Dramatic Fragment Overheard on a
Shakespearean Planet

A desolate landscape. Two disgruntled guards stand before a cave cut in the face of a sheer cliff. Occasional sinister shadows flit by through billows of cold mist.

1st Guard How this wind doth scour me to the bone!
2nd Guard Only the long-dead jacketed in stone
Escape the scourge of passing time, my friend.
1st Guard Yet how do we know but having met their end
No sooner do they spurn him and begin afresh?
2nd Guard Because, philosopher, fast unto flesh
Is thy daft spirit manacled, as firm
As yon maid in her irons, and the term
Of sentence served beyond hope of appeal.
Where's bread? A soldier's appetite is real.
1st Guard Pardon, captain, but I fancy that thy gut
More glibly 'suades thee than thy mind or heart.
2nd Guard Trooper, take care that . . .
1st Guard --------------------Hush! Didst hear that cry?
2nd Guard 'Twas but a lizard-bird, man. Fix thine eye
Upon the vast mysteries of supper and let drop
This . . .
1st Guard -------List! That was no dragon-bird! My cup
Trembles with terror so, the red mead spills
Like blood and all around, the rocks and hills
Reverberate my pulse down to the planet's root!
2nd Guard Peace, man! Thou'rt some poet and an ass to boot.
The girl talks with herself - and doubtless she
Gets more sense of an echo than she would of thee!
Enter 3rd Soldier
3rd Soldier Guards!
1st & 2nd ---------Sir!
3rd Soldier ----------------How fares the prisoner?
2nd Guard She converseth with fancy on the theme of 'home', m'lord.
3rd Soldier She shall converse more factually with my whip!
Fling wide the bars. I shall exact one stripe
For every word that is not acid truth
To etch the incredulous iron of my mind!
Resistless as the pollen 'fore the wind
Shall soon disperse these dubious dreams of 'Earth' . . .
Inside the prison cave. Girl sings and listens for the answering echoes
Girl (sings) When shall I see my home again . . . home again?
Blue skies and fields of golden grain . . . golden grain
Cool waterfalls of light
Warm, fragrant shades of night
All vanished from my sight, like a dream
  Wind spinning clouds in silken skeins . . . silken skeins
Cascades of rainbow-braided rains . . . -braided rains.
Birds sing their weaving song
All summer evening long
Weaving the dusk among the slant sunbeams.
  Echo, my sole and faithful friend . . . faithful friend
When shall my prison have an end . . . have an end?
Do you know where we are?
What planet of what star?
And are my people far, far away?
Despairing of the echo, the girl withdraws and sings to herself, whereupon the echo answers.
Girl What gifts can living now impart? . . . youth and art
Can youth and time be held apart? . . . in your heart
Climbing the mount of years
Finding fresh founts of tears . . .
Echo Only surmount your fears
Through the clear pollened air
To the summit of care,
You'll see
Verdurous new vistas
Luminous far pastures
Infinite blue distance . . .
Suddenly the 3rd Soldier enters, the gate crashing shut behind him.
3rd Soldier Stay not thy song, maid, for thy case is such
As scarce could be imperilled overmuch
By this mad parley. Come, unpack your tale . . .