Night and her admirable stars again!
And I again envying her and questioning!
What hast thou, Night, achieved, denied to me,
That maketh thee so full of quiet stars?
What beauty has been mingled into thee
So that thy depth burns with the peace of stars?—
I now with fires of uproarious heat,
Exclaiming yellow flames and towering splendour
And a huge fragrant smoke of precious woods,
Must build against thy overlooking, Stars,
And against thy terrible eternal news
Of Beauty that burns quietly and pure,
A lodge of wild extravagant earthly fire;
Even as under passions of fleshly pleasure
I hide myself from my desiring soul.
[Enter Guards with JUDITH.
We found this woman wandering in the trenches,
And calling out, “Take me to Holofernes,
Assyrians, I am come for Holofernes.”
She would not, for no words of ours, unveil,
And something held us back from handling her.
We think she must be beautiful, although
She is so stubborn with that veil of hers.
We minded my lord’s word, that he be shewn
All the seized women which are strangely fair.
Holofernes. Take off thy veil.
I will not.
Take thy veil
From off thy face, Jewess, or thou straight goest
To entertain my soldiers.
I will not.
Holofernes. Am I to tear it, then?
My lord, thou durst not.
Holofernes. Ha, there is spirit here. I have the whim, Jewess, almost to believe thee: I dare not! But tell me who thou art.
That shalt thou know
Before the night has end.
Take off thy veil.
Judith. Alone for Holofernes am I come.
And there is only Holofernes here.
These fellows are but thoughts of mine; my whole
Army, that treads down all the earth and breaks
The banks of fending rivers into marsh,
Is nought but my forth-going imagination.
Where I am, there is no man else: if I
Appeared before thee in a throng of spears,
I’ld stand alone before thee, girt about
By powers of my mind made visible.
For captured peasants or for captured kings
Such words would have the right big sound. But I
Am woman, and I hear them not: I say
I will not, before any man but thee,
Make known my face; I am only for thee.
When I have thee alone and in thy tent
I will unveil.
Holofernes (to the Guards).
What! Staring?—Hence, you dogs!