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Title: Erechtheus - A Tragedy (New Edition)
Author: Swinburne, Algernon Charles, 1837-1909
Language: English
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ERECHTHEUS:

A TRAGEDY.


BY

ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE



    ὦ ταὶ λιπαραὶ καὶ ἰοστέφανοι καὶ ἀοίδιμοι
    Ἑλλάδος ἔρεισμα, κλειναὶ Ἀθᾶναι δαιμόνιον πτολίεθρον.

PIND. _Fr._ 47.

    ΑΤ. τίς δὲ ποιμάνωρ ἔπεστι κἀπιδεσπόζει στρατοῦ;
    ΧΟ. οὔτινος δοῦλοι κέκληνται φωτὸς οὐδ' ὑπηκόοι.

ÆSCH. _Pers._ 241-2.


_A NEW EDITION._


London:
CHATTO AND WINDUS, PICCADILLY.
1881.



PERSONS.


ERECHTHEUS.
CHORUS OF ATHENIAN ELDERS.
PRAXITHEA.
CHTHONIA.
HERALD OF EUMOLPUS.
MESSENGER.
ATHENIAN HERALD.
ATHENA.



ERECHTHEUS.


              ERECHTHEUS.

    Mother of life and death and all men's days,
    Earth, whom I chief of all men born would bless,
    And call thee with more loving lips than theirs
    Mother, for of this very body of thine
    And living blood I have my breath and live,
    Behold me, even thy son, me crowned of men,
    Me made thy child by that strong cunning God
    Who fashions fire and iron, who begat
    Me for a sword and beacon-fire on thee,
    Me fosterling of Pallas, in her shade                             10
    Reared, that I first might pay the nursing debt,
    Hallowing her fame with flower of third-year feasts,
    And first bow down the bridled strength of steeds
    To lose the wild wont of their birth, and bear
    Clasp of man's knees and steerage of his hand,
    Or fourfold service of his fire-swift wheels
    That whirl the four-yoked chariot; me the king
    Who stand before thee naked now, and cry,
    O holy and general mother of all men born,
    But mother most and motherliest of mine,                          20
    Earth, for I ask thee rather of all the Gods,
    What have we done? what word mistimed or work
    Hath winged the wild feet of this timeless curse
    To fall as fire upon us? Lo, I stand
    Here on this brow's crown of the city's head
    That crowns its lovely body, till death's hour
    Waste it; but now the dew of dawn and birth
    Is fresh upon it from thy womb, and we
    Behold it born how beauteous; one day more
    I see the world's wheel of the circling sun                       30
    Roll up rejoicing to regard on earth
    This one thing goodliest, fair as heaven or he,
    Worth a God's gaze or strife of Gods; but now
    Would this day's ebb of their spent wave of strife
    Sweep it to sea, wash it on wreck, and leave
    A costless thing contemned; and in our stead,
    Where these walls were and sounding streets of men,
    Make wide a waste for tongueless water-herds
    And spoil of ravening fishes; that no more
    Should men say, Here was Athens. This shalt thou                  40
    Sustain not, nor thy son endure to see,
    Nor thou to live and look on; for the womb
    Bare me not base that bare me miserable,
    To hear this loud brood of the Thracian foam
    Break its broad strength of billowy-beating war
    Here, and upon it as a blast of death
    Blowing, the keen wrath of a fire-souled king,
    A strange growth grafted on our natural soil,
    A root of Thrace in Eleusinian earth
    Set for no comfort to the kindly land,                            50
    Son of the sea's lord and our first-born foe,
    Eumolpus; nothing sweet in ears of thine
    The music of his making, nor a song
    Toward hopes of ours auspicious; for the note
    Rings as for death oracular to thy sons
    That goes before him on the sea-wind blown
    Full of this charge laid on me, to put out
    The brief light kindled of mine own child's life,
    Or with this helmsman hand that steers the state
    Run right on the under shoal and ridge of death                   60
    The populous ship with all its fraughtage gone
    And sails that were to take the wind of time
    Rent, and the tackling that should hold out fast
    In confluent surge of loud calamities
    Broken, with spars of rudders and lost oars
    That were to row toward harbour and find rest
    In some most glorious haven of all the world
    And else may never near it: such a song
    The Gods have set his lips on fire withal
    Who threatens now in all their names to bring                     70
    Ruin; but none of these, thou knowest, have I
    Chid with my tongue or cursed at heart for grief,
    Knowing how the soul runs reinless on sheer death
    Whose grief or joy takes part against the Gods.
    And what they will is more than our desire,
    And their desire is more than what we will.
    For no man's will and no desire of man's
    Shall stand as doth a God's will. Yet, O fair
    Mother, that seest me how I cast no word
    Against them, plead no reason, crave no cause,                    80
    Boast me not blameless, nor beweep me wronged,
    By this fair wreath of towers we have decked thee with,
    This chaplet that we give thee woven of walls,
    This girdle of gate and temple and citadel
    Drawn round beneath thy bosom, and fast linked
    As to thine heart's root--this dear crown of thine,
    This present light, this city--be not thou
    Slow to take heed nor slack to strengthen her,
    Fare we so short-lived howsoe'er, and pay
    What price we may to ransom thee thy town,                        90
    Not me my life; but thou that diest not, thou,
    Though all our house die for this people's sake,
    Keep thou for ours thy crown our city, guard
    And give it life the lovelier that we died.


              CHORUS.

    Sun, that hast lightened and loosed by thy might
    Ocean and Earth from the lordship of night,
    Quickening with vision his eye that was veiled,
    Freshening the force in her heart that had failed,
    That sister fettered and blinded brother
    Should have sight by thy grace and delight of each other,        100
        Behold now and see
      What profit is given them of thee;
    What wrath has enkindled with madness of mind
    Her limbs that were bounden, his face that was blind,
    To be locked as in wrestle together, and lighten
    With fire that shall darken thy fire in the sky,
    Body to body and eye against eye
        In a war against kind,
    Till the bloom of her fields and her high hills whiten
      With the foam of his waves more high.                          110
    For the sea-marks set to divide of old
    The kingdoms to Ocean and Earth assigned,
    The hoar sea-fields from the cornfields' gold,
    His wine-bright waves from her vineyards' fold,
        Frail forces we find
    To bridle the spirit of Gods or bind
      Till the heat of their hearts wax cold.
    But the peace that was stablished between them to stand
    Is rent now in twain by the strength of his hand
    Who stirs up the storm of his sons overbold                      120
    To pluck from fight what he lost of right,
    By council and judgment of Gods that spake
    And gave great Pallas the strife's fair stake,
    The lordship and love of the lovely land,
    The grace of the town that hath on it for crown
        But a headband to wear
      Of violets one-hued with her hair:
    For the vales and the green high places of earth
        Hold nothing so fair,
    And the depths of the sea bear no such birth                     130
      Of the manifold births they bear.
    Too well, too well was the great stake worth
    A strife divine for the Gods to judge,
    A crowned God's triumph, a foiled God's grudge,
    Though the loser be strong and the victress wise
    Who played long since for so large a prize,
    The fruitful immortal anointed adored
    Dear city of men without master or lord,
    Fair fortress and fostress of sons born free,
    Who stand in her sight and in thine, O sun,                      140
    Slaves of no man, subjects of none;
    A wonder enthroned on the hills and sea,
    A maiden crowned with a fourfold glory
    That none from the pride of her head may rend,
    Violet and olive-leaf purple and hoary,
    Song-wreath and story the fairest of fame,
      Flowers that the winter can blast not or bend;
      A light upon earth as the sun's own flame,
          A name as his name,
        Athens, a praise without end.                                150

      A noise is arisen against us of waters,                 [_Str._ 1.
        A sound as of battle come up from the sea.
      Strange hunters are hard on us, hearts without pity;
      They have staked their nets round the fair young city,
      That the sons of her strength and her virgin daughters
        Should find not whither alive to flee.
      And we know not yet of the word unwritten,              [_Ant._ 1.
        The doom of the Pythian we have not heard;
      From the navel of earth and the veiled mid altar
      We wait for a token with hopes that falter,                    160
      With fears that hang on our hearts thought-smitten
        Lest her tongue be kindled with no good word.
      O thou not born of the womb, nor bred      [_Str._ 2.
      In the bride-night's warmth of a changed God's bed,
    But thy life as a lightning was flashed from the light of thy
        father's head,
      O chief God's child by a motherless birth,
      If aught in thy sight we indeed be worth,
    Keep death from us thou, that art none of the Gods of the dead
        under earth.
      Thou that hast power on us, save, if thou wilt;         [_Ant._ 2.
      Let the blind wave breach not thy wall scarce built;           170
    But bless us not so as by bloodshed, impute not for grace to us
        guilt,
      Nor by price of pollution of blood set us free;
      Let the hands be taintless that clasp thy knee,
    Nor a maiden be slain to redeem for a maiden her shrine from the
        sea.
        O earth, O sun, turn back                             [_Str._ 3.
        Full on his deadly track
    Death, that would smite you black and mar your creatures,
        And with one hand disroot
        All tender flower and fruit,
    With one strike blind and mute the heaven's fair features,       180
        Pluck out the eyes of morn, and make
    Silence in the east and blackness whence the bright songs break.
        Help, earth, help, heaven, that hear                  [_Ant._ 3.
        The song-notes of our fear,
    Shrewd notes and shrill, not clear or joyful-sounding;
        Hear, highest of Gods, and stay
        Death on his hunter's way,
    Full on his forceless prey his beagles hounding;
        Break thou his bow, make short his hand,
    Maim his fleet foot whose passage kills the living land.         190
      Let a third wave smite not us, father,                  [_Str._ 4.
        Long since sore smitten of twain,
          Lest the house of thy son's son perish
            And his name be barren on earth.
      Whose race wilt thou comfort rather
        If none to thy son remain?
          Whose seed wilt thou choose to cherish
            If his be cut off in the birth?
      For the first fair graft of his graffing                [_Ant._ 4.
        Was rent from its maiden root                                200
          By the strong swift hand of a lover
            Who fills the night with his breath;
      On the lip of the stream low-laughing
        Her green soft virginal shoot
          Was plucked from the stream-side cover
            By the grasp of a love like death.
      For a God's was the mouth that kissed her               [_Str._ 5.
        Who speaks, and the leaves lie dead,
          When winter awakes as at warning
            To the sound of his foot from Thrace.                    210
      Nor happier the bed of her sister
        Though Love's self laid her abed
          By a bridegroom beloved of the morning
            And fair as the dawn's own face.
      For Procris, ensnared and ensnaring                     [_Ant._ 5.
        By the fraud of a twofold wile,
          With the point of her own spear stricken
            By the gift of her own hand fell.
      Oversubtle in doubts, overdaring
        In deeds and devices of guile,                               220
          And strong to quench as to quicken,
            O Love, have we named thee well?
      By thee was the spear's edge whetted                    [_Str._ 6.
        That laid her dead in the dew,
          In the moist green glens of the midland
            By her dear lord slain and thee.
      And him at the cliff's end fretted
        By the grey keen waves, him too,
          Thine hand from the white-browed headland
            Flung down for a spoil to the sea.                       230
      But enough now of griefs grey-growing                   [_Ant._ 6.
        Have darkened the house divine,
          Have flowered on its boughs and faded,
            And green is the brave stock yet.
      O father all-seeing and all-knowing,
        Let the last fruit fall not of thine
          From the tree with whose boughs we are shaded,
            From the stock that thy son's hand set.


