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Hassan: The Story of Hassan of Baghdad and How He Came to by James Elroy Flecker

Part 3 out of 3

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They will bang their heads against the wall, or they will eat their straw.
(To 2nd GUARD) Do they not eat their straw, Mohamed?

2nd GUARD
(To ISHAK) Oh sir, they frequently eat their straw.

ISHAK
Chain them, chain them.

Ist GUARD
We do, my masters, but even then they strangle themselves in their fetters.

ISHAK
Strangle themselves in their fetters?

Ist GUARD
Do they not strangle themselves in their fetters, Mohamed.

2nd GUARD
(To ISHAK) I have known them, sir, to strangle themselves in their fetters.

ISHAK
But, as you know, these two have a choice between a life with separation
and a death with torment. Now surely they will choose life,
and will hardly need a sentry to spear them away from the doorstep
of eternity.

Ist GUARD
I should think so indeed, sir. But you never can tell with prisoners.
Prisoners are very obstinate, especially women, are they not Mohamed?

2nd GUARD
(To ISHAK) Female prisoners are very obstinate, sir.

ISHAK
(With assumed heartiness) Well, none of us would require till sunset
to make our choice, would we?

Ist GUARD
No, sir, not those of us who have ever seen Masrur at work.

ISHAK
But if they do choose their day of love, will they still not be
free according to the Caliph's promise? Will you still guard
them in their cell, O sons of impropriety, lest they eat their straw?

Ist GUARD
(With a leer) Nay, we shall stand outside the door and listen at the grill.

ISHAK
And that is precisely what we intend to do now if you will show us the door.

Ist GUARD
I don't know whether I could quite do that, sir.

ISHAK
(Giving him money) You are valiant fellows and, I am convinced,
considerably underpaid.

Ist GUARD
Ours is a most disagreeable profession. your Excellency.

2nd GUARD
(Accepting money) And the emoluments are infinitesimal.

Ist GUARD
This way, gentlemen.

(Shews them to the door.)

SCENE II

A cell. A grating through which streams the sunlight. A heavy door
with a narrow spyhole. RAFI is fettered to the wall, but PERVANEH
has not been bound. TWO GUARDS stand immobile on either side of
the door,

RAFI
They have changed our guard for the last time, it will be sunset in
an hour.

PERVANEH
Still a long hour before your hands are freed to make me a belt of love.
O idle sun, I am weary of thy pattern on the wall. Still a long hour!

RAFI
And still a night and a day before our doom.

PERVANEH
Why is your voice so sorrowful? Your words do not keep step
with your decision nor march like standard-bearers of your great resolve.

PERVANEH
What have I decided? What have I resolved? You came near.
I saw the wings of your spirit beating the air around you.
You locked the silver fetters around my neck and I forgot
these manacles of iron: you perfumed me with your hair
till this cell became a meadow: you turned toward me eyes
in whose night the seven deep oceans flashed their drowned stars,
and all your body asked without speech, "Wilt thou die for love?"

PERVANEH
Do you repent? Do you unsay the golden words?

RAFI
Put but your lips on mine and seal my words against unsaying.

PERVANEH
I did wrong to make you passionate. I see that in your heart you do repent.
I would not have you bound by a moment's madness but wish
with all your reason and with all your soul.

RAFI
Ah, stand apart and veil your face, you who call in the name of reason!
You are all afire for martyrdom: can you hear reason calling from her snows?
Oh, you woman, Allah curse you for blinding my eyes with love!

PERVANEH
Ah, Rafi!

RAFI
Be silent--be silent! Your voice is the voice of a garden at daybreak,
when all the birds are singing at the sun. Forget your whirling dreams,
your fires, your lightnings, your splendours of the soul,
and answer the passionless voice that asks you--why should your lover
die, and such a death?

PERVANEH
I am listening.

RAFI
I am very young. Shall I forget to laugh if I continue to live?
Shall I spend all my hours regretting you? Shall I not return
to my country and comfort the hearts of those that gave me birth?
Have I not my white-walled house, my books, my old friends,
my garden of flowers and trees? Has the stream forgotten to sing
at the end of my garden because Pervaneh comes no more?

