Category Archives: Conchordia

Gods of the Ring: Part One, Scenes 8-11

Scene 8 : Outside Marvis’ school

Joe Frazier is waiting in his car / Marvis gets in looking dejected

Frazier
Hey son, whats up, you don’t look too special

Marvis
I don’t wanna talk about it, daddy

Frazier
Hey son, if there’s one person in the world
You can talk to, that’ll be your daddy

Marvis
I’m getting into all kind a-trouble
At school

Frazier
Yeah, go on

Marvis
It’s the other kids
They’re like, ‘Ali is gonna whip your dad
Your dad cant fight’ I say why you say that
They say you is a Tom

Frazier
I aint no Tom
Don’t listen to them words, them words are harsh
Spew’d falsely from a liar’s portmanteau

Marvis
So whaddowha do daddy?

Frazier
Just be true
There’s no wrong way to do right, no right way
To do wrong, you aint better than no-one
They aint better than you, only your deeds
May be accounted by those divine eyes
Which watches all we people do on Earth,
Such eyes as those watch’d me work extra hard
& grant our family extra blessings

Marvis
So what shall I say when they call you Tom

Frazier
Just tell them that your poppa make him pay
For purveying untruths, to them relay
Your daddy gonna beat Cassius Clay
& you know, son, that fool got it coming
Spitting razorblades with febrile rash,
I gave my heart & soul to help him out
But the brother came back with a dagger
Plung’d it right in my back, I’m no Yes Man
No White Man’s champion, I represent
The People, believe me I’m one of them,
At six o clock, back at the slaughterhouse
I started my shift, but two hours before
I was in there, training, pounding slabs of meat

Marvis
You’re gonna pound him

Frazier
Sure am, cos I’m a…

Frazier & Marvis
Small piece of leather well put together!

Frazier
I’ll fight him all night long, tear off his wings,
Grind down his stinger

Marvis
I wanna see that

Frazier
You will, son, you will, now lets get ice cream
You want ice cream

Marvis
Pistachio?

Frazier
You got it

Scene 9: America

Enter the Spirit of America

***

ACROSS THE USA

I was born in Arizona
Moved to Tallahassee way
Now I live in California
Where I always want to stay
But if I wanna see America
I got to leave LA
Cos the open road is calling me
Acr.ooss the USA

I caught a bit of Woodstock
But the Hippies smelt too strange
At Altemont I dug the rock
But then I sensed the change
& now its ninety-seventy one
Saigon’s a firing range
A new spirit moves thro’ everyone
With the sixties all estranged

Cos there shines a new America
As bright as the new day
When a boxing bout thrills all of us
Across the USA


***

Before important actions pass to thought
& build a pleasure dome from the project
Those thoughts ensure a Xanadu remain
Of esoteric sensitivities
On foundations of vivid ideas
When imagination’s endless powers
Protagony combines & modifies
With feelings & affections made ideal,
Admire these two prizefighters in their prime
Pois’d in the cyclone’s eye with one purpose,
America is torn & polarised
Between bad guy, good guy, good black, bad black,
There is no middle land, fanatical
Cabins of moonshine, old men with rifles
Bicker cross valleys, this civil war,
Profusing with spiritual foison
Exploding one nation divisible,
Meanwhile, all aspects of our planet’s moon
Reflect the coming bursts of stars & light,
The streets of Buenos Aires are empty,
From Borneo up to the soft-strewn snow
The world stands by, bistros & beerkellers
The retinas of every Human drawn
To one small square of canvas, brightly lit,
& watching on with eager, hungry eyes
See young George Foreman, set to step within
The ropes himself, to fight whomever wins
The Fight of the Century… & begin!

Scene 10: Madison Square Gardens

Muhammad Ali is at his weigh-in

Ali
Who is the champion of the world?
Who is the champion of the world?
If I’m not the champion of the world
Then who is – don’t think about Joe Frazier
Y’all musta come down with amnesia
Forgotten how good I was or something
Let me refresh your memory tonight
I’ll show you what a real champion is
I’ve fixed up the round Joe Frazier goes down
I’m sick & tired of all of this y’see
They took away my title & then talk’d
All this phoney stuff about Joe Frazier
But after tonight there’ll ne no more Joe
This game is real, this aint no phoney game
I’ll fight them all regardless of the risk
I am Heracles struggling thro’ his labours
I am D’Artagnan, Cyrano, El Cid,
When I smile women swoon, grown men shudder
When I scowl, some might say I’m dangerous
Because I’m fighter born & fighter breathe
All those chumps are just commercializing
In a few hours you will all bow to me
{laughter}
I aint laughing, you will all bow to me
{to referee}
I want the exact weight, so take your time

Referee
Its two-eighteen

Ali
Thats dancing weight, lets dance
I’m ten pounds heavier than Joe Frazier
But still I’m looking better than the fool,
Remember I am Muhammad Ali
& evermore the greatest shall I be!

Ding! Ali comes out to meet Frazier but Frazier starts to retreat
If Frazier goes back an inch farther he’ll wind up in a ringside seat
Ali swings to the left, Ali swings to the right. Look at the kid carry the fight.
Frazier keeps backing but thereís not enough room.
Itís a matter of time Ali lowers the boom.
Now Ali lands to the right. What a beautiful swing. And the punch lifts Frazier clean out of the ring.
Frazier’s still rising but the referee wears a frown
For he can’t start counting til Frazier comes down.
Now Frazier disappears from view
The crowd is getting frantic.
But our radar station picks him up
He’s somewhere over the Atlantic.
Who would have thought when they come to the fight
That weíd see the launching of a coloured satellite.

Scene 11:  Madison Square Gardens / Joe Frazier’s dressing room

Joe is praying – the room is very quiet  enter Eddie Futch

Futch
Joe, watcha doin, it is almost time

Frazier
I’m praying

Futch
Sorry

Frazier
That’s OK, I’m done

Futch
I’m glad to say I lived to see this night
& serv’d its better part beside your dreams,
So tell me the substance of your prayers

Frazier
I ask’d the lord to help me kill this man
For lacking righteousness – I’ll kill this man
& even if I have to die myself

Futch
Don’t say that

Frazier
I mean it, this is blood feud
For what he’s done & said God strike him down

Enter Van Colbert

Van Colbert
That vast arena shines electric blue
With every star bright striving to be seen
As if the Milky Way trails unobscur’d
& radiant to the crystal degree

Futch
Tonight the sight of God suspsends his scales
& finds one to be light

Van Colbert
They stand in line
As if the crown jewels of old England
On loan in New York, so many diamonds
There’s Diane Keaton & Ted Kennedy
Gene Kelly, Bill Crosby, Woody Allen
Diana Ross in black, velvet hot pants
Outrageously, glamourously, stylish
Sinatra’s on an assignment for Life
The only way his fame could entrance make
So scarce are the tickets for this catwalk
Of butterblond gals with cadillac souls
All feather’d & furry with laces & boots
& butterfly hair by mink-coated pimps
More the coronation than the fist-fight
Bejewell’d entourages where the men
For once outclass the women in their dress

Futch
So champ, tell me, the moment that you hear
The mad, hollow rumble of the Gardens
& that first leaping heartbeat of the bell
What you gonna do to Cassius Clay

Frazier
I’ll close off the ring, connect with power

Futch
Ya gonna weave, weave,

Frazier
Go in on the weave
I’ll never stop my locomotive steps

Futch
Thats why they call you Smokin’ Joe

Van Colbert
Damn straight

Frazier
I’ll remonstrate his turpitude all night
Keep hooking & ducking, exhaust his force
Then canvas the chump with a clean, straight punch

Futch
Go get him, Joe

Frazier
I’m ready boys, lets go

Futch
This your destiny, boy, don’t forget it

 


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

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

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

The world’s leading exponent of Dramatic Blank Verse

***

Articles:

Composing Conchordia, Provence

Composing Conchordia: Vaulting the Lockdown

Gods of the Ring: Act 1, Scenes 2-4

SCENE 2: MIAMI

5th Street Gym – Foreman is training with his trainer, Dick Sadler – Enter Ali carrying a suitcase

Ali
George Foreman! George Foreman! How ya diddling

Foreman drops his mitts with joy

Foreman
Cassius Clay!

Ali
That aint my name no more
That my slave name

Foreman
Sorry man

Dick
Stop the press!
Muhammad Ali is in Miami
For what do we owe this cockal honour

Ali
I was down in sunny Florida boys
& boxers are the only ones who dig
Truly what its like to be a boxer –
I must admit I miss the test of mein
The sweat of competition, & the ring
Times joyful lie in graves of memories
& I must live vicariously life
So George, I hear y’ave three fights coming up
As quick as my swift left-right-left, yeah?

Foreman
You hear right – on the sixth I’ve Hazelton
Then fight Levi Forte on the sixteenth
With Gary Hobo Wiler two days aft

Ali
Busy boy

Dick
He needs to be kept busy
He get nerve-edged & spleenful if he aint
All that agression & testosterone
Needs to be legally releas’d, ya dig?

Ali
You aiming for Frazier

Foreman
If he’s champ, yeah

Ali
He aint that good, I’ve seen the way he fights
When coming in – he’s weak on uppercuts
True quality don’t melt down from his blood
But listen George, let me show you something
{Foreman sits down, Ali begins to open the suitcase}
Just wait until to lay your gaze on this
If ever you world champion became
Status demands you’re reach’d by one of these

Ali reveals a portable phone – Forman laughs

Ali
What’s so funny?

Foreman
Thought I was gonna see
All the money in the world

Ali
You want it

Foreman
Say what?

Ali
It’s yours for twelve hundred dollars

Foreman
Brother, I aint got that kinda money

Dick
He will have one day, tho’

Ali
I’m sure he will
Just look at those arms gladitorial
I’m hearing good things ’bout that swing of yours
So speak me of yourself, George, where ya from
For we might have to range at blows one day

Foreman
Well – I’m a Texan by birth & by girth
From the infamous, impov’rish’d Fifth Ward
The rotten, scabbing face of Houston’s filth
Got tangl’d up, too many scrapes a child
King of the Fights, Lord of all Bullies
To cheap read wine I turn’d the stolen change
Thro deviant, delinquent alchemie
My only aspiration was to win
The respect of killers by killing too
Until a flash of godly vision fair
Told me to do something, try out this life,
& when I pull’d the gloves on that first dawn
I knew ‘d won salvation in the ring

Ali
Salvation? S’that what they call a whuppin
In Houston?

