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William Edmondstoune Aytoun.

Firmilian : or, The student of Badajoz. A spasmodic tragedy online

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Online LibraryWilliam Edmondstoune AytounFirmilian : or, The student of Badajoz. A spasmodic tragedy → online text (page 5 of 5)
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Or of Apollo, M'hen, in hot pursuit

Of Daphne, 'stead of tresses in his hand,

lie found a garland of the laurel leaves?

Well-thumbed, be sure, the precious pages are

That tell of Venus and of Mercury !

And shall the men, who do not shrink to teach

Such saving doctrine to their tender sons.

Accuse me if I shrine the same in verse.

And with most sweet seductive harmony,

i'roclaim the reign of Love o'er all the world ?

Henceforward then, avaunt, ye direful thoughts
That have oppressed the caverns of my brain !
I am discharged from guilt, and free from blood
Which was but shed through misconceived desire!
JIow glorious is the ligiitness of the soul
That irieams witliin nic now ! [ am like one



F I K M I L 1 A N . 1-19

Who, after hours of horrid darkness passed

Within the umbrage of a thunder cloud,

Beholds once more the liquid light of day

Streaming above him, when the splendid sun

Calls up the vapors to his own domain.

And the great heap moves slowly down the vale,

Muttering, in anger, for its victim lost !

Now could I roll, as gaily as a child.

On the fresh carpet of the unsown flowers —

Now could I raise my voice in innocent glee,

And shout from cataract unto cataract —

But that a single thought disturbs me yet ;

My vow to Mariana — Will she bear

That frank communion which I must achieve

Ere yet ray song is perfect i She is 2:)roud,

And somewhat overbearing in her walk,

Yet there's no woman past the power to tame.

A Count of Stolberg once, — a wedded man.

Whose restless disposition drove him on

To wear the cro&s. and tiiilit in Palestine —



15U I- 1 K M I I- 1 A N .

Was taken captive by an Emir tliere,

And 'scaped from prison solely by the aid

Of the one daughter of his enemy.

Tis said that, when he brought the damsel home,

The Christian matron no remonstrance made.

But took her, like a sister, to her heart,

And the blest three lived on in unison.

Why should 1 not revive the earlier days ?

AVhy should tiie stately Mariana look

More coldly upon Lilian, or that flower

That 1 have gathered from the Afric plains,

Than Rachel on her handmaid ? I can quote

Sufficient texts to still her first harangue.

If she be an;>Tv. Will she so endure?

Kind Cupid, aid ! In this, I must be sure !

[JSmt.



F I R M I L I A N . 151



SCENE XIV.
A Garden. — Fikmilian. Mariana.

FiRMILIAN.

My Mariana!

MARIANA.

O my beautiful !
My seraph love — my panther of the wild —
My moon-eyed leopard — my voluptuous lord !
O, I am sunk within a sea of bliss.
And find no soundings !

FiRMILIAN.

Shall I answer back ?
As the great Earth lies silent all the night,
And looks with hungry longing on the stars,



152 F I K M I L I A N .

Whilst its liug-e heart beats on its granite ribs
With measured pulsings of delirious joy —
So look I, Mariana, on thine eyes !

MARIANA.

Ah, dearest, wherefore are we fashioned thus ?
I cannot always hang around thy neck
And plant vermilion kisses on thy brow ;
1 cannot clasp thee, as yon ivy bush —
Too happy ivy ! — holds, from year to year.
The stalwart oak within her firm embrace.
Mixing her tresses fondly up with his.
Like some young Jewish maid with Absalom's.
Nay, hold, Firmilian ! do not pluck that rose !

FIRMILIAN.

Why not? it is a fair one.



MAKIANA.



Are fair things



FIRMILTAN. 153

Made only to be plucked ? O fie on tliee !
I did not think my lord a libertine !

FIRMILIAN.

