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Authors: Agatha Christie

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BOOK: Star over Bethlehem
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Up! and sing to her again,

All your passion and your pain …

She shall listen—listen yet—

She shall listen and forget

That Harlequin goes by …

I am Pierrot, simple Pierrot, singing

to the moon!

Loving, longing, craving, crying,

Ever fearing, ever sighing,

Through the night to noon.

Every lover hears my cry,

I go singing till I die,

For love of Columbine …

 

THE LAST SONG OF COLUMBINE

F
IRE
on the hills, and fire on the plain,

As a thousand years ago

A sudden breeze from a far-off strand,

Magic around me that once I knew

When side by side, and hand in hand,

Went Harlequin and Columbine,

A thousand years ago.

Memory wakes … ​and memory dies …

Magic around me that swiftly flies,

A breath on my cheek that I understand,

A sob and a cry, and a laugh sky-high!

It is Harlequin, Harlequin, passing by!

Harlequin passing by!

Oh! to be out and wandering free,

By hill and by plain, and by moonlit sea,

As once I went—ah! me—ah! me,

A thousand years ago!

Shatter the walls that hem me in!

Scatter the children before the door!

Let me go out and roam as before,

Out from the hearth and the firelit home

Into the starry night to roam,

As I roamed with Harlequin!

Fire on the hills, and fire on the plain,

(And Harlequin passing by),

The rustle of leaves by an unseen hand,

The lilt of a song, we sang, we two …

A stifled sob—and a touch on my hand …

And Harlequin goes by …

 

PIERROT GROWN OLD

H
ERE
upon the hearth together,

Here, where once the children played,

I and Pierrette watch together,

I and Pierrette undismayed.

Hand in hand we played as children,

In the bygone days of old,

Now we watch the shadows lengthen,

I and Pierrette—growing old …

Pierrette's hand has left the blind

Half unlatched, and, from behind

Darkening clouds,
there shines the moon …

(
On the hearth the ashes flicker,

Pierrot, does your heart beat quicker?

Even now in grey December,

As you look, and you remember

Earlier days when you went singing,

Set the whole wide world a-ringing

With your song of love and pain?
 )

Turn you back to where the ember

Strangely kindled dies again …

Shun the moon lest you remember

Columbine, who died so soon …

Something stirring in the garden …

Some soft footfall on the grass …

(
What takes Pierrot to the window,

Watching whose light foot shall pass?
 )

Flash of spangle in the moonlight!

Crash of thunder! Lightning gleam!

Is it two who dance together

As immortals in a dream?

(
Dreaming only brings one pain,

Can the dead return again?
 )

Hark! a step upon the pathway!

Hush! a hand upon the door!

Then the door swings slowly open,

There's a step upon the floor …

Just a rustle and a sigh,

There beside me—close, close by …

Some wild bird flown in for shelter?

No! for I could swear I felt her

Tender lips on mine …

Bringing back to me again

All the splendour and the pain!

It is Columbine …

Crash! the door blows to again!

Dark the room and strangely cold …

Pierrette, rising from her seat,

Pulls the blind with sudden heat,

Shuts the moon from out my sight

(
Pierrette ever hates its light
)!

Is there anger in her eyes?

Knowledge, fear, and swift surprise?

(
Strange the room should turn so cold …

Pierrot! You are growing old …
)

She and I the selfsame folk

Bound together by the yoke

Of the common years together …

Through the fair or clouded weather.

So shall we, the selfsame clay,

Watch the ashes growing grey …

Lead me back, then, where the fire

Gives one leap of last desire!

Flickers faint and fitful yet,

As a heart that would forget …

Moon-dreams only bring one pain!

Can the dead return again?

Columbine died in the past …

And the fire burns out at last …

 

EPILOGUE: SPOKEN BY PUNCHINELLO

T
HE
Play is done! The Tale is told!

Off masks, and bow

Before you pass your way!

Comes the old Showman now

And speaks his lines as best he may.

Buffoon is he, well known and loved of old,

A pleasant wag, a merry fellow!

Oh! all the world loves Punchinello!

Touch my hump for luck, sirs!

Laugh and laugh again!

If I cannot make you laugh,

What's the good of pain?

She I loved in days of old

Wedded me for love of gold.

If I dreamed her heart was mine,

True as that of Columbine,

Soon the veil was torn aside,

Puppet heart, and puppet bride!

Just a painted puppet thing,

Dancing on a golden string!

Touch my hump for luck, then,

Touch and come again!

