Poetical Tragedies

Mordred: A Tragedy in Five Acts.

by William Wilfred Campbell


 

ACT III.


SCENE II.—LAUNCELOT discovered seated almost naked amid swineherds.

(LAUNCELOT sings.)

Once there was a castle hall,
Fair, fair to see,
Armored dight, and splendored all,
Filled with shout o’ revelry.
Came the hosts o’ fate and rage
Thundered on its walls amain.
Sunken now like ruined age,
Never laughs it light again.
I loved a Queen and she loved me.
Aye, that were long ago!
Come now wrack, come now woe,
Strike now lightening, beat now snow!
Memory, I’ll ha’ none o thee!
Ha! ha! Cowards, who’ll fight? (rises). Ha! Ha!

 

Enter a Knight.

 

     Knight.     Who be this?

 

     1st. Swineherd.      Him be mad though him hurt us not, for us be soft

  wi’ him, him tend a’ swine.

 

     2nd. Swineherd.      Him mun fight, but us not answer. Him be o’er

  hulk a man twa hanle a staff.

 

     Laun.     Winds are cold and flowers are dead. All is past, past!

 

     Knight.     Ho there, who be thou?

 

     Laun.     ’Tis an old world, an old, old world. I tell thee truth,

I loved a Queen, but that be long past.

 

     Knight.     His wits be dull.—Who art thou fellow?

 

     Laun.     It hath been never Summer this many a year. Can’st tell me why?

 

     Knight.     ’Tis Summer now, thou Fool!

 

     Laun.     Nay, nay, ’tis but Winter. I loved a Queen—

 

     Knight.     Oh, damn thy Queen! who art thou?

 

     Laun.     Yea, damn all Queens, I am with thee, Friend,—wilt thou

  fight?

 

     Knight.     Not with thee.

 

     Laun.     Damn thee! thou wilt!

 

     Knight.     I tell thee I wont.

 

     Laun.     Then damn thee! take that! (Knocks him down.)

 

     Knight.     Oh! oh! I am murdered!

 

     Laun.     More! more!

 

Enter GWAINE.

 

     Gwaine.     Ha, at last, it seemeth!

 

     1st. Swineherd.      Have care, Master! Him be dread.

 

     Gwaine.     How long hath he been like this?

 

     2nd. Swineherd.      ’Tis some time agone. At first him did tear the

  earth
An’ bite hisself, but him be better now.

 

     Laun.     I chased the moon the silly moon,

Ahind a willard tree.
I knocked the stars like nine-pins down,
One, two, three.
I loved a Queen. Ha! ha! ’tis Winter.

 

     Gwaine.     And this be he, the best o’ Arthur’s Court,

A ragged ninny, mouthing wanton froth,
The sport o’ pig-folk, this be love’s good work,
Oh Love! thou hast much to answer!

 

     1st. Swineherd.      Him want allus twa foight.

 

     Gwaine.     Yea, be spoileth for a bout, ’tis often a right cure.

I will try it, God give it may bring him round.
(To LAUNCELOT.) Ho there, Fellow!

 

     Laun.     Ho, thyself, Windbag. Thou hast a fine voice, Friend.

Can’st thou call back memory?

 

     Gwaine.     Yea I can.

 

     Laun.     Can’st thou find Spring time? I loved, I loved,—

 

     Gwaine.     Oh damn love—dost thou know me?

 

     Laun.     Know thee? know thee? I know thou art a man. Wilt thou

  fight, Friend?

 

     Gwaine.     With a merry good will.

 

     Laun.     Then lets to ’t.

 

     Gwaine.     (Takes a quarter staff, they fight hard and long.) GWAINE

  belabors LAUNCELOT on the head, back and shoulders.

 

     Laun.     Ha, it raineth thoughts now. Come on Hell, come on.

 

     Gwaine.     Yea, am I coming, (hits him harder.) If I beat that damned

  love out o’ him I will do him a good deed. How’s that and that?

 

     Laun.     And that, and that. (Both fight till exhausted.)

 

     Gwaine.     Launcelot, dost know thyself now?

 

     Laun.     Methinks I partly do, under a cloud.

 

     Gwaine.     And dost thou know me?

 

     Laun.     Methinks thou art the moon.

 

     Gwaine.     Damn, this love! If I be the moon thou shalt find me no

  honeymoon, (hits him again,)
(they fight fiercer.

 

     Laun.     Come on, thou art welcome. Oh!

 

     Gwaine.     Well, dost thou know me yet?

 

     Laun.     Methinks thou art one named Gwaine. Oh my bones!

 

     Gwaine.     Be this Winter?

 

     Laun.     I be warm now.

 

     Gwaine.     An dost thou love a Queen?

 

     Laun.     What mean’st thou?

 

     Gwaine.     I would rid thee of this damned love.

 

     Laun.     Then wouldst thou rid me of this life. Gwaine, thou art a noble

  soul, but thou can’st not do that.

 

     Gwaine.     Art thou thyself now?

 

     Laun.     Methinks I am—Yea I have been mad.

 

     Gwaine.     Yea and I have cured thee. Come, this be no place.

Let us go.
[Exit both.