Malmaison: Scenes 1-2

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Scene 1: The Fields of Waterloo

The battle is going badly for the French, many of whom are fleeing the field. Napoleon is in discussion with Gourgaud, Darrican and Hulin. Cannonballs and bullets falling around them.

Gourgaud
La Garde recule!

Napoleon
The Garde, ridiculous!

Gourgaud
Stand, Boys!

Darrican
Save the Eagles!

Napoleon
Vive la France!

Enter Hulin

Hulin
The Old Gaurd broken, our hopes are all gone,
The moon uprisen, & the day is lost!
At Papelotte, Hougoumont, La Haye Saint,
The army gives up ground on every side,
Like a thaw it cracks & floats & rolls off,
Flailing in confusions & collisions,
An awful mass of panicking soldiers,
Casting muskets & knapsacks into wheat,
Officers, even generals, ignor’d,
& worst of all the portal of retreat
Is closing every second, Plancenoit
Is lost, our fifteen thousand overwhelm’d
By twice that number, swelling each second,
Only the Chasseurs of the Guard delay
The seizure of the vital Brussels road,
Sire, sire! You have no choice, please extricate
Your person from this scene of acrid carnage.

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Napoleon
What is this mad, malevolent panic,
That like a poison penetrates the lines?
Where are Marshall Grouchy’s thirty thousand?
Where is that vain, reckless romancer Ney?

Gourgaud
He is there, waving tattered epaulettes,
Ordering volleys of comfortless shot,
He is bleeding, muddy, magnificent,
Waving his broken sword as he recalls
& insults soldiers, even as they flee
They are shouting, ‘long live brave Marshall Ney!’

Napoleon
The Bravest of the Brave? The Fool of Fools!
Tho’ frightening the English from their wits,
A cavalry charge without infantry
Is folly of the lunatic kind,
On this terrible day of destiny
My talon’d wildcats transmorph to children,
But if I am to die it will be here
With my men, by their side, sharing the toil.

Darrican
No, sire, you must escape the battlefield,
France cannot lose you, sire, for you are France.

Gourgaud
You must leave at once.

Hulin
Your horse is ready.

Napoleon
Very well, better to be in Paris,
To organise the national defence.

Napoleon is led from the field by the marshalls.
He passes an old soldier who looks at him
open-mouthed, with no love

Soldier
Flee, wet chicken cur, coward recreant!
Leaving infants naked for the leopards –
Across the Earth I followed you in love,
Much more than brothers were we all in arms
Affections spent unearthly, devoted
To your very name; only this morning
I thought it was divine, but now it falls
Like sleet upon my ears, numbing & cold,
Heart freezing tears before the drops can fall
Into into this murd’rous sea of blood & mud.

The soldier is bayoneted by an English redcoat


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Scene 2: Malmaison, Josephine’s Bedroom

Josephine enters with Napoleon, covering his eyes with her hands.

Josephine
And this… keep them closed… this… is my bedroom

Napoleon
Incredible, those swans almost divine!

Josephine
I like to think we two are one bevvy,
Celebrated by synchronicities,
& mates for life.

Napoleon
Let us make a signet
Or six, & christen these slick, silken sheets,
I imagin’d them just so this morning,
I have a thousand kisses readying,
Kisses for your eyes, your lips, your shoulders,
I am utterly, unboundenly yours.

Josephine
Bonaparte, Bonaparte, be patient please,
Your tour of Malmaison yet incomplete,
Step with me to the window bay to gaze
On grounds Arcadian, much neglected
Since the Revolution, but potential!
Such potential! I have dreamt of roses,
Three hundred acres of woods, lawns, vineyards
& Rueill – see its smoke – a fine village;
Examine all apsects of this prospect,
Just think of it, Malmaison soon could be
Your royal court amid the countryside.

Napoleon
It could, yes, that may be, but let me show
You something, something much more beautiful,
Step gently to this mirror’s length to gaze
On the beauty of Madame Bonaparte,
Do you see?

Josephine
I do… I wore white for you
You love me in white, I know

Napoleon
If it was
To please me you succeed – what beauty dwells
{rearranging Josephine’s flowers in her hair}
In special auras glowing aslant moon
& stars & skies; your almond-lidded eyes,
Like melted amber, by long lashes guarded,
Unleash resistless forces on my soul.

