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CARIBBEAN QUARTERLY'S DEREK WALCOTT
Yesterday Walks Before Us
Sir Philip Sherlock v
Edward Baugh xiii
The Yellow Cemetery 1
Soles Occidere et Redire Possunt 4
Choc Bay 6
Words for Rent 9
As John to Patmos 14
Two Hieroglyphs in the Passing of Empires 15
A City's Death By Fire 16
A Lesson for this Sunday 17
Against My Holy Rage 18
Gib Hall Revisited 20
Self Portrait 21
DRUMS AND COLOURS
FOREWORD by Noel Vaz 22
Part 1 Conquest 23
Part 2 Rebellion 87
Walcott on Walcott
Dennis Scott 136
Derek Walcott-Major Works 142
Notes on Contributors 143
Instructions to Authors 144
VOL. 38, NO. 4
UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES
The Hon. R.M.Nettleford, O.M.., Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor of
Continuing Studies, Mona (Editor)
G.M.Richards, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Principal, St. Augustine, Trinidad
Roy Augier, Professor of History, Mona, Jamaica
Sir Keith Hunte, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Principal, Cave Hill.
Neville McNorris, Department of Physics, Mona
Veronica Salter, School of Continuing Studies, Mona (Associate Editor)
All correspondence and contributions should be addressed to:
School of Continuing Studies,
University of the West Indies,
Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica.
We invite readers to submit manuscripts or recommend subjects which they
would like to see discussed in Caribbean Quarterly. Articles and book reviews of
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University Centre in any West Indian Territory served by this University.
This edition of Caribbean Quarterly celebrates the achievements of Derek Walcott, the
West Indian poet, who was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature. The very first
edition of this journal, published in 1949, included "The Yellow Cemetery", a poem by the
"young St. Lucian Derek Walcott" as Philip Sherlock, the editor, described the still
inexperienced but undoubtedly talented apprentice in search of form in response to feeling.
This was the beginning of a long collaboration between Walcott and CQ, subsequent
editors of which seized every opportunity to expose its readership to the art, artistry and
thinking of Derek Walcott.
The eleven poems that appeared over the years in the journal are reproduced in this
issue in tribute to the Nobel Laureate. His contemporaries while as students at the still
fledgeling University College of the West Indies (UCWI), will be intrigued by "Gib Hall
Revisited", a poem about student days at the Mona campus when undergraduates wore
scarlet gowns as badges of membership in a new and still untried institution of growth and
higher learning designed to serve the emergent self-governing polity. Others of the poems
will not fail to attract those who are acquainted with his many distinguished compendia of
works which have been internationally published since his university student-days. (see p.
Mr. Walcott is, of course, more than a poet. He is a playwright and philosopher besides
being painter, journalist and essayist. His play Drums and Colours appeared in print in
1962, Caribbean Quarterly Volume 7, Numbers I & 2. It was commissioned in 1957 by
the University's Department of Extra-Mural Studies, then under the direction of Philip
Sherlock who himself a poet-historian, had spotted the budding genius in the young
Walcott a decade earlier and published him as stated above. The moving spirit behind the
theatre project was Noel Vaz, the university's Staff Tutor in Drama who was then located
in Trinidad and Tobago where Walcott was to take up residence soon after. Mr. Vaz was
the one to direct the play for the federal inaugural celebrations held in Port of Spain in April
1958. His introduction to the original piece is reproduced in this issue. The Extra Mural
Department (now the School of Continuing Studies) was to maintain a lively interest in the
poet throughout his career, publishing in 1980 a special issue of Caribbean Quarterly
dedicated to the work of both himself and another of the region's major poets and writers,
Edward Kamau Brathwaite ( CQ. Vol. 26 Nos 1&2 ).
"Drums and Colours" today carries a certain resonance at the end of this past half a
millennium which has witnessed the making of "American civilisation" embracing the
history and existential reality of the peoples inhabiting North America, Latin America and
the Caribbean. The play offers insights into the lives of four men who have greatly
influenced the making of the Caribbean, that Caribbean which has nurtured and sustained
the creative energies of Derek Walcott and kindred souls, especially in the period following
Emancipation and throughout the times of struggle for cultural and intellectual inde-
pendence by the region's feistily self-assertive inhabitants.
The seminal contributors, all archetypes to Walcott, are Columbus himself also known
as the "Discoverer", Raleigh, the Conqueror, Toussaint L'Ouverture, the Rebel, and
George William Gordon, the Martyr. Discovery and Conquest, Resistance and Sacrifice
are clearly the ancestral foundations on which a Caribbean civilisation must need rest its
quest for certitude and stake its claim for creative capacities and regenerative power.
The play may well prove to be a welcome opportunity for further reflection on the
travails and achievements of the historic and peculiarly focused latter half of the second
millennium now in preparation for humanity's entry into the third.
Professor Edward Baugh, a leading student of Derek Walcott's literary oeuvre, has
offered a tribute which he wrote after learning of the award of the Nobel Prize to the
creator of Omeros (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York 1991) the booklength epic that has
won him universal acclaim for his ennoblement of all that is the Antillean soul and
landscape as well as of poesy itself. He had written it, he is reported as saying, "for the
island people from whom I come...... In a sense I saw it as a long thank-you note", he
continued. Sir Philip Sherlock, mentor and animateur to Walcott in his early years at the
then- UCWI, provides the reader with a unique look at Walcott's contribution to our further
understanding of history via the literary imagination. An interview with Walcott, "Walcott
on Walcott", conducted by fellow-poet Dennis Scott is also included as if to parallel in
prose what the poet has long done in "Self Portrait", an early poem reproduced on p. 21
Caribbean Quarterly takes this opportunity to offer its own congratulations to Derek
Walcott and to express a special word of thanks for reminding "the tribe in bondage" how
"to fortify itself by cunning assimilation of the religion of the Old World", and in so doing,
how to make what seems to be "surrender" the "redemption" of the tribe, how to defy the
threat of a "loss of tradition" by achieving "the renewal" of tradition, how to transform a
seeming "death of faith" into "its rebirth". He has further taught, in his sustained exercise
of a fertile and productive literary imagination, that to be the "master" of one's own
creati-e talent and destiny one must be forever "learning". The lesson is not only timely; it
is indeed, worth learning.
YESTERDAY WALKS BEFORE US
WITH ESTEEM AND AFFECTION FOR DEREK WALCOTT
SIR PHILIP SHERLOCK
Yesterday walks before us with a lamp. Tend and trim the wick and its beam lights our
path, revealing what the hurrying present showed too quickly or not at all. By that light we
reorder our experience, add to our knowledge, change ourselves. As the process deepens,
the self draws strength from a sense of continuity with the past, from the revivifying force
of historical association.
The history of the Jews shows how powerful a force this sense of continuity can be, how
it provides an individual or a community of people with inspiration, fortifies them in times
of disaster, generates within them transforming surges of creativity.
Isiah Berlin, in his essay on Benjamin Disraeli, Karl Marx and the Search for Identity,
quotes the Russian revolutionary Herzen who said of his country that its strength lay not in
history, of which it did not have a great deal, but in geography. Berlin commented that "The
Jews could reasonably say that what they have lacked at all times is geography, enough soil
to live on and develop, but of history they have had, if anything, more than enough".
The African people have both geography and history. "The land", they say "is the life
of the people". Their history is a living reality and their past, peopled by their ancestors, is
a part of their present. Kwame Nhrumah drew on this sense of historic association when, in
his Motion of Destiny in 1953, he reminded his people that in the early days of the Christian
era, long before England had attained any importance, "Our ancestors had attained a great
empire..Thus may we take pride in the name of Ghana...as an inspiration for the future."
The Yoruba people, steeped in their history, recited at major festivals the praises of their
ancient chiefs. The griots, venerable bards, made their history a reality by recounting their
great deeds. As the Somali poet Syad wrote, the Africans kept "one ear bent to the sleeping
centuries along the dark road of time." And, as John Mbiti, African philosopher and
theologian, reminds us, "It is part of traditional education for children in many African
societies to learn the genealogies of their descent...The genealogies give a sense of depth,
historical belongingness, a feeling of deep rootedness and a sense of sacred obligation to
extend the genealogical line."
How devastating, then, was the blow suffered by the enslaved African in the Americas.
Geography and history were taken from him at one and the same time. By capture and
transportation to the new world his birthcord was surgically severed. Instead of a tribal
identity he was branded with the initials of an owner. Instead of the rites of initiation in a
tribe or clan the African, man woman or child, was entered as a first name in a plantation
register. All sense of historic continuity was wiped out by separation from family, clan,
tribe, village, shrines, priests, language group; and wiped out also by transportation across
the implacable Atlantic to a strange land to labour as a slave for strange people of another
race who spoke a strange language, set them to strange tasks, denied them freedom, justice,
. ligious teaching, education other than instruction in the work and skills of the plantation
to which they were tied.
When at last, after a century and a half of liberation struggles and wars, freedom was
achieved and some access gained to schools, the African was kept locked in a world of
white power, locked in a social system based on European domination exercised through
The Afro-American prevailed against all odds. His liberation struggles began in the
barracoons at the slaving ports and on the slave-ships engaged in the Atlantic Slave trade.
They continued through the early years of slavery in Hispaniola, spread wherever slavery
spread in the New World, planted settlements of free Africans throughout plantation
America from the Palmares Republic in Brazil and the Bush Negro communities in the
Guyanas to the mocambos and palenques of Spanish America, the Maroon settlements of
Jamaica, the Independent republic of Haiti, the swamp lands of Louisiana.
But even thirty years after achieving independence, West Indians do not understand that
their history is one of monumental achievement by African ancestors who transformed
enslavement into the new World's longest, most extensive freedom-struggle, a struggle that
led our fathers to emancipation, to self-government and independence.
Nor do we understand that the heroes are the ancestors, not the rulers and masters, not
the imperial heroes, not even Nelson, not Rodney. The drive for freedom and justice came
from the people who, with a defiant, stubborn insistence on human dignity, transformed the
degradation of the sugar-and-slave plantation into an epic Caribbean and American story,
an odyssey of a spiritual search for freedom, identity, a home of their own, a land of their
own, a voice of their own.
But who will tell the story? Who will see the magnitude of the historic event or
understand the African's refusal to be the property of another.
Leap across the century from the 1830's to the 1930's. In that decade of awakening the
West Indian people, angry at social injustice and deepening poverty, painted the night skies
red above the Eastern Caribbean Islands, Guyana and Jamaica. They set in motion revolu-
tionary political and social change, added power to an emerging sentiment of national unity
and moved West Indians forward to the 1960's, the period of independence.
The answer to our question lies in the great surge of creative energy that in those electric
years produced the first cultural awakening of the West Indian people. C.L.R. James, Eric
Williams and, a few years later, Elsa Goveia, pioneered the writing of West Indian history
from a West Indian point of view; West Indian novelists, poets, painters, sculptors among
them George Lamming, Roger Mais, Edna Manley, Dunkley, Martin Carter, George
Campbell, Albert Huie, Andrew Salkey, Arthur Seymour, Ellsworth Keane, Vic Reid, Eric
Roach, the Calypsonians of Trinidad, the Cudjoe Minstrels of Jamaica laid the strong
foundations of a West Indian cultural movement. It was an almost overwhelming ex-
perience to witness a people coming alive, discovering themselves, claiming their land and
opening their eyes to the centrality of Africa; to share that miraculous moment in which the
first generation of West Indian artists achieved self-realisation and self-expression through
free, spontaneous, creative work. They plunged deep into the lives of the West Indian
people, and found, as Norman Manley said, a world that involved widely different inter-
pretations of reality. "Mais did not write about the products of leisure and the cultivated
life, he wrote about raw humanity and how it suffers in the framework of hardship and in
the face of authority. He wrote about a world that is the real world still for most of those
who dwell on earth. The patterns and the lights reflect from different surfaces but beneath
the reality is the same."
It is appropriate at this point to turn to Derek Walcott and to reflect briefly on ways in
which he has enlarged our understanding of our past and of ourselves.
Derek Walcott was born in 1930, at the beginning of a period of political activity and
of surging creativity. When he was thirteen he was stricken with malaria fever. In 1962 he
published "In a Green Night" which included a poem "Orient and Immortal Wheat" that
recalls how "Nature seemed monstrous to his thirteen years, Prone to malaria, swearing
inherent sin, Absolved in limacol and evening prayers."
The tite of the poem is taken from Thomas Traheme's Centuries of Meditations where,
in splendid organ-toned jewelled prose, he wrote. "The corn was orient and immortal
wheat, which never should be reaped, nor was ever sown. I thought it had stood from
everlasting to everlasting".
In a later passage of his Meditations, Traheme described a Paradise peopled by old
men, "venerable and revered creations....young men glittering and sparkling Angels....Boys
and girls tumbling in the streets and playing were moving jewels."
Derek Walcott makes no claim to being "moving jewels" or to Traheme's paradise. he
sticks to what he knows, to the sun-baked
"Hills, roofs and yards with is own
He wept again, though why he was
At dazzling visions of reflected tin.
So heaven is revealed to fevered
So is sin born, and innocence made
By intimations of hot galvanize".
The last image is perfect Trinidad calypsonian. The poet has not settled for intimations
of immortality; his gift for "taking bad something mek laugh" reveals his Caribbean mind
better than a thousand hosannas.
"About August of my fourteenth years", Walcott recalls in "Another Life", with a hint
of Wordsworth, he lost himself above a St. Lucia valley, and looked down upon "rifling
smoke from small labourer's houses."
"I was seized by a pity more
than my young body could bear...
.....I began to weep,
inwardly, without tears, with a serene
of all senses; I felt compelled to
I wept for nothing and for everything"
He wept for the cooking smoke above the cottager's houses, his heart pierced by the
"the poor still move behind their
but in that ship of night, locked in
through which, like chains, a little light
something still fastens us forever to the
How those terrifying words, "like chains, transform the cottage, the ship of night" into
the slave ship of the Middle Passage.
The growing boy, so sensitive to natural beauty, to human need and to the "shut in"
quality of peasant life, pictured another aspect of Caribbean history in Ruins of a Great
House, in which, as Wayne Brown observes, he goes beyond the conventional reaction of
exclaiming at the iniquities of slavery to "perplexity at the evident co-existence of beauty
and evil, yoked together in the phrase 'murderers and poets.'
