Impressions de Theatre

Fabien Dei Franchi: To My Friend Henry Irving

  • The silent room, the heavy creeping shade,
  • The dead that travel fast, the opening door,
  • The murdered brother rising through the floor,
  • The ghost’s white fingers on thy shoulders laid,
  • And then the lonely duel in the glade,
  • The broken swords, the stifled scream, the gore,
  • Thy grand revengeful eyes when all is o’er,-
  • These things are well enough,- but thou wert made
  • For more august creation! frenzied Lear
  • Should at thy bidding wander on the heath
  • With the shrill fool to mock him, Romeo
  • For thee should lure his love, and desperate fear
  • Pluck Richard’s recreant dagger from its sheath-
  • Thou trumpet set for Shakespeare’s lips to blow!

Phedre: To Sarah Bernhardt

    • How vain and dull this common world must seem
    • To such a One as thou, who should’st have talked
    • At Florence with Mirandola, or walked
    • Through the cool olives of the Academe:
    • Thou should’st have gathered reeds from a green stream
    • For goat-foot Pan’s shrill piping, and have played
    • With the white girls in that Phaeacian glade
    • Where grave Odysseus wakened from his dream.
    • Ah! surely once some urn of Attic clay
    • Held thy wan dust, and thou hast come again
    • Back to this common world so dull and vain,
    • For thou wert weary of the sunless day,
    • The heavy fields of scentless asphodel,
    • The loveless lips with which men kiss in Hell.

I. Portia: To Ellen Terry

  • I marvel not Bassanio was so bold
  • To peril all he had upon the lead,
  • Or that proud Aragon bent low his head,
  • Or that Morocco’s fiery heart grew cold:
  • For in that gorgeous dress of beaten gold
  • Which is more golden than the golden sun,
  • No woman Veronese looked upon
  • Was half so fair as thou whom I behold.
  • Yet fairer when with wisdom as your shield
  • The sober-suited lawyer’s gown you donned
  • And would not let the laws of Venice yield
  • Antonio’s heart to that accursed Jew-
  • O Portia! take my heart; it is thy due:
  • I think I will not quarrel with bond.

Written at the Lyceum Theatre

II. Queen Henrietta Maria: To Ellen Terry

  • In the lone tent, waiting for victory,
  • She stands with eyes marred by the mists of pain,
  • Like some wan lily overdrenched with rain;
  • The clamorous clang of arms, the ensanguined sky,
  • War’s ruin, and the wreck of chivalry,
  • To her proud soul no common fear can bring:
  • Bravely she tarrieth for her Lord the King,
  • Her soul a-flame with passionate ecstasy.
  • O Hair of Gold! O crimson lips! O Face
  • Made for the luring and the love of man!
  • With thee I do forget the toil and stress.
  • The loveless road that knows no resting place,
  • Time’s straitened pulse, the soul’s dread weariness,
  • My freedom and my life republican!

Written at the Lyceum Theatre

III. CAMMA: To Ellen Terry

    • As one who poring on a Grecian urn
    • Scans the fair shapes some Attic hand hath made,
    • God with slim goddess, goodly man with maid,
    • And for their beauty’s sake is loath to turn
    • And face the obvious day, must I not yearn
    • For many a secret moon of indolent bliss,
    • When is the midmost shrine of Artemis
    • I see thee standing, antique-limbed, and stern?
    • And yet- methinks I’d rather see thee play
    • That serpent of old Nile, whose witchery
    • Made Emperors drunken,- come, great Egypt, shake
    • Our stage with all thy mimic pageants! Nay,
    • I am growing sick of unreal passions, make
    • The world thine Actium, me thine Anthony!

Written at the Lyceum Theatre