[OZIAS comes behind her and catches the lifted falchion.
Judith. It was well done, Ozias.
I have watcht
Thy anguish growing, and I lookt for this.
Judith. Thou knowest me better than I
know myself. What moves in me is strange and
uncontrolled, That once I thought was ruled:
thou knew’st me better.— Indeed thou
must forgive me; what was I To take so bitterly thy
suit? What right Had I to give thee anger, when
thou wouldst Brighten thy hopeless death with me enjoyed,
I, even from that anger, going to be Holofernes’
pleasure?—Thou knewest me better, And therefore
shalt forgive me. Ay, no doubt
My spirit answered thee so fiercely then
Because it felt thee reading me aright,
How a mere bragging was my purity.
But now to pardon askt, I must add thanks.—
I had forgot Manasses! Even love
Was driven forth of me by these loud mouths!
Whether in death he waits for me, I know not;
But it had been an unforgivable thing
To have made this the end; not to have gone
To death as unto spousals, leaving life
As one sets down a work faithfully done,
And knows oneself by service justified,
Worthy of love, whether love be or not.
But, soiled with detestation, to have thrown
Fiercely aside the garment of this light;
Proved at the last impatient, death desiring
Like a mere doffing of foul drenched clothes;
Release from the wicked hindering mire of sorrow;
A comfortable darkness hiding me
Out of the glowing world myself have made
An insult, domineering me with splendour;—
O such a death had turned, past all forgiving,
My insult to Manasses, and searcht him out, Even where he is quiet, with the blaze, Ranging like din, of this contempt, this triumph. Not crying out such hateful news should I Flee hunted into death, unto my love. From this, Ozias, thou hast saved me. Now I am to learn my shame, that not amazed, But practised in my burden, I at last, When my time comes, may all in gladness fare The road made sacred by Manasses’ feet.
[JUDITH goes into her house.
Ozias (addressing the citizens).
You do well to be stricken silent here.
Terrible Holofernes slain by a woman
Was something wonderful, to be noised aloud;
But this is a wonder past applauding thought,
This grief darkening Judith, in the midst
Of the new shining glory she herself
Has brought to conquer in our skies the storm.
You do well to be dumb: for you have seen
Virginity. That spirit you have seen,
Seen made wrathfully plain that secret spirit,
Whereby is man’s frail scabbard filled with steel.
This, cumbered in the earthen kind of man,
Which ceaseless waters would be wearing down,
Alone giveth him stubborn substance, holds him
Upright and hard against impious fate.
All things within it would the world possess,