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ACT IV.




SCENE I.


A Hall in the King's Palace.—On the left a large portal leading to the subterranean hall of justice.—A passage on the right leading to the prison of Radames.

Amneris, mournful, crouched before the portal.


Amneris.

She, my rival detested, has escaped me;
And from the Priesthood Radames is 'waiting
The sentence of a traitor. Yet a traitor
He is not. Though he disclosed the weighty
Secrets of warfare—flight was his true intention.
And flight with her too. They are traitors all then!
And justly should perish. What am I saying? I love him!
Still I love him. Yes, insane and desperate
Is the love my wretched life destroying.
Ah! could he only love me!
Fain would I save him. Yet can I?
One effort! Soldiers: Radames bring hither.


SCENE II.

Radames, led in by Guards.


Amneris.

Now to the hall the priests proceed
Where judgment thou art waiting,
Yet is there hope from this foul deed
Thyself of disculpating.
Once clear to gain thy pardon,
I at the throne's foot kneeling
For mercy dear appealing,
Life will I bring to thee.


Radames.

From me my judges ne'er will hear
One word of exculpation;
In sight of heaven I am clear,
Nor fear its reprobation.
My lips I keep no guard on,
The secret I imparted;
But guiltless and pure-hearted,
From stain my honour's free!


Amneris.

Then save thy life and clear thyself.


Radames.

No!


Amneris.

Wouldst thou die?


Radames.

Detested
Life is; of all pleasure
From henceforward divested.
Without hope's priceless treasure
'Tis better far to die!


Amneris.

Wouldst die then? ah me! consent to live.
Live, of all my love assured;
The keenest pangs that death can give
For thee have I endured
By love condemned to languish,
Long vigils I have spent in anguish,
My country, power, existence
All I'd surrender for thee!


Radames.

Have I not staked upon her
All that in life was dearest!


Amneris.

No more of her!


Radames.

Dishonour
Awaits me, my death thou fearest?
Wretched thou mad'st life ever
From Aida mine to sever;
Haply thou hast slain her
Yet offerest life to me?


Amneris.

I on her life lay guilty hands!
No! Aida lives yet!

 

Radames.

Living!


Amneris.

When routed, fled the savage bands,
To fate war's chances giving,
Perished her father!


Radames.

And she then!


Amneris.

Vanished, nor ought heard we then further.


Radames.

The gods her path guide then,
Safe to her home returning,
Guard her too e'er from learning
That for her sake I die.


Amneris.

But if I save thee wilt thou swear
Her sight e'er to resign?


Radames.

I cannot!


Amneris.

Swear to renounce
Her for ever, life shall be thine.


Radames.

I cannot.


Amneris.

Once more thy answer,
Wilt thou renounce her?


Radames.

No! Never!


Amneris.

Life's thread wouldst thou then sever?


Radames.

Ready for death am I?


Amneris.

From the fate now hanging o'er thee
Who will save thee, wretched being?
She whose heart could once adore thee
Thou hast made thy mortal foe.
Heaven all my anguish seeing,
Will avenge this cruel blow!


Radames.

Void of terrors death appeareth
Since I die for her I cherish;
In the hour when I perish
With delight my heart will glow:
Wrath no more this bosom feareth,
Scorn for thee alone I know!

(Radames goes out attended by Guard.)


Amneris.

(Falling on a chair, overcome.)

Ah me! death's hand approaches! who now will save him?
He is now in their power,
His sentence I have sealed—Oh how I curse thee,
Jealously, vile monster, thou who hast doomed him
To death, and me to everlasting sorrow!

(Turns and sees the Priests, who cross the stage and enter the subterranean hall.)

What see I? Behold of death
The ministers fatal, his merciless judges.
Ah let me not behold those white robed phantoms!

(Covers her face with her hands.)


Priests.

(Within the subterranean hall.)

Heavenly spirit, in our hearts descending,
Kindle of justice the flame eternal,
Unto our sentence truth and righteousness lending.


Amneris.

Pity, O Heaven, this heart so sorely wounded,
His heart is guiltless, save him, powers supernal,
For my sorrow is despairing, deep, unbounded.


(Radames crosses with Guards, and enters the subterranean hall.—Amneris, seeing Radames, utters a cry.)

 

Ramphis (In the crypt).

Radames, Radames: thou hast betrayed
Of thy country the secrets to aid the foeman.


Priests.

Defend thyself!


Ramphis.

He is silent.


All.

Traitor vile!


Ramphis.

Radames, Radames: and thou wast absent
From the camp the very day before the combat!


Priests.

Defend thyself!


Ramphis.

He is silent.


All.

Traitor vile!


Ramphis.

Radames, Radames: and thou hast played
The part of a traitor to King, and to honour!


Priests.

Defend thyself!


Ramphis.

He is silent.


All.

Traitor vile! Radames, we thy fate have decided,
Of all traitors the fate shall be thine—
'Neath the altar whose God thou'st derided
Thou a sepulchre living shalt find.


Amneris.

Find a sepulchre living! hated wretches!
Ever vengeful, bloodthirsty and blind,
Yet who serve of kind Heaven the shrine.

(Assailing the Priests, who re-enter from the Crypt.)

Priests of Heaven, a crime you have enacted,
Tigers ever in bloodshed exulting,
Earthly justice and Heaven's you are insulting,
On the guiltless your sentence will fall.


Priests.

None can his doom recall!


Amneris (To Ramphis).

Priest of Heaven: thou death hast inflicted
On whom well ye know once I treasured;
May a broken heart's curses unmeasured
With his blood on thy guilty head fall!


Priests.

None can his doom recall!

(Departing slowly.)


Amneris.

Impious priesthood, curses light on ye all!
On your heads Heaven's vengeance will fall!

(Exit wildly.)


SCENE IV.

The scene is divided into two floors.—The upper floor represents the interior of the Temple of Vulcan, resplendent with gold and glittering light; the lower floor is a Crypt.—Long Arcades vanishing in the gloom.—Colossal Statues of Osiris with crossed hands support the pillars of the vault.


Radames is discovered in the Crypt, on the steps of the staircase leading into the vault.—Above, two Priests in the act of letting down the stone which closes the subterranean.

 

Radames.

The fatal stone upon me now is closing,
Now has the tomb engulfed me. I never more
The light shall behold. Ne'er more see gentle Aida.
Dear Aida, where now art thou? whate'er befalls me
May'st thou be happy. Ne'er may my frightful doom
Reach thy gentle ear. What groan was that? 'Tis a phantom!
Some vision dread. No! sure that form, is human!
Heaven! 'tis Aida.


Aida.

Yes! Aida!


Radames.

Thou, with me here buried!


Aida.

My heart forboded this thy dreadful sentence,
And to this tomb that shuts on thee its portal
I crept unseen by mortal.
Here from all where none can behold us,
Clasped in thy arms I resolved to perish.


Radames.

To perish! so pure and lovely!
To die, thine own self dooming,
In all thy beauty blooming,
Fade thus for ever!
Thou whom the heav'n only for love created
But to destroy thee was my love then fated!
Ah no! those eyes
So dear I prize
For death are too lovely!


Aida (Transported).

See'st thou where death in angel guise
With heavenly radiance beaming,
Would waft us to eternal joys
On golden wings above!
See heaven's gates are open wide
Where tears are never streaming,
Where only bliss and joy reside
And never-fading love!


(Singing and dancing of the Priestesses in the Temple.)


Aida.

That sad chanting!


Radames.

'Tis the sacred dance
Of the Priesthood!


Aida.

It is our death chant resounding!


Radames.

(Trying to displace the stone closing the vault.)

Cannot my lusty sinews
Move from its place this fatal stone?


Aida.

'Tis vain! all is over,
Hope on earth have we none!


Radames.

(With sad resignation.)

I fear it! I fear it!

(Approaches Aida and supports her.)


Aida and Radames.

Farewell, O earth! farewell, thou vale of sorrow!
Brief dream of joy condemned to end in woe!
See, brightly opens the sky, an endless morrow
There all unshadowed eternal shall glow!


(Aida drops in the arms of Radames.)

(Amneris appears, habited in mourning, in the temple, and throws herself on the stone closing the vault.)


Amneris.

Peace everlasting, lov'd one, mayst thou know
Isis, relenting, greet thee on high!


END OF THE OPERA.