"I thought next
Of men like Hawkins, Walter Raleigh,
Ancestral murderers and poets....
Ablaze with rage, I thought
Some slave is rotting in this
And still the coal of my compassion
that Albion too, was once
A colony like ours".
the final victors were the crow, the worm, the mouse. The river continued to flow,
"obliterating hurt." Slave-owner and slave shared a common destiny and "Al in compas-
From the past of slave-owner and slave, of empire and colony, the poet turns to a
present in which the daughters of Afro-West Indian slave women, now brown Daphnes,
"children of the Grove," acknowledge the metamorphosis:
"Welded in one flame,
huddling naked, stripped of their
for Greek of Roman tags, they were
raw by wind, washed
out with salt water and fire dried
"One sunburnt body now acknowledges
that past and its own
as, moving from the sun, she kneels
her wrap within the bent arms of
that grieve in silence, like parental
In a later poem, inspired by watching his little son and his two daughters set a half-shell
afloat on a river with a dead almond leaf for sail, the poet tells of his own growth from a
divided self to a more integrated consciousness in which he has a more complete sense of
identity. To quote a fellow West Indian, Lloyd Brown, Walcott defines history not as
being monuments and empires but as a, "self-redeeming self-accepting story of one's
person, culture and of one's ultimate significance in the order of things":
"A man whom the waves can
never wash overboard,
that child who puts the shell's
howl to his ear,
hears nothing, hears everything
that the historian cannot hear, the
of all the races that crossed the water,
the howls of grandfathers drowned
in that intricately swivelled Babel,
hears the Fellaheen, the Madrisi, the
Mandingo, the Ashanti.
yes, and hears also the echoing green
fissures of Canton
and thousands without longing for
this other shore
by the mud tablets of the Indian Provinces."
More than forty years have passed since Derek Walcott published his first collection of
poems, In a Green Night. His latest work, Omeros, has won universal acclamation as a
great masterpiece. Our purpose here is not to attempt an evaluation of Walcott's literary
work but to indicate how great is our indebtedness to him for understanding that we also are
searching for richer forms of collective self-knowledge.
In the first place Walcott, as Wayne Brown has emphasised, "remains one of a very few
poets writing in English, who have steadfastly refused a trivialising notion of their function,
insisting that the writing of poetry is a serious (not solemn) exercise, calling for long, ardent
apprenticeship, engaging the whole man, and capable of dealing with any aspect of human
experience. As Derek Walcott, troubled by "Mass Man", declared, "someone must write
Lloyd Brown, in discussing Another Life, points out that the poet sees himself as
engaged in a lonely quest, a personal odyssey, for self completeness and that the West
Indian's quest for "national consciousness and identity is not only a localised cultural act
but is also a reflection of every individual's need to achieve a sense of complete or creative
selfhood." The poet offers his odyssey as an allegory to the directions of West Indian
Finally the poet continually raises troubling questions about the moral values that
underlie our lives. In Parades, Parades, although independence was gained how is it that
the old evils remain? So ferociously nationalistic was the leader's address to the young, so
centred on power to the exclusion of youth and the country's future, so concerned with
obedience rather than with patriotism, that the poet asks in distress "why do the eyes of the
beautiful unmarked children from the country side
"Widen in terror
of the pride drummed into their minds/
were they truer, the old songs,
when the law lived far away?"
These philosophic and moral reflections, the allusions that abound, the imagery so
compressed, compel the reader to pause and reflect, as in the moving epitaph to his friend
"People entered his understanding
like a wayside country church
they had built him themselves...
and he is man no more
but the fervour and intelligence
of a whole country."
Fifty years have passed since the 1940's when a West Indian literary and artistic
movement emerged. The first wave of poets, artists, musicians were on fire with the
creative release that came with a sense of nationhood.
In those decades of awakening a West Indian literature was born. In the late 1950's and
1960's the Black Power Movement, the "rudies", flower people and the spiritually dis-
tressed young generated powerful forces that released a great wave of creative energy even
more encompassing and more universal than that of the 1930's. Walcott's poems to Harry
Simmonds and to Garth St. Omer and to Roach reflect the fervour and anguish of that
period. There followed a maturing of West Indian literature, a plumbing of depths.
For, with an extraordinary surge of creative energy, the once-despised quashies and
bongos, the grass-roots people from whom so many of the educated had carefully distanced
themselves, these became leaders in music and song with international audiences,
preeminent among them in the 1970's being Bob Marley and the Wailers. With songs and
a beat that came from Trench Town they touched the heart of the world from New York to
Cape Town, Lagos to Paris to Tokyo. And now, in the opening of the 1990's. Derek
Walcott has made the life-journey of the Caribbean people, fisherfolk, peasants, the brave,
poor, into a story for all mankind.
We have focused on the creative artists but tribute, should be paid also to the world-
class achievers, the athletes, sportsman, to Wyllard Whyte in the long closed field of opera,
to dancers, musicians, novelists, painters who have aimed at and met international stand-
ards of excellence. Among them are the creative artists who breathe the spirit of life into our
West Indian nations. They are our historians and prophets, guides and consciences, critics,
keepers of the flame, sometimes flowing "with seas of life like wine", sometimes knowing
that "we carry within us the wonders we seek without us. There is all Africa and her
prodigies in us". They remind us also that "time hath an art to make dust of all things."
Years ago, when he was a young man, Derek Walcott won our love for what he was. As
a poet he has gained our respect and admiration. As the author of Omeros he has become
for all of us a source of inspiration and pride for men and women of many countries.
He has done more. We are in his debt because he has brought us into the presence of
our ancestors, has revealed to us their nobility and the glory of our heritage; and, with
Omeros he has provided space age man with an allegory in which the continents are no
more than an archipelago and the nations no more than clusters of men, women and
children of diverse colours and cultures.
PROFESSOR EDWARD BAUGH
Coming out of a tiny Caribbean island, which he once described as a "a colonial
backwater," Derek Walcott has taken his island, and his larger "island" the Caribbean
archipelago with him into history. Not just in the sense that by association they share in
his fame, but moreso in the sense that his fame has been derived in large measure from the
consistency, the integrity, the depth of feeling and the brilliance with which throughout his
long career he has addressed his islands and their concerns, their plight and their potential -
"The midsummer sea, the hot pitch road, this grass, these shacks that make me."
So it is altogether just that his latest and most loudly, most widely acclaimed book of
poetry, the long narrative poem Omeros, should also be, as he describes it, "an act of
gratitude for St. Lucia, the people, the weather, the life I have lived there." Makak, the
Charcoal burner from the play Dream on Monkey Mountain, and Achille, the fisherman
from Omeros he has made "out of these foresters and fisherman / heraldic men!" The
apparently marginalised, outside of history, their importance, the importance of small
places, is acknowledged in the delineation of their personhood and essential humanity.
They stand not just for themselves but for mankind, and Omeros, in the words of Brad
Leithauser, is "a complex cry from the heart, for Walcott has succeeded in filtering all sorts
of titanic sorrows through a limpid and ferocious intellect."
The sorrows which he articulates speak to all men across boundaries of place and time.
If he is always looking homeward, home is also a place in the heart and a country of the
mind which he both carries with him and pursues as he moves through the world, literally
and in imagination. He once wrote half-cynically of "that fabled, occupational/Compas-
sion, supposedly inherited with the gift/Of poetry." That compassion is also, abundantly,
his gift whether its light suffuses the old black jazz trumpeter who
...blew, eyes closed, one foot up, out to sea,
His horn aimed at those cities of the Gulf,
Mobile and Galveston, and sweetly meted
Their horn of plenty through his bitter cup,
or the victims of the gas ovens of the Holocaust, or the Cherokee Trail of Tears or the
Gulag Archipelago, or "the anonymity of every self humbled by massive places." It is the
compassion which ultimately displaces that rage on behalf of the victims of which be is also
eloquently capable: "All in compassion ends/So different from what the heart arranged."
Small wonder, then, that he is one of the world's great elegists ("Half my friends are
dead./I will make you new ones, said earth....") and one of its great love poets. The one love
of the world moving in the one grief of the world
the silence of the deepest buried love is the one silence,
and whether we bear it for beast,
for child, for woman, or friend,
it is the one love, it is the same,
and it is blest
deepest by loss
it is blest, it is blest.
He sings "the strange, strange wonder that is sorrow," the miracle of human compas-
sion and tenderness in the face of mortality. He affirms the worth of the individual, the
human person over against the impersonal repressive power of "systems" of one kind or
another. He restores our faith in the community of poetry:
what's poetry, if it is worth its salt,
but a phrase men can pass from hand to mouth?
From hand to mouth, across the centuries,
the bread that lasts when systems have decayed....
Derek Alton Walcott was born in Castries, St. Lucia, on 23 January 1930. His genius
showed itself early and caused him to be regarded as something of a prodigy. At eighteen,
he published his first book of poems, and two years later the St. Lucia Arts Guild, which he
had helped to found, produced his play Henri Christophe.
He took a BA degree from the University of the West Indies in 1953. After working as
teacher and journalist, in 1959 he settled in Trinidad and Tobago, which he was to make his
home for the next twenty-two years, and soon founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop. The
excellent company of actors which he forged, in difficult circumstances, was an unprece-
dent achievement in West Indian theatre. It became the natural extension of and vehicle for
his talents as playwright and director. His plays have complemented his poetry, allowing
him to speak through a wider range of West Indian character and speech, and to exploit
creatively various artistic expressions of West Indian folk culture, blending them with
European and other forms of cultural expression. The plays too are in general distinguished
by an ebullient, playful but often biting humour which is not particularly evident in the
Since 1981, Walcott has been teaching creative writing at Boston University; but he
returns to the Caribbean at every opportunity to refresh his creative roots.
His sixteen collections of poetry, four collections of plays and numerous plays
produced but not published constitute a prodigious output. The admirers of his work
include some of the contemporary world's most important poets. Joseph Brodsky, Nobel
laureate, has said that Walcott "is the man by whom the English language lives." If
anything, as Omeros suggests, his creative fire bums brighter with age.
THE YELLOW CEMETERY
All gains are the ash to ashes drowsing in the morning,
Wearing white stone. I passed them, not thankfuller to be
Their living witness, not noisy in salt like the near sea,
Because they are spaded to the dirt, our drowning.
As lovely as the living, and safer, to the bay's green mourners
They will unkeening bones, and they are happy.
Lost the candle and censer mysterytale, the swung smoke of adorners -
Of dying. Could they speak more than bramble, they'd be
One in the language of the sun and the bibleling froth.
Their now bread is broken stone, their wine the absent blood
They gave to days of nails.
It is enough
And greater is no grace, no surplice more serviceable than the lap and
Of the seasons that grew them, and now mother them to sleep.
And you alive, speak not of the unlucky dead, the sunless eyes rotten
Under downs and saddles in a kingdom of worms.
Speak of the luckless living, that are gnawed by a misbegotten
Moon and memory;
It is a blessing past bounds, to miss the dooms
Of the vertical fathom, at each suncrow
To know no anguish, cool in clothstones that flow,
The sleep in the bone, all weathers.
But we, each
Flapping boast of the crowing sun, turn in our lien graves,
Face stale mornings, old faces, but these dead on the beach,
Are joyed at the dawn's blood skyed on their death of days.
We cocky populations fouling the fallow plans of heaven,
Shall find perfection in a cemetery under a hill.
For we have suffered so long, that death shall make all even,
There shall the love grow again that once we would kill.
Tiis is no place for the eater of herbs and honey, for beads,
Here are water, crops, seabirds, and yet here do not be brave,
Seek no fames, and do not too often pray to keep alive,
Against the brittle wick of wishes the wind in the clock strives
And wins. Was not your father such?
Gay in the burning faith of himself, but melted to forgetting?
Thank time for joys, but be not thankful overmuch,
The sun, a clot of the wounded sky, is setting.
Delve no heart in the sound of your soul, a man's speech bums
And is over the tears melt, colden, and stales the tallow.
And the story of your ash to ashes breath that the wind learns,
The bushes from your eyes will tell in a deeper yellow.
And there at sea, under the wave,
The sea-dead, the legendary brave,
Under the windmaned horses of the sea
Float the bulged trampled dead, nudged by whales;
Their wicks windkilled too, by salty gales,
And they were so braver, less alarmed than we.
For we want to run, who do not want to drown where
There is no angel or angelus or another's helphand;
But they too ride easy, and the nunnery of brown hair
Of the white girl of walls, shall be no more in the pardoner sand
Black man's denial. Heart, let us love all, the weeds
That feed the seaherds, miracler than man's tallest deeds,
For here the living are blinder than the dead, ah
Look a rainbow sevencoloured wakes glory through the clouds, and
Breasts sea and hill and cemetery in warning,
And the chained horses thunder white, no more adorning
The harbour that grows truculent at the sevenhued sky,
A canoe scuds home quickly, and indigo reigns.
Praise these but ask no more the meaning of mourning,
Than you ask a moral from the seven glory of the clouds, and
go slowly to the hill as the gale breaks, crazy on the loud sand.
Do not talk of dying, you say, but all men are dead or sick,
In the brain and rib-hollow rooms
The candles of the eye bum and shorten, and how quick
The fine girl sleeps in her grave of hair, the grasshair tombs.
O look at the sane low populations of the democratic dead,
How all are doomed to a dome of mud, all brought to book,
Believing in a world for the perverse saint and the holy crook.
Love children now, for the sun will batter their thinklessness away,
For there, if place, He walks, who was a lifelong child,
And when the sun is spearing them in growth, pray,
There is the kingdom of haven in the tears of a child.
The trees, alive in a wind of generations, spin a terror of grains
In the air, in the blue and froth of the weather, the branch rains
Yellow on the graves.
We, the raisers of a God against the hand,
Wonder who is made or maker, for the god our ancestors learned,
Moses of terror, bums in no bushes,
We pray only when seas are turned
Angry, and the wild wind rushes,
And love and death we cannot understand.
