Household Gods Part Two - Leila Waddell

Part Two

ALICIA.
You feel the ocean breaking on the shoal;
But passionless and moveless is its soul.
 
CRASSUS.
Ah! but your soul is in your breath.
 
ALICIA.
Only as the graven image of death
Which men call life, and ignorantly adore!
 
CRASSUS.
Spare me! I cannot bear you more.
 
ALICIA.
Then will I drown you. Lock your fingers fast
In mind, and let our mouths mix at the last.
[The stuatue of PAN is seen to be alive.]
 
PAN.
Shrill, shrill
Over the hill!
The hunter is hot - this is the kill!
Scream! Scream!
Dissolving the dream
Of life, the knife to the heart of the wife!
The fountain jets
Its flood of blood,
And the moss that it wets
Is an amethyst flame of violets.
 
Who shall escape
Murder and rape
What I am alive in my solemn shape?
Shrill, shrill,
Over the hill!
The hunter is hot - this is the kill!
The heart of the home
Is a fury of foam;
The storm is awake, and the billows comb.
But though I be
Their frenzy of glee,
I am also the passionless soul of the sea!
 
Mine eyes glint fire,
And my cruel lips curl;
Mine the desire
Of the god and the girl;
But fierier and fleeter,
And subtler and sweeter
Than the race of the rhythm, the march of the metre,
Is the shrilling, shrilling
Of the knife in the killing
That ends, when it must,
(O the throb and the thrust!)
In a death, in the dust,
The silence, the stillness, of satiate lust,
The solemn pause
When the veil withdraws
And man looks on his god, on the Causeless Cause.
Still, still,
Under the hill!
The hunter is dead - this is the kill!
 
CRASSUS.
Pan spoke.
 
ALICIA.
Pan never speaks till man is dumb,
And only then if he be like a child
Silently curled within its mother's womb,
Or feeding at her breast. There is a wild
Way also - when his dumbness is of death.
And there's a first and second death. Remember
To die so that no god's or angel's breath
May quicken into life the wasted ember!
 
CRASSUS.
I am dead now.
 
ALICIA.
But I must raise you up.
The night grows darker; all Pan's light is gone,
And you and I are pledged to sup
Upon a secret.
 
CRASSUS.
All your secret shone.
[She laughs again.]
 
ALICIA.
Oh, when you know it! But you must divine
Adela's shrine.
 
CRASSUS.
I am weary of Adela grown chaste and chill.
 
ALICIA.
The hunter lags; how heavy is the hill!
But you are bound to Adela.
 
CRASSUS.
To you!
 
ALICIA.
But you have given me freedom. I will leave you.
 
CRASSUS.
What have I done to grieve you?
 
ALICIA.
You have been the solemn fool with face awry
That I have gathered in my ecstasy.
You are only a vulgar primrose I have plucked.
 
CRASSUS.
At least, she-devil, you have been well-treated.
 
ALICIA.
O tragic farce - not even rimes completed!
Nay, darling! no rebellion. When you know
My secret, you will understand. You are bound
To Adela within the portico,
To me upon this ground.
By day, in life, adore the Lares, man!
By night, in deaht, make offering to Pan!
Can you cut day from night by any endeavour?
If so, both life and death were lost for ever.
Come, the stream steepens.
 
CRASSUS.
This road leads to hell.
 
ALICIA.
The way to heaven is shorter.
 
CRASSUS.
Who can tell?
 
ALICIA.
I have measured it.
 
CRASSUS.
You, girl?
 
ALICIA.
It is not hard.
 
CRASSUS.
What did you make the height of it?
 
ALICIA.
One yard.
 
CRASSUS.
You always mock me?
 
ALICIA.
Pity of my youth!
I swerve not from, you stumble at, the truth.
 
CRASSUS.
I like not jests. This is a serious journey.
 
ALICIA.
Why did you make a mocker your attorney?
The way to Rome leads through the Apennines.
Bacchus has horns beneath the crown of vines.
If you fear horns, make some polite excuse
Not to invoke him by the name Zagreus!
 
A FAUN [Passing among the trees].
Ye thought me a lamb
With a crown of thorns;
I am royal, a ram
With death in my horns.
So mild and soft
And feminine,
Ye held me aloft
And frowned on sin!
But I was awake
In your clasp as I lay;
I roused the snake
From its nest of clay;
And ere ye knew
I had sunk my forehead
Through and through;
Harsh and horrid
Through all the pleasure
Of rose and vine
I thrust my treasure,
The cone of the pine.
Irru's maid
Was easily sated,
For she was afraid
When Irru mated!
 
CRASSUS.
Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
 
ALICIA.
You would not laugh
Were you the maid!
 
CRASSUS.
How could I be?
 
ALICIA.
Great calf!
But you are all the same, blaspheme and jeer
At any mystery beyond your sphere
Of beer, and beef, and beer, and beef, and beer.
Now you have frightened the shy god!
 
CRASSUS.
Why heed?
Between your - arms - is all the god I need.
 
ALICIA.
Prudish and coarse to the last. Now hush indeed!
The stream kisses the lake. We near the shrine.
Stir no snapped twig. Let your foot - even yours -
Fall like a fawn's.
 
CRASSUS.
Your breath is like new wine.
 
ALICIA.
Hush now! no porpoise gambols!
 
