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Title: Hippolytus; The Bacchae
Author: Euripides, 480? BC-406 BC
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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HIPPOLYTUS and THE BACCHAE

By Euripides

Translated by GILBERT MURRAY



Nine  Greek  Dramas

By Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides And Aristophanes

Translations By
  E.D.A. Morshead
  E.H. Plumptre
  Gilbert Murray
    And
  B.B. Rogers


INTRODUCTORY NOTE

Euripides, the youngest of the trio of great Greek tragedians was born at
Salamis in 480 B.C., on the day when the Greeks won their momentous naval
victory there over the fleet of the Persians. The precise social status of
his parents is not clear but he received a good education, was early
distinguished as an athlete, and showed talent in painting and oratory. He
was a fellow student of Pericles, and his dramas show the influence of the
philosophical ideas of Anaxagoras and of Socrates, with whom he was
personally intimate. Like Socrates, he was accused of impiety, and this,
along with domestic infelicity, has been supposed to afford a motive for
his withdrawal from Athens, first  to Magnesia and later to the court of
Anchelaüs in Macedonia where he died in 406 B.C.

The first tragedy of Euripides was produced when he was about twenty-five,
and he was several times a victor in the tragic contests. In spite of the
antagonisms which he aroused and the criticisms which were hurled upon him
in, for example, the comedies of Aristophanes, he attained a very great
popularity; and Plutarch tells that those Athenians who were taken captive
in the disastrous Sicilian expedition of 413 B.C. were offered freedom by
their captors if they could recite from the works of Euripides. Of the
hundred and twenty dramas ascribed to Euripides, there have come down to
us complete eighteen tragedies and one satyric drama, "Cyclops,"  beside
numerous fragments.

The works of Euripides are generally regarded as showing the beginning of
the decline of Greek tragedy. The idea of Fate hitherto dominant in the
plays of his predecessors, tends to be degraded by him into mere chance;
the characters lose much of their ideal quality; and even gods and heroes
are represented as moved by the petty motives of ordinary humanity. The
chorus is often quite detached from the action; the poetry is florid; and
the action is frequently tinged with sensationalism. In spite of all this,
Euripides remains a great poet; and his picturesqueness and tendencies to
what are now called realism and romanticism, while marking his inferiority
to the chaste classicism of Sophocles, bring him more easily within the
sympathetic interest of the modern reader.



HIPPOLYTUS

OF EURIPIDES


DRAMATIS PERSONAE

   THE GODDESS APHRODITE
   THESEUS, _King of Athens and Trozên_
   PHAEDRA, _daughter of Minos, King of Crete, wife to Theseus_
   HIPPOLYTUS, _bastard son of Theseus and the Amazon Hippolyte_
   THE NURSE OF PHAEDRA
   A HENCHMAN OF HIPPOLYTUS
   THE GODDESS ARTEMIS
   AN OLD HUNTSMAN
   A CHORUS OF HUNTSMEN
   ATTENDANTS ON THE THREE ROYAL PERSONS
   A CHORUS OF TROZENIAN WOMEN, WITH THEIR LEADER

_The scene is laid in Trozên. The play was first acted when Epameinon
was Archon, Olympiad 87, year 4 (B.C. 429). Euripides was first,
Iophon second, Ion third._


    APHRODITE
  Great among men, and not unnamed am I,
  The Cyprian, in God's inmost halls on high.
  And wheresoe'er from Pontus to the far
  Red West men dwell, and see the glad day-star,
  And worship Me, the pious heart I bless,
  And wreck that life that lives in stubbornness.
  For that there is, even in a great God's mind,
  That hungereth for the praise of human kind.

  So runs my word; and soon the very deed
  Shall follow. For this Prince of Theseus' seed,
  Hippolytus, child of that dead Amazon,
  And reared by saintly Pittheus in his own
  Strait ways, hath dared, alone of all Trozên,
  To hold me least of spirits and most mean,
  And spurns my spell and seeks no woman's kiss,
  But great Apollo's sister, Artemis,
  He holds of all most high, gives love and praise,
  And through the wild dark woods for ever strays,
  He and the Maid together, with swift hounds
  To slay all angry beasts from out these bounds,
  To more than mortal friendship consecrate!

  I grudge it not. No grudge know I, nor hate;
  Yet, seeing he hath offended, I this day
  Shall smite Hippolytus. Long since my way
  Was opened, nor needs now much labour more.

  For once from Pittheus' castle to the shore
  Of Athens came Hippolytus over-seas
  Seeking the vision of the Mysteries.
  And Phaedra there, his father's Queen high-born;
  Saw him, and as she saw, her heart was torn
  With great love, by the working of my will.
  And for his sake, long since, on Pallas' hill,
  Deep in the rock, that Love no more might roam,
  She built a shrine, and named it _Love-at-home_:
  And the rock held it, but its face alway
  Seeks Trozên o'er the seas. Then came the day
  When Theseus, for the blood of kinsmen shed,
  Spake doom of exile on himself, and fled,
  Phaedra beside him, even to this Trozên.
  And here that grievous and amazed Queen,
  Wounded and wondering, with ne'er a word,
  Wastes slowly; and her secret none hath heard
  Nor dreamed.

  But never thus this love shall end!
  To Theseus' ear some whisper will I send,
  And all be bare! And that proud Prince, my foe,
  His sire shall slay with curses. Even so
  Endeth that boon the great Lord of the Main
  To Theseus gave, the Three Prayers not in vain.

  And she, not in dishonour, yet shall die.
  I would not rate this woman's pain so high
  As not to pay mine haters in full fee
  That vengeance that shall make all well with me.

  But soft, here comes he, striding from the chase,
  Our Prince Hippolytus!--I will go my ways.--
  And hunters at his heels: and a loud throng
  Glorying Artemis with praise and song!
  Little he knows that Hell's gates opened are,
  And this his last look on the great Day-star!
      [APHRODITE _withdraws, unseen by_ HIPPOLYTUS
       _and a band of huntsmen, who enter from the left, singing.
       They pass the Statue of_ APHRODITE _without notice._]

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Follow, O follow me,
  Singing on your ways
  Her in whose hand are we,
  Her whose own flock we be,
  The Zeus-Child, the Heavenly;
  To Artemis be praise!

    HUNTSMAN
  Hail to thee, Maiden blest,
  Proudest and holiest:
  God's Daughter, great in bliss,
  Leto-born, Artemis!
  Hail to thee, Maiden, far
  Fairest of all that are,
  Yea, and most high thine home,
  Child of the Father's hall;
  Hear, O most virginal,
  Hear, O most fair of all,
  In high God's golden dome.

    [_The huntsmen have gathered about the altar of_ ARTEMIS.
     HIPPOLYTUS _now advances from them, and approaches the Statue
     with a wreath in his hand._]

    HIPPOLYTUS
  To thee this wreathed garland, from a green
  And virgin meadow bear I, O my Queen,
  Where never shepherd leads his grazing ewes
  Nor scythe has touched. Only the river dews
  Gleam, and the spring bee sings, and in the glade
  Hath Solitude her mystic garden made.
    No evil hand may cull it: only he
  Whose heart hath known the heart of Purity,
  Unlearned of man, and true whate'er befall.
  Take therefore from pure hands this coronal,
  O mistress loved, thy golden hair to twine.
  For, sole of living men, this grace is mine,
  To dwell with thee, and speak, and hear replies
  Of voice divine, though none may see thine eyes.
    Oh, keep me to the end in this same road!
      [_An_ OLD HUNTSMAN, _who has stood apart from
        the rest, here comes up to_ HIPPOLYTUS.]

    HUNTSMAN
  My Prince--for "Master" name I none but God--
  Gave I good counsel, wouldst thou welcome it?

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Right gladly, friend; else were I poor of wit.

    HUNTSMAN
  Knowest thou one law, that through the world has won?

    HIPPOLYTUS
  What wouldst thou? And how runs thy law? Say on.

    HUNTSMAN
  It hates that Pride that speaks not all men fair!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  And rightly.   Pride breeds hatred everywhere.

    HUNTSMAN
  And good words love, and grace in all men's sight?

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Aye, and much gain withal, for trouble slight.

    HUNTSMAN
  How deem'st thou of the Gods? Are they the same?

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Surely: we are but fashioned on their frame.

    HUNTSMAN
  Why then wilt thou be proud, and worship not ...

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Whom? If the name be speakable, speak out!

    HUNTSMAN
  She stands here at thy gate: the Cyprian Queen!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  I greet her from afar: my life is clean.

    HUNTSMAN
  Clean? Nay, proud, proud; a mark for all to scan!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Each mind hath its own bent, for God or man.

    HUNTSMAN
  God grant thee happiness ... and wiser thought!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  These Spirits that reign in darkness like me not.

    HUNTSMAN
  What the Gods ask, O Son, that man must pay!

    HIPPOLYTUS (_turning from him to the others_).
  On, huntsmen, to the Castle! Make your way
  Straight to the feast room; 'tis a merry thing
  After the chase, a board of banqueting.
  And see the steeds be groomed, and in array
  The chariot dight. I drive them forth to-day
    [_He pauses, and makes a slight gesture of reverence to the Statue on
     the left. Then to the_ OLD HUNTSMAN.]
  That for thy Cyprian, friend, and nought beside!
    [HIPPOLYTUS _follows the huntsmen, who stream by the central door in
     the Castle. The_ OLD HUNTSMAN _remains_.]

    HUNTSMAN (_approaching the Statue and kneeling_)
  O Cyprian--for a young man in his pride
  I will not follow!--here before thee, meek,
  In that one language that a slave may speak,
  I pray thee; Oh, if some wild heart in froth
  Of youth surges against thee, be not wroth
  For ever! Nay, be far and hear not then:
  Gods should be gentler and more wise than men!
    [_He rises and follows the others into the Castle_.]

    _The Orchestra is empty for a moment, then there enter from right and
    left several Trosenian women young and old. Their number eventually
    amounts to fifteen._

    CHORUS
  There riseth a rock-born river,
  Of Ocean's tribe, men say;
  The crags of it gleam and quiver,
  And pitchers dip in the spray:
  A woman was there with raiment white
  To bathe and spread in the warm sunlight,
  And she told a tale to me there by the river
  The tale of the Queen and her evil day:

  How, ailing beyond allayment,
  Within she hath bowed her head,
  And with shadow of silken raiment
  The bright brown hair bespread.
  For three long days she hath lain forlorn,
  Her lips untainted of flesh or corn,
    For that secret sorrow beyond allayment
      That steers to the far sad shore of the dead.

    _Some Women_
  Is this some Spirit, O child of man?
  Doth Hecat hold thee perchance, or Pan?
  Doth she of the Mountains work her ban,
    Or the dread Corybantes bind thee?

    _Others_
  Nay, is it sin that upon thee lies,
  Sin of forgotten sacrifice,
  In thine own Dictynna's sea-wild eyes?
    Who in Limna here can find thee;
  For the Deep's dry floor is her easy way,
  And she moves in the salt wet whirl of the spray.

    _Other Women_
  Or doth the Lord of Erechtheus' race,
  Thy Theseus, watch for a fairer face,
  For secret arms in a silent place,
    Far from thy love or chiding?

    _Others_
  Or hath there landed, amid the loud
  Hum of Piraeus' sailor-crowd,
  Some Cretan venturer, weary-browed,
    Who bears to the Queen some tiding;
  Some far home-grief, that hath bowed her low,
  And chained her soul to a bed of woe?

    _An Older Woman_
  Nay--know yet not?--this burden hath alway lain
  On the devious being of woman; yea, burdens twain,
  The burden of Wild Will and the burden of Pain.
  Through my heart once that wind of terror sped;
    But I, in fear confessèd,
  Cried from the dark to Her in heavenly bliss,
  The Helper of Pain, the Bow-Maid Artemis:
  Whose feet I praise for ever, where they tread
    Far off among the blessèd!

    THE LEADER
  But see, the Queen's grey nurse at the door,
  Sad-eyed and sterner, methinks, than of yore
    With the Queen. Doth she lead her hither
  To the wind and sun?--Ah, fain would I know
  What strange betiding hath blanched that brow
    And made that young life wither.
    [_The NURSE comes out from the central door followed by_ PHAEDRA,
     _who is supported by two handmaids. They make ready a couch for_
     PHAEDRA _to lie upon_.]

    NURSE
  O sick and sore are the days of men!
  What wouldst thou?  What shall I change again
  Here is the Sun for thee; here is the sky;
  And thy weary pillows wind-swept lie,
    By the castle door.
  But the cloud of thy brow is dark, I ween;
  And soon thou wilt back to thy bower within:
  So swift to change is the path of thy feet,
  And near things hateful, and far things sweet;
    So was it before!

  Oh, pain were better than tending pain!
  For that were single, and this is twain,
  With grief of heart and labour of limb.
  Yet all man's life is but ailing and dim,
    And rest upon earth comes never.
  But if any far-off state there be,
  Dearer than life to mortality;
  The hand of the Dark hath hold thereof,
  And mist is under and mist above.
  And so we are sick of life, and cling
  On earth to this nameless and shining thing.
  For other life is a fountain sealed,
  And the deeps below are unrevealed,
    And we drift on legends for ever!
    [PHAEDRA _during this has been laid on her couch;
     she speaks to the handmaids_.]

    PHAEDRA
  Yes; lift me: not my head so low.
    There, hold my arms.--Fair arms they seem!--
  My poor limbs scarce obey me now!
  Take off that hood that weighs my brow,
    And let my long hair stream.

    NURSE
  Nay, toss not, Child, so feveredly.
    The sickness best will win relief
  By quiet rest and constancy.
    All men have grief.

    PHAEDRA (_not noticing her_)
  Oh for a deep and dewy spring,
    With runlets cold to draw and drink!
  And a great meadow blossoming,
  Long-grassed, and poplars in a ring,
    To rest me by the brink!

    NURSE
  Nay, Child!   Shall strangers hear this tone
  So wild, and thoughts so fever-flown?

    PHAEDRA
  Oh, take me to the Mountain! Oh,
  Pass the great pines and through the wood,
  Up where the lean hounds softly go,
    A-whine for wild things' blood,
  And madly flies the dappled roe.
  O God, to shout and speed them there,
  An arrow by my chestnut hair
  Drawn tight, and one keen glimmering spear--
      Ah! if I could!

    NURSE
  What wouldst thou with them--fancies all!--
  Thy hunting and thy fountain brink?
  What wouldst thou? By the city wall
  Canst hear our own brook plash and fall
    Downhill, if thou wouldst drink.

    PHAEDRA
  O Mistress of the Sea-lorn Mere
    Where horse-hoofs beat the sand and sing,
  O Artemis, that I were there
  To tame Enetian steeds and steer
      Swift chariots in the ring!

    NURSE
  Nay, mountainward but now thy hands
    Yearned out, with craving for the chase;
  And now toward the unseaswept sands
    Thou roamest, where the coursers pace!
    O wild young steed, what prophet knows
  The power that holds thy curb, and throws
    Thy swift heart from its race?
    [_At these words PHAEDRA gradually recovers herself
     and pays attention._]

    PHAEDRA
  What have I said? Woe's me! And where
    Gone straying from my wholesome mind?
  What? Did I fall in some god's snare?
    --Nurse, veil my head again, and blind
    Mine eyes.--There is a tear behind
    That lash.--Oh, I am sick with shame!
      Aye, but it hath a sting,
    To come to reason; yet the name
      Of madness is an awful thing.--
  Could I but die in one swift flame
    Unthinking, unknowing!

    NURSE
  I veil thy face, Child.--Would that so
    Mine own were veiled for evermore,
    So sore I love thee! ... Though the lore
  Of long life mocks me, and I know
  How love should be a lightsome thing
    Not rooted in the deep o' the heart;
    With gentle ties, to twine apart
  If need so call, or closer cling.--
  Why do I love thee so? O fool,
    O fool, the heart that bleeds for twain,
    And builds, men tell us, walls of pain,
  To walk by love's unswerving rule
  The same for ever, stern and true!
    For "Thorough" is no word of peace:
    'Tis "Naught-too-much" makes trouble cease.
  And many a wise man bows thereto.
    [_The_ LEADER OF THE CHORUS _here approaches the_ NURSE.]

    LEADER
  Nurse of our Queen, thou watcher old and true,
  We see her great affliction, but no clue
  Have we to learn the sickness. Wouldst thou tell
  The name and sort thereof, 'twould like us well.

    NURSE
  Small leechcraft have I, and she tells no man.

    LEADER
  Thou know'st no cause? Nor when the unrest began?

    NURSE
  It all comes to the same. She will not speak.

    LEADER (_turning and looking at_ PHAEDRA).
  How she is changed and wasted! And how weak!

    NURSE
  'Tis the third day she hath fasted utterly.

    LEADER
  What, is she mad? Or doth she seek to die?

    NURSE
  I know not. But to death it sure must lead.

    LEADER
  'Tis strange that Theseus takes hereof no heed.

    NURSE
  She hides her wound, and vows it is not so.

    LEADER
  Can he not look into her face and know?

    NURSE
  Nay, he is on a journey these last days.

    LEADER
  Canst thou not force her, then? Or think of ways
  To trap the secret of the sick heart's pain?

    NURSE
  Have I not tried all ways, and all in vain?
  Yet will I cease not now, and thou shalt tell
  If in her grief I serve my mistress well!
      [_She goes across to where_ PHAEDRA _lies; and
       presently, while speaking, kneels by her_.]
  Dear daughter mine, all that before was said
  Let both of us forget; and thou instead
  Be kindlier, and unlock that prisoned brow.
  And I, who followed then the wrong road, now
  Will leave it and be wiser. If thou fear
  Some secret sickness, there be women here
  To give thee comfort. [PHAEDRA _shakes her head_.
              No; not secret? Then
  Is it a sickness meet for aid of men?
  Speak, that a leech may tend thee.
                  Silent still?
  Nay, Child, what profits silence? If 'tis ill
  This that I counsel, makes me see the wrong:
  If well, then yield to me.
              Nay, Child, I long
  For one kind word, one look!
      [PHAEDRA _lies motionless. The_ NURSE _rises._]
              Oh, woe is me!
  Women, we labour here all fruitlessly,
  All as far off as ever from her heart!
  She ever scorned me, and now hears no part
  Of all my prayers! [_Turning to_ PHAEDRA _again._]
              Nay, hear thou shalt, and be,
  If so thou will, more wild than the wild sea;
  But know, thou art thy little ones' betrayer!
  If thou die now, shall child of thine be heir
  To Theseus' castle? Nay, not thine, I ween,
  But hers! That barbèd Amazonian Queen
  Hath left a child to bend thy children low,
  A bastard royal-hearted--sayst not so?--
  Hippolytus...

    PHAEDRA
         Ah!
    [_She starts up, sitting, and throws the veil off_.]

    NURSE
           That stings thee?

    PHAEDRA
                  Nurse, most sore
  Thou hast hurt me! In God's name, speak that name no more.

    NURSE
  Thou seest? Thy mind is clear; but with thy mind
  Thou wilt not save thy children, nor be kind
  To thine own life.

    PHAEDRA
  My children?  Nay, most dear
  I love them,--Far, far other grief is here.

    NURSE (_after a pause, wondering_)
  Thy hand is clean, O Child, from stain of blood?

    PHAEDRA
  My hand is clean; but is my heart, O God?

    NURSE
  Some enemy's spell hath made thy spirit dim?

    PHAEDRA
  He hates me not that slays me, nor I him.

    NURSE
  Theseus, the King, hath wronged thee in man's wise?

    PHAEDRA
  Ah, could but I stand guiltless in his eyes!

    NURSE
  O speak! What is this death-fraught mystery?

    PHAEDRA
  Nay, leave me to my wrong. I wrong not thee.

    NURSE (_suddenly throwing herself in supplication at PHAEDRA'S feet_)
  Not wrong me, whom thou wouldst all desolate leave?

    PHAEDRA (_rising and trying to move away_)
  What wouldst thou? Force me? Clinging to my sleeve?

    NURSE
  Yea, to thy knees; and weep; and let not go!

    PHAEDRA
  Woe to thee, Woman, if thou learn it, woe!

    NURSE
  I know no bitterer woe than losing thee.

    PHAEDRA
  Yet the deed shall honour me.

    NURSE
  Why hide what honours thee? 'Tis all I claim!

    PHAEDRA
  Why, so I build up honour out of shame!

    NURSE
  Then speak, and higher still thy fame shall stand.

    PHAEDRA
  Go, in God's name!--Nay, leave me; loose my hand!

