David by D. H. Lawrence
A PLAY IN SIXTEEN SCENES
DAVID, son of Jesse
SAUL, King of Israel
SAMUEL, Prophet of God
JONATHAN, son of Saul
ABNER, leader of Saul's host
AGAG, King of Amalek
MERAB, daughter of Saul
MICHAL, daughter of Saul
JESSE, father of David
ELIAB, ABINADAB, SHAMMAH, brothers of David
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Brothers of David
ADRIEL the Meholathite
Captains, Fighting-Men, Herald, Armour-Bearer, Elders,
Neighbours, Prophets, Herdsmen, and Lad.
Courtyard of Saul's house in Gilgal
A Room in Ramah
An open place in the village of Bethlehem
A courtyard in Jesse's house
Saul's house in Gilgal
Yard of Saul's house in Gilgal
Camp of the Israelites at Elah
The King's tent at Elah
Outside the courtyard of Saul's house in Gilgal
Courtyard of Saul's house in Gilgal
Room in King's house at Gilgal
The well at Gilgal
A room in David's house in Gilgal
The same as for Scene XIII
Naioth in Ramah
A rocky place outside Gilgal
Courtyard of SAUL'S house in Gilgal:
compound with an adobe house beyond.
AGAG, bound, seated on the ground, and fastened by a
rope to a post of the shed. Men with spears. Enter MERAB
and MICHAL, daughters of SAUL, with
MERAB (running and dancing): Saul came home with the
spoil of the Amalekite.
MAIDENS: Hie! Amalekite! Hie! Amalekite!
MICHAL: Saul threw his spear into the desert of Shur, through
the heart of the Amalekite.
MAIDENS: Struck the Amalekite, pierced him to the ground.
MICHAL: Wind of the desert blows between the ribs of Amalek,
only the jackal is fat on that land. Who smote the Amalekite, as
a sand-storm smites the desert?
MAIDENS: Saul! Saul! Saul is the slayer and the death of
MERAB (before AGAG): What is this dog with a string
round his neck?
MAIDENS: What dog is this?
MICHAL: I know this dog, men used to call it King!
MAIDENS: Look at this King!
MERAB: Agag, Agag, King of the Amalekites! Dog on a string at
the heel of mighty Saul!
MICHAL (speaking to AGAG): Are you the King of the
AGAG: I am he, maiden!
MICHAL: I thought it was a dog my father had brought home, and
tied to a post.
MERAB: Why are you alone, Agag? Where are all your armed men,
that ran like lions, round the road to Egypt? Where are your
women, with gold on their foreheads? Let us hear the tinkle of
the bracelets of your women, O King, King Agag, King of mighty
MAIDENS (laughing--shaking tambourines in AGAG'S
face--spitting on him): Dog! Dog! Dog of an Amalekite!
MICHAL: Who hung on the heels of Israel when they journeyed
out of the wilderness of Shur, coming from Egypt, in the days of
our fathers, in the day of Moses, our great deliverer?
MAIDENS: Ay! Ay! Who threw their spears in the backs of the
MICHAL: Who killed our women, and the weary ones, and the
heavy-footed, in the bitter days of wandering, when we came up
out of Egypt?
MERAB: Who among our enemies was accursed like the Amalekite?
When Moses held the rod of God uplifted in his hand, Joshua smote
the Amalekite till the sun went down. But even when the sun was
gone, came the voice of the Almighty: War, and war with
Amalek, till Amalek is put out from under heaven.
MICHAL: Dog! Son of dogs that lay in wait for us as we passed
by! Dog! Why has Saul left you eyes to see, and ears to hear!
SAUL (coming from house): Agag is among the
MICHAL: See, Father, is this a king?
SAUL: Even so.
MICHAL: It is a dog that cannot scratch his own fleas.
SAUL: Even so, it is a king: King of rich Amalek. Have you
seen the presents he has brought for the household of Saul?
MICHAL: For the daughters of Saul, Father?
SAUL: Surely for Merab and Michal, daughters of Saul. (To a
man.) Ho! Bring the basket of spoils for the daughters of the
MICHAL: Listen! Listen! King Agag seeks a wife in Gilgal! Oh,
Father, I do not like him! He looks like a crow the dogs have
played with. Merab, here is a King for your hand!
MERAB: Death is his portion, the Amalekite.
MICHAL: Will you put him to death, Father? Let us laugh a
little longer at his Amalek nose.
Enter man with basket--also JONATHAN and
SAUL: See the gifts of Agag, King of Amalek, to the daughters
of Saul! Tissue from Egypt, head-veils from Pharaoh's house! And
see, red robes from Tyre, and yellow from Sidon.
MICHAL (screams): That for me, Father, that for
me! Give the other to Merab.--Ah! Ah! Ah!--Thank you, King Agag;
thank you, King of Amalek.
SAUL: Goldsmith's work for arms and ankles, gold and dropping
silver, for the ears.
MICHAL: Give me those! Give me those! Give the others to
Merab! Ay! Ay! Maidens! How am I?--See, Agag, noble Agag, how am
I now? Listen! (She dances, the ornaments clink.) They
say: Noble Agag!--King of Givers! Poor draggled crow that
had gold in its nest! Caw! King Agag! Caw! It's a daughter of
Saul, of long-limbed Saul, smiter of Amalek, who tinkles with
joys of the Amalekite.
JONATHAN: Peace, maiden! Go in and spin wool with the women.
You are too much among the men.
MICHAL: Art thou speaking, O Jonathan, full of thy own
JONATHAN: Take in these spoils from the eye of men, and the
light of day. Father, there came one saying that Samuel sought
you in Carmel.
SAUL: Let him find me in Gilgal.
ABNER: They are calling even now at the gate. (Moves to
SAUL (to girls): Go to the house and hide your spoil,
for if this prophet of prophets finds the treasure of the
Amalekite upon you, he will tear it away, and curse your
MICHAL: That he shall not! Oh, Merab, you got the blue shawl
from me! Run! Maidens! Run! Farewell, King Agag, your servant
thanks your lordship!--Caw!--Nay, he cannot even say caw!
Exit--running--MICHAL, and other MAIDENS
ABNER: It is so, my lord. Samuel even now has passed the stone
of directions, seeking Saul in Gilgal.
SAUL: It is well. He has come to bless our triumph.
JONATHAN: Father, will you leave that man in the sight of
SAUL: No! Go you quickly into the house, O Agag! Take him
quickly, men, and let no mouth speak his name.
JONATHAN: I have a misgiving, Father, that Samuel comes not in
peace, after Saul in Gilgal.
SAUL: Has Saul laid low the Amalekite, to fear the coming of
an old prophet?
ABNER: Samuel is a jealous man, full of the tyranny of
prophecy. Shall we wait him here, or go into the house and be
seated on the mats? Or shall we go forth from the gate towards
SAUL: I will stay here, and brighten my sword-edge in the
ABNER (at the gate--calling): He is coming across the
field; an old man in a mantle, alone, followed by two of his
JONATHAN (joining ABNER): It is he. And coming in
ABNER: In anger against whom?
JONATHAN: Against my father. Because we have not destroyed the
Amalekite utterly, but have saved the best spoil.
ABNER: Nay, but it is a foolish thing, to throw fine linen
into the fire, and fat young oxen down a dry well.
JONATHAN: It was the commandment.
ABNER: Why should the maidens not rejoice in their ornaments,
and the God of the Unknown Name enjoy the scent of
They retreat from the gate; SAUL sharpens his sword.
After a pause, enter SAMUEL, followed by the
SAUL (laying down his sword): Blessed be thou of the
Lord! I have performed the commandment of the Lord.
SAMUEL: What meaneth the bleating of the sheep in my ears, and
the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
SAUL: They have brought them from the Amalekites. The people
spared the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto
thy God, but the rest we have utterly destroyed.
SAMUEL: Stay, and I will tell thee what I have heard out of
the inner darkness, this night.
SAUL: Say on.
SAMUEL: When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou
not made the chieftain of the tribes of Israel, and the Deep
poured His power over thee, to anoint thee King? And the Voice
out of the deeps sent thee on a journey, saying: Go, and utterly
destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until
they be consumed.--Why then did you not obey the Voice, instead
of flying upon the spoil, and doing evil in the sight of the
SAUL: Yea, I have obeyed the Voice from the beyond. I have
gone the way which the Great One sent me, and have brought Agag
the King of Amalek prisoner, and have utterly destroyed the
Amalekites. But the people took the spoil, sheep and oxen, the
chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to
sacrifice in Gilgal unto the Lord thy God.
SAMUEL: Does the Breather of the skies take as great delight
in sacrifice and burnt offerings as in obedience to the Voice
that spoke on the breath of the night? Behold, to obey is better
than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
SAUL: Is not God the sender of life, and the bread of life?
And shall we deny the meat and destroy the bread that is
SAMUEL: Behold, is the Lord my God a sutler, to stock the
larders of Saul? Lo, He heeds not the fat beef nor the fine
raiment, but threshes out His anger in the firmament. Amalek has
defied the living Breath, and cried mockery on the Voice of the
Beyond. Therefore the living Wrath will wipe out the Amalekite,
by the hand of His servant, Israel. And if the Nameless is
without compunction, whence the compunction of Saul?
SAUL: I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
SAMUEL: Yea, that was bravely done! Thou didst not fear the
Great Lord, thou fearedst the people, smaller than thyself. Thou
didst not obey the Cry from the midst of the dark, but the voice
of the people!--I tell thee, rebellion is as the sin of
witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because
thou hast rejected the word of the Lord the Lord hath also
rejected thee from being King.
SAUL: Shall a King not hearken to the voice of his people?
SAMUEL: The people cried for a King, in the frowardness of
their hearts. But can they make a King out of one of themselves?
Can they whistle a lion forth from a litter of dogs? The people
cried for a King, and the Lord gave to them. Even thee, Saul. But
why art thou King? Because of the voice of the people?
SAUL: Thou didst choose me out.
SAMUEL: The finger of the Thunder pointed me to thee, and the
Wind of Strength blew me in thy way. And thou art King because
from out of the middle world the great Wish settled upon thee.
And thou art King because the Lord poured the oil of His might
over thee. But thou art disobedient, and shuttest thine ears to
the Voice. Thou hearest the barkings of dogs and the crying of
the people, and the Voice of the Midmost is nothing to thee.
Therefore thou hast become as nothing unto the Lord, and He that
chose thee rejecteth thee again. The power of the Lord shall fall
away from thee, and thou shalt become again a common man, and a
little thing, as when the Lord first found thee.
SAUL: I have sinned. For I have transgressed the commandments
of the Lord, which thou didst hear out of the deeps of the night.
Because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. But now, I
pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may find
the Lord, to worship Him.
SAMUEL: I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected
the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being
King over Israel. (SAMUEL turns away. SAUL catches hold
of the hem of SAMUEL'S garment and it tears in his
hand.) The Lord hath rent the Kingdom of Israel away from
thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is
better than thou (pause);--and the Mighty One that
moveth Israel will not lie, nor repent towards thee again: for He
is not a man that He should repent.
SAUL: I have sinned, I have sinned, I have turned my face the
wrong way. Yet honour me now, I pray thee! Honour me before the
elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me,
that I may find the Lord thy God, and worship Him.
SAMUEL (turning): Thou hast turned away from the Hidden
Sun, and the gleam is dying from out of thy face. Thou hast
disowned the Power that made thee, and the glow is leaving thy
limbs, the glisten of oil is waning on thy brow, and the vision
is dying in thy breast. Yet because thou art the Lord's anointed
I will bless thee again in the sight of the elders. Yet if the
Lord hath decided against thee, what avails an old man's
SAUL: Yet bless me, my Father.
SAMUEL (lifting his hand): The Lord be with thee! The
Lord's strength strengthen thee! The power and the might of the
Lord brighten thine eyes and light thy face: the Lord's life lift
thy limbs and gladden the walls of thy breast, and put power in
thy belly and thy hips! The Lord's haste strengthen thy knees and
quicken thy feet!
SAUL (lifting both hands to heaven): Lo, I have sinned,
and lost myself, I have been mine own undoing. But I turn again
to Innermost, where the flame is, and the wings are throbbing.
Hear me, take me back! Brush me again with the wings of life,
breathe on me with the breath of Thy desire, come in unto me, and
be with me, and dwell in me. For without the presence of the
awful Lord, I am an empty shell. Turn to me, and fill my heart,
and forgive my transgression. For I will wash myself clean of
Amalek, to the last speck, and remove the source of my sinning.
(Drops his hands--turns to SAMUEL.) Is it well, O
SAMUEL: May it be well! Bring me hither Agag, King of the
SAUL: Ho, Jonathan, send here Agag the Amalekite. And send
thou the chief of the herdsmen, O Abner, for we must wipe away
the stain of Amalek swiftly, out of Gilgal.
Exeunt JONATHAN and ABNER.
SAUL (to SAMUEL): The Lord shall be with me again this
day, that the Kingdom be not rent from me.
SAMUEL: Who knoweth the ways of the Deep? I will entreat, ah!
for thee in the night-time, and in the day. But if He hath turned
His face away, what am I but an old man crying like an infant in
Enter AGAG--coming forward delicately.
AGAG: Surely the bitterness of death is past.
SAMUEL (seizing SAUL'S sword): As thy sword hath
made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among
women. (Rushes on AGAG with sword--AGAG steps
behind a wall, SAMUEL upon him.)
JONATHAN: Better it had been in battle, on the field of the
ABNER: It is a sacrifice.
SAUL (to HERDSMAN): Gather together the cattle of the
Amalekite which came as spoil, and fasten them in a pen. Leave
out no sheep and no calf, nor any goat, but put them all in.
HERDSMAN: It shall be as Saul says.
SAMUEL (entering with red sword): I have hewed him in
pieces before the Lord, and his blood has gone up to the Most
High; it is in the nostrils of the God of Wrath.
SAUL: Come now, I pray thee, within the house, and let them
bring water for thy feet and food to gladden thine heart.
SAMUEL: It may not be. But I must go to Ramah to entreat for
thee before the Lord, and even now must I go. And may the Might
be with thee.
A room in Ramah. Night. SAMUEL
SAMUEL: Speak to me out of the whirlwind, come to me from
behind the sun, listen to me where the winds are hastening. When
the power of the whirlwind moves away from me, I am a worthless
old man. Out of the deep of deeps comes a breath upon me, and my
old flesh freshens like a flower. I know no age. Oh, upon the
wings of distance turn to me, send the fanning strength into my
hips. I am sore for Saul, and my old bones are weary for the
King. My heart is like a fledgling in a nest, abandoned by its
mother. My heart opens its mouth with vain cries, weak and
meaningless, and the Mover of the deeps will not stoop to me. My
bowels are twisted in a knot of grief, in a knot of anguish for
my son, for him whom I anointed beneath the firmament of might.
On earth move men and beasts, they nourish themselves and know
not how they are alive. But in all the places moves Unseen
Almighty, like a breath among the stars, or the moon, like the
sea turning herself over. I eat bread, but my soul faints, and
wine will not heal my bones. Nothing is good for me but God. Like
waters He moves through the world, like a fish I swim in the
flood of God Himself. Answer me, Mover of the waters, speak to me
as waves speak without mouths. Saul has fallen off, as a ripe fig
falls and bursts. He, anointed, he moved in the flood of power,
he was God's, he was not his own. Now he is cast up like a fish
among the dry stones, he beats himself against the sun-licked
pebbles. He jumped out from the deeps of the Lord, the sea of God
has seen him depart. He will die within the smell of his own
violence. Lord, Lord, Ocean and Mover of oceans, lick him into
the flood of Thyself. Wilt Thou not reach for him with the arm of
a long wave, and catch him back into the deeps of living God? Is
he lost from the sway of the tide for ever and for ever? When the
rain wets him, will it wet him Godless, and will the wind blow on
him without God in it? Lord, wilt Thou not reach for him, he is
Thine anointed? Bitter are the waters of old age, and tears fall
inward on the heart. Saul is the son whom I anointed, and Saul
has crawled away from God, he creeps up the rocks in vanity, the
stink of him will rise up like a dead crab. Lord, is it verily so
with Saul, is he gone out from Thee for ever, like a creeping
thing crawled in vanity from the element of elements? I am old,
and my tears run inward, they deaden my heart because of Saul.
For Saul has crawled away from the Fountain of Days, and the
Ancient of Days will know him no more. I hear the voice of the
Lord like waters washing through the night, saying: Saul has
fallen away and is no more in the way of the power of God.
Yea, what is love, that I should love him! He is fallen away, and
stinketh like a dead crab, and my love stinks with him. I must
wash myself because of Saul, and strip myself of him again, and
go down into the deeps of God. Speak, Lord, and I will obey. Tell
me, and I will do it. I sink like a stone in the sea, and nothing
of my own is left me. I am gone away from myself, I disappear in
the deeps of God. And the oracle of the Lord stirs me, as the
fountains of the deep. Lo! I am not mine own. The flood has
covered me and the waters of the beginning sound in the shell of
my heart. And I will find another King for Israel, I shall know
him by the whispers of my heart. Lo, I will fill the horn with
oil again, with the oil from the body of Him, and I will go into
the hills of Judah. I will find out one, in whom the power
sleeps. And I will pour potency over his head and anoint him with
God's fecundity, and place him beyond forgetting. I will go into
the hills of Judah, where the sheep feed among the rocks, and
find a man fresh in the morning of God. And he shall be King. On
the morrow I will gather myself and go, silently, carrying the
kingship away from Saul, because the virtue is gone out of him.
And Saul will kill me with a spear, in one stroke, for rage he
will kill me, if I tell him. But I shall not tell him. I shall
say: I must away to the land of Judah, it is the time to
sacrifice in the place of Bethlehem, the appointed time is at
hand.--So I shall go away from Saul for ever, and never shall I
see his face again. I shall hide myself away from his face, lest
he hurt himself, slaying me. I shall go in the morning with sure
feet, but the shell of my heart will be weary. For I am the
Lord's and servant of the Lord, and I go in obedience, even with
the alacrity of willingness. But alas, that I should have loved
Saul, and had pride in him! I am old.
an open place in the village. An old man
on a roof calling aloud and kindling a signal fire.
1ST ELDER (calling, on the roof): Come in! Come in!
Come in! Come all men in! Come all in to the place of counsel!
Gather into the place of counsel, all men gather now. Come in!
2ND ELDER (on the plaza): What now?
3RD ELDER: The watchman on the fourth hill saw a host of
prophets coming, even Samuel among them.
2ND ELDER: Yea! What does this bode?
JESSE: What have we done wrong, that Samuel comes down upon
us? If he curses us we are dead men.
4TH ELDER: Dread is on me. The sun looks darkened.
3RD ELDER: Nay, let us wait. It may be he comes in peace.
ELIAB (brother of DAVID): Why do we, who are men that
fear not the lion nor the bear, nor even the Philistine, tremble
before the raging of these prophets?
2ND ELDER: Hush then! For the Bolt is above us, and can strike
out of a clear sky. Canst thou hear His meaning, or know His
vision, Who is secret save to the prophets? Peace then, hush thy
JESSE: Verily, there is no open vision, and the word of One is
precious. Without Samuel, we should stare with the stare of deaf
men, and the fixed eyes of the blind. We should run our faces
against the wall, and fall with our feet into a hole. We should
not hear the lion roaring upon us.
ELIAB: Not so, my Father. Without a prophet I seek the lion
when he roars about the herd, I slay him without advice from the
Lord. We live our lives as men, by the strength of our right
hand. Why heed the howlings of priests in linen ephods, one or
JESSE: My son, shut thy teeth on such words. Seal thy heart to
silence. The strength of a man lasts for a little time, and
wastes like the oil in a lamp. You are young, and your lamp is
unbroken. But those that live long needs must renew their
strength again, and have their vessel replenished. And only from
the middle-middle of all the worlds, where God stirs amid His
waters, can strength come to us.
ELIAB: Will it not come without Samuel?
JESSE: There is a path that the gazelle cannot follow, and the
lion knows not, nor can the eagle fly it. Rare is the soul of the
prophet, that can find the hidden path of the Lord. There is no
open vision, and we, who can see the lion in the thicket, cannot
see the Lord in the darkness, nor hear Him out of the cloud. But
the word of One is precious, and we perish without it.
ELIAB: I cannot bow my heart to Samuel. Is he a King to
lead us into battle, and share the spoil with us? Why should we
fare worse without him?
JESSE: My son, day follows day, and night travels between the
days. But the heart of man cannot wander among the years like a
wild ass in the wilderness, running hither and thither. The heart
at last stands still, crying: Whither? Whither? Like a
lost foal whinnying for his dam, the heart cries and nickers for
God, and will not be comforted. Then comes the prophet with the
other vision in his eyes, and the inner hearing in his ears, and
he uncovers the secret path of the Lord, Who is at the middlemost
place of all. And when the heart is in the way of God, it runs
softly and joyously, without weariness.
ELIAB: I would sooner follow the King, with spear and
JESSE: Samuel is more precious than the King, and more to be
obeyed. As God is to Samuel, Samuel to the King is God. The King
is as a boy awaiting his father's bidding, uneasy till he is told
what he shall do. Even so Samuel speaks to Saul, with the mouth
of authority, to be obeyed. For he is the lips of God.
ELIAB: For me, give me the right arm of Saul.
SAMUEL enters--followed by wild prophets. The ELDERS
go to meet him.
1ST ELDER: The Lord be with thee!
SAMUEL: The Lord keep this people!
1ST ELDER: Comest thou in peace?
SAMUEL: In peace. I come to sacrifice unto the Lord. Sanctify
yourselves and come to sacrifice, according to your families.
Renew your clothes and purify yourselves.
1ST ELDER: Into which house will you go?
SAMUEL: Into the house of Jesse.
JESSE: I am here, my lord.
SAMUEL: Call your household together, and sanctify yourselves,
for we will sacrifice a heifer to the Lord this day, in your
house. And it shall be a feast unto you.
JESSE'S house. A small inner courtyard: a rude altar
smoking, and blood sprinkled round: SAMUEL before the
altar, hands bloody. In another part a large red fire with a
great pot seething, and pieces of meat roasting on spits. JESSE
turning the spits. It is evening, sun going down.
SAMUEL: Call your sons. Call them one by one to pass before
me. For I will look on them, before we sit around to the feast of
JESSE: They are in the house, waiting. I will call the
first-born first. (Calling.) Eliab, come forth! Samuel
asks for thee!
ELIAB (entering): The Lord be with you.
SAMUEL (aside): Surely the Lord's anointed is before
Him! (Gazes at ELIAB who is big and handsome.)
SAMUEL (aside): I shall not look on his countenance,
nor on the height of his stature. For the voice of my soul tells
me he is rejected. The Lord sees not as men see. For man looketh
on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
SAMUEL (to JESSE): Him hath the Lord not chosen. Call
thy other son.
JESSE: Ha! Abinadab! And, Eliab, gather all thy brothers
together, for the feast shall be set forth.
ABINADAB (entering): The Lord be with you.
SAMUEL (gazing on ABINADAB): Neither hath the Lord
JESSE: Go thou, Abinadab! Be all thy brethren ready in the
ABINADAB: They be all there, waiting for the sacrifice
JESSE (calling): Come, Shammah! And when I call, come
you others in your order, one by one.
SHAMMAH (entering): The Lord be with you.
SAMUEL (slowly): Neither hath the Lord chosen this.
JESSE: Go thou! Nay! Rather go to the fire and turn the
SHAMMAH: Yea! For it should not singe.
JESSE (calling): Ho! Son! Come forward!
FOURTH SON: The Lord be with you!
SAMUEL: Neither hath the Lord chosen this.
JESSE: Go thou hence, and wait yet a while.
FOURTH SON: What wouldst thou then with me?
JESSE (calling): Ho! Son! (To him who waits.)
Nay, go or stay, as thou wilt. But stand aside. (He stands
FIFTH SON: The Lord be with you.
JESSE: Turn thy face to the sun, that it may be seen.
SAMUEL: Neither hath the Lord chosen this.
JESSE: Thou art not he whom Samuel seeks. Stand thou aside.
(Calling.) Ho! Son! (To him who waits.) Bring in
Enter SIXTH SON:
all the other brothers edge in
SIXTH SON: The Lord be with you!
SAMUEL: Neither hath the Lord chosen this.
SIXTH SON: Wherefore hast thou called me, my Father?
JESSE: Samuel would look on the faces of all my sons. Go now!
Who then was not called? Who among you has not come forward?
SEVENTH SON: I! Wilt thou me?
JESSE: Nay, but come into the light before the prophet of
SAMUEL: Neither hath the Lord chosen this.
JESSE: Nay, then it is finished, for there be no more.
SAMUEL: Are here all thy children?
JESSE: Yea, verily, there remaineth yet the youngest. And
behold he keepeth the sheep.
SAMUEL: Send and fetch him. For we will not sit down till he
JESSE: Go thou, Shammah, for he will be coming in now. I will
Exit JESSE, also SHAMMAH.
ELIAB: My lord, will the Lord of Hosts anoint a King, while
Saul yet liveth?
SAMUEL: My son, out of the deep cloud the lightning cometh,
and toucheth its own. Even so, from the whirlwind of the whole
world's middle, leaneth out the Wonderful and toucheth His own,
but whether the anointing be for prophecy or priesthood, or for a
leader or a King over Israel, the Mover of all hath it in His own
ELIAB: Yea! But if the Lord anoint a man to be King, can the
Lord again take back the anointing, and wipe out the oil, and
remove the gift, and undo the man He has made?
SAMUEL: The power is beyond us, both before and after. Am I
not anointed before the people? But if I should say: The power
is my own; I will even do my own bidding, then this is the
sin of witchcraft, which stealeth the power of the whirlwind for
its own. And the power will be taken from me, and I shall fall
into a pit.
ELIAB: It is a hard thing, to be the Lord's anointed.
SAMUEL: For the froward and irreverent spirit, it is a thing
Enter JESSE with DAVID.
JESSE: This is David, the last of the sons of Jesse.
SAMUEL (aside): I shall arise and anoint him. For this
is he. (Aloud.) The Lord hath chosen this one. (Takes
the horn of oil and holds it over DAVID'S head.) The
skies will anoint thee with their glory, the oil of the Sun is
poured over thee, and the strength of His power. Thou shalt be a
master of the happenings among men. Answer then. Does thy soul go
forth to the Deep, does the Wonderer move in thy soul?
DAVID: Yea, my lord. Surely my soul leaps with God!
SAMUEL (anointing DAVID): The Glory pours Himself out
on thee. The Chooser chooseth thee. Thou shalt be no more thine
own, for the chosen belongs to the Chooser. When thou goest in,
it shall be at the whisper of the Mover, and when thou comest
out, it shall be the Lord. Thy strength is at the heart of the
world, and thy desires are from thence. The walls of thy breast
are the front of the Lord, thy loins are the Deep's, and the fire
within them is His. The Lord looketh out of thy eyes and sits on
thy lips. Thou closest thy fist on the Deep, and thy knees smile
with His strength. He holdeth the bow of thy body erect, and thy
thighs are the pillars of His presence. Henceforward thou art not
thine own. The Lord is upon thee, and thou art His.
DAVID (making an obeisance): I am thy servant, my
SAMUEL: Ye shall sit around, and divide the meat, and eat of
the feast, and bid the neighbours to your feast of sacrifice this
They move around, fetching trenchers of wood, and a huge
dish, and a heap of flat bread. They begin to take the meat from
the fire, and with a cry lift down the pot.
JESSE: David is a child, and the Lord hath chosen him. What
shall become of him? Make it plain to us, O Samuel, this
SAMUEL: Ask not, for none knoweth. Let him live till such time
as the Unseen stretcheth out His hands upon him. When the time is
fulfilled, then we shall know. Beforehand no man knoweth. And now
the meat is ready from the fire, and the feast of sacrifice is
prepared, and I have done. Eat you of the feast, and live before
the Lord, and be blessed. Speak nothing of this hour, lest
mischance befall you. I go my way. Do not seek to stay me. Call
whom ye will to meat, eat then what is before you, for this is
JESSE: The sun has gone down, and it is night. Wilt thou
verily go forth?
ELIAB: He has anointed the youngest, and the oldest he has
JESSE: It is the Lord. Go, Abinadab, and bid in the neighbours
to the feast.
ELIAB: Nay, it is Samuel, who envies a strong man his
strength, and settles on the weak.
JESSE: These things, at this hour, thou shalt not say. Is my
son David chosen beneath the heavens, and shall Eliab his brother
cast it up a reproach to him? Yea! pile up the dish from the pot,
that it may cool, and not burn the hand of him that tasteth.
ELIAB (to DAVID): Wilt thou be a priest in a blue
DAVID: I know not. To-day and to-morrow I shall keep my
father's sheep. More I know not.
ELIAB: Canst thou see the Bolt within the cloud? Canst thou
hear His voice out of the ground?
DAVID: I know not. I wish the Lord be with me.
ELIAB: Is He nearer thee, than thine own father?
DAVID: My father sits before me and I see his face. But the
Lord is in my limbs as a wind in a tree, and the tree is
ELIAB: Is not the Lord also in me, thou stripling? Is thine
the only body that is visited?
DAVID: I know not. My own heart I know. Thou knowest thine
own. I wish the Lord be with me.
ELIAB: Yea, I know my own heart indeed. Neither is it the
heart of a whelp that minds the sheep, but the heart of a man
that holds a spear. Canst thou draw my bow, or wield my
DAVID: My day is not yet come.
JESSE: It is enough. The guests we have bidden are here! O
David, my son, even carry out their portion to the womenfolk, for
they may not come here. And think thou no more of this day. The
Lord will move in His own time, thou canst not hasten Him.
Exit DAVID. (To the NEIGHBOURS.) Nay, come! And sit
ye to meat! For we will eat this night of the sacrifice that
Samuel hath slain before the Lord.
NEIGHBOURS: Peace be to this house! And is Samuel at once gone
forth? Yea! Good seemeth thy feast, O Jesse!
JESSE: An heifer, of the first year, fat and goodly! Reach
forth thy hand.
They all sit around the huge, smoking platter. JESSE
dips in his hand, and carries the mess to his mouth.
NEIGHBOUR: Yea! Good is the feast! And blessed be Samuel, who
came to Bethlehem this day!
Re-enter DAVID: sits
down and eats. They all dip
their hands in the great platter, and eat in silence.
Verily, this is a great feast! Surely the Lord hath visited
thy house this day, O Jesse!
SAUL'S house in Gilgal. MERAB and MICHAL
the courtyard, spinning wool, with their maidens. They are
laughing and giggling.
1ST MAIDEN: Now I'll ask one! I'll ask one.
MERAB: Ask then!
3RD MAIDEN: Why does a cow look over a wall?
MICHAL: Yah! Yah! We know that old one. We all know it.
MERAB: Who knows the answer? Hold your hand up.
holds up her hand.
3RD MAIDEN: There! There! They don't know it! Why does a cow
look over a wall?
1ST MAIDEN: To see what's on the other side.
MICHAL: Wrong! Wrong! How silly! (Laughter.)
2ND MAIDEN: Because it wants to get out.
MICHAL: Wrong! And it's such an easy one.
3RD MAIDEN: Why does a cow look over a wall?
4TH MAIDEN: To scratch its neck. (Much laughter.)
3RD MAIDEN: Wrong! Wrong! All wrong! Give it up!
MICHAL: No! No! Let them guess again. Why does a cow look over
1ST MAIDEN: To see if David's coming to drive her to pasture.
MICHAL: That's wrong! That's not the answer!
MERAB: Give it up?
3RD MAIDEN (laughing wildly):
To see if David's
coming to drive her to pasture!
MICHAL: That's not the answer, Stupid!
1ST MAIDEN: Why not, say I? It's as good as the real
answer.--The cows of Jesse will have to look a long time over a
wall. (Much laughter.) No doubt they're looking at this
moment. (Shrieks of laughter.) Mooo-oo! Moo-oo! David,
come home. (Hysterical laughter.)
MICHAL: Fool! Fool! That's not the answer.
1ST MAIDEN: Yes. That's the answer in Bethlehem. Why does a
Bethlehem cow look over a wall?--Because David's come to Gilgal.
MICHAL: That's wrong! That's wrong!
2ND MAIDEN: It's not wrong for a Bethlehem cow.
MICHAL: But it's not a Bethlehem cow. (Much
1ST MAIDEN: Is it the heifers of Gilgal? (Wild
4TH MAIDEN: Why do the heifers of King Saul look over the wall
1ST MAIDEN: Listening to the music. (Wild
MERAB (amid her laughter): If my father hears us!
MICHAL: You are all fools! You don't know the right answer.
You can't guess it! You can't guess it.
2ND MAIDEN: Well, what is it then? Only Michal knows what the
cow is looking for! (Laughter.)
MAIDENS: Go on! Go on! Tell us, Michal!
MICHAL: Because she can't see through it.
1ST MAIDEN: See through what? (Wild laughter.)
MAIDENS: See through what? (All laughing.)
2ND MAIDEN: Because who can't see through what? (Shrieks of
1ST MAIDEN: What a senseless answer! Because she can't see
through it! (Shrieks of laughter.)
MICHAL: You are all fools! fools! fools! You know
nothing. You don't know anything.
SAUL: Enough! Enough! What is all this? Is there a madness
among the women? Silence, I say!
MICHAL: We are but telling riddles.
SAUL: It shall not be! What! am I to hear the shrieks of my
daughters' folly spoiling the morning? I will riddle you a riddle
you shall not care for. (MAIDENS steal away.)
MERAB: We had thought my father was abroad among the men.
SAUL: You had thought, had you! And your father's being abroad
was timely to let loose your ribaldry!
MICHAL: Nay, Father, there was no ribaldry. The maid did only
ask, why does a cow look over a wall?
SAUL (shouting): Be still! Or I will run this spear
through your body. Am I to wrestle with the Lord and fail because
of the wantoning of my daughters among their maidens! Oh! cursed
in my offspring as in all things!
MERAB steals away.
Cursed above all in my womenfolk!
MICHAL: Could we not help you, Father, to strive with the
Lord? They say the wise women can command the spirits of the
SAUL: Art thou then a seeress? art thou amongst the
MICHAL: Not so. But Saul my father is among the wondrous.
Should not his daughter be as wise as the wise women who can see
into the mysteries?
SAUL (groaning): This is the sin of witchcraft! The
hand of my children is against me!
MICHAL: Nay, Father, we would indeed be for you, and not
SAUL: I have sworn to wipe out the sin of witchcraft from the
land, I have sworn the death of all who lure the people with
spirits and with wizardry. I have killed the soothsayers in the
towns and the villages.
MICHAL: But, Father, might I not see the Bolt in a cloud, or
call the Spirits out of the earth! I am your daughter, is that to
be a witch?
SAUL: Thou art a spawn of evil, and I will run thee
MICHAL: But why! Oh, why!
SAUL: Thy soul is a soul of a witch that workest against thy
father. I call on the Lord, and my heart foams, because He will
not hear me. I know it now. It is thee, thou witch! (Wanting
to strike her with the spear.)
MICHAL (weeping): It is not so! It is not so! The
people say of thee, the Lord has departed from thee, and I would
only help thee with the Lord, as Jonathan helps thee against the
SAUL (horrified): Is the Deep a Philistine! Nay, now I
know thou art the brood of witches, who catch the powers of the
earth by cunning. Now I will surely pierce thee through, that my
house may be pure, and the Fire may look on me again.
MICHAL (screams): My lord! My lord!
SAUL: I will pierce thee through. For I have sworn the death
of all witches, and such as steal the powers of earth and sky by
their cunning. It will be as good a deed in the sight of the
Lord, as when the prophet of God slew Agag, and Samuel will turn
to me again. For I am empty when the Lord abandons me. And evil
spirits break into my empty place, and torture me.--I will surely
slay this witch, though she were seven times my youngest. For she
lifts the latch to the evil spirit that gets into my soul
MICHAL: My lord! My lord! I am no witch! I am not!
SAUL: Thou art a witch, and thy hand worketh against me, even
when thou knowest not. Nay, thou art a witch and thy soul worketh
witchcraft even when thou sleepest. Therefore I will pierce thee
through. And I will say unto the people: Saul hath slain the
witch that gnawed nearest into his heart.
MICHAL: I will not be slain! (Shrieks.)
Enter JONATHAN and DAVID,
JONATHAN: My Father!
DAVID: O King!
SAUL: This is the witch that hinders me with the Lord!
JONATHAN: This, Father! Why, Michal is a child, what can she
know of witchcraft?
SAUL: It is in her will. My soul tells me that women with
their evil intentions are playing against me, with the Lord. And
this is she. She shall die as the others, seeresses, died, to
cleanse the land before the Lord God.
DAVID: But yet, O King, thy servant has heard it is a hard
thing to be a witch, a work of silent labour and of years. And
this maiden your daughter is not silent, I think, nor does she
seem to waste her young brows in secret labours.
JONATHAN: This is true enough. She is a feather-brain.
SAUL: Yet is her spirit against her father's.
MICHAL (still weeping): No! No! I would help him.
DAVID: If some spirit of evil hinder King Saul with the Lord
of Hosts, it will be more than the whims of a girl. The spirits
that hamper the soul of the King cannot be children and
SAUL: It may be so. Yet though I wrestle, the spirit of the
Deep will not come to me. And the wound is greater than a wound
in battle, bleeding inwardly. I am a strange man unto myself.
DAVID: Yet Saul is King, comely in his pride, and a great
leader in battle. His deeds cry unto the whirlwind and are
heard. Why should Saul wrestle with the Lord? Saul speaks in
actions, and in the time of action the spirit of God comes upon
him, and he is King in the sight of all men.
SAUL: It is even so. Yet my soul does not cease to ache, like
the soul of a scorned woman, because the Lord will not descend
upon me and give me peace in strength.
DAVID: Who is strong like Saul, in Israel?
SAUL: Yet his strength is as a drunken man's--great with
DAVID: Nay, O King! These are fancies. How can my lord speak
of despair, when victory is with him, and the light is on his
brow in the sight of all Israel!
SAUL: Can I so deceive myself?
DAVID: Surely the King deceives himself.
JONATHAN: Surely, Father, it is a strange self-deception you
put on yourself.
SAUL: Can it be so? Yet if so, why does Samuel visit me no
more, and withhold his blessing? And why do I feel the ache in
me, and the void, where the Full should be? I cannot get at the
MICHAL: May I speak, my Father?
MICHAL: Why not laugh as you used to laugh. Father, and throw
the spear in sport, at a mark, not grip it in anger? Saul is
beautiful among men, to make women weep for joy if he smile at
them. Yet his face is heavy with a frown.
SAUL: Why should I smile at thee, witch?
MICHAL: To gladden me, Father. For I am no witch.
SAUL: And when dost thou need gladdening, say?
MICHAL: Now, Father, even here!
SAUL: Thy sorrows are deep, I warrant me.
Touches her cheek with his fingers.
MICHAL: Yea! Did not this strange young man--indeed he is but
a boy--find me chidden and disgraced and in tears before the
SAUL: And what then?
MICHAL: Who is this boy from the sheepfolds of Bethlehem, that
he should think lightly of the King's daughter in Gilgal?
DAVID: Nay! What man could think lightly of Michal the
daughter of Saul? Her eyes are like the stars shining through a
tree at midnight.
MICHAL: Why through a tree?
SAUL (laughing suddenly): Thou bird of the pert
whistle! Run! Run, quail! Get thee among the maidens! Thou hast
piped long enough before the men.
MICHAL: Even if I run my thoughts run with me.
SAUL: What thoughts, bird of mischief?
MICHAL: That this boy, ruddy with the shepherd's sun, has seen
my tears and my disgrace.
DAVID: Surely the tears of Michal are like falling stars in
the lonely midnight.
MICHAL: Why, again, in the night?
SAUL (laughing aloud): Be gone! Be gone! No more!
SAUL: She is a chick of the King's nest! Think not of her,
DAVID: But she is pleasant to think of.
SAUL: Even when she mocks thee?
DAVID: Very pleasant.
SAUL: The young men flee from a mocking woman.
DAVID: Not when the voice is sweet.
SAUL: Is Michal's voice sweet? To me at times it is snarling
and bad in my ears.
DAVID: That is only when the harp-strings of the King's ears
SAUL: It may be. Yet I think I am cursed in my womenfolk. Was
not the mother of Jonathan a thorn in my heart? What dost thou
prescribe for a thorn in the heart, young wiseling?
DAVID: Pluck it out, O King, and throw it aside, and it is
SAUL: But is it easy to pluck out a rancorous woman from the
DAVID: I have no certain knowledge. Yet it should not be hard,
DAVID: A man asks in his heart: Lord, Who fannest the fire
of my soul into strength, does the woman cast fuel on the
Lord's fire within me, or does she cast wet sand? Then
if the Lord says: She casts wet sand, she departs for ever
from a man's presence, and a man will go nigh unto her no more,
because she seeks to quench the proper fire which is within
SAUL: Thou art wiser than if thou hadst been many times wived.
Thou art a cocksure stripling.
DAVID: My brothers say of me, I am a cocksure malapert. Yet I
do not wish to be! Why am I so, my lord?
SAUL (laughing): It must be the Lord made thee so.
DAVID: My brother has struck me in the face, before now, for
words in which I saw no harm.
SAUL (laughing): Didst see the harm afterwards?
DAVID: Not I. I had a bruised mouth, and that was harm enough.
But I thought still the words were wise.
SAUL (laughing): Dost think so even yet?
DAVID: Yea, they were wise words. But unwisely spoken.
SAUL (laughing heartily): The Lord sends the wisdom,
and leaves thee to spend it! You offer a tit-bit to a wolf, and
he take your fingers as well.
DAVID: I shall learn in the King's household.
SAUL: Among the wolves?
DAVID: Nay, the lion is nobler than the wolf.
SAUL: He will not grudge thee thy callow wisdom.--I go to
speak with Abner.
DAVID: Can I serve the King in anything?
SAUL: Not now.
DAVID: He has gone in good humour.
JONATHAN: We found him in an evil one.
DAVID: Evil spirits out of the earth possess him, and laughter
from a maiden sounds to him as the voice of a hyena sounds to a
wounded man stricken in the feet.
JONATHAN: It is so. He rails at his daughter, and at the
mother who bore me, till my heart swells with anger. Yet he was
not always so. Why is it?
DAVID: He has lost the Lord, he says.
JONATHAN: But how? Have I lost the Lord, too?
DAVID: Nay! You are good.
JONATHAN: I wish I knew how my father had lost the Lord.--You,
David, the Dawn is with you. It is in your face.--Do you wrestle
before the Lord?
DAVID: Who am I, that I should wrestle before the Lord? But
when I feel the Glory is with me, my heart leaps like a young
kid, and bounds in my bosom, and my limbs swell like boughs that
put forth buds.--Yet I would not be vainglorious.
JONATHAN: Do you dwell willingly here in Gilgal?
DAVID: I am strange here, and I miss my father, and the hills
where the sheep are, in Bethlehem. Yet I comfort myself, turning
my soul to the Nameless; and the flame flares up in my heart, and
dries my tears, and I am glad.
JONATHAN: And when my father has been bitter and violent, and
you go alone in tears, in a strange place--I have seen the tears,
and my heart has been sad--then do you yearn for Bethlehem, and
DAVID: I am weak still.--But when I see the stars, and the
Lord in darkness alive between them, I am at home, and Bethlehem
or Gilgal is the same to me.
JONATHAN: When I lie alone in camp, and see the stars, I think
of my mother, and my father, and Michal, and the home
place.--You, the Lord becomes a home to you, wherever you
DAVID: It is so. I had not thought of it.
JONATHAN: I fear you would never love man nor woman, nor wife
nor child, dearly.
DAVID: Nay! I love my father dearly, and my brothers and my
JONATHAN: But when the Lord enters your soul, father or mother
or friend is as nothing to you.
DAVID: Why do you say so?--They are the same. But when the
Lord is there, all the branches are hidden in blossom.
JONATHAN: Yea!--I, alas, love man or woman with the heart's
tenderness, and even the Lord cannot make me forget.
DAVID: But nor do I forget.--It is as if all caught fire at
once, in the flame of the Hope.
JONATHAN: Sometimes I think the Lord takes from me the flame I
have. I love my father. And my father lifts the short spear at
me, in wild anger, because, he says, the Fire has left him, and I
DAVID: The King is the Lord's anointed. The King has known, as
none know, the strong gladness of the Lord's presence in his
limbs. And then the pain of wanting the Lord, when He cometh not,
passes the pain of a woman moaning for the man she loves, who has
JONATHAN: Yet we love the King. The people look up to him.
Abner, the chief captain, is faithful to him unto death. Is this
nothing to a man?
DAVID: To a man, it is much. To the Lord's anointed, it is
much riches. But to the King whom the Lord hath rejected, even
love is a hurt.
JONATHAN: Is my father truly rejected from being King, as
Samuel said? And merely that he spared Agag and a few Amalekite
cattle? I would not willingly have drawn the sword on naked
DAVID: Who knows? I know not.--When a people choose a King,
then the will of the people is as God to the King. But when the
Lord of All chooses a King, then the King must answer to the Lord
JONATHAN: And the Lord of All required the death of
DAVID: Amalek has set his will against the Whirlwind. There
are two motions in the world. The will of man for himself, and
the desire that moves the Whirlwind. When the two are one, all is
well, but when the will of man is against the Whirlwind, all is
ill, at last. So all is decreed ill, that is Amalek. And Amalek
must die, for he obstructs the desire of the breathing God.
JONATHAN: And my father?
DAVID: He is King, and the Lord's anointed.
JONATHAN: But his will is the will of a man, and he cannot
bend it with the Lord's desire?
DAVID: It seems he cannot. Yet I know nothing.
JONATHAN: It grieves me for my father. Why is it you can
soothe him? Why cannot I?
DAVID: I know not. It is the Lord.
JONATHAN: And why do I love thee?
DAVID: It is the Lord.
JONATHAN: But do you love me again, David?
DAVID: If a man from the sheep dare love the King's son, then
I love Jonathan. But hold it not against me for presumption.
JONATHAN: Of a surety, lovest thou me, David?
DAVID: As the Lord liveth.
JONATHAN: And it shall be well between us, for ever?
DAVID: Thou art the King's son. But as the Lord liveth and
keepeth us, it shall be well between me and thee. And I will
JONATHAN: Nay, but love my soul.
DAVID: Thy soul is dear to my soul, dear as life.
They embrace silently.
JONATHAN: And if my father sends thee away, never forget
DAVID: Not while my heart lives, can I forget thee.--But David
will easily pass from the mind of the son of the King.
JONATHAN: Ah never! For my heart is sorrowful, with my father,
and thou art my comfort. I would thou wert King's son, and I
shepherd in Bethlehem.
DAVID: Say not so, lest thine anger rise on me at last, to
JONATHAN: Nay, it will not.
Yard of SAUL'S house in Gilgal. MICHAL,
tambourine, singing or talking to herself.
MICHAL: As for me, I am sad, I am sad, I am sad, and why
should I not be sad? All things together want to make me sad. I
hate the house when the men are gone to war. All the men are gone
out against the Philistine. Gone these many days. And never a
victory. No one coming home with spoil, and no occasion to dance.
I am sad, I am sad, my life is useless to me. Even when they
come, they will not bring David. My father looked pleasantly on
him for a while, then sent him away. So are men! Such is a king!
Sent him away again! And I know, some day when the Lord has left
Saul, he will marry me to some old sheik.--Unless he dies in the
war. Anyhow, everybody is gone, and I am dull, dull. They say it
is the Lord. But why should the Lord make the house of Saul
dreary? As for me, I don't know whether the Lord is with me, or
whether He is not with me. How should I know? Why should I care?
A woman looks with different eyes into her heart, and, Lord or no
Lord, I want what I want. I wish I had a sure charm to call back
David, son of Jesse. The spells I have tried were no good. I
shall try again with the sand and the bones. (She puts a
little sand, and three small white bones, in her
tambourine--mutters and bends--tosses her tambourine softly and
drops it on the ground. Kneels and gazes intently.) Bones,
bones, show me the ways in the sand. Sand, lie still; sand, lie
still and speak. Now then, I see the hills of Judah, where
Bethlehem is. But David is not there, he is gone. At least I
don't see him. In the sand is a road to Gilgal, by the white
crown-bone. But he is not coming this way, that I can see. Where
else? Where else? This must be Elah in the sand, where my father
is. And there is Shochoh, opposite, where the Philistines are. Ah
yes, two hills, and a valley between, with a brook in the bottom.
And my father with our men on one slope, the Philistines on the
other. Ah yes, that will be my father among our men; at least
that is his black tent. But Jonathan is not there. O woe, if
Jonathan were killed! My heart is afraid for Jonathan. Though how
should I know Jonathan as a speck of sand, anyhow? There is
nothing in the sand. I am no wise woman, nor a seeress, even
though I would like to be. How dull it is! How dull it is here!
How dull it is to be a woman! (Throws away her
tambourine.) Why do they sit in front of the Philistines
without defeating them!
WATCHMAN (entering from the gate): Men are coming, from
the host of Saul. They come with a litter.
SOLDIER (entering): The Lord strengthen you.
MICHAL: Who comes? Is it news of victory?
SOLDIER: No, lady! Jonathan is wounded in the knee, and comes
home to rest.
MICHAL: Wounded in the knee? And what else?
SOLDIER: How, else?
MICHAL: Oh, slow-witted! What other news? Are the Philistines
defeated and slaughtered?
SOLDIER: Nay, they are not.
MICHAL: Then what has happened?
SOLDIER: Naught has happened.
MICHAL: Where is the King? Is all well with him?
SOLDIER: The King is with the host at Elah, and all is well
MICHAL: Then where are the Philistines?
SOLDIER: The Philistines are arranged over against us, on the
opposite hill at Shochoh.
MICHAL: And what has happened? Do Israel and the Philistines
sing songs to one another?
SOLDIER: Nay! A portion of the men go forth to fight, wellnigh
each day. And the champions of the Philistines come each day to
MICHAL: And who answers out of Israel?
SOLDIER: None answers.
MICHAL: None answers! Yea, that is news to hear! Has Israel
never a champion? Is my father, the King, sick?
SOLDIER: Many champions have we, forsooth. But we are men. And
this Philistine is huge: he is out of the old days, before the
Flood. He is a huge giant, whose great voice alone shakes the
MICHAL: And not one man answers his challenge?
SOLDIER: Nay, where shall we find a huge giant among us, to
MICHAL: If he were a mountain, I would prick him with my
SOLDIER: Yes, and would you might prick the eyeballs of
Enter litter-bearers with JONATHAN.
MICHAL: This is most strange!--Ah, Jonathan, and art thou
wounded in the knee?
MICHAL: The Lord be praised it is not in the calf!
JONATHAN: Hush, shrew!
MICHAL: Did the Philistine giant wound thee in the knee, O
JONATHAN: A Philistine wounded me.
MICHAL: But I hear they boast a giant, a champion.
JONATHAN: Yea, verily.
MICHAL: A huge unheard-of giant.
JONATHAN: Huge enough: and heard daily.
MICHAL: What does he say, daily?
JONATHAN: Oh--he asks that we send down a man to fight with
him. And if he, the Philistine of Gath, slay our man, then shall
all Israel be servant to the Philistines. But if our man slay
this Goliath, then the Philistines shall be our servants. And
seeing that this giant be so large, no ordinary man can get past
his sword to attack him, therefore the King is not willing that
the fight be settled between champions, lest we lose our freedom
in a moment.
MICHAL: And dare no man go up against this huge one?
JONATHAN: Nay, many dare. And many a man seeks to go. I myself
would willingly go. Though I know I should die. But what would I
care about dying, if the Philistine died first? Yet I doubt I
should die first, and Israel be delivered into bondage. Hence the
King will accept no champion from our midst. But we shall sally
forth in daily companies, and defeat the Philistines at
MICHAL: At a great length.
JONATHAN: Hast thou wounds or pain, to find it so?
MICHAL: Yea, the wound of shame, that Israel, challenged, is
dumb. Israel has no champion! What wound of shame for the
JONATHAN: Why risk the nation in a fight between champions? We
are all champions, and we all fight the Philistine.
MICHAL: Only not this big one.
JONATHAN: In single combat, with the fate of the nation
hanging in the issue, no! But if Goliath mingle in the battle
ranks, then every man of Benjamin will have at him.
MICHAL: And mingles he not in the battle ranks?
JONATHAN: Ah no! He saves himself for the single combat, for
this bawling of the challenge and the rattling of the oversized
MICHAL: Some man should think of a way.
JONATHAN: Think thou! I must rest, and recover, and return to
the field of battle.
The camp of the Israelites at Elah. In the background,
black tents of worsted. Morning. Men assembling in arms, to
battle. Much shouting of war-cries--much noise of war-like
anticipation. DAVID entering, carrying a staff.
DAVID: Is yon the tent of Eliab of Bethlehem?
SOLDIER: The tent of the sons of Jesse.
SHAMMAH (coming armed from the tent): Is not this our
brother David? (calling.) Ho! David is here!
(embracing DAVID.) And art thou also come to the
ELIAB (also armed): What, David! Hast thou left the
sheep to come among the men-at-arms? (They embrace.)
DAVID: My father sent me here to inquire of you, and to bring
you bread, and the cheeses for the captain of your thousand. The
loaves and the parched corn and the cheeses have I left with the
keeper of the victuals. But where is Abinadab?
ELIAB: With the host, where we must form to battle.
The men are forming in loose array, ABINADAB comes
and embraces DAVID.
ABINADAB: Hast thou come from Bethlehem? And how is our
father, and all the homestead?
DAVID: Yea, all are well. My father sent me with victual, and
to see how you fare, and to take your pledge.
ELIAB: The pledge we will give you after the fight. And how
fares my young son at home?
CAPTAIN (calling): The thousand of Judah, get you to
your hundreds: get you to your places. (Bustle of men falling
DAVID (following his brothers): Your son was bitten by
a hound, but all is well.
ELIAB: What hound, forsooth? And lives the dog yet?
SAUL (passing): Five hundred of Benjamin, lead into the
SOLDIERS: Ah! Ah! The five hundred are moving forth! (Loud
shouting of SOLDIERS.)
DAVID: And how goes the fight?
SHAMMAH: Wellah, this way and that, as wind bloweth!
DAVID: The days are many, that you are afield. My father grew
uneasy, and could stay no longer. Long days and no news are ill
to live, said he.
ELIAB: Tell my father, this is no folding of sheep, out
DAVID: And has no weighty blow been struck, on either
SOLDIERS (calling): Ha! Ha! The five hundred are near
the brook! And behold, the Philistine champion cometh forth from
the ranks, to meet them. (Hush in the camp.)
MIGHTY VOICE OF GOLIATH: Ho! Ho, there! Israel! Why are ye
come to set your battle array? Am I not a Philistine, and ye
servants to Saul? Choose you a man for you, and let him come down
DAVID (in the hush): But who is this?
SOLDIERS: Ha! Ha! The five hundred are fleeing back from him!
They are sore afraid.
SHAMMAH: This is Goliath, their champion.
VOICE OF GOLIATH: Ha! ha! Why run ye? Choose you a man for
you, and let him come down to me. If he can fight with me, and
kill me, then will we be your servants. But if I prevail against
him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us.
It is fairly said. Choose you a man for you!
DAVID (in the hush): Surely he is a huge man! Goeth no
man forth to meet him?
SOLDIER: Have you seen this man! Surely, forty days has he
come up to defy Israel. And it shall be, that the man who killeth
him, the King will enrich him with great riches, and will give
him his daughter, and make his father's house free in Israel.
DAVID: What will the King do to the man that killeth this
Philistine and taketh away the reproach from Israel? Will he
surely give him his daughter? The daughter of his house in
SOLDIER: Ay, surely he will. And much riches. And make his
father's house free in Israel.
DAVID: Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should
defy the armies of the living God?
SOLDIERS: Ah! He is what thou seest.
DAVID: As the Lord liveth, there shall be an end to him.
SOLDIERS: Would it were so! But who shall do it?
DAVID: Is the Lord naught in the reckoning? The Lord is with
me, and I will do it.
SOLDIERS: Thou? How canst thou kill this great giant?
DAVID: I can do it. I will kill him, as the Lord liveth in me,
were his name six times Goliath.
SOLDIER: Nay, but how?
DAVID: The Lord will show you how. I, I will kill him.
ELIAB (coming forward): What art thou doing here? Why
camest thou hither, and with whom hast thou left those few sheep
in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thy
heart. For thou art come down that thou mightest see the
DAVID: What have I now done? Was I not sent by my father, for
ELIAB (turning away in anger): Thou didst persuade him,
in the vanity of thy mind.
SOLDIER: Shall we say to Saul of thee, that thou art minded to
kill the giant?
DAVID: Say so to him. For the Lord is with me.
ANOTHER SOLDIER: Verily, feelest thou in the power to kill
this mighty man?
DAVID: Verily! And is it sooth the King will give his daughter
to him that slayeth the roaring Philistine?
SOLDIER: Yea, it is sooth, for it is so proclaimed. But tell
us how thou wilt come nigh him, to slay him.
DAVID: The Lord will show you.
SOLDIERS: Saul is coming.
SAUL (approaching): Which is this man will go forth
against the Philistine?
DAVID: Let no man's heart fail because of the giant, for thy
servant will go out and fight with him.
SAUL: Thou? Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to
fight with him, for thou art but a youth, and he is a man of war
from his youth.
DAVID: Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear; and this
uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath
defied the armies of the living God.
SAUL: But neither lion nor bear came against thee in greaves
of brass nor armed with sword a man's length. How shallst thou
fight with this giant in panoply?
DAVID: The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion,
and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the
hand of the Philistine.
SAUL: Thou shalt go. And the Lord be with thee. (To
ARMOUR-BEARER.) Fetch hither my armour, and another sword. For we
will put them on him.
DAVID: Shall thy servant go in armour clad?
SAUL: How else canst thou keep thy life?
VOICE OF GOLIATH: Ho! men of Saul! Is there no man among you,
to answer when a fighter calls? Are you all maidens, combing your
hair? Where is Saul, the slayer of foemen? Is he crying like a
quail to his God? Call to Baal, and call to Astaroth, for the God
of Israel is a pigeon in a box.
DAVID: Ha! Lord God! Deliver him into my hand this day!
Put the coat of proof upon him, and the helmet of brass.
They put the armour of the KING on DAVID.
DAVID: I am not used to it.
SAUL (unbuckling his sword): Take thou my sword.
DAVID (girding it on): Thy servant hath honour beyond
his lot. Lo! I am strange in this array! The Lord hath not
intended it for me. (Takes shield.)
SAUL: Now thou art ready. A man shall bear thy shield.
DAVID: Then let me go. But let me assay this sword and battle
harness that is on me. (Sets forth. Tries his sword; goes a
little way. Turns suddenly back.) I cannot go with these, for
I have not proved them.
Drops his shield. Hastily unbuckles sword, and gives it
to SAUL. Unfastens the helmet. The ARMOUR-BEARER
SAUL: Then thou goest not! Uncovered thou canst not go.
DAVID: As the Lord liveth, I will go with naught but God upon
VOICE OF GOLIATH: The God of Israel is a blue pigeon in a box,
and the men of Israel are quails in the net of the Philistine.
Baal is laughing aloud, and Astarte smiles behind her sleeve, for
Israel is no more than worms in a dung-hill.
DAVID: I shall go. Sound the trumpet!
He picks up his staff, recrosses hastily to the back of the
stage, downwards as to a valley. Stoops in the distance:
meanwhile trumpet sounds and the voice of the HERALD is
HERALD: Come down, Goliath! Come forward, Philistine! For
Israel sendeth a champion against thee. (Noise of shouting in
SHAMMAH: See, David is picking smooth stones from the brook
ABINADAB: He has put them in his leather pouch, and taken his
sling in his hand. Surely he will go after the Philistine as
after a wolf.
SAUL: The Philistine cometh down with his shield-bearer before
him.--Yea, but the youth is naked and unafraid.
VOICE OF GOLIATH: Where art thou, champion of Israel? I see
thee not. Hast thou already perished of thy dread?
VOICE OF DAVID (small): Yea, I am coming.
VOICE OF GOLIATH: Thou!
SAUL: How he disdains the youth! If we have lost all on this
VOICE OF GOLIATH: Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with
staves? Now shall Astaroth slay thee with spittle, and Baal shall
break thy bones with a loud laugh.
VOICE OF DAVID: Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a
spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the
Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, Whom thou hast
VOICE OF GOLIATH: Come! Ha-ha! Come to me, and I will give thy
flesh to the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the
Meanwhile the bystanders, SHAMMAH, ABINADAB, SOLDIERS,
all save the ARMOUR-BEARER and SAUL, have been
running to the far background, to look closer.
VOICE OF DAVID: This day will the Lord deliver thee into my
hand; and I will smite thee, and take thy head from thee.
VOICE OF GOLIATH: Ha! Ha! Canst thou chirp? Come over, thou
egg, that they see me swallow thee. (Loud yelling from
VOICE OF DAVID: I will give the carcass of the host of the
Philistines this day to the fowls of the air, and to the beasts
of the earth. That all the earth may know there is a God in
Israel. (Loud yelling of Israel.)
VOICE OF GOLIATH: Come, thou whistling bird! Come! Seest thou
this sword? (Loud yelling of Philistines.)
VOICE OF DAVID: Yea! and all this people shall know that the
Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the
Lord's, and He will deliver you into our hands. (Great
defiance heard in Israel.)
VOICE OF GOLIATH: Must we die of thy talking? And wilt thou
not come forth? Then must I fetch thee. . . . (Tumult in
ARMOUR-BEARER: The Philistine is hastening down!--Oh, and
behold, the youth is running at him fast! Ha-a-a!
ARMOUR-BEARER rushes away, leaving SAUL
SAUL (in a pause): Ah! Ah!--Lord, my Lord!--Is he down?
(Great shouting heard--men running.) What? Yea, the
Philistine has fallen! The boy but slang a stone at him! It is
the Lord! Nay, he riseth not!--Ah God! was it so easy a thing?
Why had I not done it! See, see, Saul, see, thou King of Israel,
see this nameless boy who hath run upon the fallen Philistine,
and seized his sword from his hand, and stands upon his body
hewing at the neck of the giant! Ah, sight for the King of
Israel, who stands alone, in safety, far off, and watches this
thing done for him! Yea, they may shout! It is not for me. It is
for that boy, whom I know not. How should I know him, with his
young beard on his lip! It is a hard thing to hack off the head
of such a giant, and he cannot find the neck joint. I see him
stooping! (A great wild shout is heard.) Ah! Even so! Even
ABNER enters, running.
ABNER: The youth hath slain the Philistine with a stone from a
sling, and even now has hewn his head loose, and is holding it up
before the armies.
SAUL: Even so!
ABNER: Yea! He stands upon the body of that which was Goliath,
and holds up the head to Israel! The Lord has prevailed. (Loud
SOLDIERS (running past): The host of the Philistines is
in flight! After them! After them!
ABNER: Shall we not pursue? Will not the King lead the
pursuit? Lo! they flee in abandon, flinging away their spears in
SAUL: This needs no leader. Any man can strike in the back of
a running enemy. What of the youth?
ABNER: He hath stripped the Philistine of his gear. Yea, I can
see the body of the giant naked in blood upon the ground.
SAUL: Who is this youth? Whose son is he?
ABNER: As thy soul liveth, O King, I cannot tell.
SAUL: Enquire thou whose son the stripling is.
ABNER: He is coming towards the brook. I will bring him
SAUL: Yea, he is coming! And alone up the slope, for the men
have gone like hounds after the Philistine, and to the stripping
of the tents. Yea, as bees swarm in upon the sweetmeats, when the
window is opened. This is a day to make songs for. But not in the
name of Saul. Whom will the maidens sing to? To him yonder,
coming up the hill slowly, with the swinging head, and the bright
brass armour of the Philistine. To that ruddy-faced fair youth,
with a young beard on his mouth. It seems I should know him, if I
would. Yea, I shall know him in my hour. Ah the blithe thing! Ah
the blithe boy! Ah God! God! was I not blithe? Where is it gone?
Yea, where! Blitheness in a man is the Lord in his body. Nay,
boy, boy! I would not envy thee the head of the Philistine. Nay,
I would not envy thee the Kingdom itself. But the blitheness of
thy body, that is thy Lord in thee, I envy it thee with a sore
envy. For once my body too was blithe. But it hath left me. It
hath left me. Not because I am old. And were I ancient as Samuel
is, I could still have the alertness of God in me, and the blithe
bearing of the living God upon me. I have lost the best. I had
it, and have let it go. Ha! whither is he going? He turns aside,
among the tents. Aha! Aha! So it is. Among the tents of Judah,
and to the booth of the Bethlehemite! So, he has gone in to lay
down his spoil, the helmet of brass, and the greaves of brass,
the coat, the great sword, and the shirt fringed with scarlet.
Lay them by, they are thine. Yea, they are thine, lay them in thy
tent. No need to bring them unto the King. They are no king's
spoil. Yea, lead him hither, Abner! Lead him hither! He is
bringing the head in his hand. Oh yes, the champion, the victor!
He is bringing the head in his hand, to swing it under the nose
of the King. But the sword, the great sword, and the greaves of
brass and the body-spoil he has e'en laid by in his own tent,
where no man may lay hand on it. Oh! it is a shrewd youth, and a
canny youth, cunning as the Lord makes them.
Enter DAVID, with head of GOLIATH--and
SAUL: So! Comest thou again?
DAVID: Even so! To lay the head of thine enemy before thee, O
SAUL: Whose son art thou, thou young man?
DAVID: I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.
SAUL: Art thou so! Ay, thou art David! And brother to Eliab,
and Abinadab, and Shammah, three men of war!--Thou hast put
cunning in thy skill, and slain thine enemy as he were a hare
among the bushes.
ABNER: See! The place where the stone sunk in, in the side of
the forehead bone! It lies still there, the stone of David.
SAUL: Yea, that was death without weapons meeting, indeed.
ABNER: Surely the Lord was in that round stone, that digged
the pit in Goliath's head-bone!
DAVID: Except the Lord had been with me, I had not done
SOLDIERS (standing round): Yea, the Lord sped the hand
of David. The Lord is with this young man.
SAUL: Praise we must give to the Lord, and to David the
promised reward. Seekest thou thy reward at the King's hand, thou
DAVID: It is as the King willeth. Yet what should the reward
SAUL: Hast thou not heard it proclaimed?
DAVID: Nay, I arrived but in the dawn, with provender from my
father to my brethren.
SAUL: Didst thou not set forth even now against the
Philistine, hoping big for the reward?
DAVID: Not so, O King. But the Lord moved me to go, to take
off the shame and the reproach from the army of the living
SAUL: Thou hast done well! Yet claimest thou thy reward?
DAVID: Shall I not hear from the King's mouth, what the reward
SAUL: How was it said, Abner? Recallest thou?
ABNER: Yea, O King! Riches and the King's daughter, and
freedom for his father's house, to the man that should slay
Goliath in the single combat.
SAUL: Single-handed hath David slain Goliath, indeed! Even
without any combat at all. But how likest thou thy reward, thou
DAVID: Were it mine, O King, I should rejoice for my father's
sake and fall to the ground beneath the honour put upon me, being
son-in-law to the King.
SAUL: Even so! Now thou shalt stay with me, and live in my
house and return no more to thy father's house. And all shall be
done to thee, as was said.--For surely thou hast brought much
honour upon Israel. And we will make much of thee. For thou art
champion of Israel in the sight of all the people. And thou shalt
sit at the King's right hand, that all men may delight in thee.
Yet, since thou art young, and fresh from the sheepfold, we will
not hasten thee to thy confusion. But thou shalt dwell as a son
among us, and rise in degree as a son rises, sitting at the
King's meat. And behold, my elder daughter Merab, her will I give
thee to wife. Only be thou valiant for me, and fight the Lord's
DAVID: Let but thy servant serve thee, O King, in the sight of
the Lord. And Saul will take the head of this Philistine to put
it on a pole?
SAUL: Nay! Thou thyself shalt bring it before the people, in
Jerusalem of Judah.
The king's tent at Elah: a square tent of dark
worsted, with the wide front open. Heaps of panoply and spoil
without. Within, in the public part of the tent, SAUL,
with DAVID on his right hand, JONATHAN on
his left, and sitting around, the CAPTAINS of the
armies of Israel.
SAUL: We have numbered the armies in tens, in hundreds, and in
thousands. And now are all men returned from pursuing after the
Philistine, and the spoil is all brought in. And the wounded of
the Philistine have fallen by the way, even to the valley of
Ekron and the gates of Gath, their dead are more than their
living. Yet are their princes within the land, holding on to
strong places. Therefore we will rejoice not yet, nor go home to
the feasting. But while his heart is sunk low, we will follow up
the Philistine in every place where he holds out. Is it
CAPTAINS: It is good, O King.
ABNER: The blow that was struck with a pebble, we will follow
up with swords and spears, till in the Lord's name not one
uncircumcised remains in the land.
CAPTAINS: It is good! It is good! (They strike their
SAUL (presenting DAVID): This is David, that slew
Goliath the Philistine, and delivered Israel from reproach. Sits
not David high in the heart of every man in Israel, this day?
CAPTAINS: Yea! David! David! (Striking shields.)
SAUL: Who is first among the men of war this day? Is it not
David, my son David?
CAPTAINS: David! David! It is David!
SAUL: Yea, Captains! Your King is but captain of the captains!
Whom shall we set over the men of war this day? Shall it not be
David? This time, shall not David lead the hosts? Is he not the
first against the Philistine? Yea, in this foray of triumph and
this campaign of victory, should any man lead but David?
CAPTAINS: It is good! David shall command, till we return home
this time from smiting the Philistine. (They clash shields
with martial noise.)
SAUL (to DAVID): Hearest thou, David, son of my
DAVID: O King, I am no leader of men of war. I have no skill
in arts of battle. Honour me not to my confusion.
SAUL: Nay, this time shalt thou take the charge. For in
this fight art thou the first man among the men of war in
Israel. Answer, Captains! Is it not so?
CAPTAINS: Verily! This time we will have David.
ABNER: Verily, save David lead us, we will not go.
The CAPTAINS rise, and lift locked shields
before DAVID as if to raise him up.
SAUL: If we go not now, we lose the golden hour. The choice is
upon thee, David.
DAVID: Thy servant will do according to thy will, O King, and
according to the will of Abner, and of the Captains. (He rises
before the CAPTAINS.) But I am young, and not brought up to
war. And the Captains and the strong men will laugh at me, seeing
my inexperience and my presumption.
ABNER: Nay! No man shall find occasion to laugh at thee, for
the fight is in thee as in a young eagle. Leading to war shalt
thou learn war.
DAVID: It is as the King and the Captains shall bid me.
SAUL (rising): We will make ready, and send out the
news through the camp: In this is David our leader! Then
David shall choose his men, and go forth. He shall give his
orders, and the Captains shall march at his bidding. David, the
day is thine!
Salutes. The CAPTAINS again salute DAVID
spear on shield, then they go out.
CAPTAINS: To thee, David!
DAVID (to JONATHAN): How shall I bring this to a
JONATHAN: Thy soul will not fail thee. Thou art the young lion
of Judah, thou art the young eagle of the Lord. O David, is it
well between me and thee, and hast thou verily not forgotten
DAVID: Verily, thou hast not left my soul. But how shall I go
before these men?
JONATHAN: We have sworn a covenant, is it not between us? Wilt
thou not swear with me, that our souls shall be as brothers,
closer even than the blood? O David, my heart hath no peace save
all be well between thy soul and mine, and thy blood and
DAVID: As the Lord liveth, the soul of Jonathan is dearer to
me than a brother's.--O brother, if I were but come out of this
pass, and we might live before the Lord, together!
JONATHAN: What fearest thou then?
DAVID: In the Lord, I fear nothing. But before the faces of
men, my heart misgives me.
JONATHAN: Sittest thou not high in the hearts of Israel?
DAVID: Yea, but who am I, to be suddenly lifted up! Will they
not throw me as suddenly down?
JONATHAN: Who would throw thee down, that art strong as a
young eagle, and subtle as the leopard?
DAVID: I will rest in the Lord.
JONATHAN: And in me wilt thou not trust?
DAVID: I will trust thee, Jonathan, and cleave to thee till
the sun sets on me. Thou art good to me as man never before was
good to me, and I have not deserved it. Say thou wilt not repent
of thy kindness towards me!
JONATHAN: O brother, give me the oath, that naught shall
sunder our souls, for ever.
DAVID: As the Lord liveth, my soul shall not part for ever
from the soul of my brother Jonathan; but shall go with him up
the steeps of heaven, or down the sides of the pit. And between
his house and my house the covenant shall be everlasting. For as
the hearts of men are made on earth, the heart of Jonathan is
gentlest and most great.
JONATHAN: The covenant is between us. (Covers his
DAVID (after a pause): But how shall I go before these
captains, O my brother? Comest thou not with me? Wilt thou not
stand by me? Oh, come!
JONATHAN: I am limping still in the knee, and how shall I lead
a foray? But thou art mine and I am thine. And I will clothe thee
in my clothes, and give thee my sword and my bow, and so shall my
spirit be added to thy spirit, and thou shalt be as the King's
son and the eagle of the Lord, in the eyes of the people.
Takes off striped coat, or wide-sleeved tunic.
DAVID: But can I do this thing?
JONATHAN: Yea! That all men know thou art as the King's son in
the world. For the eagle hath gold in his feathers and the young
lion is bright. So shall David be seen in Israel.
DAVID slowly pulls off his loose robe, a herdsman's tunic
cut off at the knee. JONATHAN takes off his sleeveless
shirt, and is seen in his leather loin-strap. From his upper arm
he takes a metal bracelet.
JONATHAN: Even all my garments thou shalt take, even the
armlet that should not leave me till I die. And thou shalt wear
it for ever. And thy garments will I take upon me, so the honour
shall be mine.
DAVID pulls off his shirt, and is seen in the leather
loin-strap, JONATHAN puts his bracelet on DAVID'S
arm, then his own shirt over DAVID'S head, and holds up
his coloured robe. DAVID robed, JONATHAN brings him
a coloured head-kerchief and girdle, then his sword and his bow
and quiver and shoes. JONATHAN puts on DAVID'S
DAVID: How do I appear?
JONATHAN: Even as the eagle in his own plumage. It is said,
David, that thou art anointed of Samuel, before the Lord. Is it
JONATHAN: Thou hast the sun within thee, who shall deny
DAVID: Why speakest thou sadly, Jonathan, brother?
JONATHAN: Lest thou go beyond me, and be lost to me.
DAVID: Lord! Lord! Let not my soul part from the soul of
Jonathan for ever, for all that man can be to man on earth, is he
JONATHAN: Would I could give thee more!
SAUL (entering): Yea! And which now is the King's son,
and which the shepherd?
DAVID: Thy son would have it so, O King.
JONATHAN: It is well, Father! Shall not the leader shine
SAUL: Even so. And the young King-bird shall moult his
feathers in the same hour.
JONATHAN: The robe of David honours the shoulders of
SAUL: Art thou ready, thou brave young man?
DAVID: I am ready, O King.
SAUL: The host is in array, awaiting thy coming.
DAVID: I will come where the King leads me.
SAUL (to JONATHAN): Put another robe upon thee, ere
thou come forth.
JONATHAN: I will not come forth. (Turns abruptly.)
DAVID follows SAUL from the tent--loud shouting of
JONATHAN (alone): If the Lord hath anointed him for the
kingdom, Jonathan will not quarrel with the Lord. My father
knoweth. Yet Saul will strain against God. The Lord hath not
revealed Himself unto me: save that once I saw the glisten in my
father that now I see in David. My life belongs to my father, but
my soul is David's. I cannot help it. The Lord sees fit to split
me between King and King-to-be, and already I am torn asunder as
between two wild horses straining opposite ways. Yet my blood is
my father's. And my soul is David's. And the right hand and the
left hand are strangers on me.
Outside the courtyard of SAUL'S house in Gilgal.
Doorway of courtyard seen open. MAIDENS running forth with
instruments of music. Men-servants gazing into the distance.
MAIDENS: Lu-lu-a-li-lu-lu-lu! Lu-lu-lu-li-a-li-lu-lu!
A-li-lu-lu-lu-a-li-lu! Lu-al-li-lu! Lu-al-li-lu-a!
MERAB: Out of Judah Saul comes in!
MICHAL: David slew the Philistine.
MERAB AND HER MAIDENS: Out of Judah Saul comes in!
MICHAL AND HER MAIDENS: David slew the Philistine.
ALL (repeat several times): A-li-lu-lu! A-li-lu-lu-lu!
Lu! lu! lu! lu! li! lu! lu! a! li! lu! lu! lu! lu!
MERAB: All the Philistine has fled.
MICHAL: By the roadside fell their dead.
MERAB: Wounded fell down in the path.
MICHAL: Beyond Ekron unto Gath.
MERAB AND MAIDENS: All the Philistine has fled.
MICHAL AND MAIDENS: By the roadside fell their dead.
MERAB AND MAIDENS: Wounded fell down in the path.
MICHAL AND MAIDENS: Beyond Ekron unto Gath.
ALL (repeat continuously): Lu-li-lu-lu-lu!
Lu-lu-li-a-lu-lu! Li-a-li-lu-lu-lu! Lu! Lu! Lu! A! li! Lu! Lu!
Lu! Lu! Li! A! Lu! Lu! Li! Lu! A! Li! Lu! Lu! Lu! Lu! u!
MERAB: Saul in thousands slew their men!
MICHAL: David slew his thousands ten!
MERAB AND MAIDENS: Saul in thousands slew their men!
MICHAL AND MAIDENS: David slew his thousands ten! Oh! Lu! Lu!
Lu! Lu! Lu! Lu! A! Li! Lu! Lu! Lu!
ALL: Lu! Lu! Lu! Li! Lu! Lu! Lu!--A-li-lu-lu-a-li-lu-lu!
MERAB: Out of Judah Saul comes in.
MICHAL: David slew the Philistine.
MERAB AND MAIDENS: Out of Judah Saul comes in.
MICHAL AND MAIDENS: David slew the Philistine.
ALL: Lu-li-lu-lu-lu-li-lu! Lu-lu-a-li-lu-lu-lu!
They continue the repetition of the simple rhymes, as
SAUL draws near, followed by DAVID, JONATHAN, ABNER and
the armed men. The MAIDENS keep up the singing, all the
time dancing; MERAB with her MAIDENS on one side of
the men, MICHAL and her MAIDENS on the other,
singing loudly back and forth all the time. The men pass slowly
into the gate, without response. The MAIDENS run peering
at the spoil the servant-men are carrying in. All pass in at the
Courtyard of SAUL'S house in Gilgal. Confusion of
people and men just come in--MAIDENS still singing
ABNER: The King is returned to his own house once more full of
victory. When shall we slay the sacrifice?
SAUL: To-night I will slay a bull calf for my house, and an ox
will I sacrifice for my household. And for the men will we slay
oxen and sheep and goats.
ABNER: Yea! For this is a great day before the Lord in Israel!
And we will sprinkle the spoil with the sacrifice.
SAUL: Hast thou heard the song of the women? Nay, hearest
thou? Hark! (In the distance is heard the singing.)
MERAB: Saul in thousands slew their men.
MICHAL: David slew his thousands ten.
ALL: Lu-lu-lu-li-lu-lu-a! A-li-lu-lu-a-li-lu!
SAUL: May such mouths be bruised!
ABNER: Nay! Nay! King Saul! In this hour!
SAUL: In this instant! They have ascribed to David ten
thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands. And what
can he have more, but the Kingdom?
ABNER: Nay, nay, O Saul! It is but the light words of women.
Ay, let them sing! For as vain women they fancy naught but that
head of Goliath, with the round stone sunken in. But the King is
SAUL: Shall that shepherd oust me, even from the mouths of the
ABNER: Nay, this is folly, and less than kingly.
MICHAL (followed by MERAB--running round the
KING with their tambourines): Lu-li-lu-lu-a-li-lu!
MERAB AND MICHAL: Lu-lu-lu-lu! Saul, the King!
Lu-lu-lu-lu-al-li-lu-lu! Saul! Saul! Lu-lu-lu! Saul! Saul!
SAUL: Peace, I say!
passing into house.
MERAB AND MICHAL: Jonathan and David. Lu-lu-lu! Here they
come, the friendly two! Lu-lu-lu-lu-a-li-lu!
MERAB: Jonathan is kingly bred.
MICHAL: David took Goliath's head.
BOTH: Jonathan and David! Lu-lu-lu!--a! Here they come, the
MICHAL (to DAVID): Where is the giant's head?
DAVID: It is in Jerusalem of Judah, O Maiden.
MICHAL: Why did you not bring it here, that we might see
DAVID: I am of Judah, and they would have it there.
MICHAL: But Saul is King, and could have it where he
DAVID: Saul would leave it in Jerusalem.
MICHAL: And the armour, and the greaves of brass, and the
shield, and the sword? The coat of brass that weighs five
thousand shekels. Where are these? I want to see them, O
DAVID: The armour is in my father's house, and in Jerusalem.
The sword lies before the Lord in Ramah, with Samuel, O
MICHAL: Why take it to Samuel? Do you not know my name, O
DAVID: You are Michal.
MICHAL: I am she. And this is Merab! Look at him, Merab, and
see if you like him. Is it true, O my brother Jonathan, that the
King will give Merab his daughter to the slayer of the
JONATHAN: He hath said so.
MICHAL: To us he has not said one word. O Merab! Look at thy
man! How likest thou him?
MERAB: I will not look at him yet.
MICHAL: Oh, thou! Thou hast spied out every hair in his beard.
Is he not fox-red? I think the beard of a man should be
raven-black. O Merab, thy David is very ruddy.
MERAB: Nay! He is not yet mine, nor I his.
MICHAL: Thou wouldst it were so! Aiee! Thou art hasty and
beforehand with the red youth! Shame on thee, that art a King's
MERAB: Nay, now, I have said naught.
MICHAL: Thou shouldst have said somewhat, to cover thy
unmaidenly longing.--O David, this Merab sighs in her soul for
you. How like you her?
DAVID: She is fair and a modest maiden.
MICHAL: As am not I! Oh, but I am Saul's very daughter, and a
hawk that soars kinghigh. And what has David brought, to lay
DAVID: All I have is laid before the King.
MICHAL: But naught of the Philistine Goliath! All that spoil
you took home to your father's house, as the fox brings his prey
to his own hole. Ah, David, the wary one!
MERAB: It was his own! Where should he take it, but to his
MICHAL: Is not the King his father! Why should he not bring it
here? Is Merab not worth the bride-money?
JONATHAN: Oh, peace! Thou art all mischief, Michal. Thou
shouldst be married to a Philistine, for his undoing.
MICHAL: Ayee! This David has come back to trouble us! Why
didst not thou slay the Philistine, Jonathan?
JONATHAN: Peace! Let us go in, David! These maidens are too
forward. My father did never succeed in ruling his household of
MICHAL: Ayee! His household of women! Thou, Jonathan! Go in,
David! They shall not put poison in your meat.
As DAVID and JONATHAN depart she
Empty-handed David came!
Merab saw him full of shame!
Lu-lu-lu-lu-lu-li-lu! A-li-lu-a! A-li-lu!
Empty-handed David came!
Merab saw him full of shame!
A-li-lu-lu! A-li-lu-li! Li-lu-li-lu-a!
(To MERAB.) So he has come!
MERAB: Even so! Yet his brow says: Have a care!
MICHAL: Have a care, Merab! Have a care, David! Have a care,
Michal! Have a care, Jonathan! Have a care, King Saul! I do not
like his brow, it is too studied.
MERAB: Nay, it is manly, and grave.
MICHAL: Ayee! Ayee! He did not laugh. He did not once laugh.
It will not be well, Merab!
MERAB: What will not be well?
MICHAL: The King will not give thee to him.
MERAB: But the King hath spoken.
MICHAL: I have read the brow of Saul, and it was black. I have
looked at David's brow, and it was heavy and secret. The King
will not give thee to David, Merab. I know it, I know it.
MERAB: A King should keep his word!
MICHAL: What! Art thou hot with anger against thy father, lest
he give thee not to this shepherd boy! David hath cast a spell on
Merab! The ruddy herdsman out of Judah has thrown a net over the
King's daughter! Oh, poor quail! poor partridge!
MERAB: I am not caught! I am not!
MICHAL: Thou art caught! And not by some chieftain, nor by
some owner of great herds. But by a sheep-tending boy! Oh,
MERAB: Nay, I do not want him.
MICHAL: Yea, thou dost. And if some man of great substance
came, and my father would give thee to him, thou wouldst cry:
Nay! Nay! Nay! I am David's!
MERAB: Never would I cry this and that thou sayest. For I am
not his.--And am I not first daughter of the King!
MICHAL: Thou waitest and pantest after that red David. And he
will climb high in the sight of Israel, upon the mound of Merab.
I tell thee, he is a climber who would climb above our heads.
MERAB: Above my head he shall not climb.
Empty-handed David came!
Merab saw him full of shame!
Lu-li-lu-li! Lu-li-lu-lu-li! A-li-lu-lu!
Room in KING'S house at Gilgal. Bare adobe room,
mats on the floor. SAUL, ABNER and ADRIEL reclining
around a little open hearth.
SAUL: And how is the slayer of Goliath looked upon, in
ABNER: Yea! he is a wise young man, he brings no disfavour
SAUL: May Baal finish him! And how looks he on the King's
daughter? Does he eye Merab as a fox eyes a young lamb?
ABNER: Nay, he is wise, a young man full of discretion,
watching well his steps.
SAUL: Ay is he! Smooth-faced and soft-footed, as Joseph in the
house of Pharaoh! I tell you, I like not this weasel.
ABNER: Nay, he is no enemy of the King. His eyes are clear,
with the light of the Lord God. But he is alone and shy, as a
rude young shepherd.
SAUL: Thou art his uncle, surely. I tell you, I will send him
back to Bethlehem, to the sheep-cotes.
ABNER: He is grown beyond the sheep-cotes, O King! And wilt
thou send him back into Judah, while the giant's head still
blackens above the gates of Jerusalem, and David is darling of
all Judea, in the hearts of the men of Judah? Better keep him
here, where the King alone can honour him.
SAUL: I know him! Should I send him away, he will have them
name him King in Judah, and Samuel will give testimony. Yea, when
he carried the sword of the giant before Samuel in Ramah, did not
Samuel bless him in the sight of all men, saying: Thou art chosen
of the Lord out of Israel!
ABNER: If it be so, O King, we cannot put back the sun in
heaven. Yet is David faithful servant to the King, and full of
love for Jonathan. I find in him no presumption.
SAUL: My household is against me. Ah, this is the curse upon
me! My children love my chief enemy, him who hath supplanted me
before the Lord. Yea, my children pay court to David, and my
daughters languish for him. But he shall not rise upon me. I say
he shall not! Nor shall he marry my elder daughter Merab. Wellah,
and he shall not.
ABNER: Yet Saul has given his word.
SAUL: And Saul shall take it back. What man should keep his
word with a supplanter? Abner, have we not appointed him captain
over a thousand? Captain over a thousand in the army of Saul
shall he be. Oh yes! And to-morrow I will say to him, I will even
say it again: Behold Merab, my elder daughter, her will I give
thee to wife: only be thou valiant for me, and fight the
Lord's battles. And then he shall go forth with his thousand
again, quickly, against the Philistine. Let not my hand be upon
him, but let the hand of the Philistine be upon him.
ABNER: But if the Lord be with him, and he fall not, but come
back once more with spoil, wilt thou then withhold the hand of
thy daughter Merab from him?
SAUL: He shall not have her! Nay, I know not. When the day
comes that he returns back to this house, then Saul will answer
him. We will not tempt the Thunderer.
ADRIEL: I have it sure, from Eliab his brother, that David was
anointed by Samuel to be King over Israel, secretly, in the house
of his father Jesse. And Eliab liketh not the youngster, saying
he was ever heady, naughty-hearted, full of a youngling's naughty
pride, and the conceit of the father's favourite. Now the tale is
out in Judah, and many would have him King, saying: Why should
Judah look to a King out of Benjamin? Is there no horn-anointed
among the men of Judah?
SAUL: So is it! So is it!--To-morrow he shall go forth with
his men, and the hand of the Philistine shall be upon him. I will
not lift my hand upon him, for fear of the Dark! Yet where is he
now? What is he conniving at this moment, in the house of Saul?
Go see what he is about, O Adriel!
ABNER: It is a bad thing, O Saul, to let this jealous worm eat
into a King's heart, that always was noble!
SAUL: I cannot help it. The worm is there. And since the women
sang--nay, in all the cities they sang the same--Saul hath
slain his thousands, but David hath slain his tens of
thousands, it gnaws me, Abner, and I feel I am no longer King
in the sight of the Lord.
ABNER: Canst thou not speak with the Morning Wind? And if the
Lord of Days have chosen David to be king over Israel after thee,
canst thou not answer the great Wish of the Heavens, saying:
It is well!?
SAUL: I cannot! I cannot deny my house, and my blood! I cannot
cast down my own seed, for the seed of Jesse to sprout. I cannot!
Wellah, and I will not! Speak not to me of this!
ABNER: Yet wert thou chosen of God! And always hast
thou been a man of the bright horn.
SAUL: Yea, and am I brought to this pass! Yea, and must I cut
myself off? Almost will I rather be a man of Belial, and call on
Baal. Surely Astaroth were better to me. For I have kept the
faith, yet must I cut myself off! Wellah, is there no other
ABNER: I know not. Thou knowest, who hast heard the thunder
and hast felt the Thunderer.
SAUL: I hear It no more, for It hath closed Its lips to me.
But other voices hear I in the night--other voices!
SAUL: Well, and where is he?
ADRIEL: He is sitting in the house of Jonathan, and they make
music together, so the women listen.
SAUL: Ah! And sings the bird of Bethlehem? What songs now?
ADRIEL: Even to the Lord: How excellent is thy name in all
the earth. And men and women listen diligently, to learn as
it droppeth from his mouth. And Jonathan, for very love, writes
SAUL: Nay, canst thou not remember?
ADRIEL: I cannot, O King. Hark!
A man is heard in the courtyard, singing loud and manly,
from Psalm viii.
Voice of singer: What is man, that thou art mindful of
him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and
hast crowned him with glory and honour.
Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy
Thou hast put all things under his feet:
All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;
The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever
passeth through the paths of the seas.
O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the
SAUL listens moodily.
SAUL: I hear him! Yea, they sing after him! He will set all
Israel singing after him, and all men in all lands. All the world
will sing what he sings. And I shall be dumb. Yea, I shall be
dumb, and the lips of my house will be dust! What, am I naught;
and set at naught! What do I know? Shall I go down into the grave
silenced, and like one mute with ignorance? Ha! Ha! There are
wells in the desert that go deep. And even there we water the
sheep, when our faces are blackened with drought. Hath Saul no
sight into the unseen? Ha, look! look down the deep well, how the
black water is troubled.--Yea, and I see death, death, death! I
see a sword through my body, and the body of Jonathan gaping
wounds, and my son Abinadab, and my son Melchishua, and my son
Ishbosheth lying in blood. Nay, I see the small pale issue of my
house creeping on broken feet, as a lamed worm. Yea, yea, what an
end! And the seed of David rising up and covering the earth,
many, with a glory about them, and the wind of the Lord in their
hair. Nay, then they wheel against the sun, and are dark, like
the locusts sweeping in heaven, like the pillars of locusts
moving, yea, as a tall, dark cloud upon the land. Till they drop
in drops of blood, like thunder-rain, and the land is red. Then
they turn again into the glory of the Lord. Yea, as a flight of
birds down all the ages, now shedding sun and the gleam of God,
now shedding shadow and the fall of blood, now as quails chirping
in the spring, now as the locust pillars of cloud, as death upon
the land. And they thicken and thicken, till the world's air
grates and clicks as with the wings of locusts. And man is his
own devourer, and the Deep turns away, without wish to look on
him further. So the earth is a desert, and manless, yet covered
with houses and iron. Yea, David, the pits are digged even under
the feet of thy God, and thy God shall fall in. Oh, their God
shall fall into the pit, that the sons of David have digged. Oh,
men can dig a pit for the most high God, and He falls in--as they
say of the huge elephant in the lands beyond the desert. And the
world shall be Godless, there shall no God walk on the mountains,
no whirlwind shall stir like a heart in the deeps of the blue
firmament. And God shall be gone from the world. Only men there
shall be, in myriads, like locusts, clicking and grating upon one
another, and crawling over one another. The smell of them shall
be as smoke, but it shall rise up into the air, without finding
the nostrils of God. For God shall be gone! gone! gone! And men
shall inherit the earth! Yea, like locusts and whirring on wings
like locusts. To this the seed of David shall come, and this is
their triumph, when the house of Saul has been swept up, long,
long ago into the body of God. Godless the world! Godless the men
in myriads even like locusts. No God in the air! No God on the
mountains! Even out of the deeps of the sky they lured Him, into
their pit! So the world is empty of God, empty, empty, like a
blown egg-shell bunged with wax and floating meaningless. God
shall fall Himself into the pit these men shall dig for Him! Ha!
Ha! O David's Almighty, even He knows not the depth of the dark
wells in the desert, where men may still water their flocks! Ha!
Ha! Lord God of Judah, thou peepest not down the pit where the
black water twinkles. Ha-ha! Saul peeps and sees the fate that
wells up from below! Ha! Lo! Death and blood, what is this
Almighty that sees not the pits digged for Him by the children of
men? Ha! Ha! saith Saul. Look in the black mirror! Ha!
ABNER: It is not well, O King.
SAUL: Ha! It is very well! It is very well. Let them lay their
trap for his Lord. For his Lord will fall into it. Aha! Aha! Give
them length of days. I do not ask it.
ABNER: My lord, the darkness is over your heart.
SAUL: And over my eyes! Ha! And on the swim of the dark are
visions. What? Are the demons not under the works of God, as
worms are under the roots of the vine? Look! (Stares
ABNER (to ADRIEL): Go quickly and bring Jonathan, and
David, for the Kings is prophesying with the spirit of the
SAUL: The room is full of demons! I have known it filled with
the breath of Might. The glisten of the dark, old movers that
first got the world into shape. They say the god was once as a
beetle, but vast and dark. And he rolled the earth into a ball,
and laid his seed in it. Then he crept clicking away to hide for
ever, while the earth brought forth after him. He went down a
deep pit. The gods do not die. They go down a deep pit, and live
on at the bottom of oblivion. And when a man staggers, he
stumbles and falls backwards down the pit--down the pit, down
through oblivion after oblivion, where the gods of the past live
on. And they laugh, and eat his soul. And the time will come when
even the God of David will fall down the endless pit, till He
passes the place where the serpent lies living under oblivion, on
to where the Beetle of the Beginning lives under many layers of
dark. I see it! Aha! I see the Beetle clambering upon Him, Who
was the Lord of Hosts.
ABNER: I cannot hear thee, O King. I would e'en be deaf in
this hour. Peace! I bid thee! Peace!
SAUL: What? Did someone speak within the shadow? Come thou
forth then from the shadow, if thou hast aught to say.
ABNER: I say Peace! Peace, thou! Say thou no more!
SAUL: What? Peace! saith the voice? And what is peace? Hath
the Beetle of the Beginning peace, under many layers of oblivion?
Or the great serpent coiled for ever, is he coiled upon his own
Enter JONATHAN, DAVID, and MEN.
SAUL (continuing): I tell you, till the end of time,
unrest will come upon the serpent of serpents, and he will lift
his head and hiss against the children of men--thus will he hiss!
(SAUL hisses.) Hiss! Hiss! and he will strike the
children of men--thus--
SAUL strikes as a serpent, and with his javelin.
JONATHAN: Father, shall we sound music?
SAUL: Father! Who is father? Know ye not, the vast, dark,
shining beetle was the first father, who laid his eggs in a dead
ball of the dust of forgotten gods? And out of the egg the
serpent of gold, who was great Lord of Life, came forth.
JONATHAN (to DAVID): Now sing, that peace may come back
DAVID: If he heed me. (Sings Psalm viii.)
SAUL meanwhile raves--then sinks into gloom, staring
SAUL: And the serpent was golden with life. But he said to
himself: I will lay an egg. So he laid the egg of his own
undoing. And the Great White Bird came forth. Some say a dove,
some say an eagle, some say a swan, some say a goose--all say a
bird. And the serpent of the sun's life turned dark, as all the
gods turn dark. Yea, and the Great White Bird beat wings in the
firmament, so the dragon slid into a hole, the serpent crawled
out of sight, down to the oblivion of oblivion, yet above the
oblivion of the Beetle.
DAVID meanwhile sings.
SAUL (striking with his hands as if at a wasp): Na-a!
But what is this sound that comes like a hornet at my ears, and
will not let me prophesy! Away! Away!
JONATHAN: My Father, it is a new song to sing.
SAUL: What art thou, Jonathan, thy father's enemy?
JONATHAN: Listen to the new song, Father.
SAUL: What? (Hearkens a moment.) I will not hear it!
What! I say I will not hear it! Trouble me not, nor stop the dark
fountain of my prophecy! I will not hearken!
DAVID (singing): When I consider thy heavens, the work
of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast
SAUL: What! art thou there, thou brown hornet, thou stealer of
life's honey! What, shalt thou stay in my sight! (Suddenly
hurls his javelin at DAVID. DAVID leaps aside.)
JONATHAN: My Father, this shall not be!
SAUL: What! art thou there? Bring me here my dart.
JONATHAN (picking up the javelin): Look then at the
hole in the wall! Is not that a reproach against the house of the
King for ever? (Gives the javelin to SAUL.)
SAUL sinks into moody silence, staring. DAVID
to sing very softly.
DAVID (singing): O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy
name in all the earth! Who has set thy glory above the
SAUL very softly, with the soft, swift suddenness of a
great cat, leaps round and hurls the javelin again. DAVID
as swiftly leaps aside.
SAUL: I will smite David even to the wall.
ABNER: Go hence, David! Swiftly hence!
JONATHAN: Twice, Father!
ABNER (seizing javelin): The evil spirits upon thee
have done this. O Saul! They have not prevailed.
SAUL: Have I pierced him? Is he down with the dead? Can we lay
him in the sides of the pit?
ABNER: He is not dead! He is gone forth.
SAUL (wearily): Gone forth! Ay! He is gone
forth!--What, did I seek to slay him?
JONATHAN: Yea, twice.
SAUL: I was out of myself. I was then beside myself.
ABNER: Yea, the evil spirits were upon thee.
SAUL: Tell him, O Jonathan, Saul seeks not his life. Nay! Nay!
Do I not love him, even as thou dost, but more, even as a father!
O David! David! I have loved thee. Oh, I have loved thee and the
Lord in thee.--And now the evil days have come upon me, and I
have thrown the dart against thee, and against the Lord. I am a
man given over to trouble, and tossed between two winds. Lo, how
can I walk before the faces of men! (Covers his face with his
ABNER: The evil spirits have left him. Peace comes with
JONATHAN: And only then.
SAUL: Bring David hither to me, for I will make my peace with
him, for my heart is very sore.
JONATHAN: Verily, shall it be peace?
SAUL: Yea! For I fear the Night.
Surely now will David publish it in Judah:
Saul hath lilted
his hand to slay me.
ABNER: He will not publish it in Judah.
SAUL: And wherefore not? Is he not as the apple of their eyes
to the men of Judah, who love not overmuch the tribe of
ABNER: But David is the King's man.
SAUL: Ah, would it were verily so.
Enter JONATHAN and DAVID.
DAVID: The Lord strengthen the King!
SAUL: Ah, David, my son, come, and come in peace. For my hands
are bare and my heart is washed and my eyes are no longer
deluded. May the Lord be with thee, David, and hold it not
against me, what I have done. Spirits of the earth possess me,
and I am not my own. Thou shalt not cherish it in thy heart, what
Saul did against thee, in the season of his bewilderment?
DAVID: Naught has the King done against me. And the heart of
thy servant knoweth no ill.
SAUL: Hatest thou me not, David?
DAVID: Let the word be unspoken, my Father!
SAUL: Ah, David! David! Why can I not love thee
untroubled?--But I will right the wrong.--Thou shalt henceforth
be captain of the thousand of Hebron, and dwell in thine own
house, by the men. And behold, Merab, my elder daughter, I will
give thee to wife.
DAVID: Who am I, and what is my life, or my father's family in
Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the King?
SAUL: Nay, thou art of mine own heart, and the Lord is thy
great strength. Only be valiant for me, and fight the Lord's
DAVID: All my life is the King's, and my strength is to
SAUL: It shall be well. And with thy thousand shalt thou
The well at Gilgal: MAIDENS coming with water-jars.
Two HERDSMEN filling the trough--one below, at the water,
one on the steps. They swing the leathern bucket back and forth
with a rough chant: the lower shepherd swinging the load to the
upper, who swings it to the trough, and hands it back. DAVID
1ST HERDSMAN: Ya! David missed her.
2ND HERDSMAN: Let him get her sister--Oh! Oh-oh-h!
1ST HERDSMAN: Ya! David missed her.
2ND HERDSMAN: Let him get her sister--Oh-h-h-h! (Continue
1ST MAIDEN: How long, O Herdsman!
2ND HERDSMAN: Ho-o-o! Enough!
1ST HERDSMAN (coming up): Ya! David missed her!
MAIDENS run away from him.
1ST MAIDEN: Ho, thou! Seest thou not David?
1ST HERDSMAN: Yea, he is there! Ho! David! And hast thou
DAVID: What sayest thou, O Man?
1ST HERDSMAN: Thou hast missed her--say!--am I not right?
DAVID: And whom have I missed?
1ST HERDSMAN: Wellah! And knowest thou not?
1ST HERDSMAN: Wellah! But Merab, the King's elder daughter!
Wellah! We feasted her week half a moon ago, whilst you and your
men were gone forth against the Philistines. Wellah, man, and
didst thou not know?
DAVID: Sayest thou so?
1ST HERDSMAN: Wellah! And is it not so? Say, Maidens, hath not
Adriel the Meholathite got Merab, Saul's daughter, to wife? And
hath he not spent his week with her? Wellah, thou art ousted from
that bed, O David.
DAVID: And hath the King given his daughter Merab unto Adriel
the Meholathite! Wellah, shall he not do as he choose, with his
1ST HERDSMAN: Ay, wellah, shall he! But thou wert promised.
And in thy stead, another hath gone in unto her. Is it not so, O
Maidens? Sleeps not Merab in the tent of Adriel the
1ST MAIDEN: Yea, the King hath married her to the man.
DAVID: And sings she as she shakes his butter-skin?
1ST MAIDEN: Nay, as yet she sings not. But if David sits here
beneath the tree, she will come with her jar. Nay, is that not
Adriel the Meholathite himself, coming forth? O Herdsman, drive
not the cattle as yet to the drinking troughs! (Goes down and
fills her pitcher.)
2ND MAIDEN: Will David sit awhile beneath the tree?
2ND MAIDEN: Then shall Michal, daughter of Saul, come hither
with her water-jar. Is it well, O David?
DAVID: Yea, it is very well.
MAIDEN goes down with her pitcher.
ADRIEL: Ha, David! And art thou returned? I have not seen thee
before the King.
DAVID: I returned but yesterday. And I saw the King at the
dawn. Now art thou become a great man in Israel, O Adriel, and
son-in-law to the King. How fareth Merab in the tents of the
ADRIEL: Yea, and blithely. And to-morrow even in the early day
will I set her on an ass, and we will get us to my father's
house. For he is old, and the charge of his possessions is heavy
upon him, and he fain would see his daughter Merab, who shall
bring him sons--sons to gladden him. And she shall have her
handmaidens about her, and her store-barns of wool, and corn, and
clotted figs, and bunches of raisins, all her wealth she shall
see in store!
DAVID: May she live content, and bring thee sons, even males
ADRIEL: The Lord grant it! And thou hast come home once more
with spoil! How thou chastenest the Philistine! Yea, and behold,
the King hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee!
Lo! I am the King's son-in-law, of Merab. Now, therefore, be thou
also the King's son-in-law, for there is yet a daughter.
DAVID: Seemeth it to you a light thing, to be the King's
son-in-law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly
ADRIEL: By my beard, the King delighteth in thee, and all his
servants love thee. There is no man in Israel more fit to take a
daughter of the King.
DAVID: Yea, there be men of mighty substance such as thou,
whose flocks have not been counted, and who send men-at-arms
pricking with iron lance-points, to the King's service. But what
have I, save the bare hands and heart of a faithful servant?
ADRIEL: Nay, thy name is high among men. But lo! here cometh
Saul, as he hath promised. He is coming out to my tents. I will
go forward to bring him in. Come thou?
DAVID: Nay! Leave me here.
1ST HERDSMAN: I have heard the mouth of Adriel, O David!
Surely he is the King's listener.
DAVID: And thou! Who made thee a listener?
1ST HERDSMAN: Nay, I must guard the water-troughs till the
cattle have drunk. Adriel hath flocks and men-servants, but David
hath the Lord, and the hearts of all Israel! Better a brave and
bright man, with a face that shines to the heart, than a great
owner of troops and herds, who struts with arms akimbo. As I
plant this driving-stick in the soft earth, so hath the Lord
planted David in the heart of Israel. I say: Stick, may thou
flourish! May thou bud and blossom and be a great tree. For thou
art not as the javelin of Saul, levelled at David's bosom.
DAVID: Peace! Saul cometh.
1ST HERDSMAN: Wellah! And I will go down to the water.
(Goes to the well.)
DAVID: The Lord strengthen the King.
SAUL: Art thou my son, David? Yea, David, have they told thee,
I have married my daughter Merab unto Adriel the Meholathite,
even to him who stands here?
DAVID: Yea, O Saul! They told me the King's pleasure. May the
Lord bless thy house for ever!
SAUL: Have I not promised my daughter unto thee? But my
servants tell me the heart of Michal goes forth wishful unto
David. Say now, is she fair in thine eyes?
DAVID: Yea! Yea, O King, yea!
SAUL: When the new moon shows her tender horns above the west,
thou shalt this day be my son-in-law in one of the twain.
DAVID: Let thy servant but serve the King!
SAUL: Yea, an thou serve me, it shall be on the day of the new
DAVID: Yea, will I serve without fail.
SAUL: So be it!
Exit with ADRIEL.
HERDSMAN (coming up): Now is David the richest man in
Israel--in promises! Wilt thou not sell me a King's promise, for
this my camel-stick?
DAVID: It is well.
HERDSMAN: Sayest thou? Then it is a bargain? Wellah! Take my
stick. It is worth the word of a King.
HERDSMAN: Thou meanest war!
HERDSMAN: If thou get her, it is war. If thou get her not, it
is more war. Sayest thou peace?
MAIDENS (running): Oh, master David, hath Saul passed
HERDSMAN: They have passed, letting fall promises as the goat
DAVID: Peace, O Man!
MAIDEN: Oh, master David, shall Michal come forth to fill her
water-jar? For Merab is setting meats before the King, in the
booth of Adriel. Oh, David, shall Michal bring her jar to the
HERDSMAN: Ay, wellah, shall she! And I will hold back the
cattle this little while, for I hear their voices.
DAVID: Run back quickly and let her come.
DAVID (alone): Lord! dost Thou send this maiden to me?
My entrails strain in me, for Michal, daughter of Saul. Lord God
of my Salvation, my wanting of this maiden is next to my wanting
Thee. My body is a strung bow. Lord, let me shoot mine arrow unto
this mark. Thou fillest me with desire as with thunder, Thy
lightning is in my loins, and my breast like a cloud leans
forward for her. Lord! Lord! Thy left hand is about her middle,
and Thy right hand grasps my life. So Thou bringest us together
in Thy secret self, that it may be fulfilled for Thee in us. Lord
of the Great Wish, I will not let her go.
MICHAL (entering--covering her chin and throat with her
kerchief): Wilt thou let me pass to fill my jar, O thou
DAVID: Come, Michal, and I will fill thy jar.
She comes forward--he takes her jar and goes down the
steps. Returning he sets it on the ground at his feet.
MICHAL: Oh, David! And art thou still unslain?
DAVID: As the Lord wills, no man shall slay me. And livest
thou in thine house lonely, without thy sister Merab?
MICHAL: Is thy heart sore in thee, David, that thou hast lost
Merab? Her heart is gentle, and she sighed for thee. But e'en she
DAVID: She hath a man of more substance than David. And my
heart is very glad on her account.
MICHAL: It is well.
DAVID: O Michal, didst thou come willingly to the well, when
the maiden told thee I waited here?
MICHAL: Yea, willingly.
DAVID: O Michal, my heart runs before me, when it sees thee
far off, like one eager to come to his own place. Oh, thou with
the great eyes of the wilderness, shall my heart leap to thee,
and shall thou not say Nay! to it?
MICHAL: What said my father, O David, when he passed?
DAVID: He said: when the new moon showeth her horns in the
west, on this day shalt thou surely be my son-in-law of one of
MICHAL: Yea, and is thy heart uplifted, to be a King's
DAVID: So she be Michal, my body is uplifted like the sail of
a ship when the wind arouses.
MICHAL: Nay, thou art a seeker of honours! Merab had been just
as well to thy liking.
DAVID: Ah, no! Ah! Ah! Merab is gentle and good, and my heart
softened with kindness for her, as a man unto a woman. But thou
art like the rising moon, that maketh the limbs of the mountain
glisten. O Michal, we twain are upon the hillsides of the Lord,
and surely He will bring our strength together!
MICHAL: And if the Lord God say thee nay!
DAVID: He will not. He hath thy life in His left hand, and my
life He holdeth in His right hand. And surely He will lay us
together in the secret of His desire, and I shall come unto thee
by the Lord's doing.
MICHAL: But if He say thee nay, thou wilt let me go.
DAVID: Thou knowest not the Lord my God. The flame He kindles
He will not blow out. He is not yea-and-nay! But my Lord my God
loveth a bright desire and yearneth over a great Wish, for its
fulfilment. Oh, the Lord my God is a glowing flame and He loveth
all things that do glow. So loves He thee, Michal, O woman before
me, for thou glowest like a young tree in full flower, with
flowers of gold and scarlet, and dark leaves. O thou young
pomegranate tree, flowers and fruit together show on thy body.
And flame calleth to flame, for flame is the body of God, like
flowers of flame. Oh, and God is a great Wish, and a great
Desire, and a pure flame for ever. Thou art kindled of the Lord,
O Michal, and He will not let thee go.
MICHAL: Yet the Lord Himself will not marry me.
DAVID: I will marry thee, for the Lord hath kindled me unto
thee, and hath said: Go to her, for the fruits of the pomegranate
MICHAL: Will thou not seek me for thyself?
DAVID: Yea, for my very self; and for my very self; and for
the Lord's own self in me.
MICHAL: Ever thou puttest the Lord between me and thee.
DAVID: The Lord is a sweet wind that fills thy bosom and thy
belly as the sail of a ship; so I see thee sailing delicately
towards me, borne onwards by my Lord.
MICHAL: Oh, David, would the new moon were come! For I fear my
father, and I misdoubt his hindrances.
DAVID: Thinkest thou, he would marry thee away, as Merab?
MICHAL: Nay, but thou must make a song, and sing it before all
Israel, that Michal is thine by the King's promise, no man shall
look on her but David.
DAVID: Yea! I will make a song. And yea, I will not let thee
go. Thou shalt come to me as wife, and I will know thee, and thou
shalt lie in my bosom. Yea! As the Lord liveth!
MICHAL: And as the Lord liveth, not even my father shall
constrain me, to give me to another man, before the new moon
showeth her horns.
DAVID: It is well, O Michal! O Michal, wife of David, thou
shalt sleep in my tent! In the tent of the men of war, beside the
sword of David, Michal sleeps, and the hand of David is upon her
hip. He has sealed her with his seal, and Michal of David is her
name, and kingdoms shall he bring down to her. Michael of David
shall blossom in the land, her name shall blossom in the mouths
of soldiers as the rose of Sharon after rain. And men-at-arms
shall shout her name, like a victory cry it shall be heard. And
she shall be known in the land but as Michal of David; blossom of
God, keeper of David's nakedness.
MICHAL: They shall not reive me from thee.--I see men
DAVID: Wilt thou go?
MICHAL: I shall call my maidens. So ho! So ho! (Waves the
end of her kerchief.)
HERDSMAN (entering): There are two captains, servants
of Saul, coming even now from the booths of the Meholathite,
where the King is.
MICHAL: Yea, let them come, and we will hear the words they
HERDSMAN: And the cattle are being driven round by the apricot
garden. They will soon be here.
DAVID: In two words we shall have the mind of Saul from these
MAIDENS enter, running.
MAIDENS: O Michal, men are approaching!
MICHAL: Fill you your jar, and with one ear let us listen.
David stays under the tree.
1ST MAIDEN: Stars are in thine eyes, O Michal, like a love
2ND MAIDEN: Oh! and the perfume of a new-opened flower! What
sweetness has she heard?
3RD MAIDEN: Oh, say! what words like honey, and like new sweet
dates of the Oasis, hath David the singer said to Michal? Oh,
that we might have heard!
1ST CAPTAIN (entering): David is still at the well?
DAVID: Yea, after war and foray, happy is the homely passage
at the well?
2ND CAPTAIN: Wilt thou return to the King's house with us, and
we will tell thee what is toward: even the words of Saul
DAVID: Say on! For I must in the other way.
1ST CAPTAIN: The King delighteth in thee more than in any man
of Israel. For no man layeth low the King's enemies like David,
in the land.
DAVID: Sayest thou so?
1ST CAPTAIN: Yea! And when the new moon shows her horns shalt
thou be son-in-law to Saul, in his daughter Michal.
DAVID: As the Lord, and the King, willeth. Saul hath said as
much to me, even now. Yet I am a poor man, and how shall the King
at last accept me?
2ND CAPTAIN: This too hath Saul considered. And he hath said:
Tell my son David, the King desireth not any bride-money, nay,
neither sheep nor oxen nor asses, nor any substance of his. But
an hundred foreskins of the Philistines shall he bring to the
King, to be avenged of his enemies.
1ST CAPTAIN: So said the King: Before the new moon, as she
cometh, sets on her first night, shall David bring the foreskins
of an hundred Philistines unto Saul. And that night shall Saul
deliver Michal, his daughter, unto David, and she shall sleep in
2ND CAPTAIN: And Israel shall be avenged of her enemies.
DAVID: Hath the King verily sent this message to me?
1ST CAPTAIN: Yea, he hath sent it, and a ring from his own
hand. Lo! here it is! For said Saul: Let David keep this for a
pledge between me and him, in this matter. And when he returneth,
he shall give me my ring again, and the foreskins of the
Philistine, and I will give him my daughter Michal to wife.
DAVID: Yea! Then I must hence, and call my men, and go forth
against the Philistine. For while the nights are yet moonless,
and without point of moon, will I return with the tally.
2ND CAPTAIN: Yea, he is gone on the King's errand.
1ST CAPTAIN: Let him meet what the King wishes.
Exeunt IST and 2ND CAPTAINS.
HERDSMAN: Yea, I know what ye would have. Ye would slay David
with the sword of the Philistine. For who keeps promise with a
dead man! (MICHAL and MAIDENS edge in.) Hast thou
heard, O Michal? David is gone forth against the Philistine. For
Saul asketh an hundred foreskins of the enemy as thy bride-money.
Is it not a tall dowry?
MICHAL: Yea! hath my father done this!
HERDSMAN: Wellah, hath he! For dead men marry no king's
daughters. And the spear of some Philistine shall beget death in
the body of David. Thy father hath made thee dear!
MICHAL: Nay, he hath made my name cheap in all Israel.
2ND HERDSMAN (entering): Run, Maidens! The cattle are
coming round the wall, athirst!
MAIDENS (shouldering their jars): Away! Away!
A room in DAVID'S house in Gilgal. Almost dark.
DAVID alone, speaking softly: an image in a corner.
DAVID: Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my
Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for
unto thee will I pray.
My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the
morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.
For thou art not a God that hast pleasure in wickedness:
neither shall evil dwell with thee.
The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all
workers of iniquity.
Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the Lord will
abhor the bloody and deceitful man.
But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of
thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy
Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness, because of mine
enemies; make thy way straight before my face.
For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part
is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre: they
flatter with their tongue.
Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels;
cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they
have rebelled against thee.
But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let
them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them
also that love thy name be joyful in thee.
For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt
thou compass him, as with a shield.
Nay Lord, I am Thy anointed, and Thy son. With the oil of
anointment hast Thou begotten me. Oh, I am twice begotten: of
Jesse, and of God! I go forth as a son of God, and the Lord is
with me. Yet for this they hate me, and Saul seeks to destroy me.
What can I do, O Lord, in this pass?
through curtain at side, with tray and
MICHAL: The dawn is at hand. Art thou not faint with this long
watching before the Lord? Oh! why wilt thou leave thy bed and thy
pleasure of the night, to speak out into the empty, chill hour
towards morning? Come then, eat of the food which I have
DAVID: I will not eat now, for my soul still yearns away from
MICHAL: Art thou sick?
DAVID: Yea! My soul is sick.
DAVID: Nay, thou knowest. Thy father hates me beyond
MICHAL: But I love you.
DAVID (takes her hand): Yea!
MICHAL: Is it nothing to you that Michal is your wife and
DAVID: Verily, it is not nothing. But, Michal, what will come
to me at last? From moon to moon Saul's anger waxes. I shall lose
my life at last. And what good shall I be to thee then?
MICHAL: Ah, no! Ah, no! Never shall I see thee dead. First
thou shalt see me dead. Never, never shall I tear my hair for
thee, as a widow. It shall not be. If thou go hence, it shall not
be into death.
DAVID: Yet death is near. From month to month, since I came
back with the foreskins of the Philistine, and got thee to wife,
Saul has hated me more. Michal loves David, and Saul's hate waxes
greater. Jonathan loves David, and the King commands Jonathan,
saying: There, where thou seest him, there shalt thou slay
MICHAL: My father is no more a man. He is given over entirely
to evil spirits. But Jonathan will save thee through it all.
DAVID: The Lord will save me. And Jonathan is dearer to me
than a heart's brother.
MICHAL: Think, O husband, if Saul hateth thee, how Michal and
Jonathan, who are children of Saul, do love thee.
DAVID: Yea, verily! It is like the rainbow in the sky unto me.
But, O Michal, how shall we win through? I have loved Saul. And I
have not it in me to hate him. Only his perpetual anger puts on
me a surpassing heaviness, and a weariness, so my flesh wearies
upon my bones.
MICHAL: But why? Why? Why does it matter to thee? I love thee,
all the time--Jonathan loves thee--thy men love thee. Why does
the frenzy of one distracted man so trouble thee? Why? It is out
of all measure.
DAVID: Nay, he is Saul, and the Lord's anointed. And he is
King over all Israel.
MICHAL: And what then? He is no man among men any more. Evil
possesses him. Why heed him, and wake in the night for him?
DAVID: Because he is the Lord's anointed, and one day he will
MICHAL: He will never kill thee. Thou sayest thyself the Lord
will prevent him. And if not the Lord, then I will prevent
him--for I am not yet nothing in Gilgal. And Jonathan will
prevent him. And the captains will prevent him. And art thou not
also the Lord's anointed? And will not the Lord set thee King on
the hill of Zion, in thine own Judah?
DAVID: O Michal! O Michal! That the hand of the Lord's
anointed should be lifted against the Lord's anointed! What can I
do? For Saul is the Lord's, and I may not even see an enemy in
him. I cannot verily! Yet he seeks to slay me. All these months
since he gave thee to me, after I brought the foreskins of the
Philistine for thy dowry, he has hated me more, and sought my
life. Before the moon of our marriage was waned away thy father
commanded his servants, and even Jonathan, to slay David on that
spot where they should find him. So Jonathan came to me in haste
and secret, and sent me away into the fields by night and hid me.
