Judith. Needs must I pray my Jewish God for help Against my bridal joys. For I do fear them.
Holofernes. I also: these are the joys that fear doth own.
At the Gate of Bethulia. On the walls, on either side of the Gate, are citizens watching the Assyrian camp; OZIAS also, standing by himself.
When wilt thou cure thyself, spirit of the earth,
When wilt thou cure thyself of thy long fever,
That so insanely doth ferment in thee?—
’Tis not man only: the whole blood of life
Is fever’d with desire. But as the brain,
Being lord of the body, is served by blood
So well that a hidden canker in the flesh
May send, continuous as a usury,
Its breeding venom upward, till in the brain
It vapour into enormity of dreaming:
So man is lord of life upon the earth;
And like a hastening blood his nature wells
Up out of the beasts below him, they the flesh
And he the brain, they serving him with blood;
And blood so loaden with brute lust of being
It steams the conscious leisure of man’s thought
With an immense phantasma of desire,
An unsubduable dream of unknown pleasure;
Which he sends hungering forth into the world,
But never satisfied returns to him.
Who hath found beauty? Who hath not desired it?
’Tis but the feverish spirit of earthly life
Working deliriously in man, a dream
Questing the world that throngs upon man’s mind
To find therein an image of herself;
And there is nothing answers her entreaty.—
I climb towards death: it is not falling down
For me to die, but up the event of the world
As up a mighty ridge I climb, and look
With lifted vision backward down on life.
So high towards death I am gone, listless I gaze
Where on the earth beneath me, into the fires
Of that Assyrian strength, our siege of fate,
Judith, the dream of my desire of beauty,
Goes daring forth, to shape herself therein,
Seeking to fashion in its turbulence
Some deed that will be likeness of herself.
For now I know her purpose: and I know
She will be murdered there. Against the world
The beauty I have lived in, my loved dream,
Goes, wild to master the world; and she will
Therefore be murdered. It is nothing now;
Wind from the heights of death is on my brow.
Talk among the other watchers.
It must be, God is for us. Such a mind
As this of Judith’s could not be, unless
God had spoken it into her. She is
His special voice, to tell the Assyrians
Is she God’s? I think
’Tis Holofernes hath her now.
Upon his soldiers he hath lavisht her.
Not he. Now they have known her, his filled
Never will leave go our wonderful Judith.
Ay, wonderful in Jewry. But there are
In Babylon women so beautiful,
They make men’s spirits desperate, to know
Flesh cannot ever minister enough
Delight to ease the craving they are taskt with.