Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Chastelard, A Tragedy

Part 3 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

What she will do. But as it please my sweet;
For some sweet thing she must do if she come,
Seeing how I have to die. Now three years since
This had not seemed so good an end for me;
But in some wise all things wear round betimes
And wind up well. Yet doubtless she might take
A will to come my way and hold my hands
And kiss me some three kisses, throat, mouth, eyes,
And say some soft three words to soften death:
I do not see how this should break her ease.
Nay, she will come to get her warrant back:
By this no doubt she is sorely penitent,
Her fit of angry mercy well blown out
And her wits cool again. She must have chafed
A great while through for anger to become
So like pure pity; they must have fretted her
Night mad for anger: or it may be mistrust,
She is so false; yea, to my death I think
She will not trust me; alas the hard sweet heart!
As if my lips could hurt her any way
But by too keenly kissing of her own.
Ah false poor sweet fair lips that keep no faith,
They shall not catch mine false or dangerous;
They must needs kiss me one good time, albeit
They love me not at all. Lo, here she comes,
For the blood leaps and catches at my face;
There go her feet and tread upon my heart;
Now shall I see what way I am to die.

[Enter the QUEEN.]

QUEEN.
What, is one here? Speak to me for God's sake:
Where are you lain?

CHASTELARD.
Here, madam, at your hand.

QUEEN.
Sweet lord, what sore pain have I had for you
And been most patient!--Nay, you are not bound.
If you be gentle to me, take my hand.
Do you not hold me the worst heart in the world?
Nay, you must needs; but say not yet you do.
I am worn so weak I know not how I live:
Reach me your hand.

CHASTELARD.
Take comfort and good heart;
All will find end; this is some grief to you,
But you shall overlive it. Come, fair love;
Be of fair cheer: I say you have done no wrong.

QUEEN.
I will not be of cheer: I have done a thing
That will turn fire and burn me. Tell me not;
If you will do me comfort, whet your sword.
But if you hate me, tell me of soft things,
For I hate these, and bitterly. Look up;
Am I not mortal to be gazed upon?

CHASTELARD.
Yea, mortal, and not hateful.

QUEEN.
O lost heart!
Give me some mean to die by.

CHASTELARD.
Sweet, enough.
You have made no fault; life is not worth a world
That you should weep to take it: would mine were,
And I might give you a world-worthier gift
Than one poor head that love has made a spoil;
Take it for jest, and weep not: let me go,
And think I died of chance or malady.
Nay, I die well; one dies not best abed.

QUEEN,
My warrant to reprieve you--that you saw?
That came between your hands?

CHASTELARD.
Yea, not long since.
It seems you have no will to let me die.

QUEEN.
Alas, you know I wrote it with my heart,
Out of pure love; and since you were in bonds
I have had such grief for love's sake and my heart's--
Yea, by my life I have--I could not choose
But give love way a little. Take my hand;
You know it would have pricked my heart's blood out
To write reprieve with.

CHASTELARD.
Sweet, your hands are kind;
Lay them about my neck, upon my face,
And tell me not of writing.

QUEEN.
Nay, by heaven,
I would have given you mine own blood to drink
If that could heal you of your soul-sickness.
Yea, they know that, they curse me for your sake,
Rail at my love--would God their heads were lopped
And we twain left together this side death!
But look you, sweet, if this my warrant hold
You are but dead and shamed; for you must die,
And they will slay you shamefully by force
Even in my sight.

CHASTELARD.
Faith, I think so they will.

QUEEN.
Nay, they would slay me too, cast stones at me,
Drag me alive--they have eaten poisonous words,
They are mad and have no shame.

CHASTELARD.
Ay, like enough.

QUEEN.
Would God my heart were greater; but God wot
I have no heart to bear with fear and die.
Yea, and I cannot help you: or I know
I should be nobler, bear a better heart:
But as this stands--I pray you for good love,
As you hold honor a costlier thing than life--

CHASTELARD.
Well?

QUEEN.
Nay, I would not be denied for shame;
In brief, I pray you give me that again.

CHASTELARD.
What, my reprieve?

QUEEN.
Even so; deny me not,
For your sake mainly: yea, by God you know
How fain I were to die in your death's stead.
For your name's sake. This were no need to swear.
Lest we be mocked to death with a reprieve,
And so both die, being shamed. What, shall I swear?
What, if I kiss you? must I pluck it out?
You do not love me: no, nor honor. Come
I know you have it about you: give it me.

CHASTELARD.
I cannot yield you such a thing again;
Not as I had it.

QUEEN.
A coward? what shift now?
Do such men make such cravens?

CHASTELARD.
Chide me not:
Pity me that I cannot help my heart.

QUEEN.
Heaven mend mine eyes that took you for a man!
What, is it sewn into your flesh? take heed--
Nay, but for shame--what have you done with it?

CHASTELARD.
Why, there it lies, torn up.

QUEEN.
God help me, sir!
Have you done this?

CHASTELARD.
Yea, sweet; what should I do?
Did I not know you to the bone, my sweet?
God speed you well! you have a goodly lord.

QUEEN.
My love, sweet love, you are more fair than he,
Yea, fairer many times: I love you much,
Sir, know you that.

CHASTELARD.
I think I know that well.
Sit here a little till I feel you through
In all my breath and blood for some sweet while.
O gracious body that mine arms have had,
And hair my face has felt on it! grave eyes
And low thick lids that keep since years agone
In the blue sweet of each particular vein
Some special print of me! I am right glad
That I must never feel a bitterer thing
Than your soft curled-up shoulder and amorous arms
From this time forth; nothing can hap to me
Less good than this for all my whole life through.
I would not have some new pain after this
Come spoil the savor. O, your round bird's throat,
More soft than sleep or singing; your calm cheeks,
Turned bright, turned wan with kisses hard and hot;
The beautiful color of your deep curved hands,
Made of a red rose that had changed to white;
That mouth mine own holds half the sweetness of,
Yea, my heart holds the sweetness of it, whence
My life began in me; mine that ends here
Because you have no mercy, nay you know
You never could have mercy. My fair love,
Kiss me again, God loves you not the less;
Why should one woman have all goodly things?
You have all beauty; let mean women's lips
Be pitiful, and speak truth: they will not be
Such perfect things as yours. Be not ashamed
That hands not made like these that snare men's souls
Should do men good, give alms, relieve men's pain;
You have the better, being more fair than they,
They are half foul, being rather good than fair;
You are quite fair: to be quite fair is best.
Why, two nights hence I dreamed that I could see
In through your bosom under the left flower,
And there was a round hollow, and at heart
A little red snake sitting, without spot,
That bit--like this, and sucked up sweet--like this,
And curled its lithe light body right and left,
And quivered like a woman in act to love.
Then there was some low fluttered talk i' the lips,
Faint sound of soft fierce words caressing them--
Like a fair woman's when her love gets way.
Ah, your old kiss--I know the ways of it:
Let the lips cling a little. Take them off,
And speak some word or I go mad with love.

QUEEN.
Will you not have my chaplain come to you?

CHASTELARD.
Some better thing of yours--some handkerchief,
Some fringe of scarf to make confession to--
You had some book about you that fell out--

QUEEN.
A little written book of Ronsard's rhymes,
His gift, I wear in there for love of him--
See, here between our feet.

CHASTELARD.
Ay, my old lord's--
The sweet chief poet, my dear friend long since?
Give me the book. Lo you, this verse of his:
With coming lilies in late April came
Her body, fashioned whiter for their shame;
And roses, touched with blood since Adon bled,
From her fair color filled their lips with red:
A goodly praise: I could not praise you so.
I read that while your marriage-feast went on.
Leave me this book, I pray you: I would read
The hymn of death here over ere I die;
I shall know soon how much he knew of death
When that was written. One thing I know now,
I shall not die with half a heart at least,
Nor shift my face, nor weep my fault alive,
Nor swear if I might live and do new deeds
I would do better. Let me keep the book.

QUEEN.
Yea, keep it: as would God you had kept your life
Out of mine eyes and hands. I am wrong to the heart:
This hour feels dry and bitter in my mouth,
As if its sorrow were my body's food
More than my soul's. There are bad thoughts in me--
Most bitter fancies biting me like birds
That tear each other. Suppose you need not die?

CHASTELARD.
You know I cannot live for two hours more.
Our fate was made thus ere our days were made:
Will you fight fortune for so small a grief?
But for one thing I were full fain of death.

QUEEN.
What thing is that?

CHASTELARD.
No need to name the thing.
Why, what can death do with me fit to fear?
For if I sleep I shall not weep awake;
Or if their saying be true of things to come,
Though hell be sharp, in the worst ache of it
I shall be eased so God will give me back
Sometimes one golden gracious sight of you--
The aureole woven flowerlike through your hair,
And in your lips the little laugh as red
As when it came upon a kiss and ceased,
Touching my mouth.

QUEEN.
As I do now, this way,
With my heart after: would I could shed tears,
Tears should not fail when the heart shudders so.
But your bad thought?

CHASTELARD.
Well, such a thought as this:
It may be, long time after I am dead,
For all you are, you may see bitter days;
God may forget you or be wroth with you:
Then shall you lack a little help of me,
And I shall feel your sorrow touching you,
A happy sorrow, though I may not touch:
I that would fain be turned to flesh again,
Fain get back life to give up life for you,
To shed my blood for help, that long ago
You shed and were not holpen: and your heart
Will ache for help and comfort, yea for love,
And find less love than mine--for I do think
You never will be loved thus in your life.

QUEEN.
It may be man will never love me more;
For I am sure I shall not love man twice.

CHASTELARD.
I know not: men must love you in life's spite;
For you will always kill them; man by man
Your lips will bite them dead; yea, though you would,
You shall not spare one; all will die of you;
I cannot tell what love shall do with these,
But I for all my love shall have no might
To help you more, mine arms and hands no power
To fasten on you more. This cleaves my heart,
That they shall never touch your body more.
But for your grief--you will not have to grieve;
For being in such poor eyes so beautiful
It must needs be as God is more than I
So much more love he hath of you than mine;
Yea, God shall not be bitter with my love,
Seeing she is so sweet.

QUEEN.
Ah my sweet fool,
Think you when God will ruin me for sin
My face of color shall prevail so much
With him, so soften the toothed iron's edge
To save my throat a scar? nay, I am sure
I shall die somehow sadly.

CHASTELARD.
This is pure grief;
The shadow of your pity for my death,
Mere foolishness of pity: all sweet moods
Throw out such little shadows of themselves,
Leave such light fears behind. You, die like me?
Stretch your throat out that I may kiss all round
Where mine shall be cut through: suppose my mouth
The axe-edge to bite so sweet a throat in twain
With bitter iron, should not it turn soft
As lip is soft to lip?

QUEEN.
I am quite sure
I shall die sadly some day, Chastelard;
I am quite certain.

CHASTELARD.
Do not think such things;
Lest all my next world's memories of you be
As heavy as this thought.

QUEEN.
I will not grieve you;
Forgive me that my thoughts were sick with grief.
What can I do to give you ease at heart?
Shall I kiss now? I pray you have no fear
But that I love you.

CHASTELARD.
Turn your face to me;
I do not grudge your face this death of mine;
It is too fair--by God, you are too fair.
What noise is that?

QUEEN.
Can the hour be through so soon?
I bade them give me but a little hour.
Ah! I do love you! such brief space for love!
I am yours all through, do all your will with me;
What if we lay and let them take us fast,
Lips grasping lips? I dare do anything.

CHASTELARD.
Show better cheer: let no man see you mazed;
Make haste and kiss me; cover up your throat
Lest one see tumbled lace and prate of it.

[Enter the Guard: MURRAY, DARNLEY, MARY
HAMILTON, MARY BEATON, and others with
them.]

DARNLEY.
Sirs, do your charge; let him not have much time.

MARY HAMILTON.
Peace, lest you chafe the queen: look, her brows bend.

CHASTELARD.
Lords, and all you come hither for my sake,
If while my life was with me like a friend
That I must now forget the friendship of,
I have done a wrong to any man of you,
As it may be by fault of mine I have;
Of such an one I crave for courtesy
He will now cast it from his mind and heed
Like a dead thing; considering my dead fault
Worth no remembrance further than my death.
This for his gentle honor and goodwill
I do beseech him, doubting not to find
Such kindliness if he be nobly made
And of his birth a courteous race of man.
You, my Lord James, if you have aught toward me--
Or you, Lord Darnley--I dare fear no jot,
Whate'er this be wherein you were aggrieved,
But you will pardon all for gentleness.

