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April 29, 1939 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1939-04-29
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V V 'I-

page Fo uq



SA-;VONAROLA " by Wallace Bacon


(EDITOR'S NOTE: Savonarola was a Florentine priest of the fifteenth century whose religi-
ous fervor amounted to fanaticism. The Medici family for centuries had ruled Florence.
They were the object of ceaseless attacks on the part of this priest who accused them of
profligacy and grossness. The ,following scene from Mr. Bacon's play is based on a legend
surrounding the death of Lorenzo Medici.)
(The home of Lorenzo de Medici, some time later. The room, a bedroom, is richly
furnished, in contrast with the severe furnishings of the convent San Marco. We see
only a portion of the chamber-that part which is occupied largely by a curtained
bed, the curtains drawn. Candles burn in the room, and two women are kneeling in
prayer. GENNAZANO comes in softly and speaks to one of the women, who rises.)
Gennazano. How is your master?
Woman Sleeping, yet not well.
Gennazano. What do the doctors say?
Winan. He cannot live.
Gdennazano. And does he know?
Weman. He could not help but know. One does not send for priests when he is sure
the morning will come in his eyes again.
Gennazano. What do you mean-one does not send for priests?
Woian. My lord Lorenzo asked for Savonarola.
dennazano. For him? For him above all others? Why?
Woman. Because it's he alone in Florence now whose prayers have answers from
the sky beyond. I tell you I have seen divinity within his face when in the Duomo
he cries out the wrath of God upon our state. There is a spire of faith which reaches
out from man to his eternity, when love and trust provide the singing for one's
Gennazalno. O blessed hypocrisy! Can you believe there's anything but vile am-
bition there? The man's a mad one. Who but madmen think heaven has time to
answer to their cries?
Wcman. Lorenzo has not long to breathe, but he has sent for Savonarola. He of
all who doubted wa the strongest in his doubt.
Gennazano. It is his sickness. I must speak with him.
Woman. You must not. Not even his son Piero may, and least of all you who have
business at heart.
Genntzano. It is a business touching on his wealth.
Woman. What has a man to do with hammered gold when there is music in his
ears, and death has drawn-him close and sings to him? Oh no, this business has
been fatal to him now.
(She goes back to her prayers. The door; in the left wall, opens again, and PIERO,
LORENZO's son, enters. He is young, fastidious.)
Gennazano. You come fast upon my need, Piero. He has sent for Savonarola.
Piero. Don't I know? I was the one to walk the weary way and bring the bedeviled
Gennazano. You?
Picro. Yes, My God, I'm tired. And I was at my painting when they made me go-
because an old sick man was half afraid to die. Why should I stay and grace a
dying chamber while there are so many little pleasures for one's time?
Gennazano. He's coming-Savonarola?
Piero. Yes. My God, are you afraid of him?
Gennazano. H'e showed no doubt when first you asked him?
Piero. Yes, he cooled his heels about the garden for a while, and prayed-but then
he prays at evrything. I had a bunch or two of grapes while I was waiting. Then
finally he bore his bleak face in and said he'd come.
Gennazano. How long before he'll come?
Piero. I didn't ask, and didn't give a damn. I hope he's here before the old man
dies. I expect it's easier to die confessed, although in either case-. My God, it's
quiet !
Gernazano. We'll see. (He starts for the bed)
Woman. (Restraining) You must not.
Gennazano. Get out of my way. (He goes up to the bed, pulls the curtains. LOR-
ENZO is half propped up on pillows, and is awake) Why have you called that
monk to you?
Lorenzo. You'll see, Gennazano, when you are about to die.
Gennazano. But there are things that run so in the mind-his hatred of you and
ofeme. The man has more compassion in him than is good for us and for our
Lorenzo. Have no fear. As long as there is money in our hands we are the masters
here in Florence. Yes, with zeal and all the valor he can lend, his cause will go
down fruitless while we have gold things that touch the hand. The heart is slow to
feel reward.
Gennazano. You believe you are-to die?
Lorenzo. There is no doubting it.
Gennazano. And what of me?
Lorenzo. You've learned your place, my friend, and how to fill it. I have no fears
for you. But by the God whom I may come to, let me not despair when I am dead
to see you overcome this man from San Marco. Drag him to the earth and crush him
where they'll spit upon his blood. I hate him with a beauty in my hatred, and you
have come with me too far, my friend, to go back smiling to him.
Gennaano. Yes, by God, and will go farther when you leave me, for I join you in
your hatred, clasp your hand over his blood, and feel my body race with longing
to break his visions upon the rack. Give me the ropes and let me string him up until
he shrieks denial of his Lord. All that I've worked for he would take from me be-
cause I've gone by darkened way a little. Had I not been content to use the knife
where knife was necessary, it would be I down there upon the hills where he said
men were animal because we hold the leash. Why, I would be a fool ever to think
those men would love me-or that I'd love them. We've things to hold to, you and
?. No heart that sings to pity ever can control the waving sympathies of Florentines.
oreizo; You have it in you, Gennazano-the will to rule, as I have held it in me
all these years. Don't give it up without a fighting for,
enuazano. Then why have you sent for him?
Larenz. Because I die, and I am not so sure about this life and what fulfills it.
He has served his God by way of prayer, and by the mother church has power to
grant me absolution. He of all who grant it has the greatest will to do the right.
Gennazano. He'll flaunt it in your face. Not even death will quiet him.
omenzsWe'l see, There's hope that Borgia wins the papacy. Whatever happens,
promise me this now-Watch over my son Piero, for he's young and apt to
stumble where the road is rough. Breathe with a bitter breath upon the love this
tavonarola promises his people.Bleed till you drop, but yield not to him.
Ge kzano. Yes, I promise this-all this by twenty times. I'll lay his body at your
tomb one day and say, "I've kept the promise of my love."