The signatures of a lost Heaven remain,
The beauty of the arch, the nature not sun not rain
We want our God to be. And yet, were He scanned
We the long builders of beyond this flying breath would look
Beyond the written Heavens, the wideopen sea, the land like a green
Would find the Author and the Author's purpose.
A swallow falls, and perhaps the sole spoken prayer
Is the hand of a leaf crossing the cold curled claws.
Where is the God of the swallows, is He where
Lives the One whom you flew young from, who all life was yours?
And yet for all these gifts, the gift that I can pray,
The mountain music, the pylon words, the painting, they are
Enough, and may be all, for they add grace by day
And night give tears as harshly as a telling star.
Were there nothing, and this the only
Life, a man has still to save the cliche of his soul, to live
With, I will say it, grace, to atone for the
Sins that all the worlds awoke before he alied alive,
Climb there, go to the hill while another sun is warning
That the wicks weaken, and in the halls of the heartsun, love,
For love is the stone speech that outlasts our ash and mourning.
Volume 1, No. 1,1949.
Editor's Note from CQ. Vol.1. No.1: In this edition we repeat a poem by the young St
.Lucian, Derek Walcott, which appeared recently in a limited edition titled 25 POEMS
SOLES OCCIDERE ET REDIRE POSSUNT
Lady, our infinite faiths shall end, like light
Ripening and bleeding in day's final wound,
Like love, that made our bodies twice as bright.
Leave on our eyes the counterfeit delight
That they were happy. Could they be when the round
Eyeball of the world revolves in fright?
Could they be, when in sleep, my veins would fight
Like children, for some lucky dip underground,
And found that monstrous box and held it tight?
The pity is it is the same old light
That seemed, when we were young, a delicate wound
Bleeding because pain said the price was right;
Well, there my body blazed with fine delight
above the cold, stiff waltzers underground,
Love like the limetree shook away its blight.
Well then I watched the waltzing swallows fight
Against the darkness, I heard the underground
Worm tunnelling a subway to the infinite.
Our self-confessions brings no wisdom; and quite
Fashionable as it has been to join the underground
Movement towards eternal light,
Ah, still the body's candle will not bum right
For an altar it does not truly want. Around
Our beds, we light our vices by our prayers each night,
Remembering heaven, whose candles are so bright
That the loud wind, whose argument is sound
Cannot blow out, nor for that matter, hell's light.
The pity is it is the same old light
That rots the bleeding idealists, who drown
For firefly faiths below a sea of night.
Remembering old men, who, though wind blew right
On broken channels, always wrecked aground,
Crazy and crying 'Lord, we fished all night'
Remembering boys who on the freezing height
Of human need, kneeled that love should bum round,
Found flesh consumed in lust's consuming light,
Remembering suns that in the brazen sight
Of men and boys now plunged deep out of sound,
Spinning to ashes in their fiery flight,
Remembering ashes that give no phoenix flight,
Lady, our infinite faiths shall end, like light
That blinds the living that the dead may drown.
Vol. 3. No. 2, 1953
Stilly, the light is blown
Through the conch's shelled horn
To the sea, walking with birds,
And still, that mote
In the sun's eye climbs, the hawk,
Over the falling town,
Then down, dropping down
Over the water with its foam and curds.
Of the driven, bright
Fish in the white
Salt spray, where the toilers
Fling their nets from the reef,
Or row by rote,
To hurl their webbed wishes over,
The silver fish flying before some drover,
Or the shark's sly teeth.
Listen, the mute
Cry of the mussel, the soot
Black porpoises flailing the trough,
Ofspearfishing birds, the heron-necks,
The gulls building babble over the wrecks,
And look, a sudden diver from the bluff.
Splashes the water.
And there, salteyed daughter
Of the sea, drowned in the weedhaired tides,
Deaf to the rout
Of waves on the reef turreted shore,
Deaf to the wailing horn,
She rocks, she rides,
Perdita, the sea-lost, Venus, the sea-born.
And I with a black
Heart, and my back
Healing with history, by the sea
White, shell sharp dawn,
Have heard the history
Of this white goddess, whom the waves
Out of time's bitter legends gave
To all who love, live, and are at lost at sea.
Fishermen with their hoard of sprats,
Have no legend to aid them, but a prayer,
Venus lives with aristocrats,
It is to the Virgin they give ear,
Figlia del Tuo
It is for her they throw their nets with care.
Yet not for the day blown
From the horn
Of the shell, pink as her flesh
My mind rides there,
Not for the shell of the blowing dawn,
For Venus afloat on the water,
Not for her, windmoumed, wave murmured over daughter
Who nets the mussels in goldwoven hair,
But for the rare
Width of blue air,
For the hawk's heel straying
Over blue fields, I still am praying,
For the wheeling spokes
Of the gulls from the crusted wreck,
I kneel and hear the shell's mass,
For the crab in hiding in God's grass,
Now at the bells of leaves I pay respect.
For that sky
And the sea, I
Waded in the first, lost, light,
My mind as white as the birds,
With salt washing my heel,
For the high prayer wheel
Of the gulls, and the old sea's tears,
The blue and green, daylight of Mary's gown,
Forgiving boyhood that it should have grown.
O herds of the bright
Archery of fish, O Light
Laying your coins on the beach,
I flew like the hawk above time's reach,
I was hero, your caves hallooed,
And 0 dead Venus, under waves riding,
Ark of the Virgin, ever abiding
Mother of fishermen, you showed
It was all a wise
Hoax to my sunblind eyes,
The belled leaves chiming for my days,
0 Time, what if I give the wrong things praise,
The wildest sorrows shout,
All that I have and want are words
To fling my griefs about,
And salt enough for my eyes,
For the trapped wheeling of the holy birds,
And my barefooted flight from paradise.
Volume 3, No. 2, 1953.
WORDS FOR RENT
For my son, asleep tonight,
For all sons, all fatal, good
Flesh, corruptible brood, sown
In the cradles and laps
Of this ark of our world, alight
Through seas of immortal stars
Or orchards of yellow suns,
For fathers, guessing the maps
Of their time, whether wars,
Women, poverty or trust can
Harm their breakable wills,
For mothers in grief of Etruscan
Serenity who rise
And feed till a cry walks erect,
If I could fling the spread
Overall, as the white sail of the moon
Covers our half of the dead,
With two coins laid on our eyes,
A brass sun for the twilight
And another when morning rise,
I would keep cold, numberless man
Lonely and wandering in bed
From all the monsters of harm
That drink at the wells of his heart
Or cloven stalk through his head.
If these words could do any good
Be cone to his fears' raging calm,
Even break him his daily bread
And sift him a paradise
Of islands, white with sand
And peace of a sea not salt,
Then I would unwrap every shroud
That seals God's fatal child,
And praise the green ark, aloud
In words, 0 twice as wild
For the older I rage and mark
Wrinkles of rivers cast
In the valley of my palm,
I feel that the blundering ark
Of the world where good bails grief
Journeys towards the best
That a dove will break into calm,
Bring an Arrarat of rest.
Though God knows I have enough
Which like my father I earned
Of a fitful exhausted peace,
That my heart has risen and waned
for beauty bought at such price,
While ageing I hear tides race
As I stand, unholy erect,
In a cataract of good and bad love,
A hub of this turning place,
I would suffer more than enough
Through dry or torrential season
If my veins put out one leaf
To cure mankind of its reason.
But all I possess is words,
Some worn, some wildly spent
Some hoarded much too long
Till all feels absolete
Under my wrinkling thumb.
They, poor, must search for the dues,
The rates of passion and wrong
Due to heaven, stretch wings and look
For my hilltop peace, with a laurel
Bough in each screaming beak.
Meek messengers I do not choose
But who, praise heaven, from birth
To this joy of my twenty-fifth year
Have swarmed to my hands, whose craws
I can give no crumbs,
But passion, confusion, despair,
And two hands that are all thumbs
In any other craft or trade,
Save to send them again in the air
And search where under the rent
And tattered tent of the sky
Man could find a mountain to die
When the waters of black despair
And his excrements abate,
Or a branch to settle his care.
I offer the world no more
Than my love, than I offer a child,
I cannot lie, for he sails
Doomed in a ribbed, cradled ship
Where the black flood rages wild
In the shell of his tongue-pink ear
And my sorrow of doubled love
When his eyes fills with a tear
And he pouts a trembling lip
Though I know the world is no child
But a beast, and a murderous one,
Butcher of even its God,
My innocent, infant Herod,
Whom my seed doomed to the earth,
And yet may he find it good
To the last day of his birth.
These simple tools of my trade
As the sea shears its whorled stone
Carves shells in its lathe of foam
Were they source of my daily bread
Would make his blood as bitter as
The saltiest sea, whose home
Is the meadows of armadas of dead
Lovers, and all the tune in my head.
O I write not for him alone
Or the tossing when he stirs
Rocked in his dangerous ark
For boys in counties of firs
who follow the high flung lark,
Or ankle the rattling seas,
Or hide in the withering grass
Which like a green sea will cover
The innocent flesh, and the peace
Of my own boyhood over,
Till my conversation is spent.
But never to absolve my guilt
My crude, ill-humoured deeds
Will these words ever pay the rent
Of my soul on earth on hire,
For my heart break gift or my spent
Ambition and desire
Nor have I scattered these seeds
In this verse that it may plant
Among the orchards of stars
Or in furrows of thoughtful brows
Some branch or glowing current
To lead the world-ark prows
Or cut my fame on a tomb, where
as guilty as I may lament
A Lucifer fallen from bright air,
May poverty wither my thumbs
If I ever abuse His gift
For money or fame or uplift;
For I know less than you, cold
Singers, sown under the mounds,
than the dome of star-pierced minds
That could sway the earth like gold
On the hair of compassionate scales,
Divining fraility from good.
All that I have are the tales
That are streams in the drying blood
And are fountains of hidden tongues
I would talk time out of the tomb
If my gift were blessed event,
I would reach out a finger and touch
The turning and plunging ark
Of grave, cradle and womb
If I knew all Heaven has meant,
But I am all of these earthly wrongs
My son under my humble roof,
I curse my own cloven hoof,
But wish error all that is good
And a life though badly spent.
And now I re-wind the songs
Which greater in grace have moved
Through snows and stars and fields
Of delight, and all the world has loved,
Poor songs that a father strums
But strung with divinest intent
To praise the fields I approved
Though all his fingers were thumbs
To pay for the peace that they give
When his page is yellowed and old
To pay for a grave, not so cold
As the heart of the world sometimes
A funnel of leaky rhymes
A flute that flaws on the tunes
Hire of a house and a tent
Of grass; hermetic, worn-out runes,
And words that pay time's rent.
Volume 5, No. 2, 1958.
AS JOHN TO PATMOS
As John to Patmos, among the rocks and the blue live
His heart to peace, as here surrounded
By the strewn silver on waves, the wood's crude hair,
Breasts of the milky bays, palms, flocks, and the
green and dead.
Leaves, the sun's brass coin on my cheek, where
Canoes brace the sun's strength, as John in that bleak
So am I welcomed richer by these blue scapes Greek
So I will voyage no more from home, may I speak
This island is heaven away from the dustblown blood
See the curve of bay! Watch the straggling flower!
The winged sound of trees, the sparse powered sky
when lit is
The night. For beauty has surrounded
These black children, and freed them of homeless dit-
As John to Patmos, among each love-leaping air,
0 slave, soldier, worker under red trees sleeping, hear
What I swear now, as John did,
To praise lovelong the living and the brown dead.
Volume 5, No. 3, April 1958.
TWO HIEROGLYPHS ON THE PASSING OF THE EMPIRES
A heron flies across the early marsh and brakes
Its tilting wings to decorate a stump
that from this act the landscape looks complete
and flux and motion at a period
as such a symbol led Rome's trampling feet
pursued by late proconsuls bringing law)
And underline this quiet with a caw.
In the small coffin of his house, the pensioner
A veteran of the African campaign,
Bends, as if threading an eternal needle;
One-eyed as any grave, his skull, cropped wool,
Or lifts his desert squint to hear
The children singing, Rule Britannia, rule.
As if the needed practice to play dead.
Boys will still pour their blood out for a sieve
Despite his balsam eye, and doddering jaw,
Or if one eye should weep, would they believe
In such a poor flag as one empty sleeve?
Volume 5, No. 3, 1958.
A CITY'S DEATH BY FIRE
After that hot gospeller had levelled all but the chur-
I wrote the tale by tallow of a city's death by fire.
Under a candle's eye that smoked in tears, I
Wanted to tell in more than wax of faiths that were
snapped like wire.
All day I walked abroad among the rubbled tales,
Shocked at each wall that stood on the street like a
Loud was the bird-rocked sky, and all the clouds
Tor open by looting and white in spite of the fire;
By the smoking sea where Christ walked I asked why
Should a man wax tears when his wooden word fails.
In town leaves were paper, but the hills were a flock
To a boy who walked all day, each leaf was a green
Rebuilding a love I thought was dead as nails,
Blessing the death and the baptism by fire.
Volume 5, No. 3, 1958.
A LESSON FOR THIS SUNDAY
The growing idleness of summer grass
With its frail kites of furious butterflies
Requests the simple lemonade of praise
In scansion gentler than my hammock swings,
Or rituals no more upsetting than a
Black maid shaking linen while she sings
The bell notes of some protestant hosanna
Since I lie idling from the thought in things.
Or so they should. Until I hear the cries
Of two small children hunting yellow wings,
Who break my sabbath with the thought of sin.
Brother and sister grip a common pin
And frown like serious lepidopterists.
The little surgeon pierces the thin eyes.
Crouched on plump haunches, as a mantis prays
She fights to eviscerate its abdomen.
The lesson is the same. The maid removes
Both prodigies from their interesting science.
The girl, in lemon frock, proceeds to scream
As the maimed, teetering thing attempts its flight.
She is herself a thing of summery light,
Frail as a flower to dance the idle air,
Not marked for some late grief that cannot speak.
The mind swings inward on itself in fear,
Swayed towards nausea by such normal signs,
Heredity of mutual cruelty everywhere,
And everywhere the frocks of summer torn,
The long look back to see where choice is born,
As summer grass sways to the scythe's design.
Volume 5, No. 3, 1958.
