Death’s Jest-Book, Act V

Scene I.

An apartment in the ducal castle.

ISBRAND and SIEGFRIED.

Siegfr.
They still wait for you in their council chamber,
And clamorously demand the keys of the treasure,
The stores of arms, lists of the troops you’ve hired,
Reports of your past acts, and your intentions
Towards the new republic.

Isbr.
They demand!
A phrase politer would have pleased me better.
The puppets, whose heart strings I hold and play
Between my thumb and fingers, this way, that way;
Through whose masks, wrinkled o’er by age and passion,
My voice and spirit hath spoken continually;
Dare now to ape free will? Well done, Prometheus!
Thou’st pitied Punch and given him a soul,
And all his wooden peers. The tools I’ve used
To chisel an old heap of stony laws,
The abandoned sepulchre of a dead dukedom,
Into the form my spirit loved and longed for;
Now that I’ve perfected her beauteous shape,
And animated it with half my ghost;
Now that I lead her to our bridal bed,
Dare the mean instruments to lay their plea,
Or their demand forsooth, between us? Go;
And tell the fools, (you’ll find them pale, and dropping
Cold tears of fear out of their trembling cheek-pores;)
Tell them, for comfort, that I only laughed;
And bid them all to sup with me to-night,
When we will call the cup to counsel.

Siegfr.
Mean you
Openly to assume a kingly power,
Nor rather inch yourself into the throne?
Perhaps—but as you will.

Isbr.
Siegfried, I’m one
That what I will must do, and what I do
Do in the nick of time without delay.
To-morrow is the greatest fool I know,
Excepting those who put their trust in him.
In one word hear, what soon they all shall hear:
A king’s a man, and I will be no man
Unless I am a king. Why, where’s the difference?
Throne-steps divide us: they’re soon climbed perhaps:
I have a bit of FIAT in my soul,
And can myself create my little world.
Had I been born a four-legged child, methinks
I might have found the steps from dog to man,
And crept into his nature. Are there not
Those that fall down out of humanity,
Into the story where the four-legged dwell?
But to the conclave with my message quickly:
I’ve got a deal to do.

[Exit Siegfried.

How I despise
All such mere men of muscle! It was ever
My study to find out a way to godhead,
And on reflection soon I found that first
I was but half created; that a power
Was wanting in my soul to be its soul,
And this was mine to make. Therefore I fashioned
A will above my will, that plays upon it,
As the first soul doth use in men and cattle.
There’s lifeless matter; add the power of shaping,
And you’ve the crystal: add again the organs,
Wherewith to subdue sustenance to the form
And manner of one’s self, and you’ve the plant:
Add power of motion, senses, and so forth,
And you’ve all kinds of beasts; suppose a pig:
To pig add reason, foresight, and such stuff,
Then you have man. What shall we add to man,
To bring him higher? I begin to think
That’s a discovery I soon shall make.
Thus, owing nought to books, but being read
In the odd nature of much fish and fowl,
And cabbages and beasts, I’ve raised myself,
By this comparative philosophy,
Above your shoulders, my sage gentlemen.
Have patience but a little, and keep still,
I’ll find means, bye and bye, of flying higher.

[Exit.

Scene II.

Another apartment.

The DUKE, SIEGFRIED, MARIO, ZIBA and conspirators.

A conspirator
(to Siegfried) Said he nought else?

Siegfr.
What else he said was worse.
He is no more Isbrand of yesterday;
But looks and talks like one, who in the night
Hath made a bloody compact with some fiend.
His being is grown greater than it was,
And must make room, by cutting off men’s lives,
For its shadowy increase.

Conspir.
O friends, what have we done?
Sold, for a promise, still security,
The mild familiar laws our fathers left us;
Uprooted our firm country.

Ziba.
And now sit,
Weeping like babes, among its ruins. Up!
You have been cheated; now turn round upon him.
In this his triumph pull away his throne,
And let him into hell.

Another conspir.
But that I heard it
From you, his inmost counsel and next heart,
I’d not believe it. Why, the man was open;
We looked on him, and saw our looks reflected;
Our hopes and wishes found an echo in him;
He pleased us all, I think. Let’s doubt the worst,
Until we see.

