Prison Thoughts

Scene, a dungeon: ORAZIO solus.

Orazio.
I’ll speak again:
This rocky wall’s great silence frightens me,
Like a dead giant’s.
Methought I heard a sound; but all is still.
This empty silence is so deadly low,
The very stir and winging of my thoughts
Make audible my being: every sense
Aches from its depth with hunger.
The pulse of time is stopped, and night’s blind sun
Sheds its black light, the ashes of noon’s beams,
On this forgotten tower, whose ugly round,
Amid the fluency of brilliant morn,
Hoops in a blot of parenthetic night,
Like ink upon the chrystal page of day,
Crossing its joy! But now some lamp awakes,
And, with the venom of a basilisk’s wink,
Burns the dark winds. Who comes?

Enter EZRIL.

Ezril.
There’s food for thee.
Eat heartily; be mirthful with your cup;
Though coarse and scanty.

Orazio.
I’ll not taste of it.
To the dust, to the air with the cursed liquids
And poison-kneaded bread.

Ezril.
Why dost thou this?

Orazio.
I know thee and thy master: honey-lipped,
Viper-tongued villain, that dost bait intents,
As crook’d and murderous as the scorpion’s sting,
With mercy’s sugared milk, and poisonest
The sweetest teat of matron charity!

* * *

[Kelsall, 1851]