Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Scenes from Politian” (Text-D), The Raven and Other Poems (1845), pp. 31-51


∞∞∞∞∞∞∞


[page 31:]

SCENES FROM “POLITIAN;”
 
AN UNPUBLISHED DRAMA.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I.

ROME. — A Hall in a Palace.  Alessandra and Castiglione.

 

Alessandra.  Thou art sad, Castiglione.

 

Castiglione.  Sad! — not I.

Oh, I’m the happiest, happiest man in Rome!

A few days more, thou knowest, my Alessandra,

Will make thee mine. Oh, I am very happy!

 

Aless.  Methinks thou hast a singular way of showing

Thy happiness! — what ails thee, cousin of mine?

Why didst thou sigh so deeply?

 

Cas.  Did I sigh?

I was not conscious of it. It is a fashion,

A silly — a most silly fashion I have

When I am very happy. Did I sigh? (sighing.)

 

Aless.  Thou didst. Thou art not well. Thou hast indulged

Too much of late, and I am vexed to see it.

Late hours and wine, Castiglione, — these

Will ruin thee! thou art already altered —

Thy looks are haggard — nothing so wears away

The constitution as late hours and wine.

 

Cas. (musing.)   Nothing, fair cousin, nothing — not even deep sorrow —

Wears it away like evil hours and wine. [page 32:]

I will amend.

 

Aless.  Do it! I would have thee drop

Thy riotous company, too — fellows low born —

Ill suit the like with old Di Broglio’s heir

And Alessandra’s husband.

 

Cas.  I will drop them.

 

Aless.  Thou wilt — thou must. Attend thou also more

To thy dress and equipage — they are over plain

For thy lofty rank and fashion — much depends

Upon appearances.

 

Cas.  I’ll see to it.

 

Aless. Then see to it! — pay more attention, sir,

To a becoming carriage — much thou wantest

In dignity.

 

Cas.  Much, much, oh much I want

In proper dignity.

 

Aless. (haughtily.)  Thou mockest me, sir!

 

Cas. (abstractedly.)  Sweet, gentle Lalage!

 

Aless.  Heard I aright?

I speak to him — he speaks of Lalage!

Sir Count! (places her hand on his shoulder) what art thou dreaming? he’s not well!

What ails thee, sir?

 

Cas. (startling.)  Cousin! fair cousin! — madam!

I crave thy pardon — indeed I am not well —

Your hand from off my shoulder, if you please.

This air is most oppressive! — Madam — the Duke!

 

Enter Di Broglio.

 

Di Broglio.  My son, I’ve news for thee! — hey? — what’s the matter? (observing Alessandra.)

I’ the pouts? Kiss her, Castiglione! kiss her,

You dog! and make it up, I say, this minute! [page 33:]

I’ve news for you both. Politian is expected

Hourly in Rome — Politian, Earl of Leicester!

We’ll have him at the wedding. ’Tis his first visit

To the imperial city.

 

Aless.  What! Politian

Of Britain, Earl of Leicester?

 

Di Brog.  The same, my love.

We’ll have him at the wedding. A man quite young

In years, but grey in fame. I have not seen him,

But Rumour speaks of him as of a prodigy

Pre-eminent in arts and arms, and wealth,

And high descent. We’ll have him at the wedding.

 

Aless.  I have heard much of this Politian.

Gay, volatile and giddy — is he not?

And little given to thinking.

 

Di Brog.  Far from it, love.

No branch, they say, of all philosophy

So deep abstruse he has not mastered it.

Learned as few are learned.

 

Aless.  ’Tis very strange!

I have known men have seen Politian

And sought his company. They speak of him

As of one who entered madly into life,

Drinking the cup of pleasure to the dregs.

 

Cas.  Ridiculous! Now I have seen Politian

And know him well — nor learned nor mirthful he.

He is a dreamer and a man shut out

From common passions.

 

Di Brog.  Children, we disagree.

Let us go forth and taste the fragrant air

Of the garden. Did I dream, or did I hear

Politian was a melancholy man?

 

(exeunt.) [page 34:]

 

II.

ROME. A Lady’s apartment, with a window open and looking into a garden. Lalage, in deep mourning, reading at a table on which lie some books and a hand mirror. In the back ground [[background]] Jacinta (a servant maid) leans carelessly upon a chair.

 

Lal. [[Lalage]] Jacinta! is it thou?

 

Jac. [[Jacinta]] (pertly.) Yes, Ma’am, I’m here.

 

Lal.   I did not know, Jacinta, you were in waiting.

Sit down! — let not my presence trouble you —

Sit down! — for I am humble, most humble.

 

Jac. (aside.) ’Tis time.

 

(Jacinta seats herself in a side-long manner upon the chair, resting her elbows upon the back, and regarding her mistress with a contemptuous look. Lalage continues to read.)

 

Lal.  “It in another climate, so he said,

“Bore a bright golden flower, but not i’ [[in]] this soil!”

(pauses — turns over some leaves, and resumes.)

“No lingering winters there, nor snow, nor shower —

“But Ocean ever to refresh mankind

“Breathes the shrill spirit of the western wind.”

Oh, beautiful! — most beautiful! — how like

To what my fevered soul doth dream of Heaven!

O happy land! (pauses.) She died! — the maiden died!

O still more happy maiden who couldst die!

Jacinta!

(Jacinta returns no answer, and Lalage presently resumes.)

Again! — a similar tale

Told of a beauteous dame beyond the sea! [page 35:]

Thus speaketh one Ferdinand in the words of the play —

“She died full young” — one Bossola answers him —

“I think not so — her infelicity

“Seemed to have years too many” — Ah luckless lady!

Jacinta! (still no answer.)

Here’s a far sterner story

But like — oh, very like in its despair —

Of that Egyptian queen, winning so easily

A thousand hearts — losing at length her own.

She died. Thus endeth the history — and her maids

Lean over and weep — two gentle maids

With gentle names — Eiros and Charmion!

Rainbow and Dove! —— Jacinta!

 

Jac. (pettishly.) Madam, what is it?

 

Lal.  Wilt thou, my good Jacinta, be so kind

As go down in the library and bring me

The Holy Evangelists.

 

Jac. Pshaw!   (exit.)

 

Lal. If there be balm

For the wounded spirit in Gilead it is there!

Dew in the night time of my bitter trouble

Will there be found — “dew sweeter far than that

Which hangs like chains of pearl on Hermon hill.”

(re-enter Jacinta, and throws a volume on the table.)

There, ma’am,’s the book. Indeed she is very troublesome.   (aside.)

 

Lal. (astonished.)  What didst thou say, Jacinta? Have I done aught

To grieve thee or to vex thee? — I am sorry.

For thou hast served me long and ever been

Trust-worthy and respectful.

(resumes her reading.)

 

Jac. I can’t believe

She has any more jewels — no — no — she gave me all.

(aside.) [page 36:]

 

Lal. What didst thou say, Jacinta? Now I bethink me

Thou hast not spoken lately of thy wedding.

How fares good Ugo? — and when is it to be?

Can I do aught? — is there no farther aid

Thou needest, Jacinta?

 

Jac. Is there no farther aid!

That’s meant for me. (aside) I’m sure, Madam, you need not

Be always throwing those jewels in my teeth.

 

Lal. Jewels! Jacinta, — now indeed, Jacinta,

I thought not of the jewels.

 

Jac. Oh! perhaps not!

But then I might have sworn it. After all,

There’s Ugo says the ring is only paste,

For he’s sure the Count Castiglione never

Would have given a real diamond to such as you;

And at the best I’m certain, Madam, you cannot

Have use for jewels now. But I might have sworn it.

 

(exit.)

 

(Lalage bursts into tears and leans her head upon the table — after a short pause raises it.)

 

Lal.  Poor Lalage! — and is it come to this?

