The Two Lovers of Heaven: Chrysanthus and Daria by Pedro Calderon de la Barca

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  • 1870
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Produced by Dennis McCarthy




A Drama of Early Christian Rome.


With Dedicatory Sonnets to


Calderon’s Family Motto.




Calderon’s Family Motto.


THIS motto is taken from the engraved coat of arms prefixed to an historical account of “the very noble and ancient house of Calderon de la Barca”–a rather scarce work which I have never seen alluded to in any account of the poet. The circumstances from which the motto was assigned to the family are given with some minuteness at pp. 56 and 57 of the work referred to. It is enough to mention that the martyr who first used the expression was Don Sancho Ortiz Calderon de la Barca, a Commander of the Order of Santiago. He was in the service of the renowned king, Don Alfonso the Wise, towards the close of the thirteenth century, and having been taken prisoner by the Moors before Gibraltar, he was offered his life on the usual conditions of apostasy. But he refused all overtures, saying: “Pues mi Dios por mi murio, yo quiero morir por el”, a phrase which has a singular resemblance to the key note of this drama. Don Ortiz Calderon was eventually put to death with great cruelty, after some alternations of good and bad treatment. See “Descripcion, Armas, Origen, y Descendencia de la muy noble y antigua Casa de Calderon de la Barca”, etc., que Escrivio El Rmo. P. M. Fr. Phelipe de la Gandara, etc., Obra Postuma, que saca a luz Juan de Zuniga. Madrid, 1753.

D. F. M. C.



This Drama is dedicated by DENIS FLORENCE MAC-CARTHY.



PENSIVE within the Colosseum’s walls
I stood with thee, O Poet of the West!– The day when each had been a welcome guest In San Clemente’s venerable halls:–
Ah, with what pride my memory now recalls That hour of hours, that flower of all the rest, When with thy white beard falling on thy breast– That noble head, that well might serve as Paul’s In some divinest vision of the saint
By Raffael dreamed, I heard thee mourn the dead– The martyred host who fearless there, though faint, Walked the rough road that up to Heaven’s gate led: These were the pictures Calderon loved to paint In golden hues that here perchance have fled.


YET take the colder copy from my hand, Not for its own but for THE MASTER’S sake,– Take it, as thou, returning home, wilt take From that divinest soft Italian land
Fixed shadows of the Beautiful and Grand In sunless pictures that the sun doth make– Reflections that may pleasant memories wake Of all that Raffael touched, or Angelo planned:– As these may keep what memory else might lose, So may this photograph of verse impart An image, though without the native hues Of Calderon’s fire, and yet with Calderon’s art, Of what Thou lovest through a kindred Muse That sings in heaven, yet nestles in the heart.

D. F. M. C.

Dublin, August 24th, 1869.



Although the Drama here presented to the public is not an ‘Auto,’ the present may be a not inappropriate occasion to draw the attention of all candid readers to the remarks of the Professor of Poetry at Oxford on the ‘Autos Sacramentales’ of Calderon–remarks founded entirely on the volume of translations from these Autos published by me in 1867,[*] although not mentioned by name, as I conceive in fairness it ought to have been, by Sir F. H. Doyle in his printed Lectures.[+]

In his otherwise excellent analysis of The Dream of Gerontius, Sir F. H. Doyle is mistaken as to any direct impression having been made upon the mind of Dr. Newman in reference to it by the Autos of Calderon. So late as March 3, 1867, in thanking me for the volume made use of by Sir F. H. Doyle, Dr. Newman implies that up to that period he had not devoted any particular attention even to this most important and unique development of Spanish religious poetry. The only complete Auto of Calderon that had previously appeared in English–my own translation of The Sorceries of Sin, had, indeed, been in his hands from 1859, and I wish I could flatter myself that it had in any way led to the production of a master-piece like The Dream of Gerontius. But I cannot indulge that delusion. Dr. Newman had internally and externally too many sources of inspiration to necessitate an adoption even of such high models as the Spanish Autos. Besides, The Dream of Gerontius is no more an Auto than Paradise Lost, or the Divina Commedia. In these, only real personages, spiritual and material, are represented, or monsters that typified human passions, but did not personify them. In the Autos it is precisely the reverse. Rarely do actual beings take part in the drama, and then only as personifications of the predominant vices or passions of the individuals whose names they bear. Thus in my own volume, Belshazzar is not treated so much as an historical character, but rather as the personification of the pride and haughtiness of a voluptuous king. In The Divine Philothea, in the same volume, there are no actual beings whatever, except The Prince of Light and The Prince of Darkness or The Demon. In truth, there is nothing analogous to a Spanish Auto in English original poetry. The nearest approach to it, and the only one, is The Prometheus Unbound of Shelley. There, indeed, The Earth, Ocean, The Spirits of the Hours, The Phantasm of Jupiter, Demogorgon, and Prometheus himself, read like the ‘Personas’ of a Spanish Auto, and the poetry is worthy the resemblance. The Autos Sacramentales differ also, not only in degree but in kind from every form of Mystery or Morality produced either in England or on the Continent. But to return to the lecture by Sir F. H. Doyle. Even in smaller matters he is not accurate. Thus he has transcribed incorrectly from my Introduction the name of the distinguished commentator on the Autos of Calderon and their translator into German–Dr. Lorinser. This Sir F. H. Doyle has printed throughout his lecture ‘Lorinzer’. From private letters which I have had the honour of receiving from this learned writer, there can be no doubt that the form as originally given by me is the right one. With these corrections the lecture of Sir F. H. Doyle may be quoted as a valuable testimony to the extraordinary poetic beauty of these Autos even in a translation.

LECTURE III.–Dr. Newman’s Dream of Gerontius.

“It is probable, indeed, that the first idea of composing such a dramatic work may have been suggested to Dr. Newman by the Autos Sacramentales of Spain, and especially by those of the illustrious Calderon; but, so far as I can learn, he has derived hardly anything from them beyond the vaguest hints, except, indeed, the all-important knowledge, that a profound religious feeling can represent itself, and that effectively, in the outward form of a play. I may remark that these Spanish Autos of Calderon constitute beyond all question a very wonderful and a very original school of poetry, and I am not without hope that, when I know my business a little better, we may examine them impartially together. Nay, even as it is, Calderon stands so indisputably at the head of all Catholic religious dramatists, among whom Dr. Newman has recently enrolled himself, that perhaps it may not be out of place to inquire for a moment into his poetical methods and aims, in order that we may then discover, if we can, how and why the disciple differs from his master. Now there is a great conflict of opinion as to the precise degree of merit which these particular Spanish dramas possess. Speaking as an ignorant man, I should say, whilst those who disparage them seem rather hasty in their judgments, and not so well informed as could be wished, still the kind of praise which they receive from their most enthusiastic admirers puzzles and does not instruct us.

“Taking for example, the great German authority on this point, Dr. Lorinzer [Lorinser], as our guide, we see his poet looming dimly through a cloud of incense, which may embalm his memory, but certainly does not improve our eyesight. Indeed, according to him, any appreciation of Calderon is not to be dreamt of by a Protestant”. Lectures, pp. 109, 110.

