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- The Iphigenia in Tauris - 3/17 -

Pardon for turning back to sons of kings.

[They go out towards the shore. After they are gone, enter gradually the WOMEN]


CHORUS. Peace! Peace upon all who dwell By the Sister Rocks that clash in the swell Of the Friendless Seas.

O Child of Leto, thou, Dictynna mountain-born, To the cornice gold-inlaid To the pillared sanctities, We come in the cold of morn, We come with virgin brow, Pure as our oath was sworn, Handmaids of thine handmaid Who holdeth the stainless keys,

From Hellas, that once was ours, We come before thy gate, From the land of the western seas, The horses and the towers, The wells and the garden trees, And the seats where our fathers sate.

LEADER. What tidings, ho? With what intent Hast called me to thy shrine and thee, O child of him who crossed the sea To Troy with that great armament, The thousand prows, the myriad swords? I come, O child of Atreid Lords.

[IPHIGENIA, followed by ATTENDANTS, comes from the Temple.]

IPHIGENIA. Alas, O maidens mine, I am filled full of tears: My heart filled with the beat Of tears, as of dancing feet, A lyreless joyless line, And music meet for the dead.

For a whisper is in mine ears, By visions borne on the breath Of the Night that now is fled, Of a brother gone to death. Oh sorrow and weeping sore, For the house that no more is, For the dead that were kings of yore And the labour of Argolis!

[She begins the Funeral Rite.]

O Spirit, thou unknown, Who bearest on dark wings My brother, my one, mine own, I bear drink-offerings, And the cup that bringeth ease Flowing through Earth's deep breast; Milk of the mountain kine, The hallowed gleam of wine, The toil of murmuring bees: By these shall the dead have rest.


The golden goblet let me pour, And that which Hades thirsteth for.

O branch of Agamemnon's tree Beneath the earth, as to one dead, This cup of love I pour to thee. Oh, pardon, that I may not shed

One lock of hair to wreathe thy tomb, One tear: so far, so far am I From what to me and thee was home, And where in all men's fantasy, Butchered, O God! I also lie.


Woe; woe: I too with refluent melody, An echo wild of the dirges of the Asian, I, thy bond maiden, cry to answer thee: The music that lieth hid in lamentation, The song that is heard in the deep hearts of the dead, That the Lord of dead men 'mid his dancing singeth, And never joy-cry, never joy it bringeth; Woe for the house of Kings in desolation, Woe for the light of the sceptre vanished.

From kings in Argos of old, from joyous kings, The beginning came: Then peril swift upon peril, flame on flame: The dark and wheeling coursers, as wild with wings, The cry of one betrayed on a drowning shore, The sun that blanched in heaven, the world that changed-- Evil on evil and none alone!--deranged By the Golden Lamb and the wrong grown ever more; Blood following blood, sorrow on sorrow sore! So come the dead of old, the dead in wrath, Back on the seed of the high Tantalidae; Surely the Spirit of Life an evil path Hath hewed for thee. IPHIGENIA. From the beginning the Spirit of my life Was an evil spirit. Alas for my mother's zone, And the night that bare me! From the beginning Strife, As a book to read, Fate gave me for mine own. They wooed a bride for the strikers down of Troy-- Thy first-born, Mother: was it for this, thy prayer?-- A hind of slaughter to die in a father's snare, Gift of a sacrifice where none hath joy.

They set me on a royal wane; Down the long sand they led me on, A bride new-decked, a bride of bane, In Aulis to the Nereid's son. And now estranged for evermore Beyond the far estranging foam I watch a flat and herbless shore, Unloved, unchilded, without home Or city: never more to meet For Hera's dance with Argive maids, Nor round the loom 'mid singing sweet Make broideries and storied braids, Of writhing giants overthrown And clear-eyed Pallas ... All is gone! Red hands and ever-ringing ears: The blood of men that friendless die, The horror of the strangers' cry Unheard, the horror of their tears.

But now, let even that have rest: I weep for him in Argos slain, The brother whom I knew, Ah me, A babe, a flower; and yet to be-- There on his mother's arms and breast-- The crowned Orestes, lord of men!

LEADER OF THE CHORUS. Stay, yonder from some headland of the sea There comes--methinks a herdsman, seeking thee.

(Enter a HERDSMAN. IPHIGENIA is still on her knees.)

HERDSMAN. Daughter of Clytemnestra and her king, Give ear! I bear news of a wondrous thing.

IPHIGENIA. What news, that should so mar my obsequies?

HERDSMAN. A ship hath passed the blue Symplegades, And here upon our coast two men are thrown, Young, bold, good slaughter for the altar-stone Of Artemis!


Make all the speed ye may; 'Tis not too much. The blood-bowl and the spray!

IPHIGENIA. Men of what nation? Doth their habit show?

HERDSMAN. Hellenes for sure, but that is all we know.

IPHIGENIA. No name? No other clue thine ear could seize?

HERDSMAN. We heard one call his comrade "Pylades."

IPHIGENIA. Yes. And the man who spoke--his name was what?

HERDSMAN. None of us heard. I think they spoke it not.

IPHIGENIA. How did ye see them first, how make them fast?

HERDSMAN. Down by the sea, just where the surge is cast ...

IPHIGENIA. The sea? What is the sea to thee and thine?


The Iphigenia in Tauris - 3/17

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