a tragedy by Gregg Glory [Gregg G. Brown] Published by BLAST PRESS copyright 1988
SCENE 1HAMILTON Cornwalis has overwhelmed our Gates In South Carolina at Camden-town Where the crepey willows hang their sad limbs In liquid embraces that clasp the air Incestuous summer's sultry melting Clots with riotous cries of our defeated. This, and other engagements that went Against us begin to bind the free determination of our course As with water that cannot choose its level But drops indeterminately to the base They that cannot see to steer their courses Funnel blindly to black ends. But we are men, and do not flow unwillingly But rather march our rivers to a sea Of our own devising. Hortatio Gates Being the main hand of our forces south Should bear some load of blame for our flank's wounds That were insufficiently defended. ADAMS But Gates is a good man. HAMILTON But the gate was weak. And others have proved false before this. This is the worst dark year of war Criminal monarchy has knighted on us yet. The British boar gores our youthful state, And the foundling nation bleeds dangerously. ADAMS Each honorable drop the unaccepting earth Will vomit up at warty faces And drown their fatal squeals in innumerable floods Rained so fast dizzy sanity must think All the weeping face of nature broke blood sobs To gape on woeful corpses of Americans. HAMILTON If things stand as they are, we stand defeated. [Enter Messenger MESSENGER Sir, the British, in sharp ambition To retain their sovereignty in these states (Which, by God, and by my blood, they shall not) Have cut the French fleet off at Brest, The harbor of our hopes, with a deep blockade. WASHINGTON It seems dry powder has stopped up What otherwise would flow to our advantage. [Stuff missing...] England has bottled France's valor up And you would launch this tirade instead. Rashness makes a gentleman look ill; It spots him with the indecent cheek of youth Heated by inconstant purposes boiling all at once To make intemperate kettles sing and pipe, Fuelled by logs from his own wayward eye. You have me at a disadvantage in our fencing That I must sit by and seem to straddle it. Congress will have much to say of this. I shall not send a commendation yet, Forced to the narrow end of our sharp argument By outward circumstances. Be at peace-- And know that I shall meditate in state On this grave, vital matter. And I think Even our hissing Southern fires must wait To be quenched in decision's cooler hour. [Exit all but he Discord in these linen ranks does not suit; A more polished rupture in our debate Will make itself felt presently, I fear.
SCENE 2FATHER Welcome, gentlemen, to all our royal roast. Feed on what your appetites have pleasure To consume: piled tables, music's sweetest note, And ladies liberally dispersed Twitch skirts to the fiddler's cricketing. Formality is left tarrying past sundown. Put out your worries of these flashing times In our pooled merriment which chills those heats. A shooting star is the only shot we'll fear. So, men, summer's last dragonflies let's be: Clip on fancy's wings and navigate these smiles That tell of rustic silence in a booming mire. Ladies, attach your sultry glows; Flit lithesome and into dark rushes blow. [Aside] We've had our country quiet ripped by war Instead of the fiddler's jumping saw. Too much death leaves pleasure at the door. MAJOR ANDRE Cannons sometimes are veiled, and soldiers sleep. FATHER To dream on drums' martial melodies. MAJOR ANDRE Perhaps it is so, but while our joys can stir Drink up the entertainment you have poured And put on the evening's delightful gear That must mask our more familiar faces. FATHER Major Andre, although you must visit Secretly, in deepest danger to your self And of your loyalty make some pretense As might a spy, you've determined me to laugh. I'll speak no more of war. Fiddler, scratch! [Goes off MAJOR ANDRE While my honesty must dissemble here I'll study out how to read these masquers' looks And trace tracks of deer in these confused woods; There's one white hind whose heart leaps plain And in colonial marshes wears a crown. His wife, obeying some royal cue, tips Her antlered wine glass and prepares To hoof. But here walks a man among ranks Makes a solemn clowning of our license; Dignity in motion, with shoulders to bear his crown; Among the jumping minions of these woods He bears a royal poise. Who is this stag that makes such noble browse Among the rude reeds offered here? FATHER Arnold. Pothead, leave off that lady's slipper Unless you'd have a flower trod on you. POTHEAD Aye, sir. [Aside] Although it'd be a pretty bruise would