Duke.
Until you feel and perish.
You looked on him, and saw your looks reflected,
Because his soul was in a dark deep well,
And must draw down all others to increase it:
Your hopes and wishes found an echo in him,
As out of a sepulchral cave, prepared
For you and them to sleep in. To be brief,
He is the foe of all; let all be his,
And he must be o’erwhelmed.

Siegfr.
I throw him off,
Although I feared to say so in his presence,
And think you all will fear. O that we had
Our good old noble Duke, to help us here!

Duke.
Of him I have intelligence. The governor,
Whose guards are bribed and awed by these good tidings,
Waits us within. There we will speak at large:
And O! may justice, for this once, descend
Like lightning-footed vengeance.

Mario.
It will come;
But when, I know not. Liberty, whose shade
Attends, smiles still in patience, and that smile
Melts tyrants down in time: and, till she bids,
To strike were unavailing.

[Exeunt all but Siegfried and Ziba.

Ziba.
Let them talk:
I mean to do; and will let no one’s thoughts,
Or reasonable cooling counsels, mix
In my resolve to weaken it, as little
As shall a drop of rain or pity-water
Adulterate this thick blood-curdling liquor.
Siegfried, I’ll free you from this thankless master.

Siegfr.
I understand. To-night? Why that is best.
Man’s greatest secret, like the earth’s, the devil,
Slips through a key-hole or the smallest chink.
In plottings there is still some crack unstopped,
Some heart not air-tight, some fellow who doth talk
In sleep or in his cups, or tells his tale,
Love-drunk, unto his secret-selling mistress.
How shall’t be done though?

Ziba.
I’m his cup-bearer;
An office that he gave me in derision,
And I will execute so cunningly
That he shall have no lips, to laugh with, long;
Nor spare and spurn me, as he did last night.
Let him beware, who shows a dogged slave
Pity or mercy! For the drug, ’tis good:
There is a little, hairy, green-eyed snake,
Of voice like to the woody nightingale,
And ever singing pitifully sweet,
That nestles in the barry bones of death,
And is his dearest pet and play-fellow.
The honied froth about that serpent’s tongue
Deserves not so his habitation’s name,
As doth the cup that I shall serve to him.

[Exeunt.

Scene III.

A meadow.

SIBYLLA and ladies, gathering flowers.

Sibyl.
Enough; the dew falls, and the glow-worm’s shining:
Now let us search our baskets for the fairest
Among our flowery booty, and then sort them.

Lady.
The snow-drops are all gone; but here are cowslips,
And primroses, upon whose petals maidens,
Who love to find a moral in all things,
May read a lesson of pale bashfulness;
And violets, that have taught their young buds whiteness,
That blue-eyed ladies’ lovers might not tear them
For the old comparison; daisies without number,
And butter-cups and lilies of the vale.

Sibyl.
Sit then; and we will bind some up with rushes,
And wind us garlands. Thus it is with man;
He looks on nature as his supplement,
And still will find out likenesses and tokens
Of consanguinity, in the world’s graces,
To his own being. So he loves the rose,
For the cheek’s sake, whose touch is the most grateful
At night-fall to his lip; and, as the stars rise,
Welcomes the memories of delighting glances,
Which go up as an answer o’er his soul.

Lady.
And therefore earth and all its ornaments,
Which are the symbols of humanity
In forms refined, and efforts uncompleted,
Graceful and innocent, temper the heart,
Of him who muses and compares them skilfully,
To glad belief and tearful gratitude.
This is the sacred source of poesy.

Sibyl.
While we are young, and free from care, we think so.
But, when old age or sorrow brings us nearer
To spirits and their interests, we see
Few features of mankind in outward nature;
But rather signs inviting us to heaven.
I love flowers too; not for a young girl’s reason,
But because these brief visitors to us
Rise yearly from the neighbourhood of the dead,
To show us how far fairer and more lovely
Their world is; and return thither again,
Like parting friends that beckon us to follow,
And lead the way silent and smilingly.
Fair is the season when they come to us,
Unfolding the delights of that existence
Which is below us: ’tis the time of spirits,
Who with the flowers, and like them, leave their graves:
But when the earth is sealed, and none dare come
Upwards to cheer us, and man’s left alone,
We have cold, cutting winter. For no bridal,
Excepting with the grave, are flowers fit emblems.

