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Pigmalion: a lyrical scene

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Laura Jane Wey

PIGMALION:ALYRICALSCENE Thursday,September 22, 2011 9:03PM [Page 365 ] TheTheatre represents a Statuary's working-room. On one side appear blocksof marble, and unfinished groups and statues. In thecentre of thescene, another statueconcealed under a pavilion of light transparent silk, ornamented with festoons and fringe. Pigmalion is discovered leaning on his elbow, in a pensive, contemplative, yet unsettled posture. Soon after he rises hastily, takeshis tools from the table, and begins to give, at certain intervals, a few strokesof the chissel on one of his unfinished statues. Then steps backward to review his work, with a look of discontent and disappointment. PIGMALION. 1 It will not be. No gleam of life, or soul, 2 Dawns at my stroke. 'Tis still a breathless stone. 3 Away with art like this! it is not art, 4 'Tis mere abortive labour. Ah my Genius! 5 Where art thou fled? My fancy where retir'd? 6 And why, Imagination! dost thou feel 7 This frost of dullness chilling all thy fires? 8 The marble feels thee not, it quits my hand 9 Cold as it left its quarry. Where, Pigmalion , [Page 366 ] 10 Where is thy power which once could rival Jove's, 11 Creating gods. 'Tis gone: the veriest wretch 12 That toils for vulgar gain is now thy equal. 13 Hence, ye vile instruments! my glory once, 14 But now my shame, dishonour not my hands. [Hethrowsaway his tools with disdain, and walksabout meditating with his arms folded over his breast. 15 Whence comes this change, this new unheard of change, 16 This atrophy of soul.---Imperial Tyre! 17 Thou richest, proudest theatre of taste, 18 In vain display'st thou to my sickly sense, 19 The grace that sparkles on thy sculptur'd walls; 20 I cannot taste thy glories, Queen of Asia! 21 Thy artists, thy philosophers, thy painters, 22 Thy bards, the heralds of posterity, 23 Who antedate the praises she shall pay 24 To each true heir of fame, they touch not me; 25 Ev'n friendship's self has lost its power to charm. 26 Ev'n you, ye young, ye lovely; ye sweet proofs 27 Of all that Nature, in her happiest hour, 28 Could e'er attain of perfect, and of fair; 29 Ev'n you, ye blooming models of my art, 29 Ev'n you, ye blooming models of my art, 30 Who crown'd my toil with rapture, who inspir'd 31 My soul at once with genius, and with love, 32 Yes, since that art has far surpast your charms, 33 Ev'n you are grown indifferent to my sight. [Hesits down and contemplatesthe objectsaround him. [Page 367 ] 34 Wretch that I am! chain'd, as by magic spell, 35 To this peculiar spot, listless I sit, 36 Unable or to work, or to retire. 37 Wand'ring from group to group, from form to form, 38 My feeble chissel seems to scorn the power 39 Of its fallacious guide, and each rude feature, 40 (Rude as when first design'd) heeds not the hand 41 Which once could bid it breathe--- [Rising with impetuosity. 41 'Tis done, 'tis past; 42 My genius is expir'd; young as I am, 43 I have outliv'd my art.---But is it thus? 44 Why then these inward ardours that consume me? 45 And why this secret something in my breast 46 That wraps me from myself? Are these the signs, 47 The languid signs, of an exhausted fancy? 48 Feel we, in that dull state, these warm emotions? 49 This flush of passions? this impetuous burst 50 Of fierce desires? this strange inquietude 51 That agitates, torments, distracts the soul? 52 What is the cause? alas! I vainly thought 53 The miracle of grace I lately form'd 54 Made my fond eye a truant to my art, 55 And therefore did I veil it from my sight. 56 Yes, though 'twas profanation, these rash hands 57 Have dar'd to hide the trophy of their fame. 58 'Tis hid, and what's my gain? more pensiveness, 59 Not more attention. O immortal work! [Page 368 ] 60 Well may'st thou be thus dear, thus precious to me; 61 For when my genius fails, when age and ills 62 Take from me all the plastic powers I boast, 63 When now no more of beauteous and sublime 64 Lives in my labours; then, my Galatea! 