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SONGS FOR A MAD QUEEN

This first appeared in From East to West


'The Lord shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart.'

 

 - I -

 

Voices over the earth

Voices from the four quarters of the earth

Voices under the earth

Fire and thunder

 

Voices by day and by night

Voices from the east and from the west

Voices deep under the earth

Fire and thunder

 

Voices over the people

Voices over the whole people

Voices over the palace

 

And in the Queen's chamber

Fire and thunder

 

 

 - II -

 

the Queen:

 

I have put out the lights and cannot see

What they have brought, what thing

Lies brooding here in my bed

Beneath the rotten canopy

 

I touched in the dark and found it warm

Surprising - I thought it was dead

But no, it moved at my touch

And tried perhaps to speak? but only sighed,

 

Small (like a child)

But not a child, I think

My child is dead

I kept it in a box for a while under the bed

 

Then who might you be?

I am Your Majesty's Faithful Dwarf, he said.

 

 

- III -

 

the Dwarf:

 

Excuse, Your Majesty

Excuse my shame

Excuse my ugliness before your eyes

 

Somebody brought me

Somebody hid me

Here as a surprise

 

for Your Majesty.  I'm

to make you laugh

with my little crooked sorrow

 

See?  Am I not wonderfully

made?  Don't you feel like laughing

now - not even a smile?

 

Shall I dance for Your Majesty or

sing for my Lady's pleasure - See?

 

 

- IV -

 

the Queen (very slowly):

 

Come here child

Closer, here, to my side

Let me see your eyes

 

Open wide and show me

the night inside.

Yes... it is just as I thought

 

Have a look in the glass

Wait, I'll take you on my knee

Now do you see?

 

Perhaps we ought to laugh

after all - my eyes in your face!

Twin pools of sorrow

 

What did you say?

Don't weep, or I'll send you away.

 

 

- V -

 

the Queen (aria brilliante):

 

If I roll myself in the blue dust

Eat gold-leaf and vomit ruby worms

Writhe, scream, and promise again to die

It profiteth me nothing.

 

If I give my heart to be burned

Fill it with poison flames

Burst bleed and empty in the ashes lie

It profiteth me nothing.

 

Oh!  Take away this blue-eyed shroud

Oh!  Take away this bright brocade of pain

And my golden plate and my golden cup

and my heavy golden chain

They have profited me nothing.

 

Bury them under the blackest hill

And bring me something small and still

 

What is he doing?

I did not ask you to sing

 

 

-VI-

 

the Dwarf (amoroso):

 

Hail, my Lady Queen,

Much-injured Princess, Hail!

Hold up your weary head and weep no more

Your Deliverer stands at the door.

 

Queen:  Where is he then?

 

Dwarf:  Here, Your Majesty.  There is none but I.

 

Queen:  What?  Are you not small and crooked?

 

Dwarf:  I will creep into my Lady's small and crooked heart.