With every respect for Sir F. H. Doyle, Dr. Lorinser says no such thing. He was too well informed of what had been done in Germany on the same subject, before he himself undertook the formidable task of attempting a complete translation of all the Autos of Calderon, to have fallen into such an error. Cardinal Diepenbrock, Archbishop of Breslau, who, in his “Das Leben ein Traum” (an Auto quite distinct from the well known drama “La Vida es Sueno”) first commenced this interesting labour in Germany, was of course a Catholic. But Eichendorff and Braunfels, who both preceded Dr. Lorinser, were Protestants. Augustus Schlegel and Baron von Schack, who have written so profoundly and so truly on the Autos, are expressly referred to by Dr. Lorinser, and it is superfluous to say that they too were Protestants. Sir F. H. Doyle, in using my translation of the passage which will presently be quoted, changes the word ‘thoroughly’ into ‘properly’, as if it were a more correct rendering of the original. Unfortunately, however, there is nothing to represent either word in the German. Dr. Lorinser says, that by many, not by all, Calderon cannot be enjoyed as much as he deserves, because a great number of persons best competent to judge of his merits are deficient in the knowledge of Catholic faith and Catholic theology which for the understanding of Calderon is indispensible–“welche fuer Calderons Verstaendniss unerlaesslich ist”. Sir F. H. Doyle says that to him these Autos are not “incomprehensible at all” (p. 112), but then he understands them all the better for being a scholar and a churchman.

Sir F. H. Doyle thus continues his reference to Dr. Lorinser. “Even learned critics”, he says, “highly cultivated in all the niceties of aesthetics, are deficient in the knowledge of Catholic faith and Catholic theology properly to understand Calderon” (Lectures, p. 110, taken from the Introduction to my volume, p. 3). “Old traditions”, continues Dr. Lorinzer, “which twine round the dogma like a beautiful garland of legends, deeply profound thoughts expressed here and there by some of the Fathers of the Church, are made use of with such incredible skill and introduced so appositely at the right place, that . . . . frequently it is not easy to guess the source from whence they have been derived” (Lectures, p. 111, taken from the Introduction to my volume, p. 6).

This surely is unquestionably true, and the argument used by Sir F. H. Doyle to controvert it does not go for much. These Autos, no doubt, were, as he says, “composed in the first instance to gratify, and did gratify, the uneducated populace of Madrid”. Yes, the crowds that listened delighted and entranced to these wonderful compositions, were, for the most part, “uneducated” in the ordinary meaning of that word. But in the special education necessary for their thorough enjoyment, the case was very different. It is not too much to say that, as the result of Catholic training, teaching, intuition, and association, the least instructed of his Madrid audience more easily understood Calderon’s allusions, than the great majority of those who, reared up in totally different ideas, are able to do, even after much labour and sometimes with considerable sympathy. Mr. Tennyson says that he counts–

“The gray barbarian lower than the Christian child”,

because the almost intuitive perceptions of a Christian child as to the nature of God and the truths of Revelation, place it intellectually higher than even the mature intelligence of a savage. I mean no disrespect to Sir F. H. Doyle, but I think that Calderon would have found at Madrid in the middle of the seventeenth century, and would find there to-day, in a Catholic boy of fifteen, a more intelligent and a better instructed critic on these points, than even the learned professor himself. I shall make no further comments on Sir F. H. Doyle’s Lecture, but give his remarks on Calderon’s Autos to the end.

“At the same time”, says Sir F. H. Doyle, “Dr. Lorinzer’s knowledge of his subject is so profound, and his appreciation of his favourite author so keen, that for me, who am almost entirely unacquainted with this branch of literature, formally to oppose his views, would be an act of presumption, of which I am, as I trust, incapable. I may, however, perhaps be permitted to observe, that with regard to the few pieces of this kind which in an English dress I have read, whilst I think them not only most ingenious but also surprisingly beautiful, they do not strike me as incomprehensible at all. We must accept them, of course, as coming from the mind of a devout Catholic and Spanish gentleman, who belongs to the seventeenth century; but when once that is agreed upon, there are no difficulties greater than those which we might expect to find in any system of poetry so remote from our English habits of thought. There is, for instance, the Divine Philothea, in other words, our human spirit considered as the destined bride of Christ. This sacred drama, we may well call it the swan-song of Calderon’s extreme old age, is steeped throughout in a serene power and a mellow beauty of style, making it not unworthy to be ranked with that Oedipus Colonaeus which glorified the sun-set of his illustrious predecessor: but yet, Protestant as I am, I cannot discover that it is in the least obscure. Faith, Hope, Charity, the Five Senses, Heresy, Judaism, Paganism, Atheism, and the like, which in inferior hands must have been mere lay figures, are there instinct with a dramatic life and energy such as beforehand I could hardly have supposed possible. Moreover, in spite of Dr. Lorinzer’s odd encomiums, each allegory as it rises is more neatly rounded off, and shows a finer grain, than any of the personifications of Spenser; so that the religious effect and the theological effect intended by the writer, are both amply produced–yes, produced upon us, his heretical admirers. Hence, even if there be mysterious treasures of beauty below the surface, to which we aliens must remain blind for ever, this expression, which broke from the lips of one to whom I was eagerly reading [Mr. Mac-Carthy’s translation of] the play, ‘Why, in the original this must be as grand as Dante’, tends to show that such merits as do come within our ken are not likely to be thrown away upon any fair-minded Protestant. Dr. Newman, as a Catholic, will have entered, I presume, more deeply still into the spirit of these extraordinary creations; his life, however, belongs to a different era and to a colder people. And thus, however much he may have been directed to the choice of a subject by the old Mysteries and Moralities (of which these Spanish Autos must be taken as the final development and bright consummate flower), he has treated that subject, when once undertaken by him, entirely from his own point of view. ‘Gerontius’ is meant to be studied and dwelt upon by the meditative reader. The Autos of Calderon were got ready by perhaps the most accomplished playwright that ever lived, to amuse and stimulate a thronging southern population. ‘Gerontius’ is, we may perhaps say for Dr. Newman in the words of Shelley,

‘The voice of his own soul
Heard in the calm of thought’;

whilst the conceptions of the Spanish dramatist burst into life with tumultuous music, gorgeous scenery, and all the pomp and splendour of the Catholic Church. No wonder therefore that our English Auto, though composed with the same genuine purpose of using verse, and dramatic verse, to promote a religious and even a theological end, should differ from them in essence as well as in form. There is room however for both kinds in the wide empire of Poetry, and though Dr. Newman himself would be the first to cry shame upon me if I were to name him with Calderon even for a moment, still his Mystery of this most unmysterious age will, I believe, keep its honourable place in our English literature as an impressive, an attractive, and an original production”–pp. 109, 115.

I may mention that the volume containing Belshazzar’s Feast, and The Divine Philothea, the Auto particularly referred to by Sir F. H. Doyle, has been called Mysteries of Corpus Christi by the publisher. A not inappropriate title, it would seem, from the last observations of the distinguished Professor. A third Auto, The Sorceries of Sin, is given in my Three Plays of Calderon, now on sale by Mr. B. Quaritch, 15 Piccadilly, London. The Divine Philothea, The Sorceries of Sin, and Belshazzar’s Feast are the only Autos of Calderon that have ever been translated either fully, or, with one exception, even partially into English.

74 Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin,
March 1, 1870.

