Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, OEDIPUS REX [TYRANNUS] [OR, OEDIPUS THE KING]: CHORUS. GOD AND MAN, by SOPHOCLES

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First Line: O may my constant feet not fail
Last Line: And faith is sapped, and heaven defied.
Subject(s): Religion; Theology

O MAY my constant feet not fail,
Walking in paths of righteousness,
Sinless in word and deed --
True to those eternal laws
That scale for ever the high steep
Of heaven's pure ether, whence they sprang:
For only in Olympus is their home,
Nor mortal wisdom gave them birth,
And howsoe'er men may forget,
They will not sleep;
For the might of the god within them grows not old.

Rooted in pride, the tyrant grows;
But pride that with its own too-much
Is rashly surfeited,
Heeding not the prudent mean,
Down the inevitable gulf
From its high pinnacle is hurled,
Where use of foothold there is none.
But, O kind gods, the noble strength,
That struggles for the city's good,
Unbend not yet:
In the gods have I put my trust -- I will not fear.

But whoso walks disdainfully,
In act or word,
And fears not justice, nor reveres
The throned gods,
Him let misfortune slay
For his ill-starred wantoning,
Should he heap unrighteous gains,
Nor from unhallowed paths withhold his feet,
Or reach rash hands to pluck forbidden fruit.
Who shall do this, and boast
That yet his soul is proof
Against the arrows of offended Heaven?
If honour crowns such deeds as those,
No song, but silence, then for me!

To Earth's dread centre, unprofaned
By mortal touch,
No more with awe will I repair,
Nor Abae's shrine,
Nor the Olympian plain,
If the truth stands not confessed,
Pointed at by all the world.
O Zeus supreme, if rightly thou art called --
Lord over all -- let not these things escape
Thee and thy timeless sway!
For now men set at nought
Apollo's word, and cry 'Behold, it fails!'
His praise is darkened with a doubt;
And faith is sapped, and Heaven defied.

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