Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

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

  • The entranceof Gersa’s Tent
  • in the Hungarian Camp.
  • Enter ERMINIA.
  • Erminia. Where! Where! Where shall I find a messenger?
  • A trusty soul? A good man in the camp?
  • Shall I go myself? Monstrous wickedness!
  • O cursed Conrad! devilish Auranthe!
  • Here is proof palpable as the bright sun!
  • O for a voice to reach the Emperor’s ears!
  • (Shouts in the Camp.
  • Enter an Hungarian Captain.
  • Captain. Fair prisoner, hear you those joyous shouts?
  • The King — aye, now our King, — but still your slave,
  • Young Gersa, from a short captivity
  • Has just return’d. He bids me say, bright dame,
  • That even the homage of his ranged chiefs
  • Cures not his hot impatience to behold
  • Such beauty once again. What ails you, lady?
  • Erminia. Say, is not that a German, yonder? There!
  • Captain. Methinks by his stout bearing he should be —
  • Yes — ’tis one Albert; a brave German knight,
  • And much in the Emperor’s favour.
  • Erminia. I would fain
  • Enquire of friends and kinsfolk; how they fared
  • In these rough times. Brave soldier, as you pass
  • To royal Gersa with my humble thanks,
  • Will you send yonder knight to me?
  • Captain. I will.
  • Erminia. Yes, he was ever known to be a man
  • Frank, open, generous; Albert I may trust.
  • O proof! proof! proof! Albert’s an honest man;
  • Not Ethelbert the monk, if he were here,
  • Would I hold more trustworthy. Now!
  • Enter ALBERT.
  • Albert. Good gods!
  • Lady Erminia! are you prisoner
  • In this beleaguer’d camp? Or are you here
  • Of your own will? You pleas’d to send for me.
  • By Venus, ’tis a pity I knew not
  • Your plight before, and, by her son, I swear
  • To do you every service you can ask.
  • What would the fairest — ?
  • Erminia. Albert, will you swear?
  • Albert. I have. Well!
  • Erminia. Albert, you have fame to lose. ?
  • If men, in court and camp, lie not outright,
  • You should be, from a thousand, chosen forth
  • To do an honest deed. Shall I confide — ?
  • Albert. Aye, anything to me, fair creature. Do,
  • Dictate my task. Sweet woman, —
  • Erminia. Truce with that.
  • You understand me not; and, in your speech,
  • I see how far the slander is abroad.
  • Without proof could you think me innocent?
  • Albert. Lady, I should rejoice to know you so.
  • Erminia. If you have any pity for a maid,
  • Any compassion for that Emperor’s niece,
  • Who, for your bright sword and clear honesty,
  • Lifted you from the crowd of common men
  • Into the lap of honour; — save me, knight!
  • Albert. How? Make it clear; if it be possible,
  • I by the banner of Saint Maurice swear
  • To right you.
  • Erminia. Possible! — Easy. O my heart!
  • This letter’s not so soil’d but you may read it; —
  • Possible! There — that letter! Read — read it. (Gives him a letter.)
  • Albert (reads it).“ To the Duke Conrad. — Forget the threat you
  • Made at parting,
  • And I will forget to send the Emperor letters and
  • Papers of your’s I have become possessed of.
  • His life is no trifle to
  • Me; his death you shall find none to yourself.”
  • ’Tis me — my life that’s pleaded for! “he, for his own
  • Sake, will be dumb as the grave. Erminia has my shame fix’d
  • Upon her, sure as a wen. We are safe.
  • “Auranthe.”
  • A she-devil! A dragon! and I her imp!
  • Fire of hell! Auranthe — lewd demon!
  • Where got you this? Where? When?
  • Erminia. I found it in the tent, among some spoils
  • Which, being noble, fell to Gersa’s lot.
  • Come in, and see. (They go in and return.
  • Albert. Villainy! Villainy!
  • Conrad’s sword, his corslet, and his helm,
  • And his letter. Caitiff, he shall feel —
  • Erminia. I see you are thunderstruck. Haste, haste Away!
  • Albert. O I am tortured by this villainy.
  • Erminia. You needs must be. Carry it swift to Otho;
  • Tell him, moreover, I am prisoner
  • Here in this camp, where all the sisterhood,
  • Forc’d from their quiet cells, are parcell’d out
  • For slaves among these Huns. Away! Away!
  • Albert. I am gone.
