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Full Online Book HomePlaysProserpine And Midas - Proserpine: A Drama In 2 Acts - Act 2
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Proserpine And Midas - Proserpine: A Drama In 2 Acts - Act 2 Post by :runtonk Category :Plays Author :Mary Shelley Date :May 2012 Read :2158

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Proserpine And Midas - Proserpine: A Drama In 2 Acts - Act 2


The Plain of Enna as before.
Enter Ino & Eunoe._)

Eun. How weary am I! and the hot sun flushes
My cheeks that else were white with fear and grief(.)
E'er since that fatal day, dear sister nymph,
On which we lost our lovely Proserpine,
I have but wept and watched the livelong night
And all the day have wandered through the woods(.)

Ino. How all is changed since that unhappy eve!
Ceres forever weeps, seeking her child,
And in her rage has struck the land with blight;
Trinacria mourns with her;--its fertile fields
Are dry and barren, and all little brooks
Struggling scarce creep within their altered banks;
The flowers that erst were wont with bended heads,
To gaze within the clear and glassy wave,
Have died, unwatered by the failing stream.--
And yet their hue but mocks the deeper grief
Which is the fountain of these bitter tears.
But who is this, that with such eager looks
Hastens this way?-- (17)

Eun. 'Tis fairest Arethuse,
A stranger naiad, yet you know her well.

Ino. My eyes were blind with tears.

(_Enter Arethusa._)

Dear Arethuse,
Methinks I read glad tidings in your eyes,
Your smiles are the swift messengers that bear
A tale of coming joy, which we, alas!
Can answer but with tears, unless you bring
To our grief solace, Hope to our Despair.
Have you found Proserpine? or know you where
The loved nymph wanders, hidden from our search?

Areth. Where is corn-crowned Ceres? I have hastened
To ease her anxious heart.

Eun. Oh! dearest Naiad,
Herald of joy! Now will great Ceres bless
Thy welcome coming & more welcome tale.

Ino. Since that unhappy day when Ceres lost
Her much-loved child, she wanders through the isle;
Dark blight is showered from her looks of sorrow;--
And where tall corn and all seed-bearing grass
Rose from beneath her step, they wither now
Fading under the frown of her bent brows: (18)
The springs decrease;--the fields whose delicate green
Was late her chief delight, now please alone,
Because they, withered, seem to share her grief.

Areth. Unhappy Goddess! how I pity thee!

Ino. At night upon high Etna's topmost peak
She lights two flames, that shining through the isle
Leave dark no wood, or cave, or mountain path,
Their sunlike splendour makes the moon-beams dim,
And the bright stars are lost within their day.
She's in yon field,--she comes towards this plain,
Her loosened hair has fallen on her neck,
Uncircled by the coronal of grain:--
Her cheeks are wan,--her step is faint & slow.

(_Enter Ceres._)

Cer. I faint with weariness: a dreadful thirst
Possesses me! Must I give up the search?
Oh! never, dearest Proserpine, until
I once more clasp thee in my vacant arms!
Help me, dear Arethuse! fill some deep shell
With the clear waters of thine ice-cold spring,
And bring it me;--I faint with heat and thirst.

Areth. My words are better than my freshest waves
I saw your Proserpine-- (19)

Cer. Arethusa, where?
Tell me! my heart beats quick, & hope and fear
Cause my weak limbs to fail me.--

Areth. Sit, Goddess,
Upon this mossy bank, beneath the shade
Of this tall rock, and I will tell my tale.
The day you lost your child, I left my source.
With my Alpheus I had wandered down
The sloping shore into the sunbright sea;
And at the coast we paused, watching the waves
Of our mixed waters dance into the main:--
When suddenly I heard the thundering tread
Of iron hoofed steeds trampling the ground,
And a faint shriek that made my blood run cold.
I saw the King of Hell in his black car,
And in his arms he bore your fairest child,
Fair as the moon encircled by the night,--
But that she strove, and cast her arms aloft,
And cried, "My Mother!"--When she saw me near
She would have sprung from his detested arms,
And with a tone of deepest grief, she cried,
"Oh, Arethuse!" I hastened at her call--
But Pluto when he saw that aid was nigh,
Struck furiously the green earth with his spear,
Which yawned,--and down the deep Tartarian gulph (20)
His black car rolled--the green earth closed above.

