THE SUPPLIANTS by Aeschylus, Part II
And, ere THE END shall be,
Each man the truth of what I tell shall see.
And if there dwell hard by
One skilled to read from bird-notes augury,
That man, when through his ears shall thrill our tearful wail,
Shall deem he hears the voice, the plaintive tale
Of her, the piteous spouse of Tereus, lord of guile-
Whom the hawk harries yet, the mourning nightingale.
She, from her happy home and fair streams scared away,
Wails wild and sad for haunts beloved erewhile.
Yea, and for Itylus-ah, well-a-day!
Slain by her own, his mother's hand,
Maddened by lustful wrong, the deed by Tereus planned!
Like her I wail and wail, in soft lonian tones,
And as she wastes, even so
Wastes my soft cheek, once ripe with Nilus' suns,
And all my heart dissolves in utter woe.
Sad flowers of grief I cull,
Fleeing from kinsmen's love unmerciful-
Yea, from the clutching hands, the wanton crowd,
I sped across the waves, from Egypt's land of cloud.
Gods of the ancient cradle of my race,
Hear me, just gods! With righteous grace
On me, on me look down!
Grant not to youth its heart's unchaste desire,
But, swiftly spurning lust's unholy fire,
Bless only love and willing wedlock's crown!
The war-worn fliers from the battle's wrack
Find refuge at the hallowed altar-side,
The sanctuary divine,-
Ye gods! such refuge unto me provide-
Such sanctuary be mine!
Though the deep will of Zeus be hard to track,
Yet doth it flame and glance,
A beacon in the dark, 'mid clouds of chance
That wrap mankind.
Yea, though the counsel fall, undone it shall not lie,
Whate'er be shaped and fixed within Zeus' ruling mind-
Dark as a solemn grove, with sombre leafage shaded,
His paths of purpose wind,
A marvel to man's eye.
Smitten by him, from towering hopes degraded,
Mortals lie low and still.-
Tireless and effortless, works forth its will
The arm divine!
God from His holy seat, in calm of unarmed power,
Brings forth the deed, at its appointed hour!
Let Him look down on mortal wantonness!
Lo! how the youthful stock of Belus' line
Craves for me, uncontrolled-
With greed and madness bold-
Urged on by passion's shunless stress-
And, cheated, learns too late the prey has 'scaped their hold!
Ah, listen, listen to my grievous tale,
My sorrow's words, my shrill and tearful cries!
Ah woe, ah woe!
Loud with lament the accents rise,
And from my living lips my own sad dirges flow!
O Apian land of hill and dale,
Thou kennest yet, O land, this faltered foreign wail-
Have mercy, hear my prayer!
Lo, how again, again, rend and tear
My woven raiment, and from off my hair
Cast the Sidonian veil!
Ah, but if fortune smile, if death be driven away,
Vowed rites, with eager haste, we to the gods will pay!
Alas, alas again!
O whither drift the waves? and who shall loose the pain?
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