CRASSUS.
How obscure's
The glimmer of the lake. Is that the isle?
 
ALICIA.
Yes! in that shadow lurks a smile.
See; from that jagged cloud Diana starts
Like a deer from the brake; her silver splendour darts
Through the crisp air to the grove upon the isle...
Do you see her? Do you see her?
 
CRASSUS.
Monstrous! Vile!
These eyes betray me.
 
ALICIA.
No! your Adela lies
With arms thrown back, head tilted, open thighs.
Her lips flame out like poppies in the dusk.
The breeze brings back to us a scent of musk.
Her mouth is oozing kisses!
 
CRASSUS.
Filthy harlot!
 
ALICIA.
I never fed on a superber scarlet.
And look! the wonder of plumes that foams upon
Her tidal breast - oh, but a swan! a swan!
A swan snow-white with his sole scarlet hidden
In the abode forbidden!
 
O but his eye swoons as his broad beak slips
Within her luscious lips.
O but - I cannot see - I long to die
Alike for wonder - and for jealousy!
 
CRASSUS.
Vile, filthy whore! I'll catch you at it.
 
ALICIA.
Soft!
See how his feathers hold her soul aloft!
 
CRASSUS.
Beast! Have you brought me through the wood for
this?
 
ALICIA.
Now wonder I must teach you how to kiss.
 
CRASSUS.
I'll clip his wings.
 
ALICIA.
Sub pennis, penis! 'Slife!
It's not the wings of him that clip your wife.
 
CRASSUS.
Thou art as filthy a creature as she!
 
ALICIA.
Fat fool!
All your emotions vary with your -
 
CRASSUS.
What?
 
ALICIA.
Your state of health.
 
CRASSUS.
Be off with you, foul --
 
ALICIA.
Well?
 
CRASSUS.
I'll swim and stab them. The black mouth of hell
Yawns for their murder.
 
ALICIA.
I'll be at the death.
Dive then, but softly. Scarcely draw your breath.
 
CRASSUS.
O, she's unwary!
 
ALICIA.
Is your love forgotten?
 
CRASSUS.
All love is rotten.
 
ALICIA.
But your pure love for me you boasted of?
 
CRASSUS.
Ay, that was perfect love.
 
ALICIA.
You love me then, not her?
 
CRASSUS.
Indeed I do.
 
ALICIA.
Swear me the oath anew!
 
CRASSUS.
I swear to love you till the world shall end.
 
ALICIA.
Then, Crassus, I will always be your friend.
 
CRASSUS.
Ah, that is good! You do not mock me now!
 
ALICIA.
Creep softly to the land. Kiss but my brow.
My curls are wet... No, never touch me there!
 
CRASSUS.
Why? Have I not?
 
ALICIA.
You have not.
 
CRASSUS.
Just my hand.
 
ALICIA.
You disobey your mistress's command?
The time is near when you shall see
The keyhole of my comedy!
 
CRASSUS.
Ha! Ha! Ha!
 
ALICIA.
Hush, you coarse slave; we'll surprise
Your good wife in her mystic exercise.
Quick, through the bramble!
[They burst through upon ADELA.]
 
CRASSUS.
Now, you beast, I've got you!
The curst of God, and plague of Naples, rot you!
For this white brute - one slit!
[He cuts the throat of THE SWAN with
his dagger.]
 
ADELA.
Oh love betrayed!
O my dead beauty! Faugh! deceitful maid.
Not Crassus found me out. Had I the wings
Of my dead love - oh love! -
 
ALICIA.
Why, wondrous things!
 
ADELA.
These nails shall serve. A servant!
 
CRASSUS.
She shall be
My wife, damned witch, when I have done with thee!
[THE SWAN dies.]
 
ADELA.
I'll kill her now. But see! my swan is dead.
 
ALICIA.
Yes! and what light is breaking overhead?
What blaze of blue and gold envelops us?
 
CRASSUS.
O marvel! O miraculous!
 
ADELA.
What is it? Why, my lover's life, in me
Once concentrated, now diffused, illumes
The endless reaches of eternity
With infinite brilliance, with intense perfumes.
 
ALICIA.
O then your lover was some god's disguise.
 
ADELA.
And you have robbed me. Now beware your eyes!
[She springs at ALICIA, who guards herself
easily. But in the struggle her robe tears.]
 
ALICIA.
Take care!
 
ADELA.
A boy!
 
CRASSUS.
A boy! Then what am I?
 
ALICIA.
That is the key-word of the comedy.
You thought you had two vices at your need;
But she had Jove and you had Ganymede.
[They are struck dumb and still with
amazement. ALICIA claps her hands four times.]
 
Sweep through the air, bright blaze of eagle-wings!
Crassus, sub pennis, penis! How he swings
His bulk from yonder sightless poise, to bear
me back to the Dominion of the air
Where I shall bear the cup of Jupiter!
Blind babes, love one another, no less true
Because the gods have deigned to dwell with you!
[The eagle bears GANYMEDE aloft.]
 
CRASSUS.
Adela! these mysteries too great
For you and me to estimate.
But, widowed both, come, seek domestic charms
As we were wont, in one another's arms!
What perfect moss for you to lie upon!
 
ADELA.
I am your wife, dear Crassus.
(sotto voce) Oh, my swan!
 
 
CURTAIN.

 

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