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(Two more sailors come creeping along the right bulwark.)
THE FOREMOST OF THE TWO SAILORS.
I swore but yesterday if the Red God
Would end this peaceful life that rots the bones,
None should escape my sword: I would send all
To mind his cows and swine by the Red Lake.
THE HINDERMOST OF THE TWO SAILORS.
He has heard me and not you. Nine days ago
I promised him that none should escape my sword
But women and jugglers and players on the harp.
THE FOREMOST OF THE TWO SAILORS.
He has heard me because I promised all.
(There are sailors now along the whole bulwark and sailors in the shadow of the sail.)
Bend lower lest your battle axes glimmer.
The tide narrows between, and one old man
Nods by the helm, and nearer to the sail
A woman lies among embroideries.
Near by, but in the shadow of the sail,
A boy and girl hold one another's hands;
Their hair mingles on some stringed instrument,
And a string murmurs as though Time were dead
Or a god hid them under the shadow of wings.
When you are aboard the Lochlann galley, lash
Bulwark to bulwark, and square her sail by ours.
Now rush upon her and find out what prey
Best pleases you. (The sailors climb over the bulwarks beyond the sail. Forgael is left alone.)
A VOICE ON THE OTHER SHIP.
Armed men have come upon us.
A MORE DISTANT VOICE.
Why have you broken our sleep?
THE FIRST VOICE.
Armed men have come upon us. O! I am slain.
(There is a sound of fighting.)
A gray bird has flown by. He has flown upward.
He hovers above the mast and waits his kind;
When all gather they will fly upon their way.
I shall find out if I have lost the way
Among these misty waters. Two! Now four!
Now four together! I shall hear their words
If I go nearer to the windward side,
For there are sudden voices in my ears.
(He goes to the right bulwark.)
Two hover there together, and one says,
"How light we are now we are changed to birds !"
And the other answers, "Maybe we shall find
Our hearts' desire now that we are so light.”
And then one asks another how he died,
And says, "A sword blade pierced me in my sleep."
And now they all wheel suddenly and fly
To the other side and higher in the air.
(He crosses over to the other bulwark.)
They are still waiting; and a laggard comes,
And crying, "I have fled to my beloved
In the waste air. I will wander by his side
Among the windy meadows of the dawn,"
They have flown away together. We are nearly
A quarter of the heavens from our right way.
(He goes to the helm. The sailors return with Dectora, who is crowned and has a rose embroidered upon the breast of her garment.)
I linger while the birds are on the wing,
Because the unambitious that hate the gods
Believe that gold and women taken in war
Are better than the woods where no love fades
From its first sighs and laughter before the sleep,
Whose shadow is the sleep that comes with love,
Ends Time and Change.
We bring you this great queen.
I spared her handmaid, too; but half way hither
She caught this blade out of my belt and died.
She offers great rewards if we turn east
And bring her to her kingdom and her people.
FORGAEL. My way is west. She seems both young and shapely. Give her to Aibric, if he will. I wait For an immortal woman as I think.
(He goes nearer to Dectora.)
THE SAILOR WHO HAD FIRST SPOKEN.
I left her living, thinking that I had found
Your heart's desire and the end of all our trouble;
But now I will kill her.
(Motions him away and looks for a long time at Dectora.)
All comes to an end; The harvests in; the granary doors are shut; And I am old as Time, because I know All that Time knows. Speak to me, Queen. O speak! I wait your words as the dead wait the living.
If you would serve me, as your word and voice
Have bid me hope, sail to the Lochlann shore
And bring me to my people. I promised these
So much of wealth as may befit their rank;
I promise you a hundred drinking bowls,
A hundred shields of brass, a hundred swords,
A hundred oxen and a hundred sheep,
And more, if you will war against the Danes
In Southern Lochlann.
I would not obey Any that lived, and I have brought my galley Where I had heard no feet but the gods' came. Have the winds blown you among these empty waters ?
I have come hither because I hoped to come
Where gods are brooding in a mountainous place
That murmurs with holy woods, and win their help
To conquer among the countries of the north.
I have found nothing but these empty waters.
I have turned homewards.
In the eyes o' the gods, War laden galleys, and armies on white roads, And unforgotten names, and the cold stars That have built all are dust on a moth's wing. These are their lures, but they have set their hearts On tears and laughter; they have lured you hither And lured me hither that you might be my love. Ængus looks on you when I look: he waits Till his Edaine, no more a silver fly Among the winds, looks under your pale eyelids.
(To the sailors.) Is it your will that I, who am a queen
And have been wooed by the twelve kings of the earth,
Become a stranger's leman; and that you,
Who might have flocks and herds and many thralls,
Be pullers of the oar until you die? -
A SAILOR, She bids us follow her.
I have grown weary
Of following Forgael's dream from wind to wind.
ANOTHER SAILOR. Give me a hundred sheep.
Give me a house Well sheltered from the winds, and fruitful fields, And a strong galley.
DECTORA. I give you all as much.
And will you swear never to be avenged
For those among your people that are dead?
DECTORA. I swear it, though I gladly would lie down With some you have killed and die; for when I left My foster mother's garden in the south I ceased to be a woman, being a queen.
And will you swear it by the sun and moon?