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Nor liveth any of king David's sons
To bring this bitter tidings to the king.
DAv. Aye me, how soon are David's triumphs
How suddenly declineth David's pride!
As doth the daylight settle in the west,
So dim is David's glory and his gite.”
Die, David; for to thee is left no seed
That may revive thy name in Israel.
Jon AD. In Israel is left of David's seed.
Enter ADoNIA, with other sons.
Comfort your lord, you servants of the king.—
Behold, thy sons return in mourning weeds,
And only Ammon Absalon hath slain.
DAv. Welcome, my sons; dearer to me you are
Than is this golden crown, or Hanon's spoil:
O tell me then, tell me, my sons, I say,
How cometh it to pass, that Absalon
Hath slain his brother Ammon with the sword 2
AD. Thy sons, Oking, went up to Ammon's fields,
To feast with him, and eat his bread and oil;
And Absalon upon his mule doth come,
And to his men he saith, when Ammon's heart
Is merry and secure, then strike him dead,
Because he forced Thamar shamefully,
And hated her, and threw her forth his doors:
And this did he; and they with him conspire,
And kill thy son in wreak of Thamar's wrong.
DAv. How long shall Judah and Jerusalem
Complain, and water Sion with their tears?
How long shall Israel lament in vain,
And not a man among the mighty ones
Will hear the sorrows of king David's heart?
Ammon, thy life was pleasing to thy lord,
As to mine ears the musick of my lute,
Or songs that David tuneth to his harp;
And Absalon hath ta'en from me away
The gladness of my sad distressed soul.
Eaceunt. Manet David.
WID. God save king David, king of Israel, And bless the gates of Sion for his sake! DAv. Woman, why mournest thou? rise from the earth; Tell me what sorrow hath befallen thy soul. WID. Thy servant's soul, O king, is troubled sore, And grievous is the anguish of her heart; And from Thecoa doth thy handmaid come. DAv. Tell me, and say, thou woman of Thecoa, What aileth thee, or what is come to pass. WID. Thy servant is a widow in Thecoa; Two sons thy handmaid had, and they, my lord, Fought in the field, where no man went betwixt, And so the one did smite, and slay the other.
And lo, behold, the kindred doth arise,
And cry on him that smote his brother,
That he therefore may be the child of death;
For we will follow and destroy the heir.
So will they quench that sparkle that is left,
And leave nor name, nor issue on the earth
To me or to thy handmaid's husband dead.
DAv. Woman, return; go home unto thy house:
I will take order that thy son be safe.
If any man say otherwise than well,
Bring him to me, and I shall chastise him :
For, as the Lord doth live, shall not a hair
Shed from thy son, or fall upon the earth.
Woman, to God alone belongs revenge;
Shall then the kindred slay him for his sin?
WID. Well hath king David to his handmaid spoke;
But wherefore then hast thou determined
So hard a part against the righteous tribes,
To follow and pursue the banished,
When as to God alone belongs revenge 2
Assuredly thou say'st against thyself;
Therefore call home again the banished;
Call home the banished that he may live,
And raise to thee some fruit in Israel.
DAv. Thou woman of Thecoa, answer me,
Answer me one thing I shall ask of thee:
Is not the hand of Joab in this work 2
Tell me, is not his finger in this fact 2
WID. It is, my lord; his hand is in this work:
Assure thee, Joab, captain of thy host,
Hath put these words into thy handmaid's mouth;
And thou art as an angel from on high,
To understand the meaning of my heart:
Lo, where he cometh to his lord the king.
Enter JoAB. DAv. Say, Joab, didst thou send this woman in To put this parable for Absalon? JoAB. Joab, my lord, did bid this woman speak, And she hath said; and thou hast understood. DAv. I have, and am content to do the thing; Go, fetch my son, that he may live with me. [Joab kneels. JoAB. Now God be blessed for king David's life; Thy servant Joab hath found grace with thee, In that thou sparest Absalon thy child: A beautiful and fair young man is he, In all his body is no blemish seen; His hair is like the wire of David's harp, That twines about his bright and ivory neck : In Israel is not such a goodly man; And here I bring him to entreat for grace.
Enter ABSALON, with JoAB.
DAv. Hast thou slain in the fields of Hazor
Ah, Absalon, my son l ah, my son, Absalon |
But wherefore do I vex thy spirit so?
Live, and return from Gesur to thy house;
Return from Gesur to Jerusalem :
What boots it to be bitter to thy soul?
Ammon is dead, and Absalon survives.
ABs. Father, I have offended Israel,
I have offended David and his house;
For Thamar's wrong hath Absalon misdone:
But David's heart is free from sharp revenge,
And Joab hath got grace for Absalon.
DAv. Depart with me, you men of Israel,
You that have follow'd Rabbah with the sword;
And ransack Ammon's richest treasuries.
Live, Absalon, my son, live once in peace:
Peace [be] with thee, and with Jerusalem.
[Ereunt. Manet Abs.
ABs. David is gone, and Absalon remains,
Flowering in pleasant spring-time of his youth :
Why liveth Absalon and is not honour'd
Of tribes and elders, and the mightiest ones,
That round about his temples he may wear
Garlands and wreaths set on with reverence;
That every one that hath a cause to plead
Might come to Absalon, and call for right?
Then in the gates of Sion would I sit,
And publish laws in great Jerusalem;
And not a man should live in all the land,
But Absalon would do him reason's due;
Therefore, I shall address me as I may,
To love the men and tribes of Israel. [Erit.
Enter DAVID, ITHAY, SADoc, AHIMAAs, Jon ATHAN, with others, DAv ID barefoot, with some loose covering over his head, and all mourning.
DAv. Proud lust, the bloodliest traitor to our souls, Whose greedy throat, nor earth, air, sea, or heaven, Can glut or satisfy with any store,