Thy servant maid! — but courage! — ’tis but a viper

Whom thou hast cherished to sting thee to the soul!

(taking up the mirror)

Ha! here at least’s a friend — too much a friend

In earlier days — a friend will not deceive thee.

Fair mirror and true! now tell me (for thou canst)

A tale — a pretty tale — and heed thou not

Though it be rife with woe. It answers me.

It speaks of sunken eyes, and wasted cheeks,

And Beauty long deceased — remembers me

Of Joy departed — Hope, the Seraph Hope,

Inurned and entombed! — now, in a tone

Low, sad, and solemn, but most audible, [page 37:]

Whispers of early grave untimely yawning

For ruined maid. Fair mirror and true! — thou liest not!

Thou hast no end to gain — no heart to break —

Castiglione lied who said he loved ——

Thou true — he false! — false! — false!

(while she speaks, a monk enters her apartment, and approaches unobserved.)

 

Monk.  Refuge thou hast,

Sweet daughter! in Heaven. Think of eternal things!

Give up thy soul to penitence, and pray!

 

Lal. (arising hurriedly.)  I cannot pray! — My soul is at war with God!

The frightful sounds of merriment below

Disturb my senses — go! I cannot pray —

The sweet airs from the garden worry me!

Thy presence grieves me — go! — thy priestly raiment

Fills me with dread — thy ebony crucifix

With horror and awe!

 

Monk.  Think of thy precious soul!

 

Lal.  Think of my early days! — think of my father

And mother in Heaven! think of our quiet home,

And the rivulet that ran before the door!

Think of my little sisters! — think of them!

And think of me! — think of my trusting love

And confidence — his vows — my ruin — think — think

Of my unspeakable misery! —— begone!

Yet stay! yet stay! — what was it thou saidst of prayer

And penitence? Didst thou not speak of faith

And vows before the throne?

 

Monk.  I did.

 

Lal.^=  ’Tis well.

There is a vow were fitting should be made — [page 38:]

A sacred vow, imperative, and urgent,

A solemn vow!

 

Monk.  Daughter, this zeal is well!

 

Lal.  Father, this zeal is anything but well!

Hast thou a crucifix fit for this thing?

A crucifix whereon to register

This sacred vow?

(he hands her his own.)

Not that — Oh! no! — no! — no!

(shuddering.)

Not that! Not that! — I tell thee, holy man,

Thy raiments and thy ebony cross affright me!

Stand back! I have a crucifix myself, —

I have a crucifix! Methinks ’twere fitting

The deed — the vow — the symbol of the deed —

And the deed’s register should tally, father!

(draws a cross-handled dagger and raises it on high.)

Behold the cross wherewith a vow like mine

Is written in Heaven!

 

Monk.  Thy words are madness, daughter,

And speak a purpose unholy — thy lips are livid —

Thine eyes are wild — tempt not the wrath divine!

Pause ere too late! — oh be not — be not rash!

Swear not the oath — oh swear it not!

 

Lal.  ’Tis sworn! [page 39:]

 

III.

An apartment in a palace. Politian and Baldazzar.

Baldazzar.  ——— Arouse thee now, Politian!

Thou must not — nay indeed, indeed, thou shalt not

Give way unto these humours. Be thyself!

Shake off the idle fancies that beset thee,

And live, for now thou diest!

 

Politian.  Not so, Baldazzar!

Surely I live.

 

Bal.  Politian, it doth grieve me

To see thee thus.

 

Pol.  Baldazzar, it doth grieve me

To give thee cause for grief, my honoured friend.

Command me, sir! what wouldst thou have me do?

At thy behest I will shake off that nature

Which from my forefathers I did inherit,

Which with my mother’s milk I did imbibe,

And be no more Politian, but some other.

Command me, sir!

 

Bal.  To the field then — to the field —

To the senate or the field.

 

Pol.  Alas! alas!

There is an imp would follow me even there!

