did right joyfully in our masque last night'
I saw you when the queen lost breath (her head
Bent back, her chin and lips catching the air-
A goodly thing to see her) how you smiled
Across her head, between your lips-no doubt
You had great joy, sir. Did you not take note
Once how one lock fell? that was good to see.

Yea, good enough to live for.

Nay, but sweet
Enough to die. When she broke off the dance,
Turning round short and soft-I never saw
Such supple ways of walking as she has.

Why do you praise her gracious looks to me?

Sir, for mere sport: but tell me even for love
How much you love her.

I know not: it may be
If I had set mine eyes to find that out,
I should not know it. She hath fair eyes: may be
I love her for sweet eyes or brows or hair,
For the smooth temples, where God touching her
Made blue with sweeter veins the flower-sweet white
Or for the tender turning of her wrist,
Or marriage of the eyelid with the cheek;
I cannot tell; or flush of lifting throat,
I know not if the color get a name
This side of heaven-no man knows; or her mouth,
A flower's lip with a snake's lip, stinging sweet,
And sweet to sting with: face that one would see
And then fall blind and die with sight of it
Held fast between the eyelids-oh, all these
And all her body and the soul to that,
The speech and shape and hand and foot and heart
That I would die of-yea, her name that turns
My face to fire being written-I know no whit
How much I love them.

Nor how she loves you back?

I know her ways of loving, all of them:
A sweet soft way the first is; afterward
It burns and bites like fire; the end of that,
Charred dust, and eyelids bitten through with smoke.

What has she done for you to gird at her?

Nothing. You do not greatly love her, you,
Who do not-gird, you call it. I am bound to France;
Shall I take word from you to any one?
So it be harmless, not a gird, I will.

I doubt you will not go hence with your life.

Why, who should slay me? No man northwards born,
In my poor mind; my sword's lip is no maid's
To fear the iron biting of their own,
Though they kiss hard for hate's sake.

Lo you, sir,
How sharp he whispers, what close breath and eyes-
And here are fast upon him, do you see?

Well, which of these must take my life in hand?
Pray God it be the better: nay, which hand?

I think, none such. The man is goodly made;
She is tender-hearted toward his courtesies,
And would not have them fall too low to find.
Look, they slip forth.


For love's sake, after them,
And soft as love can.


True, a goodly man.
What shapeliness and state he hath, what eyes,
Brave brow and lordly lip! Were it not fit
Great queens should love him?

See how now, fair lord,
I have but scant breath's time to help myself,
And I must cast my heart out on a chance;
So bear with me. That we twain have loved well,
I have no heart nor wit to say; God wot
We had never made good lovers, you and I.
Look you, I would not have you love me, sir,
For all the love's sake in the world. I say,
You love the queen, and loving burns you up,
And mars the grace and joyous wit you had,
Turning your speech to sad, your face to strange,
Your mirth to nothing: and I am piteous, I,
Even as the queen is, and such women are;
And if I helped you to your love-longing,
Meseems some grain of love might fall my way
And love's god help me when I came to love;
I have read tales of men that won their loves
On some such wise.

If you mean mercifully,
I am bound to you past thought and thank; if worse
I will but thank your lips and not your heart.

Nay, let love wait and praise me, in God's name,
Some day when he shall find me; yet, God wot,
My lips are of one color with my heart.
Withdraw now from me, and about midnight
In some close chamber without light or noise
It may be I shall get you speech of her:
She loves you well: it may be she will speak,
I wot not what; she loves you at her heart.
Let her not see that I have given you word,
Lest she take shame and hate her love. Till night
Let her not see it.

I will not thank you now,
And then I'll die what sort of death you will.


And by God's mercy and my love's
I will find ways to earn such thank of you.


ACT I. SCENE II. -A Hall in the same.


Hath no man seen my lord of Chastelard?
Nay, no great matter. Keep you on that side:
Begin the purpose.

Madam, he is here.

Begin a measure now that other side.
I will not dance; let them play soft a little.
Fair sir, we had a dance to tread to-night,
To teach our north folk all sweet ways of France,
But at this time we have no heart to it.
Sit, sir, and talk. Look, this breast-clasp is new,
The French king sent it me.

A goodly thing:
But what device? the word is ill to catch.

A Venus crowned, that eats the hearts of men:
Below her flies a love with a bat's wings,
And strings the hair of paramours to bind
Live birds' feet with. Lo what small subtle work:
The smith's name, Gian Grisostomo da--what?
Can you read that? The sea froths underfoot;
She stands upon the sea and it curls up
In soft loose curls that run to one in the wind.
But her hair is not shaken, there 's a fault;
It lies straight down in close-cut points and tongues,
Not like blown hair. The legend is writ small:
Still one makes out this--*Cave*--if you look.

I see the Venus well enough, God wot,
But nothing of the legend.

Come, fair lord,
Shall we dance now? My heart is good again.

[They dance a measure.]

I do not like this manner of a dance,
This game of two by two; it were much better
To meet between the changes and to mix
Than still to keep apart and whispering
Each lady out of earshot with her friend.