bloom. MAJOR ANDRE Benedict Arnold? FATHER The same, He who bravely saved Saratoga from retribution's whip With limping victory. ---Cullion, Scissors, Fetch the rich broth and tar it on their hungers Need makes misbehave. Mr. Andre, I must knock skulls or find no brains; pardon. [Goes MAJOR ANDRE Perhaps my secret purpose, burning low, has here Found some powder for its hidden light. FATHER Peggy, lift a leg, and show these ladies How to reel that never hopped before. CULLION Are women frogs to hop like that? POTHEAD Hop-hop Is too lewd for frogs, but not too loose for maids. CULLION You stuff ears rudely, salad-maker. POTHEAD There's dancers behind the kitchen fires Stomping on a flat spot. Cullion? CULLION I'll dance you to shards. MAJOR ANDRE She dances with the tempered grace of one That never made immodest show before. FATHER You shall come to know my daughter hereafter. [Benedict and Peggy dancing BENEDICT Let these soulful travelers quit travail On your cold lips' firmament; restful earth, Let me stretch out my full measure on the ground As final mortal toil all lies down to do Even to this last particle of desire. Taking the measure of my life's content, Stir still contentment to disclose a love Close encamped in his stilted tent, Ready as a pilgrim in the wilderness To study out the flowers how they bloom Or how dull whippoorwills take punishment of rain, Or anything, or nothing, or any service give Beneath the starry barbs fixed in your glance. On this grass field that tombs up men And builds no further monument of dust But wild everlasting weeds I'll lie down And become myself some substance of the grass. FATHER Daughter, daughter! Stand on ceremony And sing the saddest song you know to out-weep These egregious wars. BENEDICT The willow song. MRS BENEDICT ARNOLD It goes against the gladness of the hour. BENEDICT Not while you have breath, or the song power To enchant sadness, opposites must turn As one divided face in a mirror meets Itself; antinomies, reconcile. [Peggy, soon to be Mrs. Benedict Arnold, sings the Willow Song MRS BENEDICT ARNOLD [Aside] This weighty general treads a heavy slope; Hard walks shorten the breath, yet invigorate The breather--- so he takes his duties with this death--- A heavy slope, but always tending upward To a rarer air his appointment will survey. If I tend him in this most grievous hour, My fortunes with his merits will incline. [News of Benedict's wife's death is given to Benedict MAJOR ANDRE Someone whispers her death to him. WOMAN How does The news adhere? MAJOR ANDRE Like some sad Pan of the woods Forcing spring sighs from melancholy pipes He makes some measure of polite delight Blow through the hollow of his sorrows And excuses himself from festive faces. WOMAN Wistful already on a new continent Greater than the ocean for men to make Discoveries on. MAJOR ANDRE These woods are already Old in blood, and familiar death will make The strangest places home. Let's call ourselves Poor Arabs under wandering stars and moor our sorrows To the nearest ditch. We've sunk a fen in heaven. [Exit Benedict FATHER All good things must have their ends Or else in surfeit cease to please. Goodnight, and God bless the king!
SCENE 3LAFAYETTE This is a bad way to growl the hours off. HAMILTON It is unmannerly of me to drag Our nation's fatherhood into question. But had we all so many fathers Inheritance would grow old waiting For their departures. Death's bounty granted, Half a world would fall under coltish feet. LAFAYETTE What a mother to lie so foully seeded By so many men it must change her hue From virgin white to heavy ripeness green apples aging against the frost That splits the skin. HAMILTON We must modify this Tacky image that sticks unwanted In the guileless minds of the people. Pick another has not so many heads To breed confusion with; one sterling man To break this slavish earth from the tyrant's chains, Stamp freedom on her rejoicing heart, And tie themselves like lovers in Silken bonds of holy matrimony. ADAMS That would save us. LAFAYETTE And make the country's sons Jump to destroy their mother's naked foes Who, all unarmed against their laying on, The weak wailing enemy they'll tear apart As a bear a babe. HAMILTON George Washington Is a man who may stand the test of this. LAFAYETTE He has virile character enough. ADAMS He is Cato enough to make modest Any citizen. ____: And the people love him for his wisdom. HAMILTON Is everyone agreed then? LAFAYETTE Washington! ADAMS Washington. HAMILTON No one could elect a better father. ADAMS Washington it is. HAMILTON Thank you, gentlemen; We are all well bred in this.
