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OEDIPUS AT COLONUS by Sophocles, Part 19


CHORUS
Where are the maids and their attendant friends?

MESSENGER
They cannot be far off; the approaching sound
Of lamentation tells they come this way.
Enter ANTIGONE and ISMENE

ANTIGONE
strophe 1

Woe, woe! on this sad day
We sisters of one blasted stock must bow beneath the shock,
Must weep and weep the curse that lay
On him our sire, for whom
In life, a life-long world of care
'Twas ours to bear,
In death must face the gloom
That wraps his tomb.
What tongue can tell
That sight ineffable?

CHORUS
What mean ye, maidens?

ANTIGONE
All is but surmise.

CHORUS
Is he then gone?

ANTIGONE
Gone as ye most might wish.
Not in battle or sea storm,
But reft from sight,
By hands invisible borne
To viewless fields of night.
Ah me! on us too night has come,
The night of mourning. Wither roam
O'er land or sea in our distress
Eating the bread of bitterness?

ISMENE
I know not. O that Death
Might nip my breath,
And let me share my aged father's fate.
I cannot live a life thus desolate.

CHORUS
Best of daughters, worthy pair,
What heaven brings ye needs must bear,
Fret no more 'gainst Heaven's will;
Fate hath dealt with you not ill.

ANTIGONE
antistrophe 1

Love can turn past pain to bliss,
What seemed bitter now is sweet.
Ah me! that happy toil is sweet.
The guidance of those dear blind feet.
Dear father, wrapt for aye in nether gloom,
E'en in the tomb
Never shalt thou lack of love repine,
Her love and mine.

CHORUS
His fate--

ANTIGONE
Is even as he planned.

CHORUS
How so?

ANTIGONE
He died, so willed he, in a foreign land.
Lapped in kind earth he sleeps his long last sleep,
And o'er his grave friends weep.
How great our lost these streaming eyes can tell,
This sorrow naught can quell.
Thou hadst thy wish 'mid strangers thus to die,
But I, ah me, not by.

ISMENE
Alas, my sister, what new fate
Befalls us orphans desolate?

CHORUS
His end was blessed; therefore, children, stay
Your sorrow. Man is born to fate a prey.

ANTIGONE
strophe 2

Sister, let us back again.

ISMENE
Why return?

ANTIGONE
My soul is fain--

ISMENE
Is fain?

 

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