    NURSE
  Never, until thou grant me what I pray.

    PHAEDRA (_yielding, after a pause_)
  So be it. I dare not tear that hand away.

    NURSE (_rising and releasing PHAEDRA_)
  Tell all thou wilt, Daughter. I speak no more.

    PHAEDRA (_after a long pause_)
  Mother, poor Mother, that didst love so sore!

    NURSE
  What mean'st thou, Child? The Wild Bull of the Tide?

    PHAEDRA
  And thou, sad sister, Dionysus' bride!

    NURSE
  Child! wouldst thou shame the house where thou wast born?

    PHAEDRA
  And I the third, sinking most all-forlorn!

    NURSE (_to herself_)
  I am all lost and feared. What will she say?

    PHAEDRA
  From there my grief comes, not from yesterday.

    NURSE
  I come no nearer to thy parable.

    PHAEDRA
  Oh, would that thou could'st tell what I must tell!

    NURSE
  I am no seer in things I wot not of.

    PHAEDRA (_again hesitating_)
  What is it that they mean, who say men...love?

    NURSE
  A thing most sweet, my Child, yet dolorous.

    PHAEDRA
  Only the half, belike, hath fallen on us!

    NURSE  (_starting_)
  On thee? Love?--Oh, what say'st thou? What man's son?

    PHAEDRA
  What man's? There was a Queen, an Amazon ...

    NURSE
  Hippolytus, say'st thou?

    PHAEDRA (_again wrapping her face in the veil_)
                             Nay, 'twas thou, not I!
    [PHAEDRA _sinks back on the couch and covers her face again.
    The_ NURSE _starts violently from her and walks up and down._]

    NURSE
  O God! what wilt thou say, Child? Wouldst thou try
  To kill me?--Oh, 'tis more than I can bear;
  Women. I will no more of it, this glare
  Of hated day, this shining of the sky.
  I will fling down my body, and let it lie
  Till life be gone!
              Women, God rest with you,
  My works are over! For the pure and true
  Are forced to evil, against their own heart's vow,
  And love it!
    [_She suddenly sees the Statue of_ CYPRIS, _and
     stands with her eyes riveted upon it._]
      Ah, Cyprian! No god art thou,
  But more than god, and greater, that hath thrust
  Me and my queen and all our house to dust!
    [_She throws herself on the ground close to the statue._]

    CHORUS

    _Some Women_
  O Women, have ye heard? Nay, dare ye hear
    The desolate cry of the young Queen's misery?

    _A Woman_
  My Queen, I love thee dear,
    Yet liefer were I dead than framed like thee.

    _Others_
  Woe, woe to me for this thy bitter bane,
  Surely the food man feeds upon is pain!

    _Others_
  How wilt thou bear thee through this livelong day,
    Lost, and thine evil naked to the light?
  Strange things are close upon us--who shall say
    How strange?--save one thing that is plain to sight,
  The stroke of the Cyprian and the fall thereof
  On thee, thou child of the Isle of fearful Love!

    [PHAEDRA _during this has risen from the couch and comes forward
     collectedly. As she speaks the_ NURSE _gradually rouses herself,
     and listens more calmly._]

    PHAEDRA
  O Women, dwellers in this portal-seat
  Of Pelops' land, gazing towards my Crete,
  How oft, in other days than these, have I
  Through night's long hours thought of man's misery,
  And how this life is wrecked! And, to mine eyes,
  Not in man's knowledge, not in wisdom, lies
  The lack that makes for sorrow. Nay, we scan
  And know the right--for wit hath many a man--
  But will not to the last end strive and serve.
  For some grow too soon weary, and some swerve
  To other paths, setting before the Right
  The diverse far-off image of Delight:
  And many are delights beneath the sun!
  Long hours of converse; and to sit alone
  Musing--a deadly happiness!--and Shame:
  Though two things there be hidden in one name,
  And Shame can be slow poison if it will;
    This is the truth I saw then, and see still;
  Nor is there any magic that can stain
  That white truth for me, or make me blind again.
  Come, I will show thee how my spirit hath moved.
  When the first stab came, and I knew I loved,
  I cast about how best to face mine ill.
  And the first thought that came, was to be still
  And hide my sickness.--For no trust there is
  In man's tongue, that so well admonishes
  And counsels and betrays, and waxes fat
  With griefs of its own gathering!--After that
  I would my madness bravely bear, and try
  To conquer by mine own heart's purity.
    My third mind, when these two availed me naught
  To quell love was to die--
    [_Motion of protest among the Women._]
           --the best, best thought--
  --Gainsay me not--of all that man can say!
  I would not have mine honour hidden away;
  Why should I have my shame before men's eyes
  Kept living? And I knew, in deadly wise,
  Shame was the deed and shame the suffering;
  And I a woman, too, to face the thing,
  Despised of all!

      Oh, utterly accurst
  Be she of women, whoso dared the first
  To cast her honour out to a strange man!
  'Twas in some great house, surely, that began
  This plague upon us; then the baser kind,
  When the good led towards evil, followed blind
  And joyous! Cursed be they whose lips are clean
  And wise and seemly, but their hearts within
  Rank with bad daring! How can they, O Thou
  That walkest on the waves, great Cyprian, how
  Smile in their husbands' faces, and not fall,
  Not cower before the Darkness that knows all,
  Aye, dread the dead still chambers, lest one day
  The stones find voice, and all be finished!
                                               Nay,
  Friends, 'tis for this I die; lest I stand there
  Having shamed my husband and the babes I bare.
  In ancient Athens they shall some day dwell,
  My babes, free men, free-spoken, honourable,

    EURIPIDES
  And when one asks their mother, proud of me!
  For, oh, it cows a man, though bold he be,
  To know a mother's or a father's sin.
    'Tis written, one way is there, one, to win
  This life's race, could man keep it from his birth,
  A true clean spirit. And through all this earth
  To every false man, that hour comes apace
  When Time holds up a mirror to his face,
  And girl-like, marvelling, there he stares to see
  How foul his heart! Be it not so with me!

    LEADER OF CHORUS
  Ah, God, how sweet is virtue, and how wise,
  And honour its due meed in all men's eyes!

    NURSE (_who has now risen and recovered herself_)
  Mistress, a sharp swift terror struck me low
  A moment since, hearing of this thy woe.
  But now--I was a coward! And men say
  Our second thought the wiser is alway.
    This is no monstrous thing; no grief too dire
  To meet with quiet thinking. In her ire
  A most strong goddess hath swept down on thee.
  Thou lovest. Is that so strange? Many there be
  Beside thee! ... And because thou lovest, wilt fall
  And die! And must all lovers die, then? All
  That are or shall be? A blithe law for them!
  Nay, when in might she swoops, no strength can stem
  Cypris; and if man yields him, she is sweet;
  But is he proud and stubborn? From his feet
  She lifts him, and--how think you?--flings to scorn!
    She ranges with the stars of eve and morn,
  She wanders in the heaving of the sea,
  And all life lives from her.--Aye, this is she
  That sows Love's seed and brings Love's fruit to birth;
  And great Love's brethren are all we on earth!
    Nay, they who con grey books of ancient days
  Or dwell among the Muses, tell--and praise--
  How Zeus himself once yearned for Semelê;
  How maiden Eôs in her radiancy
  Swept Kephalos to heaven away, away,
  For sore love's sake. And there they dwell, men say,
  And fear not, fret not; for a thing too stern
  Hath met and crushed them!
                          And must thou, then, turn
  And struggle? Sprang there from thy father's blood
  Thy little soul all lonely? Or the god
  That rules thee, is he other than our gods?
    Nay, yield thee to men's ways, and kiss their rods!
  How many, deem'st thou, of men good and wise
  Know their own home's blot, and avert their eyes?
  How many fathers, when a son has strayed
  And toiled beneath the Cyprian, bring him aid,
  Not chiding? And man's wisdom e'er hath been
  To keep what is not good to see, unseen!
    A straight and perfect life is not for man;
  Nay, in a shut house, let him, if he can,
  'Mid sheltered rooms, make all lines true. But here,
  Out in the wide sea fallen, and full of fear,
  Hopest thou so easily to swim to land?
    Canst thou but set thine ill days on one hand
  And more good days on the other, verily,
  O child of woman, life is well with thee!

    [_She pauses, and then draws nearer to_ PHAEDRA.]

  Nay, dear my daughter, cease thine evil mind,
  Cease thy fierce pride! For pride it is, and blind,
  To seek to outpass gods!--Love on and dare:
  A god hath willed it! And, since pain is there,
  Make the pain sleep! Songs are there to bring calm,
  And magic words. And I shall find the balm,
  Be sure, to heal thee. Else in sore dismay
  Were men, could not we women find our way!

    LEADER OF THE CHORUS
  Help is there, Queen, in all this woman says,
  To ease thy suffering. But 'tis thee I praise;
  Albeit that praise is harder to thine ear
  Than all her chiding was, and bitterer!

    PHAEDRA
  Oh, this it is hath flung to dogs and birds
  Men's lives and homes and cities-fair false word!
  Oh, why speak things to please our ears? We crave
  Not that. Tis honour, honour, we must save!

    NURSE
  Why prate so proud! 'Tis no words, brave nor base
  Thou cravest; 'tis a man's arms!

    [PHAEDRA _moves indignantly_.]

                                        Up and face
  The truth of what thou art, and name it straight!
  Were not thy life thrown open here for Fate
  To beat on; hadst thou been a woman pure
  Or wise or strong; never had I for lure
  Of joy nor heartache led thee on to this!
  But when a whole life one great battle is,
  To win or lose--no man can blame me then.

    PHAEDRA
  Shame on thee! Lock those lips, and ne'er again
  Let word nor thought so foul have harbour there!

    NURSE
  Foul, if thou wilt: but better than the fair
  For thee and me. And better, too, the deed
  Behind them, if it save thee in thy need,
  Than that word Honour thou wilt die to win!

    PHAEDRA
  Nay, in God's name,--such wisdom and such sin
  Are all about thy lips!--urge me no more.
  For all the soul within me is wrought o'er
  By Love; and if thou speak and speak, I may
  Be spent, and drift where now I shrink away.

    NURSE
  Well, if thou wilt!--'Twere best never to err,
  But, having erred, to take a counsellor
  Is second.--Mark me now. I have within
  love-philtres, to make peace where storm hath been,
  That, with no shame, no scathe of mind, shall save
  Thy life from anguish; wilt but thou be brave!
                            [_To herself, rejecting_.]
  Ah, but from him, the well-beloved, some sign
  We need, or word, or raiment's hem, to twine
  Amid the charm, and one spell knit from twain.

    PHAEDRA
  Is it a potion or a salve? Be plain.

    NURSE
  Who knows? Seek to be helped, Child, not to know.

    PHAEDRA
  Why art thou ever subtle? I dread thee, so.

    NURSE
  Thou wouldst dread everything!--What dost thou dread?

    PHAEDRA
  Least to his ear some word be whispered.

    NURSE
  Let be, Child! I will make all well with thee!
  --Only do thou, O Cyprian of the Sea,
  Be with me! And mine own heart, come what may,
  Shall know what ear to seek, what word to say!

    [_The_ NURSE, _having spoken these last words in prayer apart to the
     Statue of_ CYPRIS, _turns back and goes into the house_. PHAEDRA _sits
     pensive again on her couch till towards the end of the following Song,
     when she rises and bends close to the door_.]

    CHORUS

  Erôs, Erôs, who blindest, tear by tear,
    Men's eyes with hunger; thou swift Foe
      that  pliest
  Deep in our hearts joy like an edgèd spear;
  Come  not  to  me  with  Evil  haunting  near,
  Wrath on the wind, nor jarring of the clear
    Wing's music as thou fliest!
  There is no shaft that burneth, not in fire,
  Not in wild stars, far off and flinging fear,
  As in thine hands the shaft of All Desire,
    Erôs, Child of the Highest!

  In vain, in vain, by old Alpheüs' shore
    The blood of many bulls doth stain the river
  And all Greece bows on Phoebus' Pythian floor;
  Yet bring we to the Master of Man no store
  The Keybearer, who standeth at the door
    Close-barred, where hideth ever
  The heart of the shrine. Yea, though he sack
      man's  life
  Like a sacked city, and moveth evermore
  Girt with calamity and strange ways of strife,
  Him have we worshipped never!

         *       *       *       *       *

  There roamed a Steed in Oechalia's wild,
    A Maid without yoke, without Master,
  And Love she knew not, that far King's child;
  But he came, he came, with a song in the night.
  With fire, with blood; and she strove in flight,
  A Torrent Spirit, a Maenad white,
    Faster and vainly faster,
  Sealed unto Heracles by the Cyprian's Might.
    Alas, thou Bride of Disaster!

  O Mouth of Dirce, O god-built wall,
    That Dirce's wells run under,
  Ye know the Cyprian's fleet footfall!
  Ye saw the heavens around her flare,
  When she lulled to her sleep that Mother fair
    Of twy-born Bacchus, and decked her there
      The Bride of the bladed Thunder.
  For her breath is on all that hath life, and she floats in the air,
    Bee-like, death-like, a wonder.
    [_During the last lines_ PHAEDRA _has approached the door
     and is listening_.]

    PHAEDRA
  Silence ye Women! Something is amiss.

    LEADER
  How? In the house?--Phaedra, what fear is this?

    PHAEDRA
  Let me but listen! There are voices. Hark!

    LEADER
  I hold my peace: yet is thy presage dark.

    PHAEDRA
      Oh, misery!
  O God, that such a thing should fall on me!

    LEADER
      What sound, what word,
  O Women, Friend, makes that sharp terror start
  Out at thy lips? What ominous cry half-heard
      Hath leapt upon thine heart?

    PHAEDRA
  I am undone!--Bend to the door and hark,
    Hark what a tone sounds there, and sinks away!

    LEADER
  Thou art beside the bars. 'Tis thine to mark
    The castle's floating message. Say, Oh, say
      What thing hath come to thee?

    PHAEDRA (_calmly_)
      Why, what thing should it be?
  The son of that proud Amazon speaks again
  In bitter wrath: speaks to my handmaiden!

    LEADER
  I hear a noise of voices, nothing clear.
    For thee the din hath words, as through barred locks
      Floating, at thy heart it knocks.

    PHAEDRA
  "Pander of Sin" it says.--Now canst thou hear?--
    And there: "Betrayer of a master's bed."

    LEADER
      Ah me, betrayed! Betrayed!
    Sweet Princess, thou art ill bested,
  Thy secret brought to light, and ruin near,
    By her thou heldest dear,
  By her that should have loved thee and obeyed!

    PHAEDRA
  Aye, I am slain. She thought to help my fall
  With love instead of honour, and wrecked all.

    LEADER
      Where wilt thou turn thee, where?
  And what help seek, O wounded to despair?

    PHAEDRA
  I know not, save one thing to die right soon.
  For such as me God keeps no other boon.

    [_The door in the centre bursts open, and_ HIPPOLYTUS _comes forth,
     closely followed by the_ NURSE. PHAEDRA _cowers aside_.]

    HIPPOLYTUS
  O Mother Earth, O Sun that makest clean,
  What poison have I heard, what speechless sin!

    NURSE
  Hush O my Prince, lest others mark, and guess ...

    HIPPOLYTUS
  I have heard horrors! Shall I hold my peace?

    NURSE
  Yea by this fair right arm, Son, by thy pledge ...

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Down with that hand! Touch not my garment's edge!

    NURSE
  Oh, by thy knees, be silent or I die!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Why, when thy speech was all so guiltless? Why?

    NURSE
  It is not meet, fair Son, for every ear!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Good words can bravely forth, and have no fear.

    NURSE
  Thine oath, thine oath! I took thine oath before!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  'Twas but my tongue, 'twas not my soul that swore.

    NURSE
  O Son, what wilt thou? Wilt thou slay thy kin?

    HIPPOLYTUS
  I own no kindred with the spawn of sin!
                    [_He flings her from him_.]

    NURSE
  Nay, spare me! Man was born to err; oh, spare!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  O God, why hast Thou made this gleaming snare,
  Woman, to dog us on the happy earth?
  Was it Thy will to make Man, why his birth
  Through Love and Woman? Could we not have rolled
  Our store of prayer and offering, royal gold
  Silver and weight of bronze before Thy feet,
  And bought of God new child souls, as were meet
  For each man's sacrifice, and dwelt in homes
  Free, where nor Love nor Woman goes and comes
   How, is that daughter not a bane confessed,
  Whom her own sire sends forth--(He knows her best!)--
  And, will some man but take her, pays a dower!
  And he, poor fool, takes home the poison-flower;
  Laughs to hang jewels on the deadly thing
  He joys in; labours for her robe-wearing,
  Till wealth and peace are dead. He smarts the less
  In whose high seat is set a Nothingness,
  A woman naught availing. Worst of all
  The wise deep-thoughted! Never in my hall
  May she sit throned who thinks and waits and sighs!
  For Cypris breeds most evil in the wise,
  And least in her whose heart has naught within;
  For puny wit can work but puny sin.
    Why do we let their handmaids pass the gate?
  Wild beasts were best, voiceless and fanged, to wait
  About their rooms, that they might speak with none,
  Nor ever hear one answering human tone!
  But now dark women in still chambers lay
  Plans that creep out into light of day
  On handmaids' lips--[_Turning to the_ NURSE.]
          As thine accursèd head
  Braved the high honour of my Father's bed.
  And came to traffic ... Our white torrent's spray
  Shall drench mine ears to wash those words away!
  And couldst thou dream that _I_ ...? I feel impure
  Still at the very hearing! Know for sure,
  Woman, naught but mine honour saves ye both.
  Hadst thou not trapped me with that guileful oath,
  No power had held me secret till the King
  Knew all! But now, while he is journeying,
  I too will go my ways and make no sound.
  And when he comes again, I shall be found
  Beside him, silent, watching with what grace
  Thou and thy mistress shall greet him face to face!
  Then shall I have the taste of it, and know
  What woman's guile is.--Woe upon you, woe!
  How can I too much hate you, while the ill
  Ye work upon the world grows deadlier still?
  Too much? Make woman pure, and wild Love tame,
  Or let me cry for ever on their shame!
    [_He goes off in fury to the left_.
     PHAEDRA _still cowering in her place begins to sob_.]

    PHAEDRA
  Sad, sad and evil-starred is Woman's state.
    What shelter now is left or guard?
  What spell to loose the iron knot of fate?
    And this thing, O my God,
  O thou sweet Sunlight, is but my desert!
  I cannot fly before the avenging rod
    Falls, cannot hide my hurt.
  What help, O ye who love me, can come near,
    What god or man appear,
  To aid a thing so evil and so lost?
  Lost, for this anguish presses, soon or late,
  To that swift river that no life hath crossed.
  No woman ever lived so desolate!

    LEADER OF THE CHORUS
  Ah me, the time for deeds is gone; the boast
  Proved vain that spake thine handmaid; and all lost!
    [_At these words_ PHAEDRA _suddenly remembers the_ NURSE, _who is
     cowering silently where_ HIPPOLYTUS _had thrown her from him.
     She turns upon her_.]

    PHAEDRA
  O wicked, wicked, wicked! Murderess heart
  To them that loved thee! Hast thou played thy part?
  Am I enough trod down?
                              May Zeus, my sire,
  Blast and uproot thee! Stab thee dead with fire!
  Said I not--Knew I not thine heart?--to name
  To no one soul this that is now my shame?
  And thou couldst not be silent! So no more
  I die in honour. But enough; a store
  Of new words must be spoke and new things thought.
  This man's whole being to one blade is wrought
  Of rage against me. Even now he speeds
  To abase me to the King with thy misdeeds;
  Tell Pittheus; fill the land with talk of sin!
    Cursèd be thou, and whoso else leaps in
  To bring bad aid to friends that want it not.
    [_The_ NURSE _has raised herself, and faces_ PHAEDRA,
     _downcast but calm_.]

    NURSE
  Mistress, thou blamest me; and all thy lot
  So bitter sore is, and the sting so wild,
  I bear with all. Yet, if I would, my Child,
  I have mine answer, couldst thou hearken aught.
    I nursed thee, and I love thee; and I sought
  Only some balm to heal thy deep despair,
  And found--not what I sought for. Else I were
  Wise, and thy friend, and good, had all sped right.
  So fares it with us all in the world's sight.

    PHAEDRA
  First stab me to the heart, then humour me
  With words! 'Tis fair; 'tis all as it should be!

    NURSE
  We talk too long, Child. I did ill; but, oh,
  There is a way to save thee, even so!