Cer. (_starting up_)
Is this thy doom, great Jove? & shall Hell's king
Quitting dark Tartarus, spread grief and tears
Among the dwellers of your bright abodes?
Then let him seize the earth itself, the stars,--
And all your wide dominion be his prey!--
Your sister calls upon your love, great King!
As you are God I do demand your help!--
Restore my child, or let all heaven sink,
And the fair world be chaos once again!

Ino. Look(!) in the East that loveliest bow is formed(;)
Heaven's single-arched bridge, it touches now
The Earth, and 'mid the pathless wastes of heaven
It paves a way for Jove's fair Messenger;--
Iris descends, and towards this field she comes.

Areth. Sovereign of Harvests, 'tis the Messenger
That will bring joy to thee. Thine eyes light up
With sparkling hope, thy cheeks are pale with dread.

(_Enter Iris._)

Cer. Speak, heavenly Iris! let thy words be poured
Into my drooping soul, like dews of eve
On a too long parched field.--Where is my Proserpine?

Iris. Sister of Heaven, as by Joves throne I stood (21)
The voice of thy deep prayer arose,--it filled
The heavenly courts with sorrow and dismay:
The Thunderer frowned, & heaven shook with dread
I bear his will to thee, 'tis fixed by fate,
Nor prayer nor murmur e'er can alter it.
If Proserpine while she has lived in hell
Has not polluted by Tartarian food
Her heavenly essence, then she may return,
And wander without fear on Enna's plain,
Or take her seat among the Gods above.
If she has touched the fruits of Erebus,
She never may return to upper air,
But doomed to dwell amidst the shades of death,
The wife of Pluto and the Queen of Hell.

Cer. Joy treads upon the sluggish heels of care!
The child of heaven disdains Tartarian food.
Pluto(,) give up thy prey! restore my child!

Iris. Soon she will see again the sun of Heaven,
By gloomy shapes, inhabitants of Hell,
Attended, and again behold the field
Of Enna, the fair flowers & the streams,
Her late delight,--& more than all, her Mother.

Ino. Our much-loved, long-lost Mistress, do you come?
And shall once more your nymphs attend your steps? (22)
Will you again irradiate this isle--
That drooped when you were lost?
(Footnote: MS. _this isle?--That drooped when
you were lost_)
& once again
Trinacria smile beneath your Mother's eye?

(_Ceres and her companions are ranged on one side in eager
expectation; from, the cave on the other, enter Proserpine,
attended by various dark & gloomy shapes bearing
torches; among which Ascalaphus. Ceres & Proserpine
embrace;--her nymphs surround her._)

Cer. Welcome, dear Proserpine! Welcome to light,
To this green earth and to your Mother's arms.
You are too beautiful for Pluto's Queen;
In the dark Stygian air your blooming cheeks
Have lost their roseate tint, and your bright form
Has faded in that night unfit for thee.

Pros. Then I again behold thee, Mother dear:--
Again I tread the flowery plain of Enna,
And clasp thee, Arethuse, & you, my nymphs;
I have escaped from hateful Tartarus,
The abode of furies and all loathed shapes
That thronged around me, making hell more black.
Oh! I could worship thee, light giving Sun,
Who spreadest warmth and radiance o'er the world.
Look at

(Footnote: MS. Look at--the branches.)

the branches of those chesnut trees,
That wave to the soft breezes, while their stems
Are tinged with red by the sun's slanting rays. (23)
And the soft clouds that float 'twixt earth and sky.
How sweet are all these sights! There all is night!
No God like that (_pointing to the sun_)
smiles on the Elysian plains,
The air (is) windless, and all shapes are still.

Iris. And must I interpose in this deep joy,
And sternly cloud your hopes? Oh! answer me,
Art thou still, Proserpine, a child of light?
Or hast thou dimmed thy attributes of Heaven
By such Tartarian food as must for ever
Condemn thee to be Queen of Hell & Night?