Lady.
And why then do we pluck and wreathe them now?

Sibyl.
Because a bridal with the grave is near.
You will have need of them to strew a corpse.
Ay, maidens, I am dying; but lament not:
It is to me a wished for change of being.
Yonder behold the evening star arising,
Appearing bright over the mountain-tops;
He has just died out of another region,
Perhaps a cloudy one; and so die I;
And the high heaven, serene and light with joy,
Which I pass into, will be my love’s soul,
That will encompass me; and I shall tremble,
A brilliant star of never-dying delight,
Mid the ethereal depth of his eternity.
Now lead me homewards: and I’ll lay me down,
To sleep not, but to rest: then strew me o’er
With these flowers fresh out of the ghosts’ abodes,
And they will lead me softly down to them.

[Exeunt.

Scene IV.

The ruined cathedral, the sepulchre, and the cloisters; on which latter is painted the DANCE OF DEATH. In the foreground a large covered table, with empty chairs set round it. Moonlight. The clock strikes twelve; on which is heard a

Song in the air.
The moon doth mock and make me crazy,
   And midnight tolls her horrid claim
   On ghostly homage. Fie, for shame!
Deaths, to stand painted there so lazy.
There’s nothing but the stars about us,
   And they’re no tell-tales, but shine quiet:
   Come out, and hold a midnight riot,
Where no mortal fool dare flout us:
And, as we rattle in the moonlight pale;
Wanderers shall think ’tis the nightingale.

(The Deaths, and the figures paired with them, come out of the walls: some seat themselves at the table, and appear to feast, with mocking gestures; others dance fantastically to a rattling music, singing)

Mummies and skeletons, out of your stones;
   Every age, every fashion, and figure of Death:
The death of the giant with petrified bones;
   The death of the infant who never drew breath.
Little and gristly, or bony and big,
   White and clattering, grassy and yellow;
The partners are waiting, so strike up a jig,
   Dance and be merry, for Death’s a droll fellow.
The emperor and empress, the king and the queen,
   The knight and the abbot, friar fat, friar thin,
The gipsy and beggar, are met on the green;
   Where’s Death and his sweetheart? We want to begin.
In circles, and mazes, and many a figure,
   Through clouds, over chimnies and corn-fields yellow,
We’ll dance and laugh at the red-nosed grave-digger,
   Who dreams not that Death is so merry a fellow.

(One with a scythe, who has stood sentinel, now sings)

Although my old ear
   Hath neither hammer nor drum,
Methinks I can hear
   Living skeletons come.
The cloister re-echoes the call,
   And it frightens the lizard,
And, like an old hen, the wall
   Cries “cluck! cluck! back to my gizzard;
   “‘Tis warm, though it’s stony,
   “My chickens so bony.”
   So come let us hide, each with his bride,
   For the wicked are coming who have not yet died.

(The figures return to their places in the wall.)

Enter ISBRAND, the DUKE, SIEGFRIED, MARIO, WOLFRAM as fool, and conspirators, followed by ZIBA and other attendants.

Isbr.
You wonder at my banqueting-house perhaps:
But ’tis my fashion, when the sky is clear,
To drink my wine out in the open air:
And this our sometime meeting-place is shadowy,
And the wind howleth through the ruins bravely.
Now sit, my gentle guests: and you, dark man,

[to Wolfr.

Make us as merry as you can, and proudly
Bear the new office, which your friend, the pilgrim,
Has begged for you: ’twas my profession once;
Do justice to that cap.

(They sit round the table, and partake of the feast, making gestures somewhat similar to those mocked by the figures.)

Duke.
Now, having washed our hearts of love and sorrow,
And pledged the rosiness of many a cheek,
And, with the name of many a lustrous maiden,
Ennobled enough cups; feed, once again,
Our hearing with another merry song.

