Malmaison: Scenes 10-11

maxresdefault.jpg


Scene 10: Josephine’s Bedroom

Josephine is alone playing the harp (singing).
Napoleon enters, she does not notice him

Josephine
{singing}
Sweet angel of mine
Wont you come up to my house some time
I’ll unblock my windows
Unlock my doors, I’m yours.

Napoleon
You sing & you play celestially

Josephine
Napoleon Bonaparte, you are here!
What tears of joy flow creases to my cheeks

Napoleon
Embrace me, let them mingle with mine own
{They embrace}
My Josephine, my ever Josephine
My clever Josephine, my rushing heart,
Tumbling waters from the Falls of Delight

Josephine
Such happiness as this renews sorrow
Back in your arms my agonies begin,
Each separation draws on closer Death,
I study physiognomies of shades,
Yes, my destiny must play itself out,
But… it is you who slays me, Bonaparte.

Napoleon
You must show resolution & courage
Do not despair & give yourself away
To melancholy’s fatal spirit snare,
Expelling sunshine from your precious state,
Aspire to contentment, take care of health,
For how you fare my life’s most precious news.

Josephine
It is the silences that destroy me
Not a word for weeks, then all I hear
Is how the King of Rome grows happy, fat,
& how you much you adore your little eaglet,
Such tact is like an elephant gone mad,
Blunt instrument to plague me with terror,
That nothing of our love left permanent,
Unworthy even of former favours,
Banish’d entirely from your memories.

Napoleon
Without you in this world my heart would cease
Its beating like a bust & broken clock,
If I could never whisper Josephine
When suddenly you flood into my mind
I could not bare to dwell upon this Earth,
My tears would swell the oceans & then I
Would drown myself inside them, with my tears,
So, yes our souls’ attachment ever strong,
But if you love me you show me real strength
Of mind, make yourself happy, you cannot
Count on my constant, tender affections,
& there is something, please, to understand,
I shall never be happy nor content
Unless I know your smiles & feelings calm.

Josephine
I understand, I do, but it still hurts
Nevertheless as I was empress
Crown’d, an empress I shall be forever
& with that comes a duty to the court
Of placid perfection in relations,
& so I shall pray most unceasingly
For your Majesty’s constant happiness
Be assured that I shall always respect
Our new relationship, rooted in past
Attachment, & shall call for no new proofs;
I limit myself to ask one favour,
To mitigate the loss of our congress
That you will deign to find a convincement
Proving to myself and my entourage
I hold a small place still in your esteem.

Napoleon
I shall send you jewels from the Kremlin
Neckworn by all tsarinas at the balls,
Tomorrow I depart for Germany
& may be gone some time, Russia is vast,
So here I am to gain my fair refresh
Of your flower face & your fairy flesh!

Josephine
This is a strange adventure Bonaparte
My stoumach knots with anticipations,
For you, & for my son, my brave Eugene,

Napoleon
He marches, yes, his father bids him so,
Twenty-seven thousand Italians
Go with him to the Vistula meeting,
Six hundred thousand join them on the march,
Soon Russia should fall begging at their feet,
The Romans took ten years to conquer Gaul
I calculate I shall need only two
To claim the epic wastes of Scythia
Which Darius fled, which slaughter’d Crassus,
Which cover’d Charles the Twelfth in disasters,
Which envelop’d Valerian in shame,
Which even Alexander beat away!

Josephine
Be ever wary for how many friends
Can counted be in factions, your armee
May be Grand, a dissolute creation,
But more than half the soldiers are not French
& Muscovy so very far from home,
I’ll think of you each day & pray each night,
Protect my son & go with all my love,
Tho’ all your love I know is not return’d
Tell me, how is this new empress of yours?

Napoleon
You wish me to compare?

Josephine
Yes, certainly

Napoleon
As you spread style & grace, Marie Louise
Unfurls simplicity & innocence,
As apart as Arctic & Atlantic
The art of pleasing your constant study
Concealing method, obtaining effect,
Every artifice imaginable
Employed to heighten charms already great
Mysterious, with all suspicionless,
But Marie-Louise ignores artifice
& anything like dissimulation;
All roundabout methods to her unknown.

Josephine
She will not meet me still, she wants nothing
To do with me, such a plain rejection

Napoleon
To jealousy Her Highness is disposed

Josephine
Well I am jealous too, doubly jealous
She has my throne, my only Bonaparte,
& you remain raw with recalcitrance
To all the passion-steel between our souls,
Open the gates, let end the siege of truth,
Come spend a treasure-night, you want it so,
I know, let me rise late in the morning
Explaining to my ladies reasons why?

Napoleon
A thousand times I would, but not tonight
Hard preperations take me to the field,
This war must spurn irregular courses,
When burning spots on the face of the Sun,
I shall return to thee in victory,
Remember our royal reunion
After Austerlitz, we shall celebrate
Again, my triumph, with kisses discreet

Josephine
{pointing through a window}
Behold that bright star shining, it is ours,
It follows you, but if you do not stare
& think of me, it shall fall from the sky
& as our fate decided by the stars
I worry so

Napoleon
Our star is shining still

Jospehine
{flinging arms about his neck & covering his face in kisses}
Write to me often, the waiting is grief
Between ghostly ambrosial letters,
That are my calming balms of bare beauty,
The words contain thy likeness

Napoleon
I shall write
O Heaven, how a heart doth break & bleed!


