Category Archives: White Eagles

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 4-6

SCENE 4: Eve, a small town

Inside a small hut there is a fire – Foucart is there in some distress – Madame Dubois is sitting quietly on soldier’s napsacks under a great coat, head in hands, elbows resting on knees, silk dress in tatters & wearing a sheepskin cap – Graingier is attending the fire & boiling tea & cooking food – enter Bourgogne & Rossi – Rossi collapses at the door – Bourgogne staggers to the fire

Graingier
Adrien! Adrien! You are alive!
{preparing straw}
So many times your death-sonmg have I heard
But know now they were the pipes of phantoms
Lie down upon this straw, I have some broth
With seasalt season’d, not gunpowder dull’d

Bourgogne
Rossi

Graingier
What!

Bourgogne
Rossi

Graingier
Our quartermaster?

Bourgogne points towards the door – Graingier goes to Rossi

Graingier
Wake-up quartermaster, you have made it
To safety with your brothers once again

Graingier moves Rossi to the fire

Graingier
Feel, my friend, the thermodryad warmth
There’s wood enough to burn the hole night through
& roast away your rheumatismal woes
{to Bourgogne}
I’m glad to see your famous appetite
Is still as legendary as Ceres
& see, I have some tea in a kettle
Its leaves left Moscow seven weeks ago
I had forgotten I had pack’d them deep
Drink, it will do you a great deal of good

Bourgogne drinks

Bourgogne
Ah, what nectar! Comrade, you have saved me

An awful noise erupts from Foucart

Bourgogne
Who is that

Graingier
Foucart

Bourgogne
Foucart! How is he!

Foucart sits up with a face full of blood

Graingier
Not so good
{Foucart begins eating his hand}
No – you mustn’t eat your hand
A Barrack-master of the Chevaliers
Of the Legion of Honour does not eat
His hand, you must stop this madness at once

Graingier pulls Foucart’s hand from his mouth / Foucart then takes bunches of mud & straw & shoves them in his mouth

Graingier
Foucart, my friend, stop this, that is not food
You must spit it, spit it out

Graingier tries to pull the straw & mud from Foucart’s mouth – Foucart bites Graingier

Graingier
Ah! my hand
Graingier strikes Foucart, who whimpers & curls up into a ball

Dubois
He cannot swallow, his throat seizes small

Bourgogne
Who is that soldier

Graingier
That is no solider

Dubois sits up to reveal herself

Bourgogne
Madame Dubois, my darling

Dubois
Be quiet
I am nobody’s darling

Bourgogne
Have mercy
Can you find me a droplet of Royome

Dubois
Royome – you know very well I have none

Bourgogne
This is a moment of no cautious smile
Well before the Berezhinan passage
I met myself imagining the crows
Made fristouille a la neige of your carcass

Dubois
Wretch! They will eat you before they do me
Three months withour spirits for ye drunkards
Used to wassailing lasciviously
Must feel a lifetimes tragedy of want

Bourgogne
That is not so, I’ve had my share of booze
But every sip’s a momentary bliss
Of warm escape from this dejective freeze

Dubois
The thing that astonishes me, Sergeant
Is you’re not dead of drink, so many brave
Fellows left down yonder, while good for naughts
Live life still,

Bourgogne
Stop there, madame, I object
You might slay & slate my reputation
But stop short of bad soldier, halte la!

Dubois frowns & bends her head – she raises it again & smiles a sad smile

Bourgogne
What dwells within a tireless mind, madame
To form a smile as sad & strain’d as this

Dubois
Can you guess

Bourgogne
Food

Dubois
Yes

Bourgogne
I faint for eating

Dubois
& now there is only drink to be had

Bourgogne
So you do have some

Dubois
Infuriate child
Be silent as I dream of suppers past

Bourgogne
Since yestereen all I’ve really eaten
Was half a dead raven found by the road
& a few spoons of powder-salted gruel
Anything is edible no matter
How disgusting, all devour’d like beef steaks
Sizzling savoury in onions & wine

Dubois
Stop that talk, or I’ll soon be eating you

Rossi
Madame Dubois!

Dubois
I am still here Rossi
Tho we have reach’d the lowermost limits
Of human sufferance

Bourgogne
My legs, my legs

Graingier
What is it sergeant

Bourgogne
Hot knives in my thighs
Incredible pains of burning needles
Rip through my flesh, relieve me, please no more!

Dubois
I think you shan’t be leaving tomorrow
Incapable of moving a muscle
You seem

Rossi
& me

Bourgogne
I agree… Graingier
Please do me the noblest of services
Once more tonight, I wish to make my will.

Graingier
Your will

Bourgogne
Yes

Graingier
That is the will of death
Where is the will which surges on the hope
Once more you’ll see fair France, if there’s a chance

Bourgogne
I’m cool enough to bargain with reason
So ask you, no I BEG you, undertake
The charge of some delicate articles
Transport them to my family in Conde

Graingier
Of course, my friend, what are they

Bourgogne
Where’s your hand
Tell them these came from Moscow

Grainigier
I shall that

Bourgogne
This is a gold & silver crucifix
& this little blue vase of porcelain
Was made in China by a finer hand
& wait- my money – when tomorrow comes
Bringing Russians, I’d rather it were gone
Take it please

Graingier
Hold back a few gold pieces
Secrete them in the sheepskins round your feet
No soldier will search among footfilth
I am sure of that… but, sergeant, listen
Is this all not but fever-taking talk

Bourgogne
I am in fever, but quite clear-headed

Graingier
Then let me remonstrate against your will
Have you not demonstrated great courage
In torried situations worse than this

Bourgogne
I may have done, but I was stronger then

Graingier
We are so close to Kownow, two days march
Fatigue is never fatal, try & rest,
Place these things once more about your person
I shalll take them in the morning if you wish

Bourgogne
I love you Graingier

Graingier
I love you too

Bourgogne goes to sleep – Graingier goes to check on Rossi

Graingier
Madame Dubois, please sing a lullaby

Dubois
Au clair de la lune,
Mon ami Pierrot,
Prête-moi ta plume
Pour écrire un mot.
Ma chandelle est morte,
Je n’ai plus de feu.
Ouvre-moi ta porte
Pour l’amour de Dieu.”