Pros. No, Iris, no,--I still am pure as thee:
Offspring of light and air, I have no stain
Of Hell. I am for ever thine, oh, Mother!

Cer. (_to the shades from Hell_)
Begone, foul visitants to upper air!
Back to your dens! nor stain the sunny earth
By shadows thrown from forms so foul--Crouch in!
Proserpine, child of light, is not your Queen!

(_to the nymphs_)

Quick bring my car,--we will ascend to heaven,
Deserting Earth, till by decree of Jove,
Eternal laws shall bind the King of Hell
To leave in peace the offspring of the sky.

Ascal. Stay, Ceres! By the dread decree of Jove
Your child is doomed to be eternal Queen (24)
Of Tartarus,--nor may she dare ascend
The sunbright regions of Olympian Jove,
Or tread the green Earth 'mid attendant nymphs.
Proserpine, call to mind your walk last eve,
When as you wandered in Elysian groves,
Through bowers for ever green, and mossy walks,
Where flowers never die, nor wind disturbs
The sacred calm, whose silence soothes the dead,
Nor interposing clouds, with dun wings, dim
Its mild and silver light, you plucked its fruit,
You ate of a pomegranate's seeds--

Cer. Be silent,
Prophet of evil, hateful to the Gods!
Sweet Proserpine, my child, look upon me.
You shrink; your trembling form & pallid cheeks
Would make his words seem true which are most false(.)
Thou didst not taste the food of Erebus;--
Offspring of Gods art thou,--nor Hell, nor Jove
Shall tear thee from thy Mother's clasping arms.

Pros. If fate decrees, can we resist? farewel!
Oh! Mother, dearer to your child than light,
Than all the forms of this sweet earth & sky, (25)
Though dear are these, and dear are my poor nymphs,
Whom I must leave;--oh! can immortals weep?
And can a Goddess die as mortals do,
Or live & reign where it is death to be?
Ino, dear Arethuse, again you lose
Your hapless Proserpine, lost to herself
When she quits you for gloomy Tartarus.

Cer. Is there no help, great Jove? If she depart
I will descend with her--the Earth shall lose
Its proud fertility, and Erebus
Shall bear my gifts throughout th' unchanging year.
Valued till now by thee, tyrant of Gods!
My harvests ripening by Tartarian fires
Shall feed the dead with Heaven's ambrosial food.
Wilt thou not then repent, brother unkind,
Viewing the barren earth with vain regret,
Thou didst not shew more mercy to my child?

Ino. We will all leave the light and go with thee,
In Hell thou shalt be girt by Heaven-born nymphs,
Elysium shall be Enna,--thou'lt not mourn
Thy natal plain, which will have lost its worth
Having lost thee, its nursling and its Queen.

Areth. I will sink down with thee;--my lily crown
Shall bloom in Erebus, portentous loss (26)
To Earth, which by degrees will fade & fall
In envy of our happier lot in Hell;--
And the bright sun and the fresh winds of heaven
Shall light its depths and fan its stagnant air.

(_They cling round Proserpine; the Shades of Hell seperate
and stand between them._)

Ascal. Depart! She is our Queen! Ye may not come!
Hark to Jove's thunder! shrink away in fear
From unknown forms, whose tyranny ye'll feel
In groans and tears if ye insult their power.

Iris. Behold Jove's balance hung in upper sky;
There are ye weighed,--to that ye must submit.

Cer. Oh! Jove, have mercy on a Mother's prayer!
Shall it be nought to be akin to thee?
And shall thy sister, Queen of fertile Earth,
Derided be by these foul shapes of Hell?
Look at the scales, they're poized with equal weights!
What can this mean? Leave me not(,) Proserpine(,)
Cling to thy Mother's side! He shall not dare
Divide the sucker from the parent stem.

(_embraces her_)

Ascal. He is almighty! who shall set the bounds (27)
To his high will? let him decide our plea!
Fate is with us, & Proserpine is ours!

(_He endeavours to part Ceres & Proserpine, the nymphs
prevent him._)

Cer. Peace, ominous bird of Hell & Night! Depart!
Nor with thy skriech disturb a Mother's grief,
Avaunt! It is to Jove we pray, not thee.

