Oscar Wilde.

Salome online

. (page 1 of 4)
Online LibraryOscar WildeSalome → online text (page 1 of 4)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Copy 2



TO













'Mfrfe^^i':^:'



^1



1

















<5^ ^o »o'* ^-^"^ O







v^ .







'o^"^'







°o










V-0^



.0^ V^^^3^'* .^^'





o *•







'^^



4^







-^^d^
i^°^




**/r.'' aO



^°-^<*-. ".






l^\.-^'.%




o " • . "^ iiiv .>■". ^ d* „



.^°,^



















* .'^




->. .A



/°.



s!^*^ ^



SALOME




OscdT
WUde>



'H.M. CxU dwell Co.
New Yorti-^Boston.



/Ph XI 190/






Copyright, igoj
By H. M. Caldwell Co.



Salome



TO MY FRIEND

LORD ALFRED BRUCE DOUGLAS

THE TRANSLATOR OF

MY PLAY



THE PERSONS OF THE PLAY

HEROD ANTIPAS, TETRARCH OF

JUDJEA
lOKANAAN, THE PROPHET
THE YOUNG SYRIAN, CAPTAIN OF THE

GUARD
TIGELLINUS, A YOUNG ROMAN
A CAPPADOCIAN
A NUBIAN
FIRST SOLDIER
SECOND SOLDIER
THE PAGE OF HERODIAS
JEWS, NAZARENES, ETC.
A SLAVE

NAAMAN, THE EXECUTIONER
HERODIAS, WIFE OF THE TETRARCH
SALOME, DAUGHTER OF HERODIAS
THE SLAVES OF SALOME



Introduction

QSCAR FINGAL O'FLAHERTIE
WILLS WILDE was born in
Dublin, October i6, 1854. His father, Sir
William Wilde, a noted oculist and otol-
ogist, was one of the most distinguished
surgeons that Great Britain has known,
and is also well remembered as the
author of several important works on
Irish History and Archaeology. On the
other hand, he was a man of strong, un-
bridled passions, in the gratification of
which no sense of social or professional
responsibility could restrain him. His
mother, Jane Francesca Elgee, was well



^ Introduction

known both as a pamphleteer and a
poet, writing to the Nation, Dublin,
under the names of " Speranza " and
" John Fenshaw ElHs " at the time of
the political upheaval in 1848. Oscar
was their second child and son, and
because a boy his advent was a disap-
pointment to his mother, who had de-
sired a girl, and for a long time he was
treated, talked to, and dressed like one.
He received his education at Ennis-
killen and at Trinity College, Dublin,
where in 1874 he won the Berkeley
Gold Medal. In October of that year
he entered Magdalen College, Oxford,
in his first term coming under the in-
fluence of Ruskin, who lectured on the
" Esthetic and Mathematical Schools
of Art in Florence." In 1877 an event

vi



Introduction ^

took place which had a deep influence
on his life, — his journey to Greece
with the party that accompanied John
Pentland MahafFy, whereby, without
doubt, his true enthusiasm for Beauty
and the Hellenic spirit was aroused.
In 1878 he gained First Class in the
Honour Finals at Oxford, and in the
same year won the Newdigate Prize for
English Verse with his poem " Ra-
venna." For a period of practically
five years from the time of his gradua-
tion from Oxford in 1878, Oscar Wilde
with his mumming made an extrava-
ganza of the Pre-Raphaelite movement
and a burlesque of the theories of the
Esthetes. His eccentric dress of knee
breeches, silk stockings, and velvet

coats, and his affectation of sunflowers
vii



^ Introduction

and lilies brought him a certain no-
toriety. He was caricatured in Punch,
good-humouredly rallied in all of the
public prints, and satirized in Gilbert
and Sullivan's comic opera " Patience."
In 1 88 1 he found a publisher for his
poems, consisting mainly of reprints
contributed to various periodicals in
England and Ireland. In the latter
part of December, 1881, he sailed for
New York, where early in January,
1882, he delivered the first of a series of
lectures, which afterwards he repeated in
the principal cities of the United States
and Canada. Although the tour did
not prove a great financial success,
especially towards its close, the year's
travelling in America was productive of

great good in the development of his
viii



Introduction ^

character. Brought into close contact
with the most energetic of men, his
latent energy aroused itself, and the
unworthy posings were abandoned, and
by the time of his return to England his
masquerade of speech, manner, and
dress had disappeared. Shortly after
his arrival in England he went to Paris,
taking with him several copies of his
poems, which he sent to many well-
known people. His advances were fa-
vourably received and many doors were
opened to him, but he was really never
understood. He was labelled " Poseur "
and was not taken at all seriously.
Through the lack of money he was
obhged to return to England in the
summer of 1883, and entered on a lec-
ture tour, visiting various provincial
ix



"^ Introduction

towns, but he met with little success.
On May 29, 1884, he married Constance
Lloyd, and her dower enabled them to
take the lease of a good house in Tite
Street, Chelsea. Oscar Wilde then
turned to journalism, writing much
anonymously, though at the same
period he wrote the exquisite fairy-tales
published in 1888 under the title of
" The Happy Prince and Other Tales."
From October, 1887, to September,
1889, he was editor of the Woman s
World, where his personal contributions
were mainly published under the title
of " Some Literary Notes." During
the eight years from 1884 to 1 891 the
total of his published work was small,
consisting principally of " The Soul of
Man under Socialism," " The Picture



Introduction ^

of Dorian Gray " and " Intentions,"
a volume of essays which had already
appeared in monthly magazines. On
the 20th of February, 1892, his play,
" Lady Windermere's Fan," was pro-
duced and proved an immediate success.
From then on there were three years of
prosperity and triumph for Oscar Wilde.
He was counted one of the first play-
wrights of the English stage and his
income sprang from nothing to several
thousand pounds a year. In April,
1893, " A Woman of No Importance "
was performed; on the 3d of January,
1895, came " An Ideal Husband," and
on the 14th of February " The Import-
ance of Being Earnest," all meeting
with extraordinary success. The strong

point in each of these comedies lay in
xi



^ Introduction

the dialogue, which sparkled and scin-
tillated with wit; it was simply Oscar
Wilde himself talking. At this time
he frequently visited Paris, and the
following description of him by Henri
Regnier dates from about the period
of the writing of " Salome/* " This
foreigner was tall and of great cor-
pulence. A high complexion seemed
to give still greater width to his clean-
shaven and proconsular face. It was
the unbearded face that one sees on
coins. The eyes smiled. The hands
seemed to be beautiful: they were
rather fleshy and plump, and one of
them was ornamented with a ring in
which a beetle of green stone was set.
The man's tall figure allowed of his

wearing ample and masterly frock-
xii



Introduction ^

coats, which opened out on somewhat
* loud ' waistcoats of smooth velvet or
flowered satins. Oriental cigarettes
with gold tips were ever consuming
themselves into smoke in his mouth.
A rare blossom in his buttonhole gave
a finishing touch to his rich attire in
which every detail seemed to have been
carefully studied^ From cab to cab,
from cafe to cafe, from salon to salon,
he moved with the lazy gait of a stout
man who is rather weary. He carried
on his correspondence by means of tel-
egrams, and his conversation by means
of apologues.*' In April, 1895, came
his downfall, it having since been
proved that he was really the scape-
goat of a circle of his friends, and
on May 25th he was sentenced to



^ Introduction

two years at hard labour. On his
release from gaol he went to France,
where he dragged out the rest of his
existence, with the exception of a short
time spent in Italy, dying in Paris in
comparative poverty on the 30th of
November, 1900.