SCENE 4BENEDICT Will the state have me for a general? I have deserved it before this, but redcoats Like the march of blood to a loving heart Carry my cause forward, past timid debates, To a blushing estimation. You hold In a commanding purview all my cause And, as a coursing eagle, have reared up One equal in sinew to yourself Tipped with wings to caress new heavens with. discern and decide, sir; As a man, I will not buffet you from The nest of our mutual resolution But I may resign. WASHINGTON Seal up your thoughts. Tomorrow Flies at us out of a boundless night infinite in hopes, uncircumscribed By today's pace, universal In expectation, beyond scope in device, Past description, assignment or fixed state To which at dusk it narrowly returns. Threat nothing, and train shrieking councils silent Until this weaning cause bears some issue. BENEDICT Will the state have me for a general? I am not softly barbed to this extreme Like some tender babe crying at cold hands That tender only its own fostering But I must know. Will the state have me For a general? WASHINGTON I have no idea. I must shut myself up, priest-like, In meditation until some crowd of thoughts Clamorously emerge. From my chamber I'll then proceed with the curative For these uncertain ill expectations That have unhoused sleep from your breast And stalk night for comforts. Until then Go in the company of good thoughts And take what peace you can from this: my love Which, like a small warden following your thoughts, Walks with you in this indecisive hour. BENEDICT Do not let the public censure of my Private house weight anything in your Fraught deliberations, sir. WASHINGTON I shall not. Controversy could not so mar your wife That I would not recognize her merits. I may have wooden teeth but not even An oak leg could make me forget her dances. BENEDICT May the night give you happy dreams, sir. WASHINGTON Thanks. May my gracious wishes give you some cause To rest. Dismissed, and good night. BENEDICT Goodnight, sir.
[Four skinners on the road]
Is this the way into the fort the lady said?
In the way or out of it, either way is a safer way for us.
If in the way, we’re on our way, and we should discover the fort, and that’s a safe place; there beg food, and that’s a safe thought for our bellies.
If our bellies could think.
Why what’s man but a thinking belly?
And if out?
That’s safest. If out, we’re in ourselves, which is to say by ourselves, which is to count our four selves. And if for ourselves and by ourselves, then that’s a proof of choice, because of self-election. And its better to be choosers than to be beggars.
Ay, and out of harm’s way as well.
And, if in the harming mood, out of the way of catching ears.
Wait. A horse. Hide yourselves, you bellies, if you need necks.
[Enter Major Andre
SCENE 6[At Benedict's Wife's graveside] BENEDICT Quiet, heart. Here is one has stored Her mellow contents in the earth. Quiet earth, That such a mellowness would burst this confining dirt Fallen on it! And like the repeating sea Surge to cover me and with blessing waters Wash my guilts. All my dead grief lie Congealed in thee. Too-bruised a soul To bear out her mortal term one more day. When you took breath, you breathed me in And, feeding the brief sustenance on which you fed, Held me for a breathing moment consoled In every breath, and banished with the last. Expelled into a harming world, all wounds, And this the worst. What made these small ones, Inspired their dust or molded their forms From nothingness, what set the skipping creatures up to Kick, weep, damage, sing, race, trip And make all manner of motions on this Pocky flat of weeds and mud? What gods play With us so that our shadows throw a pattern That makes hearts break? O to wive the earth Is better than marrying shadows. So you this inanimate steadfastness wed And be content. There's material to shift Into a dying memorial for thee., There's ivy glosses the weak side of the hill, And a blood-touched cowslip advantages the root Under a guarding tree's solemn nod-- And here's a peck of bruised violets Nature's quiet weep may keep fresh. [Enter Andre BENEDICT Here comes one will give my ambitions Weight to lever the barricaded world with yet And pluck it from its setting. MAJOR ANDRE Mr. Arnold! I have had letters of you of late, sir. Shall we unfold their contents in this Windy place? The bed-moans of ghosts make me unquiet, And many shelved here have died of the pox. BENEDICT For the least sick inflicted me, I stand Ready to ill the world with maladies. These inmates of the earth will understand The business between us better than most That caper naughtily above. MAJOR ANDRE The price Last given in our correspondence suits His majesty, General Arnold. BENEDICT Thanks, sir. MAJOR ANDRE Do you accept these terms, sir? They are yours. The commission is affixed by lawful Signatures in every degree required. [Holding paper BENEDICT A bloody hand upholds it, and an impatient vengeance Urges me to it! The subtlest wrongs Have I undertaken to prosecute. Dead crimes Moldering forgetful ages in the crypt Demand witnessing airs; I'll unpack them And render the impaled, drained corpses up To the forgiveless justice these times impose. But I have more recent instances To prick me into action. Pale Washington, Whose stiff demeanor showed him a boy In his father's boots, prating in a voice More fit for Christmas caroling than these August hours, has refused my due promotion Among the motley rebels.
SCENE 7BENEDICT Continent Liberty! Blasphemous child Whose maternal love curdles in your teeth As though the very hour of your conceit had soured, Die on this rock of tribulations with my curse To salt your sweet breath of youth. What chainless father, deep in thought upon this present brink and brood of time would shed one precious drop for pity's sake on this old infant famished winds have sucked empty of moist life? Its fist of face turns mummy-looks to the patient mother gasping down her tongue. What man would claim the irreconcilable absurdity of so puling and morose a babe That has not his presence in its features Anywhere, no habitual grimace Or thoughtful look, or any other sign Of the slightest lending of his blood? Stand that man before me, if he lives, Who can love such a one as this--- Sprawling, unconnected and like to die--- And I'll make such yeasty homage to his paternal gore As will feed a teeming wilderness of orphans Nurse the bitterest pebbles to airy peaks Play uncle to the wily crocodile Hold all-hated basilisks for sons Declare strange fish for grandsons, never eat Of anything possessed of eyes again And name a father for every drop of rain.
