Scene II

Alfred Tennyson

Outside the Woods near ROSAMUND’S Bower.


Up from the salt lips of the land we two
Have track’d the King to this dark inland wood;
And somewhere hereabouts he vanish’d. Here
His turtle builds: his exit is our adit:
Watch! he will out again, and presently,
Seeing he must to Westminster and crown
Young Henry there to-morrow.

                                          We have watch’d
So long in vain, he hath pass’d out again,
And on the other side.

[A great horn winded.
                              Hark! Madam!

How ghostly sounds that horn in the black wood!

[A countryman flying.
Whither away, man? what are you flying from?

The witch! the witch! she sits naked by a great heap of gold in the middle of the wood, and when the horn sounds she comes out as a wolf. Get you hence! a man passed in there to-day: I holla’d to him, but he didn’t hear me: he’ll never out again, the witch has got him. I daren’t stay—I daren’t stay!

Kind of the witch to give thee warning tho’.

[Man flies.
Is not this wood-witch of the rustic’s fear
Our woodland Circe that hath witch’d the King?
[Horn sounded. Another flying.

Again! stay, fool, and tell me why thou fliest.

Fly thou too. The King keeps his forest head of game here, and when that horn sounds, a score of wolf-dogs are let loose that will tear thee piecemeal. Linger not till the third horn. Fly!


This is the likelier tale. We have hit the place.
Now let the King’s fine game look to itself.


And far on in the dark heart of the wood
I hear the yelping of the hounds of hell.

I have my dagger here to still their throats.

Nay, Madam, not to-night—the night is falling.
What can be done to-night?


Becket - Contents    |     Act III - Scene III

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