THE SCENE is at the hearth of CRASSUS, where is a little bronze altar dedicated to the Lares and Penates. A pale flame rises from the burning sandal-wood, on which CRASSUS throws benzoin and musk. He is standing in deep dejection.
CRASSUS.Smoke without fire! No thrill of tongues licks up The offerings in the cup.Dead falls desire.
Black smoke thou art, O altar-flame, that dost dismember, Devour the hearth, to leave no emberTo warm this heart.
I see her still - Adela dancing here Till dim gods did appearTo work our will.
The delicate girl! Diaphanous gossamer Subtly revealing herBrave breast of pearl!
Now - she's withdrawn At dusk to the wild woods, Mystic beatitudesThat dure till dawn.
Let life exclaim Against these things of spirit, Mankind that disinheritOf love's pure flame![He bends before the altar and begins to weep.]
Ye household gods! By these male tears I swear That ye shall grant this prayer.All things at odds
Shall be put straight - Harmonized, reconciled By some appointed childOf some far Fate![A curtain has been drawn aside during this invocation, andALICIA advances. She smiles subtly upon him; and, giving astrange gesture, makes one or two noiseless steps of dancing.]
ALICIA.Master still sad?
CRASSUS.These faint and fearful shores Of time are beaten by the surge of sense, Love worn away - by love? - to indifference.Who knows what god - or demon - she adores? Or in what wood she shelters, or what grove Sees her profane our sacrament of love?
ALICIA.I saw her followThe stream in the hollowWhere never Apollo Abides.So thick are the treesThat never the breezeStirs them, or sees What satyr inhabits the glen, what nymph in the pools of it hides.
Lighter of foot Than a sylph or a fairy, Sinuous, wary, I passed from the airyLawns, where the flute Of the winds made tremulous music for man.
I followed the ripple Of the stream; I crept Where the waters wept - The floss in the foss Gurgling across The bosses of moss,Like a dryad's nipple In the mouth of Pan!
CRASSUS.O pearl of the house! you came to the end?
ALICIA.The dusk of the slave, the dawn of a friend?
CRASSUS.Freedom is thine for the skill and the will.
ALICIA.The skill is mine - but the will lies still,Still as the earth that dare not stirTill the kiss of the sun awaken her!
CRASSUS.Yet at these secrets and riddles? Behold!I can fill thy lap with a harvest of gold.
ALICIA.Yet all the gold you could give to meWould fall at my feet when I rose to be free.
CRASSUS.What will you then?
ALICIA.No gift from men.Of my own free will I give you wit,(O man so sorely in need of it!)And happiness; and the flame that hath dwindledOn this dull hearth shall be rekindled.But this you must swear:To will, and to dare,To seek the spirit and slay the sense; And for this hour To give me powerTo lead you in silent obedience,Though I bade you fall on your sword…....