SCENE 8WASHINGTON These slim letters give much base for great fear, As much, indeed, as if they stood rampart Against the unbearable ocean. My fear, God save us gentlemen, builds much on them And sees the whetted sword of treachery Rise from coils of fog too-late burnt away By this papery light. Over us treason's blade Hangs from a thread as slender as was Our hope to escape hanging, gagged and cauled. LAFAYETTE What is in paper to make us shake so? WASHINGTON The blackest ink that ever poured From a treacherous heart. LAFAYETTE Treason! HAMILTON Black words to a loyal ear. [Wash. reads aloud the price agreed to, when and where first treachery to take place, at west point] HAMILTON Blacker still. [aside] I fear this charge of thoughts May unseat his gallant reason Ridden so hard upon. To see this Safire of his eye that he prized so much Cast in the mud. Reason thus cast down What skeleton or scarecrow fear, tremor-stuffed, Will sit enthroned in his usurped crown? WASHINGTON Cold, my heart, now that all your blood has left you? The bleeding time's unstopped, and far must race The most precious element the cistern Of our state had cradled-- until the gripping ground Rip open and crush it darkly to its breast. What wrong word struck him from our chambers, Outpacing fear to fence a globed ambition In the circuit of a crown? Did we scourge Our hero of Saratoga from us? Have I mistaked myself? To hold a man Properly in discernment, to neither Increase his credits at too dear a cost To the creditor, nor to hold him a purse Prematurely empty, discarding what May pay a future debt, is wisdom's trick. It seems I have lost gold in this business, Fumble-fingered in early mock of my Witless age, still all unhatched before me. HAMILTON Who has hands enough to catch all the dropping Sorrows of our state? LAFAYETTE Still be still. He is Still in the rapture of his puzzlement. WASHINGTON It's lost; it's lost. Our cause Undoes itself. With this grave loss, all that's Bright becomes confused, and a smoky film Dulls all our polished reasons to one dim; And honor's high name is beaten down. The absolute model of fierce virtue Cracked from our estimation, falls splintering Manly sorrow and war's roaring griefs To flooded tears that overwhelm our breasts' basin Once so full of hopes to baptize ant with grief Whose tiny hearts great nature never taught To that sad purpose. HAMILTON This is not a grief Supports our purpose; justice leaves us If we infect the least. Therefore, proud men, Despise this traitor who abandons hope For the small prosperities of the minute. God floods the sickly flea with perpetual Renewal of its blood; so much more shall we Find medicine to prop our valors up In this bountiful land. Let's look to us To remedy these debilitating griefs Unwarranted disaster prompts into our eyes And dryly try some healing action That'll cut the killing cancer from us And toss it blackly in a surgeon's basin. Noosing thus foulness to it pit, this snip Yanks us, pulley-like, to blind justice's Equilibrium. ADAMS We stand at the point Of this deeply ravined matter which may fall out To either side. HAMILTON Slight starts have great effects. LAFAYETTE Then let us start. WASHINGTON He holds towards the fort. LAFAYETTE We follow first who shall lead him later. ADAMS It is a most unlikely daisy-chain Where causes fly barking after loosed effects. HAMILTON This dog has changed his master. LAFAYETTE Live, justice! ADAMS If Benedict die, it shall. LAFAYETTE Live, justice! HAMILTON The horses stand prepared, and wait by the post. WASHINGTON Now that the operation's upon us, Let us feel nothing, and act as men. [Exuent
SCENE 9HAMILTON A dangerous silence infects his tongue Who should speak plain truth, carry victory On winged speeches, and subvert defeat With heavy damnations thundering down The most buoyant enemy. What canker Shifts his emphasis from plush can and must To lisping cautious coulds and sighing shoulds? What ocean of doubts in his mouth has drowned His fighting spirit? That such a bravery, Corroded to a speechless face of rust Puts tin ears on to frustrate [muffle] other's pleas That still richly ring his former note [out loud] Mocks love's gold syllable. [Enter Washington] Quiet! Dead steps Echo after us. WASHINGTON Mr. Hamilton, I shall not grant your wish this day. ... HAMILTON Are these alphabets worthless that you grant My letters nothing? WASHINGTON I have thought it out. I cannot sustain your current loss From this office. You knot the cords of revolt To this controlling post, and keep strict leash On blooded hounds which, following too close On boorish hooves in the heated chase, Would nose themselves to slaughterhouse hooks. That knot I dare not let slip to looser ends; But must keep my tight designs circumscribed Within the pre-dated orbit of success. HAMILTON Leadership reads men, not stars, sir. WASHINGTON Alex, Take this: my good will, from me, and be dismissed. I'll call upon you presently. HAMILTON Aye, sir. [Exit Washington
