From Lyden’s ‘Irenius’ - Act III. Sc. II.

A poem by Rudyard Kipling

Gow. Had it been your Prince instead of a groom caught in this noose there’s not an astrologer of the city,
Prince. Sacked! Sacked! We were a city yesterday.
Gow. So be it, but I was not governor. Not an astrologer, but would ha’ sworn he’d foreseen it at the last versary of Venus, when Vulcan caught her with Mars in the house of stinking Capricorn. But since ’tis Jack of the Straw that hangs, the forgetful stars had it not on their tablets.
Prince. Another life! Were there any left to die? How did the poor fool come by it?
Gow. Simpliciter thus. She that damned him to death knew not that she did it, or would have died ere she had done it. For she loved him. He that hangs him does so in obedience to the Duke, and asks no more than ‘Where is the rope?’ The Duke, very exactly he hath told us, works God’s will, in which holy employ he’s not to be questioned. We have then left upon this finger, only Jack whose soul now plucks the left sleeve of Destiny in Hell to overtake why she clapped him up like a fly on a sunny wall. Whuff! Soh!
Prince. Your cloak Ferdinand. I’ll sleep now.
Ferdinand. Sleep, then . . . He, too, loved his life?
Gow. He was born of woman . . . but at the end threw life from him like your Prince, for a little sleep . . ‘Have I any look of a King?’ said he, clanking his chain, ‘to be so baited on all sides by Fortune, that I must e’en die now to live with myself one day longer.’ I left him railing at Fortune and woman’s love.
Ferdinand. Ah, woman’s love!
(Aside) Who knows not Fortune, glutted on easy thrones,
Stealing from feasts as rare to coneycatch
Privily in the hedgerows for a clown
With that same cruel-lustful hand and eye,
Those nails and wedges, that one hammer and lead,
And the very gerb of long-stored lightnings loosed
Yesterday ’gainst some King.

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