Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CLYTEMNESTRA, by EDWARD ROBERT BULWER-LYTTON



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CLYTEMNESTRA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Morning at last! At last the lingering day
Last Line: Destiny is over all!
Alternate Author Name(s): Meredith, Owen; Lytton, 1st Earl Of; Lytton, Robert
Subject(s): Clytemnestra (Mythology)


PERSONS OF THE DRAMA.

AGAMEMNON. CLYTEMNESTRA.
AEGISTHUS. ELECTRA.
ORESTES. CASSANDRA.
PHOCIAN. CHORUS.
HERALD.

SCENE. -- Before the Palace of Agamemnon in Argos. Trophies, amongst which the shield of
Agamemnon, on the wall.
TIME. -- Morning. The action continues till Sunset.

I. CLYTEMNESTRA.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

MORNING at last! at last the lingering day
Creeps o'er the dewy side of yon dark world.
O dawning light already on the hills!
O universal earth, and air, and thou,
First freshness of the east, which art a breath
Breathed from the rapture of the gods, who bless
Almost all other prayers on earth but mine!
Wherefore to me is solacing sleep denied?
And honorable rest, the right of all?
So that no medicine of the slumbrous shell,
Brimmed with divinest draughts of melody,
Nor silence under dreamful canopies,
Nor purple cushions of the lofty couch
May lull this fever for a little while.
Wherefore to me, -- to me, of all mankind,
This retribution for a deed undone?
For many men outlive their sum of crimes,
And eat, and drink, and lift up thankful hands,
And take their rest securely in the dark.
Am I not innocent, -- or more than these?
There is no blot of murder on my brow,
Nor any taint of blood upon my robe.
-- It is the thought! it is the thought! ...and men
Judge us by acts! ...as though one thunder-clap
Let all Olympus out. Unquiet heart,
Ill fares it with thee since, ten sad years past,
In one wild hour of unacquainted joy,
Thou didst set wide thy lonely bridal doors
For a forbidden guest to enter in!
Last night, methought pale Helen, with a frown,
Swept by me, murmuring, "I -- such as thou --
A Queen in Greece -- weak-hearted, (woe is me!)
Allured by love -- did, in an evil hour,
Fall off from duty. Sorrow came. Beware!"
And then, in sleep, there passed a baleful band, --
The ghosts of all the slaughtered under Troy,
From this side Styx, who cried, "For such a crime
We fell from our fair palaces on earth,
And wander, starless, here. For such a crime
A thousand ships were launched, and tumbled down
The topless towers of Ilion, though they rose
To magic music, in the time of Gods!"
With such fierce thoughts forevermore at war,
Vext not alone by hankering wild regrets,
But fears, yet worse, of that which soon must come,
My heart waits armed, and from the citadel
Of its high sorrow, sees far off dark shapes,
And hears the footsteps of Necessity
Tread near, and nearer, hand in hand with Woe.
Last night the flaming Herald warning urged
Up all the hills, -- small time to pause and plan!
Counsel is weak: and much remains to do,
That Agamemnon, and, if else remain
Of that enduring band who sailed for Troy
Ten years ago (and some sailed Letheward),
Find us not unprepared for their return.

But -- hark! I hear the tread of nimble feet
That sound this way. The rising town is poured
About the festive altars of the Gods,
And from the heart of the great Agora,
Lets out its gladness for this last night's news.
-- Ah, so it is! Insidious, sly Report,
Sounding oblique, like Loxian oracles,
Tells double-tongued (and with the selfsame voice!)
To some new gladness, new despair to some.

II. CHORUS AND CLYTEMNESTRA.

CHORUS.

O dearest Lady, daughter of Tyndarus!
With purple flowers we come, and offerings --
Oil, and wine; and cakes of honey,
Soothing, unadulterate; tapestries
Woven by white Argive maidens,
God-descended (woven only
For the homeward feet of Heroes)
To celebrate this glad intelligence
Which last night the fiery courier
Brought us, posting up from Ilion,
Wheeled above the dusky circle
Of the hills from lighted Ida.
For now (Troy lying extinguisht
Underneath a mighty Woe)
Our King and chief of men,
Agamemnon, returning
(And with him the hope of Argos),
Shall worship at the Tutelary Altars
Of their dear native land:
In the fane of ancient Here,
Or the great Lycaean God;
Immortally crowned with reverend honor!
But tell us wherefore, O godlike woman,
Having a lofty trouble in your eye,
You walk alone with loosened tresses?

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Shall the ship toss, and yet the helm not heave?
Shall they drowse sitting at the lower oars,
When those that hold the middle benches wake?
He that is yet sole eye of all our state
Shining not here, shall ours be shut in dreams?
But haply you (thrice happy!) prove not this,
The curse of Queens, and worse than widowed wives --
To wake, and hear, all night, the wandering gnat
Sing through the silent chambers, while Alarm,
In place of Slumber, by the haunted couch
Stands sentinel; or when from coast to coast
Wails the night-wandering wind, or when o'er heaven
Bootes hath unleashed his fiery hounds,
And Night her glittering camps hath set, and lit
Her watch-fires through the silence of the skies,
-- To count ill chances in the dark, and feel
Deserted pillows wet with tears, not kisses,
Where kisses once fell.
But now Expectation
Stirs up such restless motions of the blood
As suffer not my lids to harbor sleep.
Wherefore, O beloved companions,
I wake betimes, and wander up and down,
Looking toward the distant hill-tops,
From whence shall issue fair fulfilment
Of all our ten-years' hoping. For, behold!
Troy being captived, we shall see once more
Those whom we loved in days of old.
Yet some will come not from the Phrygian shore,
But there lie weltering to the surf and wind;
Exiled from day, in darkness blind,
Or having crost unhappy Styx.
And some who left us full of vigorous youth
Shall greet us now gray-headed men.
But if our eyes behold again
Our long-expected chief, in truth,
Fortune for us hath thrown the Treble Six.

CHORUS.

By us, indeed, these things are also wisht.
Wherefore, if now to this great son of Atreus
(Having survived the woful walls of Troy),
With us, once more, the Gods permit to stand
A glad man by the pillars of his hearth,
Let his dear life henceforth be such wherein
The Third Libation often shall be poured.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

And let his place be numbered with the Gods,
Who overlook the world's eternal walls,
Out of all reach of sad calamities.

CHORUS

It is not well, I think, that men should set
Too near the Gods any of mortal kind:
But brave men are as Gods upon the earth.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

And whom Death daunts not, these are truly brave.

CHORUS.

But more than all I reckon that man blest,
Who, having sought Death nobly, finds it not.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Except he find it where he does not seek.

CHORUS.

You speak in riddles.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

For so Wisdom speaks.
But now do you with garlands wreathe the altars,
While I, within, the House prepare.
That so our King, at his returning,
With his golden armament,
Find us not unaware
Of the greatness of the event.

CHORUS.

Soon shall we see the faces that we loved.
Brother once more clasping brother,
As in the unforgotten days:
And heroes, meeting one another
(Men by glorious toils approved)
Where once they roved,
Shall rove again the old familiar ways.
And they that from the distance come
Shall feed their hearts with tales of home;
And tell the famous story of the war
Rumored sometime from afar.
Now shall these again behold
The ancient Argos; and the grove
Long since trod
By the frenzied child of Inachus;
And the Forum, famed of old,
Of the wolf-destroying God;
And the opulent Mycenae,
Home of the Pelopidae,
While they rove with those they love,
Holding pleasant talk with us.
O how gloriously they went,
That avenging armament!
As though Olympus in her womb
No longer did entomb
The greatness of a bygone world --
Gods and godlike men --
But cast them forth again
To frighten Troy: such storm was hurled
On her devoted towers
By the retributive Deity,
Whosoe'er he be
Of the Immortal Powers --
Or maddening Pan, if he chastise
His Shepherd's Phrygian treacheries:
Or vengeful Loxias; or Zeus,
Angered for the shame and abuse
Of a great man's hospitality.

As wide as is Olympus' span
Is the power of the high Gods;
Who, in their golden blest abodes
See all things, looking from the sky;
And Heaven is hard to pacify
For the wickedness of man.
My heart is filled with vague forebodings,
And opprest by unknown terrors
Lest, in the light of so much gladness,
Rise the shadow of ancient wrong.
O Daemon of the double lineage
Of Tantalus; and the Pleisthenidae,
Inexorable in thy mood,
On the venerable threshold
Of the ancient House of Pelops
Surely is enough of blood!
Wherefore does my heart misgive me?
Wherefore comes this doubt to grieve me?
O, may no Divine Envy
Follow home the Argive army,
Being vext for things ill-done
In wilful pride of stubborn war,
Long since, in the distant lands!
May no lmmortal wrath pursue
Our dear King, the Light of Argos,
For the unhappy sacrifice
Of a daughter; working evil
In the dark heart of a woman;
Or some household treachery,
And a curse from kindred hands!

III. CLYTEMNESTRA.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

[Re-entering from the house.

To-morrow ... ay, what if to-day? ...Well -- then?
Why, if those tongues of flame, with which last night
The land was eloquent, spoke certain truth,
By this perchance through green Saronic rocks
Those black ships glide...perchance...well, what's to fear?
'T were well to dare the worst -- to know the end --
Die soon, or live secure. What's left to add
To years of nights like those which I have known?
Shall I shrink now to meet one little hour
Which I have dared to contemplate for years?
By all the Gods, not so! The end crowns all,
Which if we fail to seize, that's also lost
Which went before: as who would lead a host
Through desolate dry places, yet return
In sight of kingdoms, when the Gods are roused
To mark the issue? ...And yet, yet --
I think
Three nights ago there must have been sea-storms.
The wind was wild among the Palace towers:
Far off upon the hideous Element
I know it huddled up the petulant waves,
Whose shapeless and bewildering precipices
Led to the belly of Orcus ... O, to slip
Into dark Lethe from a dizzy plank,
When even the Gods are reeling on the poop!
To drown at night, and have no sepulchre! --
That were too horrible! ...yet it may be
Some easy chance, that comes with little pain,
Might rid me of the haunting of those eyes,
And these wild thoughts ... To know he roved among
His old companions in the Happy Fields,
And ranged with heroes -- I still innocent!
Sleep would be natural then.
Yet will the old time
Never return! never those peaceful hours!
Never that careless heart! and nevermore,
Ah, nevermore that laughter without pain!
But I, that languish for repose, must fly it,
Nor, save in daring, doing, taste of rest.
O, to have lost all these! To have bartered calm,
And all the irrevocable wealth of youth,
And gained...what? But this change had surely come,
Even were all things other than they are
I blame myself o'ermuch, who should blame time,
And life's inevitable loss, and fate,
And days grown lovelier in the retrospect.
We change: wherefore look back? The path to safety
Lies forward ... forward ever.

[In passing toward the house she recognizes the shield of Agamemnon, and pauses before it.

Ha! old shield,
Hide up for shame that honest face of thine.
Stare not so bluntly at us ... O, this man!
Why sticks the thought of him so in my heart?
If I had loved him once -- if for one hour --
Then were there treason in this falling off.
But never did I feel this wretched heart
Until it leaped beneath AEgisthus' eyes.
Who could have so forecounted all from first?
From that flusht moment when his hand in mine
Rested a thought too long, a touch too kind,
To leave its pulse unwarmed ... but I remember
I dreamed sweet dreams that night, and slept till dawn,
And woke with flutterings of a happy thought,
And felt, not worse, but better ... and now ... now?
When first a strange and novel tenderness
Quivered in these salt eyes, had one said then
"A bead of dew may drag a deluge down": --
In that first pensive pause, through which I watched
Unwonted sadness on AEgisthus' brows,
Had some one whispered, "Ay, the summer-cloud
Comes first: the tempest follows." --
Well, what's past
Is past. Perchance the worst's to follow yet.
How thou art hackt, and hewn, and bruised, old shield!
Was the whole edge of the war against one man?
But one thrust more upon this dexter ridge
Had quite cut through the double inmost hide.
He must have stood to it well! O, he was cast
I' the mould of Titans: a magnificent man,
With head and shoulders like a God's. He seemed
Too brimful of this merry vigorous life
To spill it all out at one stab o' the sword.
Yet that had helped much ill ... O Destiny
Makes cowards or makes culprits of us all!
Ah, had some Trojan weapon ... Fool! fool! fool!
Surely sometimes the unseen Eumenides
Do prompt our musing moods with wicked hints,
And lash us for our crimes ere we commit them.
Here, round this silver boss, he cut my name,
Once -- long ago: he cut it as he lay
Tired out with brawling pastimes -- prone -- his limbs
At length diffused -- his head droopt in my lap --
His spear flung by: Electra by the hearth
Sat with the young Orestes on her knee;
While he, with an old broken sword, hacked out
These crooked characters, and laughed to see
(Sprawled from the unused strength of his large hands)
The marks make CLYTEMNESTRA.
How he laughed!
AEgisthus' hands are smaller.
Yet I know
That matrons envied me my husband's strength.
And I remember when he strode among
The Argive crowd he topped them by a head,
And tall men stood wide-eyed to look at him,
Where his great plumes went tossing up and down
The brazen prores drawn out upon the sand.
War on his front was graved, as on thy disk,
Shield! which he left to keep his memory
Grand in men's mouths: that some revered old man,
Winning to this the eyes of our hot youth,
Might say, "'T was here, and here -- this dent, and that --
On such, and such a field (which we remember)
That Agamemnon, in the great old time,
Held up the battle."
Now lie there, and rust!
Thy uses all have end. Thy master's home
Should harbor none but friends.
O triple brass,
Iron, and oak! the blows of blundering men
Clang idly on you: what fool's strength is yours!
For, surely, not the adamantine tunic
Of Ares, nor whole shells of blazing plates,
Nor ashen spear, nor all the cumbrous coil
Of seven bulls' hides may guard the strongest king
From one defenceless woman's quiet hate.

What noise was that? Where can AEgisthus be?
AEgisthus! -- my AEgisthus! ...There again!
Louder, and longer -- from the Agora --
A mighty shout: and now I see i' the air
A rolling dust the wind blows near. AEgisthus!
O much I fear...this wild-willed race of ours
Doth ever, like a young unbroken colt,
Chafe at the straightened bridle of our state --
If they should find him lone, irresolute,
As is his wont...I know he lacks the eye
And forehead wherewith crowned Capacity
Awes rash Rebellion back.
Again that shout!
Gods keep AEgisthus safe! myself will front
This novel storm. How my heart leaps to danger!
I have been so long a pilot on rough seas,
And almost rudderless!
O yet 't is much
To feel a power, self-centred, self-assured,
Bridling a glorious danger! as when one
That knows the nature of the elements
Guides some frail plank with sublime skill that wins
Progress from all obstruction; and, erect,
Looks bold and free down all the dripping stars,
Hearing the hungry storm boom baffled, by.
AEgisthus! ...hark! ...AEgisthus! ...there...AEgisthus!
I would to all the Gods I knew him safe!
Who comes this way, guiding his racing feet
Safe to us, like a nimble charioteer?

IV. CLYTEMNESTRA. HERALD.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Now, gloom-bird! are there prodigies about?
What new ill-thing sent thee before?

HERALD.

O Queen --

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Speak, if thou hast a voice! I listen.

HERALD.

O Queen --

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Hath an ox trodden on thy tongue? ...Speak then!

HERALD.

O Queen (for haste hath caught away my breath),
The King is coming.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Say again -- the King
Is coming --

HERALD.

Even now, the broad sea-fields
Grow white with flocks of sails, and toward the west
The sloped horizon teems with rising beaks.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

The people know this?

HERALD.

Heard you not the noise?
For soon as this winged news had toucht the gate
The whole land shouted in the sun.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

So soon!

The thought's outsped by the reality,
And halts agape...the King --

HERALD.

How she is moved.
A noble woman!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Wherefore beat so fast,
Thou foolish heart? 't is not thy master --

HERALD.

Truly
She looks all over Agamemnon's mate.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Destiny, Destiny! The deed's half done.

HERALD.

She will not speak, save by that brooding eye
Whose light is language. Some great thought, I see,
Mounts up the royal chambers of her blood,
As a king mounts his palace; holds high pomp
In her Olympian bosom; gains her face,
Possesses all her noble glowing cheek
With sudden state; and gathers grandly up
Its slow majestic meanings in her eyes!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

So quick this sudden joy hath taken us,
I scarce can realize the sum of it.
You say the King comes here, -- the King, my husband,
Whom we have waited for ten years, -- O joy!
Pardon our seeming roughness at the first.
Hope, that will often fawn upon despair
And flatter desperate chances, when the event
Falls at our feet, soon takes a querulous tone,
And jealous of that perfect joy she guards
(Lest the ambrosial fruit by some rude hand
Be stol'n away from her, and never tasted),
Barks like a lean watch-dog at all who come.
But now do you, with what good speed you may,
Make known this glad intelligence to all.
Ourselves, within, as best befits a wife
And woman, will prepare my husband's house.
Also, I pray you, summon to our side
Our cousin, AEgisthus. We would speak with him.
We would that our own lips should be the first
To break these tidings to him; so obtaining
New joy by sharing his. And, for yourself,
Receive our gratitude. For this great news
Henceforth you hold our royal love in fee.
Our fairest fortunes from this day I date,
And to the House of Tantalus new honor.

HERALD.

She's gone! With what a majesty she filled
The whole of space! The statues of the Gods
Are not so godlike. She has Here's eyes,
And looks immortal!

V. CLYTEMNESTRA. CHORUS.

CLYTEMNESTRA (as she ascends the steps of the Palace).

So...while on the verge
Of some wild purpose we hang dizzily,
Weighing the danger of the leap below
Against the danger of retreating steps,
Upon a sudden, some forecast event,
Issuing full-armed from Councils of the Gods,
Strides to us, plucks us by the hair, and hurls
Headlong pale conscience, to the abyss of crime.
Well -- I shrink not. 'T is but a leap in life.
There 's fate in this. Why is he here so soon?
The sight of whose abhorred eyes will add
Whatever lacks of strength to this resolve.
Away with shame! I have had enough of it.
What's here for shame? ...the weak against the strong?
And if the weak be victor? ...what of that?
Tush! ... there, -- my soul is set to it. What need
Of argument to justify an act
Necessity compels, and must absolve?
I have been at play with scruples -- like a girl.
Now they are all flung by. I have talked with Crime
Too long to play the prude. These thoughts have been
Wild guests by night. Now I shall dare to do
That which I did not dare to think...O, now
I know myself! Crime's easier than we dream.

CHORUS.

Upon the everlasting hills
Throned Justice works, and waits.
Between the shooting of a star,
That falls unseen on summer nights
Out of the bosom of the dark,
And the magnificent march of War,
Rolled from angry lands afar
Round some doomed city-gates,
Nothing is to her unknown;

Nothing unseen.
Upon her hills she sits alone,
And in the balance of Eternity
Poises against the What-has-been
The weight of What-shall-be.
She sums the account of human ills.
The great world's hoarded wrongs and rights
Are in her treasures. She will mark,
With inward-searching eyes sublime,
The frauds of Time.
The empty future years she fills
Out of the past. All human wills
Sway to her on her reachless heights.

Wisdom she teaches men, with tears,
In the toilful school of years:
Climbing from event to event.
And, being patient, is content
To stretch her sightless arms about,
And find some human instrument,
From many sorrows to work out
Her doubtful, far accomplishment.

She the two Atridae sent
Upon Ilion: being intent
The heapt-up wrath of Heaven to move
Against the faithless Phrygian crime.
Them the Thunder-bird of Jove,
Swooping sudden from above,
Summoned to fates sublime.

She, being injured, for the sake
Of her, the often-wedded wife,
(Too loved, and too adoring!)
Many a brazen band did break
In many a breathless battle-strife;
Many a noble life did take;
Many a headlong agony,
Frenzied shout, and frantic cry,
For Greek and Trojan storing.
When, the spear in the onset being shivered,
The reeling ranks were rolled together
Like mad waves mingling in windy weather,
Dasht fearfully over and over each other.
And the plumes of Princes were tossed and thrust,
And dragged about in the shameful dust;
And the painful, panting breath
Came and went in the tug of death:
And the sinews were loosened, and the strong knees stricken:
And the eyes began to darken and thicken:
And the arm of the mighty and terrible quivered.

O Love! Love! Love! How terrible art thou!
How terrible!
O, what hast thou to do
With men of mortal years,
Who toil below,
And have enough of griefs for tears to flow?
O, range in higher spheres!
Hast thou, O hast thou, no diviner hues
To paint thy wings, but must transfuse
An Iris-light from tears?
For human hearts are all too weak to hold thee.
And how, O Love, shall human arms infold thee?
There is a seal of sorrow on thy brow.
There is a deadly fire in thy breath.
With life thou lurest, yet thou givest death.
O Love, the Gods are weak by reason of thee;
And many wars have been upon the earth.
Thou art the sweetest source of saltest sorrows.

Thy blest to-days bring such unblest tomorrows;
Thy softest hope makes saddest memory.
Thou hadst destruction in thee from the birth;
Incomprehensible!

O Love, thy brightest bridal garments
Are poisoned, like that robe of agonies
Which Deianira wove for Hercules,
And, being put on, turn presently to cerements!

Thou art unconquered in the fight.
Thou rangest over land and sea.
O let the foolish nations be!
Keep thy divine desire
To upheave mountains or to kindle fire
From the frore frost, and set the world alight.
Why make thy red couch in the damask cheek?
Or light thy torch at languid eyes?
Or lie entangled in soft sighs
On pensive lips that will not speak?
To sow the seeds of evil things
In the hearts of headstrong kings?
Preparing many a kindred strife
For the fearful future hour?
O leave the wretched race of man,
Whose days are but the dying seasons' span;
Vex not his painful life!
Make thy immortal sport
In Heaven's high court,
And cope with Gods that are of equal power.

VI. ELECTRA. CHORUS. CLYTEMNESTRA.

ELECTRA.

Now is at hand the hour of retribution.
For my father, at last returning,
In great power, being greatly injured,
Will destroy the base adulterer,
And efface the shameful Past.

CHORUS.

O child of the Godlike Agamemnon!
Leave vengeance to the power of Heaven;
Nor forestall with impious footsteps
The brazen tread of black Erinnys.

ELECTRA.

Is it, besotted with the adulterous sin,
Or, as with flattery pleasing present power,
Or, being intimidate, you speak these words?

CHORUS.

Nay, but desiring justice, like yourself.

ELECTRA.

Yet Justice ofttimes uses mortal means.

CHORUS.

But flings aside her tools when work is done.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

O dearest friends, inform me, went this way
AEgisthus?

CHORUS.

Even now, hurrying hitherward
I see him walk, with irritated eyes.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

A reed may show which way the tempest blows.
That face is pale, -- those brows are dark...ah!

VII. AEGISTHUS. CLYTEMNESTRA.

AEGISTHUS.

Agamemnon --

CLYTEMNESTRA.

My husband...well?

AEGISTHUS.

(Whom may the great Gods curse!)
Is scarce an hour hence.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Then that hour's yet saved
From sorrow. Smile, AEgisthus --

AEGISTHUS.

Hear me speak.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Not as your later wont has been to smile --
Quick, fierce, as though you scarce could hurry out
The wild thing fast enough; for smiling's sake,
As if to show you could smile, though in fear
Of what might follow, -- but as first you smiled
Years, years ago, when some slow loving thought
Stole down your face, and settled on your lips,
As though a sunbeam halted on a rose,
And mixed with fragrance, light. Can you smile still
Just so, AEgisthus?

AEGISTHUS.

These are idle words,
And like the wanderings of some fevered brain:
Extravagant phrases, void of import, wild.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Ah, no! you cannot smile so, more.
Nor I!

AEGISTHUS.

Hark! in an hour the King --

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Hush! listen now, --
I hear, far down you vale, a shepherd piping
Hard by his milk-white flock. The lazy things!
How quietly they sleep or feed among
The dry grass and the acanthus there! ...and he,
He hath flung his faun-skin by, and white-ash stick,
You hear his hymn? Something of Dryope.
Faunus, and Pan ... an old wood tale, no doubt!
It makes me think of songs when I was young
I used to sing between the valleys there,
Or higher up among the red ash-berries,
Where the goats climb, and gaze. Do you remember
That evening when we lingered all alone,
Below the city, and one yellow star
Shook o'er yon temple? ...ah, and you said then,
"Sweet, should this evening never change to night,
But pause, and pause, and stay just so, -- yon star
Still steadfast, and the moon behind the hill,
Still rising, never risen, -- would this seem strange?
Or should we say, 'why halts the day so late?'"
Do you remember?

