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APRIL, MAY, JUNE
MAY La, la, la, la &c.
APRIL By heaven, I’m beating the air.
MAY You keep asking in vain, April, Though you keep urging and urging, you’ll never persuade me.
APRIL By your delights, by your verdant graces.
JUNE May, let him convince you, he’s asking so insistently.
MAY You don’t know what he’s asking for.
JUNE Whatever he’s asking for.
MAY Ha, ha, blind probity! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.
APRIL Has nature shown any more reasonable indulgence than that she tempers the mad pleasures of young man with a smidgeon of sadness?
MAY Sooner will you get water from pumice and fire from water than you’ll summon forth even one little tear from my eyes, or a single sigh from my breast.
JUNE Every man’s will drags him where it will.
MAY A man with a palpitating heart, a leaping liver, a smiling brow, are his eyes supposed to be idle, or his voice to howl forth tearful complaints? Hum. (Muttering, he prepares himself for singing.)
APRIL How he exults in every part of his body! What his heart has whelped, his mouth conceived, his lips organized, his little white teeth fashioned, his tongue midwifed, from its position his voice will bring forth into the air.
MAY Come hither, you murmuring nightingales, you deep-sounding crested larks, you blackbirds that whimper among yourselves, you god-greeting herons, you sweet-complaining songbirds, and whatever exists in the feathered choir of forest-dwelling birds, come hither, I say, and join me in caressing the springtime with your little sweet songs. (Immediately the little birds chirp within.) June, I can’t keep from laughing.
JUNE But I would prefer birds which would excite my laughter. [He sings.] Reborn springtime, oh you harbinger of the happy returning year, bringing back the land’s bright color, come here shedding your rosy scents, reborn springtime. Come, the painted birds with their tuneful voice, the garrulous wood will answer you, echo, echo. Your May sweetly greets you with his returning voice, his returning voice.
MAY You birds fall silent. And with your sighs, June, alas, you give an accompaniment. Rather you should be adapting your voice to the little birds’ tunes.
JUNE Really? Come hither, you sweet-whistling swans, you cackling geese, you cooing doves, you clucking hens, you whispering partridges, you croaking quail, and whatever in the world belongs to the feathered army of obstreperous little beasts that gratify the teeth rather than the ears.
APRIL You are wise, June. Delights for the ears without feasts are fasts.
MAY Get away with you! Clear your elegant tables and in all seriousness let us convene a senate to take counsel.
JUNE Good advice, since the birds’ senate has been adjourned.
MAY A senate concerning the devising of an inducement for Saturn, thanks to which he may receive us kindly and with an unfurrowed brow. June, since you are born of younger ancestors, you inaugurate our task with good auspices.
JUNE But I wish to defer to May, who descends from an older stock.
MAY So, April, you open this business for us.
JUNE Well said.
APRIL I, who with sweet warmth and charming rains open the earth’s softened bosom, am rightly called April.
MAY I admit that.
APRIL (April sometimes speaks gaily, sometimes tearfully.) If you want the thing to be done according to my advice, we should present ourselves to Saturn as happy sacrificial priests to the god Laughter.
MAY You are singing as you should.
APRIL But on the other hand a place must be left for sorrows, and the god Sadness is to be worshipped with countervailing tears.
MAY You lunatic!
APRIL Thus the Vernal Equinox advises us, which holds in its equal balance the darkness of rainy night and the sunny day.
MAY Ha, ha, if the famous Marcus Crassus were present, whom they say laughed only once in his life, I believe he would be laughing freely for a second time.
JUNE No, by my solstice, Aristides would gladly give April Astraea’s scales.
MAY How did you divine this, my Solon?
JUNE Don’t you know, you glory of unspoiled springtime, that April rejoices now at clouds, now at a clear sky, now at a stormy troop of rains, now at bright sunbeams, and thus he fertilizes all the land? If this is stored up in the chest of your memory, you know that he balances day and night, the clear and the drear.
MAY You speak in a balanced way, and as befits a scales, you golden darling, you delight and glory of the months. Ye gods! How the greatest wits often lie hidden in obscurity! The rains fall off and on, and so our rejoicings should be alternated with lamentations.
