Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  The Deaths of Myron and Klydone

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Augusta Webster 1840–94

The Deaths of Myron and Klydone

SCENE.—A lighted Hall. Soft music playing without. A Bed placed in an alcove among flowers.

Enter MYRON, OLYMNIOS, RUFUS, LYSIS, and others.
Myr.Move me that jasmine further from the bed:

The perfume’s sweetest coming faint through air.

That ’s well. And shut the nearest casement close:

The breeze is almost chill. Throw that one wide:

Let waking stars peep at their mimics here.

Now, Rufus, art thou ready?

Ruf.’T is, Art thou?

Myr.Give me the cup, good Lysis.

Pure wine first.

I drink to the Good Genius[drinks],whom, perchance,

I shall know presently by some nearer name.

Now, Lysis, that blent wine whose name is Sleep.[Drinks.

[To Rufus.] So, thou hast seen me drink, and know’st what draught,

Who saw’st it mix’d; no need methinks to watch.

Go, prithee, try again my vintage wine:

I doubt thou wilt not ask to taste this brew.

Ruf.No, ’faith! my thirst can wait a wholesomer tap.

I am sorry for thee, too.

Myr.Well, go, my man;

Thou canst come by-and-by and see ’t was sure.[Exeunt all but MYRON, OLYMNIOS, and LYSIS.

Now quick, boy! fetch Klydone.[Exit LYSIS.

’T is most strange

How death that is of all we know most sure,

Of all we know seems most impossible.

I shall not live an hour; my mind grants that,

But grants it as a stage of argument,

Gives it but such belief as when, being told

“So many fathomless miles to reach that star,”

We learn the count unquestioning it for true,

But cannot shape conception of its reach.

I cannot, quick life still within my veins,

I cannot feel a faith that presently

My cold oblivious body shall lie there,

Void of the soul, an ended nothingness.

Olymn.Thou art too young, and death unnatural.

Myr.Klydone thinks all death unnatural.

Olymn.If nature stood for perfectness, it were.

And therein is the better after-hope:

For perfectness must be, since we conceive it,

And, not being here, ’t is in some second life.

Myr.I ’ll think my soul shall, like the sunward swallows,

Having known but summer here, renew it there.

Klydone comes not.

Olymn.That ’s for want of wings.

Myr.I would she had them, to flee hence and rest.

’T is a wild, long journey. Ah, poor child, poor child!

May the gods send her happy.

Olymn.If they will;

Pray rather they may send her as is best.

Myr.Let her not brood upon my death too much,

And most of all persuade her from remorse;

Tell her ’t was destin’d, had she never spoken;

Hush her from her own blame till, by-and-by,

It takes the strangeness of unworded thoughts

That fade like bodiless ghosts beyond our ken.

Olymn.No, Myron. Self-blame ’s a shrewd counsellor;

I will not help Klydone from that good.

Myr.She is such a woman as some griefs could kill.

Olymn.Better to die by an ennobling grief

Than to live cheerful in too low content.

Myr.But spare her, if it be but for my sake.

Olymn.Whom dost thou ask? I spare not nor chastise;

That ’s God’s to do, who makes our self his means:

Her sorrowing or her comfort lie in her.

Enter LYSIS.

Lys.Klydone, sir, Klydone—[Stops.

Myr.Comes she not?

Tell her to make more speed, for I grow heavy.

Lys.She comes; she bade them carry her; she ’s half dead.

Myr.I am awake, I think. Say it again.

Half dead?

Lys.She took the poison at due time;

She said ’t was at due time by thine own count;

She said thou shouldst have call’d her in an hour,

And she was ready then: but ’t was too long,

More than an hour, and so she must go first

That did but mean to follow thee afterwards.

Olymn.Well, ’t is her right.

Myr.Is it a message, boy?

Lys.She said it by gasps; then bade me, if she died,

Tell it thee for her, and thou ’dst know and pardon.

She is coming.

Myr.She go first! Klydone die!

Olymnios, hast thou heard?

Olymn.I blame her not;

Nor weep her going with thee. ’T is the best.

Myr.I would have had her live: she hated death.

But we go hand in hand, husband and wife.

Lysis, go bid them hasten, lest she sleep,

Or I, past waking, ere she come to me.

Enter Servants carrying KLYDONE on a couch.

A Servant.’T is over. She still breath’d a minute since;

But now ’t is over.

Second Serv.’T was but just “Too soon!”

As if she sigh’d in sleep; then only breath’d,

And now ’t is over.

Myr.Oh, how fair she lies!

She should have kept that smile to look on me.

Sweet, canst thou see me still? How fair she is!

Smile on, Klydone, death has wedded us.

Wife, wilt thou love me there, whither we go?[Exit OLYMNIOS.

Lys.Master, she stirr’d.

Myr.’T was but my breath, my boy,

That mov’d that straying gossamer of her hair.

[To the Servants.] Come, lift her gently, lay her on the bed.


Olymn.[Without.]Both! oh, both!

A Servant.Hark! ’T was a fall. Go see.[Exeunt some Servants.

Myr.Where is Olymnios?

Reënter a Servant.

What ’s the noise we heard?

Serv.Olymnios, master.


Serv.He died and fell.

Myr.When sorrow swells these ironpent hearts they break.

Go, all of you. Keep stillness, wake me not.

I have room beside thee, love.[Lies down on the bed.]Go now, my friends.

Lysis, not thou. Sit where I do not see thee.

Send hence that music, and thou, sing me asleep.

Is it moonlight yet?


Myr.Throw the curtains back.

Put out those lights. Now sing until I sleep.[Exeunt Servants.

No dirges, boy; that song Klydone lov’d,

Philomel and the aloe flower, sing that.

Lys.[Sings.]Joy that ’s half too keen and true

Makes us tears.

Oh the sweetness of the tears!

If such joy at hand appears,

Snatch it, give thine all for it:

Joy that is so exquisite,

Lost, comes not new.

(One blossom for a hundred years.)

Grief that ’s fond, and dies not soon,

Makes delight.

Oh the pain of the delight!

If thy grief be Love’s aright,

Tend it close and let it grow:

Grief so tender not to know

Loses Love’s boon.

(Sweet Philomel sings all the night.)

Myr.[Drowsily.]Fair dreams, Klydone. Waken me at dawn.[Sleeps.