The Copper Cauldron (Eight O’Clock)


VOICE 1: Eight O’clock. (One to the final stroke.) Fumes rise from the sorceress’ cauldron as ravished Medea passionately stirs wasted love with desires unlawful and unfulfilled. A myriad witches hover around the room talking indistinctly. Muses are nowhere to be found.

VOICE 2: A cup of simple wine (preferably Spanish).
A bucket of blood vainly spilt,
seasoned with original unsullied pain
from days of old
when magic
the air.

MEDEA: A whole bucket? Really…?

LADY MACBETH: Cannot complain there, you’ve got plenty of that…

MEDEA: Indeed my dear. Indeed. I don’t complain about my lot as others love to do… But was there magic in your days? Hmmm… Cannot seem to remember…
Must be getting old!

LADY MACBETH (aside): Is this what life is made of?

MEDEA (gets her glasses from a table): Lets see… What else do we need? Yes, here!
Tears of a unicorn…
Some hippogriff hair…
Seriously! Who writes these recipes? How in God’s name am I supposed to get hippogriff hair?

LADY MACBETH: Old skins to new wine.
Old blood to new swords.
This is what life is made of.

VOICE 1: And Will shall have no dominion
and John will have no more words.
Medea will sink to oblivion
and Will shall return to his Lord.

LADY MACBETH: Yes I know all that: all oracles and prophesies—heard them all!
Heard them all…
But what will the voice in the mountain say? What will he say when we finish with our endless ramblings? Will he listen to us then? Ha! Tell me! Will he? Will he?

VOICE 1: No. Nothing. The voice never answers. The cold assassin voice never answers. You know this.
His fathomless eyes are made of shade and void1.

LADY MACBETH (muttering): Yes! This is the very stuff of life: a faint whisper… a cold word that was not quite right and we knew it. Oh yes we knew it! But we said it nonetheless… To pierce, to stab, to squeeze the marrow and drink its juice… savouring. Like salvages mauling our victims, rejoicing in the pain inflicted. Oozing blood… Using God.

And all our sophistication… all this fancy knowledge: what for? The lure of all the sighs and so-called epiphanies we cherish… all rotten. The endless parade of half-truths we invented to deceive ourselves, what for?
Tell me!
I beseech you, O voice!

MEDEA: Nails of a queen!
Can you believe it? It is my lucky day after all. Come here dear. Give me your hand… You were a queen once, right?… It is getting harder each day to remember. Everything seems so confusing at times. Blurred memories… as if deep mists were embracing me. Choking me, rather!
Ah yes! Now I remember that bloody country of yours:
Oh! curses on the day when Scotland took
This Helen to its hospitable arms.2

LADY MACBETH: This is absolutely ridiculous! That was not me. That… Bah! Forget it!
But you also were a queen. Use your bloody nails!

MEDEA: Easy dear! What’s that unladylike language? But you are right. Ego sum regina. That was a lovely time now that I think about it: servants with goblets of black wine, sweet Corinth between waters. Dreaming about immortality—sun rays mingled with the seas. Going to the plays with orange juice and a bag of olives… and our philosophers and poets. The beauty of it! We were a great clan we greeks3. We had culture. Classical.

I must teach you Greek, dear 4.

LADY MACBETH: Oh yes! Culture… culinary too. Roasted children were your speciality, right? What did you stuff them with?

MEDEA: Don’t you dare, sugar. Mind your tongue if you want to keep it. I might be old but I’m not vanquished. I could crash you if I wanted to, you treacherous bitch. You barbarian strumpet! I will not get lessons on morals from you.

LADY MACBETH: No. You want. It is too late for that.
It is too late for everything, in fact.
Even to lament as if I were in Dunsinane Hill, Elsinor, or Dover beach…
Too late to destroy or to build a new city.
Too late to assault…
too late to learn…
too late to love.
Because late I came.
Late I came.

  1. Cfr. Baudelaire, Charles. “The Dance of Death,” The Flowers of Evil. ↩︎
  2. Cfr. Schiller, Friedrich. Mary Stuart ↩︎
  3. Cfr. Rilke, Rainer Maria. “Tenth Elegy”, Duino Elegies: “We were a great clan we Laments.” ↩︎
  4. Cfr. Joyce, James. Telemachus, Ulysses. ↩︎

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s