              ERECHTHEUS.

    O daughter of Cephisus, from all time
    Wise have I found thee, wife and queen, of heart                 240
    Perfect; nor in the days that knew not wind
    Nor days when storm blew death upon our peace
    Was thine heart swoln with seed of pride, or bowed
    With blasts of bitter fear that break men's souls
    Who lift too high their minds toward heaven, in thought
    Too godlike grown for worship; but of mood
    Equal, in good time reverent of time bad,
    And glad in ill days of the good that were.
    Nor now too would I fear thee, now misdoubt
    Lest fate should find thee lesser than thy doom,                 250
    Chosen if thou be to bear and to be great
    Haply beyond all women; and the word
    Speaks thee divine, dear queen, that speaks thee dead,
    Dead being alive, or quick and dead in one
    Shall not men call thee living? yet I fear
    To slay thee timeless with my proper tongue,
    With lips, thou knowest, that love thee; and such work
    Was never laid of Gods on men, such word
    No mouth of man learnt ever, as from mine
    Most loth to speak thine ear most loth shall take                260
    And hold it hateful as the grave to hear.


              PRAXITHEA.

    That word there is not in all speech of man,
    King, that being spoken of the Gods and thee
    I have not heart to honour, or dare hold
    More than I hold thee or the Gods in hate
    Hearing; but if my heart abhor it heard
    Being insubmissive, hold me not thy wife
    But use me like a stranger, whom thine hand
    Hath fed by chance and finding thence no thanks
    Flung off for shame's sake to forgetfulness.                     270


              ERECHTHEUS.

    O, of what breath shall such a word be made,
    Or from what heart find utterance? Would my tongue
    Were rent forth rather from the quivering root
    Than made as fire or poison thus for thee.


              PRAXITHEA.

    But if thou speak of blood, and I that hear
    Be chosen of all for this land's love to die
    And save to thee thy city, know this well,
    Happiest I hold me of her seed alive.


              ERECHTHEUS.

    O sun that seest, what saying was this of thine,
    God, that thy power has breathed into my lips?                   280
    For from no sunlit shrine darkling it came.


              PRAXITHEA.

    What portent from the mid oracular place
    Hath smitten thee so like a curse that flies
    Wingless, to waste men with its plagues? yet speak.


              ERECHTHEUS.

    Thy blood the Gods require not; take this first.


              PRAXITHEA.

    To me than thee more grievous this should sound.


              ERECHTHEUS.

    That word rang truer and bitterer than it knew.


              PRAXITHEA.

    This is not then thy grief, to see me die?


              ERECHTHEUS.

    Die shalt thou not, yet give thy blood to death.


              PRAXITHEA.

    If this ring worse I know not; strange it rang.                  290


              ERECHTHEUS.

    Alas, thou knowest not; woe is me that know.


              PRAXITHEA.

    And woe shall mine be, knowing; yet halt not here.


              ERECHTHEUS.

    Guiltless of blood this state may stand no more.


              PRAXITHEA.

    Firm let it stand whatever bleed or fall.


              ERECHTHEUS.

    O Gods, that I should say it shall and weep.


              PRAXITHEA.

    Weep, and say this? no tears should bathe such words.


              ERECHTHEUS.

    Woe's me that I must weep upon them, woe.


              PRAXITHEA.

    What stain is on them for thy tears to cleanse?


              ERECHTHEUS.

    A stain of blood unpurgeable with tears.


              PRAXITHEA.

    Whence? for thou sayest it is and is not mine.                   300


              ERECHTHEUS.

    Hear then and know why only of all men I
    That bring such news as mine is, I alone
    Must wash good words with weeping; I and thou,
    Woman, must wail to hear men sing, must groan
    To see their joy who love us; all our friends
    Save only we, and all save we that love
    This holiness of Athens, in our sight
    Shall lift their hearts up, in our hearing praise
    Gods whom we may not; for to these they give
    Life of their children, flower of all their seed,                310
    For all their travail fruit, for all their hopes
    Harvest; but we for all our good things, we
    Have at their hands which fill all these folk full
    Death, barrenness, child-slaughter, curses, cares,
    Sea-leaguer and land-shipwreck; which of these,
    Which wilt thou first give thanks for? all are thine.


              PRAXITHEA.

    What first they give who give this city good,
    For that first given to save it I give thanks
    First, and thanks heartier from a happier tongue,
    More than for any my peculiar grace                              320
    Shown me and not my country; next for this,
    That none of all these but for all these I
    Must bear my burden, and no eye but mine
    Weep of all women's in this broad land born
    Who see their land's deliverance; but much more,
    But most for this I thank them most of all,
    That this their edge of doom is chosen to pierce
    My heart and not my country's; for the sword
    Drawn to smite there and sharpened for such stroke
    Should wound more deep than any turned on me.                    330


              CHORUS.

    Well fares the land that bears such fruit, and well
    The spirit that breeds such thought and speech in man.


              ERECHTHEUS.

    O woman, thou hast shamed my heart with thine,
    To show so strong a patience; take then all;
    For all shall break not nor bring down thy soul.
    The word that journeying to the bright God's shrine
    Who speaks askance and darkling, but his name
    Hath in it slaying and ruin broad writ out,
    I heard, hear thou: thus saith he; There shall die
    One soul for all this people; from thy womb                      340
    Came forth the seed that here on dry bare ground
    Death's hand must sow untimely, to bring forth
    Nor blade nor shoot in season, being by name
    To the under Gods made holy, who require
    For this land's life her death and maiden blood
    To save a maiden city. Thus I heard,
    And thus with all said leave thee; for save this
    No word is left us, and no hope alive.


              CHORUS.

    He hath uttered too surely his wrath not obscurely, nor wrapt
        as in mists of his breath,                               [_Str._
    The master that lightens not hearts he enlightens, but gives them
        foreknowledge of death.                                      350
      As a bolt from the cloud hath he sent it aloud and proclaimed
          it afar,
      From the darkness and height of the horror of night hath he
          shown us a star.
        Star may I name it and err not, or flame shall I say,
        Born of the womb that was born for the tomb of the day?
    O Night, whom other but thee for mother, and Death for the father,
        Night,                                                   [_Ant._
    Shall we dream to discover, save thee and thy lover, to bring
        such a sorrow to sight?
      From the slumberless bed for thy bedfellow spread and his bride
          under earth
      Hast thou brought forth a wild and insatiable child, an unbearable
          birth.
        Fierce are the fangs of his wrath, and the pangs that they give;
        None is there, none that may bear them, not one that would
            live.                                                    360


              CHTHONIA.

    Forth of the fine-spun folds of veils that hide
    My virgin chamber toward the full-faced sun
    I set my foot not moved of mine own will,
    Unmaidenlike, nor with unprompted speed
    Turn eyes too broad or doglike unabashed
    On reverend heads of men and thence on thine,
    Mother, now covered from the light and bowed
    As hers who mourns her brethren; but what grief
    Bends thy blind head thus earthward, holds thus mute,
    I know not till thy will be to lift up                           370
    Toward mine thy sorrow-muffled eyes and speak;
    And till thy will be would I know this not.


              PRAXITHEA.

    Old men and childless, or if sons ye have seen
    And daughters, elder-born were these than mine,
    Look on this child, how young of years, how sweet,
    How scant of time and green of age her life
    Puts forth its flower of girlhood; and her gait
    How virginal, how soft her speech, her eyes
    How seemly smiling; wise should all ye be,
    All honourable and kindly men of age;                            380
    Now give me counsel and one word to say
    That I may bear to speak, and hold my peace
    Henceforth for all time even as all ye now.
    Dumb are ye all, bowed eyes and tongueless mouths,
    Unprofitable; if this were wind that speaks,
    As much its breath might move you. Thou then, child,
    Set thy sweet eyes on mine; look through them well;
    Take note of all the writing of my face
    As of a tablet or a tomb inscribed
    That bears me record; lifeless now, my life                      390
    Thereon that was think written; brief to read,
    Yet shall the scripture sear thine eyes as fire
    And leave them dark as dead men's. Nay, dear child,
    Thou hast no skill, my maiden, and no sense
    To take such knowledge; sweet is all thy lore,
    And all this bitter; yet I charge thee learn
    And love and lay this up within thine heart,
    Even this my word; less ill it were to die
    Than live and look upon thy mother dead,
    Thy mother-land that bare thee; no man slain                     400
    But him who hath seen it shall men count unblest,
    None blest as him who hath died and seen it not.


              CHTHONIA.

    That sight some God keep from me though I die.


              PRAXITHEA.

    A God from thee shall keep it; fear not this.


              CHTHONIA.

    Thanks all my life long shall he gain of mine.


              PRAXITHEA.

    Short gain of all yet shall he get of thee.


              CHTHONIA.

    Brief be my life, yet so long live my thanks.


              PRAXITHEA.

    So long? so little; how long shall they live?


              CHTHONIA.

    Even while I see the sunlight and thine eyes.


              PRAXITHEA.

    Would mine might shut ere thine upon the sun.                    410


              CHTHONIA.

    For me thou prayest unkindly; change that prayer.


              PRAXITHEA.

    Not well for me thou sayest, and ill for thee.


              CHTHONIA.

    Nay, for me well, if thou shalt live, not I.


              PRAXITHEA.

    How live, and lose these loving looks of thine?


              CHTHONIA.

    It seems I too, thus praying, then, love thee not.


              PRAXITHEA.

    Lov'st thou not life? what wouldst thou do to die?


              CHTHONIA.

    Well, but not more than all things, love I life.


              PRAXITHEA.

    And fain wouldst keep it as thine age allows?


              CHTHONIA.

    Fain would I live, and fain not fear to die.


              PRAXITHEA.

    That I might bid thee die not! Peace; no more.                   420


              CHORUS.

    A godlike race of grief the Gods have set
    For these to run matched equal, heart with heart.


              PRAXITHEA.

