Category Archives: White Eagles

The Flight of the White Eagles: Act 1, Scene 3


Scene 3: The billiards room of a Moscow mansion


Bourgogne, Legrand, Boquet are stretched on animal skins, wearing turbans, drinking & smoking magnificent pipes

Bourgogne, Legrand, Boquet, Graingier, Leboude
{singing in a round}
We are resting in bubble beds of silk furs & feathers
In the nest of the double-headed eagles
We are blest with abundance & the punch does us wonders
As a guest of the double-headed eagle

Enter Rossi, the quartermaster

Rossi
I have prepared a dazzling punch for you

Graingier
Good man Rossi, quartermaster supreme

Rossi
What a sight you forge, like Turkish pashas
Discussing each other’s seraglios
& the passionate merits of your wives

Legrand
At this moment in time I’d take just one,
& ermine call her, skin soft as this fur

Boqet
Mine would be lion,

Bourgogne
Mine sable

Leboude
Mine fox

Graingier
& mine some buxom Siberian bear

Rossi
While you laugh & drink & smoke til you burst
I’ve been all-a-foraging, high & low
Up attics, down cellars, whose keeps disclosed
Rum from Jamaica, most excellent beer
Deep pack’d in ice to keep summer’s fresh
A drop of which ferments this punch newmade,
Its gusto an enthusiast should charm,
Come try a ladle’s worth

Graingier
Quite wonderful!

Leboude
No, not for me, I’ve had my fill of drink

Bourgogne
Then I’ll have his… that kicks like angry mule!

Enter Mother Dubois

Dubois
O what it is to be Cantiniere
To such an idle company as this

Legrand
But you love us Mother Dubois

Dubois
I did
When you were gallant, not lazy sultans

Boqet
What do you cook us today

Dubois
A little
Salted fish sauted in suet butter
& half a ham for supper if you please

Boqet
Such is the conqueror’s prerogative
To regally banquet in royal garb
To dinner as a Duke, & then return
To all the adulations in the town
Aline processions home, where glory waits

Graingier
There is a rumour rife among the ranks
Spiting Britain’s Continental blockade
We are to go to China, ensure there
Transglobal trade for our eaglet empire

Leboude
A few more thousand leages then, Graingier

Bourgogne
All I would need is a new pair of shoes

Boqet
But first we winter in this queenless hive
Where once a beekeper’s tap on the wall
Responded by unanimous humming
Of bees in tens of thousands, such a buzz;
But now, if he would open up the hive
Instead of serried rows aseal each gap
Just complex combs neglected, sickly frail
In the corners old bees languidly fight,
Clean themselves, or feed one another
Unknowing why they do these deeds at all
For in this Hive’s heart, that once was so grand,
The high mystery of generation
Reduced to sleeping shells of listless bees,
Reeking of death, a few move feebly still
Dragging blunt stingers uselessly behind

Enter Foucart & two young Russian women – Mila & Natasha – carrying bundles of clothes

Foucart
Boys, boys, my treasures are most splendid, look!

Legrand
How lucky you for two, you’ll be sharing

Foucart
Not these young haberdasher maids made mine
For six months service, no, but what they bare
The emboss’d costumes of many nations
Mens & womens, look, there are French dresses,
Fashion’d to favour Louis the Sixteenth

Dubois
& even a basket of wigs I see
I say lets shake a make-up & then dance

The party begin to dress up – Dubois becomes a French marquise, Mila & Natasha become brides of Christ – One of the soldiers accompanies the revelry on his flute, another on a drum

***

PARISIENNE SKIES

We will be going to the ball,
We’ll be rolling round the punch bowl
Drinking ambrosia
We shall be quaffing at the ball
We’ll be falling down, stand up again,
Cheeks turn’d rosier

Then when you see stardust come a tumbling down
On the dance floor, she’s a ballerina

Go, to Nepal, to Provence, go to Delhi
New York & Singapore, Berlin & Rome
Feel if its right then decide if Parisienne Skies
Were sent from on high to service our souls
There’s summer inside those cinnamon skies
Which sum up my soul

