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The Spanish Student - ACT I - SCENE III Post by :imported_n/a Category :Plays Author :Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Date :June 2011 Read :2808

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The Spanish Student - ACT I - SCENE III

ACT I: SCENE III

SCENE: PRECIOSA'S chamber. She stands at the open window.


PRECIOSA. How slowly through the lilac-scented air
Descends the tranquil moon! Like thistle-down
The vapory clouds float in the peaceful sky;
And sweetly from yon hollow vaults of shade
The nightingales breathe out their souls in song.
And hark! what songs of love, what soul-like sounds,
Answer them from below!

SERENADE.

Stars of the summer night!
Far in yon azure deeps,
Hide, hide your golden light!
She sleeps!
My lady sleeps!
Sleeps!

Moon of the summer night!
Far down yon western steeps,
Sink, sink in silver light!
She sleeps!
My lady sleeps!
Sleeps!

Wind of the summer night!
Where yonder woodbine creeps,
Fold, fold thy pinions light!
She sleeps!
My lady sleeps!
Sleeps!

Dreams of the summer night!
Tell her, her lover keeps
Watch! while in slumbers light
She sleeps
My lady sleeps
Sleeps!

(Enter VICTORIAN by the balcony.)

VICTORIAN. Poor little dove! Thou tremblest like a leaf!

PRECIOSA. I am so frightened! 'T is for thee I tremble!
I hate to have thee climb that wall by night!
Did no one see thee?

VICTORIAN. None, my love, but thou.

PRECIOSA. 'T is very dangerous; and when thou art gone
I chide myself for letting thee come here
Thus stealthily by night. Where hast thou been?
Since yesterday I have no news from thee.

VICTORIAN. Since yesterday I have been in Alcala.
Erelong the time will come, sweet Preciosa,
When that dull distance shall no more divide us;
And I no more shall scale thy wall by night
To steal a kiss from thee, as I do now.

PRECIOSA. An honest thief, to steal but what thou givest.

VICTORIAN. And we shall sit together unmolested,
And words of true love pass from tongue to tongue,
As singing birds from one bough to another.

PRECIOSA. That were a life to make time envious!
I knew that thou wouldst come to me to-night.
I saw thee at the play.

VICTORIAN. Sweet child of air!
Never did I behold thee so attired
And garmented in beauty as to-night!
What hast thou done to make thee look so fair?

PRECIOSA. Am I not always fair?

VICTORIAN. Ay, and so fair
That I am jealous of all eyes that see thee,
And wish that they were blind.

PRECIOSA. I heed them not;
When thou art present, I see none but thee!

VICTORIAN. There's nothing fair nor beautiful, but takes
Something from thee, that makes it beautiful.

PRECIOSA. And yet thou leavest me for those dusty books.

VICTORIAN. Thou comest between me and those books too often!
I see thy face in everything I see!
The paintings in the chapel wear thy looks,
The canticles are changed to sarabands,
And with the leaned doctors of the schools
I see thee dance cachuchas.

PRECIOSA. In good sooth,
I dance with learned doctors of the schools
To-morrow morning.

VICTORIAN. And with whom, I pray?

PRECIOSA. A grave and reverend Cardinal, and his Grace
The Archbishop of Toledo.

VICTORIAN. What mad jest
Is this ?

PRECIOSA. It is no jest; indeed it is not.

VICTORIAN. Prithee, explain thyself.

PRECIOSA. Why, simply thus.
Thou knowest the Pope has sent here into Spain
To put a stop to dances on the stage.

VICTORIAN. I have heard it whispered.

PRECIOSA. Now the Cardinal,
Who for this purpose comes, would fain behold
With his own eyes these dances; and the Archbishop
Has sent for me--

VICTORIAN. That thou mayst dance before them!
Now viva la cachucha! It will breathe
The fire of youth into these gray old men!
'T will be thy proudest conquest!

PRECIOSA. Saving one.
And yet I fear these dances will be stopped,
And Preciosa be once more a beggar.

VICTORIAN. The sweetest beggar that e'er asked for alms;
With such beseeching eyes, that when I saw thee
I gave my heart away!

PRECIOSA. Dost thou remember
When first we met?

VICTORIAN. It was at Cordova,
In the cathedral garden. Thou wast sitting
Under the orange-trees, beside a fountain.

PRECIOSA. 'T was Easter-Sunday. The full-blossomed trees
Filled all the air with fragrance and with joy.
The priests were singing, and the organ sounded,
And then anon the great cathedral bell.
It was the elevation of the Host.
We both of us fell down upon our knees,
Under the orange boughs, and prayed together.
I never had been happy till that moment.

VICTORIAN. Thou blessed angel!

