Friday, February 04, 2011

Hosney Mubarak Hears Noises Offstage

I don't suppose modern strong men do it with such class:
Furthermore, the self same night within little of midnight, when all the city was quiet, full of fear and sorrow, thinking what would be the issue and end of this war: it is said that suddenly they heard a marvellous sweet harmony of sundry sorts of instruments.  Strange noises heard, and nothing seen. of music, with the cry of a multitude of people, as they had been dancing, and had sung as they use in Bacchus’ feasts, with movings and turnings after the manner of the Satyrs: and it seemed that this dance went through the city unto the gate that opened to the enemies, and that all the troop that made this noise they heard went out of the city at that gate. Now, such as in reason sought the depth of the interpretation of this wonder, thought that it was the God unto whom Antonius bare singular devotion to counterfeit and resemble him, that did forsake them.
 --Plutarch, Life of Antony (Thomas North Trans)..
Alexandria. Before CLEOPATRA's palace
Enter a company of soldiers
FIRST SOLDIER. Brother, good night. To-morrow is the day.
SECOND SOLDIER. It will determine one way. Fare you well.
Heard you of nothing strange about the streets?
FIRST SOLDIER. Nothing. What news?
SECOND SOLDIER. Belike 'tis but a rumour. Good night to you.
FIRST SOLDIER. Well, sir, good night.
[They meet other soldiers]
SECOND SOLDIER. Soldiers, have careful watch.
FIRST SOLDIER. And you. Good night, good night.
[The two companies separate and place themselves
in every corner of the stage]
SECOND SOLDIER. Here we. And if to-morrow
Our navy thrive, I have an absolute hope
Our landmen will stand up.
THIRD SOLDIER. 'Tis a brave army,
And full of purpose.
[Music of the hautboys is under the stage]
SECOND SOLDIER. Peace, what noise?
THIRD SOLDIER. List, list!
THIRD SOLDIER. Music i' th' air.
FOURTH SOLDIER. Under the earth.
THIRD SOLDIER. It signs well, does it not?
THIRD SOLDIER. Peace, I say!
What should this mean?
SECOND SOLDIER. 'Tis the god Hercules, whom Antony lov'd,
Now leaves him.
THIRD SOLDIER. Walk; let's see if other watchmen
Do hear what we do.
SECOND SOLDIER. How now, masters!
SOLDIERS. [Speaking together] How now!
How now! Do you hear this?
FIRST SOLDIER. Ay; is't not strange?
THIRD SOLDIER. Do you hear, masters? Do you hear?
FIRST SOLDIER. Follow the noise so far as we have quarter;
Let's see how it will give off.
SOLDIERS. Content. 'Tis strange. Exeunt
William Shakespeare,  Antony and Cleopatra
When suddenly there is heard at midnightA company passing invinsible
With wonderful music, with voices, -
Your fortune giving way now, your works
Which have failed, the plans of a lifetime
All turned illusions, do not mourn uselessly.
As one prepared long since, courageously,
Say farewell to her, to Alexandria who is leaving.
Above all do not be tricked, never say it was
All a dream, and that your hearing was deceived;
Do not stoop to such vain hopes as these.
As one prepared long since, courageously,
As becomes one worthy as you were of such a city,
Firmly draw near the window,
And listen with emotion but not
with the complainings and entreaties of cowards,
Listen, your last enjoyment, to the sounds,
The wonderful instruments of the mystic company,
And say farewell, farewell to Alexandria you are losing.
C.P. Cavafy, "The God Abandons Anthony"
(J. Mavrogordatos, trans.)
The Hogarth Press, London 1951, p. 26.

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