Category Archives: Malmaison


As a living poet I have always held a torch to tradition, using models like pillars on which to build my own poetical buildings. The Conchordia Folio is no different, for any self-respecting poet of substance, if turning to the dramatic arts, should really be focussing on the eminent dramatic poet of the language & his body of work.

But there is emulation & there is evolution, & for my own essay into theatre I have taken on board the love of my own zeitgeist for the Broadway/West End musical which has created, when blended with Shakespearean iambic pentameter, what I have call’d ‘Conchordia.’ In its purest essence it means ‘with chords,’ & all the songs I have provided for the conchords can be played on an acoustic guitar.

One must also praise the folk duo ‘The Flight Of The Conchords,’ who really raised the bar as to what an individual performer must be – part singer, part songwriter, part actor, part comedian, part dancer, etc… i.e. all the muses operating in a single bodily space.

The first 13 conchords of the CONCHORDIA FOLIO are;

Tinky Disco
No Nay Never

Fight Of The Century
Sunshine Showdown

Flight of The White Eagles
Stars & Stripes
The Siege of Gozo

Millhouse Green

The Conchordia Folio: An Interview with Damian Beeson Bullen (September 2019)


Ever imagined what would have happen’d
If the Stone Roses had teamed up with Shakepseare? The Mumble caught up with the man behind it all…

Hello Damo. So you are here to talk about your new project, the Conchordia Folio – what’s it all about?
Hello Mumble. Well, in essence the folio is a collection of dramatic scripts, per se, rather like the Shakespearean folio. The only difference is I’m assembling it myself, whereas the Bard’s was collated by his pals a few years after his death. It should be ready in book & audio form by the Spring. There’ also an element of competition here – why not, you only get one life. As a poet I’ve written a better epic than Milton, but Shakespeare seems untouchable. But so were Liverpool FC before Fergie got the Man U job, & after declaring he wanted to ‘knock them off their fuc£king perch’ he went on to do so. I know I’m definitely a better bass-payer than Shakespeare, so I knew had to incorporate music into my scripts, play to my strengths kinda thing. Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock Shakespeare off his feffin perch!

So how exactly do you intend to ‘Knock Shakespeare off his feffin perch?’
I mean look, if a guy can run a marathon in less than two hours, another guy can outdo Shakespeare. Its the whole point of being human right, to better ourselves. Methodwise, its simple really. I’ve tried to outdo his sonnets already, creating a sequence of 154 which if you put against Shakespeare’s 154, I think I’ve got the edge. So it’ll be the same idea with the plays. I need to create a canonical 37 which when placed next to Shakepseare’s own 37, lets leave it to posterity to decide. My edge, I think, is going to be more penetrable language, shorter pieces & some proper banging tunes.

Performing Alibi at Eden Festival, 2018

Thirty Seven plays – thats an awful lot to create in a single sitting – how long do you think will it take to achieve?
Well, I’ve written/been writing an epic poem, Axis & Allies, since 2001, so I can handle large projects no problemo. But I have set myself a time limit. With Shakespeare writing his last play, The Tempest, over the winter of 1610-1611, then he was 46 years old, approaching 47. For an even playing field, then, I need to be finishing my 37th play about the same time. I turn 47 in June 2024, so I’ve got just under four years to finish them all. Its totally doable, by the way, & watching that guy run a sub-two-hour marathon thro sheer hard work & dedication inspired me. I guess its a bit like if you got an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters, or whatever it was, one of them would randomly recreate the works of William Shakespeare OR you get one very determined bard from Burnley on an emulation mission creating something rather like the complete works of William Shaksepeare.

So what exactly is Conchordia?
Well. Its essentially the artform I’m inventing. Stripped down to its most basic level the term can be interpreted as ‘with chords’ – the idea is that one can witness a piece of drama accompanied by a single acoustic guitar. That’s the core. Then, I realised that guitar could be played by a performer, which reminded me of the very funny Flight of the Conchords duo. They are like proper multi-taskers – acting, singing, dancing, playing guitars – that’s what I want ‘Conchordian’ to be able to do. Act, sing, dance & playing instruments when they’re not on stage – even if its just percussive. Also, since Concord the airplane is now defunct, the name is up for grabs these days & I like idea of people going for a ride in one of my conchords.

What traits & attributes sets Conchordia apart from the other arts?
Each of the Conchordia has different DNA – there’s some that are just rock opera with barely any dialogue, & some that are simply musicals with an acoustic guitar. My later creations, however, are definitely realising a vision of theatre I have been developing. As a poet I have a gift for blank verse – its the most artistic way of expressing human speech. Shakespeare used it, so it can’t be that bad right? It certainly feels like at this point in time I’m the leading exponent of dramatic blank verse on the planet. I mean I just love it – there is a dynamic flow in those unrhymed five-stress ten styllable lines that  seems like the dream of ordinary speach in a greater version of humainity – the idealised tongue. The English also have a genius for songwriting, while the Americans have mastered the musical. So if we blend all these together – Shakespearean blank verse, English songwriting, plus a wee splash of Broadway, you get Conchordia.

What other musical instruments are used in Conchordia, apart from the percussion?
Well, to be honest, there’s no limit. I’m going off the old edict that for a song to be a good song it needs to sound good sung on its own with only an acoustic guitar. But any producer of a conchord may use that basis to add an orchestra, or a rock & roll band, anything they like really. Each text also has a few ‘set’ pointers, which may also be interpreted as the company sees fit.

Have you performed any of your conchords yet?
I have actually – last year I put on a piece called Alibi at the Haddington Corn Exchange & also at the Eden Festival. It was fun – everyone enjoyed performing it & watching it. Doing Alibi made me realise I was onto something & began to look at my past pieces.

Your past pieces, what do you mean?
Alibi was the first slice of musical theatre I ever did – in 2007 & 2008. I was wintering in Sicily & got an acoustic guitar for Christmas, 2006. I then started looking at my old songs, connecting the common threads & adding a story. Bingo, my first conchord! I performed a it a few times in Edinburgh, Sheffield & Leeds. Next was a piece called Charlie, about the Jacobite rebellion, which I made into a film. About that period, & ever since, I’ve created a few others, but all in sketch form, in various states of completion. The Conchordio Folio is the moment I get them all nailed – a line in the sand, so to speak.

What Conchords are to be included in the Folio?
Like I said before, 37. The first five come together in a quintology  called Leithology. There’s Alibi, Gangstaland, one I haven’t given a title to, a time-travelling one called Timewarpin’ & Tinky Disco. The idea is that they all interlink through characters, who each get a main musical to strut their stuff in. Like the X-Men franchise. Tinky Disco is based loosely upon The Tinky Disco Show, & will see the return of DJ Brooklyn – like a 21st century Falstaff. There are quite a number of histories – Charlie, Finnesburgh – based on a story in Beowulf – Malmaison, which tells the story of Napoleon on his return to Paris after Waterloo, one about Princess Diana, & Gods of The Ring, about the Foreman, Ali, Frazier fights in the 70s. There’s also a trilogy called The Rock & Roll Wars, its essentially a battle of the bands on a cosmic level. There’s Exes & Axes, a 19th century tale of romantic betrayal set in 19th century France – it doesn’t quite fit with any of the others, but its really funny.


Composing Conchordia: Provence (February 2020)

At the teddy bear shrine of Elizabeth Drummond

Just as Shakespeare toured Italy as a prelude to the writing of his Italian plays, when deciding to compose a conchord on Gaston Dominici, I thought a story-hunting trip to Provence in order to commune with the ghosts of that most famous of 20th century crimes would surely help my craft. The crime in question is the 1952 roadside murder of nutritionist Sir Jack Drummond, his wife & their 10 year old daughter. They had camped for the night near a farmhouse owned by Gaston Dominici, a 75 year old patriarch in whose barn was kept the WW2 carbine which shot Sir Jack & his wife, & then clubbed to death little Elizabeth. A shocking case which brought the world to the Durance Valley & also sucked to the surface old family quarrels & familiar local feuds which in the end saw Gaston sentenced to death. In the clear light of seven decades it seems likely that the perpetrator was Gaston’s grandson, 16 years old & probably drunk at the time, Roger Perrin.

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Last Thursday myself, Spud, Victor Pope & ex-Tinky Disco bandmate Al Roberts all made our bleary-eyed ways to Edinburgh airport for a 9.45 AM flight. Me & Spud always get wound up by Al leaving his house in a slow-shabby fashion, so opted to get to the airport ourselves – I took a tram & he the shuttle bus. Vic & Al shared an Uber without any mess-ups, which surprised us & proved a good omen to our week together on the road. As we stepped onto the tarmac to board our plane, the Scottish chill was fully raging & I was very much looking forward to a respite from the seemingly endless Caledonian winter.

Gyptis choosing Euxene

A handful of hours later we were in Marseille & checking into our Air B&B right beside the Old Harbour, or Vieux Port. This was the spot where in 600 BC a guy called Euxene arrives from Phocae (an ancient part of Turkey) just in time for the local king’s daughter’s ‘choosing ceremony.’ In short, among a group of gathered suitors, Euxene was the one given a goblet of wine by princess Gyptis, who would later change her name to Aristoxenus. Euxene & Aristoxenus, now that’s already got the hallmarks of a conchord, I thought to myself, in the same way I thought that Gaston Dominici has a Motzartean ring about it. Looking at the Gyptis story at that point, tho, it unfortunately seemed a bit weak to make a conchord out of…


Marseille with the lads was fun. Kicking back with a smart TV & cheap beer in the hypermodern flat or on the balcony overlooking the harbour, with the pointed cathedral rising on the central Marseille hill beyond. On the smart TV, we watched Netflix, played all our music videos, while Al could send to it our recent recordings – an album called the New Truth. I couldn’t help but notice the technological advancement of the species – the last time I was in Provence was 20 years ago & for fun me & my pal, Bryn, ended up making a chess board out of paper & stones. Here’s an extract from my journal of that time.

May 10th, 2000


We woke up proper spangled, but a quick dip in the exquisitely cool pool proved enough of a respite from our frail noggins & we were able to pack & head out to Cannes. It was the first day of the festival & full of noisy Yanks, so we soon got out of dodge, striking inland on a bus to Grasse, a lovely town stacked high against the hillside. We had a couple of hours to kill so wandered around a bit & to our delight found it very swell, with lovely narrow streets & great prospects of the Cotes d’Azore in the distance.

After sending off our postcards we hopped on a bus north along La Route Napoleon. The view was spectacular as we climbed & wound thro’ the mountains, each one clad in trees giving a baize effect, & I could imagine Napoleon & his column following the same road. A rapid mist descended, however, followed soon after by heavy rain which showed no intention of letting up as we were unceremoniously dumped in the wee hamlet of Seranon. We dived into the only bar around for shelter & refreshment, obtaining a few funny looks off the funny looking locals.

In the days before group emails & blogs

Eventually we found out the bus north didn’t leave til the morning, so we were stuck. We didn’t fancy putting the tent up in the rain so opted for a hotel. A friendly couple drove us a half mile down the road to their mate’s hotel, which was closed. Luckily the mustached madame opened it up for us (a whole hotel to ourselves), but we were forced to share a double bed (with pants on obviously). As soon as we paid our 15 francs the sun came out & we heaved a table up to the roof, bought wine, cheese, bread & sausage & had a most pleasant supper among the mountains. It was cool, me musing & Bryn sketchin’ & it felt nice to be doing spot of real travelling, the only sound being the constant chuckle of crickets. Bryn very correctly brought up the point we were stuck in a one horse dive & had less than two days to get to Venice, but I re-assured him all would be reyt. We made a chess-board out of paper & stones & played to the setting of the sun, before all the wine & well-thought-out moves took their toll & sent us both a-slumbering.

