Part 2 out of 5
This be our song.
Gracious and friendly
Smiles father Liber;
Drunkenness waits us;
Clear is the wine.
Come, do not tarry!
Wine will make merry,
Joyful and airy,
Body and soul.
Thou above all the
Courage and power,
These are your dower.
Gladsome the gift you
Bring to the soul.
Bacchus, all praise to thee!
Joyful we raise to thee
Brimful the beaker!
Hail to thee, hail!
Wine, red and glowing,
Drink of the wine-god,--
This be our song.
[LENTULUS and CETHEGUS enter.]
LENTULUS. Cease all your song and merriment!
STATILIUS. What now?
Is Catiline not in your company?
GABINIUS. Surely he was quite willing?
COEPARIUS. Come, say forth!
What was his answer?
CETHEGUS. Ah, quite otherwise
Than we expected was his answer.
LENTULUS. Well, all of our proposals he declined;--
He would not even hearken to our counsels.
STATILIUS. Is this the truth?
COEPARIUS. And wherefore would he not?
LENTULUS. In short, he will not. He forsakes his friends,--
Abandons us,--and leaves the city.
He leaves, you say?
CETHEGUS. 'Tis true;--he goes away
This very night. Yet,--blamed he can not be;
His ground was valid--
LENTULUS. Fear was his excuse!
In danger he forsakes us faithlessly.
GABINIUS. That is the friendship of our Catiline!
COEPARIUS. Never was Catiline faithless or afraid!
LENTULUS. And yet he leaves us now.
STATILIUS. Our hopes go with him.
Where's now the man to take the leadership?
COEPARIUS. He'll not be found; our plan we must forego.
LENTULUS. Not yet, not yet, my friends! First you shall hear
What I will say. Now what have we resolved?
That we should win at last by force of arms
What an unrighteous destiny denied.
Tyrants oppress us;--yet we wish to rule.
We suffer want;--yet wealth is our desire.
MANY VOICES. Yes, wealth and power! Wealth and power we want!
LENTULUS. Yes, yes; we chose a comrade as our chief,
On whom there was no doubt we could rely.
Our trust he fails and turns his back to danger.
Ah, brothers,--be not daunted. He shall learn
We can succeed without him. What we need
Is some one man, fearless and resolute,
To take the lead--
SOME. Well, name us such a man!
LENTULUS. And should I name him, and should he comeforth,--
Will you then straightway choose him as your leader?
SOME. Yes, we will choose him!
OTHERS. Yes, we will, we will!
STATILIUS. Then name him, friend!
LENTULUS. Suppose it were myself?
COEPARIUS. You, Lentulus--!
SEVERAL. [In doubt.] You wish to lead us?
LENTULUS. I do.
CETHEGUS. But can you? Such a task requires
The strength and courage of a Catiline.
LENTULUS. I do not lack the courage, nor the strength.
Each to his task! Or will you now turn back,
Now when the moment seems most opportune?
'Tis now or never! All things prophesy
Success for us--
STATILIUS. Good;--we will follow you!
OTHERS. We'll follow you!
GABINIUS. Well, now that Catiline
Forsakes our cause, you are no doubt the man
To lead us in our enterprise.
LENTULUS. Then hear
What plan of action I have outlined. First--
[CATILINE enters hastily.]
CATILINE. Here, comrades, here I am!
CATILINE. Speak out,--what do you ask of me?
Yet stay; I know already what it is.
I'll lead you on. Say--will you follow me?
ALL (EXCEPT LENTULUS). Yes, Catiline,--we follow if you lead!
STATILIUS. They have deceived us--
GABINIUS. --and belied your name!
COEPARIUS. They said you did intend to leave the city
And wash your hands completely of our cause.
CATILINE. Yes, so I did. Yet now no more; henceforth
Only for this great purpose do I live.
LENTULUS. What is this mighty purpose you proclaim?
CATILINE. My purpose here is higher than you think--
Perhaps than any thinks. Ah, hear me, friends!
First will I win to us each citizen
Who prizes liberty and values most
The public honor and his country's weal.
The spirit of ancient Rome is yet alive;--
The last faint spark is not yet wholly dead.
Now into brilliant flames it shall be fanned,
More glorious than ever flames before!
Alas, too long the stifling gloom of thraldom,
Dark as the night, lay blanketed on Rome.
Behold,--this realm--though proud and powerful
It seems--totters upon the edge of doom.
Therefore the stoutest hand must seize the helm.
Rome must be cleansed,--cleansed to the very roots;
The sluggish we must waken from their slumber,--
And crush to earth the power of these wretches
Who sow their poison in the mind and stifle
The slightest promise of a better life.
Look you,--'tis civic freedom I would further,--
The civic spirit that in former times
Was regnant here. Friends, I shall conjure back
The golden age, when Romans gladly gave
Their lives to guard the honor of the nation,
And all their riches for the public weal!
LENTULUS. Ah, Catiline, you rave! Nothing of this
Had we in mind.
GABINIUS. What will it profit us
To conjure up again those ancient days
With all their dull simplicity?
SOME. No, no!
Might we demand--
OTHERS. --and means enough to live
A gay and carefree life!
MANY VOICES. That is our aim!
COEPARIUS. Is it for others' happiness and freedom
We stake our lives upon a throw of dice?
THE WHOLE GROUP. We want the spoils of victory!
CATILINE. Paltry race!
Are you the offspring of those ancient fathers?
To heap dishonor on your country's name,--
In such a way you would preserve its lustre!
LENTULUS. And you dare taunt us,--you who long since were
A terrifying token--
CATILINE. True, I was;
I was a terror to the good; and yet,
So paltry as you are was never I.
LENTULUS. Restrain your tongue; we brook no ridicule.
MANY. No, no,--we will not--
CATILINE. [Calmly.] So? You timid brood,--
You dare to think of doing something,--you?
LENTULUS. Ah, down with him!
MANY VOICES. Yes, down with Catiline!
[They draw their daggers and rush in on him; CATILINE calmly
removes the cloak from his breast and regards them with a cold,
scornful smile; they lower their daggers.]
Thrust! Thrust! You dare not? Oh, my friends, my friends,--
I should respect you, if you plunged your daggers
In this uncovered bosom, as you threaten.
Is there no spark of courage in your souls?
SOME. He means our weal!
OTHERS. His taunts we have deserved.
CATILINE. You have, indeed.--Yet, see,--the hour is come
When you can wash away the blot of shame.
All that is of the past we will forget;--
A new existence is in store for us.
CATILINE. [With bitterness.]
Fool that I am! To stake success on you!
Burns any zeal within this craven mob?
CATILINE. [Carried away.]
Time was my dreams were glorious; great visions
Rushed through my mind or swept before my gaze.
I dreamed that, winged like Icarus of old,
I flew aloft beneath the vault of heaven;
I dreamed the gods endued my hands with strength
Of giants, offered me the lightning flash.
And this hand seized the lightning in its flight
And hurled it at the city far beneath.
And when the crimson flames lapped all, and rose
As Rome fell crumbling in a heap of ruins,--
Then called I with a loud and mighty voice,
And conjured Cato's comrades from the grave;
Thousands of spirits heard my call and came,--
Took life again--raised Rome from out her ashes.
[He breaks off.]
CATILINE. These were but dreams! Gods do not conjure up
The by-gone past into the light of day,--
And parted spirits never leave the grave.
