Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

Night hath not put the sun to silence: dawn

Speaks and we lack but one loud word from thee.

Enter an Officer with Guards.

OFFICER

My lord, you are prisoner of the state, and mine.

[blocks in formation]

I think I am overwatched, and thou

Part of the dream I walk in unaware-
A thing made out of slumber. Many a night
I have slept but ill-never so sound as this.
Why tolls the bell not from St. Mark's?

OFFICER.

My lord,

By mandate of the sovereign council met
The warden of the bell-tower had in charge
To see that none should sound the bells today.
The gates are fastened of the palace square :
The Ten, with twenty chosen in aid of them
Forth of the chiefest of the state, are set
To judge the prisoners even this hour attaint

On mortal charge of murderous treason.

FALIERO.

True men be they that shall arraign me, I
May stand in sooth approved their traitor.

OFFICER.

If

Sir,

For your sole name's sake is it of all the rest
That this new court of judgment sits, to speak
On this great cause no common sentence.

FALIERO.

No:

Strange court, and stranger trial, and most of all
Strange will the strange court's judgment held today
Read where it stands on record. Good my friend,
I will not trouble thee nor vex thy lords

With tarriance nor with wrangling: I desire
Nothing of man, nor aught of God save peace.
I shall not lack it long: yet would I say
Perchance a word before I die, because

I have loved this city. Lead me where they sit
That I may stand and speak my soul and go:
The rest is death's and God's: if these be just,
Judge they between us, and their will be mine.

[Exeunt.

ACT V.

SCENE I.-The Hall of the Council of Ten.

BENINTENDE and Senators sitting. Enter FALIERO, guarded.

BENINTENDE.

Justice has given her doom against the accused,
Israello and Calendaro: they that fled
To Chioggia lie in ward, and hence await
An equal sentence: this remains, to speak
Judgment on him, the guiltiest head of all
And murderous heart of this conspiracy,
Head once and heart of Venice, present here
To bear the award of retributive law
Laid on her traitor and your enemy. Sirs,
Is it your will to hear him answer?

SENATORS.

BENINTENDE.

Marin Faliero, leave is thine to speak.

Yea.

FALIERO.

And leave is yours to slay me: yet for both,
Lords councillors, I thank you : most for death,
And somewhat yet for freedom given my speech.
Ye know that being your prince and thrall elect
I have lived not free, who now shall freely die;
By doom indeed of yours, but mine own will
Rejoicingly confirms it. Fourscore years
Have given mine eyesight and my spirit of life
The sun and sea to feed on, and mine heart
This people and this city chosen of God
To love and serve, and this forlorn right hand
Some threescore of those years have given the gift
With furtherance of God's comfort and my sword's
To smite your foes and scatter, till today

I am here arraigned as deadliest of them all.
Nor verily ever stood ye, nor shall stand,
In risk so dire, and die not: yea, when death
Hangs hard above your heads as over mine
Here, and the straitened spirit abhors the flesh,
Then hardly shall their mutual severance be
Nearer for chance or God has brought you forth
From under veriest imminence of death

And shadowing darkness of his hand uplift

And wing made wide above you. No man's head
Should God have spared, had God been one with me,
Or chance and I like-minded: that ye live,

Praise God, and not my purpose: never man
Bore mind more bent on one thing most desired,

No sinner's more on sin, no saint's on God,
Than mine with all its might and weight of will
On trust of your destruction. Hope on earth
Save this, desire of gift save this from heaven,
Had I, since first this fire was lit in me,

None and now knowing it vain I would not live
One hour beyond your sentence. Whence or how
God kindled it against you, for of God,
I say, of God it came, ye marvel, seeing
No cause as great as my great rage of will
To rouse in me such ravin: yet, my lords,
If thirst or ever hunger gnawed man's heart,
Mine did they till your death should satiate it,
Your general death and single: yea, had God
Held in one hand forth toward me death for you,
For me perpetual penance, and in one

For you long life and paradise for me,

I had chosen, and given him thanks who gave me choice,
Revenge with hell, not heaven with pardon. Yet
Not my wrong only, not my wrath alone,

Were all that made my spirit a sword and kept
My thought a fire against you: though the wrong
Were monstrous past memorial made of man,
Past memory kept of time alive to mark
Ingratitude most memorable, and the wrath,
How sharp soe'er, not more than proves in God
By fire and fierce apocalypse of doom

Justice for shame that smites an old man's cheek
Is as a whetted sword that cleaves his heart,

His hand, strong once, being weaponless: and mine

« IndietroContinua »