65 Then will I show thee to a wond'ring world, 66 And tell that world Pigmalion made thee thus. 67 Yes, when I've lost my all, thou shalt remain, 68 And I shall be consol'd. [Hecomes nearer the pavilion, then retires, approaches again, retreats, and stops at intervals to [Hecomes nearer the pavilion, then retires, approaches again, retreats, and stops at intervals to gazeupon it, sighing. 68 But why conceal her? 69 Inactive, dull, desponding as I sit, 70 Why rob myself of that peculiar bliss 71 The sight of her inspires? she is my art's 72 Dear masterpiece; and yet, perhaps, remains 73 Some slight defect that has escap'd my eye, 74 Perhaps I still may to her vestment add 75 Some fold more graceful; 'twere a crime to spare 76 One possible addition that might deck 77 A form so lovely. Haply too the sight 78 Will call to life again the slumb'ring powers 79 Of my invention; better lift the veil, 80 Better review my work---review my work! 81 Alas! till now I only have admir'd it. [Heattemptsto undraw the Curtain, and lets it fall again as affrighted. [Page 369 ] 82 Unspeakable emotion! how the touch 83 Of this slight veil affects me. How I tremble! 84 Surely my rash and sacrilegious hand 85 Invades the shrine of some divinity. 86 Fool! 'tis a stone, and thou its sculptor. True--- 87 But what of that? are not our temples crowded 88 By gods that claim the worship of the people 89 On no superior charter? [Heundraws theCurtain trembling, prostrateshimself before thestatueof Galatea, which appears placed on a very small pedestal, and that raised on a flight of marble steps, ranged semicircularly. 90 Take, Galatea! take thy maker's homage; 91 I was deceiv'd, I carv'd thee for a nymph, 92 But O thou art a goddess. Venus self 93 Is less divinely fair.---What vanity, 94 What childish weakness this! 'tis my own work, 95 Yet madly I admire it. Vile self-love, 96 These are thy goodly triumphs. Mock'd by thee, 97 I worship in the image I have made 98 My worthless self. Yet surely truth must own 99 Nothing, no nothing e'er appear'd in nature 100 Ev'n half so lovely; I have here surpast 101 The workmanship of Heav'n---and could it be, 102 Could these same hands form such transcendant beauty? 103 These hands that touch'd---this mouth that---Hold, Pigmalion , 104 I spy a fault. This drapery spreads too far, [Page 370 ] 105 It hides too much, let me relieve the fold, 106 The charms that it conceals should be display'd. [Hetakeshis mallet and chissel and advancing slowly mountswith hesitation the steps before thestatue, as if he seemed hardly to dare touch it, at last raising his chissel and preparing to strike, he stops, and cries out--- 107 Heav'ns! what a tremulous convulsion shakes me; 108 My quivering nerves attempt in vain to guide 109 Th' uncertain tool. I cannot, dare not strike, 110 I shall do harm, incorrigible harm. [Hesummonsresolution, and raising his chissel gives a stroke, then seized with fear lets it fall. 111 Gods! if the heaving, the elastic flesh 112 Does not resist my chissel! [Hedescends thesteps trembling and confused. 112 Idle fear! 113 Absurdest terror!---No!I will not touch her, 114 The gods inspire this panic; she is theirs, 115 Already theirs, an inmate of their heaven. [Here-examines the figure. 116 What would'st thou change, Pigmalion , what correct, 117 What novel charm supply? She is already 118 Perfection's self; perfection is her fault, 119 Her only fault. Yes, heav'nly Galatea! 120 Wert thou less perfect, nothing would'st thou want--- [Tenderly. [Page 371 ] 121 But yet thou want'st a soul; all, all save that, 122 Thou hast in rich profusion. [With still greater tenderness. 122 Yet, if Heaven 123 Inspir'd that body with a kindred soul, 124 How very lovely ought that soul to be. [Hepauses for some time, then returning to his seat, he proceeds in a slow and different tone. 125 What are the wild desires I dare to form? 126 Whither does passion drive me? righteous Heav'n! 127 Th' illusive veil that hid me from myself 128 Falls off. Yet let me not behold my heart, 129 I fear me it contains what, once beheld, 130 Would make me hate it. [A long pause in deep disorder. 130 'Twill not be
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