Inscribed to Adonis.


{Robin note: perhaps someone would like to do a better job of formatting this for HTML. For now it is presented preformatted.}

                          PERSONS OF THE ALLEGORY

          THE KING OF BABYLON, "tributary to the King of Greece"
          HERMES, "a Greek Physician"
          THE COUNT ADONIS, "at first known as the Lord Esarhaddon"
          "The Warriors of the King of Babylon"
          HANUMAN, "Servant to Hermes"
          ELPIS, : "Attendants on Psyche"
          "Three Aged Women"
          "Handmaidens and Slaves of Astarte"


                                   ACT I

SCENE I: "The hanging gardens of Babylon.  R., the House of the Lady
    Astarte; L., a gateway; C., a broad lawn enriched with clustered
    flowers and sculptures.  The sun is nigh his setting.  On a couch under
    the wall of the city reposes the Lord Esarhaddon, fanned by two slaves,
    a negro boy and a fair Kabyle girl, clad in yellow and blue, the boy's
    robes being covered with a veil of silver, the girl's with a veil of

                "They are singing to him softly:"

   THE BOY.  All crimson-veined is Tigris' flood;
      The sun has stained his mouth with blood.
   THE GIRL.  Orange and green his standards sweep.
   THE BOY.  His minions keen.
   THE GIRL.                     His maidens weep.
   THE BOY.  But thou, Lord, thou!  The hour is nigh
      When from the prow of luxury
      Shall step the death of all men's hearts,
      She whose live breath, a dagger's darts,
      A viper's vice, an adder's grip,
      A cockatrice 'twixt lip and lip,
      She whose black eyes are suns to shower {119}
      Love's litanies from hour to hour,
      Whose limbs are scythes like Death's of whom
      The body writhes, a lotus-bloom
      Swayed by the wind of love, a crime
      Too sweetly sinned, the queen of time,
      The lady of heaven, to whom the stars,
      Seven by seven, from their bars
      Lean and do worship --- even she
      Who hath given all her sweet self to thee,
      The Lady Astarte!
   THE GIRL.             Peace, O peace!
      A swan, she sails through ecstasies
      Of air and marble and flowers, she sways
      As the full moon through midnight's haze
      Of gauze --- her body is like a dove
      And a snake, and life, and death, and love!
   THE BOY.  Even as the twilight so is she,
      Half seen, half subtly apprehended,
      Ethereally and bodily.
      The soul incarnate, the body transcended!
   THE GIRL.  Aching, aching passionately,
      Insufferably, utterly splendid!
   THE BOY.  Her lips make pale the setting sun!
   THE GIRL.  Her body blackens Babylon!
   THE BOY.  Her eyes turn midnight's murk to grey!
   THE GIRL.  Her breasts make midnight of the day!
   THE BOY.  About her, suave and subtle, swims
      The musk and madness of her limbs!
   THE GIRL.  Her mouth is magic like the moon's.
   THE BOY.  Her breath is bliss! {120}
   THE GIRL.                             Her steps are swoons!
            [ENTER ASTARTE, "with her five handmaidens."
   THE BOY.  Away, away!
   THE GIRL.              With heart's accord,
      To leave his lady to our lord.          ["They go out."
   THE BOY.  Let him forget our service done
      Of palm-leaves waved, that never tires,
      In his enchanted Babylon
      Of infinite desires!
   [ASTARTE "kneels at the foot of the couch, and taking the feet of
        Esarhaddon in her hands, covers them with kisses."
   ASTARTE.  Nay, never wake! unless to catch my neck
      And break me up with kisses --- never sleep,
      Unless to dream new pains impossible
      To waking!
                   Girls! with more than dream's address,
      Wake him with perfume till he smile, with strokes
      Softer than moonbeams till he turn, and sigh,
      With five slow drops of wine between his lips
      Until his heart heave, with young thrills of song
      Until his eyelids open, and the first
      And fairest of ye greet him like a flower,
      So that awakened he may break from you and turn to me who am all
      these in one.

   IST MAIDEN.  Here is the wealth
                Of all amber and musk,
                Secreted by stealth
                In the domes of the dusk!  {121}

   2ND MAIDEN.  Here the caress
                Of a cheek --- let it stir
                The first liens of liesse
                Not to me --- but to her!

   3RD MAIDEN.  Here the quintessence
                Of dream and delight,
                Evoking the presence
                Of savour to sight!

   4TH MAIDEN.  List to the trill
                And the ripple and roll
                Of a tune that may thrill
                Thee through sense to the soul!

   5TH MAIDEN.  Look on the fairest,
                The masterless maid!
                Ere thine eye thou unbarest,
                I flicker, I fade.

   All.  Wake! as her garland is tossed in the air
      When the nymph meets Apollo, our forehead is bare.
      We divide, we disperse, we dislimn, we dissever,
      For we are but now, and our lady for ever!
                                                    ["They go out."

   ESARHADDON.  I dreamed of thee!
      Dreams beyond form and name!
      It was a chain of ages, and a flash
      Of lightning --- which thou wilt --- since --- Oh I see
      Nothing, feel nothing, and am nothing --- ash
      Of the universe burnt through!  {122}

   ASTARTE.                         And I the flame!

   ESARHADDON.  Wreathing and roaring for an ageless aeon,
      Wrapping the world, spurning the empyrean,
      Drowning with dark despotic imminence
      All life and light, annihilating sense ---
      I have been sealed and silent in the womb
      Of nothingness to burst, a babe's bold bloom,
      Into the upper aethyr of thine eyes.
      Oh! one grave glance enkindles Paradise,
      One sparkle sets me on the throne above,
      Mine orb the world.