At a monument to Rimbaud, Marseille seafront

Fastforward to 2020, on our first full day in France – Brexit day as it so happened – we enjoyed a daytime riviera stroll, followed by a wicked night out at bohemian La Plaine – a very funky part of Marseille. Drinking & dancing & downing tequilas, we met an English busker called Charlie, & his Slovakian girlfriend. The gods had answered our pleas, & he actually had 3 guitars. ‘Don’t worry, we won’t steal them – it’ll be too expensive to check them into our flights back,’ put him off from coming round for a jam, but he agreed to meet us the next day for a wee busk.


It was more than a joy the following afternoon to find ourselves all jamming together by Marseille harbour to the infinite delight of the locals. Our immediate audience consisting of an annoying kid who kept banging the guitars, a Czech street lassie & a Parisenne rock-chick who finds Marseille a cheaper place to live. Before then, I’d taken a solo morning mission up to Allauch, a hilltop village right on the edge of the Marseille conurbation. It was at the old castle, even higher still, that I filmed the following Pendragon Poetry post, talking all about Conchordia.


I was up in the hills as I’d read that a possible Gyptis object had been found in a hillside cave nearby. The curator of the slick local museum begged to differ, but I said I’m a poet & I didn’t want the truth to get in the way of a good story. Yes, a conchord was being born & on the way back to the appartment I googled a few Greek myths & found one, which I felt I could use – Alcyone and Ceyx. Basically, they offended the gods by calling themselves Hera & Zeus, & ended up being drowned & then turned into birds. A little creative furnace-burning later & I’d transmorped the myth into Euxene & Aristoxenus being turned into the the islands of Pomègues and Ratonneau which lie off the mouth of Marseille harbour. Like the Phaecean ship which carried Odysseus to Ithica being turned to stone.

900_Ceyx and Alcyone
Alcyone & Ceyx
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Pomègues and Ratonneau

Compositionwise I only managed a few speeches from VIRIATHUS in Marseille – the second Senate scene – in the early morning before the boys woke up, mainly at a cafe by the harbour. I usually compose on my morning East Lothian walks with Daisy, accompanied otherwise only by nature and the essential headspace needed to really zone out. Not so easy in a busy city as ever. There was no way I was going to achieve my goal of finishing Viriathus on this trip & then starting ‘The Flight of the White Eagles, ‘ – my conchord about the retreat from Moscow – the notes for which I worked intensively on before I set off. Still, they are all in the bank & Viriathus should be finished within days. I’ll be recreating the antics & dashing chit-chat of Seargant Bourgogne soon enough!


We left Marseille the next day, the sunshine heating up, arriving by train at the Durance valley & the station which serves La Brilliane & Oraison. The River Durance patches its way between them on a hugely wide stony river bed, with hills framing the scene on either side, & the snow-capped Alps closing the vista far to the north at Digne. Public transport round these parts is pretty neglible, & with it being Sunday afternoon no shops were open. Of that first of the two matters, we soon hit paydirt. After walking over the bridge to Oraison, beyond the frustratingly closed intermarche, we came to a carpark where I asked a lovely fella could he take us to Dabisse, & he agreed gladly.

IMG_20200202_180849.jpgDabisse is a wee village with a bar & a bus stop kinda thing. The bar was well busy, tho, its car park full of temporary pebbledash for a meeting of the region’s petanque teams. It was a really serendiptous, masonic, monastic moment listening to the clink-clinks & murmours of the play. Getting a carry-out together we went back to our villa & gorged on the food previous Air B&B-ers had left behind – a severe stroke of luck for a hungry bunch on a Sunday.


Ah, the good old days! Roll on a nigh decade & I found myself composing Viriathus, drinking wine by the pool of a plush villa in Provence. We had a look at the pool, but soon covered it up again – early February means a bit of algae & no need for pool-use, I guess.


The fridge was now full. We’d hitched a lift to Oraison in the morning off the lovely John Christmas (real name Jean-Noel), stocked up at the supermarket, then caught a taxi back to Dabisse for the day. And what a day, far from the Scottish chill and ended by a walk with Al for a sunset view over the Durance valley.

Some of those 21 degree sun-soaked, Senate-based Viriathus lines composed by the pool read like this ;


Senators of our majestic city
& many other regions in its stride,
This treaty is, in the highest degree,
Dishonorable to all we stand for,
Staining Servilianus’ career,
Viriathus is a craved barbaric,
Beheading, disembowelling at will,
A bandit on an unsubsistive soil –
To him a border is a line to cross
To empty beaten innocents of blood
& topple pillars, pillaging obscene.

Obscene? Objection! You paint him monster,
Humanity, his high ascendency,
Distributes unifying spiritus
That never in the passage of this war,
In armies of tribal variety,
Was ever spill’d sedition, all obey’d,
All fearless in the presence of danger –
As statesman he was neither humble-knee’d
Nor overbearing in leagues & treaties,
Faithful, exact, aequis, veritable,
Vir Duxque Magnus, ancient ideals
Penetrated atoms of existence,
& as the adsertur of Hispania
Let us assert our honour to his will
Make good his claims to the fame of the world,
Too many lost already in that place
We owe him our respect

We owe him death
The retributive slew for youth hard lost.


So to yesterday – the ultimate object of this mission & a trip to La Grand Terre, the farmhouse of the Dominicis. It began in fine fashion with me & Spud arguing about how to get to Lurs – it was a case of his gammy leg versus my abundant energy & in the end the lads got a taxi & I walked the muddy Durance-side fields down to the bridge & back up the other side. I got to Lurs scrambling up its rocky slopes & arrived at its medieval core to see the lads waiting at the entrance. Once reunited we hit the old goat tracks down to the road, & using a little satnav orienteering came out at the very spot where the Drummonds were murdered. The poignant teddy bear shrine is testament to the locals’ indignation at the death of a child.

Looking back from Lurs Terrace on the way I had walked – Dabisse is the village middle left & I walked by the Durance to the right of the photo
Oraison is the town in the middle distance – I crossed the bridge there & walked to this point
Approaching La Grand Terre

After La Grand Terre, I’d got it in my head that we could ford the Durance – Dabisse was more or less facing us on the other bank. The lads humoured me & watched me make tentative efforts on a scouting mission in the shallower bits – but the plan was soon aborted & we caught a taxi back. That night I ruminated in a Pendragon fashion on the Drummond murders & got a pretty plausible idea of what went on that night – which I’ll use in my composition.


The next day we chilled in the sun til 2PM, caught a taxi to the station, then a train to Saint Antione, conducted a wee walk to our Air B&B off La Pennes Mirabeau, then caught the Rangers-Hibs game over beers. At 6AM we hired a lift off our landlord to the airport & we were finally in Edinburgh by 9.30 AM. On the flight I pretty much worked out the structure of the Dominic conchord – 4 acts with a cliffhanger ending each one – & began sketching it out on the inside cover of an Agatha Christie book I was reading on the holiday- A Pocketful of Rye. Just like Agatha I was going backwards from the ending, & there’s a chance I could have a wee Mousetrap on my hands if I get mi ‘ead down. With bangin’ tunes & Shakespearean blank verse, of course!


Composing Conchordia: Vaulting The Lockdown (May 2020)


After the completion of the Leithology quintology – which will soon be on sale on all platforms – & the composition of Viriathus & Malmaison, I felt THE FLIGHT OF THE WHITE EAGLES was going to be a real statement-maker. If I really do wanna emulate Shakespeare, I need definitive works with meaty bodies – a bit like Hamlet innit – & so turned to Napoleon’s infamous retreat from Moscow as the first of my major conchords. There’s a hell of a lot of drama obviously, & when it comes to stagecraft the visual deterioration of the soldiers will be a wonderful story to tell.


With five acts of seven or so scenes each, all bubbling with blank verse & containing both original songs & songs drawn from the period itself, WHITE EAGLES definitely marks a placement of my muse on a Parnassian plateaux of sorts. No looking back now – ten down, 27 to go!

LEITHOLOGY – Available in book form soon

I began researching WHITE EAGLES last year after reading the fabulous ‘Memoirs of Sergeant Bourgogne.’ From this first catalyst – I was very verteux at the time – I began to research other memoirs up in the National Library of Scotland, such as those of Caulaincourt, & set to work on the composition period not long after my return from Provence sometime in mid-February. Then the Lock Down happened. I don’t need to rattle on about it, everyone’s experiencing it. I’m lucky tho’ – I walk dogs with my girlfriend which meant I could to & fro between my places in Edinburgh & East Lothian for ‘work that cannot be done from home‘ – the dog numbers had drastically plumetted, but there was enough to make it valid & of course meant I could compose pretty much anyway I liked – from the Lammermuirs to Leith Links. Here’s a Walking East Lothian post I created during the Lock Down.

Musically, WHITE EAGLES has been something of an educational dream, help’d along by my house-mate’s keyboard playing. By February I had a couple of tunes, but then began to write more & add local colour so to speak, translating from the French lyric into the English. Of my new songs THE BALLAD OF BORODINO is really beautiful I think, & THE GREAT NAPOLEON really fun – the Herod moment – my house mate incorporating the Tetrislike theme tune into via some techno rave from the 90s via Hicksy & Sharky. He also fell in love with Plaisir D’Amour & Compere Guillere.

The full list of songs is below, with astersks denoting my own compositions)

The Sable Raven – English version
Marlbrough is Going To war – English version
Plasir D’amour
Parisienne Skies (*)
On Va Leur Percer Le Franc
The Blood of Borodino (*)
Pomme de Terres (*)
Compere Guillere – French Version
Song of the Loricated Legion (*)
My Handsome Husband (*)
Soarin’ Home (*)
Chant du Depart
Crossing the Bridge (*)
The Great Napoleon (*)
Compere Guillere – English version (*)
Au Clair de la Lune
Le Depart Du Bologne
The March from Moscow (*)

Theatrically, there are a lot of parts – three main bodies of 8-10 characters; Napoleon & his entourage, Bourgogne’s company & the Russian partisans. There’s also another 20 or so walk-in parts, plus the crossing of the Berezhina bridge to depict – but whenever WHITE EAGLES does get performed everyone’s gonna JUST love it!


Artistically, WHITE EAGLES is the bag daddy to Malmaison, but together they form a very good account of Napoleon’s life. Like I said at the start, it also represents the foot-scrambling heave onto the plateaux from where the rest of my conchords will be composed.


The first of this new bunch is GODS OF THE RING & I’m extremely excited about it. The principle subject is the four fights between Ali, Foreman & Frazier, & all the dramas before, during, after & between the fights. The names of these epic combats have gone down in history – THE FIGHT OF THE CENTURY, THE SUNSHINE SHOWDOWN, THE RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE & THE THRILLA IN MANILLA. Like White Eagles I’ve already got two tunes in the bank, a theme tune & the sublime, best song I’ve written in ages, BLACK POWER. I’ve been compiling the notes in the past few days, the bulk of which were studied for in the National Library just before the Lockdown.  I’m gonna print out the first notes today & get composing soon after.


With White Eagles taking just over three months, & June the 1st on the horizon, I’ve got a feeling that every new conchord is gonna take a season – so Gods of the Ring is the conchord of the summer of 2020 – the weird summer, the one where the theatres were closed. For me, I think I’ll be spending some of it hopefully in Greece, where the next of these windows into my workings will be composed.








