The Flight of the White Eagles: Act 3, Scenes 5-7

SCENE 3: A Russian Farm

In the main hall of the village, Nikolai the Cossack is counting money behind a desk – he is wearing a long coat lined with sheepskin & a fur cap – there is a quantity of military equipment on the floor including pistols, carbines, swords, cartridges, uniforms & hats – enter Vasalisa, Vitaly & Vladamir, Albina & Valentina with Bodet & Vachain

Nikolai
Well, well, well, look at these happy hunters
Inbringing two fine looking officers

Vasalisa
Indeed we have, Nikolai, that will be
One hundred & fifty for the Colonel
Fifty for the Captain, is that correct?

Nikolai
It is – have they been thoroughly disarm’d

Vasalisa
They have

Nikolai
& fed

Angelina
A little bread & lard

Nikolai
Good, good… officers of the Grand Armee
I am the commander of the Cossacks
In the area, please take this sauerkraut
& beer at my behest, tho’ enemies
We are all Adam’s sons, wormwood still grows
Upon its own root, help yourselves, please do.

Bodet & Vachain ravenously fall on the food & drink

Bodet
Better to be a heated prisoner
& eating well, than freezing in freedom
Feasting on finger’s flesh to break the fast

Nikolai
So you think this is cold, this is nothing
Wait until you reach wild Siberia
Remote from all the pleasures of the world
You will wish for this warm wintry weather

Vachain
Siberia?

Nikolai
Of course Siberia,
Until the war is over, & well won
By one emperor over another –
Your own three months ago a giant oak
That suffers today first strokes of an axe
Hard held by all countries of Europa
That stroke-by-stroke shall sever liberty
From that black tree, daemonic Bonaparte,
Acting a Genghis & Caligula
He murders honest innocents & turns
Our churches into stables, in a rage
Of bloodshed, but tyranny is finite
This contree is the sponge that sucks him dry
Selected by god defender of truth
Archangel Michael climbs thro’ Kutuzoff
Moscow was sacrificed to save the world
At Borodino you thought us beaten
Then camp’d in the Kremlin like conquerors
Battles won does not a conquest make
Glorious deeds may turn indignitie
The force deciding the fate of people
Lies not with the charge of battalions
But somewhere else, of quality sublime,
In Vasalisa runs that current strong,
When you are back in Paris tell your friends
You were caught by a true Russian hero
As long as Slavs are honour’d in this world
Vasalisa’s vow shall be remember’d
Driving invaders from a native soil
Remember Vasalisa, & her name,
Eternally miraculous it soars,
Swift winds & thunder cannot knock it down
Nor demoilsh’d be by the flight of time
Syllables baffle death, escape decay
To be recited Black Sea to the White

Vasalisa
Such flattery will get you everywhere
Do you have any vodka we can share
Just you & I

Nikolai
I do – its getting late
{to Bodet & Vachain}
Who is the higher rank

Bodet
I am colonel

Nikolai
Then you shall have the bed – he wil need guards

Vasalisa
Albina, Vladamir, take up the task

Albina
Yes mistress

Vladamir
This way colonel, follow us

Exit Albina & Vladamir with Bodet

Nikolai
&, you, what is your rank?

Vachain
I am captain

Nikolai
You shall remain in here, there is a couch
To lie on if you wish to sleep

Bodet
Thank-you

Vasalisa
{pointing to Valentina & Vitaly}
You two shall be his guards

Nikolai
{taking the money}
Then we are done
& Vasalisa, stardust of my dreams
We’ll get the hot flames blazing in my rooms

Exit Vasalisa & Nikolai

Vitaly
Hey new girl… yes you… I am grown weary
& sleep beside this fire, watch the captain
As hawks would, wake me at trouble’s breaking

Valentina
{to Vachain}
You do not recognize me

Vachain
Why, should I?

Valentina
We have kiss’d

5cd414b62400003100a9cb00.jpeg

Vachain
Kiss’d you! I would remember
Gracing pair’d lips so beauteous & rare

Valentina
Our lips have met, tho’ I was laughter drunk
& you stood unimpress’d before the scene

Vachain
Wait a moment – yes, you were in Moscow
At the party

Valentina
I chose to remain there
There with my sister when the French march’d west

Vachain
& now you are against us, why the change

Valentina
I am Russian, your great liberator
Napoleon, at first signs of struggle
Abandon’d principles loudly proclaim’d
Of freeing us from serfdom, then fled home
Leaving us pandering eternally
To the glory of our wonderful tsar

Vachain
To watch you speak impresses of the worth
Contain’d within the augurs of that kiss
Scarce remembered but wish’d to be renew’d

Valentina
You’d kiss again

Vachain
I would, the want stirs deep

Valentina & Vachain kiss passionately

Vachain
Tell me, what is your name

Valentina
Valentina

Vachain
Ah, Valentina, Valentine, love’s name
Itself, you are a woman to be loved

Valentina
You are not so unrosy yourself, sir

Vachain
Sir! to call me sir when I am captive
The captive captain, its assonance chimes
Like spoken words we worldfolk sometimes rhyme
& lovelier seem each in each entwin’d
When in the weighted game of human love
Two spirits sound in harmony, or clash
Twyx poetry & base tongues guttural,
The latter shoot on the coriolis
While true loves fuse with chrysostomic kiss

Valentina
Poetry

Vachain
Yes, dear, sweet Valentina
I felt a poet when our lips first met
In spite of my inebriated mind
My soul ascended mountains in a gust
Of lust, of trust, & love in rarest robes
& rushing out of doors to see the sun
Set or rise, in your eyes I see that sun,
Can we escape?

Valentina
Escape!

Vachain
Yes

Valentina
Shh – quiet
What do you mean

Vachain
Come live with me in France
& nourish each other with days of love
& never sleep a wink for lovemaking

Valentina
Escape? but how?

Vachain
First unlooosen my bonds

Vitaly stirs in his sleep – Valentina unties the ropes – they embrace with a kiss – Vitaly sneaks to the weapons & deftly takes some guns & cartridges – Vitaly awakes

Vitaly
What, what is it

Valentina
Nothing Vitaly, sleep

Vachain
Ready?

Valentina
Yes

Vachain
Lets go

Valentina
Wait, no, my sister
I cannot just leave without seeing her
I must find her

Vachain
But that is dangerous
For you, for us, & most of all for her
Better she lives in ignorance, than die
Banded in damn’d collusion with the deed

Valentina
Kiss me captain
{they kiss}
As lips conceal secrets
The giving fibres of your very soul
Sing to my own & woo her with the truth

Vachain
We must leave now

Valentina
Together

Vachain
Together

Exit Vachain & Valentina


SCENE 6: The Russian Wastes

Picart & Bourgogne emerge out of the woods just as the advance elements of the army pass – those on foot drag themselves painfully along, almost all of them having their feet wrapp’d in rags or in bits of sheepskin, nearly all are dying of hunger

Picart
Look, we were right to follow the sunset
& appear to have emerg’d just ahead
Of the army as they detour’d round the wood

Bourgogne
The Emperor – he is there – look Picart

Picart
It is him – I must upsmarten myself

Picart doffs his fur cap & takes off his white cloak, hanging it over his left arm – The Emperor passes next on foot, carrying a baton & wearing a large cloak lined with fur, a dark-red velvet cap with black fox fur on his head – Murat walks on foot at his right, on his left the Prince Eugène – Napoloen turns to look at Bourgogne & Picart briefly – Next comes Berthier, Caulaincourt & Gourgaud, followed by other officers and non-commissioned officers, walking in order and perfect silence, carrying the eagles of their different regiments

Picart
Look at the eagles, each cover’d in snow
White eagles, yes, white eagles soaring home

***

SOARING HOME

You’ve gotta fly, fly home, ye white eagles
You’re soarin’ over frozen snow
You’ve gotta fly, fly, fly, fly, ye white eagles
You’re goin soarin’ homeover frozen snow

You’re going home to the town where your love lies sleeping
where the bed is so warm & the fire it blazes for you
You’ll be home with your family by this chistmas
In the house where your memories best were form’d

 

 

***

come Next the Imperial Gaurd on foot – Picart gazes in silence, striking the ground with the butt of his musket, then his breast and forehead with his clenched hand. Great tears fall from his eyes, roll down his cheeks, and freeze in his moustache

Picart
Am I awake or are my dreams claw-gorg’d
By isolated devils in the dark,
It breaks my heart to see our Emperor,
Like lukewarm lava below volcano
Clutching sacred caduceous on foot
Holding that baton in his hand, so great,
He who made us all so proud to know him.

Bourgogne
My heart shares the break

Picart
Did you not notice
How he loook’d at us – he recognized me
I saw it in the trembling of his eye

Bourgogne
He shall always rise a great genius
However miserable be our plight
With him we are assured of victory.
Wait – my company, or what’s left of it

Enter Legrande, Leboude, Foucart, Rossi & Graingier – their feet & hands are frozen, most are without firarms, many lean on sticks; covered with cloaks and coats all torn and burnt, wrapped in bits of cloth, in sheepskin & rags – Foucart & Graingier support Rossi by each arm

Legrande
Rest lads, the entire coloumn is halting
Ease your limbs Old Gaurd, soon fades the respite

Bourgogne
Legrande!

Legrande
Hallo, poor Bourgogne! Is that you?

Leboude
Bourgogne!

Foucart
You are alive

Graingier
We thought you dead
Behind us, here you are alive in front!

Leboude
This is first-rate, where on earth have you been

Bourgogne
I was lost

Picart
Until I found him

Foucart
Picart,
You old devil, you have done very well
Delivering our comrade to his arms

Picart
Speaking of comrades, I see mine behind
Adrien – it has been an adventure

Bourgogne
Until the next time, keep on surviving

Exit Picart

Bourgogne
Seeing you all together, I shall not
Leave you again my friends, except to die

Foucart
Tell us how we became seperated

Bourgogne
I rested with a fever for a while
& in a flash of snow your tracks were wiped

Graingier
A fever, were you ill?

Bourgogne
Very much so
& still am

Leboude
You should have told us you fool
For those who cannot follow help is there
We are one family, we Grenadiers,
We’ve help’d Rossi along for two days now
Sharing his weight as if it was our own

Legrand
The emperor!

Graingier
What

Legrand
Is coming to us

Bourgogne
Soldiers of the Old Guard – stand attention

Enter Napoleon with King Murat and Prince Eugène.

Napoleon
How are we faring today my children

Foucart
Never better sire

Napoleon
Hah – good! the Old Guard
Is the heart of my army, this is why
I stand among you here in clear address
The Russians hard by the Berezhina
Have sworn not one of us should cross the banks
{Napoleon draws his sword & raises his voice}
But when an army such as ours contends
Against the worst misfortune could obtain
What sublime courage capable becomes
Convented in each for the cause
of seeing France again, better to fight
In battle side-by-side than to accept
We’ll never feel sophisticates again

The soldiers erupt in shouts & cheers of Vive l’Empereur!’ – bearskins and caps are waved at the points of bayonets, and shouts


SCENE 7: Borisow

Napoleon is in council with Bertheir, Eugene, Caulaincourt & Prince Emile – Enter Murat

Murat
Apologies, sire, for my tardiness
We had a sharp encounter with Cossacks

Napoleon
Yes, yes, successful I hope

Murat
It was sire

Napoleon
Good, every positivity bodes well
But there is a drastical negative
The Russians have burn’d the one bridge for miles
& keep us penn’d up between two forests
In the middle of a marsh, Caulaincourt

Caulaincourt
The situation is very grave; sire
Any detour would take up many days
Of forced hard marches to Gloubokoje
Or Vileika

Murat
Then let us force our way
Thro,’ & beyond, the Berezhinan marsh

Napoleon
Indeed, but if my senior leaders
Set proper examples, we will succeed,
I am still stronger than the enemy,
& can quite afford to disregard
Each Russian gun that dares stand in our way

Berthier
How do we cross the river, sire

Napoleon
With thought

Prince Emile
My thoughts are for a powerful balloon

Napoleon
What for?

Prince Emile
To carry Your Majesty home

Napoleon
Good God! I am not afraid of battle
I have acted Emperor long enough
It is time to act the old general
The passage of this river shall take place
Tomorrow morning

Berthier
But how

Napoleon
Caulaincourt

Caulainocurt
I’m inclined to think not, at least as far
As rivers are concerned

Napoleon
But did not Ney
Cross the Dnieper over sheets of ice,
When it was not so cold as is today?

Caulaincourt
I would not risk it

Enter Gourgaud

Gourgaud
Your serene highness,
I have promising news

Napoleon
Is there a ford

Gourgaud
Yes, sire, at Studianka

Napoleon
Occupied?

Gourgaud
A small detachment, but we drove them off
With cannon, & then forded the waters
About three & one half deep, but rising

Napoleon
Could we construct a pontoon at the site

Gourgaud
I would say yes, sire

Napoleon
Berthier, my horse
& Murat too, we shall ride there together
& take a look ourselves, in the meantime
Make feints on Ukholoda and Stakow

Berthier
Yes sire!

Napoleon
Dismissing attendant dangers
Innovating well, & excuting,
We shall use every endeavour
To build the bridge, it cross by morrow’s eve,
Whn once we’ve gain’d the other bank in strength
The passage of the army will commence

Exit Napoleon with Murat & Berthier


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

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

 

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

Posted on May 9, 2020, in Conchordia, White Eagles. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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