That 's as the lady serves her knight, I think:
We are broken up too much.

Nay, no such thing;
Be not wroth, lady, I wot it was the queen
Pricked each his friend out. Look you now--your ear--
If love had gone by choosing--how they laugh,
Lean lips together, and wring hands underhand!
What, you look white too, sick of heart, ashamed,
No marvel--for men call it--hark you though--

[They pass.]

Was the queen found no merrier in France?

Why, have you seen her sorrowful to-night?

I say not so much; blithe she seems at whiles,
Gentle and goodly doubtless in all ways,
But hardly with such lightness and quick heart
As it was said.

'Tis your great care of her
Makes you misdoubt; nought else.

Yea, may be so;
She has no cause I know to sadden her.

[They pass.]

I am tired too soon; I could have danced down hours
Two years gone hence and felt no wearier.
One grows much older northwards, my fair lord;
I wonder men die south; meseems all France
Smells sweet with living, and bright breath of days
That keep men far from dying. Peace; pray you now,
No dancing more. Sing, sweet, and make us mirth;
We have done with dancing measures: sing that song
You call the song of love at ebb.



Between the sunset and the sea
My love laid hands and lips on me;
Of sweet came sour, of day came night,
Of long desire came brief delight:
Ah love, and what thing came of thee
Between the sea-downs and the sea?

Between the sea-mark and the sea
Joy grew to grief, grief grew to me;
Love turned to tears, and tears to fire,
And dead delight to new desire;
Love's talk, love's touch there seemed to be
Between the sea-sand and the sea.

Between the sundown and the sea
Love watched one hour of love with me;
Then down the all-golden water-ways
His feet flew after yesterday's;
I saw them come and saw them flee
Between the sea-foam and the sea.

Between the sea-strand and the sea
Love fell on sleep, sleep fell on me;
The first star saw twain turn to one
Between the moonrise and the sun;
The next, that saw not love, saw me
Between the sea-banks and the sea.

Lo, sirs,
What mirth is here! Some song of yours, fair lord;
You know glad ways of rhyming--no such tunes
As go to tears.

I made this yesterday;
For its love's sake I pray you let it live.

Apres tant de jours, apres tant de pleurs,
Soyez secourable a mon ame en peine.
Voyez comme Avril fait l'amour aux fleurs;
Dame d'amour, dame aux belles couleurs,
Dieu vous a fait belle, Amour vous fait reine.

Rions, je t'en prie; aimons, je le veux.
Le temps fuit et rit et ne revient guere
Pour baiser le bout de tes blonds cheveux,
Pour baiser tes cils, ta bouche et tes yeux;
L'amour n'a qu'un jour aupres de sa mere.

'T is a true song; love shall not pluck time back
Nor time lie down with love. For me, I am old;
Have you no hair changed since you changed to Scot?
I look each day to see my face drawn up
About the eyes, as if they sucked the cheeks.
I think this air and face of things here north
Puts snow at flower-time in the blood, and tears
Between the sad eyes and the merry mouth
In their youth-days.

It is a bitter air.

Faith, if I might be gone, sir, would I stay?
I think, for no man's love's sake.

I think not.

Do you yet mind at landing how the quay
Looked like a blind wet face in waste of wind
And washing of wan waves? how the hard mist
Made the hills ache? your songs lied loud, my knight,
They said my face would burn off cloud and rain
Seen once, and fill the crannied land with fire,
Kindle the capes in their blind black-gray hoods--
I know not what. You praise me past all loves;
And these men love me little; 't is some fault,
I think, to love me: even a fool's sweet fault.
I have your verse still beating in my head
Of how the swallow got a wing broken
In the spring time, and lay upon his side
Watching the rest fly off i' the red leaf-time,
And broke his heart with grieving at himself
Before the snow came. Do you know that lord
With sharp-set eyes? and him with huge thewed throat?
Good friends to me; I had need love them well.
Why do you look one way? I will not have you
Keep your eyes here: 't is no great wit in me
To care much now for old French friends of mine.--
Come, a fresh measure; come, play well for me,
Fair sirs, your playing puts life in foot and heart.--

Lo you again, sirs, how she laughs and leans,
Holding him fast--the supple way she hath!
Your queen hath none such; better as she is
For all her measures, a grave English maid,
Than queen of snakes and Scots.

She is over fair
To be so sweet and hurt not. A good knight;
Goodly to look on.

Yea, a good sword too,
And of good kin; too light of loving though;
These jangling song-smiths are keen love-mongers,
They snap at all meats.

What! by God I think,
For all his soft French face and bright boy's sword,
There be folks fairer: and for knightliness,
These hot-lipped brawls of Paris breed sweet knights--
Mere stabbers for a laugh across the wine.--

There, I have danced you down for once, fair lord;
You look pale now. Nay then for courtesy
I must needs help you; do not bow your head,
I am tall enough to reach close under it.

[Kisses him.]

Now come, we'll sit and see this passage through.--

A courtesy, God help us! courtesy--
Pray God it wound not where it should heal wounds.
Why, there was here last year some lord of France
(Priest on the wrong side as some folk are prince)
Told tales of Paris ladies--nay, by God,
No jest for queen's lips to catch laughter of
That would keep clean; I wot he made good mirth,
But she laughed over sweetly, and in such wise--
But she laughed over sweetly, and in such wise--
Nay, I laughed too, but lothly.--

How they look!
The least thing courteous galls them to the bone.
What would one say now I were thinking of?

It seems, some sweet thing.

True, a sweet one, sir--
That madrigal you made Alys de Saulx
Of the three ways of love: the first kiss honor,
The second pity, and the last kiss love.
Which think you now was that I kissed you with?

It should be pity, if you be pitiful;
For I am past all honoring that keep
Outside the eye of battle, where my kin
Fallen overseas have found this many a day
No helm of mine between them; and for love,
I think of that as dead men of good days
Ere the wrong side of death was theirs, when God
Was friends with them.

Good; call it pity then.
You have a subtle riddling skill at love
Which is not like a lover. For my part,
I am resolved to be well done with love,
Though I were fairer-faced than all the world;
As there be fairer. Think you, fair my knight,
Love shall live after life in any man?
I have given you stuff for riddles.

Most sweet queen,
They say men dying remember, with sharp joy
And rapid reluctation of desire,
Some old thin, some swift breath of wind, some word,
Some sword-stroke or dead lute-strain, some lost sight,
Some sea-blossom stripped to the sun and burned
At naked ebb--some river-flower that breathes
Against the stream like a swooned swimmer's mouth--
Some tear or laugh ere lip and eye were man's--
Sweet stings that struck the blood in riding--nay,
Some garment or sky-color or spice-smell,
And die with heart and face shut fast on it,
And know not why, and weep not; it may be
Men shall hold love fast always in such wise
In new fair lives where all are new things else,
And know not why, and weep not.

A right rhyme,
And right a thyme's worth: nay, a sweet song, though.
What, shall my cousin hold fast that love of his,
Her face and talk, when life ends? as God grant
His life end late and sweet; I love him well.
She is fair enough, his lover; a fair-faced maid,
With gray sweet eyes and tender touch of talk;
And that, God wot, I wist not. See you, sir,
Men say I needs must get wed hastily;
Do none point lips at him?

Yea, guessingly.

God help such lips! and get me leave to laugh!
What should I do but paint and put him up
Like a gilt god, a saintship in a shrine,
For all fools' feast? God's mercy on men's wits!
Tall as a housetop and as bare of brain--
I'll have no staffs with fool-faced carven heads
To hang my life on. Nay, for love, no more,
For fear I laugh and set their eyes on edge
To find out why I laugh. Good-night, fair lords;
Bid them cease playing. Give me your hand; good-night.

SCENE III.--MARY BEATON'S chamber: night.


I am not certain yet she will not come;
For I can feel her hand's heat still in mine,
Past doubting of, and see her brows half draw,
And half a light in the eyes. If she come not,
I am no worse than he that dies to-night.
This two years' patience gets an end at least,
Whichever way I am well done with it.
How hard the thin sweet moon is, split and laced
And latticed over, just a stray of it
Catching and clinging at a strip of wall,
Hardly a hand's breadth. Did she turn indeed
In going out? not to catch up her gown
The page let slip, but to keep sight of me?
There was a soft small stir beneath her eyes
Hard to put on, a quivering of her blood
That knew of the old nights watched out wakefully.
Those measures of her dancing too were changed--
More swift and with more eager stops at whiles
And rapid pauses where breath failed her lips.


O, she is come: if you be she indeed
Let me but hold your hand; what, no word yet?
You turn and kiss me without word; O sweet,
If you will slay me be not over quick,
Kill me with some slow heavy kiss that plucks
The heart out at the lips. Alas! Sweet love,
Give me some old sweet word to kiss away.
Is it a jest? for I can feel your hair
Touch me--I may embrace your body too?
I know you well enough without sweet words.
How should one make you speak? This is not she.
Come in the light; nay, let me see your eyes.
Ah, you it is? what have I done to you?
And do you look now to be slain for this
That you twist back and shudder like one stabbed?

Yea, kill me now and do not look at me:
God knows I meant to die. Sir, for God's love,
Kill me now quick ere I go mad with shame.

Cling not upon my wrists: let go the hilt:
Nay, you will bruise your hand with it: stand up:
You shall not have my sword forth.

Kill me now,
I will not rise: there, I am patient, see,
I will not strive, but kill me for God's sake.

Pray you rise up and be not shaken so:
Forgive me my rash words, my heart was gone
After the thing you were: be not ashamed;
Give me the shame, you have no part in it;
Can I not say a word shall do you good?
Forgive that too.

I shall run crazed with shame;
But when I felt your lips catch hold on mine
It stopped my breath: I would have told you all;
Let me go out: you see I lied to you,
Am I am shamed; I pray you loose me, sir,
Let me go out.

Think no base things of me:
I were most base to let you go ashamed.
Think my heart's love and honor go with you:
Yea, while I live, for your love's noble sake,
I am your servant in what wise may be,
To love and serve you with right thankful heart.

I have given men leave to mock me, and must bear
What shame they please: you have good cause to mock.
Let me pass now.

You know I mock you not.
If ever I leave off to honor you,
God give me shame! I were the worst churl born.

No marvel though the queen should love you too,
Being such a knight. I pray you for her love,
Lord Chastelard, of your great courtesy,
Think now no scorn to give me my last kiss
That I shall have of man before I die.
Even the same lips you kissed and knew not of
Will you kiss now, knowing the shame of them,
And say no one word to me afterwards,
That I may see I have loved the best lover
And man most courteous of all men alive?



Here, fetch the light: nay, this way; enter all.

I am twice undone. Fly, get some hiding, sir;
They have spied upon me somehow.

Nay, fear not;
Stand by my side.


Give me that light: this way.

What jest is here, fair ladies? it walks late,
Something too late for laughing.

Nay, fair sir,
What jest is this of yours? Look to your lady:
She is nigh swooned. The queen shall know all this.

A grievous shame it is we are fallen upon;
Hold forth the light. Is this your care of us?
Nay, come, look up: this is no game, God wot.

Shame shall befall them that speak shamefully:
I swear this lady is as pure and good
As any maiden, and who believes me not
Shall keep the shame for his part and the lie.
To them that come in honor and not in hate
I will make answer. Lady, have good heart.
Give me the light there: I will see you forth.




SCENE I.--The great Chamber in Holyrood.


But will you swear it?

Swear it, madam?

Swear it.

Madam, I am not friends with them.

Swear then against them if you are not friends.

Indeed I saw them kiss.

So lovers use--
What, their mouths close? a goodly way of love!
Or but the hands? or on her throat? Prithee--
You have sworn that.

I say what I saw done.

Ay, you did see her cheeks (God smite them red!)
Kissed either side? what, they must eat strange food
Those singing lips of his?

Sweet meat enough--
They started at my coming five yards off,
But there they were.

A maid may have kissed cheeks
And no shame in them--yet one would not swear.
You have sworn that. Pray God he be not mad:
A sickness in his eyes. The left side love
(I was told that) and the right courtesy.
'T is good fools' fashion. What, no more but this?
For me, God knows I am no whit wroth; not I;
But, for your fame's sake that her shame will sting,
I cannot see a way to pardon her--
For your fame's sake, lest that be prated of.

Nay, if she were not chaste--I have not said
She was not chaste.

I know you are tender of her;
And your sweet word will hardly turn her sweet.

Indeed I would fain do her any good.
Shall I not take some gracious word to her?

Bid her not come or wait on me to-day.

Will you see him?

See--O, this Chastelard?
He doth not well to sing maids into shame;
And folk are sharp here; yet for sweet friends' sake
Assuredly I 'll see him. I am not wroth.
A goodly man, and a good sword thereto--
It may be he shall wed her. I am not wroth.

Nay, though she bore with him, she hath no great love,
I doubt me, that way.

God mend all, I pray--
And keep us from all wrongdoing and wild words.
I think there is no fault men fall upon
But I could pardon. Look you, I would swear
She were no paramour for any man,
So well I love her.

Am I to bid him in?

As you will, sweet. But if you held me hard
You did me grievous wrong. Doth he wait there?
Men call me over tender; I had rather so,
Than too ungracious. Father, what with you?


God's peace and health of soul be with the queen!
And pardon be with me though I speak truth.
As I was going on peaceable men's wise
Through your good town, desiring no man harm,
A kind of shameful woman with thief's lips
Spake somewhat to me over a thrust-out chin,
Soliciting as I deemed an alms; which alms
(Remembering what was writ of Magdalen)
I gave no grudging but with pure good heart,
When lo some scurril children that lurked near,
Set there by Satan for my stumbling-stone,
Fell hooting with necks thwart and eyes asquint,
Screeched and made horns and shot out tongues at me,
As at my Lord the Jews shot out their tongues
And made their heads wag; I considering this
Took up my cross in patience and passed forth:
Nevertheless one ran between my feet
And made me totter, using speech and signs
I smart with shame to think of: then my blood
Kindled, and I was moved to smite the knave,
And the knave howled; whereat the lewd whole herd
Brake forth upon me and cast mire and stones
So that I ran sore risk of bruise or gash
If they had touched; likewise I heard men say,
(Their foul speech missed not mine ear) they cried,
"This devil's mass-priest hankers for new flesh
Like a dry hound; let him seek such at home,
Snuff and smoke out the queen's French--"

They said that?

"--French paramours that breed more shames than sons
All her court through;" forgive me.

With my heart.
Father, you see the hatefulness of these-
They loathe us for our love. I am not moved:
What should I do being angry? By this hand
(Which is not big enough to bruise their lips),
I marvel what thing should be done with me
To make me wroth. We must have patience with us
When we seek thank of men.

Madam, farewell;
I pray God keep you in such patient heart.


Let him come now.

Madam, he is at hand.



