Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AJAX: SPEECH OF AJAX [UNIVERSAL CHANGE], by SOPHOCLES

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AJAX: SPEECH OF AJAX [UNIVERSAL CHANGE], by             Poet's Biography
First Line: All strangest things the multitudinous years
Last Line: Though now is my dark hour, that I have peace

ALL strangest things the multitudinous years
Bring forth, and shadow from us all we know.
Falter alike great oath and steeled resolve;
And none shall say of aught, "This may not be."
Lo! I myself, but yesterday so strong,
As new-dipt steel am weak and all unsexed
By yonder woman: yea I mourn for them,
Widow and orphan, left amid their foes.
But I will journey seaward -- where the shore
Lies meadow-fringed -- so haply wash away
My sin, and flee that wrath that weighs me down.
And, lighting somewhere on an untrodden way,
I will bury this my lance, this hateful thing,
Deep in some earth-hole where no eye shall see --
Night and Hell keep it in the underworld!
For never to this day, since first I grasped
The gift that Hector gave, my bitterest foe,
Have I reaped aught of honour from the Greeks.
So true that byword in the mouths of men,
"A foeman's gifts are no gifts, but a curse."
Wherefore henceforward shall I know that God
Is great; and strive to honour Atreus' sons.
Princes they are, and should be obeyed. How else?
Do not all terrible and most puissant things
Yet bow to loftier majesties? The Winter,
Who walks forth scattering snows, gives place anon
To fruitage-laden Summer; and the orb
Of weary Night doth in her turn stand by,
And let shine out, with his white steeds, the Day.
Stern tempest-blasts at last sing lullaby
To groaning seas: even the archtyrant, Sleep,
Doth loose his slaves, not hold them chained for ever.
And shall not mankind too learn discipline?
I know, of late experience taught, that him
Who is my foe I must but hate as one
Whom I may yet call Friend: and him who loves me
Will I but serve and cherish as a man
Whose love is not abiding. Few be they
Who, reaching Friendship's port, have there found rest.
But, for these things, they shall be well. Go thou,
Lady, within, and there pray that the Gods
May fill unto the full my heart's desire.
And ye, my mates, do unto me with her
Like honour: bid young Teucer, if he come,
To care for me, but to be your friend still.
For where my way leads, thither I shall go:
Do ye my bidding; haply ye may hear,
Though now is my dark hour, that I have peace

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