We shall be dancing at the ball,
We’ll be rolling round the dance floor
Kicking like stallions
We shall be trailing round the ball
We’ll be hail’d by all, regaling,
Sailing like galleons
Then when you see stardust come a tumbling down
On the dance floor, shes a ballerina

 

Go, to Milan, Budapest & Vienna
Dublin & Amsterdam, Tokyo too
Feel if its right then decide if the houses that rise
On Parisienne Skies were sent for our souls
There’s summer inside those cinnamon skies
Which sum up my soul

I heard that life is for living
Laughing & loving & finding the time
To graze on new pastures
Velvet horizons rise up in your mind
Tho’ I’m full of the wanderlust
Why don’t you come home with me
We could go touring the old arrondissiments
Of the empire’s pearl, Paris
So beautiful
She’s so beautiful…

***

Dubois
{drunk}
Temperance & Prudence, Lord, my guides be

Leboude
A march, strike the drum, my soldiers… at arms!
{the drummer starts a march}

*******

ON VA LEUR PERCER LE FLANC

As the soldiers are marching Mila & Natasha begin to dance quiet energetically, jumping like tartars, flying left to right, swinging arms & legs, falling backwards then getting back up again & redoubling the energy of their efforts, much to the amusement of the party

On va leur percer le flanc
Rantanplan tire lire lan
Ah! ce qu’on va rire!
Rantanplan tire lire
On va leur percer le flanc
Rantanplan tire lire lan.

Le petit tondu sera content
Rantanplan tire lire lan
Ca lui f’ra bien plaisir
Rantanplan tire lire
On va leur percer le flanc
Rantanplan tire lire lan.

Car c’est de là que dépend
Rantanplan tire lire lan
Le salut de l’Empire
Rantanplan tire lire
On va leur percer le flanc
Rantanplan tire lire lan.

 

 

***

Enter Captain Vachain / Natasha throws her arms around his neck & kisses him

Vachain
Get off me at once – in the name of God
What is happening, have you all gone mad

Leboude
We were just having a party, Captain

Vachain
Well halt at once, turn sober by the morn
The Emperor orders an inspection
Of the entire army, we its best troops
Apparently, I see such praise a sham

Leboude
Of course sir, company, to attention

Some of the soldiers attempt to stand, but are too drunk

Vachain
I cannot guess how we conquer’d Moscow!
I’ll be back at Dawn, & Madame Dubois

Dubois
Yes Captain Vachain, sir

Vachain
No alcohol
Is to be serv’d at the breakfast

Dubois
Yes sir

Exit Vauchain, the party burst into laughter

Boqet
You heard him lads, drink up your dregs, then shave
We’d hardly want the Emperor’s dispraise

The party begin to tidy up in a state of semi-revelry


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 1, Scene 2

SCENE 2: The Kremlin

Napoleon is in the Tsar’s apartments, being entertained by the Italian tenor, Tarquinio, & Martini, a pianist / with him are Berthier, Prince Eugene, General Gourgaud & Caulaincourt

***

PLAISIR D’AMOUR

Tarquinio
Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un moment,
Chagrin d’amour dure toute la vie.
J’ai tout quitte pour l’ingrate Sylvie,
Elle me quitte et prend un autre amant.
Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un moment,
Chagrin d’amour dure toute la vie.
Tant que cette eau coulera doucement
Vers ce ruisseau qui borde la prairie,
Je t’aimerai”, te repetait Sylvie,
L’eau coule encor, elle a change pourtant.
Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un moment,
Chagrin d’amour dure toute la vie.

