Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

Otho the Great: A Tragedy in Five Acts: Act I SCENE II

  • The Court-yard of the Castle.
  • Martial music. Enter, from the outer gate, OTHO, Nobles,Knights,
  • and Attendants. The Soldiers halt at the gate, with banners in sight.
  • Otho. Where is my noble herald?
  • Enter CONRAD, from the Castle, attended by two Knights and
  • Servants. ALBERT following.
  • Well! hast told
  • Auranthe our intent imperial?
  • Lest our rent banners, too o’ the sudden shown,
  • Should fright her silken casements, and dismay
  • Her household to our lack of entertainment.
  • A victory!
  • Conrad. God save illustrious Otho!
  • Otho. Aye, Conrad, it will pluck out all grey hairs;
  • It is the best physician for the spleen;
  • The courtliest inviter to a feast;
  • The subtelest excuser of small faults;
  • And a nice judge in the age and smack of wine.
  • Enter, from the Castle, AURANTHE, followed by Pages holding
  • up her robes, and a train of Women. She kneels.
  • Hail, my sweet hostess! I do thank the stars,
  • Or my good soldiers, or their ladies’ eyes,
  • That, after such a merry battle fought,
  • I can, all safe in body and in soul,
  • Kiss your fair hand and lady fortune’s too.
  • My ring! now, on my life, it doth rejoice
  • These lips to feel’t on this soft ivory!
  • Keep it, my brightest daughter; it may prove
  • The little prologue to a line of kings.
  • I strove against thee and my hot-blood son,
  • Dull blockhead that I was to be so blind,
  • But now my sight is clear; forgive me, lady.
  • Auranthe. My lord, I was a vassal to your frown,
  • And now your favour makes me but more humble;
  • In wintry winds the simple snow is safe.
  • But fadeth at the greeting of the sun:
  • Unto thine anger I might well have spoken,
  • Taking on me a woman’s privilege,
  • But this so sudden kindness makes me dumb.
  • Otho. What need of this? Enough, if you will be
  • A potent tutoress to my wayward boy,
  • And teach him, what it seems his nurse could not,
  • To say for once I thank you. Sigifred!
  • Albert. He has not yet return’d, my gracious liege.
  • Otho. What then! No tidings of my friendly Arab?
  • Conrad. None, mighty Otho.
  • To one of his Knights, who goes out.
  • Send forth instantly
  • An hundred horsemen from my honoured gates,
  • To scour the plains and search the cottages.
  • Cry a reward, to him who shall first bring
  • News of that vanished Arabian,
  • A full-heaped helmet of the purest gold.
  • Otho. More thanks, good Conrad; for, except my son’s,
  • There is no face I rather would behold
  • Than that same quick-eyed pagan’s. By the saints,
  • This coming night of banquets must not light
  • Her dazzling torches; nor the music breathe
  • Smooth, without clashing cymbal, tones of peace
  • And in-door melodies; nor the ruddy wine
  • Ebb spouting to the lees; if I pledge not,
  • In my first cup, that Arab!
  • Albert. I wonder not this stranger’s victor-deeds
  • So hang upon your spirit. Twice in the fight
  • It was my chance to meet his olive brow,
  • Triumphant in the enemy’s shatter’d rhomb;
  • And, to say truth, in any Christian arm
  • I never saw such prowess. Oth. Did you ever?
  • Otho. Did you ever?
  • O, ’tis a noble boy! — tut! — what do I say?
  • I mean a triple Saladin, whose eyes,
  • When in the glorious scuffle they met mine,
  • Seem’d to say — “ Sleep, old man, in safety sleep;
  • I am the victory! ”
  • Conrad. Pity he’s not here.
  • Otho. And my son too, pity he is not here.
  • Lady Auranthe I would not make you blush,
  • But can you give a guess where Ludolph is?
  • Know you not of him?
  • Auranthe. Indeed, my liege, no secret —
  • Otho. Nay, nay, without more words, dost know of him?
  • Auranthe. I would I were so over-fortunate,
  • Both for his sake and mine, and to make glad
  • A father’s ears with tidings of his son.
  • Otho. I see ’tis like to be a tedious day.
  • Were Theodore and Gonfred and the rest
  • Sent forth with my commands?
  • Albert. Aye, my lord.
  • Otho. And no news! No news! ’Faith! ’tis very strange
  • He thus avoids us. Lady, is’t not strange?
  • Will he be truant to you too? It is a shame.
  • Conrad. Will’t please your Highness enter, and accept
  • The unworthy welcome of your servant’s house?
  • Leaving your cares to one whose diligence
  • May in few hours make pleasures of them all.
  • Otho. Not so tedious, Conrad. No, no, no, no, —
  • I must see Ludolph or the — What’s that shout?
  • Voices without. Huzza! Huzza! Long live the Emperor!
  • Other voices. Fall back! Away there!
  • Otho. Say what noise is that?
  • Albert (advancing from the back of the stage, whither he had hastened on hearing the cheers of the soldiery). It is young Gersa, the Hungarian prince,
  • Pick’d like a red stag from the fallow herd
  • Of prisoners. Poor prince, forlorn he steps,
  • Slow, and demure, and proud in his despair.
  • If I may judge by his so tragic bearing,
  • His eye not downcast, and his folded arm,
  • He doth this moment wish himself asleep
  • Among his fallen captains on yon plains.
  • Enter GERSA, in chains, and guarded.
  • Otho. Well said, Sir Albert.
  • Gersa. Not a word of greeting,
  • No welcome to a princely visitor,
  • Most mighty Otho? Will not my great host
  • Vouchsafe a syllable, before he bids
  • His gentlemen conduct me with all care
  • To some securest lodging — cold perhaps!
  • Otho. What mood is this? Hath fortune touch’d thy brain?
  • Gersa. O kings and princes of this fev’rous world,
  • What abject things, what mockeries must ye be,
  • What nerveless minions of safe palaces!
  • When here, a monarch, whose proud foot is used
  • To fallen princes’ necks, as to his stirrup,
  • Must needs exclaim that I am mad forsooth,
  • Because I cannot flatter with bent knees
  • My conqueror!
  • Otho. Gersa, I think you wrong me
  • I think I have a better fame abroad.
  • Gersa. I pr’ythee mock me not with gentle speech,
  • But, as a favour, bid me from thy presence;
  • Let me no longer be the wondering food
  • Of all these eyes; pr’ythee command me hence!
  • Otho. Do not mistake me, Gersa. That you may not,
  • Come, fair Auranthe, try if your soft hands
  • Can manage those hard rivets to set free
  • So brave a prince and soldier.
  • Auranthe. Welcome task!
  • Gersa. I am wound up in deep astonishment!
  • Thank you, fair lady. Otho! Emperor!
  • You rob me of myself; my dignity
  • Is now your infant; I am a weak child.
  • Otho. Give me your hand, and let this kindly grasp
  • Live in our memories. Ger. In mine it will.
  • Gersa. I blush to think of my unchasten’d tongue;
  • But I was haunted by the monstrous ghost
  • Of all our slain battalions. Sire, reflect,
  • And pardon you will grant, that, at this hour,
  • The bruised remnants of our stricken camp
  • Are huddling undistinguished, my dear friends,
  • With common thousands, into shallow graves.
  • Otho. Enough, most noble Gersa. You are free
  • To cheer the brave remainder of your host
  • By your own healing presence, and that too,
  • Not as their leader merely, but their king;
  • For, as I hear, your wily enemy,
  • Who eas’d the crownet from your infant brows,
  • Bloody Taraxa, is among the dead.
  • Gersa. Then I retire, so generous caesar please,
  • Bearing with me a weight of benefits
  • Too heavy to be borne.
  • Otho. It is not so;
  • Still understand me, King of Hungary,
  • Nor judge my open purposes awry.
  • Though I did hold you high in my esteem
  • For your self’s sake, I do not personate