Josephine
Resistless force? That force, I fear, is you,
The brilliant general of our day
Returning from Syria & Egypt,
Who somehow still has energy to spare
For my coiffure.

Napoleon
I am full devoted
To your hair, your body, your everything.

Josephine
Later, love, let us dine tonight, & then…

Napoleon
Tonight! But what passion boils inside me,
The lava of my love for you explodes,
Erupting at the touchstone of your looks,
Your kisses set my blood on fire, your sweetness
Melts my heart, the poet stirs within
Primordial, like a wild animal.

Josephine
Tonight! There is dignity in waiting,
It is time to show you the gallery,
Where paintings you issued from Italy
Bedeck the walls with bounty beauteous.

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Napoleon
Will there be any portraits of yourself?
Between such images & memories
Of intoxicating nights together
I have no respite, incomparable
Josephine, your existence consumes me,
Your spirit overwhelms my heart profoundly.

Josephine
I always want to see the tenderness
In your eyes, as you desire for me now,
My life was ordain’d for your happiness,
Whenever you are sorrow’d lay your hands
Upon these breasts, here salver’d solace yours,
Tho’ we are like the poles – apart in ways,
Entwining we make a perfect planet!

Napoleon
I will conquer countries while you’ll woo hearts,
My own beats testament to your powers,
It is Josephine who inspires my days,
The poets call them muses, you possess
Excuisiteness, decorative darling,
My entire being quickens before thee,
My inner mystic, lain in embryo,
Shaken alive by love so real, so true.

Josephine
Yet so tainted

Napoleon
We shall speak no more of Hippolyte Charles

Josephine
You are the first beholder of my shame,
He is dead to me now, my bewilder’d
State, strange delirium, fuddl’d by fate,
I hated being goddessean object
Of fascination, such adoration,
My spirit unsuited to submissives.

Napoleon
I am more harden’d now, Egyptian heat
Has baked my heart into a brick of clay,
My vanities by Syria were purg’d,
I never should have attempted the East,
Being fortunate to extract myself,
The folly’s karma equalised by you,
Driven into the arms of another,
So very far away, I understand.

Josephine
My indiscretion was an insane play,
Vainglorious succubus swerv’d my brain
Whose dreams are full of you, a scar has form’d,
Smiting conscience with a deep penitence!

Napoleon
All soldiers have their scars, I have mine too;
This thigh reflects an English bayonet,
Delivered as I triumph’d at Toulon,
The other from our wedding day, a bite
From your dog, but the pain is forgotten,
All that remains are feelings of glory
In victories of lovemaking & war,
The memories of our nuptial night
Drop like clear heaven gleaming thro’ a pearl.

Josephine
We share a love, full-form’d, unlike those loves
Of ordinary glaze, speak of what girl
In all the world who’d fail to take great pride
Being the motivating influence
Of martial arms marching unto glory.

Napoleon
Believe me when I say you march with us,
The designator of our providence,
Watching proceedings, blessing bravest feats,
When only as I win my battlefields,
Am I releas’d to hurry to your arms.

LUCKY STAR

Napoleon
You’re my lucky star
You’re my lucky star
I see that you shine for me when I travel too far
You look so amazing, yeah, with your lazar chrome
Whenever you shine for me you’re gonna guide me home

Napoleon
This star of mine she shines
Only when I’m lost sometimes

Jospehine
I have a vision, ascertain
When you’ve gone & lost your way again
Gonna light the night my lovely one
So you can make your own way to the sun

Napoleon
You’re my lucky star
You’re my lucky star
I see that you shine for me when I travel too far
I know you’ll always be with me, where-ever I roam
Whenever you shine for me ya gonna guide me own

Napoleon
This star of mine she shines
Only when I’m lost sometimes

Josephine
I have a vision, ascertain
When you’ve gone & lost your way again
Gonna light the night my lovely one
So you can make your own way to the sun

Napoleon
Living your life aint easy
If you’ve traveled off to far
But when I look up to the skies
I see exactly where you are
Beacause you are, oh yes you are
You’re my lucky star

Napoleon
This star of mine she shines
Only when I’m lost sometimes
sometimes
sometimes
sometimes


 

THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

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Posted on November 26, 2019, in Conchordia, Malmaison. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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