Thomas Chatterton

(1752 - 1770 / Bristol / England)

Ælla, A Tragical Interlude - Act I


SCENE I.
CELMONDE, att BRYSTOWE.
Before yonne roddie sonne has droove hys wayne
Throwe halfe hys joornie, dyghte yn gites of goulde,
Mee, happeless mee, hee wylle a wretche behoulde,
Mieselfe, and al that's myne, bounde ynn myschaunces chayne.
Ah! Birtha, whie dydde Nature frame thee fayre?
Whie art thou all thatt poyntelle canne bewreene ?
Whie art thou nott as coarse as odhers are?--
Butte thenn thie soughle woulde throwe thy vysage sheene,
Yatt shemres onn thie comelie semlykeene,
Lyche nottebrowne cloudes, whann bie the sonne made redde,
Orr scarlette, wythe waylde lynnen clothe ywreene ,
Syke would thie spryte uponn thie vysage spredde.
Thys daie brave Ælla dothe thyne honde and harte
Clayme as hys owne to be, whyche nee from hys moste parte.
And cann I lyve to see herr wythe anere?
Ytt cannotte, muste nott, naie, ytt shalle not bee.
Thys nyghte I'll putte stronge poysonn ynn the beere,
And hymm, herr, and myselfe, attenes wyll slea.
Assyst mee, Helle! lett Devylles rounde mee tende,
To slea mieself, mie love, & eke mie doughtie friende.

SCENE II.
ÆLLA, BIRTHA.
ÆLLA.
Notte, whanne the hallie prieste dyd make me knyghte,
Blessynge the weaponne, tellynge future dede,
Howe bie mie honde the prevyd Dane should blede,
Howe I schulde often bee, and often wynne, ynn fyghte;
Notte, whann I fyrste behelde thie beauteous hue,
Whyche strooke mie mynde, and rouzed mie softer soule;
Nott, whann from the barbed horse yn fyghte dyd viewe
The flying Dacians oere the wyde playne roule,
Whan all the troopes of Denmarque made grete dole,
Dydd I fele joie wyth syke reddoure as nowe,
Whan hallie preest, the lechemanne of the soule,
Dydd knytte us both ynn a caytysnede vowe:
Now hallie Ælla's selynesse ys grate;
Shap haveth nowe ymade hys woes for to emmate .
BIRTHA.
Mie lorde, and husbande, syke a joie ys myne;
Botte mayden modestie moste ne soe saie,
Albeytte thou mayest rede ytt ynn myne eyne,
Or ynn myne harte, where thou shalte be for aie;
Inne sothe, I have butte meeded oute thie faie;
For twelve tymes twelve the mone hathe bin yblente,
As manie tymes hathe vyed the Godde of daie,
And on the grasse her lemes of sylverr sente,
Sythe thou dydst cheese mee for thie swote to bee,
Enactynge ynn the same moste faiefullie to mee.
Ofte have I scene thee atte the none-daie feaste,
Whanne deysde bie thieselfe, for want of pheeres,
Awhylst thie merryemen dydde laughe and jeaste,
Onn mee thou semest all eyne, to mee all eares,
Thou wardest mee as gyff ynn hondred feeres,
Alest a daygnous looke to thee be sente,
And offrendes made mee, moe thann yie compheeres,
Offe scarpes of scarlette, and fyne paramente ;
All thie yntente to please was lyssed to mee,
I saie ytt, I moste streve thatt you ameded bee.
ÆLLA.
Mie lyttel kyndnesses whyche I dydd doe,
Thie gentleness doth corven them so grete,
Lyche bawsyn olyphauntes mie gnattes doe shewe;
Thou doest mie thoughtes of paying love amate ;
Butte hann mie actyonns straughte the rolle of fate,
Pyghte thee fromm Hell, or broughte Heaven down to thee,
Layde the whol worlde a falldstole atte thie feete,
On smyle would be suffycyll mede for mee.
I amm Loves borro'r, and canne never paie,
Botte be hys borrower stylle, and thyne, mie swete, for aie.
BIRTHA.
Love, doe notte rate your achevmentes soe small;
As I to you, syke love untoe mee beare;
For nothynge paste wille Birtha ever call,
Ne on a foode from Heaven thynke to cheere.
As farr as thys frayle brutylle flesch wyll spere,
Syke, and ne fardher I expecte of you;
Be notte toe slacke yn love, ne overdeare;
A smalle fyre, yan a loude flame, proves more true.
AELLA.
Thie gentle wordis doe thie volunde kenne
To bee moe clergionde thann ys ynn meyncte of menne.

SCENE III.
ÆLLA, BIRTHA, CELMONDE, MYNSTRELLES.
CELMONDE.
Alle blessynges showre on gentle Ælla's hedde!
Oft maie the moon, yn sylverr sheenynge lyghte,
Inn varied chaunges varyed blessynges shedde,
Besprengeynge far abrode mischaunces nyghte;
And thou, fayre Birtha! thou, fayre Dame, so bryghte,
Long mayest thou wyth Ælla fynde much peace,
Wythe selynesse, as wyth a roabe, be dyghte,
Wyth everych chaungynge mone new joies encrease!
I, as a token of mie love to speak,
Have brought you jubbes of ale, at nyghte youre brayne to breake.
ÆLLA.
Whan sopperes paste we'll drenche youre ale soe stronge,
Tyde lyfe, tyde death.
CELMONDE.
Ye Mynstrelles, chaunt your songe.
Mynstrelles Songe, bie a Manne and Womanne.
MANNE.
Tourne thee to thie Shepsterr swayne;
Bryghte sonne has ne droncke the dewe
From the floures of yellowe hue;
Tourne thee, Alyce, back again.
WOMANNE.
No, bestoikerre, I wylle goe
Softlie tryppynge o'ere the mees,
Lyche the sylver-footed doe,
Seekeynge shelterr yn grene trees.
MANNE.
See the moss growne daisey'd banke,
Pereynge ynne the streme belowe;
Here we'lle sytte, yn dewie danke;
Tourne thee, Alyce, do notte goe.
WOMANNE.
I've hearde erste mie grandame saie,
Yonge damoyselles schulde ne bee,
Inne the swotie monthe of Maie,
Wythe yonge menne bie the grene wode tree.
MANNE
Sytte thee, Alyce, sytte, and harke,
Howe the ouzle chauntes hys noate,
The chelandree, greie morn larke,
Chauntynge from theyre lyttel throate;
WOMANNE
I heare them from eche grene wode tree,
Chauntynge owte so blatauntlie,
Tellynge lecturnyes to mee,
Myscheefe ys whanne you are nygh.
MANNE.
See alonge the mees so grene
Pied daisies, kynge-coppes swote;
Alle we see, bie non bee seene,
Nete botte shepe settes here a fote.
WOMANNE.
Shepster swayne,you tare mie gratche.
Oute uponne ye! lette me goe.
Leave me swythe, or I'lle alatche.
Robynne, thys youre dame shall knowe.
MANNE.
See! the crokynge brionie
Rounde the popler twyste hys spraie;
Rounde the oake the greene ivie
Florryshcethe and lyveth aie.
Lette us seate us bie thys tree,
Laughe, and synge to lovynge ayres;
Comme, and doe notte coyen bee;
Nature made all thynges bie payres.
Drooried cattes wylle after kynde;
Gentle doves wylle kyss and coe:
WOMANNE.
Botte manne, hee moste be ywrynde,
Tylle syr preeste make on of two.
Tempte me ne to the foule thynge;
I wylle no mannes lemanne be;
Tyll syr preeste hys songe doethe synge,
Thou shalt neere fynde aught of mee.
MANNE.
Bie our ladie her yborne,
To-morrowe, soone as ytte ys daie,
I'lle make thee wyfe, ne bee forsworne,
So tyde me lyfe or dethe for aie.
WOMANNE.
Whatt dothe lette, botte thatte nowe
Wee attenes , thos honde yn honde,
Unto divinstre goe,
And bee lyncked yn wedlocke bonde?
MANNE.
I agree, and thus I plyghte
Honde, and harte, and all that's myne;
Goode syr Rogerr, do us ryghte,
Make us one, at Cothbertes shryne.
BOTHE.
We wylle ynn a bordelle lyve,
Hailie, thoughe of no estate;
Everyche clocke moe love shall gyve;
Wee ynn godenesse wylle be greate.
ÆLLA.
I lyche thys songe, I lyche ytt myckle well;
And there ys monie for yer syngeynge nowe;
Butte have you noone thatt marriage-blessynges telle?
CELMONDE.
In marriage, blessynges are botte fewe, I trowe.
MYNSTRELLES.
Laverde , wee have; and, gyff you please, wille synge,
As well as owre choughe-voices wylle permytte.
ÆLLA.
Comme then, and see you swotelie tune the strynge,
And stret, and engyne all the human wytte,
Toe please mie dame.
MYNSTRELLES.
We'lle strayne owre wytte and synge.
Mynstrelles Songe.
FIRST MYNSTRELLE.
The boddynge flourettes bloshes atte the lyghte;
The mees be sprenged wyth the yellowe hue;
Ynn daiseyd mantels ys the mountayne dyghte;