Iris. Thy fate, sweet Proserpine, is sealed by Jove,
When Enna is starred by flowers, and the sun
Shoots his hot rays strait on the gladsome land,
When Summer reigns, then thou shalt live on Earth,
And tread these plains, or sporting with your nymphs,
Or at your Mother's side, in peaceful joy.
But when hard frost congeals the bare, black ground,
The trees have lost their leaves, & painted birds
Wailing for food sail through the piercing air;
Then you descend to deepest night and reign
Great Queen of Tartarus, 'mid
(Footnote: MS. _mid_)
shadows dire,
Offspring of Hell,--or in the silent groves
Of, fair Elysium through which Lethe runs,
The sleepy river; where the windless air
Is never struck by flight or song of bird,--
But all is calm and clear, bestowing rest, (28)
After the toil of life, to wretched men,
Whom thus the Gods reward for sufferings
Gods cannot know; a throng of empty shades!
The endless circle of the year will bring
Joy in its turn, and seperation sad;
Six months to light and Earth,--six months to Hell.

Pros. Dear Mother, let me kiss that tear which steals
Down your pale cheek altered by care and grief.
This is not misery; 'tis but a slight change
Prom our late happy lot. Six months with thee,
Each moment freighted with an age of love:
And the six short months in saddest Tartarus
Shall pass in dreams of swift returning joy.
Six months together we shall dwell on earth,
Six months in dreams we shall companions be,
Jove's doom is void; we are forever joined.

Cer. Oh, fairest child! sweet summer visitor!
Thy looks cheer me, so shall they cheer this land
Which I will fly, thou gone. Nor seed of grass,
Or corn shall grow, thou absent from the earth;
But all shall lie beneath in hateful night
Until at thy return, the fresh green springs, (29)
The fields are covered o'er with summer plants.
And when thou goest the heavy grain will droop
And die under my frown, scattering the seeds,
That will not reappear till your return.
Farewel, sweet child, Queen of the nether world,
There shine as chaste Diana's silver car
Islanded in the deep circumfluous night.
Giver of fruits! for such thou shalt be styled,
Sweet Prophetess of Summer, coming forth
From the slant shadow of the wintry earth,
In thy car drawn by snowy-breasted swallows!
Another kiss, & then again farewel!
Winter in losing thee has lost its all,
And will be doubly bare, & hoar, & drear,
Its bleak winds whistling o'er the cold pinched ground
Which neither flower or grass will decorate.
And as my tears fall first, so shall the trees
Shed their changed leaves upon your six months tomb:
The clouded air will hide from Phoebus' eye
The dreadful change your absence operates.
Thus has black Pluto changed the reign of Jove,
He seizes half the Earth when he takes thee.


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Proserpine And Midas - Midas: A Drama In 2 Acts - Dramatis Personae Proserpine And Midas - Midas: A Drama In 2 Acts - Dramatis Personae

Proserpine And Midas - Midas: A Drama In 2 Acts - Dramatis Personae
ImmortalsAPOLLO.BACCHUS.PAN.SILENUS.TMOLUS, God of a Hill.FAUNS, &c._MortalsMIDAS, King of Phrygia.ZOPYRION, his Prime-Minister.ASPHALION, LACON, Courtiers.COURTIERS, Attendants, Priests, &c.(_Scene, Phrygia._)

Proserpine And Midas - Proserpine: A Drama In 2 Acts - Act 1 Proserpine And Midas - Proserpine: A Drama In 2 Acts - Act 1

Proserpine And Midas - Proserpine: A Drama In 2 Acts - Act 1
ACT I(_Scene; a beautiful plain, shadowed on one side by anoverhanging rock, on the other a chesnut wood. Etnaat a distance._)(_Enter Ceres, Proserpine, Ino and Eunoe._)Pros. Dear Mother, leave me not! I love to rest Under the shadow of that hanging cave And listen to your tales. Your Proserpine Entreats you stay; sit on this shady bank, And as I twine a wreathe tell once again The combat of the Titans and the Gods; Or how the Python fell beneath the dart Of dread Apollo; or of Daphne's change,-- That coyest Grecian maid, whose pointed leaves Now shade her lover's brow.