SCENE 10BENEDICT Where did you spy out dead Andre's death To carry back this sad report to me To break my eyes with your tragic witness? MESSENGER From the crowd. It is a story shortly told. That taught one how to weep for nobleness [Andre in cell sentence here That never cried before. Hamilton's final plea, Stopped by great Washington unflinchingly, That the man be proudly shot to his face Instead of hung like a spying dog, Arrived at a late and useless hour; And Washington, praying for ignorance To support fortitude better than resolve, Let him languish in hope. The gentleman Ascending the scaffold at crooked dawn, Let nothing of fear touch his noble looks But bore all patiently, until the taunting crowd Taunted itself to silence, and then Forgave his murderer's hands before they struck. But when the pressing moment was upon him, Distasteful of the executioner's vile grease, Cried out: "Black hands, off!" And sweetened the thin rope around his neck To smooth his own way to death. Sorrow sweated From us below, that the baleful sun should glare On a sight so pitiless. He swung too long Kicking in the evil heaving air Till stranger hands helped press his case To a choked end. BENEDICT It's said death's a great corrupter of things, Robs men of their looks and makes all smiles hang From one jaw; the contrary sexes are mixed In death's crucible, and in hell all's stirred Indifferent alike. Death sweetens a little partridge That's left a-hanging, left too raw by life. Here's one dissolved to a simple skull Stares from its breaking handful of bones. A feather's stir Indicates the meter of life still ticks Its pulsed spur with indifferent vanity Towards an undiscovered conclusion. Some worm is in him that yet eats his breath. Evils do die when their prosecutors perish. Where the maps end, there ends England. Not before. With the royal fabric stretched out so, We'll snip the lists And trim ambition back from its massy sprawl. There is no martyrs in our woods, who for this Ghostly union still unprecipitate Will surrender up to heaven in a breath Their moist souls. Salve, salve! My conscience burns! Sweeten this wound a little With healing oils. It was left too much alone And began to rot.
SCENE 11BENEDICT When I see my love Some acuity in my blood, unrepentant still, Shakes this house of bones almost to death; Flesh unclasps its shape, good meat from the sticking ribs Lightly falls-- and all that in some portion Added to this man to make his body up Retract their actions. Not one stands with him. No or conjured ghost Fostered by the blood within this quaking vessel Nor sempiternal spirit more real than brass Flashes forth on this moment's dark haunting. Probing lights through the dim forest come And the stately elm and oak, made ghastly Cast cold apparitions against our hearts. I ran, But the sudden presence of the light Cast after me its searching fingers in the dark Distorting what bright day made plain, so that Furled shadows opened and hung empty in the air.
SCENE 12[On the Hudson River BENEDICT Men, that have rowed half over This watercourse, join with me and the king To teach this upstart nation to better learn Their duties to their betters and the state; They cry 'freed!' that were never bound, salute boys Who mock their royal parentage out of house, And declaim against a sinless king Its grammar and its graces. Speak, lads, Whose tongues were corked with enforced oaths. Will you come to me, England, and reward? FIRST SAILOR One coat serves my turn well enough. SECOND SAILOR Perhaps we'll have to let it at the neck. FIRST SAILOR So long as no foreign leash can make me speak Against myself, I am content. BENEDICT Not one of you for promotion, stern coin, And the king? Poor farmers may find some use For a headless body stuffed with paper To augur against crows, but men cannot. What is this feather to beat back British lead? Row on, lost sons, into the middle distance Of the lapping Hudson. BRITISH COMMANDER Hoist up; gaff them! BENEDICT Good, sir; these men are your prisoners That pulled me, like a drowning lark, From the snickering jaws of an American fox Rabid with its last victim. BRITISH COMMANDER Secure them In the pitchy hold. For your comfort, sir, We're straight for Hitchings in New York.
SCENE 13[West Point FIRST SOLDIER It seems a lean defense. SECOND SOLDIER We cut it from a calf Staked to feed a royal appetite For weak veal. FIRST SOLDIER We are too ready to lose The teeth of our defense. A broken picket Smiles southward, and there by the molded canon And wet fuel, the captain's dog trots through it For his bacon at the fire. O it's An airy ward stops winded cherubim And no rat else. SECOND SOLDIER Silence, I see a man Festooned with generalship marching up Who's not our thin minister whipping hence Flailed by some impertinence in his blood To scourge us to our duty. FIRST SOLDIER [enter Washington] Sir! SECOND SOLDIER Sir!