Going quieter as the men go to sleep

Au clair de la lune,
Pierrot répondit :
“Je n’ai pas de plume,
Je suis dans mon lit.
Va chez la voisine,
Je crois qu’elle y est,
Car dans sa cuisine
On bat le briquet.”

Foucart suddenly sits up with a start & a groan, then slumps down dead


SCENE 5: The Tuileries – the quarters of the ladies-in-waiting to the Empress

It is night – enter Caulaincourt – a few moments later enter two ladies-in-waiting – Celeste & Giselle – they are taken aback by the sight of Caulaincourt

Celeste
What are you doing here, rough brute, begone

Giselle
How on earth did you gain access

Caulaincourt
Be calm
I am Caulaincourt

Celeste
No

Giselle
You are not he

Celeste
He has no beard

Giselle
Nor would he ever wear
Such ruffian rags as these

Caulaincourt
Ladies please
Be assur’d I am monseiur Caulaincourt
Outside that door the Emperor awaits
As is the custom, so I can announce
His presence to the Empress

Giselle
Did you say
The Emperor’s here

Celeste
Return’d from Russia?

Giselle
Does he seem in appearance as yourself

Celeste
Is he an apparition ghoulish hewn

Enter Napoleon

Napoleon
See for yourself

Giselle
Your majesty?

Celeste
Let me
Examine your features for some moments
{Celeste checking with a lamp}
You are the Emperor

Napoleon
Yes, I am he
& am impatient to see the Empress
Good night, Caulaincourt, you too will need some rest

Exit Caulanicourt – Napoleon enters the Empress’s room

The Empress
{from her room}
Napoleon, Napoleon , my love!

Celeste
We’d better pour the Emperor a bath

Giselle
Yes, & send out for the strongest perfume
In Paris

Celeste
But he is back among us

Giselle
The Emperor is home & all is well

Exit Ladies-In-Waiting


SCENE 6: A small hut in Eve

Dawn breaks – a trumpet blares – Graingier wakes up, leaves the hut – Dubois wakes up, stands with difficulty & brushes herself down

Dubois
I’d best be off, in these day’s of long night
Each minute’s precious illumination
Inches me to safety – goodbye old friends

Dubois leans on a stick & exits the hut – Graingier returns

Graingier
Allez, allez, the company musters
Foucart, Rossi, Bourgogne, awake, arise
We take ourselves parading in the square

Bourgogne
Foucart is dead, I heard him in te enight
Stilling the crude death rattle of his breath

Graingier
Pour soul, but so, his fate shall not be yours
Get up, stand up,

Rossi
I cannot move my legs
They are uselessly numb, & look at this
{unwrapping his sheepskin}
More than half of my toes are now missing
The remainder are readying to fall
Do you not see my feet, how they are blue
As if lain on some mortuary slab

Graingier
You must try, Rossi, the Russians are near

Rossi
I will take my chances, there’s always Ney
He’ll arrive before the Russians, if I
Rest a few hours longer, gain back strength,
I might do well to join with the Rear gaurd

Bourgogne
I am also utterly unable
To leave, or even take a paltry step
I am as bad as Rossi

Graingier
But then what
If you cannot keep up with the marshall?

Bourgogne
We shall find the first house or village
& put ourselves under the protection
Of baron or master, praying he will
Take pity on us ’til healthier made

Rossi
Could you do me a great service Graingier
If you gain happiness in seeing France
Here is a little packet of papers
To send to my mother, there is a sheet
Of paper which sports her name & address
Could you add in the space my condition
As you leave me, but not to let her lose
Her hopes for the thought of me returning

Bourgogne
Take mine back also, my friend

Graingier
Of course I shall,
But beg you both never abandon hope
& summon every strength that yet remains
To haul yourslves to safety by nightfall
You are a couple of mad bedlamites
To think you are to end your days today

Bourgogne
We shall see how strong Death’s urge, how loud his knell
Soon enough my friend, Goodbye Graingier

Graingier
Goodbye Bourgogne, goodbye Rossi, good luck

Exit Graingier

Rossi
If you have tears prepare to shed them now!
Farewell my mother, farewell to my dear
& Bonnie sophie, farewell to fair Nantes
Where I have lived a happy life, farewell
Beautiful France, my patriotic pearl
Farewell old world, I quit this life, farewell,

Rossi collapses

Bourgogne
Rossi, Rossi, are you dead

Bourgogne
I’m sleeping
Or trying to

Bourgogne
Of course, it might be hours
Before the rearguard comes, are you hungry

Rossi
I am sleeping sergeant, please

Bourgogne
Ah, sorry

Bourgogne begins to scrape out a bowl of horse broth for scraps – enter Picart

Picart
Jour di Dieu, it is my friend, my sergeant
Why do you not depart with King Murat

Bourgogne
Picart, no, I must be delirious

Picart
You are not, my friend, listen to my voice
Relish living life in its cognizance
I must iterate & reiterate
You cannot stay here, it is dangerous