    Child of the chief of Gods, and maiden crowned,
    Queen of these towers and fostress of their king,
    Pallas, and thou my father's holiest head,
    A living well of life nor stanched nor stained,
    O God Cephisus, thee too charge I next,
    Be to me judge and witness; nor thine ear
    Shall now my tongue invoke not, thou to me
    Most hateful of things holy, mournfullest                        430
    Of all old sacred streams that wash the world,
    Ilissus, on whose marge at flowery play
    A whirlwind-footed bridegroom found my child
    And rapt her northward where mine elder-born
    Keeps now the Thracian bride-bed of a God
    Intolerable to seamen, but this land
    Finds him in hope for her sake favourable,
    A gracious son by wedlock; hear me then
    Thou likewise, if with no faint heart or false
    The word I say be said, the gift be given,                       440
    Which might I choose I had rather die than give
    Or speak and die not. Ere thy limbs were made
    Or thine eyes lightened, strife, thou knowest, my child,
    'Twixt God and God had risen, which heavenlier name
    Should here stand hallowed, whose more liberal grace
    Should win this city's worship, and our land
    To which of these do reverence; first the lord
    Whose wheels make lightnings of the foam-flowered sea
    Here on this rock, whose height brow-bound with dawn
    Is head and heart of Athens, one sheer blow                      450
    Struck, and beneath the triple wound that shook
    The stony sinews and stark roots of the earth
    Sprang toward the sun a sharp salt fount, and sank
    Where lying it lights the heart up of the hill,
    A well of bright strange brine; but she that reared
    Thy father with her same chaste fostering hand
    Set for a sign against it in our guard
    The holy bloom of the olive, whose hoar leaf
    High in the shadowy shrine of Pandrosus
    Hath honour of us all; and of this strife                        460
    The twelve most high Gods judging with one mouth
    Acclaimed her victress; wroth whereat, as wronged
    That she should hold from him such prize and place,
    The strong king of the tempest-rifted sea
    Loosed reinless on the low Thriasian plain
    The thunders of his chariots, swallowing stunned
    Earth, beasts, and men, the whole blind foundering world
    That was the sun's at morning, and ere noon
    Death's; nor this only prey fulfilled his mind;
    For with strange crook-toothed prows of Carian folk              470
    Who snatch a sanguine life out of the sea,
    Thieves keen to pluck their bloody fruit of spoil
    From the grey fruitless waters, has their God
    Furrowed our shores to waste them, as the fields
    Were landward harried from the north with swords
    Aonian, sickles of man-slaughtering edge
    Ground for no hopeful harvest of live grain
    Against us in Bœotia; these being spent,
    Now this third time his wind of wrath has blown
    Right on this people a mightier wave of war,                     480
    Three times more huge a ruin; such its ridge
    Foam-rimmed and hollow like the womb of heaven,
    But black for shining, and with death for life
    Big now to birth and ripe with child, full-blown
    With fear and fruit of havoc, takes the sun
    Out of our eyes, darkening the day, and blinds
    The fair sky's face unseasonably with change,
    A cloud in one and billow of battle, a surge
    High reared as heaven with monstrous surf of spears
    That shake on us their shadow, till men's heads                  490
    Bend, and their hearts even with its forward wind
    Wither, so blasts all seed in them of hope
    Its breath and blight of presage; yea, even now
    The winter of this wind out of the deeps
    Makes cold our trust in comfort of the Gods
    And blind our eye toward outlook; yet not here,
    Here never shall the Thracian plant on high
    For ours his father's symbol, nor with wreaths
    A strange folk wreathe it upright set and crowned
    Here where our natural people born behold                        500
    The golden Gorgon of the shield's defence
    That screens their flowering olive, nor strange Gods
    Be graced, and Pallas here have praise no more.
    And if this be not I must give my child,
    Thee, mine own very blood and spirit of mine,
    Thee to be slain. Turn from me, turn thine eyes
    A little from me; I can bear not yet
    To see if still they smile on mine or no,
    If fear make faint the light in them, or faith
    Fix them as stars of safety. Need have we,                       510
    Sore need of stars that set not in mid storm,
    Lights that outlast the lightnings; yet my heart
    Endures not to make proof of thine or these,
    Not yet to know thee whom I made, and bare
    What manner of woman; had I borne thee man,
    I had made no question of thine eyes or heart,
    Nor spared to read the scriptures in them writ,
    Wert thou my son; yet couldst thou then but die
    Fallen in sheer fight by chance and charge of spears
    And have no more of memory, fill no tomb                         520
    More famous than thy fellows in fair field,
    Where many share the grave, many the praise;
    But one crown shall one only girl my child
    Wear, dead for this dear city, and give back life
    To him that gave her and to me that bare,
    And save two sisters living; and all this,
    Is this not all good? I shall give thee, child,
    Thee but by fleshly nature mine, to bleed
    For dear land's love; but if the city fall
    What part is left me in my children then?                        530
    But if it stand and thou for it lie dead,
    Then hast thou in it a better part than we,
    A holier portion than we all; for each
    Hath but the length of his own life to live,
    And this most glorious mother-land on earth
    To worship till that life have end; but thine
    Hath end no more than hers; thou, dead, shalt live
    Till Athens live not; for the days and nights
    Given of thy bare brief dark dividual life,
    Shall she give thee half all her agelong own                     540
    And all its glory; for thou givest her these;
    But with one hand she takes and gives again
    More than I gave or she requires of thee.
    Come therefore, I will make thee fit for death,
    I that could give thee, dear, no gift at birth
    Save of light life that breathes and bleeds, even I
    Will help thee to this better gift than mine
    And lead thee by this little living hand
    That death shall make so strong, to that great end
    Whence it shall lighten like a God's, and strike                 550
    Dead the strong heart of battle that would break
    Athens; but ye, pray for this land, old men,
    That it may bring forth never child on earth
    To love it less, for none may more, than we.


              CHORUS.

      Out of the north wind grief came forth,                 [_Str._ 1.
        And the shining of a sword out of the sea.
      Yea, of old the first-blown blast blew the prelude of this last,
        The blast of his trumpet upon Rhodope.
      Out of the north skies full of his cloud,
      With the clamour of his storms as of a crowd                   560
      At the wheels of a great king crying aloud,
      At the axle of a strong king's car
      That has girded on the girdle of war--
      With hands that lightened the skies in sunder
      And feet whose fall was followed of thunder,
        A God, a great God strange of name,
        With horse-yoke fleeter-hoofed than flame,
      To the mountain bed of a maiden came,
      Oreithyia, the bride mismated,
      Wofully wed in a snow-strewn bed                               570
      With a bridegroom that kisses the bride's mouth dead;
      Without garland, without glory, without song,
      As a fawn by night on the hills belated,
      Given over for a spoil unto the strong.
      From lips how pale so keen a wail                       [_Ant._ 1.
        At the grasp of a God's hand on her she gave,
      When his breath that darkens air made a havoc of her hair,
        It rang from the mountain even to the wave;
      Rang with a cry, _Woe's me, woe is me!_
      From the darkness upon Hæmus to the sea:                       580
      And with hands that clung to her new lord's knee,
      As a virgin overborne with shame,
      She besought him by her spouseless fame,
      By the blameless breasts of a maid unmarried
      And locks unmaidenly rent and harried,
        And all her flower of body, born
        To match the maidenhood of morn,
      With the might of the wind's wrath wrenched and torn.
      Vain, all vain as a dead man's vision
      Falling by night in his old friends' sight,                    590
      To be scattered with slumber and slain ere light;
      Such a breath of such a bridegroom in that hour
      Of her prayers made mock, of her fears derision,
      And a ravage of her youth as of a flower.
    With a leap of his limbs as a lion's, a cry from his lips as
        of thunder,                                           [_Str._ 2.
      In a storm of amorous godhead filled with fire,
    From the height of the heaven that was rent with the roar of his
        coming in sunder,
      Sprang the strong God on the spoil of his desire.
      And the pines of the hills were as green reeds shattered,
      And their branches as buds of the soft spring scattered,       600
      And the west wind and east, and the sound of the south,
      Fell dumb at the blast of the north wind's mouth,
        At the cry of his coming out of heaven.
      And the wild beasts quailed in the rifts and hollows
      Where hound nor clarion of huntsman follows,
      And the depths of the sea were aghast, and whitened,
      And the crowns of their waves were as flame that lightened,
        And the heart of the floods thereof was riven.
    But she knew not him coming for terror, she felt not her wrong
        that he wrought her,                                  [_Ant._ 2.
      When her locks as leaves were shed before his breath,          610
    And she heard not for terror his prayer, though the cry was a
        God's that besought her,
      Blown from lips that strew the world-wide seas with death.
      For the heart was molten within her to hear,
      And her knees beneath her were loosened for fear,
      And her blood fast bound as a frost-bound water,
      And the soft new bloom of the green earth's daughter
        Wind-wasted as blossom of a tree;
      As the wild God rapt her from earth's breast lifted,
      On the strength of the stream of his dark breath drifted,
      From the bosom of earth as a bride from the mother,            620
      With storm for bridesman and wreck for brother,
        As a cloud that he sheds upon the sea.

          Of this hoary-headed woe                             [_Epode._
          Song made memory long ago;
          Now a younger grief to mourn
          Needs a new song younger born.
          Who shall teach our tongues to reach
          What strange height of saddest speech,
        For the new bride's sake that is given to be
        A stay to fetter the foot of the sea,                        630
        Lest it quite spurn down and trample the town,
        Ere the violets be dead that were plucked for its crown,
            Or its olive-leaf whiten and wither?
          Who shall say of the wind's way
          That he journeyed yesterday,
        Or the track of the storm that shall sound to-morrow,
        If the new be more than the grey-grown sorrow?
        For the wind of the green first season was keen,
        And the blast shall be sharper than blew between
            That the breath of the sea blows hither.                 640


              HERALD OF EUMOLPUS.

    Old men, grey borderers on the march of death,
    Tongue-fighters, tough of talk and sinewy speech,
    Else nerveless, from no crew of such faint folk
    Whose tongues are stouter than their hands come I
    To bid not you to battle; let them strike
    Whose swords are sharper than your keen-tongued wail,
    And ye, sit fast and sorrow; but what man
    Of all this land-folk and earth-labouring herd
    For heart or hand seems foremost, him I call
    If heart be his to hearken, him bid forth                        650
    To try if one be in the sun's sight born
    Of all that grope and grovel on dry ground
    That may join hands in battle-grip for death
    With them whose seed and strength is of the sea.


              CHORUS.

    Know thou this much for all thy loud blast blown,
    We lack not hands to speak with, swords to plead,
    For proof of peril, not of boisterous breath,
    Sea-wind and storm of barren mouths that foam
    And rough rock's edge of menace; and short space
    May lesson thy large ignorance and inform                        660
    This insolence with knowledge if there live
    Men earth-begotten of no tenderer thews
    Than knit the great joints of the grim sea's brood
    With hasps of steel together; heaven to help,
    One man shall break, even on their own flood's verge,
    That iron bulk of battle; but thine eye
    That sees it now swell higher than sand or shore
    Haply shall see not when thine host shall shrink.


              HERALD OF EUMOLPUS.

    Not haply, nay, but surely, shall not thine.


              CHORUS.

    That lot shall no God give who fights for thee.                  670


              HERALD OF EUMOLPUS.

    Shall Gods bear bit and bridle, fool, of men?


              CHORUS.

    Nor them forbid we nor shalt thou constrain.


              HERALD OF EUMOLPUS.

    Yet say'st thou none shall make the good lot mine?


              CHORUS.

    Of thy side none, nor moved for fear of thee.


              HERALD OF EUMOLPUS.

    Gods hast thou then to baffle Gods of ours?


              CHORUS.

    Nor thine nor mine, but equal-souled are they.


              HERALD OF EUMOLPUS.

    Toward good and ill, then, equal-eyed of soul?


              CHORUS.

    Nay, but swift-eyed to note where ill thoughts breed.


              HERALD OF EUMOLPUS.

    Thy shaft word-feathered flies yet far of me.


              CHORUS.

    Pride knows not, wounded, till the heart be cleft.               680


              HERALD OF EUMOLPUS.

    No shaft wounds deep whose wing is plumed with words.


              CHORUS.

    Lay that to heart, and bid thy tongue learn grace.


              HERALD OF EUMOLPUS.

    Grace shall thine own crave soon too late of mine.


              CHORUS.

    Boast thou till then, but I wage words no more.


              ERECHTHEUS.

    Man, what shrill wind of speech and wrangling air
    Blows in our ears a summons from thy lips
    Winged with what message, or what gift or grace
    Requiring? none but what his hand may take
    Here may the foe think hence to reap, nor this
    Except some doom from Godward yield it him.                      690


              HERALD OF EUMOLPUS.

    King of this land-folk, by my mouth to thee
    Thus saith the son of him that shakes thine earth,
    Eumolpus; now the stakes of war are set,
    For land or sea to win by throw and wear;
    Choose therefore or to quit thy side and give
    The palm unfought for to his bloodless hand,
    Or by that father's sceptre, and the foot
    Whose tramp far off makes tremble for pure fear
    Thy soul-struck mother, piercing like a sword
    The immortal womb that bare thee; by the waves                   700
    That no man bridles and that bound thy world,
    And by the winds and storms of all the sea,
    He swears to raze from eyeshot of the sun
    This city named not of his father's name,
    And wash to deathward down one flood of doom
    This whole fresh brood of earth yeaned naturally,
    Green yet and faint in its first blade, unblown
    With yellow hope of harvest; so do thou,
    Seeing whom thy time is come to meet, for fear
    Yield, or gird up thy force to fight and die.                    710


              ERECHTHEUS.

    To fight then be it; for if to die or live,
    No man but only a God knows this much yet
    Seeing us fare forth, who bear but in our hands
    The weapons not the fortunes of our fight;
    For these now rest as lots that yet undrawn
    Lie in the lap of the unknown hour; but this
    I know, not thou, whose hollow mouth of storm
    Is but a warlike wind, a sharp salt breath
    That bites and wounds not; death nor life of mine
    Shall give to death or lordship of strange kings                 720
    The soul of this live city, nor their heel
    Bruise her dear brow discrowned, nor snaffle or goad
    Wound her free mouth or stain her sanguine side
    Yet masterless of man; so bid thy lord
    Learn ere he weep to learn it, and too late
    Gnash teeth that could not fasten on her flesh,
    And foam his life out in dark froth of blood
    Vain as a wind's waif of the loud-mouthed sea
    Torn from the wave's edge whitening. Tell him this;
    Though thrice his might were mustered for our scathe             730
    And thicker set with fence of thorn-edged spears
    Than sands are whirled about the wintering beach
    When storms have swoln the rivers, and their blasts
    Have breached the broad sea-banks with stress of sea,
    That waves of inland and the main make war
    As men that mix and grapple; though his ranks
    Were more to number than all wildwood leaves
    The wind waves on the hills of all the world,
    Yet should the heart not faint, the head not fall,
    The breath not fail of Athens. Say, the Gods                     740
    From lips that have no more on earth to say
    Have told thee this the last good news or ill
    That I shall speak in sight of earth and sun
    Or he shall hear and see them: for the next
    That ear of his from tongue of mine may take
    Must be the first word spoken underground
    From dead to dead in darkness. Hence; make haste,
    Lest war's fleet foot be swifter than thy tongue
    And I that part not to return again
    On him that comes not to depart away                             750
    Be fallen before thee; for the time is full,
    And with such mortal hope as knows not fear
    I go this high last way to the end of all.


              CHORUS.

    Who shall put a bridle in the mourner's lips to chasten
        them,                                                 [_Str._ 1.
      Or seal up the fountains of his tears for shame?
    Song nor prayer nor prophecy shall slacken tears nor hasten them,
      Till grief be within him as a burnt-out flame;
          Till the passion be broken in his breast
          And the might thereof molten into rest,
        And the rain of eyes that weep be dry,                       760
        And the breath be stilled of lips that sigh.
    Death at last for all men is a harbour; yet they flee from
        it,                                                   [_Ant._ 1.
      Set sails to the storm-wind and again to sea;
    Yet for all their labour no whit further shall they be from it,
      Nor longer but wearier shall their life's work be.
          And with anguish of travail until night
          Shall they steer into shipwreck out of sight,
        And with oars that break and shrouds that strain
        Shall they drive whence no ship steers again.
    Bitter and strange is the word of the God most high,  [_Str._ 2. 770
          And steep the strait of his way.
    Through a pass rock-rimmed and narrow the light that gleams
    On the faces of men falls faint as the dawn of dreams,
    The dayspring of death as a star in an under sky
          Where night is the dead men's day.
    As darkness and storm is his will that on earth is done,  [_Ant._ 2.
          As a cloud is the face of his strength.
    King of kings, holiest of holies, and mightiest of might,
    Lord of the lords of thine heaven that are humble in thy sight,
    Hast thou set not an end for the path of the fires of the sun,   780
          To appoint him a rest at length?
    Hast thou told not by measure the waves of the waste wide
        sea,                                                  [_Str._ 3.
    And the ways of the wind their master and thrall to thee?
          Hast thou filled not the furrows with fruit for the
              world's increase?
    Has thine ear not heard from of old or thine eye not read
    The thought and the deed of us living, the doom of us dead?
          Hast thou made not war upon earth, and again made peace?
    Therefore, O father, that seest us whose lives are a
        breath,                                               [_Ant._ 3.
    Take off us thy burden, and give us not wholly to death.
          For lovely is life, and the law wherein all things live,   790
    And gracious the season of each, and the hour of its kind,
    And precious the seed of his life in a wise man's mind;
          But all save life for his life will a base man give.
    But a life that is given for the life of the whole live
        land,                                                 [_Str._ 4.
    From a heart unspotted a gift of a spotless hand,
    Of pure will perfect and free, for the land's life's sake,
    What man shall fear not to put forth his hand and take?
    For the fruit of a sweet life plucked in its pure green
        prime                                                 [_Ant._ 4.
    On his hand who plucks is as blood, on his soul as crime.
    With cursing ye buy not blessing, nor peace with strife,         800
    And the hand is hateful that chaffers with death for life.
        Hast thou heard, O my heart, and endurest             [_Str._ 5.
          The word that is said,
        What a garland by sentence found surest
          Is wrought for what head?
    With what blossomless flowerage of sea-foam and blood-coloured
        foliage inwound
    It shall crown as a heifer's for slaughter the forehead for
        marriage uncrowned?
        How the veils and the wreaths that should cover       [_Ant._ 5.
          The brows of the bride
        Shall be shed by the breath of what lover                    810
          And scattered aside?
    With a blast of the mouth of what bridegroom the crowns shall
        be cast from her hair,
    And her head by what altar made humble be left of them naked
        and bare?
    At a shrine unbeloved of a God unbeholden a gift shall be given
        for the land,                                         [_Str._ 6.
    That its ramparts though shaken with clamour and horror of
        manifold waters may stand;
    That the crests of its citadels crowned and its turrets that
        thrust up their heads to the sun
    May behold him unblinded with darkness of waves overmastering
        their bulwarks begun.
    As a bride shall they bring her, a prey for the bridegroom, a
        flower for the couch of her lord;                     [_Ant._ 6.
    They shall muffle her mouth that she cry not or curse them,
        and cover her eyes from the sword.
    They shall fasten her lips as with bit and with bridle, and
        darken the light of her face,                                820
    That the soul of the slayer may not falter, his heart be not
        molten, his hand give not grace.
      If she weep then, yet may none that hear take pity;     [_Str._ 7.
        If she cry not, none should hearken though she cried.
      Shall a virgin shield thine head for love, O city,
        With a virgin's blood anointed as for pride?
      Yet we held thee dear and hallowed of her favour,       [_Ant._ 7.
        Dear of all men held thy people to her heart;
      Nought she loves the breath of blood, the sanguine savour,
        Who hath built with us her throne and chosen her part.
          Bloodless are her works, and sweet              [_Epode._  830
          All the ways that feel her feet;
          From the empire of her eyes
          Light takes life and darkness flies;
          From the harvest of her hands
          Wealth strikes root in prosperous lands;
          Wisdom of her word is made;
          At her strength is strength afraid;
          From the beam of her bright spear
          War's fleet foot goes back for fear;
          In her shrine she reared the birth                         840
          Fire-begotten on live earth;
          Glory from her helm was shed
          On his olive-shadowed head;
          By no hand but his shall she
          Scourge the storms back of the sea,
          To no fame but his shall give
          Grace, being dead, with hers to live,
          And in double name divine
          Half the godhead of their shrine.
    But now with what word, with what woe may we meet                850
    The timeless passage of piteous feet,
    Hither that bend to the last way's end
        They shall walk upon earth?
    What song be rolled for a bride black-stoled
    And the mother whose hand of her hand hath hold?
    For anguish of heart is my soul's strength broken
    And the tongue sealed fast that would fain have spoken,
    To behold thee, O child of so bitter a birth
        That we counted so sweet,
    What way thy steps to what bride-feast tend,                     860
    What gift he must give that shall wed thee for token
        If the bridegroom be goodly to greet.


              CHTHONIA.

    People, old men of my city, lordly wise and hoar of head,
    I a spouseless bride and crownless but with garlands of the dead
    From the fruitful light turn silent to my dark unchilded bed.


              CHORUS.

    Wise of word was he too surely, but with deadlier wisdom wise,
    First who gave thee name from under earth, no breath from upper
        skies,
    When, foredoomed to this day's darkness, their first daylight
        filled thine eyes.


              PRAXITHEA.

    Child, my child that wast and art but death's and now no more
        of mine,
    Half my heart is cloven with anguish by the sword made sharp
        for thine,                                                   870
    Half exalts its wing for triumph, that I bare thee thus divine.


              CHTHONIA.

    Though for me the sword's edge thirst that sets no point against
        thy breast,
    Mother, O my mother, where I drank of life and fell on rest,
    Thine, not mine, is all the grief that marks this hour accurst and
        blest.


              CHORUS.

    Sweet thy sleep and sweet the bosom was that gave thee sleep
        and birth;
    Harder now the breast, and girded with no marriage-band for girth,
    Where thine head shall sleep, the namechild of the lords of under
        earth.


              PRAXITHEA.

    Dark the name and dark the gifts they gave thee, child, in
        childbirth were,
    Sprung from him that rent the womb of earth, a bitter seed to bear,
    Born with groanings of the ground that gave him way toward heaven's
        dear air.                                                    880


              CHTHONIA.

    Day to day makes answer, first to last, and life to death; but I,
    Born for death's sake, die for life's sake, if indeed this be
        to die,
    This my doom that seals me deathless till the springs of time
        run dry.


              CHORUS.

    Children shalt thou bear to memory, that to man shalt bring forth
        none;
    Yea, the lordliest that lift eyes and hearts and songs to meet the
        sun,
    Names to fire men's ears like music till the round world's race be
        run.


              PRAXITHEA.

    I thy mother, named of Gods that wreak revenge and brand with blame,
    Now for thy love shall be loved as thou, and famous with thy fame,
    While this city's name on earth shall be for earth her mightiest
        name.


              CHTHONIA.

