A Play by
In the jewel of the East
Lies a city in its feast
The Passover and Festival of lamps
Nearly all the nation of Jacob camps
Within its walls and without laden
The twelve tribes there all hasten
To attend the King's wisdom
His judgments in his kingdom
In fair Jerusalem near the edge
Far from the centre, near a ledge
Is a house of many tenants.
They are only the remnants
Here the air is full of spices fumes
Incense and myrrh, sweet perfumes
There is a stir in the air
Of this city, so clean and fair
Merchants visiting markets with wares
Camels and horses, braying asses' stares
The hustle and bustle of city life
Full of woes, full of strife
Yet this night are two lives spawned
Tiny minds by two women fawned
After the pain of birth
Now the joy and deep mirth
Two jewels whose stars are lit
Are through the neighbourhood knit
The mothers are close friends
Whose two lives transcends
They express joy to each other
The fanfare outside does no bother
For the two focus on the babies
Oblivious to a howling hound with rabies
But this night will bring a bother
For one will her child smother?
Although that is another story
For now we return to the city in glory
Imagine a palace in splendour
Full of wonder and candour
Carved of fine marble and stone
Gold adorned and ivory bone
Fine curtains of length in silk
The sweet perfume of fresh aloe milk
Laden with myrrh and incense
Burning from a metal dispense
Here King Solomon and his favourite wife
Listen to the harpist tell of his life
Praising him in his glory
Wisdom endowed a famous story
Oh Great King of Israel
Whose mind solves mysteries
And with eyes that sees destinies
Who spends time solving riddles
Unwinding the many fiddles
Of wayward men with solemnity
Without whom there is disparity
Among the people he loves
With the gentleness of doves
His voice like flapping wings
From his vibrant throat springs
Flashing eyes that pierce true
Even the seas and skies so blue
Who has a harem like him?
Full of beauty to the brim
Gifts of value come to his lair
Reward for his wisdom so fair
Gold and precious stones
Hardwood and ivory bones
Just like his father David
He is truly ever so avid
For the welfare of his flock
For his God the temple block
So I have much confessed
No wonder he is blessed
Oh Great King of Israel
Then King Solomon and his wife with a train of servants and courtesans are on their way to the Palace courtyard where the crowds await his wise counsel.
Queen Alesha - My lord this day the kingdom gathers to hear thy wisdom and seek answers to their quests. My heart yearns to glean thy songs of truth, which our Lord hath given thee.
King Solomon - Nothing pleases me more than to issue justice to my people, and too the throngs of visitors from the ends of the earth. The Queen of Sheba is in a caravan laden with treasure and gifts, news of her eminent arrival have reached mine ears.
Queen Alesha - I have tidings of her beauty. Will you take her into thy harem?
King Solomon - Trouble not thy mind with such trivialities, I hear she has no man who can match her in charm and wit.
Queen Alesha - I hear her wisdom is close to thine own and her beauty matchless to all women aye even from the ends of the earth.
King Solomon - The love of my life, why art thou so troubled, wilst thou scorn a great queen for the love of a great king. Many gifts for thee are borne by her.
Queen Alesha - Mine only gift is thy love and my daughters whom thou hast claimed for me in thy harem.
King Solomon - The throng is huge today, this day will not end.
Queen Alesha - Thy subjects clamour for thirst of thy knowledge that comes from the depths of thy soul. Nothing is hid from thee and thy counsel never fails, Oh great King!
King Solomon - Mine mind is troubled for I dreamt a strange dream last night.
Queen Alesha - A dream, art thou a dreamer too my lord!
Last night I had a turbulent dream
I saw through the portals of my mind
There was no cry, nor howling scream
I was in the midst seeking to find
In our great gardens a lily in bloom
Therein the fountain gilded fishpond
I gazed up at the windows of our room
I called to thee, thou didst not respond
I looked in the pond and I didst see
Two gold fish each with a hatchling
They swam around in joyful glee
Each at the wonder of a little fishling
Then darkness came to the pool
In the stillness of the dark night
Where to wander is like a fool
There was movement, only slight
King Solomon - Nay my love, this one is troubling my mind, for I dreamed I was wandering in our palace grounds, and in the pond there in the midst I saw two gold fishes, each had a hatchling. Then when darkness came, the one slithered over to its neighbour's side while it was asleep and devoured its offspring and then gently swam back to its own space next to its progeny and pretended to be asleep. It was strange for I knowest that fish's eyes never close; yet in mine dream, these goldfish had lids on their eyes. When the other fish awoke, it searched the pond for its sibling but found nothing. Then it saw the other's hatchling swimming alone, it swam around with joy thinking this was its own child. Later when they came across the mother, the fish inquired as to where the mother's own hatchling was. The mother of the little fish pointed her fin at the baby fish and claimed it was hers. But the other fish refused, claiming that this was its child and accusing the mother of eating her own child and now desiring her own. The mother was now in a dilemma, so she asked the other fish to also eat her baby, so that they could both have nothing. The other refused and instead told the mother to take her baby, as she would get another. At this point I awoke my queen.
