Imatges de pàgina

For nought to rulers happen can more hurtful than
A sworn and secret strife amongst the faithful slaves.
The echo to his order then returns no more
Well sounding back in action quickly finished;
No! No! It roars and rolls around self-willèdly,
Round him, himself confused and chiding vainly all.
Nor is this all ! in unrestrainèd rage ye have
Called hither frightful shapes of unblest images,
Which press around me, that I hurried feel myself
Away to Orcus, spite of this paternal land.
Is 't memory perchance, or madness seizes me ?
Was I or am I that? Shall I in future be,
That city desolator's dreamy frightful form?
The maidens shudder, thou who art the eldest here

Thou stand'st collected, give me answer sensible.

He who remembers long and various happiness—
To him at length God's highest favour seems a dream.
But thou, thou highly favoured, without let or bound,
In thy life's course, saw'st only love-inflamèd men,
To boldest daring kindled quick of every kind.
Already Theseus early seized thee, greedily,

Strong as Alcides, formed in fine and noble mould.
Helen. He ravished me away a ten year slender roe,

And shut me in Aphidna’s hold in Attica. Phorkyas.

By Castor and by Pollux soon delivered,

A chosen band of mighty heroes sued for thee. Helen. Yet silent love of all, I say it willingly,

Patroclus won, the image of great Peleus' son. Phorkyas.

To Menelaus yet thy father gave thee o'er

The ocean-ranging home-preserving warrior. Helen. He gave his daughter, gave his kingdom up to him

And from that marriage sprang the fair Hermione. Phorkyas.

Yet when he strove for Crete as his inheritance

An all too charming guest to thee deserted came. Helen. Of that half widowhood, ah! why remind'st thou me ?

And the destruction dire which issued out of it! Phorkyas.

That voyage too to me a freeborn Cretan dame

Brought dreadful slavery and long captivity. Helen. Immediate he placed thee here as stewardess,

With palace trusting thee and well-earned treasures too. Phorkyads.

Which thou didst leave, fair Ilion's tower-surrounded town
And unexhausted joys of love intent upon.

Helen. Remind me not of joys' of all too bitter woe

Infinity poured o'er my breast and luckless head. Phorkyas.

They say that thou in double image didst appear

Seen both in Ilion's walls and in Ægyptia.
Helen. The madness of my desolate mind confound thou not.

What then I was, alas! alas! I know not now.

And then they say that from the hollow shadow realms
Achilles ardently had joined himself to thee !

Loving thee erst against all fates determining.
Helen. A spectre with him I as spectre was conjoined.

It was a dream, and thus the tales themselves assert.
I faint and to myself a spectre do become.

[She sinks into the arms of the Semichorus.

Chorus. Be silent! Be silent !

Thou evil-looking and evil-speaking one!
Out of thy one-toothed horrible
Lips! What can forth issue
From such a fearful horrible gulf!
For a malign one gentle appearing,
The rage of the wolf 'neath the fleece of the sheep,
Is far more terrible in my sight
Than the jaws of the three headed hound.
Anxiously listening here we stand!
When? How? Where will break forth
All the deep louring
Monstrous fury of such malice ?
And now, 'stead of friendly and comforting story
Lethe-inspiring and full of sweet mildness,
Up from the times that are past hast thou raised
More of evil than good ;
And at the same time darkenest
Both the sheen of the present,
And the mildly
Glimmering gentle light of the future.
Be silent! Be silent !
That the queen's bright spirit.
Just to escape prepared,
May remain, and keep firmly
* The fáirest of all the forms
That ever the sun hath beheld.

[Helen recovers and stands in the midst again.

Phorkyasi Of this day thou lofty sun, thou, from these fleeting clouds come forth, That, who e'en when veiled delightest, now in blending glory rul'st As the world, to thee unfolding seems, do thou upon us look, Even though they rate me hideous, yet I know the beauteous well.

Helen. Tottering step I from the loneness which me fainting came around, Willingly I'd seek repose, so tired and weary are my limbs, Yet the rulers it beseemeth--all men it beseemeth well To collect and man their spirits, whate'er threatening them surprise.

Now thou standest in thy greatness, in thy beauty as before,
Thy look tells thou woulds't command us, what command'st thou ? Tell
it forth.

Your contentions bold delaying to atone for be prepared,
Hasten to prepare an offering as the monarch gave command.

In the palace all is ready, dishes, tripod and sharp axe,

To besprinkle and be-incense; now the victim tell to us.
Helen. That the monarch did not tell me.

Told thee not ? O word of woe !
Helen. What's this grief that falls upon thee?

Queen, 'tis thou, 'tis thou art meant ! Helen. I? Phorkyas. And these. Chorus.

Oh woe and sorrow!

Thou wilt perish by the axe.
Helen. Dreadful ! Yet I thought it, wretched !

