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- Early Plays - 20/50 -


FURIA. The mighty powers rejoice at your resolve!-- See, Catiline,--see, yonder comes your wife.

[AURELIA comes through the forest in an anxious search.]

AURELIA. Where shall I find him? Where--where can he be! I've searched in vain among the dead--

[Discovers him.]

AURELIA. Great heavens,-- My Catiline!

[She rushes toward him.]

CATILINE. [Bewildered.] Speak not that name again!

AURELIA. You are alive?

[Is about to throw herself in his arms.]

CATILINE. [Thrusting her aside.] Away! I'm not alive.

AURELIA. Oh, hear me, dearest--!

CATILINE. No, I will not hear! I hate you. I see through your cunning wiles. You wish to chain me to a living death. Cease staring at me! Ah, your eyes torment me,-- They pierce like daggers through my very soul! Ah, yes, the dagger! Die! Come, close your eyes--

[He draws the dagger and seizes her by the hand.]

AURELIA. Keep guard, oh gracious gods, o'er him and me!

CATILINE. Quick, close your eyes; close them, I say;--in them I see the starlight and the morning sky--. Now shall I quench the heavenly star of dawn!

[The thunder rolls again.]

CATILINE. Your heart; your blood! Now speak the gods of life Their last farewell to you and Catiline!

[He lifts the dagger toward her bosom; she escapes into the tent; he pursues her.]

FURIA. [Listens.] She stretches out her hand imploringly. She pleads with him for life. He hears her not. He strikes her down! She reels in her own blood!

[CATILINE comes slowly out of the tent with the dagger in his hand.]

CATILINE. Now am I free. Soon I shall cease to be. Now sinks my soul in vague oblivion. My eyes are growing dim, my hearing faint, As if through rushing waters. Ah, do you know What I have slain with this my little dagger? Not her alone,--but all the hearts on earth,-- All living things, all things that grow and bloom;-- The starlight have I dimmed, the crescent moon, The flaming sun. Ah, see,--it fails to rise; 'Twill never rise again; the sun is dead. Now is the whole wide realm of earth transformed Into a huge and clammy sepulchre, Its vault of leaden grey;--beneath this vault Stand you and I, bereft of light and darkness, Of death and life,--two restless exiled shadows.

FURIA. Now stand we, Catiline, before our goal!

CATILINE. No, one step more--before I reach my goal. Relieve me of my burden! Do you not see, I bend beneath the corpse of Catiline? A dagger through the corpse of Catiline!

[He shows her the dagger.]

CATILINE. Come, Furia, set me free! Come, take this dagger;-- On it the star of morning I impaled;-- Take it--and plunge it straightway through the corpse; Then it will loose its hold, and I am free.

FURIA. [Takes the dagger.] Your will be done, whom I have loved in hate! Shake off your dust and come with me to rest.

[She buries the dagger deep in his heart; he sinks down at the foot of the tree.]

CATILINE. [After a moment comes to consciousness again, passes his hand across his forehead, and speaks faintly.] Now, mysterious voice, your prophecy I understand! I shall perish by my own, yet by a stranger's hand. Nemesis has wrought her end. Shroud me, gloom of night! Raise your billows, murky Styx, roll on in all your might! Ferry me across in safety; speed the vessel on Toward the silent prince's realm, the land of shadows wan. Two roads there are running yonder; I shall journey dumb Toward the left--

AURELIA. [From the tent, pale and faltering, her bosom bloody.] --no, toward the right! Oh, toward Elysium!

CATILINE. [Startled.] How this bright and lurid picture fills my soul with dread! She herself it is! Aurelia, speak,--are you not dead?

AURELIA. [Kneels before him.] No, I live that I may still your agonizing cry,-- Live that I may lean my bosom on your breast and die.

CATILINE. Oh, you live!

AURELIA. I did but swoon; though my two eyes grew blurred, Dimly yet I followed you and heard your every word. And my love a spouse's strength again unto me gave;-- Breast to breast, my Catiline, we go into the grave!

CATILINE. Oh, how gladly would I go! Yet all in vain you sigh. We must part. Revenge compels me with a hollow cry. You can hasten, free and blithesome, forth to peace and light; I must cross the river Lethe down into the night.

[The day dawns in the background.]

AURELIA. [Points toward the increasing light.] No, the terrors and the gloom of death love scatters far. See, the storm-clouds vanish; faintly gleams the morning star.

AURELIA. [With uplifted arms.] Light is victor! Grand and full of freshness dawns the day! Follow me, then! Death already speeds me on his way.

[She sinks down over him.]

CATILINE. [Presses her to himself and speaks with his last strength.] Oh, how sweet! Now I remember my forgotten dream, How the darkness was dispersed before a radiant beam, How the song of children ushered in the new-born day. Ah, my eye grows dim, my strength is fading fast away; But my mind is clearer now than ever it has been: All the wanderings of my life loom plainly up within. Yes, my life a tempest was beneath the lightning blaze; But my death is like the morning's rosy-tinted haze.

[Bends over her.]

CATILINE. You have driven the gloom away; peace dwells within my breast. I shall seek with you the dwelling place of light and rest!

CATILINE. [He tears the dagger quickly out of his breast and speaks with dying voice.] The gods of dawn are smiling in atonement from above; All the powers of darkness you have conquered with your love!

[During the last scene FURIA has withdrawn farther and farther into the background and disappears at last among the trees. CATILINE's head sinks down on AURELIA's breast; they die.]

* * * * *

THE WARRIOR'S BARROW

[Kaempehojen]

A Dramatic Poem in One Act

1854

* * * * *

DRAMATIS PERSONĘ

RODERIK An old recluse.

BLANKA His foster-daughter.

GANDALF A sea-king from Norway.

ASGAUT An old viking.

HROLLOUG " " "

JOSTEJN " " "

Several VIKINGS

HEMMING A young scald in Gandalf's service.

* * * * *

SETTING

The action takes place on a small island off the coast of Sicily shortly before the introduction of Christianity into Norway.


Early Plays - 20/50

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