The nesh yonge coweslepe bendethe wyth the dewe;
The trees enlefed, yntoe Heavenne straughte,
Whenn gentle wyndes doe blowe, to whestlyng dynne ys brought.
The evenynge commes, and brynges the dewe alonge,
The roddie welkynne sheeneth to the eyne;
Arounde the alestake Mynstrells synge the songe;
Yonge ivie rounde the doore poste do entwyne;
I laie mee onn the grasse; yette, to mie wylle,
Albeytte alle ys fayre, there lackethe somethynge stylle.
SECOND MYNSTRELLE.
So Adam thoughtenne, whann, ynn Paradyse,
All Heavenn and Erthe dyd hommage to hys mynde;
Ynn Womman alleyne mannes pleasaunce lyes;
As Instrumentes of joie were made the kynde.
Go, take a wyfe unto thie armes, and see
Wynter, and brownie hylles, wyll have a charme for thee.
THIRD MYNSTRELLE.
Whanne Autumpne blake and sonne-brente doe appere,
With hys goulde honde guylteynge the falleynge lefe,
Bryngeynge oppe Wynterr to folfylle the yere,
Beerynge uponne hys backe the riped shefe;
Whan al the hyls wythe woddie sede ys whyte;
Whanne levynne-fyres and lemes do mete from far the syghte;
Whann the fayre apple, rudde as even skie,
Do bende the tree unto the fructyle grounde,
When joicie peres, and berries of blacke die,
Doe daunce yn ayre, and call the eyne arounde;
Thann, bee the even foule, or even fayre,
Meethynckes mie hartys joie ys steynced wyth some care.
SECOND MYNSTRELLE
Angelles bee wrogte to bee of neidher kynde;
Angelles alleyne fromme chafe desyre bee free;
Dherre ys a somewhatte evere yn the mynde,
Yatte, wythout wommanne, cannot stylled bee;
Ne seyncte yn celles, botte, havynge blodde and tere,
Do fynde the spryte to joie on fyghte of womanne fayre.
Wommen bee made, notte for hemselves, botte manne,
Bone of hys bone, and chyld of hys desire;
Fromme an ynutyle membere fyrste beganne,
Yrwoghte with moche of water, lyttele fyre;
Therefore theie seke the fyre of love, to hete
The milkyness of kynde, and make hemselfes complete.
Albeytte, wythout wommen, menne were pheeres
To salvage kynde, and wulde botte lyve to slea,
Botte wommenne efte the spryghte of peace so cheres,
Tochelod yn Angel joie heie Angeles bee;
Go, take thee swythyn to thie bedde a wyfe,
Bee bante or blessed hie, yn proovynge marryage lyfe.
Anodher Mynstrelles Songe, bie Syr Thybbot Gorges.
As Elynour bie the green lesselle was syttynge,
As from the sones hete she harried,
She sayde, as herr whytte hondes whyte hosen was knyttynge,
Whatte pleasure ytt ys to be married!
Mie husbande, Lorde Thomas, a forrester boulde,
As ever clove pynne, or the baskette,
Does no cherysauncys from Elynour houlde,
I have ytte as soone as I aske ytte.
Whann I lyved wyth mie fadre yn merrie Clowd-dell,
Tho' twas at my liefe to mynde spynnynge,
I stylle wanted somethynge, botte whatte ne coulde telle,
Mie lorde fadres barbde haulle han ne wynnynge.
Eche mornynge I ryse, doe I sette mie maydennes,
Somme to spynn, somme to curdell, somme bleachynge,
Gyff any new entered doe aske for mie aidens,
Thann swythynne you fynde mee a teachynge.
Lorde Walterre, mie fadre, he loved me welle,
And nothynge unto mee was nedeynge,
Botte schulde I agen goe to merrie Cloud-dell,
In sothen twoulde bee wythoute redeynge.
Shee sayde, and lorde Thomas came over the lea,
As hee the fatte derkynnes was chacynge,
Shee putte uppe her knyttynge, and to hym wente shee;
So wee leave hem bothe kyndelie embracynge.
ÆLLA.
I lyche eke thys; goe ynnn untoe the feaste;
Wee wylle permytte you antecedente bee;
There swotelie synge eche carolle, and yaped jeaste;
And there ys monnie, that you merrie bee;
Comme, gentle love, wee wylle toe spouse-feaste goe,
And there ynn ale and wyne bee dreyncted everych woe.