AGAINST MY HOLY RAGE
Against my holy rage He smiles.
The dolphin, depth-diving isles,
Leap in their arc of foaming miles,
Harp of the harbour, the crane's treble,
Every continent ground to a pebble,
Building in God's own good time,
The emerald channels, every small
Tiger skinned sprat in the coral fans,
Water-shriven from the reef's hands,
The firm aisles of the sunken floor,
Where the priestly shark and pilot fish,
The armbranched octopus, the shrimp's claw,
The gold sea berries, the lobster's mail,
The sea hedgehog, and the mossed seasnail-
O all the bestiary of His grace,
(The sea is not a silent place)-
the wheeling birds, the children's cries,
In antiphon of howl and hush,
Sail heaven into my happy eyes!
Railed to horizon, rounds the bay.
It is my west, my homeward race.
I die each day for another day:
I am reborn in another grace.
The voice of the whirlwind cries
"Who art thou to ask why the seaspindle
Unwools its foam, who taught the turtle
Patience, grooved its tracks,
who from His cloud wrist unhooked a hurtle
Of gulls on the skimming fishes' backs
Wore down the rage of time to shingle?"
O, out of the whirlwind fell the sure
Lost voice, hub of the wind. "Where
Wast thou when I laid the keel
Of the horizon, hammered the hull
Of the sailing world, bellied the sail
Slack cloud, wove nets of the wind?"
O shires and cells of this coast,
The happy time of my boyhood's ghost,
O cells of blue stillness, stalactite
Of Wavering and unbuming light.
O spells of the seven-branched foam, 0 horns
Of the antlered channels and streams,
O dolphin divining my deep dreams
In every channel of my coral
Bone, quarrel with God,
For my soul's sleep.
Volume 5, No. 3, 1958.
GIB HALL REVISITED
In those raft-planked bunkhouses christened 'Gibraltar'
by World War II D.Ps, as if they knew
we'd drift like displaced persons too, even further
from Europe than the homeless, homesick Jew,
that to a New World, thoroughly tagged and named
we could add only rhetoric, who had
less faith than the prophetically maimed;
a generation late, I sad-
den in knowledge that the brightest ones were sold
to a system, like those stars to Arabic,
that all our freshmen protests hid the sick
envy of Caliban for his master's gown
of ersatz ermine; fearing the fission
of red gown to black, of fire to ash, we moved
across dry Christmas grass like heatless flames,
cold, unlit candles looking for one vision,
our red gowns quailing like poinsettia.
Now, in the black, processioned and approved,
black gowns acknowledge us by our first names,
the red ones mark their own betrayals down.
Volume 15, Nos 2 & 3,1969.
The loneliness of Van Gogh.
The humbleness of Van Gogh.
The terror of Van Gogh.
He looks into a mirror,
and begins to paint himself.
He discovers nobody there
but Vincent Van Gogh.
This is not enough.
He cuts off an ear.
He looks into a mirror.
there is Vincent Van Gogh
with a bandaged ear.
It resembles his portrait,
he is attempting to remain,
first, he must disappear,
He will arrive by reductions
beyond any more terror
by a lonely process
When the mirror will proffer
neither frame not pain,
neither no nor yes
Or maybe, or once, or
no. Nobody there,
not Vincent Van Gogh,
humble, frightened and lonely,
a fiction. An essence.
Volume 26, Nos 1 & 2, 1980
ORIGINAL FOREWORD TO DRUMS AND COLOURS
It was suggested by the University College of the West Indies Extra-Mural Department
that, as a centre piece for the Federal Celebrations at the Opening of the First Parliament of
the West Indies in Trinidad, in April 195g. a drama depicting the four hundred years of
West Indian history might be enacted.
Our proposal was accepted by the Unit Governments, who agreed in principle to
underwrite this project, and other items, for a Festival of Arts. The main problem which
faced us was what form this chronicle should take.
Should the piece be a history lesson told in a series of tableaux with commentary-a
pageant, in fact colourful and shifting, but at best a facile convention with little real
significance? Or might it be conceived as a dramatic text with a linked sequence, a saga told
by a poet with concern and insight?
After reading the scripts by a Trinidadian and two Jamaican authors we soon realized
that to stage scores of little disconnected scenarios, fodder for a dozen possible films, would
be unsatisfactory and well nigh impossible. Finally in August 1957, the Extra-Mural
Department commissioned Derek Walcott, poet and playwright to write the "Epic" as it
was subsequently called.
His selection and highlighting of certain characters and incidents fundamental to the
whole area of the West Indies, including Haiti for example, from the beginning to the
present day, inevitably meant the exclusion of others, equally important, but of no less
significance to his general pattern. Some readers may feel that the theme of "War and
Rebellion" is not true to some aspects of our history. But that the problem, whatever the
choice of theme, remains constant. It is three-fold! That of reflecting the truth of the facts
selected, that of re-telling popular fancies of romanticised fiction calculated to find an
immediate audience response, and that of meeting the requirements of drama in the limited
time imposed by performance.
Walcott has a fine sense of the past, but the epic is neither a photostat nor a microfilm
of history. He uses the telescope rather than the microscope to focus on the lives of his
"four litigious men", Columbus, the discoverer, Raleigh, the conqueror, Toussaint, the
rebel, and Gordon, one of the first martyrs of constitutional rights-betrayed, corrupted,
misjudged or mitigated against.
In the last section, from Emancipation to Federation, in which issues are touched on
lightly, the author deliberately avoids "the sunshine patriot" and the striking heroic at-
titudes. Nevertheless he makes his comment on nationhood in the poignant speech of
Pompey, the shoemaker, as he dies in the arms of his comrades, and goes on to show our
many sided approach to religion and death in the final burial scene.
Walcott seizes upon these disturbed moments of crisis in the lives of his four
protagonists, moments which history books can rarely evoke and concentrates and weaves
them into the pattern of the play. He defends this attitude when he speaks in the prologue
about raising these ghosts. And in doing so, the play reveals at once the two sides of the
coin-the idealism of endeavour which prompted these pioneers and the irony of cir-
cumstances in which they suffered seeming defeat.
NOEL VAZ (Director of the original production)
DRUMS AND COLOURS*
Part 1. CONQUEST
THE STAGE IS SET WITH A CENTREPIECE OF REGIMENTAL AND AFRICAN DRUMS, WITH THE
FLAGS OF BRITAIN. FRANCE, SPAIN AND HOLLAND. IN THE BACKGROUND, A CENTRAL BALCONY
WITH STEPS LEADING UP TO IT FROM EITHER SIDE OF THE STAGE. A DISTANT BUGLE AND DRUM
ROLL, THEN FAINT SOUNDS OF CARNIVAL MUSIC. THE LIGHTS COME UP. ENTER YETTE. RAM, YU,
POMPEY, RUNNING LED BY MANO. THEY RUMMAGE AMONG SET PROPERTIES AND DRESS.
Ram, Pompey, Yette, Yu, like I hear them coming.
I got a plan boys, we going change round the carnival.
They bound to pass this alley, like I hear the approaching,
Position yourself, we going ambush this raodmarch!
(Enter CARNIVAL MAKERS: dancing)
Arawaks, Ashanti; conquistadors!
Give them the bugle, Pomps
We changing the march now to War and Rebellion!
(POMPEY blows bugle: quiet)
(CROWD objects. Shouts)
Ain't that Pompey the shoemaker?
Is Pompey the warrior starting from today,
And I want all you listen to what I go' say.
(Climbing on a barrel)
This confusion going change to a serious play!
*First produced at the Royal Botanical Gardens, 25A04/58
Directed by Noel Vaz
If anyone contradict what General Pompey said
A bullet from this musket, Pomps, go ahead.
Now you men of every creed and class
We know you is brothers when you playing mass,
White dance with black, black with Indian,
But long time, it was Rebellion
No matter what you colour now is steel and drums,
We jumping together with open arms,
But if you listen now, you going see
The painful birth of democracy.
For in them days it was
(Singing and dancing)
Bend the angle on them is to blow them down, is to blow them down.
Bend the angle on them is to blow them down, to blow them down.
When the bayonet charge, is the rod of correction,
Shout it everyone, when the bayonet charge,
Is the rod of correction, till rebellion!
All you get the idea, so le' we get organise now,
Now, some Spanish soldiers in a phalanx on the right,
So hoist up them halberds in a mass of steel spikes.
We picking three, four heroes, all in history, look a test
Disguise as Columbus, in the front pardner. Yes, I see
Walter Raleigh, up this side friend...
(COLUMBUS and RALEIGH leave the crowd)
Where this man Mano acquire such knowledge?
No Horatio Nelson? He ain't in Mass this year? Well we going take what we get. Toussaint
L'Ouverture and his Haitian Rebellion. In front brother. No Morgan? No Rodney? Ah I see
George William Gordon. Now I want a test who could spout the Queen English.
(GORDON and TOUSSAINT join COLUMBUS and RALEIGH)
Come up here pardner. Yes you.
(A tall WARRIOR appears from crowd)
Now I want two masks, tragedy and comedy.
(Two MASKERS hand over masks to the warrior, which he fixes to a staff).
As the figure of time and the sea, I giving you these two masks, and speak the best you
could, poetry and all. And everybody going act, every blest soul going act the history of this
nation. And now friend and actors, as the sun been on his roadmarch all day cooling his
crack sole in the basin of the sea, we starting from sunset, through night to the dawn of this
nation. Clear the stage. Darkness, music and quiet. Right!
(All go off. Drum roll and bugle)
Before our actors praise his triumph, Time
Shows his twin faces, farce and tragedy;
Before they march with drums and colours by
He sends me, his mace-bearer, Memory.
To show the lives of four litigious men,
The rise and ebb of cause and circumstance,
For your delight, I raise them up again,
Not for your judgement, but remembrance.
And now that I revolve his tragic eyes
Upon this stage, I'll show you his device.
This barren height towards which the steps ascend
Is that fixed point round which some issue wheeled,
There our four heroes meet their common end,
there in harsh light, each age must be revealed.
Below them, on this level of the stage
The spokes of normal action turn their course,
(Enter SPANISH SAILORS)
Just as these sailors, fished from a drowned age
Were simple men, obscure, anonymous.
And where the stage achieves its widest arc
The violence of large action shall take place,
Each sphere within the other leaves its mark,
As one man's dying represents the race.
So turn with me, far as your thought will reach,
By this drum's pulse, through the dissolving foam,
(Enter to drum beats, PRIESTS and a choir of AMERINDIAN ACOLYTES)
Time, 1499. A crowded beach.
Columbus leaves on his third voyage home,
Behind him, governor Bobadilla, whom Isabel, Queen
Of this Castilian colony has decreed
To charge the old admiral with mismanagement.
By his heart's side, Las Casas, the grey friar.
Santo Domingo, While the sun's lamp descends,
Our actions start, the conqueror cracks the whip
A desolate conch sounds from the waiting ship
These ghosts Time raised are given back their speech.
Santo Domingo. 1499. COLUMBUS sent home in disgrace. COLUMBUS; FRANCIS-
CO DE BOBADILLA, Governor; LAS CASAS, Bishop of the Indies; INDIANS,
SAILORS, SOLDIERS, QUADRADO
This is the ship that takes you back to Spain.
Our bodies are ribbed vessels admiral,
And being fitted thus, shipwreck is certain
Unless Christ is our pilot.
As Governor of the province of Santo Domingo,
I accept in the names of our two Sovereigns
The resignation of your recent office.
Your Excellency, despite the jurisdiction of our princes
Saw fit to contradict their majesties' edicts
Against these add, this province's indiscipline,
The mounting, step, by step, to your great arrogance
And the mishandling of this Christian conquest.
For this, and all the rest, as public remonstrance,
I have seen it fit to send you home in irons.
I wish you a safe conduct to Cadiz. The chains.
(SOLDIERS chain COLUMBUS)
Kneel, for the blessing of the perpetual Church,
Keep in your days, that memorable seal
Of Christopher, who bore Christ to the west,
And let this hand that fights for the Indians' cause
Rest heaven's blessing on your foam white hair.
Jesus et Maria sit nobis in via. God go with you.
(Exit with ACOLYTES)
Vamos, mariners, set the ropes free,
Vamos, vamos, the sun is losing light.
(SAILORS, hauling. A sail unfurls)
O Dio! Ayuta noy! 0 que some! Servi soy!
O voleamo! Ben servir 0 la fede! mantenir!
(Drumbeat, exit THE GOVERNOR, SOLDIERS, CROWN)
Excellency, my captain says the chains need not be used.
I'll wear these irons till we fold sail in Spain
Now lead me to my quarters, my good officer.
QUADRADO (to soldier)
You, take the admiral to the captain's quarters.
(Exit, a rope ladder let down from above)
A gentle dusk to thee, Quadrado.
You took us out of the port most commendably
Wilt thou have a biscuit, it appears wholesome,
But worms are mining in it, it should suit
Thy opinion of the times.
He's poor scholar, lieutenant,
This world is like an orange, not a biscuit.
I have forbidden the use of wine till it is issued,
That is well known to you. Give me the wineskin.
I paid for it. (Hands it over)
Some get so drunk they have a sense of justice.
(Throws away wineskin)
When is your watch Bartolome?
With these two Christians. The cemetery patrol.
See you observe it. Come set the shrouds.
I hate the bloody authority of that officer.
There's not half a skinful of a man's blood in him.
Didn't he use to drink with us before?
Come set the shroud, you're a sailor, a drunk one.
He's changed fidelities, but hasn't lost his temper.
The penitential officer, he troubles me,
Tonight, you'll hear him pace the deck alone.
The fellow is a lizard, whenever the complexion
Of the world's opinion changes, then so does his,
Since Las Casas, apostle of the Indies made his sermons,
He has turned into a subtle hypocrite.
FERNANDO (firing ropes)
Yet at what cost has this instruction gone?
For every Arawak converted to a Christian
Thousands of them have perished in the mines,
Surely it will be a terribly steep bill
Which these grey friars will present to God.
One needs the Indians to work the mines. It's facts.
Either Spain gets the gold, or others will.
There's an extra wineskin down in the hold. Fetch it.
Fetch it yourself.
I'll fetch it.
Well as I live and breathe sour wine, a cannibal.