Lorenzo, Go then, and wait outside until hes gone. Then come to me again. I
would not die till you are by me.
Gennazano. Very well Il go. (He goes out, left. PIERO calls him as he pulls the
curtains about the bed) ,
Piero. Why don't you stay and talk with me a while? There's nothing else for me
to do in here. (GENNAZANO leaves without speaking. PIERO sighs heavily, looks
at the two women who are praying quietly, goes to the window in the right wall,
and looks out. He starts to whistle, then catches himself, and is silent. He shrugs
his shoulders, leans against the window casing as the door opens and SAVONAROLA,
enters. Immediately the two women cease their prayers and rise, withdrawing to a
corner upstage behind the bed. PIERO turns.)
Piero. Oh, you.
Savonarola. I'll see him now.
Piero. He needs his rest.
Savonarola. There will be time for resting. Pull the curtain.
(One of the women comes down quietly and draws the curtain back from the
bed. LORENZO looks out.)
Savonarola. You knew I'd come?
Lorenzo. I knew no man of God would fail a sick man in his need.
Savonarola. It took a little blinding of my own desire.
Lorenzo. Piero. go. You women with your prayers-go, all of you. Your prayers
do me no good. (The women and PIERO leave the room, PIERO taking his own
time about it. SAVONAROLA stands silently beside the bed.) Will you sit down?
Savonarola. I shall not stay so long. Tell me your business now. There is no need
for policy between us.
Lorenzo. I am ill and ill to death. I ask that you will hear confession from my lips
before I die,
Savonarola. Your heart has changed?
Lorenzo. My heart has changed, I think.
Savonarola. You swear it is not that you are afraid?
Lorenzo. I swear it. is not that I am afraid.
Savonarola. You'll have the chance to prove it ere you die
Lorenzo. You've been my enemy.
Savonarola. And you know why.
Lorenzo. Because I have been rich-and you've been poor.
Savonarola. You speak of silver when your lips are numb with death, and when
your fingers nnot hold so much as a single florin.
Lorenzo. Should I not'? Don't all men envy what I've gathered here?
Savonarola. Find me the man who envies what you've gathered-a wealth of
sicknesses, and now you die before your time.
Lorenzo. I'm not so sure I die.
Savonarola. Why do you send for me?
Lorenzo. (Crying out) Oh yes, I die! But I am not afraid.
Savonarola. Find me the man who'd take your sickbed for the wealth you've
won. No man nor woman either but would live upon the very earth and drink
the rain rather than die for you and all your gold. (He goes to the window).
What would you give to stand where I now stand and look upon the sun (pulling
the curtain back) and feel it warm!
What would you give to feel your breath go deep and purge the pestilence clean
from your lungs? No, no man envies what you've gathered here.
Lorenzo. (Angrily) I sent me for a priest-but you have come and robbed me of
my quietness. Then go, and take your absolution. Send me a priest.
Savonarola. I am a priest. And more, I am a man who prays for men, and suffers
in their sin. Why did you think it would be easy now when all your life you've
made it doubly hard? Why did you send for me of all the men in Florence who
might hear your penitence?
Lorenzo.. .Because-because you are the best.
Savonarola. Oh no! You cannot pay for absolution though you've all the world
in silver. I come not at so many ducats for a blessing that you buy heaven. No,
you have in mind to reconcile me to the things you've done by slobbering in illness.
I can see. All that you have will not be yours for long, and you would get it for
your son before you die. Do you think death will end all this-this that I fight for?
No, there's more at stake.
Lorenzo. What gives a priest the right to meddle with things that concern him not?
Savonarola. I know of none-of no such things which touch the life of men and
yet concern him not?
Lorenzo. You have your prayers, your long novenas, and your daily work. Are
they not great enough to hold your mind to holy matters?
Savonarola.. .What is holier than happiness-than freedom, for all men? God gave
us love, and we have made of it something a little higher than our lust, and far
below our hate. What do you know of love who sit within your gilded house and
mark men out for death because their hopes reach higher in the light than yours?
Lorenzo, you cannot buy a place in men's respect, or not for long. Your son himself
is low in loving you.
Lorenzo. They say you are a God and have dark visions from another hell. What
can you say to that?
Savonarola. (Flashing out) I say it's true that something in my sleep cries out
for stars where only leaden clouds pass in the day. I know that something
grips me in my breast and will not let me rest as other men. I have a vision, and
it is from God! Someday you'll see-when all that I have said comes true for Italy.
Some conqueror will come upon her vineyards And press out the rankest venom and
unite her people. This cannot be so long as men like you, such petty tyrants, in
your little minds have pictures of a vale of luxury and say "To hell with Florence!"'
Lorenzo. (Flatly, after a silence) You will go and let me die unshriven?
Savonarola. Make your peace with God now, if you will. I shall remain,
Lorenzo. (Sitting up) But if it is too late-well, what's the use of bending to you?
God, but it is hard to keep out hate of you. Yes, even now when I would ask for
quietness in death.
Savonarola. Then shall I go?
Lorenzo. (Falling back, exhausted) Tell me, is it too late for making peace with
Savonarola. It is not late.
Lorenzo. Then come to me. (SAVONAROLA goes to him, kneels beside the bed,
takes his hand) No man has said me nay in all the years of my life, My God
can do no less Hf I do ask Him.
Savonarola. Ask Him, Ask.
Lorenzo. Three things there are I would confess to dim.
(Continued on Page 10)

