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Full text of "Out of the depths : a morality play in one act"

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DEPTHS. 



A MORALITY PLAY 
In One Act. 




By 



ALEX. MATHEWS. 



BOHEMIAN PRESS, 
MEADOW WAY, 

SOMEBFOBD, 
CHRISTCHUKCH 



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OUT OF THE DEPTHS, 

A MORALITY PLAY 
In One Act, 




By 



ALEX. MATHEWS, 



BOHEMIAN PRESS, 
MEADOW WAY, 

SOMEEFORD, 
CHRISTCHURCH 



is'wt^w ^a 



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Prologue. 

First Maiden. 

Chief Brehon. 

Second Maiden. 

Flaith. 

Brehon. 

A Wife. 

Druid. 

Chief Bard. 

Second Bard. 

Third Bard. 

Prophet. 

Tuaths. 

Women. 



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PROROGUE, 

Shall Erin, island of a thousand years 

Athgabhaii and her liberties regain? 

Who will come forth to give her right for wrong, 

Possession after losses, peace for strife; 

Order out of chaos and that mystic creed 

Descent from mists of time, (Enlightened Priests 

Of fair Atlantis) which in caverns vast 

Sleep on unsullied by the hand of time? 

Who shall peruse the antient Senchus Mor 

And find a clause to free us from distress? 

We have no son of Erin of Royal blood 

To fill the mighty office of Ard Rig. 

Our laws decree no person not of age, 

Stupid, blind, deaf, defective or deformed 

Shall hold the worthy office of the King. 

Our plight is thus ; our last of antient caste 

Disqualifies by blemish on his face; 

The Feis of Tara would call this a fault. 

Therefore, the bards must find some antient clause 

Whereby a King of blood must reign again. 

For Erin now lies low beneath the heel 

Of bloody tyrants from the North and East. 

O, rise up, Bards, and let your harp strings sound 

A symphony in tune to Nature's beat, 

That will resound through forest, hill and dale 

Out — far beyond the bourn, beneath the breach, 

Into the deeps, e'en upwards to the sky, 

To dout oppression, thy spirits amort. 

To rouse the Gods and men to action quick 

And only thus to ease thy minds bestraught. 

Rise, rise, ye Bards, awaken thy lost powers, 

Stir other thoughts to pierce subconscious depths 

And in those depths perceive the light to come 

Which shall remove the shadows from thy path. 

Be patient yet, all hopes are not yet gone 

For yet another veil shall be removed 

And as the veil is lifting shall we cry 

In joyous note — Behold, the King has come. 



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Scene; 1. — Meeting of the BrehonS, 



1st Maiden : 



Chief Brehon 



2nd Maiden : 



Feaith : 
Brehon : 



1st Maiden 



Come Brehons, waken from your lethargy 
And drive this Scythian dog from off our shores. 
Shall we, the women of this sacred Isle, 
Bear fruit to these usurpers or shall we 
Seek self-destruction, thus preserve our name 
From dishonour, pollution, by these sires ? 

How well we would preserve ye from ill-fame, 
E'en to the shedding every drop of blood 
From out of each true Irish manly heart. 
But we are held fast close by tyranny, 
Outnumbered by these hordes of Scythians' 
Who soon shall overrun our sacred Isle. 
We have opposed him up to every point 
Yet we have swayed by force of three to one, 
Our ranks heaped up with our honoured dead. 
And those who live with memory of the fray 
Rest torn and bleeding in their hearts and limbs. 
Would you ask twice if Irishmen did live ? 
Their heated blood would surge a fury dread 
Which in its heat would take away their sense 
And leave but demons unbridled ; in their lust 
Would plough a path from every hill to coast 
And leaving but red carnage in their wake. 
If we no men can muster to defend, 
Then let us rouse to action every wife 
And maid, whose arm has strength to wield a sword, 
Far better that we die in Erin's cause 
Than be dishonoured by her hated foe. 
Alas ! that we should live to see this day. 

O Great Hyperborea, to what depths 
Thou hast sunken since the Great Opollo, 
Wandering from the East came to our shores 
In mighty strength with Cybele to build 
Our antient Clans and Septs and Fines into 
A stalwart race of warriors and men. 
Let us not through the mazes of the past 
Like folly running wild be led astray. 
But in this present find a future hope. 



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WomBN : 
(shouting) 

Chief Brehon 



1st Maiden : 



2nd Maiden : 
A Wife : 

Druid : 



Chief Brehon : 



We boast no King" of fiery blood or sword 
But one of milk and water, young in years. 
Wh° then will rise and stir our people up? 
If not the King or men then it must be 
The women of our Isle. There is no clause 
In all the Brehon laws that will forbid 
A woman fighting for her country's cause. 

Aye truly, let us all take unto arms. . 

And use them best we may and with our wits, 

Peace, good women, rouse not the countryside, 
The Scythian like the serpent silent moves. 
We shall your plea unto our Elders take, 
That they in greater wisdom may decide 
These weighty matters. 

Take heed, Chief Brehon, there be no delay, 
We are o'erwearied with the ways of men. 
And with stern voice unsparing Justice plead 
To fight your fight against the Scythian hordes 
To wreak full vengeance till hot blood is weaned 
Or die a righteous death on bloody field. 

Though sweet the smile of home, the mutual look 
Of loved one there, you see we are prepared 
To sacrifice them all to help our cause. 

And is there in God's world so dear a place 

As Erin ? Yet we can turn our backs on't 

And face the hated foe, recall the shaft 

The Scythian's hand has sped and turn its course. 

Let those who o'er the Sacred Rites preside 
Take'wisdom for their guardian and their guide. 
Let those whose power the multitude obey 
Support by conduct, their imperial sway. 
If in the swirling stream thou art fast caught 
Waste not thy strength opposing it with aught 
But calmness and a clearly thinking mind, 
'Tis only thus a refuge canst thou find. 
How graced is Erin's old historic page 
With wisdom from her venerable sage. 
Judge of the laws for Justice high approved, 
Seek then that wisdom from the Muse beloved. 

If then thy wish, we shall unto the Bards 

Make haste and find them in their Sacred Groves 



i 



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Women : 
Ael: 



Where trees of oak rise high and seas wash shore. 

Perchance they- can relieve o.ur clouded minds 

And if they show no better way than this 

They cannot show -a worse. 

We, shall await decision of the Bards. 

Let us seek out the Sacred Bards, 



Scene 2.— ThE Sacred Grove of the Bard. 



Tit 



E 



venin"', 



I 



The Chief Bard, followed by the others, enters solemnly the 
Grove. | The Chief Bard seats himself on a raised stone, the 
Others sit or stand around him in a circle. They chant, and aS 
soon as the chant is finished the Chief Brehon and others' 

enter. 



Chief Brehon : 



Chief Bard : 
Chief BrEhon*: 



Chief Bard : 
{To the people) 



O worthy Bard, thou knowest our country's plight, 
We have.no King, no Laws, no Antieilt FeiS. 
Our warriors have been weakened by the foe 
And .we in humbleness seek thy advice. 

What wouldst thou seek the more than We can give? 

We seek in vain a King or mighty one 
To rouse all Erin in strong unison, 
To drive the Scythian far beyond our coast. 
Yet we are bound by antient Brehon ties 
Which do forbid the nomination of 
A king from any but the antient Caste. 
The people cry out " Let us have a King 
To lead us ; we care not for good or ill, 
But let us have a King." 
Not having King but only weakened men 
Because of war, our women-folk declare 
They shall take arms against the common foe. 
Their plea is self-destruction in the place 
Of dishonour by the scurvy Scythian. 

Shall Tara's Halls lie crumbled in the dust, 
And her proud Tuaths in that dust kneel low 
On sturdy knees in humbleness like serfs 
Be broached to a conquering tyrant's brawl ? 



!!'J 



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10 



2nd Bard : 



3rd Bard : 



Prophet : 



Alas ! that Dermot witness to the Feis 
Of Tara, should the antient Sage lament ; 
Whilst Capricornis shadowed in pale light 
In measured cadents sank from mortal sight. 
Well d-d the Tarnist, Fiaiths and Brehons groan 
With thought of Ollamh. Fodhla and the Feis 
Which he m such propitious reign brought forth 
To season truth and ancient rights decree, 
And lo ! when at the feast of Belltaine came 
The roaring Bull in anger, eyes aflame. 
No Bard could tune his strings or render note 
To cool his ire, for mighty was his wrath. . y 
O woe this day, for prophecy was dumb, 
For like a sorrowful wind whose plaintive sound 
Strikes dread unto the weary traveller's ear, 
So did the prophets their false wisdom speak. 
The Banshee wailed, was heard from plain to peak, 
As Taurus with his nostrils breathing fire, 
Obscured himself behind an angry cloud. 
No more to contemplate the ancient Rites. 
For truth was dead, and all the records lost 
Which proved that Erin, jewel of the sea, 
Was consecrated ground and on whose plots 
Had walked the Gods with angels and with men. 
Fair Tara now lies slumbering in the past. 
What champion comes forth to build her up ? 
Is there no Goban Saer, Philitis' son 
To raise fair halls like antient Iran's Towers? 
'Tis said a mighty one comes from the East, 
Endowed with wondrous wisdom, who speaks truth ; 
Who will our antient laws and mystic rites 
Restore, when Southern signs show more advance 
Such have we heard, wise Chief, there's truth in it, 
Let us take heed and watch the Zodiac well ; 
For Nature is unvarying by her wont, 
She'll ne'er prevail against us nor disturb. 
I crave a word, wise Chief, wilt thou lend ear? 
For I in nightly vigil oft have seen ^ 
A strangeness in the Southern sky o'ercast, 
Bespeaking changes of peculiar kind. 



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Chief Barb . 
Prophet : . 



Tuaths : 
Prophet..: 
Tuaths : 
Prophet ; 



Tuaths : 
Chief Bard 
Prophet : 



Speak oil, O Prophet, let thy word be truth, 

Last night, and many a night before, when the moon 

With her enchanting beams enveloped this 

consecrated 
Isle, Twelve Lights I saw effulgent with a -••"■■ 
Phosphorescent gleam and when I would a closer 
Look take on, behold ! the twelfth light, like a 
Snuffled candle, to my amaze went out. 
The light was snuffled out., what woe. 
Stay ye, I have not ended yet. 
Speak on, O Prophet, let us hear the end. 
And when I saw this sight my heart stood still. 
Methought 'twas an omen, evil in intent. 
Then lo ! The Light again appeared, proudly 
Lit the sky o'er yonder hill, and Tara 
Was ensconced. My eyes grew dim amid this 
Dazzling light, Tara was as day, and I 
Forgot the night. Then from the hallowed oak 
On Tara's Hill, proud seat of mighty Kings, 
There came a voice which spoke these wondrous 
words : 

" In Erin there is passage through two gates, 

The Eastern one to men an exit gives. 

The Southern one is entry, untrod path, 

And though bestrewn with thorns it is divine. 

Along that path a Holy One shall come 

When subtle Light is seen on Erin's shore." 

Then verily 'tis true a Great One comes. 

Knowest, O Prophet, meaning of those words? 

This much I know, for nigh a dozen nights 

In dreams I've seen things that are passing strange. 

But giving meditation and right pause 

To them, their meaning now I can unfold. 

From Eastern Gate we have good cause to know 

There came invaders to our sacred shore. 

Whose hand of tyranny has kept us low 

And robbed us of our land, our rights, our peace. 

These bloody tyrants having had their fill 

Of all the good and fair that Erin yields 

Wax fat ; no longer wield the sword with skill 



III 

III 


111 




11 


ill 


II 



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And soon must through the Eastern Gate return, 
impelled by force more subtle than the sword. 
TuATUs ; A Force more subtle than the sword, pray tell 

How that can be. What son of Erin can 
Drive out this strong invader from our land? 

Prophet ; How 'twill be done I cannot truly tell 

But this. From Southern shores and soon, there 

comes ; . 

One who with wisdom profound, Radiant Eight 
Which emanates from out the Zodiac Twelve, 
Shall bind all men in greater peace, goodwill. 
Unite us all in one great clan and lead 
Us from the Known unto the Great Unknown. 
E'en open up the pathway, narrow, straight, 
Which leads beyond to great Valhalla's Veil. 

TuathS : To Valhalla, O what bliss ! Hasten Thee, 

Great One. 

Chief Bard : Then let us don the Philibeg and Ruff, 

On each our heads a helmet rightly place, 
We shall give homage to the Enlightened One 
And to our Goddess Nature loud give praise. 

(They don the Philibeg and Ruff whilst the chant 
is being given). 



The Chant of Praise. 

O let our breath be loud and high 
Or come in sorrow's lengthy sigh. 
Our Goddess Nature takes it up 
In her whirlwind's mighty luff. 

Eike Will-o-the-wisp wild and free 
She takes it o'er the mounts and sea, 
Down in the depths or up to heights 
The Goddess takes her boundless flights. 

O take our modulated breath, 
Unto the abode where there's no death. 
Unto the Immortals take our prayer, 
We ask of them a peace to share. 



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With every mortal of what clan, 

O make us worthy of Danaan. 

Let twinkling Stars that gleam at night r 

Guide us all to do the right. 