Isbr.
‘Tis pity that the music of this dukedom,
Under the former government, went wrong,
Like all the rest: my ministers shall look to’t.
But sing again, my men.

Siegfr.
What shall it be,
And of what turn? Shall battle’s drum be heard?
The chase’s trumpet? Shall the noise of Bacchus
Swell in our cheeks, or lazy, sorrowing love
Burthen with sighs our ballad?

Isbr.
Try the piece,
You sang me yesternight to sleep with best.
It is for such most profitable ends
We crowned folks encourage all the arts.

Song.
My goblet’s golden lips are dry,
   And, as the rose doth pine
   For dew, so doth for wine
         My goblet’s cup;
Rain, O! rain, or it will die;
         Rain, fill it up!

Arise, and get thee wings to-night,
   Ætna! and let run o’er
   Thy wines, a hill no more,
         But darkly frown
A cloud, where eagles dare not soar,
         Dropping rain down.

Isbr.
A very good and thirsty melody:
What say you to it, my court poet?

Wolfr.
Good melody! If this be a good melody,
I have at home, fattening in my stye,
A sow that grunts above the nightingale.
Why this will serve for those, who feed their veins
With crust, and cheese of dandelion’s milk,
And the pure Rhine. When I am sick o’ mornings,
With a horn-spoon tinkling my porridge-pot,
‘Tis a brave ballad: but in Bacchanal night,
O’er wine, red, black, or purple-bubbling wine,
That takes a man by the brain and whirls him round,
By Bacchus’ lip! I like a full-voiced fellow,
A craggy-throated, fat-cheeked trumpeter,
A barker, a moon-howler, who could sing
Thus, as I heard the snaky mermaids sing
In Phlegethon, that hydrophobic river,
One May-morning in Hell.

Song.
Old Adam, the carrion crow,
   The old crow of Cairo;
He sat in the shower, and let it flow
   Under his tail and over his crest;
      And through every feather
      Leaked the wet weather;
   And the bough swung under his nest;
   For his beak it was heavy with marrow.
      Is that the wind dying? O no;
      It’s only two devils, that blow
      Through a murderer’s bones, to and fro,
         In the ghosts’ moonshine.

Ho! Eve, my grey carrion wife,
   When we have supped on kings’ marrow,
Where shall we drink and make merry our life?
   Our nest it is queen Cleopatra’s skull,
      ’Tis cloven and cracked,
      And battered and hacked,
   But with tears of blue eyes it is full:
   Let us drink then, my raven of Cairo.
      Is that the wind dying? O no;
      It’s only two devils, that blow
      Through a murderer’s bones, to and fro,
         In the ghosts’ moonshine.

Isbr.
Pilgrim, it is with pleasure I acknowledge,
In this your friend, a man of genuine taste:
He imitates my style in prose and verse:
And be assured that this deserving man
Shall soon be knighted, when I have invented
The name of my new order; and perhaps
I’ll make him minister. I pledge you, Fool:
Black! something exquisite.

Ziba.
Here’s wine of Egypt,
Found in a Memphian cellar, and perchance
Pressed from its fruit to wash Sesostris’ throat,
Or sweeten the hot palate of Cambyses.
See how it pours, thick, clear, and odorous.

Isbr.
‘Tis full, without a bubble on the top:
Pour him the like. Now give a toast.

Wolfr.
Excuse me:
I might offend perhaps, being blunt, a stranger,
And rustically speaking rustic thoughts.

Isbr.
That shall not be: give us what toast you will,
We’ll empty all our goblets at the word,
Without demur.

Siegfr.
Well, since the stranger’s silent,
I’ll give a toast, which, I can warrant you,
Was yet ne’er drunk. There is a bony man,
Through whom the sun shines, when the sun is out;
Or the rain drops, when any clouds are weeping;
Or the wind blows, if Œolus will; his name,
And let us drink to his success and sanity;—
But will you truly?

Isbr.
Truly, as I said.

Siegfr.
Then round with the health of Death, round with the health
Of Death the bony, Death the great; round, round.
Empty yourselves, all cups, unto the health
Of great King Death!

Wolfr.
Set down the cup, Isbrand, set the cup down.
Drink not, I say.

Siegfr.
And what’s the matter now?

Isbr.
What do you mean, by bidding me not drink?
Answer, I’m thirsty.

Wolfr.
Push aside the boughs:
Let’s see the night, and let the night see us.

Isbr.
Will the fool read us astronomic lectures?

Wolfr.
Above stars; stars below; round the moon stars.
Isbrand, don’t sip the grape-juice.

Isbr.
Must I drink,
Or not, according to a horoscope?
Says Jupiter, no? Then he’s a hypocrite.

Wolfr.
Look upwards, how ’tis thick and full, how sprinkled,
This heaven, with the planets. Now, consider;
Which will you have? The sun’s already taken,
But you may find an oar in the half moon,
Or drive the comet’s dragons; or, if you’d be
Rather a little snug and quiet god,
A one-horse star is standing ready for you.
Choose, and then drink.

Isbr.
If you are sane or sober,
What do you mean?

Wolfr.
It is a riddle, sir,
Siegfried, your friend, can solve.

Siegfr.
Some sorry jest.

Wolfr.
You’ll laugh but palely at its sting, I think.
Hold the dog down; disarm him; grasp his right.
My lord, this worthy courtier loved your virtues
To such excess of piety, that he wished
To send you by a bye-path into heaven.
Drink, and you’re straight a god—or something else.

A conspirator.
O murderous villain! Kill him where he sits.

Isbr.
Be quiet, and secure him. Siegfried, Siegfried;
Why hast thou no more genius in thy villany?
Wilt thou catch kings in cobwebs? Lead him hence:
Chain him to-night in prison, and to-morrow
Put a cord round his neck and hang him up,
In the society of the old dog
That killed my neighbour’s sheep.

Siegfr.
I do thank thee.
In faith, I hoped to have seen grass grow o’er you,
And should have much rejoiced. But, as it is,
I’ll willingly die upright in the sun:
And I can better spare my life than you.
Good night then, Fool and Duke: you have my curse;
And Hell will have you some day down for hers:
So let us part like friends. My lords, good sleep
This night, the next I hope you’ll be as well
As I shall. Should there be a lack of rope,
I recommend my bowstring as a strong one.
Once more, farewell: I wish you all, believe me,
Happily old, mad, sick, and dead, and cursed.

[Exit guarded.

Isbr.
That gentleman should have applied his talent
To writing new-year’s wishes. Another cup!

Wolfr.
He has made us dull: so I’ll begin a story.
As I was newly dead, and sat beside
My corpse, looking on it, as one who muses
Gazing upon a house he was burnt out of,
There came some merry children’s ghosts, to play
At hide-and-seek in my old body’s corners:—

Isbr.
But how came you to die and yet be here?

Wolfr.
Did I say so? Excuse me. I am absent,
And forget always that I’m just now living.
But dead and living, which are which? A question
Not easy to be solved. Are you alone,
Men, as you’re called, monopolists of life?
Or is all being, living? and what is,
With less of toil and trouble, more alive,
Than they, who cannot, half a day, exist
Without repairing their flesh mechanism?
Or do you owe your life, not to this body,
But to the sparks of spirit that fly off,
Each instant disengaged and hurrying
From little particles of flesh that die?
If so, perhaps you are the dead yourselves:
And these ridiculous figures on the wall
Laugh, in their safe existence, at the prejudice,
That you are anything like living beings.
But hark! The bell tolls, and a funeral comes.

(A funeral procession crosses the stage; the pall borne by ladies.)

Dirge.
   We do lie beneath the grass
      In the moonlight, in the shade
   Of the yew-tree. They that pass
      Hear us not. We are afraid
         They would envy our delight,
         In our graves by glow-worm night.
Come follow us, and smile as we;
      We sail to the rock in the ancient waves,
Where the snow falls by thousands into the sea,
      And the drowned and the shipwrecked have happy graves.

(The procession passes out.

Duke.
What’s this that comes and goes, so shadow-like?