What dost thou want little Indian?
Senor, I seek the officer of the watch.
Remove thy cap in the presence of authority.
Did'st thou not study the spectacle of the admiral?
There is thy officer meditating on a biscuit.
Kneel before Lieutenant Fernando and be christened.
Leave him alone, Garcia, his lip is trembling.
Senor officer, I kneel only to God.
GARCIA (grabbing him by the hair)
Thou art a cannibal,
Thou art a foul mixture, thou wert misbegotten
Between the mailed thighs of a lecherous soldier, kneell
I will kneel down, I will kneel down, my officer.
Garcia, Quadrado should complete his circuit soon,
If he should find thee torturing the boy.
You can't talk to this one, when he's drunk.
I'm not the Indian loving, hypocritical officer.
Swear this as a good Christian. I vow never to eat
White flesh again, be mutinous to a Spanish officer....
Go, hang some lanterns up now, all of you, Garcia!
I am giving this barbarian some instruction,
He flouts all discipline, thanks to your good friars.
He's that way when he's drunk lieutenant, we had
A few on shore, he don't mean no harm with the kid,
Come fool, do what the officer has instructed.
I'll drench his head, he'll be alright, lieutenant.
My watch is midnight, and till the appointed glass,
I'll do no other labour for this officer.
This is the best of the Conquest, rebellious trash!
I won't be called filth before an Indian bastard.
Bartolome, Ferando, go fetch some lanterns for the admiral.
Come, drunkard, let us harvest illuminations.
(EFeunt with GARCIA)
Come nino, we'll walk the pavement of the deck
And watch the sun go down in the dark sea.
What is thy name, what art thou on this vessel?
These rotting ribs that hold the heart of Spain?
Paco, senor, I am the new Grometto.
Thou art a boy of mixed blood, where is thy father?
In Spain, my lord, he was a Spanish soldier.
My mother died with the last moon in the mines,
My brothers would not work, and the dogs ate them.
Of what nation of the Indians art thou?
Of the Tainos, excellency.
The Tainos. Yes the peaceful ones.
How many will be left to slaughter now?
The Chibchas, the Chocos, the Mayas,
The Lucayos, the Tainos.
Many of our warriors were killed, senor,
It was a good thing. They were savages.
Nino, there are no righteous wars. Listen. (Takes hour glass)
I shall show you the functions of a grometto.
This, Paco, is an hour glass, an ampolleta,
With each half hour, the top sphere of sand
Dwindles into the lower and marks that time.
Now when the lower half fills, reverse the glass,
And do this hourly, your watch is at midnight.
Unless we come too early into white seas,
In which event you must steady the glass.
By this we tell our speed and hourly
Express our thanks to Christ for our safe conduct.
Recite for me The Slave Regina.
Bendite...sea luz, y la Santa Vera Cruz,
Y la Santa Trinidad.
With less speed and more faith.
What is the matter, what are you watching?
(COLUMBUS enters above)
The Admiral, my officer, why do his own people
Do him this dishonour, what has he done?
He disobeyed the Queen. Also he banned your people.
Has thous not killed any savages, my officer?
Why do you ask?
My father also was a Spanish soldier,
I remember him, that he was such like you.
So you have learnt the value of our faith.
(removes a COIN)
Do you know what this is my little disciple?
It is gold, my officer, I have learnt that.
In the world, that men called civilization,
Acquire it, if you wish to make some mark.
The true stamp of acquistive man is here,
Compounded in his image, not his maker's.
Study this coin, it gathers darkness around it,
And like the sun, brings its own darkness, guilt.
This barbarous metal, which has less iridescence
Now night descends than the star crusted sea,
Induced our country, mercenaries, and gentlemen
To sell their souls, for this, pus coloured metal
It is called money, my officer,
we did not call it that when in the ground.
(GARCIA, enters, unobserved, listening)
We gather this, grometto, with much devotion,
As peaceful Indians harvest yellow maize,
It makes our markets, and controls the state,
And sets up barriers that obscure that view
Where now the Admiral achieves his degradation.
And that is why the Admiral looked for these islands?
You must ask him yourself. Here keep the coin,
Since my own people taught you of its value,
See how it dims in the bewildering dusk,
But though you take it, please remember this,
That gold outlasts the wearer. Here keep our God.
I thank you, my officer, I shall keep it always.
Also, Paco, until this mutinous vessel reaches Spain,
Think of me not as your officer, but as your father.
Now, go fetch the Admiral his supper, go.
(Exit PACO, enter FERNANDO)
I have brought the lantern. It will be a rough night.
It will be different for them as cannot sleep.
But I say envy no man anything but his gold.
Take up the lantern, where's Bartolome?
BARTOLOME (singing in hold)
There is a fount in paradise,
A much distastefulplace,
So high indeed that fountain jets,
It touches the far lunar sphere.
I can't see a damn in this wet hell hole, move, move,
Here comes the prince of purgatory with his lanterns.
Be careful with that fire, and plug your bung
FERNANDO (climbing steps to Columbus)
I have brought thee a lantern, grizzle gut,
And there'll be food soon for your stomach.
And a sea high enough to quench the stars.
BARTOLOME (hanging hammock)
0 come with me, across the seas,
To where the gold flown is Cathay...
What's in that darkened mind of yours Garcia?
Gold is the lamp that leads us all to hell,
I saw the remorseful officer, Quadrado
Give the mestizo a coin, his wealth to the poor.
FERNANDO (descends, sets blankets on deck)
Well, God rest us all, and wake us for the watch.
Lower the tongue of the lantern, good Bartolome.
And God give us all good rest, and spare us envy,
and too much rattling of chains.
When you pray, friend
Turn your sour breath away from the wind.
(They settle, GARCIA lounges on steps, awake)
Now I am left to walk the deck alone.
The wind is high, the guards are at their poles,
and on this minute, the ship boy should sing out.
One glass is gone and now the third floweth,
More shall run down, if my Gold willeth.
These fellows sleep like brutes without a past,
Murders and theft, they shake them off as horses
Twitch flies from flesh, with a quick shudder.
Garcia, Fernando, and Bartolome. And the Admiral,
Only our two remorseful souls are vigilant.
You there on the watch, how is the passage?
An open passage, high seas, please God, lieutenant.
There are flies on the cordage, flies, flies on these dead.
And when I halt I hear their moans again.
Bartolome, look, Quadrado...
All of my nights I sweat beads for the slain,
Treading this deck as to a gallows tree,
The frightened moon has scurried into her cave.
The cold quicksilver sweat of fear breaks out
And ghosts creep from the deep slime of the sea.
(MUSIC: figures of slaughtered Indians emerged from the shadows)
Who cried out there?
Look, now they come, 0 mother of God, prevent them,
As rotten leaves are whirled in a black wind,
I hear the spectres of these slaughtered men
Wail in the wind, the autumn of their race.
One walks there like Sebastian, branched with arrows,
One brings his lantern like a bleeding head.
Mother of God.
(The ghosts descend through trap)
Mother of of God, this is most strange, preserve us.
Get back to sleep. The moon is beautiful.
PACO (running up from hold)
My officer, my officer, what is it?
Nothing, nothing, I was at my prayers, a custom,
You can put down to nothing and the troubled night.
Is that the admiral's supper? Take it up. Wait!
(GARCIA drops back)
Did you see nothing as you climbed the steps?
Nothing but the shadows from the swinging lamp.
You have not lost the gold I gave you, boy?
No, my officer, I remember your catechism.
Remember you have seen nothing, only a soldier,
Who cannot sleep, and who has certain fears,
That is the way, you will meet your admiral.
I must walk another section to the ship.
(exit. PACO goes up)
Your supper, excellency. I have your supper.
You are half Indian, why are you on this ship?
I am a grometto, I sing the Salve and reverse the glass.
I am not very hungry, boy. I am not well.
Even a god must eat, my admiral.
I am not a god, grometto.
Eat, and I will talk out through the night with thee. (pause)
Dost thou know of an officer called Quadrado?
I knew many officers of several degrees. Why?
He was a soldier now he prays for Spain.
I am sea-worthy grometto, I need some sleep,
There will be many nights ahead of this.
Weren't thou afraid of the great sea, my admiral?
I see that you'll have me talk no matter what,
Well, perhaps it is best, than to remember sins.
Yes I had great fear, grometto, but I had trust.
Yes my admiral, in the god who was nailed up.
It's a bad passage. Garcia, go to sleep.
Be quiet; I'll wake you for the watch.
There is a sea the Arabs knew, that scholars called
Mare tenebricosum, the green sea of gloom,
There, pass me the flat plate, and I'll show thee, boy. (holds up plate)
Before me, men thought the world's design
Was of this shape, the horizon, the plate's edge,
And on the rim of the world, was hell, and darkness.
Now assist me with this iron round my ankles,
This nino, is the certain shape of the world.
Tell of the voyage, the monsters, and the lands.
And this spoon is Columbus beating on the gates
Of the great princes of the world. A coin,
A coin. I need a coin.
Here is one, excellency.
COLUMBUS (holds coin)
Place this gold here, a circle, like the-sun.
That daily in its course turns round this iron,
And casts its shadow on one side, the night.
The city I was bom in, superb Genoa,
Stares with her white breast southward to the sea,
Into the sun, that at its summer solstice,
Sets like a burning carrack, fierce with fire
Behind the pinnacle of Mount Beguia.
Turn up the lantern, and I'll tell thee more.
(PACO unhangs lantern)
I was a weaver's son, strange how we start.
While I worked patiently at my father's shuttle,
I could not guess the web of destinations,
That I would weave within the minds of men.
So now he has an Indian for his friend, the boy is safe. (Exits)
(GARCIA creeps up steps)
Senor, now may I have the coin?
Thou are shrewd. Thou shouldst go the distance.
And the distance being from his purse to my pocket.
Sit down senor, sit down, you are not well.
A little after sunset, one of my sailors,
Noticed the phosphorescence of the sea,
And fishing in the glittering waters found,
A twig that bad a bunch of withered berries on it.
And there were other signs. The third day passed
And so the dark descended on the sea.
Sometimes it seemed we caught the scent of land.
We waited, quiet, there was silence like this,
There where the shadow of the steady helmsman
Tosses upon the huge screen of the sail.
Merely to breathe seemed an offence to faith.
An hour before the lantern of the moon,
Climbed to the stair of heaven where no cloud
Can mantle it, I thought I saw what one might call a light
I called to my helmsman Pedro Gutierrez,
Whose eyes were best in the deceiving darkness.
What was the light senor? Were you afraid?
COLUMBUS (rise, distracted)
O all the cruel patience of the long years,
The fawning humiliation before great princes,
The fears and terrors of the whale threshed sea
Broke through my cloud now, with his cry of light!
My admiral, my admiral, sit down, sit down.
Honours now hollow are heaped on my crest,
Admiral of ocean, and a tamer of tides,
What will they make of this world, is my wonder?
Hypocrites and malefactors have wrecked my work.
... Excellency ...
I had hoped to open the green page of this sea
To be a book cartographers could read,
Let me be buried in the backwash of oblivion,
My bones unmarked, my grave a mystery
And some unlettered seastone be my tomb
Yet, I held a cross before me, O my Christ,
I did all for God, and the lion of Castile,
I did all for God ... (weeps)
I shall get help, my admiral...
(PACO descends. GARCIA holds him)
There's gold on you which I need grometto,
So pass it to a Christian who can use it.
Help, help, my officer.
What is it, Garcia? Who cried out?
Shut your mouth, fool Look in his shirt for the gold.
He kicks like an animal.
Drag him here.
Garcia, for God's sake you'll get us all in trouble.
Where's the bright coin, little Indian? He bit me.
That's enough for tonight, in the name of peace,
Let go the Indian, you drunken fool, look, here's the officer.
What is this, why has the admiral been kept in darkness?
They tried to kill me for the coin, my officer.
(runs over to QUADRADO, who draws his sword)
Put up thy trembling sword, carbon,
You can kill nothing but defenceless Indians.
What wilt thou do, kill a good Spaniard?
A normal product of the times, Quadrado?
there, here's new blood for thee.
(squirts wineskin in his face)
Well, sure as Christ, we'll all be hanged now.
There's no difference in me and this officer,
This is the one the Indians called Camicero-the butcher.
Kill him, kill him, my officer.
Before the affliction of his conscience, this one
Spent all his energies subjugating Indians,
Some by torture, some by terror, some in the mines,
He did some service for the Tainos, too, Quadrado,
You were not called that then, were you, teniente?
My officer is this true?
Give the boy his coin, Garcia
PACO (drawing back from QUADRADO)
I want nothing from thee. I know of thee.
take it nino, the officer was right.
I have paid for it, I still pay for it now.
I was called the butcher, But I resign that office.
Others will follow who can learn evil better,
These gestures of affection which I attempt,
The evils I endure from all sorts of men,
this hollow armour of my office, all, nino,
I bear because I sought a change of heart,
If this were blood that streamed now from my eyes,
It would not have shook my pity five years ago,
He knows this, and mocks it, I gave the coin
Because I felt I owed thee some affection,
It may be too late.
PACO (between QUADRADO and GARCIA)
O, all of you, all of you,
What must I believe? What must I believe?
Grometto, do not judge any country by some persons,
Or what its members have done thee, there is only
One race, grometto. Man. Go now, observe the glass.
FERNANDO (to GARCIA)
Give the boy the coin, Borracho, it is his.
There, nino, I return thy wealth to thee,
come, it is nothing, just a little incident,
What glass is it? There's nothing like some sport,
To liven up a long and boring voyage, come.
Recite the glass grometto, the watch is up.
(All go out)
One glass is gone, and now the eight floweth,
More shall run down, as my God willeth,
Goodnight, my admiral, my captain, y mariners,
Buenos noches, senor admiral, y maestre y mariners,
And in the name of Our Father, and His son Jesus,
May God grant us a safe passage back to Cadiz.
A wharf in Cadiz. Sign "Casa de la Contraction" SAILORS lodging barrels, etc.