- Unavoidable it seems.
Chorus. Ah! And we ? Oh, what will happen?

She will die a noble death ;On the lofty beam within there which the palace gable bears, As within a snare the thrushes, ye will sprawl in lengthy rows.

(Helen and Chorus stand astounded and terrified in expressive well

arranged groups.) Phorkyas.

Spectres like statues petrified ye 're standing there,
Dreading to part from day which not to you belongs.
Both men and spectres- too together like to ye,
Not willingly renounce the sunshine glorious ;
Yet the conclusion none can pray or save them from ;
All know it, yet to few it is agreeable.
Enough! Ye all are lost ! - Quick therefore to the work !

(She claps her hands ;-enter at the doors masqued dwarfish forms,

who readily perform the commands she has pronounced).

Come here, ye monstrous forms, gloomy and round as ball,
Roll yourselves hither, ye may injure here at will :

Make room for th’altar portable, the golden horned;
Let the axe gleaming lie upon the silver rim;
Fill up the water jugs to wash away again
Of the black flowing blood, the stainings horrible.
Spread out the costly carpet here upon the dust,
So that the victim may in queenly sort down kneel,
And in it though with separated head may lie

Infolded, and in decent form entombed be. ·
Chorus Leader. .
Wrapt up in thought aside the royal lady stands,

The maidens droop around like meadow grass when mown ;
Me seems it right the eldest, as in duty bound,
With thee, thou primal ancient one, a word to speak.
Experienced art thou, wise and seem'st to mean us well,
Although this brainless throng misjudging scoffed at thee.

Say then, O say, what rescue possible thou know'st.
'Tis easy said, the queen alone hath power now
To rescue both herself and you appendages,

But yet it needs resolve, and that the quickest too.

Honour-worthiest of the Parcæ, wisest of the Sybils, thou,
Keep in sheath the golden scissors, light and saving tell us of,
For in swinging, waving, dangling unagreeably we feel
Our limbs which erst in dancing rather moved them joyously,

Then upon loved bosom resting.

Regard not these poor tremblers ! Grief I feel, no fright;
Yet, know'st thou rescue, it will be with thanks received.
To prudent and far-sighted ones the impossible
Appears oft possible. So speak and tell us it.

Chorus :
Speak and tell, O tell us swiftly: how shall we escape the dreadful,
Awful nooses, which, all threatening, as of ornaments the vilest,
Round our necks themselves are drawing? we anticipate, we wretched,
Want of breath and suffocation, if thou high and lofty Rhea,
Of all deities the mother, dost not pity,

And have ye patience the proposal's lengthy train

To hear in silence ? For the story's manifold.
Chorus. Patience enough to hear! Listening meanwhile we live.

He who in watch at home his noble treasure guards
And knows his lofty palace walls well to cement,
And from the rain's descent his roof to make secure,
He through a long life will be ever fortunate;
but he who easily his threshold's holy beam
With hasty feet strides over guiltily,

When he returns he finds again the ancient place;

Yet all around is changed, if not quite overthrown.
Helen. Declare, what mean such old and well-known proverbs here !

If thou relat'st, touch not the disagreeable.

It is historical, and noways a reproach,
From bay to bay king, Menelaus pirating
Steered, and both shores and islands coasted hostilely,
With booty home returning, such as lies within.
Ten long-fong years he passed away at Ilion,
And how long time he was returning know I not.
But how with Tyndarus's lofty palace here,

Now doth it stand ? How doth the kingdom stand around ?
Helen. Is then abuse with thee so far incorporate,

That thou without reproaching canst not ope thy lips?

The valley ridge so many years stood desolate,
That behind Sparta northwards rises to the heavens,
With Taygetus behind, where as a cheerful brook,
Eurotas rolls adown and then amid the vale,
Flowing through rushes broad your swans still nourisheth.
There, in the valley ridge behind, a people bold
Itself has settled, pressing from Cimmerian night,
And hath piled up a castle inaccessible,

Whence land and folk around they pillage as they please.
Helen. Could they accomplish that? Impossible it seems.

They have had time indeed, perhaps 'tis twenty years.
Helen. Is it one horde ? Or many robbers, and allied.

They are not robbers, but one is the master there;
Although he hither came to me, I blame him not.

He could have taken all, and yet contented was
. With few free gifts, so called he them, and tribute not.
Helen. How is his look ?

Not ugly, me he pleases well.
He is a cheerful, daring, and well form'd man,
As few among the Greeks ; of understanding too.
We call them all barbarians, yet I cannot think,
That any is so dreadful, as at Ilion,
Full many a hero cannibalish showed himself.
His greatness I respect : to him would trust myself.
And then his castle! ye should see it with your eyes !
That's something different from the great coarse wallwork, which
Your fathers rolled aloft at random up in heaps,
Cyclopish like to Cyclops, rough stones hurling up
Upon rough stones : but on the contrary, there all

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