~ Ophelia ~
He comes, and my heart pounds straightaway,
as if it would burst.
But I must be calm in this.
Though I long to cry out;
to strike him for hurting me;
to clutch at him in longing;
to speak my mind…to hear his.
“Good my lord,” I say,
“how does your honor for this many a day?”
He looks to the floor, and shakes his head,
belying his words, which trail away
in a fashion that stabs at my heart.
“I humbly thank you; well, well, well.”
“My lord,” I go on, striving to remember
my father’s guidance for this moment,
“I have remembrances of yours,
that I have longed long to re-deliver;
I pray you, now receive them.”
“No, not I,” he says.
“I never gave you aught.”
“My honored lord, you know right well you did;
and, with them, words of so sweet breath composed
as made the things more rich:
their perfume lost, take these again;
for to the noble mind rich gifts wax poor
when givers prove unkind.
There, my lord.”
His eyes grow wild, and now I am truly afraid.
“Ha, ha! Are you honest?”
“Are you fair?”
“What means your lordship?”
“That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should
admit no discourse to your beauty.”
“Could beauty, my lord,
have better commerce than with honesty?”
“Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner
transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the
force of honesty can translate beauty into his
likeness: this was sometime a paradox, but now the
time gives it proof. I did love you once.”
“Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.”
“You should not have believed me; for virtue cannot
so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of
it: I loved you not.”
How can he say this to me?
All I can stammer is: “I was the more deceived.”
And then, my world falls down about me.
“Get thee to a nunnery,” he says.
“Why would you be a breeder of sinners?
I am myself indifferent honest;
but yet I could accuse me of such things
that it were better my mother had not borne me:
I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious,
with more offences at my beck
than I have thoughts to put them in,
imagination to give them shape,
or time to act them in.
What should such fellows as I do crawling
between earth and heaven?
We are arrant knaves, all; believe none of us.
Go your ways to a nunnery.
Where's your father?”
My father. He knows, then, or guesses,
that my father listens even now.
I must tell him, must confess it…
but I cannot, cannot.
“At home, my lord.”
“Let the doors be shut upon him,
that he may play the fool nowhere but in his own house.
Oh, help him, you sweet heavens!
Please let him speak no more.
But on and on he goes.
“If you marry, I'll give you this plague for
your dowry: be you as chaste as ice,
as pure as snow, you cannot escape slander.
Go to a nunnery, go: farewell.
Or, if you must marry, marry a fool;
for wise men know well enough
what monsters you make of them.
To a nunnery, go, and quickly too.
Oh heavenly powers, restore him!
But it is beyond him to cease.
“All of you wear cosmetics well enough,” he says.
“God has given you one face,
and you make yourselves another:
you jig, you amble, and you lisp,
and nick-name God's creatures,
and make your wantonness your ignorance.
Go to, I'll no more on it; it has made me mad.
I say, we will have no more marriages:
those that are married already,
all but one, shall live; the rest shall keep as they are.
To a nunnery, go.”
Like a storm, he marches away, and is gone.
Oh, what a noble mind is here overthrown!
The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, sword;
the expectancy and rose of the fair state,
the glass of fashion and the mould of form,
the observed of all observers, quite, quite down!
And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
that sucked the honey of his music vows,
now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh;
that unmatched form and feature of blown youth
blasted with ecstasy.
Oh, woe is me,
to have seen what I have seen, see what I see!