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This is an odd one. A very short play about a man and his servant girl, who is of course more than she appears.It opens on an altar, where he is bemoaning his situation... his wife has run off into the woods to be with who-knows-who...Ye Household Gods!By these male tears I swearThat ye shall grant this prayer.All things at oddsShall be put straight--Harmonized, reconciledBy some appointed childOf some far Fate!Which makes me wonder if Nick Cave was invoking this story in the song Do You Love Me?.... "She was given to me to put things right..."The servant girl appears, and maybe you can guess where it goes from there.
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CRASSUS, a barbarian from Britain. ADELA, his wife, a noble Roman lady. ALICIA, a servant in the house. A STATUE OF PAN. A FAUN.
THE SCENE is at the hearth of CRASSUS, where is a little bronze altar dedicated to the Lares and Penates. A pale flame rises from the burning sandal-wood, on which CRASSUS throws benzoin and musk. He is standing in deep dejection.
CRASSUS. Smoke without fire! No thrill of tongues licks up The offerings in the cup. Dead falls desire.
Black smoke thou art, O altar-flame, that dost dismember, Devour the hearth, to leave no ember To warm this heart.
I see her still - Adela dancing here Till dim gods did appear To work our will.
The delicate girl! Diaphanous gossamer Subtly revealing her Brave breast of pearl!
Now - she's withdrawn At dusk to the wild woods, Mystic beatitudes That dure till dawn.
Let life exclaim Against these things of spirit, Mankind that disinherit Of love's pure flame! [He bends before the altar and begins to weep.]
Ye household gods! By these male tears I swear That ye shall grant this prayer. All things at odds
Shall be put straight - Harmonized, reconciled By some appointed child Of some far Fate! [A curtain has been drawn aside during this invocation, and ALICIA advances. She smiles subtly upon him; and, giving a strange gesture, makes one or two noiseless steps of dancing.]
ALICIA. Master still sad?
CRASSUS. These faint and fearful shores Of time are beaten by the surge of sense, Love worn away - by love? - to indifference. Who knows what god - or demon - she adores? Or in what wood she shelters, or what grove Sees her profane our sacrament of love?
ALICIA. I saw her follow The stream in the hollow Where never Apollo Abides. So thick are the trees That never the breeze Stirs them, or sees What satyr inhabits the glen, what nymph in the pools of it hides.
Lighter of foot Than a sylph or a fairy, Sinuous, wary, I passed from the airy Lawns, where the flute Of the winds made tremulous music for man.
I followed the ripple Of the stream; I crept Where the waters wept - The floss in the foss
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