" Salome " was written in Paris about

the first of the year 1892 and but a short

time before the production of " Lady

Windermere's Fan " in London. It

was composed in French and with the

exception of slight revision by Marcel

Schwob was entirely Oscar Wilde's

work, and the best French critics are

unanimous in expressing their wonder

that any foreigner could have acquired

such a mastery of the French language,
adv



Introduction ^

The play was not written for Sarah
Bernhardt, as so often stated, but she
asked the author to read it to her in
London around June, 1892, and was so
impressed with its possibiHties that she
at once expressed a desire to play the
title role. Rehearsals were imme-
diately begun, costumes, scenery, and
everything had been prepared, but
toward the last of June license to pro-
duce the play in London was refused
by the Lord Chamberlain on the ground
that it was unadvisable to produce
religious episodes. Madame Bern-
hardt, however, decided to produce it
in Paris at her own theatre of the Port
St. Martin as soon as an opportunity
offered. At the time of his arrest in
1895, Oscar Wilde's plays in England

XV



^ Introduction

were withdrawn from the boards as soon

as possible and his income stopped.

His only hope for any money was from

" Salome," which he had expected Sarah

Bernhardt would produce that year,

and while awaiting trial he wrote to a

friend in Paris to ask her if she would

not purchase the play outright. This

she refused to do, and although she

shed tears for his pitiful position and

sent him messages of sympathy, she

refused to assist him financially in any

way, although she had led Wilde's

friend to believe she would. The play

was first produced by Luigne Poe in

Paris in 1896; and from the time of its

first production in Berlin in September,

1903, has created a furor in Germany.

It has also been produced in Italy, but
xvi



Introduction ^

in English there seem to have been but
two productions of the play up to the
present time. The first was of a semi-
private nature at the Bijou Theatre in
London, May loth and 13th, 1905, and
the second was a series of public per-
formances at the Berkeley Lyceum,
New York, from November 13th to
i6th, 1905. " Salome " in the original
French was pubhshed in 1893, and in
the following year appeared in English,
translated by Lord Alfred Douglas.
Since then there have been three Ger-
man versions and two Russian, as well
as translations in Polish, Swedish, and
Spanish, showing the truth of the Ger-
man statement that to-day Oscar Wilde
is a " World's Poet " and " Salome " a

** World's Play." " It is among some
xvii



^ Introduction

of his friends an abiding regret that
he was not spared a few years longer
so that in the depth of his despair
he might have seen the wonderful
triumph that Germany has prepared
for him, might have watched the
crowds flocking to the theatre to see

* Salome ' played, might have listened to
the frantic enthusiasm which this play
never fails to invoke, might a little later
on have realized that it had been given
to him by this play to stimulate to the
highest expression of his wonderful art
the composer Richard Strauss, whom
the cognoscenti hail as the greatest
maestro who ever lived." '

* Life of Oscar Wilde, by R. H. Sherard, 1906,



xviu



Salome

Scene — A great terrace in the Palace
of Herody set above the banqueting- hall.
Some soldiers are leaning over the bal-
cony. To the right there is a gigantic
staircase, to the left, at the back, an old
cistern surrounded by a wall of green
bronze. The moon is shining very
brightly.

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

How beautiful is the Princess Salome
to-night !

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS

Look at the moon. How strange the
moon seems ! She is like a woman ris-



^ Salome

ing from a tomb. She is like a dead
woman. One might fancy she was look-
ing for dead things.

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

She has a strange look. She is like a
little princess who wears a yellow veil,
and whose feet are of silver. She is
like a princess who has little white doves
for feet. One might fancy she was
dancing.

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS

She is like a woman who is dead.
She moves very slowly.

[Noise in the banqueting-halL]

FIRST SOLDIER

What an uproar ! Who are those wild
beasts howling?



Salome ^

SECOND SOLDIER

The Jews. They are always like
that. They are disputing about their
religion.

FIRST SOLDIER

Why do they dispute about their re-
ligion ?

SECOND SOLDIER

I cannot tell. They are always doing
it. The Pharisees, for instance, say that
there are angels, and the Sadducees
declare that angels do not exist.

FIRST SOLDIER

I think it is ridiculous to dispute
about such things.

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

How beautiful is the Princess Salome
to-night I



•^ Salome

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS

You are always looking at her. You
look at her too much. It is dangerous
to look at people in such fashion. Some-
thing terrible may happen.