Paris. Among the writers in the first
issue -were Andre Breton, Louis Aragon,
gaul Eluard, Robert Desnos, Philipp6
Soupault, Joseph Delteil and Andre Mas-
son. Surrealism had, in reality, three
founders; Breton; Eluard and Soupault.
Of these, two were physicians and neur-
ological specialists, interested in the
psychic and the sub-conscious and un-
conscious life, and in the labors of such
men as Freud and Bergson.
The date 1924 does not represent the
first attempts of the surrealists, but
only the beginning of the movement as
such. As early as 1921 Breton and Sou-
palt published a surrealist volume en-
titled "Les Champs Magnetiques." Later,
Soupault said of that book, "It was at
that period that Andre Breton and I
discovered this process (at that moment
we regarded it as but a process) which
we named, in honor of Guillaume Appol-
linaire 'surrealism.' We determined to
make use of this manner of writing in
getting out a book in a couple of weeks."
This discovery was that part of surreal-
ism known as "automatic writing."
As Soupault's remarks would lead one
to believe,- the term surrealist was first
used by Appollinaire. In 1917, when he
published his play "Les Mamelles de Tir-
esias" he subtitled it "Drama Surreal-
With these beginnings, surrealism
grew rapidly. Becoming powerful in
Paris, its influence was felt in Germany,
England, Spain and Italy. It came to the
United States in the early thirties, and
the first surrealist exhibition in this
country was held in New York, at the
Julien Levy Gallery during January,

through painting symbolist figures of
the impressionist type. The founder of
creationism is Vincent Huidobro, a Chi-
lean, who no* lives and works in Paris.
The following is an excerpt from his
"Song of the Egg and the Infinite":
The city flees in a gallop of words
It fears
Pincers of the trees and
hands of the night
The soul takes flight with the body
hitched behind
The soul lined with feathers and
transparent comets
When the tongue's treadle imitates
the sea
And a bird flies between the banks
of memory
Because it has a child that has lost
its memory.
* * *, * *

punished for?" she inquired. "Are dates
a kind of penalty?"
"Why no," one of the girls replied
laughingly. "Dates come under the head
of pleasure."
"But if they're not going to have a
good time, why don't they stay home?"
"Stay home!" The girl was horrified.
"This is Friday. Nobody stays home on
a Friday night."
"Things are getting curiouser and curi-
ouser," said Alice.
Just then she heard a horrible buzz-

(Continued from Page 3)