"Love fades," saith Reason, with a gentler voice.
"Love fades but doth not fall. Love fadeth not to yellow
like the rose but to gold like the leaves upon the poplar
by the stream." And when my poplars are all gold,
I shall sit beneath their shade beside the stream to read my book.
When I am tired of my book I will lie on my back and watch the clouds.
There in the clouds I shall see your face, and remember you with a wistful
remembrance as if you had always been a dream and the silver torment
of your arms had never been more than the white mists
circling the round mountain snows.

PERVANEH
(With growing anger) And so, wrapped in pleasant fancies, you will forget
the woman you have sold to a tyrant. And so, while I,
far from my country and my home, am dying of shame and confinement,
you will dream and you will dream!

RAFI
The plague on your dishonour! You are to be the Caliph's wife.
Is that not held for the highest honour to which a woman can attain?
Is that worse shame than being flayed by a foul negro? The shame!
the selling! the dishonour! A woman's vanity: am I to be tortured
to death to gratify your pride? If I must not have you, do I care
whose wife you are? I shall remember you as you are now--
rock water undefiled.

PERVANEH
Cold and heartless coward; you are afraid of death!

RAFI
By Allah, I am afraid of death, and the man who fears not death
is a dullard and a fool! Are we still making speeches in full Divan
to the admiration of the by-standers? Must we pose even now!
If you hate me for fearing death, go your way and leave this coward.
Ah, no, no, do not leave me, O Pervaneh! Forgive me that I am what I am.
I have not unsaid my promise. I will die with you. I will die!
I will endure the tortures that are thrice as terrible as death,
the tortures that parch my mouth with fear.

PERVANEH
Shame on you, weak and shivering lover! What is pain for us?

RAFI
You do not see--you do not see! Look at your hands, they shall be torn--
ah, I cannot speak of it. I shall see your blood flow like wine
from a white fountain drop by drop till you have painted the carpet
of execution all red lilies.

PERVANEH
Ah--but will not even your poor love flow deep when I set
that crimson seal upon the story of our lives!

RAFI
Alas, you are still dreaming: you are still blind with exaltation:
your speech is a metaphor. You do not see, you have never heard
the high, thin shriek of the tortured, you have not seen the shape
of their bodies when they are cast into the ditch. Come near, Pervaneh.
Do you know what they will do to you? Come near: I cannot say it aloud.
(PERVANEH approaches.) Ah, I dare not tell you...I dare not tell you!

PERVANEH
Tell me, plain and clear.

RAFI
(Whispers in PERVANEH's ear)...

PERVANEH
(Covering her face with her hands) Ah, God--they will not do that!
No, no; they will not do that to me.

RAFI
Pitilessly.

PERVANEH
(Wildly) They will do that!--Ah, the shame of it! They will do that--
Ah the pain of it! I see! I feel! I hear! O save me, Rafi!

RAFI
Alas! Why did I tell you this?

PERVANEH
It is beyond endurance: it is foul: my veins will burst at the very thought.
I am between a shame and a shame and there is no escape....But at least
they shall not do this to you, Rafi. Hush...talk low: the soldiers
must not hear. (Glancing at the GUARDs and whispering low)
Will you die here between my hands, instantly, and with no pain?

RAFI
(In a hushed voice) Quickly! How can you do it? We are guarded--
have you a knife?

PERVANEH
My hands will be cunning round your neck, beloved. Did I not say you
should die between my hands?

RAFI
Be quick: be quiet: I will cast back my head.

A GUARD
(Thrusting PERVANEH back with his drawn sword as she lays her hands
on her lover's neck) Back, in the Caliph's name!

RAFI
(To PERVANEH) Run in upon his sword....

PERVANEH
(Shrinking away from the GUARD's sword) I cannot!

RAFI
Quick--quick! Fall on the sword and save all shame.

PERVANEH
My breast, my breast: I am afraid...(Prostrate on the ground)
I am utterly shamed--I have missed your death and mine.

RAFI
You have flinched.

PERVANEH
The point was on my breast, and it might have been all ended
for you and me.

RAFI
You have been afraid.

PERVANEH
It would have driven to my heart. Ah, the woman that I am!

RAFI
It is so small a thing, a pricking of the steel.

PERVANEH
Ah!--it is a little thing, you say? It is like ice, so sharp and cold.
I am a vile coward.

