FOURTH MOVEMENT — FIRST ACT
(A) Introduzione declamando, con Larghezza
In front of the castle, which lies beneath the full Moon, drenched in silver radiance. The music of the trees resembles that of a consort of viols in grandioso intonations, supported by the drone of deep bourdons. From afar sound the notes of a nightingale, most mellow, in bel canto style, a piacere, according to the pleasure of the singer, or in a pensive, thoughtful, pensieroso, pianente; gently, softly, full of sweet contours, like a veiled but beautiful lady. And there is in the air a soft, mysterious rustling noise; as if some harps and dulcimers were played below the surface of deep waters, dimly heard. Madelon, Sebastiano and Quaver appear through the main gate of the castle and come forward.
MADELON: Now, good Quaver, you are free at last. Return to the world of men, to be a man once more, and play your part of life-long service to your brothers, thus to atone still further. Never again shall dire Iambus have you in his power—his reign is over soon: never to return.
SEBASTIANO: We thank you brother Quaver; tremble no more, but fly quickly, lest Quint should see you from his tower and give the alarm. We shall meet again in better realms; take our blessings, which will ever comfort you upon your path.
(Quaver sobs, and, kneels at their feet.)
MADELON (kindly): Hence now—dear brother; the Lord will be with you always.
(Quaver kisses her hand and disappears between the trees.)
SEBASTIANO: And now to cast a glamour around Quint's senses, so that he shall neither see nor hear before the time is ripe.
(At that moment Quint becomes visible upon the battlements where he marches to and fro. Sebastiano stretches out his hands towards him, and Quint shakes himself and rubs his various eyes as if there were dust in them. He continues to walk to and fro, now and then shaking himself and staring in all directions. But he cannot see or hear Madelon and Sebastiano, for the spell is upon him.)
SEBASTIANO (after looking at Quint, for a while): It works, as usual. Everything is safe. And now I know why the children were led to this spot. The reign of Iambus must really end, and we are here to make appeal to the Spirit of the Cosmos.
(Both stand upright and look up to the sky.)
MADELON: See how the planets gleam and glitter! And do you note that all are present in the vault above? Surely—this is an omen, for how seldom does this happen. They are all in close conjunction, as if they were holding a meeting, while the Sun alone is far away. Listen to their Music! It is as if Mozart himself were bringing it to earth!
SEBASTIANO: Yes; just as Beethoven once lifted tortured earth to Heaven with his genius!
MADELON: The heavenly choir reminds me of Raimondi's Fugue in four-and-sixty parts, for sixteen groups of singers! Hark at the soniferous vox angelica of Venus!
SEBASTIANO: A divine, euphonius racconto, a magical tale. If only Man could hear those velvet sounds, soft, like the monaulus flute of ancient Greece; and joyful, like Pan's Fretel pipes, again so pacatamente, placid and peaceful. How divine the Wisdom which created this!
MADELON: All things are wrought by Wisdom; and by Wisdom must they disappear.
SEBASTIANO: If only Iambus could realise this truth!
MADELON: The dwellers in Evil cannot approach to Wisdom, for her purity repels them.
SEBASTIANO: Or else they would try to destroy it.
MADELON: Nay! No man or spirit can ever injure true Wisdom!
SEBASTIANO: No; but they will try to reason it out of existence.
MADELON: Compared with the manifold, mighty treasures of Wisdom, reason is like a single grain of sand . . . alone and unsupported.
SEBASTIANO (in an attitude of prayer, arms crossed and hands upon his shoulders, head bowed, but standing upright): Laudamus! Thou great Spirit of divine Goodness and Wisdom, that ruleth Earth and all our planets; that earth, so beautiful, yet so tormented by the gross iniquities of the Angel of Darkness . . . we beseech Thee, humbly, save that fair domain and its inhabitants and permit no longer that mankind be beset on every side upon its path, yea! from without and from within, with thornéd shame and sin.
We know that Time to Thee is nought, yet to the ignorant and also to the wise, Time is an eternal Jester who withholds the longed for prize—so hotly craved for by impatient men . . . those waiflings of Eternity. But now I raise my voice in solemn supplication—having done with Earth long since, but being filled with pity—and ask a Boon of Thee, Great Lord, and I intone a Litany for Mercy upon Thy world, so fair, and for those shipwrecked mariners of life who are broken on the traitorous rocks of error. Thou—invisible Sun of Wisdom, whose unseen rays reflected are upon the Soul that loveth Thee—the Father. And Love is Wisdom, and Wisdom—Love, and Thou art both.
But we have seen the deeds of evil and hearkened to the loathsome boasts of proud Iambus and his crew—idolatrous—who do in dead things find their hope and dwell within the aura of the Breath of Evil. We have choked within the dust of that domain, ruled by him that maketh cease poor man's delight, because his envy of thy Might has waxen over-big within the warpings of his tortuous mind. We have beheld his victims' agonies, poor souls, who, bitten by the black hounds of disaster and pain, fly in vain from their snapping jaws. Oh! purge the sin-clouded halls of iniquity with Thy cleansing, fresh lustrations, so that not even one dim, random spectre shall retain a foothold there, and let the realms of earth, within and outwardly, be filled with goodness, purity and wisdom: for only the ear of the wise, the pure and good can ever hear Thy whisper and spread abroad Thy Holy Law. Let him who rules by fear be slain by terror and true Justice, and let there be no ransoming—no further mercy to the soul that's empty of that quality.
