Amyntas, A Tale of the Woods/Act V

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

ACT FIFTH.

SCENE I.

CHORUS AND ELPINO.

ELPINO.
Truly the law, with which imperial Love
Governs eternally, is not a harsh
Nor crooked law; and wrongly are his works
Condemned, being full of a deep providence.
Oh with what art, and through what unknown paths
Conducts he man to happiness; and when
His servant thinks himself plunged down to the depths
Of evil; lifts him with a sparkling hand,
And places in his amorous paradise!
Lo, here, Amyntas casting himself down
Precipitous, ascends at once to the top
0? all his joy. O fortunate Amyntas!
By so much more the happier, as thou wert
Unhappy! Thine example gives me hope,
That that most fair and unaffectionate thing
Under whose smile of pity is concealed
An iron for my soul, may heal at last
With a true pity what her false has wounded.

CHORUS.
He who comes hither is the wise Elpino.
I hear him talking of the dead Amyntas,
As though he were alive, calling him blest
And fortunate. Ah! thus it is with lovers,
We think the lover fortunate who dies,
And so finds pity in his lady's heart;
And this we call a Paradise and long for!
With what light bounty does the winged god
Content his servants.—Art thou then, Elpino,
So miserable too, that thou esteemest
The miserable end of poor Amyntas
A blessing, and would'st reach the same thyself!

ELPINO.
Be joyful, friends, it was a false report
That told us of his death.

CHORUS.
O blessed news!
But did he not then cast himself from the hills?

ELPINO.
He did; but 'twas a cost so fortunate,
That in the shape of death, a vital joy
Received him in its arms: and now he lies
Lapt in the bosom of his lady adored,
Who is as kind as she was hard, and kisses
With her own mouth the sorrow from his eyes.
My business now is with Montano her father,
To bring him where they are; for his consent
Alone is wanting to their mutual love.

CHORUS.
Alike their age, their gentle blood alike,
And now their wishes harmonize. The old man
Has wished, I know, for grandchildren, to make
A happy circle round about his age;
So that his wishes must conform with theirs.
But oh, Elpino, what kind God or chance
Rescued Amyntas from that perilous leap?

ELPINO.
I shall delight to tell ye. Hear, then, hear,
What with these eyes I saw. I was in front
Of my own cave, which lies beside the hill,
Just where it parts on meeting with the valley,
And makes a kind of leap. I was conversing
With Thyrsis upon one, who in her net
Him first, and afterwards myself, took fast;
And I was saying how much I preferred
My sweet captivity to his flight and freedom;
When suddenly there was a cry in the air;
And we beheld a man shoot headlong down
From the top of the hill, and fall upon some bushes
There grew on the hill side, just over head,
A little queach of bushes and of thorns,
Which being closely intertwisted, made
A sort of flowering hurdle. 'Twas on that
He pitched, before the rougher juts had hurt him;
And though he weighed it down, and so came rolling
Almost before our feet, yet it had broken
His fall enough to hinder it from killing.
He was so much hurt however, that he lay
An hour or more quite stunned and without sense.
The sudden spectacle had struck us mute
With pity and horror seeing who it was;
But our conviction that he was not dead,
And hopes to see him well, made the shock less.
Thyrsis then gave me all the whole recount
Of his sad story with its hopeless love;
And while we were endeavouring to revive him,
Having, meanwhile sent for Alphesibœus
To whom Apollo gave the art of healing,
When he gave me the poet's harp and quill,
Daphne and Sylvia who (as I found afterwards)
Were searching for the body they thought dead,
Arrived together; but when Sylvia recognised
Amyntas, and beheld his beautiful cheeks
So lovelily discoloured, that no violet
Could pale more sweetly, it so smote on her,
That she seemed ready to breathe out her soul.
And then like a wild Bacchante, crying out
And smiting her fair bosom, she fell down
Right on the prostrate body, face to face,
And mouth to mouth.

CHORUS.
Did then no shame restrain
Her who had been so hard and so denying?

ELPINO.
It is a feeble love that shame restrains;
A powerful one bursts through so weak a bridle.
Her eyes appeared a fountain of sweet waters,
With which she bathed his cold cheeks, moaningly
Waters so sweet, that he came back to life,
And opening his dim eyes, sent from his soul
A dolorous "Ah me!" But that sad breath
Which issued forth so bitterly,
Met with the breath of his beloved Sylvia,
Who with her own dear mouth gathered it up,
And turned it all to sweet.
But who could tell with what deliciousness
They kept in that embrace, each of them sure
Of t'other's life, and he at least made sure
Of his long love returned,
And seeing himself bound thus fast with her!

CHORUS.
And is Amyntas then so safe and sound,
His life is in no danger?

ELPINO.
None whatever.
He has some petty scratches, and his limbs
Are somewhat bruised, but it will come to nothing,
And nothing he accounts it. Happy he,
To have given so great a proof of all his love,
And now to have its sweets all set before him,
Healing and heavenly food for his past toils.
The Gods be with ye, friends; I must resume
My way, and find Montano, the old man.

CHORUS.
I know not whether all the bitter toil,
With which this lover to his purpose kept,
And served, and loved, and sighed, and wept,
Can give a perfect taste
To any sweet soever at the last:
But if indeed the joy
Come dearer from annoy,
I ask not, Love, for my delight,
To reach that beatific height:
Let others have that perfect cup:
Me let my mistress gather up
To the heart, where I would cling,
After short petitioning;
And let our refreshment be
Relished with no agony;
But with only pungent sweets,
Sweet disdains, and sweet retreats;
And warfare, such as still produces
Heart-refreshing peace and truces.

FINIS.


H. Bryer, Printer,
Bridge-street, Blackfriars.