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Enter AHIMAAs.

AH1. Peace and content be with my lord the king, Whom Israel's God hath bless'd with victory. DAv. Tell me, Ahimaas, lives my Absalon 2 AHI. I saw a troop of soldiers gathered, But know not what the tumult might import. DAv. Stand by, until some other may inform The heart of David with a happy truth.

Enter CUSAY.

CU. Happiness and honour live with David's soul, Whom God hath bless'd with conquest of his foes. DAv. But, Cusay, lives the young man Absalon 7 CU. The stubborn enemies to David's peace, And all that cast their darts against his crown, Fare ever, like the young man Absalon For as he rid the woods of Ephraim, Which fought for thee as much as all thy men, His hair was tangled in a shady oak; And hanging there, by Joab and his men, Sustain'd the stroke of well deserved death. DAv. Hath Absalon sustain'd the stroke of death 2 Die, David, for the death of Absalon, And make these cursed news the bloody darts, That through his bowels rip thy Wretched breast. Hence, David, walk the solitary woods, And in some cedar's shade, the thunder slew, And fire from heaven hath made his branches black, Sit mourning the decease of Absalon: Against the body of that blasted plant –

In thousand shivers break thy ivory lute,
Hanging thy stringless harp upon his boughs,
And through the hollow sapless sounding trunk
Bellow the torments that perplex thy soul.
There let the winds sit sighing till they burst;
Let tempest, muffled with a cloud of pitch,
Threaten the forests with her hellish face,
And, mounted fiercely on her iron wings,
Rend up the wretched engine by the roots
That held my dearest Absalon to death.
Then let them toss my broken lute to heaven,
Even to his hands that beats me with the strings,
To show how sadly his poor shepherd sings.
[He goes to his pavilion and sits close awhile.
BETH. Die, Bethsabe, to see thy David mourn,
To hear his tunes of anguish and of hell;
O, help, my David, help thy Bethsabe,
[She kneels down.
Whose heart is pierced with thy breathy swords,
And bursts with burden of ten thousand griefs!
Now sit” thy sorrows sucking of my blood:
O, that it might be poison to their powers,
And that their lips might draw my bosom dry,
So David's love might ease him, though she die!
NATH. These violent passions come not from
above;
David and Bethsabe offend the Highest,
To mourn in this immeasurable sort.

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* sit] Old copy, “sits.”

DAv. O Absalon, Absalon, O my son, my son : "Would God that I had died for Absalon 1 But he is dead; ah, dead! Absalon is dead: And David lives to die for Absalon. [He looks forth, and at the end sits close again.

Enter JoAB, ABIs A1, ITHAY, with their train.

JoAB. Why lies the queen so prostrate on the
ground 2
Why is this company so tragic hued 2
Why is the king now absent from his men,
And marcheth not in triumph through the gates?
[He unfolds the pavilion.

David, awake; if sleep have shut thine eyes,
Sleep of affection that thou canst not see
The honour offer'd to the victor's head :
Joab brings conquest, pierced on his spear,
And joy from all the tribes of Israel.

DAv. Thou man of blood, thou sepulchre of death,
Whose marble breast intombs" my bowels quick,
Did I not charge thee, nay entreat thy hand
Even for my sake to spare my Absalon 2
And hast thou now in spite of David's health,
And scorn to do my heart some happiness,
Given him the sword, and spilt his purple soul?

JoAB. What, irks it David, that he victor breathes, That Juda, and the fields of Israel, Should cleanse their faces from their children's blood 7

* intombs] Old copy “intombe.”

What, art thou weary of thy royal rule 2
Is Israel's throne a serpent in thine eyes,
And he that set thee there, so far from thanks,
That thou must curse his servant for his sake?
Hast thou not said, that, as the morning light,
The cloudless morning, so should be thine house,
And not as flowers by the brightest rain,
Which grow up quickly, and as quickly fade 2*
Hast thou not said, the wicked are as thorns,
That cannot be preserved with the hand,
And that the man shall touch them, must be arm'd
With coats of iron, and garments made of steel,
Or with the shaft of a defenced spear 2
And art thou angry he is now cut off,
That led the guiltless swarming to their deaths,
And was more wicked than an host of men 2
Advance thee from thy melancholy den,
And deck thy body with thy blissful robes,
Or, by the Lord that sways the heaven I swear,
I'll lead thine armies to another king,
Shall cheer them for their princely chivalry;
And not sit daunted, frowning in the dark,
When his fair looks, with oil and wine refresh'd,
Should dart into their bosoms gladsome beams,
And fill their stomachs with triumphant feasts,
That when elsewhere stern war shall sound his trump,
And call another battle to the field,

* Which grow up quickly, and as quickly fade] Old copy, in this line, “grows” and “fades.”

Fame still may bring thy valiant soldiers home,
And for their service happily confess
She wanted worthy trumps to sound their prowess:
Take thou this course and live, refuse and die,
ABIs. Come, brother, let him sit there till he sink;
Some other shall advance the name of Joab.
[Offers to go out.
BETH. O, stay, my lords, stay ! David mourns
no more,
But riseth to give honour to your acts. [Stay.
[He riseth up.
DAv. Then happy art thou, David's fairest son,
That, freed from the yoke of earthly toils,
And sequester'd from sense of human sins,
Thy soul shall joy the sacred cabinet
Of those divine ideas, that present
Thy changed spirit with a heaven of bliss.
Then thou art gone; ah, thou art gone, my son
To heaven, I hope, my Absalon is gone:
Thy soul there plac'd in honour of the saints,
Orangels clad with immortality,
Shall reap a sevenfold grace for all thy griefs;
Thy eyes, now no more eyes, but shining stars,
Shall deck the flaming heavens with novel lamps;
There shalt thou taste the drink of Seraphins,
And cheer thy feelings with archangels' food;
Thy day of rest, thy holy sabbath day
Shall be eternal; and, the curtain drawn,
Thou shalt behold thy sovereign face to face,

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