    That I may give this poor girl's blood of mine                   890
    Scarce yet sun-warmed with summer, this thin life
    Still green with flowerless growth of seedling days,
    To build again my city; that no drop
    Fallen of these innocent veins on the cold ground
    But shall help knit the joints of her firm walls
    To knead the stones together, and make sure
    The band about her maiden girdlestead
    Once fastened, and of all men's violent hands
    Inviolable for ever; these to me
    Were no such gifts as crave no thanksgiving,                     900
    If with one blow dividing the sheer life
    I might make end, and one pang wind up all
    And seal mine eyes from sorrow; for such end
    The Gods give none they love not; but my heart,
    That leaps up lightened of all sloth or fear
    To take the sword's point, yet with one thought's load
    Flags, and falls back, broken of wing, that halts
    Maimed in mid flight for thy sake and borne down,
    Mother, that in the places where I played
    An arm's length from thy bosom and no more                       910
    Shalt find me never, nor thine eye wax glad
    To mix with mine its eyesight and for love
    Laugh without word, filled with sweet light, and speak
    Divine dumb things of the inward spirit and heart,
    Moved silently; nor hand or lip again
    Touch hand or lip of either, but for mine
    Shall thine meet only shadows of swift night,
    Dreams and dead thoughts of dead things; and the bed
    Thou strewedst, a sterile place for all time, strewn
    For my sleep only, with its void sad sheets                      920
    Shall vex thee, and the unfruitful coverlid
    For empty days reproach me dead, that leave
    No profit of my body, but am gone
    As one not worth being born to bear no seed,
    A sapless stock and branchless; yet thy womb
    Shall want not honour of me, that brought forth
    For all this people freedom, and for earth
    From the unborn city born out of my blood
    To light the face of all men evermore
    Glory; but lay thou this to thy great heart                      930
    Whereunder in the dark of birth conceived
    Mine unlit life lay girdled with the zone
    That bound thy bridal bosom; set this thought
    Against all edge of evil as a sword
    To beat back sorrow, that for all the world
    Thou brought'st me forth a saviour, who shall save
    Athens; for none but I from none but thee
    Shall take this death for garland; and the men
    Mine unknown children of unsounded years,
    My sons unrisen shall rise up at thine hand,                     940
    Sown of thy seed to bring forth seed to thee,
    And call thee most of all most fruitful found
    Blessed; but me too for my barren womb
    More than my sisters for their children born
    Shall these give honour, yea in scorn's own place
    Shall men set love and bring for mockery praise
    And thanks for curses; for the dry wild vine
    Scoffed at and cursed of all men that was I
    Shall shed them wine to make the world's heart warm,
    That all eyes seeing may lighten, and all ears                   950
    Hear and be kindled; such a draught to drink
    Shall be the blood that bids this dust bring forth,
    The chaliced life here spilt on this mine earth,
    Mine, my great father's mother; whom I pray
    Take me now gently, tenderly take home,
    And softly lay in his my cold chaste hand
    Who is called of men by my name, being of Gods
    Charged only and chosen to bring men under earth,
    And now must lead and stay me with his staff
    A silent soul led of a silent God,                               960
    Toward sightless things led sightless; and on earth
    I see now but the shadow of mine end,
    And this last light of all for me in heaven.


              PRAXITHEA.

    Farewell I bid thee; so bid thou not me,
    Lest the Gods hear and mock us; yet on these
    I lay the weight not of this grief, nor cast
    Ill words for ill deeds back; for if one say
    They have done men wrong, what hurt have they to hear,
    Or he what help to have said it? surely, child,
    If one among men born might say it and live                      970
    Blameless, none more than I may, who being vexed
    Hold yet my peace; for now through tears enough
    Mine eyes have seen the sun that from this day
    Thine shall see never more; and in the night
    Enough has blown of evil, and mine ears
    With wail enough the winds have filled, and brought
    Too much of cloud from over the sharp sea
    To mar for me the morning; such a blast
    Rent from these wide void arms and helpless breast
    Long since one graft of me disbranched, and bore                 980
    Beyond the wild ways of the unwandered world
    And loud wastes of the thunder-throated sea,
    Springs of the night and openings of the heaven,
    The old garden of the Sun; whence never more
    From west or east shall winds bring back that blow
    From folds of opening heaven or founts of night
    The flower of mine once ravished, born my child
    To bear strange children; nor on wings of theirs
    Shall comfort come back to me, nor their sire
    Breathe help upon my peril, nor his strength                     990
    Raise up my weakness; but of Gods and men
    I drift unsteered on ruin, and the wave
    Darkens my head with imminent height, and hangs
    Dumb, filled too full with thunder that shall leave
    These ears death-deafened when the tide finds tongue
    And all its wrath bears on them; thee, O child,
    I help not, nor am holpen; fain, ah fain,
    More than was ever mother born of man,
    Were I to help thee; fain beyond all prayer,
    Beyond all thought fain to redeem thee, torn                    1000
    More timeless from me sorrowing than the dream
    That was thy sister; so shalt thou be too,
    Thou but a vision, shadow-shaped of sleep,
    By grief made out of nothing; now but once
    I touch, but once more hold thee, one more kiss
    This last time and none other ever more
    Leave on thy lips and leave them. Go; thou wast
    My heart, my heart's blood, life-blood of my life,
    My child, my nursling; now this breast once thine
    Shall rear again no children; never now                         1010
    Shall any mortal blossom born like thee
    Lie there, nor ever with small silent mouth
    Draw the sweet springs dry for an hour that feed
    The blind blithe life that knows not; never head
    Rest here to make these cold veins warm, nor eye
    Laugh itself open with the lips that reach
    Lovingly toward a fount more loving; these
    Death makes as all good lesser things now dead,
    And all the latter hopes that flowered from these
    And fall as these fell fruitless; no joy more                   1020
    Shall man take of thy maidenhood, no tongue
    Praise it; no good shall eyes get more of thee
    That lightened for thy love's sake. Now, take note,
    Give ear, O all ye people, that my word
    May pierce your hearts through, and the stroke that cleaves
    Be fruitful to them; so shall all that hear
    Grow great at heart with child of thought most high
    And bring forth seed in season; this my child,
    This flower of this my body, this sweet life,
    This fair live youth I give you, to be slain,                   1030
    Spent, shed, poured out, and perish; take my gift
    And give it death and the under Gods who crave
    So much for that they give; for this is more,
    Much more is this than all we; for they give
    Freedom, and for a blast, an air of breath,
    A little soul that is not, they give back
    Light for all eyes, cheer for all hearts, and life
    That fills the world's width full of fame and praise
    And mightier love than children's. This they give,
    The grace to make thy country great, and wrest                  1040
    From time and death power to take hold on her
    And strength to scathe for ever; and this gift,
    Is this no more than man's love is or mine,
    Mine and all mothers'? nay, where that seems more,
    Where one loves life of child, wife, father, friend,
    Son, husband, mother, more than this, even there
    Are all these lives worth nothing, all loves else
    With this love slain and buried, and their tomb
    A thing for shame to spit on; for what love
    Hath a slave left to love with? or the heart                    1050
    Base-born and bound in bondage fast to fear,
    What should it do to love thee? what hath he,
    The man that hath no country? Gods nor men
    Have such to friend, yoked beast-like to base life,
    Vile, fruitless, grovelling at the foot of death,
    Landless and kinless thralls of no man's blood,
    Unchilded and unmothered, abject limbs
    That breed things abject; but who loves on earth
    Not friend, wife, husband, father, mother, child,
    Nor loves his own life for his own land's sake,                 1060
    But only this thing most, more this than all,
    He loves all well and well of all is loved,
    And this love lives for ever. See now, friends,
    My countrymen, my brothers, with what heart
    I give you this that of your hands again
    The Gods require for Athens; as I give
    So give ye to them what their hearts would have
    Who shall give back things better; yea, and these
    I take for me to witness, all these Gods,
    Were their great will more grievous than it is,                 1070
    Not one but three, for this one thin-spun thread
    A threefold band of children would I give
    For this land's love's sake; for whose love to-day
    I bid thee, child, fare deathward and farewell.


              CHORUS.

    O wofullest of women, yet of all
    Happiest, thy word be hallowed; in all time
    Thy name shall blossom, and from strange new tongues
    High things be spoken of thee; for such grace
    The Gods have dealt to no man, that on none
    Have laid so heavy sorrow. From this day                        1080
    Live thou assured of godhead in thy blood,
    And in thy fate no lowlier than a God
    In all good things and evil; such a name
    Shall be thy child this city's, and thine own
    Next hers that called it Athens. Go now forth
    Blest, and grace with thee to the doors of death.


              CHTHONIA.

    O city, O glory of Athens, O crown of my father's land, farewell.


              CHORUS.

      For welfare is given her of thee.


              CHTHONIA.

    O Goddess, be good to thy people, that in them dominion and freedom
        may dwell.


              CHORUS.

      Turn from us the strengths of the sea.                        1090


              CHTHONIA.

    Let glory's and theirs be one name in the mouths of all nations
        made glad with the sun.


              CHORUS.

      For the cloud is blown back with thy breath.


              CHTHONIA.

    With the long last love of mine eyes I salute thee,
        O land where my days now are done.


              CHORUS.

      But her life shall be born of thy death.


              CHTHONIA.

    I put on me the darkness thy shadow, my mother, and symbol, O
        Earth, of my name.


              CHORUS.

      For thine was her witness from birth.


              CHTHONIA.

    In thy likeness I come to thee darkling, a daughter whose dawn and
        her even are the same.


              CHORUS.

      Be thine heart to her gracious, O Earth.


              CHTHONIA.

    To thine own kind be kindly, for thy son's name's sake.


              CHORUS.

      That sons unborn may praise thee and thy first-born son.      1100


              CHTHONIA.

    Give me thy sleep, who give thee all my life awake.


              CHORUS.

      Too swift a sleep, ere half the web of day be spun.


              CHTHONIA.

    Death brings the shears or ever life wind up the weft.


              CHORUS.

      Their edge is ground and sharpened; who shall stay his hand?


              CHTHONIA.

    The woof is thin, a small short life, with no thread left.


              CHORUS.

      Yet hath it strength, stretched out, to shelter all the land.


              CHTHONIA.

    Too frail a tent for covering, and a screen too strait.


              CHORUS.

      Yet broad enough for buckler shall thy sweet life be.


              CHTHONIA.

    A little bolt to bar off battle from the gate.


              CHORUS.

      A wide sea-wall, that shatters the besieging sea.             1110


              CHTHONIA.

    I lift up mine eyes from the skirts of the shadow,           [_Str._
      From the border of death to the limits of light;
    O streams and rivers of mountain and meadow
        That hallow the last of my sight,
        O father that wast of my mother
        Cephisus, O thou too his brother
        From the bloom of whose banks as a prey
        Winds harried my sister away,
        O crown on the world's head lying
          Too high for its waters to drown,                         1120
        Take yet this one word of me dying,
            O city, O crown.
    Though land-wind and sea-wind with mouths that blow
        slaughter                                                [_Ant._
      Should gird them to battle against thee again,
    New-born of the blood of a maiden thy daughter,
        The rage of their breath shall be vain.
        For their strength shall be quenched and made idle,
        And the foam of their mouths find a bridle,
        And the height of their heads bow down
        At the foot of the towers of the town.                      1130
        Be blest and beloved as I love thee
          Of all that shall draw from thee breath;
        Be thy life as the sun's is above thee;
              I go to my death.


              CHORUS.