Dick
My boy don’t take no whuppins
He blest with a catalogue of endowments

Ali
I see just that – to win Olympic gold
No mean feat – it was mine back in Sixty
Joe Frazier won the same in Sixty-four
& both of us went on to rule the world
Well – Joe Frazier’s only the fake champ –
But you dig my meaning, brother

Foreman
I do
To be a classic in one’s own short age
Is tantamount to cosmic excellence

Dick
Your famous gift for scrying things to pass
As acccurate as when you’ve pluck’d the rounds
From living aether’s dream – my man should leap
Like you & Frazier from the rostrum’s edge
Unto the pinnacle of punch & pain,
His power grows uncanny & too much
For the very best veteran fighters
His left returns like recurring pistons
Bigger, stronger, faster Sonny Liston,
With these fists he’s dismissing everyone
Atavic to Numidian giants
Who fought off Rome upon the desert’s fringe
He like a jivehound hiving with the drones
The unearthly scourge of his division
That is the richest it has ever been
Quarry, Ellis, Oscar Bonavena,
Macfoster, Shavers & george Chavala
All steamroll’d by the Houston Tornado

Ali
He don’t scare me – you aint no monster, George
But good luck anyway in all you box –
So, do you want the phone

Foreman
The what

Ali
The phone
You can have it for nine hundred dollars

Foreman
I gone told you I don’t have no money

Dick
He don’t be needing no portable phone

Ali
No sweat, I’m sorry to disturb you boys
& see you both some time along the line

Foreman
Goodbye Muhammad

Dick
That cat’s coming back
I can feel it & I do not like it
That alley cat Ali drives me crazy

Foreman
Maybe so, but the division needs him
& if I’m ever gonna be the champ
Outright & undisputed to the world
I’ll have to fight that madman in the ring

Dick
You’ll have to down Joe Frazier first, so back
To work, come on son, let me see your jabs

George Foreman returns to training


SCENE 3: Philadelphia

The street outside Joe Frazier’s gym, 2917 N. Broad Street / Enter Ali with a rowdy crowd including photographers & a film cameraman

Ali
I want Frazier, I want Frazier, I want
Frazier, I want Frazier, I want Frazier
Come out here Joe, come out here & fight me

Crowd
We want Frazier, we want Frazier, we want
Frazier, we want –

Joe Frazier & Eddie Futch appear at the door

Frazier
What’s all this commotion

Ali
Man, you aint no champion of the world
We end those signal farcicals today
Swerving your curveballs back to real truth

Eddie
What are you doing in Philly, Ali
This aint your town, these cats aint your people

Ali
These cats are sick & tired of hearing lies,
Seeing false visages of victory
They want to see the proper champion
Forgo the inglorious arts of peace
& beat up on an ugly pretender

Frazier
You what!

Ali
Lets go & fight in Fairbank Park

Frazier
You’re crazy man

Ali
Well you’re a coward
The whole world knows you’re a flat-footed bull
Who moves like plowhorse thro’ rain-sodden mud

Frazier
Hey sissy! You can’t hit, you got nothing

Ali
I want you Joe

Frazier
I want you too

Ali
Well then,
At five o clock meet me up at Fairbank
{to the crowd}
I have a lot of speed
I have a lot of endurance
When I’m done with Joe Frazier
He’ll need more insurance
{Crowd laugh}
Joe Frazier too rebarbative to be
The representative of human might
He’d be better off donating his face
To the National Bureau of Wildlife

Frazier
See what I do to your pretty face, Clay

Ali
Whaddaya call me?

Frazier
Clay… Cassius Clay

Ali
Aint so, Cassius Clay is my slave name
I didn’t choose it, I didn’t want it
I am Muhammad Ali, a free name
It means Beloved of God, you dig God?
Joe, right?

Frazier
Dont go bringin’ religion into this
This all about two men gettin’ it on

Ali
Lets get it on then, Joe, in Fairbank Park
At Five o Clock

Frazier
I aint coming you fool
Your dearth of noblesse falls appalingly
I won’t be fighting no lunatic brawl

Ali
Dont be a coward, Joe, see you at five
{to crowd}
Can one of you lovely locals tell me
Where’s the flavourbest ice creams in Phily

Exit Muhammad Ali & the crowd

Eddie
Gassius Cassius, Louisville Lip
Coming making you look bad in your crib
I thought he was your friend

Frazier
Yeah, so did I

Eddie
Funny way to show it

Frazier
He don’t rile me
He nutting but a shunting stunt monkey
Engladdening the basest strains of men
When lenses land upon him he cries fake
But I guess such zero-adding antics
Won’t hurt a jot when come the paycheques, right?

Eddie
You wanna fight that schmuck

Frazier
He’s outta shape
& outta touch with all reality
For Mister Bigshot Sixties decades change

Eddie
So back to work, focus on Joe Ellis

Frazier
His time will come, I’ve seen it in my dreams

Eddie Futch & Joe Frazier re-enter the gym


SCENE 4: Fairbank Park, Philadelphia

Muhammad Ali is surrounded by a large crowd chanting ‘Ali-Ali-Ali-Ali-Ali’

Ali
I’m Hercules struggling thro’ his labours
I’m D’Artagnan, Cyrano & El Cid
When I smile women swoon, grown men shudder
As I scowl, some would say I’m dangerous
Too dangerous, it seems, for Joe Frazier
& prettier by untold magnitudes
A better boxer obvious to all
Tho’ Uncle Tom got my championship
They refus’d to fight me at five o clock
Its now ten past, shows Frazier was afraid
Of a good whuppin in front of you all
Here I am, aint had a fight in three years
Carrying an extra twenty-five pounds
& Joe don’t show up, what kind of a champ
Is that

Crowd-member 1
Joe’s just a phoney

Ali
He sure is
& now we’ve all seen he just a coward
I’ll have to find another way to scrub
The tainted glaze of someone’s else’s hands
Upon my sacred crown, but I’ll need dough
To pay this Supreme Court date coming up
So off I go to Broadway

Crowd
Broadway

Ali
Yeah
To sing a heap of songs in Uncle Buck

Crowdmember 2
Right on

Crowdmember 3
Give us a song

Ali
You’ll have to wait
But boy, am  Ithe world’s greatest singer

Exit Ali & crowd


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

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

 

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

The world’s leading exponent of Dramatic Blank Verse

***

Articles:

Composing Conchordia, Provence

Composing Conchordia: Vaulting the Lockdown

Gods of the Ring: Act 1, Prologue-Scene 1

stars_and_stripes_by_divinedesign


The Greatest Play Ever Written


PROLUSION

Enter the Spirit of America & her angels

Angels
The Spirit of America shall speak

America
O for a Muse of air, that would transcend
The lightest season of convincive art,
As here, as erst upon an antique stage,
I rise to thee a proud exordial,
Long sent to steer this vessel of repute
Across a raft of retrospective wits
Adorning this gymnic Conchordia
Uploaded with prologean Chorus,
Such dainty diversions stand antidote
To times of dull labour, outstandingly,
To live thro’ deeds, not years, thro’ thoughts, not breath,
Thro’ intimacies of imitancy
Rare souls yet rouse Humanity to ken
Fair prospers capabilities within
Each all of us to be a living God
Admir’d & worship’d widely ‘cross the world
My golden theme such Giants of the Sun
Melded ankle-deep, brutal gang of three,
Forming a cosmic counterpoint to life
Four years of fabulous entanglements
As much excitement as a night can bear
As much commotion as a land can stand
Exploding beyond borders thro’ the Globe
Pantomimean pandemonium
Of boxing; its burlesque imperative,
Its irreproducable accident
Of history; its outstanding resolve
Thro’ acts of beauty, countrymen come hear
The names of our three principles, Ali
Frazier & Foreman – hear the angels sing

Angels
Welcome, yes welcome, ye Gods of the Ring

***

OVERTURE

America
When Smoking Joe Frazier met Muhammad Ali
It was the Fight (FIGHT) of the Century
When Foreman floor’d Frazier the talk of all Jamaica
Was the height (HEIGHT) of brutality

We don’t believe what we’re seeing
Got no right to call them human beings
As they fight their way thro mortal ceilings
As the angels sing

Angels
Welcome ye Gods of the Ring

 

America
When Foreman took a tumble the Rumble in the Jungle
Was a night (OF) immortality
& man what a killer the Thrilla in Manilla
Saw the might (MIGHT) of humanity

We don’t believe what we’re seeing
Got no right to call them human beings
As they fight their way thro mortal ceilings
As the angels sing

Angels
Welcome ye Gods of the Ring

***


CC27-Comparo-Eldo-f3qtr-4

SCENE 1: Philadelphia

Joe Frazier is sat in his car singing along to the radio – Muhammad Ali knocks on the window – Frazier gestures to Ali to get in the car – Enter Muhammad Ali carrying a suitcase

Ali
Hey, man, nice wheels

Frazier
Front-drive Eldorado

Ali
The Queen o’ Cadillacs I heard ’em say

Frazier
So where you wanna go

Ali
The bus station

Frazier
Sure, that aint far, I’m happy to oblige

Ali
Look at us, undefeated champions
Of the whole world’s heavyweight division
All in one space & ne’er comin’ to blows

Frazier
There’s a time & a place for that action
Mine was no ignoble supplantation
My honour says we’ll have to fight one day
I’ve even sent the Supreme Court letters
Begging them return your boxing license

Ali
I dig that, brother, your soul is shining
You got good days ahead, too, good money
You got Mac Foster coming up; Foreman –
George Foreman – both million-dollar gates
Rip’ning all the time, beautiful paydays
You got it made if you just play it cool,
But big up the truth, man, if you fought me,
Would you be scared?

Frazier
No, man, honest to God

Ali
You really wouldn’t be

Frazier
No kinda way

Ali
I mean my fast left jab, the way I dance?

Frazier
Noooooo! I’d get close to you, I’ve heard ’em talk
‘Bout how fast you is, moving away, but
You’ll find out how fast I am moving in.

Ali
Remember that time you came to see me
Fight Zora Folley? You wanted to learn
From me

Frazier
We all know a time of learning.

Ali
You believe you learnt enough to fight me?

Frazier
Hell, yeah! Maybe even if I didn’t
Know enough, I would never turn you down –
For any man that turns another down
In his profession deem less than a man

Ali
What if a man is wise & bides his time
As when we watch’d delinquents stab their knives
Stood safely by on sidewalks when us boys

Frazier
I’m ready now to beat you fair & square

Ali
So, do you think you could decision me,
Or could even stop me before fifteen?

Frazier
I’m sure I could stop you before fifteen.