Bourgogne
Outwith your twingle-twangle sentiment
This is the end for me, unless I rest

Picart
As your colonel I order you to stand

Bourgogne
My what – where did you get that uniform

Picart
A deliciously simple ruse de guerre
Since Vilnius the key to good lodgings
& best of all this morning I procured
A sledge! the jew who owns it waits outside

Bourgogne
A sledge you mean…

Picart
He’ll take us to Prussia

Bourgogne
Is there room for Rossi

Picart
Rossi

Bourgogne
He’s there
But very badly off

Rossi
I am alive Picart, but cannot walk

Rossi
We can squeeze you in, yes, but are the last
Friends step outside, your chariot awaits

Rossi
You are the miracle of this campaign

Picart
Yes, yes… don’t forget to call me colonel

Bourgogne
Yes colonel

Picart
He also thinks I’m Jewish

Exit Picart – Rossi & Bourgogne stand with some difficulty & leave the hut


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

pow0imt4jul0u1rbznjy

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


483059_1-tt-width-637-height-453-crop-1-bgcolor-ffffff-lazyload-0

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

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

SCENE 3: A Forest Clearing

Enter Vasalisa, Angelina, Albina, Vladamir & Vitaly

Vasalisa
This clearing is as good as any space
To build a base from whence to pounce upon
The straggling French bestruggl’d from Smolensk

Natasha
Angelina, you’ve been crying, what for?

Albina
Mother, what is it?

Angelina
It is nothing, well…
I’d hoped to hear my husband’s voice today
I miss you father dearly but am proud
To know he fights the French, I heard him take
The sacred oath upon that mountain height
To never see our faces’ light until
Napoleon defeated & expung’d
From Russia on the spirit of vengeance

***

MY HANDSOME HUSBAND

Angelina
Well my husband is off to the war
O when is it going to end
I miss him each day more & more
He’s my family, lover & friend

& the way that he looks in the morning
When he wakes with a wink & a smile
Makes me bless how my wonderful fortune
Shares his talents, his beauty, his style

My husband’s so champion warlike
Outstanding he fights in the field
But when he’s asleep in the dawn light
All my worryful weepings are heal’d

Then the way that he looks in the morning
When he wakes with a wink & a smile
Makes me bless how my wonderful Husband
Offers talents & beauty & style

Well my husband’s so splendidly handsome
As far as my travels can see
There are multiple men in the country
But none are as handsome as he

***

Vitaly
Such love for the fatherland’s warriors
Empowers the souls & hands to noble feats

Vladamir
& from those feats our triumph shall prevail,
The French have been belittled in battles
The fox escapes across the barren land
Abandoning swords & encampments, flies
Thro’ slain brothers blood, painting ghastly sights,
As all around the woods & mountains shout
‘O victory to Rus, O victory
To the terryifying might of old Rus.’

***

Enter Natasha & Valentina, hurriedly

Natasha
Be quiet everybody, still your sound

Valentina
Two French officers approach us alone

Vasalisa
Hide yourselves as salt’s secret of the seas

The Partisans hide in the undergrowth – enter Vachain & Bodet

Vachain
What is this special enigma, Colonel
Which lures us deep into this creaking wood
Is it some wild pretence

Bodet
This is quite real
As we are both noble officers, sir,
We will share the best table, in this case
A genuine bottle of best vodka
From the Tsar’s very own cellar

Vachain
My God

Bodet
I shall go first, as deem’d by higher rank

Vachain
I defer to that & your gratitude

Bodet
{drinking}
My word, there is the fire, first it burns throat
Then belly, how it feels to feel alive!
Here you are my man – prepare for fierce flame

Vachain drinks with splutters & coughs / Bodet laughs

Vachain
That is a mighty blast, no vulgo draught
For one raw moment lends me forgetting,
From being the most affected ever
At the loss of the effectivity
Of our once supreme sword, how our famous
Columns made now disorder’d, prideless mass
We fools who purchas’d our own mockery,
Who were called all sides ‘Indestructables,’
Who swept all Europe before us, broken
Into myriad ruthless parts, striving
To lives preserve at anyworth expense.

Bodet
So many miseries have crazed my voice
This breakdown of order is challenging
Made thrice as complicated by the theft
& plundering of clothing thro’ all ranks
Confusing insignias meaningless
Rather than attempting to discover
True ranks, comrogean soldiers assume
True officers really enlisted men
& flagrantly refused orders obey’d

Vachain
Such things are the current of time’s river
Which carries to oblivion our deeds
Unfeasible it is to stem its flow
& think of desolation’s fate uncheck’d
If I were to die on this faithless march
My memories shall drift into the snow,
With last breath-whisps, of twenty great battles
Thro’ ten years service with the Emperor

Bodet
Napoloen! He does not give a damn
Soldiers supraconstantly collapsing
Upon the road, dismiss’d without a glance
For the sick & dying offers only
Unstricken unsentimentality.