* AUTOS SACRAMENTALES: THE DIVINE PHILOTHEA: BELSHAZZAR’S FEAST. Two Autos, from the Spanish of Calderon. With a Commentary from the German of Dr. Franz Lorinser. By Denis Florence Mac-Carthy, M.R.I.A. Dublin: James Duffy, 15 Wellington Quay, and 22 Paternoster Row, London.

+ LECTURES DELIVERED BEFORE THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD, 1868. By Sir F. H. Doyle Bart., M.A., B.C L., Late Fellow of All Souls’, Professor of Poetry. London: Macmillan & Co., 1869.



IN the “Teatro escogido de Don Pedro Calderon de la Barca” (1868), at present in course of publication by the Royal Academy of Madrid, Calderon’s dramas, exclusive of the autos sacramentales, which do not form a part of the collection, are divided into eight classes. The seventh of these comprises what the editor calls mystical dramas, and those founded on the Legends or the Lives of Saints. The eighth contains the philosophical or purely ideal dramas. This last division, in which the editor evidently thinks the genius of Calderon attained its highest development, at least as far as the secular theatre is concerned, contains but two dramas, The Wonder-working Magician, and Life’s a Dream. The mystical dramas, which form the seventh division, are more numerous, but of these five are at present known to us only by name. Those that remain are Day-break in Copacabana, The Chains of the Demon, The Devotion of the Cross, The Purgatory of St. Patrick, The Sibyl of the East, The Virgin of the Sanctuary, and The Two Lovers of Heaven. The editor, Sr. D. P. De La Escosura, seems to think it necessary to offer some apology for not including The Two Lovers of Heaven among the philosophical instead of the mystical dramas. He says: “There is a great analogy and, perhaps, resemblance between “El Magico Prodigioso” (The Wonder-working Magician), and “Los dos amantes del cielo” (The Two Lovers of Heaven); but in the second, as it seems to us, the purely mystical predominates in such a manner over the philosophical, that it does not admit of its being classified in the same group as the first (El Magico Prodigioso), and La Vida es Sueno (Life’s a Dream)”. Introduccion, p. cxxxvii. note. Whether this distinction is well founded or not it is unnecessary to determine. It is sufficient for our purpose that it establishes the high position among the greatest plays of Calderon of the drama which is here presented to the English reader in the peculiar and always difficult versification of the original. Whether less philosophical or more mystical than The Wonder-working Magician, The Two Lovers of Heaven possesses a charm of its own in which its more famous rival seems deficient. In the admirable “Essay on the Genius of Calderon” (ch. ii. p. 34), with which Archbishop Trench introduces his spirited analysis of La Vida es Sueno, he refers to the group of dramas which forms, with one exception, the seventh and eighth divisions of the classification above referred to, and pays a just tribute to the superior merits of Los dos amantes del cielo. After alluding to the dramas, the argument of which is drawn from the Old Testament, and especially to The Locks of Absalom, which he considers the noblest specimen, he continues: “Still more have to do with the heroic martyrdoms and other legends of Christian antiquity, the victories of the Cross of Christ over all the fleshly and spiritual wickednesses of the ancient heathen world. To this theme, which is one almost undrawn upon in our Elizabethan drama,–Massinger’s Virgin Martyr is the only example I remember,–he returns continually, and he has elaborated these plays with peculiar care. Of these The Wonder-working Magician is most celebrated; but others, as The Joseph of Women, The Two Lovers of Heaven, quite deserve to be placed on a level, if not higher than it. A tender pathetic grace is shed over this last, which gives it a peculiar charm. Then too he has occupied what one might venture to call the region of sacred mythology, as in The Sibyl of the East, in which the profound legends identifying the Cross of Calvary and the Tree of Life are wrought up into a poem of surpassing beauty”.[2] An excellent German version of Los dos amantes del cielo is to be found in the second volume of the “Spanisches Theater”, by Schack, whose important work on Dramatic Art and Literature in Spain, is still untranslated into the language of that country,–a singular neglect, when his later and less elaborate work, “Poesie and Kunst der Araber in Spanien und Sicilien” (Berlin, 1865), has already found an excellent Spanish interpreter in Don Juan Valera, two volumes of whose “Poesia y Arte de los Arabes en Espana y Sicilia” (Madrid, 1868), I was fortunate enough to meet with during a recent visit to Spain.

The story of SS. Chrysanthus and Daria (The Two Lovers of Heaven), whose martyrdom took place at Rome A.D. 284, and whose festival occurs on the 25th of October, is to be found in a very abridged form in the “Legenda Aurea” of Jacobus de Voragine, c. 152. The fullest account, and that which Calderon had evidently before him when writing The Two Lovers of Heaven, is given by Surius in his great work, “De Probatis Sanctorum Vitis”, October, p. 378. This history is referred to by Villegas at the conclusion of his own condensed narrative in the following passage, which I take from the old English version of his Lives of Saints, by John Heigham, anno 1630.

“The Church doth celebrate the feast of SS. Chrisanthus and Daria, the 25th of October, and their death was in the year of our Lord God 284, in the raigne of Numerianus, Emperor. The martyrdom of these saints was written by Verinus and Armenius, priests of St. Stephen, Pope and Martyr: Metaphrastes enlarged it somewhat more. St. Damasus made certain eloquent verses in praise of these saints, and set them on their tombe. There is mention of them also in the Romaine Martirologe, and in that of Usuardus: as also in the 5. tome of Surius; in Cardinal Baronius, and Gregory of Turonensis”, p. 849.

A different abridgment of the story as given by Surius, is to be found in Ribadeneyra’s “Flos Sanctorum” (the edition before me being that of Barcelona, 1790, t. 3. p. 304). It concludes with the same list of authorities, which, however, is given with more precision. The old English translation by W. P. Esq., second edition: London, 1730, p. 369, gives them thus:

“Surius in his fifth tome, and Cardinal Baronius in his ‘Annotations upon the Martyrologies’, and in the second tome of his Annals, and St. Gregory of Tours in his ‘Book of the Glory of the Martyrs’, make mention of the Saints Chrysanthus and Daria”.

The following is taken from Caxton’s Golden Legende, or translation of the Legenda Aurea of Jacobus de Voragine. I have transcribed from the following edition, which is thus described in the Colophon:

“The legende named in latyn Legenda Aurea, that is to say in englyshe the golden legende, For lyke as golde passeth all other metalles, so this boke excedeth all other bokes”. “Finyshed the xxvii daye of August, the yere of our lord M. CCCCC. XXVII, the xix yere of the regne of our souverayne lord Kynge Henry the eyght. Imprynted at London in Flete Strete at the Sygne of the Sonne by Wynkyn de Worde”.

In the following extract the spelling is somewhat modernised, and a few obsolete words are omitted.

“The Life of Saynt Crysant and Saynte Daria”. Fo. cc. lxxxv.

“Here followeth the lyfe of Saynt Crysaunt, and fyrst of his name. And of Saynte Daria, and of her name.

“Of Crysaunt is said as growen and multyplyed of God. For when his father would have made hym do sacrifyce to the idols, God gave to hym force and power to contrary and gaynsay his father, and yield himself to God. Daria is sayd of dare to give, for she gave her to two thynges. Fyrst will to do evil, when she had will to draw Crysaunt to sacrifyce to the idols. And after she gave her to good will when Crysaunt had converted her to Almighty God.