Ælla, the Danes ar thondrynge onn our coaste;
Lyche scolles of locusts, caste oppe bie the sea,
Magnus and Hurra, wythe a doughtie hoaste,
Are ragyng, to be quansed bie none botte thee;
Haste, swyfte as Levynne to these royners flee:
Thie dogges alleyne can tame thys ragynge bulle.
Haste swythyn, fore anieghe the towne theie bee,
And Wedecesterres rolle of dome bee fulle.
Haste, haste, O Ælla, to the byker flie,
For yn a momentes space tenne thousand menne maie die.
ÆLLA.
Beshrew thee for thie newes! I moste be gon.
Was ever lockless dome so hard as myne!
Thos from dysportysmente to warr to ron,
To chaunge the selke veste for the gaberdyne!
BIRTHA.
O! lyche a nedere, lette me rounde thee twyne,
And hylte thie boddie from the schaftes of warre.
Thou shalte nott, must not, from thie Birtha ryne,
Botte kenn the dynne of slughornes from afarre.
ÆLLA.
O love, was thys thie joie, to shewe the treate,
Than groffyshe to forbydde thie hungred guestes to eate?
O mie upswalynge harte, whatt wordes can saie
The peynes, thatte passethe ynn mie soule ybrente?
Thos to bee torne uponne mie spousalle daie,
O! 'tys a peyne beyond entendemente.
Yee mychtie Goddes, and is yor favoures sente
As thous faste dented to a load of peyne?
Moste we ale holde yn chace the shade content,
And for a bodykin a swarthe obteyne?
O whie, yee seynctes, oppress yee thos mie sowle?
How shalle I speke mie woe, mie freme, mie dreerie dole?
CELMONDE.
Sometyme the wyseste lacketh pore mans rede.
Reasonne and counynge wytte efte flees awaie.
Thann, loverde, lett me saie, wyth hommaged drede
(Bieneth your fote ylayn) mie counselle saie;
Gyff thos we lett the matter lethlen laie,
The foemenn, everych honde-poyncte, getteth fote.
Mie loverde, lett the speere-menne, dyghte for fraie,
And all the sabbataners goe aboute.
I speke, mie loverde, alleyne to upryse
Youre wytte from marvelle, and the warriour to alyse.
ÆELLA.
Ah! nowe thou pottest takells yn mie harte;
Mie soulghe dothe nowe begynne to see herselle;
I wylle upryse mie myghte, and doe mie parte,
To slea the foemenne yn mie furie felle.
Botte howe canne tynge mie rampynge fourie telle,
Whyche ryseth from mie love to Birtha fayre?
Ne could the queede, and ale the myghte of Helle,
Founde out impleasaunce of syke blacke a geare.
Yet I wylle bee mieselfe, and rouze mie spryte
To act wythe rennome, and goe meet the bloddie fyghte.
BIRTHA.
No, thou schalte never leave thie Birtha's syde;
Ne schall the wynde uponne us blowe alleyne;
I, lyche a nedre, wylle untoe thee byde;
Tyde lyfe, tyde deathe, ytte shall behoulde us twayne.
I have mie parte of drierie dole and peyne;
Itte brasteth from mee atte the holtred eyne;
Ynne tydes of teares mie swarthynge spryte wylle drayne,
Gyff drerie dole ys thyne, tys twa tymes myne.
Goe notte, O Ælla; wythe thie Birtha staie;
For wyth thie semmlykeed mie spryte wyll goe awaie.
ÆLLA.
O! tys for thee, for thee alleyne I fele;
Yett I muste bee mieselfe; with valoures gear
I'lle dyghte mie hearte, and notte mie lymbes yn stele,
And thake the bloddie swerde and steyned spere.
BIRTHA.
Can Ælla from hys breaste hys Birtha teare?
Is shee so rou and ugsomme to hys syghte?
Entrykeynge wyght! ys leathall warre so deare?
Thou pryzest mee belowe the joies of fyghte.
Thou scalte notte leave mee, albeytte the erthe
Hang pendaunte bie thie swerde, and craved for thy morthe.
ÆLLA.
Dyddest thou kenne howe mie woes, as starres ybrente,
Headed bie these thie wordes doe onn mee falle,
Thou woulde stryve to gyve mie harte contente,
Wakyng mie slepynge mynde to honnoures calle.
Of selynesse I pryze thee moe yan all
Heaven can mee sende, or counynge wytt acquyre,
Yette I wylle leave thee, onne the foe to falle,
Retournynge to thie eyne with double fyre.
BIRTHA.
Moste Birtha boon requeste and bee denyd?
Receyve attenes a darte yn selynesse and pryde?
Doe staie, att leaste tylle morrowes sonne apperes.
ÆLLLA.
Thou kenneste welle the Dacyannes myttee powere;
Wythe them a mynnute wurchethe bane for yeares;
Theie undoe reaulmes wythyn a syngle hower,
Rouze all thie honnoure, Birtha; look attoure
Thie bledeynge countrie, whych for hastie dede
Calls, for the rodeynge of some doughtie power,
To royn yttes royners, make yttes foemenne blede.
BIRTHA.
Rouze all thie love; false and entrykyng wyghte!
Ne leave thie Birtha thos uponne pretence of fyghte.
Thou nedest notte goe, untyll thou haste command
Under the sygnette of oure lorde the kynge.
ÆLLA.
And wouldest thou make me then a recreande?
Hollie Seyncte Marie, keepe mee from the thynge!
Heere, Birtha, thou hast potte a double stynge,
One for thie love, anodher for thie mynde.
BIRTHA.
Agylted Ælla, thie abredynge blynge .
Twas love of thee thatte foule intente ywrynde.
Yette heare mie supplycate, to mee attende,
Hear from mie groted harte the lover and the friende.
Lett Celmonde yn thie armour-brace be dyghte;
And yn thie stead unto the battle goe;
Thie name alleyne wylle putte the Danes to flyghte,
The ayre thatt beares ytt woulde presse downe the foe.
ÆLLLA.
Birtha, yn vayne thou wouldste mee recreand doe;
I moste, I wylle, fyghte for mie countries wele,
And leave thee for ytt. Celmonde, sweftlie goe,
Telle mie Brystowans to bedyghte yn stele;
Tell hem I scorne to kenne hem from afar,
Botte leave the vyrgyn brydall bedde for bedde of warre.