AEGISTHUS.

Woman! woman! this
Surpasses frenzy! Not a breath of time
Between us and the clutch of Destiny, --
Already sound there footsteps at our heels,
Already comes a heat against our cheek,
Already fingers cold among our hair,
And you speak lightly thus, as though the day
Lingered toward nuptial hours! ...awake! arouse!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

I do wake ... well, the King --

AEGISTHUS.

Even while we speak
Draws near. And we --

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Must meet him.

AEGISTHUS.

Meet? ay ... how?

CLYTEMNESTRA.

As mortals should meet fortune -- calmly.

AEGISTHUS.

Quick!
Consult! consult! Yet there is time to choose
The path to follow.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

I have chosen it
Long since.

AEGISTHUS.

How? --

CLYTEMNESTRA.

O, have we not had ten years
To ripen counsel, and mature resolve?
What's to add now?

AEGISTHUS.

I comprehend you not.
The time is plucking at our sleeve.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

AEgisthus,
There shall be time for deeds, and soon enough,
Let that come when it may. And it may be
Deeds must be done shall shut and shrivel up
All quiet thoughts, and quite preclude repose
To the end of time. Upon this awful strait
And promontory of our mortal life
We stand between what was, and is not yet.
The Gods allot to us a little space,
Before the contests which must soon begin,
For calmer breathing. All before lies dark,
And difficult, and perilous, and strange;
And all behind ... What if we take one look,
One last long lingering look (before Despair,
The shadow of failure, or remorse, which often
Waits on success, can come 'twixt us and it,
And darken all) at that which yet must seem
Undimmed in the long retrospect of years, --
The beautiful imperishable Past!
Were this not natural, being innocent now
-- At least of that which is the greater crime?
To-night we shall not be so.

AEGISTHUS.

Ah, to-night!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

All will be done which now the Gods foresee.
The sun shines still.

AEGISTHUS.

I oft have marked some day
Begin all gold in its flusht orient,
With splendid promise to the waiting world,
And turn to blackness ere the sun ran down.
So draws our love to its dark close.
To-night --

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Shall bring our bridals, my Beloved! For, either
Upon the melancholy shores of Death
(One shadow near the doors of Pluto) greeted
By pale Proserpina, our steps shall be,
Or else, secure, in the great empty palace
We shall sleep crowned -- no noise to startle us --
And Argos silent round us -- all our own!

AEGISTHUS.

In truth I do not dare to think this thing.
For all the Greeks will hate us.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

What of that?
If that they do not harm us, -- as who shall?

AEGISTHUS.

Moreover, though we triumph in the act
(And we may fail, and fall) we shall go down
Covered with this reproach into the tomb,
Hunted by all the red Eumenides;
And, in the end, the ghost of him we slew,
Being beforehand there, will come between
Us and the awful Judges of the dead!
And no one on this earth will pray for us;
And no hand will hang garlands on our urns,
Either of man, or maid, or little child;
But we shall be dishonored.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

O faint heart!
When this poor life of ours is done with -- all
Its foolish days put by -- its bright and dark --
Its praise and blame -- rolled quite away -- gone o'er
Like some brief pageant -- will it stir us more,
Where we are gone, how men may hoot or shout
After our footsteps, than the dust and garlands
A few mad boys and girls fling in the air
When a great host is passed, can cheer or vex
The minds of men already out of sight
Toward other lands, with paean and with pomp
Arrayed near vaster forces? For the future,
We will smoke hecatombs, and build new fanes,
And be you sure the gods deal leniently
With those who grapple for their life, and pluck it
From the closed grip of Fate, albeit perchance
Some ugly smutch, some drop of blood or so,
A spot here, there a streak, or stain of gore,
Should in the contest fall to them, and mar
That life's original whiteness.

AEGISTHUS.

Tombs have tongues
That talk in Hades. Think it! Dare we hope,
This done, to be more happy?

CLYTEMNESTRA.

My Beloved,
We are not happy, -- we may never be,
Perchance, again. Yet it is much to think
We have been so: and even though we must weep,
We have enjoyed.
The roses and the thorns
We have pluckt together. We have proved both. Say,
Was it not worth the bleeding hands they left us
To have won such flowers? And if 't were possible
To keep them still, -- keep even the withered leaves,
Even the withered leaves are worth our care.
We will not tamely give up life, -- such life!
What though the years before, like those behind,
Be dark as clouds the thunder sits among,
Tipt only here and there with a wan gold
More bright for rains between? -- 't is much, -- 't is more,
For we shall ever think "the sun 's behind.
The sun must shine before the day goes down!"
Anything better than the long, long night,
And that perpetual silence of the tomb!
'T is not for happier hours, but life itself
Which may bring happier hours, we strike at Fate.
Why, though from all the treasury of the Past
'T is but one solitary gem we save --
One kiss more such as we have kist, one smile,
One more embrace, one night more such as those
Which we have shared, how costly were the prize,
How richly worth the attempt! Indeed, I know,
When yet a child, in those dim pleasant dreams
A girl will dream, perchance in twilit hours,
Or under eve's first star (when we are young
Happiness seems so possible, -- so near!
One says, "it must go hard, but I shall find it!")
Ofttimes I mused, -- "My life shall be my own,
To make it what I will." It is their fault
(I thought) who miss the true delights. I thought
Men might have saved themselves: they flung away,
Too easily abasht, life's opening promise:
But all things will be different for me.
For I felt life so strong in me! indeed
I was so sure of my own power to love
And to enjoy, -- I had so much to give,
I said, "be sure it must win something back!"
Youth is so confident! And though I saw
All women sad, -- not only those I knew,
As Helen (whom from youth I knew, nor ever
Divined that sad impenetrable smile
Which oft would darken through her lustrous eyes,
As drawing slowly down o'er her cold cheek
The yellow braids of odorous hair, she turned
From Menelaus praising her, and sighed, --
That was before he, flinging bitterly down
The trampled parsley-crown and undrained goblet,
Cursed before all the Gods his sudden shame
And young Hermione's deserted youth!)
Not only her, -- but all whose lives I learned,
Medea, Deianira, Ariadne,
And many others, -- all weak, wronged, opprest,
Or sick and sorrowful, as I am now, --
Yet in their fate I would not see my own,
Nor grant allegiance to that general law
From which a few, I knew a very few,
With whom it seemed I also might be numbered,
Had yet escaped securely: -- so exempting
From this world's desolation everywhere
One fate -- my own!
Well, that was foolish! Now
I am not so exacting. As we move
Further and further down the path of fate
To the sure tomb, we yield up, one by one,
Our claims on Fortune, till with each new year
We seek less and go further to obtain it.
'T is the old tale, -- aye, all of us must learn it!
But yet I would not empty-handed stand
Before the House of Hades. Still there's life,
And hope with life; and much that may be done.
Look up, O thou most dear and cherisht head!
We'll strive still, conquering; or, if falling, fall
In sight of grand results.

AEGISTHUS.

May these things be!
I know not. All is vague. I should be strong
Even were you weak. 'T is otherwise, -- I see
No path to safety sure. We have done ill things.
Best let the past be past, lest new griefs come.
Best we part now.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Part! what, to part from thee!
Never till death, -- not in death even, part!

AEGISTHUS.

But one course now is left.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

And that is --

AEGISTHUS.

Flight.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Coward!

AEGISTHUS.

I care not.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Flight! I am a Queen.
A goddess once you said, -- and why not goddess?
Seeing the Gods are mightier than we
By so much more of courage. O, not I,
But you, are mad.

AEGISTHUS.

Nay, wiser than I was.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

And you will leave me?

AEGISTHUS.

Not if you will come.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

This was the Atlas of the world I built!

AEGISTHUS.

Flight! ...yes, I know not ... somewhere ... anywhere.
You come? ...you come not? ...well? ...no time to pause!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

And this is he -- this he, the man I loved!
And this is retribution! O my heart!
O Agamemnon, how art thou avenged!
And I have done so much for him! ... would do
So much! ... a universe lies ruined here.
Now by Apollo, be a man for once!
Be for once strong, or be forever weak!
If shame be dead, and honor be no more,
No more true faith, nor that which in old time
Made us like Gods, sublime in our high place,
Yet all surviving instincts warn from flight.
Flight! -- O, impossible! Even now the steps
Of fate are at the threshold. Which way fly?
For every avenue is barred by death.
Will these not scout your flying heels? If now
They hate us powerful, will they love us weak?
No land is safe; nor any neighboring king
Will harbor Agamemnon's enemy.
Reflect on Troy; her ashes smoulder yet.

AEGISTHUS.

Her words compel me with their awful truth.
For so would vengeance hound and earth us down.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

If I am weak to move you by that love
You swore long since -- and sealed it with false lips! --
Yet lives there nothing of the ambitious will?
Of those proud plots, and dexterous policy,
On which you builded such high hopes, and swore
To rule this people Agamemnon rules;
Supplant him eminent on his own throne,
And push our power through Greece?

AEGISTHUS.

The dream was great.
It was a dream. We dreamt it like a king.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Ay, and shall so fulfil it -- like a King!
Who talks of flight? For now, bethink you well,
If to live on, the byword of a world,
Be any gain, even such flight offers not.
Will long-armed Vengeance never find you out
When you have left the weapon in her hands?
Be bold, and meet her! Who forestall the bolts
Of heaven, the Gods deem worthy of the Gods.
Success is made the measure of our acts.
And, think, AEgisthus, there has been one thought
Before us in the intervals of years,
Between us ever in the long dark nights,
When, lying all awake, we heard the wind.
Did you shrink then? or, only closer drawing
Your lips to mine, your arms about my neck,
Say, "Who would fear such chances, when he saw
Behind them such a prize for him as this?"
Do you shrink now? Dare you put all this from you?
Revoke the promise of those years, and say
This prospect meets you unprepared at last?
Our motives are so mixt in their beginnings
And so confused, we recognize them not
Till they are grown to acts; but ne'er were ours
So blindly wov'n, but what we both untangled
Out of the intricacies of the heart
One purpose: -- being found, best grapple to it.
For to conceive ill deeds yet dare not do them,
This is not virtue, but a twofold shame.
Between the culprit and the demigod
There's but one difference men regard -- success.
The weakly-wicked shall be doubly damned!

AEGISTHUS.

I am not weak ... what will you? ... O, too weak
To bear this scorn! ... She is a godlike fiend,
And hell and heaven seem meeting in her eyes.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Those who on perilous ventures once embark
Should burn their ships, nor ever dream return.
Better, though all Olympusmarched on us,
To die like fallen Titans, scorning Heaven,
Than live like slaves in scorn of our own selves!

AEGISTHUS.

We wait then? Good! and dare this desperate chance.
And if we fall (as we, I think, must fall)
It is but some few sunny hours we lose,
Some few bright days. True! and a little less
Of life, or else of wrong a little more,
What's that? For one shade more or less the night
Will scarce seem darker or lighter, -- the long night!
We'll fall together, if we fall; and if --
O, if we live! --

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Ay, that was noblier thought.
Now you grow back into yourself, your true self.
My King! my chosen! my glad careless helpmate
In the old time! we shared its pleasant days
Royally, did we not? How brief they were!
Nor will I deem you less than what I know
You have it in you to become, for this
Strange freakish fear, -- this passing brief alarm.
Do I not know the noble steed will start
Aside, scared lightly by a straw, a shadow,
A thorn-bush in the way, while the dull mule
Plods stupidly adown the dizziest paths?
And oft indeed, such trifles will dismay
The finest and most eager spirits, which yet
Daunt not a duller mind. O love, be sure
Whate'er betide, whether for well or ill,
Thy fate and mine are bound up in one skein;
Clotho must cut them both inseparate.
You dare not leave me -- had you wings for flight!
You shall not leave me! You are mine, indeed,
(As I am yours!) by my strong right of grief.
Not death together, but together life!
Life -- life with safe and honorable years,
And power to do with these that which we would!
-- His lips comprest -- his eye dilates -- he is saved!
O, when strong natures into frailer ones
Have struck deep root, if one exalt not both,
Both must drag down and perish!