“Crysaunt was son of a ryght noble man that was named Polymne. And when his father saw that his son was taught in the faith of Jesu Chryst, and that he could not withdraw him therefrom, and make him do sacrifyce to the idols, he commanded that he should be closed in a stronge hold and put to hym five maidens for to seduce him with blandyshynge and fayre wordes. And when he had prayed God that he should not be surmounted with no fleshly desyre, anon these maydens were so overcome with slepe, that they myght not take neither meat ne drinke as long as they were there, but as soon as they were out, they took both meat and drinke. And one Daria, a noble and wise virgin of the goddess Vesta, arrayed her nobly with clothes as she had been a goddess, and prayed that she myght be letten enter in to Crysant and that she would restore him to the idols and to his father. And when she was come in, Crysant reproved her of the pride of her vesture. And she answered that she had not done it for pride but for to draw him to do sacrifyce to the idols and restore him to his father. And then Crysant reproved her because she worshipped them as gods. For they had been in their times evil and sinners. And Daria answered, the philosophers called the elements by the names of men. And Crysant said to her, if one worship the earth as a goddess, and another work and labour the earth as a churl or ploughman, to whom giveth the earth most? It is plain that it giveth more to the ploughman than to him that worshippeth it. And in like wise he said of the sea and of the other elements. And then Crysant and Daria converted to him, coupled them together by the grace of the Holy Ghost, and feigned to be joined by carnal marriage, and converted many others to our Lord. For Claudian, who had been one of their persecutors, they converted to the faith of our Lord, with his wife and children and many other knights. And after this Crysant was enclosed in a stinking prison by the commandment of Numerian, but the stink turned anon into a right sweet odour and savour. And Daria was brought to the bordel, but a lion that was in the amphitheatre came and kept the door of the bordel. And then there was sent thither a man to befoul and corrupt the virgin, but anon he was taken by the lion, and the lion began to look at the virgin like as he demanded what he should do with the caitiff. And the virgin commanded that he should do him no hurt but let him go. And anon he was converted and ran through the city, and began to cry that Daria was a goddess. And then hunters were sent thither to take the lion. And they anon fell down at the feet of the virgin and were converted by her. And then the provost commanded them to make a great fire within the entrance of the bordel, so that the lion should be brent with Daria. And the lion considering this thing, felt dread, and roaring took leave of the virgin, and went whither he would without hurting of any body. And when the provost had done to Crysant and Daria many diverse torments, and might not grieve them, at the last they without compassion were put in a deep pit, and earth and stones thrown on them. And so were consecrated martyrs of Christ”.

With regard to the exact year in which the martyrdom of SS. Chrysanthus and Daria took place, it may be mentioned that in the valuable “Vies des Saints”, Paris, 1701 (republished in 1739), where the whole legend undergoes a very critical examination, the generally received date, A.D. 284, is considered erroneous. The reign of the emperor Numerianus (A.D. 283-284), in which it is alleged to have occurred, lasted but eight months, during which period no persecution of the Christians is recorded. The writer in the work just quoted (Adrien Baillet) conjectures that the martyrdom of these saints took place in the reign of Valerian, and not later than the month of August, 257, “s’ il est vray que le pape Saint Etienne qui mourut alois avoit donne ordre qu’ on recueillit les actes de leur martyre”–Les Vies des Saints, Paris, 1739, t. vii. p. 385.

1. Los dos amantes del cielo: Crisanto y Daria. Comedias de Don Pedro Calderon de la Barca. Por Don Juan Eugenio Hartzenbusch. Madrid, 1865, tomo 3, p. 234.

2. It may be added to what Dr. Trench has so well said, that Calderon’s auto, “El arbol del mejor Fruto” (The Tree of the choicest Fruit), is founded on the same sublime theme. It is translated into German by Lorinser, under the title of “Der Baum der bessern Frucht”, Breslau, 1861.



NUMERIANUS, Emperor of Rome.
POLEMIUS, Chief Senator.
CLAUDIUS, cousin of Chrysanthus.
AURELIUS, a Roman general.
CARPOPHORUS, a venerable priest.
ESCARPIN, servant of Chrysanthus.
} Priestesses of Diana.
Two spirits.
Soldiers, servants, people, music, etc.

SCENE: Rome and its environs.


SCENE I.–A Room in the house of Polemius at Rome.

Chrysanthus is seen seated near a writing table on which are several books: he is reading a small volume with deep attention.

Ah! how shallow is my mind!
How confined! and how restricted![3] Ah! how driftless are my words!
And my thoughts themselves how driftless! Since I cannot comprehend,
Cannot pierce the secrets hidden
In this little book that I
Found by chance with others mingled. I its meaning cannot reach,
Howsoe’er my mind I rivet,
Though to this, and this alone,
Many a day has now been given.
But I cannot therefore yield,
Must not own myself outwitted:–
No; a studious toil so great
Should not end in aught so little.
O’er this book my whole life long
Shall I brood until the riddle
Is made plain, or till some sage
Simplifies what here is written.
For which end I ‘ll read once more
Its beginning. How my instinct
Uses the same word with which
Even the book itself beginneth!–
“In the beginning was the Word” . .[4] If in language plain and simple
Word means speech, how then was it
In the beginning? Since a whisper
Presupposes power to breathe it,
Proves an earlier existence,
And to that anterior Power
Here the book doth not bear witness. Then this follows: “And the Word
Was with God”–nay more, ‘t is written, “And the Word was God: was with Him
In the beginning, and by HIM then
All created things were made
And without Him naught was finshed”:– Oh! what mysteries, what wonders,
In this tangled labyrinthine
Maze lie hid! which I so many
Years have studied, with such mingled Aid from lore divine and human
Have in vain tried to unriddle!–
“In the beginning was the Word”.–
Yes, but when was this beginning?
Was it when Jove, Neptune, Pluto
Shared the triple zones betwixt them, When the one took to himself
Heaven supreme, one hell’s abysses, And the sea the third, to Ceres
Leaving earth, the ever-wing`ed
Time to Saturn, fire to Phoebus,
And the air to Jove’s great sister?[5]– No, it could not have been then,
For the fact of their partition
Shows that heaven and earth then were, Shows that sea and land existed:–
The beginning then must be
Something more remote and distant:
He who has expressly said
‘The beginning,’ must have hinted
At the primal cause of all things,
At the first and great beginning,
All things growing out of HIM,
He himself the pre-existent:–
Yes, but then a new beginning
Must we seek for this beginner,
And so on ad infinitum;
Since if I, on soaring pinion
Seek from facts to rise to causes,
Rising still from where I had risen, I will find at length there is
No beginning to the beginning,
And the inference that time
Somehow was, ere time existed,
And that that which ne’er begun
Ne’er can end, is plain and simple. But, my thought, remain not here,
Rest not in those narrow limits,
But rise up with me and dare
Heights that make the brain grow dizzy:– And at once to enter there,
Other things being pretermitted,
Let us venture where the mind,
As the darkness round it thickens,
Almost faints as we resume
What this mystic scribe has written. “And the Word”, this writer says,
“Was made flesh!” Ah! how can this be? Could the Word that in the beginning
Was with God, was God, was gifted
With such power as to make all things, Could it be made flesh? In pity,
Heavens! or take from me at once
All the sense that you have given me, Or at once on me bestow
Some intelligence, some glimmer
Of clear light through these dark shadows:– Deity, unknown and hidden,
God or Word, whate’er thou beest,
Of Thyself the great beginner,
Of Thyself the end, if, Thou
Being Thyself beyond time’s sickle, Still in time the world didst fashion,
If Thou ‘rt life, O living spirit,
If Thou ‘rt light, my darkened senses With Thy life and light enkindle!–
(The voices of two spirits are heard from within, one at each side.)

