George Sterling.

Lilith; a dramatic poem online

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Still hungry for illusion and for love!
LILITH: For love ? Come with me to that gentler world
Where Twilight, in the Islands of the Blest,
Hath lost her purples on the jewelled shore.
Music is there, and thou shalt know my kiss.
Couched on the broken rose and lulled by lutes,
Thou shalt forget the world's unending pain,
And all dismays Time hath in store for man.
T AN c RED: That love I will not dream of, nor that peace!
Witch, I am human, and will play my part
As man, not god nor phantom. I accept
The wine of this illusion, and am glad.
I drink its very lees of pain and death
Pain, and I comprehend my brother's pain,
And death, that so I know the worth of life.
LILITH: Still fain of the unsatisfying years!
Poor mortal! But a little time remains,
Even for that Illusion!
TANCRED: I have loved

And greatly sinned. I have been blind indeed.
But my humanity I put not by,
Nor turn from that great Army which, betrayed
By many captains and by many years,
Goes up against the Darkness. I am man
And portion of my brothers. I will stand
For what I call the truth, and trust that Love
Some day shall clasp the world. To hold thy dream
Is death, and treason, and the Dark Mirage.

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Thou too art of illusion, witch! LILITH

LILITH: Lookup! Act IV Sc. 4

Behold again the heavens! What hope hath earth?

Bartered looks up. 'The sky has become overcast.

TANCRED: The night is very dark. No star! No star!

Now nearer to the sky-line burns mine own,

Irrevocable, lonely, and forlorn.

The clouds that were the sunset come to weep,

Assenting to some sorrow of the night.

LILITH: As thou dost pass, so shall the race, nor leave

A watcher at the frozen tomb, nor voice

To utter to the vast and voiceless skies

The words: "Man was. He suffered. He is not."

TANCRED: And yet at last we conquer: these are years

That know the seraph's sword, but not his song.

We are but brutes, yet from those loins shall spring

Masters of matter. From the world's huge pain,

I know its coming joy shall be as vast,

When the great Balance swings, and stars that sank

In tears return in song. Have not I known

The labor and the midnight of the roots,

The glory and the fragrance of the flow'r?

Free from the long captivity of self,

The race shall work as one.

LILITH: Hug then thy dream,

Poor fool! I am no dream, who offer thee

Rapture and peace at cost of sterile pride.

Dream till the mighty Darkness come and lay

Destruction on thy soul! But I have seen

7 1



LILITH The moth and rust that wait their Master's word,
Act IV Sc. 4 And know thou babblest. Babble ye, O men,
Till on the conflicts of accursed life
Falls the impartial judgment of the Cold!
TANCRED: Nay, thou dost pander unto Nothingness,
And on thy tongue is death! We moths that use
The stars for candles are more wise than thou,
Finding the light at least, although it slay.
And though the Last Wind drive along the world
The foam of granite and the dust of seas,
The dust in Man hath lived and loved.
LILITH: And cried

In agony! Ah, miserable Life,
Lured by a hundred lusts and dogged by sad
Satiety! Blind pilgrim of the years,
With Pain for shadow! Turn thee from the sun,
And rest! How very quickly art thou gone,
Smoke of the moth's burnt wing!
TANCRED: Yet was it wing,

And better that than nothing.
LILITH: So thou takest

The gods' half-loaf, refusing that my laugh
May touch to mist thy wan philosophies:
It may be thou shalt eat tomorrow night
Another bread.

TANCRED: Men walk in darkness now,
Part of the hate and horror of the world;
But clouds hide not forevermore the stars,
Nor night the dawn. The quietudes of Law
Swing up the sun at last. I see far off

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The dust of Evil's altar crumbling down L i L i T H

Before the morning, and the song of Man Act IV Sc. 5

Answers the singing of the stars.

LILITH: Poor fool,

The dupe of dreams! So soon to take thy part

In nothingness, one with that multitude

To whom the eternal night hath said, "I am!"

Farewell!

TANCRED: Farewell, O witch! I die a man.



Scene 5: Midnight of the next day. The trouba-
dour Raoul and the girl Jehanne stand before
a fountain near the southern wall of the
castle ', in a small garden-close.

RAOUL: How brave of thee to come! I hardly dared

To think thou wouldst.

JEHANNE: I never should have come:

This greenery is not for you and me

The king alone may walk it.

RAOUL: He'll not come

Tonight, I know.

JEHANNE: And yet the dark is warm.

Old Winter, like one begging at the gate,

Moaned once, and went away. But he '11 return.

RAOUL: Tonight 'tis summer-soft. No wind's a- wing.

JEHANNE: Art very sure the king will stay within ?

I fear him.

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LILITH RAOUL: Peace! He sent for me and said:
Act IV Sc. 5 "Grant the drug music to my baffled soul,

For I would dream of some great bitter love,
Insatiate." Whereat the white witch said:
"Thou shalt come with me to the crypts tonight
And hear another music."
JEHANNE: What was meant?

RAOUL: Trouble thee not thy heart! Come closer. Cast
Thine arms around me thus. Ah, beautiful!
I love thee!

JEHANNE: Thou hast said so to each maid
In the great city.

RAOUL: That may be. This time

I mean the words. For beautiful thou art,
And Spring is in the garden of thy face.
I would I dared to sing to thee this hour
And tell in music half thy marvel. Dear,
Dawn-eyed and exquisite, the blind, sweet flow'rs
Are coarser than thy breast, and in thy voice
Are distant bells of evening, faintly tolled,
And echo of the mourning harp. Thy hair
Is gold of many an ancient moon, and hath
Their sorcery. I find therein the ghost
Of fragrance of some unaccepted rose
That died in Paradise. All things that seem
Most sadly beautiful are met in thee;
Yet dost thou promise all of happiness,
All wonderments of vision and of sound,
Drifting deliciously against the heart.
JEHANNE: How silly dost thou speak! How very like

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A troubadour! LILITH

RAOUL: Hast thou no word of love A6t IV Sc. 5

For me?

JEHANNE: Ah! thou art like a tiger-cat,

So swiftly didst thou leap upon Lothaire

And crush him down! Thou art my tiger-cat.

RAOUL: Call me thy love!

JEHANNE: Well, then, thou art my love.

RAOUL: Ah, madlier, madlier! Kiss me swift! My lips,

Thieves of delight, are famished for thine own!

They kiss.

JEHANNE: Thy lips are cold.

RAOUL: Because my love is hot.

Kiss me again, O lovely one! The night

Is shrine for us.

A low groan is heard.

JEHANNE: Ah! what was that, dear heart ?
RAOUL: I know not, and I care not. Love, thy lips!

The groan is heard again.

JEHANNE: Nay let me go!

RAOUL: 'T is nothing. Stay thou here!

JEHANNE: 'T is terrible a soul's black agony

Distilled in sound! I will not stay!

RAOUL: Come, then,

And we '11 discover what it is. Behold

A window opens in the wall, low down,

Too little to be barred. It lets the air

75



LILITH Into the crypts.
Ad IV Sc. 5



'The groan is heard again. 'They kneel and listen.

Said I not so? The sound

Comes from below. Listen! And there's a laugh
'T was the king's witch! I know now: Odo said
That Tancred was to die tonight. 'Tis he
Who groans.

j E H A N N E : That poor old man!
RAOUL: He seems not old.

And yet he works in magic.
JEHANNE: Why do men

Concern themselves with magic or its cure,
When love awaits ?

RAOUL: With wisdom, or red war?

All 's vain but love and lovers.

The groan is heard again.

JEHANNE: Let us go!

I cannot bear the sound.

RAOUL: But go not far!

They walk to the other end of the garden-close.

See, here the sun was kindest, and the grass
Lies thick and soft. So bed thee, tender one!

The dew? Well, here 's my cloak Now, Sweet,

thine arms,

Thy face uplifted, and thy small red mouth
To start the feast!
JEHANNE: Ah! Raoul! Raoul!

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RAOUL: Love! LILITH

JEHANNE: Ah! Raoul! Raoul! Ad IV Sc. 5

'The groan is heard again.

Christ! It is too much!
Let us go hence! We '11 meet another night.
RAOUL: I will not have it so! See, here's a rose
That hangs above, the Autumn's white farewell.
I '11 stuff thine ears with petals.

He does so.

JEHANNE: Gently, now!

Enough thou hurtest!

'The groan is heard again.

RAOUL: Hearestthou?

JEHANNE: More loud:

Thou whisperest.

RAOUL: I asked if thou didst hear

The sound.

JEHANNE: I hear no sound. I barely hear

Thy voice.

RAOUL: Then, all is well. Groan on, thou pest!

Jehanne, my beautiful, thy lips again!

O heart of Love, thou center of the sun!

JEHANNE: Ah, Love!

RAOUL: Delight! Delight!

JEHANNE: Ah, Love! Ah, Love!



FINIS



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Online LibraryGeorge SterlingLilith; a dramatic poem → online text (page 4 of 4)