    PHAEDRA
  A way? No more ways! One way hast thou trod
  Already, foul and false and loathed of god!
  Begone out of my sight; and ponder how
  Thine own life stands! I need no helpers now.
    [_She turns from the_ NURSE, _who creeps abashed away into the Castle_.]

  Only do ye, high Daughters of Trozên,
  Let all ye hear be as it had not been;
  Know naught, and speak of naught! 'Tis my last prayer.

    LEADER
  By God's pure daughter, Artemis, I swear,
  No word will I of these thy griefs reveal!

    PHAEDRA
  'Tis well. But now, yea, even while I reel
  And falter, one poor hope, as hope now is,
  I clutch at in this coil of miseries;
  To save some honour for my children's sake;
  Yea, for myself some fragment, though things break
  In ruin around me. Nay, I will not shame
  The old proud Cretan castle whence I came,
  I will not cower before King Theseus' eyes,
  Abased, for want of one life's sacrifice!

    LEADER
  What wilt thou?   Some dire deed beyond recall?

    PHAEDRA (_musing_)
  Die; but how die?

    LEADER
        Let not such wild words fall!

    PHAEDRA (_turning upon her_)
  Give thou not such light counsel! Let me be
  To sate the Cyprian that is murdering me!
  To-day shall be her day; and, all strife past
  Her bitter Love shall quell me at the last.
    Yet, dying, shall I die another's bane!
  He shall not stand so proud where I have lain
  Bent in the dust! Oh, he shall stoop to share
  The life I live in, and learn mercy there!
    [_She goes off wildly into the Castle_.]

    CHORUS

  Could I take me to some cavern for mine hiding,
    In the hill-tops where the Sun scarce hath trod;
  Or a cloud make the home of mine abiding,
    As a bird among the bird-droves of God!
      Could I wing me to my rest amid the roar
      Of the deep Adriatic on the shore,
  Where the waters of Eridanus are clear,
  And Phaëthon's sad sisters by his grave
  Weep into the river, and each tear
    Gleams, a drop of amber, in the wave.

  To the strand of the Daughters of the Sunset,
    The Apple-tree, the singing and the gold;
  Where the mariner must stay him from his onset,
  And the red wave is tranquil as of old;
    Yea, beyond that Pillar of the End
    That Atlas guardeth, would I wend;
  Where a voice of living waters never ceaseth
    In God's quiet garden by the sea,
  And Earth, the ancient life-giver, increaseth
    Joy among the meadows, like a tree.

         *       *       *       *       *

  O shallop of Crete, whose milk-white wing
  Through the swell and the storm-beating,
    Bore us thy Prince's daughter,
  Was it well she came from a joyous home
  To a far King's bridal across the foam?
    What joy hath her bridal brought her?
  Sure some spell upon either hand
  Flew with thee from the Cretan strand,
  Seeking Athena's tower divine;
  And there, where Munychus fronts the brine,
  Crept by the shore-flung cables' line,
    The curse from the Cretan water!

  And for that dark spell that about her clings,
  Sick desires of forbidden things
    The soul of her rend and sever;
  The bitter tide of calamity
  Hath risen above her lips; and she,
    Where bends she her last endeavour?
  She will hie her alone to her bridal room,
  And a rope swing slow in the rafters' gloom;
  And a fair white neck shall creep to the noose,
  A-shudder with dread, yet firm to choose
  The one strait way for fame, and lose
    The Love and the pain for ever.

    [_The Voice of the_ NURSE _is heard from within, crying,
     at first inarticulately, then clearly_.]

    VOICE
  Help ho! The Queen! Help, whoso hearkeneth!
  Help! Theseus' spouse caught in a noose of death!

    A WOMAN
  God, is it so soon finished? That bright head
  Swinging beneath the rafters! Phaedra dead!

    VOICE
  O haste! This knot about her throat is made
  So fast! Will no one bring me a swift blade?

    A WOMAN
  Say, friends, what think ye? Should we haste within,
  And from her own hand's knotting loose the Queen?

    ANOTHER
  Nay, are there not men there? 'Tis an ill road
  In life, to finger at another's load.

    VOICE
  Let it lie straight! Alas! the cold white thing
  That guards his empty castle for the King!

    A WOMAN
  Ah! "Let it lie straight!" Heard ye what she said?
  No need for helpers now; the Queen is dead!
    [_The Women, intent upon the voices from the Castle, have not noticed
     the approach of_ THESEUS. _He enters from the left; his dress and the
     garland on his head show that he has returned from some oracle or
     special abode of a God. He stands for a moment perplexed_.]

    THESEUS
  Ho, Women, and what means this loud acclaim
  Within the house? The vassals' outcry came
  To smite mine ears far off. It were more meet
  To fling out wide the Castle gates, and greet
  With a joy held from God's Presence!
    [_The confusion and horror of the Women's faces gradually affects him.
     A dirge-cry comes from the Castle_.]

                                            How?
  Not Pittheus? Hath Time struck that hoary brow?
  Old is he, old, I know. But sore it were,
  Returning thus, to find his empty chair!
    [_The Women hesitate; then the Leader comes forward_.]

    LEADER
  O Theseus, not on any old man's head
  This stroke falls. Young and tender is the dead.

    THESEUS
  Ye Gods! One of my children torn from me?

    LEADER
  Thy motherless children live, most grievously.

    THESEUS
  How sayst thou? What? My wife? ...
                                 Say how she died.
    LEADER
  In a high death-knot that her own hands tied.

    THESEUS
  A fit of the old cold anguish? Tell me all--
  That held her?   Or did some fresh thing befall?

    LEADER
  We know no more. But now arrived we be,
  Theseus, to mourn for thy calamity.
    [THESEUS _stays for a moment silent, and puts his hand on his brow.
     He notices the wreath_.]

    THESEUS
  What? And all garlanded I come to her
  With flowers, most evil-starred God's-messenger!
    Ho, varlets, loose the portal bars; undo
  The bolts; and let me see the bitter view
  Of her whose death hath brought me to mine own.
    [_The great central door of the Castle is thrown open wide, and the body
     of_ PHAEDRA _is seen lying on a bier, surrounded by a group of
     Handmaids, wailing_.]

    THE HANDMAIDS
  Ah me, what thou hast suffered and hast done:
    A deed to wrap this roof in flame!
  Why was thine hand so strong, thine heart so bold?
  Wherefore. O dead in anger, dead in shame,
  The long, long wrestling ere thy breath was cold?
          O ill-starred Wife,
  What brought this blackness over all thy life?
    [_A throng of Men and Women has gradually collected_.]

    THESEUS
          Ah me, this is the last
  --Hear, O my countrymen!--and bitterest
  Of Theseus' labours! Fortune all unblest,
  How hath thine heavy heel across me passed!
  Is it the stain of sins done long ago,
          Some fell God still remembereth,
  That must so dim and fret my life with death?
  I cannot win to shore; and the waves flow
  Above mine eyes, to be surmounted not.
          Ah wife, sweet wife, what name
          Can fit thine heavy lot?
  Gone like a wild bird, like a blowing flame,
  In one swift gust, where all things are forgot!
          Alas! this misery!
  Sure 'tis some stroke of God's great anger rolled
          From age to age on me,
  For some dire sin wrought by dim kings of old.

    LEADER
  Sire, this great grief hath come to many an one,
  A true wife lost. Thou art not all alone.

    THESEUS
          Deep, deep beneath the Earth,
          Dark may my dwelling be,
  And night my heart's one comrade, in the dearth,
  O Love, of thy most sweet society.
  This is my death, O Phaedra, more than thine.
    [_He turns suddenly on the Attendants_.]
  Speak who speak can! What was it? What malign
  Swift stroke, O heart discounselled, leapt on thee?
    [_He bends over_ PHAEDRA; _then, as no one speaks looks fiercely up_.]
  What, will ye speak? Or are they dumb as death,
  This herd of thralls, my high house harboureth?
    [_There is no answer. He bends again over_ PHAEDRA.]

    SOME WOMEN
          Woe, woe! God brings to birth
  A new grief here, close on the other's tread!
          My life hath lost its worth.
  May all go now with what is finishèd!
  The castle of my King is overthrown,
  A house no more, a house vanished and gone!

    OTHER WOMEN
  O God, if it may be in any way,
  Let not this house be wrecked! Help us who pray!
  I know not what is here: some unseen thing
  That shows the Bird of Evil on the wing.
   [THESEUS _has read the tablet and breaks out in uncontrollable emotion_.]

    THESEUS
  Oh, horror piled on horror!--Here is writ...
  Nay, who could bear it, who could speak of it?

    LEADER
  What, O my King? If I may hear it, speak!

    THESEUS
  Doth not the tablet cry aloud, yea, shriek,
  Things not to be forgotten?--Oh, to fly
  And hide mine head! No more a man am I.
      God what ghastly music echoes here!

    LEADER
  How wild thy voice! Some terrible thing is near.

    THESEUS
  No; my lips' gates will hold it back no more;
  This deadly word,
  That struggles on the brink and will not o'er,
  Yet will not stay unheard.
    [_He raises his hand, to make proclamation to all present_.]
  Ho, hearken all this land!
    [_The people gather expectantly about him_.]
  Hippolytus by violence hath laid hand
  On this my wife, forgetting God's great eye.
    [_Murmurs of amazement and horror; THESEUS, apparently calm,
     raises both arms to heaven._]
  Therefore, O Thou my Father, hear my cry,
  Poseidon! Thou didst grant me for mine own
  Three prayers; for one of these, slay now my son,
  Hippolytus; let him not outlive this day,
  If true thy promise was! Lo, thus I pray.

    LEADER
  Oh, call that wild prayer back! O King, take heed!
  I know that thou wilt live to rue this deed.

    THESEUS
  It may not be.--And more, I cast him out
  From all my realms. He shall be held about
  By two great dooms. Or by Poseidon's breath
  He shall fall swiftly to the house of Death;
  Or wandering, outcast, o'er strange land and sea,
  Shall live and drain the cup of misery.

    LEADER
  Ah; see! here comes he at the point of need.
  Shake off that evil mood, O King; have heed
  For all thine house and folk--Great Theseus, hear!
    [THESEUS _stands silent in fierce gloom._
     HIPPOLYTUS _comes in from the right._]

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Father, I heard thy cry, and sped in fear
  To help thee, but I see not yet the cause
  That racked thee so. Say, Father, what it was.
    [_The murmurs in the crowd, the silent gloom of his Father,
     and the horror of the Chorus-women gradually work on_ HIPPOLYTUS
    _and bewilder him. He catches sight of the bier._]
  Ah, what is that! Nay, Father, not the Queen
  Dead!
    [_Murmurs in the crowd._]
  'Tis most strange. 'Tis passing strange, I ween.
  'Twas here I left her. Scarce an hour hath run
  Since here she stood and looked on this same sun.
  What is it with her? Wherefore did she die?
    [THESEUS _remains silent. The murmurs increase._]
  Father, to thee I speak. Oh, tell me, why,
  Why art thou silent? What doth silence know
  Of skill to stem the bitter flood of woe?
  And human hearts in sorrow crave the more,
  For knowledge, though the knowledge grieve them sore.
  It is not love, to veil thy sorrows in
  From one most near to thee, and more than kin.

    THESEUS (_to himself_)
  Fond race of men, so striving and so blind,
  Ten thousand arts and wisdoms can ye find,
  Desiring all and all imagining:
  But ne'er have reached nor understood one thing,
  To make a true heart there where no heart is!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  That were indeed beyond man's mysteries,
  To make a false heart true against his will.
  But why this subtle talk? It likes me ill,
  Father; thy speech runs wild beneath this blow.

    THESEUS (_as before_)
  O would that God had given us here below
  Some test of love, some sifting of the soul,
  To tell the false and true! Or through the whole
  Of men two voices ran, one true and right,
  The other as chance willed it; that we might
  Convict the liar by the true man's tone,
  And not live duped forever, every one!

    HIPPOLYTUS (_misunderstanding him; then guessing at something
                of the truth_)
  What? Hath some friend proved false?
                                Or in thine ear
  Whispered some slander? Stand I tainted here,
  Though utterly innocent?   [_Murmurs from the crowd_.]
                            Yea, dazed am I;
  'Tis thy words daze me, falling all awry,
  Away from reason, by fell fancies vexed!

    THESEUS
  O heart of man, what height wilt venture next?
  What end comes to thy daring and thy crime?
  For if with each man's life 'twill higher climb,
  And every age break out in blood and lies
  Beyond its fathers, must not God devise
  Some new world far from ours, to hold therein
  Such brood of all unfaithfulness and sin?
    Look, all, upon this man, my son, his life
  Sprung forth from mine! He hath defiled my wife;
  And standeth here convicted by the dead,
  A most black villain!
    [HIPPOLYTUS _falls back with a cry and covers his face with his robe_.]
                       Nay, hide not thine head!
  Pollution, is it? Thee it will not stain.
  Look up, and face thy Father's eyes again!
    Thou friend of Gods, of all mankind elect;
  Thou the pure heart, by thoughts of ill unflecked!
  I care not for thy boasts. I am not mad,
  To deem that Gods love best the base and bad.
    Now is thy day! Now vaunt thee; thou so pure,
  No flesh of life may pass thy lips! Now lure
  Fools after thee; call Orpheus King and Lord;
  Make ecstasies and wonders! Thumb thine hoard
  Of ancient scrolls and ghostly mysteries--
  Now thou art caught and known!
                         Shun men like these,
  I charge ye all! With solemn words they chase
  their prey, and in their hearts plot foul disgrace.
  My wife is dead.--"Ha, so that saves thee now,"
  That is what grips thee worst, thou caitiff, thou!
  What oaths, what subtle words, shall stronger be
  Than this dead hand, to clear the guilt from thee?
    "She hated thee," thou sayest; "the bastard born
  Is ever sore and bitter as a thorn
  To the true brood."--A sorry bargainer
  In the ills and goods of life thou makest her,
  If all her best-beloved she cast away
  To wreck blind hate on thee!--What, wilt thou say
  "Through every woman's nature one blind strand
  Of passion winds, that men scarce understand?"--
  Are we so different? Know I not the fire
  And perilous flood of a young man's desire,
  Desperate as any woman, and as blind,
  When Cypris stings? Save that the man behind
  Has all men's strength to aid him. Nay, 'twas thou...
    But what avail to wrangle with thee now,
  When the dead speaks for all to understand,
  A perfect witness!
                     Hie thee from this land
  To exile with all speed. Come never more
  To god-built Athens, not to the utmost shore
  Of any realm where Theseus' arm is strong!
  What? Shall I bow my head beneath this wrong,
  And cower to thee? Not Isthmian Sinis so
  Will bear men witness that I laid him low,
  Nor Skiron's rocks, that share the salt sea's prey,
  Grant that my hand hath weight vile things to slay!

    LEADER
  Alas! whom shall I call of mortal men
  Happy? The highest are cast down again.

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Father, the hot strained fury of thy heart
  Is terrible. Yet, albeit so swift thou art
  Of speech, if all this matter were laid bare,
  Speech were not then so swift; nay, nor so fair...
    [_Murmurs again in the crowd_.]
  I have no skill before a crowd to tell
  My thoughts. 'Twere best with few, that know me well.--
  Nay that is natural; tongues that sound but rude
  In wise men's ears, speak to the multitude
  With music.
             None the less, since there is come
  This stroke upon me, I must not be dumb,
  But speak perforce... And there will I begin
  Where thou beganst, as though to strip my sin
  Naked, and I not speak a word!
                                  Dost see
  This sunlight and this earth? I swear to thee
  There dwelleth not in these one man--deny
  All that thou wilt!--more pure of sin than I.
    Two things I know on earth: God's worship first;
  Next to win friends about me, few, that thirst
  To hold them clean of all unrighteousness.
  Our rule doth curse the tempters, and no less
  Who yieldeth to the tempters.--How, thou say'st,
  "Dupes that I jest at?" Nay; I make a jest
  Of no man. I am honest to the end,
  Near or far off, with him I call my friend.
  And most in that one thing, where now thy mesh
  Would grip me, stainless quite! No woman's flesh
  Hath e'er this body touched. Of all such deed
  Naught wot I, save what things a man may read
  In pictures or hear spoke; nor am I fain,
  Being virgin-souled, to read or hear again.
    My life of innocence moves thee not; so be it.
  Show then what hath seduced me; let me see it.
  Was that poor flesh so passing fair, beyond
  All woman's loveliness?
                         Was I some fond
  False plotter, that I schemed to win through her
  Thy castle's heirdom? Fond indeed I were!
  Nay, a stark madman! "But a crown," thou sayest,
  "Usurped, is sweet." Nay, rather most unblest
  To all wise-hearted; sweet to fools and them
  Whose eyes are blinded by the diadem.
  In contests of all valour fain would I
  Lead Hellas; but in rank and majesty
  Not lead, but be at ease, with good men near
  To love me, free to work and not to fear.
  That brings more joy than any crown or throne.
    [_He sees from the demeanor of_ THESEUS _and of the crowd that his words
     are not winning them, but rather making them bitterer than before.
     It comes to his lips to speak the whole truth_.]
  I have said my say; save one thing...one alone
    O had I here some witness in my need,
  As I was witness! Could she hear me plead,
  Face me and face the sunlight; well I know,
  Our deeds would search us out for thee, and show
  Who lies!
          But now, I swear--so hear me both,
  The Earth beneath and Zeus who Guards the Oath--
  I never touched this woman that was thine!
  No words could win me to it, nor incline
  My heart to dream it. May God strike me down,
  Nameless and fameless, without home or town,
  An outcast and a wanderer of the world;
  May my dead bones rest never, but be hurled
  From sea to land, from land to angry sea,
  If evil is my heart and false to thee!
    [_He waits a moment; but sees that his Father is unmoved.
     The truth again comes to his lips_.]
  If 'twas some fear that made her cast away
  Her life ... I know not. More I must not say.
  Right hath she done when in her was no right;
  And Right I follow to mine own despite!

    LEADER
  It is enough! God's name is witness large,
  And thy great oath, to assoil thee of this charge,

    THESEUS
  Is not the man a juggler and a mage,
  Cool wits and one right oath--what more?--to assuage
  Sin and the wrath of injured fatherhood!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Am I so cool? Nay, Father, 'tis thy mood
  That makes me marvel! By my faith, wert thou
  The son, and I the sire; and deemed I now
  In very truth thou hadst my wife assailed,
  I had not exiled thee, nor stood and railed,
  But lifted once mine arm, and struck thee dead!

    THESEUS
  Thou gentle judge! Thou shalt not so be sped
  To simple death, nor by thine own decree.
  Swift death is bliss to men in misery.
  Far off, friendless forever, thou shalt drain
  Amid strange cities the last dregs of pain!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Wilt verily cast me now beyond thy pale,
  Not wait for Time, the lifter of the veil?

    THESEUS
  Aye, if I could, past Pontus, and the red
  Atlantic marge! So do I hate thine head.

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Wilt weigh nor oath nor faith nor prophet's word
  To prove me? Drive me from thy sight unheard?

    THESEUS
  This tablet here, that needs no prophet's lot
  To speak from, tells me all. I ponder not
  Thy fowls that fly above us! Let them fly.

    HIPPOLYTUS
  O ye great Gods, wherefore unlock not I
  My lips, ere yet ye have slain me utterly,
  Ye whom I love most? No. It may not be!
  The one heart that I need I ne'er should gain
  To trust me. I should break mine oath in vain.

    THESEUS
  Death! but he chokes me with his saintly tone!--
  Up, get thee from this land! Begone! Begone!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Where shall I turn me? Think. To what friend's door
  Betake me, banished on a charge so sore?

    THESEUS
  Whoso delights to welcome to his hall
  Vile ravishers ... to guard his hearth withal!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Thou seekst my heart, my tears? Aye, let it be
  Thus! I am vile to all men, and to thee!

    THESEUS
  There was a time for tears and thought; the time
  Ere thou didst up and gird thee to thy crime.

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Ye stones, will ye not speak? Ye castle walls!
  Bear witness if I be so vile, so false!

    THESEUS
  Aye, fly to voiceless witnesses! Yet here
  A dumb deed speaks against thee, and speaks clear!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Alas!
  Would I could stand and watch this thing, and see
  My face, and weep for very pity of me!

    THESEUS
  Full of thyself, as ever! Not a thought
  For them that gave thee birth; nay, they are naught!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  O my wronged Mother! O my birth of shame!
  May none I love e'er bear a bastard's name!

    THESEUS (_in a sudden blaze of rage_)
  Up, thralls, and drag him from my presence! What,
  'Tis but a foreign felon! Heard ye not?
    [_The thralls still hesitate in spite of his fury._]

    HIPPOLYTUS
  They touch me at their peril! Thine own hand
  Lift, if thou canst, to drive me from the land.

    THESEUS
  That will I straight, unless my will be done!
    [HIPPOLYTUS _comes close to him and kneels._]
  Nay! Not for thee my pity! Get thee gone!
    [HIPPOLYTUS _rises, makes a sign of submission, and slowly moves away._
     THESEUS, _as soon as he sees him going, turns rapidly and enters the
     Castle.  The door is closed again._ HIPPOLYTUS _has stopped for a
     moment before the Statue of _ARTEMIS, _and, as _THESEUS_ departs,
     breaks out in prayer._]

    HIPPOLYTUS
  So; it is done! O dark and miserable!
  I see it all, but see not how to tell
  The tale.--O thou belovèd, Leto's Maid,
  Chase-comrade, fellow-rester in the glade,
  Lo, I am driven with a caitiff's brand
  Forth from great Athens! Fare ye well, O land
  And city of old Erechtheus! Thou, Trozên,
  What riches of glad youth mine eyes have seen
  In thy broad plain! Farewell! This is the end;
  The last word, the last look!
                             Come, every friend
  And fellow of my youth that still may stay,
  Give me god-speed and cheer me on my way.
  Ne'er shall ye see a man more pure of spot
  Than me, though mine own Father loves me not!
    [HIPPOLYTUS _goes away to the right, followed by many Huntsmen and other
     young men. The rest of the crowd has by this time dispersed, except the
     Women of the Chorus and some Men of the Chorus of Huntsmen_.]

      CHORUS

    _Men_
  Surely the thought of the Gods hath balm in it alway, to win me
  Far from my griefs; and a thought, deep in the dark of my mind,
  Clings to a great Understanding. Yet all the spirit within me
  Faints, when I watch men's deeds matched with the guerdon they find.
              For Good comes in Evil's traces,
              And the Evil the Good replaces;
              And Life, 'mid the changing faces,
                Wandereth weak and blind.

    _Women_
  What wilt thou grant me, O God? Lo, this is the prayer of my travail--
  Some well-being; and chance not very bitter thereby;
  Spirit uncrippled by pain; and a mind not deep to unravel
  Truth unseen, nor yet dark with the brand of a lie.
              With a veering mood to borrow
              Its light from every morrow,
              Fair friends and no deep sorrow,
                Well could man live and die!

    _Men_
  Yet my spirit is no more clean,
      And the weft of my hope is torn,
  For the deed of wrong that mine eyes have seen,
      The lie and the rage and the scorn;
    A Star among men, yea, a Star
      That in Hellas was bright,
    By a Father's wrath driven far
      To the wilds and the night.
    Oh, alas for the sands of the shore!
      Alas for the brakes of the hill,
    Where the wolves shall fear thee no more,
      And thy cry to Dictynna is still!

    _Women_
  No more in the yoke of thy car
      Shall the colts of Enetia fleet;
  Nor Limna's echoes quiver afar
      To the clatter of galloping feet.
    The sleepless music of old,
      That leaped in the lyre,
    Ceaseth now, and is cold,
      In the halls of thy sire.
    The bowers are discrowned and unladen
      Where Artemis lay on the lea;
    And the love-dream of many a maiden
      Lost, in the losing of thee.

    _A Maiden_
  And I, even I,
  For thy fall, O Friend,
    Amid tears and tears,
  Endure to the end
    Of the empty years,
          Of a life run dry.
  In vain didst thou bear him,
    Thou Mother forlorn!
  Ye Gods that did snare him,
    Lo, I cast in your faces
  My hate and my scorn!
    Ye love-linkèd Graces,
      (Alas for the day!)
         Was he naught, then, to you,
       That ye cast him away,
         The stainless and true,
           From the old happy places?

    LEADER
  Look yonder! 'Tis the Prince's man, I ween
  Speeding toward this gate, most dark of mien.
    [A HENCHMAN _enters in haste_.]

    HENCHMAN
  Ye women, whither shall I go to seek
  King Theseus? Is he in this dwelling? Speak!

    LEADER
  Lo, where he cometh through the Castle gate!
    [THESEUS _comes out from the Castle_.]

    HENCHMAN
  O King, I bear thee tidings of dire weight
  To thee, aye, and to every man, I ween,
  From Athens to the marches of Trozên.

    THESEUS
  What? Some new stroke hath touched, unknown to me,
  The sister cities of my sovranty?

    HENCHMAN
  Hippolytus is...Nay, not dead; but stark
  Outstretched, a hairsbreadth this side of the dark.

    THESEUS (_as though unmoved_)
  How slain? Was there some other man, whose wife
  He had like mine denied, that sought his life?

    HENCHMAN
  His own wild team destroyed him, and the dire
  Curse of thy lips.
                    The boon of thy great Sire
  Is granted thee, O King, and thy son slain.

    THESEUS
  Ye Gods! And thou, Poseidon! Not in vain
  I called thee Father; thou hast heard my prayer!
  How did he die? Speak on. How closed the snare
  Of Heaven to slay the shamer of my blood?

    HENCHMAN
  'Twas by the bank of beating sea we stood,
  We thralls, and decked the steeds, and combed each mane;
  Weeping; for word had come that ne'er again
  The foot of our Hippolytus should roam
  This land, but waste in exile by thy doom.
    So stood we till he came, and in his tone
  No music now save sorrow's, like our own,
  And in his train a concourse without end
  Of many a chase-fellow and many a friend.
  At last he brushed his sobs away, and spake:
  "Why this fond loitering? I would not break
  My Father's law--Ho, there! My coursers four
  And chariot, quick! This land is mine no more."
    Thereat, be sure, each man of us made speed.
  Swifter than speech we brought them up, each steed
  Well dight and shining, at our Prince's side.
  He grasped the reins upon the rail: one stride
  And there he stood, a perfect charioteer,
  Each foot in its own station set. Then clear
  His voice rose, and his arms to heaven were spread:
  "O Zeus, if I be false, strike thou me dead!
  But, dead or living, let my Father see
  One day, how falsely he hath hated me!"
    Even as he spake, he lifted up the goad
  And smote; and the steeds sprang. And down the road
  We henchmen followed, hard beside the rein,
  Each hand, to speed him, toward the Argive plain
  And Epidaurus.
                    So we made our way
  Up toward the desert region, where the bay
  Curls to a promontory near the verge
  Of our Trozên, facing the southward surge
  Of Saron's gulf. Just there an angry sound,
  Slow-swelling, like God's thunder underground
  Broke on us, and we trembled. And the steeds
  Pricked their ears skyward, and threw back their heads.
  And wonder came on all men, and affright,
  Whence rose that awful voice. And swift our sight
  Turned seaward, down the salt and roaring sand.
    And there, above the horizon, seemed to stand
  A wave unearthly, crested in the sky;
  Till Skiron's Cape first vanished from mine eye,
  Then sank the Isthmus hidden, then the rock
  Of Epidaurus. Then it broke, one shock
  And roar of gasping sea and spray flung far,
  And shoreward swept, where stood the Prince's car.
    Three lines of wave together raced, and, full
  In the white crest of them, a wild Sea-Bull
  Flung to the shore, a fell and marvellous Thing.
  The whole land held his voice, and answering
  Roared in each echo. And all we, gazing there,
  Gazed seeing not; 'twas more than eyes could bear.
    Then straight upon the team wild terror fell.
  Howbeit, the Prince, cool-eyed and knowing well
  Each changing mood a horse has, gripped the reins
  Hard in both hands; then as an oarsman strains
  Up from his bench, so strained he on the thong,
  Back in the chariot swinging. But the young
  Wild steeds bit hard the curb, and fled afar;
  Nor rein nor guiding hand nor morticed car
  Stayed them at all. For when he veered them round,
  And aimed their flying feet to grassy ground,
  In front uprose that Thing, and turned again
  The four great coursers, terror-mad. But when
  Their blind rage drove them toward the rocky places,
  Silent and ever nearer to the traces,
  It followed rockward, till one wheel-edge grazed.
    The chariot tript and flew, and all was mazed
  In turmoil. Up went wheel-box with a din,
  Where the rock jagged, and nave and axle-pin.
  And there--the long reins round him--there was he
  Dragging, entangled irretrievably.
  A dear head battering at the chariot side,
  Sharp rocks, and rippled flesh, and a voice that cried:
  "Stay, stay, O ye who fattened at my stalls,
  Dash me not into nothing!--O thou false
  Curse of my Father!--Help! Help, whoso can,
  An innocent, innocent and stainless man!"
    Many there were that laboured then, I wot,
  To bear him succour, but could reach him not,
  Till--who knows how?--at last the tangled rein
  Unclasped him, and he fell, some little vein
  Of life still pulsing in him.
                                All beside,
  The steeds, the hornèd Horror of the Tide,
  Had vanished--who knows where?--in that wild land.
    O King, I am a bondsman of thine hand;
  Yet love nor fear nor duty me shall win
  To say thine innocent son hath died in sin.
  All women born may hang themselves, for me,
  And swing their dying words from every tree
  On Ida! For I know that he was true!

    LEADER
  O God, so cometh new disaster, new
  Despair! And no escape from what must be!

    THESEUS
  Hate of the man thus stricken lifted me
  At first to joy at hearing of thy tale;
  But now, some shame before the Gods, some pale
  Pity for mine own blood, hath o'er me come.
  I laugh not, neither weep, at this fell doom.

    HENCHMAN
  How then? Behoves it bear him here, or how
  Best do thy pleasure?--Speak, Lord. Yet if thou
  Wilt mark at all my word, thou wilt not be
  Fierce-hearted to thy child in misery.

    THESEUS
  Aye, bring him hither. Let me see the face
  Of him who durst deny my deep disgrace
  And his own sin; yea, speak with him, and prove
  His clear guilt by God's judgments from above.
    [_The_ HENCHMAN _departs to fetch_ HIPPOLYTUS; THESEUS _sits waiting in
     stern gloom, while the_ CHORUS _sing. At the close of their song a
     Divine Figure is seen approaching on a cloud in the air and the voice
     of_ ARTEMIS _speaks_.]

      CHORUS
          Thou comest to bend the pride
            Of the hearts of God and man,
          Cypris; and by thy side,
            In earth-encircling span,
          He of the changing plumes,
          The Wing that the world illumes,
          As over the leagues of land flies he,
          Over the salt and sounding sea.

          For mad is the heart of Love,
            And gold the gleam of his wing;
          And all to the spell thereof
            Bend, when he makes his spring;
          All life that is wild and young
            In mountain and wave and stream,
          All that of earth is sprung,
            Or breathes in the red sunbeam;
          Yea, and Mankind. O'er all a royal throne,
          Cyprian, Cyprian, is thine alone!

    A VOICE FROM THE CLOUD
  O thou that rulest in Aegeus' Hall,
  I charge thee, hearken!
                         Yea, it is I,
  Artemis, Virgin of God most High.
  Thou bitter King, art thou glad withal
      For thy murdered son?
  For thine ear bent low to a lying Queen,
  For thine heart so swift amid things unseen?
  Lo, all may see what end thou hast won!
  Go, sink thine head in the waste abyss;
  Or aloft to another world than this,
      Birdwise with wings,
      Fly far to thine hiding,
  Far over this blood that clots and clings;
  For in righteous men and in holy things
      No rest is thine nor abiding!
    [_The cloud has become stationary in the air._]
  Hear, Theseus, all the story of thy grief!
  Verily, I bring but anguish, not relief;
  Yet, 'twas for this I came, to show how high
  And clean was thy son's heart, that he may die
  Honoured of men; aye, and to tell no less
  The frenzy, or in some sort the nobleness,
  Of thy dead wife. One Spirit there is, whom we
  That know the joy of white virginity,
  Most hate in heaven. She sent her fire to run
  In Phaedra's veins, so that she loved thy son.
  Yet strove she long with love, and in the stress
  Fell not, till by her Nurse's craftiness
  Betrayed, who stole, with oaths of secrecy,
  To entreat thy son. And he, most righteously,
  Nor did her will, nor, when thy railing scorn
  Beat on him, broke the oath that he had sworn,
  For God's sake. And thy Phaedra, panic-eyed,
  Wrote a false writ, and slew thy son, and died,
  Lying; but thou wast nimble to believe!
    [THESEUS, _at first bewildered, then dumfounded,
     now utters a deep groan._]
  It stings thee, Theseus?--Nay, hear on and grieve
  Yet sorer. Wottest thou three prayers were thine
  Of sure fulfilment, from thy Sire divine?
  Hast thou no foes about thee, then, that one--
  Thou vile King!--must be turned against thy son?
  The deed was thine. Thy Sea-born Sire but heard
  The call of prayer, and bowed him to his word.
  But thou in his eyes and in mine art found
  Evil, who wouldst not think, nor probe, nor sound
  The deeps of prophet's lore, nor day by day
  Leave Time to search; but swifter than man may,
  Let loose the curse to slay thine innocent son!

    THESEUS
  O Goddess, let me die!

    ARTEMIS
                      Nay; thou hast done
  A heavy wrong; yet even beyond this ill
  Abides for thee forgiveness. 'Twas the will
  Of Cypris that these evil things should be,
  Sating her wrath. And this immutably
  Hath Zeus ordained in heaven: no God may thwart
  A God's fixed will; we grieve but stand apart.
  Else, but for fear of the Great Father's blame,
  Never had I to such extreme of shame
  Bowed me, be sure, as here to stand and see
  Slain him I loved best of mortality!
    Thy fault, O King, its ignorance sunders wide
  From very wickedness; and she who died
  By death the more disarmed thee, making dumb
  The voice of question. And the storm has come
  Most bitterly of all on thee! Yet I
  Have mine own sorrow, too. When good men die,
  There is no joy in heaven, albeit our ire
  On child and house of the evil falls like fire.
    [_A throng is seen approaching;_ HIPPOLYTUS _enters,
     supported by his attendants._]

    CHORUS
    Lo, it is he! The bright young head
        Yet upright there!
    Ah the torn flesh and the blood-stained hair;
      Alas for the kindred's trouble!
    It falls as fire from a God's hand sped,
      Two deaths, and mourning double.

    HIPPOLYTUS
        Ah, pain, pain, pain!
  O unrighteous curse!   O unrighteous sire!
  No hope.--My head is stabbed with fire,
  And a leaping spasm about my brain.
    Stay, let me rest. I can no more.
  O fell, fell steeds that my own hand fed,
  Have ye maimed me and slain, that loved me of yore?
  --Soft there, ye thralls!   No trembling hands
  As ye lift me, now!--Who is that that stands
  At the right?--Now firm, and with measured tread,
  Lift one accursèd and stricken sore
          By a father's sinning.

  Thou, Zeus, dost see me? Yea, it is I;
  The proud and pure, the server of God,
  The white and shining in sanctity!
  To a visible death, to an open sod,
              I walk my ways;
  And all the labour of saintly days
              Lost, lost, without meaning!

              Ah God, it crawls
                This agony, over me!
              Let be, ye thralls!
                Come, Death, and cover me:
            Come, O thou Healer blest!

              But a little more,
                And my soul is clear,
              And the anguish o'er!
            Oh, a spear, a spear!
          To rend my soul to its rest!

  Oh, strange, false Curse! Was there some blood-stained head,
  Some father of my line, unpunishèd,
             Whose guilt lived in his kin,
  And passed, and slept, till after this long day
  It lights... Oh, why on me? Me, far away
             And innocent of sin?

             O words that cannot save!
           When will this breathing end in that last deep
  Pain that is painlessness? 'Tis sleep I crave.
           When wilt thou bring me sleep,
  Thou dark and midnight magic of the grave!

    ARTEMIS
  Sore-stricken man, bethink thee in this stress,
  Thou dost but die for thine own nobleness.

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Ah!
  O breath of heavenly fragrance! Though my pain
  Burns, I can feel thee and find rest again.
  The Goddess Artemis is with me here.

    ARTEMIS
  With thee and loving thee, poor sufferer!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Dost see me, Mistress, nearing my last sleep?

    ARTEMIS
  Aye, and would weep for thee, if Gods could weep.

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Who now shall hunt with thee or hold thy quiver?

    ARTEMIS
  He dies but my love cleaves to him for ever.

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Who guide thy chariot, keep thy shrine-flowers fresh?

    ARTEMIS
  The accursed Cyprian caught him in her mesh!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  The Cyprian? Now I see it!--Aye, 'twas she.

    ARTEMIS
  She missed her worship, loathed thy chastity!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Three lives by her one hand! 'Tis all clear now.

    ARTEMIS
  Yea, three; thy father and his Queen and thou.

    HIPPOLYTUS
  My father; yea, he too is pitiable!

    ARTEMIS
  A plotting Goddess tripped him, and he fell.

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Father, where art thou? ... Oh, thou sufferest sore!

    THESEUS
  Even unto death, child. There is joy no more.

    HIPPOLYTUS
  I pity thee in this coil; aye, more than me.

    THESEUS
  Would I could lie there dead instead of thee!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Oh, bitter bounty of Poseidon's love!

    THESEUS
  Would God my lips had never breathed thereof!

    HIPPOLYTUS (_gently_)
  Nay, thine own rage had slain me then, some wise!

    THESEUS
  A lying spirit had made blind mine eyes!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Ah me!
  Would that a mortal's curse could reach to God!

    ARTEMIS
  Let be! For not, though deep beneath the sod
  Thou liest, not unrequited nor unsung
  Shall this fell stroke, from Cypris' rancour sprung,
  Quell thee, mine own, the saintly and the true!
    My hand shall win its vengeance through and through,
  Piercing with flawless shaft what heart soe'er
  Of all men living is most dear to Her.
  Yea, and to thee, for this sore travail's sake,
  Honours most high in Trozên will I make;
  For yokeless maids before their bridal night
  Shall shear for thee their tresses; and a rite
  Of honouring tears be thine in ceaseless store;
  And virgin's thoughts in music evermore
  Turn toward thee, and praise thee in the Song
  Of Phaedra's far-famed love and thy great wrong.
    O seed of ancient Aegeus, bend thee now
  And clasp thy son. Aye, hold and fear not thou!
  Not knowingly hast thou slain him; and man's way,
  When Gods send error, needs must fall astray.
    And thou, Hippolytus, shrink not from the King,
  Thy father. Thou wast born to bear this thing.
    Farewell! I may not watch man's fleeting breath,
  Nor strain mine eyes with the effluence of death.
  And sure that Terror now is very near.
    [_The cloud slowly rises and floats away_.]

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Farewell, farewell, most Blessèd! Lift thee clear
  Of soiling men! Thou wilt not grieve in heaven
  For my long love! ...Father, thou art forgiven.
  It was Her will. I am not wroth with thee...
  I have obeyed Her all my days! ...
                                      Ah me,
  The dark is drawing down upon mine eyes;
  It hath me! ... Father! ... Hold me! Help me rise!

    THESEUS (_supporting him in his arms_)
  Ah, woe! How dost thou torture me, my son!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  I see the Great Gates opening. I am gone.

    THESEUS
  Gone? And my hand red-reeking from this thing!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Nay, nay; thou art assoiled of manslaying.

    THESEUS
  Thou leav'st me clear of murder? Sayst thou so?

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Yea, by the Virgin of the Stainless Bow!

    THESEUS
  Dear Son! Ah, now I see thy nobleness!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Pray that a true-born child may fill my place.

    THESEUS
  Ah me, thy righteous and god-fearing heart!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Farewell;
  A long farewell, dear Father, ere we part!
    [THESEUS _bends down and embraces him passionately_.]

    THESEUS
  Not yet!--O hope and bear while thou hast breath!

    HIPPOLYTUS
  Lo, I have borne my burden. This is death...
  Quick, Father; lay the mantle on my face.
    [THESEUS _covers his face with a mantle and rises._]

    THESEUS
  Ye bounds of Pallas and of Pelops' race,
  What greatness have ye lost!
                               Woe, woe is me!
  Thou Cyprian, long shall I remember thee!

      CHORUS
        On all this folk, both low and high,
        A grief hath fallen beyond men's fears.
        There cometh a throbbing of many tears,
          A sound as of waters falling.
            For when great men die,
          A mighty name and a bitter cry
          Rise up from a nation calling.
       [_They move into the Castle, carrying the body of_ HIPPOLYTUS.]