      Many loves of many a mood and many a kind               [_Str._ 1.
      Fill the life of man, and mould the secret mind;
      Many days bring many dooms, to loose and bind;
      Sweet is each in season, good the gift it brings,
      Sweet as change of night and day with altering wings,
    Night that lulls world-weary day, day that comforts night,      1140
    Night that fills our eyes with sleep, day that fills with light.
      None of all is lovelier, loftier love is none,          [_Ant._ 1.
      Less is bride's for bridegroom, mother's less for son,
      Child, than this that crowns and binds up all in one;
      Love of thy sweet light, thy fostering breast and hand,
      Mother Earth, and city chosen, and natural land;
    Hills that bring the strong streams forth, heights of
        heavenlier air,
    Fields aflower with winds and suns, woods with shadowing hair.
    But none of the nations of men shall they liken to thee,  [_Str._ 2.
    Whose children true-born and the fruit of thy body are we.      1150
    The rest are thy sons but in figure, in word are thy seed;
    We only the flower of thy travail, thy children indeed.
    Of thy soil hast thou fashioned our limbs, of thy waters
        their blood,
    And the life of thy springs everlasting is fount of our flood.
    No wind oversea blew us hither adrift on thy shore,
    None sowed us by land in thy womb that conceived us and bore.
    But the stroke of the shaft of the sunlight that brought us to birth
    Pierced only and quickened thy furrows to bear us, O Earth.
    With the beams of his love wast thou cloven as with iron or fire,
    And the life in thee yearned for his life, and grew great with
        desire.                                                     1160
    And the hunger and thirst to be wounded and healed with his dart
    Made fruitful the love in thy veins and the depth of thine heart.
    And the showers out of heaven overflowing and liquid with love
    Fulfilled thee with child of his godhead as rain from above.
    Such desire had ye twain of each other, till molten in
        one                                                   [_Ant._ 2.
    Ye might bear and beget of your bodies the fruits of the sun.
    And the trees in their season brought forth and were kindled anew
    By the warmth of the moisture of marriage, the child-bearing dew.
    And the firstlings were fair of the wedlock of heaven and of earth;
    All countries were bounteous with blossom and burgeon of birth, 1170
    Green pastures of grass for all cattle, and life-giving corn;
    But here of thy bosom, here only, the man-child was born.
    All races but one are as aliens engrafted or sown,
    Strange children and changelings; but we, O our mother, thine own.
    Thy nurslings are others, and seedlings they know not of whom;
    For these hast thou fostered, but us thou hast borne in thy womb.
    Who is he of us all, O beloved, that owe thee for birth,
    Who would give not his blood for his birth's sake, O mother, O
        Earth?
    What landsman is he that was fostered and reared of thine hand
    Who may vaunt him as we may in death though he die for the
        land?                                                       1180

    Well doth she therefore who gives thee in guerdon
      The bloom of the life of thy giving;                     [_Epode._
    And thy body was bowed by no fruitless burden,
      That bore such fruit of thee living.
          For her face was not darkened for fear,
          For her eyelids conceived not a tear,
            Nor a cry from her lips craved pity;
          But her mouth was a fountain of song,
          And her heart as a citadel strong
            That guards the heart of the city.                      1190


              MESSENGER.

    High things of strong-souled men that loved their land
    On brass and stone are written, and their deeds
    On high days chanted; but none graven or sung
    That ever set men's eyes or spirits on fire,
    Athenians, has the sun's height seen, or earth
    Heard in her depth reverberate as from heaven,
    More worth men's praise and good report of Gods
    Than here I bring for record in your ears.
    For now being come to the altar, where as priest
    Death ministering should meet her, and his hand                 1200
    Seal her sweet eyes asleep, the maiden stood,
    With light in all her face as of a bride
    Smiling, or shine of festal flame by night
    Far flung from towers of triumph; and her lips
    Trembled with pride in pleasure, that no fear
    Blanched them nor death before his time drank dry
    The blood whose bloom fulfilled them; for her cheeks
    Lightened, and brighter than a bridal veil
    Her hair enrobed her bosom and enrolled
    From face to feet the body's whole soft length                  1210
    As with a cloud sun-saturate; then she spake
    With maiden tongue words manlike, but her eyes
    Lit mildly like a maiden's: _Countrymen,
    With more goodwill and height of happier heart
    I give me to you than my mother bare,
    And go more gladly this great way to death
    Than young men bound to battle._ Then with face
    Turned to the shadowiest part of all the shrine
    And eyes fast set upon the further shade,
    _Take me, dear Gods_; and as some form had shone                1220
    From the deep hollow shadow, some God's tongue
    Answered, _I bless you that your guardian grace
    Gives me to guard this country, takes my blood,
    Your child's by name, to heal it_. Then the priest
    Set to the flower-sweet snow of her soft throat
    The sheer knife's edge that severed it, and loosed
    From the fair bondage of so spotless flesh
    So strong a spirit; and all that girt them round
    Gazing, with souls that hung on that sad stroke,
    Groaned, and kept silence after while a man                     1230
    Might count how far the fresh blood crept, and bathed
    How deep the dark robe and the bright shrine's base
    Red-rounded with a running ring that grew
    More large and duskier as the wells that fed
    Were drained of that pure effluence: but the queen
    Groaned not nor spake nor wept, but as a dream
    Floats out of eyes awakening so past forth
    Ghost-like, a shadow of sorrow, from all sight
    To the inner court and chamber where she sits
    Dumb, till word reach her of this whole day's end.              1240


              CHORUS.

        More hapless born by far                                 [_Str._
        Beneath some wintrier star,
      One sits in stone among high Lydian snows,
        The tomb of her own woes:
    Yet happiest was once of the daughters of Gods, and divine by
        her sire and her lord,
    Ere her tongue was a shaft for the hearts of her sons, for the
        heart of her husband a sword.
          For she, too great of mind,                            [_Ant._
          Grown through her good things blind.
      With godless lips and fire of her own breath
        Spake all her house to death;                               1250
    But thou, no mother unmothered, nor kindled in spirit with
        pride of thy seed,
    Thou hast hallowed thy child for a blameless blood-offering,
        and ransomed thy race by thy deed.


              MESSENGER.

    As flower is graffed on flower, so grief on grief
    Engraffed brings forth new blossoms of strange tears,
    Fresh buds and green fruits of an alien pain;
    For now flies rumour on a dark wide wing,
    Murmuring of woes more than ye knew, most like
    Hers whom ye hailed most wretched; for the twain
    Last left of all this house that wore last night
    A threefold crown of maidens, and to-day                        1260
    Should let but one fall dead out of the wreath,
    If mad with grief we know not and sore love
    For this their sister, or with shame soul-stung
    To outlive her dead or doubt lest their lives too
    The Gods require to seal their country safe
    And bring the oracular doom to perfect end,
    Have slain themselves, and fallen at the altar-foot
    Lie by their own hands done to death; and fear
    Shakes all the city as winds a wintering tree,
    And as dead leaves are men's hearts blown about                 1270
    And shrunken with ill thoughts, and flowerless hopes
    Parched up with presage, lest the piteous blood
    Shed of these maidens guiltless fall and fix
    On this land's forehead like a curse that cleaves
    To the unclean soul's inexpiate hunted head
    Whom his own crime tracks hotlier than a hound
    To life's veiled end unsleeping; and this hour
    Now blackens toward the battle that must close
    All gates of hope and fear on all their hearts
    Who tremble toward its issue, knowing not yet                   1280
    If blood may buy them surety, cleanse or soil
    The helpless hands men raise and reach no stay.


              CHORUS.

    Ill thoughts breed fear, and fear ill words; but these
    The Gods turn from us that have kept their law.
      Let us lift up the strength of our hearts in song,      [_Str._ 1.
        And our souls to the height of the darkling day.
        If the wind in our eyes blow blood for spray,
      Be the spirit that breathes in us life more strong,
      Though the prow reel round and the helm point wrong,
        And sharp reefs whiten the shoreward way.                   1290
      For the steersman time sits hidden astern,              [_Ant._ 1.
        With dark hand plying the rudder of doom,
        And the surf-smoke under it flies like fume
      As the blast shears off and the oar-blades churn
      The foam of our lives that to death return,
        Blown back as they break to the gulfing gloom.
      What cloud upon heaven is arisen, what shadow, what
          sound,                                              [_Str._ 2.
        From the world beyond earth, from the night underground,
    That scatters from wings unbeholden the weight of its darkness
        around?
      For the sense of my spirit is broken, and blinded
          its eye,                                      [_Ant._ 2.  1300
        As the soul of a sick man ready to die,
    With fear of the hour that is on me, with dread if an end be
        not nigh.
      O Earth, O Gods of the land, have ye heart now to see and
          to hear                                             [_Str._ 3.
        What slays with terror mine eyesight and seals mine ear?
    O fountains of streams everlasting, are all ye not shrunk up and
        withered for fear?
      Lo, night is arisen on the noon, and her hounds are in quest
          by day,                                             [_Ant._ 3.
        And the world is fulfilled of the noise of them crying
            for their prey,
    And the sun's self stricken in heaven, and cast out of his
        course as a blind man astray.
      From east to west of the south sea-line                 [_Str._ 4.
      Glitters the lightning of spears that shine;                  1310
    As a storm-cloud swoln that comes up from the skirts of the sea
      By the wind for helmsman to shoreward ferried,
      So black behind them the live storm serried
    Shakes earth with the tramp of its foot, and the terror to be.
      Shall the sea give death whom the land gave birth?      [_Ant._ 4.
      O Earth, fair mother, O sweet live Earth,
    Hide us again in thy womb from the waves of it, help us or hide.
      As a sword is the heart of the God thy brother,
      But thine as the heart of a new-made mother,
    To deliver thy sons from his ravin, and rage of his tide.       1320
      O strong north wind, the pilot of cloud and rain,       [_Str._ 5.
      For the gift we gave thee what gift hast thou given us again?
    O God dark-winged, deep-throated, a terror to forth-faring ships
        by night,
      What bride-song is this that is blown on the blast of thy breath?
      A gift but of grief to thy kinsmen, a song but of death,
    For the bride's folk weeping, and woe for her father, who finds
        thee against him in fight.
      Turn back from us, turn thy battle, take heed of our
          cry;                                                [_Ant._ 5.
      Let thy dread breath sound, and the waters of war be dry;
    Let thy strong wrath shatter the strength of our foemen, the
        sword of their strength and the shield;
        As vapours in heaven, or as waves or the wrecks of ships,   1330
        So break thou the ranks of their spears with the breath of
            thy lips,
    Till their corpses have covered and clothed as with raiment the
        face of the sword-ploughed field.
      O son of the rose-red morning, O God twin-born with the
          day,                                                [_Str._ 6.
      O wind with the young sun waking, and winged for the
          same wide way,
    Give up not the house of thy kin to the host thou hast marshalled
        from northward for prey.
      From the cold of thy cradle in Thrace, from the mists of the
          fountains of night,                                 [_Ant._ 6.
      From the bride-bed of dawn whence day leaps laughing, on
          fire for his flight,
    Come down with their doom in thine hand on the ships thou hast
        brought up against us to fight.
    For now not in word but in deed is the harvest of spears
        begun,                                                [_Str._ 7.
    And its clamour outbellows the thunder, its lightning outlightens
        the sun.                                                    1340
    From the springs of the morning it thunders and lightens across
        and afar
    To the wave where the moonset ends and the fall of the last
        low star.
    With a trampling of drenched red hoofs and an earthquake of men
        that meet,
    Strong war sets hand to the scythe, and the furrows take fire
        from his feet.
    Earth groans from her great rent heart, and the hollows of rocks
        are afraid,
    And the mountains are moved, and the valleys as waves in a
        storm-wind swayed.
    From the roots of the hills to the plain's dim verge and the dark
        loud shore,
    Air shudders with shrill spears crossing, and hurtling of wheels
        that roar.
    As the grinding of teeth in the jaws of a lion that foam as
        they gnash
    Is the shriek of the axles that loosen, the shock of the poles
        that crash.                                                 1350
    The dense manes darken and glitter, the mouths of the mad
        steeds champ,
    Their heads flash blind through the battle, and death's foot
        rings in their tramp.
    For a fourfold host upon earth and in heaven is arrayed for
        the fight,
    Clouds ruining in thunder and armies encountering as clouds in
        the night.
    Mine ears are amazed with the terror of trumpets, with darkness
        mine eyes,
    At the sound of the sea's host charging that deafens the roar of
        the sky's.
    White frontlet is dashed upon frontlet, and horse against horse
        reels hurled,
    And the gorge of the gulfs of the battle is wide for the spoil
        of the world.
    And the meadows are cumbered with shipwreck of chariots that
        founder on land,                                      [_Ant._ 7.
    And the horsemen are broken with breach as of breakers, and
        scattered as sand.                                          1360
    Through the roar and recoil of the charges that mingle their
        cries and confound,
    Like fire are the notes of the trumpets that flash through the
        darkness of sound.
    As the swing of the sea churned yellow that sways with the wind
        as it swells
    Is the lift and relapse of the wave of the chargers that clash
        with their bells;
    And the clang of the sharp shrill brass through the burst of the
        wave as it shocks
    Rings clean as the clear wind's cry through the roar of the surge
        on the rocks:
    And the heads of the steeds in their headgear of war, and their
        corsleted breasts,
    Gleam broad as the brows of the billows that brighten the storm
        with their crests,
    Gleam dread as their bosoms that heave to the shipwrecking wind
        as they rise,
    Filled full of the terror and thunder of water, that slays as
        it dies.                                                    1370
    So dire is the glare of their foreheads, so fearful the fire of
        their breath,
    And the light of their eyeballs enkindled so bright with the
        lightnings of death;
    And the foam of their mouths as the sea's when the jaws of its
        gulf are as graves,
    And the ridge of their necks as the wind-shaken mane on the
        ridges of waves:
    And their fetlocks afire as they rear drip thick with a dewfall
        of blood
    As the lips of the rearing breaker with froth of the manslaying
        flood.
    And the whole plain reels and resounds as the fields of the sea
        by night
    When the stroke of the wind falls darkling, and death is the
        seafarer's light.

