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THE PERSIANS by Aeschylus, Part 12

XERXES
Ah me, how sudden have the storms of Fate,
Beyond all thought, all apprehension, burst
On my devoted head! O Fortune, Fortune!
With what relentless fury hath thy hand
Hurl'd desolation on the Persian race!
Wo unsupportable! The torturing thought
Of our lost youth comes rushing on my mind,
And sinks me to the ground. O Jove, that
Had died with those brave men that died in fight I
CHORUS
O thou afflicted monarch, once the lord
Of marshall'd armies, of the lustre beam'd
From glory's ray o'er Persia, of her sons
The pride, the grace, whom ruin now hath sunk
In blood! The unpeopled land laments her youth
By Xerxes led to slaughter, till the realms
Of death are gorged with Persians; for the flower
Of all the realm, thousands, whose dreadful bows
With arrowy shower annoy'd the foe, are fall'n.
XERXES
Your fall, heroic youths, distracts my soul.
CHORUS
And Asia sinking on her knee, O king,
Oppress'd, with griefs oppress'd, bends to the earth.
XERXES
And I, O wretched fortune, I was born
To crush, to desolate my ruin'd country!
CHORUS
I have no voice, no swelling harmony,
No descant, save these notes of wo,
Harsh, and responsive to the sullen sigh,
Rude strains, that unmelodious flow,
To welcome thy return.
XERXES
Then bid them flow, bid the wild measures flow
Hollow, unmusical, the notes of grief;
They suit my fortune, and dejected state.
CHORUS
Yes, at thy royal bidding shall the strain
Pour the deep sorrows of my soul;
The suff'rings of my bleeding country plain,
And bid the mournful measures roll.
Again the voice of wild despair
With thrilling shrieks shall pierce the air;
For high the god of war his flaming crest
Raised, with the fleet of Greece surrounded,
The haughty arms of Greece with conquest bless'd,
And Persia's wither'd force confounded,
Dash'd on the dreary beach her heroes slain,
Or whelm'd them in the darken'd main.
XERXES
To swell thy griefs ask ev'ry circumstance.
CHORUS
Where are thy valiant friends, thy chieftains where?
Pharnaces, Susas, and the might
Of Pelagon, and Dotamas? The spear
Of Agabates bold in fight?
Psammis in mailed cuirass dress'd,
And Susiscanes' glitt'ring crest?
XERXES
Dash'd from the Tyrian vessel on the rocks
Of Salamis they sunk, and smear'd with gore
The heroes on the dreary strand are stretch'd.
CHORUS
Where is Pharnuchus? Ariomardus where,
With ev'ry gentle virtue graced?
Lilaeus, that from chiefs renown'd in war
His high-descended lineage traced?
Where rears Sebalces his crown-circled head:
Where Tharybis to battles bred,
Artembares, Hystaechmes bold,
Memphis, Masistress sheath'd in gold?
XERXES
Wretch that I am! These on the abhorred town
Ogygian Athens, roll'd their glowing eyes
Indignant; but at once in the fierce shock
Of battle fell, dash'd breathless on the ground.
CHORUS
There does the son of Batanochus lie,
Through whose rich veins the unsullied blood
Of Susamus, down from the lineage high
Of noble Mygabatas flow'd:
Alpistus, who with faithful care
Number'd the deep'ning files of war,
The monarch's eye; on the ensanguined plain
Low is the mighty warrior laid?
Is great Aebares 'mong the heroes slain,
And Partheus number'd with the dead?-
Ah me! those bursting groans, deep-charged with wo,
The fate of Persia's princes show.

 

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