   ASTARTE.  Nay, stir not yet.  Let love
      Breathe like the zephyr on the unmoved deep,
      Sigh to awakening from its rosy sleep;
      Let the stars fade, and all the east grow grey
      And tender, ere the first faint rose of day
      Flush it.  Awhile!  Awhile!  There's crimson bars
      Enough to blot the noblest of the stars,
      And bow for adoration ere the rim
      Start like God's spear to ware the world of Him!
   ESARHADDON.  But kiss me!
   ASTARTE.                    With an eyelash first!
   ESARHADDON.  Treasure and torture!
   ASTARTE.                           Tantalising thirst
      Makes the draught more delicions.  Heaven were worth
      Little without the purgatory, earth!
   ESARHADDON.  You make earth heaven.
   ASTARTE.             And heaven hell.  To choose thee
      Is to interpret misery "To lose thee."  {123}
   ESARHADDON.  Ay! death end all if it must end thy kiss!
   ASTARTE.  And death be all if it confirm life's bliss!
   ESARHADDON.  And death come soon if death fill life's endeavour!
   ASTARTE.  And if it spill life's vintage, death come never!
   ESARHADDON.  The sun sets.  Bathe me in the rain of gold!
   ASTARTE.  These pearls that decked it shimmering star-cold
      Fall, and my hair falls, wreathes an aureole.
      Even as thy love encompasses my soul!
   ESARHADDON.  I am blinded; I am bruised; I am stung.
         Each thread
   ASTARTE.  There's life there for a thousand dead!
   ESARHADDON.  And death there for a million!
   ASTARTE.                                     Even so.
      Life, death, new life, a web spun soft and slow
      By love, the spider, in these palaces
      That taketh hold.
   ESARHADDON.            Take hold.
   ASTARTE.                          Keen joyaunces
      Mix with the multitudinous murmurings,
      And all the kisses sharpen into stings.
      Nay! shall my mouth take hold?  Beware!  Once fain,
      How shall it ever leave thy mouth again?
   ESARHADDON.  Why should it?
   ASTARTE.  Is not sleep our master yet?
   ESARHADDON.  Why must we think when wisdom would forget? {124}
   ASTARTE.  Lest we in turn forget to fill the hour.
   ESARHADDON.  The pensive been leaves honey in the flower.
   ASTARTE.  Now the sun's rim is dipped.  And thus I dip
      My gold to the horizon of thy lip.
   ESARHADDON.  Ah! ...
   ASTARTE.          There's no liquor, none, within the cup.
   ESARHADDON.  Nay, draw not back; nay, then, but lift me up.
      I would the cup were molten too; I'd drain
      Its blasting agony.
   ASTARTE.                 In vain.
   ESARHADDON.                        In vain?
      Nay, let the drinker and the draught in one
      Blaze up at last, and burn down Babylon!
   ASTARTE.  All but the garden, and our bed, and --- see!
      The false full moon that comes to rival me.
   ESARHADDON.  She comes to lamp our love.
                                  ["A chime of bells without."
   ASTARTE.                                I'll tire my hair.
      The banquet waits.  Girls, follow me.
                          ["They go out, leaving" ESARHADDON.
   ESARHADDON.                                How fair
      And full she sweeps, the buoyant barge upon
      The gilded curves of Tigris.  She's the swan
      That drew the gods to gaze, the fawn that called
      Their passion to his glades of emerald,
      The maid that maddened Mithras, the quick quiver
      Of reeds that drew Oannes from the river! ...
      She is gone.  The garden is a wilderness.
      Oh for the banquet of the lioness, {125}
      the rich astounding wines, the kindling meats,
      The music and the dancers!  Fiery seats
      Of empire of the archangels, let your wings
      Ramp through the empyrean!  Lords and Kings
      Of the Gods, descend and serve us, as we spurn
      And trample life, fill death's sardonyx urn
      With loves immortal --- how shall I endure
      This moment's patience?  Ah, she comes, be sure!
      Her foot flits on the marble. ... Open, gate!
   ["The gate, not of the house but of the garden, opens.  The Lady Psyche
        appears.  She is clothed in deep purple, as mourning, and her hair
        is bound with a fillet of cypress and acacia.  She is attended by
        three maidens and three aged women."
      What tedious guest arrives?
   PSYCHE.                         White hour of fate!
      I have found him!
   ESARHADDON.        Who is this? ... Fair lady, pardon.
      You seek the mistress of the garden?
   PSYCHE.  I thought I had found the lord I seek.
      Your pardon, lord.  These eyes are weary and weak
      With tears and my vain search.
   ESARHADDON.                       Whom seek you then?
   PSYCHE.  My husband --- my sole miracle of men,
      The Count Adonis.
             [ESARHADDON "staggers and falls on the couch."
   PSYCHE.             You know of him?
   ESARHADDON.                                No.
      I cannot tell what struck me so.
      I never heard the name. {126}
   PSYCHE.               Indeed, your eyes
      Are liker his than wedded dragon-flies!
      Your brows are his, your mouth is his ---
      Yet all's awry!
   ESARHADDON.         May be it is!
   PSYCHE.  Oh, pardon.  Mine is but a mad girl's glance
      Adonis is this soul's inheritance.
      All else is madness.
   ESARHADDON.  Mad!  Mad!  Mad!  Mad!  Mad!
      Why say you this?  Who are you?  Sad?  Glad?
      Bad!  Bad!  Speak, speak!  Bleak peak of mystery?
      Weak cheek of modesty?
   PSYCHE.                     Oh, pardon me!
      I did not mean to move you thus.
   ESARHADDON.                          I am stirred
      Too easily.  You used a shameful word!
   PSYCHE.  Accept my sorrow.  I am all alone
      In this black night.  My heart is stone,
      My limbs are lead, mine eyes accurst,
      My throat a hell of thirst. ...
      My husband --- they suppose him dead. ...
      They made me wear these weeds.  Could I
      In my heart credit half they said,
      Not these funereal robes should wrap me round,
      But the white cerements of a corpse, and high
      Upon a pyre of sandal and ebony,
      Should dare through flame the inequitable profound!
      But only these of all mine household come
      In faith and hope and love so far from home, {127}
      And these three others joined me --- why, who knows?
      But thou, lord, in whose face his likeness shows ---
      At the first glance --- for now, i' faith, 'tis gone! ---
      Hast thou dwelt away here in Babylon?
   ESARHADDON.  Now must I laugh --- forgive me in your sorrow!
      My life's not yesterday and not to-morrow.
      I live; I know no more.
   PSYCHE.                      How so?
   ESARHADDON.                            I fear
      I know but this, that I'm a stranger here.
      The call me the Lord Esarhaddon --- name
      Borrowed or guessed, I cannot tell!  I came
      Whence I know not --- some malady
      Destroyed my memory.
   PSYCHE.  Oh, were you he!  But yet I see you are not.
      Had you no tokens from the life forgot?
   ESARHADDON.  Nay, I came naked into Babylon.
      I live the starlight and sleep through the sun.
      I am happy in love, I am rich, I eat and drink,
      I gather goods, I laugh, I never think.
      Know me the prince of perfect pleasure!
   PSYCHE.                                     Yet
      Is there not something that you would forget?
      Some fear that chills you?  While you talk to me
      I see you glance behind you fearfully.
   ESARHADDON ("with furtive fear amounting to horror")
      You see the Shadow?
   PSYCHE.                  No: slim shadows stretch
      From yonder moon, and woo the world, and etch {128}
      With their fantastic melancholy grotesques
      The earth --- man's destiny in arabesques.
   ESARHADDON.  You are blind!  You are mad!  See where he stands!
      It is the King of Babylon,
      Reeking daggers in his hands ---
      And black blood oozes, oozes, throbs and dips
      From his eyes and nostrils to his lips
      That he sucks, gnashing his fangs.  Upon
      His head is a crown of skulls, and monkeys new
      And gibber and mop about him.  Skew!  Spew!  Ugh!
      Hu!  Mow!  Now!  Mow! they go --- cannot you hear them?
      What? have you courage to go near them?
   PSYCHE.  Nothing is there.
   ESARHADDON.                 Oh, but he has the head
      Of a boar, the black boar Night!  All dead, dead, dead,
      The eyes of girls that once were beautiful
      Hang round his neck.  Whack!  Crack! he slaps a skull
      For a drum --- Smack!  Flack!  Thwack!  Back, I'll not attack.
      Quack!  Quack! there's ducks and devils on his back.
      Keep him away.  You want a man, you say?
      Well, there's a king for you to-day.
      Go, kiss him!  Slobber over him!  HIs ribs
      Should be readily tickled.  Wah!  Wah!  Wah! she jibs.
      Ugh! there he came too close.  I'll bite the dust;
      I'll lick the slime of Babylon.  Great lust,
      Great god, great devil, gar-gra-gra-gra!  Spare me! {129}
      Take this wench, though she were the womb that bare me!
      See!  Did I tell you, he's the King, the King,
      The King of Terrors.  See me grovelling!
      Yah!  Ha!
   PSYCHE.          There's nothing there.  Are you a man
      To craze at naught?
   ESARHADDON.              Immitigable ban!
      Immitigable, pitiful, profound ---
      Ban, can, fan, ran, and pan is underground,
      Round, bound, sound --- Oh have pity! ...
                                             Who art thou
      Whose coming thus unmans me?  Not till now
      Saw I, or felt I, or heard I, the King
      So mumbling near; black blood's on everything.
      Boo!  Scow!  Be off!  Out!  Vanish!  Fly!  Begone!
      Out!  Off!  Out!  Off!  I'm King of Babylon.
      Oh no!  Thy pardon.  Spare me!  'Tis as a slip
      O' th' lip.  Now flip! rip! bawdy harlot, skip!
      ["He threatens her.  She trembles, but holds her ground."
      Strip, yes, I'll strip you naked, strip your flesh
      In strips with my lips, gnaw your bones like a dog.