Vachain
So long has Fortune shower’d her favours
He barely believes she deserts him now
& blunders under constant delusion
Proven amply by fatal insistence
That every little thing be brought away
To clog the roads, then lost are in the end

Bodet
The end – what will that be for you & I
When some are murder’d for a pinch of bread
& who shall mourn us here – coldbloodedly
Upon pale, lamenting faces I peer,
This awful war’s dismembrator’d faces,
The wounded, frozen, burn’d – only to turn
Away & think of other trinket things
From all the sad finales I have seen
The worst are those who freeze before a fire
Takes hold & gives out heat, but I have slept
Upon these poor, unfortunate pillows
Too often – enough, let us quaff some more

Bodet drinks & hands the bottle to Vachain

Vachain
So bitter – refuses to taste better

Bodet
Oh lord, look, Captain Vachain, look upwards
Thro’ clearing tops upon a starry sky

Vachain
A hard frost, Colonel,

Bodet
Yes, that might be so
But now is the night’s tremendous disport
Flaring stars, vanishing stars, stars trembling
Star on stars on stars, busy whispering
Gladsome mysteries to one another

Vachain
When gazing on the stars & crystal spheres
From myself I remove myself, become
A portion of all that passes about me
Stirring feelings of the infinite felt
In solitude, where we are least alone

Bodet
This vodka works well, you speak poetry

Vachain
I do? Then let us drink some more

Bodet drinks then passes Vachain the bottle

Bodet
Drink deep

Vachain drinks

Vachain
Still no better, what ingredient does
Russia inject into this burning wine

Enter Vasalisa

Vasalisa
It is a symphony to savour, made
From potatoes, fermented, then distill’d

Bodet
Who are you woman, what is your business?

Vasalisa
I am Vasalisa Kharzina
Of the partisan army of the Tsar
A savage disease needs a savage cure
& leaves befallen from a wither’d tree
Up scoop, you two my captives on parole
& these, these are my country warriors

Enter the partisans, armed – Bodel & Vachain draw their swords

Albina
Put down your swords or we will shoot you dead

Vasalisa
What use are you to anyone that way,
Your roubles’ worth quadruples when alive

Bodet & Vachain drop their swords – they are search’d for more weapons – Vitaly drinks the vodka

Vitaly
It is vodka – it is good

Vladamir
Let me try

Vladmir drinks the vodka

Angelina
Give me a drop Vitaly
{Angelina drinks the vodka}
That is good
Where did you get this from – it is Russian
Who made it murder’d somewhere in these lands

Bodet
I found it deep in the Kremlin’s cellars

Angelina
Found it, stole it, no matter, have a drink

Vasalisa drinks

Vasalisa
The good stuff – Let us dissappear from here
These French are of the Guard, & will send out
No doubt, seach parties, you two , follow us
If refusing you’ll be shot, understand?

Bodet
We understand

Vasalisa
My partisans, depart

Exeunt


SCENE 4: Another Forest Clearing

Bourgogne is alone & struggling through the bad weather. Dead bodies line the road. The ground is covered as far as the eye can see with helmets, shakos, swords, cuirasses, broken chests, empty portmanteaus, bits of torn clothing, saddles & costly schabraques / he reaches a cart

Bourgogne
I curse the snow which hides the azure sphere
& makes an entire army dissappear
It seems as if broad heaven joins the earth
Immelding snowflakes dragging heavy girth
We march without thought, lost & unsteady,
Where whirlwinds of sleet dreadfully eddy
& swarm-drifted snow heap’d up collected
Chasms shyly conceal unexpected
Ingulphing the weakest, whom no more rise
Weak & confounded compounded by sighs
& if standing still we hammer thro the blast
That whips up wild snow, & won’t let us past
With obstinate fury blocking our way
Freezing our clothes with a knife-icy spray
Stiffening tremble-limbs, chattering teeth,
Flat falling in snow the only relief
But only for brief, the skies leaden flight
Buries them in a sepulcher of white,
See how the road to Poland undulates!
Intrepids apathetic to their fates
Hurry by with eyes elsewhere averted
Earth in one vast winding-sheet beshirted!
Dullblank expanse, where only pines emerge
A few gloomy funereals averge
Endless universal desolation,
Where life is but a silly esperance,
Sends instincts pressing self-preservation
Cross-paths down, searching friendly farms, but meet
Screeching Cossacks, peasants gadling in arms,
Who surround us, wound us, strip us to the skin
& leave us expiring with incisive grin
I curse this snow which fills up the traces
Of columns gone before me, just spaces
Of silence, this immense cemetery
That seperates us insalutary
Brings tears to me not shed since I was child,
Now who is this strange creature quite defiled

A wounded French soldier, wrapped in a great fur-lined cloak, crawls on the floor to Bourgogne

Bourgogne
Soldier, what is your name? Your regiment?

The soldier says nothing, then collapses & dies – Bourgogne goes to see if he is alive when an arm from a second soldier led on the floor, grabs him by the legs

Soldier
Stop! help me! Don’t you know, please don’t forget!
{a maniacal laugh}
Marie, Marie, give me food, I’m dying
{he tries to throw off his coat}

Bourgogne
Stop that, please, you’ll surely die without it
Come on, stand up, I will help your comrade

As Bourgogne tires to lift the soldier by the arm he notices that he wears officer epaulettes

Bourgogne
Ah, you are an officer, what rank, sir
& regiment

Soldier
The regiment needs me
To organise reviews, bolster morale
& perfect parades, let us go at once

The soldier gets up to rise but falls on one side with his face in the snow – Bourgogne passes his hand over the soldier’s face & finds there is no sign of life – Bourgogne finds a few fragments of wood & with great difficulty gets them alight – very soon flames crackle up into quite a large fire – he collects a number of schabraques to sit on, and wrapping in his bearskin cape, with his back against the waggon, arranges himself for the night – a Cossack on all fours crawls into the camp – Bourgogne notices, draws his sword & starts to advance – on reaching the Cossack he points his sword in his back

Bourgogne
Are you bear or a man, growl or answer…

The Cossack looks up – he has a long beard which along with his his thick hair is red and thick – his shoulders are of Herculean proportions

Bourgogne
You are Cossack!