First Voice.
Hear, Chrysanthus . . .

Second Voice.
Listen . . .

Voices, if they are not instincts,
Shadows without soul or body,
Which my fancy forms within me,
Are contending in my bosom
Each with each at the same instant. (Two figures appear on high, one clothed in a dark robe dotted with stars; the other in a bright and beautiful mantle: Chrysanthus does not see them, but in the following scene ever speaks to himself.)

First Voice.
What this crabbed text here meaneth By the Word, is plain and simple,
It is Jove to whose great voice
Gods and men obedient listen.

Jove, it must be Jove, by whom
Breath, speech, life itself are given.

Second Voice.
What the holy Gospel means
By the Word, is that great Spirit
Who was in Himself for ever,
First, last, always self-existent.

Self-existent! first and last!
Reason cannot grasp that dictum.

First Voice.
In the beginning of the world
Jove in heaven his high throne fix`ed, Leaving less imperial thrones
To the other gods to fill them.

Yes, if he could not alone
Rule creation unassisted.

Second Voice.
God was God, long, long before
Earth or heaven’s blue vault existed, He was in Himself, ere He
Gave to time its life and mission.

First Voice.
Worship only pay to Jove,
God o’er all our gods uplifted.

Second Voice.
Worship pay to God alone,
He the infinite, the omniscient.

First Voice.
He doth lord the world below.

Second Voice.
He is Lord of Heaven’s high kingdom.

First Voice.
Shun the lightnings of his wrath.

Second Voice.
Seek the waves of his forgiveness. [The Figures disappear.

Oh! what darkness, what confusion,
In myself I find here pitted
‘Gainst each other! Spirits twain
Struggle desperately within me,
Spirits twain of good and ill,–
One with gentle impulse wins me
To believe, but, oh! the other
With opposing force resistless
Drives me back to doubt: Oh! who
Will dispel these doubts that fill me?

POLEMIUS (within).
Yes, Carpophorus must pay
For the trouble that this gives me.–

Though these words by chance were spoken As an omen I ‘ll admit them:
Since Carpophorus (who in Rome
Was the most renowned, most gifted
Master in all science), now
Flying from the emperor’s lictors,
Through suspect of being a Christian, In lone deserts wild and dismal
Lives a saintly savage life,
He will give to all my wishes
The solution of these doubts:–
And till then, O restless thinking
Torture me and tease no more!
Let me live for that! [His voice gradually rises.

ESCARPIN (within).
Within there
My young master calls.

CLAUDIUS (within).
All enter.
(Enter Polemius, Claudius, Aurelius, and Escarpin).

My Chrysanthus, what afflicts thee?

Canst thou have been here, my father?

No, my son, ‘t was but this instant That I entered here, alarmed
By the strange and sudden shrillness Of thy voice; and though I had
On my hands important business,
Grave and weighty, since to me
Hath the Emperor transmitted
This decree, which bids me search
Through the mountains for the Christians Hidden there, and specially
For Carpophorus, their admitted
Chief and teacher, for which cause
I my voice too thus uplifted–
“Yes, Carpophorus must pay
For the trouble that this gives me”– I left all at hearing thee.–
Why so absent? so bewildered?
What ‘s the reason?

Sir, ‘t is naught.

Whom didst thou address?

Here sitting
I was reading to myself,
And perchance conceived some image
I may have addressed in words
Which have from my memory flitted.

The grave sadness that o’erwhelms thee Will, unless it be resisted,
Undermine thy understanding,
If thou hast it still within thee.

‘T is a loud soliloquy,
‘T is a rather audible whisper
That compels one’s friends to hasten Full of fear to his assistance!

Well, excitement may . . .

Oh! cease;
That excuse will scarce acquit thee, Since when one ‘s alone, excitement
Is a flame that ‘s seldom kindled.
I am pleased, well pleased to see thee To the love of books addicted,
But then application should not
To extremes like this be driven,
Nor should letters alienate thee
From thy country, friends, and kinsmen.

A young man by heaven so favoured,
With such rare endowments gifted,
Blessed with noble birth and valour, Dowered with genius, rank, and riches,
Can he yield to such enthralment,
Can he make his room a prison,
Can he waste in idle reading
The fair flower of his existence?

Dost thou not remember also
That thou art my son? Bethink thee
That the great Numerianus,
Our good emperor, has given me
The grand government of Rome
As chief senator of the city,
And with that imperial burden
The whole world too–all the kingdoms, All the provinces subjected
To its varied, vast dominion.
Know’st thou not, from Alexandria,
From my native land, my birth-place, Where on many a proud escutcheon
My ancestral fame is written,
That he brought me here, the weight Of his great crown to bear with him,
And that Rome upon my entry
Gave to me a recognition
That repaid the debt it owed me,
Since the victories were admitted
Which in glorious alternation
By my sword and pen were given her? Through what vanity, what folly,
Wilt thou not enjoy thy birth-right As my son and heir, indulging
Solely in these idle whimseys?–

Sir, the state in which you see me, This secluded room, this stillness,
Do not spring from want of feeling, Or indifference to your wishes.
‘T is my natural disposition;
For I have no taste to mingle
In the vulgar vain pursuits
Of the courtier crowds ambitious.
And if living to myself here
More of true enjoyment gives me,
Why would you desire me seek for
That which must my joys diminish?
Let this time of sadness pass,
Let these hours of lonely vigil,
Then for fame and its applauses,
Which no merit of my own,
But my father’s name may bring me.

Would it not, my son, be fitter
That you should enjoy those plaudits In the fresh and blooming spring-time
Of your life, and to hereafter
Leave the loneliness and vigil?

Let me tell a little story
Which will make the whole thing simple:– A bad painter bought a house,
Altogether a bad business,
For the house itself was bad:
He however was quite smitten
With his purchase, and would show it To a friend of his, keen-witted,
But bad also: when they entered,
The first room was like a kitchen,
Black and bad:–“This room, you see, sir, Now is bad, but just permit me
First to have it whitewashed over,
Then shall my own hand with pictures Paint the walls from floor to ceiling,
Then you ‘ll see how bright ‘t will glisten”.– To him thus his friend made answer,
Smiling archly: “Yes, ‘t will glisten, But if you would paint it first,
And then whitewash o’er the pictures, The effect would be much better”.–
Now ‘s the time for you, my lord,
To lay on the shining pigment:
On that brilliant ground hereafter
Will the whitewash fall more fitly, For, in fine, the poorest painting
Is improved by time’s slow finger.

Sir, I say, that in obedience
To your precepts, to your wishes,
I will strive from this day forward So to act, that you will think me
Changed into another being. [Exit.

Claudius, my paternal instinct
Makes me fear Chrysanthus’ sadness, Makes we tremble that its issue
May result in total madness.
Since thou art his friend and kinsman Both combined, make out, I pray thee,
What occasions this bewitchment,
To the end that I may break it:
And my promise now I give thee,
That although I should discover
Love’s delirious dream delicious
May be at the root,–most likely
At his age the true suspicion,–
It shall not disturb or grieve me.
Nay, since I am doomed to witness
His dejection, it will glad me
To find out that so it springeth.