AEGISTHUS.

If we should live --

CLYTEMNESTRA.

And we shall live.

AEGISTHUS.

Yet ... yet --

CLYTEMNESTRA.

What! shrinking still?
I'll do the deed. Do not stand off from me.

AEGISTHUS.

Terrible Spirit!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Nay, not terrible,
Not to thee terrible -- O say not so!
To thee I never have been anything
But a weak, passionate, unhappy woman,
(O woe is me!) and now you fear me --

AEGISTHUS.

No,
But rather worship.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

O my heart, my heart,
It sends up all its anguish in this cry --
Love me a little!

AEGISTHUS.

What a spell she has
To sway the inmost courses of the soul!
My spirit is held up to such a height
I dare not breathe. How finely sits this sorrow
Upon her, like the garment of a God!
I cannot fathom her. Does the same birth
Bring forth the monster and the demigod?

CLYTEMNESTRA.

I will not doubt! All's lost, if love be lost, --
Peace, honor, innocence, -- gone, gone! all gone!
And you, too -- you, poor baffled crownless schemer,
Whose life my love makes royal, clothes in purple,
Establishes in state, without me, answer me,
What should you do but perish, as is fit?
O love, you dare not cease to love me now!
We have let the world go by us. We have trusted
To ourselves only: if we fail ourselves
What shall avail us now? Without my love
What rests for you but universal hate,
And Agamemnon's sword? Ah, no -- you love me,
Must love me, better than you ever loved, --
Love me, I think, as you love life itself!
AEgisthus! Speak, AEgisthus!

AEGISTHUS.

O great heart,
I am all yours. Do with me what you will.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

O, if you love me, I have strength for both.
And you do love me still?

AEGISTHUS.

O more, thrice more,
Thrice more than wert thou Aphrodite's self
Stept zoned and sandalled from the Olympian Feast
Or first revealed among the pink seafoam.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Whate'er I am, be sure that I am that
Which thou hast made me, -- nothing of myself.
Once, all unheedful, careless of myself,
And wholly ignorant of what I was,
I grew up as a reed some wind will touch,
And wake to prophecy, -- till then all mute,
And void of melody, -- a foolish weed!
My soul was blind, and all my life was dark,
And all my heart pined with some ignorant want.
I moved about, a shadow in the house,
And felt unwedded though I was a wife;
And all the men and women which I saw
Were but as pictures painted on a wall:
To me they had not either heart, or brain,
Or lips, or language, -- pictures! nothing more.
Then, suddenly, athwart those lonely hours
Which, day by day dreamed listlessly away,
Led to the dark and melancholy tomb,
Thy presence passed and touched me with a soul.
My life did but begin when I found thee.
O what a strength was hidden in this heart!
As, all unvalued, in its cold dark cave
Under snow hills, some rare and priceless gem
May sparkle and burn, so in this life of mine
Love lay shut up. You broke the rock away,
You lit upon the jewel that it hid.
You plucked it forth, -- to wear it, my Beloved!
To set in the crown of thy dear life!
To embellish fortune! Cast it not away.
Now call me by the old familiar names:
Call me again your Queen, as once you used;
Your large-eyed Here!

AEGISTHUS.

O, you are a Queen
That should have none but Gods to rule over!
Make me immortal with one costly kiss!

VIII. CHORUS. ELECTRA. CLYTEMNESTRA. AEGISTHUS.

CHORUS.

Io! Io! I hear the people shout.

ELECTRA.

See how these two do mutually confer,
Hatching new infamy. Now will he dare,
In his unbounded impudence, to meet
My father's eyes? The hour is nigh at hand.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

O love, be bold! the hour is nigh at hand.

ELECTRA.

Laden with retribution, lingering slow.

AEGISTHUS.

A time in travail with some great distress.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Nay, rather safety for the rest of time.
O love! O hate!

ELECTRA.

O vengeance!

AEGISTHUS.

O wild chance
If favoring fate --

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Despair is more than fate.

CHORUS.

Io! Io! The King is on his march.

AEGISTHUS.

Did you hear that?

ELECTRA.

The hour is nigh at hand!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Leave me to deal with these. I know the arts
That guide the doubtful purpose of discourse
Through many windings to the appointed goal.
I'll draw them on to such a frame of mind
As best befits our purpose. You, mean-while,
Scatter vague words among the other crowd,
Lest the event, when it is due, fall foul
Of unpropitious natures.

AEGISTHUS.

Do you fear
The helpless, blind ill-will of such a crowd?

CLYTEMNESTRA.

He only fears mankind who knows them not.
But him I praise not who despises them.
Whence come, Electra?

ELECTRA.

From my father's hearth
To meet him; for the hour is nigh at hand.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

So do our hopes race hotly to one end,
(A noble rivalry!) as who shall first
Embrace this happy fortune. Tarry not.
We too will follow.

ELECTRA.

Justice, O be swift!

IX. CLYTEMNESTRA. CHORUS. SEMI-CHORUS. HERALD.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

A froward child! She's gone. My blood's in her.
Her father's, too, looks out of that proud face.
She is too bold ... ha, well -- AEgisthus? ... gone!
O fate! to be a woman! You great Gods,
Why did you fashion me in this soft mould?
Give me these lengths of silky hair? These hands
Too delicately dimpled! and these arms
Too white, too weak! yet leave the man's heart in me,
To mar your masterpiece, -- that I should perish,
Who else had won renown among my peers,
A man, with men, -- perchance a god with you,
Had you but better sexed me, you blind Gods!
But, as for man, all things are fitting to him.
He strikes his fellow 'mid the clanging shields,
And leaps among the smoking walls, and takes
Some long-haired virgin wailing at the shrines,
Her brethren having fallen; and you Gods
Commend him, crown him, grant him ample days,
And dying honor, and an endless peace
Among the deep Elysian asphodels.
O fate, to be a woman! To be led
Dumb, like a poor mule, at a master's will,
And be a slave, though bred in palaces,
And be a fool, though seated with the wise, --
A poor and pitiful fool, as I am now,
Loving and hating my vain life away!

CHORUS.

These flowers -- we plucked them
At morning, and took them
From bright bees that sucked them
And warm winds that shook them
'Neath blue hills that o'erlook them.

SEMI-CHORUS.

With the dews of the meadow
Our rosy warm fingers
Sparkle yet, and the shadow
Of the summer-cloud lingers
In the hair of us singers.

FIRST SEMI-CHORUS.

Ere these buds on our altars
Fade; ere the forkt fire,
Fed with pure honey, falters
And fails: louder, higher
Raise the Paean.

SECOND SEMI-CHORUS.

Draw nigher,
Stand closer! First praise we
The Father of all.
To him the song raise we.
Over Heaven's golden wall
Let it fall! Let it fall!

FIRST SEMI-CHORUS.

Then Apollo, the king of
The lyre and the bow;
Who taught us to sing of
The deeds that we know, --
Deeds well done long ago.

SECOND SEMI-CHORUS.

Next, of all the Immortals,
Athene's gray eyes;
Who sits throned in our portals,
Ever fair, ever wise.

FIRST SEMI-CHORUS.

Neither dare we despise
To extol the great Here.

SECOND SEMI-CHORUS.

And then,
As is due, shall our song
Be of those among men
Who were brave, who were strong,
Who endured.

FIRST SEMI-CHORUS.

Then, the wrong
Of the Phrygian: and Ilion's false sons:
And Scamander's wild wave
Through the bleak plain that runs.

SECOND SEMI-CHORUS.

Then, the death of the brave.

FIRST SEMI-CHORUS.

Last, of whom the Gods save
For new honors: of them none
So good or so great
As our chief Agamemnon
The crown of our State.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

O friends, true hearts, rejoice with me! This day
Shall crown the hope of ten uncertain years!

CHORUS.

For Agamemnon cannot be far off --

CLYTEMNESTRA.

He comes -- and yet -- O Heaven preserve us all!
My heart is weak -- there's One he brings not back;
Who went with him; who will not come again;
Whom we shall never see! --

CHORUS.

O Queen, for whom,
Lamenting thus, is your great heart cast down?

CLYTEMNESTRA.

The earliest loved -- the early lost! my child --

CHORUS.

Iphigenia?

CLYTEMNESTRA.

She -- my child --

CHORUS.

-- Alas!
That was a terrible necessity!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Was it necessity? O pardon, friends,
But in the dark, unsolaced solitude,
Wild thoughts come to me, and perplex my heart.
This, which you call a dread necessity,
Was it a murder or a sacrifice?

CHORUS.

It was a God that did decree the death.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

'T is through the heart the Gods do speak to us.
High instincts are the oracles of heaven.
Did ever heart, -- did ever God, before,
Suggest such foul infanticidal lie?

CHORUS.

Be comforted! The universal good
Needed this single, individual loss.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Can all men's good be helped by one man's crime?

CHORUS.

He loosed the Greeks from Aulis by that deed.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

O casual argument! Who gave the Greeks
Such bloody claim upon a virgin's life?
Shall the pure bleed to purge impurity?
A hundred Helens were not worth that death!
What! had the manhood of combined Greece,
Whose boast was in its untamed strength, no help
Better than the spilt blood of one poor girl?
Or, if it were of need that blood should flow,
What God ordained him executioner?
Was it for him the armament was planned?
For him that angry Greece was leagued in war?
For him, or Menelaus, was this done?
Was the cause his, or Menelaus' cause?
Was he less sire than Menelaus was?
He, too, had children; did he murder them?
O, was it manlike? was it human, even?

CHORUS.

Alas! alas! it was an evil thing.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

O friends, if any one among you all,
If any be a mother, bear with me!
She was my earliest born, my best beloved.
The painful labor of that perilous birth
That gave her life did almost take my own.
He had no pain. He did not bring her forth.
How should he, therefore, love her as I loved?

CHORUS.

Ai! ai! alas! Our tears run down with yours.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

O, who shall say with what delicious tears,
With what ineffable tenderness, while he
Took his blithe pastime on the windy plain,
Among the ringing camps, and neighing steeds,
First of his glad compeers, I sat apart,
Silent, within the solitary house:
Rocking the little child upon my breast;
And soothed its soft eyes into sleep with song!

CHORUS.

Ai! ai! unhappy, sad, unchilded one!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Or, when I taught, from inarticulate sounds,
The little, lisping lips, to breathe his name.
Now they will never breathe that name again!

CHORUS.

Alas! for Hades has not any hope,
Since Thracian women lopped the tuneful head
Of Orpheus, and Heracleus is no more.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Or, spread in prayer, the helpless, infant hands,
That they, too, might invoke the Gods for him.
Alas, who now invokes the Gods for her?
Unwedded, hapless, gone to glut the womb
Of dark, untimely Orcus!

CHORUS.

Ai! alas!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

I would have died, if that could be, for her!
When life is half-way set to feeble eld,
And memory more than hope, and to dim eyes
The gorgeous tapestry of existence shows
Mothed, fingered, frayed, and bare, 't were not so hard
To fling away this ravelled skein of life,
Which else, a little later, Fate had cut.
And who would sorrow for the o'erblown rose
Sharp winter strews about its own bleak thorns?
But, cropped before the time, to fall so young!
And wither in the gloomy crown of Dis!
Never to look upon the blessed sun --

CHORUS.

Ai! ai! alinon! woe is me, this grief
Strikes pity paralyzed. All words are weak!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

And I had dreamed such splendid areams for her!
Who would not so for Agamemnon's child?
For we had hoped that she, too, in her time
Would be the mother of heroic men!

CHORUS.

There rises in my heart an awful fear,
Lest from these evils darker evils come;
For heaven exacts, for wrong, the uttermost tear,
And death hath language after life is dumb!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

It works! it works!

CHORUS.

Look, some one comes this way.

HERALD.

O Honor of the House of Tantalus!
The king's wheels echo in the brazen gates.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Our heart is half-way there, to welcome him.
How looks he? Well? And all our long-lost friends --
Their faces grow before me! Lead the way
Where we may meet them. All our haste seems slow.

CHORUS.

Would that he brought his dead child back with him!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Now let him come. The mischief works apace!

X. CHORUS.

CHORUS.