DARNLEY.
For my part--yea, well, if the thing stand thus,
As you must die--one would not bear folk hard--
And if the rest shall hold it honorable,
Why, I do pardon you.

MURRAY.
Sir, in all things
We find no cause to speak of you but well:
For all I see, save this your deadly fault,
I hold you for a noble perfect man.

CHASTELARD.
I thank you, fair lord, for your nobleness.
You likewise, for the courtesy you have
I give you thanks, sir; and to all these lords
That have not heart to load me at my death.
Last, I beseech of the best queen of men
And royallest fair lady in the world
To pardon me my grievous mortal sin
Done in such great offence of her: for, sirs,
If ever since I came between her eyes
She hath beheld me other than I am
Or shown her honor other than it is,
Or, save in royal faultless courtesies,
Used me with favor; if by speech or face,
By salutation or by tender eyes,
She hath made a way for my desire to live,
Given ear to me or boldness to my breath;
I pray God cast me forth before day cease
Even to the heaviest place there is in hell.
Yea, if she be not stainless toward all men,
I pray this axe that I shall die upon
May cut me off body and soul from heaven.
Now for my soul's sake I dare pray to you;
Forgive me, madam.

QUEEN.
Yea, I do, fair sir:
With all my heart in all I pardon you.

CHASTELARD.
God thank you for great mercies. Lords, set hence;
I am right loth to hold your patience here;
I must not hold much longer any man's.
Bring me my way and bid me fare well forth.

[As they pass out the QUEEN stays MARY BEATON.]

QUEEN.
Hark hither, sweet. Get back to Holyrood
And take Carmichael with you: go both up
In some chief window whence the squares lie clear--
Seem not to know what I shall do--mark that--
And watch how things fare under. Have good cheer;
You do not think now I can let him die?
Nay, this were shameful madness if you did,
And I should hate you.

MARY BEATON.
Pray you love me, madam,
And swear you love me and will let me live,
That I may die the quicker.

QUEEN.
Nay, sweet, see,
Nay, you shall see, this must not seem devised;
I will take any man with me, and go;
Yea, for pure hate of them that hate him: yea,
Lay hold upon the headsman and bid strike
Here on my neck; if they will have him die,
Why, I will die too: queens have died this way
For less things than his love is. Nay, I know
They want no blood; I will bring swords to boot
For dear love's rescue though half earth were slain;
What should men do with blood? Stand fast at watch;
For I will be his ransom if I die.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE III.--The Upper Chamber in Holyrood.

MARY BEATON seated; MARY CARMICHAEL at a window.

MARY BEATON.
Do you see nothing?

MARY CARMICHAEL.
Nay, but swarms of men
And talking women gathered in small space,
Flapping their gowns and gaping with fools' eyes:
And a thin ring round one that seems to speak,
Holding his hands out eagerly; no more.

MARY BEATON.
Why, I hear more, I hear men shout The Queen.

MARY CARMICHAEL.
Nay, no cries yet.

MARY BEATON.
Ah, they will cry out soon
When she comes forth; they should cry out on her;
I hear their crying in my heart. Nay, sweet,
Do not you hate her? all men, if God please,
Shall hate her one day; yea, one day no doubt
I shall worse hate her.

MARY CARMICHAEL.
Pray you, be at peace;
You hurt yourself: she will be merciful;
What, could you see a true man slain for you?
I think I could not; it is not like our hearts
To have such hard sides to them.

MARY BEATON.
O, not you,
And I could nowise; there's some blood in her
That does not run to mercy as ours doth:
That fair face and the cursed heart in her
Made keener than a knife for manslaying
Can bear strange things.

MARY CARMICHAEL.
Peace, for the people come.
Ah--Murray, hooded over half his face
With plucked-down hat, few folk about him, eyes
Like a man angered; Darnley after him,
Holding our Hamilton above her wrist,
His mouth put near her hair to whisper with--
And she laughs softly, looking at her feet.

MARY BEATON.
She will not live long; God hath given her
Few days and evil, full of hate and love,
I see well now.

MARY CARMICHAEL.
Hark, there's their cry--The Queen!
Fair life and long, and good days to the Queen!

MARY BEATON.
Yea, but God knows. I feel such patience here
As I were sure in a brief while to die.

MARY CARMICHAEL.
She bends and laughs a little, graciously,
And turns half, talking to I know not whom--
A big man with great shoulders; ah, the face,
You get his face now--wide and duskish, yea
The youth burnt out of it. A goodly man,
Thewed mightily and sunburnt to the bone;
Doubtless he was away in banishment,
Or kept some march far off.

MARY BEATON.
Still you see nothing?

MARY CARMICHAEL.
Yea, now they bring him forth with a great noise,
The folk all shouting and men thrust about
Each way from him.

MARY BEATON.
Ah, Lord God, bear with me,
Help me to bear a little with my love
For thine own love, or give me some quick death.
Do not come down; I shall get strength again,
Only my breath fails. Looks he sad or blithe?
Not sad I doubt yet.

MARY CARMICHAEL.
Nay, not sad a whit,
But like a man who losing gold or lands
Should lose a heavy sorrow; his face set,
The eyes not curious to the right or left,
And reading in a book, his hands unbound,
With short fleet smiles. The whole place catches breath,
Looking at him; she seems at point to speak:
Now she lies back, and laughs, with her brows drawn
And her lips drawn too. Now they read his crime--
I see the laughter tightening her chin:
Why do you bend your body and draw breath?
They will not slay him in her sight; I am sure
She will not have him slain.

MARY BEATON.
Forth, and fear not:
I was just praying to myself--one word,
A prayer I have to say for her to God
If he will mind it.

MARY CARMICHAEL.
Now he looks her side;
Something he says, if one could hear thus far:
She leans out, lengthening her throat to hear
And her eyes shining.

MARY BEATON.
Ah, I had no hope:
Yea thou God knowest that I had no hope.
Let it end quickly.

MARY CARMICHAEL.
Now his eyes are wide
And his smile great; and like another smile
The blood fills all his face. Her cheek and neck
Work fast and hard; she must have pardoned him,
He looks so merrily. Now he comes forth
Out of that ring of people and kneels down;
Ah, how the helve and edge of the great axe
Turn in the sunlight as the man shifts hands--
It must be for a show: because she sits
And hardly moves her head this way--I see
Her chin and lifted lips. Now she stands up,
Puts out her hand, and they fall muttering;
Ah!

MARY BEATON.
Is it done now?

MARY CARMICHAEL.
For God's love, stay there;
Do not look out. Nay, he is dead by this;
But gather up yourself from off the floor;
Will she die too? I shut mine eyes and heard--
Sweet, do not beat your face upon the ground.
Nay, he is dead and slain.

MARY BEATON.
What, slain indeed?
I knew he would be slain. Ay, through the neck:
I knew one must be smitten through the neck
To die so quick: if one were stabbed to the heart,
He would die slower.

MARY CARMICHAEL.
Will you behold him dead?

MARY BEATON.
Yea: must a dead man not be looked upon
That living one was fain of? give me way.
Lo you, what sort of hair this fellow had;
The doomsman gathers it into his hand
To grasp the head by for all men to see;
I never did that.

MARY CARMICHAEL.
For God's love, let me go.

MARY BEATON.
I think sometimes she must have held it so,
Holding his head back, see you, by the hair
To kiss his face, still lying in his arms.
Ay, go and weep: it must be pitiful
If one could see it. What is this they say?
So perish the Queen's traitors! Yea, but so
Perish the Queen! God, do thus much to her
For his sake only: yea, for pity's sake
Do thus much with her.

MARY CARMICHAEL.
Prithee come in with me:
Nay, come at once.

MARY BEATON.
If I should meet with her
And spit upon her at her coming in--
But if I live then shall I see one day
When God will smite her lying harlot's mouth--
Surely I shall. Come, I will go with you;
We will sit down together face to face
Now, and keep silence; for this life is hard,
And the end of it is quietness at last.
Come, let us go: here is no word to say.

AN USHER.
Make way there for the lord of Bothwell; room--
Place for my lord of Bothwell next the queen.

EXPLICIT

Book of the day: