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OEDIPUS AT COLONUS by Sophocles, Part 14


OEDIPUS
Where, where? what sayest thou?

ANTIGONE
O father, father,
Would that some god might grant thee eyes to see
This best of men who brings us back again.

OEDIPUS
My child! and are ye back indeed!

ANTIGONE
Yes, saved By Theseus and his gallant followers.

OEDIPUS
Come to your father's arms, O let me feel
A child's embrace I never hoped for more.

ANTIGONE
Thou askest what is doubly sweet to give.

OEDIPUS
Where are ye then?

ANTIGONE
We come together both.

OEDIPUS
My precious nurslings!

ANTIGONE
Fathers aye were fond.

OEDIPUS
Props of my age!

ANTIGONE
So sorrow sorrow props.

OEDIPUS
I have my darlings, and if death should come,
Death were not wholly bitter with you near.
Cling to me, press me close on either side,
There rest ye from your dreary wayfaring.
Now tell me of your ventures, but in brief;
Brief speech suffices for young maids like you.

ANTIGONE
Here is our savior; thou should'st hear the tale
From his own lips; so shall my part be brief.

OEDIPUS
I pray thee do not wonder if the sight
Of children, given o'er for lost, has made
My converse somewhat long and tedious.
Full well I know the joy I have of them
Is due to thee, to thee and no man else;
Thou wast their sole deliverer, none else.
The gods deal with thee after my desire,
With thee and with this land! for fear of heaven
I found above all peoples most with you,
And righteousness and lips that cannot lie.
I speak in gratitude of what I know,
For all I have I owe to thee alone.
Give me thy hand, O Prince, that I may touch it,
And if thou wilt permit me, kiss thy cheek.
What say I? Can I wish that thou should'st touch
One fallen like me to utter wretchedness,
Corrupt and tainted with a thousand ills?
Oh no, I would not let thee if thou would'st.
They only who have known calamity
Can share it. Let me greet thee where thou art,
And still befriend me as thou hast till now.

Theseus
I marvel not if thou hast dallied long
In converse with thy children and preferred
Their speech to mine; I feel no jealousy,
I would be famous more by deeds than words.
Of this, old friend, thou hast had proof; my oath
I have fulfilled and brought thee back the maids
Alive and nothing harmed for all those threats.
And how the fight was won, 'twere waste of words
To boast--thy daughters here will tell thee all.
But of a matter that has lately chanced
On my way hitherward, I fain would have
Thy counsel--slight 'twould seem, yet worthy thought.
A wise man heeds all matters great or small.

OEDIPUS
What is it, son of Aegeus? Let me hear.
Of what thou askest I myself know naught.

Theseus
'Tis said a man, no countryman of thine,
But of thy kin, hath taken sanctuary
Beside the altar of Poseidon, where
I was at sacrifice when called away.

OEDIPUS
What is his country? what the suitor's prayer?

Theseus
I know but one thing; he implores, I am told,
A word with thee--he will not trouble thee.

OEDIPUS
What seeks he? If a suppliant, something grave.

Theseus
He only waits, they say, to speak with thee,
And then unharmed to go upon his way.

OEDIPUS
I marvel who is this petitioner.

Theseus
Think if there be not any of thy kin
At Argos who might claim this boon of thee.

OEDIPUS
Dear friend, forbear, I pray.

Theseus
What ails thee now?

OEDIPUS
Ask it not of me.

 

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