And have you spelled as a wizard spells his ghosts.
Yet ’twould be mercy so to harm your sense.
The truth does not more wonderfully walk,
Whose gestures are the stars, than in her ways
This queen’s body sways.
And there is such language in her hair
As the sun’s self doth talk.
King, let them see her! lest they return unwise
Of thy true kingship, and among themselves
Imagine that they are even as thou,
Save in the height of throne. Let them perceive
That, having Vashti, there is none like thee:
Others are men; but thou art he whose spirit
Is station’d in the beauty of the queen,
Whose flesh knows such amazement as before
Never beneath the lintels of man’s sense
Came, an especial messenger from Heaven.
Ahasuerus. Bring her! let the Queen come
crowned before us! Slaves, fetch here all your
light to shine upon My Vashti’s beauty; let
there be clear floor; Make the air worthy her with
camphire lit And frankincense; and fill the hall with
flames. Then gaze, kings, and stare, hunger with
your eyes Upon her face; but within brakes of fear
Fasten your wills, and move not from your seats.
Exult, you thron’d nations, that to your sight
She shall be lent, the pleasure of the king,
She whom to visit so inflames my soul,
That I can judge how God burns to enjoy The beauty of the Wisdom that he made And separated from himself to be Wife to the divine act, mother of heavens.— Let Vashti come and stand before the kings!
VASHTI AND THE KING’S WOMEN AT THEIR FEAST
1st Woman. Queen, is it well to be so sorrowful?
2nd Woman. And when the King our lord spendeth on us This festival out of his rich heart, to shoot Thy looks upon us as thou wouldst rebuke us?
Vashti. Your pardon: do I trouble your greed?
Rather our gratitude——
That we have share
In these devices of the King’s own cooks,
These costly breads,—
And these delicious meats,
These sauces mixt of spicy treacle and balm.
3rd Woman. And wines, purple and blue and like gold fire, Made of the colours of the morning sea And fragrance wild as woman’s need of love.
Vashti. Enjoy them then: who lets you?
Thou dost, Queen.
Thou sittest with hands folded in thy robe, And in the midst of delicacies wilt fast.
1st Woman. We see thine eyes upon them as they were Wickedness.
’Tis rare bounty that we women
Halve with the King his festival.
It seems, scarce findest it thankworthy.
Your pardon: but ye need not gaze on me.—
And yet, why am I sorrowful? In truth,
Is it a sorrow that so leans upon me?
I know not. But my soul knoweth right well
That I am watched.