There is an imp hath followed me even there!

There is —— what voice was that?

 

Bal.  I heard it not.

I heard not any voice except thine own,

And the echo of thine own. [page 40:]

 

Pol.  Then I but dreamed.

 

Bal.   Give not thy soul to dreams: the camp — the court

Befit thee — Fame awaits thee — Glory calls —

And her the trumpet-tongued thou wilt not hear

In hearkening to imaginary sounds

And phantom voices.

 

Pol.  It is a phantom voice!

Didst thou not hear it then?

 

Bal.  I heard it not.

 

Pol.  Thou heardst it not! —— Baldazaar, speak no more

To me, Politian, of thy camps and courts.

Oh! I am sick, sick, sick, even unto death,

Of the hollow and high-sounding vanities

Of the populous Earth! Bear with me yet awhile!

We have been boys together — school-fellows —

And now are friends — yet shall not be so long —

For in the eternal city thou shalt do me

A kind and gentle office, and a Power —

A Power august, benignant and supreme —

Shall then absolve thee of all further duties

Unto thy friend.

 

Bal.  Thou speakest a fearful riddle

I will not understand.

 

Pol.  Yet now as Fate

Approaches, and the Hours are breathing low,

The sands of Time are changed to golden grains,

And dazzle me, Baldazzar. Alas! alas!

I cannot die, having within my heart

So keen a relish for the beautiful

As hath been kindled within it. Methinks the air

Is balmier now than it was wont to be —

Rich melodies are floating in the winds —

A rarer loveliness bedecks the earth — [page 41:]

And with a holier lustre the quiet moon

Sitteth in Heaven. — Hist! hist! thou canst not say

Thou hearest not now, Baldazzar?

 

Bal.  Indeed I hear not.

 

Pol.  Not hear it! — listen now — listen! — the faintest sound

And yet the sweetest that ear ever heard!

A lady’s voice! — and sorrow in the tone!

Baldazzar, it oppresses me like a spell!

Again! — again! — how solemnly it falls

Into my heart of hearts! that eloquent voice

Surely I never heard — yet it were well

Had I but heard it with its thrilling tones

In earlier days!

 

Bal.  I myself hear it now.

Be still! — the voice, if I mistake not greatly,

Proceeds from yonder lattice — which you may see

Very plainly through the window — it belongs,

Does it not? unto this palace of the Duke.

The singer is undoubtedly beneath

The roof of his Excellency — and perhaps

Is even that Alessandra of whom he spoke

As the betrothed of Castiglione,

His son and heir.

 

Pol.  Be still! — it comes again!

Voice

(very faintly.)

“And is thy heart so strong

As for to leave me thus

Who hath loved thee so long

In wealth and wo among?

And is thy heart so strong

As for to leave me thus?

Say nay — say nay!”

 

Bal.  The song is English, and I oft have heard it

In merry England — never so plaintively — [page 42:]

Hist! hist! it comes again!

Voice

(more loudly.)

“Is it so strong

As for to leave me thus

Who hath loved thee so long

In wealth and wo among?

And is thy heart so strong

As for to leave me thus?

Say nay — say nay!”

 

Bal.  ’Tis hushed and all is still!

 

Pol.  All is not still!

 

Bal.  Let us go down.

 

Pol.  Go down, Baldazzar, go!

 

Bal.  The hour is growing late — the Duke awaits us, —

Thy presence is expected in the hall

Below. What ails thee, Earl Politian?

Voice

(distinctly.)

“Who hath loved thee so long,

In wealth and wo among,

And is thy heart so strong?

 

Say nay — say nay!”

 

Bal.  Let us descend! — ’tis time. Politian, give

These fancies to the wind. Remember, pray,

Your bearing lately savoured much of rudeness

Unto the Duke. Arouse thee! and remember!

 

Pol.  Remember? I do. Lead on! I do remember.  (going.)