And crested moon o'er Tara's Hill/i'» • 
Her mystic beams inspire us still; ..v., 
Through woody glen and forest glade, 
Oh let our peace in them be made.".. 

In swirling rivers, rambling streams, 
In any place where sunlight gleams ; 
On, on to spheres both high and low, 
Oh let our inspiration go. 



Ill 



ChiEF Bard : Whoe'er thou art, Enlightened One, 

We look to the South for thy coming. 

WatchEr on O Chief, the sun falls swiftly in the West, 

TowEr : A murmuring wind blows softly from the South. 

A Silver Light trips gently o'er the sea, 
And coracle with single sail comes nigh. 

Tuaths : A coracle comes nigh, 'tis the Enlightened One. 

He comes with night but Shall make day. 

ChiEF Bard : Watcher in the Tower, look you well, is't He? 

Watcher : The coracle comes swiftly but the sail 

Obscures my sight from anyone within. 
But now I see a Light, it brighter grows 
It is the Twelfth Light and I know 'tis He. 

ProphET : If 'tis He, dreams become realities. 

Tuaths : Let us advance to meet him. 

Chief Bard : Stay ye, be not presumptuous ; to the great 

Be humble. For I shall myself go forth 
To meet Him and in bending low He sees the 
Greatest of us all do Him homage. 

Watcher : The coracle touches the shore. He will land. 

Chief Bard : I now go forth to do Him salutation. 

Tuaths : Our Chief goes forth to do Him salutation. 

2nd Bard : 'Twere better that the Chief goes thus to do 

Him homage. 



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3rd BArD ! Thinkest thou that the Enlightened One is garbed 

In gold? 
2nd Baud : Methinks silver would be more fitting to the night, 

Prophet : I have strange thoughts to which no meaning 

Comes, as though in coming he comes not, 

1 st Bard : What mean you ? 

Prophet : I know not what I mean but let us wait, 

2nd Bard : See, our Chief has reached the shore, 

He soon shall bend the knee, 

3rd Bard : So shall we all when sight of Him who comes 

Is permitted to unworthy eyes. 

1st Bard : What is amiss? The Chief has started back 

As though to hide some fearful scene. 

2nd Bard: Indeed he does; 'tis passing strange. 

3rd Bard : Shall we go forth to see if aught's amiss ? 

ProphET : Stay, Stay. Some subtle power did call our Chief 

To go alone. Lpray you stay. 

2nd Bard : Our Chief stands transfixed and shades his eyes, 

As though a blinding Light his eyelids glare. 

1st Bard : Now look, he moves his hand across his brow. 

2nd Bard : As though he'd just recovered from a swoon. 

3rd Bard : To the coracle he stoops and bends he low. 

Watcher : And with his hands is lifting something up. 

Tuaths : The Chief returns alone. There's something wrong. 

What is- it that he carries in his arms? 

Prophet : 'Tis a thing of Light and blinding too, 

O wild and enigmatic thoughts, be still ! • 

1st Bard: A cross he carries, O wondrous sight! 

2nd Bard : I am fraught with fear of something I know not. 

3rd Bard : What strange power is this that holds me still ? 

Watcher : The coracle has vanished, I know not where. 

And but a moment since it I did see. 
Prophet : Perplexing symbol, it robbeth me of thought, 

That selfsame glowing Light for nights I've seen. 

It spells some weighty secret we shall know 

Of much that is beyond our present ken. 



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15 



TuATMS : What power ig this that makes us fraught with i eai' . 

See how the Chief's face glows with dazzling Light. 

ChuSi? Bard : O time, the loved, the hated and despised, 

To thee this precious moment I give thanks ; 
Sweet precious moment, minute eternity, 
To have lived and felt and known a miracle. 

Strange wonder is this jewelled piece of tree, 
Not cut from sturdy oak or beach or pine ; 
An unknown piece so masterly in cut, 
An empery, imbued with light and power. 

In antient Tara here an exigent 
Which doth express a marvel to behold ; 
See how it scintillates" with heav'nly Light. 
Oh bounteous gift ! We, the unworthy, take 
This Cross of subtle meaning and of life. 

Let every harp in Tara swell its soul 
Of music, in true concord with a song 
Not heard before by any mortal ear, 
That we may forge a link on endless chain. 



1 



FINIS. 



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OUT OF THE DEPTHS, 

A MORALITY PLAY 
In One Act. 




By 



ALEX. MATHEWS. 



BOHEMIAN PRESS. 
MEADOW WAY, 

SOMERFORD, 
CHRISTCHURCH 









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