Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Scene 2

FRONT SCENE.--A wood with perhaps distant view of turreted house
at one side, but all in flat colour, without light and shade and
against a diafiered or gold background.

COUNTESS CATHLEEN comes in leaning UpOn ALEEL's arm. OONA follows
them.

CATHLEEN. (Stopping) Surely this leafy corner, where one smells
The wild bee's honey, has a story too?

OONA. There is the house at last.

ALEEL. A man, they say,
Loved Maeve the Queen of all the invisible host,
And died of his love nine centuries ago.
And now, when the moon's riding at the full,
She leaves her dancers lonely and lies there
Upon that level place, and for three days
Stretches and sighs and wets her long pale cheeks.

CATHLEEN. So she loves truly.

ALEEL. No, but wets her cheeks,
Lady, because she has forgot his name.

CATHLEEN. She'd sleep that trouble away--though it must be
A heavy trouble to forget his name--
If she had better sense.

OONA. Your own house, lady.

ALEEL. She sleeps high up on wintry Knock-na-rea
In an old cairn of stones; while her poor women
Must lie and jog in the wave if they would sleep
Being water born--yet if she cry their names
They run up on the land and dance in the moon
Till they are giddy and would love as men do,
And be as patient and as pitiful.
But there is nothing that will stop in their heads,
They've such poor memories, though they weep for it.
Oh, yes, they weep; that's when the moon is full.

CATHLEEN. is it because they have short memories
They live so long?

ALEEL. What's memory but the ash
That chokes our fires that have begun to sink?
And they've a dizzy, everlasting fire.

OONA. There is your own house, lady.

CATHLEEN. Why, that's true,
And we'd have passed it without noticing.

ALEEL. A curse upon it for a meddlesome house!
Had it but stayed away I would have known
What Queen Maeve thinks on when the moon is pinched;
And whether now--as in the old days--the dancers
Set their brief love on men.

OONA. Rest on my arm.
These are no thoughts for any Christian ear.

ALEEL. I am younger, she would be too heavy for you.

(He begins taking his lute out of the bag, CATHLEEN, Who has
turned towards OONA, turns back to him.)

This hollow box remembers every foot
That danced upon the level grass of the world,
And will tell secrets if I whisper to it.
(Sings.) Lift up the white knee;
That's what they sing,
Those young dancers
That in a ring
Raved but now
Of the hearts that break
Long, long ago
For their sake.

OONA. New friends are sweet.

ALEEL. "But the dance changes.

Lift up the gown,
All that sorrow
Is trodden down."

OONA. The empty rattle-pate! Lean on this arm,
That I can tell you is a christened arm,
And not like some, if we are to judge by speech.
But as you please. It is time I was forgot.
Maybe it is not on this arm you slumbered
When you were as helpless as a worm.

ALEEL. Stay with me till we come to your own house.

CATHLEEN (Sitting down) When I am rested I will need no help.

ALEEL. I thought to have kept her from remembering

The evil of the times for full ten minutes;
But now when seven are out you come between.

OONA. Talk on; what does it matter what you say,
For you have not been christened?

ALEEL. Old woman, old woman,
You robbed her of three minutes peace of mind,
And though you live unto a hundred years,
And wash the feet of beggars and give alms,
And climb Croaghpatrick, you shall not be pardoned.

OONA. How does a man who never was baptized
Know what Heaven pardons?

ALEEL. You are a sinful woman

OONA. I care no more than if a pig had grunted.

(Enter CATHLEEN's Steward.)

STEWARD. I am not to blame, for I had locked the gate,
The forester's to blame. The men climbed in
At the east corner where the elm-tree is.

CATHLEEN. I do not understand you, who has climbed?

STEWARD. Then God be thanked, I am the first to tell you.
I was afraid some other of the servants--
Though I've been on the watch--had been the first
And mixed up truth and lies, your ladyship.

CATHLEEN (rising) Has some misfortune happened?

STEWARD. Yes, indeed.
The forester that let the branches lie
Against the wall's to blame for everything,
For that is how the rogues got into the garden.

CATHLEEN. I thought to have escaped misfortune here.
Has any one been killed?


STEWARD. Oh, no, not killed.
They have stolen half a cart-load of green cabbage.

CATHLEEN. But maybe they were starving.

STEWARD. That is certain.
To rob or starve, that was the choice they had.

CATHLEEN. A learned theologian has laid down
That starving men may take what's necessary,
And yet be sinless.

OONA. Sinless and a thief
There should be broken bottles on the wall.

CATHLEEN. And if it be a sin, while faith's unbroken
God cannot help but pardon. There is no soul
But it's unlike all others in the world,
Nor one but lifts a strangeness to God's love
Till that's grown infinite, and therefore none
Whose loss were less than irremediable
Although it were the wickedest in the world.

(Enter TEIG and SHEMUS.)

STEWARD. What are you running for? Pull off your cap,
Do you not see who's there?

SHEMUS. I cannot wait.
I am running to the world with the best news
That has been brought it for a thousand years.

STEWARD. Then get your breath and speak.

SHEMUS. If you'd my news
You'd run as fast and be as out of breath.

TEIG. Such news, we shall be carried on men's shoulders.

SHEMUS. There's something every man has carried with him
And thought no more about than if it were
A mouthful of the wind; and now it's grown
A marketable thing!

TEIG. And yet it seemed
As useless as the paring of one's nails.

SHEMUS. What sets me laughing when I think of it,
Is that a rogue who's lain in lousy straw,
If he but sell it, may set up his coach.

TEIG. (laughing) There are two gentlemen who buy men's souls.

CATHLEEN. O God!

TEIG. And maybe there's no soul at all.

STEWARD. They're drunk or mad.

TEIG. Look at the price they give. (Showing money.)

SHEMUS. (tossing up money)
"Go cry it all about the world," they said.
"Money for souls, good money for a soul."

CATHLEEN. Give twice and thrice and twenty times their money,
And get your souls again. I will pay all.

SHEMUS. Not we! not we! For souls--if there are souls--
But keep the flesh out of its merriment.
I shall be drunk and merry.

TEIG. Come, let's away.

(He goes.)

CATHLEEN. But there's a world to come.

SHEMUS. And if there is,
I'd rather trust myself into the hands
That can pay money down than to the hands
That have but shaken famine from the bag.

(He goes Out R.)

(lilting) "There's money for a soul, sweet yellow money.
There's money for men's souls, good money, money."

CATHLEEN. (to ALEEL) Go call them here again, bring them by
force, Beseech them, bribe, do anything you like;


(ALEEL goes.)

And you too follow, add your prayers to his.

(OONA, who has been praying, goes out.)

Steward, you know the secrets of my house.
How much have I?

STEWARD. A hundred kegs of gold.

CATHLEEN. How much have I in castles?

STEWARD. As much more.

CATHLEEN. How much have I in pasture?

STEWARD. As much more.

CATHLEEN. How much have I in forests?

STEWARD. As much more.

CATHLEEN. Keeping this house alone, sell all I have,
Go barter where you please, but come again
With herds of cattle and with ships of meal.

STEWARD. God's blessing light upon your ladyship.
You will have saved the land.

CATHLEEN. Make no delay.

(He goes L.)

(ALEEL and OONA return)

CATHLEEN. They have not come; speak quickly.

ALEEL. One drew his knife
And said that he would kill the man or woman
That stopped his way; and when I would have stopped him
He made this stroke at me; but it is nothing.

CATHLEEN. You shall be tended. From this day for ever
I'll have no joy or sorrow of my own.

OONA. Their eyes shone like the eyes of birds of prey.

CATHLEEN. Come, follow me, for the earth burns my feet
Till I have changed my house to such a refuge
That the old and ailing, and all weak of heart,
May escape from beak and claw; all, all, shall come
Till the walls burst and the roof fall on us.
From this day out I have nothing of my own.

(She goes.)

OONA (taking ALEEL by the arm and as she speaks bandaging his
wound) She has found something now to put her hand to,
And you and I are of no more account
Than flies upon a window-pane in the winter.

(They go out.)

END OF SCENE 2.

William Butler Yeats

Sorry, no summary available yet.