Once a high priest of Apollo
Had two nephews soft and silly,
More than silly, wretched creatures, More than wretched, doltish drivels;
And perceiving from experience
How love smartens up its victims,
He but said to them this only,
“Fall in love at least, ye ninnies”.– Thus, though not in love, sir, now,
I ‘ll be bound he ‘ll be so quickly, Merely to oblige you.

Is not quite as I would wish it,
For when anything has happened,
The desire to know it, differs
From the wish it so should happen.

I, my lord, my best assistance
Offer thee to strive and fathom
From what cause can have arisen
Such dejection and such sadness;
This henceforth shall be my business To divert him and distract him.

Such precisely are my wishes:
And since now I am forced to go
In obedience to the mission
Sent me by Numerianus,
‘Mid the wastes to search for Christians, In my absence, Claudius,
Most consoling thoughts ‘t will give me, To remember that thou watchest
O’er Chrysanthus.

From this instant
Until thy return, I promise
Not to leave his side.

Aurelius . . .

My good lord.

Art sure thou knowest
In this mountain the well-hidden
Cave wherein Carpophorus dwelleth?

Him I promise to deliver
To thy hands.

Then lead the soldiers
Stealthily and with all quickness
To the spot, for all must perish
Who are there found hiding with him:– For the care with which, ye Heavens!
I uphold the true religion
Of the gods, their faith and worship, For the zeal that I exhibit
In thus crushing Christ’s new law,
Which I hate with every instinct
Of my soul, oh! grant my guerdon
In the cure of my son’s illness! [Exeunt Polemius and Aurelius.

CLAUDIUS (to Escarpin).
Go and tell my lord Chrysanthus
That I wish he would come with me
Forth to-day for relaxation.

Relaxation! just say whither
Are we to go forth to get it;
Of that comfort I get little–

Outside Rome, Diana’s temple
On the Salarian way uplifteth
Its majestic front: the fairest
Of our Roman maids dwell in it:
‘T is the custom, as thou knowest,
That the loveliest of Rome’s children Whom patrician blood ennobles,
From their tender years go thither
To be priestesses of the goddess,
Living there till ‘t is permitted
They should marry: ‘t is the centre Of all charms, the magic circle
Drawn around a land of beauty–
Home of deities–Elysium!–
And as great Diana is
Goddess of the groves, her children Have to her an altar raised
In the loveliest cool green thicket. Thither, when the evening falleth,
And the season is propitious,
Various squadrons of fair nymphs
Hasten: and it is permitted
Gallant youths, unmarried also,
As an escort to go with them.
There this evening will I lead him.

Well, I doubt that your prescription Is the best: for fair recluses,
Whose sublime pursuits, restricted
To celestial things, make even
The most innocent thought seem wicked, Are by no means likely persons
To divert a man afflicted
With this melancholy madness:
Better take him into the thickest
Throng of Rome, there flesh and bone Goddesses he ‘ll find, and fitter.–

Ah! you speak but as the vulgar:
Is it not the bliss of blisses
To adore some lovely being
In the ideal, in the distance,
Almost as a vision?–

‘T is delightful; I admit it,
But there ‘s good and better: think Of the choice that once a simple
Mother gave her son: she said:
“Egg or rasher, which will I give thee?” And he said: “The rasher, mother,
But with the egg upon it, prithee”. “Both are best”, so says the proverb.

Well, if tastes did n’t sometimes differ, What a notable mistake
Providence would have committed!
To adore thee, sweetest Cynthia, [aside Is the height of all my wishes:
As it well may be, for am I
Worthy, worship even to give her? [Exeunt.

A Wood near Rome.

(Enter NISIDA and CHLORIS, the latter with a lyre).

Have you brought the instrument?


Then give it me, for here
In this tranquil forest sphere,
Where the boughs and blossoms blent, Ruby blooms and emerald stems,
Round about their radiance fling,
Where the canopy of spring
Breathes of flowers and gleams with gems, Here I wish that air to play,
Which to words that Cynthia wrote
I have set–a simple note.

And the song, senora, say,
What ‘s the theme?

A touching strain,–
How a nightingale in a grove
Singing sweetly of his love,
Sang its pleasure and its pain.

Enter CYNTHIA (reading in a book).

CYNTHIA (to herself).
Whilst each alley here discloses
Youthful nymphs, who as they pass
To Diana’s shrine, the grass
Turn to beds of fragrant roses,–
Where the interlac`ed bars
Of these woods their beauty dowers
Seem a verdant sky of flowers–
Seem an azure field of stars.
I shall here recline and read
(While they wander through the grove) Ovid’s ‘Remedy of Love.’

NISIDA (to Chloris).
Hear the words and air.


NISIDA (singing).
O nightingale, whose sweet exulting strain Tells of thy triumphs to the listening grove, Thou fill’st my heart with envy and with pain. But no; but no; for if thou sing’st of love, Jealousy’s pangs and sorrow’s tears remain.

CYNTHIA (advancing).
What a charming air! To me
What an honour! From this day
I may well be vain, as they
May without presumption be,
Who, despite their numerous slips,
Find their words can please the ear, Who their rugged verses hear
Turn to music on thy lips.

‘T is thine own genius, not my skill, That produces this effect;
For, without it, I suspect,
Would my voice sound harsh and shrill, And my lute’s strings should be broken
With a just and wholesome rigour,
For presuming to disfigure
What thy words so well have spoken. Whither wert thou wending here?

Through the quiet wood proceeding,
I the poet’s book was reading,
When there fell upon my ear,
Soft and sweet, thy voice: its power, Gentle lodestone of my feet,
Brought me to this green retreat–
Led me to this lonely bower:
But what wonder, when to listen
To thy sweetly warbled words
Ceased the music of the birds–
Of the founts that glide and glisten? May I hope that, since I came
Thus so opportunely near,
I the gloss may also hear?

I will sing it, though with shame.

Sweet nightingale, that from some echoing grot Singest the rapture of thy love aloud,
Singest with voice so joyous and so proud, All unforgetting thou mayst be forgot,
Full of thyself and of thy happy lot! Ah! when thou trillest that triumphant strain To all the listening lyrists of the grove, Thou fill’st my heart with envy and with pain! But no; but no; for if thou sing’st of love. Jealousy’s pangs and sorrow’s tears remain!

Enter DARIA.

Ah! my Nisida, forbear,
Ah! those words forbear to sing,
Which on zephyr’s wanton wing
Thou shouldst waft not on the air.
All is wrong, how sweet it be,
That the vestal’s thoughts reprove: What is jealousy? what is love?
That they should be sung by thee?
Think this wood is consecrated
To Diana’s service solely,
Not to Venus: it is holy.
Why then wouldst thou desecrate it
With thy songs? Does ‘t not amaze
Thee thyself–this strangest thing– In Diana’s grove to sing
Hymns of love to Cupid’s praise?
But I need not wonder, no,
That thou ‘rt so amused, since I
Here see Cynthia with thee.

Dost thou say so?

I say so
For good cause: in books profane
Thou unceasingly delightest,
Verse thou readest, verse thou writest, Of their very vanity vain.
And if thou wouldst have me prove
What I say to thy proceeding,
Tell me, what ‘s this book thou ‘rt reading?

