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THE SUPPLIANTS by Aeschylus, Part XII

strophe 1

I shudder, I shiver, I perish with fear:
Overseas though I fled,
Yet nought it avails; my pursuers are near!
DANAUS
Children, take heart; they who decreed to aid
Thy cause will arm for battle, well I ween.
CHORUS
But desperate is Aegyptus' ravening race,
With fight unsated; thou too know'st it well.

antistrophe 1

In their wrath they o'ertake us; the prow is deep-dark
In the which they have sped,
And dark is the bench and the crew of the bark!
DANAUS
Yea but a crew as stout they here shall find,
And arms well steeled beneath a noon-day sun.
CHORUS
Ah yet, O father, leave us not forlorn!
Alone, a maid is nought, a strengthless arm.

strophe 2

With guile they pursue me, with counsel malign,
And unholy their soul;
And as ravens they seize me, unheeding the shrine!
DANAUS
Fair will befall us, children, in this chance,
If thus in wrath they wrong the gods and you.
CHORUS
Alas, nor tridents nor the sanctity
Of shrines will drive them, O my sire, from us!

antistrophe 2
Unholy and daring and cursed is their ire,
Nor own they control
Of the gods, but like jackals they glut their desire!
DANAUS
Ay, but Come wolf, flee jackal, saith the saw;
Nor can the flax-plant overbear the corn.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Lustful, accursed, monstrous is their will
As of beasts ravening-'ware we of their power
DANAUS
Look you, not swiftly puts a fleet to sea,
Nor swiftly to its moorings; long it is
Or e'er the saving cables to the shore
Are borne, and long or e'er the steersmen cry,
The good ship swings at anchor-all is well.
Longest of all, the task to come aland
Where haven there is none, when sunset fades
In night. To pilot wise, the adage saith,
Night is a day of wakefulness and pain.
Therefore no force of weaponed men, as yet,
Scatheless can come ashore, before the bark
Lie at her anchorage securely moored.
Bethink thee therefore, nor in panic leave
The shrine of gods whose succour thou hast won.
I go for aid-men shall not blame me long,
Old, but with youth at heart and on my tongue.
(DANAUS departs as the CHORUS sings in terror.)

CHORUS
strophe 1

O land of hill and dale, O holy land,
What shall befall us? whither shall we flee,
From Apian land to some dark lair of earth?

O would that in vapour of smoke I might rise to the clouds of the
sky,
That as dust which flits up without wings I might pass and evanish
and die!

antistrophe 1

I dare not, I dare not abide: my heart yearns, eager to fly;
And dark is the cast of my thought; I shudder and tremble for
fear.
My father looked forth and beheld: I die of the sight that draws
near.
And for me be the strangling cord, the halter made ready by Fate,
Before to my body draws nigh the man of my horror and hate.
Nay, ere I will own him as lord, as handmaid to Hades I go!

strophe 2

And oh, that aloft in the sky, where the dark clouds are frozen
to snow,
A refuge for me might be found, or a mountain-top smooth and too
high
For the foot of the goat, where the vulture sits lonely, and none
may descry
The pinnacle veiled in the cloud, the highest and sheerest of
all,
Ere to wedlock that rendeth my heart, and love that is loveless,
I fall!

 

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