      Off, sow!  Off, grumpet!  Strumpet!  Scum-pit!  Flails to thresh
      Your body!  Clubs to mash your face in!  Knives
      To cut away your cat's nine lives!
   ASTARTE.  ("Entering hastily.")  What's this?  Who are
          you? What right have you to come
      And make this havoc in the home?
      Can you not see what wreck your tempest makes? {130}
      Begone!  I have a fiery flight of snakes
      To lash you hence!
   PSYCHE.                It may be mine's the right.
      It may be you are nothing in my sight.
      It may be I have found my lord at last;
      And you --- his concubine?  May be out-cast.
   ASTARTE.  This is the sure thing, that I chase thee.  Slaves!
      Hither your whips! that are more black with blood
      Of such as this thing than your skins with kisses
      Of your sun's frenzy.              ["The slaves run up."
   PSYCHE.                  Thou vain woman!  Now
      I know him, lost, wrecked, mad, but mine, but mine,
      Indissolubly dowered with me, my husband,
      The Count Adonis!
   ESARHADDON.           Ah!
                      ["He falls, but into the arms of "ASTARTE.
   ASTARTE.                    Ho! guard us now
      And lash this thing from the garden!
      ["The slaves form in line between "PSYCHE "and the others."
   PSYCHE.                                       Adonis!
   ESARHADDON.                                           Ah!
      Astarte, there's some sorcery abroad.
   ASTARTE.  The spell is broken, dear my lord.
      There is a wall of ebony and steel
      About us.
   ESARHADDON.  What then do I feel
      When that name sounds?
   ASTARTE.  A trick of mind.
      Things broken up and left behind
      Keep roots to plague us when we least expect them. {131}
      The wise --- and thou art wise --- let naught affect them.
      Let us to feast!
   ESARHADDON.           Ah no!  I tremble still,
      Despite my reason and despite my will.
      Let me lie with thee here awhile, and dream
      Upon thine eyes beneath the moon,
      Whose slanted beam
      Lights up thy face, that sends its swoon
      Of languour and hunger through
      The infinite space that severs two
      So long as they cannot rise above
      Into the unity of love.
      However close lock hands and feet,
      Only one moment may they meet;
      When in the one pang that runs level
      With death and birth, the royal revel,
      The lover and the loved adore
      The thing that is, when they are not.
   ASTARTE.                                  No more!
      Bury thy face between these hills that threat
      The heaven, their rosy spears (the gods that fret)
      Tipping thine ears, and with my hair I'll hide thee;
      And these mine handmaidens shall stand beside thee,
      And mix their nightingale with lion
      Of the guard that chorus and clash iron,
      While as a river laps its banks
      My fingertips caress thy flanks!
   MEN.  Under the sun there is none, there is none
      That hath heard such a word as our lord hath begun. {132}
   WOMEN.  Under the moon such a tune, such a tune
      As his thought hath half caught in this heaven of June.
   MEN.  Never hath night such a light, such a rite!
   WOMEN.  Never had day such a ray, such a sway!
   MEN.  Never had man, since began the earth's plan,
      Such a bliss, such a kiss, such a woman as this!
   WOMEN.  Never had maid since God bade be arrayed
      Earth's bowers with his flowers, such a man to her powers!
   MEN.  Mix in the measure,
      Black grape and white cherry!
      A passion, a pleasure,
      A torment, a treasure,
      You to be mournful and we to be merry!
   WOMEN.  We shall be solemn
      And grave and alluring,
      You be the column
      Upstanding, enduring.
      We be the ivy and vine
      To entwine ---
      My mouth on your mouth, and your mouth on mine!
   MEN.  Burnish our blades
      With your veils,
      Merry maids!
   WOMEN.  Sever their cords
      With the scales
      Of your swords!
   MEN.  As a whirlwind that licks up a leaf
      Let us bear                              {133}
      You, an aureate sheaf
      Adrift in the air!
   WOMEN.  As a butterfly hovers and flits,
      Let us guide
      To bewilder your wits
      Bewitched by a bride!
   MEN.  Now, as the stars shall
      Encircle the moon,
      Our ranks let us marshal
      In time and in tune!
   WOMEN.  Leading our lady and lord
      To the feast,
      Ere the night be abroad,
      The black rose of the east!
   MEN AND WOMEN.  Arise! arise! the feast is spread,
      The wine is poured; the singers wait
      Eager to lure and lull; the dancers tread
      Impatient to invoke the lords of Fate.
      Arise, arise! the feast delayed delays
      The radiant raptures that must crown its ways.
   ASTARTE.  Come now.  Ah! still the pallor clings?
      Wine will redeem the roses.  Stretch the strings
      Of thy slack heart!  Still trembling?  Lean on me!
      This shoulder could hold up eternity.
                               ["They go forth to the banquet."