APRIL Why not, May?
MAY So what follows, April?
APRIL So it follows that the gods’ decree is that sorrow should be pleasure’s constant companion.
MAY But there is pleasure in springtime holidays, and gloomy sadness is no pleasure.
APRIL Unless gloomy sadness exists, happiness does not please.
MAY Everything happily indulges its relaxed nature.
APRIL Everything should relax its nature with interspersed spells of grieving.
MAY The sun smiles, and has driven away the winter clouds.
APRIL In the morning the sun drinks up the dew, but at night it is plunged into the ocean.
MAY The mountains are covered with flowers, crowned with cool forests.
APRIL Springs shoot their water high when the water’s movement has been interrupted.
MAY The valleys are verdant, clad in flowery grass.
APRIL But sad streams water the verdant valleys.
MAY Hanging leaves grow thick on the happy trees.
APRIL Thick tears slowly flow from trees.
MAY The air is sweetly caressed by blowing winds.
APRIL Clouds pregnant with storm are driven by winds.
MAY Philomela sweetens the airs with her happy little voice.
APRIL But Philomela is bewailing lewd Tereus’ crime.
JUNE Stop it, “you’ve earned the calf, and so has he.” Good heavens, you’ve competed enough, I am quite undecided whether to become a devotee of Democritus or of Heraclitus.
MAY April, there’s need for timely lamentation.
JUNE May, there’s a need for playing nature.
MAY June, there’s a need for braying nature.
APRIL By heaven, the man who is always at play and never feels sorrow is wretchedly deceived.
MAY Ha, ha, then let the Muses and also the Graces bar me from their rites forever, since I am a rebel and devote myself to games. I would prefer to be dead and buried than live half my life in sorrow. June, you cast your vote to restore peace between us.
JUNE Shall I speak or keep silence?
MAY Speak up.
JUNE I have remembered many things and been long plunged in thought, a counsel convened in my heart, and I have seriously pondered this matter. And the more I turn it over in my heart, the more anxious my mind becomes, it has so jarred me in my extreme senses.
MAY June approves of the ruminant beasts. Each day a beast brings forth today what he grazed upon yesterday, so that he won’t regret it tomorrow. Pray explain yourself. I have spoken my mind (June stretches out his arms.)
JUNE If you had spoken it, you would scarcely have spoken it again.
MAY This man is a dealer in spices, he speaks pungently.
APRIL Move on to the rest, June.
JUNE I used to be of your young age and of your habits, and I earnestly worshipped the gods that you do, but, like a plant of the summer solstice, I quickly grew up and quickly wilted. My springtime flower faded down to my belly-button. I came under the influence of retrograde age, now Cancer rules me.
MAY A silly half-man, he only grew to his belly-button.
JUNE Their pursuits altered, my age and my adult mind seek aid.
MAY Woe’s me, I’m being killed. Put it in a few words.
APRIL Scorn this trifler and bring forth what you’ve gathered.
JUNE May, you’re too unruly.
MAY Good, I have a Milo to imitate, I recently lifted a calf, now I don’t refuse the bull. (He points at April.) Go ahead, attack me with your horn.
JUNE I don’t like the opinions of austere men, who begrudge others the pleasures they themselves cannot enjoy.
MAY Well said.
JUNE But I greatly dislike the mad ways of young men, who busily set traps of pleasures for others, although they themselves live unsnared.
JUNE June seeks out shades, the strong moderate things. I go my way, equally protected against clouds and sunshine, thus I congratulate myself within. I admit that April is rainy, but harmful to nobody. You, May, are radiant with flowers and you shine greatly. You are like gold, which is a useful thing for many careful men, but gives false persuasion to many others.
APRIL He puts his finger on the thing.
MAY Indeed, June abounds in all grace, and it would be a wonder if he should not consume all his grace. Is this which made your mind anxious as you were brooding?
JUNE I have not yet come to the heart of the matter.
MAY Goods, cut short your fancy talk, unless you’d prefer to kill me with your chatter.
JUNE Then understand this. Nature has created two eyes for tears, one face for vision, and so gave grace to the Muses. What could be more brief, more terse?
MAY Continue, but comically.
JUNE What more Laconic?
APRIL What more plain-spoken?
MAY What more thoughtful.
JUNE What more elegant?
MAY Nothing muddier.
APRIL What more worthy of Apollo?
MAY When the oracles have returned to earth, by your deserts you can stake a claim on Dodona.
JUNE I like that.
MAY For you have a head of oak.
JUNE You mock me? You do a better job of playing the prophet better, little boy.
MAY If I ward off your club with mine, and refute your argument, will you surrender yourself as a captive to me and the springtime Graces?
JUNE Justice demands that.
MAY You promise?
JUNE I promise.
MAY Then understand this. Nature has created two eyes for tears, but a pair of lips keeping their place, a heaven of a face, two crowded rows of teeth, the breath of life itself, and lastly all the organs that equally serve speech and laughter, and therefore she has given grace to the Muses. What could be more terse? What could be more copious?
JUNE April, is he babbling truth or falsehood?
APRIL Truth, but falsified.
JUNE Since speech and laughter are twin brothers.
MAY You understand.
JUNE Give me your hand, I pledge whatever remains of my life to serve in your camp.
MAY You will serve under good auspices.
JUNE (Beating his breast) Oh, I’m a gourd-head, at my age I’ve been such a fool, nor until now have I excavated the secret chambers which lay hidden below.
MAY In the future, we shall hope he’ll excavate little gourds.
JUNE But will any visible animal want to meet him? (He goes to the apron of the stage with arms outstretched.) Look at him.
APRIL By heavens, with Nature as his guide he is seeking to subdue the summer heat with laughter.
MAY Why are we waiting, June?
JUNE Command me as you will, my May, you honey of honeys, you celestial diamond, you emerald, you beryl, you magnet, you unique fellow.
APRIL How he babbles about unique iron!
MAY With what enticements do you advise us to greet Saturn?
JUNE With songs, dances, games, and the thousand pleasant sports of May.
MAY Ha, ha, he. A foursquare gentleman in my opinion, not a fellow who holds too fast to his own opinion, or a only-himself-obeying man. The sun turns back in its course, and so he earnestly seeks to regain the pleasures he has tasted as a youth, for the sake of Voice and Laughter, those twin brothers. Now we have enticed him to Laughter’s twin brother. Come, my June, into the ivy, into the ivy, let its arms bind you in its embraces. Hang me if we won’t play fine games. But tell me, for what prize do you advise us to play our games.
JUNE An agreeable quality: I shall seek the pleasures of greeny May.
APRIL The festive fellow!
MAY Agreed. And I shall seek lilies, let them flourish in an eternal springtime.
MAY For spring is not truly spring without lilies.
JUNE April, calm your eyes, you refuse in vain, since when the tranquil times are poking fun at the cloudy, let your mind now be free for laughter, and afterward for sorrow.
APRIL I am captivated by your example, I have no tongue to refuse.
JUNE We lead life according to fine examples rather than reason. We are bested. For the rest, May, let us finish weaving the fabric we began.
MAY Thus, thus we should. Now, May, you darling of the months and uniquely beloved to the people, you whom the springtime showers and summer heats obey, you for whom the pleasant sun sheds moderate beams, you for whom the earth has woven a carpet strewn with flowers to walk upon, you whom the forests greet with their fragrance and the birds with their song, what are you considering? Why not weave triumphal garlands? Io, why not fly? Are you eager, are you dancing? Why not fill the air with a jubilant voice? Come hither, you zephyrs, you westerlies, and all you sweet little breezes, come flying here quickly on your tireless wings, and breathe upon my song (Offstage the winds whistle, and soon they all sing.)
MAY Now the gentle wind blows, and Flora embraces May. Ta na na na na no &c. Let us playful children of springtime mix our song with serious things. Ta na na na na no &c.
APRIL April drips his dews, thanks to which May’s flowers grow green. Ta na na na na no &c Therefore in turns let us mix weeping with our sports. Ta na na na na no &c.
JUNE But June urges shades, as the sun inclines towards the waves Ta na na na na no &c. Io, let us lead happy dances, our age is passing by. Ta na na na na no &c.
Go to Act III