Let us descend. Believe me I would give,

Freely would give the broad lands of my earldom

To look upon the face hidden by yon lattice —

“To gaze upon that veiled face, and hear

Once more that silent tongue.”

 

Bal.  Let me beg you, sir,

Descend with me — the Duke may be offended.

Let us go down, I pray you. [page 43:]

(Voice loudly.) Say nay! — say nay!

 

Pol. (aside.)  ’Tis strange! — ’tis very strange — methought the voice

Chimed in with my desires and bade me stay!  (approaching the window.)

Sweet voice! I heed thee, and will surely stay.

Now be this Fancy, by Heaven, or be it Fate,

Still will I not descend. Baldazzar, make

Apology unto the Duke for me;

I go not down to-night.

 

Bal.  Your lordship’s pleasure

Shall be attended to. Good night, Politian.

 

Pol.  Good night, my friend, good night. [page 44:]

 

IV.

The gardens of a palace — Moonlight.  Lalage and Politian.

 

Lalage.  And dost thou speak of love

To me, Politian? — dost thou speak of love

To Lalage? — ah wo — ah wo is me!

This mockery is most cruel — most cruel indeed!

 

Politian.  Weep not! oh, sob not thus! — thy bitter tears

Will madden me. Oh mourn not, Lalage —

Be comforted! I know — I know it all,

And still I speak of love. Look at me, brightest,

And beautiful Lalage! — turn here thine eyes!

Thou askest me if I could speak of love,

Knowing what I know, and seeing what I have seen.

Thou askest me that — and thus I answer thee —

Thus on my bended knee I answer thee.

 

(kneeling.)

Sweet Lalage, I love theelove theelove thee;

Thro’ good and ill — thro’ weal and wo I love thee.

Not mother, with her first born on her knee,

Thrills with intenser love than I for thee.

Not on God’s altar, in any time or clime,

Burned there a holier fire than burneth now

Within my spirit for thee. And do I love?

 

(arising.)

Even for thy woes I love thee — even for thy woes —

Thy beauty and thy woes.

 

Lal.  Alas, proud Earl,

Thou dost forget thyself, remembering me!

How, in thy father’s halls, among the maidens

Pure and reproachless of thy princely line, [page 45:]

Could the dishonored Lalage abide?

Thy wife, and with a tainted memory —

My seared and blighted name, how would it tally

With the ancestral honours of thy house,

And with thy glory?

 

Pol.  Speak not to me of glory!

I hate — I loathe the name; I do abhor

The unsatisfactory and ideal thing.

Art thou not Lalage and I Politian?

Do I not love — art thou not beautiful —

What need we more? Ha! glory! — now speak not of it!

By all I hold most sacred and most solemn —

By all my wishes now — my fears hereafter —

By all I scorn on earth and hope in heaven —

There is no deed I would more glory in,

Than in thy cause to scoff at this same glory

And trample it under foot. What matters it —

What matters it, my fairest, and my best,

That we go down unhonoured and forgotten

Into the dust — so we descend together.

Descend together — and then — and then perchance ——

 

Lal.  Why dost thou pause, Politian?

 

Pol.  And then, perchance

Arise together, Lalage, and roam

The starry and quiet dwellings of the blest,

And still ——

 

Lal.  Why dost thou pause, Politian?

 

Pol.  And still togethertogether.

 

Lal.  Now Earl of Leicester!

Thou lovest me, and in my heart of hearts

I feel thou lovest me truly.

 

Pol.  Oh, Lalage!  (throwing himself upon his knee.)

And lovest thou me? [page 46:]

 

Lal.  Hist! hush! within the gloom

Of yonder trees methought a figure past —

A spectral figure, solemn, and slow, and noiseless —

Like the grim shadow Conscience, solemn and noiseless.  (walks across and returns.)

I was mistaken — ‘twas but a giant bough

Stirred by the autumn wind. Politian!

 

Pol.  My Lalage — my love! why art thou moved?