 

***

Napoleon
A wonderful piece, eternal even
Your dear father, Martini, would be proud
To hear it played so magical abroad,
& Tarquinio how well you sing it,
Choiring as if a young-eye’d cherubim

Did court the gods on lofty Olympus
I wish my officers to hear the same
Promotion to a mental dignity
Could you prepare a concert for Sunday

Martini
Certainly sire

Napoleon
Today I shall decree
To open Moscow’s standing theatres
To see her noble boards restor’d to life
& have them play French comedies – perhaps
Italian – the troops are fond of those,
All actors & musicians shall be paid
Six months advance for each, do you accept

Martini
To furnish your best victory with art
Would be the perfect honour of my life

Napoleon
Good, if you will inform your close colleagues
Of this conversation’s fidelity
You are dismissed

Exit Tarquinio & Martini

Louis-Alexandre Berthier, Prince of Neuchetal

Berthier
Such timescale terrifies me, six months, sire!
When Moscow burn’d your dreams, too, turn’d to flames
I hear full well the warnings of Winter
The planet Saturn broods, by gloomy gaze,
Forebodings of terrible disaster
Shake me to my boots with unborn sorrows

Napoleon
What would you have me do my nervous prince
Seeing you are so wise?

Neuchetal
Return at once
To Paris & proclaim a victory
With ashes of Muscovite palaces
In your pockets

Napoleon
Release your ill censure
What frightful series of dangerous wars
Would follow from the first stepp’d retrograde,
Death is nothing, but to live defeated
& inglorious is to daily die
That self-same sun which led us to glory
Brightening our victory each morning,
Shall set not now leading us to darkness,
No, we shall face the rising sun, Moscow
From a pure military point of view
Holds no real value, but its name’s prestige
Remains untarnish’d, thus, if politics
Were a game of chess, the black queen is trapp’d,
Her trembling king helpless behind his pawns
Besides, in politics, one shoud never
Recede, never admit to being wrong

Caulaincourt
Sire, the city is in a dreadful state
The Russians left us nothing but ruin

Napoleon
Well, at least we are quiet among them
Eh, Caulaincourt?

Caulaincourt
That is true, I suppose

Napoleon
We have reduced Mother Russia to rags
Her warcry tongue turn’d stringless instrument
Her commerce set back half a century
Such violent shocks convulsing thro’ his throne
The Tsar, I’m sure, shall certain sue for peace

Eugene
I agree with positivities, sire,
The occupation of his capital
Is hampering aristocratic rents
Their revenues drifting with the peasants
Gone eating up the provinces, until
The whole of Russia gurgles on the blood
Drawn by the blade that was our Moscow march

Gourgaud
By number & by nature, the extant
Buildings & resources throughout Moscow
Offer a military position
Preferable to any other site
This side of the River Nieman, sire

Caulaincourt
But as you said yourself, there is in war
A singular favorable moment,
The great art is to seize it, we should leave

Napoleon
Gourgaud, explain to Caulaincourt, simply,
How well the army has been provided for

Gourgaud
For half a year our larders shall remain
With beets abundant, round as bowling balls,
Plump cabbages gathering like oceans,
Each passing hour discoveries are made
In shops & cellars; foodstuffs, clothes & drink
The deep-detritus of the bourgeoisie

Napoleon
You see, Caulaincourt, if we must remain
We shall do so, quartering in comfort
Designate the order of the season
Forage for furniture & firewood
& bring in all the hay for fifteen miles

Caulaincourt
This is a reckless gamble, if retreat
Will come, we are completely unprepar’d,
With wheat showing scarce, cattle dwindling fast
With no preparation for departure
When cold comes in we dare not take a step
Else lose our feet & fingers in the frosts
& while the horses shooed a pinless smooth
They’ll slip on ice & break their slender legs

Napoleon
Ha – like a fusswife you worry too much,
The ever, over-cautious Caulaincourt

Berthier
But sire, I urge on you heed his advice
Your hopes for peace keeping you prisoner
In this queer, gremlin castle call’d Kremlin

Napoleon
Eugene?