    But thou, fair beauty of heaven, dear face of the day nigh
        dead,                                                  [_Epode._
    What horror hath hidden thy glory, what hand hath muffled thine
        head?                                                       1380
      O sun, with what song shall we call thee, or ward off thy
          wrath by what name,
    With what prayer shall we seek to thee, soothe with what
        incense, assuage with what gift,
    If thy light be such only as lightens to deathward the seaman adrift
      With the fire of his house for a beacon, that foemen have
          wasted with flame?
    Arise now, lift up thy light; give ear to us, put forth thine hand,
    Reach toward us thy torch of deliverance, a lamp for the night
        of the land.
      Thine eye is the light of the living, no lamp for the dead;
      O, lift up the light of thine eye on the dark of our dread.
      Who hath blinded thee? who hath prevailed on thee? who hath
          ensnared?
      Who hath broken thy bow, and the shafts for thy battle
          prepared?                                                 1390
    Have they found out a fetter to bind thee, a chain for thine
        arm that was bared?
    Be the name of thy conqueror set forth, and the might of thy
        master declared.
      O God, fair God of the morning, O glory of day,
      What ails thee to cast from thy forehead its garland away?
      To pluck from thy temples their chaplet enwreathed of the light,
      And bind on the brows of thy godhead a frontlet of night?
    Thou hast loosened the necks of thine horses, and goaded their
        flanks with affright,
    To the race of a course that we know not on ways that are hid from
        our sight.
      As a wind through the darkness the wheels of their chariot
          are whirled,
      And the light of its passage is night on the face of the
          world.                                                    1400
      And there falls from the wings of thy glory no help from on high,
      But a shadow that smites us with fear and desire of thine eye.
    For our hearts are as reeds that a wind on the water bows down
        and goes by,
    To behold not thy comfort in heaven that hath left us untimely
        to die.
      But what light is it now leaps forth on the land
      Enkindling the waters and ways of the air
          From thy forehead made bare,
        From the gleam of thy bow-bearing hand?
      Hast thou set not thy right hand again to the string,
      With the back-bowed horns bent sharp for a spring             1410
          And the barbed shaft drawn,
      Till the shrill steel sing and the tense nerve ring
      That pierces the heart of the dark with dawn,
          O huntsman, O king,
      When the flame of thy face hath twilight in chase
        As a hound hath a blood-mottled fawn?
      He has glanced into golden the grey sea-strands,
      And the clouds are shot through with the fires of his hands,
      And the height of the hollow of heaven that he fills
      As the heart of a strong man is quickened and thrills;        1420
      High over the folds of the low-lying lands,
          On the shadowless hills
        As a guard on his watchtower he stands.
      All earth and all ocean, all depth and all height,
      At the flash of an eyebeam are filled with his might:
      The sea roars backward, the storm drops dumb,
      And silence as dew on the fire of the fight
      Falls kind in our ears as his face in our sight
        With presage of peace to come.
      Fresh hope in my heart from the ashes of dread                1430
      Leaps clear as a flame from the pyres of the dead,
          That joy out of woe
      May arise as the spring out of tempest and snow,
      With the flower-feasted month in her hands rose-red
      Borne soft as a babe from the bearing-bed.
      Yet it knows not indeed if a God be friend,
      If rescue may be from the rage of the sea,
        Or the wrath of its lord have end.
      For the season is full now of death or of birth,
      To bring forth life, or an end of all;                        1440
      And we know not if anything stand or fall
      That is girdled about with the round sea's girth
          As a town with its wall;
      But thou that art highest of the Gods most high,
      That art lord if we live, that art lord though we die,
      Have heed of the tongues of our terror that cry
        For a grace to the children of Earth.


              ATHENIAN HERALD.

    Sons of Athens, heavy-laden with the holy weight of years,
    Be your hearts as young men's lightened of their loathlier load
        of fears;
    For the wave is sunk whose thunder shoreward shook the shuddering
        lands,                                                      1450
    And unbreached of warring waters Athens like a sea-rock stands.


              CHORUS.

    Well thy word has cheered us, well thy face and glittering eyes,
        that spake
    Ere thy tongue spake words of comfort: yet no pause, behoves it make
    Till the whole good hap find utterance that the Gods have given at
        length.


              ATHENIAN HERALD.

    All is this, that yet the city stands unforced by stranger strength.


              CHORUS.

    Sweeter sound might no mouth utter in man's ear than this thy word.


              ATHENIAN HERALD.

    Feed thy soul then full of sweetness till some bitterer note be
        heard.


              CHORUS.

    None, if this ring sure, can mar the music fallen from heaven as
        rain.


              ATHENIAN HERALD.

    If no fire of sun or star untimely sear the tender grain.


              CHORUS.

    Fresh the dewfall of thy tidings on our hopes reflowering lies. 1460


              ATHENIAN HERALD.

    Till a joyless shower and fruitless blight them, raining from
        thine eyes.


              CHORUS.

    Bitter springs have barren issues; these bedew grief's arid sands.


              ATHENIAN HERALD.

    Such thank-offerings ask such altars as expect thy suppliant hands.


              CHORUS.

    Tears for triumph, wail for welfare, what strange godhead's shrine
        requires?


              ATHENIAN HERALD.

    Death's or victory's be it, a funeral torch feeds all its festal
        fires.


              CHORUS.

    Like a star should burn the beacon flaming from our city's head.


              ATHENIAN HERALD.

    Like a balefire should the flame go up that says the king is dead.


              CHORUS.

    Out of heaven, a wild-haired meteor, shoots this new sign,
        scattering fear.


              ATHENIAN HERALD.

    Yea, the word has wings of fire that hovered, loth to burn thine
        ear.


              CHORUS.

    From thy lips it leapt forth loosened on a shrill and shadowy
        wing.                                                       1470


              ATHENIAN HERALD.

    Long they faltered, fain to hide it deep as death that hides
        the king.


              CHORUS.

    Dead with him blind hope lies blasted by the lightning of one sword.


              ATHENIAN HERALD.

    On thy tongue truth wars with error; no man's edge hath touched
        thy lord.


              CHORUS.

    False was thine then, jangling menace like a war-steed's
        brow-bound bell?


              ATHENIAN HERALD.

    False it rang not joy nor sorrow; but by no man's hand he fell.


              CHORUS.

    Vainly then good news and evil through so faint a trumpet spake.


              ATHENIAN HERALD.

    All too long thy soul yet labours, as who sleeping fain would wake,
    Waking, fain would fall on sleep again; the woe thou knowest
        not yet,
    When thou knowest, shall make thy memory thirst and hunger to
        forget.


              CHORUS.

    Long my heart has hearkened, hanging on thy clamorous ominous
        cry,                                                        1480
    Fain yet fearful of the knowledge whence it looks to live or die;
    Now to take the perfect presage of thy dark and sidelong flight
    Comes a surer soothsayer sorrowing, sable-stoled as birds of night.


              PRAXITHEA.

    Man, what thy mother bare thee born to say
    Speak; for no word yet wavering on thy lip
    Can wound me worse than thought forestalls or fear.


              ATHENIAN HERALD.

    I have no will to weave too fine or far,
    O queen, the weft of sweet with bitter speech,
    Bright words with darkling; but the brief truth shown
    Shall plead my pardon for a lingering tongue,                   1490
    Loth yet to strike hope through the heart and slay.
    The sun's light still was lordly housed in heaven
    When the twain fronts of war encountering smote
    First fire out of the battle; but not long
    Had the fresh wave of windy fight begun
    Heaving, and all the surge of swords to sway,
    When timeless night laid hold of heaven, and took
    With its great gorge the noon as in a gulf,
    Strangled; and thicker than the shrill-winged shafts
    Flew the fleet lightnings, held in chase through heaven         1500
    By headlong heat of thunders on their trail
    Loosed as on quest of quarry; that our host
    Smit with sick presage of some wrathful God
    Quailed, but the foe as from one iron throat
    With one great sheer sole thousand-throated cry
    Shook earth, heart-staggered from their shout, and clove
    The eyeless hollow of heaven; and breached therewith
    As with an onset of strength-shattering sound
    The rent vault of the roaring noon of night
    From her throned seat of usurpation rang                        1510
    Reverberate answer; such response there pealed
    As though the tide's charge of a storming sea
    Had burst the sky's wall, and made broad a breach
    In the ambient girth and bastion flanked with stars
    Guarding the fortress of the Gods, and all
    Crashed now together on ruin; and through that cry
    And higher above it ceasing one man's note
    Tore its way like a trumpet: _Charge, make end,
    Charge, halt not, strike, rend up their strength by the roots,
    Strike, break them, make your birthright's promise sure,        1520
    Show your hearts hardier than the fenced land breeds
    And souls breathed in you from no spirit of earth,
    Sons of the sea's waves_; and all ears that heard
    Rang with that fiery cry, that the fine air
    Thereat was fired, and kindling filled the plain
    Full of that fierce and trumpet-quenching breath
    That spake the clarions silent; no glad song
    For folk to hear that wist how dire a God
    Begat this peril to them, what strong race
    Fathered the sea-born tongue that sang them death,              1530
    Threatening; so raged through the red foam of fight
    Poseidon's son Eumolpus; and the war
    Quailed round him coming, and our side bore back,
    As a stream thwarted by the wind and sea
    That meet it midway mouth to mouth, and beat
    The flood back of its issue; but the king
    Shouted against them, crying, _O Father-God,
    Source of the God my father, from thine hand
    Send me what end seems good now in thy sight,
    But death from mine to this man_; and the word                  1540
    Quick on his lips yet like a blast of fire
    Blew them together; and round its lords that met
    Paused all the reeling battle; two main waves
    Meeting, one hurled sheer from the sea-wall back
    That shocks it sideways, one right in from sea
    Charging, that full in face takes at one blow
    That whole recoil and ruin, with less fear
    Startle men's eyes late shipwrecked; for a breath
    Crest fronting crest hung, wave to wave rose poised,
    Then clashed, breaker to breaker; cloud with cloud              1550
    In heaven, chariot with chariot closed on earth,
    One fourfold flash and thunder; yet a breath,
    And with the king's spear through his red heart's root
    Driven, like a rock split from its hill-side, fell
    Hurled under his own horsehoofs dead on earth
    The sea-beast that made war on earth from sea,
    Dumb, with no shrill note left of storming song,
    Eumolpus; and his whole host with one stroke
    Spear-stricken through its dense deep iron heart
    Fell hurtling from us, and in fierce recoil                     1560
    Drew seaward as with one wide wail of waves,
    Resorbed with reluctation; such a groan
    Rose from the fluctuant refluence of its ranks,
    Sucked sullen back and strengthless; but scarce yet
    The steeds had sprung and wheels had bruised their lord
    Fallen, when from highest height of the sundering heaven
    The Father for his brother's son's sake slain
    Sent a sheer shaft of lightning writhen and smote
    Right on his son's son's forehead, that unhelmed
    Shone like the star that shines down storm, and gave            1570
    Light to men's eyes that saw thy lord their king
    Stand and take breath from battle; then too soon
    Saw sink down as a sunset in sea-mist
    The high bright head that here in van of the earth
    Rose like a headland, and through storm and night
    Took all the sea's wrath on it; and now dead
    They bring thee back by war-forsaken ways
    The strength called once thy husband, the great guard
    That was of all men, stay of all men's lives,
    They bear him slain of no man but a God,                        1580
    Godlike; and toward him dead the city's gates
    Fling their arms open mother-like, through him
    Saved; and the whole clear land is purged of war.
    What wilt thou say now of this weal and woe?