Why dost thou turn so pale? Not Conscience’ self,

Far less a shadow which thou likenest to it,

Should shake the firm spirit thus. But the night wind

Is chilly — and these melancholy boughs

Throw over all things a gloom.

 

Lal.  Politian!

Thou speakest to me of love. Knowest thou the land

With which all tongues are busy — a land new found —

Miraculously found by one of Genoa —

A thousand leagues within the golden west?

A fairy land of flowers, and fruit, and sunshine,

And crystal lakes, and over-arching forests,

And mountains, around whose towering summits the winds

Of Heaven untrammelled flow — which air to breathe

Is Happiness now, and will be Freedom hereafter

In days that are to come?

 

Pol.  O, wilt thou — wilt thou

Fly to that Paradise — my Lalage, wilt thou

Fly thither with me? There Care shall be forgotten,

And Sorrow shall be no more, and Eros be all.

And life shall then be mine, for I will live

For thee, and in thine eyes — and thou shalt be

No more a mourner — but the radiant Joys

Shall wait upon thee, and the angel Hope

Attend thee ever; and I will kneel to thee [page 47:]

And worship thee, and call thee my beloved,

My own, my beautiful, my love, my wife,

My all; — oh, wilt thou — wilt thou, Lalage,

Fly thither with me?

 

Lal.  A deed is to be done —

Castiglione lives!

 

Pol.  And he shall die!

 

(exit.)

 

Lal. (after a pause.)   And — he — shall — die! ——— alas!

Castiglione die? Who spoke the words?

Where am I? — what was it he said? — Politian!

Thou art not gone — thou art not gone, Politian!

I feel thou art not gone — yet dare not look,

Lest I behold thee not; thou couldst not go

With those words upon thy lips — O, speak to me!

And let me hear thy voice — one word — one word,

To say thou art not gone, — one little sentence,

To say how thou dost scorn — how thou dost hate

My womanly weakness. Ha! ha! thou art not gone —

O speak to me! I knew thou wouldst not go!

I knew thou wouldst not, couldst not, durst not go.

Villain, thou art not gone — thou mockest me!

And thus I clutch thee — thus! ——— He is gone, he is gone —

Gone — gone. Where am I? —— ’tis well — ’tis very well!

So that the blade be keen — the blow be sure,

’Tis well, ’tis very well — alas! alas!

(exit.) [page 48:]

V.

The suburbs. Politian alone.

 

Politian.  This weakness grows upon me. I am faint,

And much I fear me ill — it will not do

To die ere I have lived! — Stay — stay thy hand,

O Azrael, yet awhile! — Prince of the Powers

Of Darkness and the Tomb, O pity me!

O pity me! let me not perish now,

In the budding of my Paradisal Hope!

Give me to live yet — yet a little while:

’Tis I who pray for life — I who so late

Demanded but to die! — what sayeth the Count?

 

Enter Baldazzar.

 

Baldazzar.  That knowing no cause of quarrel or of feud

Between the Earl Politian and himself.

He doth decline your cartel.

 

Pol.  What didst thou say?

What answer was it you brought me, good Baldazzar?

With what excessive fragrance the zephyr comes

Laden from yonder bowers! — a fairer day,

Or one more worthy Italy, methinks

No mortal eyes have seen! — what said the Count?

 

Bal.  That he, Castiglione, not being aware

Of any feud existing, or any cause

Of quarrel between your lordship and himself,

Cannot accept the challenge.

 

Pol.  It is most true —

All this is very true. When saw you, sir, [page 49:]

When saw you now, Baldazzar, in the frigid

Ungenial Britain which we left so lately,

A heaven so calm as this — so utterly free

From the evil taint of clouds? — and he did say?

 

Bal.  No more, my lord, than I have told you, sir:

The Count Castiglione will not fight,

Having no cause for quarrel.

 

Pol.  Now this is true —

All very true. Thou art my friend, Baldazzar,

And I have not forgotten it — thou’lt do me

A piece of service; wilt thou go back and say

Unto this man, that I, the Earl of Leicester,

Hold him a villain? — thus much, I prythee, say

Unto the Count — it is exceeding just

He should have cause for quarrel.