Eurgene remains silent

Eugène_de_Beauharnais,_vice-roi_d'Italie.jpg

Eugène de Beauharnais

Caulaincourt
What harm will come of idle hours
Spent lining coats with fur, or sewing hats
& gloves, constructing sledges just in case

Napoleon
Do what you will if it will ease my ears
This is no time to worry of biscuits
There are more pressing businesses at hand
Prince Neuchetal, you have read the despatch
From Murat

Berthier
I have, sire

Napoleon
What are its bones?

Berthier
The King of Naples full of flattery
Pays tribute to his Cossack counterpart
His linguals spun infloraling with praise
& says how Russian arms are readying
Capitulation, & how the Cossacks,
Embroil’d beneath mourning despondancy,
Could even fight for France, oppose the Tsar

Caulaincourt
But the Cossack could just be blowing dust
Into his eyes, blaming the wand’ring wind

Napoleon
So you see, Caulaincourt, it is only
A time or two before my fate’s fair tide
Oerwhelms this state

Caulaincourt
Do not trust half-accounts
They might be mischievous exaggerations
Look where we are, men of twenty nations
Secure within the city of the Tsars
Emanating European progress
Against this explicit, Asiatic
Barbarianism, this serf-struck land
Of strict taboos & prohibitive chains
Must make a common cause with our reforms

Eugene
Allow me to interject a moment

Napoleon
Of course Eugene, what patterns form your thoughts

Eugene
Like deer enstartl’d by a hunter’s gun
At a pace Petersburg is emptying
They flee to England those who can afford
Already the Tsarina’s jewellry
& royal archives heav’d off to London
With all the strength & purpose of his mind
The Tsar should be eager to make profit
Sire, seize this opportunity, enter
Negotiations, appease the nobles,
For the folly of Moscow’s flameletting
Is one that forms a madman’s boast today
But tomorrrow must end in penitence

Napoleon
I agree – & I thank you for your time
All of you, & now if you could all depart
Except for Caulaincourt, enjoy your day

Exit Eugene, Gourgaud & Berthier

Napoleon
Brandy?

Caulaincourt
I shall refrain your majesty

Napoleon
{pouring out a glass of brandy}
No other issue than peace, fair & prompt
Seems possible, I would hate to destroy
Alexander – I love the man too much
We must make peace – will you go Caulaincourt

Caulaincourt
Go

Napoleon
Yes, go, to Petersburg & the Tsar
Deliver my proposition of peace

Caulaincourt
He will refuse

Napoleon
What makes you so certain

Caulaincourt
He said to me if you’d make war on him
It is possible, even probable
He’d be defeated, but that would not mean
You could dictate a peace, an exemplar
Was made of Spain, tho’ beaten many times
Them no submittance pled, & are not so
Far away from Paris as we now stand,
Lacking recourse to call on resources
& climate, as the Russian calculates

Napoleon
Piffle! I have been proffer’d fairy tales
Upon your Russian climate – it is, well,
Pleasant

Caulaincourt
It is unseasonable sire

Napoleon
Whenever have the vanquish’d set the terms

Caulaincourt
He marvels at your abilities, sire
But not that of your marshalls, he will fight
& take no risk, use his natural room
Telling me frankly about Kamchatka
How he would set his court up in the east
Rather than ceding provinces & sign
A treaty more finite truce expected

Napoleon
Expel those thoughts at once, unhappiness
At all the punishments I’ve dealt your friend
Undermines your loyalty to this crown,
Cramm’d deep within some crannied hole or chink
When pressur’d by a tough reality
A sentence said in safety falls apart
Will you go

Caulaincourt
I will not be received, sire,
For certain, as he knows I know his mind,
To be there on such terms insult would prove
As such would tarnish everything hard wrought
Thro’ all my months in Petersburhg

Napoleon
You fear
Repugnancy to serve this task I ask

Caulaincourt
He will not sign peace in his capital
Until entirely evacuated
From his territories he will not hear
A word of your proposal, your letter
Will not be read