SCENE II.  THE HALL OF THE PALACE OF ASTARTE. "Onyx, alabaster, porphyry and
    malachite are the pillars; and the floor of mosaic.  In the high seat
    is" ASTARTE, "on her right" HERMES, "A Greek physician.  He is a slight,
    old man, with piercing eyes and every mark of agility and vigour.  His
    dress is that of a Babylonish physican."

   HERMES.  And now, polite preliminaries past,
      Tell me, dear lady, what the little trouble is!
   ASTARTE.  It was quite sudden.
   HERMES.                          Good; not like to last.
      It bursts, such malady a brittle bubble is!
      How is the pulse?  Allow me!
   ASTARTE.                           Not for me
      Your skill.  My husband's lost his memory.
   HERMES.  Yet he remembers you?
   ASTARTE.                         O quite, of course!
   HERMES.  Let it alone!  Don't flog the willing horse!
      Were I to cure him by my magic spells,
      The odds are he'd remember someone else!
   ASTARTE.  Ah, but --- a month ago --- a woman came ---
   HERMES.  Cool --- warm --- hot --- now we're getting near the flame!
   ASTARTE.  And what she said or did who knows?
   HERMES.                                       These men!
   ASTARTE.  Yes!  But he's never been the same since then!
      I've taken endless trouble not to fret him,
      Done everything I could to please and pet him,
      And now this wretched woman has upset him! {135}
   HERMES.  Was he distressed much at the time?
   ASTARTE.                                   Distressed?
      Mad as an elephant in spring!
   HERMES.                            I guessed
      It.  Think he took a fancy to the girl?
   ASTARTE.  Well, honestly, I don't.  My mind's a whirl
      With worry.  She's a flimsy creature, rags
      Of sentiment, and tears, and worn-out tags
      Of wisdom.
   HERMES.         Yes, you've nothing much to fear
      While you appear as ... what you do appear.
   ASTARTE.  Well, there they stood, crying like butchered swine,
      She and her maids.  It seems she's lost her man,
      Can't get another, wanted to claim mine.
      I put a stopper on the pretty plan.
      But ever since --- well, I can't say what's wrong,
      But something's wrong.
   HERMES.                    Yes; yes.  Now is it long?
   ASTARTE.  About a month.
   HERMES.                    What physic have you tried?
   ASTARTE.  The usual things; young vipers skinned and dried
      And chopped with rose-leaves; cow's hoof stewed in dung,
      One pilule four times daily, on the tongue;
      Lark's brains in urine after every meal,
      With just a touch of salt and orange-peel.
   HERMES.  And yet he is no better?
   ASTARTE.                            Not a whit.  {136}
      Oh yes, though, not I come to think of it,
      Snails pounded up and taken after food
      Did seem to do some temporary good.
      Of course we kept him on a doubled diet.
   HERMES.  Have you tried change of air, and rest, and quiet?
   ASTARTE.  No; what a strange idea!
   HERMES.                              As strange as new.
      Yet there seems somehow something in it too!
      Still, here's where silence is worth seven speeches ---
      I might get strangled by my brother leeches.
      Now, are you sure you want him cured?
   ASTARTE.                                   Why, yes,
      Why should I call you in?
   HERMES.                      But none the less
      It might be awkward his remembering more.
   ASTARTE.  I simply want him as he was before.
   HERMES.  And if it should turn out, as I suspect,
      He was this woman's husband.
   ASTARTE.                         Then select
      A --- you know --- something suitable --- to put her
      Where she won't worry me, or want a suitor.
   HERMES.  I understand you; but I'm old; your beauty
      Might fail to make me careless of my duty.
   ASTARTE.  I'll take the risk.
   HERMES.                       Then let me see the victim;
      If bound, we'll loosen him; if loose, constrict him.
      There, madam, in one phrase from heart to heart,
      Lies the whole mystery of the healer's art!
      Where is the pathic?                             {137}
   ASTARTE.              Hush! in Babylon
      We say "the patient."
   HERMES.                  Yes?
   ASTARTE.                       It's often one.
      For Babylonish is so quaint a tongue
      One often goes too right by going wrong!
      I'll call him from the garden.                 ["Goes out."
   HERMES.  ("alone").              Is there need
      To see the man?  He's simply off his feed.
      A child could see the way to make him hearty:
      More exercise, less food --- and less Astarte!
                                             ["Enter" ESARHADDON.
      I greet your lordship.
   ESARHADDON.  Greeting, sir!
   HERMES.                         And so
      We're not as healthy as a month ago?
      The pulse?  Allow me!  Ah!  Tut!  Tut!  Not bad.
      The tongue?  Thanks!  Kindly tell me what you had
      For dinner.
   ESARHADDON.       Nothing: practically nothing.
      I seem to look on food with utter loathing.
   HERMES.  Just so; but you contrived to peck a bit?
   ESARHADDON.  Only a dozen quails upon the spit,
      A little sturgeon cooked with oysters, wine,
      Mushrooms and crayfish. ...
   HERMES.                          That is not to dine.
   ESARHADDON.  Well, after that I toyed with pheasant pasty,
      Sliced --- you know how --- with pineapple.
   HERMES.                                         Eat hasty? {138}
   ESARHADDON.  No, not at all.  Well, then a sucking-pig
      Stuffed with grape, olive, cucumber, peach, fig,
      And lemon.  Then I trifled with a curry ----
   HERMES.  You're sure you didn't eat it in a hurry?
   ESARHADDON.  Quite sure.  The curry was simplicity
      Itself --- plain prawns.  Then there was --- let me see! ---
      A dish of fruit, then a kid roasted whole,
      Some venison fried with goose-liver, a roll
      Of very tender spicy well-cooked veal
      Done up with honey, olive oil, and meal,
      Some sweets, but only three or four, and those
      I hardly touched.
   HERMES.               But why now?
   ESARHADDON.                         I suppose
      I wasn't hungry.
   HERMES.              Diagnosis right;
      A simple case of loss of appetite!
      Surely they tempted you with something else.
   ESARHADDON.  A few live lobsters broiled within their shells.
      I ate two only.
   HERMES.             That explains the tongue.
      Now let me listen!
                          Sound in heart and lung.
      (And I should think so!) 'Twas a sage that sung:
      "Whom the Gods love, love lobsters; they die young."
      And yet greater sage sublimely said:
      "Look not upon the lobster when it's red!" {139}
   ESARHADDON.  A Babylonish bard has said the same
      Of wine.
   HERMES.  Ah, wine now?  Out with it!  Die game!
   ESARHADDON.  By fin and tail of great Oannes, I
      Am the mere model of sobriety.
   HERMES.  What did you drink for dinner?
   ESARHADDON.                              Scarce a drop
      At any time --- four flagons, there I stop.
      With just a flask of barley-wine to top.
   HERMES.  Just so becomes a nobleman of sense
      Whose moderation errs toward abstinence.
   ESARHADDON.  Abstinence!  That's the word I couldn't think of!
      I'm an abstainer.  Everything I drink of
      Is consecrated by a melancholic
   HERMES.      Which prevents it being alcoholic!
   ESARHADDON.  Sir, you appear to understand my case
      As no one else has done.  Appalling face
      These quacks have that crowd Babylon.  Your fee?
      Though none can pay the service done to me.
   HERMES.  One moment.  What about your memory?
      Well, never mind, just follow my advice;
      That will come back before you say "knife" twice.
      First, fire your slaves, the rogues that thieve and laze:
      A slave's worse than two masters now-a-days.
      Next, live on nothing but boiled beans and tripe,
      With once a week a melon --- when they're ripe.  {140}
      Next, sent the Lady Astarte up the river;
      She looks to me to have a touch of liver.
      And you must teach your muscles how to harden,
      So stay at home, and labour in the garden!
   ESARHADDON.  You damned insulting blackguard!  Charlatan!
      Quack!  Trickster!  Scoundrel!  Cheating medicine-man!
      You ordure-tasting privy-sniffing rogue,
      You think because your humbug is the vogue
      You can beard me?
   HERMES.                 I'll tell you just one thing.
      Disobey me, and --- trouble with the King!
   ESARHADDON.  Ring-a-ling-ting!  Ping!  Spring!
   HERMES.                         That's cooked his goose.
      I'll tell Astarte, though it's not much use.  ["He goes out."
      It's only one more of life's little curses ---
      The best of women make the worst of nurses!


SCENE III.  THE CONSULTING-ROOM OF HERMES.  "It has two parts, the first
    filled with stuffed crocodiles, snakes, astrolabes, skeletons, lamps of
    strange shape, vast rolls of papyri, vases containing such objects as a
    foetus, a mummied child, a six-legged sheep.  Hands (obviously those of
    criminals) have been painted with phosphorus, and give light.
    Sculptures of winged bulls and bricks inscribed with arrow-head
    characters are ranged about the walls.  A chain of elephant's bones
    covered with its hide contains the doctor, who is dressed as before in
    a long black robe covered with mysterious characters.  On his head is a
    high conical cap of black silk dotted with gold stars.  In his right
    hand is a wand of human teeth strung together, in his left a "book" of
    square palm-leaves bound in silver.  At the back of the room is a black
    curtain completely veiling its second portion.  This curtain is covered
    with cabalistic characters and terrifying images in white."

   ["Enter the servant of" HERMES, "a negro uglier than an ape.  He is
       immensely long and lean; his body hangs forward, so that his arms
       nearly touch the ground.  He is clad in a tightly fitting suit of
       scarlet, and wears a scarlet skull-cap.  he makes deep obeisance."]
   HERMES.  Speak, Hanuman!
   HANUMAN.                  A lady.
                  [HERMES "nods gravely.  Exit" HANUMAN.
   HERMES.                         Abaoth!
      Abraxas!  Pur!  Put!  Aeou!  Thoth!
                ["Enter the" LADY PSYCHE "with one attendant."  {142}
      Ee!  Oo!  Uu!  Iao Sabaoth!
      Dogs of Hell!
      Mumble spell!
      Up!  Up!  Up!
      Sup!  Sup!  Sup!
      U!  Aoth!
      Livid, loath,
      Obey the oath!
      Ah!                          ["He shuts the book with a snap,"
      You have come to me because you are crossed
      In love.
   PSYCHE.  Most true, sir!
   HERMES.                   Ah! you're Greek!
   PSYCHE.  As you yourself, sir.
   HERMES.                          Then I've lost
      My pains.  I need not fear to speak.
      I took you for a fool.  Ho! veil, divide!
             [HANUMAN "appears and lays his hand on a cord."
      Things are much pleasanter the other side.
   ["The doctor throws off his cloak and cap, his straggling white hair and
        long pointed beard, appearing as a youth dressed fashionably; at
        the same time the curtain pulled back shows a room furnished with
        the luxury of a man of the world.  A low balcony of marble at the
        back gives a view of the city, and of the Tigris winding far into
        the distance, where dim blue mountains rim the horizon."]  {143}
   ["The doctor conducts his client to a lounge, where they sit."
   HERMES.  Bring the old Chian, Hanuman!
                                   ["The negro goes to obey."
                                             This joke
      Is the accepted way of scaring folk;
      And if they're scared, they may find conficence
      Which is half cure.  Most people have no sense.
      If only they would sweat, and wash, eat slow,
      Drink less, think more, the leech would starve or go.
      But they prefer debauchery, disease,
      Clysters, drugs, philtres, filth, and paying fees!
      Now then, to business!
   PSYCHE.                     Tell me how you guessed
      It was my heart that found itself distressed!
   HERMES.  I always sing a woman just that song;
      In twenty years I've never once been wrong.
      Seeing me thus marvellously wise,
      Veneration follows on surprise:
      Sometime they will do what I advise!
   PSYCHE.  I see.  You have real knowledge.
   HERMES.  Not to be learnt at college!
   PSYCHE.  Good; you're my man.  I am come from Greece,
      Where the Gods live and love us, sorrowing
      For my lost husband.  I have found him here,
      But with his memory gone, his mind distraught,
      Living in luxury with a courtesan
      (I could forgive him that if he knew me),
      Filled with a blind unreasoning fear of what
      Who knows?  He's haunted by a spectre king.  {144}
   HERMES.  Physicians must know everything:
      Half the night burn learning's candle,
      Half the day devote to scandal.
      Here's the mischief of the matter
      That I learn most from the latter!
      Yesterday I paid a visit
      To the fair ... Astarte, is it?
      Saw the kitchen and the closet,
      Deduced diet from deposit,
      Saw where silkworm joined with swan
      To make a bed to sleep upon,
      Saw the crowd of cringing knaves
      That have made their masters slaves,
      Saw Astarte --- diagnosed
      What had made him see a ghost!
   PSYCHE.  Can you cure him?
   HERMES.                    In my hurry
      (And a not unnatural worry
      At the name of lobster curry)
      I so far forgot my duty
      As to mention to the beauty
      What ... well! here's the long and short of it!
      Just exactly what I thought of it.
      Tempests, by Oannes' fin!
   PSYCHE.  Sorry that he'd called you in?
   HERMES.  So much so that I'd a doubt
      If he wouldn't call me out!
   PSYCHE.  Then he will not hear your counsel?
   HERMES.  No; I bade him live on groundsel; {145}
      But the little social friction
      Interfered with the prescription.
   PSYCHE.  There's no hope, then?
   HERMES.                          Lend an ear!
      We may rule him by his fear!
      Somehow we may yet contrive
      That he see the King, and live!
      Have you influence?
   PSYCHE.                 At Court?
      Plenty, in the last resort.
      Letters from his suzerain!
   HERMES.  You are high in favour then?
   PSYCHE.  Ay, that needs not to be sworn;
      I am his own daughter born.
   HERMES.  In thy blood the spark divine
      Of Olympus?
   PSYCHE.         Even in mine!
   HERMES.  Hark, then!  At the Hour of Fears
      When the lordly Lion rears
      In mid-heaven his bulk of bane
      Violently vivid, shakes his mane
      Majestical, and Snake and Bull
      Lamp the horizon, and the full
      Fire of the moon tops heaven, and spurs
      The stars, while Mars ruddily burns,
      And Venus glows, and Jupiter
      Ramps through the sky astride of her,
      Then, unattended, let the king
      Press on the little secret spring
      That guards the garden, and entering {146}
      Lay once his hand upon him, even
      While in the white arms of his heaven
      He swoons to sleep.  That dreadful summons
      From the wild witchery his woman's.
      That shaft of shattering truth shall splinter
      The pine of his soul's winter.
      Then do thou following cry once
      His name; as from eclipse the sun's
      Supernal splendour springs, his sight
      Shall leap to light.
   PSYCHE.                 Shall leap to light!
      Master, this wisdom how repay?
   HERMES.  I am sworn unto thy father --- Nay!
      Weep not and kneel not!  See, mine art
   ["The two other handmaidens are seen standing by their fellow."]
      Hath wrought such wonder in thine heart
      That --- look!
   PSYCHE.           Ah!  Pistis, Elpis! how
      Are you here?  You were not with me now!
      You fled me.  Charis only came
      Through those dark dreams.
   HERMES.                        Farewell!  Proclaim
      For my reward my art's success.
      More than yourself need happiness.
   PSYCHE.  Farewell and prosper greatly!
                             ["She goes out with her maidens."
   HERMES.  And thou, live high and stately
      In glory and gree tenfold
      That which thou hadst of old!  ["He draws the curtain."  {147}

SCENE IV: THE ANTECHAMBER OF THE KING'S PALACE.  "It is a vast hall of black
    marble.  At the corners four fountains play in basins of coloured
    marble.  At the back a narrow door pillared by vast man-bulls in white
"In mid-stage the" LADY PSYCHE, "seated on the ground, her long hair unloosed,
    her robe of shining silver, mourns."
"With her are the three handmaidens bowed and mourning at front of the stage"
    R., C., "and" L.  "The aged women are grouped in front of stage "C., "on
    the steps which lead to the hall."
"No light comes save through the robes of the" LADY PSYCHE "from the jewels
    that adorn her.  Their glimmer is, however, such as to fill the hall
    with moony radiance, misty dim, and lost in the vastness of the

   PSYCHE.  Silence grows hateful; hollow is mine heart
      Here in the fateful hall; I wait apart.
      Dimmer, still dimmer darkness veils my sight;
      There is no glimmer heralding the light.
      I, the King's daughter, am but serf and thrall
      Where Time hath wrought her cobweb in the hall.
      This blood avails not; where's the signet ring
      Whose pussiance fails not to arouse the King?
      Heir of his heart, I am uncrowned; then, one
      That hath no art or craft in Babylon.
      I left my home and found a vassal's house ---
      This lampless dome of death, vertiginous!
      O for the foam of billows that carouse
      About the crag-set columns! for the breeze {148}
      That fans their flagging Caryatides!
      For the gemmed vestibule, the porch of pearl,
      The bowers of rest, the silences that furl
      Their wings upon mine amethystine chamber
      Whose lions shone with emerald and amber!
      O for the throne whereon my father's awe,
      Lofty and lone, lets liberty love law!
      All justice wrought, its sword the healer's knife!
      All mercy, not less logical than life!
      Alas!  I wait a widowed suppliant
      Betrayed to fate, blind trampling elephant.
      I wait and mourn.  Will not the dust disclose
      The Unicorn, the Unicorn that goes
      About the gardens of these halls of Spring,
      First of the wardens that defend the King?
      Wilt thou not bring me to the Unicorn?
   ["The Unicorn passes over.  He has the swiftness of the horse, the
        slimness of the deer, the whiteness of the swan, the horn of the
        narwhal.  He couches upon the right side of the" LADY PSYCHE.]
      Hail! thou that holdest thine appointed station,
      Lordliest and boldest of his habitation,
      Silence that foldest over its creation!
   ["The Lion passes over.  He is redder than the setting sun.  He couches
        upon the left side of the" LADY PSYCHE.]
      Hail! thou that art his ward and warrior,
      The brazen heart, the iron pulse of war!
      Up start, up start! and set thyself to roar! {149}
   ["The Peacock passes over.  This peacock is so great that his fan, as he
        spreads it on couching before the face of the" LADY PSYCHE, "fills
        the whole of the hall."]
      Hail! glory and light his majesty that hideth,
      Pride and delight whereon his image rideth,
      While in thick night and darkness he abideth!
   ["The stage now darkens.  Even the light shed by the jewels of the" LADY
        PSYCHE "is extinguished.  Then, from the gate of the Palace between
        the man-bulls there issueth a golden hawk.  In his beak is a jewel
        which he drops into the lamp that hangs from the height above the
        head of the" LADY PSYCHE.  "This lamp remains dark.  During this
        darkness the Unicorn, the Lion, and the Peacock disappear."]
      Love me and lead me through the blind abysses!
      Fill me and feed me on the crowning kisses,
      Like flowers that flicker in the garden of glory,
      Pools of pure liquor like pale flames and hoary
      That lamp the lightless empyrean!  Ah! love me!
      All space be sightless, and thine eyes above me!
      Thrice burnt and branded on this bleeding brow,
      Stamp thou the candid stigma --- even now!
   ["The lamp flashes forth into dazzling but momentary radiance.  As it
        goes out a cone of white light is seen upon the head of" THE LADY
        PSYCHE, "And before her stands a figure of immense height cloaked
        and hooded in perfect blackness."]
   THE KING.  Come! for the throne is hollow.  The eagle hath cried:
      Come away!  The stars are numbered, and the tide {150}
      Turns.  Follow!  Follow!  Thine Adonis slumbered.
          As a bride
      Adorned, come, follow!  Fate alone is fallen and wried.
      Follow me, follow!  The unknown is satisfied.
   ["The" LADY PSYCHE "is lifted to her feet.  In silence she bows, and in
        silence follows him as he turns and advances to the gate while the
        curtain falls."]

    the couch with his mistress.  Their arms are intertwined.  They and
    their slaves and maidens are all fallen into the abysses of deep sleep.
    It is a cloudless night; and the full moon, approaching mid-heaven,
    casts but the shortest shadows."

                         "The Murmur of the Breeze"