THE BACCHAE

OF EURIPIDES


DRAMATIS PERSONAE

  DIONYSUS, THE GOD; _son of Zeus and of the Theban princess Semelê_.
  CADMUS, _formerly King of Thebes, father of Semelê_.
  PENTHEUS, _King of Thebes, grandson of Cadmus_.
  AGAVE, _daughter of Cadmus, mother of Pentheus_.
  TEIRESIAS, _an aged Theban prophet_.
  A SOLDIER OF PENTHEUS' GUARD.
  TWO MESSENGERS.
  A CHORUS OF INSPIRED DAMSELS, _following Dionysus from the East_.

_"The play was first produced after the death of Euripides by his son who
bore the same name, together with the Iphigenia in Aulis and the Alcmaeon,
probably in the year 405 B.C."_

_The background represents the front of the Castle of_ PENTHEUS, _King of
Thebes. At one side is visible the sacred Tomb of Semelê, a little
enclosure overgrown with wild vines, with a cleft in the rocky floor of it
from which there issues at times steam or smoke. The God_ DIONYSUS _is
discovered alone._


     DIONYSUS
   Behold, God's Son is come unto this land
   Of heaven's hot splendour lit to life, when she
   Of Thebes, even I, Dionysus, whom the brand
   Who bore me, Cadmus' daughter Semelê,
   Died here. So, changed in shape from God to man,
   I walk again by Dirce's streams and scan
   Ismenus' shore. There by the castle side
   I see her place, the Tomb of the Lightning's Bride,
   The wreck of smouldering chambers, and the great
   Faint wreaths of fire undying--as the hate
   Dies not, that Hera held for Semelê.
     Aye, Cadmus hath done well; in purity
   He keeps this place apart, inviolate,
   His daughter's sanctuary; and I have set
   My green and clustered vines to robe it round
     Far now behind me lies the golden ground
   Of Lydian and of Phrygian; far away
   The wide hot plains where Persian sunbeams play,
   The Bactrian war-holds, and the storm-oppressed
   Clime of the Mede, and Araby the Blest,
   And Asia all, that by the salt sea lies
   In proud embattled cities, motley-wise
   Of Hellene and Barbarian interwrought;
   And now I come to Hellas--having taught
   All the world else my dances and my rite
   Of mysteries, to show me in men's sight
   Manifest God.
                   And first of Helene lands
   I cry this Thebes to waken; set her hands
   To clasp my wand, mine ivied javelin,
   And round her shoulders hang my wild fawn-skin.
   For they have scorned me whom it least beseemed,
   Semelê's sisters; mocked by birth, nor deemed
   That Dionysus sprang from Dian seed.
   My mother sinned, said they; and in her need,
   With Cadmus plotting, cloaked her human shame
   With the dread name of Zeus; for that the flame
   From heaven consumed her, seeing she lied to God.
     Thus must they vaunt; and therefore hath my rod
   On them first fallen, and stung them forth wild-eyed
   From empty chambers; the bare mountain side
   Is made their home, and all their hearts are flame.
   Yea, I have bound upon the necks of them
   The harness of my rites. And with them all
   The seed of womankind from hut and hall
   Of Thebes, hath this my magic goaded out.
   And there, with the old King's daughters, in a rout
   Confused, they make their dwelling-place between
   The roofless rocks and shadowy pine trees green.
   Thus shall this Thebes, how sore soe'er it smart,
   Learn and forget not, till she crave her part
   In mine adoring; thus must I speak clear
   To save my mother's fame, and crown me here,
   As true God, born by Semelê to Zeus.

   Now Cadmus yieldeth up his throne and use
   Of royal honour to his daughter's son
   Pentheus; who on my body hath begun
   A war with God. He thrusteth me away
   From due drink-offering, and, when men pray,
   My name entreats not. Therefore on his own
   Head and his people's shall my power be shown.
   Then to another land, when all things here
   Are well, must I fare onward, making clear
   My godhead's might. But should this Theban town
   Essay with wrath and battle to drag down
   My maids, lo, in their path myself shall be,
   And maniac armies battled after me!
   For this I veil my godhead with the wan
   Form of the things that die, and walk as Man.

   O Brood of Tmolus o'er the wide world flown,
   O Lydian band, my chosen and mine own,
   Damsels uplifted o'er the orient deep
   To wander where I wander, and to sleep
   Where I sleep; up, and wake the old sweet sound,
   The clang that I and mystic Rhea found,
   The Timbrel of the Mountain! Gather all
   Thebes to your song round Pentheus' royal hall.
   I seek my new-made worshippers, to guide
   Their dances up Kithaeron's pine clad side.

     [_As he departs, there comes stealing in from the left a band of fifteen
      Eastern Women, the light of the sunrise streaming upon their long white
      robes and ivy-bound hair. They wear fawn-skins over the robes, and
      carry some of them timbrels, some pipes and other instruments. Many
      bear the thyrsus, or sacred Wand, made of reed ringed with ivy. They
      enter stealthily till they see that the place is empty, and then begin
      their mystic song of worship._]

       CHORUS

     _A Maiden_
   From Asia, from the dayspring that uprises
     To Bromios ever glorying we came.
   We laboured for our Lord in many guises;
   We toiled, but the toil is as the prize is;
     Thou Mystery, we hail thee by thy name!

     _Another_
   Who lingers in the road? Who espies us?
     We shall hide him in his house nor be bold.
   Let the heart keep silence that defies us;
   For I sing this day to Dionysus
     The song that is appointed from of old.

     _All the Maidens_
   Oh, blessèd he in all wise,
     Who hath drunk the Living Fountain,
       Whose life no folly staineth,
         And his soul is near to God;
   Whose sins are lifted, pall-wise,
     As he worships on the Mountain,
       And where Cybele ordaineth,
         Our Mother, he has trod:

       His head with ivy laden
         And his thyrsus tossing high,
           For our God he lifts his cry;
       "Up, O Bacchae, wife and maiden,
         Come, O ye Bacchae, come;
       Oh, bring the Joy-bestower,
       God-seed of God the Sower,
       Bring Bromios in his power
           From Phrygia's mountain dome;
       To street and town and tower,
           Oh, bring ye Bromios home."

   Whom erst in anguish lying
     For an unborn life's desire,
       As a dead thing in the Thunder
         His mother cast to earth;
   For her heart was dying, dying,
     In the white heart of the fire;
       Till Zeus, the Lord of Wonder,
         Devised new lairs of birth;

          Yea, his own flesh tore to hide him,
            And with clasps of bitter gold
            Did a secret son enfold,
         And the Queen knew not beside him;
            Till the perfect hour was there;
         Then a hornèd God was found,
         And a God of serpents crowned;
         And for that are serpents wound
            In the wands his maidens bear,
         And the songs of serpents sound
            In the mazes of their hair.

     _Some Maidens_
   All hail, O Thebes, thou nurse of Semelê!
     With Semelê's wild ivy crown thy towers;
   Oh, burst in bloom of wreathing bryony,
        Berries and leaves and flowers;
      Uplift the dark divine wand,
      The oak-wand and the pine-wand,
   And don thy fawn-skin, fringed in purity
      With fleecy white, like ours.

   Oh, cleanse thee in the wands' waving pride!
     Yea, all men shall dance with us and pray,
   When Bromios his companies shall guide
     Hillward, ever hillward, where they stay,
       The flock of the Believing,
       The maids from loom and weaving
     By the magic of his breath borne away.

     _Others_
   Hail thou, O Nurse of Zeus, O Caverned Haunt
       Where fierce arms clanged to guard God's cradle rare,
     For thee of old crested Corybant
       First woke in Cretan air
     The wild orb of our orgies,
     The Timbrel; and thy gorges
   Rang with this strain; and blended Phrygian chant
      And sweet keen pipes were there.

     But the Timbrel, the Timbrel was another's,
       And away to Mother Rhea it must wend;
     And to our holy singing from the Mother's
       The mad Satyrs carried it, to blend
         In the dancing and the cheer
         Of our third and perfect Year;
     And it serves Dionysus in the end!

     _A Maiden_
   O glad, glad on the mountains
     To swoon in the race outworn,
       When the holy fawn-skin clings,
         And all else sweeps away,
   To the joy of the red quick fountains,
     The blood of the hill-goat torn,
       The glory of wild-beast ravenings,
         Where the hill-tops catch the day;
   To the Phrygian, Lydian, mountains!
     'Tis Bromios leads the way.

     _Another Maiden_
   Then streams the earth with milk, yea, streams
   With wine and nectar of the bee,
   And through the air dim perfume steams
   Of Syrian frankincense; and He,
   Our leader, from his thyrsus spray
   A torchlight tosses high and higher,
   A torchlight like a beacon-fire,
   To waken all that faint and stray;
   And sets them leaping as he sings,
   His tresses rippling to the sky,
   And deep beneath the Maenad cry
   His proud voice rings:
         "Come, O ye Bacchae, come!"

     _All the Maidens_
   Hither, O fragrant of Tmolus the Golden,
     Come with the voice of timbrel and drum;
   Let the cry of your joyance uplift and embolden
     The God of the joy-cry; O Bacchanals, come!
   With pealing of pipes and with Phrygian clamour,
     On, where the vision of holiness thrills,
   And the music climbs and the maddening glamour,
     With the wild White Maids, to the hills, to the hills!
   Oh, then, like a colt as he runs by a river,
     A colt by his dam, when the heart of him sings,
   With the keen limbs drawn and the fleet foot a-quiver,
            Away the Bacchanal springs!

     [_Enter_ TEIRESIAS. _He is an old man and blind, leaning upon a staff
      and moving with slow stateliness, though wearing the Ivy and the
      Bacchic fawn-skin_.]

     TEIRESIAS
   Ho, there, who keeps the gate?--Go, summon me
   Cadmus, Agênor's son, who crossed the sea
   From Sidon and upreared this Theban hold.
   Go, whosoe'er thou art. See he be told
   Teiresias seeketh him. Himself will gauge
   Mine errand, and the compact, age with age,
   I vowed with him, grey hair with snow-white hair,
   To deck the new God's thyrsus, and to wear
   His fawn-skin, and with ivy crown our brows.

     [_Enter_ CADMUS _from the Castle. He is even older than_
       TEIRESIAS, _and wears the same attire_.]

     CADMUS
   True friend! I knew that voice of thine, that flows
   Like mellow wisdom from a fountain wise.
   And, lo, I come prepared, in all the guise
   And harness of this God. Are we not told
   His is the soul of that dead life of old
   That sprang from mine own daughter? Surely then
   Must thou and I with all the strength of men
   Exalt him.
               Where then shall I stand, where tread
   The dance and toss this bowed and hoary head?
   O friend, in thee is wisdom; guide my grey
   And eld-worn steps, eld-worn Teiresias.--Nay;
   I am not weak.
     [_At the first movement of worship his manner begins to change;
      a mysterious strength and exaltation enter into him._]

                Surely this arm could smite
   The wild earth with its thyrsus, day and night,
   And faint not! Sweetly and forgetfully
   The dim years fall from off me!

     TEIRESIAS
                         As with thee,
   With me 'tis likewise. Light am I and young,
   And will essay the dancing and the song.

     CADMUS
   Quick, then, our chariots to the mountain road.

     TEIRESIAS
   Nay; to take steeds were to mistrust the God.

     CADMUS
   So be it.   Mine old arms shall guide thee there.

     TEIRESIAS
   The God himself shall guide! Have thou no care.

     CADMUS
   And in all Thebes shall no man dance but we?

     TEIRESIAS
   Aye, Thebes is blinded. Thou and I can see.

     CADMUS
   'Tis weary waiting; hold my hand, friend; so.

     TEIRESIAS
   Lo, there is mine. So linkèd let us go.

     CADMUS
   Shall things of dust the Gods' dark ways despise?

     TEIRESIAS
   Or prove our wit on Heaven's high mysteries?
   Not thou and I! That heritage sublime
   Our sires have left us, wisdom old as time,
   No word of man, how deep soe'er his thought
   And won of subtlest toil, may bring to naught.
     Aye, men will rail that I forgot my years,
   To dance and wreath with ivy these white hairs;
   What recks it? Seeing the God no line hath told
   To mark what man shall dance, or young or old;
   But craves his honours from mortality
   All, no man marked apart; and great shall be!

     CADMUS (_after looking away toward the Mountain_).
   Teiresias, since this light thou canst not read,
   I must be seer for thee. Here comes in speed
   Pentheus, Echîon's son, whom I have raised
   To rule my people in my stead.--Amazed
   He seems. Stand close, and mark what we shall hear.

     [_The two stand back, partially concealed, while there enters in hot
      haste_ PENTHEUS, _followed by a bodyguard. He is speaking to the_
      SOLDIER _in command._]

     PENTHEUS
   Scarce had I crossed our borders, when mine ear
   Was caught by this strange rumour, that our own
   Wives, our own sisters, from their hearths are flown
   To wild and secret rites; and cluster there
   High on the shadowy hills, with dance and prayer
   To adore this new-made God, this Dionyse,
   Whate'er he be!--And in their companies
   Deep wine-jars stand, and ever and anon
   Away into the loneliness now one
   Steals forth, and now a second, maid or dame
   Where love lies waiting, not of God! The flame
   They say, of Bacchios wraps them. Bacchios! Nay,
   'Tis more to Aphrodite that they pray.
   Howbeit, all that I have found, my men
   Hold bound and shackled in our dungeon den;
   The rest, I will go hunt them! Aye, and snare
   My birds with nets of iron, to quell their prayer
   And mountain song and rites of rascaldom!
   They tell me, too, there is a stranger come,
   A man of charm and spell, from Lydian seas,
   A head all gold and cloudy fragrancies,
   A wine-red cheek, and eyes that hold the light
   Of the very Cyprian. Day and livelong night
   He haunts amid the damsels, o'er each lip
   Dangling his cup of joyance! Let me grip
   Him once, but once, within these walls, right swift
   That wand shall cease its music, and that drift
   Of tossing curls lie still--when my rude sword
   Falls between neck and trunk! 'Tis all his word,
   This tale of Dionysus; how that same
   Babe that was blasted by the lightning flame
   With his dead mother, for that mother's lie,
   Was re-conceived, born perfect from the thigh
   Of Zeus, and now is God! What call ye these?
   Dreams? Gibes of the unknown wanderer? Blasphemies
   That crave the very gibbet?
                              Stay! God wot,
   Here is another marvel! See I not
   In motley fawn-skins robed the vision-seer
   Teiresias? And my mother's father here--
   O depth of scorn!--adoring with the wand
   Of Bacchios?--Father!--Nay, mine eyes are fond;
   It is not your white heads so fancy-flown!
   It cannot be! Cast off that ivy crown,
   O mine own mother's sire! Set free that hand
   That cowers about its staff.
                           'Tis thou hast planned
   This work, Teiresias! 'Tis thou must set
   Another altar and another yet
   Amongst us, watch new birds, and win more hire
   Of gold, interpreting new signs of fire!
   But for thy silver hairs, I tell thee true,
   Thou now wert sitting chained amid thy crew
   Of raving damsels, for this evil dream
   Thou hast brought us, of new Gods! When once the gleam
   Of grapes hath lit a Woman's Festival,
   In all their prayers is no more health at all!

     LEADER OF THE CHORUS (_the words are not heard by_ PENTHEUS)
   Injurious King, hast thou no fear of God,
   Nor Cadmus, sower of the Giants' Sod,
   Life-spring to great Echîon and to thee?

     TEIRESIAS
   Good words my son, come easily, when he
   That speaks is wise, and speaks but for the right.
   Else come they never! Swift are thine, and bright
   As though with thought, yet have no thought at all
     Lo this new God, whom thou dost flout withal,
   I cannot speak the greatness wherewith He
   In Hellas shall be great! Two spirits there be,
   Young Prince, that in man's world are first of worth.
   Dêmêtêr one is named; she is the Earth--
   Call her which name thou will!--who feeds man's frame
   With sustenance of things dry. And that which came
   Her work to perfect, second, is the Power
   From Semelê born. He found the liquid show
   Hid in the grape. He rests man's spirit dim
   From grieving, when the vine exalteth him.
   He giveth sleep to sink the fretful day
   In cool forgetting. Is there any way
   With man's sore heart, save only to forget?
     Yea, being God, the blood of him is set
   Before the Gods in sacrifice, that we
   For his sake may be blest.--And so, to thee,
   That fable shames him, how this God was knit
   Into God's flesh? Nay, learn the truth of it
   Cleared from the false.--When from that deadly light
   Zeus saved the babe, and up to Olympus' height
   Raised him, and Hera's wrath would cast him thence
   Then Zeus devised him a divine defence.
   A fragment of the world-encircling fire
   He rent apart, and wrought to his desire
   Of shape and hue, in the image of the child,
   And gave to Hera's rage. And so, beguiled
   By change and passing time, this tale was born,
   How the babe-god was hidden in the torn
   Flesh of his sire. He hath no shame thereby.
     A prophet is he likewise. Prophecy
   Cleaves to all frenzy, but beyond all else
   To frenzy of prayer. Then in us verily dwells
   The God himself, and speaks the thing to be.
   Yea, and of Ares' realm a part hath he.
   When mortal armies, mailêd and arrayed,
   Have in strange fear, or ever blade met blade,
   Fled maddened, 'tis this God hath palsied them.
   Aye, over Delphi's rock-built diadem
   Thou yet shalt see him leaping with his train
   Of fire across the twin-peaked mountain-plain,
   Flaming the darkness with his mystic wand,
   And great in Hellas.--List and understand,
   King Pentheus! Dream not thou that force is power;
   Nor, if thou hast a thought, and that thought sour
   And sick, oh, dream not thought is wisdom!--Up,
   Receive this God to Thebes; pour forth the cup
   Of sacrifice, and pray, and wreathe thy brow.
     Thou fearest for the damsels? Think thee now;
   How toucheth this the part of Dionyse
   To hold maids pure perforce? In them it lies,
   And their own hearts; and in the wildest rite
   Cometh no stain to her whose heart is white.
     Nay, mark me! Thou hast thy joy, when the Gate
   Stands thronged, and Pentheus' name is lifted great
   And high by Thebes in clamour; shall not He
   Rejoice in his due meed of majesty?
     Howbeit, this Cadmus whom thou scorn'st and I
   Will wear His crown, and tread His dances! Aye,
   Our hairs are white, yet shall that dance be trod!
   I will not lift mine arm to war with God
   For thee nor all thy words. Madness most fell
   Is on thee, madness wrought by some dread spell,
   But not by spell nor leechcraft to be cured!

     CHORUS
   Grey prophet, worthy of Phoebus is thy word,
   And wise in honouring Bromios, our great God.

     CADMUS
   My son, right well Teiresias points thy road.
   Oh, make thine habitation here with us,
   Not lonely, against men's uses. Hazardous
   Is this quick bird-like beating of thy thought
   Where no thought dwells.--Grant that this God be naught,
   Yet let that Naught be Somewhat in thy mouth;
   Lie boldly, and say He is! So north and south
   Shall marvel, how there sprang a thing divine
   From Semelê's flesh, and honour all our line.
                     [_Drawing nearer to_ PENTHEUS.]
     Is there not blood before thine eyes even now?
   Our lost Actaeon's blood, whom long ago
   His own red hounds through yonder forest dim
   Tore unto death, because he vaunted him
   Against most holy Artemis? Oh, beware
   And let me wreathe thy temples. Make thy prayer
   With us, and walk thee humbly in God's sight.
     [_He makes as if to set the wreath on_ PENTHEUS _head_.]

     PENTHEUS
   Down with that hand! Aroint thee to thy rite
   Nor smear on me thy foul contagion!
                     [Turning upon TEIRESIAS.]
               This
   Thy folly's head and prompter shall not miss
   The justice that he needs!--Go, half my guard
   Forth to the rock-seat where he dwells in ward
   O'er birds and wonders; rend the stone with crown
   And trident; make one wreck of high and low
   And toss his bands to all the winds of air!
     Ha, have I found the way to sting thee, there?
   The rest, forth through the town! And seek amain
   This girl-faced stranger, that hath wrought such bane
   To all Thebes, preying on our maids and wives
   Seek till ye find; and lead him here in gyves,
   Till he be judged and stoned and weep in blood
   The day he troubled Pentheus with his God!
     [_The guards set forth in two bodies_; PENTHEUS _goes into the Castle._]

     TEIRESIAS
   Hard heart, how little dost thou know what seed
   Thou sowest! Blind before, and now indeed
   Most mad!--Come, Cadmus, let us go our way,
   And pray for this our persecutor, pray
   For this poor city, that the righteous God
   Move not in anger.--Take thine ivy rod
   And help my steps, as I help thine. 'Twere ill,
   If two old men should fall by the roadway. Still,
   Come what come may, our service shall be done
   To Bacchios, the All-Father's mystic son
     O Pentheus, named of sorrow! Shall he claim
   From all thy house fulfilment of his name,
   Old Cadmus?--Nay, I speak not from mine art,
   But as I see--blind words and a blind heart!
     [_The two Old Men go off towards the Mountain._]

       CHORUS

     _Some Maidens_
   Thou Immaculate on high;
   Thou Recording Purity;
   Thou that stoopest, Golden Wing,
   Earthward, manward, pitying,
   Hearest thou this angry King?
   Hearest thou the rage and scorn
     'Gainst the Lord of Many Voices,
   Him of mortal mother born,
   Him in whom man's heart rejoices,
   Girt with garlands and with glee,
   First in Heaven's sovranty?
     For his kingdom, it is there,
     In the dancing and the prayer,
   In the music and the laughter,
     In the vanishing of care,
   And of all before and after;
   In the Gods' high banquet, when
     Gleams the graperflood, flashed to heaven;
   Yea, and in the feasts of men
   Comes his crownèd slumber; then
     Pain is dead and hate forgiven!

     _Others_
   Loose thy lips from out the rein;
   Lift thy wisdom to disdain;
   Whatso law thou canst not see,
   Scorning; so the end shall be
   Uttermost calamity!
   'Tis the life of quiet breath,
     'Tis the simple and the true,
   Storm nor earthquake shattereth,
     Nor shall aught the house undo

   Where they dwell. For, far away,
   Hidden from the eyes of day,
     Watchers are there in the skies,
     That can see man's life, and prize
   Deeds well done by things of clay.
     But the world's Wise are not wise,
   Claiming more than mortal may.
   Life is such a little thing;
     Lo, their present is departed,
   And the dreams to which they cling
   Come not. Mad imagining
     Theirs, I ween, and empty-hearted!

     _Divers Maidens_
   Where is the Home for me?
     O Cyprus, set in the sea,
   Aphrodite's home In the soft sea-foam,
     Would I could wend to thee;
   Where the wings of the Loves are furled,
   And faint the heart of the world.

     Aye, unto Paphos' isle,
     Where the rainless meadows smile
   With riches rolled From the hundred-fold
     Mouths of the far-off Nile,
   Streaming beneath the waves
   To the roots of the seaward caves.

     But a better land is there
     Where Olympus cleaves the air,
   The high still dell Where the Muses dwell,
     Fairest of all things fair!
   O there is Grace, and there is the Heart's Desire,
   And peace to adore thee, thou Spirit of Guiding Fire!

          *       *       *       *       *

   A God of Heaven is he,
   And born in majesty;
   Yet hath he mirth
   In the joy of the Earth,

   And he loveth constantly
   Her who brings increase,
   The Feeder of Children, Peace.
     No grudge hath he of the great;
     No scorn of the mean estate;
   But to all that liveth His wine he giveth,
     Griefless, immaculate;
   Only on them that spurn
   Joy, may his anger burn.

     Love thou the Day and the Night;
     Be glad of the Dark and the Light;
   And avert thine eyes From the lore of the wise,
     That have honour in proud men's sight.
   The simple nameless herd of Humanity
   Hath deeds and faith that are truth enough for me!

     [_As the Chorus ceases, a party of the guards return, leading in the
      midst of them_ DIONYSUS, _bound. The_ SOLDIER _in command stands forth,
      as_ PENTHEUS, _hearing the tramp of feet, comes out from the Castle._]

     SOLDIER
   Our quest is finished, and thy prey, O King,
   Caught; for the chase was swift, and this wild thing
   Most tame; yet never flinched, nor thought to flee,
   But held both hands out unresistingly--
   No change, no blanching of the wine-red cheek.
   He waited while we came, and bade us wreak
   All thy decree; yea, laughed, and made my best
   Easy, till I for very shame confessed
   And said: "O stranger, not of mine own will
   I bind thee, but his bidding to fulfil
   Who sent me."

                 And those prisoned Maids withal
   Whom thou didst seize and bind within the wall
   Of thy great dungeon, they are fled, O King.
   Free in the woods, a-dance and glorying
   To Bromios. Of their own impulse fell
   To earth, men say, fetter and manacle,
   And bars slid back untouched of mortal hand
   Yea, full of many wonders to thy land
   Is this man come.... Howbeit, it lies with thee!

     PENTHEUS
   Ye are mad!--Unhand him. Howso swift he be,
   My toils are round him and he shall not fly.
     [_The guards loose the arms of_ DIONYSUS; PENTHEUS _studies him for a
      while in silence then speaks jeeringly._   DIONYSUS _remains gentle
      and unafraid._]
   Marry, a fair shape for a woman's eye,
   Sir stranger! And thou seek'st no more, I ween!
   Long curls, withal! That shows thou ne'er hast been
   A wrestler!--down both cheeks so softly tossed
   And winsome! And a white skin! It hath cost
   Thee pains, to please thy damsels with this white
   And red of cheeks that never face the light!
     [_DIONYSUS is silent._]
   Speak, sirrah; tell me first thy name and race.

     DIONYSUS
   No glory is therein, nor yet disgrace.
   Thou hast heard of Tmolus, the bright hill of flowers?

     PENTHEUS
   Surely, the ridge that winds by Sardis towers.

     DIONYSUS
   Thence am I; Lydia was my fatherland.

     PENTHEUS
   And whence these revelations, that thy band
   Spreadeth in Hellas?

     DIONYSUS
                    Their intent and use
   Dionysus oped to me, the Child of Zeus.

     PENTHEUS (_brutally_)
   Is there a Zeus there, that can still beget
   Young Gods?

     DIONYSUS
                Nay, only He whose seal was set
   Here in thy Thebes on Semele.

     PENTHEUS
                               What way
   Descended he upon thee? In full day
   Or vision of night?

     DIONYSUS
                       Most clear he stood, and scanned
   My soul, and gave his emblems to mine hand.

     PENTHEUS
   What like be they, these emblems?

     DIONYSUS
                                    That may none
   Reveal, nor know, save his Elect alone.

     PENTHEUS
   And what good bring they to the worshipper?

     DIONYSUS
   Good beyond price, but not for thee to hear.

     PENTHEUS
   Thou trickster? Thou wouldst prick me on the more
   To seek them out!

     DIONYSUS
                    His mysteries abhor
   The touch of sin-lovers.

     PENTHEUS
                           And so thine eyes
   Saw this God plain; what guise had he?

     DIONYSUS
                                            What guise
   It liked him. 'Twas not I ordained his shape.

     PENTHEUS
   Aye, deftly turned again.   An idle jape,
   And nothing answered!

     DIONYSUS
                          Wise words being brought
   To blinded eyes will seem as things of nought.

     PENTHEUS
   And comest thou first to Thebes, to have thy God
   Established?

     DIONYSUS
               Nay; all Barbary hath trod
   His dance ere this.

     PENTHEUS
                         A low blind folk, I ween,
   Beside our Hellenes!

     DIONYSUS
                         Higher and more keen
   In this thing, though their ways are not thy way.

     PENTHEUS
   How is thy worship held, by night or day?

     DIONYSUS
   Most oft by night; 'tis a majestic thing,
   The darkness.

     PENTHEUS
                 Ha! with women worshipping?
   'Tis craft and rottenness!

     DIONYSUS
                             By day no less,
   Whoso will seek may find unholiness--

     PENTHEUS
   Enough!   Thy doom is fixed, for false pretence
   Corrupting Thebes.

     DIONYSUS
                       Not mine; but thine, for dense
   Blindness of heart, and for blaspheming God!

     PENTHEUS
   A ready knave it is, and brazen-browed,
   This mystery-priest!

     DIONYSUS
                        Come, say what it shall be,
   My doom; what dire thing wilt thou do to me?

     PENTHEUS
   First, shear that delicate curl that dangles there.
     [_He beckons to the soldiers, who approach_ DIONYSUS.]

     DIONYSUS
   I have vowed it to my God; 'tis holy hair.
     [_The soldiers cut off the tress_.]

     PENTHEUS
   Next, yield me up thy staff!

     DIONYSUS
                    Raise thine own hand
   To take it.   This is Dionysus' wand.
     [PENTHEUS _takes the staff_.]

     PENTHEUS
   Last, I will hold thee prisoned here.

     DIONYSUS
                                      My Lord
   God will unloose me, when I speak the word.

     PENTHEUS
   He may, if e'er again amid his bands
   Of saints he hears thy voice!

     DIONYSUS
                                   Even now he stands
   Close here, and sees all that I suffer.

     PENTHEUS
                                           What?
   Where is he?   For mine eyes discern him not.

     DIONYSUS
   Where I am!   'Tis thine own impurity
   That veils him from thee.

     PENTHEUS
                              The dog jeers at me!
   At me and Thebes!    Bind him!
     [_The soldiers begin to bind him_.]

     DIONYSUS
                        I charge ye, bind
   Me not! I having vision and ye blind!

     PENTHEUS
   And I, with better right, say bind the more!
     [_The soldiers obey_.]

     DIONYSUS
   Thou knowest not what end thou seekest, nor
   What deed thou doest, nor what man thou art!

     PENTHEUS (_mocking_)
   Agâvê's son, and on the father's part
   Echion's, hight Pentheus!

     DIONYSUS
                       So let it be,
   A name fore-written to calamity!

     PENTHEUS
   Away, and tie him where the steeds are tied;
   Aye, let him lie in the manger!--There abide
   And stare into the darkness!--And this rout
   Of womankind that clusters thee about,
   Thy ministers of worship, are my slaves!
   It may be I will sell them o'er the waves,
   Hither and thither; else they shall be set
   To labour at my distaffs, and forget
   Their timbrel and their songs of dawning day!

   DIONYSUS
   I go; for that which may not be, I may
   Not suffer! Yet for this thy sin, lo, He
   Whom thou deniest cometh after thee
   For recompense. Yea, in thy wrong to us,
   Thou hast cast Him into thy prison-house!
     [DIONYSUS, _without his wand, his hair shorn, and his arms tightly
      bound, is led off by the guards to  his  dungeon._   PENTHEUS  _returns
      into the Palace._]

       CHORUS

     _Some Maidens_
   Achelous' roaming daughter,
   Holy Dircê, virgin water,
   Bathed he not of old in thee,
   The Babe of God, the Mystery?
   When from out the fire immortal
     To himself his God did take him,
     To his own flesh, and bespake him:
     "Enter now life's second portal,
   Motherless Mystery; lo, I break
   Mine own body for thy sake,
     Thou of the Twofold Door, and seal thee
   Mine, O Bromios,"--thus he spake--
   "And to this thy land reveal thee."

     _All_
   Still my prayer toward thee quivers,
     Dircê, still to thee I hie me;
   Why, O Blessed among Rivers,
     Wilt thou fly me and deny me?
       By His own joy I vow,
       By the grape upon the bough,
   Thou shalt seek Him in the midnight, thou shalt love Him, even now!

     _Other Maidens_
   Dark and of the dark impassioned
   Is this Pentheus' blood; yea, fashioned
   Of the Dragon, and his birth
   From Echion, child of Earth.
   He is no man, but a wonder;
     Did the Earth-Child not beget him,
     As a red Giant, to set him
   Against God, against the Thunder?
   He will bind me for his prize,
   Me, the Bride of Dionyse;
     And my priest, my friend, is taken
   Even now, and buried lies;
     In the dark he lies forsaken!

     _All_
   Lo, we race with death, we perish,
     Dionysus, here before thee!
   Dost thou mark us not, nor cherish,
     Who implore thee, and adore thee?
       Hither down Olympus' side,
       Come, O Holy One defied,
   Be thy golden wand uplifted o'er the tyrant in his pride!

     _A Maiden_
   Oh, where art thou? In thine own
   Nysa, thou our help alone?
   O'er fierce beasts in orient lands
       Doth thy thronging thyrsus wave,
       By the high Corycian Cave,
   Or where stern Olympus stands;
   In the elm-woods and the oaken,
       There where Orpheus harped of old,
     And the trees awoke and knew him,
     And the wild things gathered to him,
   As he sang amid the broken
       Glens his music manifold?
   Dionysus loveth thee;
   Blessed Land of Piërie,
     He will come to thee with dancing,
   Come with joy and mystery;
   With the Maenads at his hest
   Winding, winding to the West;
     Cross the flood of swiftly glancing
   Axios in majesty;
   Cross the Lydias, the giver
     Of good gifts and waving green;
   Cross that Father-Stream of story,
   Through a land of steeds and glory
   Rolling, bravest, fairest River
   E'er of mortals seen!

     A VOICE WITHIN
                           Io! Io!
   Awake, ye damsels; hear my cry,
       Calling my Chosen; hearken ye!

     A MAIDEN
   Who speaketh?   Oh, what echoes thus?

     ANOTHER
   A Voice, a Voice, that calleth us!

     THE VOICE
   Be of good cheer!   Lo, it is I,
       The Child of Zeus and Semelê.

     A MAIDEN
   O Master, Master, it is Thou!

     ANOTHER
   O Holy Voice, be with us now!

     THE VOICE
   Spirit of the Chained Earthquake,
   Hear my word; awake, awake!
     [_An Earthquake suddenly shakes the pillars of the Castle._]

     A MAIDEN
   Ha! what  is  coming? Shall the  hall
   Of Pentheus racked in ruin fall?

     LEADER
   Our God is in the house! Ye maids adore Him!

     CHORUS
   We adore Him all!

     THE VOICE
   Unveil the Lightning's eye; arouse
   The fire that sleeps, against this house!
     [_Fire leaps upon the Tomb of Semelê._]

     A MAIDEN
   Ah, saw ye, marked ye there the flame
     From Semelê's enhallowed sod
   Awakened? Yea, the Death that came
   Ablaze from heaven of old, the same
     Hot splendour of the shaft of God?

     LEADER
   Oh  cast ye, cast ye, to the earth! The Lord
     Cometh against this house! Oh, cast ye down,
   Ye trembling damsels; He, our own adored,
     God's Child hath come, and all is overthrown!

   [_The Maidens cast themselves upon the ground, their eyes earthward._
     DIONYSUS, _alone and unbound, enters from the Castle._]

     DIONYSUS
   Ye Damsels of the Morning Hills, why lie ye thus dismayed?
   Ye marked him, then, our Master, and the mighty hand he laid
   On tower and rock, shaking the house of Pentheus?--But arise,
   And cast the trembling from your flesh, and lift untroubled eyes.

     LEADER
   O Light in Darkness, is it thou? O Priest, is this thy face?
   My heart leaps out to greet thee from the deep of loneliness.

     DIONYSUS
   Fell ye so quick despairing, when beneath the Gate I passed?
   Should the gates of Pentheus quell me, or his darkness make me fast?

     LEADER
   Oh, what was left if thou wert gone?   What could I but despair?
   How hast thou 'scaped the man of sin?    Who freed thee from the snare?

     DIONYSUS
   I had no pain nor peril; 'twas mine own hand set me free.

     LEADER
   Thine arms were gyvèd!

     DIONYSUS
                    Nay, no gyve, no touch, was laid on me!
   'Twas there I mocked him, in his gyves, and gave him dreams for food.
   For when he laid me down, behold, before the stall there stood
   A Bull of Offering. And this King, he bit his lips and straight
   Fell on and bound it, hoof and limb, with gasping wrath and sweat.
   And I sat watching!--Then a Voice; and lo, our Lord was come,
   And the house shook, and a great flame stood o'er his mother's tomb.
   And Pentheus hied this way and that, and called his thralls amain
   For water, lest his roof-tree burn; and all toiled, all in vain.
   Then deemed a-sudden I was gone; and left his fire, and sped
   Back to the prison portals, and his lifted sword shone red.
   But there, methinks, the God had wrought--I speak but as I guess--
   Some dream-shape in mine image; for he smote at emptiness,
   Stabbed in the air, and strove in wrath, as though 'twere me he slew.
   Then 'mid his dreams God smote him yet again! He overthrew
   All that high house. And there in wreck for evermore it lies,
   That the day of this my bondage may be sore in Pentheus' eyes!
   And now his sword is fallen, and he lies outworn and wan
   Who dared to rise against his God in wrath, being but man.
   And I uprose and left him, and in all peace took my path
   Force to my Chosen, recking light of Pentheus and his wrath.
     But soft, methinks a footstep sounds even now within the hall;
   'Tis he; how think ye he will stand, and what words speak withal?
   I will endure him gently, though he come in fury hot.
   For still are the ways of Wisdom, and her temper trembleth not!
     [_Enter_ PENTHEUS _in fury_]

     PENTHEUS
   It is too much! This Eastern knave hath slipped
   His prison, whom I held but now, hard gripped
   In bondage.--Ha! 'Tis he!--What, sirrah, how
   Show'st thou before my portals?
     [_He advances furiously upon him._]

     DIONYSUS
   And set a quiet carriage to thy rage.

     PENTHEUS
   How comest thou here? How didst thou break thy cage?
   Speak!

     DIONYSUS
        Said I not, or didst thou mark not me,
   There was One living that should set me free?

     PENTHEUS
   Who? Ever wilder are these tales of thine.

     DIONYSUS
   He who first made for man the clustered vine.

     PENTHEUS
   I scorn him and his vines.

     DIONYSUS
                               For Dionyse
   'Tis well; for in thy scorn his glory lies.

     PENTHEUS (_to his guard_)
   Go swift to all the towers, and bar withal
   Each gate!

     DIONYSUS
                What, cannot God o'erleap a wall?

     PENTHEUS
   Oh, wit thou hast, save where thou needest it!

     DIONYSUS
   Whereso it most imports, there is my wit!--
   Nay, peace!   Abide till he who hasteth from
   The mountain side with news for thee, be come.
   We will not fly, but wait on thy command.
     [_Enter suddenly and in haste a Messenger from the Mountain._]

     MESSENGER
   Great Pentheus, Lord of all this Theban land,
   I come from high Kithaeron, where the frore
   Snow spangles gleam and cease not evermore....

     PENTHEUS
   And what of import may thy coming bring?

     MESSENGER
   I have seen the Wild White Women there, O King,
   Whose fleet limbs darted arrow-like but now
   From Thebes away, and come to tell thee how
   They work strange deeds and passing marvel. Yet
   I first would learn thy pleasure. Shall I set
   My whole tale forth, or veil the stranger part?
   Yea Lord, I fear the swiftness of thy heart,
   Thine edgèd wrath and more than royal soul.

     PENTHEUS
   Thy tale shall nothing scathe thee.--Tell the whole.
   It skills not to be wroth with honesty.
   Nay, if thy news of them be dark, 'tis he
   Shall pay it, who bewitched and led them on.

     MESSENGER
   Our herded kine were moving in the dawn
   Up to the peaks, the greyest, coldest time,
   When the first rays steal earthward, and the rime
   Yields, when I saw three bands of them. The one
   Autonoë led, one Ino, one thine own
   Mother, Agâvê. There beneath the trees
   Sleeping they lay, like wild things flung at ease
   In the forest; one half sinking on a bed
   Of deep pine greenery; one with careless head
   Amid the fallen oak leaves; all most cold
   In purity--not as thy tale was told
   Of wine-cups and wild music and the chase
   For love amid the forest's loneliness.
   Then rose the Queen Agâvê suddenly
   Amid her band, and gave the God's wild cry,
   "Awake, ye Bacchanals! I hear the sound
   Of hornèd kine. Awake ye!"--Then, all round,
   Alert, the warm sleep fallen from their eyes,
   A marvel of swift ranks I saw them rise,
   Dames young and old, and gentle maids unwed
   Among them. O'er their shoulders first they shed
   Their tresses, and caught up the fallen fold
   Of mantles where some clasp had loosened hold,
   And girt the dappled fawn-skins in with long
   Quick snakes that hissed and writhed with quivering tongue.
   And one a young fawn held, and one a wild
   Wolf cub, and fed them with white milk, and smiled
   In love, young mothers with a mother's breast
   And babes at home forgotten! Then they pressed
   Wreathed ivy round their brows, and oaken sprays
   And flowering bryony. And one would raise
   Her wand and smite the rock, and straight a jet
   Of quick bright water came. Another set
   Her thyrsus in the bosomed earth, and there
   Was red wine that the God sent up to her,
   A darkling fountain. And if any lips
   Sought whiter draughts, with dipping finger-tips
   They pressed the sod, and gushing from the ground
   Came springs of milk. And reed-wands ivy-crowned
   Ran with sweet honey, drop by drop.--O King,
   Hadst thou been there, as I, and seen this thing,
   With prayer and most high wonder hadst thou gone
   To adore this God whom now thou rail'st upon!
     Howbeit, the kine-wardens and shepherds straight
   Came to one place, amazed, and held debate;
   And one being there who walked the streets and scanned
   The ways of speech, took lead of them whose hand
   Knew but the slow soil and the solemn hill,
   And flattering spoke, and asked: "Is it your will,
   Masters, we stay the mother of the King,
   Agâvê, from her lawless worshipping,
   And win us royal thanks?"--And this seemed good
   To all; and through the branching underwood
   We hid us, cowering in the leaves. And there
   Through the appointed hour they made their prayer
   And worship of the Wand, with one accord
   Of heart and cry--"Iacchos, Bromios, Lord,
   God of God born!"--And all the mountain felt,
   And worshipped with them; and the wild things knelt
   And ramped and gloried, and the wilderness
   Was filled with moving voices and dim stress.
     Soon, as it chanced, beside my thicket-close
   The Queen herself passed dancing, and I rose
   And sprang to seize her. But she turned her face
   Upon me: "Ho, my rovers of the chase,
   My wild White Hounds, we are hunted! Up, each rod
   And follow, follow, for our Lord and God!"
   Thereat, for fear they tear us, all we fled
   Amazed; and on, with hand unweaponèd
   They swept toward our herds that browsed the green
   Hill grass. Great uddered kine then hadst thou seen
   Bellowing in sword-like hands that cleave and tear,
   A live steer riven asunder, and the air
   Tossed with rent ribs or limbs of cloven tread,
   And flesh upon the branches, and a red
   Rain from the deep green pines. Yea, bulls of pride,
   Horns swift to rage, were fronted and aside
   Flung stumbling, by those multitudinous hands
   Dragged pitilessly. And swifter were the bands
   Of garbèd flesh and bone unbound withal
   Than on thy royal eyes the lids may fall.
     Then on like birds, by their own speed upborne,
   They swept toward the plains of waving corn
   That lie beside Asopus' banks, and bring
   To Thebes the rich fruit of her harvesting.
   On Hysiae and Erythrae that lie nursed
   Amid Kithaeron's bowering rocks, they burst
   Destroying, as a foeman's army comes.
   They caught up little children from their homes,
   High on their shoulders, babes unheld, that swayed
   And laughed and fell not; all a wreck they made;
   Yea, bronze and iron did shatter, and in play
   Struck hither and thither, yet no wound had they;
   Caught fire from out the hearths, yea, carried hot
   Flames in their tresses and were scorchèd not!
     The village folk in wrath took spear and sword,
   And turned upon the Bacchae. Then, dread Lord,
   The wonder was. For spear nor barbèd brand
   Could scathe nor touch the damsels; but the Wand,
   The soft and wreathèd wand their white hands sped,
   Blasted those men and quelled them, and they fled
   Dizzily. Sure some God was in these things!
     And the holy women back to those strange springs
   Returned, that God had sent them when the day
   Dawned, on the upper heights; and washed away
   The stain of battle. And those girdling snakes
   Hissed out to lap the waterdrops from cheeks
   And hair and breast.
                         Therefore I counsel thee
   O King, receive this Spirit, whoe'er he be,
   To Thebes in glory. Greatness manifold
   Is all about him; and the tale is told
   That this is he who first to man did give
   The grief-assuaging vine. Oh, let him live;
   For if he die, then Love herself is slain,
   And nothing joyous in the world again!

     LEADER
   Albeit I tremble, and scarce may speak my thought
   To a king's face, yet will I hide it not.
   Dionyse is God, no God more true nor higher!

     PENTHEUS
   It bursts hard by us, like a smothered fire,
   This frenzy of Bacchic women! All my land
   Is made their mock.--This needs an iron hand!
     Ho, Captain! Quick to the Electran Gate;
   Bid gather all my men-at-arms thereat;
   Call all that spur the charger, all who know
   To wield the orbèd targe or bend the bow;
   We march to war--'Fore God, shall women dare
   Such deeds against us? 'Tis too much to bear!

     DIONYSUS
   Thou mark'st me not, O King, and holdest light
   My solemn words; yet, in thine own despite,
   I warn thee still. Lift thou not up thy spear
   Against a God, but hold thy peace, and fear
   His wrath! He will not brook it, if thou fright
   His Chosen from the hills of their delight.

     PENTHEUS
   Peace, thou! And if for once thou hast slipped chain,
   Give thanks!--Or shall I knot thine arms again?

     DIONYSUS
   Better to yield him prayer and sacrifice
   Than kick against the pricks, since Dionyse
   Is God, and thou but mortal.

     PENTHEUS
       That will I!
   Yea, sacrifice of women's blood, to cry
   His name through all Kithaeron!

     DIONYSUS
                  Ye shall fly,
   All, and abase your shields of bronzen rim
   Before their wands.

     PENTHEUS
                There is no way with him,
   This stranger that so dogs us! Well or ill
   I may entreat him, he must babble still!

     DIONYSUS
   Wait, good my friend! These crooked matters may
   Even yet be straightened.
     [PENTHEUS _has started as though to seek his army at the gate._]

     PENTHEUS
       Aye, if I obey
   Mine own slaves' will; how else?

     DIONYSUS
       Myself will lead
   The damsels hither, without sword or steed.

     PENTHEUS
   How now?--This is some plot against me!

     DIONYSUS
                                      What
   Dost fear? Only to save thee do I plot.

     PENTHEUS
   It is some compact ye have made, whereby
   To dance these hills for ever!

     DIONYSUS
                                  Verily,
   That is my compact, plighted with my Lord!

     PENTHEUS (_turning from him_)
   Ho, armourers! Bring forth my shield and sword!--
   And thou, be silent!

     DIONYSUS (_after regarding him fixedly, speaks with resignation_)
                Ah!--Have then thy will!
     [_He fixes his eyes upon_ PENTHEUS _again, while the armourers bring out
      his armour; then speaks in a tone of command._]
   Man, thou wouldst fain behold them on the hill
   Praying!

     PENTHEUS (_who during the rest of this scene, with a few exceptions,
       simply speaks the thoughts that_ DIONYSUS _puts into him, losing power
       over his own mind_)
              That would I, though it cost me all
   The gold of Thebes!

     DIONYSUS
              So much? Thou art quick to fall
   To such great longing.

     PENTHEUS (_somewhat bewildered at what he has said_)
              Aye; 'twould grieve me much
   To see them flown with wine.

     DIONYSUS
              Yet cravest thou such
   A sight as would much grieve thee?

     PENTHEUS
              Yes; I fain
   Would watch, ambushed among the pines.

     DIONYSUS
              'Twere vain
   To hide. They soon will track thee out.

     PENTHEUS
              Well said!
   'Twere best done openly.

     DIONYSUS
              Wilt thou be led
   By me, and try the venture?

     PENTHEUS
              Aye, indeed!
   Lead on. Why should we tarry?

     DIONYSUS
              First we need
   A rich and trailing robe of fine-linen
   To gird thee.

     PENTHEUS
       Nay; am I a woman, then,
   And no man more.

     DIONYSUS
       Wouldst have them slay thee dead?
   No man may see their mysteries.

     PENTHEUS
       Well said'--
   I marked thy subtle temper long ere now.

     DIONYSUS
   'Tis Dionyse that prompteth me.

     PENTHEUS
              And how
   Mean'st thou the further plan?

     DIONYSUS
              First take thy way
   Within. I will array thee.

     PENTHEUS
              What array!
   The woman's? Nay, I will not.

     DIONYSUS
              Doth it change
   So soon, all thy desire to see this strange
   Adoring?

     PENTHEUS
              Wait! What garb wilt thou bestow
   About me?

     DIONYSUS
              First a long tress dangling low
   Beneath thy shoulders.

     PENTHEUS
         Aye, and next?

     DIONYSUS
              The same red
   Robe, falling to thy feet; and on thine head
   A snood.

     PENTHEUS
              And after? Hast thou aught beyond?

     DIONYSUS
   Surely; the dappled fawn-skin and the wand.

     PENTHEUS (_after a struggle with himself_)
   Enough! I cannot wear a robe and snood.

     DIONYSUS
   Wouldst liefer draw the sword and spill men's blood?

     PENTHEUS (_again doubting_)
   True, that were evil.--Aye; 'tis best to go
   First to some place of watch.

     DIONYSUS
              Far wiser so,
   Than seek by wrath wrath's bitter recompense.

     PENTHEUS
   What of the city streets? Canst lead me hence
   Unseen of any?

     DIONYSUS
               Lonely and untried
   Thy path from hence shall be, and I thy guide!

     PENTHEUS
   I care for nothing, so these Bacchanals
   Triumph not against me! ...Forward to my halls
   Within!--I will ordain what seemeth best.

     DIONYSUS
   So be it, O King! 'Tis mine to obey thine hest,
   Whate'er it  be.

     PENTHEUS (_after hesitating once more and waiting_)
       Well, I will go--perchance
   To march and scatter them with serried lance.
   Perchance to take thy plan.... I know not yet.
     [_Exit_ PENTHEUS _into the Castle._]

     DIONYSUS
   Damsels, the lion walketh to the net!
   He finds his Bacchae now, and sees and dies,
   And pays for all his sin!--O Dionyse,
   This is thine hour and thou not far away.
   Grant us our vengeance!--First, O Master, stay
   The course of reason in him, and instil
   A foam of madness. Let his seeing will,
   Which ne'er had stooped to put thy vesture on,
   Be darkened, till the deed is lightly done.
   Grant likewise that he find through all his streets
   Loud scorn, this man of wrath and bitter threats
   That made Thebes tremble, led in woman's guise.
     I go to fold that robe of sacrifice
   On Pentheus, that shall deck him to the dark.
   His mother's gift!--So shall he learn and mark
   God's true Son, Dionyse, in fulness God,
   Most fearful, yet to man most soft of mood.
     [_Exit_ DIONYSUS, _following PENTHEUS into Castle._]

       CHORUS

     _Some Maidens_

   Will they ever come to me, ever again,
     The long long dances,
   On through the dark till the dim stars wane?
   Shall I feel the dew on my throat, and the stream
   Of wind in my hair? Shall our white feet gleam
     In the dim expanses?
   Oh, feet of a fawn to the greenwood fled,
     Alone in the grass and the loveliness;

   Leap of the hunted, no more in dread,
     Beyond the snares and the deadly press:
   Yet a voice still in the distance sounds,
   A voice and a fear and a haste of hounds;
   O wildly labouring, fiercely fleet,
     Onward yet by river and glen ...
   Is it joy or terror, ye storm-swift feet? ...
     To the dear lone lands untroubled of men,
   Where no voice sounds, and amid the shadowy green
   The little things of the woodland live unseen.

   What else is Wisdom? What of man's endeavour
     Or God's high grace, so lovely and so great?
     To stand from fear set free, to breathe and wait;
     To hold a hand uplifted over Hate;
   And shall not Loveliness be loved for ever?

     _Others_
   O Strength of God, slow art thou and still,
     Yet failest never!
   On them that worship the Ruthless Will,
   On them that dream, doth His judgment wait.
   Dreams of the proud man, making great
     And greater ever,
   Things which are not of God. In wide
     And devious coverts, hunter-wise,
   He coucheth Time's unhasting stride,
     Following, following, him whose eyes
   Look not to Heaven. For all is vain,
   The pulse of the heart, the plot of the brain,
     That striveth beyond the laws that live.
     And is thy Fate so much to give,
     Is it so hard a thing to see,
     That the Spirit of God, whate'er it be,
   The Law that abides and changes not, ages long,
   The Eternal and Nature-born--these things be strong?

   What else is Wisdom? What of man's endeavour
     Or God's high grace so lovely and so great?
     To stand from fear set free, to breathe and wait;
     To hold a hand uplifted over Hate;
   And shall not Loveliness be loved for ever?

     LEADER
     Happy he, on the weary sea
   Who hath fled the tempest and won the haven.
     Happy whoso hath risen, free,
   Above his striving. For strangely graven
     Is the orb of life, that one and another
     In gold and power may outpass his brother,
     And men in their millions float and flow
   And seethe with a million hopes as leaven;
     And they win their Will, or they miss their Will,
     And the hopes are dead or are pined for still,
       But whoe'er can know,
       As the long days go,
   That To Live is happy, hath found his Heaven!

     [_Re-enter_ DIONYSUS, _from the Castle_]

     DIONYSUS
   O eye that cravest sights thou must not see,
   O heart athirst for that which slakes not! Thee,
   Pentheus, I call; forth and be seen, in guise
   Of woman, Maenad, saint of Dionyse,
   To spy upon His Chosen and thine own
   Mother!
     [_Enter_ PENTHEUS, _clad like a Bacchanal, and strangely excited,
      a spirit of Bacchic madness overshadowing him._]
             Thy shape, methinks, is like to one
   Of Cadmus' royal maids!

     PENTHEUS
                           Yea; and mine eye
   Is bright! Yon sun shines twofold in the sky,
   Thebes twofold and the Wall of Seven Gates....
   And is it a Wild Bull this, that walks and waits
   Before me? There are horns upon thy brow!
   What art thou, man or beast!   For surely now
   The Bull is on thee!

     DIONYSUS
   He who erst was wrath,
   Goes with us now in gentleness. He hath
   Unsealed thine eyes to see what thou shouldst see.

     PENTHEUS
   Say; stand I not as Ino stands, or she
   Who bore me?

     DIONYSUS
   When I look on thee, it seems
   I see their very selves!--But stay; why streams
   That lock abroad, not where I laid it, crossed
   Under the coif?

     PENTHEUS
                 I did it, as I tossed
   My head in dancing, to and fro, and cried
   His holy music!

     DIONYSUS (_tending him_)
                  It shall soon be tied
   Aright. 'Tis mine to tend thee. . . . Nay, but stand
   With head straight.

     PENTHEUS
               In the hollow of thine hand
   I lay me. Deck me as thou wilt.

     DIONYSUS
                        Thy zone
   Is loosened likewise; and the folded gown
   Not evenly falling to the feet.

     PENTHEUS
                        'Tis so,
   By the right foot. But here methinks, they flow
   In one straight line to the heel.

     DIONYSUS (_while tending him_)
                        And if thou prove
   Their madness true, aye, more than true, what love
   And thanks hast thou for me?

     PENTHEUS (_not listening to him_)
                         In my right hand
   Is it, or thus, that I should bear the wand
   To be most like to them?

     DIONYSUS
                        Up let it swing
   In the right hand, timed with the right foot's spring....
   'Tis well thy heart is changed!

     PENTHEUS (_more wildly_)
                     What strength is this!
   Kithaeron's steeps and all that in them is--
   How say'st thou?--Could my shoulders lift the whole?

     DIONYSUS
   Surely thou canst, and if thou wilt! Thy soul,
   Being once so sick, now stands as it should stand.

     PENTHEUS
   Shall it be bars of iron?  Or this bare hand
   And shoulder to the crags, to wrench them down?

     DIONYSUS
   Wouldst wreck the Nymphs' wild temples, and the brown
   Rocks, where Pan pipes at noonday?

     PENTHEUS
                       Nay; not I!
   Force is not well with women. I will lie
   Hid in the pine-brake.

     DIONYSUS
   Even as fits a spy
   On holy and fearful things, so shalt thou lie!

     PENTHEUS (_with a laugh_)
   They lie there now, methinks--the wild birds, caught
   By love among the leaves, and fluttering not!

     DIONYSUS
   It may be. That is what thou goest to see,
   Aye, and to trap them--so they trap not thee!

     PENTHEUS
   Forth through the Thebans' town! I am their king,
   Aye, their one Man, seeing I dare this thing!

     DIONYSUS
   Yea, thou shalt bear their burden, thou alone;
   Therefore thy trial awaiteth thee!--But on;
   With me into thine ambush shalt thou come
   Unscathed; then let another bear thee home!

     PENTHEUS
   The Queen, my mother.

     DIONYSUS
                         Marked of every eye.

     PENTHEUS
   For that I go!

     DIONYSUS
                  Thou shalt be borne on high!

     PENTHEUS
   That were like pride!

     DIONYSUS
                         Thy mother's hands shall share
   Thy carrying.

     PENTHEUS
                  Nay; I need not such soft care!

     DIONYSUS
   So soft?

     PENTHEUS
               Whate'er it be, I have earned it well!
     [_Exit_ PENTHEUS _towards the Mountain._]

     DIONYSUS
   Fell, fell art thou; and to a doom so fell
   Thou walkest, that thy name from South to North
   Shall shine, a sign for ever!--Reach thou forth
   Thine arms, Agâvê, now, and ye dark-browed
   Cadmeian sisters! Greet this prince so proud
   To the high ordeal, where save God and me,
   None walks unscathed!--The rest this day shall see.
     [_Exit_ DIONYSUS _following_ PENTHEUS.]

        CHORUS

     _Some Maidens_
   O hounds raging and blind,
     Up by the mountain road,
   Sprites of the maddened mind,
     To the wild Maids of God;
   Fill with your rage their eyes,
     Rage at the rage unblest,
   Watching in woman's guise,
     The spy upon God's Possessed.

      _A Bacchanal_
   Who shall be first, to mark
     Eyes in the rock that spy,
   Eyes in the pine-tree dark--
     Is it his mother?--and cry:
   "Lo, what is this that comes,
     Haunting, troubling still,
   Even in our heights, our homes,
     The wild Maids of the Hill?
   What flesh bare this child?
     Never on woman's breast
   Changeling so evil smiled;
     Man is he not, but Beast!
   Loin-shape of the wild,
     Gorgon-breed of the waste!"

     _All the Chorus_
   Hither, for doom and deed!
     Hither with lifted sword,
   Justice, Wrath of the Lord,
     Come in our visible need!
   Smite till the throat shall bleed,
     Smite till the heart shall bleed,
   Him the tyrannous, lawless, Godless, Echîon's earthborn seed!

     _Other Maidens_
   Tyrannously hath he trod;
     Marched him, in Law's despite,
   Against thy Light, O God,
     Yea, and thy Mother's Light;
   Girded him, falsely bold,
     Blinded in craft, to quell
   And by man's violence hold,
     Things unconquerable

     _A Bacchanal_
   A strait pitiless mind
     Is death unto godliness;
   And to feel in human kind
     Life, and a pain the less.
   Knowledge, we are not foes!
     I seek thee diligently;
   But the world with a great wind blows,
     Shining, and not from thee;
   Blowing to beautiful things,
     On, amid dark and light,
   Till Life, through the trammellings
     Of Laws that are not the Right,
   Breaks, clean and pure, and sings
     Glorying to God in the height!

     _All the Chorus_
   Hither for doom and deed!
     Hither with lifted sword,
     Justice, Wrath of the Lord,
   Come in our visible need!
   Smite till the throat shall bleed,
   Smite till the heart shall bleed,
   Him the tyrannous, lawless, Godless, Echion's earthborn seed!

     LEADER
   Appear, appear, whatso thy shape or name
     O Mountain Bull, Snake of the Hundred Heads,
       Lion of Burning Flame!
   O God, Beast, Mystery, come! Thy mystic maids
   Are hunted!--Blast their hunter with thy breath,
       Cast o'er his head thy snare;
   And laugh aloud and drag him to his death,
     Who stalks thy herded madness in its lair!
     [_Enter hastily a_ MESSENGER _from the Mountain, pale and distraught._]

     MESSENGER
   Woe to the house once blest in Hellas! Woe
   To thee, old King Sidonian, who didst sow
   The dragon-seed on Ares' bloody lea!
   Alas, even thy slaves must weep for thee!

     LEADER
   News from the mountain?--Speak! How hath it sped?

     MESSENGER
   Pentheus, my king, Echîon's son, is dead!

     LEADER
       All hail, God of the Voice,
       Manifest ever more!

     MESSENGER
   What say'st thou?--And how strange thy tone, as though
   In joy at this my master's overthrow!

     LEADER
   With fierce joy I rejoice,
     Child of a savage shore;
   For the chains of my prison are broken, and the dread where I cowered of
   yore!

     MESSENGER
   And deem'st thou Thebes so beggared, so forlorn
   Of manhood, as to sit beneath thy scorn?

     LEADER
       Thebes hath o'er me no sway!
       None save Him I obey,
   Dionysus, Child of the Highest, Him I obey and adore!

     MESSENGER
   One can forgive thee!--Yet 'tis no fair thing,
   Maids, to rejoice in a man's suffering.

     LEADER
       Speak of the mountain side!
       Tell us the doom he died,
   The sinner smitten to death, even where his sin was sore!

     MESSENGER
   We climbed beyond the utmost habitings
   Of Theban shepherds, passed Asopus' springs,
   And struck into the land of rock on dim
   Kithaeron--Pentheus, and, attending him,
   I, and the Stranger who should guide our way,
   Then first in a green dell we stopped, and lay,
   Lips dumb and feet unmoving, warily
   Watching, to be unseen and yet to see.

   A narrow glen it was, by crags o'ertowered,
   Torn through by tossing waters, and there lowered
   A shadow of great pines over it. And there
   The Maenad maidens sate; in toil they were,
   Busily glad. Some with an ivy chain
   Tricked a worn wand to toss its locks again;
   Some, wild in joyance, like young steeds set free,
   Made answering songs of mystic melody.

   But my poor master saw not the great band
   Before him. "Stranger," he cried, "where we stand
   Mine eyes can reach not these false saints of thine.
   Mount we the bank, or some high-shouldered pine,
   And I shall see their follies clear!" At that
   There came a marvel. For the Stranger straight
   Touched a great pine-tree's high and heavenward crown,
   And lower, lower, lower, urged it down
   To the herbless floor. Round like a bending bow,
   Or slow wheel's rim a joiner forces to.
   So in those hands that tough and mountain stem
   Bowed slow--oh, strength not mortal dwelt in them!--
   To the very earth. And there he set the King,
   And slowly, lest it cast him in its spring.
   Let back the young and straining tree, till high
   It towered again amid the towering sky;
   And Pentheus in the branches! Well, I ween,
   He saw the Maenads then, and well was seen!
   For scarce was he aloft, when suddenly
   There was no stranger any more with me,
   But out of Heaven a Voice--oh, what voice else?--
   'Twas He that called! "Behold, O damosels,
   I bring ye him who turneth to despite
   Both me and ye, and darkeneth my great Light.
   Tis yours to avenge!"   So spake he, and there came
   'Twixt earth and sky a pillar of high flame.
   And silence took the air, and no leaf stirred
   In all the forest dell. Thou hadst not heard
   In that vast silence any wild things's cry.
   And up they sprang; but with bewildered eye,
   Agaze and listening, scarce yet hearing true.
   Then came the Voice again. And when they knew
   Their God's clear call, old Cadmus' royal brood,
   Up, like wild pigeons startled in a wood,
   On flying feet they came, his mother blind,
   Agâvê, and her sisters, and behind
   All the wild crowd, more deeply maddened then,
   Through the angry rocks and torrent-tossing glen,
   Until they spied him in the dark pine-tree:
   Then climbed a crag hard by and furiously
   Some sought to stone him, some their wands would fling
   Lance-wise aloft, in cruel targeting.
   But none could strike. The height o'ertopped their rage,
   And there he clung, unscathed, as in a cage
   Caught. And of all their strife no end was found.
   Then, "Hither," cried Agâvê; "stand we round
   And grip the stem, my Wild Ones, till we take
   This climbing cat-o'-the-mount! He shall not make
   A tale of God's high dances!" Out then shone
   Arm upon arm, past count, and closed upon
   The pine, and gripped; and the ground gave, and down
   It reeled. And that high sitter from the crown
   Of the green pine-top, with a shrieking cry
   Fell, as his mind grew clear, and there hard by
   Was horror visible. 'Twas his mother stood
   O'er him, first priestess of those rites of blood.
   He tore the coif, and from his head away
   Flung it, that she might know him, and not slay
   To her own misery. He touched the wild
   Cheek, crying: "Mother, it is I, thy child,
   Thy Pentheus, born thee in Echion's hall!
   Have mercy, Mother! Let it not befall
   Through sin of mine, that thou shouldst slay thy son!"
     But she, with lips a-foam and eyes that run
   Like leaping fire, with thoughts that ne'er should be
   On earth, possessed by Bacchios utterly,
   Stays not nor hears.   Round his left arm she put
   Both hands, set hard against his side her foot,
   Drew ... and the shoulder severed!--not by might
   Of arm, but easily, as the God made light
   Her hand's essay. And at the other side
   Was Ino rending; and the torn flesh cried,
   And on Autonoë pressed, and all the crowd
   Of ravening arms. 'Yea, all the air was loud
   With groans that faded into sobbing breath,
   Dim shrieks, and joy, and triumph-cries of death.
   And here was borne a severed arm, and there
   A hunter's booted foot; white bones lay bare
   With rending; and swift hands ensanguinèd
   Tossed as in sport the flesh of Pentheus dead.
   His body lies afar. The precipice
     Hath part, and parts in many an interstice
   Lurk of the tangled woodland--no light quest
   To find. And, ah, the head! Of all the rest,
   His mother hath it, pierced upon a wand,
   As one might pierce a lion's, and through the land,
   Leaving her sisters in their dancing place,
   Bears it on high! Yea, to these walls her face
   Was set, exulting in her deed of blood,
   Calling upon her Bromios, her God,
   Her Comrade, Fellow-Render of the Prey,
   Her All-Victorious, to whom this day
   She bears in triumph ... her own broken heart.
     For me, after that sight, I will depart
   Before Agave comes.--Oh, to fulfil
   God's laws, and have no thought beyond His will,
   Is man's best treasure.   Aye, and wisdom true,
   Methinks, for things of dust to cleave unto!
     [_The_ MESSENGER _departs into the Castle_.]

       CHORUS

     _Some Maidens_
   Weave ye the dance, and call
       Praise to God!
   Bless ye the Tyrant's fall!
       Down is trod
   Pentheus, the Dragon's Seed!
   Wore he the woman's weed?
   Clasped he his death indeed,
       Clasped the rod?

     _A Bacchanal_
   Yea, the wild ivy lapt him, and the doomed
   Wild Bull of Sacrifice before him loomed!

     _Others_
   Ye who did Bromios scorn,
       Praise Him the more,
   Bacchanals, Cadmus-born;
       Praise with sore
   Agony, yea, with tears!
   Great are the gifts he bears!
   Hands that a mother rears
       Red with gore!

     LEADER
   But stay, Agâvê cometh! And her eyes
   Make fire around her, reeling! Ho, the prize
   Cometh! All hail, O Rout of Dionyse!
     [_Enter from the Mountain_ AGAVE, _mad, and to all seeming wondrously
      happy, bearing the head of_ PENTHEUS _in her hand. The_ CHORUS MAIDENS
      _stand horror-struck at the sight; the_ LEADER, _also horror-struck,
      strives to accept it and rejoice in it as the God's deed_.]

     AGAVE
   Ye from the lands of Morn!

     LEADER
   Call me not; I give praise!

     AGAVE
   Lo, from the trunk new-shorn
   Hither a Mountain Thorn
   Bear we! O Asia-born
     Bacchanals, bless this chase!

     LEADER
   I see. Yea; I see.
   Have I not welcomed thee?

     AGAVE (_very calmly and peacefully_)
   He was young in the wildwood
     Without nets I caught him!
       Nay; look without fear on
         The Lion; I have ta'en him!

     LEADER
   Where in the wildwood?
     Whence have ye brought him?

     AGAVE
       Kithaeron. . . .

     LEADER
         Kithaeron?

     AGAVE
   The Mountain hath slain him!

     LEADER
   Who first came nigh him?

     AGAVE

     I, I, 'tis confessèd!
   And they named me there by him
     Agave the Blessèd!

     LEADER
   Who was next in the band on him?

     AGAVE
   The daughters....

     LEADER
                      The daughters?

     AGAVE
   Of Cadmus laid hand on him.
     But the swift hand that slaughters
   Is mine; mine is the praise!
   Bless ye this day of days!
     [_The_ LEADER _tries to speak, but is not able;_
      AGAVE _begins gently stroking the head_.]

     AGAVE
   Gather ye now to the feast!

     LEADER
   Feast!--O miserable!

     AGAVE
   See, it falls to his breast,
     Curling and gently tressed,
   The hair of the Wild Bull's crest--
     The young steer of the fell!

     LEADER
     Most like a beast of the wild
     That head, those locks defiled.

     AGAVE (_lifting up the head, more excitedly_)
     He wakened his Mad Ones,
       A Chase-God, a wise God!
         He sprang them to seize this!
           He preys where his band preys.

     LEADER (_brooding, with horror_)
   In the trail of thy Mad Ones
     Thou tearest thy prize, God!

     AGAVE
   Dost praise it?

     LEADER
                    I praise this?

     AGAVE
            Ah, soon shall the land praise!

     LEADER
   And Pentheus, O Mother,
     Thy child?

     AGAVE
             He shall cry on
   My name as none other,
     Bless the spoils of the Lion!

     LEADER
   Aye, strange is thy treasure!

     AGAVE
     And strange was the taking!

     LEADER
   Thou art glad?

     AGAVE
            Beyond measure;
     Yea, glad in the breaking
   Of dawn upon all this land,
   By the prize, the prize of my hand!

     LEADER
   Show them to all the land, unhappy one,
   The trophy of this deed that thou hast done!

     AGAVE
   Ho, all ye men that round the citadel
   And shining towers of ancient Thêbê dwell,
   Come! Look upon this prize, this lion's spoil,
   That we have taken--yea, with our own toil,
   We, Cadmus' daughters! Not with leathern-set
   Thessalian javelins, not with hunter's net,
   Only white arms and swift hands' bladed fall
   Why make ye much ado, and boast withal
   Your armourers' engines? See, these palms were bare
   That caught the angry beast, and held, and tare
   The limbs of him! ... Father! ... Go, bring to me
   My father! ... Aye, and Pentheus, where is he,
   My son? He shall set up a ladder-stair
   Against this house, and in the triglyphs there
   Nail me this lion's head, that gloriously
   I bring ye, having slain him--I, even I!
     [_She goes through the crowd towards the Castle, showing the head and
      looking for a place to hang it. Enter from the Mountain_ CADMUS, _with
      attendants, bearing the body of_ PENTHEUS _on a bier_.]

     CADMUS
   On, with your awful burden. Follow me,
   Thralls, to his house, whose body grievously
   With many a weary search at last in dim
   Kithaeron's glens I found, torn limb from limb,
   And through the intervening forest weed
   Scattered.--Men told me of my daughters' deed,
   When I was just returned within these walls,
   With grey Teiresias, from the Bacchanals.
   And back I hied me to the hills again
   To seek my murdered son. There saw I plain
   Actaeon's mother, ranging where he died,
   Autonoë; and Ino by her side,
   Wandering ghastly in the pine-copses.

   Agâvê was not there. The rumour is
   She cometh fleet-foot hither.--Ah! 'Tis true;
   A sight I scarce can bend mine eyes unto.

     AGAVE (_turning from the Palace and seeing him_)
   My father, a great boast is thine this hour.
   Thou hast begotten daughters, high in power
   And valiant above all mankind--yea, all
   Valiant, though none like me! I have let fall
   The shuttle by the loom, and raised my hand
   For higher things, to slay from out thy land
   Wild beasts! See, in mine arms I bear the prize,
   That nailed above these portals it may rise
   To show what things thy daughters did! Do thou
   Take it, and call a feast. Proud art thou now
   And highly favoured in our valiancy!

     CADMUS
   O depth of grief, how can I fathom thee
   Or look upon thee!--Poor, poor bloodstained hand!
   Poor sisters!--A fair sacrifice to stand
   Before God's altars, daughter; yea, and call
   Me and my citizens to feast withal!

   Nay, let me weep--for thine affliction most,
   Then for mine own. All, all of us are lost,
   Not wrongfully, yet is it hard, from one
   Who might have loved--our Bromios, our own!

     AGAVE
   How crabbèd and how scowling in the eyes
   Is man's old age!--Would that my son likewise
   Were happy of his hunting, in my way
   When with his warrior bands he will essay
   The wild beast!--Nay, his valiance is to fight
   With God's will! Father, thou shouldst set him right.
   Will no one bring him thither, that mine eyes
   May look on his, and show him this my prize!

     CADMUS
   Alas, if ever ye can know again
   The truth of what ye did, what pain of pain
   That truth shall bring! Or were it best to wait
   Darkened for evermore, and deem your state
   Not misery, though ye know no happiness?

     AGAVE
   What seest thou here to chide, or not to bless?

     CADMUS (_after hesitation, resolving himself_)
   Raise me thine eyes to yon blue dome of air!

     AGAVE
   'Tis done. What dost thou bid me seek for there?

     CADMUS
   Is it the same, or changèd in thy sight?

     AGAVE
   More shining than before, more heavenly bright!

     CADMUS
   And that wild tremour, is it with thee still?

     AGAVE (_troubled_)
   I know not what thou sayest; but my will
   Clears, and some change cometh, I know not how.

     CADMUS
   Canst hearken then, being changed, and answer, now!

     AGAVE
   I have forgotten something; else I could.

     CADMUS
   What husband led thee of old from mine abode?

     AGAVE
   Echîon, whom men named the Child of Earth.

     CADMUS
   And what child in Echîon's house had birth?

     AGAVE
   Pentheus, of my love and his father's bred.

     CADMUS
   Thou bearest in thine arms an head--what head?

     AGAVE (_beginning to tremble, and not looking at what she carries_)
   A lion's--so they all said in the chase.

     CADMUS
   Turn to it now--'tis no long toil--and gaze.

     AGAVE
   Ah! But what is it? What am I carrying here?

     CADMUS
   Look once upon it full, till all be clear!

     AGAVE
   I see... most deadly pain! Oh, woe is me!

     CADMUS
   Wears it the likeness of a lion to thee?

     AGAVE
   No; 'tis the head--O God!--of Pentheus, this!

     CADMUS
   Blood-drenched ere thou wouldst know him! Aye, 'tis his.

     AGAVE
   Who slew him?--How came I to hold this thing?

     CADMUS
   O cruel Truth, is this thine home-coming?

     AGAVE
   Answer! My heart is hanging on thy breath!

     CADMUS
   'Twas thou.--Thou and thy sisters wrought his death.

     AGAVE
   In what place was it? His own house, or where?

     CADMUS
   Where the dogs tore Actaeon, even there.

     AGAVE
   Why went he to Kithaeron? What sought he?

     CADMUS
   To mock the God and thine own ecstasy.

     AGAVE
   But how should we be on the hills this day?

     CADMUS
   Being mad! A spirit drove all the land that way.

     AGAVE
   'Tis Dionyse hath done it! Now I see.

     CADMUS (_earnestly_)
   Ye wronged Him! Ye denied his deity!

     AGAVE (_turning from him_)
   Show me the body of the son I love!

     CADMUS (_leading her to the bier_)
   'Tis here, my child. Hard was the quest thereof.

     AGAVE
   Laid in due state?
     [_As there is no answer, she lifts the veil of the bier, and sees._]
                       Oh, if I wrought a sin,
   'Twas mine! What portion had my child therein!

     CADMUS
   He made him like to you, adoring not
   The God; who therefore to one bane hath brought
   You and this body, wrecking all our line,
   And me. Aye, no man-child was ever mine;
   And now this first-fruit of the flesh of thee,
   Sad woman, foully here and frightfully
   Lies murdered! Whom the house looked up unto,
     [_Kneeling by the body._]
   O Child, my daughter's child! who heldest true
   My castle walls; and to the folk a name
   Of fear thou wast; and no man sought to shame
   My grey beard, when they knew that thou wast there,
   Else had they swift reward!--And now I fare
   Forth in dishonour, outcast, I, the great
   Cadmus, who sowed the seed-rows of this state
   Of Thebes, and reaped the harvest wonderful.
   O my belovèd, though thy heart is dull
   In death, O still belovèd, and alway
   Beloved! Never more, then, shalt thou lay
   Thine hand to this white beard, and speak to me
   Thy "Mother's Father"; ask "Who wrongeth thee?
   Who stints thine honour, or with malice stirs
   Thine heart? Speak, and I smite thine injurers!"
   But now--woe, woe, to me and thee also,
   Woe to thy mother and her sisters, woe
   Alway! Oh, whoso walketh not in dread
   Of Gods, let him but look on this man dead!

     LEADER
   Lo, I weep with thee. 'Twas but due reward
   God sent on Pentheus; but for thee ... 'Tis hard.

     AGAVE
   My father, thou canst see the change in me,
          *       *       *       *       *
          *       *       *       *       *
   [_A page or more has here been torn out of the MS. from which all our
   copies of "The Bacchae" are derived. It evidently contained a speech of
   Agâvê (followed presumably by some words of the Chorus), and an appearance
   of_ DIONYSUS _upon a cloud. He must have pronounced judgment upon the
   Thebans in general, and especially upon the daughters of_ CADMUS, _have
   justified his own action, and declared his determination to establish his
   godhead. Where the MS begins again, we find him addressing_ CADMUS.]
          *       *       *       *       *

     DIONYSUS
          *       *       *       *       *
          *       *       *       *       *
   And tell of Time, what gifts for thee he bears,
   What griefs and wonders in the winding years.
   For thou must change and be a Serpent Thing
   Strange, and beside thee she whom thou didst bring
   Of old to be thy bride from Heaven afar,
   Harmonia, daughter of the Lord of War.
   Yea, and a chariot of kine--so spake
   The word of Zeus--thee and thy Queen shall take
   Through many lands, Lord of a wild array
   Of orient spears. And many towns shall they
   Destroy beneath thee, that vast horde, until
   They touch Apollo's dwelling, and fulfil
   Their doom, back driven on stormy ways and steep.
   Thee only and thy spouse shall Ares keep,
   And save alive to the Islands of the Blest.
     Thus speaketh Dionysus, Son confessed
   Of no man but of Zeus!--Ah, had ye seen
   Truth in the hour ye would not, all had been
   Well with ye, and the Child of God your friend!

     AGAVE
   Dionysus, we beseech thee! We have sinned!

     DIONYSUS
   Too late! When there was time, ye knew me not!

     AGAVE
   We have confessed. Yet is thine hand too hot.

     DIONYSUS
   Ye mocked me, being God; this your wage.

     AGAVE
   Should God be like a proud man in his rage?

     DIONYSUS
   'Tis as my sire, Zeus, willed it long ago.

     AGAVE  (_turning from him almost with disdain_)
   Old man, the word is spoken; we must go.

     DIONYSUS
   And seeing ye must, what is it that ye wait?

     CADMUS
   Child, we are come into a deadly strait,
   All; thou, poor sufferer, and thy sisters twain,
   And my sad self. Far off to barbarous men,
   A grey-haired wanderer, I must take my road.
   And then the oracle, the doom of God,
   That I must lead a raging horde far-flown
   To prey on Hellas; lead my spouse, mine own
   Harmonia. Ares' child, discorporate
   And haunting forms, dragon and dragon-mate,
   Against the tombs and altar-stones of Greece,
   Lance upon lance behind us; and not cease
   From toils, like other men, nor dream, nor past
   The foam of Acheron find my peace at last.

     AGAVE
   Father! And I must wander far from thee!

     CADMUS
   O Child, why wilt thou reach thine arms to me,
   As yearns the milk-white swan, when old swans die?

     AGAVE
   Where shall I turn me else? No home have I.

     CADMUS
   I know not; I can help thee not.

     AGAVE
     Farewell, O home, O ancient tower!
     Lo, I am outcast from my bower,
   And leave ye for a worser lot.

     CADMUS
   Go forth, go forth to misery,
     The way Actaeon's father went!

     AGAVE
     Father, for thee my tears are spent.

     CADMUS
   Nay, Child, 'tis I must weep for thee;
   For thee and for thy sisters twain!

     AGAVE
     On all this house, in bitter wise,
     Our Lord and Master, Dionyse,
   Hath poured the utter dregs of pain!

     DIONYSUS
   In bitter wise, for bitter was the shame
   Ye did me, when Thebes honoured not my name.

     AGAVE
   Then lead me where my sisters be;
     Together let our tears be shed,
     Our ways be wandered; where no red
   Kithaeron waits to gaze on me;
   Nor I gaze back; no thyrsus stem,
     Nor song, nor memory in the air.
     Oh, other Bacchanals be there,
   Not I, not I, to dream of them!
     [AGAVE _with her group of attendants goes out on the side away from
      the Mountain._ DIONYSUS _rises upon the Cloud and disappears._]

       CHORUS
   There may be many shapes of mystery,
   And many things God makes to be,
       Past hope or fear.
   And the end men looked for cometh not,
   And a path is there where no man thought.
       So hath it fallen here.                 [_Exeunt_.]





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