Yet, sweetest, with your leave I'll take the rose,
For there's a moral in it. — Look you here.
'Tis fair, and sweet, and in its clustered leaves
It carries balmy dew : a precious flower,
And vermeil-tinctured, as are Hebe's lips.
Yet say, my Mariana, could you bear
To gaze for ever only upon this,
And fling the rest of Flora's casket by ?

MARIANA.

No, truly — I would bind it up with more,
And make a fitting posy for my breast.
If T were stinted in my general choice,
I'd crop the lily, tender, fresh, and white, —
The shrinking pretty lily— and would give

Its modest contrast to the gaudier rose.

7



154 F I K ^r I r. i A N.

AVliat next ? some flower that does not love the day,
The dark, full-scented night-stock well might serve
To join the other two.

FIRMILIAN.

A sweet selection !
Think'st thou they'd bloom together on one breast
With a united fragrance ?

MARIANA.

Wherefore not ?
It is by union that all things are sweet.

FIRMILIAN.

Thou speakest well ! I joy, my Mariana,

To fi^id thy spirit overleaps the pale

Of this mean world's injurious narrowness !

Never did Socrates proclaim a truth

More beautiful than welled frqin out thy lips —

" It is by union that all things are sweet."



F 1 K 11 I I. I A N



155



Thou, darling, art my rose— my dewy rose—
The which I'll proudly wear, but not alone.
Dost comprehend me ?

MARIANA.

Ha ! Fir mi Han —
How my eyes dazzle !

FIRMILIAN.

Let me show you now
The lily I have ta'en to bind with thee.

• \_IIe brings Lilian //w?i the Summer-house.

^ MARIANA.

Is this a jest, Firmilian ?

FIKMILIAN.

Could I jest
AVith aught so fair and delicate as this ?
Xay, come— no coyness I TJotli of yon embrace.



150 F I R M I L I A X.

Then to my heart of hearts —

MARIANA.

Soft you a momefit !
Metliinks the posy is not yet complete.
Say, for the sake of argument, I share
My rights with this pale beauty — (for she's pretty :
Although so fragile and so frail a thing,
That a mere puff of April wind would mar her) —
AVliere is the night-stock?

FiRMiLiAN hrings Indiana from tJie tool-house.

Here !

MARIANA.
/

A filtliy n egress !

Alxiiiiinable !

LILIAN.

]\rc'rey on mo! Mhiit liliilihcr lij)s she has!



F I R M I I. I A N . 157

MARIANA, furiously to FIRMILIAN.

You nasty thing ! Is this your poetry —

Your high soul-scheming and philosophy ?

I hate and loathe you ! {To Indiana.) — Rival of

my shoe,
Go, get thee gone, and hide thee from the day
That loathes thine ebon skin ! Firmilian —
You'll hear of this ! My brother serves the king.

LILIAN.

My uncle is the chief Inquisitor,

And he shall know of this ere curfew tolls !

What ! Shall I share a husband with a coal '(

MARIANA.

Right, girl ! I love thee even for that word —
The Inquisition makes most rapid work.
And, in its books, that caitiff's name is down !



158 r I K M I L r A N .

FIRMILIAN.

Listen one moment ! When 1 was a babe,
And in my cradle puling for my nui-se,
There fell a gleam of glory on the floor,
And in it, darkly standing, was a form —

MAKIANA.

A negress, probably ! Farewell aAvhile —
When next we meet — the faggot and the pile !
Come, Lilian !

[JikeutiL

INDIANA.

1 shake from head to foot with sore affright —
What will become of me?

FIKMILIAN.

Who cares? Good nio-ht!

[Sce7ie closes.



FIRM I LI AN. 159



SCENE XV.
A Barren Moot. — Night — Mist and fog.

Enter Firmilian.

They're hot upon my traces ! Tlirough the mist
I heard their call and answer — and but now,
As I was crouching 'neath a hawthorn bush,
A dark Familiar swiftly glided by,
His keen eyes glittering with the lust of death.
If I am ta'en, the faggot and the pile
Await me ! Horror ! Rather would I dare,
Like rash Empedocles, the Etna gulf,
Than writhe before the slaves of bigotry.
Where am I ? If my mind deceives me not,
Upon that common where, two years ago,
An old blind beggar came and craved an alms.
Thereby destroying a stupendous thought



1 60 r I R M T T. I A X .