Give me that broidery frame; how, gone so soon?
No maid about? Reach me some skein of silk.
What, are you come, fair lord? Now by my life
That lives here idle, I am right glad of you;
I have slept so well and sweet since yesternight
It seems our dancing put me in glad heart.
Did you sleep well?

Yea, as a man may sleep.

You smile as if I jested; do not men
Sleep as we do? Had you fair dreams in the night?
For me-but I should fret you with my dreams-
I dreamed sweet things. You are good at soothsaying:
Make me a sonnet of my dream.

I will,
When I shall know it.

I thought I was asleep
In Paris, lying by my lord, and knew
In somewise he was well awake, and yet
I could not wake too; and I seemed to know
He hated me, and the least breath I made
Would turn somehow to slay or stifle me.
Then in brief time he rose and went away,
Saying, Let her dream, but when her dream is out
I will come back and kill her as she wakes.
And I lay sick and trembling with sore fear,
And still I knew that I was deep asleep;
And thinking I must dream now, or I die,
God send me some good dream lest I be slain,
Fell fancying one had bound my feet with cords
And bade me dance, and the first measure made
I fell upon my face and wept for pain:
And my cords broke, and I began the dance
To a bitter tune; and he that danced with me
Was clothed in black with long red lines and bars
And masked down to the lips, but by the chin
I knew you though your lips were sewn up close
With scarlet thread all dabbled wet in blood.
And then I knew the dream was not for good.
And striving with sore travail to reach up
And kiss you (you were taller in my dream)
I missed your lips and woke.

Sweet dreams, you said?
An evil dream I hold it for, sweet love.

You call love sweet; yea, what is bitter, then?
There's nothing broken sleep could hit upon
So bitter as the breaking down of love.
You call me sweet; I am not sweet to you,
Nor you-O, I would say not sweet to me,
And if I said so I should hardly lie.
But there have been those things between us, sir,
That men call sweet.

I know not how There is
Turns to There hath been; 't is a heavier change
Than change of flesh to dust. Yet though years change
And good things end and evil things grow great,
The old love that was, or that was dreamed about,
That sang and kissed and wept upon itself,
Laughed and ran mad with love of its own face,
That was a sweet thing.

Nay, I know not well.
'T is when the man is held fast underground
They say for sooth what manner of heart he had.
We are alive, and cannot be well sure
If we loved much or little: think you not
It were convenient one of us should die?

Madam, your speech is harsh to understand.

Why, there could come no change then; one of us
Would never need to fear our love might turn
To the sad thing that it may grow to be.
I would sometimes all things were dead asleep
That I have loved, all buried in soft beds
And sealed with dreams and visions, and each dawn
Sung to by sorrows, and all night assuaged
By short sweet kissed and by sweet long loves
For old life's sake, lest weeping overmuch
Should wake them in a strange new time, and arm
Memory's blind hand to kill forgetfulness.

Look, you dream still, and sadly.

Sooth, a dream;
For such things died or lied in sweet love's face,
And I forget them not, God help my wit!
I would the whole world were made up of sleep
And life not fashioned out of lies and loves.
We foolish women have such times, you know,
When we are weary or afraid or sick
For perfect nothing.

Now would one be fain
To know what bitter or what dangerous thing
She thinks of, softly chafing her soft lip.
She must mean evil.

Are you sad too, sir,
That you say nothing?

I? not sad a jot-
Though this your talk might make a blithe man sad.

O me! I must not let stray sorrows out;
They are ill to fledge, and if they feel blithe air
They wail and chirp untunefully. Would God
I had been a man! when I was born, men say,
My father turned his face and wept to think
I was no man.

Will you weep too?

In sooth,
If I were a man I should be no base man;
I could have fought; yea, I could fight now too
If men would show me; I would I were the king!
I should be all ways better than I am.

Nay, would you have more honor, having this-
Men's hearts and loves and the sweet spoil of souls
Given you like simple gold to bind your hair?
Say you were king of thews, not queen of souls,
An iron headpiece hammered to a head,
You might fall too.

No, then I would not fall,
Or God should make me woman back again.
To be King James-you hear men say King James,
The word sounds like a piece of gold thrown down,
Rings with a round and royal note in it-
A name to write good record of; this king
Fought here and there, was beaten such a day,
And came at last to a good end, his life
Being all lived out, and for the main part well
And like a king's life; then to have men say
(As now they say of Flodden, here they broke
And there they held up to the end) years back
They saw you-yea, I saw the king's face helmed
Red in the hot lit foreground of some fight
Hold the whole war as it were by the bit, a horse
Fit for his knees' grip-the great rearing war
That frothed with lips flung up, and shook men's lives
Off either flank of it like snow; I saw
(You could not hear as his sword rang), saw him
Shout, laugh, smite straight, and flaw the riven ranks,
Move as the wind moves, and his horse's feet
Stripe their long flags with dust. Why, if one died,
To die so in the heart and heat of war
Were a much goodlier thing than living soft
And speaking sweet for fear of men. Woe's me,
Is there no way to pluck this body off?
Then I should never fear a man again,
Even in my dreams I should not; no, by heaven.

I never thought you did fear anything.