WHORES, IDLERS, PACO afew years older, pimping. A BROKER and HIS NEPHEW
setting up a desk and stool. BARTOLOME, now a beggar on crutches, sings:
You generous burghers, Spanish, Portuguese,
Who warm fat, jewelled hands, with winter near,
Her's a poor soldier who sailed the green Indies,
That broke his hulk, that two poor shanks must bear,
He found you Empires on seaworthy legs,
But now, the winter's coming and he begs.
(to a MERCHANT)
A coin, a coin, sir, for an old sailor who sailed with the great, dead admiral Columbus, who
fought, swore, and regrets The holy wars he fought for an empire.
Ten winters gone he sailed from Cadiz bay,
The admiral cried, its young bucks I desire,
India is rich, but not Bartolome,
Now I break wood to fill my winter fire,
For a wise tropic shark removed my legs,
Columbus died, and now his hero begs.
(to BROKERS, as he enters)
0 sir, sir, it's going to be a biting avengeful autum, and I'd hate to use these sticks to
keep a tropic fever down. (SAILOR rolls barrel near). Watch where you roll that keg, you
green-blinded young bastard. It's Bartolome, the beggar, senores, once a sailor for her dead
(goes up to BROKER)
There's nothing today man, besides, you'd drink it.
The seed from a sick bull and the spittle from the devil blind both of you for a pair of furred
BROKER (to NEPHEW)
Now let that be an example of my preaching,
Tighten your purse strings, invest judiciously,
Now pay attention to the loading sheet, nephew. (reads)
Embarked Cadiz, five sacks sugar cane cuttings,
For the estates in Hispaniola, of Senor Don Fuente,
A snail-cautious settler of accounts, item,
Crate of Venetian glass, have we checked that?
I can't make out this scholarly scrawl, what the hell is this?
Slaves, Ashanti. It's my eyes,
That's right, cargo of slaves, Ashanti, thirty.
Twenty warriors, one chief, five female, two boys.
Listen, would you prefer to study for the priesthood?
Then pay attention. Paco!Where's Garcia?
(PACO enters, filthily dressed)
Nowhere on damned wharf, looked inside out.
went into the bodega, I don't know where he is.
So maybe it's time I get some money?
Listen you get paid when we finished, like the rest.
Where's Garcia? This cargo is to set out with the tide.
I know you and your tongue. Damn promises,
Went up and down the wharfs, what you expect me,
Look in the gutters too? No pay since breakfast.
You can work somewhere else it you want, anytime.
Alright, alright, look again.
What did he just tell you uncle? Who is he?
He's from the islands, half cannibal, half Christian,
A pimp and a thief, but otherwise a quick worker.
How did he get to Spain? What does he do here?
Mother of God, would you like me to call him back,
All I know is, he knows the value of cash.
(Enter JEW with belongings)
There's no necessity to be sarcastic, uncle.
I'm sorry I offend you. What is it senor?
Pardon me, gentlemen, I am going out to the Indies, and ...
And we, I presume, are directly in your path?
I was seeking information, but I see you are occupied.
Is it permissible to go abroad the ship?
BROKER (brushing the JEW aside)
And at last, quite drenched, comes the reeking quartermaster.
(Enter GARCIA, drunk, with PACO)
Senor, before you forget, I bring senor Garcia.
I should like some direction, I have papers
Is this the vessel, the Cristobal Colon?
Paco, talk to this gentleman, he is going out to the Indies
Senor, this one was born there, be will answer questions.
Now Senor Garcia, if you will sign this list.
What is that country like, my little friend?
I carry your bags to the ship, right now, senor?
Is it a place aa Jew can live in peace?
Sure, Las Indias? Fine, plenty sea, sun, green country.
Jew Tainos, Lycayos, I come from there, beautiful.
Everything fine. You pay me first senor?
Who's the funny gentleman, Senor Amadeo?
Who cares? Are the loading sheets in order?
He looks to be Jewish, fleeing the persecutions.
The Indian boy, he certainly loves money.
I thought he was a kike.
JEW (apart, praying)
O God, rib me with thy strength
As I embark across the whalethreshed water,
Because my days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle
And are spent without hope.
What's he saying uncle?
Remind me to ask him. Now bring them out, Garcia.
Senor Amadeo, I get something to eat now?
Work for you all up and down the damn wharf. Hey, senor.
Can't you wait, boy? Bring them out, Garcia.
PACO (draws knife)
I know you all the time, long tongue, no cash.
I cut your throat off with this.
(BROKER pushes him)
Ole, ole, there Pablo, bring them on for checking.
My son, do not be vile, and put away the knife.
He liar, all the time, since before morning, senor.
Oh shut up, and get out of the way if you can't wait.
(A cargo of negroes, chained, brought on)
What are these people?
They will be travelling with you, excellency.
The stranger that dwelleth with you, saith the prophet
Shall be unto you as one born among you,
And thou shalt love him as thyself.
Amen, amen, Abraham.
Provided he splitteth not the profits too unfairly.
Come on now, line them up there, Amadeo.
Not a bad bunch, where did you get those from?
You know they sell each other after their battles.
Look at this one though, he is some sort of king.
Notice the excellent quality of his sweat, taste it.
And those sinews, I've put him down at three pieces.
But this one, sickly, little. Look at those teeth.
But he has some spirit. What is this one, a scholar?
These the king's sons? You can throw them in as extra.
(They examine slaves)
I can't throw in anything extra, I can't afford it.
What's the king's name?
They haven't been branded yet?
I don't want to brand them here.
I think I have an iron on board. Alright, move them on.
I'll separate them when we get aboard.
You're a hard bargaining bastard, Garcia.
I got a sick mother.
(BROKER pays GARCIA)
NEPHEW (to JEW)
You may go aboard now, senor, and a safe passage.
It is a long voyage, I hope you can endure it.
That is kind of you, I wish you the same.
Goodnight, goodnight my little friend.
Sometimes I wish to go back there myself, the Indies.
But I have bad memories, they say half of my people
Are left, and those are dying. Adios, senor.
(The JEW goes aboard)
Do me a favour once you take charge, Garcia,
Don't treat them like humans, they're more valuable...
GARCIA (ascends steps)
I'll treat them like my sick mother. Adios Amadeo.
GARCIA (throwing coin to PACO)
Look after the girls for me, it's a long trip.
Ah, where's Quadrado now eh? And his catechism? (climbing steps)
BROKER (shouting to ship)
It's his first day here, he's my sister's son.
He should be in a monastery, he's very profound
(A MERCHANT passes)
How is it friend, did you ship anything?
One of my ships, that by some ill luck steered
Out of its course from the Canaries this last week
Ran up against some pirates, Dutch or English,
They say the numbers are increasing, and I know
There's more of the buzzards hanging on the horizon,
and waiting for the fat cargoes to pass by them.
What did you ship today?
Thirty or so negroes...
A few, most of them sickly.
Troubles, that's all a man inherits, troubles.
I hope nothing happens to your shipment, Senor Amadeo.
I have had bad luck, I'll tell you where the profits
Are multiplying now. I have a cousin who's an armourer,
And you should see the trade he gets, its certain
That with this piracy, which the king must resent,
And with this struggle for the possession of the Indies,
There's a war coming with the English, that's where the money is;
The sea is an ungrateful business.
I know, I know. (Exit MERCHANT)
Hey, senor, how about my money?
Here you are Paco, is that enough? (Throws coins PACO and BARTOLOME scramble for
Come my profound accountant, take up the furniture.
(Exit BROKER and NEPHEW)
Why don't you work another wharf, Bartolome.
well half of it, friend, half,
Or would you have me clout you with this crutch?
we're both victims of civilisation, little savage.
Go pick up garbage, you sickness.
I earned this fairly, I did work for it,
I'm not a bad singer of vile songs.
WOMAN (Calling offstage from tavern)
Paco, hola Paco, where's the little savage, Paco, come here.
(she enters followed by SOLDIERS and WHORES)
Inside grometto, or sing us a holy song.
For money? Then listen. The Song of Conversion.
I linger on the darkenedpier when the great ships have gone
And curse the Spanish admiral called Cristobal Colon,
I think of catechisms the grey friars made us learn,
How if I was no Christian child in what great fires I'd burn.
And now that I'm in holy Spain the church may shut its door,
For we're dancing to the fidles and
The laughter of the whores.
Dance, dance, we made some money today!
The friars in the Indies said that men live differently
I had not met the merchants with their specialpiety
I cannot doubt the friars' truth but I have bread to earn,
And nay how the inquisition makes the Jews to burn,
So I left my pagan paradise for civilisation's shores
And now you know the difference 'tween
Unjust and righteous wars.
(music and dancing)
The sailors and the conquerors do homage to a queen
And many a Spanish regiment is rotting on the green,
It takes a hundred niggers now to dig the gold we earn,
And I'm too dumb to understand investment and return,
So keep the jewels in the vaults, and pity out of doors,
While we'll dance to the fiddles and
The laughter of the whores.
(Laughter. Drums beat off)
It's more soldiers, there's a ship in the harbour.
There's war in the air friend.
And tough times ahead for us.
Who are they going to fight? I have seen many soldiers.
They're preparing many years now against the English,
And they have made expeditions against the Dutch
I lost two brothers who fought against the Dutch
This king is preparing a great Armada.
Does a Spanish soldier live well now? How are they paid?
Well, you are fed and clothed, some of the mercenaries
Can do well, and there is no faith asked of them
While they are paid. Oh I love the thought of war.
(THE SOLDIERS take leave of THE WOMEN and run off)
Well its a better life if a man had both legs
That scrounging on the piers, begging from merchants.
They're out to conquer England and preserve the Indies,
If I had half of my strength, that's where I'd be.
(Drums sound nearer)
Oh the drums, the drums, colours and the fifes.
My father's profession calls me, Bartolome, here's a coin,
I'm on the side with the money still, Quadrado!
And I leave you this kingdom of the wharf, adios, adios!
(He runs off)
Come on, let's go into the inn where the drinks are warm
It seems to me I felt there, the edge of the winter.
For a wise tropic shark removed his legs,
And now the winter's coming, and he begs.
(Exit, limping, after WOMEN: Martial music)
Aboard ship. Near dawn. TWO SPANISH SAILORS dicing. In the hold
Christ! You've got all the luck in this world.
I'm a good Spaniard. How about another throw? For daybreak?
What's the bet? That the sun won't rise? (rises)
I'd better take a look below the decks.
Sometimes the sick ones kill themselves.
Not your responsibility. How can you stand the stench?
Well for God's sake don't wave the lantern about,
We're in warm seas, and nearing the islands,
And there's Dutch and English privateers about.
Pass me the lantern.
Hey! You can't leave me in the dark!
Dawn is enough to count your profits by.
(moves off with lantern)
Pity you have no luck. I believe in God.
It's just faith. Faith in the dice, amigo.
Sure, sure. Your father must have been at the foot of the cross.
(Exit. JEW enters above)
Because they have wrenched my people from the roots,
I am like a shattered timber cast adrift. O God,
The shores of the new lands will soon be known.
Preserve my faith, 0 Lord, comfort Thy people.
The ship: SLAVES, MEN and WOMEN and TWO CHILDREN, chained in pair
emerge from hold. The SICK KING attended by WOMEN.
Look, though we do not wish it, dawn will break.
We cannot stop the law of time: only the gods.
My gods and yours are different. I am an Ibo.
Were you captured in the battle with our tribe?
MALE SLAVE (laughs)
I was forced to fight, but I am no warrior,
It is comical, I was captured during the confusion.
But as you say its nothing. Your king is quiet.
I do not think that he will last the long voyage.
He lost his pride in his battle against the Ibo.
I lost two sons when you attacked our village.
My husband is somewhere with the rest, in there.
I think the fellow chained to me is dead.
Can you help me lug him on to the deck?
Why should I touch the dead, the dead are lucky,
they have caught the happy plague.
O God, my sons.
Day will break soon, and we are nearing islands,
I can hear the creaking of seabirds this morning. (pause)
We can see his face when the dawn comes up.
You are a funny one. Why do you wish to see it?
He must have died last night, Are you afraid?
Man is a beast Man is a beast, believe me.
It is thue, I have never understood fighting,
I had a small place, near a river, fishing,
And I had no enemies, I was waiting for a wife.
Yes, bring children into the world, to buy them.
It is how the gods made it. We must bear that.
You women have it hard, daylight is here.
Oh, look at his face, O God.
Why, do you know him?
Yes, it is my husband.
He used to praise all war as honourable,
And boasting always of the beauty of death,
Look at him now, in his beauty of death.
I never had children.
I am not thinking of warriors, but their women.
This is the kind of suffering I would have honoured,
O God, O God, what will happen to my sons?
Be patient. Life is very long.
Africa, Guinea. (weeps)
Life is good, woman.
Africa, the white birds by the river's edge at sunrise,
The clear waters over white stones, the children
Splashing in mud.
(They begin a new chant)
It is strange what the gods allow. Listen,
Your people are singing. The children are frightened.
Do they whip them too?
(a child comes over)
I do not know.
Is this one of the king's sons?
Yes. Man is a beast Man is a beast.
What will they do this one, at such an age?
They will put the mark on him, as we do beasts. (pause, chanting)
In our country, we thank the Gods for each day.
And so do we. I suppose so do all lucky men.
I do not believe in luck. I believe in God.
Here comes our days long anguish, let us be brave.
(GARCIA, whips in hand, appears)
All right, stir them up there, get them awake.
We'll get them dancing to limber up their muscles,
They must land in a purchasable condition.
How many dead this voyage?
There's one dead here.
That one wasn't worth much anyway.
Pablo, get the drum and start their exercises.
You, take the carcase below, do you hear me?
Get below you bastard, d'you understand?
(He kicks a SLAVE. Drumming starts; no one moves)
I hate to use this, but you'd better start moving.
What's the matter, doesn't the king love music?
Come on, everybody's equal here, your majesty.
(They start to move slowly, wearily; the KING falls)
Wait a minute, stop the drumming, stop it.
Get up, your majesty, get up, and dance.
Take that child away from him. Now come on dance.
(The KING is unable to move)
He's a stubborn bastard.
This might help him.
(Punches KING, hefalls, SLAVES stop)
Keep them dancing and drag the body off.
Keep the child from him. come, tear him off.
(Child is lifted off the KING'S body and thrown near steps)
JEW (coming down steps)
Senor, the child, I will buy the boy from you.
