Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, OEDIPUS REX [TYRANNUS][OR, OEDIPUS THE KING]: JOCASTA'S DEATH, by SOPHOCLES



Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

Rhyming Dictionary Search
OEDIPUS REX [TYRANNUS][OR, OEDIPUS THE KING]: JOCASTA'S DEATH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Great lords, that keep the dignities of thebes
Last Line: The ills the world hath names for -- all are here.


MESS.

Great Lords, that keep the dignities of Thebes,
What doings must ye hear, what sights must see,
And oh! what grief must bear, if ye are true
To Cadmus and the breed of Labdacus!
Can Ister or can Phasis wash this house --
I trow not --, with their waters, from the guilt
It hides. . . . Yet soon shall publish to the light
Fresh, not unpurposed evil. 'Tis the woe
That we ourselves have compassed hurts the most.

CHOR.

That which we knew already, was enough
For lamentation. What have you besides?

MESS.

This is the briefest tale for me to tell,
For you to hear: -- your queen Jocasta's dead.

CHOR.

Alas! Poor lady! Dead! What was the cause?

MESS.

She died by her own hand. Of what befell
The worst is not for you, who saw it not.
Yet shall you hear, so much as memory
Remains in me, the sad Queen's tragedy.
When in her passionate agony she passed
Beyond these portals, straight to her bridal-room
She ran, and ever tore her hair the while;
Clashed fast the doors behind her; and within,
Cried to her husband Laius in the grave,
With mention of that seed whereby he sowed
Death for himself, and left to her a son
To get on her fresh children, shamefully.
So wept she for her bridal's double woe,
Husband of husband got, and child of child.
And after that -- I know not how -- she died.
We could not mark her sorrows to the end,
For with a shout, OEdipus broke on us,
And all had eyes for him. Hither he rushed
And thither. For a sword he begged, and cried:
'Where is that wife that mothered in one womb
Her husband and his children! Show her me!
No wife of mine!' As thus he raged, some god --
'Twas none of us -- guided him where she lay.
And he, as guided, with a terrible shout,
Leapt at her double door; free of the bolts
Burst back the yielding bar, -- and was within.
And there we saw Jocasta. By a noose
Of swaying cords, caught and entwined, she hung.
He too has seen her -- with a moaning cry
Looses the hanging trap, and on the ground
Has laid her. Then -- Oh sight most terrible! --
He snatched the golden brooches from the Queen,
With which her robe was fastened, lifted them,
And struck. Deep to the very founts of sight
He smote, and vowed those eyes no more should see
The wrongs he suffered, and the wrong he did.
'Henceforth,' he cried, 'be dark! -- since ye have seen
Whom ye should ne'er have seen, and never knew
Them that I longed to find.' So chanted he,
And raised the pins again, and yet again,
And every time struck home. Blood from the eyes
Sprinkled his beard, and still fresh clammy drops
Welled in a shower unceasing, nay, a storm
With blood for rain, and hail of clotting gore.
So from these twain hath evil broken; so
Are wife and husband mingled in one woe.
Justly their ancient happiness was known
For happiness indeed; and lo! to-day --
Tears and Disasters, Death and Shame, and all
The ills the world hath names for -- all are here.





Other Poems of Interest...



Home: PoetryExplorer.net