God knows I do; I could be sick with wrath
To think what grievous fear I have 'twixt whiles
Of mine own self and of base men: last night
If certain lords were glancing where I was
Under the eyelid, with sharp lip and brow,
I tell you, for pure shame and fear of them,
I could have gone and slain them.

You are changed since those good days that fell in France;
But yet I think you are not so changed at heart
As to fear man.

I would I had no need.
Lend me your sword a little; a fair sword;
I see the fingers that I hold it with
Clear in the blade, bright pink, the shell-color,
Brighter than flesh is really, curved all round.
Now men would mock if I should wear it here,
Bound under bosom with a girdle, here,
And yet I have heart enough to wear it well.
Speak to me like a woman, let me see
If I can play at man.

God save King James!

Would you could change now! Fie, this will not do;
Unclasp your sword; nay, the hilt hurts my side;
It sticks fast here. Unbind this knot for me:
Stoop, and you'll see it closer; thank you: there.
Now I can breathe, sir. Ah! it hurts me, though:
This was fool's play.

Yea, you are better so,
Without the sword; your eyes are stronger things,
Whether to save or slay.

Alas, my side!
It hurts right sorely. Is it not pitiful
Our souls should be so bound about with flesh
Even when they leap and smite with wings and feet,
The least pain plucks them back, puts out their eyes,
Turns them to tears and words? Ah my sweet knight,
You have the better of us that weave and weep
While the blithe battle blows upon your eyes
Like rain and wind; yet I remember too
When this last year the fight at Corrichie
Reddened the rushes with stained fen-water,
I rode with my good men and took delight,
Feeling the sweet clear wind upon my eyes
And rainy soft smells blown upon my face
In riding: then the great fight jarred and joined,
And the sound stung me right through heart and all;
For I was here, see, gazing off the hills,
In the wet air; our housings were all wet,
And not a plume stood stiffly past the ear
But flapped between the bridle and the neck;
And under us we saw the battle go
Like running water; I could see by fits
Some helm the rain fell shining off, some flag
Snap from the staff, shorn through or broken short
In the man's falling: yea, one seemed to catch
The very grasp of tumbled men at men,
Teeth clenched in throats, hands riveted in hair,
Tearing the life out with no help of swords.
And all the clamor seemed to shine, the light
Seemed to shout as a man doth; twice I laughed--
I tell you, twice my heart swelled out with thirst
To be into the battle; see, fair lord,
I swear it seemed I might have made a knight,
And yet the simple bracing of a belt
Makes me cry out; this is too pitiful,
This dusty half of us made up with fears.--
Have you been ever quite so glad to fight
As I have thought men must? pray you, speak truth.

Yea, when the time came, there caught hold of me
Such pleasure in the head and hands and blood
As may be kindled under loving lips:
Crossing the ferry once to the Clerks' Field,
I mind how the plashing noise of Seine
Put fire into my face for joy, and how
My blood kept measure with the swinging boat
Till we touched land, all for the sake of that
Which should be soon.

Her name, for God's love, sir;
You slew your friend for love's sake? nay, the name.

Faith, I forget.

Now by the faith I have
You have no faith to swear by.

A good sword:
We left him quiet after a thrust or twain.

I would I had been at hand and marked them off
As the maids did when we played singing games:
You outwent me at rhyming; but for faith,
We fight best there. I would I had seen you fight.

I would you had; his play was worth an eye;
He made some gallant way before that pass
Which made me way through him.

Would I saw that--
How did you slay him?

A clean pass--this way;
Right in the side here, where the blood has root.
His wrist went round in pushing, see you, thus,
Or he had pierced me.

Yea, I see, sweet knight.
I have a mind to love you for his sake;
Would I had seen.

Hugues de Marsillac--
I have the name now; 't was a goodly one
Before he changed it for a dusty name.

Talk not of death; I would hear living talk
Of good live swords and good strokes struck withal,
Brave battles and the mirth of mingling men,
Not of cold names you greet a dead man with.
You are yet young for fighting; but in fight
Have you never caught a wound?

Yea, twice or so:
The first time in a little outlying field
(My first field) at the sleepy gray of dawn,
They found us drowsy, fumbling at our girths,
And rode us down by heaps; I took a hurt
Here in the shoulder.

Ah, I mind well now;
Did you not ride a day's space afterward,
Having two wounds? yea, Dandelot it was,
That Dandelot took word of it. I know,
Sitting at meat when the news came to us
I had nigh swooned but for those Florence eyes
Slanting my way with sleek lids drawn up close--
Yea, and she said, the Italian brokeress,
She said such men were good for great queens' love.
I would you might die, when you come to die,
Like a knight slain. Pray God we make good ends.
For love too, love dies hard or easily,
But some way dies on some day, ere we die.

You made a song once of old flowers and loves,
Will you not sing that rather? 't is long gone
Since you sang last.

I had rather sigh than sing
And sleep than sigh; 't is long since verily,
But I will once more sing; ay, thus it was.


J'ai vu faner bien des choses,
Mainte feuille aller au vent.
En songeant aux vieilles roses,
J'ai pleure souvent.

