Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PROMETHEUS BOUND: PROMETHEUS IN THE EARTHQUAKE, by AESCHYLUS



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PROMETHEUS BOUND: PROMETHEUS IN THE EARTHQUAKE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: These are the stale tidings I foreknew
Last Line: What bitter wrongs I bear!


PROMETHEUS. HERMES. CHORUS
PROMETHEUS
THESE are stale tidings I foreknew;
Therefore, since suffering is the due
A foe must pay his foes,
Let curled lightnings clasp and clash
And close upon my limbs: loud crash
The thunder, and fierce throes
Of savage winds convulse calm air:
The embowelled blast earth's roots uptear
And toss beyond its bars
The rough surge, till the roaring deep
In one devouring deluge sweep
The pathway of the stars!
Finally, let him fling my form
Down whirling gulfs, the central storm
Of being; let me lie
Plunged in the black Tartarean gloom;
Yet -- yet -- his sentence shall not doom
This deathless self to die!

HERMES
These are the workings of a brain
More than a little touched; the vein
Of voluble ecstasy!
Surely he wandereth from the way,
His reason lost, who thus can pray!
A mouthing madman he!

Therefore, O ye who court his fate,
Rash mourners, -- ere it be too late
And ye indeed are sad
For vengeance spurring hither fast, --
Hence! lest the bellowing thunderblast
Like him should strike you mad!

CHORUS
Words which might work persuasion speak
If thou must counsel me; nor seek
Thus, like a stream in spate,
To uproot mine honour. Dost thou dare
Urge me to baseness! I will bear
With him all blows of fate;
For false forsakers I despise;
At treachery my gorge doth rise: --
I spew it forth with hate!

HERMES
Only, -- with ruin on your track, --
Rail not at fortune; but look back
And these my words recall;
Neither blame Zeus that he hath sent
Sorrow no warning word forewent!
Ye labour for your fall
With your own hands! Not by surprise
Nor yet by stealth, but with clear eyes,
Knowing the thing ye do,
Ye walk into the yawning net
That for the feet of fools is set
And Ruin spreads for you.

PROMETHEUS
The time is past for words; earth quakes
Sensibly; hark! pent thunder rakes
The depths, with bellowing din
Of echoes rolling ever nigher:
Lightnings shake out their locks of fire:
The dust cones dance and spin;
The skipping winds, as if possessed
By faction -- north, south, east and west,
Puff at each other; sea
And sky are shook together: Lo!
The swing and fury of the blow
Wherewith Zeus smiteth me
Sweepeth apace, and, visibly,
To strike my heart with fear. See, see
Earth, awful mother! Air,
That shedd'st from the revolving sky
On all the light they see thee by,
What bitter wrongs I bear!





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