SCENE 14BENEDICT To come on an enemy in the wilderness Defines bewilderment. O excellent Andre, though you death's quietus keep Your boot speaks my death. What will next cry out For drenching revenge? Indifferent nature Puts on accusing looks, great trees scowl down And wronged rivers overwhelm their banks with blood Seeking to break me liquidly into The general woe. Stop your welling mouths Bloated arteries of the live world's heart, That foul blood may not stain your cheeks of innocence! Fouled with blood. Do not stain those green cheeks Of innocence! Matronly nature herself parted pursed Shouts for a traitor's blood with her wounds. And mothers instantly their infants disembowel If in their crying time, drop signifying dews From eyes that did their future life contain Encompassing guilty acts weeping manhood Grows to perform, dew-nourished at the root, Until a mighty traitor's bloody orchard Bears black fruit forth. What element Will not shout against it? Speak, stones! There's solid hatreds in you; And stern-faced hatred may be returned, like for like, Would you broach this raging flesh with timid gags? Sooner would the executed leaves Rush up to weight winter branches down, or false day Cast man's shadow backwards into the sun Than true hatred be separated from its object. Our animosities cleave to us like sons That grow to hate us for our past defaults. Nature opposing nature, we two Titans will grapple at the earth's stone root To provoke a universal chaos That makes mountains moan, and the pinched sky Descry against these red violence until, Rock-like, one lies down and dies. So will I Overturn this time's natural course ... Preternatural cold, this killing heat, All this inconstant, unnatural weather Has tolled men and flowers down in equal numbers; Dislodged the heads of innocents in a rain of blood ... These unnatural heats oppress a man Yearning to breathe free. Vegetation Bursts its flourishing colors like a drunk Fiery juices set roaring in the dark-- Battering daylight objects with as fierce A scorning spirit and ten mens' strength As blinded Cyclopes yeowling Ulysses to the sea. [to some group, Brit soldiers(?)] This elixir will uphold your doubtful bloods Against charms adverse and curses magical Bolt cannons in your glance, whose wounding loves Shatter my heart. Such fires stir there now That would topple Troy again with their lashing sparks And call from her harlot's lodgings out of bed Dark Helen to her reckoning before Kind Greece's mild forgiving princes Who would pay the devil's pension For his forty years of effort with a pitchfork.
SCENE 15[The Mad scene, 4th act pathos MRS BENEDICT ARNOLD Martha, can you not take cold tongs and pluck This blazing iron from my head? Dear God Teach some one of your creatures to act pity: Even if it is only a docile doe, whose hoof Brains it from me damagingly, or a mouse Whose small eye, even though no more Than a moist berry in the corner But shows some drop of pity as I die, I'll die comforted. Ah, ah, the transparent pain Burns my wits away, and I am left Confronted with visions. Wild orisons Whose surmise uninjured wits may make out With lenses undimmed by smoke Foretell injuries with images That ghost truth forth. This man's come To steal the laughing goodness of my pure child To some killing block, whose flaws, Now all filled up with blood, Open thirsty wounds again that gasp For some oily balm to close them up again echoless as graves. For the sweet closed cordial Of my child's life, they gasp. Such essence, Indiscriminately poured, heals the world. Precious beyond belief, my rapt child Forgive your mother's lunacy; she bought truth With the furious coinage of her burning brain And thus dissolves to ruins. Smoke, smoke, Boil out your impure entrails, so I get some light To view my wretchedness; my impure self Is almost entirely gone. Your dear father, Universally reviled, will crawl the globe To inching death, and creep quiet down All unhallowed to a markless grave. HAMILTON She does deeply wrong herself. Some tempest Has spilled her sanity past its bounds, Overfull... WASHINGTON I take it ill; These corrupt imaginings smell of truer woe. HAMILTON O her forging brain casts mad shadows on us all. And madness has a power to pour out such images As will make a spider weep.
