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Full Online Book HomePlaysJudas Maccabaeus - ACT II. The Dungeons in the Citadel - SCENE I - THE MOTHER of the SEVEN SONS alone, listening
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Judas Maccabaeus - ACT II. The Dungeons in the Citadel - SCENE I - THE MOTHER of the SEVEN SONS alone, listening Post by :hits2go Category :Plays Author :Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Date :June 2011 Read :2664

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Judas Maccabaeus - ACT II. The Dungeons in the Citadel - SCENE I - THE MOTHER of the SEVEN SONS alone, listening

ACT II. The Dungeons in the Citadel: SCENE I - THE MOTHER of the SEVEN SONS alone, listening


THE MOTHER.
Be strong, my heart!
Break not till they are dead,
All, all my Seven Sons; then burst asunder,
And let this tortured and tormented soul
Leap and rush out like water through the shards
Of earthen vessels broken at a well.
O my dear children, mine in life and death,
I know not how ye came into my womb;
I neither gave you breath, nor gave you life,
And neither was it I that formed the members
Of every one of you. But the Creator,
Who made the world, and made the heavens above us,
Who formed the generation of mankind,
And found out the beginning of all things,
He gave you breath and life, and will again
Of his own mercy, as ye now regard
Not your own selves, but his eternal law.
I do not murmur, nay, I thank thee, God,
That I and mine have not been deemed unworthy
To suffer for thy sake, and for thy law,
And for the many sins of Israel.
Hark! I can hear within the sound of scourges!
I feel them more than ye do, O my sons!
But cannot come to you. I, who was wont
To wake at night at the least cry ye made,
To whom ye ran at every slightest hurt,
I cannot take you now into my lap
And soothe your pain, but God will take you all
Into his pitying arms, and comfort you,
And give you rest.

A VOICE (within).
What wouldst thou ask of us?
Ready are we to die, but we will never
Transgress the law and customs of our fathers.

THE MOTHER.
It is the Voice of my first-born! O brave
And noble boy! Thou hast the privilege
Of dying first, as thou wast born the first.

THE SAME VOICE (within).
God looketh on us, and hath comfort in us;
As Moses in his song of old declared,
He in his servants shall be comforted.

THE MOTHER.
I knew thou wouldst not fail!--He speaks no more,
He is beyond all pain!

ANTIOCHUS. (within).
If thou eat not
Thou shalt be tortured throughout all the members
Of thy whole body. Wilt thou eat then?

SECOND VOICE. (within).
No.

THE MOTHER.
It is Adaiah's voice. I tremble for him.
I know his nature, devious as the wind,
And swift to change, gentle and yielding always.
Be steadfast, O my son!

THE SAME VOICE (within).
Thou, like a fury,
Takest us from this present life, but God,
Who rules the world, shall raise us up again
Into life everlasting.

THE MOTHER.
God, I thank thee
That thou hast breathed into that timid heart
Courage to die for thee. O my Adaiah,
Witness of God! if thou for whom I feared
Canst thus encounter death, I need not fear;
The others will not shrink.

THIRD VOICE (within).
Behold these hands
Held out to thee, O King Antiochus,
Not to implore thy mercy, but to show
That I despise them. He who gave them to me
Will give them back again.

THE MOTHER.
O Avilan,
It is thy voice. For the last time I hear it;
For the last time on earth, but not the last.
To death it bids defiance and to torture.
It sounds to me as from another world,
And makes the petty miseries of this
Seem unto me as naught, and less than naught.
Farewell, my Avilan; nay, I should say
Welcome, my Avilan; for I am dead
Before thee. I am waiting for the others.
Why do they linger?

FOURTH VOICE (within).
It is good, O King,
Being put to death by men, to look for hope
From God, to be raised up again by him.
But thou--no resurrection shalt thou have
To life hereafter.

THE MOTHER.
Four! already four!
Three are still living; nay, they all are living,
Half here, half there. Make haste, Antiochus,
To reunite us; for the sword that cleaves
These miserable bodies makes a door
Through which our souls, impatient of release,
Rush to each other's arms.

FIFTH VOICE (within).
Thou hast the power;
Thou doest what thou wilt. Abide awhile,
And thou shalt see the power of God, and how
He will torment thee and thy seed.

THE MOTHER.
O hasten;
Why dost thou pause? Thou who hast slain already
So many Hebrew women, and hast hung
Their murdered infants round their necks, slay me,
For I too am a woman, and these boys
Are mine. Make haste to slay us all,
And hang my lifeless babes about my neck.

SIXTH VOICE (within).
Think not,
Antiochus, that takest in hand
To strive against the God of Israel,
Thou shalt escape unpunished, for his wrath
Shall overtake thee and thy bloody house.

THE MOTHER.
One more, my Sirion, and then all is ended.
Having put all to bed, then in my turn
I will lie down and sleep as sound as they.
My Sirion, my youngest, best beloved!
And those bright golden locks, that I so oft
Have curled about these fingers, even now
Are foul with blood and dust, like a lamb's fleece,
Slain in the shambles.--Not a sound I hear.
This silence is more terrible to me
Than any sound, than any cry of pain,
That might escape the lips of one who dies.
Doth his heart fail him? Doth he fall away
In the last hour from God? O Sirion, Sirion,
Art thou afraid? I do not hear thy voice.
Die as thy brothers died. Thou must not live!

Content of ACT II. The Dungeons in the Citadel SCENE I - THE MOTHER of the SEVEN SONS alone, listening (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's play/drama: Judas Maccabaeus)

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