The winds were lulled in Aulis; and the day,
Down-sloped, was loitering to the lazy west.
There was no motion of the glassy bay,
But all things by a heavy light opprest.
Windless, cut off from the destined way, --
Dark shrouds, distinct against the lurid lull, --
Dark ropes hung useless, loose, from mast to hull, --
The black ships lay abreast.
Not any cloud would cross the brooding skies.
The distant sea boomed faintly. Nothing more.
They walked about upon the yellow shore;
Or, lying listless, huddled groups supine,
With faces turned toward the flat seaspine,
They planned the Phrygian battle o'er and o'er;
Till each grew sullen, and would talk no more,
But sat, dumb-dreaming. Then would some one rise,
And look toward the hollow hulls, with haggard, hopeless eyes --
Wild eyes -- and, crowding round, yet wilder eyes --
And gaping, languid lips;
And everywhere that men could see,
About the black, black ships,
Was nothing but the deep-red sea;
The deep-red shore;
The deep-red skies;
The deep-red silence, thick with thirsty sighs;
And daylight, dying slowly. Nothing more.
The tall masts stood upright;
And not a sail above the burnished prores;
The languid sea, like one outwearied quite,
Shrank, dying inward into hollow shores,
And breathless harbors, under sandy bars;
And, one by one, down tracts of quivering blue,
The singed and sultry stars
Looked from the inmost heaven, far, faint, and few,
While, all below, the sick and steaming brine
The spilled-out sunset did incarnadine.

At last one broke the silence; and a word
Was lisped and buzzed about, from mouth to mouth;
Pale faces grew more pale; wild whispers stirred;
And men, with moody, murmuring lips, conferred
In ominous tones, from shaggy beards uncouth:
As though some wind had broken from the blurred
And blazing prison of the stagnant drouth,
And stirred the salt sea in the stifled south.
The long-robed priests stood round; and, in the gloom,
Under black brows, their bright and greedy eyes
Shone deathfully; there was a sound of sighs,
Thick-sobbed from choking throats among the crowd,
That, whispering, gathered close, with dark heads howed;
But no man lifted up his voice aloud,
For heavy hung o'er all the helpless sense of doom.

Then, after solemn prayer,
The father bade the attendants, tenderly
Lift her upon the lurid altar-stone.
There was no hope in any face; each eye
Swam tearful, that her own did gaze upon.
They bound her helpless hands with mournful care;
And looped up her long hair,
That hung about her, like an amber shower,
Mixed with the saffron robe, and falling lower,
Down from her bare and cold white shoulder flung.
Upon the heaving breast the pale cheek hung,
Suffused with that wild light that rolled among
The pausing crowd, out of the crimson drouth.
They held hot hands upon her pleading mouth;
And stifled on faint lips the natural cry.
Back from the altar-stone,
Slow-moving in his fixed place
A little space,
The peechless father turned. No word was said.
He wrapped his mantle close about his face,
In his dumb grief, without a moan.
The lopping axe was lifted overhead.
Then, suddenly,
There sounded a strange motion of the sea,
Booming far inland; and above the east
Aragged cloud rose slowly, and increased.
Not one line in the horoscope of Time
Is perfect. O, what falling off is this,
When some grand soul, that else had been sublime,
Falls unawares amiss,
And stoops its crested strength to sudden crime!

So gracious a thing is it, and sweet,
In life's clear centre one true man to see,
That holds strong nature in a wise control;
Throbbing out, all round, the heat
Of a large and liberal soul.
No shadow, simulating life,
But pulses warm with human nature,
In a soul of godlike stature;
Heart and brain, all rich and rife
With noble instincts; strong to meet
Time calmly, in his purposed place.
Sound through and through, and all complete;
Exalting what is low and base;
Enlarging what is narrow and small;
He stamps his character on all,
And with his grand identity
Fills up Creation's eye.
He will not dream the aimless years away
In blank delay,
But makes eternity of to-day,
And reaps the full-eared time. For him
Nature her affluent horn doth brim,
To strew with fruit and flowers his way --
Fruits ripe and flowers gay.

The clear soul in his earnest eyes
Looks through and through all plaited lies,
Time shall not rob him of his youth,
Nor narrow his large sympathies.
He is not true, he is a truth,
And such a truth as never dies.
Who knows his nature, feels his right,
And, toiling, toils for his delight;
Not as slaves toil: where'er he goes,
The desert blossoms with the rose.
He trusts himself in scorn of doubt,
And lets orbed purpose widen out.
The world works with him; all men see
Some part of them fulfilled in him;
His memory never shall grow dim;
He holds the heaven and earth in fee,
Not following that, fulfilling this,
He is immortal, for he is!

O weep! weep! weep!
Weep for the young that die;
As it were pale flowers that wither under
The smiting sun, and fall asunder,
Before the dews on the grass are dry,
Or the tender twilight is out of the sky,
Or the lilies have fallen asleep;
Or ships by a wanton wind cut short
Are wrecked in sight of the placid port
Sinking strangely, and suddenly --
Sadly, and strangely, and suddenly-
Into the black Plutonian deep.
O weep! weep! weep!
Weep, and bow the head,
For those whose sun is set at noon;
Whose night is dark, without a moon;
Whose aim of life is sped
Beyond pursuing woes,
And the arrow of angry foes,
To the darkness that no man knows --
The darkness among the dead.
Let us mourn, and bow the head.
And lift up the voice, and weep
For the early dead!
For the early dead we may bow the head.
And strike the breast, and weep;
But, O, what shall be said
For the living sorrow?
For the living sorrow our grief --
Dumb grief -- draws no relief
From tears, nor yet may borrow
Solace from sound or speech; --
For the living sorrow
That heaps to-morrow upon to-morrow
In piled-up pain, beyond Hope's reach!
It is well that we mourn for the early dead,
Strike the breast, and bow the head;
For the sorrow for these may be sung, or said,
And the chaplets be woven for the fallen head,
And the urns to the stately tombs be led,
And Love from their memory may be fed,
And song may ennoble the anguish;
But, O, for the living sorrow, --
For the living sorrow what hopes remain?
For the prisoned, pining, passionate pain,
That is doomed forever to languish,
And to languish forever in vain,
For the want of the words that may bestead
The hunger that out of loss is bred.
O friends, for the living sorrow --
For the living sorrow --
For the living sorrow what shall be said?

XI. A PHOCIAN. CHORUS. SEMICHORUS.

PHOCIAN.

O noble strangers, if indeed you be
Such as you seem, of Argos, and the land
That the unconquer'd Agamemnon rules,
Tell me is this the palace, these the roofs
Of the Atridae, famed in ancient song?

CHORUS.

Not without truth you name the neighborhood,
Standing before the threshold, and the doors
Of Pelops, and upon the Argive soil.
That which you see above the Agora
Is the old fane of the Lycaean God,
And this the house of Agamemnon's queen.
But whence art thou? For if thy dusty locks,
And those soiled sandals show with aught of truth,
Thou shouldst be come from far.

PHOCIAN.

And am so, friends,
But, by Heaven's favor, here my journey ends.

CHORUS.

Whence, then, thy way?

PHOCIAN.

From Phocis; charged with gifts
For Agamemnon, and with messages
From Strophius, and the sister of your king.
Our watchmen saw the beacon on the hills,
And leaped for joy. Say, is the king yet come?

CHORUS.

He comes this way; stand by, I hear them shout;
Here shall you meet him, as he mounts the hill.

PHOCIAN.

Now blest be all the Gods, from Father Zeus,
Who reigns o'er windy OEta, far away,
To King Apollo, with the golden horns.

CHORUS.

Look how they cling about him! Far and near
The town breaks loose, and follows after,
Crowding up the ringing ways.
The boy forgets to watch the steer;
The grazing steer forgets to graze;
The shepherd leaves the herd;
The priest will leave the fane;
The deep heart of the land is stirred
To sunny tears, and tearful laughter,
To look into his face again.

Burst, burst the brazen gates!
Throw open the hearths, and follow!
Let the shouts of the youths go up to Apollo,
Lord of the graceful quiver:
Till the tingling sky dilates --
Dilates, and palpitates;
And, Paean! Paean! the virgins sing;
Paean! Paean! the king! the king!
Laden with spoils from Phrygia!
Io! Io! Io! they sing
Till the pillars of Olympus ring:
Io! to Queen Ortygia,
Whose double torch shall burn forever!
But thou, O Lord of the graceful quiver,
Bid, bid thy Pythian splendor halt,
Where'er he beams, surpassing sight;
Or on some ocean isthmus bent,
Or wheeled from the dark continent,
Half-way down Heaven's rosy vault,
Toward the dewy cone of night.
Let not the breathless air grow dim,
Until the whole land look at him!

SEMI-CHORUS.

Stand back!

SEMI-CHORUS.

Will he come this way?

SEMI-CHORUS.

No; by us.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Gods, what a crowd!

SEMI-CHORUS.

How firm the old men walk!

SEMI-CHORUS.

There goes the king. I know him by his beard.

SEMI-CHORUS.

And I, too, by the manner of his gait.
That Godlike spirit lifts him from the earth.

SEMI-CHORUS.

How gray he looks!

SEMI-CHORUS.

His cheek is seamed with scars.

SEMI-CHORUS.

What a bull's front!

SEMI-CHORUS.

He stands up like a tower.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Ay, like some moving tower of armed men,
That carries conquest under city-walls.

SEMI-CHORUS.

He lifts his sublime head, and in his port
Bears eminent authority.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Behold,
His spear shows like the spindle of a Fate!

SEMI-CHORUS.

O, what an arm!

SEMI-CHORUS.

Most fit for such a sword;
Look at that sword.

SEMI-CHORUS.

What shoulders!

SEMI-CHORUS.

What a throat!

SEMI-CHORUS.

What are these bearing?

SEMI-CHORUS.

Urns.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Alas! alas!

SEMI-CHORUS.

O friends, look here! how are the mighty men
Shrunk up into a little vase of earth,
A child might lift. Sheathed each in brazen plates,
They went so heavy, they come back so light,
Sheathed, each one, in the brazen urn of death!

SEMI-CHORUS.

With what a stateliness he moves along!

SEMI-CHORUS.

See, how they touch his skirt, and grasp his hand!

SEMI-CHORUS.

Is that the queen?

SEMI-CHORUS.

Ay, how she matches him!
With what grand eyes she looks up, full in his!

SEMI-CHORUS.

Say, what are these?

SEMI-CHORUS.

O Phrygians! how they walk!
The only sad men in the crowd, I think.

SEMI-CHORUS.

But who is this, that with such scornful brows,
And looks averted, walks among the rest?

SEMI-CHORUS.

I know not, but some Phrygian woman, sure.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Her heavy-fallen hair down her white neck
(A dying sunbeam tangled in each tress)
All its neglected beauty pours one way.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Her looks bend ever on the alien ground,
As though the stones of Troy were in her path.
And in the pained paleness of her brow
Sorrow hath made a regal tenement.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Here comes Electra; young Orestes, too;
See how he emulates his father's stride!

SEMI-CHORUS.

Look at AEgisthus, where he walks apart,
And bites his lip.

SEMI-CHORUS.

I oft have seen him so
When something chafes him in his bitter moods.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Peace, here they come!

CHORUS.

Io! Io! The King!

XII. AGAMEMNON, CLYTEMNESTRA, AEGISTHUS, ELECTRA, ORESTES, CASSANDRA, a Phocian, Chorus,
Semi-Chorus, and others in the procession.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

O blazing sun, that in thy skyey tower
Pausest to see one kingly as thyself,
Lend all thy brightest beams to light his head,
And gild our gladness! Friends, behold the King!
Now hath AEtolian Jove, the arbiter
Of conquests, well disposed the issues here;
For every night that brought not news from Troy
Heaped fear on fear, as waves succeed to waves,
When Northern blasts blow white the Cretan main, --
Knowing that thou, far off, from toil to toil
Climbedst, uncertain. Unto such an one
His children, and young offspring of the house
Are as a field, which he, the husbandman,
Owning far off, does only look upon
At seedtime once, nor then till harvest comes;
And his sad wife must wet with nightly tears
Unsolaced pillows, fearing for his fate.
To these how welcome, then, his glad return,
When he, as thou, comes heavy with the weight
Of great achievements, and the spoils of time.

AGAMEMNON.

