And such is Cenci: and while Cenci lives
His daughter’s dowry were a secret grave
If a priest wins her.—Oh, fair Beatrice!
Would that I loved thee not, or loving thee,
Could but despise danger and gold and all 130
That frowns between my wish and its effect.
Or smiles beyond it! There is no escape...
Her bright form kneels beside me at the altar,
And follows me to the resort of men,
And fills my slumber with tumultuous dreams, 135
So when I wake my blood seems liquid fire;
And if I strike my damp and dizzy head
My hot palm scorches it: her very name,
But spoken by a stranger, makes my heart
Sicken and pant; and thus unprofitably 140
I clasp the phantom of unfelt delights
Till weak imagination half possesses
The self-created shadow. Yet much longer
Will I not nurse this life of feverous hours:
From the unravelled hopes of Giacomo 145
I must work out my own dear purposes.
I see, as from a tower, the end of all:
Her father dead; her brother bound to me
By a dark secret, surer than the grave;
Her mother scared and unexpostulating 150
From the dread manner of her wish achieved;
And she!—Once more take courage, my faint heart;
What dares a friendless maiden matched with thee?
I have such foresight as assures success:
Some unbeheld divinity doth ever, 155
When dread events are near, stir up men’s minds
To black suggestions; and he prospers best,
Not who becomes the instrument of ill,
But who can flatter the dark spirit, that makes
Its empire and its prey of other hearts 160
Till it become his slave...as I will do.
END OF ACT 2.
AN APARTMENT IN THE CENCI PALACE.
LUCRETIA, TO HER ENTER BEATRICE.
BEATRICE [SHE ENTERS STAGGERING AND SPEAKS WILDLY]:
Reach me that handkerchief!—My brain is hurt;
My eyes are full of blood; just wipe them for me...
I see but indistinctly...
My sweet child,
You have no wound; ’tis only a cold dew
That starts from your dear brow.—Alas! Alas! 5
What has befallen?
How comes this hair undone?
Its wandering strings must be what blind me so,
And yet I tied it fast.—Oh, horrible!
The pavement sinks under my feet! The walls
Spin round! I see a woman weeping there, 10
And standing calm and motionless, whilst I
Slide giddily as the world reels...My God!
The beautiful blue heaven is flecked with blood!