A line from one of the songs in one of my favourite musicals based on Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream: Were the World Mine.
Hiding in brooding darkness, unseen by everything.
Hidden from the beautiful world a mask of hideous character, nurturing hunger pangs that rip through its stomach in vehement scores. Clutching at this bulk to bear the pain of societal strain, it drops its gaze into darkness once more, afraid to venture outside this haven of black satin – its touch soothing to a soul riddled with sadness.
On this day a maiden as beautiful and fair as gilded sunrise and valiant as all the king’s men happens to prance about its darkness and stumbles upon the dying beast balled into the farthest corner, its eyes aglow with fright. Scorned by how petty beast must cower against the brutal arms of those who thrive in mockery, she leaves with it an apple red lest he succumb to the tender hands of death, and promises her swift return bearing the hearty feast of men.
It waits a wink until fair maiden returns with light and human fare, a bucket of water, soap and brush. Awhile the beast consume its contender’s meal with blissful glee, and revel in the hardened wisps of brush against its mangy fur, listening to the sweet melody of her smiling lips.
She backs away with sheer delight and brings the beast into the light where all manner of folk stand unwilling near, their eyes fallen to the autumn floor, their arms across their front, their faces tapestries of shy apology.
A tear then treads a path down its cheek as beast accepts their amity with a heart now set aflutter. Maiden claims its paw and leads him to and fro, and speaks a truth to those that will hear:
“Be not miserable to the face of this beast nor need you worry about its disparity. Please be kind, please be ungrudging, for all be as thou wast wont to be.”