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S. T. Coleridge - The d**h of Wallenstein (Act 2 Scene 2) lyrics


(advances to him).
My general!

That I am no longer, if
Thou stylest thyself the emperor's officer.

Then thou wilt leave the army, general?

I have renounced the service of the emperor.

And thou wilt leave the army?

Rather hope I
To bind it nearer still and faster to me.
  [He seats himself.
Yes, Max., I have delayed to open it to thee,
Even till the hour of acting 'gins to strike.
Youth's fortunate feeling doth seize easily
The absolute right, yea, and a joy it is
To exercise the single apprehension
Where the sums square in proof;
But where it happens, that of two sure evils
One must be taken, where the heart not wholly
Brings itself back from out the strife of duties,
There 'tis a blessing to have no election,
And blank necessity is grace and favor.
This is now present: do not look behind thee,—
It can no more avail thee. Look thou forwards!
Think not! judge not! prepare thyself to act!
The court—it hath determined on my ruin,
Therefore I will be beforehand with them.
We'll join the Swedes—right gallant fellows are they,
And our good friends.
  [He stops himself, expecting PICCOLOMINI's answer.
I have taken thee by surprise. Answer me not:
I grant thee time to recollect thyself.

  [He rises, retires to the back of the stage. MAX. remains
   for a long time motionless, in a trance of excessive anguish.
   At his first motion WALLENSTEIN returns, and places himself
   before him.

My general, this day thou makest me
Of age to speak in my own right and person,
For till this day I have been spared the trouble
To find out my own road. Thee have I followed
With most implicit, unconditional faith,
Sure of the right path if I followed thee.
To-day, for the first time, dost thou refer
Me to myself, and forcest me to make
Election between thee and my own heart.

Soft cradled thee thy fortune till to-day;
Thy duties thou couldst exercise in sport,
Indulge all lovely instincts, act forever
With undivided heart. It can remain
No longer thus. Like enemies, the roads
Start from each other. Duties strive with duties,
Thou must needs choose thy party in the war
Which is now kindling 'twixt thy friend and him
Who is thy emperor.

War! is that the name?
War is as frightful as heaven's pestilence,
Yet it is good, is it heaven's will as that is.
Is that a good war, which against the emperor
Thou wagest with the emperor's own army?
O God of heaven! what a change is this.
Beseems it me to offer such persuasion
To thee, who like the fixed star of the pole
Wert all I gazed at on life's trackless ocean?
O! what a rent thou makest in my heart!
The ingrained instinct of old reverence,
The holy habit of obediency,
Must I pluck life asunder from thy name?
Nay, do not turn thy countenance upon me—
It always was as a god looking upon me!
Duke Wallenstein, its power has not departed;
The senses still are in thy bonds, although
Bleeding, the soul hath freed itself.

Max., hear me.

Oh, do it not, I pray thee, do it not!
There is a pure and noble soul within thee,
Knows not of this unblest unlucky doing.
Thy will is chaste, it is thy fancy only
Which hath polluted thee—and innocence,
It will not let itself be driven away
From that world-awing aspect. Thou wilt not,
Thou canst not end in this. It would reduce
All human creatures to disloyalty
Against the nobleness of their own nature.
'Twill justify the vulgar misbelief,
Which holdeth nothing noble in free will,
And trusts itself to impotence alone,
Made powerful only in an unknown power.
[Lyrics from: https:/**h-of-wallenstein-act-2-scene-2.html]

The world will judge me harshly, I expect it.
Already have I said to my own self
All thou canst say to me. Who but avoids
The extreme, can he by going round avoid it?
But here there is no choice. Yes, I must use
Or suffer violence—so stands the case,
There remains nothing possible but that.

Oh, that is never possible for thee!
'Tis the last desperate resource of those
Cheap souls, to whom their honor, their good name,
Is their poor saving, their last worthless keep,
Which, having staked and lost, they staked themselves
In the mad rage of gaming. Thou art rich
And glorious; with an unpolluted heart
Thou canst make conquest of whate'er seems highest!
But he who once hath acted infamy
Does nothing more in this world.

(grasps his hand).
Calmly, Max.!
Much that is great and excellent will we
Perform together yet. And if we only
Stand on the height with dignity, 'tis soon
Forgotten, Max., by what road we ascended.
Believe me, many a crown shines spotless now,
That yet was deeply sullied in the winning.
To the evil spirit doth the earth belong,
Not to the good. All that the powers divine
Send from above are universal blessings
Their light rejoices us, their air refreshes,
But never yet was man enriched by them:
In their eternal realm no property
Is to be struggled for—all there is general.
The j**el, the all-valued gold we win
From the deceiving powers, depraved in nature,
That dwell beneath the day and blessed sunlight.
Not without sacrifices are they rendered
Propitious, and there lives no soul on earth
That e'er retired unsullied from their service.

Whate'er is human to the human being
Do I allow—and to the vehement
And striving spirit readily I pardon
The excess of action; but to thee, my general!
Above all others make I large concession.
For thou must move a world and be the master—
He k**s thee who condemns thee to inaction.
So be it then! maintain thee in thy post
By violence. Resist the emperor,
And if it must be force with force repel;
I will not praise it, yet I can forgive it.
But not—not to the traitor—yes! the word
Is spoken out—
Not to the traitor can I yield a pardon.
That is no mere excess! that is no error
Of human nature—that is wholly different,
Oh, that is black, black as the pit of hell!
  [WALLENSTEIN betrays a sudden agitation.
Thou canst not hear it named, and wilt thou do it?
O turn back to thy duty. That thou canst,
I hold it certain. Send me to Vienna;
I'll make thy peace for thee with the emperor.
He knows thee not. But I do know thee. He
Shall see thee, duke! with my unclouded eye,
And I bring back his confidence to thee.

It is too late! Thou knowest not what has happened.

Were it too late, and were things gone so far,
That a crime only could prevent thy fall,
Then—fall! fall honorably, even as thou stoodest,
Lose the command. Go from the stage of war!
Thou canst with splendor do it—do it too
With innocence. Thou hast lived much for others,
At length live thou for thy own self. I follow thee.
My destiny I never part from thine.

It is too late! Even now, while thou art losing
Thy words, one after another, are the mile-stones
Left fast behind by my post couriers,
Who bear the order on to Prague and Egra.

  [MAX. stands as convulsed, with a gesture and countenance
   expressing the most intense anguish.

Yield thyself to it. We act as we are forced.
I cannot give a**ent to my own shame
And ruin. Thou—no—thou canst not forsake me!
So let us do, what must be done, with dignity,
With a firm step. What am I doing worse
Than did famed Caesar at the Rubicon,
When he the legions led against his country,
The which his country had delivered to him?
Had he thrown down the sword, he had been lost.
As I were, if I but disarmed myself.
I trace out something in me of this spirit.
Give me his luck, that other thing I'll bear.

  [MAX. quits him abruptly. WALLENSTEIN startled and overpowered,
   continues looking after him, and is still in this posture when
   TERZKY enters.

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