HEARTBREAKER

Like mountain men & archipelagos
Or young sweethearts sniffing a first red rose
Like monkey men glimpsing a glint of gold
Or distant kin returning to the fold
We are two rabbits sprinting cross the glen
We are two badgers snuggled in their den
We are the thistle of your bonnie land
We are the seaweed strewn across the sand
Hand in hand

My eagle-lashed Latvian poetess
My pearl-eyed raven in her Persian dress
My Spanish pea-hen singing as she comes
My nude Numidian banging djembe drums
We are white birds gliding between the waves
& morning dawnin’ in the Tuscan enclaves
We are midnight on the sea of Gallilee
For we are one in nature, you & me,
Me & you

But Cupid cruelly took away the dream
Me in my river barge & you led by the stream
Twas a sweet & fleeting momentary bliss
When you smiled & blew my soul a tender kiss
Now my heart is broken
& I’ve lost those tokens
Of when we were beautiful back then
Ahaha ahaha ahaha
Take a ride

As I look inside my wayward mind
& feel her kiss again
Ahaha ahaha ahaha
Take a ride….

Now my heart is breaking
(take a ride, take a ride, take a ride)
& I’ve lost those tokens
(say goodbye, say goodbye, say goodbye)
Of when we were beautiful back then

Exit Napoleon – enter Odette & Fleur, weeping maids –  Josephine bursts into tears


Tulips-at-Malmaison.jpg

Scene 11: Malmaison, Gardens

Napoleon is pruning roses in the garden singing an opera air. He is wearing a hunting waistcoat, nankeen pantaloons (with feet), red slippers & a broad-brimm’d straw hat with a narrow black ribbon. Hotense enters carrying a silver tray with glasses of lemonade on it.

Hortense
Good morning, father

Napoleon
& to you, Hortense

Hortense
Your spirits seem light, you slept well I trust

Napoleon
They are, a mix of roses & sunshine.

Hortense
I thought you might try a glass of champagne
Half-water of course

Napoleon
Yes, my lemonade
Again your hospitality outshines
The processions of Rajput palaces
& the principle houses of Europe.

Hortense
Father, drop the frivolous flattery
Have the passports for America come

Napoleon
Not at this time, but doubtless they’ll appear

Hortense
Would it not be better to wait for them
Far away from here, some safe place out west

Napoleon
Tittle-tattle child, we possess time yet,
Come & view the quality of these blooms,
Your mother set new standards of texture,
Scent & size, I begrudg’d her no expense,
Even the English allow’d botanists
& collections to bypass the blockade,
England… the singular crime in their eyes
Was not the conquest of Europe, not so,
But the overthrowing of tradition,
It is if I had cancell’d The Derby,
But there moves inkling implings thro my mind
I want a little cottage & garden
To grow your mother’s roses as a guest
Of His Highness, I declared a world peace
On my return from Moscow, they made me fight,
Surely this allows me the recompense
Of sliding gently into aulden age.

Hortense
I ruminate on trusting the English
& never find a pathway to your gain
America is the land of the free
Where the current passion for liberty
Began & won its battles, London wept
At the loss of its former colonies,
Their mortal foe must thrive in such a place.

Napoleon
This is the most important decision
I shall ever make, the magnanimous
Prince Regent must respect our regal house.

Hortense
It is a grave, grave chance, think of mother
Opining upon this predicament
What would she say?

Napoleon
When my mind fermented
She cast an aura of serenity,
Unchallenging, undemanding of me,
A soothing balm for restless malady,
Then I could see things clean as mountain springs,
Focus on infinitesimal details
Which swerve events one way or another,
Your mother gone I realise my loss,
On countless wretches I have heap’d favours
But what have they latterly done for me?
Marie-Louise has stol’n the King of Rome
& wrapp’d him up in Viennese values,
Abandonato on every side!

Hortense
She never would have left for Vienna,
Her love’s will compelling her to Elba,
She wish’d to bear your exile, but she fear’d
Embarrassment tarnishing your future;
Madame de Stael, return’d to Paris,
Had the impertinence to ask one day
If mother loved you still, would you believe!
Her humour cut to ribbons in a flash,
& said, with concision, to the party
As madame has had the effrontery
Enquiring whether I am still in love
With the emperor – as if I could feel
Less ardently for my soul’s mate today
In his misfortune – I, who never ceas’d
To love him every second I breathe.

Napoleon
Hah, that is sooo her, loyal to the last,
Tell me, the Tsar Alexander was here,
How did they dwell, as soft as he & I?

Hortense
They were two stately stars who pierc’d the murk
That follow’d your first sad abdication
He was here, in Malmaison, at leisure
Admire’d these very roses that you prune,
Promising everything in his power
To conserve mother & my family.

Napoleon
A great & noble man, an Apollo…
& a damn’d stubborn fool, I reach’d Moscow!

Hortense
Father! It is done! The wars are over!

Napoleon
Of course, I lose myself sometimes, go on

Hortense
When the Tsar was here Malmaison bustl’d
Monarchs, crown princes, assorted grand-dukes,
All were here, exacting their privilege,
With mother still an empress to her bones,
Balls, receptions, dinners, it was dazzling.

Lucien Bonaparte

Enter Caulaincourt & Lucien

Caulaincourt
Sire, forgive me, the passports not yet come
The Duke of Wellington has responded
Thro’ Fouche, he has no authority
To answer for the British government

Lucien
We cannot dilly-dally in delay
The Prussians are like leopards set to pounce
We must leave for the coastal ports at once.

Hortense
Papa! It is time to leave Malmaison.

Napoleon pauses, then sighs, the pauses again.

Napoleon
We leave in an hour, send for Las Cases
I wish to commence lessons in English
Straightways in the carriage, waste no more time
I must prepare for my next adventure,
Beyond these mountains of uncertainty
Lie fertile valleys of futurity,
Meet me upon the steps, allez! allez!


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock
Shakespeare off his feffin’ perch!”

35062508_10156430365647520_5136386788406853632_n.jpg

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

Posted on December 10, 2019, in Conchordia, Malmaison. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: