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The Wild Knight (play)
by [?]

[A pause: then in a low voice.]

Would he not be good?
Hate is the weakness of a thwarted thing,
Pride is the weakness of a thing unpraised.
But he, this man….
He would be like a child
Girt with the tomes of some vast library,
Who reads romance after romance, and smiles
When every tale ends well: impersonal
As God he grows–melted in suns and stars;
So would this boundless man, whom none could spy,
Taunt him with virtue, censure him with vice,
Rejoice in all men’s joys; with golden pen
Write all the live romances of the earth
To a triumphant close….
Alone and free–
In this grey, cool, clean garden, washed with winds,
What do I come to do among the grass,
The daisies, and the dews? An awful thing,
To prove I am that man.
That while these saints
Taunt me with trembling, dare me to revenge,
I breathe an upper air of ancient good
And strong eternal laughter; send my sun
And rain upon the evil and the just,
Turn my left cheek unto the smiter. He
That told me, sword in hand, that I had fallen
Lower than anger, knew not I had risen
Higher than pride….
Enough, the deeds are mine.

[Takes out the title-deeds.]

I come to write the end of a romance.
A good romance: the characters–Lord Orm.
Type of the starved heart and stored brain,
Who strives to hate and cannot; fronting him–
Redfeather, rake in process of reform,
At root a poet: I have hopes of him:
He can love virtue, for he still loves vice.
He is not all burnt out. He beats me there
(How I beat him in owning it!); in love
He is still young, and has the joy of shame.
And for the Lady Olive–who shall speak?
A man may weigh the courage of a man,
But if there be a bottomless abyss
It is a woman’s valour: such as I
Can only bow the knee and hide the face
(Thank God there is no God to spy on me
And bring his cursed crowns).
No, there is none:
The old incurable hunger of the world
Surges in wolfish wars, age after age.
There was no God before me: none sees where,
Between the brute-womb and the deaf, dead grave,
Unhoping, unrecorded, unrepaid,
I make with smoke, fire, and burnt-offering
This sacrifice to Chaos. [Lights the papers.] None behold
Me write in fire the end of the romance.
Burn! I am God, and crown myself with stars.
Upon creation day: before was night
And chaos of a blind and cruel world.
I am the first God; I will trample hell,
Fight, conquer, make the story of the stars,
Like this poor story, end like a romance:

[The paper burns.]

Before was brainless night: but I am God
In this black world I rend. Let there be light!

[The paper blazes up, illuminating the garden.]

I, God …

THE WILD KNIGHT [rushes forward].

God’s Light! God’s Voice; yes, it is He
Walking in Eden in the cool of the day!

LORD ORM [screams].

Tricked! Caught!
Damned screeching rat in a hole!

[Stabs him again and again with his sword; stamps on his face.]

THE WILD KNIGHT [faintly].

Earth grows too beautiful around me: shapes
And colours fearfully wax fair and clear,
For I have heard, as thro’ a door ajar,
Scraps of the huge soliloquy of God
That moveth as a mask the lips of man,
If man be very silent: they were right,
No flesh shall look upon the Lord and live.


LORD ORM [staggers back laughing].

Saved, saved, my secret.

REDFEATHER [rushing in, sword in hand].

The drawn sword at last!
Guard, son of hell!

[They fight. ORM falls. OLIVE comes in.]

He too can die. Keep back!
Olive, keep back from him! I did not fear
Him living, and he fell before my sword;
But dead I fear him. All is ended now;
A man’s whole life tied in a bundle there,
And no good deed. I fear him. Come away.