      I am the Breeze to bless the bowers,
      Sigh through the trees, caress the flowers;
      Each folded bud to sway, to swoon,
      With its green blood beneath the moon
      Stirred softly by my kiss; I bear
      The sort reply of amber air
      To the exhaled sighs of the heat
      That dreams and dies amid the wheat,
      From the cool breasts of mountains far ---
      Their serried crests clasp each a star!
      The earth's pulse throbs with mighty rivers;
      With her low sobs God's heaven quivers; {151}
      The dew stands on her brow; with love
      She aches for all the abyss above,
      Her rocks and chasms the lively strife
      Of her sharp spasms of lust, of life.
      Hark! to the whisper of my fan,
      My sister kiss to maid and man.
      Through all earth's wombs, through all sea's waves,
      Gigantic glooms, forgotten graves,
      I haunt the tombs of kings and slaves.
      I hush the babe, I wake the bird,
      I wander away beyond stars unstirred,
      Soften the ripples of the tide,
      Soothe the bruised nipples of the bride,
      Help stars and clouds play hide-and-seek,
      Wind seamen's shrouds, bid ruins speak,
      Bring dreams to slumber, sleep to dream
      Whose demons cumber night's extreme.
      And softer sped than dream or death
      Quiet as the dead, or slain love's breath,
      I sigh for loves that swoon upon
      The hanging groves of Babylon.
      Each terrace adds a shower of scent
      Where lass and lad seduce content;
      Each vine that hangs confirms the stress
      Of purer pangs of drunkenness;
      Each marble wall and pillar swerves
      Majestical my course to curves
      Subtle as breasts and limbs and tresses
      Of this caressed suave sorceress's
      That raves and rests in wildernesses {152}
      Whose giant gifts are strength that scars
      Her soul and lifts her to the stars,
      Savage, and tenderness that tunes
      Her spirit's splendour to the moon's,
      And music of passion to outrun
      The fiery fashion of the sun.
      Hush! there's a stir not mine amid the groves,
      A foot divine that yet is not like love's.
      Hush! let me furl my forehead!  I'll be gone
      To flicker and curl above great Babylon.
   ["The Gate of the Garden opens."  THE LADY PSYCHE "advances and makes way
        for" THE KING OF BABYLON.  "He is attended by many companies of
        warriors in armour of burnished silver and gold, with swords,
        spears, and shields.
   These take up position at the back of the stage, in perfect silence of
        foot as of throat."]
   [THE LADY PSYCHE "remains standing by the gate;" THE KING OF BABYLON
        advances with infinite stealth, dignity, slowness, and power,
        toward the couch."]
   PSYCHE.  Life?  Is it life?  What hour of fate is on the
      Of this supreme ordeal what issue?  Heaven or
      I am stripped of all my power now when I need it
      I am empty and unreal, a shadow or a ghost.
      All the great stake is thrown, even now the dice are
      All deeds are locked in links, one to another calling {153}
      Through time: from the dim throne the first rune that
           was ree'd
      By God, the supreme Sphinx, determined the last
   [THE KING OF BABYLON "reaches forth his hand and arm.  It is the hand and
        arm of a skeleton.  He touches the forehead of the sleeping lord.
        Instantly, radiant and naked, a male figure is seen erect."]
   PSYCHE.  Adonis!
   ADONIS.           Psyche!
                          ["They run together and embrace."
   PSYCHE.                    Ah! long-lost!
   ADONIS.                                       My wife!
      Light, O intolerable!  Infinite love!  O life
      Beyond death!
   PSYCHE.           I have found thee!
   ADONIS.                              I was thine.
   PSYCHE.                                            I thine
      From all the ages!
   ADONIS.                 To the ages!
   PSYCHE.                               Mine!
                           ["The" KING "passes over and departs."

                            "Chorus of Soldiers"

      Hail to the Lord!
      Without a spear, without a sword
      He hath smitten, he hath smitten, one stroke of his
      Worth all our weaponed puissiances.
      There is no helm, no hauberk, no cuirass,
      No shield of sevenfold steel and sevenfold brass {154}
      Resists his touch; no sword, no spear but shivers
      Before his glance.  Eternally life quivers
      And reels before him; death itself, the hound of God,
      Slinks at his heel, and licks the dust that he hath trod.
                                ["They follow their Lord, singing."
   PSYCHE.  I am a dewdrop focussing the sun
      That fires the forest to the horizon.
      I am a cloud on whom the sun begets
      The iris arch, a fountain in whose jets
      Throbs inner fire of the earth's heart, a flower
      Slain by the sweetness of the summer shower.
   ADONIS.  I am myself, knowing I am thou.
      Forgetfulness forgotten now!
      Truth, truth primeval, truth eternal,
      Unconditioned, sempiternal,
      Sets the God within the shrine
      And my mouth on thine, on thine.
   [THE LADY ASTARTE "wakes.  In her arms is the corpse of the" LORD
   ASTARTE.  O fearful dreams!  Awake and kiss me!  Awake!
      I thought I was crushed and strangled by a snake.
                               ["She rises.  The corpse falls."
      He is dead!  He is dead!  O lips of burning bloom,
      You are ashen.                        ["The jaw falls."
                     The black laughter of the tomb!
      Then let me kill myself!  Bring death distilled
      From nightshade, monkshood.  Let no dawn regild
      this night.  Let me not see the damned light
      Of day, but drown in this black-hearted night!
      Ho, slaves!        [ADONIS "and" PSYCHE "advance to her." {155}
   ADONIS.        Thyself a slave!  What curse (unbated
      Till patient earth herself is nauseated)
      Is worse than this, an handmaiden that creeps
      Into her mistress' bed while her lord sleeps,
      And robs her?
   ASTARTE.            And what worse calamity
      Than his revenge?  But leave me, let me die!
                            ["She falls prone at their feet."
   PSYCHE.  Add robbery to robbery!  We need thee
      To serve us.  Let us raise thee up and feed thee,
      Comfort and cherish thee until the end,
      Less slave than child, less servitor than friend.
   ADONIS.  Rise! let the breath flow, let the lips affirm
      Fealty and love.  To the appointed term
      Within thy garden as beloved guests
      Of thine, let us abide.  Now lips and breasts
      Touching, three bodies and one soul, the triple troth
   PSYCHE.       The great indissoluble oath!
   ASTARTE.  Lift me!         ["They raise her; all embrace."
                       By him that ever reigns upon
      The throne, and wears the crown, of Babylon,
      I serve, and love.
   PSYCHE.                 This kiss confirm it!
   ADONIS.                                        This!
   ASTARTE.  I have gained all in losing all.  Now kiss
      Once more with arms linked!
   ADONIS.                          The dawn breaks!
   ASTARTE.                                        Behold
      Love's blush! {156}
   PSYCHE.             Light's breaking!
   ADONIS.                    Life's great globe of gold!
   ASTARTE.  Come! let us break our fast.
   PSYCHE.                            My long fast's broken.
   ADONIS.  Let us talk of love.
   PSYCHE.                    Love's first-last word is spoken.
   ADONIS.  Nay! but the tides of trouble are transcended.
      The word's begun, but never shall be ended.
      And through the sun forsake the maiden east,
      Life be for us a never-fading feast.
                          ["They go towards the house, singing."
   ALL.  The Crown of our life is our love,
      The crown of our love is the light
      That rules all the region above
      The night and the stars of the night;
      That rules all the region aright,
      The abyss to abysses above;
      For the crown of our love is the light,
      And the crown of our light is our love.