Enough! enough! we weigh you at full worth,
And hold you dear, whose gladness equals yours;
But women ever err by over-talk.
Silence to women, as the beard to men,
Brings honor; and plain truth is hurt, not helped
By many words. To each his separate sphere
The Gods allot. To me the sounding camp,
Steeds, and the oaken spear; to you the hearth,
Children, and household duties of the loom.
'T is man's to win an honorable name;
Woman's to keep it honorable still.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

(O beast! O weakness of this womanhood!
To let these pompous male things strut in our eyes,
And in their lordship lap themselves secure,
Because the lots in life are fallen to them.
Am I less heart and head, less blood and brain,
Less force and feeling, pulse and passion -- I --
Than this self-worshipper -- a lie all through?)
Forgive if joy too long unloose our lips,
Silent so long: your words fall on my soul
As rain on thirsty lands, that feeds the dearth
With blessed nourishment. My whole heart hears.
You speaking thus, I would be silent ever.
AGAMEMNON.

Who is this man?

CLYTEMNESTRA.

A Phocian, by his look.

PHOCIAN.

O King, from Strophius, and your sister's court,
Despatched with this sealed tablet, and with gifts,
Though both express, so says my royal Head,
But poorly the rich welcome they intend.
Will you see this? -- and these?

AGAMEMNON.

Anon! anon!
We'll look at them within. O child, thine eyes
Look warmer welcome than all words express.
Thou art mine own child by that royal brow.
Nature hath marked thee mine.

ELECTRA.

O Father!

AGAMEMNON.

Come!
And our Orestes! He is nobly grown;
He shall do great deeds when our own are dim.
So shall men come to say "the father's sword
In the son's hands hath hewn out nobler fame."
Think of it, little one! where is our cousin?

AEGISTHUS.

Aere! And the keys of the Acropolis?

AGAMEMNON.

O well! this dust and heat are overmuch.
And, cousin, you look pale. Anon! anon!
Speak to us by and by. Let business wait.
Is our house ordered? we will take the bath.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Will you within? where all is ordered fair
Befitting state: cool chambers, marble-floored
Or piled with blazing carpets, scented rare
With the sweet spirit of each odorous gum
In dim, delicious, amorous mists about
The purple-paven, silver-sided bath,
Deep, flashing, pure.

AGAMEMNON.

Look to our captives then.
I charge you chiefly with this woman here,
Cassandra, the mad prophetess of Troy.
See that you chafe her not in her wild moods.

XIII. CLYTEMNESTRA. AEGISTHUS.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Linger not!

AEGISTHUS.

What? you will to-day --

CLYTEMNESTRA.

-- This hour.

AEGISTHUS.

O, if some chance mar all!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

We 'll make chance sure.
Doubt is the doomsman of self-judged disgrace:
But every chance brings safety to self-help.

AEGISTHUS.

Ay, but the means -- the time --

CLYTEMNESTRA.

-- Fulfil themselves.
O most irresolute heart! is this a time
When through the awful pause of life, distinct,
The sounding shears of Fate slope near, to stand
Meek, like tame wethers, and be shorn? How say you,
The blithe wind up, and the broad sea before him,
Who would crouch all day long beside the mast
Counting the surges beat his idle helm.
Because between him and the golden isles
The shadow of a passing storm might hang?
Danger, being pregnant, doth beget resolve.

AEGISTHUS.

Thou wert not born to fail. Give me thy hand.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Take it.

AEGISTHUS.

It does not tremble.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

O be strong!
The future hangs upon the die we cast:
Fortune plays high for us --

AEGISTHUS.

Gods grant she win.

XIV. CHORUS. SEMI-CHORUS. CASSANDRA.

CHORUS.

O thou that dost with globed glory
Sweep the dark world at noon of night,
Or among snowy summits, wild and hoary,
Or through the mighty silences
Of immemorial seas,
With all the stars behind thee flying white,
O take with thee, where'er
Thou wanderest, ancient Care,
And hide her in some interlunar haunt;
Where but the wild bird's chaunt
At night, through rocky ridges gaunt,
Or moanings of some homeless sea may find her
There, Goddess, bar, and bind her;
Where she may pine, but wander not;
Loathe her haunts, but leave them not;
Wail and rave to the wind and wave
That hear, yet understand her not;
And curse her chains, yet cleave them not;
And hate her lot, yet help it not.
Or let her rove with Gods undone
Who dwell below the setting sun,
And the sad western hours
That burn in fiery bowers;
Or in Amphitrite's grot
Where the vexed tides unite,
And the spent wind, howling, breaks
O'er sullen oceans out of sight
Among sea-snakes, that the white moon wakes
Till they shake themselves into diamond flakes,
Coil and twine in the glittering brine
And swing themselves in the long moonshine;
Or by wild shores hoarsely rage,
And moan, and vent her spite,
In some inhospitable harborage
Of Thracian waters, white.
There let her grieve, and grieve, and hold her breath
Until she hate herself to death.
I seem with rapture lifted higher,
Like one in mystic trance.
O Pan! Pan! Pan!
First friend of man,
And founder of Heaven's choir,
Come thou from old Cyllene, and inspire
The Gnossian, and Nysaean dance!
Come thou, too, Delian king,
From the blue AEgean sea,
And Mycone's yellow coast:
Give my spirit such a wing
As there the foolish I carus lost,
That she may soar above the cope
Of this high pinnacle of gladness,
And dizzy height of hope;
And there, bevond all reach of sadness,
May tune my lips to sing
Great Paeans, full and free,
Till the whole world ring
With such heart-melting madness
As bards are taught by thee!

SEMI-CHORUS.

Look to the sad Cassandra, how she stands!

SEMI-CHORUS.

She turns not from the wringing of her hands.

SEMI-CHORUS.

What is she doing?

SEMI-CHORUS.

Look, her lips are moved.

SEMI-CHORUS.

And yet their motion shapes not any sound.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Speak to her.

SEMI-CHORUS.

She will heed not.

SEMI-CHORUS.

But yet speak.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Unhappy woman, cease a little while
From mourning. Recognize the work of Heaven.
Troy smoulders. Think not of it. Let the past
Be buried in the past. Tears mend it not.
Fate may be kindlier, yet, than she appears.

SEMI-CHORUS.

She does not answer.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Call to her again.

SEMI-CHORUS.

O break this scornful silence! Hear us speak.
We would console you.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Look, how she is moved!

SEMI-CHORUS.

O speak! the heart's hurt oft is helped by words.

CASSANDRA.

O Itys! Itys! Itys!

SEMI-CHORUS.

What a shriek!
She takes the language of the nightingale,
Unhappy bird! that mourns her perished form,
And leans her breast against a thorn, all night.

CASSANDRA.

The bull is in the shambles.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Listen, friends!
She mutters something to herself.

CASSANDRA.

Alas!
Did any name Apollo? woe is me!

SEMI-CHORUS.

She calls upon the God.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Unhappy one,
What sorrow strikes thee with bewilderment?

SEMI-CHORUS.

Now she is mute again.

CHORUS.

A Stygian cold
Creeps through my limbs, and loosens every joint.
The hot blood freezes in its arteries,
And stagnates round the region of the heart.
A cloud comes up from sooty Acheron,
And clothes mine eyelids
With infernal night.
My hair stands up.
What supernatural awe
Shoots, shrivelling through me,
To the marrow and bone?
O dread and wise Prophetic Powers,
Whose strong-compelling law
Doth hold in awe
The laboring hours,
Your intervention I invoke,
My soul from this wild doubt to save;
Whether you have
Your dwelling in some dark, oracular cave,
Or solemn, sacred oak;
Or in Dodona's ancient, honored beech,
Whose mystic boughs above
Sat the wise dove;
Or if the tuneful voice of old
Awake in Delos, to unfold
Dark wisdom in ambiguous speech
Upon the verge of strange despair
My heart grows dizzy. Now I seem
Like one that dreams some ghastly dream,
And cannot cast away his care,
But harrows all the haggard air
With his hard breath. Above, beneath,
The empty silence seems to teem
With apprehension. O declare
What hidden thing doth Fate prepare,
What hidden, horrible thing doth Fate prepare?
For of some hidden grief my heart seems half aware.

XV. CLYTEMNESTRA. CASSANDRA. CHORUS.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

One blow makes all sure. Ay, but then, -- beyond?
I cannot trammel up the future thus,
And so forecast the time, as with one blow
To break the hundred Hydra-heads of Chance.
Beyond -- beyond I dare not look, for who,
If first he scanned the space, would leap the gulf?
One blow secures the moment. O, but he...
Ay, there it lies! I dread lest my love, being
So much the stronger, scare his own to death;
As what they comprehend not, men abhor.
He has a wavering nature, easily
Unpoised; and trembling ever on extremes.
O, what if terror outweigh love, and love,
Having defiled his countenance, take part
Against himself, self-loathed, a fallen God?
Ah, his was never yet the loving soul,
But rather that which lets itself be loved;
As some loose lily leans upon a lake,
Letting the lymph reflect it, as it will,
Still idly swayed, whichever way the stream
Stirs the green tangles of the water moss.
The flower of his love never bloomed upright,
But a sweet parasite, that loved to lean
On stronger natures, winning strength from them, --
Not such a flower as whose delirious cup
Maddens the bee, and never can give forth
Enough of fragrance, yet is ever sweet.
Yet which is sweetest, -- to receive or give?
Sweet to receive, and sweet to give, in love!
When one is never sated that receives,
Nor ever all exhausted one that gives.
I think I love him more, that I resemble
So little aught that pleases me in him.
Perchance, if I dared question this dark heart,
'T is not for him, but for myself in him,
For that which is my softer self in him, --
I have done this, and this, -- and shall do more:
Hoped, wept, dared wildly, and will overcome!
Does he not need me? It is sweet to think
That I am all to him, whate'er I be
To others; and to one, -- little, I know!
But to him, all things, -- sceptre, sword, and crown.
For who would live, but to be loved by some one?
Be fair, but to give beauty to another?
Or wise, but to instruct some sweet desire?
Or strong, but that thereby love may rejoice?
Or who for crime's sake would be criminal?
And yet for love's sake would not dare wild deeds?
A mutual necessity, one fear,
One hope, and the strange posture of the time
Unite us now; -- but this need overpast,
O, if, twixt his embrace and mine, there rise
The reflex of a murdered head! and he,
Remembering the crime, remember not
It was for him that I am criminal,
But rather hate me for the part he took --
Against his soul, as he will say -- in this? --
I will not think it. Upon this wild venture,
Freighted with love's last wealthiest merchandise,
My heart sets forth. To-morrow I shall wake
A beggar, as it may be, or thrice rich.
As one who plucks his last gem from his crown
(Some pearl for which, in youth, he bartered states)
And, sacrificing with an anxious heart,
Toward night puts seaward in a little bark
For lands reported far beyond the sun,
Trusting to win back kingdoms, or there drown --
So I -- and with like perilous endeavor!
O, but I think I could implore the Gods
More fervently than ever, in my youth,
I prayed that help of Heaven I needed not,
And lifted innocent hands to their great sky.
So much to lose...so much to gain...so much...
I dare not think how...
Ha, the Phrygian slave!
He dares to bring his mistress to the hearth!
She looks unhappy. I will speak to her.
Perchance her hatred may approve my own,
And help me in the work I am about.
'T were well to sound her.
Be not so cast down,
Unhappy stranger! Fear no jealous hand.
In sorrow I, too, am not all untried.
Our fortunes are not so dissimilar,
Slaves both -- and of one master.
Nay, approach.
Is my voice harsh in its appeal to thee?
If so, believe me, it belies my heart.
A woman speaks to thee.
What, silent still?
O, look not on me with such sullen eyes,
There is no accusation in my own.
Rather on him that brought thee, than on thee,
Our scorn is settled. I would help thee. Come!
Mute still?
I know that shame is ever dumb,
And ever weak; but here is no reproach.
Listen! Thy fate is given to thy hands.
Art thou a woman, and dost scorn contempt?
Art thou a captive, and dost loathe these bonds?
Art thou courageous, as men call thy race?
Or, helpless art thou, and wouldst overcome?
If so, -- look up! For there is hope for thee.
Give me thy hand --

CASSANDRA.

Pah! there is blood on it!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

What is she raving of?

CASSANDRA.

The place, from old,
Is evil.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Ay, there is a sickness, here,
That needs the knife.

CASSANDRA.

O, horrible! blood! blood!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

I see you are a Phrygian to the bone!
Coward and slave! be so forevermore!

CASSANDRA.

Apollo! O Apollo! O blood! blood!
The whole place swims with it! The slippery steps
Steam with the fumes! The rank air smells of blood!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Heed her not! for she knows not what she says.
This is some falling sickness of the soul.
Her fever frights itself.

CASSANDRA.

It reeks! it reeks!
It smokes! it stifles! blood! blood, everywhere!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

See, he hath brought this mad woman from Troy,
To shame our honor, and insult our care.
Look to her, friends, my hands have other work!

CHORUS.

Alas, the House of Tantalus is doomed!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

The King sleeps -- like an infant. His huge strength
Holds slumber thrice as close as other men.
How well he sleeps! Make garlands for the Gods.
I go to watch the couch. Cull every flower,
And honor all the tutelary fanes
With sacrifice as ample as our joy,
Lest some one say we reverence not the Gods!

CHORUS.

O doomed House and race!
O toilsome, toilsome horsemanship
Of Pelops; that ill omen brought to us!
For since the drowned Myrtilus
Did from his golden chariot slip
To his last sleep, below the deep,
Nothing of sad calamitous disgrace
Hath angry Heaven ceased to heap
On this unhappy House of Tantalus.
Not only upon sacred leaves of old,
Preserved in many a guarded, mystic fold,
But sometimes, too, enrolled
On tablets fair
Of stone or brass, with quaint and curious care,
In characters of gold,
And many an iron-bound, melancholy book,
The wisdom of the wise is writ;
And hardly shall a man,
For all he can,
By painful, slow degrees,
And nightly reveries,
Of long, laborious thought, grow learned in these.
But who, that reads a woman's wily look,
Shall say what evil hides, and lurks in it?
Or fathom her false wit?
For by a woman fell the man
Who did Nemaea's pest destroy,
And the brinded Hydra slew,
And many other wonders wrought.
By a woman, fated Troy
Was overset, and fell to naught.
Royal Amphiaraus, too,
All his wisdom could not free
From his false Eriphyle,
Whom a golden necklace bought, --
So has it been, and so shall be,
Ever since the world began!

O woman, woman, of what other earth
Hath daedal Nature moulded thee?
Thou art not of our clay compact,
Not of our common clay; --
But when the painful world in labor lay --
Labor long -- and agony,
In her heaving throes distract,
And vext with angry Heaven's red ire,
Nature, kneading snow and fire,
In thy mystic being pent
Each contrary element.
Life and death within thee blent:
All despair and all desire:
There to mingle and ferment.
While, mad midwives, at thy birth,
Furies mixt with Sirens bent,
Inter-wreathing snakes and smiles, --
Fairest dreams and falsest guiles.

Such a splendid mischief thou!
With thy light of languid eyes;
And thy bosom of pure snow:
And thine heart of fire below,
Whose red light doth come and go
Ever o'er thy changeful cheek
When love-whispers tremble weak:
Thy warm lips and pensive sighs,
That the breathless spirit bow:
And the heavenward life that lies
In the still serenities
Of thy snowy, airy brow, --
Thine ethereal airy brow.
Such a splendid mischief, thou!
What are all thy witcheries?
All thine evil beauty? All
Thy soft looks, and subtle smiles?
Tangled tresses? Mad caresses?
Tendernesses? Tears and kisses?
And the long look, between whiles,
That the helpless heart beguiles,
Tranced in such a subtle thrall?
What are all thy sighs and smiles?
Fairest dreams and falsest guiles!
Hoofs to horses, teeth to lions,
Horns to bulls, and speed to hares,
To the fish to glide through waters,
To the bird to glide through airs,
Nature gave: to men gave courage,
And the use of brazen spears.
What was left to give to woman,
All her gifts thus given? Ah, tears,
Smiles, and kisses, whispers, glances,
Only these; and merely beauty
On her arched brows unfurled.
And with these she shatters lances,
All unarmed binds armed Duty,
And in triumph drags the world!

XVI. SEMI-CHORUS. CHORUS. CASSANDRA. AGAMEMNON. CLYTEMNESTRA. AEGISTHUS.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Break off, break off! It seems I heard a cry.

CHORUS.

Surely one called within the house.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Stand by.

CHORUS.

The Prophetess is troubled. Look, her eye
Rolls fearfully.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Now all is husht once more.

CHORUS.

I hear the feet of some one at the door.

AGAMEMNON (within).

Murderess! oh, oh!

SEMI-CHORUS.

The house is filled with shrieks.

CHORUS.

The sound deceives or that was the King's voice.

SEMI-CHORUS.

The voice of Agamemnon!

AGAMEMNON (within).

Ai! ai! ai!

CASSANDRA.

The bull is in the toils.

AGAMEMNON (within).

I will not die!

AEGISTHUS (within).

O Zeus! he will escape.

CLYTEMNESTRA (within).

He has it.

AGAMEMNON (within).

Ai! ai!

CHORUS.

Some hideous deed is being done within.
Burst in the doors!

SEMI-CHORUS.

I cannot open them.
Barred, barred within!

CASSANDRA.

The axe is at the bull.

CHORUS.

Call the elders.

SEMI-CHORUS.

And the People. O Argives! Argives!
Alinon! Alinon!

CHORUS.

You to the Agora.

SEMI-CHORUS.

To the temples we.

CHORUS.

Hearken, O maidens!

SEMI-CHORUS.

This way.

CHORUS.

That way.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Quick! quick!

CASSANDRA.

Seal my sight, O Apollo! O Apollo!

CHORUS.

To the Agora!

SEMI-CHORUS.

To the temples!

CHORUS.

Haste! haste!

AGAMEMNON (within).

Stabbed, oh!

CHORUS.

Too late!

CASSANDRA.

The bull is bellowing.

AEGISTHUS (within).

Thrust there again.

CLYTEMNESTRA (within).

One blow has done it all.

AEGISTHUS (within).

Is it quite through?

CLYTEMNESTRA (within).

He will not move again.

SEMI-CHORUS.

O Heaven and Earth! My heart stands still with awe!
Where will this murder end?

CHORUS.

Hold! some one comes!

XVII. ELECTRA. ORESTES. CHORUS. A PHOCIAN.

ELECTRA (leading ORESTES).

Save us! save him -- Orestes!

CHORUS.

What has fallen?

ELECTRA.

An evil thing. O, we are fatherless!

CHORUS.

Ill-starred Electra! But how fell this chance?

ELECTRA.

Here is no time for words, -- scarce time for flight.
When from his royal bath the King would rise, --
That devilish woman, lying long in lurk,
Behind him crept, with stealthy feet unheard,
And flung o'er all his limbs a subtle web.
Caught in the craft of whose contrived folds,
Stumbling, he fell. AEgisthus seized a sword;
But halted, half irresolute to strike.
My father, like a lion in the toils,
Upheaved his head, and, writhing, roared with wrath,
And angry shame at this infernal snare.
Almost he rent the blinding nets atwain.
But Clytemnestra on him flung herself,
And caught the steel, and smit him through the ribs.
He slipped, and reeled. She drove the weapon through,
Piercing the heart!

CHORUS.

O woe! what tale is this?

ELECTRA.

I, too, with him, had died, but for this child,
And that high vengeance which is yet to be.

CHORUS.

Alas! then Agamemnon is no more,
Who stood, but now, amongst us, full of life,
Crowned with achieving years! The roof and cope
Of honor, fallen! Where shall we lift our eyes?
Where set renown? Where garner up our hopes?
All worth is dying out. The land is dark,
And Treason looks abroad in the eclipse.
He did not die the death of men that live
Such life as he lived, fall'n among his peers,
Whom the red battle rolled away, while yet
The shout of Gods was ringing through and through them;
But Death that feared to front him in full field,
Lurked by the hearth and smote him from behind.
A mighty man is gone. A mighty grief
Remains. And rumor of undying deeds
For song and legend, to the end of time!
What tower is strong?

ELECTRA.

O friends -- if friends you be --
For who shall say where falsehood festers not,
Those being falsest, who should most be true?
Where is that Phocian? Let him take the boy,
And bear him with him to his master's court.
Else will AEgisthus slay him.

CHORUS.

Orphaned one,
Fear you not?

ORESTES.

I am Agamemnon's son.

CHORUS.

Therefore shouldst fear --

ORESTES.

And therefore cannot fear.

PHOCIAN.

I heard a cry. Did any call?

CHORUS.

O, well!
You happen this way in the need of time.

ELECTRA.

O loyal stranger, Agamemnon's child
Is fatherless. This boy appeals to you.
O save him, save him from his father's foes!

PHOCIAN.

Unhappy lady, what wild words are these?

ELECTRA.

The house runs blood. AEgisthus, like a fiend,
Is raging loose, his weapon dripping gore.

CHORUS.

The king is dead.

PHOCIAN.

Is dead!

ELECTRA.

Dead.

PHOCIAN.

Do I dream?

ELECTRA.

Such dreams are dreamed in hell -- such dreams -- O no!
Is not the earth as solid -- heaven above --
The sun in heaven -- and Nature at her work --
And men at theirs -- the same? O, no! no dream!
We shall not wake -- nor he; though the Gods sleep!
Unnaturally murdered --

PHOCIAN.

Murdered!

ELECTRA.

Ay.
And the sun blackens not; the world is green;
The fires of the red west are not put out.
Is not the cricket singing in the grass?
And the shy lizard shooting through the leaves?
I hear the ox low in the labored field.
Those swallows build, and are as garrulous
High up i' the towers. Yet I speak the truth,
By Heaven I speak the truth --

PHOCIAN.

Yet more, vouchsafe
How died the king?

ELECTRA.

O, there shall be a time
For words hereafter. While we dally here,
Fate haunts, and hounds us. Friend, receive this boy.
Bear him to Strophius. All this tragedy
Relate as best you may; it beggars speech.
Tell him a tower of hope is fallen this day --
A name in Greece --

PHOCIAN.

-- But you --

ELECTRA.

Away! away!
Destruction posts apace, while we delay.

PHOCIAN.

Come then!

ELECTRA.

I dare not leave my father's hearth,
For who would then do honor to his urn?
It may be that my womanhood and youth
May help me here. It may be I shall fall,
And mix my own with Agamemnon's blood.
No matter. On Orestes hangs the hope
Of all this House. Him save for better days,
And ripened vengeance.

PHOCIAN.

Noble-hearted one!
Come then, last offspring of this fated race.
The future calls thee!

ORESTES.

Sister! Sister!

ELECTRA.

Go!

ORESTES.

O Sister!

ELECTRA.

O my brother! ... One last kiss, --
One last long kiss, -- how I have loved thee, boy!
Was it for this I nourished thy young years
With stately tales, and legends of the gods?
For this? ... How the past crowds upon me! Ah --
Wilt thou recall, in lonely, lonely hours,
How once we sat together on still eves,
(Ah me!) and brooded on all serious themes
Of sweet, and high, and beautiful, and good,
That throng the ancient years. Alcmena's son,
And how his life went out in fire on OEta;
Or of that bright-haired wanderer after fame,
That brought the great gold-fleece across the sea,
And left a name in Colchis; or we spake
Of the wise Theseus, councils, kingdoms, thrones,
And laws in distant lands; or, later still,
Of the great leaguer set round Ilion,
And what heart-stirring tidings of the war
Bards brought to Hellas. But when I would breathe
Thy father's name, didst thou not grasp my hand,
And glorious deeds shone round us like the stars
That lit the dark world from a great way off,
And died up into heaven, among the Gods?

ORESTES.

Sister, O Sister!

ELECTRA.

Ah, too long we linger.
Away! away!

PHOCIAN.

Come!

CHORUS.

Heaven go with thee!
To Crissa points the hand of Destiny.

ELECTRA.

O boy, on thee Fate hangs an awful weight
Of retribution! Let thy father's ghost
Forever whisper in thine ear. Be strong.
About thee, yet unborn, thy mother wove
The mystic web of life in such-like form
That Agamemnon's spirit in thine eyes
Seems living yet. His seal is set on thee;
And Pelops' ivory shoulder marks thee his.
Thee, child, nor contests on the Isthmian plain,
Nor sacred apple, nor green laurel-leaf,
But graver deeds await. Forget not, son,
Whose blood, unwashed, defiles thy mother's doors!

CHORUS.

O haste! I hear a sound within the house.

ELECTRA.

Farewell, then, son of Agamemnon!

PHOCIAN.

Come!

XVIII. ELECTRA. CHORUS. AEGISTHUS.

ELECTRA.

Gone! gone! Ah saved! ... O fool, thou missest, here!

CHORUS.

Alas, Electra, whither wilt thou go?

ELECTRA.

Touch me not! Come not near me! Let me be!
For this day, which I hoped for, is not mine.

CHORUS.

See how she gathers round her all her robe,
And sits apart with grief. O, can it be
Great Agamemnon is among the shades?

ELECTRA.

Would I had grasped his skirt, and followed him!

CHORUS.

Alas! there is an eminence of joy,
Where Fate grows dizzy, being mounted there,
And so tilts over on the other side!

O fallen, O fallen
The tower, which stood so high!
Whose base and girth were strong i' the earth,
Whose head was in the sky!
O fall'n that tower of noble power,
That filled up every eye!

He stood so sure, that noble tower!
To make secure, and fill with power,
From length to length, the land of Greece!
In whose strong bulwarks all men saw,
Garnered on the lap of law,
For dearth or danger, spears of war,
And harvest sheaves of peace!
O fall'n, O fall'n that lofty tower, --
The loftiest tower in Greece!

His brows he lift above the noon,
Filled with the day, a noble tower!
Who took the sunshine and the shower,
And flung them back in merry scorn.
Who now shall stand when tempests lower?
He was the first to catch the morn,
The last to see the moon.
O friends, he was a noble tower!
O friends, and fall'n so soon!

Ah, well! lament! lament!
His walls are rent, his bulwarks bent,
And stooped that crested eminence,
Which stood so high for our defence!
For our defence, -- to guard, and fence
From all alarm of hurt and harm,
The fulness of a land's content!
O fall'n away, fall'n at midday,
And set before the sun is down,
The highest height of our renown!

O overthrown, the ivory throne!
The spoils of war, the golden crown,
And chiefest honor of the state!
O mourn with me! what tower is free
From over-topping destiny?
What strength is strong to fate?
O mourn with me! when shall we see
Another such, so good, so great?
Another such, to guard the state?

AEGISTHUS.

He should have stayed to shout through Troy, or bellow
With bulls in Ida --

CHORUS.

Look! AEgisthus comes!
Like some lean tiger, having dipt in blood
His dripping fangs, and hot athirst for more.
His lurid eyeball rolls, as though it swam
Through sanguine films. He staggers, drunk with rage
And crazy mischief.

AEGISTHUS.

Hold! let no one stir!
I charge you, all of you, who hear me speak,
Where may the boy Orestes lie concealed?
I hold the life of each in gage for his.
If any know where now he hides from us,
Let him beware, not rendering true reply!

CHORUS.

The boy is fled --

ELECTRA.

-- is saved!

AEGISTHUS.

Electra here!
How mean you? What is this?

ELECTRA.

Enough is left
Of Agamemnon's blood to drown you in.

AEGISTHUS.

You shall not trifle with me, by my beard!
There 's peril in this pastime. Where's the boy?

ELECTRA.

Half-way to Phocis, Heaven helping him.

AEGISTHUS.

By the black Styx!

ELECTRA.

Take not the oath of Gods,
Who art but half a man, blaspheming coward!

AEGISTHUS.

But you, by Heaven, if this be a sword,
Shall not be any more --

ELECTRA.

A slave to thee,
Blundering bloodshedder, though thou boast thyself
As huge as Ossa piled on Pelion,
Or anything but that weak wretch thou art!
O, thou hast only half done thy black work!
Thou shouldst have slain the young lion with the old.
Look that he come not back, and find himself
Ungiven food, and still the lion's share!

AEGISTHUS.

Insolent! but I know to seal thy lips --

ELECTRA.

-- For thou art only strong among the weak.
We know thou hast an aptitude for blood.
To take a woman's is an easy task,
And one well worthy thee.

AEGISTHUS.

O, but for words!

ELECTRA.

Yet, couldst thou feed on all the noble blood
Of godlike generations on this earth,
It should not help thee to a hero's heart.

CHORUS.

O peace, Electra, but for pity's sake!
Heap not his madness to such dangerous heights.

ELECTRA.

I will speak out my heart's scorn, though I die.

AEGISTHUS.

And thou shalt die, but not till I have tamed
That stubborn spirit to a wish for life.

CHORUS.

O cease, infatuate! I hear the Queen.

[By a movement of the Eccyclema the palace is thrown open, and discovers CLYTEMNESTRA
standing over the body of AGAMEMNON.

XIX. CLYTEMNESTRA. CHORUS.
AEGISTHUS. ELECTRA.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Argives! behold the man who was your King!

CHORUS.

Dead! dead!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Not I, but Fate hath dealt this blow.

CHORUS.

Dead! dead, alas! look where he lies, O friends!
That noble head, and to be brought so low!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

He who set light by woman, with blind scorn,
And held her with the beasts we sacrifice,
Lies, by a woman sacrificed himself.
This is high justice which appeals to you.

CHORUS.

Alas! alas! I know not words for this.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

We are but as the instrument of heaven.
Our work is not design, but destiny.
A God directs the lightning to its fall;
It smites and slays, and passes otherwhere,
Pure in itself, as when, in light, it left
The bosom of Olympus, to its end.
In this cold heart the wrong of all the past
Lies buried. I avenged, and I forgive.
Honor him yet. He is a king, though fallen.

CHORUS.

O, how she sets Virtue's own crest on Crime,
And stands there stern as Fate's wild arbitress!
Not any deed could make her less than great.

(CLYTEMNESTRA descends the steps, and lays her hand on the arm of AEGISTHUS.)

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Put up the sword! Enough of blood is spilt.

AEGISTHUS.

Hist! O, not half, -- Orestes is escaped.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Sufficient for the future be that thought.
What's done is well done. What's undone -- yet more:
Something still saved from crime.

AEGISTHUS.

This lion's whelp
Will work some mischief yet.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

He is a child --
-- Our own -- we will but war upon the strong.
Not upon infants. Let this matter rest.

AEGISTHUS.

O, ever, in the wake of thy great will
Let me steer sure! and we will leave behind
Great tracks of light upon the wondering world.
If but you err not here --

CLYTEMNESTRA.

These pale-eyed groups!
See how they huddle shuddering, and stand round;
As when some mighty beast, the brindled lord
Of the rough woodside, sends his wild death-roar
Up the shrill caves, the meaner denizens
Of ancient woods, shy deer, and timorous hares,
Peer from the hairy thickets, and shrink back.
We feared the lion, and we smote him down.
Now fear is over. Shall we turn aside
To harry jackals? Laugh! we have not laughed
So long, I think you have forgotten how!
Have we no right to laugh like other men?
Ha! Ha! I laugh. Now it is time to laugh!

CHORUS.

O, awful sight! Look where the bloody sun,
As though with Agamemnon he were slain,
Runs reeking, lurid, down the palace floors!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

O my beloved! Now will we reign sublime,
And set our foot upon the neck of Fortune!
And, for the rest -- O, much remains! -- for you,
(To the CHORUS.)
A milder sway, if mildly you submit
To our free service and supremacy.
Nor tax, nor toll, to carry dim results
Of distant war beyond the perilous seas.
But gateless justice in our halls of state,
And peace in all the borders of our land!
For you --
(To ELECTRA, who has thrown herself upon the body of AGAMEMNON.)

ELECTRA.

O, hush! What more remains to me,
But this dead hand, whose clasp is cold in mine?
And all the baffled memory of the past,
Buried with him? What more?

CLYTEMNESTRA.

-- A mother's heart,
If you will come to it. Free confidence.
A liberal share in all our future hope.
Now, more than ever -- mutually weak --
We stand in need, each of the other's love.
Our love! it shall not sacrifice thee, child,
To wanton whims of war, as he, of old,
Did thy dead sister. If you will not these,
But answer love with scorn, why then --

ELECTRA.

-- What then?

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Safe silence. And permission to forget.

XX. CHORUS. SEMI-CHORUS. CLYTEMNESTRA. CASSANDRA. AEGISTHUS.

CHORUS.

What shall we say? What has been done?
Shed no tear! O, shed no tear!
Hang up his harness in the sun;
The hooked car, and barbed spear;
And all war's adamantine gear
Of trophied spoils; for all his toils
Are over, alas! are over, and done!
What shall we say? What has been done?
Shed no tear! O, shed no tear!
But keep solemn silence all,
As befits when heroes fall;
Solemn as his fame is; sad
As his end was; earth shall wear
Mourning for him. See, the sun
Blushes red for what is done!
And the wild stars, one by one,
Peer out of the lurid air,
And shrink back with awe and fear,
Shuddering, for what is done.
When the night comes, dark and dun
As our sorrow; blackness far
Shutting out the crimson sun;
Turn his face to the moon and star, --
These are bright as his glories are, --
And great Heaven shall see its son!
What shall we say? What has been done?
Shed no tear! O, shed no tear!
Gather round him, friends! Look here!
All the wreaths which he hath won
In the race that he hath run, --
Laurel garlands, every one!
These are things to think upon,
Mourning till the set of sun, --
Till the mourning moon appear.
Now the wreaths which Fame begun
To uplift, to crown his head,
Memory shall seize upon,
And make chaplets for his bier.
He shall have wreaths though he be dead!
But his monument is here,
Built up in our hearts, and dear
To all honor. Shed no tear!
O, let not any tear be shed!

SEMI-CHORUS.

Look at Cassandra! she is stooping down.

SEMI-CHORUS.

She dips and moves her fingers in the blood!

SEMI-CHORUS.

Look to her! There's a wildness in her eye!

SEMI-CHORUS.

What does she?

SEMI-CHORUS.

O, in Agamemnon's blood,
She hath writ Orestes on the palace steps!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

AEgisthus!

AEGISTHUS.

Queen and bride!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

We have not failed.

CHORUS.

Come, venerable, ancient Night!
From sources of the western stars,
In darkest shade that fits this woe.
Consoler of a thousand griefs,
And likest death unalterably calm.
We toil, aspire, and sorrow,
And in a little while shall cease.
For we know not whence we came,
And who can insure the morrow?
Thou, eternally the same,
From of old, in endless peace
Eternally survivest;
Enduring on through good and ill,
Coeval with the Gods; and still
In thine own silence livest.
Our days thou leadest home
To the great Whither which has no Again!
Impartially to pleasure and to pain
Thou sett'st the bourn. To thee shall all things come.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

But, if he cease to love me, what is gained?

CASSANDRA.

With wings darkly spreading,
Like ravens to the carcass
Scenting far off the savor of blood,
From shores of the unutterable River.
They gather and swoop,
They waver, they darken.
From the fangs that raven,
From the eyes that glare
Intolerably fierce,
Save me, Apollo!
Ai! Ai! Ai!
Alinon! Alinon!
Blood, blood! and of kindred nature,
Which the young wolf returning
Shall dip his fangs in,
Thereby accursedly
Imbibing madness!

CHORUS.

The wild woman is uttering strange things
Fearful to listen to.

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Within the house
Straightway confine her,
There to learn wisdom.

AEGISTHUS.

Orestes -- O, this child's life now outweighs
That mighty ruin, Agamemnon dead!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

AEgisthus, dost thou love me?

AEGISTHUS.

As my life!

CLYTEMNESTRA.

Thou lovest me! O love, we have not failed.
Give me thy hand! So...lead me to the house.
Let me lean on thee. I am very weak.

CHORUS.

Only Heaven is high.
Only the Gods are great.
Above the searchless sky,
In unremoved state,
They from their golden mansions
Look over the lands, and the seas;
The ocean's wide expansions,
And the earth's varieties:
Secure of their supremacy,
And sure of affluent ease.
Who shall say "I stand!" nor fall?
Destiny is over all!
Rust will crumble old renown.
Bust and column tumble down;
Keep and castle; tower and town;
Throne and sceptre; crest and crown
Destiny is over all!
One by one, the pale guests fall
At lighted feast, in palace hall;
And feast is turned to funeral.
Who shall say "I stand!" nor fall?
Destiny is over all!





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