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I have come to know thy choice. If thou hast chosen well, I mean if thou dost wish to live and rule, I am ready. Swift action will remove all obstacles this very night, and make me king. And then, as I have promised thee, a new era shall dawn: Akhnaton’s second reign . . . and thine. If not, Neferhetep is not a man to wait. Neither is the present king. Their orders I shall execute. Thou knowest what this means.


I know. I have chosen to die. Be it a cruel death, after long hours of torment, it is better than to be a liar before Him.


Why speakest thou of lying? Who tellest thee to lie? Do I not know thy heart by now? Do I not know that thou canst never love me? And yet, with open eyes—for I do love thee so—I offer thee power and domination; I offer thee to make thy King King of this land and of all lands I hope to conquer for His sake. I do not ask thee in return that absolute devotion that thou hast given


Him alone. I only ask of thee to yield dutifully to me, once I have seized the throne and seated thee at my side, a lawful queen.


But that alone would be a lie. For where there is no love, there is no duty either. Obedience, in that case, would mean . . . venality . . . an ugly thing.


Perhaps. But if the given price be the fulfilment of the dreams of Him Whom thou adorest?


He sought spotless perfection, and success He never would have bought at the cost of a stain.


That is the reason why oblivion is His lot. Thou couldst, if thou so wilt, cancel for Him that fate. Thou couldst make Him a God—and thou refusest.


Yes, I refuse. Gods come and go. Greater than all the gods is that imperturbable beauty which shines in a sincere life; that hidden harmony between thought, sentiment and action, that makes the dying artist feel he regrets nothing.

O my King, although this life is sweet; although sunshine is beautiful, I too, regret nothing! The consciousness of Thine uncompromising beauty has saved me from vain glory’s snare.

Oh, let the vulgar crowds of men, now and in times to come, praise gods of their own making


and never know Thee! But at least let the unwritten history of my love for Thee remain a spotless thing for ever—soon forgotten; and yet as true as Thine own divine history.


Well, persist in thy madness if thou wilt. My patience has now reached its limits, and my love for thee has turned to hatred. Too long have I showed mercy unto thee, ungrateful fool. Too long have I delayed in carrying out the orders of the High Priest Neferhetep and of our lord the King. I shall delay no more. I hate thee! And I hate that “heretic,” that “criminal,” that public, enemy, on whom, though dead, thou lavishest the treasures of thy love. I hate Him! And I will persecute His memory until I die! (To the SOLDIERS, who have not yet appeared on the scene) Hola! Come, soldiers!


I knew thou wouldst. Lust, and not love, had prompted thee to swear that for my sake thou wouldst restore His cult. Thy heart is mean. I am glad I did not fall into thy snare!


And yet how willingly I would have done it all, if thou hadst not rejected me! How much I loved thee! I love thee still, in spite of of all I said. Zetut—for the last time, I entreat thee—do not die! Accept from me a glorious destiny. By thee, thy King shall live through ages as a God. I take an oath on it! Accept, and let us flee. I will do everything I promised. I will! I love thee!



Thou hatest Him at heart. I hate thee! Away with thee! I loathe the sight of thee!

(The SOLDIERS, whom the CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD had called, come upon the scene)


(To the SOLDIERS) Seize her!




(To the CAPTAIN of the GUARD) We sought thee everywhere, O Captain of the Guard, and did not find thee. Why is thy prisoner here? Did she escape, and hast thou been in search of her? And, if so, why was she not better guarded?


(A little embarrassed) No, revered Father; no, she did not try to flee. I have brought her back here myself—under strong guard, as thou canst see—so that she might once more behold the ruins of this place, and know her King lies in the dust at His enemies’ feet.


(Sceptical) She should know that already, I presume. Thy explanation seems of doubtful subtlety. Thou hadst not leisure, evidently, to


invent a better one. Tell me the truth: did anyone bribe thee to bring her here, so that she might escape her doom and flee with former friends of hers?


I have taken no bribe. That much I can assure.


Then why do we find thee and thy prisoner here, of all places?

(The CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD keeps silent)

Answer—by all the gods!


I have spoken.


I shall have to investigate into thy case; and I hope to discover what hidden motive prompted thee to draw thy prisoner out of the pit before orders were given thee. But why not ask the prisoner herself? (To ZETUT-NEFERU-ATON) Dost thou confess having escaped?


