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THE CHOEPHORI by Aeschylus, Part 04

LEADER
Yet how dared he to come unto his home?
ELECTRA
He hath but sent it, clipt to mourn his sire.
LEADER
It is a sorrow grievous as his death,
That he should live yet never dare return.
ELECTRA
Yea, and my heart o'erflows with gall of grief,
And I am pierced as with a cleaving dart;
Like to the first drops after drought, my tears
Fall down at will, a bitter bursting tide,
As on this lock I gaze; I cannot deem
That any Argive save ORESTES ' self
Was ever lord thereof; nor, well I wot,
Hath she, the murd'ress, shorn and laid this lock
To mourn him whom she slew-my mother she,
Bearing no mother's heart, but to her race
A loathing spirit, loathed itself of heaven!
Yet to affirm, as utterly made sure,
That this adornment cometh of the hand
Of mine ORESTES , brother of my soul,
I may not venture, yet hope flatters fair!
Ah well-a-day, that this dumb hair had voice
To glad mine ears, as might a messenger,
Bidding me sway no more 'twixt fear and hope,
Clearly commanding, Cast me hence away,
Clipped was I from some head thou lovest not;
Or, I am kin to thee, and here, as thou,
I come to weep and deck our father's grave.
Aid me, ye gods! for well indeed ye know
How in the gale and counter-gale of doubt,
Like to the seaman's bark, we whirl and stray.
But, if God will our life, how strong shall spring,
From seed how small, the new tree of our home!-
Lo ye, a second sign-these footsteps, looks-
Like to my own, a corresponsive print;
And look, another footmark,-this his own,
And that the foot of one who walked with him.
Mark, how the heel and tendons' print combine,
Measured exact, with mine coincident!
Alas, for doubt and anguish rack my mind.
(ORESTES and PYLADES enter suddenly.)
ORESTES
Pray thou, in gratitude for prayers fulfilled,
Fair fall the rest of what I ask of heaven.
ELECTRA
Wherefore? what win I from the gods by prayer?
ORESTES
This, that thine eyes behold thy heart's desire.
ELECTRA
On whom of mortals know'st thou that I call?
ORESTES
I know thy yearning for ORESTES deep.
ELECTRA
Say then, wherein event hath crowned my prayer?
ORESTES
I, I am he; seek not one more akin.
ELECTRA
Some fraud, O stranger, weavest thou for me?
ORESTES
Against myself I weave it, if I weave.
ELECTRA
Ah, thou hast mind to mock me in my woel
ORESTES
'Tis at mine own I mock then, mocking thine.
ELECTRA
Speak I with thee then as ORESTES ' self?
ORESTES
My very face thou see'st and know'st me not,
And yet but now, when thou didst see the lock
Shorn for my father's grave, and when thy quest
Was eager on the footprints I had made,
Even I, thy brother, shaped and sized as thou,
Fluttered thy spirit, as at sight of me!
Lay now this ringlet whence 'twas shorn, and judge,
And look upon this robe, thine own hands' work,
The shuttle-prints, the creature wrought thereon-
Refrain thyself, nor prudence lose in joy,
For well I wot, our kin are less than kind.
ELECTRA
O thou that art unto our father's home
Love, grief and hope, for thee the tears ran down,
For thee, the son, the saviour that should be;
Trust thou thine arm and win thy father's halls!
O aspect sweet of fourfold love to me,
Whom upon thee the heart's constraint bids cal
As on my father, and the claim of love
From me unto my mother turns to thee,
For she is very hate; to thee too turns
What of my heart went out to her who died
A ruthless death upon the altar-stone;
And for myself I love thee-thee that wast
A brother leal, sole stay of love to me.
Now by thy side be strength and right, and Zeus
Saviour almighty, stand to aid the twain!
ORESTES
Zeus, Zeus! look down on our estate and us,
The orphaned brood of him, our eagle-sire,
Whom to his death a fearful serpent brought,
Enwinding him in coils; and we, bereft
And foodless, sink with famine, all too weak
To bear unto the eyrie, as he bore,
Such quarry as he slew. Lo! I and she,
ELECTRA, stand before thee, fatherless,
And each alike cast out and homeless made.

 

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