CATILINE. [Wildly.] Is now this hand unable to restore
The ancient Rome, our Rome it shall destroy.
Where marble colonnades now towering stand,
Pillars of smoke through crackling flames shall whirl;
Then shall the Capitol crumble from its heights,
And palaces and temples sink to ruin!
CATILINE. Swear, comrades, that you dedicate your lives
To this great purpose! I shall take the lead.
Say,--will you follow me?
STATILIUS. We'll follow you!
[Several seem to be in doubt, and speak in whispers to one
another. CATILINE regards them with a scornful smile.]
LENTULUS. [In an undertone.]
'Tis best we follow him. In sunken ruins
We're likeliest to realize our goal.
ALL. [Shouting.] Yes, Catiline; we'll all--all follow you!
CATILINE. Swear to me by the gods of our great sires
That you will heed my every nod!
THE WHOLE GROUP. [With uplifted hands.] Yes, yes;
We swear in all things blindly to obey!
CATILINE. Then singly steal your way, by different paths,
Into my house. Weapons you there will find.
I shall come later; you shall then discover
What plan of action I propose. Now go!
[They all go out.]
LENTULUS. [Detains CATILINE.]
A word! Know you the Allobrogian tribes
Have to the Senate sent ambassadors
With grievances and charges?
CATILINE. Yes, I know.
They came today into the city.
What if we should attune them to our plans?
With them all Gaul will rise up in revolt;
And stir up strife against our enemies.
Ah, we should seek barbarian allies?
LENTULUS. But such a league is a necessity.
With our own strength alone the fight is lost;
Help from without--
CATILINE. [With a bitter smile.] Ah, Rome is fallen low!
Her walls no longer harbor men with strength
Enough to overthrow a tottering ruin!
[They go out.]
* * * * *
[A garden to the rear of CATILINE's house, which is
visible through the trees. To the left a
[CURIUS, CETHEGUS, and OTHER CONSPIRATORS enter
cautiously from the right in whispered conversation.]
CURIUS. But is it really true what you relate?
CETHEGUS. Yes, every word is true. A moment since
It was decided.
CURIUS. He takes charge of all?
CETHEGUS. Of everything. Just speak with him yourself.
[All, except CURIUS, enter the house.]
CURIUS. An eerie night! How all my thoughts are tossed
About in circles! Did I dream perchance?
Ah, real or fancied,--now I am awake,--
Whichever way I turn I see her form.
[CATILINE enters from the right.]
CATILINE. [Goes toward him.]
You here, my Curius? I have missed you much.--
My visit with the vestal took a turn
CURIUS. [Confused.] So? Yes, you are right!
CATILINE. I shall no longer think of this affair.
It was a visit fraught with fate for me.
The furies, we are told, return at times
From the dark underworld to follow us
Through life forever.--Ah, if it were so!
CURIUS. [Uneasy.] What? Have you seen her--?
CATILINE. She was here tonight.--
Yet let this be forgotten. Curius, listen,--
A weighty undertaking is on foot--
CURIUS. I know it all. Cethegus told me here--
CATILINE. Who knows what issue for this work the gods
Have set? Perchance it is my destiny
To perish now, crushed by malignant forces,--
And never reach my goal. Well, be it so!
But you, dear Curius, you whom I have loved
Since childhood,--you shall not be drawn within
This fateful maelstrom. Promise me,--remain
Within the city if I elsewhere choose
To open my attack,--which is quite likely;
Nor aid us till success has crowned our work.
Oh, what a friend and father! All this care--!
CATILINE. You promise this? Then here we say farewell;
Wait but a moment; I shall soon return.
[He goes into the house.]
CURIUS. [Gazing after him.]
He loves me still. Of naught is he distrustful.
[LENTULUS and OTHER CONSPIRATORS enter from the right.]
LENTULUS. Ah, Curius, did not Catiline just now
Pass through the garden?
CURIUS. Yes, he is within.
[They go into the house.]
CURIUS. [Paces about uneasy.]
How shall I curb this longing in my soul?
There is a restless turmoil in my blood.
Ah, Furia,--what a strange, mysterious woman!
Where are you? When shall I see your face again?
CURIUS. Where has she fled? Ah, shadow-like she slipped
Away, when I had freed her from the grave.
And those mysterious, prophetic words,--
And more, her eyes, gleaming at once and dimmed--!
What if it were but madness? Has the grave
With all its terror darkened--?
FURIA. [Behind him among the trees.] No, pale youth!
CURIUS. [With a cry.] My Furia! You--?
FURIA. [Comes nearer.] Here dwells Catiline.
Where he is,--there must Furia also be.
CURIUS. Oh, come with me, beloved. I shall lead
You into safety. Think--if some one saw you!
FURIA. The dead need have no fear. Have you forgotten--
You took my corpse and brought it from the grave?
CURIUS. Again those terrifying words! Oh, hear me;--
Come to your senses,--come with me away!
[He tries to seize her hand.]
FURIA. [Thrusts him wildly back.]
You reckless fool,--do you not shrink with fear
Before this child of death, but risen up
A fleeting moment from the underworld?
CURIUS. Before you now I fear. And yet this fear,
This strange, mysterious dread, is my delight.
FURIA. What would you me? In vain is all your pleading.
I'm of the grave, and yonder is my home;--
With dawn's approach I must again be speeding
Back to the vale of shadows whence I come.
You doubt me,--do not think that I have sat
Among the pallid shades in Pluto's hall?
I tell you, I was even now below,--
Beyond the river and the gloomy marshes.
CURIUS. Then lead me there!
CURIUS. I shall gladly follow,
Though you should lead me through the jaws of death!
FURIA. It cannot be! On earth we two must part;--
Yonder the dead and living dare not meet.--
FURIA. Why do you rob me of my fleeting moments?
I've but the hours of night in which to work;
My task is of the night; I am its herald.
But where is Catiline?
CURIUS. Ah, him you seek?
FURIA. Yes, him I seek.
CURIUS. Then him you still pursue?
FURIA. Why rose I from the spirit underworld
Tonight, if not because of Catiline?
CURIUS. Alas, this fury that has seized your soul--!
Yet you are lovely even in your madness.
Oh, Furia, think no more of Catiline!
Come, flee with me! Command me,--I shall serve you!
[He prostrates himself before her.]
CURIUS. A prostrate slave I here entreat of you
One single look. Oh, hear me, Furia, hear me!
I love but you! A sweet and lethal fire
Consumes my soul, and you--ah, you alone--
Can ease my suffering.--
FURIA. [Looks towards the house.] Yonder there's a light--
And many men. What now is going on
Within the house of Catiline?
CURIUS. [Jumps up.] Again
This name! Around him hover all your thoughts.
Oh, I could hate him--!
FURIA. Has he then resolved
To launch at last the daring enterprise
He long has cherished?
CURIUS. Then you know--?
FURIA. Yes, all.
CURIUS. Ah, then you doubtless know, too, he himself
Is foremost in this daring enterprise?
Yet, I adjure you, beg you, think no more
FURIA. Answer me this alone;
'Tis all I ask of you. Do you go with him?
CURIUS. He is to me a tender father--
FURIA. [Smiling.] He?
FURIA. He,--round whom my thoughts
Course without rest?
CURIUS. My brain is in a tumult--
I hate this man--! Oh, I could murder him!
FURIA. Did you not lately swear you were prepared
To do my bidding?
CURIUS. Ask me what you will;
In everything I serve you and obey!
I only beg,--forget this Catiline.
