Wolves! They come!
Brothers, the fiends are on us: have good hearts!
Ho for the women and their sacred wombs!
Brys. Ho for the women, their beauty and my pleasure!
AHASUERUS AND VASHTI
Vashti. My lord requires me here.
Does Heaven see this?
Dare I have this one humble unto me?
Was it not enough, Stars, to have given me
This marriage? but you must persuade your God
To have me as well the greatest king beneath you!
Look you now if men grow not insolent
Because of me, a man so throned, so wived.
Yea, and in me insolent groweth my love;
For if the wheels of the careering world
Brake, felley and spoke, that, pitching on the road,
It spilt the driving godhead from his seat,
And the unreined team of hours riskily dragg’d
Their crippled duty,—if in that lurching world
Like jarred glass my power shattered about me,
And I were a head unking’d, ’twere but a game,
So I were left possessing thee, and that
Escape from Heaven, the beauty that goes with thee.
Here is an insolence! Hast thou not wonder’d,
Vashti, what gave thee into such a love,
That in the brain of me, the chosen king,
It is so loud, so insolent, thy love?
O this shrill sweet heart-mastering love!
Do I deserve that love?—But yes, I wonder;
For what am I that the king loveth me?
Lo, I am woman, thou art man, the lord;
Out of mere bounty are we loved of you,
And not for our deserving. We are to sit
In a high calm, and not go down and help
Among the toil, and choosing, chosen, find
Companionship therein. For thou, for man
Has such a treasure in his heart of love,
It must be squandered out in charity,
Not used as a gentle money to repay
Worth (as a woman spends her love). A trick
Of posture in a girl, and see the alms
Of generous love man will enrich her with!
Might there not be sometimes too much of alms
About his love? But we will blink at that.
Yet sometimes we are liked ashamed, to be
Taking so much love from you, all for naught.
Now therefore tell me, Man, my king, my master:
Lovest thou me, or dost thou rather love
The pleasure thou hast in me? This is not nice,
Believe me. They’re more sundered, these two loves,
Than if all the braving seas marcht between them.
What, shrinking from thine own delightsomeness?
Hear then. Nature, so ordered from the God,
Has given strength to man and work to do,
But to woman gave that she should be delight
For man, else like an overdriven ox
Heart-broke. The world was made for man, but made
Wisely a steep difficulty to be climbed,