Queen Alesha - Tis a strange dream indeed. Verily strange my lord, but what does it portend?
Now the great king on his throne sits
While the crowds in rapturous applause and fits
Of joy to see the famous king in fine attire
Of emerald green robes, blinding white gilded fire
Glistening diamonds and rubies adorn his crown
Solomon the Great, to whom all bow down
Holds the golden sceptre divinely given
And wisdom truly most divinely driven
His quivering eyes search the crowd
A roar from the waters against voices aloud
In the still of the night a mother lay
Her heart still beating in a steady way
When she heard her newborn squeak
She rose, lit a lamp and tried to speak
To her infant a welcoming song
Then the child was silent too long
She gently shook her son to see
If he would move even just a wee
Yet limp was its head, it uttered no sound
The mother felt dizzy, and stumbled around
She could not believe her child died
The moment in the night she heard it cried
For she had laid upon it in the night
When it made a noise, and gave her a fright
1st Mother - Oh Matheus! Art thou a mockery to me, which thou comest but a day to make my heart dance with joy only to flee to the darkness of death? Thou dost offend me with thy peaceful look for it does not belie thy ending. It seems thou art sleeping yet the movement of thy small breast is stayed. Thou art gone! Oh how can the Lord be so cruel to me, leaving me childless, with only the memory of thy birth to haunt my mind? What will I tell my husband, my mother and father, all the family will laugh at the weakness of my womb? They will say I am but barren, like a she mule. They will say I am cursed of God. Oh what canst I do? Even death will not quench my soul with desire for a child. I shall tell Talitha of my sorrow and even her joy will become but a shadow in the stillness of the night. Wait! Dost not Talitha's infant bear resemblance to mine. Dost not all new born look the same. Ugly yet beautiful, wrinkled and blemished. Praps I can give her mine, which stiffens as the hours churn. Let her howl in sorrow in the morrow, let mine own joy be complete. For just like stolen fruit taste sweeter, I will love this child as my own. Then my husband will love me more, and my family will not scorn the bitterness of the fruit of my womb
2nd Mother - Oh my breast is filled to the brim. Tis time for my Obed to feed from the sweetness that flows from within me. Come my child, suckle my child. But why art thou so stiff, and thy head tilts unnaturally. Canst thy hunger be so steep, whence I fed thee but a few moments ago before I went to relieve my waters. Why art thou so cold? When I felt thee thou wast warm and supple, now thou art like frozen wood. Eeeeeeek! My child is dead! Woe is me! What curse is this? Yet is this my child? For Obed had curly hair and an aquiline nose, this child hath a flat nose and thick lips and straight hair. That wicked witch! Now I know that Miriam hath trampled her child in the night, and when I went to the nearby bushes exchanged her corpse for my babe. Let me venture to her room and see her child. At least then I know that my child livest, and that Miriam's torment has made her blind. Thus did her hand reached in my bed and stole the extension of my life.
2nd Mother to 1st Mother - Miriam! Miriam what hast thou done?! Thou hast taken my waif and replaced him with thy child of the dead. This is neither my child nor my babe. It is thine see the ugly nose and thickened lips.
1st Mother - Nay this child is mine, whither goest thou about the night screaming to waken my babe. Just because thine sleepest the sleep of death, is it my fault that thy womb bears weakness or hast thou trodden upon it. Go away and leave me be.
2nd mother - Thou witch! How dost thou knowest that my child is dead and slumbers in the darkness of death. Thou hast crept to my lodging and seen my child in slumber laden with beauty of life, whilst thine was stiff. So thou claimest mine. Give what is mine to me.
1st Mother - Thou bitch! Thou harlot! Thou wast wailing that it had died. I heard the bleating of thine wailing. Thou hast devoured the life of thine sibling and now makest claim to mine. Dost thou want to kill mine too?! Shall I dash it to the ground?! Wilt that make happiness fill the void in thy life.
2nd Mother - No! Please don't Miriam. Tis better that thy or my child livest. Speak thou not such bitter talk. Stay thy hand from harming the infant.
1st Father - Miriam! Why speakest thou in tones so loud. Thy whines wakest the whole neighbourhood. See they gather at the door, many faces spy on our lodgings their eyes popping with desire to peep into our business.
1st Mother as 2nd mother weeps. - Talitha came here in the midst of the night. She brought her dead waif...
1st Father Talitha - hast thy child died this night? Has its candlelight been snuffed out so soon? Oh thy joy hast been broken into sorrow. Dost thy husband know of this?!
2nd Mother - This child is not mine, it is thine. Thy wife crept to my lodgings and exchanged her infant for mine. If only my husband was here to bear witness but he is away in Egypt.
1st Father - How comest thee to claim what is ours. Look at the waif, does he not resemble Miriam and me. I know thy sorrow hast blinded thy sense. The shock has blocked thy mind and thy vision
2nd Mother - Nay good neighbour, see the curls of its hair, like my husband and mine. Thy child had straight hair like thine and thy wife.
1st Father - I think thou speakest truthfully, for my mind lingers in doubt. Wast my child straight in lock? Miriam, is this true?
1st Mother (Weeps) - Oh foolish husband, has a spell blinded thee? Does not a child change as the hours go by? See the child's lingam, is like thine. I swear this child is thine. The same seed that leapt from thee into me.
1st Father - Sweet wife, is Talitha not thy close friend, does not pity reign in thy heart for the sorrow which has come upon her household. Try to understand that grief may sometimes blind the wise just like joy can overcome the fool.
Stranger from the door - Consider good neighbours the judgement of our King Solomon. The morrow in the morn he sits in judgement near the temple. He will solve the passions of thy guilt. Only he can unravel the lying tongue and search for the fallen soul.
1st Mother - I will seek justice against the lying tongue of Talitha. This child is mine and the great king shall prove this.
2nd Mother - God's will be done, let us venture forth to the palace courts when the cock crows at the dawn.
1st Mother - Why wait for the dawn, let us go forth now!
1st Father - Hush my love, let us show patience and understanding in the face of Talitha's sorrow.
1st Mother - Would Talitha stave her time for mine? The serpentress maketh claim to mine child. Mine child. Bitch! Whore!
2nd Mother - (Weeps) - Thy words will stick in thy vile throat, whence the truth steals the path of thine ears.
1st Mother - See the passions of her sorrow make measure of her guilt. Trying to steal my waif! Thou wilt ever be barren, and the great King will cast thee in Gahenna where the eternal fire will consume thy soul. Thy worm will not die, as thy will to perish will forsake thee as thou burnest after the stones crush three in thy iniquity.
And so one man spoke, while another sighed
Even as Miriam in fury smiled and lied
Talitha at the mercy of her stone cold mind
Wept until her eyes could no more tears find
A throng began to gather at their house
Until the lady Miriam's confused spouse
Bade them go hither and thither
From our household please slither
And leave us alone; we'll meet at the palace
Where Talitha can in her foolish malice
Be exposed as the snapping hound
Whose teeth made an empty sound
As it chewed on the life of its own
Till every howling wind hath blown
And shrieked the truth of her guilt
For the blood of her kin she spilt.
Meanwhile the Queen of Sheba
With her train and manservant called Masheba
Called in the court at the palace
Dressed in silks covered by fine lace.
Masheba - My lord King Solomon and fair Queen Alesha, greetings from the land of Sheba and may I present Her Royal Highness, from the line of ancient kings, great Queen of Sheba.
Queen Alesha - (Whispers) I see she is as plain as a maiden; this belies the tales of her beauty. Her eyes as a chameleon's move in different directions rending her plain look gory to speak the least. To think I was troubled like a raging sea, now the sun shines in all corners of my mind.
King Solomon - True beauty lies within not without, see how she moves with the grace of a gazelle, I can see into the depths of her mind that she is a charming yet noble queen. See her waist how slender, like that of a virgin, the shadows of her legs reveal slender well-shaped tones.
Masheba - I have cast mine eyes on thy countenance and see a rare jewel adorning the throne of a mighty king, greetings from the land of Sheba.
Queen Alesha - Greetings to thee oh great Queen, tidings of thy journey have ventured speedily to this court, and I see thy beauty far exceeds my expectations. (Sniggers)
King Solomon - I greet thee with wonderment. Oh great Queen, hast thou travelled well in thy caravan? Josephat fetch the finest wines from our cellars and let the servants carry a feast from our larders. Prepare the fatted calf for roast on a spit. Great Queen indeed thy beauty is rare as rain in the great desert and thou carriest thyself well, sit by my left side so I may see thee ever-deeper Oh Queen.
Queen of Sheba- I thank thee King Solomon, mine ears have heard about thy favoured gifts and mine eyes now see the splendour of thy kingdom. Thy countenance awakens the passions stirring in my body and my soul. My caravan bears fine gifts for thee and thy harem. I see a crowd of thy people gathers at thy court, so I wilt be privileged to hear utterances of thine wisdom.
Queen Alesha- Shadreck, find out what is happening, court proceedings come only after we have dined.
Shadreck- As my Queen commandeth, I will quest this rude throng that breaketh our custom.
Shadreck to 1st Mother - Be silent woman thou makest noise in the court of thy king.
1st Mother - I beg the king's pardon, but a matter comes before him concerning one of his new subjects whose life is threatened by a grief stricken selfish mind.
2nd Mother - My lord, this woman I once called 'sister' and 'friend' hast stolen my babe from me and left me her dead spawn which she hath trodden upon, squeezing it's life out!
1st Mother - She lieth like the vermin she is. Thou liest mad bitch.
Shadreck - Thy quarrels belong to thee and thee alone. Remove thyself and thy family to the outer court and wait the time of the king's pleasure with his guests to be completed. Also the law of first come first serve means your case will be the last up to now, proceedings last the day. Good woman, depart!
Oh what a calamity, oh what a woe
Miriam, aimed a kick at Shadreck's toe
Her screams about the palace sounded
Her wailing shrieks the walls rebounded.
She made an impassioned rowdy plea.
Do you want my waif taken away from me?
This caused the king's court to stir awake
Courtiers their seats began to forsake
A hushing roar flooded the place
Crowds from outside began to race
Within the palace court across the marble floors
The guards were helpless by the grand palace doors
The king arose and with roaring shout
Commanded what was the commotion about
Shadreck ordered the guards to take
Tho in anger they quiver and quake
The troublesome two away
Yet the women would not budge, nor would they sway
Of the rabble heading straight to the king
Even while the harpist's voice's ring
Let the Lord grant wisdom this day
In the storming clouds a guiding ray
When right seems wrong, wrong seems right
He delivers the truth in wondrous light
Jerusalem is favoured with a just king
From whose heart loves kindness spring
My praising tongue will never rest
For our king is most truly blest
And all his flock he verily calms
With the sayings of wonderful psalms
To the Lord God, his glorious King
Words he makes around the temple ring
King Solomon - Bring those quarrelsome two to me, canst two souls make a din of a thousand and not be heard. Place them before the judgement seat so I mayest listen to this throng of woes which spillest from their mouths like unfettered springs bubbling away incessantly flowing freely on a mountainside.
Queen Alesha - My lord, thou hast not supped, thy bosom is not filled with fruitful goodness from the land. Wilt thou not feel faint for lack of sustenance since thou hast not broken thy fast.
King Solomon - Canst thou look at a mustard tree, strong trunks and boughs and declare that it is weak. Dost thou think that food alone canst sustain me?
Queen Alesha - My lord!
King Solomon - Silence is golden, my queen. Woman what is this blight on thee that causes painful bitterness against thy sister making you shriek foul words in the court of thy sovereign?
1st Mother - My lord, one day ago my friend and me were filled with the pangs of childbirth and we both brought forth our firstborn sons. We rejoiced with happiness thanking the Lord for the gifts springing from the loins of their fathers. I brought forth my Matheus; see lord how beautiful he is. He hath suckled from my sweet breasts the goodness from within me, which has increased his strength every hour. Last night at about full moon, my friend Talitha came with a troubled mind and in her arms her swaddled infant, stiffened with lack of life's breath, her tears were bountiful. Feeling the sorrow I spakest words of comfort saying Talitha, hast the soul of thy progeny fled so soon. I didst feel sorrow for her. All she could sayeth were spiteful, hurtful accusations that my child belongeth to her and that I creepeth to her lodgings when she went to deliver her waters into the bushes and exchanged my dead waif for hers. Yet she found me feeding my babe, and it sucketh willingly. How could she... (weeps)
2nd Mother – My lord she lieth, tis true I went to release my waters in the bushes, and left my wonderful Obed slumbering in my bed. Oh how I wish I had taken him with me, for when I returneth I found Miriam's babe, stiff and wizened, I could see it was squashed and its figure broken. My lord as surely as the Lord lives, I never slept, so I know I never lay upon my child, for it was sucking constantly from me so that sleep fled from my presence. Also my lord my child hath curly locks and a straight nose; hers was straight in lock and curved and flat in nose like the dead waif in my hands.
Queen Alesha – Bring the dead child to me so that I may gaze upon it. Tis strange, this babe looks like thee.
1st Mother – See my queen, even thy royal eyes have grasped the lies of the serpentress.
King Solomon – Bring the live babe to me so I can gaze upon its face. Ah what a beautiful healthy boy, it reminds me of my Jonathan, my first-born. Guard! Bring me thy sword.
Queen of Sheba- Good king Solomon, what wouldst thou do with the sword.
King Solomon – Since these women fight for one babe, tis better I cut it in twain, then they can each take one portion and leave me be.
Queen of Sheba- Is this the wisdom I hath seen in thee, such injustice I cannot bear.
2nd Mother – Nay my lord, please give Miriam the child, tis better the child livest even with her. My heart shalt surely break if thou cuttest it in twain.
1st Mother – Thou are a wise king, my sovereign, tis better that we both weep the weep of death, then for one to smile as her sibling groweth. Cut it in twain and let me have my portion. This wouldst satisfy the whore of Jerusalem. I cannot wait to see the gleaming sharpness slice between its legs then we can all heareth what she bleateth.
King Solomon – Art thou certain, thou wouldst have me slay thine infant.
1st Mother – Slay it my liege, let me cry with my sister and feel her pain in my chest. Then both of us can be barren and try to make another child on another day.
2nd Mother – Nay Miriam, please I beg you do not slay the child, have it, I wilt not make any more claim against thee. Oh why didst I come to this court to seek justice? Now justice will prick my heart and tear it asunder. Take the child please Miriam, let me bury my dead one, praps I misjudged it in the dark. Praps I did lay upon it, please my liege let her have the infant if that be the price of my love for it.
King Solomon to 2nd Mother – (Handing the child to Talitha) Woman, take thy child, it is most certainly thine, take thy fishling and swim in joy and happiness of thy love for it.
2nd Mother – Praise be to the God of heaven, praise be to King Solomon, wise and noble king in the line of Judah. Thank thee my liege.
1st Mother – My lord, I thought that in thine justice thou wouldst slice the child in twain and give me my portion.
King Solomon – Thou wilt certainly get thy portion. Guard, take this woman and her dead babe out to the city gate and let the crowd stone her to death, then fling her remains into Gahenna where her worm will not die but burn for eternity.
2nd Mother – My lord, hast not Miriam suffered enough, she hast lost her newborn soul this night and sorrow hath blinded her judgement. Please oh merciful and wise judge, let her live.
King Solomon – Woman, if mine wisdom had half the power of thy mercy which reigneth in thy heart then I wouldst be complete in all things. Begone then both of you and leave my court in peace.
2nd Mother – Come Miriam, we can both share in the life of this child until the next spring when thou canst deliver a newborn babe again. I wilt pray to the Lord to give thee a son, so that thy joy may too be complete.
1st Mother – Oh Talitha, my friend and comrade, why didst my tongue ever assail thee and why didst my wicked hand reach out to thy infant. Thou hast shown bountiful mercy in my presence and that of the king. May the good Lord bless thee eternally and I wilst ever serve thee in thy home.
King Solomon – (Weeps with joy as the harpist sings his song)
Stormy clouds will gather at the river
Making the bright day become the night
When gloom abounds and makes me quiver
When darkness does my daylight blight
Then will my soul sing and call to thee
For I know that in my darkest gloom
When I fall down and sit on bended knee
Thy love will come upon me in full bloom
When the darkness of night comes hither
The silence still overwhelms my heart
And shadows about plague me thither
Doubt and fear renders my soul apart
Then will my soul sing and call to thee
For I know that in my darkest gloom
When I fall down and sit on bended knee
Thy love will come upon me in full bloom
And then the king began his court
Breaking the will of those who fought
Disputes were solved, liars exposed
Wills and inheritances truly disposed
An Arabian man asked about his ugly daughter
Who had a lovely voice and tinkling laughter
She could weave and cook with great skill.
Yet no man would seek and her hands to fill
For she was grotesque, yet had a heart of gold.
And she could sing both loud and bold
The king spoke thus to him
Tho' it is plain and unsightly
The ass is the envy of all men
What it has, no man can possess.
So all creatures have their own beauty
If you look beyond the shadow
Of even their darkest side.
The king told the Arabian visitor to wait
Like a fisherman at a pool with his bait
Not to worry for time and tide would reveal
Someone with a heart would one-day appeal
To have his daughter's lovely body and hand
And give him a grandson to inherit his land
So King Solomon and his wife Alesha
Together with the lords and the Queen of Sheba
Retired to the palace after dealing with throngs
And listening to King Solomon's wondrous songs