Let now, we pray, the Tree of Death and joy Satanic uprooted be for evermore, and let Thy Tree of Life raise up its stem and spread its branches—springing into sudden bloom and waft the fragrance of its blossoms in all thy flowering Universe! Oh, Thou, who art swift and powerful and just!
MADELON: Amén, Amén, Amén!
(And, from the Universal depths resounded a mighty Voice, and the Hidden Lord Himself made answer, thus:)
THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT OF COSMOS (Madelon and Sebastiano bow their heads in utter devotion): I have heard thy prayer, my children, thou—in whom My Image is made manifest upon the Earth and in the Secret Council Chambers of My manifold House.
The Wheels of Time have turned upon their curved, invisible courses; the Light of Justice will be lit within the minds of those of evil understanding, and they will shudder with dismay, they: who scorned with bitter sneers thy offer of forgiveness, made in my Name, if only one good deed, one deed of mercy were enacted, helping them to return once more towards my Light and Life and Love. All that occurs within my Universe is known to me; for I am present in the sky and sea, the upper and the inner earth, within the hidden corners of the mind of Man and beast, and there is not a thought, yea, even if it were as swift as lightning, which does not stand before my Majesty like unto graven sculpture—fixed for all Eternity, an everlasting Record that none may hope to deny: for all is made by means of two-fold Spirit, right and left, high and low, yea—even to the very orbit along which my earthly vehicle speeds upon its course within the Æther. And, as the mind is known by understanding, so am I known by my works; and all that is made, within and without or in the middle zones, is ever visible; for there is naught unknown nor yet invisible in all My dwelling-places, night or day, sleep or waking, or when one speakest or keepest silence.
But though Iambus and his slaves shall be uprooted and dispersed within the Dark, yet shall in future times they too receive another incarnation; for none of My Creations can be mortal in the final sense, and 'Death' is but an empty word, for nothing in My Universe can truly be destroyed and die . . . and ALL is God the Father and the Mother, even I, eternal and unmade, the Fashioner of all things seen and unseen, ever living and Immortal, endowed with Qualities, though differing in Quality . . . as is the unseen Law; and every Quality is manifest within my worlds and in the Sun, and, too, in every man and Angel—high or low.
For, in the circulation of my Qualities, the timeless circles whirl and spin by Fate and Destiny and leave within their wakes the brutish and the holy, the flyer and the swimmer, the leaping and the creeping things, the fire and the ashes, light and darkness, male and female, spirit and matter, yet each completing every other one according to the Will of my Eternal Mind . . . a Mystery beyond the understanding; yea! beyond the knowledge of the Life of Soul and Light of Mind in man or spirit—unless true apprehension of my Love is turned to final Comprehension.
And now shall I call my Sons, Earth's Brothers, who're gathered in the sky above in all their majesty, and bid them send their warriors to make acknowledgement of Satan's boasts and take away from Earth the ancient cause of all its woe; for the times of trial and test are done, and once again the Golden Age shall bring its blessings upon Man, and Light disperse the Shadows.
(Exit Madelon and Sebastiano.)
The Narrator Speaks:
Then there was silence . . . and anon it seemed that deep within the bosom of the earth there was a stirring of vast forces, and sudden gusts of tearing wind rushed through the skies and bent the ancient trees until their branches groaned in agony. And in the lower halls of Satan's castle the demons, headed by Iambus, awoke from their wine-besotted torpor, and there were great cries of rage and harsh tumult when the flight of Madelon and Sebastiano became known. Iambus and his lordlings sent their screaming messengers to all the layers of the underworlds, with stampings of the raging hosts and shoutings that rent the trembling deeps.
And clamorous Earth cried to her brothers in the firmament—able to sustain that writhing, lustful brood within her woeful womb no more, no more . . . She cried to pearly moon, the lotus of the deep-blue lake of Heaven, Earth's Guardian Angel who wards off attacks from interstellar, vast immensities, when arrows of destruction, rushing forth in gleaming wrath and flames seek to destroy her Ward—the Earth, and takes the blows upon her silver shield that shows great dents, like craters of volcanoes.
To Mercury, the amethystine Messenger, who scales the vast expanse as lightly as a squirrel leaps from tree to slender tree; his veins are filled with nimble globules, brewed from liquid silver (instead of sluggish blood), and they with swift celerity course on their rapturous path; like streaking weasel or fleeing fox, he darts upon the errands of the gods.
To Venus, beautiful and sweet as blossom-laden May, the Dove of Æther, the joyful partridge or the brilliant nightingale, inspiring, dressed in graceful robes on which her copper-coloured locks descend in rippling, gleaming glory; protected, She, with bronzen breast-plates, set with emeralds and malachite.
To Iron-clad Mars, his mail beset with thorny spikes, inlaid with rubies, garnets and carbuncles, the stones that vie with roses red, the hue of blood.
To eagle winged Jupiter, with eyes like sapphires when he smiles, or lapis lazuli when wroth; the dolphin of the sky, the mighty whale, the wielder of the rain and thunderclouds; the Lord of peacock-coloured rainbows, which gloriously he spans across the spume-filled air in honour of his Juno . . . well beloved spouse.
To leaden-footed Saturn, ashen-hued, his brooding eyes like burnt-out carbon balls; the Lord of bones and shells, the creeping tortoise and mysterious bat, the slowly tunnelling mole or supercilious camel of grim death—resting under willow, box, cypress or yew, as if he supped each day on hellebore and hemlock, and always under their narcotic spells . . . too tired to go on.
And luminous-auraed Neptune, the three-pronged dweller in the star-filled deeps; and curious Uranus, scheming Pluto . . . to all she cried for succour!
And great Jehovah—Spirit of the Earth—now added too His Message, and from the Planets flashed the answer:—'We are coming with great armies from the jewelled, blue Pavilions, canopied with silver-mantled Zodiac. Even now they're on their way; great bands of valiant Spirits, rushing through the Æther in their aerial vessels which mankind in its ignorance calls comets.
We know thine earthly children cannot overcome Iambus and his demons, the henchmen of our fallen brother, for many men are more or less his bond-slaves now and powerless to fight the unseen hosts, though they can sense their foul proximity . . . and tremble! But Satan and his slaves shall be eradicated, hewn down and plucked up by the root—twice dead—like fruitless trees, blighted and condemned for their corruption. And so we make a noble Covenant with Thee, Yahveh, Lord of the Earth, that now out brother's rule is done for ever; he shall be utterly destroyed, in spite of temporary power, which God, out Father (Who dwells in secret) refrained till now from blasting into nothingness. The age-old cycles are completed, the Wheels of Time have turned upon their final circuit, and once again shall golden periods of bliss unroll their solemn tapestries of wonder and of glory o'er the smiling lands of thy Dominion. Three-and-thirty vessels speed towards you; each with an hundred-thousand fighting men; great Mars, our Warrior-Brother, leading the assault. And they will burn the fires of Hell with fiercer fires yet, and all the men are very valiant.'
Deep sleep fell that night upon all men—and there was none awake—for to behold the coming conflict would mean death. And swiftly did the cometary ships fly through the Æther, ready trimmed for battle, and the dread trumpets of destruction sounded wildly in the interplanetary spaces, unheard as yet on Earth. And the heavenly hosts were clad in coats of mail imperishable, with brazen visors that hid the eager countenances; neither was there any sign of wavering, but only burning will to overthrow for e'er the multitudes of evil beings and their lord. For the scent of their iniquities had penetrated all the corners of our galaxy of spinning stars and turning worlds, and the endurance of the Hidden Logos had reached its final limits.
Within the ships themselves were seen the war-like men from Mercury, fast and cunning, with gleaming eyes that shrewdly misséd nought. The handsome men, from Venus, slow to rise to anger, but now all filled with one fell aim. The Martian hosts of mighty fighting men, born soldiers all, ruthless as the secret scorpion himself. The lordly men from Jupiter; wise and strong and stately; very brave. And the pale-faced men from Saturn, beetle-browed, with darkling looks, their countenances cast like unto eagles' heads.
Great lights shone in the sky as Madelon and Sebastiano watched between the trees around the castle and waited for their coming in the silent night. But suddenly there was a startling noise, like whistling of some mighty wings that cleave the air when royal birds of prey swoop down upon their victims; and the strange lights above increased in radiance. And it was as if the very words Almighty God had spoken did now take form and shape and hurtled down, flying through the sky with thunderous tumult, in dire enchantment breaking wide paths through the aerial winds.
(Poco a poco accelerando):
And ever did the comet ships come nearer, violante, flying swiftly, ferocamente, in fierce haste. Ships of the Gods, crowded with warriors, armaments and horses.
And among them were the jolly men from Neptune, reckless and daring when roused, most calculating fighters and more cunning than the very demons themselves.
And those of Uranus: sudden in their movements, full of swift surprises that no one can foresee. And lastly the soldiers from Pluto, whom none of the rest can ever understand: for they are filled with dark mysteries and secret plots.
And as the ships came near to Earth, the rays of watching Moon were reflected in the uncountable accoutrements of silver and of gold, iron and brass, dully gleaming tin and lead, and they shone like lamps of varying voltage, but filled with fires which shot their rays within the night.
And suddenly, paralysed with fear and surprise, the lonely watchman—Quint—beheld that lustrous host descending from all directions, and his knees were loosened with dread, so that he was unable to give the alarm until, like many-headed thunderbolts, the great ships landed all around the castle, besetting it on every side.
(Narrator ends here; exit).
NEXT — FOURTH MOVEMENT — SECOND ACT
(B) Presto Stridevole
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