Attendant.
They bear the fair Sibylla to her grave.

Duke.
She dead!
Darest thou do this, thou grave-begotten man,
Thou son of Death?

(To Wolfram.

Wolfr.
Sibylla dead already?
I wondered how so fair a thing could live:
And, now she is no more, it seems to me
She was too beautiful ever to die!

Isbr.
She, who was to have been my wife? Here, fellow;
Take thou this flower to strew upon her grave,
A lily of the valley; it bears bells,
For even the plants, it seems, must have their fool,
So universal is the spirit of folly;
And whisper, to the nettles of her grave,
“King Death hath asses’ ears.”

Mario.
(stabbing Isbrand) At length thou art condemned to punishment
Down, thou usurper, to the earth and grovel!
The pale form, that has led me up to thee,
Bids me deal this; and, now my task is o’er,
Beckons me hence.

[Exit.

Isbr.
Villain, thou dig’st deep:
But think you I will die? Can I, that stand
So strong and powerful here, even if I would,
Fall into dust and wind? No: should I groan,
And close my eyes, be fearful of me still.
‘Tis a good jest: I but pretend to die,
That you may speak about me bold and loudly;
Then I come back and punish: or I go
To dethrone Pluto. It is wine I spilt,
Not blood, that trickles down.

Enter THORWALD with soldiers.

Thorw.
Long live duke Melveric, our rightful sovereign!
Down with the traitorous usurper, Isbrand!

All.
Long live duke Melveric!

Isbr.
Duke Isbrand, long live he!
Duke Melveric is deposed.

Thorw.
Receive the homage
Of your revolted city.

Duke.
Thorwald, thanks.
The usurper has his death-wound.

Thorw.
Then cry, Victory!
And Long life to duke Melveric! once more.

Isbr.
I will live longer: when he’s dead and buried,
A hundred years hence, or, it may be, more,
I shall return and take my dukedom back.
Imagine not I’m weak enough to perish:
The grave, and all its arts, I do defy.

Wolfr.
Meantime Death sends you back this cap of office.
At his court you’re elected to the post:
Go, and enjoy it.

(He sets the fool’s cap on Isbrand’s head.

Isbr.
Bye and bye. But let not
Duke Melveric think that I part unrevenged:
For I hear in the clouds about me voices,
Singing

All kingdomless is thy old head,
   In which began the tyrannous fun;
He fetches thee, who should be dead;
   There’s Duke for Brother! Who has won?

I jest and sing, and yet alas! am he,
Who in a wicked masque would play the Devil;
But jealous Lucifer himself appeared,
And bore him—whither? I shall know to-morrow,
For now Death makes indeed a fool of me.

[dies.

Duke.
Where are my sons? I have not seen them lately.
Go to the bridegroom’s lodgings, and to Athulf’s,
And summon both.

[Exit attendant.

Wolfr.
They will be here; and sooner
Than you would wish. Meanwhile, my noble Duke,
Some friends of mine behind us seem to stir.
They wish, in honour of your restoration,
In memory also of your glorious deeds,
To present masque and dance to you. Is’t granted?

Duke.
Surely; and they are welcome, for we need
Some merriment amid these sad events.

Wolfr.
You in the wall there then, my thin light archers,
Come forth and dance a little: ’tis the season
When you may celebrate Death’s Harvest-home.

(A dance of Deaths. In the middle of it enter AMALA, followed by a bier, on which the corpse of Adalmar is borne. The dance goes out.)

Duke.
What’s this? Another mummery?

Wolfr.
The antimasque,
I think they call it; ’tis satirical.

Amala.
My lord, you see the bridal bed that waits me.
Your son, my bridegroom, both no more, lies here,
Cold, pale, abandoned in his youthful blood:
And I his bride have now no duty else,
But to kneel down, wretched, beside his corpse,
Crying for justice on his murderers.

Duke.
Could my son die, and I not know it sooner?
Why, he is cold and stiff. O! now my crown
Is sunk down to the dust, my life is desolate.
Who did this deed?

Enter Athulf.

Wolfr.
Athulf, answer thou!