 

Bal.  My lord! — my friend! —

 

Pol.  (aside.) ’Tis he! — he comes himself? (aloud.) thou reasonest well.

I know what thou wouldst say — not send the message —

Well! — I will think of it — I will not send it.

Now prythee, leave me — hither doth come a person

With whom affairs of a most private nature

I would adjust.

 

Bal.  I go — to-morrow we meet,

Do we not? — at the Vatican.

 

Pol.  At the Vatican.

 

(exit Bal.)

 

Enter Castigilone.

 

Cas.  The Earl of Leicester here!

 

Pol.  I am the Earl of Leicester, and thou seest,

Dost thou not? that I am here.

 

Cas.  My lord, some strange,

Some singular mistake — misunderstanding —

Hath without doubt arisen: thou hast been urged [page 50:]

Thereby, in heat of anger, to address

Some words most unaccountable, in writing,

To me, Castiglione; the bearer being

Baldazzar, Duke of Surrey. I am aware

Of nothing which might warrant thee in this thing,

Having given thee no offence. Ha! — am I right?

‘Twas a mistake? — undoubtedly — we all

Do err at times.

 

Pol.  Draw, villain, and prate no more!

 

Cas.  Ha! — draw? — and villain? have at thee then at once,

Proud Earl!

 

(draws.)

 

Pol.  (drawing.)   Thus to the expiatory tomb,

Untimely sepulchre, I do devote thee

In the name of Lalage!

 

Cas.  (letting fall his sword and recoiling to the extremity of the stage.)

Of Lalage!

Hold off — thy sacred hand! — avaunt, I say!

Avaunt — I will not fight thee — indeed I dare not.

 

Pol.  Thou wilt not fight with me didst say, Sir Count?

Shall I be baffled thus? — now this is well;

Didst say thou darest not? Ha!

 

Cas.  I dare not — dare not —

Hold off thy hand — with that beloved name

So fresh upon thy lips I will not fight thee —

I cannot — dare not.

 

Pol.  Now by my halidom

I do believe thee! — coward, I do believe thee!

 

Cas.  Ha! — coward! — this may not be!

(clutches his sword and staggers towards Politian, but his purpose is changed before reaching him, and he falls upon his knee at the feet of the Earl)

 

Alas! my lord, [page 51:]

It is — it is — most true. In such a cause

I am the veriest coward. O pity me!

 

Pol.  (greatly softened.)   Alas! — I do — indeed I pity thee.

 

Cas.  And Lalage ——

 

Pol.  Scoundrel!arise and die!

 

Cas.  It needeth not be — thus — thus — O let me die

Thus on my bended knee. It were most fitting

That in this deep humiliation I perish.

For in the fight I will not raise a hand

Against thee, Earl of Leicester. Strike thou home —

(baring his bosom.)

Here is no let or hindrance to thy weapon —

Strike home. I will not fight thee.

 

Pol.  Now s’Death and Hell!

Am I not — am I not sorely — grievously tempted

To take thee at thy word? But mark me, sir!

Think not to fly me thus. Do thou prepare

For public insult in the streets — before

The eyes of the citizens. I’ll follow thee —

Like an avenging spirit I’ll follow thee

Even unto death. Before those whom thou lovest —

Before all Rome I’ll taunt thee, villain, — I’ll taunt thee,

Dost hear? with cowardice — thou wilt not fight me?

Thou liest! thou shalt!

(exit.)

 

Cas.  Now this indeed is just!

Most righteous, and most just, avenging Heaven!


∞∞∞∞∞∞∞


Notes:

Although numbered I, II and III in the original printing, these scenes are actually scenes IV, VI and VII in the manuscript of the play.


∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

[S:1 - RAOP, 1845 (fac, 1969)] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - Scenes from Politian (Text-D)