No. If thou wilt believe me (and truth is breath of life to me) I can assure thee in all sincerity I never thought of shunning death. Too glad am I, indeed, to end a life of love in glory; and far too proud am I to be my King’s only disciple not utterly unworthy of Him.



I knew it. I believe thee. For although thou hast been sadly misled, thy heart is without guile. It is only a pity that thou hast shown such mad obstinacy, and been, in speech and deed, so irretrievably rash.


Of all I said or did, I regret nothing.


Thou hast done nothing, but to stand in vain against forces more powerful than thee. Protected by the mighty gods, Neferhetep will rise this very night from the couch where he rests. Thy feeble hand has not succeeded even in wounding him. A scratch upon the desert’s sands, a sword-thrust in the sea, that is thy whole achievement. Only an awful fate thou hast brought down upon thyself.


(The same; SEBEKHETEP)


(Running in) The time has come. Neferhetep, impatient of delay, sends me to seek the prisoner. Pharaoh himself—Life! Health! Prosperity to him for ever!—has shuddered at the report of her deed, and ordered she should be dealt with at once.


All will be over soon. Inform Neferhetep that I am here. Both Pharaoh’s orders and his own, within an hour will be carried out. I shall see to it.


Just go, and say, “Within an hour or so, no living soul praising the ‘heretic’ will any longer breathe under the Sun.” Go. We are coming.

But perhaps, sooner than we expect, new traitors will be tried and chastised.


More worshippers of Aton?


Not necessarily. There are traitors of different kinds. But trouble not thy head about this arduous matter. Wait for us near the entrance of the pit. It is on our way.


I hear thy command and obey, revered minister of Amon.


(Aside, low, to ZETUT-NEFERU-ATON) Accursed one!

(SEBEKHETEP walks out)




Art thou ready? What is this man saying to thee?


Nothing. He is only cursing me. Many others have cursed the exalted Lord of Truth, Who never


compromised. I am proud that my King’s foes hate me also. One hates only the strong.


The strong? What strength hast thou? Thou art a foolish child, attempting to hold back the mighty rising Nile within its banks. But on the waters flow—the divine waters sent to feed the golden fields of Egypt, the gift of heaven to mankind. Their rising level reaches thee, submerges thee. No man can set his feeble force against their roaring tide. In the same way, no one individual can stand alone against the priestly power, resting upon the nature of man and given us for man’s comfort and gradual enlightenment; no one individual can stand alone against the people’s customs, defying that Which centuries have sanctioned and made strong; no one individual can crush the people’s aspiration for a safe teaching, leading’ them along the dreary path of daily anxiety and toil with hopes of final peace-along the dreary path, into the dreaded mystery of death, with hopes of happiness. The one who dreams of doing so is an enemy of man. Be he a chief, whose sword is feared, or even more be he, as the “criminal” was, an Emperor whose word is law, he always ends by being himself crushed.


For the time being. But ultimately, who knows?

Slow, slow, extremely slow, unseen and silent are the forces that govern all things—and yet, as irresistible as death. There was a time when the great Sea covered those plains where now corn


grows. Who knows what new creation is imperceptibly taking its shape within this one? Only the everlasting Laws are free from change. And those alone who live in worshipping the beauty they reveal are sure of immortality.

My divine King hath lived and sung and thought and taught and acted, not for an easily-won success, in a future of which the glimmering outlines could be seen immediately, but for the one sole joy of being in tune with His true nature, and thus of being, in fact, what other Pharaohs are merely in name: the Sun’s own Son, the Chosen One of hidden Energy—Heat which is Light; Light which is Heat; the Individual Who feels the rhythm of the whole Universe within His nerves; the Man Who has transcended man.


And yet, within an hour, where will His Teaching be? Where will that lofty consciousness of which thou speakest lie? He disdained us, the shepherds of the crowd; the keepers of the wisdom of mankind—man’s truest friends. And now thou diest—His only disciple. And of Him, as well as of thyself, nothing is left.


I die? No, I do not die! Time and space open before me, infinitely. The world is mine, the future is mine—not merely the indestructible reality of this beautiful present moment, ready to fall into the past, and to endure for ever as a fact, but domination over people unborn and ages unforeseen.


O my King, the One Man Who ever shall deserve to be hailed as a God! Thou liest in oblivion, within a desecrated tomb. Men have forgotten Thee. Empires rise and fall, and new nations are born; new teachers come—none, none, not one of them as perfect as Thee. But, they enjoy the world’s loud praise, from sea to sea, while Thee no one remembers. They have altars built up to them, they are called gods, while Thy name is forgotten, Thy Teaching and Thy songs also, and while Thy body, thrown away as an unwanted thing, becomes a skeleton.