SCENE 16BENEDICT If I could regain the native virtue Of my lineaments, add leg to leg again And rise to my accustomed height once more Then this limber body would be base enough To vault the starry gates of fame, writ large In the fiery pages of the sky No hurricanes of chaos could erase. The day spills out. I would dance the time away But am lamely played to play out other tricks. ... MAJOR ANDRE Do you join victory. BENEDICT I join a fault in nature these tinkerers Of belling liberty cannot mend. MAJOR ANDRE Let us commence an act that will take off The head of grief that cries these times awry. A grizzly mane stiff with blood looms above Sleepless rings under pale festering looks Nodding dark affirmations to vilest thoughts The skull of man ever clasped within. Worms Have eaten out the eye of judgment That rested there; discernment by these acid times Is all dissolved away. Strike the vitals Of this lizard death and, as with an angel's Ministering sword, burn the socket clean. Thus much of a doctor may a soldier be. BENEDICT Your words stir new bloods in me that disturb Settled causes and stony truths long-held Since the credulity of childhood Propped my eyes wide. And for my new child This world, fire-lit with war and stories Of war, must put off catastrophe's dead look And assume [resume] its former virtue, wood by wood. MAJOR ANDRE Wood by wood, we must pursue the fight. The lark's high spirit casts a contagious eye Over the sorriest mule that ever paced its slow way To unlikely death, to make it dance. When our resolution into dullards' ears Darts, then mules shall dance, and take head, and start And every croaking revolutionist Join a royal choir. BENEDICT You hit a rich note That makes my exalted spirit begin to chafe At rebel strictures, heavily laid on. Are they God's anointed to dispose Of my several talents with one roared No? The washing mob may break huge stones at my feet Until eternity dims, and their angry sighs Disappointed sighs at last fall down In cracked earth's foundations laid Like so many birds robbed of their song Before I'll dissolve into their Ocean of souls. Eliminating Death Could not nullify individual spirit More than that blank anonymity. [Could not with its sleeping scythe nullify Individual spirit more than that Blank anonymity.] BENEDICT Should this herd of tax-cheats, stampeding fate To magnify their base estates in this Grave matter, gain all the best and my child Nothing at all? MAJOR ANDRE Poor sensate thing, To take the breathing impulse from a father Deserving more in though and consequence Than this startled nation, all wobble-legged, Dropped bastardly from lowing Liberty. BENEDICT An infant hydra, milked on rebellion, To rise to hissing victory in mother's blood? Damned abortion, that lifts its unfinished shape To bawl the devil's accusations in Her face, return to the womb and sew up Your premature pangs with gentle growth So when next your tottering independence You declare, similar fond looks Will beam down on a mannered child to help Its infant steps' solitary tread. Cannot a man cup the sun in his eye And conquer it by blinking? High moments make men proud To build to those epiphanies out of stocks. These grievous injuries, connected With a base ambition to be great ...
SCENE 17MRS BENEDICT ARNOLD Husband, though you prepare a plan of blood, Draw peaceful melting looks like modest cloths Softly round your warlike visage, more grim than Jove's contentious heats which rend heaven's peace And break rocks in simplest expression. as when unformed infants in surprise mouth "O!" You dismembering looks in rude appraisal Flat opposing mountains,___ Suck the nodding crests from ambitious waves, Cut the lusty growth of vile anxious weeds And stop up the natural flow of breath That emanates from man. Composite totem Of all fears, your living words draw graves and tears Unbidden from the peaceful earth. To preserve your countenance against this Pruning time, put on shielded bloods. Prepare Looks of adamant and a brow of stone, turn Such a paleness to the world as will turn shears. Pull over your spontaneous face, which shows The least effect of bloods with red alarm This mask of paleness and lack of heart So arctic deep that lively eyes, sheltered Under ice-pale cliffs, betray nothing of your sense And cast cold fire on the ambling nothing beneath. [on B's love for England] Dislikes are usually petty, loves profound. An angry man is all in the moment Concentrated, all his scattered fury Dwindled to a panting second's Yes or No. Do not dwindle to an instant's rash act. Let sedate pity quell your breast, Injecting action with some placid drop of care To instill silent thought in the loudest hour The roaring voice of fury can fill out. Take these soft words softly from me still. BENEDICT Love, MRS BENEDICT ARNOLD Being much in love, he is much dissuaded Of this war's virtue against its mother state. The rebellious child must bite the mother's Fountain pap and dry the succor that would soothe the woe Of outrageous actions born in a wrathful breast That, all out of color In its new-found foundling solitude Berates the stones for heartlessness And starts ungentle wars against the skies For proving dry of mercy and comfortless. But no chilling brand is he Whose flame extinguishes into slender smoke Removed from the warm burning of the hearth That tended his fearful spark to a declaiming fire That spoke well of the father embers of his origins And grew rosy as the healthful sun In the still rising jets of their old flames. [unceasing jets] Dutiful boy, he has brought his bouquet home To a mother's watering hands, a father's caress; Due reward for his glory in the field. That which nature holds in dreadful sequestration Unpalatable secrets, more somber than loved affairs Shut from bald reasons prying eye And with hoarded dread ceremony made great Beyond the open capacity of its locked strength As an untold nightmare will breed day-dragons Before many days after the mournful child First started from his bed, so too Is this trick of treason, which once made plain Is a loyal toy with which even dogs may play And not bark and back away with guilty looks. This trick treason is a most palatable device--- An ornament to my soul's wide estate Which in its offices is like a tree Whose tap root touches the foundation stone Of the deep weeping rivers of the earth And there sucks such dark nutrition up as will spur Sap into these branches, well arrayed, And enlarged by careful thought as to their duties That sit kingly in the sun. This ornament, Sharp to its purpose, and placed to its perfection On the swaying top of the Christmas tree! So do these branchy arms of my intents Spread withering shade above my enemies And gather up my loves and those principle To my ambitious thought's success and true affections In one sweep casting both comfort and distress. That tree is England's empire, not some Upstart stock that tenderly clings To the merest rock, but a mighty, tall, And all-compelling oak that surmounts The hill o the world. And I, in my white treachery, Am cut from this new, unnursed, tender slug, This milkless bud that tears from the gangling rock ---O weaker than a babe emptied of its blood!--- And am grafted to that root.