If I cannot make you laugh,

What's the good of pain?

Harlequin and Columbine

Dance through life without a sign,

And no more upon the green

Pierrette's dancing feet are seen.

No one knows why Pierrot sighs—

Punchinello never dies …

Simple mirth and homely jest!

So the children loved him best.

Men and women play you false,

But until the end,

He who makes the children laugh,

Is the children's friend!

The Tale is told! The Play is o'er!

The Lines are said!

The Puppets pass their way …

Their names may fade

But they themselves shall live alway,

And they shall play the parts they played before,

While Time shall make the Play more mellow,

So listen now to Punchinello:

Where'er a lover sings and sighs, there Pierrot lives again,

Beneath the moon, he passes by, and pours out all his pain.

As long as youth and mirth endure, there Pierrette may be seen,

While many a footstep follows hers a-dancing on the green.

And oh! as long as gold is gold, and money chinks and rings,

There Pulcinella dances when you pull the golden strings;

While every man, for weal or woe, goes seeking Columbine,

Immortal soul imprisoned in a woman's eyes divine.

And when the fire burns low at night, and lightning flashes high!

Then guard your hearth, and hold your love, for Harlequin goes by.

And lastly, where the children play, until the very end,

You'll find old Punchinello, whom they call the children's friend!

Touch my hump for luck, dears!

Laugh and laugh again!

If I cannot make you laugh,

What's the good of pain?

Ballads

 

The Ballad of the Flint

T
HE
Flint, it was our Weapon! The Circle was our Home!

The Tors closed in around us, and we never dared to roam.

The Flint, it was our Weapon, and we kept the Beasts at bay,

When there came on us the Sea Men—the roving Northern Free Men,

And closed in all around us, as we fled in wild dismay!

They had Knives of Magic Metal! Their beards were flaming red!

But one there was, a mighty man, o'ertopped them by a head.

He cried: “Well done, my Vikings, we will leave them limb and life,

Take their cattle, we require them—take their wives if you desire them.

As for me, who am your Captain, now be mine the Headman's wife!”

A groan came from the People (She was our Eyes and Ears),

The Phoenician blood flowed in her from down the longpast years.

Alone, she stood there fearless. “O Stranger from the Sea,

Take back thy hand and leave me; my Eyes cannot deceive me!

It is Doom of Death I bring thee … so be warned and let me be!”

But he laughed a mighty laugh, and he swore aloud by Thor:

“From thy cringing mate I take thee, to be mine for evermore,

For the magic of thy presence, for the beauty of thy face!”

Then they strode across the valleys, to the Sea Coast and their galleys,

And they took her bound amongst them, to our shame and our disgrace.

Then the Headman called the People—far and near they came in flocks,

And a mighty tempest, raging, drove the galleys on the rocks.

Bruised and spent we found the Sea Men (and we praised the holy Sun!)

In confusion there we found them, and we seized and held and bound them,

And we slew them there with laughter! Yea, we slew them—all save
One
!

With a taunt the Headman mocked him, as he cut the woman free:

“We will spare thee for the torture of the slowest death there be!”

But the woman spoke out proudly: “
I
am Priestess of the Sun!

Come, ye People all, and follow to the Sacrificial Hollow

Where I strike the Blow of Vengeance! It is thus it shall be done!”

The Woman was our Priestess. We followed where she led

To the Secret Hollow in the Rocks where Human Blood is shed.

And we cast the Victim down there—but he called her by her name:

“Is thy heart, then, as unyielding as the Flint Stone thou art wielding?

Or is it as our Northern Iron—which melts in fiercest flame …?”

“I am Priestess of the Circle. To the Headman I am wife.

Dost thou understand, O Stranger, that our God must have thy life?”

And he answered: “Strike, then, gladly—since my death comes by thy hand!

And I would thy Gods were my Gods—the only true and high Gods!”

Then she smiled—and struck unflinching! (But we did not understand.)

“O Sun God of our People, Whose Eyes and Ears I be!

My blow, it has avenged Thee—Thy Priestess now is free!

So I turn to Thor and Odin—They who guard the Northern foam.

Let my Stranger Lover meet me! In thy Valhall let him greet me!”

The Flint
(
it is our Weapon
)—
to her heart she struck it home!

 

Elizabeth of England

I
AM
Mistress of England—the Seas I hold!

I have gambled, and won, alone …

I have freed my land from the power of Spain,

BOOK: Star over Bethlehem
3.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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