‘T is The Remedy of Love.
Whence thou mayst perceive how weak Is thy inference, thy deduction
From my studious self-instruction;
Since the patient who doth seek
Remedies to cure his pain
Shows by this he would grow better;– For the slave who breaks his fetter
Cannot surely love his chain.

This, though not put quite so strong, Was involved in the conclusion
Of my lay: Love’s disillusion
Was the burden of my song.

Remedies and disillusions,
Seek ye both beneath one star?
Ah! if so, you are not far
From its pains and its confusions:
For the very fact of pleading
Disillusion, shows that thou
‘Neath illusion’s yoke doth bow,–
And the patient who is needing
Remedies doth prove that still
The sharp pang he doth endure,
For there ‘s no one seeks a cure
Ere he feels that he is ill:–
Therefore to this wrong proceeding
Grieved am I to see ye clinging–
Seeking thou thy cure in singing–
Thou thy remedy in reading.

Casual actions of this class
That are done without intention
Of a second end, to mention
Here were out of place: I pass
To another point: There ‘s no one
Who with genius, or denied it,–
Dowered with mind, but has applied it Some especial track to go on:
This variety suffices
For its exercise and action,
Just as some by free attraction
Seek the virtues and the vices;–
This blind instinct, or this duty,
We three share;–‘t is thy delight
Nisida to sing,–to write
Mine,–and thine to adore thy beauty. Which of these three occupations
Is the best–or those that need
Skill and labour to succeed,
Or thine own vain contemplations?– Have I not, when morning’s rays
Gladdened grove and vale and mountain, Seen thee in the crystal fountain
At thyself enamoured gaze?
Wherefore, once again returning
To our argument of love,
Thou a greater pang must prove,
If from thy insatiate yearning
I infer a cause: the spell
Lighter falls on one who still,
To herself not feeling ill,
Would in other eyes seem well.

Ah! so far, so far from me
Is the wish as vain as weak–
(Now my virtue doth not speak,
Now but speaks my vanity),
Ah! so far, I say, my breast
Turns away from things of love,
That the sovereign hand of Jove,
Were it to attempt its best,
Could no greater wonder work,
Than that I, Daria, should
So be changed in mind and mood
As to let within me lurk
Love’s minutest, smallest seed:–
Only upon one condition
Could I love, and that fruition
Then would be my pride indeed.

What may that condition be?

When of all mankind, I knew
One who felt a love so true
As to give his life for me,
Then, until my own life fled,
Him, with gratitude and pride,
Were I sure that so he died,
I would love though he were dead.

Poor reward for love so great
Were that tardy recollection,
Since, it seems, for thy affection
He, till life is o’er, must wait.

Soars thy vanity so high?
Thy presumption is above
All belief: be sure, for love
No man will be found to die.

Why more words then? love must be
In my case denied by heaven:
Since my love cannot be given
Save to one who ‘ll die for me.

Thy ambition is a thing
So sublime, what can be said?–
Better I resumed and read,
Better, Nisida, thou shouldst sing, This disdain so strange and strong,
This delusion little heeding.

Yes, do thou resume thy reading,
I too will resume my song.

I, that I may not renew
Such reproaches, whilst you sing,
Whilst you read, in this clear spring Thoughtfully myself shall view.

NISIDA sings.
O nightingale, whose sweet exulting strain Tells of thy triumphs to the listening grove, Thou fill’st my heart with envy and with pain!– But no, but no, for if thou sing’st of love Jealousy’s pangs and sorrow’s tears remain!


CLAUDIUS, to Chrysanthus.
Does not the beauty of this wood,
This tranquil wood, delight thee?

Here nature’s lord doth dower and bless The world in most indulgent mood.
Who could believe this greenwood here For the first time has blessed mine eyes?

It is the second Paradise,
Of deities the verdant sphere.

‘T is more, this green and grassy glade Whither our careless steps have strolled, For here three objects we behold
Equally fair by distance made.
Of these that chain our willing feet, There yonder where the path is leading,
One is a lady calmly reading,
One is a lady singing sweet,
And one whose rapt though idle air
Gives us to understand this truth– A woman blessed with charms and youth,
Does quite enough in being fair.

You are quite right in that, I ‘ve seen Beauties enough of that sort too.

If of the three here given to view, The choice were thine to choose between, Which of them best would suit thy taste? Which wouldst thou make thy choice of, say?

I do not know: for in one way
They so with equal gifts are graced, So musical and fair and wise,
That while one captivates the mind, One works her witcheries with the wind,
And one, the fairest, charms our eyes. The one who sings, it seems a duty,
Trusting her sweet voice, to think sweet, The one who reads, to deem discreet,
The third, we judge but by her beauty: And so I fear by act or word
To wrong the three by judging ill,
Of one her charms, of one her skill, And the intelligence of the third.
For to choose one does wrong to two, But if I so presumed to dare . . .

Which would it be?

The one that ‘s fair.

My blessings on your choice and you! That ‘s my opinion in the case,
‘T is plain at least to my discerning That in a woman wit and learning
Are nothing to a pretty face.

Chloris, quick, take up the lyre,
For a rustling noise I hear
In this shady thicket near:
Yes, I ‘m right, I must retire.
Swift as feet can fly I ‘ll go.
For these men that here have strayed Must have heard me while I played. [Exeunt Nisida and Chloris.

One of them I think I know.
Yes, ‘t is Claudius, as I thought,
Now he has a chance: I ‘ll see
If he cares to follow me,
Guessing rightly what has brought
Me to-day unto the grove:–
Ah! if love to grief is leading
Of what use to me is reading
In the Remedies of Love? [Exit.

DARIA (to herself).
In these bowers by trees o’ergrown, Here contented I remain,
All companionship is vain,
Save my own sweet thoughts alone:–

Dear Chrysanthus, your election
Was to me both loss and gain,
Gave me pleasure, gave me pain:–
It seemed plain to my affection
(Being in love) your choice should fall On the maid of pensive look,
Not on her who read the book:
But your praise made up for all.
And since each has equal force,
My complaint and gratulation,
Whilst with trembling expectation
I pursue my own love’s course,
Try your fortune too, till we
Meet again. [Exit.

Confused I stay,
Without power to go away,
Spirit-bound, my feet not free.
From the instant that on me,
As a sudden beam might dart,
Flashed that form which Phidian art Could not reach, I ‘ve known no rest.–
Babylon is in my breast–
Troy is burning in my heart.

Strange that I should feel as you,
That one thought should fire us two, I too, sir, have lost my senses
Since I saw that lady.

Madman! fool! do you speak of? you! Dare to feel those griefs of mine!–

No, sir, yours I quite resign,
Would I could my own ones too!–

Leave me, or my wrath you ‘ll rue;
Hence! buffoon: by heaven I swear it, I will kill you else.

I go:–
For if you address her, oh!
Could my jealous bosom bear it? [aside [Exit.

If my boldness so may dare it,
I desire to ask, senora,
If thou art this heaven’s Aurora,
If the goddess of this fountain,
If the Juno of this mountain,
If of these bright flowers the Flora, So that I may rightly know
In what style should speak to thee
My hushed voice . . . but pardon me Now I would not thou said’st so.
Looking at thee now, the glow
Of thy beauty so excelleth,
Every charm so plainly telleth
Thou Diana’s self must be;
Yes, Diana’s self is she,
Who within her grove here dwelleth.