FURIA. I shall forget him first--when he has stepped
Into his grave.
CURIUS. [Draws back.] Ah, you demand that I--?
FURIA. You need not use the steel; you can betray
CURIUS. Murder and treachery
At once! Remember, Furia, he is still
My foster-father and--
FURIA. --My aim in life!
Ah, timid fool,--so you dare speak of love,--
Who lack the fortitude to strike him down
That stands across your path? Away from me!
[She turns her back on him.]
CURIUS. [Holding her back.]
No;--do not leave me! I am in all things willing!
A shudder chills me as I look on you;
And yet I cannot break this net asunder
Wherein you trapped my soul.
FURIA. Then you are willing?
CURIUS. Why do you mock me with such questioning?
If I am willing? Have I any will?
Your gaze is like the serpent's when 'tis fixed
With magic power upon the bird, that circles
Wildly about in terror-stricken awe,
Drawn ever nearer to the dreadful fangs.
FURIA. Then to your task!
CURIUS. And when I've sacrificed
My friendship to my love for you,--what then?
FURIA. I shall forget that Catiline existed.
Then will my task be ended. Ask no more!
CURIUS. For this reward I should--?
FURIA. You hesitate?
Is then your hope so faint that you forget
What gifts a grateful woman can bestow,
When first the time--?
CURIUS. By all the powers of night,--
I'll not delay! He only stands between us.
Then let him perish! Quenched is every spark
Of feeling for him; every bond is sundered!--
Who are you, lovely vision of the night?
Near you I'm turned to marble, burned to ashes.
My longing chills me,--terror fires the soul;
My love is blended hate and sorcery.
Who am I now? I know myself no more;
One thing I know; I am not he I was,
Ere you I saw. I'll plunge into the deep
To follow you! Doomed--doomed is Catiline!
I'll to the Capitol. This very night
The senate is assembled. Then farewell!
A written note betrays his enterprise.
[He goes out hastily.]
FURIA. [To herself.]
The heavens grow dark; soon will the lightning play.
The end is fast approaching, Catiline;--
With measured steps you journey to your grave!
[The Allobrogian ambassadors, AMBIORIX and OLLOVICO, come out of
the house without noticing FURIA, who stands half concealed in
the shade between the trees.]
AMBIORIX. So then it is decided! Venturesome
It was to enter into such a compact.
Yet their refusal of each righteous claim
Opens no other way to liberty.
The prize of victory,--should our friends succeed,--
Outweighs indeed the perils of the conflict
That now awaits us.
AMBIORIX. Brother, so it is!
OLLOVICO. Emancipation from the rule of Rome,--
Freedom long lost is surely worth a struggle.
AMBIORIX. Now we must hasten homeward with all speed,
Kindling through Gaul the flames of insurrection.
It will be easy to persuade the tribes
To 'rise up in revolt; they'll follow us
And join the partisans of Catiline.
OLLOVICO. Hard will the fight be; mighty still is Rome.
AMBIORIX. It must be risked. Come, Ollovico, come!
FURIA. [Calls warningly to them.] Woe unto you!
AMBIORIX. [Startled.] By all the gods!
OLLOVICO. [Terrified.] Ah, hear!
A voice cries warning to us in the dark!
FURIA. Woe to your people!
OLLOVICO. Yonder stands she, brother,--
The pale and ill-foreboding shadow. See!
FURIA. Woe unto all who follow Catiline!
AMBIORIX. Home, home! Away! We'll break all promises!
OLLOVICO. A voice has warned us, and we shall obey.
[They go out hurriedly to the right.]
[CATILINE comes out of the house in the background.]
CATILINE. Ah, desperate hope--to think of crushing Rome
With such a host of cowards and poltroons!
What spurs them on? With frankness they confess--
Their only motive is their want and greed.
Is it then worth the trouble for such aims
To shed men's blood? And what have I to win?
What can I gain?
FURIA. [Invisible among the trees.] Revenge, my Catiline!
Who speaks! Who wakes the spirit of revenge
From slumber? Came this voice then from the deep
Within my soul? Revenge? Yes, that's the word,--
My watch-word and my battle-cry. Revenge!
Revenge for all the hopes and all the dreams
Which ever a vindictive fate destroyed!
Revenge for all my years of wasted life!
[The CONSPIRATORS come armed out of the house.]
LENTULUS. Still rest the shades of darkness on the city.
Now is it time to break away.
SEVERAL. [Whispering.] Away!
[AURELIA comes out of the side-building without noticing the
AURELIA. Beloved,--are you here?
CATILINE. [With a cry.] Aurelia!
Have you been waiting for me?
[She becomes aware of the Conspirators and rushes to him.]
AURELIA. Gracious gods!
CATILINE. [Thrusts her aside.] Woman, away from me!
AURELIA. Speak, Catiline!
These many men in arms--? And you as well--?
Oh, you will go--
CATILINE. [Wildly.] Yes, by the spirits of night,--
A merry journey! See--this flashing sword!
It thirsts for blood! I go--to quench its thirst.
AURELIA. My hope,--my dream! Ah, blissful was my dream!
Thus am I wakened from my dreaming--
Stay here,--or follow! But my heart is cold
To tears and lamentations.--Friends, behold
How bright the full moon in the west declines!
When next that full moon in its orient shines,
An avalanche of fire shall sweep the state
And all its golden glory terminate.
A thousand years from now, when it shall light
Mere crumbling ruins in the desert night,--
One pillar in the dust of yonder dome
Shall tell the weary wanderer: Here stood Rome!
[He rushes out to the right; all follow him.]
* * * * *
[CATILINE's camp in a wooded field in Etruria. To the
right is seen CATILINE's tent and close by it an old
oak tree. A camp fire is burning outside the tent;
similar fires are to be seen among the trees in the
background. It is night. At intervals the moon breaks
through the clouds.]
[STATILIUS lies stretched out asleep by the camp fire.
MANLIUS paces back and forth in front of the tent.]
MANLIUS. Such is the way of young and buoyant souls.
They slumber on as peaceful and secure
As though embosomed in their mothers' arms,
Instead of in a forest wilderness.
They rest as though they dream some merry game
Were held in store for them when they awake,
Instead of battle,--the last one, perchance,
That will be theirs to fight.
STATILIUS. [Awakes and rises.] Still standing guard?
You must be weary? I'll relieve you now.
MANLIUS. Go rest yourself instead. Youth needs his sleep;
His untamed passions tax his native strength.
'Tis otherwise when once the hair turns gray,
When in our veins the blood flows lazily,
And age weighs heavily upon our shoulders.
STATILIUS. Yes, you are right. Thus I too shall in time,
An old and hardened warrior--
MANLIUS. Are you sure
The fates decreed you such a destiny?
STATILIUS. And pray, why not? Why all these apprehensions?
Has some misfortune chanced?
MANLIUS. You think no doubt
That we have naught to fear, foolhardy youth?
STATILIUS. Our troops are strongly reenforced--
With fugitive slaves and gladiators--
Grant that they are; together they may prove
No little aid, and all the tribes of Gaul
Will send us help--
MANLIUS. --Which has not yet arrived.
STATILIUS. You doubt that the Allobroges will keep
Their promised word?
MANLIUS. I know these people well
From days gone by. However, let that pass.
The day that dawns will doubtless bring to light
What destinies the gods have set for us.
MANLIUS. But go the rounds, my friend, and ascertain
If all the guards perform their proper tasks.
