Act I, scene x
In front of the bus depôt again. Enter Putresco, with a basket of apples.
The fools have cast me from their richest homes
And stripped my finer clothes from this poor body
Which 'now in sickness lies' – I'm sorely racked
By pounding heart, the aura of shame withal
That weasel-like doth hound me o'er the moor
Bearing this sorry panier of fruit –
The redstart to beguile. These fools have thrown
Me from their halls: I shun the reckless class
That such acts perpetrate: I'll to my bus!
Exit, dropping fruit about him.
Enter Schiller, picking up apples and putting them furtively in his pockets.
The drought of summer's past – my winter store
Must needs replenish'd be. And haply thus
I'll food enough obtain for months – but fie!
I ape the squirrel not in this alone!
Of late I robbed a lesser whitethroat's nest
Six spotted eggs I took – no bird has more
All things shall starve whenas the hibern bell
Shall wax apace, his clanger seeds discharge
Unto th'enspherèd skies; all sap shall cease
To flow, all life to ebb commence, and then
Blazon once more fantastically to dust
As doth the sad crepusculate soul of man
Evaporate ...
                Good Schiller, Schiller ho!
Who speaks?
                'Tis I, of whom –
                                      Speak up! Can't hear
A word, still less a syllable ...
VOICE (fading)
                           I die ...
A strangled sob!
Remarkable! Methought a voice I heard
But oft in silence ears are led astray
By noises such as these.
                           Oh, patterned harps!
Oh, decorated bombardons! I die ...
Another strangled sob!
Hist! An I were prone to such events
I had eschewed all sense and purpose. Fie!
He runs backstage, trips on a ticket-machine, and crashes heavily into the wings!
Enter Marco Polo, dejectedly.
When oft in pensive or in sullen vein,
I have rejected aught that may be shunned
And now am I in turn been shunned by her
The damozel so fair – so fair – who now
Amid the noisome systems of the joinery
Awaits him who shall find her when he come
At dusk – now shunned by her I weep in vain
And yet I do take heart: for all the unions
Now are joined to fight the layabouts
Who rise in warlike clamour i'the east
Their profits to increase. Such things are good,
For they do wrap the universe about
In painful convolution. Thusly too
Shall all Charybdis's wealth to me devolve,
To me alone: to me and no-one else,
To none but I, the dweller of this skull
And of this fragile symposy of flesh,
Wherein pulsating rivulets of gore,
And other fluids too, I woot, cascade
But of revolting lungs and nasty drips
I'll tell no more; they make me think of her
Of whose unholy fate I cannot think
Without two shudders: Silence for the cow!
I linger over verses. Eggs i'th'oven!
Porridge in a porringer – (I woot) –
Now listen I aside to what shall hap!
He lingers off, pig-all haps
Re-enter Polo.
Dejected I, of all men quite the most
Melancholy, melancholy I
Should linger not awhile abune this globe
Except that there has been, for hours, no bus!
He gets a timetable out of his pocket and a large (i.e. very large) map, which he spreads out on the stage. He crawls about on it.
Now let us see! From here unto the wharf
By mule, three days; by pogo-stick, three more;
By automatic foot another four!
How, transport lacking, should a sorry wight
Who, having cunningly compiled his task
Wherein to save his fortune, goes astray
Then find his way to distant wharves whereat
The multitudinous populace do seethe
With bad intent but many a bulging purse
Loud and lusty they: and yet methinks
A bus should travel thence and fro, at least
So long as melancholy dogs the soul.
O, this age bereft of transport, this age,
A cringing relic of slow time it creeps
Like woodworm in a piece of Greek ceramic,
Carving each rotten age my inner cares
To chalky dust. Like bride become a mistress
Ravished once, to terminate each night
By sordid day, wherein the orgy ceases
And modesty becomes once more the rule.
Like bastard children, ever unbefostered
We live our subatomic lives and die
Submerged beneath the acid, writhing sea
Where powdered continents unhouse the soul
Whose power contains the oceans twixt the land
Though they should strain so far in rhythmic pulse
Beswayed by sullen Selene's bequest
As doth a lunatic in times of fear
Who, rampant, steals the nunnery a-by
Withal a furtive glance therein to cast,
Just as doth th'archivist of forestry
Whenas a modest copse he doth espy,
And stealthily doth creep therein to take
A mossy handful of some rarer loam
And slink off homewards. Aye, that's how it is!
Exit Marco Polo.
Enter Chinaman.
(There follows a cadenza for the Chinaman)
Exit Chinaman.
Enter Chorus in a metal cylinder, his head just visible.
This Marco is a sorry wight, as are all
Whose fates we hear: the stunted as the tall.
The horrid, sordid, nasty, the fair Rangoon,
Whose pallid fate we read upon the Moon.
Exit Chorus.

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