NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Lord Byron: Six Plays. Lord Byron. Los Angeles: Black Box Press, 2007.
CAIN: And this is Life? — Toil!And wherefore should I toil? — becauseMy father could not keep his place in Eden?What had I done in this? — I was unborn:I sought not to be born; nor love the stateTo which that birth has brought me. Why did heYield to the Serpent and the woman? orYielding—why suffer? What was there in this?The tree planted, and why not for him?If not, why place him near it, where it grewThe fairest in the center? They have butOne answer to all questions, “‘Twas his will,And he is good.” How know I that? BecauseHe is all-powerful, must all-good, too, follow?I judge but by the fruits—and they are bitter—Which I must feed on for a fault not mine.Why do I exist? Why art all things wretched?Ev’n he who made us must be, as the makerOf things unhappy! To produce destructionCan surely never be the task of joy,And yet my sire says he’s omnipotent:Then why is Evil—he being Good? I askedThis question of my father; and he said,Because this Evil only was the pathTo Good. Strange good, that must arise from outIts deadly opposite. I lately sawA lamb stung by a reptile: the poor sucklingLay foaming on the earth, beneath the vainAnd piteous bleating of its restless dam;My father plucked some herbs, and laid them toThe wound; and by degrees the helpless wretchResumed its careless life, and rose to drainThe mother’s milk, who o’er it tremulousStood licking its reviving limbs with joy.Behold, my son! said Adam, how from Evil springs Good!But I thought, that ’twere a better portion for the animalNever to have been stung at all than toPurchase renewal of its little lifeWith agonies unutterable, thoughDispelled by antidotes.