Saint's Tragedy, The - Scene 2


A Room in a Convent at Mayence . C ONRAD alone .

Con . The work is done! Diva Elizabeth!
And I have trained one saint before I die!
Yet now 'tis done, is't well done? On my lips
Is triumph: but what echo in my heart?
Alas! the inner voice is sad and dull,
Even at the crown and shout of victory.
Oh! I had hugged this purpose to my heart,
Cast by for it all ruth, all pride, all scruples;
Yet now its face, that seemed as pure as crystal,
Shows fleshly, foul, and stained with tears and gore!
We make, and moil, like children in their gardens,
And spoil with dabbled hands, our flowers i' the planting.
And yet a saint is made! Alas, those children!
Was there no gentler way? I know not any:
I plucked the gay moth from the spider's web;
What if my hasty hand have smirched its feathers?
Sure, if the whole be good, each several part
May for its private blots forgiveness gain,
As in man's tabernacle, vile elements
Unite to one fair stature. Who'll gainsay it?
The whole is good; another saint in heaven;
Another bride within the Bridegroom's arms;
And she will pray for me! — And yet what matter?
Better that I, this paltry sinful unit,
Fall fighting, crushed into the nether pit,
If my dead corpse may bridge the path to Heaven,
And damn itself, to save the souls of others.
A noble ruin: yet small comfort in it;
In it, or in aught else — —
A blank dim cloud before mine inward sense
Dulls all the past: she spoke of such a cloud — —
I struck her for't, and said it was a fiend — —
She's happy now, before the throne of God — —
I should be merry; yet my heart's floor sinks
As on a fast day; sure some evil bodes
Would it were here, that I might see its eyes!
The future only is unbearable!
We quail before the rising thunderstorm
Which thrills and whispers in the stifled air,
Yet blench not, when it falls. Would it were here!
I fain would sleep, yet dare not: all the air
Throngs thick upon me with the pregnant terror
Of life unseen, yet near. I dare not meet them,
As if I sleep I shall do — — I again?
What matter what I feel, or like, or fear?
Come what God sends. Within there — Brother Gerard!

G ERARD enters .

Watch here an hour, and pray. — The fiends are busy
So — hold my hand. ( Crosses himself .) Come on, I fear you not.

G ERARD sings .

Qui fugiens mundi gravia
Contempsit carnis bravia,
Cupidinisque somnia,
Lucratur, perdens, omnia.

Hunc gestant ulnis angeli,
Ne lapis officiat pedi;
Ne luce timor occupet,
Aut nocte pestis incubet

Huic caeli lilia germinant;
Arrisus sponsi permanent;
Ac nomen in fidelibus
Quam filiorum medius.
. . .

Conrad ( awaking ). Stay! Spirits, stay! Art thou a hell-born phantasm,
Or word too true, sent by the mother of God?
Oh, tell me, queen of Heaven!
Oh, God! if she, the city of the Lord,
Who is the heart, the brain, the ruling soul
Of half the earth; wherein all kingdoms, laws,
Authority, and faith do culminate,
And draw from her their sanction and their use;
The lighthouse founded on the rock of ages,
Whereto the Gentiles look, and still are healed;
The tree whose rootlets drink of every river,
Whose boughs drop Eden fruits on seaward isles;
Christ's seamless coat, rainbowed with gems and hues
Of all degrees and uses, rend, and tarnish,
And crumble into dust!
Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas!
Oh! to have prayed, and toiled — and lied — for this!
For this to have crushed out the heart of youth,
And sat by calm, while living bodies burned!
How! Gerard; sleeping!
Couldst thou not watch with me one hour, my son?
Ger . ( awaking ). How! have I slept? Shame on my vaporous brain!
And yet there crept along my hand from thine
A leaden languor, and the drowsy air
Teemed thick with humming wings — I slept perforce.
Forgive me (while for breach of holy rule
Due penance shall seem honour) my neglect.
Con . I should have beat thee for't, an hour agone —
Now I judge no man. What are rules and methods?
I have seen things which make my brain-sphere reel:
My magic teraph-bust, full-packed, and labelled,
With saws, ideas, dogmas, ends, and theories,
Lies shivered into dust. Pah! we do squint
Each through his loop-hole, and then dream, broad heaven
Is but the patch we see But let none know;
Be silent, Gerard, wary.
Ger . Nay — I know nought
Of that which moves thee: though I fain would ask — —
Con . I saw our mighty Mother, Holy Church,
Sit like a painted harlot: round her limbs
An oily snake had coiled, who smiled, and smiled,
And lisped the name of Jesus — I'll not tell thee:
I have seen more than man can see, and live:
God, when He grants the tree of knowledge, bans
The luckless seer from off the tree of life,
Lest he become as gods, and burst with pride;
Or sick at sight of his own nothingness,
Lie down, and be a fiend: my time is near:
Well — I have neither child, nor kin, nor friend,
Save thee, my son; I shall go lightly forth.
Thou knowest we start for Marpurg on the morrow?
Thou wilt go with me?
Ger . Ay, to death, my master;
Yet boorish heretics, with grounded throats,
Mutter like sullen bulls; the Count of Saym,
And many gentlemen, they say, have sworn
A fearful oath: there's danger in the wind
Con . They have their quarrel; I was keen and hasty:
Gladio qui utitur, peribit gladio.
When Heaven is strong, then Hell is strong: Thou fear'st not?
Ger . No! though their name were legion! 'Tis for thee
Alone I quake, lest by some pious boldness
Thou quench the light of Israel.
Con . Light? my son!
There shall no light be quenched, when I lie dark
Our path trends outward: we will forth to-morrow
Now let's to chapel; matin bells are ringing.
Rate this poem: 


No reviews yet.