Amala.
O no! Suspect not him. He was last night
Gentle, and full of love, to both of us,
And could imagine ne’er so foul a deed.
Suspect not him; for so thou mak’st me feel
How terrible it is that he is dead,
Since his next friend’s accused of such a murder:
And torture not his ghost, which must be here,
Striving in vain to utter one soul-sound,
To speak the guiltless free. Tempt not cruelly
The helplessness of him who is no more,
Nor make him discontented with the state,
Which lets him not assert his brother’s innocence.

Duke.
(to Athulf.) Answer! Thou look’st like one, unto whose soul
A secret voice, all day and night, doth whisper,
“Thou art a murderer.” Is it so? Then rather
Speak not. Thou wear’st a dagger at thy side;
Avenge the murdered man, thou art his brother;
And never let me hear from mortal lips
That my son was so guilty.

Athulf.
Amala,
Still love me; weep some gentle drops for me;
And, when we meet again, fulfil thy promise.
Father, look here!

(He kisses Amala’s hand and stabs himself.

Amala.
O Athulf! live one moment to deny it;
I ask that, and that only. Lo! old man,
He hath in indignation done the deed.
Since thou could’st think him for an instant guilty,
He held the life, which such a base suspicion
Had touched, and the old father who could think it,
Unworthy of him more: and he did well.
I bade thee give me vengeance for my bridegroom,
And thou hast slain the only one who loved me.
Suspect and kill me too: but there’s no need;
For such a one, as I, God never let
Live more than a few hours.

(She falls into the arms of her ladies.

Duke.
Thorwald, the crown is yours; I reign no more.
But when, thou spectre, is thy vengeance o’er?

Wolfr.
Melveric, all is finished, which to witness
The spirit of retribution called me hither.
Thy sons have perished for like cause, as that
For which thou did’st assassinate thy friend.
Sibylla is before us gone to rest.
Blessing and Peace to all who are departed!
But thee, who daredst to call up into life,
And the unholy world’s forbidden sunlight,
Out of his grave him who reposed softly,
One of the ghosts doth summon, in like manner,
Thee, still alive, into the world o’ th’ dead.

(Exit with the Duke into the sepulchre.

The curtain falls.

L’ENVOI.

Who findeth comfort in the stars and flowers
Apparelling the earth and evening sky,
That moralize throughout their silent hours,
And woo us heaven-wards till we wish to die;
Oft hath he singled from the soothing quire,
For its calm influence, one of softest charm
To still his bosom’s pangs, when they desire
A solace for the world’s remorseless harm.
Yet they, since to be beautiful and bless
Is but their way of life, will still remain
Cupbearers to the bee in humbleness,
Or look untouched down through the moony rain,
Living and being worlds in bright content,
Ignorant, not in scorn, of his affection’s bent.

So thou, whom I have gazed on, seldom seen,
Perchance forgotten to the very name,
Hast in my thoughts the living glory been,
In beauty various, but in grace the same.
At eventide, if planets were above,
Crowning anew the sea of day bereft,
Swayed by the dewy heaviness of love,
My heart felt pleasure in the track thou’dst left:
And so all sights, all musings, pure and fair,
Touching me, raised thy memory to sight,
As the sea-suns awakes the sun in air,—
If they were not reflections, thou the light.
Therefore bend hitherwards, and let thy mildness
Be glassed in fragments through this storm and wildness.

And pardon, if the sick light of despair
Usurp thy semblance oft, with tearful gleam
Displaying haunted shades of tangled care
In my sad scenes: soon shall a pearly beam,
Shed from the forehead of my heaven’s queen,—
That front thy hand is pressed on,—bring delight.
Nor frown, nor blame me, if, such charms between,
Spring mockery, or thoughts of dreadest night.
Death’s darts are sometimes Love’s. So Nature tells,
When laughing waters close o’er drowning men;
When in flowers’ honied corners poison dwells;
When Beauty dies: and the unwearied ken,
Of those who seek a cure for long despair,
Will learn. Death hath his dimples everywhere;
Love only on the cheek, which is to me most fair.

[Kelsall, 1851]