Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE WIFE OF FERGUS; A MONODRAMA, by SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE

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THE WIFE OF FERGUS; A MONODRAMA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Cease -- cease your torments! Spare the sufferers
Last Line: No guilty fear in death.
Subject(s): Marriage; Murder; Regicide; Scotland; Suicide; Women; Weddings; Husbands; Wives

Scene, the Palace Court. The Queen speaking from the Battlements.

CEASE—cease your torments! spare the sufferers!
Scotchmen, not theirs the deed;—the crime was mine,
Mine is the glory.
Idle threats! I stand
Secure. All access to these battlements
Is barr'd beyond your sudden strength to force,
And lo! the dagger by which Fergus died!

Shame on you, Scotchmen, that a woman's hand
Was left to do this deed! Shame on you, Thanes,
Who with slave-patience have so long endured
The wrongs, the insolence of tyranny!
Ye coward race!—that not a husband's sword
Smote that adulterous king! that not a wife
Revenged her own pollution; in his blood
Wash'd her soul pure; and for the sin compell'd,
Atoned by virtuous murder! Oh, my God!
Of what beast-matter hast thou moulded them,
To bear with wrongs like these? There was a time
When, if the bard had feign'd you such a tale,
Your eyes had throbb'd with anger, and your hands
In honest instinct would have grasped the sword.
O miserable men who have disgraced
Your fathers, whom your sons must blush to name!

Ay, ye can threaten me! ye can be brave
In anger to a woman! one whose virtue
Upbraids your coward vice; whose name will live
Honour'd and prais'd in song, when not a hand
Shall root from your forgotten monuments
The cankering moss. Fools! fools! to think that death
Is not a thing familiar to my mind!
As if I knew not what must consummate
My glory! as if aught that earth can give
Could tempt me to endure the load of life!
Scotchmen! ye saw when Fergus to the altar
Led me, his maiden queen. Ye blest me then,
I heard you bless me, and I thought that Heaven
Had heard you also, and that I was blest,
For I loved Fergus. Bear me witness, God!
With what a sacred heart-sincerity
My lips pronounced the unrecallable vow
That made me his, him mine; bear witness, Thou!
Before whose throne I this day must appear,
Stain'd with his blood and mine! my heart was his
His in the strength of all its first affections.
In all obedience, in all love, I kept
Holy my marriage vow. Behold me, Thanes!
Time hath not changed the face on which his eye
So often dwelt, when with assiduous care
He sought my love, with seeming truth, for one,
Sincere herself, impossible to doubt.
Time hath not changed that face;—I speak not now,
With pride, of beauties that will feed the worm
To-morrow! but with joyful pride I say
That if the truest and most perfect love
Deserved requital, such was ever mine.
How often reeking from the adulterous bed,
Have I received him! and with no complaint.
Neglect and insult, cruelty and scorn,
Long, long did I endure, and long curb down
The indignant nature.
Tell your countrymen,
Scotchmen, what I have spoken—say to them,
Ye saw the queen of Scotland lift the dagger,
Red from her husband's heart; that in her own
She plunged it.

Tell them also, that she felt
No guilty fear in death.

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