Get out of the way, this is none of your concern.
You're fumbling up everything, keep them dancing. (To Pablo)
The boy. The child. I'll buy him from you.
I can't hear you, you want to buy the boy?
Yes, yes, how much?
I have only fifteen, will you take fifteen?
Seventeen. Two more when we land. Fifteen right now.
all right, enough. Take them below and feed them.
Fifteen all right with you, he's a king son?
Let me tell you you're damned fool mister.
The boy is sure to die of one thing or another.
Not if I own him. come, come to me child.
(The boy huddles to him)
Sail, sail to leeward.
What colours you idiot?
(SLAVES herded out through central door, back. Door is closed. Chanting offstage
more urgent now, wails and screams from WOMEN.)
Tell them there's no gold aboard, only niggers,
Get out of the way sir, with your purchase. (To JEW)
Get out the cannon there, stand by to fire. (Cannon fire)
(MALE SLAVE comes up through the trap, stabs GARCIA)
O Mother of God, get me a priest, I am dying, (falls)...
When did I offend you Jew?
JEW (bending over GARCIA)
It was the slave, I could not kill a man. You killed the king.
The darkness comes, O Mother of God
Do not leave me alone, sir.
...I have to save the boy
What is it?
I remember Quadrado...O God...Life has gone the dial.
JEW (with boy)
That is a passage you must go alone, poor man.
Come stand by me, perhaps we shall be taken,
But we shall find roots in the new land together.
Come, move out of this danger of the battle,
I will take care of thee, as my own son,
For we are outcasts together in ones sorrow.
(Cannon fire. Music)
BOYHOOD OF RALEIGH
MUSIC: Reprise ofPACO'S Song. A Wintry beach, in England. PACO, an old beggar,
PACO (singing BARTOLOME'S song)
You generous burghers English, Portuguese,
Who warm while white jewelled hands, with winter near,
Here is old Paco, who sailed the green Indies.
The winter wind blow round his tattered legs...
A man may walk on all the broken beaches of this world, and come to the warmth of an
inn in winter, and si, death is the landlord. I've seen the four-hued seasons the fox-coloured
autumn, the broad-leafed summer, and the green spring, but I'll be damned if I can get used
to this English winter, it moulders an old man's flesh. My purse, where's my purse? The fur
from this old Flemish collar's gone, and my old teeth ache. I need new boots. There's
enough wreckage here to start a fire with. it's cold, winter's coming on like the great grey
wolf, and me with no summer in these swollen veins. Wait, here's something half hidden in
the sand. (Finds stump of wood). Nothing, only wood. Still it will make a fire. Count the
coins again, count the purse. Here's five Spanish pieces, two Dutch, and God knows where
I lost Quardaro's coin these last forty years.
(BOYS' voices off)
Put the coins away, they're after you. The little dogs are hounding the old bear.
(Enter young RALEIGH and young GILBERT)
RALEIGH (dancing around him)
It's the old Spaniard, Paco, Paco, ay cannibal!
Keep from me, you two, I chew human flesh.
Leave him Walter, he hates to be annoyed.
That's right, you tell him nino, I chew English flesh.
You come near old Paco the cannibal, and see,
I'll split your heads open with this bit of wood.
Look at his eyes, and his hair. Throw it Spaniard.
You're a brave imp, what's your name, boy?
What're you doing on this beach?
What's your friend's name, then?
He's Walter Raleigh. I'm his cousin, Humphrey Gilbert.
Well then master Gilbert, if you're a Christian,
Tell your friend here, I'm a great chewer of children,
My people the Tainos were great eaters of Christians,
But you're grand gentlemen's sons, I can see,
So throw a coin to an ancient sailor, for honestly,
I have no sides but the sharp wind finds holes
Through the ribs of this wreck I am, friends,
do that, and I'll be off.
Are you cold, Sir?
ay, ay, boy, cold in three languages.
I've heard of him cousin, he's a great liar,
He tells lies in all the inns, for drink,
And he's a foul old Spaniard.
Half, half, mate.
The rest of this carcass is proud Indian, Tainos, (Hopping around)
Oh it's the biting cold I can't shake off by dancing,
But a coin or two from you Christian boys, I'll tell you.
You've heard tell of the great Admiral Columbus,
I fed the old man his supper once, you doubt it?
Then leave me alone!
Shall I give him a coin cousin?
Look, do you see this wood I threw at you.
Bring it here mate, and I'll tell you a thing.
Here.(throws a coin)
Thank you, lad. Its a fragment of Spanish ship,
Can you read what's marked on it, Master Gilbert?
Don't go near him, cousin.
PACO (to RALEIGH)
There, you read it then, though there's sea grime
Grooved in the letters, can you read it then?
RALEIGH (spelling out letters)
El Dorado, El Dorado.
Ah! El Dorado, now, have you heard of that?
Yes, it's in the west, but it's a Spanish legend.
Legend, legend says, like a sceptical Christian,
I was like you my boy, before I saw the great legend
That Quadrado called Europe, but now what would you say,
If I said, kissing this cross, that I've seen the legend,
Would that provoke a coin from your purse, lad?
This El Dorado is a golden country,
I showed it once to an officer called Quadrado.
Oh I've tossed like an old cork on the seas of the world.
Seen whales and marvels in my old age, but this,
This bewilders belief. This bit of log, mates,
tells of a golden city in the green heart of Guiana,
And these two words, they mean the gilded king.
But it'll take another coin to unlock my tongue.
Then if this legend is so certain,
Why haven't the Spanish found the city, sir?
(They draw near him)
Because out of the deep beliefs of their religion,
The cunning Indians kept the secret from them,
c7or the Spanish, you know, destroyed my people,
There's many Spanish expeditions looked for it,
they're rusting in the emerald jungles now,
Its a far voyage.
How far is it, old man?
Far as I am from home, and the warm islands,
Its a perilous voyage, further than Columbus,
And further than the great conquistadors have found,
Men of the stamp of Cortes and Quesada.
Resilient men, formed in the Spanish temper,
Who conquered Mexico, and Montezuma,
But this gold legend on this worm-riddled wood,
They'll never find.
The English will.
Well, when you do remember your old friend Paco.
Look, mates, I'll tell you a dying secret, but,
Would your cousin lend me the price of a jug?
Give him a coin cousin. Now will you show us where?
PACO (drawing on sand)
Thanks little Christian. Well this here's the whale's bath,
The great Atlantic, where a great city drowned,
Here's a dead wealth of yellow weed, Sargasso,
And these moss covered pebbles at my old boots,
These are the emeralds which Columbus christened,
Salvador, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola,
Innumerable islands, then the Isle of Trinity,
And there, among the tangle of this seaweed,
Where I put down a gold coin in its tangle,
there is the city of Manoa, El Dorado.
(starts: leaps back)
Do you hear the barking of dogs? They're hunting me.
They hunted us with dogs once. Go back from em.
There's a wolf's cry on the wind, they're coming.
There are no wolves in this country. Do you fear dogs?
I've seen them tear men to pieces, all my flesh,
For gold. Christian dogs besides. Go back from me.
RALEIGH (during GILBERT aside)
He is mad cousin. Are you sick sir?
Dying on two worn feet son, weary from walking
Thousands of miles, all over the map of Europe.
Tamoussi, Tamoussi, my own gods call me back (staring wildly)
Would you do me a favour in return my sons?
Sir, you frighten us.
Sir, we'll do what you ask us, if we can.
There is an old wisdom which my tribe possessed,
To tell the season of their coming death, the Tainos,
By some scent in the wind, the altering of a feather,
Or the warm scent of the autumn coloured fox.
This wind carries the stench of rotting flesh.
It's nothing, but the old smell of the sea.
It is the sea that separates me from my gods,
And brought destruction to my simple people.
Come, do you know some high place in this country?
And leave me there, before the first snow comes?
I know a height, barren with sea rocks, where
You can sit quietly and watch the sinking west,
There's nothing there.
(PACO removes a crucifix)
Then take the crucifix and the coins I gathered,
And lead me to it, for the time of the dog is here.
If you look there, then climb the cleft in the rocks,
It winds its narrow path up from the sea,
there you shall find a place just as you wished.
(leading PACO to steps)
Is it there? Yes, I think I see the track.
And so it goes, whatever track we take
It leads us all to the cold height of death.
I have strength enough to climb to it alone,
That is the fashion in which my people die.
Go, go back. I hear the wolf howling again.
If you go to Manoa, death will find you there.
Goodnight you Christian boys, Paco is gone.
Come cousin, and take up the fragment of the vessel
(BOYS go off reluctantly)
So the grey wolf of death trots after me,
O Quadrado, in all this I have learnt nothing. (Exit)
Those ribs which bulwarked Spain's imperial pride
Lie wrecked and bone white down the English coast,
Wrenched by ungovernable winds that scattered wide
Ships, masts, and soldiers, which the Armada cost.
After twelve years' imprisonment in the Tower,
With two great factions at an unstable peace,
The Stuart monarch, England's James the First
Grants Walter Raleigh conditional release
To find that fable, turreted with gold
That like a coin, gathers the dark around it.
It is 1617 now, Guiana, night. (Lute music softly)
Stillness, a lonely lute plucks at the nerves.
The idling lanterns with their yellow light
Gild every mind from captain to mere sailor,
And now we peer into the unmapped night
Whose stars ride quietly from the anchored fleet,
The ships: The Jason, under Captain John Pennington,
The Confidence, Commander Captain Wallastons,
The Flying Hart, Commander, Sir John Fere,
The Golden Fleece, the ship of war, Corentyne,
Under Commander Captain Laurence Keymis,
The Destiny, under Sir Walter Raleigh.
The Search for El Dorado. The Deck of THE DESTINY. Enter RALEIGH and
I have sent for you particularly Captain Keymis,
Not only as my officer but a friend
To tell you my decision concerning tomorrow.
I can guess it.
Come to the rail Laurence, and try to think my thoughts,
For a good friend, here, let me lean on your shoulder,
A good friend's mind should be chameleon like,
And take its colours from opposite affections.
I find that somewhat parasitical, Sir Walter.
Imagine yourself placed in my own position,
Beyond these fireflies of the anchored fleet,
You can discern the black leaves of a forest,
So far translated into no civilized tongue,
So once another admiral years ago,
Saw a prone country, still with its maidenhead
The virgin sea, through which no prow had entered,
And sealed its nuptials in the name of Spain.
Like me, his own impetuous, rebellious, obscurely,
Above my own head, hangs a thirsty axe;
The king with his limp and lily sinewed wrist,
Can write my vein out, with a flick of the pen.
(Starts down steps, followed by KEYMIS)
The king is more concerned with bargaining with the Spaniard,
Than with your nature, you are a breed, sir,
Against his policy, who's left in England now?
The admirals, earls and boisterous captains
Who shivered all the strength of Spain, her provinces,
they are buried now, some in strange parts of the sea.
And do you know by what he weighs us? Gold.
He spared me for that purpose. What time is it?
KEYMIS (moving towards table)
It must be almost eight o'clock. And so I take it,
Since we have burnt the town at Trinidad,
An act that certainly should incense the King,
And since we stand outside Guiana, full of doubts,
That tomorrow we attack the fort at San Thome?
We must not fail this time to find Manoa,
I want my son to come with us tomorrow, Keymis,
I feel a dewy sweat, I have caught the fever.
If I should be too weak to go, you will command.
But it should pass. First let us study the map.
(KEYMIS unrolls map on table)
It's not changed much since the last time, my lord.
What is it, Sir Walter?
No. As I stood here, and you unrolled the map.
With my life in the balances tomorrow,
I remembered my boyhood and an old dim sailor,
An old man with two worlds mixed in his blood,
And a strange prophecy which he made to me.
How sovereign death controls Guiana's green,
And that my voyages there would bring me death.
(Enter RALEIGH'S SON, unobserved with a lute)
I saw in my condition of this giddy fever
How the sea's jaws swallowed Sir Humphrey Gilbert,
And bones of Spanish conquerors mixed with veins.
Think of your reputation, father.
Welcome. I heard you on the lute. (to KEYMIS)
Some days my mind is clear and crystal green,
And perfect as a summer of the sea, and then,
A cloud of my uncertainty mantles it.
It's nothing but the fever, father.
Yes, but the gilding fever known as greed,
Come, study the map boy, you go with Captain Keymis,
When I am absent, consider him your father.
KEYMIS (showing young RALEIGH)
This lake here is the Rupunini, lying between
The river Essequibo, and the Rio Branco.
There is Canelos, a land of cinnamon trees,
These are the tributaries which I charted,
And this is the fort which we assault tomorrow.
We are sure, our prisoner, Governor de Berrio,
Knows something of the site of this great city.
(Clock strikes eight)
It has struck eight, shall I bring in the Governor?
Yes, bring in the hypocrite.
You see the sad trade of conquest, study it well.
Father, are you afraid?
I feel so hollow, boy. Yes, I am afraid,
But for you too, long memories disturb me,
Know what I would not give your life, my son,
for a roomful of all the jewels in Manoa.
Why should I die, my lord? Am I a bad soldier?
No, you do well, you do well. And here's the governor.
(Enter BERRIO, KEYMIS)
Senor de Berrio, my son who carries my name,
My friend and captain Laurence Keymis,
Be seated sir, and have some Spanish wine.
Excellency, we will get down to business straight.
Your excellency has for some years been governor of Trinidad
Which is the door and gateway to the west.
It is my confirmed impression, contradict me
That despite the pressing duties of your office
On occasions you have conducted expeditions
To find the legend that hides in the darkness there.
This is good Spanish claret, senor admiral.
Do you recall a Captain Whiddon, Excellency?
Yes, I know this English soldier, Whiddon.
I also know our countries are at peace,
And that he broke our compact, that English ships
Attack our provinces in these islands, against the peace.
Yes, I know Whiddon, and why you ask me that,
To explain your sacking of the town of San Jose
And justify the death of my own nephew.
Perhaps your Excellency might find it awkward
To recall your treacherous, pardon me, surprising
Entertainment of this English Officer.
Is this why I am brought before your Excellency?
To exchange memoirs? A week ago my men were massacred,
the city I administered sacked and burnt.