  • Erminia. Swift be your steed! Within this hour
  • The Emperor will see it.
  • Albert. Ere I sleep
  • That I can swear. (Hurries out.)
  • Gersa (without).Brave captains, thanks! Enough
  • Of loyal homage now!
  • Enter GERSA.
  • Erminia. Hail, royal Hun!
  • Gersa.What ails you, fair one? Why in such alarm?
  • Who was it hurried by me so distract?
  • It seem’d you were in deep discourse together;
  • Your doctrine has not been so harsh to him
  • As to my poor deserts. Come, come, be plain.
  • I am no jealous fool to kill you both,
  • Or, for such trifles, rob the adorned world
  • Erminia. I grieve, my lord,
  • To hear you condescend to ribald phrase.
  • Gersa. This is too much! Hearken, my lady pure!
  • Erminia. Silence! and hear the magic of a name —
  • Erminia! I am she, — the Emperor’s niece!
  • Prais’d be the heavens, I now dare own myself!
  • Gersa. Erminia! Indeed! I’ve heard of her.
  • Pr’ythee, fair lady, what chance brought you here?
  • Erminia. Ask your own soldiers.
  • Gersa. And you dare own your name.
  • For loveliness you may — and for the rest
  • My vein is not censorious.
  • Erminia. Alas! poor me!
  • ’Tis false indeed. Ger. Indeed you are too fair
  • Gersa. The swan, soft leaning on her fledgy breast,
  • When to the stream she launches, looks not back
  • With such a tender grace; nor are her wings
  • So white as your soul is, if that but be
  • Twin-picture to your face. Erminia!
  • To-day, for the first day, I am a king,
  • Yet would I give my unworn crown away
  • To know you spotless.
  • Erminia. Trust me one day more,
  • Generously, without more certain guarantee,
  • Than this poor face you deign to praise so much;
  • After that, say and do whate’er you please.
  • I think, nay I am sure you will grieve much
  • To hear my story. O be gentle to me,
  • For I am sick and faint with many wrongs,
  • Tired out, and weary-worn with contumelies.
  • Gersa. Poor lady!
  • Enter ETHELBERT.
  • Erminia. Gentle Prince, ’tis false indeed.
  • Good morrow, holy father! I have had
  • Your prayers, though I look’d for you in vain.
  • Ethelbert. Blessings upon you, daughter! Sure you look
  • Too cheerful for these foul pernicious days.
  • Young man, you heard this virgin say ’twas false, —
  • ’Tis false I say. What! can you not employ
  • Your temper elsewhere, ’mong these burly tents,
  • But you must taunt this dove, for she hath lost
  • The eagle Otho to beat off assault.
  • Fie! Fie! But I will be her guard myself;
  • In the Emperor’s name, I here demand of you
  • Herself, and all her sisterhood. She false!
  • Gersa. Peace! peace, old man! I cannot think she is.
  • Ethelbert. Whom I have known from her first infancy,
  • Baptis’d her in the bosom of the church,
  • Watch’d her, as anxious husbandmen the grain,
  • From the first shoot till the unripe mid- May,
  • Then to the tender ear of her June days,
  • Which, lifting sweet abroad its timid green,
  • Is blighted by the touch of calumny;
  • You cannot credit such a monstrous tale.
  • Gersa. I cannot. Take her. Fair Erminia,
  • I follow you to Friedburg, — is’t not so?
  • Erminia. Aye, so we purpose.
  • Ethelbert. Daughter, do you so?
  • How’s this? I marvel! Yet you look not mad.
  • Erminia. I have good news to tell you, Ethelbert.
  • Gersa. Ho! Ho, there! Guards!
  • Your blessing, father! Sweet Erminia,
  • Believe me, I am well nigh sure —
  • Erminia. Farewell!
  • Short time will show. (Enter chiefs.) Yes, Father Ethelbert,
  • I have news precious as we pass along.
  • Ethelbert. Dear daughter, you shall guide me.
  • Erminia. To no ill.
  • Gersa. Command an escort to the Friedburg lines. (Exeunt chiefs.)
  • Pray let me lead. Fair lady, forget not
  • Gersa, how he believed you innocent.
  • I follow you to Friedburg with all speed. (Exeunt.)

🗙 Cite this page:

MLA Style: Works Cited

Keats, John. “Otho the Great: A Tragedy in Five Acts: Act II 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_ii_scene_ii.html.

Chicago Style: Note

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

Chicago Style: Bibliography

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