  • The stage-play emperor to entrap applause,
  • To set the silly sort o’ the world agape,
  • And make the politic smile; no, I have heard
  • How in the Council you condemn’d this war,
  • Urging the perfidy of broken faith, —
  • For that I am your friend.
  • Gersa. If ever, sire,
  • You are my enemy, I dare here swear
  • ’Twill not be Gersa’s fault. Otho, farewell!
  • Otho. Will you return, Prince, to our banqueting?
  • Gersa. As to my father’s board I will return.
  • Otho. Conrad, with all due ceremony, give
  • The Prince a regal escort to his camp;
  • Albert, go thou and bear him company.
  • Gersa, farewell!
  • Gersa. All happiness attend you!
  • Otho. Return with what good speed you may; for soon
  • We must consult upon our terms of peace.
  • And thus a marble column do I build
  • To prop my empire’s dome. Conrad, in thee
  • I have another stedfast one, to uphold
  • The portals of my state; and, for my own
  • Preeminence and safety, I will strive
  • To keep thy strength upon its pedestal
  • For, without thee, this day I might have been
  • A show-monster about the streets of Prague,
  • In chains, as just now stood that noble prince:
  • And then to me no mercy had been shown,
  • For when the conquer’d lion is once dungeon’d,
  • Who lets him forth again? or dares to give
  • An old lion sugar-cates of mild reprieve?
  • Not to thine ear alone I make confession,
  • But to all here, as, by experience,
  • I know how the great basement of all power
  • Is frankness, and a true tongue to the world;
  • And how intriguing secrecy is proof
  • Of fear and weakness, and a hollow state.
  • Conrad, I owe thee much.
  • Conrad. To kiss that hand,
  • My Emperor, is ample recompense,
  • For a mere act of duty.
  • Otho. Thou art wrong;
  • For what can any man on earth do more?
  • We will make trial of your house’s welcome,
  • My bright Auranthe!
  • Conrad. How is Friedburg honoured!
  • Enter ETHELBERT and six Monks.
  • Ethelbert. The benison of heaven on your head,
  • Imperial Otho!
  • Otho. Who stays me? Speak! Quick!
  • Ethelbert. Pause but one moment, mighty conqueror!
  • Upon the threshold of this house of joy.
  • Otho. Pray, do not prose, good Ethelbert, but speak
  • What is your purpose.
  • Ethelbert. The restoration of some captive maids,
  • Devoted to heaven’s pious ministries,
  • Who, being driven ! forth 5 from their religious cells,
  • And kept in thraldom by our enemy,
  • When late this province was a lawless spoil,
  • Still weep amid the wild Hungarian camp,
  • Though hemm’d around by thy victorious arms.
  • Otho. Demand the holy sisterhood in our name
  • From Gersa’s tents. Farewell, old Ethelbert.
  • Ethelbert. The saints will bless you for this pious care.
  • Otho. Daughter, your hand; Ludolph’s would fit it best.
  • Conrad. Ho! let the music sound!
  • (Music. ETHELBERT raises his hands, as in benediction of OTHO.
  • Exeunt severally. The scene closes on them.

🗙 Cite this page:

MLA Style: Works Cited

Keats, John. “Otho the Great: A Tragedy in Five Acts: Act I SCENE II.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, by G. Kim Blank. Edition 3.3 , University of Victoria, 5 September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_otho_act_i_scene_ii.html.

Chicago Style: Note

John Keats, “Otho the Great: A Tragedy in Five Acts: Act I SCENE II,” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.3 , last modified 5th September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_otho_act_i_scene_ii.html.

Chicago Style: Bibliography

Keats, John. “Otho the Great: A Tragedy in Five Acts: Act I SCENE II.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.3 , last modified 5th September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_otho_act_i_scene_ii.html.