Biting Your Nails in Aquitaine

Funny the stuff that sticks in your head. At Groton School I played the third priest in a production of T.S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral, directed by Carl Tucker, who also played the part of Thomas Becket.

Philip Kunhardt the third also turned in a stellar performance as the Inquisitor and Peter Williamson, ditto, as one of the killer knights — the loquacious one.

The third priest has a heck of an invocation at the end, speaking of Becket’s killers, including King Henry:

“Go, weak sad men, lost erring souls, homeless in earth or heaven.
Go where the sunset reddens the last grey rock
Of Brittany, or the Gates of Hercules.
Go venture shipwreck on the sullen coasts
Where blackamoors make captive Christian men;
Go to the northern seas confined with ice
Where the dead breath makes numb the hand, makes dull the brain;

Find an oasis in the desert sun,
Go seek alliance with the heathen Saracen,
To share his filthy rites, and try to snatch
Forgetfulness in his libidinous courts,
Oblivion in the fountain by the date tree;

Or sit and bite your nails in Aquitaine.
In the small circle of pain within the skill
You still shall tramp and tread one endless round
Of thought, to justify your actions to yourselves,
Weaving a fiction which unravels as you weave,
Pacing forever in the hell of make-believe
Which never is belief: this is your fate on earth
And we must think no further of you.”

Looking back on it today, I guess I’d have to go with the part about snatching forgetfulness in the libinous courts of the heathen saracen. I’d like to take a shot at that one.