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Gay quaker parrots 2
Gay Quaker Parrots
Literary Slash
"Art thou returned at last, my better half?" 
23rd-Jul-2005 05:58 pm
Beech leaves
For certain values of "homosocial"...

This is Dryden's version of the Antony and Cleopatra story, only Cleopatra gets a bit lost in all the passionate male-male relationships. Ventidius is Antony's general and quite devoted to him. In this scene they are discussing whether or not Antony has some friend who might be able to intervene with Caesar on his behalf.

ANTONY
Why dost thou drive me from myself, to search
For foreign aids?--to hunt my memory,
And range all o'er a waste and barren place,
To find a friend? The wretched have no friends.
Yet I had one, the bravest youth of Rome,
Whom Caesar loves beyond the love of women:
He could resolve his mind, as fire does wax,
From that hard rugged image melt him down,
And mould him in what softer form he pleased.

VENTIDIUS
Him would I see; that man, of all the world;
Just such a one we want.

ANTONY
He loved me too;
I was his soul; he lived not but in me:
We were so closed within each other's breasts,
The rivets were not found, that joined us first.
That does not reach us yet: we were so mixt,
As meeting streams, both to ourselves were lost;
We were one mass; we could not give or take,
But from the same; for he was I, I he.

VENTIDIUS
He moves as I would wish him.

[Aside.]

ANTONY
After this,
I need not tell his name;--'twas Dolabella.

VENTIDIUS
He's now in Caesar's camp.

ANTONY
No matter where,
Since he's no longer mine. He took unkindly,
That I forbade him Cleopatra's sight,
Because I feared he loved her: he confessed,
He had a warmth, which, for my sake, he stifled;
For 'twere impossible that two, so one,
Should not have loved the same. When he departed,
He took no leave; and that confirmed my thoughts.

VENTIDIUS
It argues, that he loved you more than her,
Else he had stayed; but he perceived you jealous,
And would not grieve his friend: I know he loves you.

ANTONY
I should have seen him, then, ere now.

VENTIDIUS
Perhaps
He has thus long been labouring for your peace.

ANTONY
Would he were here!

VENTIDIUS
Would you believe he loved you?
I read your answer in your eyes, you would.
Not to conceal it longer, he has sent
A messenger from Caesar's camp, with letters.

ANTONY
Let him appear.

VENTIDIUS
I'll bring him instantly.

[Exit VENTIDIUS, and re-enters immediately with DOLABELLA.]

ANTONY
'Tis he himself! himself, by holy friendship!

[Runs to embrace him.]

Art thou returned at last, my better half?
Come, give me all myself!
Let me not live,
If the young bridegroom, longing for his night,
Was ever half so fond.

DOLABELLA
I must be silent, for my soul is busy
About a nobler work; she's new come home,
Like a long-absent man, and wanders o'er
Each room, a stranger to her own, to look
If all be safe.

ANTONY
Thou hast what's left of me;
For I am now so sunk from what I was,
Thou find'st me at my lowest water-mark.
The rivers that ran in, and raised my fortunes,
Are all dried up, or take another course:
What I have left is from my native spring;
I've still a heart that swells, in scorn of fate,
And lifts me to my banks.

DOLABELLA
Still you are lord of all the world to me.

ANTONY
Why, then I yet am so; for thou art all.
If I had any joy when thou wert absent,
I grudged it to myself; methought I robbed
Thee of thy part.

And it goes on for some time. Supposedly they're all fighting over Cleopatra.

I always get Dolabella muddled up with Dorabella, a soubrette in Mozart's opera Cosi Fan Tutte and not even the girl who cross-dresses.

John Dryden, All For Love III.1, here.
Comments 
23rd-Jul-2005 08:04 pm (UTC)
Come on people, discuss. *kicks people*

Does anyone else think this sounds suspiciously like same-sex marriage? According to a new book by Alan Bray which my library hasn't got in yet but which is reviewed and summarised here, same-sex marriages were actually going on for centuries until the Church went off them in the early modern period. That said, Dryden does do a "compare and contrast" thing between male-male love and male-female, in that male-male love is intellectual friendship and all that jazz, whereas male-female is lustful and not a Real Connection and, basically, trouble.
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