SARDANAPALUS – Monologue (Sardanapalus – 2)

A monologue from the play by Lord Byron

NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Lord Byron: Six Plays. Lord Byron. Los Angeles: Black Box Press, 2007.


He’s gone; and on his finger bears my signet,
Which is to him a sceptre. He is stern
As I am heedless and the slaves deserve
To feel a master. What may be the danger,
I know not: he hath found it, let him quell it.
Must I consume my life—this little life—
In guarding against all may make it less!
It is not worth so much! It were to die
Before my hour, to live in dread of death,
Tracing revolt; suspecting all about me,
Because they are near; and all who are remote,
Because they are far. But if it should be so—
If they should sweep me off from earth and empire,
Why, what is earth or empire of the earth?
I have loved, and lived, and multiplied my image;
To die is no less natural than those
Acts of this clay! ‘Tis true I have not shed
Blood as I might have done, in oceans, till
My name became the synonym of death—
A terror and a trophy. But for this
I feel no penitence; my life is love:
If I must shed blood, it shall be by force.
Till now, no drop from an Assyrian vein
Hath flow’d for me, nor hath the smallest coin
Of Nineveh’s vast treasures o’er been lavish’d
On objects which could cost her Sons a tear:
If then they hate me, ’tis because I hate not:
If they rebel, ’tis because I oppress not.
Oh, men! ye must be ruled with scythes, not sceptres,
And mow’d down like the grass, else all we reap
Is rank abundance, and a rotten harvest
Of discontents infecting the fair soil,
Making a desert of fertility.—
I’ll think no more.

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