To die upon my wedding sheets does have
a certain elegance, but that was all
that could in any way be deem’d elegant
’bout my untimely death. That my fair husband
5 should have been so beguiled by that base coward
Iago heats my gentle blood to boiling
and causes me to think unwomanly thoughts
and wish his tortured death upon the rack,
I feel as though my joining with Othello
10 has given me a soldier’s hot desire
to spill the blood of those who do me harm.
We were so blissfully contented at that
point, with our marriage now known to all.
We were so newly wed that only half
15 our vows had come to full fruition -
for when I stole forth from my father’s house
I hid me in the Saggit’ry, which is
no kind of place to consummate our vows.
I know the soldier’s life is rough and ready
20 but I would not lie with him where gleams
of candle-light bounced off the shining blades,
tenderness and love have no place there
among the trappings and raiments of war.
Should I have realised then that he was too hot,
25 that his black spleen would turn melancholy
to bitter rage? That he would make love midst the
swords and knives, should that have been a warning
that violence was ne’er far from his mind?
I know not, now, what I should have done, then,
30 but I followed him to Cyprus so that we
could be together as man and wife should be.
The sailors were not happy to have a woman
on board their ship, it was bad luck they thought,
but I became their lucky charm, and the
35 rude winds did seem to send us on our way
as smooth as babies in their cradle rock’d -
as though the ship had some maternal feeling
and tenderly did keep us far from harm
like a nurse who wraps a babe in swaddling
40 to keep it safe and sound, and yet still
I was afeared to plunge into the maine
and sink beneath the waves to wat’ry doom
with his strong arms not there to pluck me out
and hold me safe upon the sturdy planks.
45 And on arriving safe in Cyprus, more
heart-ache to find my lord had not arrived
and no news of his barque upon the waves -
I fearèd him forever lost, all hands
gone down – all hope gone I would wait in vain.
50 I hid my fear in courtesy and talked
overmuch with Cassio, it was
bordering on immodesty but I
assay’d only to hide my crippled heart
and impious fear that harm had come to him.
55 I could not bear to lose what I had so
newly won, and won at such a price
that I was now alone in strange comp’ny,
I forsook my country and my friends,
my father and my home, my way of life
60 to be a soldier’s bride and go with him.
So when my dear Othello disembarked
upon the tempest-tossed sweet shore of Cyprus
and held me close in welcome and relief
I stayed within the circle of his arms
65 and felt his words come rumbling from his chest
as he briefly told the story of their voyage.
His arms were as a cage but one where I
was willing pris’ner with no will to stray,
a bird so tame that even if the cage
70 were totally removed I’d have no wish
at all to fly away. No lime was needed
to keep me in that trap where I was mistress
of his moods and tempers and his love.
When he arrived I laced my slender fingers
75 inbetween his batte-hardened knuckles,
and marvelled at the contrast of our skin.
The first time that he took my hand in his
I tried to scrape the black away with my
little finger nail, to see what was ’neath
80 that ebony. He saw me scrape and felt
my foolish hand in his, he laughed and said
‘No sword has been forgèd that could do what
your little nail assays,’ and yet I always
think on if the sun had not beat down
85 so fierce on him if he would be as pale
as other men, as me who they call ‘fair’.
I cannot help but wonder sometimes if my
father was not right in thinking that he
bewitchèd me to make me fall so hard.
90 The moment that he ope’d his mouth I was
helpless. It was love at first sound not at first sight, although his dark-skinned visage
was not a fearful or unpleasant sight.
His stories made me cry alone for him,
95 that such a man should be so cruelly torn
from his homeland and his loving people. And yet I know that I enchanted him
at least as much as he enthrallèd me!
‘The captain’s captain’, they called me in jest
100 and while we wouldn’t discuss affairs of state
the small decisions were mine to make and he
was ruled by me, content if I were content.
Is that where he began to stray to madness?
To be ruled by one’s wife could be a heavy
105 load to bear, and yet were we not made
from Adam’s rib to be of comfort and of
help to all mankind? And should we then
not make our feelings known when all would be
more peaceful if we women were given
110 a little more free rein and time to speak?
He was so respected that giving in to me
in such small matter as Cassio’s transgression
would not have made a blot at all on his
spotless copy book, for all the men
115 looked up to him and learned to see beyond
the dark and diff’rent colour of his skin
to the great leader and the man within.
Posts tagged ‘Desdemona’
To die upon my wedding sheets does have