Just burstinof in mv inind — a o-lorious bncl
Of poesy, but blasted ere its bloom !
I bade the old fool take the leftM'ard path,
Which leads to the deep quarry, where he fell-
At least I deem so, for I heard a splash —
But I was gazing on the gibbous moon.
And durst not lower my celestial flight
To care for such an insect-worm as he !

How cold it is ! The mist comes thicker on.
11a ! — what is that? I see around me lights
Dancing and flitting, yet they do not seem
Like torches either — and there's music too!
I'll pause and listen.

C/wru.s of Ignes Fatui.

Follow, follow, follow !
Over hill and over hollow ;
It is ours to lead the way.
When a sinner's footsteps stray —
Cheering him with light and song.



FIBMILIAN



161



On his doubtful path along.

Hark, hark ! The watch -dogs bark.
There's a crash, and a splash, and a blind man's cry,
But the Poet looks tranquilly up at the sky !

FIBMILIAN.

Is it the echo of an inward voice,
Or spirit-words that make my flesh to creep.
And send the cold blood choking to my heart ?
I'll shift my ground a little—

Chorus of Ignes Fatui.

Flicker, flicker, flicker !
Quicker still, and quicker.
Four young men sate down to dine,
And still they passed the rosy wine ;
Pure was the cask, but in the flask
There lay a certain deadly powder —
Ha ! his heart is beating louder !
Ere the day had passed away.



1(32 J- 1 K M 1 I. I A X .

Garcia Perez lifeless lay !
Hark ! his mother wails Al2jhonzo,
Never more shall strong Alonzo
Drink the wine of Ildefonso.

FIRMILIAN.

O liorror ! horror ! 'twas by me they died ;
I'll move yet farther on —

• Chorus of Ignes Fatui.

In the vaults under
Bursts the red thunder ;
Up goes the cathedral,
Priest, people, and l>cdral !
IIo! ho! ho! ho!

HUMItJAN.

My brain is whirling like a potter's wheel !
O Nemesis



F I R M I L I A N . 163

Chants of Ignes Fatui.

The muses sing in their charmed ring,
And Apollo weeps for him who sleeps,
Alas ! on a hard and a stony pillow —
Haverillo ! Haverillo !

FIRMILIAN.

I shall go mad !

Chorus of Ignes Fatui.

Give him some respite— give him some praise —
One good deed he has done in his days ;
Chaunt it, and sing it, and tell it in chorus —
He has flattened the cockscomb of ApoUodorus !

FIRMILIAN.

Small comfort that ! The death of a shard-beetle,
Albeit the poorest and the paltriest thing
That crawls round refuse, cannot weigh a grain



1 64 F I K M I L 1 A N .

Against the ponderous avuUiiiche of guilt
That hangs above nie ! O nie miserable !
I'll grope my way yet further.

Chm'us of Ignes Fatui.

Firmilian ! Firmilian !

What have you done to Lilian ?
There's a cry from the grotto, a sob by the stream,
A woman's loud wailing, a little babe's scream !

How fared it with Lilian,

Jn the pavilion,

Firmilian, Firmilian ?

FIRMILIAN.

Horror ! I'm lost ! —

Chorus of Tonus Fatui.

Ho! ho! ho!
Deep in the snow
Lies a black maiden from Africa's shore !



F I B M I L I A N . 165

Hasten and shake her —
Yon never shall wake her —
She'll roam through the glens of the Atlas no more !
Stay, stay, stay !
This way — this way —
There's a pit before, and a pit behind,
And the seeing man walks in the path of the blind !
[VinyuLi AS falls into the quarry. T1ie Ignes
Fatui (lance as the curtain descends.



THE END.



Ji.



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Online LibraryWilliam Edmondstoune AytounFirmilian : or, The student of Badajoz. A spasmodic tragedy → online text (page 5 of 5)