BIRTHA.
And thou wylt goe; O mie agroted harte!
ÆLLA.
Mie countrie waites mie marche; I muste awaie;
Albeytte I schulde goe to mete the darte
Of certen Dethe, yette here I woulde notte staie.
Botte thos to leave thee, Birtha, dothe asswaie
Moe torturynge peynes yanne canne be sedde bie tyngue,
Yette rouze thie honoure uppe, and, wayte the daie,
Whan rounde aboute mee songe of warre heie synge.
O Birtha, strev mie agreeme to accaie
And joyous see mie armes, dyghte oute ynn warre arraie.
BIRTHA.
Difficile ys the pennaunce, yette I'lle strev
To keepe mie woe behyltren yn mie breaste.
Albeytte nete maye to mee pleasaunce yev,
Lyche thee, I'lle strev to sette mie mynde atte reste.
Yett oh! forgeve, yff I have thee dystreste;
Love, doughtie love, wylle beare no odher swaie.
Juste as I was wythe Ælla to be bleste,
Shappe foullie thos hathe snatched hym awaie.
It was a tene too doughtie to bee borne,
Wydhoute an ounde of teares and breaste wyth syghes ytorne.
ÆLLLA.
Thie mynde ys now thie selfe; why wylte thou bee
All blanch; al kyngelie, all soe wyse yn mynde,
Alleyne to lett pore wretched Ælla see,
Whatte wondrous bighes he nowe muste leave behynde?
O Birtha fayre, warde everyche commynge wynde,
On everych wynde I wylle a token sende;
Onn mie longe shielde ycorne thie name thoul't fynde.
Butte here commes Celmonde, wordhie knyghte and friende.