The Cossack throw himself down in supplication, trying to kiss Bourgogne’s feet

Cossack
Dobray Frantsouz

Bourgogne
Get off !!

Cossack
Dobray Frantsouz, Frenchie, Dobray Frantsouz

The Cossack kneels upright & is so tall his head reaches Bourgogne’s shoulders – he shows him a fightful sword-cut he had had on his face. Bourgogne signs the Cossack to come near the fire; the Cossack reveals a ball wound to the stomach then turns on his side to writh & wail in pain, & grind his teeth – Bourgogne settles down by the fire

Bourgogne
I would normally aid your pain’s relief
But am so numb to suffering your wails
Run like water on my ears, like my words
On yours, my Cossack foe, what is that noise
Ah – they are trumpets somewhere in the field
Too far away to find them, & this fire
So mindful of my life, for what it is

With a huge groan Picart emerges from the waggon, holding up the top of the waggon with one hand, and having a drawn sword in the other – Bourgogne draws his sword – Picart is trying, without success, to unfasten the great white cloak it wore with the hand which held the sword, as the other was engaged in holding up the top of the waggon

Bourgogne
Are you a Frenchman?

Picart
Yes, of course I am!
What a damn’d silly question! There you stand
Like a church candle! You see what a fix
I am in, why have you not attempted
To help me out of this coffin. I seem,
My good fellow, to have frightened you white

Bourgogne
You frighten’d me, yes, I thought you might be
{pointing to the Cossack}
Another of these noble beauties

Bourgogne helps Picart out of the waggon, who throws off his cloak

Bourgogne
Picart!

Picart
{examining Bourgogne}
Adrien, Adrien Bourgogne?

Bourgogne
It is me mon pays & you are Picart

Picart
Picart by name & Picard by nation

Bourgogne
What angel or fiend throws us together
I know now I am to make it back home
To speak of this encounter in the snow
With tactile ghost as clean & well as thee

Picart
As clean & well as me! How gruff & rough
Are you & thin to boot, veritable
Robinson Crusoe of the Guard, so strange
I scarcely know my friend, your alter’d mein
So miserable – tell me by what luck
Or misfortune do I find you alone
In the woods with this villainous Cossack
Just look at him! See his eyes! He’s been here
Since yesterday, and then he disappeared,
I cannot think at all why he’s come back,
And also you, sergeant, why are you here

Bourgogne
I am feverish on a lazy ledge
I paus’d to rest a moment, else drop dead
The company moved on & in an hour
The tracks were completely cover’d by snow
Three days I’ve been alone now in these woods
Subkingdom of stravation & despair
Have you a bit of something I can eat

Picart
I have a little biscuit if you care

Picart opens his knapsack and draws out a piece of biscuit the size of his hand, which Bourgogne devours at once

Bourgogne
O what medicine rests in firm friendship
I haven’t tasted bread since October
Twenty seventh – this is heaven to taste
But have you any brandy?

Picart
No, mon pays

Bourgogne
I thought I smelt something rather like it

Picart
You are right! Yesterday, when we pillag’d
This waggon there was a brandy bottle
The source of a detestable quarrel
Which sharded glass & snow-wards hard stuff spill’d,

Bourgogne
I should like to see the place where it happened

Picart
Behind the back right wheel snow turns golden gold
There was the scuffle & your nectar find

Bourgogne goes to the wagon, picks up a clump of snow & holds it up to check

Bourgogne
The water of life, frozen in a ball
We’ll melt it in a pan & get quite drunk

Picart
I never thought of doing that, we shall
Surely be drunk, several bottles worth
Were smash’d in ugly distraughtation
{Bourgogne puts snow in the pan – it begins to melt}
An alchemist, alcohol alchemy

Bourgogne
Just flames & a pan, no sorcery here

Picart
You are a great magician all the same

Bourgogne
Do you remember the day of Eylau
When we were stood on the right of the church?’

Picart
Of course, we had weather just like to-day

Bourgogne
I have good reason to remember it,
A brutal Russian bullet carried off
My saucepan. Have you forgotten it,

Picart
No
Certainly not, no more than the far heads
Of Gregoire and Lemoine it swept off too

Bourgogne
How the devil do you recall their names?

Picart
I cannot forget them, they were both good friends

Bourgogne
That day I had haricots in the pan
With a little biscuit

Picart
I remember
They ended up splashed all over us both

Bourgogne
{drinking}
Great God! what a day that was!’
Drink, my friend, this liquid asterism

Picart
{drinking}
I curse the God of Russia & the Conscript

Bourgogne
Conscript?

Picart
Our emperor is nothing but
A regular fool to dally so long
In Moscow, a fortnight was long enough
To eat and drink everything we found there;
But thirty-four days waiting for winter
I call that folly & If he were here,
I’d tell him as much to his regal face
This is not the way to lead men, good God
Plodding like the pen of a bad poet
The dances he has led me sixteen years
We suffered enough in Syrian sands
They were nothing to these deserts of snow

Picart begins blowing on his hands

Bourgogne
But who on earth would be our interrex
Napoleon we need now more than ever

A bugle sounds in the distance

Picart
What was that

Bourgogne
That was a Russian bugle

Picart
Are you sure

Bourgogne
It’s rings unmistakable
Haunt thro’ my dreams or wake me from those dreams

Picart
It sound like the Horse-Grenadiers’ reveille
To the air ‘Fillettes, auprès des amoureux
Tenez bien votre serieux,’

Bourgogne
Not so
That would be most impossible, mon pays
There has been not one first bugle or reveille
For the last fortnight; our cavalry’s cull’d
No, it is Russian – they will be here soon

Picart
Very well, we had better put our arms
In order, first of all my musket find
I have never, ever lost it before
Have carried it six years, all hours of night
I’ll know it by mere touch – even the noise
It makes in falling

Bourgogne
There, beside that log
Is that it?

