Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

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

  • An Apartment in the Castle.
  • Enter LUDOLPH and Page.
  • Page. Still very sick, my lord; but now I went,
  • Knowing my duty to so good a prince;
  • And there her women, in a mournful throng,
  • Stood in the passage whispering; if any
  • Moved, ’twas with careful steps, and hush’d as death
  • They bade me stop.
  • Ludolph. Good fellow, once again
  • Make soft inquiry; prythee, be not stay’d
  • By any hindrance, but with gentlest force
  • Break through her weeping servants, till thou com’st
  • E’en to her chamber door, and there, fair boy, —
  • If with thy mother’s milk thou hast suck’d in
  • Any diviner eloquence, — woo her ears
  • With plaints for me, more tender than the voice
  • Of dying Echo, echoed.
  • Page. Kindest master!
  • To know thee sad thus, will unloose my tongue
  • In mournful syllables. Let but my words reach
  • Her ears, and she shall take them coupled with
  • Moans from my heart, and sighs not counterfeit.
  • May I speed better! (Exit Page.)
  • Ludolph (solus). Auranthe! My life!
  • Long have I lov’d thee, yet till now not lov’d
  • When I had heard e’en of thy death perhaps,
  • And thoughtless! — suffered thee to pass alone
  • Into Elysium! — now I follow thee,
  • A substance or a shadow, wheresoe’er
  • Thou leadest me, — whether thy white feet press,
  • With pleasant weight, the amorous-aching earth,
  • Or thro’ the air thou pioneerest me,
  • A shade! Yet sadly I predestinate!
  • O, unbenignest Love, why wilt thou let
  • Darkness steal out upon the sleepy world
  • So wearily, as if night’s chariot-wheels
  • Were clog’d in some thick cloud? O, changeful Love,
  • Let not her steeds with drowsy-footed pace
  • Pass the high stars, before sweet embassage
  • Comes from the pillow’d beauty of that fair
  • Completion of all delicate nature’s wit!
  • Pout her faint lips anew with rubious health;
  • And, with thine infant fingers, lift the fringe
  • Of her sick eye-lids; that those eyes may glow
  • With wooing light upon me, ere the morn
  • Peers with disrelish, grey, barren, and cold! (Enter GERSA and Courtiers.)
  • Otho calls me his lion, — should I blush
  • To be so tamed? so —
  • Gersa. Do me the courtesy.
  • Gentlemen, to pass on.
  • First knight. We are your servants. (Exeunt Courtiers.)
  • Ludolph. It seems then, sir, you have found out the man
  • You would confer with; — me?
  • Gersa. If I break not
  • Too much upon your thoughtful mood, I will
  • Claim a brief while your patience.
  • Ludolph. For what cause
  • Soe’er, I shall be honour’d.
  • Gersa. I not less.
  • Ludolph. What may it be? No trifle can take place
  • Of such deliberate prologue, serious ’haviour.
  • But, be it what it may, I cannot fail
  • To listen with no common interest;
  • For though so new your presence is to me,
  • I have a soldier’s friendship for your fame.
  • Please you explain.
  • Gersa. As thus — for, pardon me,
  • I cannot, in plain terms, grossly assault
  • A noble nature; and would faintly sketch
  • What your quick apprehension will fill up;
  • So finely I esteem you.
  • Ludolph. I attend.
  • Gersa. Your generous father, most illustrious Otho,
  • Sits in the banquet-room among his chiefs;
  • His wine is bitter, for you are not there;
  • His eyes are fix’d still on the open doors,
  • And ev’ry passer in he frowns upon,
  • Seeing no Ludolph comes.
  • Ludolph. I do neglect.
  • Stay there No — guess? More princely you must be
  • Than to make guesses at me. ’Tis enough.
  • I’m sorry I can hear no more.
  • Gersa. And I
  • As griev’d to force it on you so abrupt;
  • Yet, one day, you must know a grief, whose sting
  • Will sharpen more the longer ’tis conceal’d.
  • Ludolph. Say it at once, sir! dead — dead — is she dead?
  • Gersa. Mine is a cruel task: she is not dead,
  • And would, for your sake, she were innocent.
  • Ludolph. Hungarian! Thou amazest me beyond
  • All scope of thought, convulsest my heart’s blood
  • To deadly churning! Gersa, you are young,
  • As I am; let me observe you, face to face
  • Not grey-brow’d like the poisonous Ethelbert,
  • No rheumed eyes, no furrowing of age,
  • No wrinkles, where all vices nestle in
  • Like crannied vermin, — no! but fresh, and young,
  • And hopeful featur’d. Ha! by heaven you weep!
  • Tears, human tears! Do you repent you then
  • Of a curs’d torturer’s office? Why shouldst join, —
  • Tell me, — the league of devils? Confess — confess —
  • The lie!
  • Gersa. Lie! — but begone all ceremonious points
  • Of honour battailous! I could not turn
  • My wrath against thee for the orbed world.
  • Ludolph. Your wrath, weak boy? Tremble at mine, unless
  • Retraction follow close upon the heels
  • Of that late ’stounding insult! Why has my sword
  • Not done already a sheer judgment on thee?
  • Despair, or eat thy words! Why, thou wast nigh
  • Whimpering away my reason! Hark ye, sir,
  • It is no secret, that Erminia,
  • Erminia, sir, was hidden in your tent, —
  • O blessed asylum! Comfortable home!
  • Begone! I pity thee; thou art a gull,
  • Erminia’s fresh puppet!
  • Gersa. Furious fire!
  • Thou mak’st me boil as hot as thou canst flame!
  • And in thy teeth I give thee back the lie!
  • Thou liest! Thou, Auranthe’s fool! A wittol!
  • Ludolph. Look! look at this bright sword;
  • There is no part of it, to the very hilt,
  • But shall indulge itself about thine heart!
  • Draw! but remember thou must cower thy plumes,
  • As yesterday the Arab made thee stoop.
  • Gersa. Patience! Not here; I would not spill thy blood
  • Thy father, — almost mine.
  • Ludolph. O faltering coward! (Enter Page.)
  • Stay, stay; here is one I have half a word with.
  • Well? What ails thee, child?
  • Page. My lord!
  • Ludolph. What wouldst say?
  • Page. They are fled!
  • Ludolph. They! Who?
  • Page. When anxiously
  • I hasten’d back, your grieving messenger,
  • I found the stairs all dark, the lamps extinct,
  • And not a foot or whisper to be heard.
  • I thought her dead, and on the lowest step
  • Sat listening; when presently came by
  • Two muffled up, — one sighing heavily,
  • The other cursing low, whose voice I knew
  • For the Duke Conrad’s. Close I follow’d them
  • Thro’ the dark ways they chose to the open air;
  • And, as I follow’d, heard my lady speak.
  • Ludolph. Thy life answer the truth!
  • Page. The chamber’s empty!
  • Ludolph. As I will be of mercy! So, at last,
  • This nail is in my temples!
  • Gersa. Be calm in this.
  • Ludolph. I am.
  • Gersa. And Albert too has disappear’d;
  • Ere I met you, I sought him everywhere;
  • You would not hearken.
  • Ludolph. Which way went they, boy?
  • Still whole. I have surviv’d. My arm is strong,
  • My appetite sharp — for revenge! I’ll no sharer
  • In my feast; my injury is all my own,
  • And so is my revenge, my lawful chattels!
  • Jackall, lead on: the lion preys to-night.
  • Terrier, ferret them out! Burn — burn the witch!
  • Trace me their footsteps! Away! (Exeunt.)

🗙 Cite this page:

MLA Style: Works Cited

Keats, John. “Otho the Great: A Tragedy in Five Acts: Act IV SCENE II.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, by G. Kim Blank. Edition 3.5 , University of Victoria, 18 October 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_otho_act_iv_scene_ii.html.

Chicago Style: Note

John Keats, “Otho the Great: A Tragedy in Five Acts: Act IV SCENE II,” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.5 , last modified 18th October 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_otho_act_iv_scene_ii.html.

Chicago Style: Bibliography

Keats, John. “Otho the Great: A Tragedy in Five Acts: Act IV SCENE II.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.5 , last modified 18th October 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_otho_act_iv_scene_ii.html.