Vois-tu dans les roses mortes
Amour qui sourit cache?
O mon amant, a nos portes
L'as-tu vu couche?

As-tu vu jamais au monde
Venus chasser et courir?
Fille de l'onde, avec l'onde
Doit-elle mourir?

Aux jours de neige et de givre
L'amour s'effeuille et s'endort;
Avec mai doit-il revivre,
Ou bien est-il mort?

Qui sait ou s'en vont les roses?
Qui sai ou s'en va le vent?
En songeant a telles choses,
J'ai pleure souvent.

I never heard yet but love made good knights,
But for pure faith, by Mary's holiness,
I think she lies about men's lips asleep,
And if one kiss or pluck her by the hand
To wake her, why God help your woman's wit,
Faith is but dead; dig her grave deep at heart,
And hide her face with cerecloths; farewell faith.
Would I could tell why I talk idly. Look,
Here come my riddle-readers. Welcome all;

MORTON, and other LORDS.]

Sirs, be right welcome. Stand you by my side,
Fair cousin, I must lean on love or fall;
You are a goodly staff, sir; tall enough,
And fair enough to serve. My gentle lords,
I am full glad of God that in great grace
He hath given me such a lordly stay as this;
There is no better friended queen alive.
For the repealing of those banished men
That stand in peril yet of last year's fault,
It is our will; you have our seal to that.
Brother, we hear harsh bruits of bad report
Blown up and down about our almoner;
See you to this: let him be sought into:
They say lewd folk make ballads of their spleen,
Strew miry ways of words with talk of him;
If they have cause let him be spoken with.

Madam, they charge him with so rank a life
Were it not well this fellow were plucked out--
Seeing this is not an eye that doth offend,
But a blurred glass it were no harm to break;
Yea rather it were gracious to be done?

Let him be weighed, and use him as he is;
I am of my nature pitiful, ye know,
And cannot turn my love unto a thorn
In so brief space. Ye are all most virtuous;
Yea, there is goodness grafted on this land;
But yet compassion is some part of God.
There is much heavier business held on hand
Than one man's goodness: yea, as things fare here,
A matter worth more weighing. All you wot
I am choose a help to my weak feet,
A lamp before my face, a lord and friend
To walk with me in weary ways, high up
Between the wind and rain and the hot sun.
Now I have chosen a helper to myself,
I wot the best a woman ever won;
A man that loves me, and a royal man,
A goodly love and lord for any queen.
But for the peril and despite of men
I have sometime tarried and withheld myself,
Not fearful of his worthiness nor you,
But with some lady's loathing to let out
My whole heart's love; for truly this is hard,
Not like a woman's fashion, shamefacedness
And noble grave reluctance of herself
To be the tongue and cry of her own heart.
Nathless plain speech is better than much wit,
So ye shall bear with me; albeit I think
Ye have caught the mark whereat my heart is bent.
I have kept close counsel and shut up men's lips,
But lightly shall a woman's will slip out,
The foolish little winged will of her,
Through cheek or eye when tongue is charmed asleep.
For that good lord I have good will to wed,
I wot he knew long since which way it flew,
Even till it lit on his right wrist and sang.
Lo, here I take him by the hand: fair lords,
This is my kinsman, made of mine own blood,
I take to halve the state and services
That bow down to me, and to be my head,
My chief, my master, my sweet lord and king.
Now shall I never say "sweet cousin" more
To my dear head and husband; here, fair sir,
I give you all the heart of love in me
To gather off my lips. Did it like you,
The taste of it? sir, it was whole and true.
God save our king!

Nay, nay, sweet love, no lord;
No king of yours though I were lord of these.

Let word be sent to all good friends of ours
To help us to be glad; England and France
Shall bear great part of our rejoicings up.
Give me your hand, dear lord; for from this time
I must not walk alone. Lords, have good cheer:
For you shall have a better face than mine
To set upon your kingly gold and show
For Scotland's forehead in the van of things.
Go with us now, and see this news set out.


[As CHASTELARD is going out, enter MARY BEATON.]

Have you yet heard? You knew of this?

I know.
I was just thinking how such things were made
And were so fair as this is. Do you know
She held me here and talked--the most sweet talk
Men ever heard of?

You hate me to the heart.
What will you do?

I know not: die some day,
But live as long and lightly as I can.
Will you now love me? faith, but if you do,
It were much better you were dead and hearsed.
Will you do one thing for me?

Yea, all things.

Speak truth a little, for God's sake: indeed
It were no harm to do. Come, will you, sweet?
Though it be but to please God.

What will you do?

Ay, true, I must do somewhat. Let me see:
To get between and tread upon his face--
Catch both her hands and bid men look at them,
How pure they were--I would do none of these,
Though they got wedded all the days in the year.
We may do well yet when all's come and gone.
I pray you on this wedding-night of theirs
Do but one thing that I shall ask of you,
And Darnley will not hunger as I shall
For that good time. Sweet, will you swear me this?

Yea; though to do it were mortal to my soul
As the chief sin.

I thank you: let us go.




SCENE I.--The Queen's Chamber. Night. Lights burning
In front of the bed.


Be tender of your feet.

I shall not fail:
These ways have light enough to help a man
That walks with such stirred blood in him as mine.

I would yet plead with you to save your head:
Nay, let this be then: sir, I chide you not.
Nay, let all come. Do not abide her yet.

Have you read never in French books the song
Called the Duke's Song, some boy made ages back,
A song of drag-nets hauled across thwart seas
And plucked up with rent sides, and caught therein
A strange-haired woman with sad singing lips,
Cold in the cheek like any stray of sea,
And sweet to touch? so that men seeing her face,
And how she sighed out little Ahs of pain
And soft cries sobbing sideways from her mouth,
Fell in hot love, and having lain with her
Died soon? one time I could have told it through:
Now I have kissed the sea-witch on her eyes
And my lips ache with it; but I shall sleep
Full soon, and a good space of sleep.


What makes you sigh though I be found a fool?
You have no blame: and for my death, sweet friend,
I never could have lived long either way.
Why, as I live, the joy I have of this
Would make men mad that were not mad with love;
I hear my blood sing, and my lifted heart
Is like a springing water blown of wind
For pleasure of this deed. Now, in God's name,
I swear if there be danger in delight
I must die now: if joys have deadly teeth,
I'll have them bite my soul to death, and end
In the old asp's way, Egyptian-wise; be killed
In a royal purple fashion. Look, my love
Would kill me if my body were past hurt
Of any man's hand; and to die thereof,
I say, is sweeter than all sorts of life.
I would not have her love me now, for then
I should die meanlier some time. I am safe,
Sure of her face, my life's end in her sight,
My blood shed out about her feet--by God,
My heart feels drunken when I think of it.
See you, she will not rid herself of me,
Not though she slay me: her sweet lips and life
Will smell of my spilt blood.

Give me good-night.

Yea, and good thanks.


Here is the very place:
Here has her body bowed the pillows in
And here her head thrust under made the sheet
Smell sort of her mixed hair and spice: even here
Her arms pushed back the coverlet, pulled here
The golden silken curtain halfway in
It may be, and made room to lean out loose,
Fair tender fallen arms. Now, if God would,
Doubtless he might take pity on my soul
To give me three clear hours, and then red hell
Snare me forever: this were merciful:
If I were God now I should do thus much.
I must die next, and this were not so hard
For him to let me eat sweet fruit and die
With my lips sweet from it. For one shall have
This fare for common days'-bread, which to me
Should be a touch kept always on my sense
To make hell soft, yea, the keen pain of hell
Soft as the loosening of wound arms in sleep.
Ah, love is good, and the worst part of it
More than all things but death. She will be here
In some small while, and see me face to face
That am to give up life for her and go
Where a man lies with all his loves put out
And his lips full of earth. I think on her,
And the old pleasure stings and makes half-tears
Under mine eyelids. Prithee, love, come fast,
That I may die soon: yea, some kisses through,
I shall die joyfully enough, so God
Keep me alive till then. I feel her feet
Coming far off; now must I hold my heart,
Steadying my blood to see her patiently.

[Hides himself by the bed.]

[Enter the QUEEN and DARNLEY.]

Nay, now go back: I have sent off my folk,
Maries and all. Pray you, let be my hair;
I cannot twist the gold thread out of it
That you wound in so close. Look, here it clings:
Ah! now you mar my hair unwinding it.
Do me no hurt, sir.

I would do you ease;
Let me stay here.

Nay, will you go, my lord?

Eh? would you use me as a girl does fruit,
Touched with her mouth and pulled away for game
To look thereon ere her lips feed? but see,
By God, I fare the worse for you.

Fair sir,
Give me this hour to watch with and say prayers;
You have not faith-it needs me to say prayers,
That with commending of this deed to God
I may get grace for it.

Why, lacks it grace?
Is not all wedlock gracious of itself?

Nay, that I know not of. Come, sweet, be hence.

You have a sort of jewel in your neck
That's like mine here.

Keep off your hands and go:
You have no courtesy to be a king.

Well, I will go: nay, but I thwart you not.
Do as you will, and get you grace; farewell,
And for my part, grace keep this watch with me!
For I need grace to bear with you so much.


So, he is forth. Let me behold myself;
I am too pale to be so hot; I marvel
So little color should be bold in the face
When the blood is not quieted. I have
But a brief space to cool my thoughts upon.
If one should wear the hair thus heaped and curled
Would it look best? or this way in the neck?
Could one ungirdle in such wise one's heart

[Taking off her girdle.]

And ease it inwards as the waist is eased
By slackening of the slid clasp on it!
How soft the silk is-gracious color too;
Violet shadows like new veins thrown up
Each arm, and gold to fleck the faint sweet green
Where the wrist lies thus eased. I am right glad
I have no maids about to hasten me-
So I will rest and see my hair shed down
On either silk side of my woven sleeves,
Get some new way to bind it back with-yea,
Fair mirror-glass, I am well ware of you,
Yea, I know that, I am quite beautiful.
How my hair shines!-Fair face, be friends with me


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