Much like your treatment of the Indians, senor.
We all did it once. Now they do it with negroes,
Unfortunately that is how one starts an Empire.
You still consider Spain a power, senor?
There is no Spain here now,
It is a different thing to Europe, these are the Indies,
With a different climate and a policy that must change.
I think that despite Whiddon, whose death I sanctioned,
That I was compensated, as you might say, enough
All that I built was burnt. We are at peace.
Perhaps. But then why should I savour of an ass,
With your honourable Spanish army at my back?
When I must force my passage through Guiana.
Why must, senor?
Why must you pursue this fable of Guiana?
Will that not mean a slaughtering of Indians?
I am not a Spaniard, man.
No, I am a Spaniard and responsible to my country.
And, you are English, your star in the ascendant,
But to me you are a finished phenomenon, my friend,
In that this pursuit of wealth, of personal glory,
Is of a finished age, the age of conquest, cruelty.
The gold is veining out.
Is that why you preach?
As Governor, I pursued my Catholic precepts
Brought here by our first admiral and Las Casas
That what men take away out of a country
They must restore by something else.
Our mines are finishing and the more profitable pursuits
Of growing cities, establishing Christian culture,
Is now the general concern, not avarice,
The individual reputation must be dimmed,
For the establishment of commerce, justice,
I am the proconsul of a new Empire, senor.
Now will your excellency look at this map?
RALEIGH (to BERRIO)
You tell me not to pursue my search for El Dorado,
Must I presume, before the discoveries,
Before Cortes, Pizzaro, Bilbao, Alcazar
There was no Montezuma, nor Peru, in fact no gold.
No massacre of natives, no Spanish imperialism
Under you Christian conquerors? Let us be honest.
I'm ageing. I believe in the existence of this city,
And so do you. I know, and Keymis, but you
Exhibiting that familiar Spanish arrogance...
Senor, I am too tired to bear arrogance (rises)
If you please!
Think all the world the property of Spain.
But Spain is shattered, her wealth will be ours,
I am not an even tempered man, senor.
Father, there is no need to be so angry with him.
RALEIGH (turning on SON)
I am your admiral, not your father now. (pause)
Senor Berrio, do you recognize certain names here?
I see a map whose drawings are as haphazard
As any I have done concerning this fable.
And where is the best direction to this fable?
I have a fatal statement for you gentlemen.
Which is? (sits)
There is no El Dorado.
There is a story devised for malice by the Indians.
It is a vicious fable, it is like Atlantis, it is like
Columbus' Cipango, like your own John Mandeville,
The more you pierce Guiana and explore it,
Pages of pages part before you, volumes of forest,
But El Dorado has no meaning, there are the bones
Of ruined Spanish expeditions, and nothing else.
Yet you yourself have made cynical expeditions
Of this nature.
That is why I speak.
I cannot warn you of the terrible expense
When men or nations turn to beasts for gold.
RALEIGH (rises angrily)
Very well then, to be considered a beast!
Issue this order to the captains, Keymis.
Despite the orders of the King of England,
Despite the hypocrisy of this cunning Spaniard,
Raleigh now risks his life, his soldiers lives,
His son's and all the weight, experience
Of his life, to find this fool's gold and be king of it!
Bum down the Spanish fort, and find Manoa,
And now senor, I wish you a goodnight. (Exit RALEIGH)
I have not seen him so angry for some time.
He has a tongue that wounds his friends.
He is a sensitive, but a dangerous man.
If he is your friend, then I say, look again.
He uses people.
And you know nothing?
Oh, you persistent English, I know nothing
I should like some rest. I wish him luck.
But I know this will bring some terrible price.
My father is no coward Senor de Berrio.
Si, nino. No coward. But a frightened man, Goodnight.
(Exit BERRIO, KEYMIS)
YOUNG RALEIGH (picks up lute and sings)
Gather ye money, while ye may
Old Time is still a-flying,
And that same price you raised today
Tomorrow will be dying.
That yellow coin of heaven, the sun,
The higher he's a-getting.
Pursue him still and you may run
A profit ere his setting.
So be you wise and be you bold
But let this keep you bonny,
Joy is a thing that's bought and sold
So sing hey money, money.
(RALEIGH, cloaked, enters above, listens to end of song and descends)
Go, get to bed boy, there's soldier's work at sunrise.
Excuse my anger. Know I love you. Now get to bed.
How is your fever? You should rest, father.
I have the fever and I cannot rest,
I think of my responsibility, and each man's life,
Of your sweet mother, of how greed makes men mad
And that dull ache of absence called a wife.
(Lights fade as RALEIGH exits. Slow drum beats start. Trumpet calls. To suggest passage
of time spot on CHORUS at left and spot on RALEIGH motionless. Enter CHORUS.
The lanterns of the fleet die one by one,
The wandering moon rides through a foam of clouds,
As Raleigh walks the deadened deck alone.
The false grey of daylight fills the east,
He waits with a few soldiers, alone, aboard, (spot on RALEIGH)
Through morning to the dead dial of noon.
The hours pass, till a far drum is heard.
(Lights up slowly)
Smoke, sir! It's the fort, they've burnt the fort.
And that drum's pulse means failure and defeat.
Lower the longboat there for Captain Keymis.
Can you shout what you see there, fellow?
Aye, Aye sir. it's the expedition, they're launching the skiffs, and it seems they've got a
couple wounded, though I can't make out who sir. They're down to the brown shallows of
the river, and there's some getting into the boats by the jungle's edge.
Get ready to brace them aboard, I'm coming down.
It's Captain Keymis' boat sir, and there's two dead.
Who are they?
I can't rightly tell sir. They're dead is all I know.
Give them a shout again!
(BERRIO enters below)
Allo there! Aloa off there!
Now the hot wind haunts the abandoned armour,
The wild bees build in the rusting Spanish helms,
The armoured cricket nests in the empty shield.
Allo, allo there? Who get it this time, mate?
Jeremy Ford, Carpenter. Walter Raleigh, squire.
BERRIO (moving forward)
What is it now man? Do you come to mock me?
It's the boy, sir. They're coming aboard.
(THE PATROL Boards, KEYMIS enters, behind, SAILORS bearing HIS SON'S body.)
Come, rest him on the table, I'll shift the lute.
Your son is dead, my lord.
And gold outlasts the wearer. Remain here Keymis.
(ALL exeunt but BERRIO and KEYMIS)
Will you not go into your quarters?
Suffering binds men together, excellency.
Not long ago I mourned my nephew's death.
How did this happen?
He fell in the skirmish with another sailor
When we attacked the fort of San Thome.
I placed the boy in your particular care.
So late I heard the playing on the lute,
Now these poor fingers, that should pluck a viol,
Are cold as this sword that I placed in them.
There he lies, on the unknown world, my son.
We must return to England now, Sir Walter.
I weigh this body of my finished son
Against, sweet Christ, a little mound of gold,
But God, who sacrificed Thy Son Thyself,
Temper my grief, rib me with fortitude,
0 death that takes a little piece of me,
When one man dies, the only empire is yours,
All mockery carved in that marble stiffness
Wrapped in the reputation of a shroud,
A mirror clouded by the breath of time.
A broken sword laid at the foot of war,
A cold meat for the whimsy of a king (pause)-Keymis!
I share your sorrow, Walter, I am with you.
(turning on him)
With me? I wish you were with him there dead.
And I. Believe me, as his friend and captain.
Or to speak the truth, his captain and his butcher.
Butcher? I know the quantity of your suffering,
But I was his friend when he lived. You know it.
Take him away, the lute, map, everything, but Keymis,
If you are as honest as you say you are, then look,
And take his murder as your own negligence.
Come back here, man!
(Body borne away. KEYMIS moves off)
Do you call me back to abuse me then, Sir Walter,
Here in the full view of the common sailors
To the contempt and pity of the enemy?
Yes, yes, and more, death is a common thing,
And it is you who are the enemy.
Your mind is feverish.
It was you, with your cupidinous, common fawning,
Who drew me by the sleeve away from God
When I was locked in darkness in the tower,
And whispered gold and empire in this ear.
Whatever fever you may have, Sir Walter, I tell you,
That is a weak and cowardly lie, sweet Christ. Remember,
We searched for Guiana many times before this,
Then it was dear Laurence, friend, exchanger of my love,
It was your fever that infected mine. We have failed,
And execution waits for us in England, But God,
I had preferred to slaughter Indians uselessly
Than to endure this malice from a gentleman.
Gentlemen, senores. I lost a nephew to your soldiers.
I'll tell you De Berrio, the contagion of madness
Makes snakes of friends when profit is involved (points)
There is the leech Keymis who fed on me,
Who crawled on green Guiana like a leaf,
Murdering men's sons, and fattening on my friendship,
Do not cross my sight till we return to England.
O God pluck down the star of selfish men!
Break the proud shaft on which they hoist their colours
The man has burst my heart. I loved them both.
I could not hold the boy back, I swear to God,
I roll the map up, where the stain of his life
Marks red for conquest. I will not live with this.
Again and again, the plot of conquest follows
the hollow carcass of the drum of reputation,
Who weeps for Jeremy ford?
(Enter TWO SAILORS)
If you please, Sir. Come, mate give us a hand.
What is the matter now?
If you please, sir. Captain Keymis has just killed his self.
There's some takes things too hard. Excuse us, Governor.
(BERRIO bends his head over the table. The SAILORS wait)
SLOW FADEOUT DRUM
POMPEY (rushing out on stage)
Mano! Hey, Mano. Where this man gone now?
I bet you he with them big shot in the five dollar seat.
What happen now pardner? You ain't tired harass me?
You know what I wanted to tell you pardner?
I don't want to hear nothing.
Don't vex nub pal. Is this. That last sailor there who carry off the table, the second one.
You mean the squinge faced fellow?
Yeah, he self, well-
You ain't find he talk like a Bajan?
Oh God, is that you call a man out here for, and people looking?
POMPEY (sitting on barrel)
Looking at ihis fellar, you know, remind me of a old joke once about Barbadian.
Look nuh man, we ain't have time for that now.
This joke happen way back in about 1618 or so, the year Raleigh dead. Or some time
around there (Mano moves away). Wait nub man, I sure you going enjoy this joke. It have
history in it. (Mano comes back). They had this Bajan fellar during the early days of slaver)
when some of the British Islands was being settled, you know, like St. Kitts, Antigua, St
Lucia and so on and so on.
I gone, yes.
Well this fellar, he get a work. This wasn't no ordinary kind a work you know. He wasn't
no negre jardin, no plantation nigger. he was a steward a wine steward on a big estate.
You ever give a short joke yet?
Well one night be bounce up wid a drunken sailor.
MANO (moving away)
Look nuh, like you planning to sleep here tonight.
Alright, alright. But stop! You think I was lying? Look the two of them there! You going
see if I was lying
(Exeunt MANO and POMPEY)
Night. A wharf- enter a SAILOR, jug in hand Barbados.
It's midnight, and I can't find the way to the ship, and I wouldn't like to be stuck in the
Barbadoes for nothing. Its pitch black and I've too much rum in me drum to move further.
Hup boys, hup boys! Its no use, me legs is buckling below me like a shivered keel. Perhaps,
and I'm lucky, I'll get a passerby to pick me up. It's a pitch dark alley. Ah! (A prim Negro
steward passes with a small crate, sees the sailor ,sneers; then passes on. Sailor rises).
Hey, you nigger. Give us a band there mate.
Hey, you come back here. You, buck, Give us a hand.
STEWARD (long pause, sneers)
Talking to me?
Yes mate. I'm on me way to the ship, aren't you a nigger?
I can't hardly make out complexions in this obscurity.
Give you a hand? You should be ashamed of yourself. (moving off)
Hey you can't go off, I compel you to give me a hand.
STEWARD (setting down cask carefully)
Now look, You see here yourself, mister man! If you can't act like a gentleman in a
respectable British colony, then all I could say to you, is you should be ashamed of yourself.
A sailor of his majesty's navy, a Englishman, and drunk as a lord on the demon rum. And
look here too besides, friend. I not one of these common nigger men you see working down
by the carenage hauling spiders, and getting on like they ain't got self respeck for their
owners, yuh! I works at Sir George Somers' cousin as house, food and wine steward, so
hence the uniform which I intends to respeckl A Englishman like you cavorting in this
public alley on a Sunday night!
(sailor recoils from the outburst)
Look mate, its late and I'm due aboard.
I don't care what time it is, this is the year sixteen hundred and eighteen, and this is a British
colony, and Barbados is not one of them loose living other colonies in these islands with
their riotous living, like Jamaica and the buccaneers and the other places, this is a decent
self respecking colony with a sense of justice and decency. You not in St. Kits, Antigua or
St. Lucia, or one of them nasty French places, and I consider you should be ashamed of
yourself! You have a responsibility to protect these British colonies with vessels, and so
discharge them according to your service, before I take your name and number! Imagine,
shouting my name out in the middle of the night like some bewildered alley cat. I am a
steward, in a decent conducted plantation, and houseproud. Why, you getting on like one of
them convicts and indentured Englishmen that they send out to work in the colonies. Now
get up and march. You villain. Get up I say, and remember the flag you fly under, you
wicked thing you, and give me that bottle. On, get on. You villainous thing you, The ship is
yonder. Now garn, gam (pushes sailor off) A sailor of His Majesty and drunk! (exits).
THE DEATH OF RALEIGH
1618. Cold dawn. The Tower of London. Enter RALEIGH. Behind him A PRIEST and
AN EXECUTIONER. Drum beat.
The wind is harp, keen as an axe's edge.
Sir Walter, now is the time
When you must fit your vessel for that fatal sea,
To that Virginian voyage, death's New Foundland,
Yet Christ shall guard you.
Do you hear that, executioner?
Make no arrangements for my supper tonight,
Come, lead me to the summit of all endeavour.
God keep you on that long voyage Sir Walter.
I had forgotten God too long, my age is finished
Just as De Berrio said, as the old sailor warned
At my son's cost, and broken Laurence Keymis.
I'll tell you this, father, although my hermit's voice
Will be drowned in the roar of wars and politics,
The only wisdom, whether of single man or nation
Is to study the brevity of this life and love it,