Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AGAMEMNON: WELCOME TO AGAMEMNON, by AESCHYLUS

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

AGAMEMNON: WELCOME TO AGAMEMNON, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: My reverend elders, worthy citizens
Last Line: Sweet is escape from every harsh constraint.



My reverend Elders, worthy citizens,
I shall not blush now to confess before you
My amorous fondness; fear and diffidence
Fade from us all in time. O 'tis not from
Instruction I can tell
The story of my own unhappy life
All the long while my lord lay under Ilium.
First for a woman 'tis a passing trial
To sit forlorn at home with no man present,
Always malignant rumours in her ears,
One bawler tumbling on another's heels
With cruel blows each heavier than the last: --
Wounds! if my lord had got as many wounds
As rumour channelling to us homeward gave him,
He had been more riddled than a net with holes.
Or had his deaths but tallied with all tales!
He might have been a second Geryon,
Three-bodied, with a triple coverture
Of earth above -- one for each several corpse.
By reason of
These cross malignant rumours, other hands
Full many a time have set my desperate neck
Free from the hanging noose, recovering me
Against my dearest will. -- Hence too it is
We see not present by our side this day
The child, Orestes, in whose person dwell
The pledges of our love; nor wonder at it:
He rests in keeping of our trusty cousin,
Strophius the Phocian, my forewarner oft
Of danger on two scores, -- thy jeopardy
At Troy, and fear of popular tumult hatching
Plots in the lack of master, as 'tis common
When the man's down the more to trample on him:
Under which showing lies not trace of guile.
For me, the gushing fountains of my tears
Are e'en dried up, there's not a drop now left;
And my late-rested eyes have suffered hurt
From weeping o'er the lanterns lit for thee
That still were unregarded. If I slept,
The puniest whining of a pulsing gnat
Would rouse me from beholding in my dreams
More accidents to thee than could befall
Within the time that was my bedfellow.
Now, after all this borne, with heart unpined
I hail my lord, safe watchdog of the fold,
Main forestay of the ship, firm-footed pillar
Bearing the roof up, sole-born child vouchsafed
To father, to the wave-tossed seaman land,
Bright day that greets the eyesight after storm,
Well-water to the thirsty wayfarer!
Sweet is escape from every harsh constraint.

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