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

She is very beautiful to-night.

FIRST SOLDIER

The Tetrarch has a sombre aspect.

SECOND SOLDIER

Yes; he has a sombre aspect.

FIRST SOLDIER

He is looking at something.

SECOND SOLDIER

He is looking at some one.

FIRST SOLDIER

At whom is he looking ?



Salome ^

SECOND SOLDIER

I cannot tell.

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

How pale the Princess is! Never
have I seen her so pale. She is Hke the
shadow of a white rose in a mirror of
silver.

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS

You must not look at her. You look
too much at her.

FIRST SOLDIER

Herodias has filled the cup of the
Tetrarch.

THE CAPPADOCIAN

Is that the Queen Herodias, she who
wears a black mitre sewed with pearls,
and whose hair is powdered with blue
dust ?

5



•^ Salome

FIRST SOLDIER

Yes; that is Herodias, the Tetrarch's
wife.

SECOND SOLDIER

The Tetrarch is very fond of wine.
He has wine of three sorts. One which
is brought from the Island of Samo-
thrace, and is purple Hke the cloak
of Caesar.

THE CAPPADOCIAN

I have never seen Cassar.

SECOND SOLDIER

Another that comes from a town
called Cyprus, and is as yellow as
gold.



THE CAPPADOCIAN

I love gold.



6



Salome ^

SECOND SOLDIER

And the third is a wine of Sicily.
That wine is as red as blood.

THE NUBIAN

The gods of my country are very fond
of blood. Twice in the year we sacrifice
to them young men and maidens : fifty
young men and a hundred maidens.
But I am afraid that we never give them
quite enough, for they are very harsh
to us.

THE CAPPADOCIAN

In my country there are no gods left.

The Romans have driven them out.

There are some who say that they have

hidden themselves in the mountains,

but I do not believe it. Three nights I

have been on the mountains seeking
7



•^ Salome

them everywhere. I did not find them,
and at last I called them by their names,
and they did not come. I think they
are dead.

FIRST SOLDIER

The Jews worship a God that one
cannot see.



THE CAPPADOCIAN

I cannot understand that.



FIRST SOLDIER

In fact, they only believe in things
that one cannot see.

THE CAPPADOCIAN

That seems to me altogether ridicu-
lous.

THE VOICE OF lOKANAAN

After all shall come another mightier
8



Salome ^

FIRST SOLDIER

We can never tell. Sometimes he says
things that affright one, but it is impos-
sible to understand what he says.

THE CAPPADOCIAN

May one see him ?

FIRST SOLDIER

No. ThexTetrarch has forbidden it.

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

The Princess has hidden her face
behind her fan ! Her little white hands
are fluttering like doves that fly to their
dove-cots. They are like white butter-
flies. They are just like white but-
terflies.

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS

What is that to you ? Why do you

look at her? You must not look at
II



^ Salome

her. . . . Something terrible may hap-
pen.

THE CAPPADOCIAN

[Pointing to the cistern.^ What a
strange prison!

SECOND SOLDIER

It is an old cistern.

THE CAPPADOCIAN

An old cistern ! That must be a poi-
sonous place in which to dwell !

SECOND SOLDIER

Oh, no ! For instance, the Tetrarch's
brother, his elder brother, the first
husband of Herodias the Queen, was
imprisoned there for twelve years. It
did not kill him. At the end of twelve
years he had to be strangled.

12



Salome ^



THE CAPPADOCIAN

Strangled ? Who dared to do that ?

SECOND SOLDIER

[Pointing to the Executioner, a huge
negro.] That man yonder, Naaman.

THE CAPPADOCIAN

He was not afraid ?

SECOND sol:6ier

Oh, no ! The Tetrarch sent him the
ring.

THE CAPPADOCIAN

What ring ?

SECOND SOLDIER

The death ring. So he was not afraid.

THE CAPPADOCIAN

Yet it is a terrible thing to strangle

a king.

13



^ Salome

FIRST SOLDIER

Why? Kings have but one neck,
Hke other folk.