CELMONDE.
The Brystowe knyghtes for thie forth-comynge lynge
Echone athwarte hys backe hys longe warre-shield dothe flynge.
ÆLLA.
Birtha, adieu; but yette I cannotte goe.
BIRTHA.
Lyfe of mie spryte, mie gentle Ælla staie,
Engyne mee notte wyth syke a drierie woe.
ÆLLA.
I muste, I wylle; tys honnoure cals awaie.
BIRTHA.
O mie agroted harte, braste, braste ynn twaie.
Ælla, for honnoure, flyes awaie from mee.
ÆLLA.
Birtha, adieu; I maie notte here obaie.
I'm flyynge from mieselfe yn flying thee.

BIRTHA.
O Ælla, housband, friend, and loverde, staie.
He's gon, he's gone, alass! percase he's gone for aie.

CELMONDE.
Hope, hallie suster, sweepeynge thro' the skie,
In crowne of goulde, and robe of lillie whyte,
Whych farre abrode ynne gentle ayre do flie,
Meetynge from distaunce the enjoyous fyghte,
Albeytte efte thou taken thie hie flyghte
Hecket ynne a myste, and wyth thyne eyne yblente,
Nowe commest thou to mee wythe starrie lyghte;
Ontoe thie veste the rodde sonne ys adente ;
The Sommer tyde, the month of Maie appere,
Depycte wythe skyledd honde uponn thie wyde aumere.
I from a nete of hopelen am adawed,
Awhaped atte the fetyveness of daie;
Ælla, bie nete moe thann hys myndbruche awed,
Is gone, and I moste followe, toe the fraie.
Celmonde canne ne'er from anie byker staie.
Dothe warre begynne? theres Celmonde yn the place.
Bone whanne the warre ys donne, I'll haste awaie.
The reste from nethe tymes masque must shew yttes face.
I see onnombered joies around mee ryse;
Blake stondethe future doome, and joie dothe mee alyse.
O honnoure, honnoure, whatt ys bie thee hanne?
Hallie the robber and the bordelyer,
Who kens ne thee, or ys to thee bestanne,
And nothynge does thie myckle gastness fere.
Faygne would I from mie bosomme alle thee tare.
Thou there dysperpellest thie levynne-bronde;
Whyllest mie soulgh's forwyned, thou art the gare;
Sleene ys mie comforte bie thie ferie honde;
As somme talle hylle, whann wynds doe shake the ground,
Itte kerveth all abroade, bie brasteynge hyltren wounde.
Honnoure, whatt bee ytte? tys a shadowes shade,
A thynge of wychencref, an idle dreme;
On of the fonnis whych the clerche have made
Menne wydhoute sprytes, and wommen for to fleme;
Knyghtes, who efte kenne the loude dynne of the beme,
Schulde be forgarde to syke enfeeblynge waies,
Make everych acte, alyche theyr soules, be breme,
And for theyre chyvalrie alleyne have prayse.
O thou, whatteer thie name,
Or Zabalus or Queed,
Comme, steel mie sable spryte,
For fremde and dolefulle dede.

Submitted: Thursday, April 01, 2010

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