|Bajazet Monologue by Jean Racine|
- ROXANA: I know 'tis not the custom of our sultans,
- Who in their pride stoop not to such constraints,
- Nor hold the laws of marriage made for them.
- 'Mid all the fair who vie for their caresses,
- They sometimes deign to choose a favour'd mistress:
- But, still a slave, with no security
- But beauty's charms, she shares her master's couch,
- And, without shaking off the servile yoke,
- Must bear a son ere she be named sultana.
- Like none before him, Amurath has will'd
- This honour to bestow for love alone.
- Mine is the title, mine the pow'r as well,
- And in my hands his brother's life he left.
- But in his ardour Amurath ne'er promised
- Prospect of marriage, other gifts to crown:
- And I, whose sole ambition was for this,
- Have all his other benefits forgotten.
- Yet what avails it to excuse my conduct?
- 'Tis Bajazet that from my memory wipes
- The past; more happy, 'spite of his misfortunes,
- Than Amurath, for he has learn'd to please me,
- Perhaps without the wish; guards, women, vizier,
- All have been bribed for him, and in my heart
- He reigns supreme. Thanks to my love, right well
- I use the pow'r his brother gave me o'er him.
- His feet have all but reach'd the Sultan's throne,
- There needs but one step more, for that I wait.
- In spite of all my love, if he to-day
- Refuses to be bound to me by marriage,
- And dares to plead an odious privilege;
- If he for me, who have done all for him,
- Will not do all I ask, that very moment,
- Regardless of my love and of my ruin,
- I give him up, and let the wretch return
- To that unhappy plight in which I found him.
- This is the issue Bajazet must settle,
- His weal, or woe depends upon his answer.
- I do not wish that you to-day should lend
- Your voice to serve as my interpreter;
- Nay, his own mouth and countenance before me
- Shall all his heart reveal, and leave no shade
- Of doubt; brought hither secretly, must he
- All unprepared before mine eyes appear.
- Farewell. This meeting o'er, you shall know all.
Credits: Reprinted from The Dramatic Works of Jean Racine. Trans. Robert Bruce Boswell. London: George Bell and Sons, 1911.