The Serpent's Tale Monologue
|The Serpent's Tale Monologue by Leonid Andreyev|
- [A WOMAN sways rhythmically. Her eyes closed, she seems to be aware of nothing but the hypnotic movement of her own body. She is terribly beautiful.]
- [After a few moments, her eyes flash open, and a half-smile creeps across her face. She places a finger gently to her lips.]
- WOMAN: Shhh! Shhh! Shhh! Come closer. Look into my eyes!
- I always was a fascinating creature, you know. Tender, sensitive, thoughtful.
I was wise beyond my years. And so flexible in the writhing of my graceful
body. It will give you pleasure to watch me dancewill it not? Shall
I dance for you? Shall I coil up into a ring? Shall I flash my scales
and wind myself around? Shall I clasp you to my steel body in a gentle,
cold embrace? One of many! One of many!
- Shhh! Shhh! Look into my eyes!
- Why do you look away? Don't you like my writhing and my straight, piercing
gaze? Come closer. Come. Do you see my teeth? My white, sharp, enchanting
little teeth? I used to bite when I kissed, you know. Not painfully, nojust
a nibble. A tender caress. I would bite until the first bright drops of
blood appeared, until a cry came forth which sounded like the tinkling
of a bell. It was very pleasantdo not think otherwise; if my little
bite was unwelcome, those whom I kissed would not have come back for morewould
they? And they did come back! They came as if drawn by some irresistible
forceby the pull of the moon! They could not help themselves! And
I kissed them many times! It is only now that I can kiss but oncehow
sadonly once! One kiss for eachhow little that is for a loving
heart, for a sensitive soul, striving for a perfect union! But it is only
I, the sad one, who kiss but once, and must seek love againmy lover
knows no other love after mine: to him my one, tender, nuptial kiss is
binding and eternal. I will not deceive you. Be patient, and when my story
is endedI will kiss you too.
- I love you.
- Look into my eyes. Is it not true that my eyes are magnificent and enchanting?
Have you ever seen such a firm look, a straight look? It is steadfast,
like steel forced against your heart. I look ahead and sway myself, I
look and I enchant; in my green eyes I gather your fear, your loving,
fatigued, submissive longing. Come closer. I am a queen now and you cannot
fail to see my beauty; look into my pupil; I will narrow and widen it,
and give it a peculiar glitterthe twinkling of a star at night,
the playfulness of all precious stonesof diamonds, of green emeralds,
of yellowish topaz, of blood-red rubies. Look into my eyes: It is I, the
queenI am crowning myself, and that which is glittering, burning
and glowingthat robs you of your reason, your freedom and your lifeit
is poison. It is a drop of my venom. But I warned youdid I not?
- How has this happened? I cannot say. I bear you no ill-willyou
nor the others. One of many!
- I love you. Do not laugh. If you do, I shall be cross. I shall not give
myself to you. And I want to open my heart, my sensitive heart, I want
to share with you everything, my whole being, my essence! I want you to
understand my suffering. I want a consort, an equal, a perfect union ...
but it is not possible. All my efforts are in vainI am alone. I
will always be alone. My first and final kiss is full of rippling sorrowand
the one I love is not here, and I must seek love again, and tell my tale
from the beginning, if only to hear a familiar voicemy heart cannot
bare itself, and the poison torments me and my head grows heavier. Am
I not beautiful in my despair? Come closer.
- I am almost ready to kiss you.
- Even now, I can taste the venom. I am preparing it for you. I am a queen!
In this tiny drop, I carry death unto the living, and my kingdom is limitless,
even as grief is limitless, even as death is limitless. I am a queen!
My look is inexorable. My dance is terrible! I am beautiful! One of many!
One of many!
- Look into my eyes. Do you see in them anything frighteninga terrible
glimmer and a flash? Do you feel fear? Do the rays of my crown blind your
eyes? Are you petrified? Are you lost? I shall soon dance my last dancedo
not fall. I shall coil into rings, I shall flash my scales dimly, and
I shall clasp my steel body to you in a gentle, cold embrace. Here I am!
Accept my only kiss, my nuptial kissit is the deadly grief of all
oppressed lives. One of many! One of many!
- I love you.
Adapted for the stage by Walter Wykes
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