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AGAMEMNON by Aeschylus, Part 5


LEADER OF THE CHORUS
O queen, I come in reverence of thy sway-
For, while the ruler's kingly seat is void,
The loyal heart before his consort bends.
Now-be it sure and certain news of good,
Or the fair tidings of a flatt'ring hope,
That bids thee spread the light from shrine to shrine,
I, fain to hear, yet grudge not if thou hide.
CLYTEMNESTRA
As saith the adage, From the womb of Night
Spring forth, with promise fair, the young child Light.
Ay-fairer even than all hope my news-
By Grecian hands is Priam's city ta'en!
LEADER
What say'st thou? doubtful heart makes treach'rous ear.
CLYTEMNESTRA
Hear then again, and plainly-Troy is ours!
LEADER
Thrills thro' heart such joy as wakens tears.
CLYTEMNESTRA
Ay, thro' those tears thine eye looks loyalty.
LEADER
But hast thou proof, to make assurance sure?
CLYTEMNESTRA
Go to; I have-unless the god has lied.
LEADER
Hath some night-vision won thee to belief?
CLYTEMNESTRA
Out on all presage of a slumb'rous soul!
LEADER
But wert thou cheered by Rumour's wingless word?
CLYTEMNESTRA
Peace-thou dost chide me as a credulous girl.
LEADER
Say then, how long ago the city fell?
CLYTEMNESTRA
Even in this night that now brings forth the dawn.
LEADER
Yet who so swift could speed the message here?
CLYTEMNESTRA
From Ida's top Hephaestus, lord of fire,
Sent forth his sign; and on, and ever on,
Beacon to beacon sped the courier-flame.
From Ida to the crag, that Hermes loves,
Of Lemnos; thence unto the steep sublime
Of Athos, throne of Zeus, the broad blaze flared.
Thence, raised aloft to shoot across the sea,
The moving light, rejoicing in its strength,
Sped from the pyre of pine, and urged its way,
In golden glory, like some strange new sun,
Onward, and reached Macistus' watching heights.
There, with no dull delay nor heedless sleep,
The watcher sped the tidings on in turn,
Until the guard upon Messapius' peak
Saw the far flame gleam on Euripus' tide,
And from the high-piled heap of withered furze
Lit the new sign and bade the message on.
Then the strong light, far-flown and yet undimmed,
Shot thro' the sky above Asopus' plain,
Bright as the moon, and on Cithaeron's crag
Aroused another watch of flying fire.
And there the sentinels no whit disowned,
But sent redoubled on, the hest of flame
Swift shot the light, above Gorgopis' bay,
To Aegiplanctus' mount, and bade the peak
Fail not the onward ordinance of fire.
And like a long beard streaming in the wind,
Full-fed with fuel, roared and rose the blaze,
And onward flaring, gleamed above the cape,
Beneath which shimmers the Saronic bay,
And thence leapt light unto Arachne's peak,
The mountain watch that looks upon our town.
Thence to th' Atreides' roof-in lineage fair,
A bright posterity of Ida's fire.
So sped from stage to stage, fulfilled in turn,
Flame after flame, along the course ordained,
And lo! the last to speed upon its way
Sights THE END first, and glows unto the goal.
And Troy is ta'en, and by this sign my lord
Tells me the tale, and ye have learned my word.
LEADER
To heaven, O queen, will I upraise new song:
But, wouldst thou speak once more, I fain would hear
From first to last the marvel of the tale.

 

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