In whom my beauty will but move
The lust of a delighted love;
In whom some spirit of God so thrives
That we may wed our lonely lives?
Is there no man, is there none?”—
She said, “I will go to Solomon.”
I shall not bear it: dreamed, it hath made my life
Fail almost, like a storm broken in heaven
By its internal fire; and now I feel
Love like a dreadful god coming to do
His pleasure on me, to tear me with his joy
And shred my flesh-wove strength with merciless
Utterance through me of inhuman bliss.—
I must have more divinity within me.—
Come to me, slave! [Calling out to his attendants.
Thou callest someone? Alas!
O, where’s my veil?—Cry him to stay awhile!—
Holofernes. Thou troubled with such whimsy!—But ’tis no one, A mere sexless thing of mine.
He is coming!
I threw my veil—where?—I must bow my face
Close to the ground, or his eyes will find me out;
And—O my lord, hold him back with thy voice!
[She has knelt down.
Hold him in doubt to enter a moment, while
I loosen my hair into some manner of safety
Against his prying.
Slave, dost thou hear me? Come!—
I marvel, room for such a paltering mood
Should be within thy mind, now so nearly
Deified with the first sense of my love.
[A Eunuch comes in.
Holofernes. Wine! The mightiest wine my sutlers have; Wine with the sun’s own grandeur in it, and all The wildness of the earth conceiving Spring From the sun’s golden lust: wine for us twain! And when thou hast brought it, burn anear my bed Storax and cassia; and let wealth be found To cover my bed with such strife of colour, Crimson and tawny and purple-inspired gold, That eyes beholding it may take therefrom Splendid imagination of the strife Of love with love’s implacable desire.
Judith (still kneeling).
I must lean on thee now, my God! A weight
Of pitiable weakness thou must bear
And move as it were thine own strength; tell my heart
How not to sicken in abomination,
Show me the way to loathe this vile man’s rage,
Now close to seize me into the use of his pleasure,
With the loathing that is terrible delight.
So that not fainting, but refresht and astonisht
And strangely spirited and divinely angry
My body may arise out of its passion,
Out of being enjoyed by this fiend’s flesh.
Then man my arm; then let mine own revenge
Utter thy vengeance, Lord, as speech doth meaning;
Yea, with hate empower me to say bravely
The glittering word that even now thy mind
Purposes, God,—the swift stroke of a falchion!
Woman, beloved, why art thou fixt so long
Kneeling and downward crookt, and in thy hair
Darkened?—Ah, thy shoulders urging shape
Of loveliness into thy hair’s pouring gleam!