Prologue and first act of a love drama in verse (sort of): On a Winter's Night.
Two strangers in overcoats and hats on a foggy night. It is hard to tell who the man is and who the woman until they speak. They are standing still, not quite face to face, but looking past each other, into the distance.
If on a winter's night I were
To come to a place where there were no room
To lie myself down in or to hold
My feelings in my hands to look at them afresh:
What should I do?
If on a winter's night someone
Were to come and hold me in his arms
As if I were his feelings he were caressing:
What should I do?
It is a winter's night and I
Am quite well far away from it.
It must be a winter's night and you
Must be here where I think you should.
Enter the two from opposite ends. They move uncertainly about in the fog awhile before they brush each other.
Oh, excuse me!
Not at all! Entirely my fault.
No, I should have called.
In such foggy nights as this
It is useful to either shout or hiss
To signify one's approach.
Let me a different matter broach:
Are you looking for someone?
How do you mean?
How does anyone mean what they mean?
They take it on good faith
That what they think they mean
Must be really what they mean.
Don't you think?
I don't know
If I would go so far as that. (pause)
I'm looking for a man with a hat.
A man, did you say?
A man, is what I said.
It is curious that you say that.
I was told here to come
To find a woman in a hat.
The woman removes her hat. Her hair, dimly seen, fall down.
Man: (murmuring, as if quoting from memory)
Your beauty shines like the stars at night
An awe-struck, awe-inspiring sight…
Excuse me, did you… say something?
Nothing. Only the insistent ring
Of lovely, lonely lines in my head.
You know, when I lie in bed
At nights that are too beautiful to bear
I have dreams and visions of fear
I have nightmares of ghastly dread. …
But I digress.
Those were mere lines of poetry
Usually quoted under stress.
Ah, a poet, are you?
Not I, my lady, not I
Says he, with a desolate sigh.
No, 'tis a friend of mine has the honour
Of being a complete nut and goner.
Not I, my lady, not I.
I wouldn't dare to try to make you sigh
With a love you cannot hold.
Oh come, come. Enough of that!
A poet's a poet though he changes his hat.
The man takes off his hat.
A poet's what makes a woman faint
And frees her from the worldly taint.
I'm a poet myself, you know
Though far from laying the gentlemen low
With the depth of my emotions. (pause, change of tone)
Men appear to have queer notions
Of what a woman's to do.
Madam, what you say is true.
But here's my hat.
In exchange may I have that?
They exchange hats.
Now I am you and you are I
And no witness except this sleeping sky.
No witness except this fog, dear sir.
You are a poet and I a blur
Receding on the horizon.
I was told to come find a woman in a hat
Wonder why life's so complicated as that.