THE CAPPADOCIAN

I think it terrible.

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

The Princess is getting up! She is
leaving the table! She looks very
troubled. Ah, she is coming this way.
Yes, she is coming towards us. How
pale she is! Never have I seen her so
pale.

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS

Do not look at her. I pray you not to
look at her.

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

She is like a dove that has strayed.

. . . She is like a narcissus trembling
14



Salome ^

in the wind. . . . She is like a silver
flower.

[Enter Salome.]

SALOME

I will not stay. I cannot stay. Why
does the Tetrarch look at me all the
while with his mole's eyes under his
shaking eyelids ? It is strange that the
husband of my mother looks at me like
that. I know not what it means. Of a
truth I know it too well.

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

You have left the feast, Princess ?

SALOME

How sweet is the air here! I can

breathe here! Within there are Jews

from Jerusalem who are tearing each

other in pieces over their foolish cere-

15



•^ Salome

monies, and barbarians who drink and
drink and spill their wine on the pave-
ment, and Greeks from Smyrna with
painted eyes and painted cheeks, and
frizzed hair curled in columns, and
Egyptians silent and subtle, with long
nails of jade and russet cloaks, and
Romans brutal and coarse, with their
uncouth jargon. Ah ! how I loathe the
Romans ! They are rough and com-
mon, and they give themselves the airs
of noble lords.

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

Will you be seated. Princess ?

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS

Why do you speak to her? Oh!

something terrible will happen. Why

do you look at her ?
i6



Salome ^



SALOME

How good to see the moon! She is
like a Httle piece of money, a little
silver flower. She is cold and chaste.
I am sure she is a virgin. She has the
beauty of a virgin. Yes, she is a virgin.
She has never defiled herself. She has
never abandoned herself to men, Hke
the other goddesses.

THE VOICE OF lOKANAAN

Behold! the Lord hath come. The
Son of Man is at hand. The centaurs
have hidden themselves in the rivers,
and the nymphs have left the rivers,
and are lying beneath the leaves in the
forests.

SALOME

Who was that who cried out ?
17



^ Salome



SECOND SOLDIER

The prophet, Princess.

SALOME

Ah, the prophet ! He of whom the
Tetrarch is afraid ?

SECOND SOLDIER

We know nothing of that. Princess.
It was the prophet lokanaan who cried
out.

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

Is it your pleasure that I bid them
bring your litter, Princess ? The night
is fair in the garden.

SALOME

He says terrible things about my

mother, does he not ?
i8



Salome ^

SECOND SOLDIER

We never understand what he says,
Princess.

SALOME

Yes ; he says terrible things about her.
[Enter a Slave.]

THE SLAVE

Princess, the Tetrarch prays you to
return to the feast.

SALOME

I will not return.

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

Pardon me. Princess, but if you re-
turn not some misfortune may hap-
pen.

SALOME

Is he an old man, this prophet ?
19



^ Salome

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

Princess, it were better to return.
Suffer me to lead you in.

SALOME

This prophet . .. is he an old man ?

FIRST SOLDIER

No, Princess, he is quite young.

SECOND SOLDIER

One cannot be sure. There are those
who say that he is Elias. .

SALOME

Who is Elias ?

SECOND SOLDIER

A prophet of this country in bygone
days, Princess.

THE SLAVE

What answer may I give the Tetrarch

from the Princess ?
20



Salome ^

THE VOICE OF lOKANAAN

Rejoice not, O land of Palestine, be-
cause the rod of him who smote thee is
broken. For from the seed of the ser-
pent shall come a basilisk, and that
which is born of it shall devour the birds.

SALOME

What a strange voice ! I would speak
with him.

FIRST SOLDIER

I fear it may not be, Princess. The
Tetrarch does not suffer any one to
speak with him. He has even forbidden
the high priest to speak with him.

SALOME

I desire to speak with him.

FIRST SOLDIER

It is impossible. Princess.

21



•^ Salome

SALOME

I will speak with him.

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

Would it not be better to return to
the banquet ?

SALOME

Bring forth this prophet.

[Exit the Slave,]

FIRST SOLDIER

We dare not, Princess.

SALOME

\A pproaching the cistern and looking
down into ?V.] How black it is, down
there! It must be terrible to be in so
black a hole! It is like a tomb. . . .
\To the soldiers.^ Did you not hear me ?
Bring out the prophet. I would look on
him.

22



Salome ^

SECOND SOLDIER

Princess, I beg you, do not require
this of us.

SALOME

You are making me wait upon your
pleasure.

FIRST SOLDIER

Princess, our lives belong to you, but
we cannot do what you have asked of
us. And indeed, it is not of us that you
should ask this thing.

SALOME

[Looking at the young Syrian.] Ah !

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS

Oh ! what is going to happen ? I
am sure that something terrible will
happen.

23



■S&jjj



Salome



SALOME

[Going up to the young Syr tan J\
Thou wilt do this thinp- for me, wilt
thou not, Narraboth ? Thou wilt do
this thing for me. I have ever been
kind towards thee. Thou wilt do it for
me. I would but look at him, this
strange prophet. Men have talked so
much of him. Often I have heard the
Tetrarch talk of him. I think he is
afraid of him, the Tetrarch. Art thou,
even thou, also afraid of him, Narra-
both ?

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

I fear him not, Princess; there is no

man I fear. But the Tetrarch has

formally forbidden that any man should

raise the cover of this well.
24



Salome ^

SALOME

Thou wilt do this thing for me, Nar-
raboth, and to-morrow when I pass in
my litter beneath the gateway of the
idol-sellers I will let fall for thee a little
flower, a little green flower.

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

Princess, I cannot, 1 cannot.

SALOME

[Smiling.] Thou wilt do this thing
for me, Narraboth. Thou knowest
that thou wilt do this thing for me.
And on the morrow when I shall pass
in my litter by the bridge of the idol-
buyers, I will look at thee through the
muslin veils, I will look at thee, Narra-
both, it may be I will smile at thee.

Look at me, Narraboth, look at me.
25



-^ Salome

Ah! thou knowest that thou wilt do
what I ask of thee. Thou knowest
it ... I know that thou wilt do this
thing.

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

[Signing to the third Soldier,^ Let
the prophet come forth. . . . The
Princess Salome desires to see him.

SALOME

Ah!

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS

Oh I How strange the moon looks !
Like the hand of a dead woman who is
seeking to cover herself with a shroud.

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

She has a strange aspect ! She is like

a little princess, whose eyes are eyes of

amber. Through the clouds of muslin
26



Salome ^

she is smiling like a little princess.
[The prophet comes out of the cistern.
Salome looks at him and steps slowly
back.]

lOKANAAN

Where is he whose cup of abomina-
tions is now full ? Where is he, who in
a robe of silver shall one day die in the
face of all the people ? Bid him come
forth, that he may hear the voice of him
who hath cried in the waste places and
in the houses of kings.

SALOME

Of whom is he speaking ?

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

No one can tell, Princess.

lOKANAAN

Where is she who saw the images of
27



^ Salome

men painted on the walls, even the
images of the Chaldaeans painted with
colours, and gave herself up unto the
lust of her eyes, and sent ambassadors
into the land of Chaldaea ?

SALOME

It is of my mother that he is speaking.

THE YOUNG SYRIAN

Oh no, Princess.

SALOME

Yes : it is of my mother that he is
speaking.

lOKANAAN

Where is she who gave herself unto

the Captains of Assyria, who have

baldricks on their loins, and crowns of

many colours on their heads ? Where

is she who hath given herself to the
28



Salome ^

young men of the Egyptians, who are
clothed in fine linen and hyacinth,
whose shields are of gold, whose helmets
are of silver, whose bodies are mighty ?
Go, bid her rise up from the bed of her
abominations, from the bed of her in-
cestuousness, that she may hear the
words of him who prepareth the way of


1 3 4

Online LibraryOscar WildeSalome → online text (page 1 of 4)