You’re my lucky star
You’re my lucky star
I see that you shine for me when I travel too far
You look so amazing, yeah, with your lazar chrome
Whenever you shine for me you’re gonna guide me home

This star of mine she shines
Only when I’m lost sometimes

I have a vision, ascertain
When you’ve gone & lost your way again
Gonna light the night my lovely one
So you can make your own way to the sun

You’re my lucky star
You’re my lucky star
I see that you shine for me when I travel too far
I know you’ll always be with me, where-ever I roam
Whenever you shine for me ya gonna guide me own

This star of mine she shines
Only when I’m lost sometimes

I have a vision, ascertain
When you’ve gone & lost your way again
Gonna light the night my lovely one
So you can make your own way to the sun

Living your life aint easy
If you’ve traveled off to far
But when I look up to the skies
I see exactly where you are
Beacause you are, oh yes you are
You’re my lucky star

This star of mine she shines
Only when I’m lost sometimes


I won’t lie I dont care,
I’ll sing until the world’s aware
I feel pride by your side,
When we are sharing pleasure domes together

& its true, I feel blue,
When I’ve been forced to part from you,
But I’m back to my bride
You know I am you saw I am
We’re living to your higher plan
Im/you’re woman to your/my man

Cos you’re the lover
I’ve always been dreaming of

I sing songs I say psalms
I’m tingling to your tender charms
& this world becomes ours
When two intrinsic lovers come together

We’ve align’d in our minds
Cos this is destiny’s design,
Our fate fell from the stars
You know it would, you saw it would,
The glory your womanhood
Is glowing/flowing in/thro my blood

Cos you’re the lover
I’ve always been dreaming of

The world is unworthy of
The majesty of your throne
Come lie by my side my love
This bed is so cold alone

I love you Napoleon
I love you dear Josephine
I hate it when you are gone
But now you’ve come back to me

Cos you’re the lover…


Josephine, Josephine
You & I were swans a-sail the silver stream
Germany, Italy,
We were set to seal our signet dynasty
All I ever wanted was your child
All I ever wanted was my, my, my, my

Napoleon, Napoleon
All I ever wanted was to sire your son
Every dress, every rose
I would swap them all for those 10 twinkle toes

All I ever wanted was my child
All I ever needed was your child
Let him run thro’ Malmaison piglet wild
All I ever wanted was my, my, my, my

Many say Middle age
Is a time for one’s leisure
But I would sacrifice
Just to satisfy you
Come with me, let us lie
In the glow of our treasure
Make a son, raise him up
On our heavenly dew

Josephine, Josephine
You & I transcended all those kings & queens
I used to think my life’s truth
Was not to conquer empires
But to lie with you
But now our Signet Dynasty must fly from you
Has died in you…


Like mountain men & archipelagos
Or young sweethearts sniffing a first red rose
Like monkey men glimpsing a glint of gold
Or distant kin returning to the fold
We are two rabbits sprinting cross the glen
We are two badgers snuggled in their den
We are the thistle of your bonnie land
We are the seaweed strewn across the sand
Hand in hand

My eagle-lashed Latvian poetess
My pearl-eyed raven in her Persian dress
My Spanish pea-hen singing as she comes
My nude Numidian banging djembe drums
We are white birds gliding between the waves
& morning dawnin’ in the Tuscan enclaves
We are midnight on the sea of Gallilee
For we are one in nature, you & me,
Me & you

But Cupid cruelly took away the dream
Me in my river barge & you led by the stream
Twas a sweet & fleeting momentary bliss
When you smiled & blew my soul a tender kiss
Now my heart is broken
& I’ve lost those tokens
Of when we were beautiful back then
Ahaha ahaha ahaha
Take a ride

As I look inside my wayward mind
& feel her kiss again
Ahaha ahaha ahaha
Take a ride….

Now my heart is breaking
(take a ride, take a ride, take a ride)
& I’ve lost those tokens
(say goodbye, say goodbye, say goodbye)
Of when we were beautiful back then


Sweet angel of mine
Won’t you come up to my house sometime
I’ll unblock my windows, unlock my doors
I’m yours

Sweet angel of mine
I’ve been thinking about you all the time
I’l forget the heroes
Give up the wars
I’m yours

MALMAISON: Scenes 1-2


Scene 1: The Fields of Waterloo

The battle is going badly for the French, many of whom are fleeing the field. Napoleon is in discussion with Gourgaud, Prince Emile and Hulin. Cannonballs and bullets falling around them.

La Garde recule!

The Garde, ridiculous!

Stand, Boys!

Prince Emile
Save the Eagles!

Vive la France!

Enter Hulin

The Old Gaurd broken, our hopes are all gone,
The moon uprisen, & the day is lost!
At Papelotte, Hougoumont, La Haye Saint,
The army gives up ground on every side,
That cracks & floats & rolls off, like a thaw,
Flailing in confusions & collisions,
God awful mass of panicking soldiers,
Casting knapsacks & muskets into wheat,
Officers, even generals, ignor’d,
& worst of all the portal of retreat
Incloses every second, Plancenoit
Is lost, there fifteen thousand overwhelm’d
By twice that number, swelling each second,
Only the Chasseurs of the Guard delay
The seizure of the vital Brussels road,
Sire, sire! You have no choice, please extricate
Your person from this acrid scene of carnage.


What is this mad, malevolent panic,
That like a poison penetrates the lines?
Where’s Marshall Grouchy’s thirty thousand men?
Where is that vain, reckless romancer, Ney?

He is there, waving tattered epaulettes,
Ordering volleys of comfortless shot,
He is bleeding, muddy, magnificent,
Waving his broken sword as he recalls
& insults soldiers… even as they flee
They are shouting, ‘long live brave Marshall Ney!’

The Bravest of the Brave? The Fool of Fools!
Tho’ frightening the English from their wits,
A cavalry charge without infantry
Folly is of the lunatic kind,
On this terrible day of destiny
My wildcat talons transmorph to children,
& if I am to die it will be here
With my men, by their side, sharing the toil.

Prince Emile
No, sire, you must escape the battlefield,
France cannot lose you life, for you are France.

You must leave at once.

Your horse is ready.

Very well, better to be in Paris,
To organise the national defence.

Napoleon is led from the field by the marshalls.
He passes an old soldier who looks at him
open-mouthed, with no love

Flee, wet chicken cur, coward recreant!
Leaving infants naked for the leopards –
Across the Earth I follow’d you in love,
Much more than brothers were we all in arms
Affections rose unearthly, devoted
To your very name; only this morning
I thought it was divine, but now it falls
Like sleet upon my ears, full numb & cold,
Heart freezing tears before the droplets fall
Into this sea of murd’rous blood & mud.

The soldier is bayoneted by an English redcoat


Scene 2: Malmaison, Josephine’s Bedroom

Josephine enters with Napoleon, covering his eyes with her hands.

And this… keep them closed… this… is my bedroom

Incredible, those swans almost divine!

I like to think we two are one bevvy,
Celebrated by synchronicities,
& mates for life.

Let us make a signet
Or six, & christen these slick, silken sheets,
I imagin’d them just so this morning,
I have a thousand kisses readying,
Kisses for your eyes, your lips, your shoulders,
I am utterly, unboundenly yours.

Bonaparte, Bonaparte, be patient please,
Your tour of Malmaison yet incomplete,
Step with me to the window bay to gaze
On grounds Arcadian, much neglected
Since the Revolution, but potential!
Such potential! I have dreamt of roses,
Three hundred acres of woods, lawns, vineyards
& Rueill – see its smoke – a fine village;
Examine all apsects of this prospect,
Just think of it, Malmaison soon could be
Your royal court amid the countryside.

It could, yes, that may be, but let me show
You something, something much more beautiful,
Step gently to this mirror’s length to gaze
On the beauty of Madame Bonaparte,
Do you see?

I do… I wore white for you
You love me in white, I know

If it was
To please me you succeed – what beauty dwells
{rearranging Josephine’s flowers in her hair}
In special auras glowing aslant moon
& stars & skies; your almond-lidded eyes,
Like melted amber, by long lashes guarded,
Unleash resistless forces on my soul.

Resistless force? That force, I fear, is you,
The brilliant general of our day
Returning from Syria & Egypt,
Who somehow still has energy to spare
For my coiffure.

I am full devoted
To your hair, your body, your everything.

Later, love, let us dine tonight, & then…

Tonight! But what passion boils inside me,
The lava of my love for you explodes,
Erupting at the touchstone of your looks,
Your kisses set my blood on fire, your sweetness
Melts my heart, the poet stirs within
Primordial, like a wild animal.

Tonight! There is dignity in waiting,
Let us both encounter the gallery,
Where paintings you issued from Italy
Bedeck the walls with bounty beauteous.


Will there be any portraits of yourself?
Between such images & memories
Of intoxicating nights together
I have no respite, incomparable
Josephine, your existence consumes me,
Your spirit overwhelms my heart profoundly.

I always want to see the tenderness
In your eyes, as you desire for me now,
My life was ordain’d for your happiness,
Whenever you are sorrow’d lay your hands
Upon these breasts, here salver’d solace yours,
Tho’ we are like the poles – apart in ways,
Entwining we make a perfect planet!

I will conquer countries while you’ll woo hearts,
My own beats testament to your powers,
It is Josephine who inspires my days,
The poets call them muses, you possess
Excuisiteness, decorative darling,
My entire being quickens before thee,
My inner mystic, lain in embryo,
Shaken alive by love so real, so true.

Yet so tainted

We shall speak no more of Hippolyte Charles

You are the first beholder of my shame,
He is dead to me now, my bewilder’d
State, strange delirium, fuddl’d by fate,
I hated being goddessean object
Of fascination, such adoration,
My spirit unsuited to submissives.

I am more harden’d now, Egyptian heat
Has baked my heart into a brick of clay,
My vanities by Syria were purg’d,
I never should have attempted the East,
Being fortunate to extract myself,
The folly’s karma equalised by you,
Driven into the arms of another,
So very far away, I understand.

My indiscretion was an insane play,
Vainglorious succubus swerv’d my brain
Whose dreams are full of you, a scar has form’d,
Smiting conscience with a deep penitence!

All soldiers have their scars, I have mine too;
This thigh reflects an English bayonet,
Delivered as I triumph’d at Toulon,
The other from our wedding day, a bite
From your dog, but the pain is forgotten,
All that remains are feelings of glory
In victories of lovemaking & war,
The memories of our nuptial night
Drop like clear heaven gleaming thro’ a pearl.

We share a love, full-form’d, unlike those loves
Of ordinary glaze, speak of what girl
In all the world who’d fail to take great pride
Being the motivating influence
Of martial arms marching unto glory.

Believe me when I say you march with us,
The designator of our providence,
Watching proceedings, blessing bravest feats,
When only as I win my battlefields,
Am I releas’d to hurry to your arms.


You’re my lucky star
You’re my lucky star
I see that you shine for me when I travel too far
You look so amazing, yeah, with your lazar chrome
Whenever you shine for me you’re gonna guide me home

This star of mine she shines
Only when I’m lost sometimes

I have a vision, ascertain
When you’ve gone & lost your way again
Gonna light the night my lovely one
So you can make your own way to the sun

You’re my lucky star
You’re my lucky star
I see that you shine for me when I travel too far
I know you’ll always be with me, where-ever I roam
Whenever you shine for me ya gonna guide me own

This star of mine she shines
Only when I’m lost sometimes

I have a vision, ascertain
When you’ve gone & lost your way again
Gonna light the night my lovely one
So you can make your own way to the sun

Living your life aint easy
If you’ve traveled off to far
But when I look up to the skies
I see exactly where you are
Beacause you are, oh yes you are
You’re my lucky star

This star of mine she shines
Only when I’m lost sometimes

(MAL): Scenes 3-4

Hortense de Beauharnais

Scene 3: Malmaison, Josephine’s bedroom

Hortense & a maid, Fleuer, are cleaning

You must dust underneath the porcelain,
How the fussiness flies from Bounaparte,
No speck of dust, no crease in the linen,
No particle seem alter’d in this room
From how my mother leaves it as she died.

