Hecuba: In The Darkness Of The Fire

Dramatis Personae

Greek Soldier
Chorus of Trojan Women
Hecuba - Former Trojan Queen
Talthybius - Messenger of the Greeks
Polyxena - Youngest daughter of Hecuba
Cassandra - Daughter of Hecuba
Young Woman - Trojan
Polymestor - King of Thrace
Chorus of Greek Warriors/Sailors
Odysseus - A Greek commander, King of Ithaca
Agamemnon - King of Mycenae, Leader of the Greeks

(A Greek soldier enters alone carrying a lighted torch.)

Greek Soldier

How often have I glared in spite,
With teeth clenched tight in futile rage
And stomach aching for the fight,
To see the walls and towers, and
Within known there were palaces,
And silks, and fires, and music and
Soft flowers on a summer's night;
While I lay on the frozen ground;
Or, tossed, awake, as star shapes wound...
Breathless... through an endless sultry
And oppressive night. In pain,
The fires of hatred kept me warm
On winters days; and blew a chilling
Breeze when it was stifling out.
How often held I the self-same
Ground at the weary day's dark close
That was mine at the start; still all my strength
Was spent! And times there were, when I
And strong-willed comrades, fought with courage;
Yet we were pushed back and the fire meant
For the ships came near, and panic
Grew among the guard who
Knew that all was lost and none
Could hinder our destruction here!
In the fullness of time all things
Can change and come about. Those walls,
Which once kept us outside, do so
No more but, useless rest, now, on
Their great foundations, their gates all
Smote asunder. The planks here fuel
The fires that we make to light
Our torch to burn this city down.
We will collect what's due us at last
For the blood and pain and hate filled scorn.
This place, like some strange evil beast,
Or serpent with a black heart, took
Its fill of Greeks. And of the rest,
Who saw no cuts upon their flesh,
Knew not that it had still taken
A large bite from their span of years,
That too well nourished it. Now, when
We have vanquished this enemy,
None wish life to return once more,
In time when wounds may heal. So we
Shall put all to the torch, that winds
Might scatter the remains and dark
Oblivion take hold of it.
From the communal ring of fire
Steal I a solitary ember,
A rebellious, live member,
A bright incendiary spark;
And free it from its human
Chains, its well domesticated
Range where long it served the matriarch
And the artisan at his work;
I take it from the mortared stone;
Release it from its pris'ning throne;
And free it from its narrow fate
Return it to its God-like state.
Excited, let the smold'ring
Rage break forth in incandescent
Blaze and wildly, geyser-like,
Throw up to heaven its showery
Glow. Then let it touch the firmament
And leave its ashes here below.
Let all the constellations there
Know what's been done down here; and where!
Let it bellow and let it roar!
And let it leap from porch to door!
Let it sing, let it crackle
Let it throw off every shackle!
Let it singe and let it sunder
Let it howl and let it thunder!
Let a spreading conflagration
Bring down palace, bring down nation
Bring down hope of all salvation!
Joined, let city and let Fire,
Together make a fun'ral pyre!
Then let us dance in exaltation
Let us sing in jubilation!
End we now our deprivation
In whirling intoxication
In tumbling obliteration!

Chorus of Trojan Women

Where are the bells that call for help?
Where are the dogs that bark and yelp?
Where is the watchman? Cutting kelp?
No man shows himself in the square
No man shows himself now aware,
No man shows himself on the dare,
No man shows himself anywhere.
Nobody stops the devastation!
Nobody halts the desecration!
Nobody ends the despoliation!
Nobody sees the desperation!
Nobody knows the desolation!


Know you not our men are dead? And
That Troy has fallen? There is none
Left who will still take up our cause!
Yet I do fear there may be worse
To come. Their War Council meets
In the shadows of the fires
Set here to herald all the world
Of our sudden, appalling, ruin.
We have paid a price, too costly even
For grim victory, but bought
Instead only rending defeat.
We must hold on to what
Is left, to build again not for
Our time, perhaps, but for our children's,
If great God permits. Where life is,
There does hope remain!