Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CHOEPHOROI: INVOCATION OF AGAMEMNON'S GHOST, by AESCHYLUS

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

CHOEPHOROI: INVOCATION OF AGAMEMNON'S GHOST, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: O father, father of our woe
Last Line: Nor tasted of this cup of woe.



O father, father of our woe!
How can I serve thee now by word or deed?
From this far world what homing wind shall blow
Where the Eternal Anchors hold thee fast?
There thy long day is night:
And at this gate of death where thou hast passed,
Our grief that are of Atreus' royal seed
Is all thou hast of glory and delight.


Child, the proud spirit of the dead
Succumbs not to the ravening tooth of fire.
Their passions work, when life is fled:
The mourner's wail
Discovers him that did the wrong.
And lamentation for a murdered sire
A hunter is, that rallies to the trail
All dogs that e'er gave tongue.


Hearken then, father, our lament,
While at thy mounded tomb our salt tears flow;
An alternating song, of sad concent,
Dirged by thy children; suppliants that crave
Access to thee; banned, both, from thy high hall,
Met at the common refuge of thy grave.
What's here of good? Where's aught that is not woe?
And is not Doom the master of us all?


But God can touch the broken strings
To melody divine;
And for this unrejoicing round,
The burden of sepulchral ground,
In the high banquet-hall of kings
Blithe song bring in new wine.


Oh, if 'neath Ilium's wall,
Gashed by some Lycian spear,
Father, thou hadst fall'n in fight,
Then hadst thou left thy house great praise,
And to thy children in the public ways
Honour in the eyes of all.
Then thine had been a sepulchre
Builded of many hands beyond the sea,
And easy would our burden be,
And all its weight of earth how light!


And in the Kingdom of the Dark,
Welcome wert thou to souls that nobly died;
A lord of majesty and mark,
The cupbearer
Of Hell's vast Thrones; for while thou yet hadst breath
Thou wast a King; and, in that Kingdom wide,
Next them that the huge orb of Fate upbear,
Their rod and sceptre Death!


No, not on Troy's far plain
Would I have thee lie, interred,
Where Scamander's waters flow,
With meaner men that fell to the spear,
But none, oh, none, that was thy peer.
Death should have first thy murderers slain;
And, haply, we had heard
Some far-off rumour of their dying,
And never ate the bread of sighing
Nor tasted of this cup of Woe.

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