PRECIOSA. And when thou wast gone
I felt an acting here. I did not speak
To any one that day. But from that day
Bartolome grew hateful unto me.

VICTORIAN. Remember him no more. Let not his shadow
Come between thee and me. Sweet Preciosa!
I loved thee even then, though I was silent!

PRECIOSA. I thought I ne'er should see thy face again.
Thy farewell had a sound of sorrow in it.

VICTORIAN. That was the first sound in the song of love!
Scarce more than silence is, and yet a sound.
Hands of invisible spirits touch the strings
Of that mysterious instrument, the soul,
And play the prelude of our fate. We hear
The voice prophetic, and are not alone.

PRECIOSA. That is my faith. Dust thou believe these warnings?

VICTORIAN. So far as this. Our feelings and our thoughts
Tend ever on, and rest not in the Present.
As drops of rain fall into some dark well,
And from below comes a scarce audible sound,
So fall our thoughts into the dark Hereafter,
And their mysterious echo reaches us.

PRECIOSA. I have felt it so, but found no words to say it!
I cannot reason; I can only feel!
But thou hast language for all thoughts and feelings.
Thou art a scholar; and sometimes I think
We cannot walk together in this world!
The distance that divides us is too great!
Henceforth thy pathway lies among the stars;
I must not hold thee back.

VICTORIAN. Thou little sceptic!
Dost thou still doubt? What I most prize in woman
Is her affections, not her intellect!
The intellect is finite; but the affections
Are infinite, and cannot be exhausted.
Compare me with the great men of the earth;
What am I? Why, a pygmy among giants!
But if thou lovest,--mark me! I say lovest,
The greatest of thy sex excels thee not!
The world of the affections is thy world,
Not that of man's ambition. In that stillness
Which most becomes a woman, calm and holy,
Thou sittest by the fireside of the heart,
Feeding its flame. The element of fire
Is pure. It cannot change nor hide its nature,
But burns as brightly in a Gypsy camp
As in a palace hall. Art thou convinced?

PRECIOSA. Yes, that I love thee, as the good love heaven;
But not that I am worthy of that heaven.
How shall I more deserve it?

VICTORIAN. Loving more.

PRECIOSA. I cannot love thee more; my heart is full.

VICTORIAN. Then let it overflow, and I will drink it,
As in the summer-time the thirsty sands
Drink the swift waters of the Manzanares,
And still do thirst for more.

A Watchman (in the street). Ave Maria
Purissima! 'T is midnight and serene!

VICTORIAN. Hear'st thou that cry?

PRECIOSA. It is a hateful sound,
To scare thee from me!

VICTORIAN. As the hunter's horn
Doth scare the timid stag, or bark of hounds
The moor-fowl from his mate.

PRECIOSA. Pray, do not go!

VICTORIAN. I must away to Alcala to-night.
Think of me when I am away.

PRECIOSA. Fear not!
I have no thoughts that do not think of thee.

VICTORIAN. (giving her a ring).
And to remind thee of my love, take this;
A serpent, emblem of Eternity;
A ruby,--say, a drop of my heart's blood.

PRECIOSA. It is an ancient saying, that the ruby
Brings gladness to the wearer, and preserves
The heart pure, and, if laid beneath the pillow,
Drives away evil dreams. But then, alas!
It was a serpent tempted Eve to sin.

VICTORIAN. What convent of barefooted Carmelites
Taught thee so much theology?

PRECIOSA. (laying her hand upon his mouth). Hush! hush!
Good night! and may all holy angels guard thee!

VICTORIAN. Good night! good night! Thou art my guardian angel!
I have no other saint than thou to pray to!

(He descends by the balcony.)

PRECIOSA. Take care, and do not hurt thee. Art thou safe?

VICTORIAN. (from the garden).
Safe as my love for thee! But art thou safe?
Others can climb a balcony by moonlight
As well as I. Pray shut thy window close;
I am jealous of the perfumed air of night
That from this garden climbs to kiss thy lips.

PRECIOSA. (throwing down her handkerchief).
Thou silly child! Take this to blind thine eyes.
It is my benison!

VICTORIAN. And brings to me
Sweet fragrance from thy lips, as the soft wind
Wafts to the out-bound mariner the breath
Of the beloved land he leaves behind.

PRECIOSA. Make not thy voyage long.

VICTORIAN. To-morrow night
Shall see me safe returned. Thou art the star
To guide me to an anchorage. Good night!
My beauteous star! My star of love, good night!

PRECIOSA. Good night!

Watchman (at a distance). Ave Maria Purissima!

Content of ACT I: SCENE III (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's play/drama: The Spanish Student)

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