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The Spanish Student - ACT I - SCENE V Post by :vernpet Category :Plays Author :Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Date :June 2011 Read :1119

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The Spanish Student - ACT I - SCENE V


SCENE: VICTORIAN'S chambers at Alcala. HYPOLITO asleep in
an arm-chair. He awakes slowly.

HYPOLITO. I must have been asleep! ay, sound asleep!
And it was all a dream. O sleep, sweet sleep
Whatever form thou takest, thou art fair,
Holding unto our lips thy goblet filled
Out of Oblivion's well, a healing draught!
The candles have burned low; it must be late.
Where can Victorian be? Like Fray Carrillo,
The only place in which one cannot find him
Is his own cell. Here's his guitar, that seldom
Feels the caresses of its master's hand.
Open thy silent lips, sweet instrument!
And make dull midnight merry with a song.

(He plays and sings.)

Padre Francisco!
Padre Francisco!
What do you want of Padre Francisco?
Here is a pretty young maiden
Who wants to confess her sins!
Open the door and let her come in,
I will shrive her from every sin.


VICTORIAN. Padre Hypolito! Padre Hypolito!

HYPOLITO. What do you want of Padre Hypolito?

VICTORIAN. Come, shrive me straight; for, if love be a sin,
I am the greatest sinner that doth live.
I will confess the sweetest of all crimes,
A maiden wooed and won.

HYPOLITO. The same old tale
Of the old woman in the chimney-corner,
Who, while the pot boils, says, "Come here, my child;
I'll tell thee a story of my wedding-day."

VICTORIAN. Nay, listen, for my heart is full; so full
That I must speak.

HYPOLITO. Alas! that heart of thine
Is like a scene in the old play; the curtain
Rises to solemn music, and lo! enter
The eleven thousand virgins of Cologne!

VICTORIAN. Nay, like the Sibyl's volumes, thou shouldst say;
Those that remained, after the six were burned,
Being held more precious than the nine together.
But listen to my tale. Dost thou remember
The Gypsy girl we saw at Cordova
Dance the Romalis in the market-place?

HYPOLITO. Thou meanest Preciosa.

VICTORIAN. Ay, the same.
Thou knowest how her image haunted me
Long after we returned to Alcala.
She's in Madrid.

HYPOLITO. I know it.

VICTORIAN. And I'm in love.

HYPOLITO. And therefore in Madrid when thou shouldst be
In Alcala.

VICTORIAN. O pardon me, my friend,
If I so long have kept this secret from thee;
But silence is the charm that guards such treasures,
And, if a word be spoken ere the time,
They sink again, they were not meant for us.

HYPOLITO. Alas! alas! I see thou art in love.
Love keeps the cold out better than a cloak.
It serves for food and raiment. Give a Spaniard
His mass, his olla, and his Dona Luisa--
Thou knowest the proverb. But pray tell me, lover,
How speeds thy wooing? Is the maiden coy?
Write her a song, beginning with an Ave;
Sing as the monk sang to the Virgin Mary,

Ave! cujus calcem clare
Nec centenni commendare
Sciret Seraph studio!

VICTORIAN. Pray, do not jest! This is no time for it!
I am in earnest!

HYPOLITO. Seriously enamored?
What, ho! The Primus of great Alcala
Enamored of a Gypsy? Tell me frankly,
How meanest thou?

VICTORIAN. I mean it honestly.

HYPOLITO. Surely thou wilt not marry her!


HYPOLITO. She was betrothed to one Bartolome,
If I remember rightly, a young Gypsy
Who danced with her at Cordova.

VICTORIAN. They quarrelled,
And so the matter ended.

HYPOLITO. But in truth
Thou wilt not marry her.

VICTORIAN. In truth I will.
The angels sang in heaven when she was born!
She is a precious jewel I have found
Among the filth and rubbish of the world.
I'll stoop for it; but when I wear it here,
Set on my forehead like the morning star,
The world may wonder, but it will not laugh.

HYPOLITO. If thou wear'st nothing else upon thy forehead,
'T will be indeed a wonder.

VICTORIAN. Out upon thee
With thy unseasonable jests! Pray tell me,
Is there no virtue in the world?

HYPOLITO. Not much.
What, think'st thou, is she doing at this moment;
Now, while we speak of her?

VICTORIAN. She lies asleep,
And from her parted lips her gentle breath
Comes like the fragrance from the lips of flowers.
Her tender limbs are still, and on her breast
The cross she prayed to, ere she fell asleep,
Rises and falls with the soft tide of dreams,
Like a light barge safe moored.

HYPOLITO. Which means, in prose,
She's sleeping with her mouth a little open!

VICTORIAN. O, would I had the old magician's glass
To see her as she lies in childlike sleep!

HYPOLITO. And wouldst thou venture?

VICTORIAN. Ay, indeed I would!

HYPOLITO. Thou art courageous. Hast thou e'er reflected
How much lies hidden in that one word, NOW?

VICTORIAN. Yes; all the awful mystery of Life!
I oft have thought, my dear Hypolito,
That could we, by some spell of magic, change
The world and its inhabitants to stone,
In the same attitudes they now are in,
What fearful glances downward might we cast
Into the hollow chasms of human life!
What groups should we behold about the death-bed,
Putting to shame the group of Niobe!
What joyful welcomes, and what sad farewells!
What stony tears in those congealed eyes!
What visible joy or anguish in those cheeks!
What bridal pomps, and what funereal shows!
What foes, like gladiators, fierce and struggling!
What lovers with their marble lips together!

HYPOLITO. Ay, there it is! and, if I were in love,
That is the very point I most should dread.
This magic glass, these magic spells of thine,
Might tell a tale were better left untold.
For instance, they might show us thy fair cousin,
The Lady Violante, bathed in tears
Of love and anger, like the maid of Colchis,
Whom thou, another faithless Argonaut,
Having won that golden fleece, a woman's love,
Desertest for this Glauce.

VICTORIAN. Hold thy peace!
She cares not for me. She may wed another,
Or go into a convent, and, thus dying,
Marry Achilles in the Elysian Fields.

HYPOLITO. (rising). And so, good night! Good morning, I should say.

(Clock strikes three.)

Hark! how the loud and ponderous mace of Time
Knocks at the golden portals of the day!
And so, once more, good night! We'll speak more largely
Of Preciosa when we meet again.
Get thee to bed, and the magician, Sleep,
Shall show her to thee, in his magic glass,
In all her loveliness. Good night!


VICTORIAN. Good night!
But not to bed; for I must read awhile.

(Throws himself into the arm-chair which HYPOLITO has left, and
lays a large book open upon his knees.)

Must read, or sit in revery and watch
The changing color of the waves that break
Upon the idle sea-shore of the mind!
Visions of Fame! that once did visit me,
Making night glorious with your smile, where are ye?
O, who shall give me, now that ye are gone,
Juices of those immortal plants that bloom
Upon Olympus, making us immortal?
Or teach me where that wondrous mandrake grows
Whose magic root, torn from the earth with groans,
At midnight hour, can scare the fiends away,
And make the mind prolific in its fancies!
I have the wish, but want the will, to act!
Souls of great men departed! Ye whose words
Have come to light from the swift river of Time,
Like Roman swords found in the Tagus' bed,
Where is the strength to wield the arms ye bore?
From the barred visor of Antiquity
Reflected shines the eternal light of Truth,
As from a mirror! All the means of action--
The shapeless masses, the materials--
Lie everywhere about us. What we need
Is the celestial fire to change the flint
Into transparent crystal, bright and clear.
That fire is genius! The rude peasant sits
At evening in his smoky cot, and draws
With charcoal uncouth figures on the wall.
The son of genius comes, foot-sore with travel,
And begs a shelter from the inclement night.
He takes the charcoal from the peasant's hand,
And, by the magic of his touch at once
Transfigured, all its hidden virtues shine,
And, in the eyes of the astonished clown,
It gleams a diamond! Even thus transformed,
Rude popular traditions and old tales
Shine as immortal poems, at the touch
Of some poor, houseless, homeless, wandering bard,
Who had but a night's lodging for his pains.
But there are brighter dreams than those of Fame,
Which are the dreams of Love! Out of the heart
Rises the bright ideal of these dreams,
As from some woodland fount a spirit rises
And sinks again into its silent deeps,
Ere the enamored knight can touch her robe!
'T is this ideal that the soul of man,
Like the enamored knight beside the fountain,
Waits for upon the margin of Life's stream;
Waits to behold her rise from the dark waters,
Clad in a mortal shape! Alas! how many
Must wait in vain! The stream flows evermore,
But from its silent deeps no spirit rises!
Yet I, born under a propitious star,
Have found the bright ideal of my dreams.
Yes! she is ever with me. I can feel,
Here, as I sit at midnight and alone,
Her gentle breathing! on my breast can feel
The pressure of her head! God's benison
Rest ever on it! Close those beauteous eyes,
Sweet Sleep! and all the flowers that bloom at night
With balmy lips breathe in her ears my name!

(Gradually sinks asleep.)

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

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The Spanish Student - ACT I - SCENE IV
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