RAFI
We are both cowards, you and I. The sunlight changes on the wall
from white to gold. It is evening. Our time has come.
Shall we choose life? Shall we choose the sky and the sea,
the mountains, the rivers and the plains? Shall we choose
the flowers and the bees, and all the birds of heaven?
Shall we choose laughter and tears, sorrow and desire,
speech and silence, and the shout of the man behind the hill?

PERVANEH
Ah, empty, empty without your heart! (She weeps.)

RAFI
Empty as death, Pervaneh, empty as death?

PERVANEH
The wall reddens: the last minute has come: we must choose.

RAFI
Choose for me: I follow. Did I talk of life? My heart is breaking
for desire of you. If you bid me depart I will not live without you.
Choose for me--and choose well. Phantoms of pain! Let me but have you
in my arms, and one day of love shall widen into eternity.
Who knows? The earth may crack to-night, or the sun stay down for ever
in his grave. Who knows--tomorrow--God will begin and finish the judgment
of the world--and when it is all over find you sleeping in my arms?

PERVANEH
(Rising slowly to her feet and laying her hands on the shoulders
of her lover): Oh, let us die! Not for my dishonour, Rafi.
What is my dishonour to me or to you, beloved, or the shame
of a girl's virginity to him who made the sea? This clay of mine
is fair enough, I think, but God hath cast it in the common mould.
O lover, lover, I would walk beneath the walls and sell my body
to the gipsy and the Jew ere you should cry "I am hungry"
or "I am cold."

RAFI
Die for love of me--for a day and a night of love!

PERVANEH
I die for love of you, Rafi! Behold, the Spirit grows bright around you:
you are one with the Eternal Lover, the Friend of the World.
His spirit flashes in thine eyes and hovers round thy lips:
thy body is all fire!

RAFI
Comfort me, comfort me! I do not understand thy dreams.

PERVANEH
(Her arms stiffening in ecstasy) The splendour pours from the window--
the spirits in red and gold. Death with thee, O lover, death for thee,
death to attain thee, O lover--and then the garden--then the fountain--
then the walking side by side.

RAFI
O my sweet life, O my sweet life--must this mad dreaming end thee?

PERVANEH
Sweet life--we die for thy sweetness, O Lord of the Garden of Peace.
Come, love, and die for the fire that beats within us, for the air
that blows around us, for the mountains of our country and the wind
among their pines you and I accept torture and confront our end.
We are in the service of the World. The voice of the rolling deep
is shouting: "Suffer that my waves may moan." The company of the stars
sing out: "Be brave that we may shine." The spirits of children
not yet born whisper as they crowd around us: "Endure that we may conquer."

RAFI
Pervaneh, Pervaneh!

PERVANEH
Hark! Hark!--down through the spheres--the Trumpeter of Immortality!
"Die, lest I be shamed, lovers. Die, lest I be shamed!"

RAFI
Die then, Pervaneh, for thy great reasons. Me no ecstasy can help
through the hours of pain. I die for love alone.

HERALD
(Entering) The Caliph demands your choice.

RAFI
Death!

HASSAN
(Bursting in) No, no. O God!

ISHAK
They have chosen too well.

(Exit HERALD. PERVANEH is still in ecstasy when the curtain falls.)

END OF ACT IV

ACT V

SCENE I

Towards the sunset of the next day. The CALIPH's garden (ACT III, SCENE I)
once more.

(Enter the CALIPH with ATTENDANTS as HASSAN comes from his pavilion.)

CALIPH
We were coming to your door to seek you, Hassan, but you anticipated
the knock of doubt by the shock of appearance. Why have you left
your house before the nightingale? Will you too sing to the dawning moon?
If so--we have come to hear.

HASSAN
Oh, Master of the World--the hour of the nightingale has not yet come.
I have sought thee all day, O Master, and could not find thee.
Thou didst hold the Divan--thou wast hunting--thou wast asleep--
thou wast at dinner--and now the hour is near, O Master of the World--
but not yet come.

CALIPH
What hour?

HASSAN
The hour of the nightingale: the hour when sun and moon are weighed
in the silver scales of heaven: and thy scale of justice moves downward
with the sun.

CALIPH
Surely thy head is full of fancies and thy mood perverse. I cannot grasp
the shadow of thy meaning.

HASSAN
(Throwing himself at the CALIPH's feet) O Master of the World, have mercy
on Pervaneh and Rafi!

CALIPH
What--those two? Let them have mercy on themselves. They have chosen
death as I am told. The woman has paid me the compliment of preferring
torture with her Rafi to a marriage with myself. They have had a pleasant
day together. Exquisite food was placed before them and the surveillance
was discreet. They will now pass a less pleasant evening.

HASSAN
Let not the woman be tortured: have mercy on the woman.

CALIPH
Rise you fantastic supplicant. Do you dare ask mercy for these
insolent and dangerous folk whose life was in their own hands--
who have themselves pulled down the cord of the rat-trap of destruction?

HASSAN
Had you but heard them--had you but watched as I did while they made
that awful choice, you would have forgotten expediency, justice,
revenge, and listened only to the appeal of the anguish of their souls!

CALIPH
I doubt it!

HASSAN
They chose so well! They are so young. So terribly in love.
I have not slept, I have not eaten, Master! I take no pleasure
in my house and garden. I see blood on my walls, blood on my carpet,
blood in the fountain, blood in the sky!

CALIPH
Well, well, I will leave you to these agreeable delusions.
Abu Nawas has found me a young Kurdish girl who can dance
with one leg round her neck, and knows by heart the song of Alexander.
I perceive you will be no fit companion for an evening's sport.

HASSAN
It is only for the torture I speak: it is only for the woman I implore.
Say but one word: the sun will set so soon.

CALIPH
(Angrily) If thou and Ishak, and Jafar and the Governors
of all the provinces were prostrate with supplication before me,
I would not spare her one caress of Masrur's black hand.

HASSAN
(Springing to his feet and making at the CALIPH) Hideous tyrant,
torturer from Hell!

CALIPH
(Coolly, as GUARDS seize HASSAN) You surprise me. Since when
have confectioners become so tigerish in their deportment?

HASSAN
(Terrfied) What have I said! What have I done!

CALIPH
There speaks the old confectioner again.

HASSAN
I am not ashamed to be a confectioner, but I am ashamed to be a coward.

CALIPH
Do not despair, good Hassan. You would not take my warning:
you have left the Garden of Art for the Palace of Action:
you have troubled your head with the tyranny of princes,
and the wind of complication is blowing through your shirt.
You will forfeit your house and be banished from the Garden,
for you are not fit to be the friend of kings. But for the
rest, since you did me great service the other night, go in peace,
and all the confectionery of the Palace will be ordered at your shop.

HASSAN
Master, for this mercy, I thank you humbly.

CALIPH
For nothing--for nothing. I make allowance for the purple thread
of madness woven in the camel-cloth of your character.
I know your head is affected by a caloric afternoon.
Indeed, I sympathise with the interest you have shown as to the fate
of Pervaneh and Rafi, and as a mark of favour I offer you a place
among the spectators of their execution.

HASSAN
Ah, no, no!--that I could never bear to see!

CALIPH
Moreover, as a special token of my esteem, I will not send you
to the execution--I will bring the execution here, and have it held
in your honour. You dreamt that your walls were sweating blood.
I will fulfil the prophecy implied and make the dream come true.

HASSAN
I shall never sleep again!

CALIPH
(To ATTENDANT) Take my ring; go to the postern gate,
intercept the procession of Protracted Death, and bid Masrur
bring his prisoners to this pavilion and slay them on the carpet
he shall find within the walls.

HASSAN
Master! Master! Is it not enough? I must go back to my trade
and the filth of the Bazaar: I must be a poor man again
and the fool of poor men. "Look at Hassan," men will say,
"he has had his day of greatness: look at that greasy person:
he has been clothed in gold: let us therefore go and insult
the man who was once the Caliph's friend: let us draw
moral lessons from him on the mutability of human affairs."
But I, disregarding their jeers and insolent compassion,
wrapping my body in my cloak and my soul in contemplation,
would have remembered my day of pride, this Garden of Great Peace,
this Fountain of Charm, this Pavilion of Beatitude:
I would have recollected that I once had talked with Poets
of the art of poetry, and owned slaves as pretty as their names.
Preserve, preserve for me, O Master of the World, this palmgrove
of memory in the desert of my affliction. Defile not
this happy place with blood. Let not the trees that heard thee
but yesterday call me Friend bow their heads beneath the wind of anguish:
let not the threshold which I have crossed blossom out with blood!
Spare me, spare me from hearing that which will haunt me for ever
and ever--the moan of that white woman!

CALIPH
(To GUARDS) Do not release him till the end. See that he keeps his eyes
well opened, and feasts them to the fill.

(Exit CALIPH and train.)

(The song of the MUEZZIN is heard, "La Allah illa Allah," etc.)

HASSAN
The sun has set. Guards, O Guards! (No answer) It is the hour of prayer,
do you not pray? I have still a little treasure. (No answer from the GUARDS)
Are you dumb? (GUARDS nod) But why are you not deaf?
(GUARDS point to their tongues) Ah--your tongues have been torn out!
(GUARD points to window of the pavilion)
What do you point at?... Ah, Yasmin!

YASMIN
I have seen and heard behind the lattice. Hassan has fallen from power
and favour.

HASSAN
(Crazily) Ah, good, very good, surpassing good! You are at the window--
I am in the street. This is a reflection of that. As swans go double
in a river, so do events come drifting down our lives. Again, again!

Bow down thy head, O burning bright! for one night or the other
night
Will come the gardener in white, and gathered flowers are dead,
Yasmin!

Come now, a sweet lie first, Yasmin: sing a little how you love me.
Show me your beauty limb by limb--then bring, ah, bring your new lover--
mock my moon-touched verses and call me the fool, the old fool,
the weary fool I am.

YASMIN
I will not yet call Hassan a fool. Hassan has fallen from power,
but he need not fall from riches. The Palace Confectioner Hassan,
may still become the richest merchant in Bagdad.

HASSAN
Thou harlot, thou harlot, thou harlot!

YASMIN
Why art thou angry? In what have I insulted thee?

HASSAN
Oh, if it were thou about to suffer! If it were thou!

YASMIN
(Staring across the garden and forgetting HASSAN) At last, at last!--
the Procession of Protracted Death! I shall see it all!

(A deep red afterglow illumines the back of the garden.
Across the garden towards the door of the pavilion moves
in black silhouettes the Procession of Protracted Death,
of which the order is this:)

MASRUR, naked, with his scimitar.
Four assistant torturers in black holding steel implements.
Two men in armour bearing a lighted brazier slung between them on a pole.
Two men bearing a monstrous wheel.
Four men carrying the rack.
A man with a hammer and a whip.
PERVANEH and RAFI, half naked, pulling a cart that bears their coffins:
their legs drag great chains.
Behind each of them walks a soldier with uplifted sword.

MASRUR knocks at the door of the Pavilion: the SLAVES open
and flee in terror at the sight. The light of the brazier
glows through the window. The SOLDIERS who guard PERVANEH and RAFI
unhook the chains that chain them to the cart, and placing their
hands on the necks of the prisoners push them in. The four SLAVES of the
house then appear under the guidance of the man with the whip
and lift in the coffins. Lastly, HASSAN is taken by his two GUARDS
and forced to enter. The stage grows absolutely dark, save for
the shining of the light from the windows. In the silence rises
the splashing of the fountain and the whirring and whirling of a wheel.
The sounds blend and grow unendurably insistent, and with them music
begins to play softly. A cry of pain is half smothered by the violins.
At last the silver light of the moon floods the garden.

HASSAN, thrust forth by his GUARDS, appears at the door of the pavilion.
His face is white and haggard: he totters a few steps and finally falls
in a faint in the shadow of the fountain. The coffins are brought out,
nailed down, and placed in a cart.

(The SOLDIERS pull the cart in place of the prisoners, and what remains
of the procession departs in reverse order. MASRUR only has lingered
by the door. YASMIN is clutching at his arm.)

YASMIN
Masrur--thou dark Masrur.

MASRUR
Allah--the woman.

YASMIN
How you smell of blood.

MASRUR
And you of roses.

YASMIN
I laughed to see them writhe--I laughed, I laughed,
as I watched behind the curtain. Why did you drink his veins?

MASRUR
A vow.

YASMIN
Will you not drink mine also?

MASRUR
Shall I put my arms around you?

YASMIN
Your arms are walls of black and shining stone.
Your breast is the castle of the night.

MASRUR
Little white moth, I will crush you to my heart.

YASMIN
(With a sudden cry of terror, struggling from his embrace a moment after)
Ah, let me go. Do you hear them?... Do you hear them?...

MASRUR
What is there to hear but the noises of the night?

YASMIN
(Springing away) The flowers are talking...the garden is alive...
(She falls.)

MASRUR
(Stooping the carry her) She loves blood and is frightened of the moon.
She is smooth and white, I will take her home.

(Enter ISHAK searching for HASSAN.)

ISHAK
Hassan--where doth he lie? Hassan, O Hassan.
Thou hast broken that gentle heart, Haroun, and I have broken my lute:
I play no more for thee. Ah, why did they not tell me sooner--
I fear his reason may have fled before I find him:
he may be wandering in the streets to-night like Death,
and tearing at his eyes. Hassan, oh, Hassan!

It is he: he lies just as I first saw him: beneath a fountain,
face toward the moon. His life is rhyming like a song:
it harks back to the old refrain. Is life a mirror wherein
events show double?

HASSAN
(Half waking from his swoon) Swans that drift into the mist....

ISHAK
(Bending over him to raise him) Friend, I am glad to hear thy voice.
Rise, rise, thou art in a pitiable case.

HASSAN
(Faintly) Let me lie....This place is quiet, and the earth smells cool.
May I never rise till they lift me aboard my coffin,
and I'll go a sailing down the river and out to sea.

ISHAK
You are alive--no one will hurt you: you hold to your reason
and fight despair.

HASSAN
And in that sea are no red fish....

ISHAK
Come: rise: be brave: I know you have suffered.

HASSAN
She was brave. Ah, her hands, her hands!

ISHAK
Do not tell me that tale.

HASSAN
You are a poet. They cut off her lover's head
and poured blood upon her eyes!

ISHAK
Be silent. You are full of devils. I tell you, it is not true.
Stop dreaming: look into my eyes: listen!

(Bells are heard without the garden.)

You hear? The camels are being driven to the Gate of the Moon.
At midnight starts the great summer caravan for the cities
of the Far North East, divine Bokhara and happy Samarkand.
It is a desert path as yellow as the bright sea-shore:
therefore the Pilgrims call it The Golden Journey.

HASSAN
And what of that to you or me, your Golden Journey to Samarkand?

ISHAK
I am leaving this city of slaves, this Bagdad of fornication.
I have broken my lute and will write no more qasidahs in praise of
the generosity of kings. I will try the barren road, and listen
for the voice of the emptiness of earth. And you shall walk beside me.

HASSAN
I?

ISHAK
Rise, and confide to me once more the direction of your way.

HASSAN
(Rising with ISHAK's aid) Why save me from a death desired?
What am I to you or to any man living? Why would you force me
like a fate to live?

ISHAK
Because I am your friend, and need you.

HASSAN
Oh, Ishak, singer of songs!

ISHAK
Prepare for travel.

HASSAN
I have no possessions.

ISHAK
O pilgrim! O true pilgrim! I have dinars of gold:
we will furnish ourselves at the gate, and change
these silks of indolence for the camel-hair of toil.
But have you not one thing in your house to take--
no one single thing?

HASSAN
(With a great shudder) Within that door--nothing.
But I have one old carpet that still lies in my shop.
Its gentle flowers the negro has not defiled.
And yet I dare not seek it.

ISHAK
I will bring it you. You shall stretch it out upon the desert
when you say your evening prayer, and it will be a little meadow
in the waste of sand.

HASSAN
(Seizing ISHAK on a sudden panic) Keep close to me: do not leave me!
The night is growing wild!

ISHAK
Hold to your reason! It is all stars and moon and crystal peace.

HASSAN
The trees are moving without a wind...the flowers are talking...
the stars are growing bigger....

ISHAK
Be calm, there is nothing.

(The fountain runs red.)

HASSAN
The fountain--the fountain!

ISHAK
Oh! alas! it is pouring blood! Come away.

HASSAN
The Garden is alive!

ISHAK
Come away: it is haunted! Come away: come away! Follow the bells!

(Exeunt in terror.)

(The GHOST of the Artist of the Fountain rises from the fountain itself
in pale Byzantine robes.)

FOUNTAIN GHOST
The garden to the ghosts. Come forth, new brother and new sister.
Come forth while enough of earth's heavy influence remains upon you--
to speak and to be seen. Come forth, and those who are past
shall dance with those who are to come.

GHOST OF RAFI
(With the voice of RAFI, the clothes of RAFI, the broken fetters
of RAFI, but pale...as death) We are here, O Shadow of the Fountain.

FOUNTAIN GHOST
Welcome, thou and thy white lady to these...haunts.
Wander at will. I have scared away the sons of flesh.

GHOST OF RAFI
How were they scared, those two?

FOUNTAIN GHOST
When the water turned from white to red their faces turned
from red to white. They ran!

GHOST HIDDEN IN THE TREES
Ha! ha!

GHOST OF PERVANEH
Tell us, O Man of the Fountain, what shall we do?

FOUNTAIN GHOST
Nothing: you are dead.

GHOST OF PERVANEH
Shall we stay in this garden and be lovers still,
and fly in the air and flit among the leaves?

FOUNTAIN GHOST
As long as you remember what you suffered,
you will stay near the house where your blood was shed.

GHOST OF PERVANEH
We will remember that ten thousand years.

FOUNTAIN GHOST
You have forgotten that you are a Spirit.
The memories of the dead are thinner than their dreams.

GHOST OF PERVANEH
But you stay here, by the fountain.

FOUNTAIN GHOST
I created the fountain: what have you created in the world?

GHOST OF PERVANEH
Nothing but the story of our lives.

FOUNTAIN GHOST
That will not save you. You were spiritual even in life.
I see it by the great shadows of your eyes.
But I cared only for the earth. I loved the veins of the leaves,
the shapes of crawling beasts, the puddle in the road,
the feel of wood and stone. I knew the shapes of things so well
that my sculpture was the best in the world. Therefore my spirit
is still heavy with memories of earth and I stay in the world I love.
Do I desire to see the back of the moon?

GHOST OF PERVANEH
May not we stay also? May I not touch the shadow of his lips
and hear the whisper of his love? Shall we be driven from here,
O Man of the fountain?

FOUNTAIN GHOST
How do I know? Can I foresee?

GHOST OF PERVANEH
Thou, too dost not foresee. But what of Paradise, what of Infinity--
what of the stars, and what of us?

FOUNTAIN GHOST
I know no more than you.

GHOST OF PERVANEH
Is the secret secret still, and this existence darker than the last?

FOUNTAIN GHOST
Didst thou hope for a revelation? Why should the dead be wiser
than the living? The dead know only this--that it was better to be alive.

GHOST OF PERVANEH
But we shall feel no more pain--Oh, no more pain, Rafi!

FOUNTAIN GHOST
But you will feel so cold.

GHOST OF PERVANEH
With the fire of love within us?

FOUNTAIN GHOST
You will forget when the wind blows.

GHOST OF PERVANEH
Forget! Rafi, Rafi, shall we forget, Rafi?

GHOST OF RAFI
(In a thin voice like an echo)
Forget...Rafi...

FOUNTAIN GHOST
You will forget, when the great wind blows you asunder
and you are borne on it with ten million others like drops
on a wave of air.

GHOST OF PERVANEH
There is a faith in me that tells I shall not forget my lover
though God forget the world. And where will the wind take us?

FOUNTAIN GHOST
What do I know, or they? I only know it rushes.

GHOST OF PERVANEH
How do you know about the wind?

FOUNTAIN GHOST
Because it blows through the garden and drives the souls together.

GHOST OF PERVANEH
What souls?

FOUNTAIN GHOST
The souls of the unborn children who live in the flowers.

GHOST OF PERVANEH
And how do you know about the passage of ten million souls?

FOUNTAIN GHOST
They pass like a comet across the midnight skies.

GHOST OF PERVANEH
Phantoms shall not make me fear. But what of Justice and Punishment
and Reason and Desire? What of the Lover in the Garden of Peace?

FOUNTAIN GHOST
Ask of the wind.

GHOST OF PERVANEH
I shall be answered: I know that in the end I shall find the Lover
in the Garden of Peace.

VOICES
And what of Life?

GHOST OF PERVANEH
Who asks, What of Life?

FOUNTAIN GHOST
The spirits of those who will soon be born.

VOICES
We have left our flowers. We know we shall soon be born.
What of Life, O dead?

GHOST OF PERVANEH
(With a great cry) Why, Life...is sweet, my children!

(The leaves of the trees begin to rustle.)

FOUNTAIN GHOST
Listen to the tress.

GHOST OF PERVANEH
Is it coming?

FOUNTAIN GHOST
It is the wind. I must go down into the earth.

(The FOUNTAIN GHOST vanishes.)

GHOST OF PERVANEH
Ah, I am cold--I am cold--beloved!

GHOST OF RAFI
(Scarce visible and very faint) Cold...cold.

GHOST OF PERVANEH
Speak to me, speak to me, Rafi.

GHOST OF RAFI
Rafi--Rafi--who was Rafi?

GHOST OF PERVANEH
Speak to thy love--thy love--thy love.

GHOST OF RAFI
Cold...cold...cold.

(The wind sweeps the GHOSTS out of the garden,
seeming also to ring more wildly the bells of the Caravan.)

SCENE II

At the Gate of the Moon, Bagdad. Blazing moonlight.
MERCHANTS, CAMEL-DRIVERS and their beasts, PILGRIMS, JEWS, WOMEN,
all manner of people. By the barred gate stands the WATCHMAN
with a great key. Among the pilgrims, HASSAN and ISHAK
in the robes of pilgrims.

THE MERCHANTS
(Together)
Away, for we are ready to a man!
Our camels sniff the evening and are glad.
Lead on, O Master of the Caravan,
Lead on the Merchant-Princes of Bagdad.

THE CHIEF DRAPER
Have me not Indian carpets dark as wine,
Turbans and sashes, gowns and bows and veils,
And broideries of intricate design,
And printed hangings in enormous bales?

THE CHIEF GROCER
We have rose-candy, we have spikenard,
Mastic and terebinth and oil and spice,
And such sweet jams meticulously jarred
As God's Own Prophet eats in Paradise.

THE PRINCIPAL JEWS:
And we have manuscripts in peacock styles
By Ali of Damascus: we have swords
Engraved with storks and apes and crocodiles,
And heavy beaten necklaces for lords.

THE MASTER OF THE CARAVAN
But you are nothing but a lot of Jews

PRINCIPAL JEW
Sir, even dogs have daylight, and we pay.

MASTER OF THE CARAVAN
But who are ye in rags and rotten shoes,
You dirty-bearded, blocking up the way?

ISHAK
We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go
Always a little further; it may be
Beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow
Across that angry or that glimmering sea,

White on a throne or guarded in a cave
There lies a prophet who can understand
Why men were born: but surely we are brave,
Who take the Golden Road to Samarkand.

THE CHIEF MERCHANTS
We gnaw the nail of hurry. Master, away!

ONE OF THE WOMEN
O turn your eyes to where your children stand.
Is not Bagdad the beautiful? O, stay!

MERCHANTS
(In chorus)
We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.

AN OLD MAN
Have you not girls and garlands in your homes?
Eunuchs and Syrian boys at your command?
Seek not excess: God hateth him who roams!

MERCHANTS
(In chorus)
We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.

HASSAN
Sweet to ride forth at evening from the wells
When shadows pass gigantic on the sand,
And softly through the silence beat the bells
Along the Golden Road to Samarkand.

ISHAK
We travel not for trafficking alone;
By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned:
For lust of knowing what should not be known,
We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.

MASTER OF THE CARAVAN
Open the gate, O watchman of the night!

THE WATCHMAN
Ho, travellers, I open. For what land
Leave you the dim-moon city of delight?

MERCHANTS
(With a shout)
We take the Golden Road to Samarkand!

(The CARAVAN passes through the gate.)

WATCHMAN
(Consoling the women)
What would ye, ladies? It was ever thus.
Men are unwise and curiously planned.

A WOMAN
They have their dreams, and do not think of us.

(The WATCHMAN closes the gate.)

VOICES OF THE CARAVAN
(In the distance singing)
We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.

CURTAIN

THE END

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