Ahasuerus. Eyes? But there is no
nerve thou takest not, No way of my life thronging
not with thee, And my blood sounds at the story of
thy beauty. What thing shall be held up to woman’s
beauty? Where are the bounds of it? Yea,
what is all The world, but an awning scaffolded amid
The waste perilous Eternity, to lodge This Heaven-wander’d
princess, woman’s beauty? The East and
West kneel down to thee, the North And South, and
all for thee their shoulders bear
The load of fourfold place. As yellow morn
Runs on the slippery waves of the spread sea,
Thy feet are on the griefs and joys of men
That sheen to be thy causey. Out of tears,
Indeed, and blitheness, murder and lust and love,
Whatever has been passionate in clay,
Thy flesh was tempered. Behold in thy body
The yearnings of all men measured and told,
Insatiate endless agonies of desire
Given thy flesh, the meaning of thy shape!
What beauty is there, but thou makest it?
How is earth good to look on, woods and fields
The seasons’ garden, and the courageous hills,
All this green raft of earth moored in the seas?
The manner of the sun to ride the air,
The stars God has imagined for the night?
What’s this behind them, that we cannot near,
Secret still on the point of being blabbed,
The ghost in the world that flies from being named?
Where do they get their beauty from, all these?
They do but glaze a lantern lit for man,
And woman’s beauty is the flame therein
Feeding on sacred oil, man’s desire,
A golden flame possessing all the earth.
Or as a queen upon an embassage
From out some mountain-guarded far renown,
Brings caravans stockt from her slavish mines,
Her looms and forges, with a precious friendship;
So comest thou from the chambers of the stars
On thy famed visit unto man the king;
So bringing from the mints and shops of Heaven,
Where thou didst own labours of all the fates,
A shining traffic, all that man calls beauty:
There is no holding out for the heart of man
Against thee and such custom. O hard to be borne, Often hard to be borne is woman’s beauty!— And well I guess it does but cover up Enmity, hanging falseness between our souls, And buy at a dishonest price the mouth True nature hath for thee, to speak thee fair. Were not man’s thought so gilded with thy beauty, Woman, and caught in the desire of thee, O, there’ld be hatred in his use of thee. You should be thankful for your pleasantness!
Vashti. Yes, I am thankful. For I hope, my lord, We women know our style. Ay, we are fooled Sometimes with heady tampering thoughts, that come To bother our submission, I confess. We to ourselves have said, that when God took The fierce beginning of the unwrought world From out his fiery passion, and, breathing cool, Tamed the wild molten being, with his hands Fashion’d and workt the hot clay into world, Then with green mercy quieted