Picart
It is, good man

The Cossack starts rolling about in the snow in the most terrible sufferings, with his head almost in the fire

Picart
Let us melt
More of this precious snowbrandy, enough
For a bottle each, then reach a safe spot

Bourgogne
& what about our wounded bear

Picart
I doubt
He’ll live another hour, best leave him be

Bourgogne
At least help him to die comfortably
Pass me some schabraques

Picart & Bourgogne lay the cossack on some sheepskin schabraques

Picart
He’ll not die just yet
Look at his eyes: they shine like candle twins

The Cossack is placed sitting up, they holds by his arms / as soon as we let him go he fell down again, his face in the fire / they drag him out only just in time to prevent his being burnt – they lean him the other way

Bourgogne
Now let us leave
With rapid steps towards the setting sun
Thro’ this silent and lonely old forest

Picart
An idea has occurred to me, man
You shall be the rear-guard, and I the van
A double eagle, with two eyes in front
& two behind espial, if we meet
The foe, you load, allow me to engage
To bring them down like fat ducks that they are

Bourgogne
France is that way, mon pays, let us fly home,
Swift-scurried like a hurried polatouche


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 1-2

faur-77-in-the-suburbs-of-smolensk-12-november-cropped.jpgScene 1: Smolensk

Bourgogne, Leboude, Legrand & Foucart arrive at a large fire in a roofless house / an old Chasseur, Roland, sits by the fire / his feet are wrapped up in a sheepskin / his beard, whiskers, and moustache were filled with icicles

Foucart
This devastated ruin is Smolensk?
A town existing only by its name
There’s nothing but rubble & troubles
No houses for shelter, no provisions
To feed us

Bourgogne
Be tranquil, Foucart, Rossi
Has gone to collect protected rations

Leboude
What are Napoleonic promises
These days

Roland
His hederated majesty
Is not to blame, his fame shines insolate,
This present discomfiture not his fault
I curse this land & all its mad-bred flaws
& all who call its catacoombs a home,
The worst of which is Alexander, Tsar!
Now whom among ye brave kind lads has beer

Bourgogne
We are as dry as Syrian desert

Roland
Then I had better die

Leboude draws a bottle of brandy from his pocket

Leboude
Here you are comrade,
I have a drop or two, please help yourself

Roland drains the bottle – hands it back — Leboude tries to drink but finds it empty

Roland
You save my life & If I ever have
An opportunity to save yours back
At the cost of my own, you may be sure
I shall not hesitate for a second
Remember Roland, Chasseur of the Guard,
Now on foot, or to be exact, no feet
Converted to a crude roturier
I had to leave my horse three days ago,
Blew out his brains to banish sufferings
But here is a piece of his leg – have some

Leboude
I am fine

Roland
For the Brandy

Leboude
I shall wait
For our ration

Roland
The right sort never die

Leboude
True

Roland
Not true at all, that speech was foolish
There were many as good as men as me
Among the thousands dead these last three days
I have soldier’d in Egypt, and, by God!
Could it never be compar’d with all this
I hope to goodness our troubles ended;

Foucart
Veritable Pittacus Sarapus!
For us our troubles only just begun
The cold intensifying as each night
Lengthens abreast the darkness of winter
& falls again by four each afternoon
No wonder numerous fools lose their way
Gone blundering thro dusk & darkness both
While others sleep too late waiting for sun
Like drunken palliards in farmer’s barns
& find the Russians rousing them with knives

Legrande
It seems as if the Emperor expects
Some miracle to alter the climate
& ruin end descending every side.

Bourgogne
So what if desolation devastates
The greater the suffering & danger
The greater the honour & the glory

Enter Rossi

Rossi
I have your beef, boys, beef, come take a share

Legrand
Rossi, you beauty

Foucart
That looks amazing

The soldiers rush to get their share & fall on the meat like like wild beasts – Foucart, Bourgogne & Leboude star to cook theres on the fire – Legrand starts to devour his raw

Rossi
What are you doing, it must first be cooked
Are you a man or monstrous chimeran

Legrand
I cannot wait another second, sir,
This is the very ecstasy of life

Rossi
Suit yourself

Legrand
Where did you get such gold from

Rossi
We were lucky, I had to swift become
Hannibal riding Surus to persuade
The Gauls of my importance, & the Guard –
This is no promised land but Fratricide
Frenchman kills Frenchman in his search for food
& fortunes trade for bottles of brandy

Foucart
Real meat! the quintessence of survival
During all this miserable campaign
I never saw as much as cow or sheep
It is the devil’s country, hell all through
Having scour’d hundreds of wretched hovels
To discover what these peasants lived on
Long struggling with unhappy tenantships
All I could find was bread as black as coal,
Too hard for teeth

Bourgogne
{to Rossi}
Give me Graingier’s share
I’ll seek him out about Smolensk before
Nightfall

Rossi
Here you are sergeant, don’t take it
For yourself

Bourgogne
Of course not, on my honour
{leibmotif}
What was that?

Rossi
What?