Napoleon
The Tsar is surrounded
By English partisans, who’d cut his throat
Before peace made with France, Alexander
Said to me himself he hates the English
As much as France does
{Napoleon takes Caulaincourt by the arm & paces to & fro}
You must go to him
Solicit peace upon your hands & knees
If it would deign be granted – but if not
We will march on the northern capital
From whose conquest conspiracy must fray
His sacred kingship, rip him from the throne
Thro’ circumstances well avoidable

Caulaincourt
The roads to distant Petersburg are long
Inching thro’ morrasses, impassable
Made by three hundred pitchfork peasants
Barring the advance, what of the wounded
Do we simply leave them for Kutusoff
Who would then snap at our heels all the way
As if we were fleeing to a conquest

Napoleon
Kutosoff is beaten, but I accept
The season for Petrsburg is passing
But if not the whole army, then just you,
Will you go

Caulaincourt
Not willfully to folly
Why would he set his capital on fire
To make peace in the ashes & the char
Only from facing banks of Nieman’s flow
Could understanding come

Napoleon
Where is your faith
It seems the Tsar infects your very thoughts
I ought to strip you of all your titles
Shall I send instead Monsieur Toutalmine
As my plenipotentiary, shall I

Caulaincourt
As you wish, sire, it will be of no use

Napoleon
I must have peace, I absolutely must
I want this peace, my honour must be saved
But if you dare not deliver my words
You can at least inscribe them on the page

Armand-Augustin-Louis de Caulaincourt

Caulaincourt
Yes Sire… they will be considered but proof
Of the poor state of your embarassment

Napoleon
Enough – remember, I am emporer,
Who thinks & acts in realms unknown to all
Except for those who lord oer millions
I shall begin

Caulaincourt
Sire

Napoleon
Dear Alexander
Russia’s emperor, I wish you no harm
This superb city exists no longer
Its governor had given the order
To burn the ornate work of centuries
But fires, at last, appearing to have ceas’d
Only a quarter of Moscow remains
Such conduct is uselessly atrocious
That leaves to ghosts each village from Smolensk
Since Moscow was exposed by Russian arms
In the interests of your majesty,
Humanity & its inhabitants,
Its care to me was confided in trust
Administration, magistrates & gaurds
Are set in place as to plans adopted
In Vienna, Madrid & Berlin twice
I know well your majesty’s principles
For justice, without animosity
While we were waging war a single note
Would have halted my march at any time
Sacrificing the advantage at once
Of entering Moscow – if you retain
Some remains of your former sentiments
You will take this letter in a good part
By this, my dear sir, my brother, I pray
To God he will preserve your majesty…
Is it neat

Caulaincourt
Yes

Napoleon
Then I shall sign straightways
{Napoleon signs the decree}
Have it despatched to Petersburg today
With Moseiur Toutalmine & twenty gaurds

Caulaincourt
Yes, your majesty

Napoleon
O, & Caulaincourt
Do not ever, ever, doubt ,me again

Exit Napoleon / Caulaincourt reads through the letter shaking his head


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: Overture – Act 1, Scene 1

OVERTURE

ACT 1, SCENE 1: Above The Chernishini River

Enter Murat & Miroladovitch. Murat is dress’d as a Spanish general, sporting a sable hat & silk brocades. Miroladovitch is wearing three shawls of different cloth.

Miroladovitch
I am happy you attended in peace
My petit pourparler, as Frenchmen say

Murat
We say so many things but never quite
As well as what leaps brightly from your tongue

Miroladovitch
One tries, for after all, the French possess
The first of all cultures, bursting finesse
Far from the wolfish wildness of my world

Murat
So good of you to say so – the silence
Of this strange, tacit armistice of sorts,
A miracle beyond thematic woes,
Allures a certain sense of the tourist,
On which I state your country might be wild
But beauties of your women quite refined.

Miroladovitch
High praise indeed from a Latinist king
With all of Naples bevvy to admire
But what are fair women without fine wine,
This bottle imported from Aquitaine
Would you share?

