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Full text of "The Dynasts : Parts First And Second"

THE DYNASTS                  ACT
But since thou hast
We'll hasten to the isle ; and thou It behold— Such as it is—the scene its coasts enfold.
A marshy island at the mouth of the Scheldt, lit by the low sunshine of an evening in late summer. The horizontal rays from the west lie in yellow sheaves across the vapours that the day's heat has drawn from the sweating soil. Sour grasses grow in places, and strange fishy smells, now warm, now cold, pass along. Brass-hued and opalescent bubbles, compounded of many gases, rise where passing feet have trodden the damper spots. At night the place is the haunt of the Jack-lantern.
A vast army is encamped here, and in the open spaces are infantry on parade—skeletoned men, some flushed, some shivering, who are kept moving because it is dangerous to stay still. Every now and then one falls down, and is carried away to a hospital with no roof, where he is laid, bedless, on the ground.
In the distance soldiers are digging graves for the funerals which are to take place after dark, delayed till then that the sight of so many may not drive the living melancholy-mad. Faint noises are heard in the air.
What storm is this of souls dissolved in sighs, And what the dingy gloom it signifies ?
SPIRIT OF THE PITIES We catch a lamentation shaped thuswise: