The World Reads Jan Kochanowski from New York — Adam Mickiewicz Institute on Sunday 30 June 2019


CREW: And we’re live. (door rumbles open) (door creaks closed) This is a lawless and
an ill-starred kingdom. It has no time for justice or the law, but everything is bought
and sold for money. One wastrel plots and
schemes in such a way that great and small, all openly defend his
villainy and his immoral case. Without a care for truth, without a thought for consequences that their vote brings with it. These folk don’t understand
the cancerous harm that the degeneracy of their young people does their republic. They have set a price
on virtue and on shame. When one’s amongst them, it’s nigh impossible to practice goodness. They ruin homes, bring
states to destitution, then cause their downfall. Troy, you’ll see in time. And by their own example, they corrupt great numbers with them. Look at how they’re followed. By hordes of spongers growing fat as hogs through constant indolence and overeating. You think that any of this herd is able to serve his country? Wear a suit of armor, when even silk’s too
heavy for their shoulders? Do sentry duty when they’ve
learned to snore till afternoon? Withstand the enemies bows when endless drunkenness
has sapped their health? They think they’re different
and they call for war. God grant me always men
like this to fight with. Eternal sun and you, abundant earth and you, expansive sea and all you gods, both high and low, be now my witnesses. The thing that I was asking for is just. I wanted satisfaction for an insult and a great wrong, yet I
got naught but laughter. Which merely made for more ere feeling. Then mighty gods I now commit to you my hurt and my resentment. If this plea comes from a spotless heart, avenge this insult, this gross misdeed. Let Paris in my clutches, so that my sword may feed upon
the blood of this base man who in his turn is seated on my disgrace and thrives on it today. (rhythmic tapping of sticks) A white-winged swimmer of the sea surf. Hewn from the beaches found in plenty upon the summit of Mount Ida. Craft that delivered smooth
faced Paris, son of King Priam , by salt sea lanes to the
Eurotas gleaming fjord-ways. (rhythmic tapping quickens) What sister-in-law did you bring here for our great monarchs noble daughters? For Polyxena in her virtue and for Cassandra, the prophetic? One that’s pursued here like a slave-girl, fleeing her masters? Surely this isn’t Venus’s present. From the beginning, stiffened discord branded
your marriage, son of Priam. Oh mighty Venus, stop me wanting
things that are not mine. Grant me only one kind
companion, one true bedmate. Those who want more,
still let them ask it. There have been many led to
error by their eyes craving. Those however, who can
entirely curb their longing, they’ll go on living long and safely. (rhythmic tapping of sticks slows) Soon it will come, soon, the time when bandit will find bandit. Your Highness, I have loyally advised you, that Helen should be given to the Greeks so as to douse the torch of certain war as fast as possible. And yet my counsel currently don’t wait, the consequence of which
I warn you in advance, that there will be a great campaign that war is a certain thing as surely as I stand before you now. You heard the way the envoys bid farewell to you and all of us. The border chieftains have written saying that the Grecian fleet is nearing Aulis, there can be no doubt. They’re coming here, or
else why send their envoys? Or speak so sharply of the
wrong they’ve suffered? Don’t wait, before we
lose all of our coastline. Make sure our ports and border fortresses are suitably provided in
advance with men and rations. Tell the vassal princes
to be in readiness. Ensure the soldiers are set for battle. Send out spies, keep watch on land and sea so that the cunning Greeks
don’t catch us napping. This is my advice. My good Antenor, you seem as frightened as if the enemy stood here before you. Best to be frightened now, your highness, fear makes one more
provident and well prepared. Later, there’ll be no
time to think, just fight. Or run away, there’ll be no other choice. I mean to take good care of everything so that we’re not
reduced to sudden flight, may God forbid. But who’s this woman here? Her hair disheveled
and her face so pallid? Her limbs are trembling,
she can scarcely breathe. Her eyes roll and her head tilts, now she’s silent, now tries to speak. This is my luckless daughter, Cassandra. I can see Apollos spirit has
seized her as it’s want to. At such times, a person cannot choose but has to listen. Oh why do you torment me to
no purpose, cruel Apollo? You gave prophetic powers, but not the gift of being understood, so all my auguries fly in the wind. No one will give them credence anymore, than empty fairy tales or fleeting dreams. (crew member mumbles directions) Who will help me with my
heart bound up in chains? Who will stop my memory from vanishing? Who needs this alien spirit in my mouth? I fight in vain, it is imposed on me. I can’t control myself, I’m not myself! Dear lord, where am I? I can’t see the light. A sudden dark has fallen on my eyes. I see… I see two shining suns, I see two Troy’s, I see the graceful Hine sailing the sea. Which she means misfortune and she heralds ill. Shepherds, defend the shoreline, don’t allow this fateful
visitor to ever land. It is a wretched land and wretched shore where she’ll arrive and wretched is the glade she’ll enter, laying down her slender form. Her– All her footsteps, everywhere she sleeps must run with blood. Fire, ruin, devastation
she carries with her. Oh my lovely homeland. What end is waiting for you? You my brother, shield of our homeland, guardian of our house, (laughs) the Thessalian horse has
threatened soon to drag you around the walls of Troy and if our father wishes that
I could bury all of your body, he’ll have to pay the murderer with gold. You priceless soul, with
you the homeland died. One grave will cover both of you together. And you as well, cruel
trafficker in corpses! You’ll fall as well! The cause of your demise an arrow fired by an unmanly hand. What horse is this? Towering so tall over the battlefield? Take my advice, don’t
lead it to the stable. It kicks and bites. You ought to burn it, rather, if you don’t want to die
in flames yourselves. Sentries, watch out. A suspect night is coming, a mighty blaze will burn, a fire so great things will be seen as if the sun were shining. But on the next day, nothing will be seen.

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