              PRAXITHEA.

    I praise the Gods for Athens. O sweet Earth,
    Mother, what joy thy soul has of thy son,
    Thy life of my dead lord, mine own soul knows
    That knows thee godlike; and what grief should mine,
    What sorrow should my heart have, who behold
    Thee made so heavenlike happy? This alone                       1590
    I only of all these blessed, all thy kind,
    Crave this for blessing to me, that in theirs
    Have but a part thus bitter; give me too
    Death, and the sight of eyes that meet not mine.
    And thee too from no godless heart or tongue
    Reproachful, thee too by thy living name,
    Father divine, merciful God, I call,
    Spring of my life-springs, fountain of my stream,
    Pure and poured forth to one great end with thine,
    Sweet head sublime of triumph and these tears,                  1600
    Cephisus, if thou seest as gladly shed
    Thy blood in mine as thine own waves are given
    To do this great land good, to give for love
    The same lips drink and comfort the same hearts,
    Do thou then, O my father, white-souled God,
    To thy most pure earth-hallowing heart eterne
    Take what thou gavest to be given for these,
    Take thy child to thee; for her time is full,
    For all she hath borne she hath given, seen all she had
    Flow from her, from her eyes and breasts and hands              1610
    Flow forth to feed this people; but be thou,
    Dear God and gracious to all souls alive,
    Good to thine own seed also; let me sleep,
    Father; my sleepless darkling day is done,
    My day of life like night, but slumberless:
    For all my fresh fair springs, and his that ran
    In one stream's bed with mine, are all run out
    Into the deep of death. The Gods have saved
    Athens; my blood has bought her at their hand,
    And ye sit safe; be glorious and be glad                        1620
    As now for all time always, countrymen,
    And love my dead for ever; but me, me,
    What shall man give for these so good as death?


              CHORUS.

    From the cup of my heart I pour through my lips along     [_Str._ 1.
    The mingled wine of a joyful and sorrowful song;
    Wine sweeter than honey and bitterer than blood that is poured
    From the chalice of gold, from the point of the two-edged sword.
    For the city redeemed should joy flow forth as a flood,
    And a dirge make moan for the city polluted with blood.
    Great praise should the Gods have surely, my country, of
        thee,                                           [_Ant._ 1.  1630
    Were thy brow but as white as of old for thy sons to see,
    Were thy hands as bloodless, as blameless thy cheek divine;
    But a stain on it stands of the life-blood offered for thine.
    What thanks shall we give that are mixed not and marred with dread
    For the price that has ransomed thine own with thine own child's
        head?
      For a taint there cleaves to the people redeemed with
          blood,                                              [_Str._ 2.
        And a plague to the blood-red hand.
      The rain shall not cleanse it, the dew nor the sacred flood
        That blesses the glad live land.
      In the darkness of earth beneath, in the world without
          sun,                                          [_Ant._ 2.  1640
        The shadows of past things reign;
      And a cry goes up from the ghost of an ill deed done,
        And a curse for a virgin slain.


              ATHENA.

    Hear, men that mourn, and woman without mate,
    Hearken; ye sick of soul with fear, and thou
    Dumb-stricken for thy children; hear ye too,
    Earth, and the glory of heaven, and winds of the air,
    And the most holy heart of the deep sea,
    Late wroth, now full of quiet; hear thou, sun,
    Rolled round with the upper fire of rolling heaven              1650
    And all the stars returning; hills and streams,
    Springs and fresh fountains, day that seest these deeds.
    Night that shalt hide not; and thou child of mine,
    Child of a maiden, by a maid redeemed,
    Blood-guiltless, though bought back with innocent blood,
    City mine own; I Pallas bring thee word,
    I virgin daughter of the most high God
    Give all you charge and lay command on all
    The word I bring be wasted not; for this
    The Gods have stablished and his soul hath sworn,               1660
    That time nor earth nor changing sons of man
    Nor waves of generations, nor the winds
    Of ages risen and fallen that steer their tides
    Through light and dark of birth and lovelier death
    From storm toward haven inviolable, shall see
    So great a light alive beneath the sun
    As the awless eye of Athens; all fame else
    Shall be to her fame as a shadow in sleep
    To this wide noon at waking; men most praised
    In lands most happy for their children found                    1670
    Shall hold as highest of honours given of God
    To be but likened to the least of thine,
    Thy least of all, my city; thine shall be
    The crown of all songs sung, of all deeds done
    Thine the full flower for all time; in thine hand
    Shall time be like a sceptre, and thine head
    Wear worship for a garland; nor one leaf
    Shall change or winter cast out of thy crown
    Till all flowers wither in the world; thine eyes
    Shall first in man's flash lightning liberty,                   1680
    Thy tongue shall first say freedom; thy first hand
    Shall loose the thunder terror as a hound
    To hunt from sunset to the springs of the sun
    Kings that rose up out of the populous east
    To make their quarry of thee, and shall strew
    With multitudinous limbs of myriad herds
    The foodless pastures of the sea, and make
    With wrecks immeasurable and unsummed defeat
    One ruin of all their many-folded flocks
    Ill shepherded from Asia; by thy side                           1690
    Shall fight thy son the north wind, and the sea
    That was thine enemy shall be sworn thy friend
    And hand be struck in hand of his and thine
    To hold faith fast for aye; with thee, though each
    Make war on other, wind and sea shall keep
    Peace, and take truce as brethren for thy sake
    Leagued with one spirit and single-hearted strength
    To break thy foes in pieces, who shall meet
    The wind's whole soul and might of the main sea
    Full in their face of battle, and become                        1700
    A laughter to thee; like a shower of leaves
    Shall their long galleys rank by staggering rank
    Be dashed adrift on ruin, and in thy sight
    The sea deride them, and that lord of the air
    Who took by violent hand thy child to wife
    With his loud lips bemock them, by his breath
    Swept out of sight of being; so great a grace
    Shall this day give thee, that makes one in heart
    With mine the deep sea's godhead, and his son
    With him that was thine helmsman, king with king,               1710
    Dead man with dead; such only names as these
    Shalt thou call royal, take none else or less
    To hold of men in honour; but with me
    Shall these be worshipped as one God, and mix
    With mine the might of their mysterious names
    In one same shrine served singly, thence to keep
    Perpetual guard on Athens; time and change,
    Masters and lords of all men, shall be made
    To thee that knowest no master and no lord
    Servants; the days that lighten heaven and nights               1720
    That darken shall be ministers of thine
    To attend upon thy glory, the great years
    As light-engraven letters of thy name
    Writ by the sun's hand on the front of the earth
    For world-beholden witness; such a gift
    For one fair chaplet of three lives enwreathed
    To hang for ever from thy storied shrine,
    And this thy steersman fallen with tiller in hand
    To stand for ever at thy ship's helm seen,
    Shall he that bade their threefold flower be shorn              1730
    And laid him low that planted, give thee back
    In sign of sweet land reconciled with sea
    And heavenlike earth with heaven; such promise-pledge
    I daughter without mother born of God
    To the most woful mother born of man
    Plight for continual comfort. Hail, and live
    Beyond all human hap of mortal doom
    Happy; for so my sire hath sworn and I.


              PRAXITHEA.

    O queen Athena, from a heart made whole
    Take as thou givest us blessing; never tear                     1740
    Shall stain for shame nor groan untune the song
    That as a bird shall spread and fold its wings
    Here in thy praise for ever, and fulfil
    The whole world's crowning city crowned with thee
    As the sun's eye fulfils and crowns with sight
    The circling crown of heaven. There is no grief
    Great as the joy to be made one in will
    With him that is the heart and rule of life
    And thee, God born of God; thy name is ours,
    And thy large grace more great than our desire.                 1750


              CHORUS.

    From the depth of the springs of my spirit a fountain is poured
        of thanksgiving,
        My country, my mother, for thee,
    That thy dead for their death shall have life in thy sight and
        a name everliving
        At heart of thy people to be.
    In the darkness of change on the waters of time they shall turn
        from afar
    To the beam of this dawn for a beacon, the light of these pyres
        for a star.
    They shall see thee who love and take comfort, who hate thee
        shall see and take warning,
        Our mother that makest us free;
    And the sons of thine earth shall have help of the waves that
        made war on their morning,
        And friendship and fame of the sea.                         1760



NOTES.


v. 497-503. Cf. Eurip. Fr. _Erechtheus_, 46-49.

v. 522-530. Id. 32-40.

v. 778. Æsch. _Supp._ 524-6.

v. 983. Soph. Fr. (_Oreithyia_) 655.

    ὑπέρ τε πόντον πάντ' ἐπ' ἔσχατα χθονὸς
    νυκτός τε πηγὰς οὐρανοῦ τ' ἀναπτυχὰς,
    φοίβου παλαιὸν κῆπον.

v. 1163. Æsch. Fr. (_Danaides_) 38.

    ὄμβρος δ' ἀπ' εὐνάεντος οὐρανοῦ πεσὼν
    ἔκυσε γαῖαν.

v. 1168. Id.

    δενδρῶτις ὥρα δ' ἐκ νοτίζοντος γάμου
    τέλειός ἐστι.

v. 1749. '_God born of God._' Soph. _Ant._ 834. θεός τοι καὶ θεογεννής.


LONDON:
PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.





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