This is where I'll be putting all my sandbox projects up now so I don't have to make page after page after page. Things will be incoming if and when I get inspiration.
The Hanged King's Tragedy - Text of the Fire Variation, Act IV Scene II:
LOD: This is a strange affliction stings my king into
Some mad apoplexy of nervous stress.
His guilt must bleed into his brain to do
As he has done, and sell his heart into
The hands and coin-purses of foreign lords.
Nor any such, but those of such strange lands!
The distemper of his mind is such he would
Fain purchase peace from th’Enemy and sell
The cit’zens’ flesh to devilkin for sweetmeats.
[Enter AMBASSADOR FROM ALAGADDA, carrying an unlit torch, unseen to LUDOVICO]
LOD: Alagadda! The mask their ‘bassador wears
Looks like enough t’hide demon-skin or man’s.
And such tales from trade-ships reach one’s ears.
Of other lands seamen will yell and brag
Of grand things: phoenixes and headless men
But whisper ‘Alagadda’ in their ear,
They’ll cool their tongues, and transmute boasts to mutters.
ALA: And what do such men say of Alagadda?
It would please me to hear such tales, as heard
From dullards by the dockside, steeped in drink.
Dost the spymaster of Gonzalo’s court
Rest on the testimony of drunkards?
Does oft your office reek with sailor’s fumes?
[LODOVICO turns, surprised, and bows before the AMBASSADOR]
LOD: My apologies, Excellency,
I pay no heed to tales one hears in such
Dim quarters – wharves resound with foolish tales.
I would not dare insult the nation
That does my king such worthy service, thus I
Do beg thy pardon.
ALA: I will you grant none.
I have no right to pardon you your crimes
Nor those your patron hastens to commit.
But I’ll grant you your gossip; you yourself
If thrust from Trinculo would find each dock
Aswarm with rumours of your distant home.
Each stranger and less reverent than the last,
Until you alm’st forgot the truth of things.
LOD: I thank thine Excellency -
[LODIVICO bows, then turns to leave]
ALA: One moment, prithee.
LOD: [Aside] Fie! Oh that I might
See this one cold as all the courtiers when
In five hours time my deeds are done! His words
Are like envenomed vipers!
ALA: Tell me, before
You leave: what tales are told of mine
LOD: Scurrilous and black rumours,
Not fit for lordly hearing.
ALA: So have I
Heard – I will not take offence. Pray tell me
What horrors spin they?
[The AMBASSADOR laughs]
LOD: They whisper of dark customs,
Ill deeds performed against all human sense
And love of grace. Of masked lords who buy slaves,
Not common labourers, but for the table.
Of buildings there, which crawl and weep and eat
The rats they house for sustenance. They say
Thy King has bull’s horns and a dragon’s teeth
In his mouth. That he takes the blood of babes
As others do take wine, and has a voice
That burns, as if… No, I shall stop my tongue.
Such mutterings deserve not ears to hear
Their trespass and abuse.
ALA: Indeed, such words
Are best met as a simple jest, or else
With mockery. A king with horns! What fools!
LOD: Aye, and cities that slither! Such mad gasps
Discredit their own tellers, not their subjects.
[The AMBASSADOR takes on a serious air.]
ALA: Sir, that sounds like to truth. Our huts do crawl,
Though slow, like snails, and feast on verminous guests.
LOD: [Aside] I have not time to be played false!
[To AMBASSADOR] But how
Can brick and mortar eat? What need has it for meat?
ALA: As little as the earth of mankind’s flesh
Yet the hungry grave will swallow scores of men
From ravenous want, not need.
LOD: Prithee, I am
Not awed. You have misjudged my ears for fools.
I needs must leave.
ALA: Stay one moment and I
Will with one last tale leave you dumb, for here’s
The proof to set a terror in your heart.
The Alagaddan summer burns as hot
As in those dreadful deeps which all men fear.
So mighty is this blaze that no man could
Discern walking our streets from sailing on
The Phlegethon of myth. This searing heat
Will light cold torches and make candlewax
Of flesh. And hence this shroud I wear to hide
My tortured visage from my fellows’ sight.
Dost you believe me? Else I shall discase
My mask and prove it with my face
Wrecked by such swelt’ring climes. Mark me,
Cruel places and cruel times do breed strange men.
[LODOVICO turns to leave, and is grabbed by the AMBASSADOR FROM ALAGADDA. AMBASSADOR, with his back to the audience, removes his mask.]
ALA: Dost you attend? Oh, must I tutor you
Upon the ruin of my wretched face!
Dost you attend, then, sir? Can you describe
The jutting bone, the melted eyes, the jaw
As charred and black as furnace-coal, the skin
And flesh like tallow? Can you now perceive
The agony writ on what flesh I have?
[LODOVICO moves to leave, escaping the AMBASSADOR’s grip.]
ALA: Remember then the tribute of your King
Bought through unnatural fear, not greed upon
My part or on my nation’s.
[Exit LODOVICO stage right. The AMBASSADOR readjusts his mask.]
ALA: It puts a shudder to what bones I have
To see such cruel and filth-infected plans.
The king and his like servant, so perverse
In thought and deed. To come from tranquil climes,
And overlook the mercy of one’s birth
And pile a score of needless agonies on.
I, so inured to suff’ring and to hate
Have little pity for such, or their foes;
My heart is steadied by his tribute’s weight,
And all my piteous organs are dried up,
But still my dry bones rattle at their crimes,
Trinculo shall not see such fools to vice again.
True fools, they were, to claim my king has horns,
And spits fire like a worm. No, they will see
The truth e’er soon, when they behold my king.