For we must fend against a night attack;
We know not where the enemy makes his stand.
[STATILIUS goes into the forest.]
MANLIUS. [Alone by the camp fire.]
The clouds begin to gather thick and fast;
It is a dark and storm-presaging night;--
A misty fog hangs heavy on my breast,
As though foreboding mishap to us all.
Where is it now, that easy carefree spirit
With which in former times I went to war?
Ah, can it be the weight of years alone
That now I feel? Strange--strange, indeed,--last night
Even the young seemed sorely out of heart.
MANLIUS. [After a pause.]
The gods shall know revenge was not the aim
For which I joined and followed Catiline.
My wrath flared up within me for a space
When first I felt I had been wronged, insulted;--
The old blood is not yet entirely cold;
Now and again it courses warmly through my veins.
But the humiliation is forgotten.
I followed Catiline for his own sake;
And I shall watch o'er him with zealous care.
Here stands he all alone amidst these hosts
Of paltry knaves and dissolute companions.
They cannot comprehend him,--he in turn
Is far too proud to wish to fathom them.
[He throws some branches on the fire and remains standing in
silence. CATILINE comes out of the tent.]
CATILINE. [To himself.]
Midnight approaches. Everything is hushed;--
Only to my poor eyes sleep fails to come.
Cold is the night wind; 'twill refresh my soul
And give me strength anew--. I sorely need it!
[He becomes aware of MANLIUS.]
CATILINE. 'Tis you, old Manlius? And do you stand guard
Alone on such a night?
MANLIUS. Oft have I stood
Guard over you in childhood's early days.
Say, do you not recall?
CATILINE. Those days are gone;
With them, my peace; wherever now I go,
I'm haunted by a multitude of visions.
All things find shelter in my bosom, Manlius;--
Save peace alone. That--that is far away.
MANLIUS. Cast off these gloomy thoughts and take your rest!
Remember that the morrow may require
Your utmost strength for our deliverance.
CATILINE. I cannot rest. If I but close my eyes
One fleeting moment in forgetful slumber,
I'm tossed about in strange, fantastic dreams.
Here on my couch I lay now, half asleep,
When these same visions reappeared again,
More strange than ever,--more mysterious
And puzzling--. Ah, if I could only know
What this forebodes! But no--
MANLIUS. Confide your dream
To me. Perhaps I can expound its meaning.
CATILINE. [After a pause.]
If I slept or if I waked, scarcely can I say;
Visions fast pursued each other in a mad array.
Soon a deepening twilight settles over everything;
And a night swoops down upon me on her wide-spread wing,
Terrible and dark, unpierced, save by the lightning's flare;
I am in a grave-like dungeon, filled with clammy air.
Lofty is the ceiling and with thunderclouds o'ercast;
Multitudes of shadow forms go racing wildly past,
Whirl around in roaring eddies, as the ocean wave
Draws the raging storm and breaks against a rocky cave.
Yet amid this frenzied tumult children often come,
Decked in flowers, singing of a half-forgotten home.
Soon the darkness round them changes to a vivid glare,--
Dimly in the center I descry a lonely pair;
Ah, two women,--stern the one and gloomy as the night,--
And the other gentle, like the evening in its flight.
How familiar to my eyes the two lone figures seemed!
With her smiling countenance the one upon me beamed;
Like the zigzag lightning flashed the other's piercing eye;
Terror seized my soul,--yet on I gazed in ecstasy.
Proudly upright stands the one, the other leans in weariness
On the solitary table, where they play a game of chess.
Pawns they barter, or they move them now from place to place;--
Then the game is lost and won,--she fades away in space,--
She who radiantly smiled, ah, she who lost the game;
Instantly the bands of children vanish whence they came.
Tumult rises; darkness deepens; but from out the night
Two eyes fix upon me, in a victor's gloating right;
Then my brain reels; I see nothing but those baleful eyes.
But what else I dreamed of in that frenzied slumber lies
Far within me hidden, buried deep beyond recall.
Could I but remember. Gone forever is it all.
MANLIUS. Remarkable, indeed, my Catiline,
Is this your dream.
CATILINE. [Meditating.] If I could but remember--
But no; my memory fails me--
MANLIUS. Brood no longer
Upon these thoughts. For what are dreams, indeed,
But pale chimeras only, darkling visions,
On nothing founded, and by naught explained?
CATILINE. Yes, you are right; I will no longer brood;--
Already I am calm. But go your way;
You need some rest. The meanwhile I shall walk
In privacy and meditate my plans.
[MANLIUS goes into the forest.]
CATILINE. [Paces for some time back and forth by the
camp fire, which is about to go out; then he stops and
speaks thoughtfully.] If I could only--. Ah, it is unmanly
To brood and be distressed by thoughts like these.
And yet,--here in the stillness of the night,
This lonely solitude, again I see
Rising before me life-like all I dreamed.
[A SHADOW, attired like an old warrior in armor and toga, stems
to rise from the earth among the trees a short distance from
CATILINE. [Recoils before THE SHADOW.]
Great powers of heaven--!
THE SHADOW. Greetings, Catiline!
CATILINE. What will you have? Who are you, pallid shade?
THE SHADOW. One moment! It is here my right to question,--
And you shall answer. Do you no longer know
This voice from ages long since passed away?
CATILINE. Methinks I do; yet certain I am not--.
But speak, whom seek you at this midnight hour?
THE SHADOW. 'Tis you I seek. Know that this hour alone
Is granted me as respite here on earth.
CATILINE. By all the gods! Who are you? Speak!
THE SHADOW. Be calm!
Hither I come to call you to account.
Why do you envy me the peace of death?
Why do you drive me from my earthy dwelling?
Why do you mar my rest with memories,
That I must seek you, whisper menaces,
To guard the honor I so dearly bought?
CATILINE. Alas! this voice--! Somehow I seem to know--
THE SHADOW. What is there left of my imperial power?
A shadow like myself; yes, scarcely that.
Both sank into the grave--and came to naught.
'Twas dearly bought; dear, dear was it attained.
For it I sacrificed all peace in life,
And waived all claims to peace beyond the grave.
And now you come and want to wrest from me
With daring hands what little I have left.
Are there not paths enough to noble deeds?
Why must you choose the one that I have chosen?
I gave up everything in life to power;
My name--so dreamed I--should forever stand,
Not beaming like a star with friendly lustre,--
No, like a flash against the midnight sky!
I did not covet fame, the goal of hundreds,
For magnanimity and noble deeds;
Nor admiration;--far too many share
That fate already: so will many more
Until the end of time. Of blood and horror
I wished to build me my renown and fame.
With silent dread, as on some meteor
That now appears in mystery and is gone
Again,--men should gaze back upon my life,
And look askance on me, whom no one ever,
Before or since then, dared to emulate.
Yes, thus I dreamed and dreamed,--and was deceived.
Why did I not surmise, when you stood near me,
The secret thoughts then growing in your soul.
Yet, Catiline, beware; know that I see
Beyond the veil that hides from you the future.
Written among the stars--I read your fate!
CATILINE. You read my fate? Expound it then to me!
THE SHADOW. No, first beyond death's gloomy gate
Shall fade away the mists that hide
The gruesome and the nobly great,
Borne ever on by time and tide.
This from thy book of fate alone
A liberated soul may tell thee:
Perish thou shalt by deed thine own,
And yet a stranger's hand shall fell thee.
[THE SHADOW glides away as in a mist.]
