for a Muse of the Night, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A ‘sundered nation for a stage, to behold the swelling scene!
Then should the Harried South
It was almost Summer, Florida’s token Spring a mere calendric habit; ‘mad, naked...night’ indeed, as the sweat poured from his brow.
Assume the guise of Mars; and at its heels,
Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire
Crouch for employment. But pardon, gentles all,
The flat unraised spirit that has dared
On this paltry page to bring forth
So great a struggle: can these, our heads, hold
The vasty fields of Gettysburg? or may we cram
Within this conjuring, the very shots
That did affright the air?
Let us, mere printed ciphers to this great travail,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these wood-hewn leaves
Are now confined two mighty armies,
Whose abutting fronts
The perilous narrow quarrel parts asunder:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Think when we talk of ships, that you see their
Humble prows part waters, troubled;
For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our deeds,
Carry them here and there; jumping o'er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus master to this history;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear of, kindly to judge, our benighted play...
And its fallen knight.(1)
ACT, The Last, or, a Reversal ‘O The Clock....Night Afore Day
[wherein, our deflated Player makes for a watery exit under cover of night, and south winds]
I chant the chant of dilation or pride,
We have had ducking and deprecating about enough,
I show that size is only development.
Have you outstript the rest? are you the President?
It is a trifle, they will more than arrive there every one, and still pass on.
I am he that walks with the tender and growing night,
I call to the earth and sea half-held by the night.
Press close bare-bosom'd night - press close magnetic nourishing night!
Night of south winds - night of the large few stars!
Still nodding night - mad naked summer night.(2)
He cared not that his habitual poetry recitation---now, within his capacious head---invoked the words of the Lincoln-worshipper Whitman---he thought he had met him, once, in the New Orleans street, he, a broadsheet man there, and thought him warm, not unlike this, and other warm nights, when ‘twas his wont to expound poetical, even philosophical, at such times, his fondest resource, to both himself and admiring, often envious others. It was almost Summer, Florida’s token Spring a mere calendric habit; ‘mad, naked...night’
indeed, as the sweat poured from his brow. ‘Are not these woods more free from peril than envious court?’
(3) While currently alone, his guide having abandoned him out of fear of Federal troopers lusting after his charge on orders of an enraged bounty-offering Stanton, he believed he had sympathizers in this southernmost appendage of that Confederacy; she had seceded nearly as quickly as his first home, South Carolina, and they were near, by his reckoning, that nearness possessed of such irony that the benighted countenance of Judah P. Benjamin became emblematic of the ancient state of languid Judaic exile: this of all nights, so very different from all other nights, for this night would set in motion his hurried exodus, his passing over unto bardic shores.
The signature smile he seemed to share with the vaunted Mona Lisa---hers so rife with mystery (named sfumato
by the painter’s countrymen), his paler version, a cryptic near- smirk, featured on the worthless Confederate two dollar bill--- shone mistily, over its sleepy stout visage. Would that his enviers could see him now, he who had been the highest intellect of that defunct rebellion, manipulator of the very right hand of Jefferson Davis, laid low, literally, amongst the bushes and briars of sandy-soiled Florida. Fitfully cat-napping in forests and swamps by day (for the night was marginally cooler, and safer), it came to pass that his fittingly feline sleep was disturbed by a playful parrot perched in a tree above, sqwaking, “Hi, for Jeff! Hi, for Jeff!”
Lost Shakespearean PlayER, ‘Sir kNight, Benjamin of Judah‘, Found continues...