Whither surrealism?
die a sadden death, as

Is it doomed to
dada? Will it

gain for itself a place in the sun, so
that future generations will refer to the
eras of classicism, romanticism, realism
and surrealism? Or is it, in itself, just a
stepping stone to the fourth era?
Opinions differ widely on the first
point. Julien Levy and other sympa-
thizers, predict a future much greater
in scope than any similar movement.
Other voices say that surrealist paint-
ing is dead already, but infer that sur-
realist literature will live. Still others,
mostly Americans, see the entire move-
ment as a fake, already dead abroad,
resurrected in this country by "sham
salesmen" and the efforts of newcomer
Salvador Dali.
One may point to the number of sur-
realist exhibitions being held all over
the world as an indication of the present
popularity of the movement. Again,
the growing use of surrealism in adver-
tising presents a fair indication, for sur-
realist art is now selling soap, wine, furs,
perfume, dresses, shoes and magazines.
The up-swept hair-do and the chaotic
hats (?) our women folk are now seen
under may be traced to the surrealist
It is interesting to speculate on the
results should surrealism become a le-
gitimate movement as powerful as the
realistic movement of the early part
of this centUry. Should surrealism af-
feet the play, the politics, even the be-
havior of mankind as the surrealists
predict, what will come of it? Breton
provokes thought in saying
Whatever reservations I might be
inclined to make with regard to re-
sponsibility in general, I should
quite particularly like to know how
will be adjucated the first misde-
meanors whose surrealist charac-
ter is indubitable. When surrealist
methods extend from writing to
action there will certainly arise the
need of a new morality to take the
place of the current one, the cause
of all our woe.
Surrealism is already the parent,
proud or otherwise, of two offspring,
postsurrealismn and creationism. It is
interesting to note, and perhaps signifi-
cant, that both attempt to produce the
same sort of result as surrealism through
intellectual methods. They are stylists
ir the surrealist form. The postsurreal-
ists form an American group led by
Lorser Feitelson, a Californian. They
are a small group expressing their ideas


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As Alice an
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"There's no
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She grabbe
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ed Cheshire C

(Continued from Page 1)

gan to run through the crowd, he walked
faster, jostling and pushing the people
about him. He felt a sudden madness.
seeming to see her face in front of him
still, even though she ran with her
back toward him.' He shouted, "Ellen!
ELLEN!" running headlong. He fell to
the ground heavily, but got up quickly,
running blindly into the people stand-
ing in his way. He still saw the face
in front of him, too distant to touch and
fast disappearing. He tried to touch
the face with his hands, just to feel the
-friendly flesh. Sweat streamed down
his face, plastering the black hair to
his wet forehead. Suddenly he began
to feel the staring eyes of the crowd and
ran out into the darkness, away from
the carnival and the lights. He ran
into the dark and cool fields, the wet
grass whipping about his ankles. He
ran out on the highway, seeing the
headlights of a car coming toward him.
Turning, he began to run toward the
headlights, his fists thrust out before
him, as if he sought to stop them with
the power of his own body. The car
.swiftly came closer. its headlights shin-
mg on the boy as he stood with his
arms stretched out in front of him.
There was a squeal of tires gripping
the dry .concrete; the car stopped only
a few feet away. He ran toward it,
pounding the sharp grilled radiator
madly with his fists until they were raw
and bleeding; then he dashed into the
fields again. The people in the car
were shouting, "Hey, You! Come back
here. What's wrong with you, you damn
fool, you want to get yourself killed?"
He heard the voices clearly, although
they were already faint with the inter-

vening distance; he was still running,
still fearing the voices and the crowd.
He ran headlong into a low hedge and
lay motionless in its resilient branches.
His head hung loosely downward, the
blood beating against the metal plate.
He was crying now, with his head hang-
ing down. scratched by the sharp twigs.
When he awoke he began to walk
aimlessly, his Joints stiff with the early
morning cold. He walked slowly down
the familiar road, feeling the friendly
sand and gravel of the driveway into
the farm. He walked into the house
noisily, slamming the front door.
When he looked up the stairway, he
could see his mother standing on the
landing above, framed vaguely in the
half light of the window behind her.
In the dark he could not see her face;
as she walked toward him he began to
ascend the stairs. Her arms out-
stretched, she placed her hands on his
shoulders as they met, pushing him
down gently so that they sat beside each
other. She caressed the scar on his
head tenderly, rubbing her fingers back
and forth in his hair. He could see
his father on the landing now, looking
down at them, motionless. Tired, he
relaxed his muscles and leaned back
on the stairs, trying to see his mother's
face. Unable to see her, he reached out
impulsively and touched her cheek,
fondlingthe skin with the tips of his
fingers, his mind full with the simple
sensuous joy of the touch. He began
to pinch the cheek, at first gently, then
harder, until he felt the sharp slap
on his cheek. She slapped him again,
with regular punishing blows, but with-
out moving away from him. She placed
her arms about his head, holding it
against the worn soft felt of her bath-
robe, rocking back and forth until he
fell asleep.

* * * * .

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