Ali
You really do?

Frazier
I really do. You see,
The kinda stuff on you I’m gonna put
Y’ain’t ever seen before, you understand?

Ali
It’s impossible to dodge my jab

image-51

Frazier
Those other cats let you have it your way
Just like they let me have it my way, dig?
They let you jump around the ring, and dance,
But I’d be getting me right dead on you
Every time you breathe you would be breathing
Right down on my head.

Ali
You never whip me
You be tired after six rounds of scuffling.

Frazier
You be tired, too, trying to get away
Running and jabbing, ducking and dodging
You be tired, too.

Ali
I’m stronger than you think
{long pause}
I really believe you afraid of me

Frazier
{long pause}
No, I sure ain’t – I wanna fight you bad

Ali
After I get myself into good shape,
I’m gonna dance and move like Sugar Ray.
S’impossible to whip me with your style

Frazier
Well, I been up against real race horses
But I’ve whipp’d ’em all down to a slow trot.
Slammin’ sticky quicksand under bruis’d hooves.

Ali
I’ll admit you good, but I’m the fastest
Fist in the history of the whole world.

Frazier
Moving away, maybe, but moving in,
No way, that’s me, I’m fastest moving in

Ali
But you don’t have no jab.

Frazier
{aghast, almost stops car}
I don’t have a jab?

Ali
Keep driving! Watch it! No, you got no jab

Frazier
But man, I’d tear your head off with a jab!
I’ve got a jab like a cool machine gun

Ali
I’ve seen you box, I fought Sonny Liston twice,
When he was at his best – Floyd Patterson
I beat, & all those title defenses
Like Mildenberger & Henry Cooper.

Frazier
What you want me to do?

Ali
And I fought
Zora Folley & Cleveland Williams

Frazier
Which one you want me to fight?

Ali
They all beat – but leaving out me & you
Who you think would be the best two to fight
The all-time title

Frazier
Oh, like Joe Louis
& Jack Johnson

Ali
Damn straight, that’s who I think.

Frazier
Yeah, man, y’know I hope you do get back.
But, man, you ain’t gonna do no whipping.
Not on me. I hope there’ll be no hard feelings
When I whip your ass
{Sees Ali about to cut in}
Brother let me talk!
Got no hard feelings with you anyplace
But when we in the ring, you on your own.

Ali
But you be on your ownsome lonesome, too

Frazier
That’s the only way I know how to be.

Ali
If we can’t get along, let’s get it on.

Frazier
We’ll get it on. Ain’t no doubt about that.
Once that bell rings, I see you psych ’em out
But me, I’m a different cut – I’m the
Greatest psych artist ever put on earth
You’d outpsych Houdini easy than me

Ali
For that smart remark, here’s my prediction
A perfect blueprint of the first five rounds

Frazier
Who say you gonna last that –

Ali
Let me talk!
That night of the fight at the ticket booth,
I want the people to pick up the program,
See written out round-by-round what I’ll do
Like reading menus for an eight-course meal
Now the first round–Dong! See me coming out
But I ain’t gonna do nothing, no need
Just gonna show you off as an amateur,
I won’t throw one punch, I’m just gonna dance
& hold my guard down by my groovin’ hips
Gonna dance and move like I did with Floyd
Patterson, ‘what’s the matter son,’ I’ll say
As you don’t even get in one poor punch
But still, I’m gonna let you win that round.
Then, second round–Dong! I’m coming out fast,
I’ won’t be shooting nothing but left jabs.
Gonna hold my right hand down by my side
I won’t be needing it for no protection,
Nothing but left jabs, nothing but left jabs,
Here comes the jabs . . . then the third round–Dong!
I’m coming out, putting footwork together
Jabs together, right crosses together
& here come the unstoppable left hooks

Frazier
{exploding}
Sounds like you done won the fight already–

Ali
I aint gonna miss a left jab that round
And after that fifth round–

Frazier
{can’t stand it any longer}
Wait, wait–

Ali
You say what you say when I’m through

Frazier
Go & muzzle up that Nostradamus

Ali
Lemme finish, man, don’t be getting scared,

Frazier
Scared?

Ali
Yeah. Now, in the fourth round–

Frazier
{angry}
It’s coming off!
This fight has got to come off!

Ali
The fourth round–
I’l tie you up & in your feetless fifth
I’m gonna right-cross you, talking to you,
Telling you the history of your life
Teaching you & inventing new punches

Frazier
Now where I’m gonna be at all this time
Ya doing all these things, counting fingers?

Ali
You will be trying to throw everything
But none of those knick-knacks are gonna land

Frazier
Hear me Clay, it ain’t gonna be that way.

Ali
{shrugs}
You have a right to say that, as have I

Frazier
The right to say what I would wanna say
& now I’m gonna tell you what I feel
Its gonna go, you gonna run about,
A few rounds, throw a few pansy punches
Then in the sixth I’m gonna knock you down

Ali
No! Listen! Don’t you try my predicting

Frazier
I’m telling you

Ali
Be sure you back it up!
Your behind gonna be mine in round nine!
As soon as you start working the body,
I’m gonna shoot for your head–quick! WHIP! WHIP! WHIP!
You won’t get to my body ‘less you clinch

Ring Magazine Cover - Joe Frazier and Jerry Quarry

Frazier
Outta twenty-six fights I ain’t never
Held on to a man

Ali
But brother listen
We know the truth by reason & by heart
Something tells me you & me got bizness
I hope you’re still the champ when I get back
Effluent with unstocking’d refluence
All this for saying no to killing folk
Pinn’d down by an imperial pastern
I aint no triggerhappy dilettante
I got no quarrel with the Vietcong
No Vietcong ever call’d me nigger
Those Vietcong don’t put no dogs on me
Nor robb’d me of my nationhood, hey look
Its the station, pull over

Frazier
Sure thing, man

Ali
Nice one brother, real nice, & thank-you, hey!

Frazier
Yeah

Ali
You don’t have any money to spare
I’m short for the ticket

Frazier
Hah! Of course man

Ali
You’ll get it back with int’rest when we fight

Frazier
Here’s a hundred bucks

Ali
You’re a good brother,
Better friend, farewell & be prosperous

Exit Muhammad Ali


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

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

 

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

The world’s leading exponent of Dramatic Blank Verse

***

Articles:

Composing Conchordia, Provence

Composing Conchordia: Vaulting the Lockdown

Composing Conchordia: Vaulting The Lockdown

napoleon-russia

After the completion of the Leithology quintology – which will soon be on sale on all platforms – & the composition of Viriathus & Malmaison, I felt THE FLIGHT OF THE WHITE EAGLES was going to be a real statement-maker. If I really do wanna emulate Shakespeare, I need definitive works with meaty bodies – a bit like Hamlet innit – & so turned to Napoleon’s infamous retreat from Moscow as the first of my major conchords. There’s a hell of a lot of drama obviously, & when it comes to stagecraft the visual deterioration of the soldiers will be a wonderful story to tell.

IMG_20200428_141341

With five acts of seven or so scenes each, all bubbling with blank verse & containing both original songs & songs drawn from the period itself, WHITE EAGLES definitely marks a placement of my muse on a Parnassian plateaux of sorts. No looking back now – ten down, 27 to go!

cover

LEITHOLOGY – Available in book form soon

I began researching WHITE EAGLES last year after reading the fabulous ‘Memoirs of Sergeant Bourgogne.’ From this first catalyst – I was very verteux at the time – I began to research other memoirs up in the National Library of Scotland, such as those of Caulaincourt, & set to work on the composition period not long after my return from Provence sometime in mid-February. Then the Lock Down happened. I don’t need to rattle on about it, everyone’s experiencing it. I’m lucky tho’ – I walk dogs with my girlfriend which meant I could to & fro between my places in Edinburgh & East Lothian for ‘work that cannot be done from home‘ – the dog numbers had drastically plumetted, but there was enough to make it valid & of course meant I could compose pretty much anyway I liked – from the Lammermuirs to Leith Links. Here’s a Walking East Lothian post I created during the Lock Down.

Musically, WHITE EAGLES has been something of an educational dream, help’d along by my house-mate’s keyboard playing. By February I had a couple of tunes, but then began to write more & add local colour so to speak, translating from the French lyric into the English. Of my new songs THE BALLAD OF BORODINO is really beautiful I think, & THE GREAT NAPOLEON really fun – the Herod moment – my house mate incorporating the Tetrislike theme tune into via some techno rave from the 90s via Hicksy & Sharky. He also fell in love with Plaisir D’Amour & Compere Guillere.

The full list of songs is below, with astersks denoting my own compositions)

The Sable Raven – English version
Marlbrough is Going To war – English version
Plasir D’amour
Parisienne Skies (*)
On Va Leur Percer Le Franc
The Blood of Borodino (*)
Pomme de Terres (*)
Compere Guillere – French Version
Song of the Loricated Legion (*)
My Handsome Husband (*)
Soarin’ Home (*)
Chant du Depart
Crossing the Bridge (*)
The Great Napoleon (*)
Compere Guillere – English version (*)
Au Clair de la Lune
Le Depart Du Bologne
The March from Moscow (*)

Theatrically, there are a lot of parts – three main bodies of 8-10 characters; Napoleon & his entourage, Bourgogne’s company & the Russian partisans. There’s also another 20 or so walk-in parts, plus the crossing of the Berezhina bridge to depict – but whenever WHITE EAGLES does get performed everyone’s gonna JUST love it!

IMG_20200521_153554

Artistically, WHITE EAGLES is the bag daddy to Malmaison, but together they form a very good account of Napoleon’s life. Like I said at the start, it also represents the foot-scrambling heave onto the plateaux from where the rest of my conchords will be composed.

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The first of this new bunch is GODS OF THE RING & I’m extremely excited about it. The principle subject is the four fights between Ali, Foreman & Frazier, & all the dramas before, during, after & between the fights. The names of these epic combats have gone down in history – THE FIGHT OF THE CENTURY, THE SUNSHINE SHOWDOWN, THE RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE & THE THRILLA IN MANILLA. Like White Eagles I’ve already got two tunes in the bank, a theme tune & the sublime, best song I’ve written in ages, BLACK POWER. I’ve been compiling the notes in the past few days, the bulk of which were studied for in the National Library just before the Lockdown.  I’m gonna print out the first notes today & get composing soon after.

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With White Eagles taking just over three months, & June the 1st on the horizon, I’ve got a feeling that every new conchord is gonna take a season – so Gods of the Ring is the conchord of the summer of 2020 – the weird summer, the one where the theatres were closed. For me, I think I’ll be spending some of it hopefully in Greece, where the next of these windows into my workings will be composed.