Yea, before the month of our marriage was finished I had to flee
from thee in the night, and leave my place cold.
MICHAL: But not for long. Not for long. Jonathan persuaded my
father, so he took thee back. Even he loved thee again.
DAVID: Yea, he also loves me! But Saul is a man falling
backward down a deep pit, that must e'en clutch what is nearest
him, and drag it down along with him.
MICHAL: But Saul swore: As the Lord liveth, David shall not be
DAVID: Ay, he swore. But before two moons were passed his brow
was black again. And when the season of the year came, that the
Kings of the Philistine go forth, I went up against them, and
fought. The months of the fighting I fought with them, and all
the people rejoiced. But I saw with a sinking heart the face of
Saul blacken, blacken darker with greater hate! Yea, he hath
loved me, as the Lord's anointed must love the Lord's anointed.
But Saul is slipping backward down the pit of despair, away from
God. And each time he strives to come forth, the loose earth
yields beneath his feet, and he slides deeper. So the upreach of
his love fails him, and the downslide of his hate is great and
greater in weight. I cannot hate him--nor love him--but, O
Michal, I am oppressed with a horror of him.
MICHAL: Nay, do not dwell on him.
DAVID: And the year went round its course, and once more there
was war with the Philistine. And once more we prevailed, in the
Lord. And once more the armies shouted my name. And once more I
came home to thee--and thou didst sing. And my heart did sing
above thee. But as a bird hushes when the shadow of the hawk
dances upon him from heaven, my heart went hushed under the
shadow of Saul. And my heart could not sing between thy breasts,
as it wanted to, even the heart of a bridegroom. For the shadow
of Saul was upon it.
MICHAL: Oh, why do you care? Why do you care? Why do you not
love me and never care?
DAVID: It is not in me. I have been blithe of thy love and thy
body. But now three days ago, even in the midst of my blitheness,
Saul again threw his javelin at me--yea, even in the feast. And I
am marked among all men. And the end draws nigh.--For scarce may
I leave this house, lest at some corner they slay me.
MICHAL: What end, then? What end draws nigh?
DAVID: I must get me gone. I must go into the wilderness.
MICHAL (weeping): Oh, bitter! Bitter! My joy has been
torn from me, as an eagle tears a lamb from the ewe. I have no
joy in my life, nor in the body of my lord and my husband. A
serpent is hid in my marriage bed, my joy is venomed. Oh, that
they had wed me to a man that moved me not, rather than be moved
to so much hurt.
DAVID: Nay, nay! Oh, nay, nay! Between me and thee is no
bitterness, and between my body and thy body there is constant
joy! Nay, nay! Thou art a flame to me of man's forgetting, and
God's presence. Nay, nay! Thou shalt not weep for me, for thou
art a delight to me, even a delight and a forgetting.
MICHAL: No! No! Thou leavest me in the night, to make prayers
and moaning before the Lord. Oh, that thou hadst never married in
thy body the daughter of thine enemy!
DAVID: Say not so, it is a wrong thing; thou art sweet to me,
and all my desire.
MICHAL: It is not true! Thou moanest, and leavest me in the
night, to fall before the Lord.
DAVID: Yea, trouble is come upon me. And I must take my
trouble to the Lord. But thy breasts are my bliss and my
forgetting. Oh, do not remember my complaining! But let thyself
be sweet to me, and let me sleep among the lilies.
MICHAL: Thou wilt reproach me again with my father.
DAVID: Ah, no! Ah, never I reproached thee! But now I can
forget, I can forget all but thee, and the blossom of thy
sweetness. Oh, come with me, and let me know thee. For thou art
ever again as new to me.
MICHAL (rising as he takes her hand): Nay, thou wilt
turn the bitterness of thy spirit upon me again.
DAVID: Ah, no! I will not! But the gate of my life can I open
to thee again, and the world of bitterness shall be gone under as
in a flood.
MICHAL: And wilt thou not leave me?
DAVID: Nay, lift up thy voice no more, for the hour of speech
Exeunt DAVID and MICHAL
through curtain at
The same room, unchanged, an hour or so later: but the grey
light of day. A WOMAN-SERVANT
comes in. There is a wooden
image in a corner.
WOMAN-SERVANT: Yea, the lighted lamp, and the food! My lord
David hath kept watch again before the Lord, and tears will fall
in Michal's bosom, and darken her heart! Aiee! Aiee! That Saul
should so hate the life of David! Surely the evil spirits are
strong upon the King.
BOY (entering): Jonathan, the King's son, is below,
knocking softly at the door.
WOMAN-SERVANT: Go! Open swiftly, and make fast again. Aiee!
Aiee! My lord Jonathan comes too early for a pleasure visit. I
will see if they sleep.
through the curtain.
Enter JONATHAN. JONATHAN stands silent, pensive.
Goes to window. Re-enter WOMAN-SERVANT. She starts,
seeing JONATHAN--then puts her hand on her mouth.
WOMAN-SERVANT: O my lord Jonathan! Hush!
JONATHAN: They are sleeping still?
WOMAN-SERVANT: They are sleeping the marriage sleep. David
hath even watched before the Lord, in the night. But now with
Michal he sleeps the marriage sleep in the lands of peace. Now
grant a son shall come of it, to ease the gnawing of Michal's
JONATHAN: What gnaws in Michal's heart?
WOMAN-SERVANT: Ah, my lord, her love even for David, that will
not be appeased. If the Giver gave her a son, so should her love
for David abate, and cease to gnaw in her.
JONATHAN: But why should it gnaw in her? Hath she not got him,
and the joy of him?
WOMAN-SERVANT: O Jonathan, she is even as the house of Saul.
What she hath cannot appease her.
JONATHAN: What then would she more?
WOMAN-SERVANT: She is of the house of Saul, and her very love
is pain to her. Each cloud that crosses her is another death of
her love. Ah, it is better to let love come and to let it go,
even as the winds of the hills blow along the heavens. The sun
shines, and is dulled, and shines again; it is the day, and its
alterings; and after, it is night.
JONATHAN: David and Michal are asleep?
WOMAN-SERVANT: In the marriage sleep. Oh, break it not!
JONATHAN: The sun will soon rise. Lo! this house is upon the
wall of the city, and the fields and the hills lie open.
WOMAN-SERVANT: Shall I bring food to Jonathan?
JONATHAN: Nay! Hark! Men are crying at the city's western
gate, to open. The day is beginning.
WOMAN-SERVANT: May it bring good to this house!
JONATHAN: It is like to bring evil.
WOMAN-SERVANT: Ah, my lord!
DAVID (appearing through the curtain at the back):
JONATHAN: David! Thou art awake!
DAVID (laughing): Yea! Am I not? Thou art my brother
Jonathan, art thou not? (They embrace.)
JONATHAN: O David, the darkness was upon my father in the
night, and he hath again bid slay thee. Leave not the house.
Unbar not the door! Watch! And be ready to flee! If armed men
stand round the door (enter MICHAL), then let down the boy
from the window, and send instantly to me. I will come with thy
men and with mine, and we will withstand the hosts of Saul, if
MICHAL: Is something new toward?
JONATHAN: My father bade his men take David, and slay him in
the dawn. I must away, lest they see that I have warned thee.
Farewell, O David!
DAVID: Farewell, my brother Jonathan! But I will come down the
stair with thee.
Exeunt DAVID and JONATHAN.
MICHAL: Yea! Yea! So sure as it is well between me and him, so
sure as we have peace in one another, so sure as we are
together--comes this evil wind, and blows upon us! And oh, I am
weary of my life, because of it!
WOMAN-SERVANT: Aiee! Aiee! Say not so, O Michal! For thy days
are many before thee.
MICHAL: This time, an they take him, they will surely kill
WOMAN-SERVANT: Sayest thou so! Oh, why, in the Lord's
MICHAL: I know it. If they take him this time, he is lost.
WOMAN-SERVANT: Oh, then shall they surely not take him! Oh,
but what shall we do?
MICHAL: Creep thou on the roof! Let no man see thee. And there
lie: watch if armed men approach the house.
DAVID: There is no one there.
MICHAL: They will come as the sun comes. (To WOMAN.) Go
thou and watch.
WOMAN-SERVANT: Verily I will!
MICHAL: O David! So sure as it is springtime in me, and my
body blossoms like an almond-tree, comes this evil wind upon me,
and withers my bud! Oh, how can I bring forth children to thee
when the spear of this vexation each time pierces my womb?
DAVID: Trouble not thyself, my flower. No wind shall wither
MICHAL: Oh, but I know. This time, an they take thee, thou
shalt lose thy life.--And Jonathan will not save thee.
DAVID: Nay! Be not afraid for me.
MICHAL: Yes! I am afraid! I am afraid! Ho! Ho, there!
(Claps her hands. Enter BOY. To BOY.) Bring the
water-skin for thy master, filled with water. And his pouch with
bread--for he goeth on a journey.--O David! David! Now take thy
cloak, and thy bow, and thy spear, and put on thy shoes. For thou
must go! Jonathan cannot avail thee this time.
DAVID: Nay! Why shall I flee, when the sun is rising?
MICHAL: Yea! If thou go not before the sun is here in the
morning shalt thou be slain. Oh make ready! Thy shoes! Put them
on! (DAVID reluctantly obeys.) Thy cloak, so they shall
not know thee! (He puts it on.) Thy spear and bow!
BOY: Here is the pouch and the water-flask.
MICHAL: Run, bring figs and dry curds. Dost thou hear aught at
MICHAL: O David, art thou ready! Oh, that thou leavest me!
DAVID: I need not go! Yea, to comfort thee, I will go to the
place that Jonathan knoweth of, and thou shalt send thither for
me. Or wilt thou--
WOMAN-SERVANT: O Michal! O David, master! There be men-at-arms
approaching, under the wall, and walking by stealth. Oh, flee!
Oh, flee! for they mean thy life.
MICHAL: Now must thou go by the window, into the fields. I see
the sun's first glitter. Even for this hour have I kept the new
rope ready. (She fastens the rope to a stout stake, and flings
the ends from the window. To DAVID.) Go! Go! Swiftly be
DAVID: I will come again to thee. Sooner or later as the Lord
liveth, I will take thee again to me, unto my bed and my
MICHAL: Hark! They knock! Ha--a!
BOY: There are men at the door!
MICHAL: Go! Call to them! Ask what they want! But touch thou
not the door!
DAVID meanwhile climbs through the window--the stake holds
WOMAN-SERVANT (climbing with her hands): So! So! So! My
lord David! So! So! Swing him not against the wall, O spiteful
rope. So! So! He kicks free! Yea! And God be praised, he is on
the ground, looking an instant at his hands. So he looks up and
departs! Lifts his hand and departs!
MICHAL: Is he gone? Draw in the rope, and hide it safe.
WOMAN-SERVANT: That I will!
has flung back the curtain of the
recess where the low earthen bank of the bed is seen with skins
and covers. She takes the wooden image of a god and lays it in
the bed, puts a pillow at its head, and draws the bed-cover high
MICHAL (to herself): Yea, and my house's god which is
in my house, shall lie in my husband's place, and the image of my
family god, which came of old from my mother's house, shall
deceive them. For my house has its own gods, yea, from of old,
and shall they forsake me?
BOY: They demand to enter. The King asketh for David, that he
go before the King's presence.
MICHAL: Go thou, say to them: My lord and my master, David, is
sick in his bed.
BOY: I will say that.
WOMAN-SERVANT: Sit thou nigh the bed. And if they still will
come up thou shalt say he sleepeth.
MICHAL: Yea, will I. (Sits by bed.) O god of my
household, O god of my mother's house, O god in the bed of David,
save me now!
BOY: They will e'en set eyes on my master.
MICHAL: Stay! Say to them, that their captains shall come up,
two only: but softly, for my lord David hath been sick these
three days, and at last sleepeth.
BOY: I will tell them.
WOMAN-SERVANT: And I too will go bid them hush.
Exit WOMAN-SERVANT. MICHAL sits in silence. Enter
two CAPTAINS with the WOMAN-SERVANT.
WOMAN-SERVANT: There he sleepeth in the bed.
1ST CAPTAIN: I will go even now and tell the King.
Exeunt the CAPTAINS
after a pause.
Curtain rises after a short time on same scene.
WOMAN-SERVANT (rushing in): They are coming again down
the street, but boldly now.
MICHAL: Yea! Let them come! By this time is David beyond their
reach, in the secret place.
WOMAN-SERVANT: Oh, and what shall befall thee! Oh!
MICHAL: I am the King's daughter. Even Saul shall not lift his
hand against me. Go down thou to the door, and hold the men
whilst thou mayst. Why should we admit them forthwith? Say that
Michal is performing her ablutions.
WOMAN-SERVANT: Will I not!
MICHAL: And shall I strip the bed? They will search the house
and the fields. Nay, I will leave it, and they shall see how they
were fools. O teraphim, O my god of my own house, hinder them and
help me. O thou my teraphim, watch for me!
Sound of knocking below.
VOICE OF SERVANT: Ho, ye! Who knocks, in the Lord's name?
VOICE OF CAPTAIN: Open! Open ye! In the name of the King.
VOICE OF SERVANT: What would ye in this house of sickness?
VOICE OF CAPTAIN: Open, and thou shalt know.
VOICE OF SERVANT: I may not open, save Michal bid me.
VOICE OF CAPTAIN: Then bid Michal bid thee open forthwith.
VOICE OF SERVANT: O thou captain of the loud shout, surely
thou wert here before! Know then, my master is sick, and my
mistress performeth her ablutions in the sight of the Lord. At
this moment may I not open.
VOICE OF CAPTAIN: An thou open not, it shall cost thee.
VOICE OF SERVANT: Nay, now, is not my mistress King's
daughter, and is not her command laid on me? O Captain, wilt thou
hold it against me, who tremble between two terrors?
VOICE OF CAPTAIN: Tremble shalt thou, when the terror nips
thee. E'en open the door, lest we break it in.
VOICE OF SERVANT: Oh, what uncouth man is this, that will
break down the door of the King's daughter, and she naked at her
bath, before the Lord!
VOICE OF CAPTAIN: We do but the King's bidding.
VOICE OF SERVANT: How can that be? What, did the King indeed
bid ye break down the door of his daughter's house, and she
uncovered in the Lord's sight, at her ablutions?
VOICE OF CAPTAIN: Yea! The King bade us bring before him
instantly the bed of David, and David upon the bed!
VOICE OF SERVANT: Oh, now, what unseemly thing is this! Hath
not the King legs long enough? And can he not walk hither on his
feet? Oh, send, fetch the King, I pray thee, thou Captain. Say, I
pray thee, that Michal prays the King come hither.
VOICE OF CAPTAIN: Word shall be sent. Yet open now this door,
that the bird escapes me not.
VOICE OF SERVANT: O Captain! And is my master then a bird? O
would he were, even the young eagle, that he might spread wing! O
man, hast thou no fear what may befall thee, that thou namest
David a bird? O Israel, uncover now thine ear!
VOICE OF CAPTAIN: I name him not.
VOICE OF SERVANT: And what would ye, with this bird my master!
Oh, the Lord forbid that any man should call him a bird!
VOICE OF CAPTAIN: We e'en must bring him upon his bed before
VOICE OF SERVANT: Now what is this! Will the King heal him
with mighty spells? Or is David on his sick-bed to be carried
before the people, that they may know his plight? What new wonder
VOICE OF CAPTAIN: I cannot say--Yet I will wait no longer.
MICHAL: Open, Maiden! Let them come up.
VOICE OF SERVANT: Oh, my mistress crieth unto me, that I open.
Yea, O Michal, I will e'en open to these men. For who dare look
aslant at the King's daughter?
Enter CAPTAIN, followed by SOLDIERS.
CAPTAIN: Is David still in the bed? An he cannot rise, will we
carry him upon the bed, before the King.
MICHAL: Now what is this?
CAPTAIN: Sleeps he yet? Ho, David, sleepest thou?
2ND SOLDIER: We will take up the bed, and wake him.
3RD SOLDIER: He stirs not at all.
CAPTAIN (to MICHAL): Yea, rouse him and tell him the
MICHAL: I will not rouse him.
CAPTAIN (going to the bed): Ho, thou! Ho! David! (He
suddenly pulls back the bed-cover.) What is this? (Sudden
loud shrilling laughter from the WOMAN-SERVANT, who flees
when the men look round.)
SOLDIERS (crowding): We are deceived. Ha-ha! It is a
man of wood and a goats'-hair bolster! Ha-ha-ha! What husband is
this of Michal's?
MICHAL: My teraphim, and the god of my house.
CAPTAIN: Where hast thou hidden David?
MICHAL: I have not hidden him.
VOICE OF SAUL (on the stair): Why tarry ye here? What!
Must the King come on his own errands? (Enter SAUL.) And
are ye here?
MICHAL: The Lord strengthen thee, my Father.
SAUL: Ha! Michal! And can then David not rise from his bed,
when the King sendeth for him?
CAPTAIN: Lo! O King! Behold the sick man on the bed! We are
deceived of Michal.
SAUL: What is this? (Flings the image across the
MICHAL: Oh, my teraphim! Oh, god of my house! Oh, alas, alas,
now will misfortune fall on my house! Oh, woe is! woe is me!
(Kneels before teraphim.)
SAUL: Where is David? Why hast thou deceived me?
MICHAL: O god of my house, god of my mother's house, visit it
not upon me!
SAUL: Answer me, or I will slay thee!
MICHAL: God of my house, I am slain! I am slain!
SAUL: Where is David?
MICHAL: O my lord, he is gone; he is gone ere the sun made
SAUL: Yea, thou hast helped him against me.
MICHAL (weeping): Oh! Oh! He said unto me: Let me
go; why shouldst thou make me slay thee, to trouble my face in
the sight of men. I could not hinder him, he would have slain
SAUL: Why hast thou deceived me so, and sent away mine enemy,
that he escaped?
MICHAL (weeping): I could not prevent him.
SAUL: Even when did he go?
MICHAL: He rose up before the Lord, in the deep night. And
then he would away, while no man saw.
SAUL: Whither is he gone?
MICHAL: Verily, and verily, I know not.
SAUL: So! He hath escaped me! And my flesh and my blood hath
helped mine enemy. Woe to you, Michal! Woe to you! Who have
helped your father's enemy, who would pull down thy father to the
ground. Lo! my flesh and my blood rebel against me, and my seed
lies in wait for me, to make me fall!
MICHAL: Oh, why must David be slain?
SAUL: Woe to you, Michal! And David shall bring woe to you,
and woe upon you. David shall pull down Saul, and David shall
pull down Jonathan; thee, Michal, he will pull down, yea, and all
thy house. Oh, thou mayst call on the teraphim of thy house. But
if thy teraphim love thy house, then would he smite David
speedily to the death, for if David liveth I shall not live, and
thou shalt not live, and thy brother shall not live. For David
will bring us all down in blood.
MICHAL (weeping): O my Father, prophesy not against
SAUL: It shall be so. What, have I no insight into the dark!
And thou art now a woman abandoned of her man, and thy father
castest thee off, because thou hast deceived him, and brought
about his hurt.
MICHAL: O my Father, forgive me! Hold it not against me!
SAUL: Nay, thou hast bent thy will against thy father, and
called destruction upon thy father's house.
MICHAL: Ah, no! Ah, no!
Naioth in Ramah. A round, pyramid-like hill, with a
stair-like way to the top, where is a rude rock altar. Many
PROPHETS, young and old, wild and dressed in blue ephods
without mantle, on the summit of the hill and down the slope.
Some have harps, psalteries, pipes and tabrets. There is wild
music and rough, ragged chanting. They are expecting something.
Below, SAMUEL and DAVID, talking. Not far on a
PROPHET in attendance.
PROPHETS (on hill--irregularly crying and chanting):
This is the place of the Lord! Upon us shines the Unseen! Yea,
here is very God! Who dare come into the glory! O thou, filled
with the Lord, sing with me on this high place. For the egg of
the world is filled with God.
SAMUEL (speaking to DAVID): It is time thou shouldst
go. As a fox with the dogs upon him, hast thou much fleeing to
DAVID: Must I always flee, my Father? I am already weary of
SAMUEL: Yea, to flee away is thy portion. Saul cometh hither
to seek thee. But surely shall he fall before the Lord. When he
gets him back to his own city, enquire thou what is his will
towards thee. And if it still be evil, then flee from him
diligently, while he lives.
DAVID: And shall there never be peace between Saul's house and
SAMUEL: Who knows the Lord utterly! If there be not peace this
time, then shall there never in life be peace between thee and
him, nor thy house and his.
DAVID: Yet am I his son-in-law, in Michal my wife! And my
flesh yearneth unto mine own.
SAMUEL: Is the house of Saul thine own?
DAVID: Yea, verily!
SAMUEL: Dost thou say, Yea, verily? Hark, now! If this
time there be peace between thee and him, it should be peace. But
if not, then think of naught but to flee, and save thyself, and
keep on fleeing while Saul yet liveth. The Lord's choice is on
thee, and thou shalt be King in thy day. As for me, I shall never
see thy day.
DAVID: Would I could make my peace with Saul! Would I could
return to mine own house, and to mine own wife, and to the men of
SAMUEL: My son, once the Lord chose Saul. Now hath He passed
Saul over and chosen thee. Canst thou look guiltless into the
face of Saul? Can he look guiltless into thy face? Can ye look
into each other's faces, as men who are open and at peace with
DAVID: Yet would I serve him faithfully.
SAMUEL: Yea, verily! And in thine heart, art thou King, and
pullest the crown from his brow with thine eyes.
DAVID: O my Father, I would not!
SAMUEL: Wouldst thou not? Willst thou say to me here and now:
As the Lord liveth, I will not be King! But Saul and his house
shall rule Israel for ever: and Jonathan my friend shall
be King over me! Wilt thou say that to me?
DAVID: Does Samuel bid me say this thing?
SAMUEL: He bids thee not. But for Saul's sake, and for
Jonathan's, and for Michal's, and for peace, wilt thou say it?
Answer me from thine own heart, for I know the smell of false
words. Yea, I bid thee, speak!
DAVID: The Lord shall do unto me as He will.
SAMUEL: Yea, for the Lord hath anointed thee, and thou shalt
rule Israel when Saul is dead, and I am dead, and the Judges of
Israel are passed away. For my day is nearly over, and thine is
another day. Yea, Saul has lived in my day, but thou livest in
thine own day, that I know not of.
DAVID: O my lord, is there naught but wrath and sorrow between
me and Saul henceforth?
SAMUEL: The Lord will show! Knowest thou not?
DAVID: I would it were peace!
SAMUEL: Wouldst thou verily? When the wind changes, will it
not push the clouds its own way? Will fire leap lively in wet
rain? The Lord is all things. And Saul hath seen a tall and
rushing flame and hath gone mad, for the flame rushed over him.
Thou seest thy God in thine own likeness, afar off, or as a
brother beyond thee, who fulfils thy desire. Saul yearneth for
the flame: thou for thy to-morrow's glory. The God of Saul hath
no face. But thou wilt bargain with thy God. So be it! I am old,
and would have done. Flee thou, flee, and flee again, and once
more, flee. So shalt thou at last have the kingdom and the glory
in the sight of men. I anointed thee, but I would see thee no
more, for my heart is weary of its end.
DAVID: Wilt thou not bless me?
SAMUEL: Yea, I will bless thee! Yea, I will bless thee, my
son. Yea, for now thy way is the way of might; yea, and even for
a long space of time it shall be so. But after many days, men
shall come again to the faceless flame of my Strength, and of
Saul's. Yea, I will bless thee! Thou art brave, and alone, and by
cunning must thou live, and by cunning shall thy house live for
ever. But hath not the Lord created the fox, and the weasel that
boundeth and skippeth like a snake!
DAVID: O Samuel, I have but tried to be wise! What should I
do, and how should I walk in the sight of men? Tell me, my
Father, and I will do it.
SAMUEL: Thou wilt not. Thou walkest wisely, and thy Lord is
with thee. Yea, each man's Lord is his own, though God be but
one. I know not thy Lord. Yet walk thou with Him. Yea, thou shalt
bring a new day for Israel. Yea, thou shalt be great, thou shalt
fight as a flower fighteth upwards, through the stones and alone
with God, to flower in the sun at last. For the yearning of the
Lord streameth as a sun, even upon the stones. (A tumult above
among the PROPHETS. SAMUEL looks up--continues
abstractedly.) Yea, and as a flower thou shalt fade. But Saul
was once a burning bush, afire with God. Alas, that he saw his
own image mirrored in the faces of men! (A blare of music
SAMUEL (to PROPHET): What see ye?
PROPHETS (shouting): The sun on the arms of the
SAMUEL (to DAVID): Now shalt thou go! For I, too, will
not set mine eyes upon Saul the King.
DAVID: Bless me then, O my Father!
SAMUEL: The Lord fill thy heart and thy soul! The Lord quicken
thee! The Lord kindle thy spirit, so thou fall into no snare! And
now get thee gone! And when Saul is returned to his own place,
enquire thou secretly his will towards thee. And then act wisely,
as thou knowest.
DAVID: I go forth into the fields, as a hare when the hound
gives mouth! But if the Lord go with me . . .
SAMUEL (to PROPHET): Is Saul surely in sight?
PROPHET: Verily, he is not far off. He has passed the well of
SAMUEL: Has he company of men?
PROPHET: Ten armed men has he.
SAMUEL: Will he still bring armed men to the high place? Lo!
Say thou to him: Samuel hath gone before the Lord, in the hidden
places of the Hill.
PROPHET: I will e'en say it.
SAMUEL: Say also to him: David, the anointed, is gone, we know
not whither. And let the company of the prophets come down
towards the King.
PROPHET: It shall be so.
PROPHET (climbing hill and calling): O ye Prophets of
the Lord, put yourselves in array, to meet Saul the King.
2ND PROPHET (on hill with flute--sounds flute loudly with a
strong tune--shouts): Oh, come, all ye that know our God! Oh,
put yourselves in array, ye that know the Name. For that which is
without name is lovelier than anything named! (Sounds the
PROPHETS gather in array--musicians in front; they chant
slowly. As SAUL approaches they slowly descend.
CHORUS OF PROPHETS: Armies there are, for the Lord our
Armies there are against the Lord!
Wilt thou shake spears in the face of Almighty God?
Lo! in thy face shakes the lightning. [Bis.
Countest thou thyself a strong man, sayest thou Ha-ha!
Lo! We are strong in the Lord! Our arrow seest thou not!
Yet with the unseen arrows of high heaven
Pierce we the wicked man's feet, pierce we his feet in the
Lo! the bow of our body is strung by God.
Lo! how He taketh aim with arrow-heads of our wrath!
Prophet of God is an arrow in full flight
And he shall pierce thy shield, thou, thou Lord's enemy.
Long is the fight, yet the unseen arrows fly
Keen to a wound in the soul of the great Lord's enemy.
Slowly he bleeds, yet the red drops run away
Unseen and inwardly, as bleeds the wicked man.
Bleeding of God! Secretly of God.
SAUL enters with ARMED MEN. PROPHETS
SAUL: Peace be with you!
PROPHET: Peace be with the King!
SAUL: Lo! ye prophets of God! Is not Samuel set over you?
PROPHET: Yea! O King!
SAUL (beginning to come under the influence of the chant
and to take the rhythm in his voice): Is Samuel not here?
PROPHET: He hath gone up before the Lord!
SAUL: Surely the Lord is in this place! Surely the great
brightness (Looks round.)--and the son of Jesse, is he
among the prophets?
PROPHET: Nay, he has gone hence.
SAUL: Gone! Gone! What, has he fled from the high place!
Surely he feared the glory! Yea, the brightness! So he has fled
before the flame! Thus shall he flee before the flame! But gone?
PROPHET: We know not whither.
SAUL: Even let him go! Even let him go whither he will! Yea,
even let him go! Yea! Come we forth after such as he? Let him go!
Is not the Lord here? Surely the brightness is upon the hill!
Surely it gleams upon this high place!
LEADER OF MEN-AT-ARMS: Tarry we here, O King? Where shall we
seek the son of Jesse?
SAUL: Even where ye will.
LEADER: Tarrieth the King here?
SAUL: Yea! I will know if the Lord is verily in this
PROPHET: Verily He is here.
Company of PROPHETS
SAUL (going slowly forward): Art Thou here, O Lord?
What? Is this Thy brightness upon the hill? What? Art Thou here
in Thy glory?
COMPANY OF PROPHETS: Fire within fire is the presence of the
Sun within the sun is our God! [Bis.
Rises the sun among the hills of thy heart
Rising to shine in thy breast? [Bis.
SAUL: Yea! O Prophets! Am I not King? Shall not the Sun of
suns rise among the hills of my heart, and make dawn in my body?
What! Shall these prophets know the glory of the Lord, and shall
the son of Kish stay under a cloud? (Sticks his spear into
the ground, and unbuckles his sword-belt.)
LEADER OF ARMED MEN: Wilt thou go up before the Lord, O King?
Then camp we here, to await thy pleasure.
SAUL: I will go up. Camp an ye will.
LEADER: Even camp we here. (They untackle.)
SAUL: Ha! Ha! Is there a glory upon the prophets? Do their
voices resound like rocks in the valley! Ha! Ha! Thou of the
sudden fire! I am coming! Yea! I will come into the glory!
(Advancing, throws down his woollen mantle. The IST
PROPHET takes it up.)
CHORUS OF PROPHETS: Whiteness of wool helps thee not in the
Colours on thy coat avail thee naught. [Bis.
Fire unto fire only speaks, and only flame
Beckons to flame of the Lord! [Bis.
The PROPHETS divide and make way as SAUL
SAUL: Is my heart a cold hearth? Is my heart fireless unto
Thee? Kindler! it shall not be so! My heart shall shine to Thee,
yea, unshadow itself. Yea, the fire in me shall mount to the fire
of Thee, Thou Wave of Brightness!
SOLDIER (below--with loud and sudden shout): The sun is
in my heart. Lo! I shine forth!
SAUL (with suddenness): I will come up! Oh! I will come
up! Dip me in the flame of brightness, Thou Bright One, call up
the sun in my heart, out of the clouds of me. Lo! I have been
darkened and deadened with ashes! Blow a fierce flame on me, from
the middle of Thy glory, O Thou of the faceless flame. (Goes
slowly forward.) Oh, dip me in the ceaseless flame!
Throws down his coat, or wide-sleeved tunic, that came
below the knee and was heavily embroidered at neck and sleeves in
many colours: is seen in the sleeveless shirt that comes
half-way down the thigh.
SOLDIER (below): Kings come and pass away, but the
flame is flame for ever. The Lord is here, like a tree of white
fire! Yea, and the white glory goes in my nostrils like a
SAUL: Shall a soldier be more blessed than I? Lo! I am not
dead, thou Almighty! My flesh is still flame, still steady flame.
Flame to flame calleth, and that which is dead is cast away.
(Flings off his shirt: is seen, a dark-skinned man in leathern
loin-girdle.) Nay, I carry naught upon me, the long flame of
my body leans to the flame of all glory! I am no king, save in
the Glory of God. I have no kingdom, save my body and soul. I
have no name. But as a slow and dark flame leaneth to a great
glory of flame, and is sipped up, naked and nameless lean I to
the glory of the Lord.
CHORUS OF PROPHETS: Standeth a man upon the stem of upright
Openeth the navel's closed bud, unfoldeth the flower of the
Lo! Like the cup of a flower, with morning sun
Filled is thy breast with the Lord, filled is thy navel's wide
SOLDIER: Oh, come! For a little while the glory of the Lord
stands upon the high place! Oh, come! before they build Him
houses, and enclose Him within a roof! Oh, it is good to live
now, with the light of the first day's sun upon the breast. For
when the seed of David have put the Lord inside a house, the
glory will be gone, and men will walk with no transfiguration!
Oh, come to this high place! Oh, come!
SAUL: Surely I feel my death upon me! Surely the sleep of
sleeps descends. (Casts himself down.) I cast myself down,
night and day; as in death, lie I naked before God. Ah, what is
life to me! Alas that a man must live till death visit him!--that
he cannot walk away into the cloud of Sun! Alas for my life! For
my children and my children's children, alas! For the son of
Jesse will wipe them out! Alas for Israel! For the fox will trap
the lion of strength, and the weasel that is a virgin, and
bringeth forth her young from her mouth, shall be at the throats
of brave men! Yea, by cunning shall Israel prosper, in the days
of the seed of David: and by cunning and lurking in holes of the
earth shall the seed of Jesse fill the earth. Then the Lord of
Glory will have drawn far off, and gods shall be pitiful, and men
shall be as locusts. But I, I feel my death upon me, even in the
glory of the Lord. Yea, leave me in peace before my death, let me
retreat into the flame!
ANOTHER SOLDIER: Saul hath abandoned his kingdom and his men!
Yea, he puts the Lord between him and his work!
PROPHET: E'en let him be! For his loss is greater than
SOLDIER: Yea! But wherefore shall a man leave his men
leaderless--even for the Lord!
1ST SOLDIER (prophesying): When thou withdrawest Thy
glory, let me go with Thee, O Brightest, even into the fire of
CHORUS OF PROPHETS: Cast thyself down, that the Lord may
snatch thee up.
Fall before the Lord, and fall high.
All things come forth from the flame of Almighty God, Some
things shall never return! [Bis.
Some have their way and their will, and pass at last
To the worm's waiting mouth. [Bis.
But the high Lord He leans down upon the hill,
And wraps His own in His flame,
Wraps them as whirlwind from the world,
Leaves not one sigh for the grave. . . .
Late afternoon. A rocky place outside Gilgal. DAVID is
hiding near the stone Ezel.
DAVID (alone): Now, if Jonathan comes not, I am lost.
This is the fourth day, and evening is nigh. Lo! Saul seeketh my
life. O Lord, look upon me, and hinder mine enemies! Frustrate
them, make them stumble, O my God! So near am I to Gilgal, yet
between me and mine own house lies the whole gap of death. Yea,
Michal, thou art not far from me. Yet art thou distant even as
death. I hide and have hidden. Three days have I hidden, and
eaten scant bread. Lo! Is this to be the Lord's anointed! Saul
will kill me, and I shall die! There! Someone moves across the
field! Ah, watch! watch! Is it Jonathan? It is two men; yea, it
is two men. And one walks before the other. Surely it is Jonathan
and his lad! Surely he has kept his word! O Lord, save me now
from mine enemies, for they compass me round. O Lord my God, put
a rope round the neck of my enemy, lest he rush forward and seize
me in the secret place. Yea, it is Jonathan, in a striped coat.
And a man behind him carrieth the bow. Yea, now must I listen,
and uncover my ears, for this is life or death. O that he may
say: Behold, the arrows are on this side of thee, take
them! For then I can come forth and go to my house, and the
King will look kindly on me.--But he comes slowly, and sadly. And
he will say: The arrows are beyond thee--and I shall have
to flee away like a hunted dog, into the desert.--It will be so!
Yea! And I must hide lest that lad who follows Jonathan should
see me, and set Saul's soldiery upon me.
after a pause.
Enter JONATHAN with bow, and LAD
JONATHAN (stringing his bow): Lo! this is the
stone Ezel. Seest thou the dead bush, like a camel's head? That
is a mark I have shot at, and now, before the light falls, will I
put an arrow through his nose. (Takes an arrow.) Will this
fly well? (Balancing it.)
LAD: It is well shafted, O Jonathan.
JONATHAN: Ay! Let us shoot. (Takes aim--shoots.) Yea,
it touched the camel's ear, but not his nose! Give me another!
(Shoots.) Ah! Hadst thou a throat, thou camel, thou wert
dead. Yet is thy nose too cheerful! Let us try again! (Takes
another arrow--shoots.) Surely there is a scratch upon thy
nose-tip! Nay, I am not myself! Give me the quiver. And run thou,
take up the arrows ere the shadows come.
LAD: I will find them.
He runs, as he goes JONATHAN shoots an arrow over
his head. The LAD runs after it--stops.
JONATHAN: Is not the arrow beyond thee?
LAD: One is here! Here, another!
JONATHAN: The arrow is beyond thee! Make speed! Haste! Stay
LAD: Three have I! But the fourth--
JONATHAN: The arrow is beyond thee! Run, make haste!
LAD: I see it not! I see it not! Yea, it is there within bush.
I have it, and it is whole. O master, is this all?
JONATHAN: There is one more. Behold it is beyond thee.
LAD (running): I see it not! I see it not! Yea, it is
JONATHAN: It is all. Come, then! Come! Nay, the light is
fading and I cannot see. Take thou the bow and the arrows, and go
home. For I will rest here awhile by the stone Ezel.
LAD: Will my master come home alone?
JONATHAN: Yea will I, with the peace of day's-end upon me. Go
now, and wait me in the house. I shall soon come.
Exit LAD. JONATHAN
sits down on a stone till he is
JONATHAN (calling softly): David! David!
DAVID comes forth, weeping. Falls on his face to the ground
and bows himself three times before JONATHAN. JONATHAN
raises him. They kiss one another, and weep.
DAVID: Ah, then it is death, it is death to me from Saul?
JONATHAN: Yea, he seeks thy life, and thou must flee far
DAVID (weeping): Ah, Jonathan! Thy servant thanks thee
from his heart. But ah, Jonathan, it is bitter to go, to flee
like a dog, to be houseless and homeless and wifeless, without a
friend or helpmate! Oh, what have I done, what have I done! Tell
me, what have I done! And slay me if I be in fault.
JONATHAN (in tears): Thou art not in fault. Nay, thou
art not! But thou art anointed, and thou shalt be King. Hath not
Samuel said it even now, in Naioth, when he would not look upon
the face of Saul! Yea, thou must flee until thy day come, and the
day of the death of Saul, and the day of the death of
DAVID (weeping): Oh, I have not chosen this. This have
I not taken upon myself. This is put upon me, I have not chosen
it! I do not want to go! Yea, let me come to Gilgal and die, so I
see thy face, and the face of Michal, and the face of the King.
Let me die! Let me come to Gilgal and die! (Flings himself on
the ground in a paroxysm of grief.)
JONATHAN: Nay! Thou shalt not die. Thou shalt flee! And till
Saul be dead, thou shalt flee. But when Saul has fallen, and I
have fallen with my father--for even now my life follows my
father--then thou shalt be King.
DAVID: I cannot go!
JONATHAN: Yea! Thou shalt go now. For they will send forth men
to meet me, ere the dark. Rise now, and be comforted. (DAVID
DAVID: Why shouldst thou save me! Why dost thou withhold thy
hand! Slay me now!
JONATHAN: I would not slay thee, nor now nor ever. But leave
me now, and go. And go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both
of us in the name of the Lord, saying: The Lord be between me
and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever.
DAVID: Yea, the covenant is between us! And I will go, and
They embrace in silence, and in silence DAVID
JONATHAN (alone in the twilight): Thou goest, David!
And the hope of Israel with thee! I remain, with my father, and
the star-stone falling to despair. Yet what is it to me! I would
not see thy new day, David. For thy wisdom is the wisdom of the
subtle, and behind thy passion lies prudence. And naked thou wilt
not go into the fire. Yea, go thou forth, and let me die. For thy
virtue is in thy wit, and thy shrewdness. But in Saul have I
known the magnanimity of a man. Yea, thou art a smiter down of
giants, with a smart stone! Great men and magnanimous, men of the
faceless flame, shall fall from Strength, fall before thee, thou
David, shrewd whelp of the lion of Judah! Yet my heart yearns hot
over thee, as over a tender, quick child. And the heart of my
father yearns, even amid its dark wrath. But thou goest forth,
and knowest no depth of yearning, thou son of Jesse. Yet go! For
my twilight is more to me than thy day, and my death is dearer to
me than thy life! Take it! Take thou the kingdom, and the days to
come. In the flames of death where Strength is, I will wait and
watch till the day of David at last shall be finished, and wisdom
no more be fox-faced, and the blood gets back its flame. Yea, the
flame dies not, though the sun's red dies! And I must get me to
Rises and departs hastily.