BETA

The Rape of Proserpine.

(SceneThe Vale of Enna .)

Proserpine, Virgins.
Proser.
Now come and sit around me,1
And I’ll divide the flowers, and give to each2
What most becomes her beauty. What a vale3
Is this of Enna !  Every thing that comes4
From the green earth, springs here more graciously,5
And the blue day, methinks, smiles lovelier now6
Than it was wont even in Sicily.7
My spirit mounts as triumphing, and my heart,8
In which the red blood hides, seems tumulted9
By some delicious passion. Look, above,10
Above : How nobly thro’ the cloudless sky11
The great Apollo goes—Jove’s radiant son—12
My father’s son : and here, below, the bosom13
Of the green earth is almost hid by flowers.14
Who would be sad to-day !  Come round, and cast15
Each one her odorous heap from out her lap16
Into one pile. Some we’ll divide among us,17
And, for the rest, we’ll fling them to the Hours ;18
So may Aurora’s path become more fair,19
And we be blest in giving.20
Here—This rose21
(This one half-blown) shall be my Maia’s portion,22
For that, like it, her blush is beautiful :23
And this deep violet, almost as blue24
As Pallas’ eye, or thine, Lycimnia,25
I’ll give to thee, for like thyself it wears26
Its sweetness, never obtruding. For this lily,27
Where can it hang but at Cyane’s breast ?28
And yet ’twill wither on so white a bed,29
If flowers have sense for envy :— It shall lie30
Amongst thy raven tresses, Cytheris,31
Like one star on the bosom of the night.32
The cowslip and the yellow primrose—they33
Are gone, my sad Leontia, to their graves,34
And April hath wept o’er them, and the voice35
Of March hath sung, even before their deaths,36
The dirge of those young children of the year.—37
But here is heart’s-ease for your woes. And now,38
The honey-suckle flower I give to thee,39
And love it for my sake, my own Cyane :40
It hangs upon the stem it loves, as thou41
Hast clung to me thro’ every joy and sorrow ;42
It flourishes with its guardian’s growth, as thou dost ;43
And if the woodman’s axe should one the tree,44
The woodbine too must perish.—Hark ! what sound—45
Do ye see aught ?46
CHORUS.
Behold, behold, Proserpina !47
How hoary clouds from out the earth arise,48
And wing their way towards the skies,49
As they would veil the burning blush of day.50
And, look, upon a rolling car,51
Some fearful being from afar52
Comes onward : As he moves along the ground,53
A dull and subterranean sound54
Companions him ; and from his face doth shine,55
Proclaiming him divine,56
A light that darkens all the place around.57
SEMICHORUS. (Cyane.)
’Tis he, ’tis he : he comes to us58
From the depths of Tartarus.59
For what of evil doth he roam60
From his red and gloomy home,61
In the centre of the world,62
Where the sinful dead are hurled ?63
Mark him as he moves along,64
Drawn by horses black and strong,65
Such as may belong to Night,66
’Ere she takes her morning flight.67
Now the chariot stops : the god68
On our grassy world hath trod :69
Like a Titan steppeth he,70
Yet full of his divinity.71
On his mighty shoulders lie72
Raven locks, and in his eye73
A cruel beauty, such as none74
Of us may wisely look upon.75
Proser.
He comes indeed. How like a god he looks !76
Terribly lovely—Shall I shun his eye,77
Which even here looks brightly beautiful ?78
What a wild leopard glance he has.—I am79
Jove’s daughter, and shall80
I then deign to fly ?81
I will not, yet methinks, I fear to stay.82
Come, let us go, Cyane.83
PLUTO enters.
Pluto.
Stay, oh ! stay.84
Proserpina, Proserpina, I come85
From my Tartarean kingdom to behold you.86
The brother of Love am I. I come to say,87
Gently, beside the blue Sicilian stream,88
How much I love you, fair Proserpina.89
Think me not rude that thus at once I tell90
My passion. I disarm me of all power ;91
And in the accents of a man I sue,92
Bowing before your beauty. Brightest maid !93
Let me—still unpresuming—say I have94
Roamed thro’ the earth, where many an eye hath smil’d95
In love upon me, tho’ it knew me not ;96
But I have passed free from amongst them all,97
To gaze on you alone. I might have clasped98
Lovely and royal maids, and throned. queens,99
Sea-nymphs, or fairy shapes that glide along100
Like light across the hills, or those that make101
Mysterious music in the desert woods,102
And shake the green leaves in the face of day, 103
Or lend a voice to fountains or to caves,104
Or answering hush the river’s sweet reproach—105
Oh ! I’ve escaped from all, to come and tell106
How much I love you, sweet Proserpina.107
SEMICHORUS.—(  Cyane. )
Come with me, away, away,108
Fair and young Proserpina,109
You will die unless you flee,110
Child of crowned Cybele !111
Think on all your mother’s love,112
On every stream and pleasant grove113
That you must for ever leave,114
If the dark king you believe.115
Think not on his eyes of fire,116
Nor his wily heart’s desire ;117
Nor his mighty monarch tread ;118
Nor the locks that ’r ound his head119
Run like wreathed snakes, and fling120
A shadow o’er his eyes’ glancing ;121
Nor the dangerous whispers, hung122
Like honey, roofing o’er his tongue.123
But think of all thy mother’s glory124
Of her love—of every story125
Of the cruel Pluto, told,126
And which grey Tradition old,127
With all its weight of grief and crime,128
Hath barr’d from out the grave of Time.129
Once again I bid thee flee,130
Daughter of great Cybele.131
Proser.
You are too harsh, Cyane !132
Pluto.
Oh ! my love,133
Fairer than the white Naiad—fairer far134
Than ought on-earth, and fair as ought in heaven.—135
Hear me, Proserpina !136
Proser.
Away, away.137
I’ll not believe you. What a cunning tongue138
He has, Cyane ; has he not. Away :139
Can the gods flatter ?140
Pluto.
By my burning throne !141
I love you, sweetest : I will make you queen142
Of my great kingdom. One third of the world143
Shall you reign over, my Proserpina ;144
And you shall rank as high as any she,145
Save one, within the starry court of Jove.146
Proser.
Will you be true ?147
Pluto.
I swear it. By myself !148
Come then, my bride.149
Proser.
Speak thou again, my friend.150
Speak, harsh Cyane, in a harsher voice,151
And bid me not believe him. Ah ! you droop152
Your head in silence.153
Pluto.
Come, my bright queen !154
Come, beautiful Proserpina, and see155
The regions over which your husband reigns ;156
His palaces and radiant treasures, which157
Mock and outstrip all fable ; his great power,158
Which the living own, and wandering ghosts obey,159
And all the elements———Oh ! you shall sit160
On my illuminated throne, and be161
A Queen indeed ; and round your forehead shall run162
Circlets of gems, as bright as those that bind163
The brows of Juno on Heaven’s festal nights,164
When all the Gods assemble, and bend down165
In homage before Jove.166
Proser.
Speak out, Cyane !167
Pluto.
But, above all, in my heart, shall you reign168
Supreme, a Goddess and a Queen indeed,169
Without a rival. Oh ! and you shall share170
My subterranean power, and sport upon171
The fields Elysian, where ’midst, softest sounds,172
And odours springing from immortal flowers,173
And mazy rivers, and eternal groves174
Of bloom and beauty, the good spirits walk :175
And you shall take your station in the skies176
Nearest the Queen of Heaven, and with her hold177
Celestial talk, and meet Jove’s tender smile178
So beautiful——.179
Proser.
Away, away, away,180
Nothing but force shall ever.—Oh, away.181
I’ll not believe. Fool that I am to smile.182
Come ’r ound me virgins. Am I then betrayed ?183
Oh ! fraudful king !184
Pluto.
No, by this kiss, and this :185
I am your own, my love ; and you are mine186
For ever and for ever. Weep, Cyane.187
[Forces off Proserpine.
CHORUS.
They are gone—Afar, afar,188
Like the shooting of a star,189
See their chariot fade away. 190
Farewell, lost Proserpina.191
Cyane is gradually transformed.)
But, oh ! what frightful change is here :192
Cyane, raise your eyes, and hear193
We call thee.—Vainly—on the ground194
She sinks, without a single sound,195
And all her garments float around.196
Again, again she rises—light,197
Her head is like a fountain bright,198
And her glossy ringlets fall,199
With a murmur musical,200
O’er her shoulders like a river,201
That rushes and escapes for ever202
Is the fair Cyane gone ?203
And is this fountain left alone,204
For a sad remembrance, where205
We may in after times repair,206
With heavy heart and weeping eye,207
To sing songs to her memory ?208
Oh ! then, farewell ! and now with hearts that mourn209
Deeply, to Dian’s temple will we go :210
But ever on this day we will return,211
Constant, to mark Cyane’s fountain, flow ;212
And, haply, for among us who can know213
The secrets written on the scrolls of Fate,214
A day may come when we may cease our woe,215
And she, redeemed at last from Pluto’s hate,216
Rise, in her beauty old, pure and regenerate.217