Bourgogne
That sound

Rossi
I cannot hear

{leibmotif}

Bourgogne
There it is again

Rossi
You are hearing things

Bourgogne
No – there is Graingier, I can sense it

Exit Bourgogne in the direction of the leibmotif


Scene 2: Smolensk, a Church

It is smoky from a fire – Graingier & several other soldiers, some of whom are musicians, are gatherer’d around a church organ in a state of some drunkenness – enter Bourgogne – the singers perform Compère Guilleri

 

 

Graingier
It is my sergeant! boys, Sergeant Bourgogne
The hardiest warrior of the Guard
Comrade, interpose yourself among us
& meet my great new friends, Cuirassieres
Of the Fourth Cavalry

Drunk Cuirassier
{offering silver cup}
Want some brandy

Bourgogne
Thank you very much, man, here, Graingier,
Come take your allocation of fresh beef

Graingier
Quite beautiful

Bourgogne
You look half seas over

Graingier
But happy & warm, you should stay here sir
& join us in our joyous revelries

Bourgogne
I’ll take a little drink, but best I think
To lie beside the fire

Graingier
Do what you please
There’s straw & fodder everywhere, ’twere meant
For the horses, but most of them are dead

Rossi
I have a litte rice & biscuit spare

Bourgogne
In these days of evictive confusion
When food not to be had for even gold,
The greatest proof of friendship one could give
Are such act as these

Graingier
You would do the same

Bourgogne muses quietly a moment on the potato incident

Bourgogne
My mind & limbs grow heavy in the heat
I think I’ll burrow deep into the straw

Graingier
Sleep well, I go to merrymake some more

Graingier rejoins the Cuirassiers – Bourgogne places his head on his knapsack & with his feet to the fire, goes to sleep

***

SONG OF THE LORICATED LEGION

Cuirassiers & Graingier
Here we are
Still surviving for Napoleon
Never doubt
He’s the one to raise us up again
& we know it dont make no sense
We’ve been robb’d of our innocence

Graingier
& I know that that the road is hard
But when you’re with the Old Guard
You’ll never fade away
& I know
That a life’s austere
For the Grenadier
In his coat of grey

Drunken Cuirassier
This is no cautionary tale
For the vision must still prevail

 

***

Bourgogne passes his hand over his chest and other parts of his body / to his horror he discovers he was covered with lice

Bourgogne
What the – lice – hundreds of them – all over

Bourgogne jumps up & strips off, throwing his shirt & trousers into the fire – They make a crackling like a brisk firing – Bourgogne shakes the rest of his clothes over the fire, then strips a corpse of trousers & shirt -moves away from the straw & sits on his knapsack, covered by his bearskin, his head in his hands in a state of dejection

***

Cuirassiers & Graingier
Here we stand
Making sounds in perfect unison
Organ chimes as in Madame de Stael’s salon
& we know that our lives might change
& our fates’ never been so strange

Graingier
& I know that that the road is hard
But when you’re with the Old Guard
You’ll never fade away
& I know
That a life’s austere
For the Grenadier
In his coat of grey

Drunken Cuirassier
& then when our fate intends
We’ll be seeking the recompense


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 2, Scenes 5-6

SCENE 5: Woods

A French soldier, Corentin, is boiling potatoes – enter Bourgogne to one side – Corentin plunges a knife in the pot, pulls out a potato, pinches it to see if it is boiled, then places it back in the pot

Corentin
Another few minutes, my true beauties
Of dining with you all I’ve dreamt enough
Tonight I shall taste in celebration
Your famous flavors awaltz on warm tongue

Bourgogne begins to secretly circiut Corentin – all at once Bourgogne runs at Corentin – brushwood crackles alerting Corentin, who stands up

Bourgogne
Filial warrior, you must either sell
Or give me some potatoes, & if not
By sheer force I shall carry off the lot

Corentin
But, sir, this pot does not belong to me
It is my master’s, of general’s rank,
Who camps close by & orders me to hide
Inside these woods to secretly attend
The soft succilising of these earth-fruits
To feed us both tomorrow

Bourgogne
Take these coins

Bourgogne begins to take pototaes from the pot

Corentin
But sergeant, they are not yet boiled enough

Bourgogne
You try & fool me

Corentin
Sir, pinch one & see

Bourgogne
It is boiled enough
(devouring the potatoes – through chewing he says…}
You got any salt?

Corentin
No sir, the last of that went yesterday
Yet so, these lack all fitness for eating
If undercook’d beckon styptic sickness

Bourgogne
I have had far worse in the inns of Conde
I’m taking half, & if you dare object
I shall take the whole, do you understand

Corentin nods

Corentin
Take seven

Bourgogne
You already have ten francs
& here’s another five

Corentin
What is money
These fifteen francs in one week shall provide
For just one rotten potato, I’m sure,
But – one, two, three, four, five, six & seven

Bourgogne
The gratitude of all the saints on you
I’ll not be forgetting your charity
Or name…

Corentin
I am Corentin

Bourgogne
Adrien
Fair blessings with you on this eaglesflight

Corentin
& you sir

Bourgogne begins to leave

Corentin
Sergent, sergent, do come back

Bourgogne
What is it

Corentin
Take two more for your comrades

Bourgogne
Thank you & keep your musket free of ice

Exit Bourgogne

 


SCENE 6: The Guard’s camp

Bourgogne returns

Foucart
Sergent – how did you fare, well?

