|Athaliah Monologue by Jean Racine|
- ATHALIAH: While thus disturb'd, before me rose
- The vision of a boy in shining robe,
- Such as the Hebrew priests are wont to wear.
- My drooping spirits at his sight revived:
- But while my troubled eyes, to peace restored,
- Admired his noble air and modest grace,
- I felt the sudden stroke of murderous steel
- Plunged deeply by the traitor in my breast.
- Perhaps to you this dream, so strangely mix'd,
- May seem a work of chance, and I myself,
- For long ashamed to let my fears prevail,
- Referr'd it to a melancholy mood;
- But while its memory linger'd in my soul,
- Twice in my sleep I saw that form again,
- Twice the same child before my eyes appear'd,
- Always about to stab me to the heart.
- Worn out at last by horror's close pursuit,
- I went to claim Baal's protecting care,
- And, kneeling at his altars, find repose.
- How strangely fear may sway our mortal minds!
- And instinct seem'd to drive me to those courts,
- To pacify the god whom Jews adore;
- I thought that offerings might appease his wrath,
- That this their god might grow more merciful.
- Baal's High Priest, my feebleness forgive!
- I enter'd; and the sacrifice was stay'd,
- The people fled, Jehoiada in wrath
- Advanced to meet me. As he spake, I saw
- With terror and surprise that self-same boy
- Who haunts me in my dreams. I saw him there;
- His mien the same, the same his linen stole,
- His gait, his eyes, each feature of his face;
- It was himself; beside th' High Priest he walk'd,
- Till quickly they removed him from my sight.
- That is the trouble which detains me here,
- And thereon would I fain consult you both.
- What means this omen marvellous?
Credits: Reprinted from The Dramatic Works of Jean Racine. Trans. Robert Bruce Boswell. London: George Bell and Sons, 1911.