The Parlour of a Public House. Two young men, MORRIS and HAMISH.
Hamish. Come, why so moody, Morris? Either talk, Or drink, at least.
I’m wondering about Love.
Hamish. Ho, are you there, my boy? Who may it be?
Morris. I’m not in love; but altogether posed I am by lovers.
They’re a simple folk:
It’s you I’m mainly thinking of.
Hamish. Why, that’s an honour, surely.
Now if I loved
The girl you love, your Jean, (look where she goes Waiting on drinkers, hearing their loose tongues; And yet her clean thought takes no more of soil Than white-hot steel laid among dust can take!)—
Hamish. You not in love, and talking this fine stuff?
Morris. I say, if I loved Jean, I’ld do without All these vile pleasures of the flesh, your mind Seems running on for ever: I would think A thought that was always tasting them would make The fire a foul thing in me, as the flame Of burning wood, which has a rare sweet smell, Is turned to bitter stink when it scorches flesh.
Hamish. Why specially Jean?
Why Jean? The girl’s all spirit!
Hamish. She’s a lithe burd, it’s true; that, I suppose, Is why you think her made of spirit,—unless You’ve seen her angry: she has a blazing temper.— But what’s a girl’s beauty meant for, but to rouse Lust in a man? And where’s the harm in that,— In loving her because she’s beautiful, And in the way that drives me?—I dare say My spirit loves her too. But if it does I don’t know what it loves.
Why, man, her beauty
Is but the visible manners of her spirit;
And this you go to love by the filthy road
Which all the paws and hoofs in the world tread too!
God! And it’s Jean whose lover runs with the herd
Of grunting, howling, barking lovers,—Jean!—
O spirit, spirit, spirit! What is spirit?
I know I’ve got a body, and it loves:
But who can tell me what my spirit’s doing,
Or even if I have one?
Well, it’s strange,
My God, it’s strange. A girl goes through the world
Like a white sail over the sea, a being
Woven so fine and lissom that her life
Is but the urging spirit on its journey,
And held by her in shape and attitude.
And all she’s here for is that you may clutch
Her spirit in the love of a mating beast!
Hamish. Why, she has fifty lovers if she has one, And fifty’s few for her.
I’m going out.
If the night does me good, I’ll come back here
Maybe, and walk home with you.