Legrand
Yes tell us,
If you are able to add anything
Other than horse meat to this brewing stew

Bourgogne
Alas, no

The soldiers turn their backs on him & bang their musket butts on the ground

Dubois
At least you tried, here’s you share

Bourgogne takes a bowl of stew & starts to wolf it down in one

Dubois
Another wolf

Bourgogne
What is wrong with Boquet

Dubois
From him fear flows this night, from others too
These are rare hours of tragedies combin’d

Graingier
With all hell’s powers issued loose it seems
Aslant the icy shelves of Cocytus
Wind’s razorblade slicing my marrow’d bones,
Sealing eyelids, sticking fingers to guns

Bourgogne
I’ll bless the Lord God for my coat & cape

Bourgogne hollows out a bed from the snow / enter soldiers wearing great white cloaks & the young Prince Emile of Hesse-Cassel / his adjutant addresses the Gaurds

Adjutant
Men, this is Prince Emile of Hesse-Cassel
He shall be sleeping near your fire tonight

There is indifference from the Gaurds – the soldiers of the prince surround him to form a human shelter – meanwhile Bourgogne gets a sneaky potatoe out & eats it quietly – the night comes on – occasionally Bourgogne wakes & checks his potatoes by counting them – in the predawn Bourgogne wakes up & sits on his napsack – he bayonets a hole in his bear skin so its head falls on his chest – he puts his own head through the hole & settles down – there is a scream from Stephanie

Stephanie
My baby, my son, as stiff as a board

The company wake up, but Boquet is dead

Stephanie
My son, my baby son

Dubois
Plesase stephanie
Give him to me

Stephanie
No

Dubois
Please, give him to me
It is sadness beyond all sadnessess
When mothers lose a child, but in this case
Its best for both the baby & yourself

Stephanie
It is best, to die

Dubois
Aye, and die today,
Before he dies the long death of hunger
Give him to me my girl

Stephanie
No

Dubois
You must do it
Leboude, here, & Legrand, will bury him

Stephanie
Then let me gaze one last time on his face
& conjure all the birthdays of his youth
Of how he looked his first day at the schools
Goodbye my little prince
{she kisses the baby, then hands him sadly to Dubois}
Bury him deep
Beneath the scent of wolves

Dubois
Do as she says

Leboude & Legrand go to dig a grave / Leboude digs the earth while Legrand holds the baby – Dubois comfoirts stephanie / Prince Emile steps out from his human shelter, half of whom are dead

Adjutant
Your majesty, how are you, are you well

Prince Emile
I am, but these men, did they not survive

Adjutant
They gave their warmth to you so you might live

Prince Emile
Before we start I’d like to take coffee

Adjutant
Yes sir, look, we can use that nearby fire

Prince Emile
Let us go there at once

Adjutant
Yes sir, company
Follow your prince

Exit the Prince & his men, some half dead & stumbling – some remain to strip the clothes off the dead

Vachain
I thought we French had ended all of that
With the revolution, follow your prince
Where, to oblivion?

One of the Prince’s men approaches Boquet & starts to strip him

Foucart
Leave him alone

Soldier
But he is dead

Foucart
Dead!
{the Soldier continues to strip Boquet}
You will leave off him
Unless you wish to join my friend’s long sleep
From the vicinity of the Guards
All thieves like yours are served with expulsion

Exit the the rest of the Prince’s men

Foucart
Boquet is frozen hard
He does not speak, nor move, nor whisp of breath
Is seen or heard,

Vachain
Then bury his honour
Beside the child, let the warrior sleep,
Quartermaster,

Rossi
Sir

Vachain
Go & sprag Foucart
& I shall start the fire embers aglow,
A dragon’s blow will get the show started

Vachain blows on the fire & it starts / in secret Bourgogne tries to eat a potato but it is rock solid & his teeth slip

Graingier
Adrien, what hold you there… in your hand

Bourgogne
Oh… in the night hunger stabbed me awake
Predominating upon my patience
As soon as dawn made traces in the sky
I was compelled to search again the woods
& found potatoes I’m about to share

Graingier
Potatoes!

Bourgogne
Potatoes

Graingier
Real potatoes

There is a mad dash to Bourgogne – Legrand, Leboude & Graingier try & bite but the potatoes are too hard

Legrand
Let us soften these treasures in the flames

Rossi & Foucart arrive

Foucart
Are they potatoes

Leboude
Aye

Foucart
Where were they found

Leboude
Ask Bourgogne

Bourgogne
From the wood

Rossi
Which direction

Bourgogne
Follow my finger forwards through the pine

Exit Foucart & Rossi / The potatoes in the fire melt away

Legrand
Disastrous day, they melt away like ice

Graingier
Curse this land when even food is frozen
{puts a pan put on the fire}
But all’s not lost, remember yesterday
We bled a most unhappy horse & filled
This saucepan, when congealing in the flames
Wach one of us still breaks his fast this morn

Rossi & Foucart return

Rossi
The snow has covered every living thing
It is a futile prospect e’en to try

Graingier
Those potatoes were uselss anyway
Uneatable whether them hot or cold
At least we have the horse blood, it thaws well

A blare of trumpets

Bourgogne
What is that

Colonel Bodel
We must move, the emperor
Calls us

Graingier
Take a portion, lads, use your hands

All the gaurds dip hands in blood & take a bit – beards smeared with blood / exit all but Dubois & Stephanie at the grave / Boquet lies unburioed beside them

Dubois
We must go my child

Stephanie
I cannot leave mine

Dubois
What do you mean

Stephanie
I have not got the strength
Of soul, of mind, of body & of heart
To leave this place, you have been good to me
Now I shall be good to you, without me
You will will manage much easier, please go

Dubois
But you are delicate in daintihood
How could you survive cold & the Cossacks

Stephanie
I do not care, my mind cannot be moved
Those men are your family – he is mine

Stephanie turns her back & attends the grave – Dubois looks at her a moment then leaves