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

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

 

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

The world’s leading exponent of Dramatic Blank Verse

***

Articles:

Composing Conchordia, Provence

Composing Conchordia: Vaulting the Lockdown

The Flight of the White Eagles: Act 5, Scenes 7-8

SCENE 7: Elbling

Bourgogne is asleep in a bed – enter Madame Gentil & her German servant, Billy, who carries a bowl of broth – Gentil opens the curtains letting in golden sunlight

Gentil
Good morning, your privations are over

Bourgogne
What? Where? Who? How?

Gentil
You do not remember

Bourgogne
No… you are so beautiful, am I dead

Gentil
Well, Elbling is the nearest thing to death
In this life anyway, a quiet town
Render’d carnival by your Grand Armee
Or whats left of it, not much now at all

Bourgogne
I’m in Elbling

Gentil
Yes, I am your hostess
You came to me two days ago, have slept
Ever since

Bourgogne
Hah! Picart, the Jew, the sledge

Gentil
Yes, Picart
Is the man’s name, he’s been some seven times
Rnquiring on the status of your health
We’ve all been very worried

Bourgogne
I feel fine
But hungry, by god, what is that I smell

Gentil
A hearty garbure

Bourgogne
But that dish is french

Gentil
Yes, you are in the house of a Frenchman
& I his wife

Bourgogne
His wife! what woes are mine
I thought you had been sent me by Cupid

Gentil
You Frenchmen are masters of flattery
But need you not to try, I gladly come
To soothe as if you were kin of mine own
When you arrived in so much suffering
Slinging gibberish, I swore to nurse you

Bourgogne
{tasting food}
To savour flavour is to paradise
A moment spent admiring god’s gardens
So very kind of you to take pity
On Sergeant Bourgogne, another fair stroke
Of fortune that delivers me alive
To this fantastic bed, of heaven’s felt
& eider down, where wearsome muscles melt

Gentil
You are comfortable then

Bourgogne
Beyond words
But tell me please, lady, my saviour’s name

Gentil
Madame Gentil

Bourgogne
Gentle appellation
& your servant

Billy
I am Billy

Bourgogne
This broth
Is the greatest thing to have ever existed, sir
But then unfortunately quite finite
Is there any more

Billy
There’s some in the pan

Gentil
Go fill another bowl for the sergeant

Exit Billy with the bowl

Bourgogne
How cameth you to become the madame

Gentil
Five years ago a convoy from Dantzig
Entere’d Elbling with wagons of wounded
A handsome hussar billeted with us
His breast bore musketball, his arm sword slash
My mother & I nurs’d him to his life

Bourgogne
In gratitude he wed you for your care?

Gentil
That is the case

Bourgogne
I would have done the same
You are the most beautiful of women
Dark eyes of the deer, skin of pink-red rose
My soul has been imprison’d by your smile

Madame Gentil laughs & blushes

Gentil
Your compliments are tonic to me sir
Perhaps we might havr married if, of course
I was not so already, but I love
my husband

Bourgogne
It would give me great pleasure
To meet him, is that possible madame

Gentil
He is with my father in the Baltic
On business, has been gone for some days
But should be back tomorrow or the next

Bourgogne
Soon enough, but I am in such a state
To meet him, anyone, even myself
In the mirror, what a sight I must be
I ought to have a bath, find a barber
& make myself presentable erewhile

Enter Billy with a fresh bowl

Billy
A fresh bowl of garbure for you sergeant

Bourgogne
Most kind… where are the nearest public baths

Gentil
Unfortunately very far away
But, if you like, one ready may be made
in the house

Bourgogne
That would be perfect

Gentil
Billy…

Billy
Yes mistress

Exit Billy

Gentil
It is good to see you eat
When first you came I thought you’d die that night

Bourgogne
No fear, madame, your fretting was futile
We warriors do not die in our beds

Gentil
I shall call you when you bath is ready

Bourgogne
Will it be hot

Gentil
It shall

Bourgogne
What ecstasy!


SCENE 8: The Same House – downstairs

Bourgogne is in thee bath – singing to the tune of The Cure (Priest) de Pomponne

Bourgogne
Ah tun t’en souviendra, la-ri-la
Du depart de Boulogne

 

Enter Billy

Billy
Is anything amiss at all, sergeant
You have been soaking an awful long time

Bourgogne
Amiss, no, bliss? Yes! I cannot express
What comfort am I fullily immersed

Enter Gentil with Graingier from the street

Gentil
You are scrubbing up a rum young fellow
& now for your barber, he informs me
Of taking preen your beard & locks before

Bourgogne
Before, but when?

Gentil
The sixteenth I recall

Bourgogne
Graingier – is that you

Graingier
It is my old friend, how are you faring

Bourgogne
Much better than the last time we conversed

Graingier
& you smell it, too – I’ve scissors & blade
To end the job of reforging your youth
Soap please –
{Graingier makes a froth}
Head back – apply evenly… &

Graingier begins to shave Bourgogne’s beard & cut & curry comb his hair

Bourgogne
Stop, this is agony inglorious
You flay my face, your razor cuts like saws

Graingier
Your skin harden’d by cold continuous
Here, numb the pain, with some ten year brandy

Bourgogne
You lie

Graingier
It is true

Bourgogne
From where

Graingier
Gascony
The citizens of France are sending gifts
For Christmas to their soldiers half-way home
Take this bottle’s contents in perfect peace
The Russians have retired from pursuing

Bourgogne
Hah – is there anything left to pursue

Graingier
Less than fifteen thousand, & most of them
Never march’d on moscow, the garrisons
Of Smolensk, Minsk & Vilnius

Bourgogne
Mon dieu
How we surviv’d that carnival of death
I shall never understand

Graingier
But we did

There is a knock at the door – Gentil answers – Legrand is there

Gentil
Yes

Legrand
Is this the house of Madame Gentil

Gentil
I am she

Legrand
Then you might have my sergeant

Gentil
Enter

Graingier
Legrand

Legrand
Graingier!

Legrand
How is he

Bourgogne
He is in the bath

Legrand
Sergeant, you look well

Bourgogne
I feel it

Legrand
& you Graingier

Graingier
I’m good

Legrande
What joy it is to view your fresh faces

Bourgogne
& you, Legrand, you look more than healthy

Legrand
I am, & I am happy for my life
I also bring fresh clothes for the sergeant
Come to clad him in costume vermin-free

Bourgogne
Perfect timings, I shall straightwise don them
If you do not mind, madame

Gentil turns away – Bourgogne steps out of the bath naked – Billy presents him with a towel

Bourgogne
What do you have

Legrand
These trousers ‘a la Cosaque’ should fit snug
The cloth is fine, the dark-red dye drawn deep

Bourgogne
Where are they from

Legrand
Some trooper or other
Probably an aide-de-camp belonging
To King Murat

Bourgogne
I shall try them on – yes
They fit to perfection, & warm, so warm

Legrand
This war commissary shirt also yours

Bourgogne stretches out his arms to put on the white shirt

Legran
Why, you look an eagle, a white eagle

Bourgogne
Soar’d home

Gentil
This calls for celebration
Our sickly sergeant summon’d from the dead
Delighting spirits with his tender smile
Lets toast the moment with my husband’s wine
Come help me, Billy, with the cellar door

Billy
Yes mistress

A knock on the door

Gentil
Answer that first

Billy
Yes mistress

Enter a clean shaven Picart, wearing a white cloak & a black Russian fox cap – he is smoking meerschaum pipe

Picart
Apologies again for disturbance
But has my friend awoken yet

Billy
He has

Enter Picart – Billy goes to join Madame Gentil

Picart
Hello Graingier
{to Bourgogne, but not recognizing him}
Hello

Bourgogne
Excuse me

Picart
Yes

Bourgogne
Is it not I you are looking for

Picart
Adrien

Bourgogne
Yes

Picart
Is it you

Bourgogne
I hope so

Picart
What a miraculous transformation
Your shakefork face I’d truly forgotten
How do you feel, you seem’d so close to death

Bourgogne
Much better than when sitting on that sledge
When each thick bump made murder in my bones
Come here, embrace me, friend who saved my life+

Picart
You would have done the same

A knock on the door

Legrande
Let me get that
{opening the door to Leboude}
Leboude, Leboude, can this be really you
Look who has come to join this antiwake
This lazarean festival of friends

Legrand
Hello my boys, bless god you all survived
A treasury of everlasting joy
I saw you last by Berezhina’s banks
I was order’d to bury poor corpses
Frozen by exposre, lagging behind
The regiment, I listen’d to some Poles
Who sent me to their country, but the road
Along which the regiment was routed
So follow’d a month of meandering
Deserted wastelands always deep in snow
Not knowing where I was or where to go
I spoke no Polish & the Poles no French,
Confusions exhausting in excresence
My money useless, & could only barter
Milk & dripping when exchanging eagles’
Buttons, or fine handkerchiefs kept by chance
& chance it is, & only that I’m sure
Which brings us all to company once more
To be alive together one more day

Enter Gentil & Billy

Gentil
& many more to come brave sons of France
embarking for fresh towns & pastures new
But, before all that, you are in Elbling
Under my roof, where we shall make merry
There is plenty of food & drink – coffee
Tea, bread rolls, rhine wine, fine Dantzig gin

Graingier
Madame you spoil us

Leboude
Before I forget
I have something to hand to you sergent
Do you recall the day we left Moscow
& entrusted me with a small parcel

Bourgogne
I do

Leboude
Here it is – just as you gave it
Never once taken out of my knapscask

Bourgogne
Leboude, you are the legend of my life
{taking out a dark grey overcoat}
You necer thought to wear this coat at all

Leboude
Twas not mine to wear

Bourgogne
Pockets keep secrets
What is this – an Indian handkerchief
Made from best Bengalese silkworm, & here
Knotted in its corner is a small box
Aha! its precious contents I recall
See for yourself, madame, five golden rings
The first for you,

Gentil
How courteous

Bourgogne
The next
For you Leboude

Picart
Is the ceremony
Over yet, this feast is beckoning me

Graingier
Not quite, I wish to speak a few sound words
Madame – if you could fill all our vessels
Those who traverse thro’ this lamentable
But glorious adventure must have been
Coated in iron to bear so many trials
The greatest test to which men were exposed
Remember thoes memories & the fates
Of friends we left to perish, dissapear’d
Or dead upon some sombre battlefield
Come toast the regiment – la Garde

Bourgogne, Graingier, Picart, Leboude, Legrande
LA GARDE!

Legrand
Can you believe we ever saw Moscow

Leboude
Not only that we slept in palaces

Picart
& feasted like tsarinas at a ball

Bourgogne
Do you recall our own informal ball

Graingier
Of course, what fun, what luxury, what life

***

 THE MARCH FROM MOSCOW

We were resting in bubble beds of silk, furs & feathers
In the nest of the double-headed eagle
We were blest with abundance & the punch does us wonders
In the nest of the double headed eagle

& I know that I’d do it all again
When I’m ready to hit the road again
Cos to be with my sweet Napoleon
Means more than my life to me

Remember when we saw stardust
Come a tumbling down
On the dancefloor, we saw ballerinas

In the flight of the Snow White Eagles
Only the strongest might survive
But when comes the majestic sequel
I’ll be alive

Our numbers were plummeting in terrible weathers
In the land of the double headed eagles

We were marching thro troublespots of big bloody Cossacks
In the land of the double headed eagles

& I know that I’d do it all again
When I’m ready to hit the road again
Cos to be with my sweet Napoleon
Means more than my life to me

Remember all the men we lost
& the friendless cost as we crossed
The freezing Berezhina

In the flight of the Snow White Eagles
Only the strongest might survive
But when comes the majestic sequel
I’ll be alive

Bourgogne
& all the memories that I remember
I shall write them down to survive
So that all my friendships forever
Will be kept alive

One-by-one the hosts of dead soldiers join their living comrades in song

Bourgogne
Rossi, Vachain, Cesarisse, Peniaux
Vachain, Leboude, Bodet, Melle, Monfort
Legrand, Boqet, Izambert, Maujard
Hourex, Pavart, Graingier, Picart

We are the Guard! La Guarde! La Guarde! We’re the Guard

***

THE END


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

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

 

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

The world’s leading exponent of Dramatic Blank Verse

***

Articles:

Composing Conchordia, Provence

The Flight of the White Eagles: Act 5, Scenes 1-3

SCENE 1: The Hill of Three Crosses over Vilna

Vasalisa, Albina, Vitaly, Valentina, Angelina & Natasha are looking down on Vilna

Vitaly
Look how they stream like rats into Smolensk
A flailing army wedded to its fate
This settlement of luxuries foresworn
Is nothing but the tombstone of thousands

Natasha
When reaching Europa’s icy regions
Napoleon could not nature subdue
Was precipitated from the summit
By forceful instigation of our arms –
Irresistible, invulnerable
& wonderful Russia, we love you so!

***

COMPERE GUILLERIE

He is proud as Ceasar
Accidental Ceasar, Bonaparte
Abandoning his army
He heard his Guards say please Bonaparte
Titi Bonparte
Toto Bonaparte
Don’t ever forget us

Napoleon, Napoleon, Napoleon, ran off

He slips away from Russia
As swiftly as the wind, Bonaparte
His freezing royal highness
Disguis’d upon a sled Bonaparte
Titi Bonparte
Toto Bonaparte
Will never forget Rus

Napoleon, Napoleon, Napoleon, ran away

 

We were surprised to hear
He did not make decrees, Bonaparte
Abolishing the winter
Banishing the snow, Bonaparte
Titi Bonparte
Toto Bonaparte
Will never forget us

Napoleon, Napoleon, Napoleon, ran off

***

Angelina
My grandfather spoke of a prophecy
That conjur’d a time when the Tartar host
Would surge to the banks of the Gallic Seine
Behold the first steps taken to its truth
Set steady & at liberty to pass
These overthrown French forces as they drag
In a startling, debacling parade.

Albina
Mistress Vasalisa, what is this cross
Among the other wooden ones, atop
This hill, arot with worms & badly aged

Vasalisa
A gloomy legend fixes to this place
Seven franciscan friars were beheaded
For badmouthing Lithuanian idols
& by the city walls, commutual,
Another seven crucified or toss’d
Into the river clad in chains

{sounds of gunfire}

Valentina
Shots! Shots!

Enter Vladamir

Vladamir
Mistress Vasalisa

Vasalisa
Is it the French

Vladamir
Soldiers in dozens ascending the hill

Vasalisa
We had better move off

{more gun shots, louder}

Angelina
That sounds closer

Vasalisa
Quickly to the treeline

All except Vitaly make a dash for the trees – Vitaly stands looking down the hill with a scythe

Vladamir
Vitaly run!

A shot rings out that fells Vitaly – he is wounded

Vladamir
VITALY!

Vasalisa
{trying to holding him back}
Vladamir, no

Vladamir
He needs help

Vladamir breaks free & runs to Vitaly but is felled dead from a shot by Picard – the rest of the partisans flee

Picart
That’s right, flee ye pathetic partisans
Cowardly chickens, too afraid to fight
{To Vitaly}
Well, it looks like you’re abandon’d, young man,
Bleeding to death to boot, at least I can
Release ye from your mortal agonies
{Picart shoots Vitaly dead}
Frighten’d canaries come back here & fight
Ye raggedy crew of peasants & hinds
Ye craven, dastard, recreant poltroons!
{Picard turns to look on the army retreating from Vilna}
See how they go again into the snow
Better to see it softening the blow
Of horrors seeing in that sad city,
It is impossible to show pity,
Insensible to our own sufferings,
Let alone the miseries of others –
I saw formaldehyde-soaked specimens
From university laboratories
Funell’d into starving maws like mutton
Five months before, on our march east, we sang
Songs of pure rejoicing, now just silence
Accompanies our fugitive retreat
Blinded by snowfall, ice-crusted by sleet
Footdragging thro’ a universe congeal’d
By dismal Death’s murmourless murderfield
As out of air beside drop dead-frozen birds
Men fall down still without complaint or words
& breathe their last with calm resignation
Releas’d from this pain’s peregrination
The blood now freezing in their seizing veins
Oblivion, at last, each man obtains.

Exit Picart


MUS-FAPC1114_850

SCENE 2: An inn between Leipzig & Erfut

An Innkeeper is showing Napoleon & Caulaincourt their room

Innkeeper
Here you are, make yourselves comfortable
This might not be Paris, but in Leipzig
We like to think our guests will come again
My wife’s already cooking for that cause

Napoleon
How long before the sledge is fixed

Innkeeper
An hour
Maybe two, but there lies not enough snow
For such a mode of travel, better swap
Your sled for a carriage down in Erfut

Caulaincourt
We shall, & thank-you

Napoleon
Innkeeper

Innkeeper
Yes, sir

Napoleon
What think you of the war & Bonaparte

Innkeeper
Well… Bonaparte, the Emperor, is good
In constant service to this modern world
With more common sense than many a man
At the head of affairs, he is no mere
Courtier

Napoleon
& the war

Innkeeper
A waste of life
There’s not so many paying customers
Since half of Europe march’d towards the East

Enter Innkeeper’s Wife

Innkeeper’s Wife
Good morning… here are fried & eggs & white bread
Freshly baked this morning, a little game

Innkeeper
I caught the rabbit yesterday myself

Napoleon
A hearty breakfast, & is that coffee

Innkeeper’s wife
Yes

Napoleon
Excellent

Innkeeper
We shall leave you to it

Innkeeper’s Wife
Eat & drink, & if you like, be merry

Exit Innkeeper & his Wife – Napoleon & Caulaincourt begin to eat their breakfast

Napoleon
I am much taken by that warm couple
Their kindness & sincerity delights

Caulaincourt
The closer that we are to France, the less
Preoccupied & careworn do you seem

Napoleon
Perhaps, but I cannot, will not relax
Until we reach our borders – do you think
I was recognized by the innkeeper

Caulaincourt
Napoleon has never grown a beard
You are quite safe

Napoleon
I fear an ambuscade
Secret assassination in the night

Caulaincourt
Sire, if Eighteen Twelve was your year to die
It should have happen’d by now, you will reach
Paris, alive

Napoleon
Yes, & see the Empress
My cherub offspring hold aloft & smile
At words he tries to mumble with sweet sounds
How is the meat?

Caulincourt
Balanced & peppery

Napoleon
I was most dissapointed by Poland

Caulaincourt
What do you mean?

Napoleon
Why they refused to rise
& thwart the Russian’s behemoth’s advance

Caulaincourt
I suspect it is the uncertain vale
Of future spread, they supplied the campaign
More than any other nation, even
The richest have but pennies to their name
While gossips spreading danger, scatter doubts
Of economy far too exhausted
To contemplate a war against the Tsar

Napoleon
But for the winter they would have risen
Who wants to war in cold, grey drudgery
But come the spring we’ll need their buffer’s edge
& Poland must be made more powerful
It must have Danzig & a coastal strip
To outlet the markets of its produce
&, also, it must have a foreign king
A Pole would conjure many jealousies
Murat would suit, but has so little sense
Jerome too vain, a blundersom buffoon
Whom would you have made king

Caulaincourt
I, your highness,
Who never before has laurell’d a brow
With crowns, am unqualified to answer
But there is one caution I might advise
The establishment of your dynasty
Across the thrones of Europe undermines
A cordial respect for your embrace
When nations are transform’d to prefectures
& kings only proconsuls, who might be
Removed at any whim by your highness.

Napoleon
Hmm – I think you you would make a better king
Than any of my brothers ever will

A knock on the door

Caulaincourt
{drawing sword & pistol}
Who is it

Innkeeper’s Wife
The lady of the house, sir

Enter Innkeeper’s Wife & Stella

Innkeeper’s Wife
Sorry to disturb, but this is my niece
She sells beads, you see, & was wondering
If your lady folk would like their allure

Napoleon
Let us see

Innkeeper’s Wife
I shall leave you three to it
With God’s peace, which passeth understanding

Exit Innkeeper’s Wife

Stella
Hello men of France, welcome to Leipzig
I have fine beads of glass, necklaces, rings
All locally crafted with expertise
Come look…

Napoleon
Yes, there are many pretty things
I will take them all as a souvenir
Of this journey for my wife

Stella
All of them?

Napoleon
Yes, all, in return take these golden coins,
That must be seven times your trinkets worth

Stella
You are too kind, a gracious traveller
God bless you on your journies to your wives

Exit Stella

Napoleon
We should divide them between us, take half
For the lady of your heart

Caulaincourt
I shall, sire

Caulaincourt begins to divide the jewels – there is a knock on the door – enter Innkeeper

Innkeeper
That is the runner fix’d, your sled renew’d

Caulaincourt
You are a legendary engineer
Do take these gold napoleons, each one
Worth twenty francs, & add to them our thanks
For such a pleasant stay, however short

Innkeeper
It is my duty sirs, to humble serve
God’s children if they ever step inside
My humble home

Napoleon
& a dear godfather
You are to us all

Exit Napoleon

Innkeeper
Your companion…
An interesting fellow, magnetic,

Caulaincourt
Indeed he is, indeed he is, goodbye

Exit Caulanicourt – The Innkeeper collects the plates & exits


SCENE 3: The Russian Wastes

Bourgogne is resting on a tree stump

Bourgogne
What a dream we are all wander’d into
A stream of shadows under leaden sky
Enwrapp’d in snow, tight-sewn in silent shroud
Absorb’d in private thoughts & lonely fears
Watch’d on by those foggy & frozen ghosts
Of buglers, sat bolt upright in saddles,
Still as lizards, quarelling with blizzards
To mouths of stone their copper lips glued fast
While, above, driving snow & writhing wind
Leave the hearts of warriors well broken

Enter Rossi – he is in a bad way & walking painfully crutch’d by a musket – there are sheepskins hung over his shoulders & wrapping his feet – he is leaning on musket

Bourgogne
Rossi, is that really you

Rossi
Adrien!
How flush am I to see your face old friend
But to my fibres wholly astonish’d
To witness your liberty warms me, sir
Our friends were growing very uneasy
There’ll be unbound gladnesses when they know

Bourgogne
You are alone

Rossi
Yes

Bourgogne
Where are the others

Rossi
Well, both my feet are frozen to the bone
Unable thus to walk as well & swift
As the poor remnant of our regiment
I am become the seperated slice
But gain coactivity each fresh night
When fire spreads heat & horseflesh boils oer blaze
{Rossi collapses}
But this day I shall not make it I fear,
My strength the weakest it has clearly been
Upon this dreary hike, each step saps more
My poor mother, if you could see me now
I shall never leave this devil country
Nor again see beautiful Montauban

Bourgogne
I, too, am exhausted quartermaster
But look how far we’ve come, full eighty leagues
Since Berezina, now only fifteen
More to Kowno, fifteen of three hundred,
We are so close, we can help each other

Rossi
Maybe today we can go together
But these will be the last stretch of my legs
I sense it well, my end has all but come
I am undone, there is no living, none
But I would rather transpass in some warmth
Than on this spot of untranspeciate earth
Entering frozen sleep that never wakes
So easy just to sleep the peace of dreams

Bourgogne
To dream of peaceful sleeping is to die
Salvation does not hide behind the eyes
Rossi, Rossi, wake up,

Rossi
Wait, what, what is it

Bourgogne
The one thing it is not, sir, is your time
Can you stand

Rossie
Feebly

Bourgogne
Let us march my friend
Or shuffle rather, one last time abreast
& ward away the sting of death alike

Rossi
I would not feel it anyway, Bourgogne,
My brains are frozen, there’s no feeling left

Exit Bourgogne & Rossi in some discomfort


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

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

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

The world’s leading exponent of Dramatic Blank Verse

***

Articles:

Composing Conchordia, Provence

The Flight of the White Eagles: Act 4, Scene 7

SCENE 7: Smogorny

Bertheir, Eugene, Prince Emile, Gourgaud & Murat are gathered around a table

Gourgaud
This could be the utter ruin of France

Murat
Silent your seditious understanding
The Emporer shall be among us soon

Gourgaud
I am not the only one who says so
Am I

A distinct silence of brooding underlooks

Eugene
You might be right, but this no time
To think such things, we must prioritize
Our goal, for now, to guide the army home

Berthier
What army? We are hardly ten thousand
& half of them too weak to even stand

Emile
He is coming

Gourgaud
Well, on with the charade

Enter Napoleon & Caulaincourt

Napoleon
Good morning

Murat
Good morning, sire

Napoleon
Please sit down
{everybody takes a place at the table}
Each man within this room I love untold
The bravest & the loyalest I know
Who have, with impeccable conduction,
Fought nobly thro’ this drastical campaign

Eugene
Thank you, sire

Napoleon
To see you all safely seated this side
Of Berezhina’s ice, blankets my heart
With joy & warmth, we have done a fine thing
With that obstinate obstacle behind
I gather ye my leaders to inform
Thee of my decision to directly
Leave the army, privately, & today

Berthier
Leave sire?

Napoleon
Yes leave, I depart for Paris
At noon, my regal duties to resume
Our disasters will make a sensation
But my arrival will counter-balance
Their bad effects & rouse the French to arms
It is only from the Tuileries
My grip on Europe truly be sustain’d
There I shall raise an army to replace
This one born to an unfortunate fate
Within three months I shall have an army
As magnificent as that which began
This perturbably instructive campaign
Tha aresnals are full – remember Esslaing,
Marengo, we almost lost thos ebattles
But given time the victory turn’d ours
Placing Austria at our disposal

Berthier
Then how are you to travel, & with whom

Napoleon
By sled, with Caulanicourt & hand-pick’d guards
These events have proved the man a prophet
Therefore he’ll be my lone companion
En route are many projects to discuss
The rest of you remain with the army
Of whom Murat shall have the full command

Murat
I shall serve you well

Napoleon
Blend caution with steel

Gourgaud
You must return to Paris

Prince Emile
I concur
For the Revolution to continue
You must be there to emanate its heart
To elevate its light, to steer its course
You are its elemental genius
When asham’d of its brutal excesses
France crumpl’d tranquescent in obeyance
Before your precious, deconvulsing voice
Admir’d herself in you, precipitates
Herself into thy glory, without thee
At France’s head I fear the King’s return

Berthi
To defend our indeposable rights
You must head home, your majesty, & now

Gourgaud
Beneath you sceptre, sire, all France unites
Sixteen years of invincible success
Shone thro’ us all in bright deliverance
The most civilised nation in Europe
Wide reigns as if the Mughals of the West.

Napoleon
But where art now our noble countenance
Traversing scenes of famous victory
Rag-cover’d, feet torn & naked in snow
Supporting our frames with branches of fir
When all the strength & perservering force
Invested in conquest syphon’d for flight
Catastrophes of immense distances
& terrible frost sends our edifice
Toppling

Murat
Not the frost, Holland Ninety-Five
& Eylau drove thermometers lower
In both these campaigns the men had food
& wine, trekking daily on full bellies
While recently the only certainty
Is… tomorrow must be worse than today

Napoleon
Defeatism leads to dereliction
Of duty, dejectism invites death,
There shall be no remission of the sins
That gave the Revolution its purpose

Berthier
We all know more than well, your majesty
You have not been conquer’d by force of arms
But by this climate unendurable

Napoleon
My affairs were miscarried completely
That fine weather trick’d me, we should have left
Moscow a fortnight sooner, we should be
Perch’d safely at Witespk for the winter
But as things stand we only can adapt
Reaching a new page in the age of France
When I return to the magnificent
& peaceful bosom of the fatherland
I shall claim her frontiers immutable
All her future wars purely defensive
All aggrandisment antinational
Paris shall be the global capital
The envy & the pride of all nations
& I, with the empress, shall spend our years
Attending the royal apprenticeship
Of our son, & visit like gentle folk
On horses all corners of the empire
Receiving complaints, redressing ill’d wrongs,
Scatter benefactions, public buildings
& call them all the bones of Bonaparte

***

THE GREAT NAPOLEON

I’m on the drive to greatness
I’m like a king o’ clubs with no aces
I’m gonna play my hand
I’m gonna make my stand
Cos I’m the great Napoleon

I’m on the surge to glory
Each soul’s a slice of story
But the biggest part
Must go to Bonaparte
Cos I’m the great Napoleon

Who’s in my way
I don’t give a damn about what you say
There’s no better man alive today
Yes I’m the great Napoleon
Bon-a-part-e!
Great Napoleon
Everbody!
Great Napoleon

Oo-oo! I’ve never been the one to back me down
Oo-oo! Cos I’m the coolest cat in town
{who’s got the crown)

 

 

I’m on a higher mission
Ya gotta bow on down to my vision
I’m gonna haul you all into the golden goal
Cos I’m the great Napoleon

I am the top cock of the steeple
I’m like a cannonball of the people
Fraternetie & Libertie
I am the great Napoleon

Who’s in my way
I don’t give a damn about what you say
There’s no better man alive today
Yes I’m the great Napoleon
Bon-a-part-e!
Great Napoleon
Everbody!
Great Napoleon

Oo-oo! I’ve never been the one to back me down
Oo-oo! Cos I’m the coolest cat in town
{who’s got the crown)

***

Gourgaud
But what will France say of this debacle

Napoleon
Debacle?

Gourgaud
Yes sire, hundreds of thousands
Are dead & yet to die before the end

Napoleon
Of the four hundred thousand men who cross’d
The Vistula, most were Austrians
Prussians, Saxons, Wurtembergers, Spaniards,
Bavarians, Neopolitans, Poles
Italians, Belgians, Meckenbergers,
Swiss, Tuscans, Piedmontese, Genoese
Hollanders, Hamburgers & Bremenish
Scarcely a hundred & forty thousand
Spoke French, tens of thousands of whom live still
& Vilna shall be to them a Verdun
At Vilna there are copious supplies
& reinforcements easily in reach
Once the army replenishes its might
We’l push right back the Cossacks, hold a line
Until the Spring, when I shall lead to war,
Three Hundred thousand soldiers for the cause

Caulaincourt
That is a bold projection, your highness

Gourgaud
& unreasonable, not fit to stand
The army are, half of them quite harmless,
Nor could they recuperate in ruins
Vilna crumbles to roofless skeletals

Murat
If we cannot hold Vilna, let us march
For France, for glory, as when Xenophon
Deep stranded in Persia with ten thousand
Went trekking deserts, climbing snow passes
Cordyenean, Armenian natives
Harassing every step with sleepless spears
Until the ships of Trezibond beheld
From Theches lofty peaks, as one they cried
Exultingly, ‘Thalatta! Thalatta!’ –
The Sea! The Sea! So shall we Prussia praise
On piercing her borders

Napoleon
Well spake Murat
The army will honour such a spirit
& now I must be bidding you adieu
But Berthier, Eugene please remain
A little longer – come to me comrades
To pinch thine ears

All rise from the tables – one-by-one Prince Emile, Gourgaud & Murat have their ears ceremonially pinched by Napoleon then leave

Napoleon
One hour more Caulaincourt

Exit Caulaincourt

Berthier
I shall not be going with you it seems

Napoleon
No – better only Caulaincourt, I sense
An incognito mission means less chance
A face might be remember’d thro’ the mist,
More prudent to remain with the army
The presence of somebody accustom’d
To his total obeysance paramount
If morale to be maintain’d

Berthier
Of course, sire
With heartfelt attachment & devotion
To yourself, I shall strive for best success
With step on Western step reinforcements
Made easy, while Kutusoff drifts further
Thro’ countryside utterly exhausted

Napoleon
The Russians will be as tired as we are,
& suffer just as much from this foul cold
They are certain to enter cantonments

Berthier
But rallying the army will be hard
Without its beating heart, that heart is you
Whose departure might pretext disorder

Napoleon
They are too close on home to fall apart
Meanwhile, upon my passage thro’ Poland
I shall rouse them against the colossus
Of Russia, their nationhood is threaten’d,
Both baring witness to them on the field
Individually heroical
What mighty pillars should erect from pride
When national prosperity at stake
Beyond Warsaw all Europe’s cabinets
Tho’ wounded most by the power of France
Will cry anxiety that the Cossacks
The scourge of a civilised continent,
Should not be permitted Nieman’s crossing
& the reverses France has just suffer’d
Shall put an end to jealosies upsrung
From all our imperial influence
To think of a singular enemy
Point millions of muskets to the east
My dear, dear prince of Neuchetal, stout be,
Fear not, but trust in providence

Berthier
Yes sire

Eugene
The key is to save every soldier
The forced abandoment of imploring
Companions breeds dismoralizations

Napoleon
Eugene is right, leave no man behind
Your goal must be above all things, bar one –
That is to see your Emporer again

Napoleon pinches Berthier’s ear

Berthier
I shall see you in Paris, sire

Napoleon
I know

Berthier
Travel safely & speedily

Napoleon
I shall

Exit Berthier

Napoleon
My son, how are you

Eugene
I am more than fine
Sharing the stark privations with my men
Has harden’d my torso with spartan steel

Napoleon
I wish you were beside me on the sled
But as the only one I truly trust
I need you with the men for their own good

Eugene
& Caulaincourt

Napoleon
I do possess his trust
But crushing pessimism sours the curd

Eugene
There’s some who praise his realism, sire

Napoleon
You too?

Eugene
You must admit, even yourself
These are our darkest days, all we have dream’d
Burn’d nightmare by the summits of the Gods
As when peat bogs & marshes of the Picts
Rejected the surge of the Ceasars, sire

Napoleon
Call me Papa, it always comforts me

Eugene
You will be miss’d, Papa, the army feeds
Upon your spirit

Napoleon
I am confident
In your abilities as commanders
But enough of combat & all of that
I call’d upon your mother just before
I left Paris, & she made me promise
You would stay safe enough to see her face
Pack’d full of smiles on your healthy return

Eugene
I am very happy it nigh fulfill’d
On many levels, Papa

Napoleon
Hah – & I

Eugene
You love my mother still?

Napoleon
Of course I do,
Being carv’d from the self-same rock of fate
An entwination of the our love took hold
Renaming us Emperor & Empress

Eugene
Then how can you be happy in the heart
With this second marriage

Napoleon
I love her too
Marie-Louise, she is so innocent
Totally devoted to my dynasty
How could I not fall for such an angel

Eugene
Papa, Pray tell me, how do they compare

Napoleon
There is, nor ever was, comparison
There is nothing they do not differ on
As far apart as India & Lille
While your mother’s beauty troubl’d the gods
The goddesses admir’d the new empress
Where the walls of Malmasion had grown ears
Marie-Louise enslav’d by discretion
Shyly delighting to ever receive
Ten thousand francs, your mother tyrannized
My finances with promises unkept

Eugene
You sound as if the Austrian preferr’d

Napoleon
I do love Marie-Louise sincerely
& miss her as we speak, Eugene, much
But higher love hold I for your mother
In fitting fashion & most natural
For she flew on the tail of my comet
Shooting thro’ the stratosphere these years past

Eugene
The brightest in the cosmos

Napoleon
But it fades
& my marital alliance error,
I should never have march’d on Russia
Without security bought by the ties
To Papa Beau-bere, forg’d thro’ his daughter…
& there we go again, back to the wars
Nothing can escape its odour’s stale stench

Eugene
There is work to do yet

Napoleon
Stay safe my son

Napoleon & Eugene embrace

Napoleon
As soon as you reach Paris, come find me

Eugene
{saluting}
I shall endeavour to serve the empire

Exit Eugene – Napoleon slumps on a chair, exhausted


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

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

 

 

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

The world’s leading exponent of Dramatic Blank Verse

The Flight of the White Eagles: Act 4, Scenes 3-6c

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Scene 3: The French Camp

A young woman is sat on the snow holding her dying husband’s head between her knees – she sheds no tears – leaning on her shoulder is her 13-year old daughter, sobbing bitterly – her tears fall & freeze on her father’s face – near them a soldier stands in silence – enter Vachain & Valentina

Vachain
{to Soldier}
Excuse me, friend, my company I seek
Have you seen the Guard within the camp

Soldier
Perhaps, but everything is confusion
& thro this growing gloom one better try
To call their names, & hope above the din
They hear your voice, but best to keep your breath
& send warm blows enthawing thro’ your hands

Vachain
Thank-you… wait… yes it is, Madame Dubois
Madame Dubois, over here, over here!

Enter Madame Dubois

Madame Dubois
Why, Captain Vachain, we thought you done for

Vachain
I might have been but for my bonnie beau,
This masterpiece of nature saved my life

Madame Dubois
I’ve seen your face before… now where was it

Valentina
Moscow, Madame, I am Valentina

Madame Dubois
The Russian girl… what… how…

Valentina
I shall explain
The queerling quirks of fate that caught our love

Madame Dubois
Love?

Valentina
Yes love, we love one another

Madame Dubois
Love!
Well… enjoy love while love lasts, be in love
The hues of bliss grow brightly in thy smile
& why not, in this constant spectacle
Of distresses, miseries, oerwhelming,
You offer proofs that beauty still may move
Thro this stupid world

Vachain
Love is beauty, yes
Madame, we are to marry in Auzin
Your attendance would delight us

Valentina
Please come

Madame Dubois
I think you would be very fortunate
& ought to thank Heaven if you make it
As far as France

Valentina
Our love will take us there

Vachain
Sharing incredible concaulescence
What jot could halt our fate’s inburning drive

Madame Dubois
Bless you both, whatever may befall ye
Preordained has been from everlasting,
But from such oracles I’ll take my leave
& seek a fire, without one I should die

Vachain
Before you off, where is my company

Madame Dubois
You are the first of them I’ve seen in days

Vachain
Very well, Madame, good luck tomorrow

Madame Dubois
& you

Exit Madame Dubois

Vachain
Come Valentina, let us share
Each other’s heat beneath my dry warm cape

Valentina
I love you so much

Vachain
& I you, darling

Vachain & Valentina huddle under a cape & begin to kiss


 

SCENE 4: The French Camp

Bourgogne & his company are sleeping soundly – the morning is beginning but the sun is not yet risen – there is a sound of gunfire in the distance – Bourgogne wakes

Bourgogne
Wake up Graingier, wake up

Graingier
What is it

Bourgogne
The bridge is completely empty, lets go

Graingier
There’ll be time for that later – let me sleep

Bourgogne
Leboude

Leboude
What

Bourgogne
Come with me across the bridge

Leboude shrugs off Bourgogne with a grunt

Bourgogne
There will come to pass an almighty crush
We need to leave now

Rossi
Let us catch you up

Bourgogne
Nobody

Legrande
It is freezing sergeant

Bourgogne
Pah!

Bourgogne collects his firearms & exits


battle_of_berezina_map

SCENE 5: The western end of the bridge

A soldier, Marcelin, is guarding the bridge – he is immaculately presented – enter Borgogne

Marcelin
Halt, who goes thee

Bourgogne
I am sergeant Bourgogne
Of the Guard

Marcelin
Alone?

Bourgogne
Yes

Marcelin
Well off you step
I am Marcelin

Bourgogne
May I please admire
A moment your astonishing attire
So smart, well-fed, clean shaven, are you real?

Marcelin
We have spent the Autumn with Oudinot
On the banks of the Davina River
When first I saw the army how I swoon’d
As if enchaunted by evil spectres
Feebling & emaciated phantoms
Unfit for the struggles of existence
Are these the men who march’d with dash & fire
To scuttle Russia’s capital, I said
Aloud & to my colonel in the shock –
He simply nodded back in silent gloom
& watch’d still silent as they came like tears
An unmanicured mob of tatter’d ghosts
Drap’d in woman’s clothes, old carpet pieces
Dragging feet wrapp’d in all sorts of rough rags
Gaunt grey faces neath disfiguring heads
Marching shamelessly out of step, heads low,
Eyes to the ground like an old convict gang

Bourgogne
We are in a sorry state, that’s for sure,
& foolish too, all night the bridge like this,
The crossing would have taken a minute
But no, each content in their symmory
Out of Athens they think the world a dirge
Civilisation is precarious
& if a panic starts, then…

Marcelin
A panic?

Bourgogne
The Russians are expected to attack

Cannon shots are heard – one ball splashes in the river

Marcelin
Sometimes it is better to say nothing

Soldiers & stragglers start to rush by (until the end of the scene)

Bourgogne
What adverse planet heaves against our star
The camp is stirring slowly, the army
Now a wounded animal, its paths block’d
Impassable, fleeing its predator
It will enact all efforts to escape
I fear today a tragedy unfolds
On that bank lies destruction, this bank hope

Marcelin
The icy paralysis of the night
Is melting fast in a furnace of fear
Candent with excitement & sheer terror
Chaos is rising & doth fling itself
Fat surge of fleshment to a dread exploit
Towards the eastern bank, look Marcelin
It appears already heavy-headed
Block’d by a broken carriage on the planks

Bourgogne
Indeed! Into that incredible press
Cannonballs are falling, fell five at once
& the spaces fill’d up in mere moments
Horses leap on horses, trampled beneath
People scream shoot me or stab me to death

Marcelin
Into the waters some are stumbling now
Push’d by the crush, it looks like a sheep dip
Where bobbing heads of men & horses sink
& never more shall rise

Bourgogne
I cannot watch

A cannonball strikes Marcelin, killing him instantly

Bourgogne
Poor Marcelin, how lucky you are!

Bourgogne gazes once more on the bridge, then leaves


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SCENE 6a: The French Camp

Valentina is sleeping – enter Vachain in some agitation

***

CROSSING THE BRIDGE

Vachain
You gotta stand up my love
You gotta get up & go

Valentina
I cannot stand up my love
I’m frozen in all this snow

Vachain
You gotta stand up my love
We’ve gotta get up my dear

Valentina
I cannnot stand up my love
I’m frozen with all this fear

Vachain
They’re crossing the bridge, they’re crossing the bridge, I’ve seen it
Crossing the bridge, they’re crossing the bridge, I mean it
Gotta get up & cross the Berezina
Gotta get up my darling Valentina

 

 

 

 

 

Vachain
You gotta get up my love
We’ve gotta get up & go

Valentina
I cannot get up my love
To stumble through all that snow

Vachain
You gotta stand up my dear
We’ve gotta get outta here

Valentina
I cannnot stand up my love
I’m frozen with all this fear

Vachain
They’re crossing the bridge, they’re crossing the bridge, I’ve seen it
Crossing the bridge, they’re crossing the bridge, I mean it
Gotta get up & cross the Berezhina
Gotta get up & see the grass is greener
Crossing the bridge, they’re crossing the bridge, I’ve seen it
Crossing the bridge, they’re crossing the bridge, I mean it
Gotta get up across the Berezhina
Gotta get up my darling Valentina


 

Scene 6b: The eastern end of the bridge

Vachain & Valentina enter the press at the bridgehead

All
They’re rushing the bridge
They’re pushing the bridge
They’re crushing the bridge
Russians on the ridge

Prince Emile & several bodyguards arrive from the western bank, pushing the crowd back with brutal strikes from the flats of the swords – as they push their way through the crush, some unfortunates fall into the river

Prince Emile
Back, you swine, everybody must go back

Bodyguard
Remove yourselves at once

Woman
But why should we

Man
Not me

Prince Emile
Take one more step & you’ll be shot

Bodyguard
Be cautious man, retrorse yourself at once

Straggler 1
I cannot remain another second

Man attempts to break through the bodyguards & is shot dead

Prince Emile
Anybody else

Straggler 2
What are you doing

Prince Emile
In order to halt Kutuzoff’s forces
Aslant this bank, we must destroy the bridge

Vachain
I am with the Gaurd, you must let me cross

Straggler 3
I am with the gaurd

Straggler 4 (Female)
I am with the gaurd

Prince Emile
The Guard crossed half an hour ago

Straggler 1
Not me

Straggler 4 (Female)
Nor me

Prince Emile
It is too late, the flames are set

Straggler 3
You cannot just leave us to the Russians
It will be the most morbid massacre

Prince Emile
Get back! you are too late – do not attempt
To cross the bridge else suffer musket balls

Bodyguard
Sir, we need to return now before flames
Prevent the passage

Emile leads this bodyguards back over the bridge

Bodyguard
Back, get back, get back

Straggler 2
Wait

Prince Emile
Your sacrifice will be remembered
We burn the bridge to save the emporer

Straggler 3
Vive l’empreur

Exit Valentina & Vachain


19738396lpw-19738399-article-jpg_6770277_660x281

SCENE 6c: The River Bank

Enter Vachain & Valentina – the river is full of human corpses – some are beginning to freeze – a woman has fallen thro the ice & is frozen in, but still alive – one of her arms is cut & hangs loosely – her other arm holds a suckling baby which has wound itself around her neck – the woman is staring at a dead man frozen in the ice nearby – between them a dead child lies spread out on the ice

Vachain
Let us swim oer the water

Valentina
It will be too cold – look at the bodies

Vachain
But look up there, dispiteous Cssacks
Make orgiastic continguities
Murd’rous upon the comprecative mob

Valentina
I would not wish to die by native hand
I would rather hold yours in the water

Vachain
You will fare much better without your shawl
Save vital seconds vanish’d in its drag

Valentina takes off her shawl

Valentina
I love you

They kiss

Vachain
I love you too
{Vachain takes Valentina by the hand}
Ready

Valentina
Yes

Vachain & Valentina wade into the river hand-in-hand


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

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

 

 

 

 

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

The world’s leading exponent of Dramatic Blank Verse

 

Flight of the White Eagles: Act 4 Scenes 1-2

dutch-engineers

SCENE 1: Studianka

The French pontonieres are building a bridge across the Berezhina River – they are encouraged by Gourgogne – some are stood in the water up to their shoulders & even their mouths

***

CHANT DU DEPART
Acapella to percussive sounds of bridge building

As the gates of Victory
Open wide for us & sing
Our Liberty all people there shall guide

From the North to the South
Bugle blows are echoing
Out for the battles fought for Gallic pride

Tremble ye enemies of France
& the bad Kings drunk & depraved
As sov’reign commoners advance
Tyrants go down to your graves

The Republic is calling us
Learn to vanquish & to never fly
A Frenchman lives for the Republic
& for her Frenchmen must die
Un Fran ais doit vivre pour elle
Pour elle un Fran ais doit mourir.

 

May their fathers’ blade be placed
In the hands of the brave,
Remember us upon the Field of Mars

Come baptise in the blood
Of the king & of the slave
While shining elders look down from the stars

Tremble ye enemies of France
& the bad Kings drunk & depraved
As sov’reign commoners advance
Tyrants go down to your graves

What wounds & virtues running deep
We shall bring back from the war
Return’d to shut our eyes & sleep
When the tyrants are no more

The Republic is calling us
Learn to vanquish & to never fly
A Frenchman lives for the Republic
& for her Frenchmen must die
Un Fran ais doit vivre pour elle
Pour elle un Fran ais doit mourir.

***

Enter Napoleon & Berthier with two gaurds who are carrying cases of wine.

Gourgogne
Your majesty

Napoleon
General

Pontonierres
Vive L’Empreur

Napoleon
Soldier, you, yes you, come here if you will

Enter a cold, wet, shivering pontonierre

Pontoniere
Your highness

Napoleon
How are you handling the cold

Pontoniere
It is nothing, I am fine, we all are
Allow me to return to my work sire

Napoleon
Of course, but first, distribute these bottles
Of red wine from my personal supply

Ponotonierre
You are most generous

Napoleon
Build me that bridge

Pontonierre
Yes sire

Napoleon
Berthier, help him with a case

Berthier & the Pontonierre take the cases of wine to the pontonierres

Napoleon
Our causeway catterpillars cross the stream

Gourgaud
Indeed, sire with what zest our sappers task
Self-sacrifice engage without limits
In spite of drifting ice & armpit deep
They trestles fix in place ’til capp’d are beams

Napoleon
Your projective platform shows genius
Gourgaud, of priscillian precision,
Your active coolness in the foreseeing
Secures a worthy spot to organise
This feat, some would say miracle, of arms

Gourgaud
Listen sire, not a murmour to be heard
Of discontent in the situation –
They curse the elements, but not the day
For glory still an elevate of hope

Napoleon
Hope, yes we have, yet reality bites
The cavalry secured the western bank
This morning by fording upon horses
But unsupported shall not last the night
We must send reinforcements there, & soon

Gourgaud
Tho’ slow & painful work, we shall succeed

Napoleon
Excellent, but Gourgaud

Gourgaud
Your majesty

Napoleon
Only let troops & artillery cross
The camp followers will only impede
Prevent them all from passage ’til the end
A strong intactive army will prevent
Total annhialation – understood

Gourgaud
Yes sire

Napoleon
Good, carry on this famous work
{to the soldiers}
Pontonierres of France I salute you

Pontonierres
Vive L’empreur, Napoleon will save us

Exit Napoleon & guards

Gourgaud
Our stragglers are a multitude ill-starr’d

Berthier
Just do your work Gourgaud, & duty too


National_Museum_in_Poznan_-_Przejście_przez_Berezynę

 

SCENE 2: Studianka, the French camp

Enter Graingier, Foucart, Leboude, Legrande & Rossi

Graingier
Pandemonia’s principality
Encapital’d upon these troubleslopes
Condensing with with frightful laxydaisy

Leboude
What is that singing?

Rossi
Men cross the bridge
Still gay & careless, death counts for nothing
To the soldiers of France, spirits exalt
For we are all together

Foucart
Raillerie
Rings as if on the eve of great battles
Aromatizing these downtrodden scenes

Legrande
What is pain & destruction & dying
When the matter of the empire at stake
Not melting down our youth in beds of lust
But facing dangers headlong without stir
If such excesses of adversity
Our nation’s honour paramountly reigns

Enter Bourgone

Bourgogne
Lads, start a fire, it will not be till Dawn
Before our turn to cross the bridge has come

Leboude & Rossi begin building a fire

Graingier
How does it stand

Bourgogne
By god’s will I expect
‘Tis a rickety construct of matchsticks
But on its timber we shall soon emerge
From the darkest caverns of misery
Where we have dwelt these soul-exhausting days

Foucart
Are we to see our little homes again?

Legrande
We are, Foucart, I know as much, I feel
These stinking tribulations are a test
Seeking weakness thro’ elaborate traps
When responsive complacencies relapse
& truth’s coalesces to deception
By arrogance our successes consumed
Stimulating ego, made us immune
To squads of malignancies besetting
Cautious steps of glory, let this proud host
Of oceanic natures rejoice in trials,
To spout its tales of conquerors unvex’d,
Valour is the chieftan of our virtues
& dignifies the haver’s panting breast
Stood naked before shunless destiny,
& valour is the force that binds us, boys,
Together we shall spend the night this bank
Together we shall cross aspiringly
Then leave the warp of Russian wilds behind.

Leboude
That’s the fire started, boys

Bourgogne
Good work Leboude

Rossi
Another supper of horsemeat awaits

Foucart
Better than feasting on one another

Graingier
What, like those Croatians encraz’d

Leboude
Curs’d curs
Remember how they dragg’d away bodies
Of men death-barbecued, from that dark barn
Then sliced apart the flesh & gulp’d it down

Legrande
Horrific sights

Graingier
The devil will have them

Legrande
Aye, he will, that is for certain my friend
When that fire became a vast tossing mass
Full of convulsive efforts of wretches
Each one of us observ’d the heart of Hell
& I saw Satan slouch’d within the flames

Foucart
Is it evil to eat our fellow man
When we are starving

Bourgogne
Folly slays the soul
Dooming its eventual destruction

Rossi
Come, let us be noble in suffering
& eat this meat ungarnish’d in silence

Rossi passes the horse meat around – each soldier sits eating in silence, to the cacophony of a camp in chaos


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

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

 

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

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