Is it all? Is it the end? Is truth to be smothered for ever? Are the easy creeds of fear and hope, the teachings of the weak, the wisdoms of the sick, to usurp the hearts of men, while Thou, the Only-One of the Sun, they know not, and do not love?

The long, long night rolls on . . . until when? Until when? . . . The long, long starless night of a world without Thee—the triumph of Thine enemies.

Not for ever. Wait, my King! Wait, my Love! Wait ten centuries; wait twenty; wait thirty, thirty-five or more. I cannot tell how long. But wait. I will come again. I will come, for my love is stronger than their hatred; stronger than the complete indifference of a world that has forgotten Thee for three or four thousands of years! My love is stronger than the spell of death.

I will come . . . or will it be Someone else? I do not know. It does not matter. I am not a person. I am Love alone—Love of Thee—a Patient and undying Power. That love that burns in me for Thee to-day, one day shall burn again with renewed splendour, and set the world ablaze in the glory of a new dawn. I am that love, whatever form it takes,


whatever heart beats with it. I am the eternal Heart, who feels in Thee the beauty of the Universe.

I will come—never mind after how many ages.

And the wise men of the time shall be my slaves, toiling unknowingly for the coming of Thy day. I will bid them piece together the scattered remnants of Thy City, and they shall do it. And I will bid them break open Thy desecrated abode, and human eyes will see the dry bones that were once Thy mortal form. No one will care. But lo, I will make the dry bones live! I will tell the world Thy divine story, as it happened. I will avenge Thee. I will exalt Thee. In exchange for Thy lost empire, I will give Thee domination over ages to come; over lands unknown to Thee in Thy first life.

Unknown lands . . . isles and continents where men and beasts already adore the Sun, Thy Father, waiting for Thee to teach them the meaning of what they do; and shores where there are yet no men.

Lands of the South: isles of emerald and gold, in midst of phosphorescent waves; isles of perennial summer; burning plains, endless majestic forests full of life; mountains from which a thousand Niles fall with a thunderous roar—I will conquer them all for Thee.

Lands of the North; lands where a bitter wind for ever howls and yells, over ice-bound expanses, under dream-like skies unheard-of here; where months of everlasting daylight alternate with months of everlasting night . . . I will sing Thy glory to them all. I will write Thy praise upon the snows of the furthermost shores, and adore Thee


in the Midnight Sun. I will make Thee truly King of the South and of the North, for ever.

The priests of the man-made gods triumph today. “Thou hast failed,” they say, and they are sure about the future. Once I am dead, they think, there will be no other voice to challenge their victory.

But I will come back! I know not when; but I will come, I, the Lover, I, the Avenger, I, the Future that creates the Past. They triumph. Let them triumph. In ages unforetold—when other teachers will have had their hour of glory, and will all have, in turn, sunk back into oblivion—I will come! And I will teach the last men of North and South to judge this present day as a day of shame for the human race, and to write Thy history as I know it.

I am the love of Thee—stronger than oblivion, stronger than death. I endure beyond the centuries of Thine enemies’ triumph. I press Thy dry bones to my breast, warm, smooth and young for ever, and lo! Thy flesh appears once more upon the bones. Thy heart beats against mine. Thou becomest alive in my embrace. Thou shinest as the Sun, even more brilliantly than thou didst then in Thy brief days of glory.

Lo, renouncing all fear, all weaknesses, all futile hopes, all subtle and misguiding symbols, the last men—the first ones of a reborn race; the wise, the strong, the kind, the happy, who in the end have understood how lovely is this sunlit earth; the few whose words are the last human words, whose judgment is the final judgment—those, I say, are Thy worshippers. I give Thee the globe from pole to pole. I open to Thee the


gates of everlasting Godhead, and follow in the shadow of Thy glory.

Hark!—from the warm, smiling isles of emerald and gold, to the two ever-frozen oceans, the last—and first—voice of the living echoing my voice of to-day: “Hail, Young and Beautiful One, Lord of Truth, like unto the Sun for ever-King of the South, King of the North!”


She has lost her reason.


(To the SOLDIERS) Seize her and drag her to her doom!


(As she leaves the scene, followed by the SOLDIERS.)

Hail Akhnaton, King of the World!


Written in Reykjavik (Iceland)
Completed on the 16th of April, 1947