CATILINE. [After a pause.]
Ah, he has vanished. Was it but a dream?
No, no; even here he stood; the moonbeams played
Upon his sallow visage. Yes, I knew him!
It was the man of blood, the old dictator,
Who sallied from his grave to frighten me.
He feared lest he should lose the victor's crown,--
Not the reward of honor, but the terror
Whereby his memory lives. Are bloodless shades
Spurred onward also by the thought of glory?
[Paces to and fro uneasily.]
CATILINE. All things storm in upon me. Now Aurelia
In gentle admonition speaks,--and now
In me re�choes Furia's warning cry.
Nay, more than that;--out of the grave appear
The pallid shadows of a by-gone age.
They threaten me. I should now stop and pause?
I should turn back? No. I shall venture on
Unfaltering;--the victory soon is mine!
[CURIUS comes through the forest in great agitation.]
CURIUS. O Catiline--!
CATILINE. [Surprised.] What, you,--you here, my friend!
CURIUS. I had to--
CATILINE. Wherefore staid you not in town?
CURIUS. Fear prompted me; I had to seek you here.
CATILINE. You rush for my sake blindly into danger.
You thoughtless lad! Yet, come into my arms!
[Moves to embrace him.]
CURIUS. [Draws back.]
No! Do not touch me! Do not even come near me!
CATILINE. What ails you, my dear Curius?
CURIUS. Up! Break camp!
Flee, if you can, even this very hour!
On every highway come the enemy troops;
Your camp is being surrounded.
CATILINE. Calm yourself;
You rave. Speak, has the journey shaken you--?
CURIUS. Oh no; but save yourself while there is time!
You are betrayed--
[Prostrates himself before him.]
CATILINE. [Starts back.] Betrayed! What are you saying?
CURIUS. Betrayed by one in friendly guise!
CATILINE. You err;
These stormy friends are loyal even as you.
CURIUS. Then woe to you for all their loyalty!
CATILINE. Compose yourself! It is your love for me,
Your interest in my safety, that has wakened
Imaginary dangers in your mind.
CURIUS. Oh, do you know these words do murder me?
But flee! I do entreat you earnestly--
CATILINE. Be calm and speak your mind. Why should I flee?
The enemy knows not where I make my stand.
CURIUS. Indeed he does,--he knows your every plan!
CATILINE. What, are you mad? He knows--? Impossible!
CURIUS. Oh, were it so! But use the hour remaining;
Still you may save yourself perhaps in flight!
CATILINE. Betrayed? No,--ten times no; impossible!
CURIUS. [Seizes his dagger and holds it out to him.]
Catiline, plunge this dagger in my bosom;--
Straight through the heart! 'Twas I betrayed your plans!
CATILINE. You? What madness!
CURIUS. Yes, it was in madness!
Ask not the reason; scarce I know myself;
I say,--I have revealed your every counsel.
CATILINE. [In bitter grief.]
Now have you killed my faith in sacred friendship!
CURIUS. Oh, send the dagger home, and torture me
No longer with forbearance--!
CATILINE. [Kindly.] Live, my Curius!
Arise! You erred;--but I forgive you all.
O Catiline, my heart is crushed with grief--!
But hasten; flee! There is no time to tarry.
Soon will the Roman troops invade your camp;
They're under way; on every side they come.
CATILINE. Our comrades in the city--?
CURIUS. They are captured;--
Some were imprisoned, most of them were killed!
CATILINE. [To himself.] What fate--what fate!
CURIUS. [Again holds out the dagger to him.]
Then plunge it in my heart!
CATILINE. [Looks at him calmly.] No, you were but a tool.
You acted well--
CURIUS. Oh, let me die and expiate my sin!
CATILINE. I have forgiven you.
CATILINE. [As he goes.] But one thing now
Is there to choose!
CURIUS. [Jumps up.] Yes, flight!
CATILINE. Heroic death!
[He goes away through the forest.]
CURIUS. 'Tis all in vain! Ruin awaits him here.
This mildness is a tenfold punishment!
I'll follow him; one thing I shall be granted:--
To perish fighting by the hero's side!
[He rushes out. LENTULUS and TWO GLADIATORS come stealing among
LENTULUS. [Softly.] Some one was speaking--
ONE OF THE GLADIATORS. Aye, but now all's quiet.
THE OTHER GLADIATOR. Perchance it was the sentinel relieved
LENTULUS. That may be. This is the place;
Here shall you wait. Are both your weapons sharp,
Ground for their purpose?
THE FIRST GLADIATOR. Bright as is the lightning!
THE SECOND GLADIATOR.
Mine, too, cuts well. In the last Roman games
Two gladiators died beneath this sword.
LENTULUS. Then stand you ready in this thicket here.
And when a man, whom I shall designate,
Goes toward the tent, then shall you rush out quick
And strike him from behind.
THE FIRST GLADIATOR. It shall be done!
[Both GLADIATORS conceal themselves; LENTULUS goes spying
LENTULUS. [To himself.]
It is a daring game I here attempt;--
Yet must it be performed this very night,
If done at all.--If Catiline should fall,
No one can lead them on except myself;
I'll purchase them with golden promises,
And march without delay upon the city,
Where still the senate, struck with panic fear,
Neglects to arm itself against the danger.
[He goes in among the trees.]
THE FIRST GLADIATOR. [Softly to the other.]
Who is this stranger we must fall upon?
THE SECOND GLADIATOR. What matters it to us who he may be?
Lentulus pays our hire; the blame is his:
He must himself defend the act we do.
LENTULUS. [Returns quickly.]
Stand ready now; the man we wait is coming!
[LENTULUS and the GLADIATORS lie in wait among the bushes.]
[Soon after, CATILINE comes through the forest and goes toward
Out! Fall upon him! Strike him from behind!
[All three rush on CATILINE.]
CATILINE. [Draws his sword and defends himself.]
Ah, scoundrels,--do you dare to--?
LENTULUS. [To the GLADIATORS.] Cut him down!
CATILINE. [Recognizes him.]
You, Lentulus, would murder Catiline?
THE FIRST GLADIATOR. [Terrified.] He it is!
THE SECOND GLADIATOR. [Draws back.] Catiline! I'll never use
The sword on him. Come flee!
[Both GLADIATORS make their escape.]
LENTULUS. Then die by mine!
[They fight; CATILINE strikes the sword from the hand of
Lentulus; the latter tries to escape, but CATILINE holds him
CATILINE. Murderer! Traitor!
LENTULUS. [Entreating.] Mercy, Catiline!
CATILINE. I spell your plans upon your countenance.
You wished to murder me, and put yourself
Into the chieftain's place. Was it not so?
LENTULUS. Yes, Catiline, it was even so!
CATILINE. [Looks at him with repressed scorn.] What then?
If 'tis the power you want,--so let it be!
LENTULUS. Explain,--what do you mean?
CATILINE. I shall resign;
And you may lead the army--
LENTULUS. [Surprised.] You resign?
CATILINE. I shall. But be prepared for all events;
Know this--our undertaking is revealed:
The senate is informed of every plan;
Its troops hem us about--
LENTULUS. What do you say?
CATILINE. Now shall I call a council of our friends;
Do you come too,--announce your leadership;
I shall resign.
LENTULUS. [Detains him.] One moment, Catiline!
CATILINE. Your time is precious; ere the dawn of day
You may expect an onslaught--
LENTULUS. [Anxiously.] Hear me, friend!
Surely you jest? It is impossible--
CATILINE. Our project, I have told you, is betrayed.
Show now your firmness and sagacity!
LENTULUS. Betrayed? Then woe to us!
CATILINE. [Smiles scornfully.] You paltry coward!
You tremble _now_;--yet _you_ would murder _me_;
You think a man like you is called to rule?
LENTULUS. Forgive me, Catiline!
CATILINE. Make your escape
By hurried flight, if still it can be done.
LENTULUS. Ah, you permit me then--?
CATILINE. And did you think
It was my purpose to forsake this post
In such an hour as this? You little know me.
LENTULUS. O, Catiline--!
CATILINE. [Coldly.] Waste not your moments here!
Seek your own safety;--I know how to die.
[He turns away from him.]
LENTULUS. [To himself.]
I thank you for these tidings, Catiline;--
I shall make use of them to serve my end.
'Twill stand me in good stead now that I know
This region well; I'll seek the hostile army
And guide it hitherward by secret paths,
To your destruction and to my salvation.--
The serpent that you trample in the dust
So arrogantly still retains its sting!
CATILINE. [After a pause.]
This is the trust I built my hopes upon!
Thus one by one they leave me. Oh ye gods!
Treason and cowardice alone stir up
The sullen currents of their slavish souls.
Oh, what a fool am I with all my hopes!
I would destroy yon viper's nest, that Rome,--
Which is long since a heap of sunken ruins.
[The sound of arms is heard approaching; he listens.]
CATILINE. They come, they come! Still are there valiant men
Among them. Ah, the joyous clang of steel!
The merry clash of shields against each other!
Anew the fire kindles in my breast;
The reckoning is near,--the mighty hour
That settles every doubt. I hail the day!
[MANLIUS, STATILIUS, GABINIUS, and many OTHER CONSPIRATORS come
through the forest.]
MANLIUS. Here, Catiline, come your friends and comrades true;
In camp I spread the alarm, as you commanded--
CATILINE. And have you told them--?
MANLIUS. Yes,--they know our plight.
STATILIUS. We know it well, and we shall follow you
With sword in hand to fight for life and death.
CATILINE. I thank you all, my comrades brave in arms!
But do not think, my friends, that life or death
Is ours to choose;--our only choice is this:
Death in heroic battle with the foe,
Or death by torture when like savage beasts
We shall be hounded down relentlessly.
Ah, which do you prefer? To risk in flight
A wretched life prolonged in misery,
Or like your proud and worthy sires of old
To perish nobly on the battlefield?
GABINIUS. We choose to fight and die!
MANY VOICES. Lead us to death!
CATILINE. Then let us be off! Through death we shall achieve
The glorious life of immortality.
Our fall, our name, through distant generations
Shall be proclaimed with lofty pride--
FURIA. [Calls out behind him among the trees.] --O terror!
SOME VOICES. Behold,--a woman--!
CATILINE. [Startled.] Furia! You--you here?
What brought you here?
FURIA. Ah, I must lead you on
To your great goal.
CATILINE. Where is my goal, then? Speak!
FURIA. Each mortal seeks his goal in his own way.
And you seek yours through ever hopeless strife;
The struggle yields defeat and certain death.
CATILINE. Yet also honor and immortal fame!
Go, woman! Great and noble is this hour!
My heart is closed against your raucous cries.
[AURELIA appears in the door of the tent.]
AURELIA. My Catiline--!
[She stops, terrified at the sight of the throng.]
CATILINE. [Painfully.] Aurelia,--oh, Aurelia!
AURELIA. What is the trouble? All this stir in camp--
What is on foot here?
CATILINE. You I could forget!
What will your fate be now--?
FURIA. [Whispers scornfully, unnoticed by AURELIA.]
Already wavering in your high resolve?
Is this your death defiance?
CATILINE. [Flaring up.] No, by the gods!
AURELIA. [Comes nearer.]
Oh, speak, beloved! Keep me in doubt no longer--
FURIA. [In an undertone behind him.]
Flee with your wife--the while your comrades die!
MANLIUS. Tarry no longer; lead us out to battle--
CATILINE. Oh, what a choice! And yet,--here is no choice;--
I must go on,--I dare not stop midway.
CATILINE. [Calls out.] Then follow me to battle on the plain!
AURELIA. [Throws herself in his arms.]
Catiline,--do not leave me,--take me with you!
CATILINE. No, stay, Aurelia!
FURIA. [As before.] Take her, Catiline!
Worthy your death will be, as was your life,
When you are vanquished--in a woman's arms!
CATILINE. [Thrusts AURELIA aside.]
Away, you who would rob me of my fame!
Death shall o'ertake me in the midst of men.
I have a life to atone, a name to clear--
FURIA. Just so; just so, my gallant Catiline!
CATILINE. All things I will uproot from out my soul
That bind me to my life of empty dreams!
All that is of the past shall henceforth be
As if 'twere not--
AURELIA. Oh, cast me not away!
By all the love I bear you, Catiline,--
I beg you, I adjure,--let us not part!
CATILINE. My heart is dead, my sight is blind to love.
From life's great mockery I turn my eyes;
And gaze but on the dim, yet mighty star
Of fame that is to be!
AURELIA. O gods of mercy!
[She leans faint against the tree outside the tent.]
CATILINE. [To the Warriors.] And now away!
MANLIUS. The din of arms I hear!
SEVERAL VOICES. They come, they come.
CATILINE. Good! We will heed their warning.
Long was our night of shame; our dawn is near--.
To battle in the crimson sky of morning!
By Roman sword, with Roman fortitude,
The last of Romans perish in their blood!
[They rush out through the forest; a great alarm, rent with
battle-cries, is heard from within the camp.]
FURIA. He is gone forever. My great task in life is done.
Cold and rigid we shall find him in the morning sun.
In his passion-glutted bosom then should love no longer dwell?
Was it nothing but a dream? His angry words I heard full well.
FURIA. Hark, the weapons clash; already at the brink
of death he stands;
Soon a noiseless shadow he will hasten toward the spirit
Who are you, prophetic voice, that yonder comes to me,
Like the night-owl's cry of warning from some far-off tree!
Are you from the clammy underworld of spirits come
Hence to lead my Catiline into your gloomy home?
FURIA. Home is ay the journey's goal, and all his wanderings lay
Through the reeking swamps of life--
AURELIA. But only for a day.
Free and noble was his heart, his spirit strong and true,
Till around it serpent-like a poisoned seedling grew.
So the plane-tree, too, keeps fresh and green its leafy dress,
Till its trunk is smothered in a clinging vine's caress.
Now did you betray your source. For time and time again
Echoed from the lips of Catiline this one refrain.
You the serpent are, who poisoned all my joy in life,
Steeled his heart against my kindness through your deadly strife.
From those waking night-dreams well I know your infamy,
Like a threat I see you stand between my love and me.
With my husband at my side I cherished in my breast
Longings for a tranquil life, a home of peace and rest.
Ah, a garden-bed I planted in his weary heart;
As its fairest ornament our love I hedged apart.
Flower and all have you uprooted with malignant hand;
In the dust it lies where thriving it did lately stand.
FURIA. Foolish weakling; you would guide the steps of Catiline?
Do you not perceive his heart was never wholly thine?
Think you that in such a soil your flower can survive?
In the sunny springtime only violets can thrive,
While the henbane grows in strength beneath a clouded grey;
And his soul was long ago a clouded autumn day.
All is lost to you. Soon dies the spark within his breast;
As a victim of revenge he shall go to his rest.
AURELIA. [With increasing vehemence.]
Thus he shall not perish; no, by all the gods of day!
To his weary heart my tears will somehow force a way.
If I find him pale and gory on the battlefield,
I shall throw my arms about him and his bosom shield,
Breathe upon his speechless lips the love within my soul,
Ease the pain within him and his suffering mind console.
Herald of revenge, your victim from you I shall wrest,
Bind him to the land of sunshine, to a home of rest;
If his eyes be dimmed already, stilled his beating heart,
Linked together arm in arm we shall this life depart.
Grant me, gods of mercy, in return for what I gave,
By the side of him I love, the stillness of the grave.
FURIA. [Gazes after her.]
Seek him, deluded soul;--I have no fear;
I hold the victory safe within my hands.
FURIA. The roar of battle grows; its rumble blends
With death-cries and the crash of broken shields.
Is he perchance now dying? Still alive?
Oh, blessed is this hour! The sinking moon
Secludes herself in massive thunderclouds.
One moment more it will be night anew
Ere comes the day;--and with the coming day
All will be over. In the dark he dies,
As in the dark he lived. O blessed hour!
FURIA. Now sweeps the wind by, like an autumn gust,
And lapses slowly in the far-off distance.
The ponderous armies slowly sweep the plain.
Like angry ocean billows on they roll,
Unyielding, trampling down the fallen dead.
Out yonder I hear whines and moans and sighs,--
The final lullaby,--wherewith they lull
Themselves to rest and all their pallid brothers.
Now speaks the night-owl forth to welcome them
Into the kingdom of the gloomy shadows.
FURIA. [After a pause.]
How still it is. Now is he mine at last,--
Aye, mine alone, and mine forevermore.
Now we can journey toward the river Lethe--
And far beyond where never dawns the day.
Yet first I'll seek his bleeding body yonder,
And freely glut my eyes upon those features,
Hated and yet so fair, ere they be marred
By rising sunshine and by watchful vultures.
[She starts to go, but is suddenly startled at something.]
FURIA. What is that gliding o'er the meadow yonder?
Is it the misty vapors of the moor
That form a picture in the morning chill?
Now it draws near.--The shade of Catiline!
His spectre--! I can see his misty eye,
His broken shield, his sword bereft of blade.
Ah, he is surely dead; one thing alone,--
Remarkable,--his wound I do not see.
[CATILINE comes through the forest, pale and weary, with
drooping head and troubled countenance.]
CATILINE. [To himself.] "Perish thou shalt by deed thine own,
And yet a stranger's hand shall fell thee."
Such was his prophecy. Now am I fallen--
Though struck by no one. Who will solve the riddle?
FURIA. I greet you after battle, Catiline!
CATILINE. Ah, who are you?
FURIA. I am a shadow's shadow.
CATILINE. You, Furia,--you it is! You welcome me?
FURIA. Welcome at last into our common home!
Now we can go--two shades--to Charon's bark.
Yet first--accept the wreath of victory.
[She picks some flowers, which she weaves into a wreath during
CATILINE. What make you there?
FURIA. Your brow I shall adorn.
But wherefore come you hither all alone?
A chieftain's ghost ten thousand dead should follow.
Then where are all your comrades, Catiline?
CATILINE. They slumber, Furia!
FURIA. Ah, they slumber still?
CATILINE. They slumber still,--and they will slumber long.
They slumber all. Steal softly through the forest,
Peer out across the plain,--disturb them not!
There will you find them in extended ranks.
They fell asleep lulled by the clang of steel;
They fell asleep,--and wakened not, as I did,
When in the distant hills the echoes died.
A shadow now you called me. True, I am
A shadow of myself. But do not think
Their slumber yonder is so undisturbed
And void of dreams. Oh, do not think so!
What may your comrades dream?
CATILINE. Ah, you shall hear.--
I led the battle with despairing heart,
And sought my death beneath the play of swords.
To right and left I saw my comrades fall;
Statilius first,--then one by one the rest;
My Curius fell trying to shield my breast;
All perished there beneath Rome's flaming sword,--
The sword that me alone passed by untouched.
Yes, Catiline was spared by the sword of Rome.
Half-stunned I stood there with my broken shield,
Aware of nothing as the waves of battle
Swept o'er me. I recovered first my senses
When all grew still again, and I looked up
And saw the struggle seething--far behind me!
How long I stood there? Only this I know,--
I stood alone among my fallen comrades.
But there was life within those misty eyes;
The corners of their mouths betrayed a smile;
And they addressed their smile and gaze to me,
Who stood alone erect among the dead,--
Who had for ages fought for them and Rome,--
Who stood there lonely and disgraced, untouched
By Roman sword. Then perished Catiline.
FURIA. False have you read your fallen comrades' dreams;
False have you judged the reason of your fall.
Their smiles and glances were but invitations
To sleep with them--
CATILINE. Yes, if I only could!
FURIA. Have courage,--spectre of a former hero;
Your hour of rest is near. Come, bend your head;--
I shall adorn you with the victor's crown.
[She offers the wreath to him.]
CATILINE. Bah,--what is that? A poppy-wreath--!
FURIA. [With wild glee.] Well, yes;
Are not such poppies pretty? They will glow
Around your forehead like a fringe of blood.
CATILINE. No, cast the wreath away! I hate this crimson.
FURIA. [Laughs aloud.]
Ah, you prefer the pale and feeble shades?
Good! I shall bring the garland of green rushes
That Sylvia carried in her dripping locks,
The day she came afloat upon the Tiber?
CATILINE. Alas, what visions--!
FURIA. Shall I bring you rather
The thorny brambles from the market-place,
With crimson-spots, the stain of civic blood,
That flowed at your behest, my Catiline?
FURIA. Or would you like a crown of leaves
From the old winter oak near mother's home,
That withered when a young dishonored woman
With piercing cries distraught leaped in the river?
CATILINE. Pour out at once your measures of revenge
Upon my head--
FURIA. I am your very eye,--
Your very memory, your very doom.
CATILINE. But wherefore now?
FURIA. His goal at length attained,
The traveller spent looks back from whence he came.
CATILINE. Have I then reached my goal? Is this the goal?
I am no longer living,--nor yet buried.
Where lies the goal?
FURIA. In sight,--if you but will.
CATILINE. A will I have no longer; my will perished
When all the things I willed once, came to naught.
CATILINE. [Waves his arms.]
Away,--away from me, ye sallow shades!
What claim you here of me, ye men and women?
I cannot give you--! Oh, this multitude--!
FURIA. To earth your spirit still is closely bound!
These thousand-threaded nets asunder tear!
Come, let me press this wreath upon your locks,--
'Tis gifted with a strong and soothing virtue;
It kills the memory, lulls the soul to rest!
It kills the memory? Dare I trust your word?
Then press your poison-wreath upon my forehead.
FURIA. [Puts the wreath on his head.]
Now it is yours! Thus decked you shall appear
Before the prince of darkness, Catiline!
CATILINE. Away! away! I yearn to go below;--
I long to pass into the spirit lands.
Let us together go! What holds me here?
What stays my steps? Behind me here I feel
Upon the morning sky a misty star;--
It holds me in the land of living men;
It draws me as the moon attracts the sea.
FURIA. Away! Away!
CATILINE. It beckons and it twinkles.
I cannot follow you until this light
Is quenched entirely, or by clouds obscured,--
I see it clearly now; 'tis not a star;
It is a human heart, throbbing and warm;
It binds me here; it fascinates and draws me
As draws the evening star the eye of children.
FURIA. Then stop this beating heart!
CATILINE. What do you mean?
FURIA. The dagger in your belt--. A single thrust,--
The star will vanish and the heart will die
That stand between us like an enemy.
CATILINE. Ah, I should--? Sharp and shining is the
CATILINE. [With a cry.]
Aurelia! O Aurelia, where--where are you?
Were you but here--! No, no,--I will not see you!
And yet methinks all would be well again,
And peace would come, if I could lay my head
Upon your bosom and repent--repent!
FURIA. And what would you repent?
CATILINE. Oh, everything!
That I have been, that I have ever lived.
FURIA. 'Tis now too late--too late! Whence now you stand
No path leads back again.--Go try it, fool!
Now am I going home. Place you your head
Upon her breast and see if there you find
The blessed peace your weary soul desires.
FURIA. [With increasing wildness.]
Soon will the thousand dead rise up again;
Dishonored women will their numbers join;
And all,--aye, they will all demand of you
The life, the blood, the honor you destroyed.
In terror you will flee into the night,--
Will roam about the earth on every strand,
Like old Actean, hounded by his dogs,--
A shadow hounded by a thousand shades!
CATILINE. I see it, Furia. Here I have no peace.
I am an exile in the world of light!
I'll go with you into the spirit realms;--
The bond that binds me I will tear asunder.
FURIA. Why grope you with the dagger?
CATILINE. She shall die.
[The lightning strikes and the thunder rolls.]
FURIA. The mighty powers rejoice at your resolve!--
See, Catiline,--see, yonder comes your wife.
[AURELIA comes through the forest in an anxious search.]
AURELIA. Where shall I find him? Where--where can he be!
I've searched in vain among the dead--
AURELIA. Great heavens,--
[She rushes toward him.]
CATILINE. [Bewildered.] Speak not that name again!
AURELIA. You are alive?
[Is about to throw herself in his arms.]
CATILINE. [Thrusting her aside.] Away! I'm not alive.
AURELIA. Oh, hear me, dearest--!
CATILINE. No, I will not hear!
I hate you. I see through your cunning wiles.
You wish to chain me to a living death.
Cease staring at me! Ah, your eyes torment me,--
They pierce like daggers through my very soul!
Ah, yes, the dagger! Die! Come, close your eyes--
[He draws the dagger and seizes her by the hand.]
AURELIA. Keep guard, oh gracious gods, o'er him and me!
CATILINE. Quick, close your eyes; close them, I say;--in them
I see the starlight and the morning sky--.
Now shall I quench the heavenly star of dawn!
[The thunder rolls again.]
CATILINE. Your heart; your blood! Now speak the gods of life
Their last farewell to you and Catiline!
[He lifts the dagger toward her bosom; she escapes into the
tent; he pursues her.]
FURIA. [Listens.] She stretches out her hand imploringly.
She pleads with him for life. He hears her not.
He strikes her down! She reels in her own blood!
[CATILINE comes slowly out of the tent with the dagger in his
CATILINE. Now am I free. Soon I shall cease to be.
Now sinks my soul in vague oblivion.
My eyes are growing dim, my hearing faint,
As if through rushing waters. Ah, do you know
What I have slain with this my little dagger?
Not her alone,--but all the hearts on earth,--
All living things, all things that grow and bloom;--
The starlight have I dimmed, the crescent moon,
The flaming sun. Ah, see,--it fails to rise;
'Twill never rise again; the sun is dead.
Now is the whole wide realm of earth transformed
Into a huge and clammy sepulchre,
Its vault of leaden grey;--beneath this vault
Stand you and I, bereft of light and darkness,
Of death and life,--two restless exiled shadows.
FURIA. Now stand we, Catiline, before our goal!
CATILINE. No, one step more--before I reach my goal.
Relieve me of my burden! Do you not see,
I bend beneath the corpse of Catiline?
A dagger through the corpse of Catiline!
[He shows her the dagger.]
CATILINE. Come, Furia, set me free! Come, take this dagger;--
On it the star of morning I impaled;--
Take it--and plunge it straightway through the corpse;
Then it will loose its hold, and I am free.
FURIA. [Takes the dagger.]
Your will be done, whom I have loved in hate!
Shake off your dust and come with me to rest.
[She buries the dagger deep in his heart; he sinks down at the
foot of the tree.]
CATILINE. [After a moment comes to consciousness
again, passes his hand across his forehead, and speaks
faintly.] Now, mysterious voice, your prophecy I understand!
I shall perish by my own, yet by a stranger's hand.
Nemesis has wrought her end. Shroud me, gloom of night!
Raise your billows, murky Styx, roll on in all your might!
Ferry me across in safety; speed the vessel on
Toward the silent prince's realm, the land of shadows wan.
Two roads there are running yonder; I shall journey dumb
Toward the left--
AURELIA. [From the tent, pale and faltering, her
bosom bloody.] --no, toward the right! Oh, toward Elysium!
How this bright and lurid picture fills my soul with dread!
She herself it is! Aurelia, speak,--are you not dead?
AURELIA. [Kneels before him.]
No, I live that I may still your agonizing cry,--
Live that I may lean my bosom on your breast and die.
CATILINE. Oh, you live!
AURELIA. I did but swoon; though my two eyes grew blurred,
Dimly yet I followed you and heard your every word.
And my love a spouse's strength again unto me gave;--
Breast to breast, my Catiline, we go into the grave!
CATILINE. Oh, how gladly would I go! Yet all in vain you sigh.
We must part. Revenge compels me with a hollow cry.
You can hasten, free and blithesome, forth to peace and light;
I must cross the river Lethe down into the night.
[The day dawns in the background.]
AURELIA. [Points toward the increasing light.]
No, the terrors and the gloom of death love scatters far.
See, the storm-clouds vanish; faintly gleams the morning star.
AURELIA. [With uplifted arms.]
Light is victor! Grand and full of freshness dawns the day!
Follow me, then! Death already speeds me on his way.
[She sinks down over him.]
CATILINE. [Presses her to himself and speaks with his last
strength.] Oh, how sweet! Now I remember my forgotten dream,
How the darkness was dispersed before a radiant beam,
How the song of children ushered in the new-born day.
Ah, my eye grows dim, my strength is fading fast away;
But my mind is clearer now than ever it has been:
All the wanderings of my life loom plainly up within.
Yes, my life a tempest was beneath the lightning blaze;
But my death is like the morning's rosy-tinted haze.
[Bends over her.]
You have driven the gloom away; peace dwells within my breast.
I shall seek with you the dwelling place of light and rest!
CATILINE. [He tears the dagger quickly out of his breast and
speaks with dying voice.]
The gods of dawn are smiling in atonement from above;
All the powers of darkness you have conquered with your love!
[During the last scene FURIA has withdrawn farther and farther
into the background and disappears at last among the trees.
CATILINE's head sinks down on AURELIA's breast; they die.]
* * * * *
THE WARRIOR'S BARROW
A Dramatic Poem in One Act
* * * * *
RODERIK An old recluse.
BLANKA His foster-daughter.
GANDALF A sea-king from Norway.
ASGAUT An old viking.
HROLLOUG " " "
JOSTEJN " " "
HEMMING A young scald in Gandalf's service.