If, before you spoke to me,
You desired my name to know,
I in your case act not so,
Since I speak, whoe’er you be,
Forced, but most unwillingly
(As to listening heaven is plain)
To reply:–a bootless task
Were it in me, indeed, to ask,
Since, whoe’er you be, my strain
Must be one of proud disdain.
So I pray you, cavalier,
Leave me in this lonely wood,
Leave me in the solitude
I enjoyed ere you came here.

Sweetly, but with tone severe,
Thus my error you reprove–
That of asking in this grove
What your name is: you ‘re so fair, That, whatever name you bear,
I must tell you of my love.

Love! a word to me unknown,
Sounds so strangely in my ears,
That my heart nor feels nor hears
Aught of it when it has flown.

Then there is no rashness shown
In repeating it once more,
Since to hear or to ignore
Suits alike your stoic coldness.

Yes, the speech, but not the boldness Of the speaker I pass o’er,
For this word, whate’er it be,
When it breaks upon my ear,
Quick ‘t is gone, although I hear.

You forget it?


What! love’s sweetest word! ah, me! Canst forget the mightiest ray
Death can dart, or heaven display?

Yes, for lightning, entering where
Naught resists, is lost in air.

How? what way?

Well, in this way:
If two doors in one straight line
Open lie, and lightning falls,
Then the bolt between the walls
Passes through, and leaves no sign. So ‘t is with this word of thine;
Though love be, which I do n’t doubt, Like heaven’s bolt that darts about,
Still two opposite doors I ‘ve here, And what enters by one ear
By the other ear goes out.

If this lightning then darts through Where no door lies open wide
To let it pass at the other side,
Must not fire and flame ensue?
This being so, ‘t is also true
That the fire of love that flies
Into my heart, in flames must rise, Since without its feast of fire
The fatal flash cannot retire,
That has entered by the eyes.

If to what I said but now
You had listened, I believe
You would have preferred to leave
Still unspoken love’s vain vow.
This you would yourself allow.

What then was it?

I do n’t know:
Something ‘t was that typified
My presumption and my pride.

Let me know it even so.

That in me no love could grow
Save for one who first would die
For my love.

And death being past,
Would he win your love at last?–

Yes, on that he might rely.

Then I plight my troth that I
Will to that reward aspire,–
A poor offering at the fire
By those beauteous eyes supplied.

But as you have not yet died,
Pray do n’t follow me, but retire. [Exit.

In what bosom, at one moment,
Oh! ye heavens! e’er met together[6] Such a host of anxious troubles?
Such a crowd of boding terrors?
Can I be the same calm student
Who awhile ago here wended?
To a miracle of beauty,
To a fair face now surrendered,
I scarce know what brought me hither, I my purpose scarce remember.
What bewitchment, what enchantment, What strange lethargy, what frenzy
Can have to my heart, those eyes
Such divine delirium sent me?
What divinity, desirous
That I should not know the endless
Mysteries of the book I carry,
In my path such snares presenteth,
Seeking from these serious studies
To distract me and divert me?
But what ‘s this I say? One passion Accidentally developed,
Should not be enough, no, no,
From myself myself to sever.
If the violence of one star
Draws me to a deity’s service,
It compels not; for the planets
Draw, but force not, the affections. Free is yet my will, my mind too,
Free is still my heart: then let me Try to solve more noble problems
Than the doubts that love presenteth. And since Claudius, the new Clytie[7]
Of the sun, whose golden tresses
Lead him in pursuit, her footsteps
Follows through the wood, my servant Having happily too departed,
And since yonder rocks where endeth The dark wood in savage wildness
Must be the rude rustic shelter
Of the Christians who fled thither, I ‘ll approach them to endeavour
To find there Carpophorus:–
He alone, the wise, the learn`ed,
Can my understanding rescue
From its night-mare dreams and guesses. [Exit.

SCENE III. The extremity of the wood: wild rocks with the entrance to a cave.
Carpophorus comes forth from the cave, but is for a while unseen by Chrysanthus, who enters.

What a labyrinthine thicket
Is this place that I have entered!
Nature here takes little trouble,
Letting it be seen how perfect
Is the beauty that arises
Even from nature’s careless efforts: Deep within this darksome grotto
Which no sunbeam’s light can enter, I shall penetrate: it seemeth
As if until now it never
Had been trod by human footsteps.
There where yonder marge impendeth
O’er a streamlet that swift-flying
Carries with it the white freshness Of the snows that from the mountains
Ever in its waves are melted,
Stands almost a skeleton;
The sole difference it presenteth
To the tree-trunks near it is,
That it moves as well as trembles,
Slow and gaunt, a living corse.
Oh! thou venerable elder
Who, a reason-gifted tree,
Mid mere natural trees here dwelleth.–

Wo! oh! wo is me!–a Roman!
(At seeing Chrysanthus, he attempts to fly.)

Though a Roman, do not dread me:
With no evil end I seek thee.

Then what wouldst thou have, thou gentle Roman youth? for thou hast silenced
My first fears even by thy presence.

‘T is to ask, what now I ask thee,
Of the rocks that in this desert
Gape for ever open wide
In eternal yawns incessant,
Which is the rough marble tomb
Of a living corse interred here?
Which of these dark caves is that
In whose gloom Carpophorus dwelleth? ‘T is important I speak with him.

Then, regarding not the perils,
I will own it. I myself
Am Carpophorus.

Oh! let me,
Father, feel thy arms enfold me.

To my heart: for as I press thee,
How, I know not, the mere contact
Brings me back again the freshness
And the greenness of my youth,
Like the vine’s embracing tendrils
Twining round an aged tree:
Gallant youth, who art thou? tell me.

Father, I am called Chrysanthus,
Of Polemius, the first member
Of the Roman senate, son.

And thy purpose?

It distresses
Me to see thee standing thus:
On this bank sit down and rest thee.

Kindly thought of; for, alas!
I a tottering wall resemble:
At the mouth of this my cave
Let us then sit down together. [They sit down. What now wouldst thou have, Sir Stranger?

Sir, as long as I remember,
I have felt an inclination
To the love of books and letters.
In my casual studies lately
I a difficulty met with
That I could not solve, and knowing No one in all Rome more learn`ed
Than thyself (thy reputation
Having with this truth impressed me) I have hither come to ask thee
To explain to me this sentence:
For I cannot understand it.
‘T is, sir, in this book.

Pray, let me
See it then.

‘T is at the beginning;
Nay, the sentence that perplexes
Me so much is that.

Why, these
Are the Holy Gospels! Heavens!

What! you kiss the book?

And press it
To my forehead, thus suggesting
The profound respect with which
I even touch so great a treasure.

Why, what is the book, which I
By mere accident selected?

‘T is the basis, the foundation
Of the Scripture Law.

I tremble
With an unknown horror.


Deeper now I would not enter
Into the secrets of a book
Which are magic spells, I ‘m certain.

No, not so, but vital truths.

How can that be, when its verses
Open with this line that says
(A beginning surely senseless)
“In the beginning was the Word,
And it was with God”: and then it
Adds: this Word itself was God;
Then unto the Word reverting,
Says explicitly that IT
“Was made flesh”?

A truth most certain:
For this first evangelist
Here to us our God presenteth
In a twofold way: the first
As being God, as Man the second.

God and Man combined together?