« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
IPHIGENEIA AND AGAMEMNON.
Iphigeneia, when she heard her doom
At Aulis, and when all beside the King
Had gone away, took his right hand, and said,
'O father! I am young and very happy.
I do not think the pious Calchas heard
Distinctly what the Goddess spake. Old-age
Obscures the senses. If my nurse, who knew
My voice so well, sometimes misunderstood
While I was resting on her knee both arms
And hitting it to make her mind my words,
And looking in her face, and she in mine,
Might he not also hear one word amiss,
Spoken from so far off, even from Olympus?'
The father placed his cheek upon her head,
And tears dropt down it, but the king of men
Replied not. Then the maiden spake once more.
'O father! sayst thou nothing? Hear'st thou not
Me, whom thou ever hast, until this hour,
Listened to fondly, and awakened me
To hear my voice amid the voice of birds,
When it was inarticulate as theirs,
And the down deadened it within the nest?'
He moved her gently from him, silent still,
And this, and this alone, brought tears from her,
Although she saw fate nearer: then with sighs,
'I thought to have laid down my hair before
Benignant Artemis, and not have dimmed
Her polisht altar with my virgin blood;
I thought to have selected the white flowers
To please the Nymphs, and to have asked of each
By name, and with no sorrowful regret,
Whether, since both my parents willed the change,
I might at Hymen's feet bend my clipt brow;
And (after those who mind us girls the most)
Adore our own Athena, that she would
Regard me mildly with her azure eyes.
But, father! to see you no more, and see
Your love, O father! go ere I am gone.'. . .
Gently he moved her off, and drew her back,
Bending his lofty head far over hers,
And the dark depths of nature heaved and burst.
He turned away; not far, but silent still.
She now first shuddered; for in him, so nigh,
So long a silence seemed the approach of death,
And like it. Once again she raised her voice.
'O father! if the ships are now detained,
And all your vows move not the Gods above,
When the knife strikes me there will be one prayer
The less to them: and purer can there be
Any, or more fervent than the daughter's prayer
For her dear father's safety and success?'
A groan that shook him shook not his resolve.
An aged man now entered, and without
One word, stept slowly on, and took the wrist
Of the pale maiden. She looked up, and saw
The fillet of the priest and calm cold eyes.
Then turned she where her parent stood, and cried
'O father! grieve no more: the ships can sail.'
'Artemidora! Gods invisible,
While thou art lying faint along the couch, Have tied the sandal to thy slender feet And stand beside thee, ready to convey
Thy weary steps where other rivers flow. Refreshing shades will waft thy weariness Away, and voices like thy own come near And nearer, and solicit an embrace.' Artemidora sighed, and would have prest
The hand now pressing hers, but was too weak. Iris stood over her dark hair unseen
While thus Elpenor spoke. He look into
Eyes that had given light and life erewhile
To those above them, but now dim with tears
And wakefulness. Again he spake of joy
Eternal. At that word, that sad word, joy,
Faithful and fond her bosom heaved once more;
Her head fell back; and now a loud deep sob
Swelled thro' the darkened chamber; 'twas not hers.
CORINNA, FROM ATHENS, TO TANAGRA
[From Pericles and Aspasia.]
Tanagra think not I forget
Thy beautifully-storied streets;
Be sure my memory bathes yet
In clear Thermodon, and yet greets
The blythe and liberal shepherd boy,
Whose sunny bosom swells with joy
When we accept his matted rushes
Upheaved with sylvan fruit; away he bounds, and blushes.
I promise to bring back with me
What thou with transport will receive,
The only proper gift for thee,
Of which no mortal shall bereave
In later times thy mouldering walls,
Until the last old turret falls;
A crown, a crown from Athens won,
A crown no god can wear, beside Latona's son.
There may be cities who refuse
To their own child the honours due,
And look ungently on the Muse;
But ever shall those cities rue
The dry, unyielding, niggard breast,
Offering no nourishment, no rest,
To that young head which soon shall rise
Disdainfully, in might and glory, to the skies.
Sweetly where caverned Dirce flows
Do white-armed maidens chaunt my lay,
Flapping the while with laurel-rose
The honey-gathering tribes away;
And sweetly, sweetly, Attick tongues
Lisp your Corinna's early songs;
To her with feet more graceful come
The verses that have dwelt in kindred breasts at home.
O let thy children lean aslant
Against the tender mother's knee,
And gaze into her face, and want
To know what magic there can be
In words that urge some eyes to dance,
While others as in holy trance
Look up to heaven; be such my praise!
Why linger? I must haste, or lose the Delphick bays.
CLEONE TO ASPASIA.
We mind not how the sun in the mid-sky
Is hastening on; but when the golden orb
Strikes the extreme of earth, and when the gulphs
Of air and ocean open to receive him,
Dampness and gloom invade us; then we think
Ah! thus it is with youth. Too fast his feet
Run on for sight; hour follows hour; fair maid
Succeeds fair maid; bright eyes bestar his couch; The cheerful horn awakens him; the feast,
The revel, the entangling dance, allure,
And voices mellower than the Muse's own
Heap up his buoyant bosom on their wave. A little while, and then.... Ah youth! youth! youth! Listen not to my words... but stay with me! When thou art gone, Life may go too; the sigh That rises is for thee, and not for Life.
THE MAID'S LAMENT.
[From the Examination of Shakespeare.]
I loved him not; and yet now he is gone
I feel I am alone.
I checked him while he spoke; yet could he speak,
Alas, I would not check.
For reasons not to love him once I sought
And wearied all my thought
To vex myself and him; I now would give
My love, could he but live
Who lately lived for me, and when he found
'Twas vain, in holy ground
He hid his face amid the shades of death.
I waste for him my breath
Who wasted his for me; but mine returns,
And this lorn bosom burns
With stifling heat, heaving it up in sleep,
And waking me to weep
Tears that had melted his soft heart; for years
Wept he as bitter tears.
'Merciful God!' such was his latest prayer,
'These may she never share!'
Quieter is his breath, his breast more cold
Than daisies in the mould,
Where children spell, athwart the churchyard gate,
His name, and life's brief date.
Pray for him, gentle souls, whoe'er you be,
And, O, pray too for me.