Sherwood – Monologue (Prince John)

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A monologue from the play by Alfred Noyes

NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Sherwood. Alfred Noyes. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1921.

PRINCE JOHN

So now, my good green foot-pad, you are trapped at last, trapped in the practice of your trade! Trapped, as you took your stolen Norman gold to what was it–a widow, or a Saxon serf with eye put out for breaking forest laws?

You hold with them, it seems. Your dainty soul sickens at our gross penalties; and so we’ll not inflict them on your noble self, although we have the power. There’s not a soul can ever tell where Robin Hood has gone.

These walls will never echo it. And yet there must surely be finer ways to torture so fine a soul as yours. Shall I call my mercenaries in and bid them burn your eyes out with hot irons?

Richard is gone–he’ll never hear of it! I am half inclined to do just that, so that your sympathy with Saxon churls may be more deep, you understand. It would be sweet for you,

alone and blind, to know that you could never in this life see Marian’s face again. But no–that’s bad art to put hope’s eyes out. It destroys half a man’s fear to rob him of his hope.

No, you shall drink the dregs of it. Hope shall die a more exquisite death. When I quit your presence, this bare blank cell becomes your living tomb. You’ll starve–see–like a rat, bricked up and buried.

But you’ll have time to think of how I tread a measure at the masque tonight with Marian, while her wide eyes wonder where Robin is–and old Fitzwalter smiles and bids his girl be gracious to the Prince for his land’s sake.

Ah! You wince at that! Will you not speak a word before I go? Six days hence, if you keep watch at yonder window (you’ll be hungry then) you may catch sight of Marian and Prince John wandering the gardens below.

Perhaps you’ll strive to call us, or stretch a meagre arm through these strong bars; but then you know the height is very great. No voice can reach the earth. This is the topmost cell in my Dark Tower.

Men look like ants below. I shall say to Marian, see that creature waving there, high above us, is it not like a winter-shriveled fly? She will laugh, and I will pluck her roses.

And then–and then–there are a hundred ways, you know, to touch a woman’s blood with thoughts beyond its lawful limits. Ha! By God, you almost spoke, I think.

Touches at twilight, whispers in the dark, sweet sympathetic murmurs o’er the loss of her so thoughtless Robin. Tell me … do you think Maid Marian will be quite so hard to win when princes come to woo?

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