Murat
Why certainly, I admire
Your taste for French vines

Miroladovitch
Of course, the world’s best

Miroladovitch pours out the wine, which is used in a toast

Miroladovitch
To both our Emperors

Murat
The Emperors

Murat2

Joachim Murat: King of Naples

Miroladovitch
May they return soon to fraternity
An amity which made great nations friends
Injurious wasps we swarm no more
At Taurantino eighty-five thousand
Are waiting, daily, Petersburg’s reply
To messengers urging the Tsar to peace
Leave days of blood & battle in the past

Murat
Napoleon wants peace, for him enough
To come to Moscow, not to burn it down,
The governor uncaged its criminals,
Vile worms who wert oerlook’d even in birth
& gave them flames & powder, what a waste
of wond’rous worksmanship centuries old

Miroladovitch
The hour of conciliation transpires
There are many Muscovites in the army
Who boot-by-boot are stepping from the mist
Wishing to see the campaign’s termini
Them eager more for peace than Bounaparte
Believe me, King Murat, if you attack’d
The Cossacks will not answer & may join
With France in common cause

Murat
How say you so?

Miroladovitch
The surly peasant scrapes with discontent
No better now than when the Golden Horde
Enslaved them, they crave emancipation

Murat
I credit you for honesty, my friend
If I may call you so

Miroladovitch
Of course, we are

Murat
Then please accept this watch, with my jewels
But, as gifts are seldom altruistic
Plesae visit me in Paris in return
Next summer, in our peacetime, as I hope

Miroladovitch
Your overkindness wrings adoring tears
With all my heart accepted – I worship
Your opera, the Comedie Francaise
I long to see, there hear cantatas sung

Murat
A good song is to the woes, elixir

Miroladovitch
I know a very good song, will you hear

Murat
Why yes, what is its name?

Miroladovitch
It is The Sable Raven, an old tune

 

 

THE SABLE RAVEN
To the tune of Chornyy Voran

O Sable raven, black guest of our homestead
So unexpected are your wings,
Why bring this white hand to my bedside
Raven, what message from the kings

I recognized the white hand oer my bedside
Dropp’d by the raven in my own
It was the white hand of my precious brother
Raven, tell me why you here are flown

He said, ‘your brother, slain in the battle,
Naked, unburied on the strand;
He is now lying with a thousand horsemen
Dead in that far-off foreign land

***

Murat
A splendid song sung splendidly, there is
Parnassus in the pitch, Orpehus
Might have penn’d it, perhaps you’ll send the score

Miroladovitch
On one condition – you sing me a song

Murat
A song?

Miroladovitch
Why yes!

Murat
A song… ah yes… but first

Murat takes a drink of wine to clear his throat

 

 

MARLBROUGH IS GOING TO WAR

Marlbrough’s going to war
Marlbrough’s going to war
Marlbrough’s going to war
Don’t know when he’ll come back
Don’t know when he’ll come back

Marlbrough s’en va-t-en guerre
Mironton mironton mirontaine,
Marlbrough s’en va-t-en guerre
Ne sait quand reviendra
Ne sait quand reviendra.

Marlbrough’s going to war
Marlbrough’s going to war
Marlbrough’s going to war…
Don’t know when he’s coming back

***

Miroladovitch
That wins the brilliancy prize my friend
To think but yesterday we might have met
As soldiers in the field, with sabres drawn,
Slashing life from lives, bereft of hearing
Sweetnesses sweeping thro’ each others’ souls

Murat
Thank fate such awful bloodshed ne’er befell
& hope to God & Emporers ne’er will

Miroladovitch
I concur, now come, a village nearby
Stands home to some particular beauties
Like nosegays to smell & sweetmeats to taste
All their talk is of some handsome monarch
& how they are dreaming silky pleasure
He never could have tasted in Paris

Murat
If they would desire the meeting so much
One must respect all customs when abroad

Miroladovitch
Good man – Captain Akhlestyshev, bring up
King Murat’s horse & mine… your majesty
Please step this way

Murat
Tho’ very far from home
I feel at home with unremitting joy

Exit Murat & Miroladovitch


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

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

 

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen