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ACT TWO


Scene 1

(Without the city, the river almost empty. Cyrus and Chorus of Persians and Medes)

31. Chorus of Persians and Medes
See, from his post Euphrates flies,
The stream withdraws his guardian wave,
Fenceless the queen of city lies!

SEMI-CHORUS
Why, faithless river, dost thou leave
thy charge to hostile arms a prey,
expose the lives thou ought'st to save,
prepare the fierce invader's way,
And, like false man,
thy trust betray?

SEMI-CHORUS
Euphrates hath his task fulfilled,
but to divine decree must yield.
While Babel
queen of cities reigned,
the flood her guardian was ordained;
Now to superior power gives place,
and but the doom of Heav'n obeys.

FULL CHORUS
Of things on earth,
proud man must own,
falsehood is found in man alone.

32. Recitative

CYRUS
You see, my friends,
a path into the city lies open.
Fearless let us enter,
Knowing that those
we are to cope with
are the same we have already conquered,
strengthened then
with aid of great and numerous allies,
wakeful and sober,
ranked in just array;
Now all asleep,
or drunk, at best disordered…
A helpless state!
Still worse, when they shall hear
We are within their walls.

33. Air

Amazed to find
the foe so near,
When sleep and wine
their senses drown,
all hearts shall faint,
and melt with fear,
all hands unnerved fall feebly down.
Useless the hero's valour lies,
useless the counsel of the wise.
Amazed to find
the foe so near,
When sleep and wine
their senses drown,
all hearts shall faint,
and melt with fear,
all hands unnerved fall feebly down.

34. Chorus of Persians and Medes
To arms, to arms, no more delay!
God and Cyrus lead the way.

Scene 2

(A banquet-room, adorned with the images of the Babylonian gods. Belshazzar, his wives, concubines, and lords, drinking out of the Jewish temple-vessels, and singing the praises of their gods)

35. CHORUS OF BABYLONIANS
Ye tutelar gods of our empire,
look down,
and see what rich trophies
your victory crown.
Let our bounteous gifts,
which our gratitude raise,
wine, gold, merry notes,
pay our tributes of praise.
Ye tutelar gods of our empire,
look down,
and see what rich trophies
your victory crown.
Sesach, this night is chiefly thine,
kind donor of the sparkling wine!

36. Air

BELSHAZZAR
Let the deep bowl thy praise confess,
thy gifts the gracious giver bless!
Thy gifts, of all the gods bestow,
improve by use, and sweeter grow.
Another bowl!
'Tis gen'rous wine,
Exalts the human to divine.

37. Accompagnato

BELSHAZZAR
Where is the God of Judah's
boasted power?
Let him reclaim his lost magnificence,
assert his rights,
proved ours by long possession,
and vindicate his injured honour!

(As he is going to drink, a hand appears writing upon the wall over against him: he sees it, turns pale with fear, drops the bowl of wine, falls back in his seat, trembling from head to foot, and his knees knocking against each other)

BABYLONIANS
Help, help the king!
He faints,
he dies!
What envious demon blasts our joys,
and into sorrow turns?
Look up, O king!
Speak, cheer thy friends!
Say, why our mirth
thus sudden ends,
and the gay circle mourns?

BELSHAZZAR
Behold!
See there!

(Pointing to the hand upon the wall, which, while they gaze at it with astonishment, finishes the writing, and vanishes)

BABYLONIANS
Oh, dire portentous signt!
But see, 'tis gone,
And leaves behind it types unknown,
Perhaps some stern decree of fate,
big with the ruin of our state!
What God,
or godlike man, can tell
the sense
of this mysterious spell?

38. Recitative

BELSHAZZAR
Call all my wise men,
sorcerers, chaldeans,
astrologers, magicians, soothsayers:
They can perhaps
unfold the mystic words,
Dispel our doubts,
and ease us of our fears.

39. Symphony

(Enter Wise Men of Babylon)

40. Recitative

BELSHAZZAR
Ye sages,
welcome always to your king,
most welcome now,
since needed most!
Oh, minister to my sick mind
the med'cine of your art.
Whoever shall read this writing
and interpret,
a splendid purple robe behind him flows,
A chain of gold his honoured neck shall grace,
And in the kingdom he shall rule the third.

WISE MEN
Alas, too hard a task the king imposes,
To read the characters we never learned!

41. CHORUS
Oh, misery!
Oh terror,
hopeless grief!
Nor God nor man affords relief!
Who can this mystery unveil,
When all our wise
diviners fail?

(Enter Nitocris)

42. Recitative

NITOCRIS
O king, live for ever!
Let not thy heart
its wonted courage lose,
nor let thy countenance
be changed with fear,
though all thy wise men fail thee,
in the kingdom there is a man,
among the Jewish captives,
in whom the Holy Spirit of God resides,
and in thy grandsire
Nebuchadnezzar's day
wisdom, like that of God, was found in him,
by which he could interpret
mystic dreams,
explain hard sentences,
dissolve all doubts:
Daniel his native name, but by the king
named Belteshazzar.
Let him now be called,
He'll read the writing, and interpret it.

(EnterDaniel)

BELSHAZZAR
Art thou that Daniel
of the Jewish captives?
I have heard of thee.
That thou canst find
interpretations deep,
and dissolve knotty doubts.
If thou canst read this writing, and explain,
a purple robe adorns thy body,
a gold chain thy neck,
and in the kingdom thou shalt rule the third.

43. Air

DANIEL
No, to thyself thy trifles be,
or takes thy rich rewards who will!
Such glitt'ring trash affects not me,
intent on greater matters still.

44. Accompagnato

Yet, to obey His dread command,
who vindicates His honour now,
I'll read this oracle, and thou,
but to thy cost, shalt understand.
Thou, O king,
hast lifted up thyself
against the Lord of Heav'n,
whose vessels they have brought before thee,
and thou, thy lords,
thy wives, and concubines,
have drunk wine in them!
Thou hast prais'd the gods
of gold and silver,
brass, iron, wood and stone,
which neither see, nor hear,
nor aught perceive!
But Him,
the God whose hands upholds thy life,
and in whose high dispose
are all thy ways,
thou hast not glorified,
but hast blasphemed.
From Him the hand was sent,
by His appointment
These words were written:
"Mene", "Tekel", "Peres",
which I thus interpret.
"Mene":
the God, whom thou hast dishonoured,
the days hath numbered of thy reign,
and finished it.
"Tekel":
thou in the balances art weighed,
And art found wanting.
"Peres":
thy kingdom is divided,
and to the Medes and Persians given.

45. Recitative

NITOCRIS
Oh, sentence too severe,
and yet too sure,
unless repentance
may reverse the doom!

46. Air

Regard, o son, my flowing tears,
proofs of maternal love!
Regard thyself;
to cure thy fears,
Regard the God above.
Repentance sure will mercy find,
But wrath pursues th'obdurate mind.
Regard, o son, my flowing tears,
proofs of maternal love!
Regard thyself;
to cure thy fears,
Regard the God above.

(Exit)

Scene 3

(Cyrus, Gobrias and Chorus of Persians and Medes, within the City)

47. Air

CYRUS
O God of truth, O faithful guide,
well hast thou kept thy word!
Deep waves at my approach subside,
the brazen portals open wide,
glad to receive their lord.
O God of truth, O faithful guide,
well hast thou kept thy word!
The hostile nations scatter'd fly,
nor dare my presence stay.
Wherever I go, sure victory
attends, for God is always nigh,
and He prepares my way.

48. Recitative

CYRUS
You, Gobrias, lead directly to the palace,
for you best know the way.
This revelling herd
cannot oppose our passage;
those who would, fall easy victims.
For the rest, they fly,
or take us for their friends,
and reeling shout for joy.
We'll be their friends,
and join the shout.
I seek no enemy except the tyrant;
When he is slain,
our task is at an end.
My worthy friends, let us not stain our swords
with needless slaughter!
I begin already to count
this people mine,
myself their shepherd,
whose office is to feed
and to protect them, not to destroy.

49. Chorus
O glorious prince, thrice happy they
born to enjoy thy future sway!
To all like thee were sceptres given,
Kings were like gods,
and earth like Heav'n.
Subjection free, unforced, would prove
obedience is the child of love;
The jars of nation soon would cease,
sweet liberty, beatific peace
would stretch their reign from shore to shore,
and war and slavery be no more.
ACT TWO


Scene 1

(Without the city, the river almost empty. Cyrus and Chorus of Persians and Medes)

31. Chorus of Persians and Medes
See, from his post Euphrates flies,
The stream withdraws his guardian wave,
Fenceless the queen of city lies!

SEMI-CHORUS
Why, faithless river, dost thou leave
thy charge to hostile arms a prey,
expose the lives thou ought'st to save,
prepare the fierce invader's way,
And, like false man,
thy trust betray?

SEMI-CHORUS
Euphrates hath his task fulfilled,
but to divine decree must yield.
While Babel
queen of cities reigned,
the flood her guardian was ordained;
Now to superior power gives place,
and but the doom of Heav'n obeys.

FULL CHORUS
Of things on earth,
proud man must own,
falsehood is found in man alone.

32. Recitative

CYRUS
You see, my friends,
a path into the city lies open.
Fearless let us enter,
Knowing that those
we are to cope with
are the same we have already conquered,
strengthened then
with aid of great and numerous allies,
wakeful and sober,
ranked in just array;
Now all asleep,
or drunk, at best disordered…
A helpless state!
Still worse, when they shall hear
We are within their walls.

33. Air

Amazed to find
the foe so near,
When sleep and wine
their senses drown,
all hearts shall faint,
and melt with fear,
all hands unnerved fall feebly down.
Useless the hero's valour lies,
useless the counsel of the wise.
Amazed to find
the foe so near,
When sleep and wine
their senses drown,
all hearts shall faint,
and melt with fear,
all hands unnerved fall feebly down.

34. Chorus of Persians and Medes
To arms, to arms, no more delay!
God and Cyrus lead the way.

Scene 2

(A banquet-room, adorned with the images of the Babylonian gods. Belshazzar, his wives, concubines, and lords, drinking out of the Jewish temple-vessels, and singing the praises of their gods)

35. CHORUS OF BABYLONIANS
Ye tutelar gods of our empire,
look down,
and see what rich trophies
your victory crown.
Let our bounteous gifts,
which our gratitude raise,
wine, gold, merry notes,
pay our tributes of praise.
Ye tutelar gods of our empire,
look down,
and see what rich trophies
your victory crown.
Sesach, this night is chiefly thine,
kind donor of the sparkling wine!

36. Air

BELSHAZZAR
Let the deep bowl thy praise confess,
thy gifts the gracious giver bless!
Thy gifts, of all the gods bestow,
improve by use, and sweeter grow.
Another bowl!
'Tis gen'rous wine,
Exalts the human to divine.

37. Accompagnato

BELSHAZZAR
Where is the God of Judah's
boasted power?
Let him reclaim his lost magnificence,
assert his rights,
proved ours by long possession,
and vindicate his injured honour!

(As he is going to drink, a hand appears writing upon the wall over against him: he sees it, turns pale with fear, drops the bowl of wine, falls back in his seat, trembling from head to foot, and his knees knocking against each other)

BABYLONIANS
Help, help the king!
He faints,
he dies!
What envious demon blasts our joys,
and into sorrow turns?
Look up, O king!
Speak, cheer thy friends!
Say, why our mirth
thus sudden ends,
and the gay circle mourns?

BELSHAZZAR
Behold!
See there!

(Pointing to the hand upon the wall, which, while they gaze at it with astonishment, finishes the writing, and vanishes)

BABYLONIANS
Oh, dire portentous signt!
But see, 'tis gone,
And leaves behind it types unknown,
Perhaps some stern decree of fate,
big with the ruin of our state!
What God,
or godlike man, can tell
the sense
of this mysterious spell?

38. Recitative

BELSHAZZAR
Call all my wise men,
sorcerers, chaldeans,
astrologers, magicians, soothsayers:
They can perhaps
unfold the mystic words,
Dispel our doubts,
and ease us of our fears.

39. Symphony

(Enter Wise Men of Babylon)

40. Recitative

BELSHAZZAR
Ye sages,
welcome always to your king,
most welcome now,
since needed most!
Oh, minister to my sick mind
the med'cine of your art.
Whoever shall read this writing
and interpret,
a splendid purple robe behind him flows,
A chain of gold his honoured neck shall grace,
And in the kingdom he shall rule the third.

WISE MEN
Alas, too hard a task the king imposes,
To read the characters we never learned!

41. CHORUS
Oh, misery!
Oh terror,
hopeless grief!
Nor God nor man affords relief!
Who can this mystery unveil,
When all our wise
diviners fail?

(Enter Nitocris)

42. Recitative

NITOCRIS
O king, live for ever!
Let not thy heart
its wonted courage lose,
nor let thy countenance
be changed with fear,
though all thy wise men fail thee,
in the kingdom there is a man,
among the Jewish captives,
in whom the Holy Spirit of God resides,
and in thy grandsire
Nebuchadnezzar's day
wisdom, like that of God, was found in him,
by which he could interpret
mystic dreams,
explain hard sentences,
dissolve all doubts:
Daniel his native name, but by the king
named Belteshazzar.
Let him now be called,
He'll read the writing, and interpret it.

(EnterDaniel)

BELSHAZZAR
Art thou that Daniel
of the Jewish captives?
I have heard of thee.
That thou canst find
interpretations deep,
and dissolve knotty doubts.
If thou canst read this writing, and explain,
a purple robe adorns thy body,
a gold chain thy neck,
and in the kingdom thou shalt rule the third.

43. Air

DANIEL
No, to thyself thy trifles be,
or takes thy rich rewards who will!
Such glitt'ring trash affects not me,
intent on greater matters still.

44. Accompagnato

Yet, to obey His dread command,
who vindicates His honour now,
I'll read this oracle, and thou,
but to thy cost, shalt understand.
Thou, O king,
hast lifted up thyself
against the Lord of Heav'n,
whose vessels they have brought before thee,
and thou, thy lords,
thy wives, and concubines,
have drunk wine in them!
Thou hast prais'd the gods
of gold and silver,
brass, iron, wood and stone,
which neither see, nor hear,
nor aught perceive!
But Him,
the God whose hands upholds thy life,
and in whose high dispose
are all thy ways,
thou hast not glorified,
but hast blasphemed.
From Him the hand was sent,
by His appointment
These words were written:
"Mene", "Tekel", "Peres",
which I thus interpret.
"Mene":
the God, whom thou hast dishonoured,
the days hath numbered of thy reign,
and finished it.
"Tekel":
thou in the balances art weighed,
And art found wanting.
"Peres":
thy kingdom is divided,
and to the Medes and Persians given.

45. Recitative

NITOCRIS
Oh, sentence too severe,
and yet too sure,
unless repentance
may reverse the doom!

46. Air

Regard, o son, my flowing tears,
proofs of maternal love!
Regard thyself;
to cure thy fears,
Regard the God above.
Repentance sure will mercy find,
But wrath pursues th'obdurate mind.
Regard, o son, my flowing tears,
proofs of maternal love!
Regard thyself;
to cure thy fears,
Regard the God above.

(Exit)

Scene 3

(Cyrus, Gobrias and Chorus of Persians and Medes, within the City)

47. Air

CYRUS
O God of truth, O faithful guide,
well hast thou kept thy word!
Deep waves at my approach subside,
the brazen portals open wide,
glad to receive their lord.
O God of truth, O faithful guide,
well hast thou kept thy word!
The hostile nations scatter'd fly,
nor dare my presence stay.
Wherever I go, sure victory
attends, for God is always nigh,
and He prepares my way.

48. Recitative

CYRUS
You, Gobrias, lead directly to the palace,
for you best know the way.
This revelling herd
cannot oppose our passage;
those who would, fall easy victims.
For the rest, they fly,
or take us for their friends,
and reeling shout for joy.
We'll be their friends,
and join the shout.
I seek no enemy except the tyrant;
When he is slain,
our task is at an end.
My worthy friends, let us not stain our swords
with needless slaughter!
I begin already to count
this people mine,
myself their shepherd,
whose office is to feed
and to protect them, not to destroy.

49. Chorus
O glorious prince, thrice happy they
born to enjoy thy future sway!
To all like thee were sceptres given,
Kings were like gods,
and earth like Heav'n.
Subjection free, unforced, would prove
obedience is the child of love;
The jars of nation soon would cease,
sweet liberty, beatific peace
would stretch their reign from shore to shore,
and war and slavery be no more.



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