Enter Odette

His majesty has just arrived your grace.

Mon Dieu, how does he look, how does he fare?

He pales fatigue, madame, but looks relieved.

Thank-you Odette, continue here with Fleur.

Exit Hortense

I do not wish to see the Corsican,
My father left to rot in Syria,
His sons – my brothers – slaughter’d by Cossacks,
Soldiers devoured as fast as they were made,
My husband was slain at La Rothiere,
& of my sons who rush’d into the ranks,
This recent insanity’s insistence,
There is no word, I fear the very worst.

I too have borne my share of grief & loss,
But still emit the beautiful belief
That all will settle right, when all who died
To make France great should not have died in vain.

They died, Odette, both in, & for, the vain.


Scene 4: Malmaison, Front of House

Napoleon is with Lucien & Caulaincourt, preparing to enter the house / Hortense bursts thro’ the door


Welcome home, father, welcome home!

Let us embrace as in those happy times
When all we will’d was magical & good,
Your winding arms comfort like dawn’s first rays,
Your happy face fair proof I am alive,
But tired… I shall remain some few days hence.

We can decorate all to your own taste,
So you may think in peace how to proceed
With present universitalities.

No, leave things be, her memories are best.

If you so wish… but what of recent wars?
Reports harangue conflicted; some say won,
Some say well beat, some even say you’re dead.

Here is a great event! A battle lost,
My soldiers were performing prodigies,
So tough & lustful, cheering every breath,
Facing the English on a tiny field
We ran them into ragged remnancy,
Six of their flags were ours, but old Blucher
Outwitted Grouchy in a day’s pursuit
& roll’d along our flanks in deadly fire,
Malicious elements cried in panic
Until we lost cohesion every point.

These events can hardly be called your fault,
Your commanders were not the same soldiers
As those who fought for France at Austerlitz,
No, they are faint of heart, & think war sport,
Go flitting between fear & foolishness,
The Gaurd, with Lannes or Bessi at its head,
Would not have been defeated.

Yes, perhaps…
I now know how I march’d a month too soon,
This Grand Armee lack’d true consistency,
But let us re-enact the war no more,
Too late to ruminate on matters pass’d,
The present presses in relentelessly,
Someone tell me of the mood in Paris,
What of the salon gossip, do you know?

All along the avenue Marigny,
At the Elysee, there were handsome groups,
Standing before the palace in full throat,
Shouts of ‘Vive L’Empereur’ were well heard,
Wich soldiers echoed back with happy hearts.

Why not fight on, lead armies to the Loire,
Rallying all with a single slogan,
La patrie en danger!

Still they cheer me?
The appetite last year was not for war,
But twelve more months of the fat Bourbon kings
Sticking their snouts in Republican troughs,
Has taught them who is better for the throne,
Let us declare a war of survival,
Announce that I will never sign a peace
As long as enemies trample Gallic soil
With booted footsteps of its soldiery.

If I may interject, Your Majesty
The enemy is legion, & possess
The border fortresses, the Prussians press
At Compeigne already.

But that is only forty miles away!
Inform the chambers of my willingness
To resume the command of the army,
There must be eighty-thousand troops to hand,
Yes, thirty-thousand more than in Fourteen,
When I held off the armies of three states –
Russia, Prussia, Austria – three whole months
Eighty thousand is forty-five thousand
More than cross’d the Great Saint Bernard Pass –
We can defend Paris for many years,
Until our foes are thoroughly repulsed.

We must persist, we must resist, levee
En masse, like Ninety-Three, the peasantry;
All men are soldiers, sire, sound the trumpet,
The Spanish did it to our very selves
They drove us back to France at pitchfork point,
Bolstered by handfuls of regular troops
Commanded by a lesser mind than yours –
Let fields & orchards, farmyards & churches
Become part of the fortress that is France,
Protracted war will stickle in the throat,
Of those who thought the French would merely lie
Down at their feet, prostrate, like panting dogs.

There is a problem, sire, the Deputies
Are turning in their chamber, mostly turn’d
By Fouche, who says you are a tyrant,
Your second abdication by them call’d,
It is a sordid spectacle to see.

Then the Chamber I shall simply dissolve,
Thro’ prosperties they crawled at my heels
Like bodiless creations, to act now
With strength, resembling my authority,
Is merely flashing mirrors from my will.

The Chamber only yesterday decreed
If anybody dared them to dissolve,
They shall be deem’d a traitor to all France.

All France? All France! All France belongs to me,
I should have had that scoundrel Fouche hang’d,
Incredulous he even dares to speak!
Who is he that invokes the Tricolor
Who France fled when I went off to Elba,
Who owes me his own return to Paris,
& while his feet are kicking weightless air
I’ll fling a number of the Deputies
Into the Seine, & have the Chambers closed,
Just like Cromwell.

Alas, your Majesty,
All this should lead to bloody anarchy
Do you have courage for the guillotine
& a legacy like Robespierre?

Gentlemen, let us from this talk divert,
This was my mother’s house, as well you know,
For war & politics she ground no salt,
& commanders best left from decisions
When sheerest exhaustion abstruses mind,
We have prepared hot waters for him here,
Better that he has bath’d before them cool’d.

Agreed, relaxing baths worth four hours sleep,
I’ll take one now & then a little food.

Exit Napoleon taking off his gloves, he is watched in


Scene 5: Malmaison, Gardens

Hortense is in the garden pruning Roses, singing an air.
Enter Napoleon in casual clothes.

I recognise that song, from Aquitaine?

It is father, how was your food, your bath?

They conjur’d revitalising essence,
I was an ocean’s weary, three full days
Lacking food of any substance, nor sleep
Dared visit me with blanket tenderness,
Delirious of Malmaison I dream’d,
This chateaux blesses comfort in my smiles,
It should be a merry dish of delights
If I could end my days entranquil’d here.

Malmaison is your home, your majesty

It never was, no, always your mother’s,
This elegant, heavenly enterprise,
That now is yours, & legally bestow’d.

Paperwork… it is yours via manna
Of existence, as ancyent Celtic gods
Are eterniz’d by name in sacred groves,
Malmaison shall frame Human memories
Of Josephine & her Napoleon!
Stay as long as you like, but with plain speech
Your safety is of issue paramount,
The Prussians close on Paris hour on hour

So tense, Hortense, pensivity falls dense
Upon your mind, made derelict of hope,
Let us not fret on matters such as these,
We are safe today, & for tomorrow,
Time enough to take delight in nature,
How are your mother’s flowers? Summer’s heat
Provides life when, vibrating in their terms,
Each flower like a censer fumes, perfumes
The air with such a melancholy waltz.

They prosper well as always, & I feel
Inebriated with their sheer beauty,
Exotic blooms of June, sweetly breathing,
Mass’d rhododendrons rambling by jasmine,
& roses of every shade & species.

She loved them so, adored their inspection,
Her loveliest roses would bloom for weeks,
The future’s garden lovers, I am sure,
Will praise her extension of loveliness
From petal-days to month-long majesty.

She was a master-mistress of her craft,
No guild could teach her what she breath’d inside,
But those are flowers, father, this is life
As every second sends its urgencies,
Where will you go? Perhaps America
A fine letter from Eliza Jummel
Reach’d me, she & her husband shall prepare
A royal residence to woo New York.

Considerations I shall give to this,
My destiny might be accomplish’d there,
Making amends to my posterity,
Dedicated devotee of science,
From Atlantic sound to Pacific rim
I could cross that vast & fantastic land,
Studying physical phenomena,
From botany to planetary spheres.

As one door closes, opens another,
If remaining salutationally
Determined, insurmountable hardship
Crumbles… labours persevered undaunted
Overhaul even broken destiny!

My destiny ruptured when we parted,
Your mother & I, my life’s large regret,
So strange that this fair chateaux which witness’d
Scenes of indescribable triumph, sees
Disaster never known by any man,
& she – she is absent – her tenderness
Could soothe fury.

I cannot take her place,
But sympathies solicited still yours,
I sense exactly how she would have felt,
In flummox-flux at her unhappiest.

Your mother was the true guide of my life,
The one who taught me fluency of love,
The love I bare for Maria-Louise
Is familial, you do understand?
No-one removes Josephine from my heart,
Within its lonely beats she sits in state.

I understand, but it pains me to hear
The name & source of your separation.

She never was the source, never the cause,
At work were forces dampening constraint,
An incredible empire to preserve;
On looking back… wiser, unvisor’d eyes
Acknowledge how my fate was built for her
Whose face I see, whose form goes where I roam,
Strolling paths, applauding in theatres,
Her irrisistabilty haunts me,
The most enchanting being I have known,
Vivacious & vivid in every sense,
She was a woman to her fingertips.

I miss her fashion, father, her passion
For elegance, to look her best, empress

The fairest in all France,
No painter ever captured her beauty,
For hers the deftest beauty of movement;
She was the most glittering ornament
Of empire, & this garden sings her style,
Best stage & setting of our better times.

I, too, cannot abide this fragrant place,
Without wondering if, any moment,
She might appear in happy finery
Pricking along the paths, plucking flowers.

With what sad tears she water’d all her blooms

I disagree, Malmaison her happiness,
These gardens were your union’s children,
Your nurseries these lush, umbrageous grounds.

Such well-will’d words are wounding me too much,
Let us stroll instead as did your mother
& I, so many times.

Of course father
{they link arms & head off thro’ the gardens}
Do you remember dining al fresco
Upon the lawns on warm summer evenings,
Talking about science, literature,
The supernatural, female attire…

I do, & after, on a path like this,
New plants would we admire & sometimes gaze
On recent vistas open’d thro’ the trees,
When doing so my political life
Evaporated like the early dew
That forms bright pearls upon the ageless grass.

(MAL): 6-7


Scene 6: Malmaison, Josephine’s Bedroom

Josephine is sat at her dressing table. Odette is tinting her hair & smoothing it with cream. Fleur is powdering her face with white & rouge.

I expect him any hour, the hero
Of Austerlitz returns to me tonight,
Not even death could still my flutter’d heart,
My love for His majesty must outlive
My breath, my body, & my faithful bones.

Today all France is aflame with his fame
& your name sing in celebration too
In company together you defy
The very bounds of Human endeavour

As if the Holy Spirit moved on earth
& settl’d in two vessels good & pure
Inspiring us all clean beakers to be,
So when your essence pours into our hearts
We too shall know a hint of the divine

Enter Napoleon, undressing quickly, throwing his great coat on the floor & placing his hat on a chair

Josephine, queen effigy of passion,
I am returned to sweep you to the seas
That deep across your bed entranquil’d lie,
But first we shall open every portal,
Draw in the air which God made for us all.

You startle me, darling, but I am glad
To see you here, come press these waiting lips
To yours, & hold me tight as my husband.

They embrace, exit the maids.

Come let us stand together at the bay,
The evening drips a gorgeous net of stars,
The peace in your presence a thousand miles
From those starch’d fields about the Pratzen Heights
Where I became the best of emperors,
A masterpiece of cunning deception
Put paid to ill-conceiv’d alliances,
Ill-omen’d, grandiose, a ratsbane rout,
With one sharp blow the war was over, won
By brutal logic of the bayonet,
Triumph more clear than Ceasar ever saw.

For you, I am as overjoyed as June
When roses grace long days, but did you think
Of me, my dear, when victory was yours,
Your little Josephine?

Of nothing else,
In the midst of military affairs
At the head of my troops, inspecting camps,
Over my heart an adorable sway
Is held by an image of your sweet face,
Alive in my mind as if it were real,
A mind you possess undisputedly
Engrossing all thought.

This cheers me to hear,
Your absences manifest as sickness
I cannot keep you from my intellect
Trampling serenity with hardest hooves.


Forgive me, empress, all I do I do
For you, my captivated faculties
Focus every conscious iota
Into & onto you, oblivion
Strikes me when we part, deadly sense of death,
There is no survival for me, except
In you – condemn’d to live thro’ Josephine
That was, that is, the story of my life.

That may be so, but tell me, mon cherie,
Tell me you were not abed with strumpets,
Perhaps some young actress of Vienna,
Distracting with assumption of beauty.

Please put no faith in jackal rumours spread,
Never doubt the reach of deepest feelings,
I love only my little Josephine –
Kindly, sulky, capricous – who quarrels
As gracefully as does she all things else;
& adorable always, excepting
When she screams suspicion, then she becomes
A regular devil.

Could you betray
All that we are when we are led unclothed
In bed, in love, in passion’s pilgrim shrine.

Betray you? You betray me with such doubts,
I love with a love beyond the limits
Of imagination, all my minutes
Of living life are yours, consecrated,
I’ve never thought of another woman
When private in my mind & paused from war,
They lack – in my eyes – beauty, wit & grace
You alone & all of you, as I see
You as you are – only you can please me,
Absorbing all the faculties of soul;
You pervade mine to its furthest reaches;
There is no corner of my open heart
You do not see, there is no thought of mine
Which prospers insubordinate to you,
The day on which you change or cease to live
Would be my day of death.

Dear Bonaparte
You are so dramatic – but I love it.

The world is only beautiful because…

It is I who inhabit it

Quite true,
You must believe me else do not love me.

Aha! It is the man who takes a sulk,
Come to my breast ye mighty warrior,
I barely slept to think you in the field
With all those guns & bullets.

I could feel
Your worries, some rare magnetic fluids
Flow between persons who love each other.

I always want to see me in your eyes
As you desire me now, I shall remain
Devoted to your love & happiness.

I am in love & I am very happy
A banquet of excitable moods
Wondering what my precious victory
Could achieve, in our day no-one conceives
Anything great – we can set examples,
Balancing for good the nation’s budget,
Design a law code memorised by all,
Illuminate the night-streets of Paris
With gas lamps, pave the quais beside the Seine,
& best of all erect a marble arch
Surmounted by the horses of Saint Mark’s,
Perpetuate the glory of our arms
For all who visit Paris evermore.

Forget those arms, let these arms curl caress
Across your chest, then let these tresses fall
Asplash your face as I descend a kiss,
Come swiftly to my bed, come lie with me,
& see how much of comfort it can bring.

I will, I thought of nothing else, but first,
Let us discuss occasional reports
Of wanton, boundless generosity
Indiscriminate, restless & impulsive,
You never wear a pair of stockings twice,
The smallest party merely an excuse
To order some new dress, in one season
You flit from polka dots to lacy ruffs,
You waste your life deciding what to wear,
So much discussion; petticoats, dresses,
Golden gowns cover’d in ostrich feathers,
Thirty-eight hats in September alone,
Cashmere shawls, silver slippers…

Yes, so what?
I am Empress – you are the Emperor,
Do not impinge on my duties & I
Shall not impinge on yours, together we
Will complement each other & our roles;
I master curriculi you send me
Of Europe’s courts I know the hiostory,
Including boring genealogies
Of all those royal houses, I am not
Ideal, but whenever we are present
At gatherings of crown’d & coquette heads,
I never put a foot or eyelash wrong.

Well I appreciate your elegance,
Your magnificence on state occasions,
Attending grand galas especially,
But darling you are drowning under bills,
If anybody asks you won’t refuse,
You scatter pensions like them chicken feed,
Only supersceded by your spending
On shoes – if somebody shows you something,
You buy it then forget at once what bought,
Because all this has made common knowledge
Your waiting rooms teem with panting merchants,
Tongues dribbling out vastly inflated sums.

But all of them, they are so very good
At what they make, I can never summon
Up the courage to turn just one away.

If sometimes I refuse to pay your bills ,
It is because you are so much imposed
Upon by tradesmen, & thus I cannot
Conscientiously sanction abuses…
I know about the necklace, Bourrienne
Gave me exact & staggering figures,
One million, two hundred thousand francs!

{obtaining necklace from her table}
But look at it, so pretty in the light
Of morning, then better by candlelight,
Could you put it on me, around my neck,
You have always wish’d for me to dazzle,
Yet when I spend a little more than norm
You reproach me with Corsican tantrums,
I do not throw phantastical parties
Or run up millions at the tables,
I am no thrifty Marie Antionette
Nor Madame du Barry, she gladly made
A diamond necklace for her yappy dog,
I do it all for love, & love of you.

You charm me yet again, I shall repent,
Hanging divinely on your perfect neck
Let your necklace adorn my victor’s ball
Tonight at the giddy Tuilerries.

We are the oddest couple you & I
Nature has made you strong & resolute,
While I am lace & gauze, I sail a swan
You fly an eagle

So perfect a thing!
We two have more in common than you think
We are both outliers & islanders
My Corsica, your little Martinique,
You brought it with you, stole my wintry heart
Its warmth & seductiveness fills your eyes.

I see it in reflection

Kiss my lips…

Napoleon & Josephine kiss


I won’t lie I dont care,
I’ll sing until the world’s aware
I feel pride by your side,
When we are sharing pleasure domes together

& its true, I feel blue,
When I’ve been forced to part from you,
But I’m back to my bride
You know I am you saw I am
We’re living to your higher plan
Im/you’re woman to your/my man

Cos you’re the lover
I’ve always been dreaming of

I sing songs I say psalms
I’m tingling to your tender charms
& this world becomes ours
When two intrinsic lovers come together

We’ve align’d in our minds
Cos this is destiny’s design,
Our fate fell from the stars
You know it would, you saw it would,
The glory your womanhood
Is glowing/flowing in/thro my blood

Cos you’re the lover
I’ve always been dreaming of

The world is unworthy of
The majesty of your throne
Come lie by my side my love
This bed is so cold alone

I love you Napoleon
I love you dear Josephine
I hate it when you are gone
But now you’ve come back to me

Cos you’re the lover…

Scene 7: Malmaison, Napoleon’s Apartments

The secretaries Marcel & Chapentier are setting their desks – enter secretary Desmarais

Good morning gentlemen, I am Jean-Claude.

Good Morning – will you be working with us?

I shall.

Are you a stenograph?

I am
Sufficient – is there anything to know?

You’ll need to be as fast as hunted fox.

Rapidity the order of the day,
Ability to differentiate
For whom the dictation is essential,
He possesses a mind like no other,
His memory furnishes him with all
He needs when commanding written discourse,
He compares it to a furniture piece
Composed of a great number of drawers,
Pulls out the one which each new moment needs,
The classification of everything
Is done as if automatically,
Nothing remains but to utter the words.

Are we to transcribe any of his notes?

The Emperor is too hyperactive
To write himself, & even when he does
Tho’ his first lines are passably composed,
Those that follow are illegible,
One very much accustomed has to be
To the form of his letters, of his words,
To the way they run together, then hope
To divine meanings in a hieroglyph,
Producing a decipher, more or less,
Counterpoising with clarity acute .

I can never make out his strange letters,
He writes like a cat, one deranged at that.


Enter Napoleon in a dressing gown & leather slippers

Good morning gentlemen, how are we all?

We are well your majesty

Very well

{pinching ears}
My rascal scribes, it is always wondrous
To see you, reminding me, above all,
That I am still alive… & who is this?

I am Monsieur Desmarais, Your Majesty.

Where are you from?

Five miles from Avignon.

I thought you were Provencal… very well
Let us begin, Marcel take the soldiers
& disputation to the deputies,
Chapentier the letter to my wife
In which the King of Rome shall hear my voice,
Young Desmarais, the English Regent, yours;
All four are more than vital, but before
Commencing, let me take a little snuff.

Napoleon takes out an oval snuff box made of tortoise shell lined with gold – on the cover is a silver portrait of the King of Rome, set in a circle of gold. He takes a sniff.

Men of the Provisional Government,
Disasters quake, but these we shall resist,
The enemy is on our native soil,
I propose my return to the army
To take advantage of any errors
The enemy commits, for I expect
To stimulate the national honour,
If all we do is argue all is lost,
Let not the fate Byzantium be ours;
My darling wife, empress Marie-Louise,
Do you remember the road to Soissons,
When first we met, from romantic meeting
Sprung the King of Rome – precious, perfect child,
How fares he now, I think of him each day,
Thro’ saddening times of strenuous strain,
The army has been exterminated,
The mood among the Representatives
More hostile than ever, I never should
Have come to Paris… To my dear soldiers
I have yielded to necessity,
& tho’ command no more our brave army,
I take away the happy certainty
That it will justify, by eminent
Service, all that the nation will expect;
To my gracious enemy of twenty years,
The most powerful, the most generous,
Your Royal Highness, I am made victim
To the factions distracting my country,
I live for peace & when I terminate
My political career, my true hope
Is to throw myself like Themistocles
Upon the gracious hospitality
Of Britisher civility & laws…
Exactly & precisely how they were
She preserves my apartments, as if I
Were still her dear husband…

Your majesty?

Learn to differentiate

Between the Emperor’s thoughts & his words

Where was I? O yes… sweet Marie Louise,
What brilliant qualities adorn you,
Inspiring me with a desire to serve
You, your father, our nations & our child,
Despite the trying nature of these days,
I shall strive with an Assyrian will
To bring us back together in one heart
& on our kisses crown the God of bliss;
Soldiers of France, I follow all your steps,
With just a few more efforts from each corps
The coalition of our enemies
Will inevitably droop & dissolve,
Napoleon will recognise you all
Thro’ breathless blows yet struck, save the honour,
The independence of France & remain
To the very end, as I have known you
These twenty years past, the invincible.

Enter Gourgaud, Caulaincourt & Lucien

My God, am I such a man to be born
To see my emperor a prisoner
Of his people at pretty Malmaison.

Gourgaud, Caulincourt… brother Lucien.

How are you keeping?

Things could be better.

Gaspard Gourgaud

With your permission, sire, I shall assume
Command of the Gaurd, we shall take careful
Watch over the safety of your person.

While you remain in France, he means to say,
The country no longer can sustain you.

Our enemies declared this current war
On you, a single person, & not France,
The nation must now be seperated
From Napoleon, you are all that stands
Between France & peace, a fresh new breeze blows,
Tho’ fidelity is not in question,
Our duty now is the welfare of France.

The tide has turned against you, & the sea
It seems has chained the next in captive waves

We travell’d, sire, to the Pont de Neuilly,
The bridge was barricaded so I inch’d
Along the parapet, then found a chaise
& drove it on to the Tuileries;
The commision of government was sat
In council, Fouche was most astonish’d
To see me, I read out your last letter,
Inform’d them of patriotic duty
In demanding your presence at their head,
But Fouche’s reply, rebuking candour,
Complain’d of imposts & grave vexations.

Enough, how can they want to overthrow
The government, when mortal enemies
Snarl at the gates, the Representatives
Opposing me are thick, ungrateful swine,
I showered them with honours & treasures
Now all they do is swivel backs & grunt.

The paths to power beyond redemption,
Your fate away from France & Paris lies,
I have already asked Decres to find
Two frigates to place at your disposal.

A silent pause descends for a while

There will be civic bloodshed if I stay,
I must not wade in blood, and be abhorred,
Far better to offer abdicatio
In favor of my son, all my glories
Concentrated in him, and leave the rest
Handling present difficulties themselves,
Then they will see it was not I alone
The Allies wished destroy’d, but all of France!

To abdicate once more your wisest course,
Your legacy ensured, despite the pain.

If I must go then gentlemen obtain
The necessary vitals of the road,
Gourgaud, go to the kennels at Versaille,
At stag-hoof speed, ask there for sporting guns,
Marcel, Charpentier &… Desmarais,
Deliver your letters, I have finished,
But let me sign them first, who has a pen?

Charpentier gives Napoleon a pen – he signs the letters

Now everybody leave but Lucien

Marcel & Charpentier
Your majesty



Your majesty

Exit all but Napoleon & Lucien

Take a pen, Lucien, are you ready?

I am, but what for?

My abdication…
Frenchmen! Tho’ I commenc’d the recent War,
Maintaining national independence,
I relied on the total union
Of all our efforts, of all our desires,
In which all French authorities concur,
I had reason to hope for great success,
Braving all the Allied Declarations,
But circumstances appear to have chang’d,
My political life is terminated;
& I proclaim my son Napoleon
The Second, the Emperor of the French,
Under him, & for the public safety,
Let all unite, in order to remain
The independent nation we adore.

Napoleon takes the pen from Lucien, signs the abdication & leaves the room. Lucien follows.


(MAL): Scenes 8-9


Scene 8: Malmaison, Dining Hall

Josephine & Napoleon are sat for dinner but none are touching their food, not speaking – Napoleon is tapping a plate with his spoon – two servants wait nearby, Achille & Joseph Archambault.

Take it away

Yes sire

& the Empress also

Servants begin clearing the table

Let us take some coffee
{to Achille & Joseph}
You may leave

Napoleon & Josephine move to the coffee table. Napoleon pours them both a cup

So many die in Spain, imperil’d force
Raking raw at my imperial crown
Their sacrifice must ne’er enfalter vain,
Their swords not stab the loud winds without wounds
The revolution embodies in them
As I, their man of state, its fate upholds
Spreading wide its enlighten’d ideals
For perfect, rapturised posterities,
From Russia’s icy wastes to the Tagus
From Hamburg to the toe of Italy
Seventy million subjects are mine,
Where prefects & monarchs exist simply
To carry out my will… one thing remains
Beyond control… if tomorrow I die
In battle, everything I have built up
Degenerates into dull nothingness,
I must, I must, I MUST, create an heir,
Else old crown’d heads crawl’d out from under rocks
Resume rotten regimes

I’ll try again
The thermal spa at Plombieres-les-bains
Follow strict courses, tonics & potions,
Mineral baths & periodic rest.

These may restore your menses to full flow
But guarantees not your fertility,
Let us abandon contriving events
We both know beloft beyond redemption;
Such motions past, the people pressure me
To sire healthy successor sons, & soon!

Then darling, there is one way that we may
Avoid the odium of forc’d rupture,
If it would ever please you so we could
Father a child with another woman,
& let me pretend pregnancy the while
She comes to term, & pay her handsomely

No, no, Doctor Covisart refuses
Anything to do with such proposals
Disclaiming it dishonorable deed!

Harsh opinions may slay us, my love,
To circumvent draining situations
Still possible, maybe your family…

Impossible, each of them are unfit
Reprobates of royal insignia
Jerome is feckless, Pauline scandalous,
Incompetent scoundrels all the others,
Grown insubordinate, at drop of scarf
My throat to slash they would not hesitate,
Swapping walking staffs for silver sceptres
On making them monarchs they soon were up
Imagining t’were god who gave them thrones,
Not I, their one singular deity.

Even upon the summit of greatness
Your ambition reaches greedy for clouds
In thy deepest distress I sense sea-change,
No longer am I indispensable
To the happinesses of my husband
Spurning the dedication of your wife
Your expressions of love are faltering
Your countenance alters to stern reason
My hour is come at last

Give me your hand
& let it press against my woeful heart,
Chastise the desperation of my blood,
That bleeds insensible on both our lives
Josephine, my excellent Josephine,
Thou knowest alone if I have loved thee,
To thee & thee alone I only owe
My happy moments in these mousetrap spheres,
But destiny overmasters my will
My dearest affections forc’d to silence
Before the best expectations of France


Josephine, Josephine
You & I were swans a-sail the silver stream
Germany, Italy,
We were set to seal our signet dynasty
All I ever wanted was your child
All I ever wanted was my, my, my, my

Napoleon, Napoleon
All I ever wanted was to sire your son
Every dress, every rose
I would swap them all for those 10 twinkle toes

All I ever wanted was my child
All I ever needed was your child
Let him run thro’ Malmaison piglet wild
All I ever wanted was my, my, my, my

Many say Middle age
Is a time for one’s leisure
But I would sacrifice
Just to satisfy you
Come with me, let us lie
In the glow of our treasure
Make a son, raise him up
On our heavenly dew

Josephine, Josephine
You & I transcended all those kings & queens
I used to think my life’s truth
Was not to conquer empires
But to lie with you
But now our Signet Dynasty must fly from you
Has died in you…

Sing – say – no more – for this I was prepar’d
But the blow lands no less mortal

My love
It must be done, all France calls for divorce

Josephine wails while rolling on the floor

{beginning to weep}
Please God, no, I shall never survive it
You cannot do it, surely I’d be slain

Believe me, this does violence to my heart
But irrevocable the decision
You are the last obstacle to my reign
Nothing will move me, not prayers nor tears,
My resolve remains unalterable,
If fifty thousand men for France would die
For their fate, yes, I should certainly grieve
But still will feel that Reasons of the State
Must be my only consideration,
Reasons of State transcends all you can say
You must submit with good grace, for whether
You will or will not, I am determined.

The People & the Papacy shall blame
The one who tramples down his holy vows
With callousness & cruelty so vain

The ceremony was irregular
Your parish priest witness’d not proceedings
& so our marriage legally dissolves

{standing up}
You dare to shame me with the dross of law,
Withdraw the stamp of honour from our love
Confound & bruise me with your scorn & flout!
Our solemn oaths were heard by God’s first voice
Thro’ him love’s rites fair Christendom heard loud,
So many sacrifices I have made
Tho’ these were sweet because them made for you
These interests, you say, of France, they seem
A pretext to my poor immolation
Your dissembl’d gut-thirsting for glory
Which guided you to endless victory
Now urges you disasterwards

It does?
Perhaps it may, but I am driven on
By daemon or angel, I know not which,
Hounded & surrounded by tormentors
Squeezing on me unite with another
But I am only marrying a womb.

You are, whose womb, the choice already made?

Yes, the arch-duchess, Maria-Louise

That Hapsburg whore, how old is she?


Eighteen! What? She is younger than Hortense

There are rubies worth a million francs
On the billiard table, your titles
Now Duchess of Navarre & Normandy

You try & buy me off, make ME the whore

It has to be so, if ever I see
A child, Heaven knows I am envious
A deadly poison darts into my heart
On viewing rosy cheekpuffs of infants,
Near joys of mothers, by hopes of fathers
Dwell I in androgynous barrenness

Stop talking

It is true

Please stop talking

You must listen –

I said stop talking



Josephine faints

Jospehine, my darling, I am sorry

Napoleon rushes to door. On opening it Hortense, Odette, Fleur Joseph & Achille fall in after listening at the door.

Mother… what have you done Napoleon!?

She has had some sort of nervous attack

Odette sniffing salts, Joseph, Achille,
Carry mother to her rooms, Fleur… hot tea!
Shame on you father

Just take her away

{raising briefly from her feint}
Not so hard, you are holding me too tight

Josephine returns to her feigned faint

Marie Walewska

Scene 9: Malmaison, Dining Hall

Napoleon & Maria Walewska are together – the table is being set including soup by Achille & Joseph

Many thanks, Maria, for joining me,
Both you & Malmaison tender my heart
With soothing mists, denying harsher truths

I had to see you, Bonaparte, of course
Presenting tidings of our little child
Before flotsam tides of pernicious fate
Carry you forever from Europa,
With all of your enemies approaching,
With Prussians encroaching upon Versaille
Why dare dally, Paris too dangerous,
Protracted delayments may be fatal
I urge you with good reason to depart

Procrastinations are necessary
I intend to sail for America
Thus fresh victuals & passports must prepare,
But here we are safe until tomorrow,
We dine & talk like happy times of old.

In this house all the memories are hers

She dreamt of you, before we ever met
I got a letter in desperate script
Describing how I had fallen in love
With a Polish beauty, swift I replied
Do not be silly, then one week later
We collide in miraculous meeting.

I was a dove, you a swooping eagle
Came to your claws only for my country
The tyranny of Russia drove desire
I curs’d my enemies with our kisses
& still… three perfect weeks at Finkenstein
Forever follow by me, at strange times
Flashes of remembrance rustle my thoughts –
Our long field walks, our talks, our burning bed –
Awakening my sensuality,
Where moons conceal’d emotions in our moans
I grew into this elated fondness
Which sees me dedicated to your fate,
Until the passing of my final breath,
Your name the very last words on my lips.

But never love?

How could I be in love
With one who lov’d another, even now
We are prepar’d to settle for a meal
At the very table you once declar’d,
I’m sure, sweet Josephine your only love.

I was – I am – will always be in love
With you my pretty volcano, with you,
Once I was an acorn, then I was oak
Yet when I was an oak to all others,
I was glad to be an acorn to you,
Who drives the shadows back across the hills,
Angelical, furtively unselfish,
Your charm & your enchanting gentleness,
Connect me to a cosmos of content,
& glad your special qualities reside
With our young son, how is our little bird?

He is happy, healthy, in his prayers
He hopes his Papa Empereur is safe,
You should have married me & made him heir,
When you married the Austrian princess,
Whom I hate with redoubtable candour,
My heart grew darker than a moonless night.
Enter Hortense

Madame Walewska, welcome to my home,
Father the rest of our dining party
Assembl’d, are you ready to receive?

Show them to their seats, sit here Maria,
Beside me, would you like a little soup?
{Napoleon tries the soup}
Take it away, this sea of frozen ice
It must be hot… hot-hot-hot-Hot-HOt-HOT!

Enter the rest of the party- Caulincourt, Lucien & Gourgaud

Your majesty

Gentlemen, welcome, sit

{raising the food pots}
We shall have eggs; boiled, poached, broke in omelettes,
Beef fillets, broiled lamb-breasts, lentils & beans,

Delightful &, I am sure, delicious

The servants begin bringing out dishes of food – the diners choose what they wish & begin to eat

Malmaison seems so deserted these days
There are more pretty paintings than people

But with Van Dyck, Holbein, Rembrandt, Rubens,
Leonardo, Titian, Raphael,
This is a sophisticated silence.

Indeed, in each a laurell’d memory
Of famous days of triumph… & how close
We were to adding to them, Waterloo!
Ah Waterloo! Such brutal, sluggish fight,
But a battle most inevitable
When they made me the king of that pebble
Within earshot of Parisian streets,
It seem’d as if they’d left unlock’d the cage,
My first hope came when I saw the gazettes
Where foolish King Louis insulted me
With rudest words unroyally spoken
In pamphlets & in private, losing friends,
That fat & gouty pile of impotence,
Who refuses to pay my pension! Non!
France did not choose to lose their Emperor
& have foisted on them an ousted king;
I am a man, and acting like a man
I felt I the need to show I was alive,
& so returned.

It was a joyous day!
The march you made from Antibes to Paris
Long-lined with celebrations never seen

By the boldness and sheer audacity
Of your return to France you gave the lie
To those wiping noses in newspapers.

I left my fortune for war on Elba,
Methinks, forgotten in the secret flit,
One commonly, when looking at results,
Perceives what the person ought to have done,
My plan was working to perfection
The English and the Prussians were surprised
In their cantonments, & the conditions
All set to crush the Duke of Wellington,
I still envisage all advantages.
If only the day could be fought again!
If only Ney would not have hurl’d the horse
When I was absent from the field

He lost
His head, a sense of past conduct impaired
His energy, however splendidly
Cuirassiers charge, without infantry
Marching in support, all won ground soon lost.

His attack on La Haie-Sainte a mistake,
Repositioning my well-posted guns
Reduced vital efficiency of fire.

True… true… both Soult & Suchet better knew
My way of making war than e’er could Ney

It was the impeccable discipline
Of the English that gained that deadly day
They advance thirty yards, halt, fire, go back,
Fire, and come thirty yards forward again,
Without breaking line, without disorder.

Poor France! to have been beaten, defeated
By those English rascals! Yes, it is true
The same sad thing happened at Agincourt
& Crecy before, but I was so certain
I should beat them, I had divined their plans,
& when at last had nail’d them to a field
They fought with unusual stubbornness,
Yet would have lost had Blucher not arrived.

I have heard that the Madame Hamelin
Thinks the Duke of Wellington talentless
& afraid of you, for once fortunate
& knows you would not lose a second time
Daring not risk his reputation so.

He will know, very well, he was lucky,
Regrets not for myself, unhappy France
With twenty thousand less of your soldiers
We should have won the battle, it was fate
That made me lose it.

Dwell not on this defeat
Let us toast instead those majestic arms
Which carv’d an empire, gentlemen, to

To France

& to its shining emperor

The empire, O beautiful creation
Twenty-Eight millions, one grand nation,
We sent the revolution thro’ the world
When all would have been equal under me
Instead young men prefer’d to fight for kings
Who yoked them to unequal existence,
Led by the sly & obstinate bulldog
Reveal’d in Englishmen when interests
Of England at stake, robust patriots
They fight for their slavemasters, while Russia
Spews out countless peasants into armies
Manpower as prolific as the steppes!

Tis three years today we crossed the Neman

Three years, you say, what changes time has wrought

Enough of solemn war-talk & regrets,
Posterity shall see your history
As if some supernatural romance,
The peals of praise shall evermore be yours,
Those fiery energies of youthful years,
Yielding to the magnificent progress
Of your irrisistable ambition,
Combining into visions of grandeur
As if you were a gift from heaven’s vaults.

You are indeed a greater man, when all
The lesser men & tumults of our age
Are pass’d away into oblivion,
Futurity shall dedicate these years
To your famous name of Napoleon.

Remember, brother, you have transform’d France,
Imposing government that we desir’d,
Honest, efficient administration,
Guaranteeing the rules of free reason,
Designing law codes memorised by all,
Illuminating Parisian streets
With gas lamps, paving quais beside the Seine,
New harbours, canals, your poplar-lined roads,
You set examples to inspire our lives.

Yes… yes… bring the cheeses sil vous plait
But what use of my legacy to me
When I am not yet dead to celebrate
& cannot still decide on best passage
America has many assassins,
I may live longer among the English.

Armand-Augustin-Louis Caulaincourt

England, your enemies?

Yes, it tempts me
The Britons’ inviolable hearts deem
Sanctuaries of generosity,
I could find scenic rural seclusion
Ending my days gracious with nostalgia.

I think it would be foolish in this clime
Of conquerors dictating to the French,
I have heard Blucher wants you delivered
To the Chateau at Vincennes, where the Duke
Of Enghien was shot, & the same spot
A pungent thought, a sordid phantasie
Better proceed you to America
Where Bolivars direct & ride the storms.

I need not resolute on this tonight
Instead to rest awhile & contemplate
Every angle drawn in my perception
Ruminating each expediancy –
The meal is done, I hope you found yours fine
If everyone could leave I wish to sit
Alone beside the fire, & with my thoughts.

While staff attend to clearing the table, everyone leaves saying ‘your majesty’ & ‘sire’

Shall I stay? Play a little vingt-et-un

I’d rather not, my love, my mind complains
To me each minute of pressing problems

You need not be alone, I’m here to share
All of your woes, even your exile, know
I’ll go where you go, flying on your flow.

I love you too much to put you thro’ such

I understand… I’ll be in my rooms

Exit Maria, Napoleon is left standing alone staring into the fire

(MAL): Scenes 10-11


Scene 10: Josephine’s Bedroom

Josephine is alone playing the harp (singing).
Napoleon enters, she does not notice him

Sweet angel of mine
Wont you come up to my house some time
I’ll unblock my windows
Unlock my doors, I’m yours.

You sing & you play celestially

Napoleon Bonaparte, you are here!
What tears of joy claim creases from my cheeks

Embrace me, let them mingle with my own
{They embrace}
My Josephine, my ever Josephine
My clever Josephine, my gushing heart
Tumbles waters from the Falls of Delight

Such happiness as this renews sorrow
Back in your arms my agonies begin,
Each separation draws on closer Death,
Studying physiognomies of shades,
My destiny a morsel pantomime,
It is you who devours me, Bonaparte.

You must show resolution & courage
Do not despair & give yourself away
To melancholy’s fatal spirit snare,
Expelling sunshine from your precious state,
Aspire to contentment, take care of health,
For how you fare my life’s most precious news.

It is the silences that destroy me
Not a word for weeks, then all I hear
Is how the King of Rome grows happy, fat,
& how you adore your little eaglet,
Such tact is like an elephant gone mad,
Blunt instrument to plague me with terror,
That nothing of our love left permanent,
Unworthy even of former favours,
Banish’d entirely from your memories.

Without you in this world my heart would cease
Its beating like a bust & broken clock,
If I could never whisper Josephine
When suddenly you flood into my mind
I could not bare to dwell upon this Earth,
My tears would swell the oceans & then I
Would drown myself inside them, with my tears,
So, yes, our souls’ attachment ever strong,
But if you love me show me real strength
Of mind, make yourself happy, you cannot
Count on constant & tender affections,
For there is something understood to be,
I shall never be happy, nor content,
Unless I know your smile & feelings calm.

I understand, I do, but it still hurts
Nevertheless as I was empress
Crown’d, an empress I shall be forever
& with that comes a duty to the court
Of placid perfection in relations,
& so I shall pray most unceasingly
For your Majesty’s constant happiness
Be assured that I shall always respect
Our new relationship, rooted in past
Attachment, & shall call for no new proofs;
I limit myself to ask one favour,
To mitigate the loss of our congress
That you will deign to find a convincement
Proving to myself and my entourage
I hold a small place still in your esteem.

I shall send you jewels from the Kremlin
Neckworn by all tsarinas at the balls,
Tomorrow I depart for Germany
& may be gone some time, Russia is vast,
So here I am to gain my fair refresh
Of your flower face & your fairy flesh!

This is a strange adventure Bonaparte
My stoumach knots with anticipations,
For you, & for my son, my brave Eugene,

He marches, yes, his father bids him so,
Twenty-seven thousand Italians
Go with him to the Vistula meeting,
Six hundred thousand join them on the march,
Soon Russia should fall begging at their feet,
The Romans took ten years to conquer Gaul
I calculate I shall need only two
To claim the epic wastes of Scythia
Which Darius fled, which slaughter’d Crassus,
Which cover’d Charles the Twelfth in disasters,
Which envelop’d Valerian in shame,
Which even Alexander beat away!

Be ever wary for how many friends
Can counted be in factions, your armee
May be Grand, a dissolute creation,
But more than half the soldiers are not French
& Muscovy so very far from home,
I’ll think of you each day & pray each night,
Protect my son & go with all my love,
Tho’ all your love I know is not return’d
Tell me, how is this new empress of yours?

You wish me to compare?

Yes, certainly

As you spread style & grace, Marie Louise
Unfurls simplicity & innocence,
As apart as Arctic & Atlantic
The art of pleasing your constant study
Concealing method, obtaining effect,
Every artifice imaginable
Employed to heighten charms already great
Mysterious, with all suspicionless,
But Marie-Louise ignores artifice
& anything like dissimulation;
All roundabout methods to her unknown.

She will not meet me still, she wants nothing
To do with me, such a plain rejection

To jealousy Her Highness is disposed

Well I am jealous too, doubly jealous
She has my throne, my only Bonaparte,
& you remain raw with recalcitrance
To all the passion-steel between our souls,
Open the gates, let end the siege of truth,
Come spend a treasure-night, you want it so,
I know, let me rise late in the morning
Explaining to my ladies reasons why?

A thousand times I would, but not tonight
Hard preperations take me to the field,
This war must spurn irregular courses,
When burning spots on the face of the Sun,
I shall return to thee in victory,
Remember our royal reunion
After Austerlitz, we shall celebrate
Again, my triumph, with kisses discreet

{pointing through a window}
Behold that bright star shining, it is ours,
It follows you, but if you do not stare
& think of me, it shall fall from the sky
& as our fate decided by the stars
I worry so

Our star is shining still

{flinging arms about his neck & covering his face in kisses}
Write to me often, the waiting is grief
Between ghostly ambrosial letters,
That are my calming balms of bare beauty,
The words contain thy likeness

I shall write
O Heaven, how a heart doth break & bleed!


Like mountain men & archipelagos
Or young sweethearts sniffing a first red rose
Like monkey men glimpsing a glint of gold
Or distant kin returning to the fold
We are two rabbits sprinting cross the glen
We are two badgers snuggled in their den
We are the thistle of your bonnie land
We are the seaweed strewn across the sand
Hand in hand

My eagle-lashed Latvian poetess
My pearl-eyed raven in her Persian dress
My Spanish pea-hen singing as she comes
My nude Numidian banging djembe drums
We are white birds gliding between the waves
& morning dawnin’ in the Tuscan enclaves
We are midnight on the sea of Gallilee
For we are one in nature, you & me,
Me & you

But Cupid cruelly took away the dream
Me in my river barge & you led by the stream
Twas a sweet & fleeting momentary bliss
When you smiled & blew my soul a tender kiss
Now my heart is broken
& I’ve lost those tokens
Of when we were beautiful back then
Ahaha ahaha ahaha
Take a ride

As I look inside my wayward mind
& feel her kiss again
Ahaha ahaha ahaha
Take a ride….

Now my heart is breaking
(take a ride, take a ride, take a ride)
& I’ve lost those tokens
(say goodbye, say goodbye, say goodbye)
Of when we were beautiful back then

Exit Napoleon – enter Odette & Fleur, weeping maids –  Josephine bursts into tears


Scene 11: Malmaison, Gardens

Napoleon is pruning roses in the garden singing an opera air. He is wearing a hunting waistcoat, nankeen pantaloons (with feet), red slippers & a broad-brimm’d straw hat with a narrow black ribbon. Hotense enters carrying a silver tray with glasses of lemonade on it.

Good morning, father

& to you, Hortense

Your spirits seem light, you slept well I trust

They are, a mix of roses & sunshine.

I thought you might try a glass of champagne
Half-water of course

Yes, my lemonade
Again your hospitality outshines
The processions of Rajput palaces
& the principle houses of Europe.

Father, drop the frivolous flattery
Have the passports for America come

At this time no, but doubtless they’ll appear

Would it not be better to wait for them
Far away from here, some safe place out west

Tittle-tattle child, we possess time yet,
Come & view the quality of these blooms,
Your mother set new standards of texture,
Scent & size, I begrudg’d her no expense,
Even the English allow’d botanists
& collections to bypass the blockade,
England… the singular crime in their eyes
Was not the conquest of Europe, not so,
But the overthrowing of tradition,
It is if I had cancell’d The Derby,
But there moves inkling implings thro my mind
I want a little cottage & garden
To grow your mother’s roses as a guest
Of His Highness, I declared a world peace
On my return from Moscow, they made me fight,
Surely this allows me the recompense
Of sliding gently into aulden age.

I ruminate that trusting the English
Shall never find a pathway to your gain
America is the land of the free
Where the current passion for liberty
Began & won its battles, London wept
At the loss of its former colonies,
Their mortal foe must thrive in such a place.

This is the most important decision
I shall ever make, the magnanimous
Prince Regent must respect our regal house.

It is a grave, grave chance, think of mother
Opining upon this predicament
What would she say?

When my mind fermented
She cast an aura of serenity,
Unchallenging, undemanding of me,
A soothing balm for restless malady,
Then I could see things clean as mountain springs,
Focus on infinitesimal details
Which swerve events one way or another,
Your mother gone I realise my loss,
On countless wretches I have heap’d favours
But what have they latterly done for me?
Marie-Louise has stol’n the King of Rome
& wrapp’d him up in Viennese values,
Abandonato on every side!

My mother’s will compell’d her to Elba,
She wish’d to bear your exile, but she fear’d
Spreading a tarnishing embarrassment;
Madame de Stael, return’d to Paris,
Had the impertinence to ask one day
If mother loved you still, would you believe!
Her humour cut to ribbons in a flash,
& said, with concision, to the party
‘As madame has had the effrontery
Enquiring whether I am still in love
With the Emperor – as if I could feel
Less ardently for my soul’s mate today
In his misfortune – I, who never ceas’d
To love him ev’ry second that I breathe.’

Hah, that is so her, loyal to the last,
Do tell me of the Tsar, when he was here,
How did they dwell, as soft as he & I?

They were two stately stars who pierc’d the murk
That follow’d your first sad abdication
He was here, in Malmaison, at leisure
Admire’d these very roses that you prune,
Promising everything in his power
To conserve mother & my family.

A great & noble man, an Apollo…
& a damn’d stubborn fool, I reach’d Moscow!

Father! It is done! The wars are over!

Of course, I lose myself sometimes, go on

When the Tsar was here Malmaison bustl’d
Monarchs, crown princes, assorted grand-dukes,
All were here, exacting their privilege,
With mother still an empress to her bones,
Balls, receptions, dinners, it was dazzling.

Lucien Bonaparte

Enter Caulaincourt & Lucien

Sire, forgive me, the passports not yet come
The Duke of Wellington has responded
Thro’ Fouche, he has no authority
To answer for the British government

We cannot dilly-dally in delay
The Prussians are like leopards set to pounce
We must leave for the coastal ports at once.

Papa! It is time to leave Malmaison.

Napoleon pauses, then sighs, the pauses again.

We leave in an hour, send for Las Cases
I wish to commence lessons in English
Straightways in the carriage, waste no more time
I must prepare for my next adventure,
Beyond these mountains of uncertainty
Lie fertile valleys of futurity,
Meet me upon the steps, allez! allez!

(MAL): 12-14

Scene 12: Outside Malmaison

Maria Waleweska, Lucien, Caulaincourt, Gourgaud & all the staff. All are in civilian clothes.

With my brother set to leave forever,
As Alexander died in the palace
Of Nebuchadnezzar, & as Ceasar
Was assassinated in the Senate
I fear this is the age’s denoument,
& Malmaison the fatal mortal stage
Where glory throttl’d from a demi-god.

You are the best of all your family
Most loyal to your brother

As are you
There are many who, in prosperity,
Once flattered him & fawn’d, those who bow’d down
The lowest, those who wiped dust from his feet
With their foreheads, those rais’d to high office,
Enrich’d by most exalted dignities,
For the most part loaded him with insults
Witnessing adversarial events

I notice how the good he did ignor’d
While error’d handfuls catapulted wide
Callous pretexts tearing him to pieces.

Remember we are now a republic,
In honest memories of the masses
He was an active citizen of France
Unpapal father of a family
By foreign forces only overthrown

Enter Napoloen

Monseiurs et madames, good morning to all
What is the situation in Paris?

The government proclaims a state of siege
But the city is all tranquility

The Prussians, however, hurrying here
With cavalry & horse artillery
& infantry, two battallions worth

Your life is in terrible danger, sire,

We must cross the bridge at Catoul quickly

Yes, yes, yes, yes, but why the glum faces
The ocean is so beautiful in June,
& we are going for a pleasure sail.

The passports?

The passports will soon appear
I cannot see the least opposition
Would be offer’d to a western voyage,
Money the only obstacle I see,
We will be made to pay royal prices

We have packed several chests of jewels
Numeral years shall pass before them spent

& books, books, did you instruct Barbier
Make best selections from my library

I did sire, a choice & wide selection
There are Greek & Roman historians


Yes, of course

Is there a Bible


Good, Americans are religious
To their marrow, did you pack my Homer

Yes, sire, the Iliad, the Odyssey,
There are encyclopedias, dictionaries,
& a complete set of the Moniteur,
You’ll have modern dramas also; Racine
Voltaire & Corneille

Good, I love Corneille
Despite of imperfections he will choose
Always a subject lofty as my dreams

All has been attended to & succinct
Your library will join you at the ships

I wish our route was not so linear,
Clever rabbits dig several burrows,
I sense you may be riding to a trap

We shall be safe, foreplanning ensures this,
Complexity invites complications,
As long as we stay focussed on the goal
Our futures remain in states of control,
A few days hence I quit France forever
To fix my spot in some natural clime
To recieve all my glorious soldiers
Once more, to reminisce & share old wounds,
Yes, all of my companions in arms
Will find asylum with me, veterans
Of when we bent the world within our will.

Father, all the carriages are ready

How many in the suite

There are seven
In total

Each one, sire, is bearing arms

My swords

Yes sire

You have pack’d Aboukir

& the Champ de Mai, there are seven pairs
Of pistols, & your repeating rifle

& the Sevres factory porcelain

Yes sire

There are two field beds with cards, books,
The calesh furnish’d with a steel canteen,
Toilet articles, little rolls of gold.

Then we are set, as tiny footsteps start
Undertakings of epic adventure
Let us depart, Hortense, my daughter true,
Painful to leave the ones we love the best
Take care of your precious, precocious son,
I sense the noble emperor in him
Come to my arms…

Travel safely father

Napoleon walks silently to the carriage, casts a look back at Malmaison.

Wait, we have time, I want to see her room

Napoleon returns to the house

But Sire

Napoleon brushes passed the group

Let him go

I will follow him

Scene 13: Josephine’s Bedroom

Enter Napoleon He stands in silence staring at the bed. Enter Hortense.

I should never have divorced your mother
I am Corsican, & when we feel fate
Entwines two stars, let them not separate
Else rises ancestral superstition
To consume precious destiny with ghouls,
Hers was an early death, & mine exile…
Tell me how she died, tho’ it destroys me.

To please the Tsar she left a heated room
Drove off together by open carriage
She wore a flatteringly flimsy dress,
& caught a chill, went coughing to this bed
Terrible melancholy descended
Her cough worsening, her chest lead-heavy,
She barely could breathe, began to lose hope,
Inflammation of the whole trachea
The doctors said, a case beyond extremes,
& dress’d in rose-colour’d satin she died,
But in the moments approaching the end,
I heard her whisper…

Bonaparte, Elba,
The King of Rome

Bertrand administer’d
The last sacrament, she had pass’d away
As gently to meet death as she met life

Adieu, Josephine, forever Adieu

Father, I know this is emotional
But you really have to go

Yes I know
But leave me alone a few moments… please

Exit Hortense / Napoleon stares at the bed

A musical montage of the songs is heard; the choruses of Lucky Star, Loversong & Signet Dynasty, then Josephine singing

Sweet angel of mine
Won’t you come up to my house sometime
I’ll unblock my windows, unlock my doors
I’m yours

Sweet angel of mine
I’ve been thinking about you all the time
I’l forget the heroes
Give up the wars
I’m yours

Scene 14: The HMS Bellerophon / The Solent off Portsmouth

The HMS Bellephron, below deck. Caulaincourt, Gourgaud & Achille.

On leaving Malmaison this not the dream
His Majesty is mostly indisposed,
Our days are passed sploshing this damn’d channel
The sea is rough, our guts churning seasick.

We wasted too much time in Rochefort

{looking through window}
The English navy is magnificent
Whenever His Majesty goes on deck
The marines immaculate under arms
Sailors hang from masts & yards like bunting,
Order & cleanliness reigns everywhere
& everything above the water-line
Smooth-scrubb’d with sand, it is most marvellous.

Appearances are never what they seem,
In what rough hands has he just put himself,
My protests upon English perfidy
On deaf ears fell, deadly resolution,
Implacable enemies possess him,
Napoleon, you are lost forever,
A frightful presentiment tells me so

Napoleon returns from the deck

Every day an infinity flocks
About the Bellepheron, crowds small craft
Collected in close curiosity,
Pressing to see novel Napoleon

The interest is admiration, sire,
Their officers are making profound bows
The greater part of men wave hats on high
While pretty ladies flutter handkerchiefs,
If these were masters of your majesty
They would dall raw your carriage to London
Like you were their conqueror, one may say
By your presence alone, the sympathy
Of the English has been, & will be, won.

We hope the higher echelons agree,
It is never without danger to place
Oneself in the hands of one’s enemies,
But better to risk trusting their honour
Than being captur’d as a prisoner,
To the voluntary surrenderer
Compassion wings, singing with good treatment.

Enter Lord Keith

Your majesty

Lord Keith, welcome aboard,
Permit me a moment to speak my mind
Exposed to rotten factions which divide
My country, & the shocking enmity
Of the Great Powers of Europe, I come
To England to terminate my career,
Throw myself, like Thermistocles, upon
The hospitality of the Britons
Claim protection from your Royal Highness
Most powerful, constant & generous
Of all my enemies,

Lord Keith
The decision
Of all the Allies has been made today
They consider you their joint prisoner
& handed me responsibility
To relay that decison, you shall sail
To Saint Helena come the next good tide
& there, until your passing, shall reside

It is not so! I solemnly protest
For in the face of Heaven & of men
Forcible disposal of my person
Strikes violations thro’ my sacred rights
I was invited upon this vessel
As a guest of England, yet you treat me
Not with courtesy, but imprisonment
You want to make me a Prometheus
I insist I speak with the Prince Regent

Lord Keith
That will not be a possibility

Upon whose command

Lord Keith
The Prime Minister’s

Your government is preventing their meeting
Denying an appeal to human reason
Between fellow heads of state, but instead

You treat me like a common criminal,
Condemn’d to some prison hulk off Toulon!

This was a snare to trap you all along

Your government is forfeiting hounour
& sullying its flag

If this vile act
be consummated, it will be in vain
All the talk of English integrity
Of your laws, of your love for liberty,
Whom offering a hospitable hand
A manacle conceal’d in the other.

Lord Keith
The Allies are determined the failure
Of Elba suffers no repetition,
The world grows exhausted of your ego
You shall never be allow’d to set foot
Upon the soil of Europa again,
For when you do the bloodshed is immense,
Incendiary & beyond excuse,
Good day to you sir, you leave in three days.

Exit Lord Keith

Your majesty…

Go… leave me… please… please go

Exit All

I suppose it was always to be so,
A visionary seldom understood,
Even rarer permitted to exist
Side-by-side with powerful patriots
Else crumbling social structures haul’d to dust,
So-call’d noble princes fawn at your feet
But Saint Helena’s distant pygmie rock!
This seperation from the universe,
Is like the guillotine that lets heads live
To look bock on the bodies they once moved;
What mortal could experience greater
Vicissitudes of fortune than myself?
My woes are solely lock’d within my heart,
I am powerless to drive them away,
But with this final chapter I feel calm,
Having nothing more to fear from this Earth
My grey frock coat I hang upon its hook
To fight old battles in my memories,
While in the annal’d histories they’ll say
Napoleone di Buonaparte was born…