SCENE 18BENEDICT [of Mrs. B?] How can you, o cruel gods, This incorporeal spirit take and bind it Thus damagingly in the body's glass house? What whisper of reason upholds your airy whims? The body in its bottle may drop with age And end itself shatteringly, or let The slow work of beetles strip it piecemeal To naked death.
SCENE 19MRS BENEDICT ARNOLD Constance, go and gather up Your master's traveling necessities And assemble all here. [exit Constance The hope of life Rides upon these measures. Other action Or tension's inactivity might tighten him Past his valor's breaking. A ban's as good as his bones, But bones do break. Silence must attend this crying hour Or else all will lay revealed, and the sky Wail for its bloody cup of justice--- For every creeping creature in nature knows Treason's an abhorred thing. [Enter Constance, with provisions Thank you, Constance. You do better duty to man. who's one illness Death is, than you can know. CONSTANCE Grace take you, ma'am. [Knock at the door WASHINGTON Where's your lady, ma'am? CONSTANCE Laid sick in bed, sir, And will not stir. WASHINGTON Steal into her presence quietly And give her our healthful wishes. CONSTANCE Yes, sir. WASHINGTON Is there any breakfast for these cold patriots Tired with long riding? CONSTANCE Warming in the kitchen [short list of breakfast items]
SCENE 20[Benedict on Battlefield as British General] BENEDICT Drag the abject prisoner forward, sir, To let his fates engulf him. [Enter prisoner, with flag American, You are bound to the hour of your death Beyond the alteration of pleading mouths So speak the truth. How am I perceived By my former countrymen? AMERICAN I see the rope Being readied against the jaced spruce And shall speak my mind before it departs My trunk. BENEDICT Say on, say on. AMERICAN General Opinion Has you a monster, a pale worm Of your mother's and her brother's bed. And when she was too much charged with the Resentful pus of your sullen babydom With wicked cabal knives she tricked you out. Whereon, you stood, a babe still regal In his own mother's blood, who new-lunged shouts "I am Judas Iscariot, come back To damn an innocent nation, if I can." So much is said, and worse believed. With this as index, the charade of honor You have these past two-score years perpetrated Is laid as open as a raw skinned hare. So much is said. And it's promised that your leg, Shattered at Saratoga, we'll bury And hang the rebel (filthy) rest. [Throws flag in Benedict's face BENEDICT Bury the leg, bury the leg And hang the engine that drove it? Corporals, Drag the dead here. [Exit prisoner &Co. Face the judgment of the dead, damned Washington, As I these living lashes must forbear That more than cut my more than sinning flesh To harrow out of hiding this howling soul That afflicts me. I'll arrange these slain ones All arraigned in gory robes of blood And set their cadaverous wisdoms over him To condemn his sutured testimony Sewn from old rags of homey truth Into this motley American.
EPILOGUEMAJOR ANDRE In the torn house of contemporanity Dull, fitful plays drag and start across the stage As like a play as is a surgeon's map to man: Packed with dry, expository words That bleed nothing, nor rend themselves, nor laugh, At the rich mystery of a discovered action Or apt comparison appareled in a rhyme. And so, to patch our playing with the critic's Attentive needle, we must first amend The base material with which we may begin. Silks, then, for sails to take us high and far, And leave the burlap for the butchers of good words, Glum comedians of a farce other wits began. Having studied my false part With diligence fit for an infant art That rages a mere moment and is gone I ask you, elders, to learn your bit And entertain yourselves as befits your years--- For, as the magic dark of love allows, Which, in this spotted theatre we may half sustain, To erase our faults and increase your youthful powers Each clap will grow you backwards by an hour. So strain, and clap, until you reach The lying cradle of some honest sleep.