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- The Iphigenia in Tauris - 5/17 -

Of desolate seas, in every heart a dream: And these she maketh empty die, and, lo, To that man's hand she falleth.


Through the Clashing Rocks they burst: They passed by the Cape unsleeping Of Phineus' sons accurst: They ran by the star-lit bay Upon magic surges sweeping, Where folk on the waves astray Have seen, through the gleaming grey, Ring behind ring, men say, The dance of the old Sea's daughters.

The guiding oar abaft It rippled and it dinned, And now the west wind laughed And now the south-west wind; And the sail was full in flight, And they passed by the Island White:

Birds, birds, everywhere, White as the foam, light as the air; And ghostly Achilles raceth there, Far in the Friendless Waters. [ANTISTROPHE 1.] Ah, would that Leda's child ... (So prayeth the priestess maiden) From Troy, that she beguiled, Hither were borne, to know What sin on her soul is laden! Hair twisted, throat held low, Head back for the blood to flow, To die by the sword. ... Ah no! One hope my soul yet hideth.

A sail, a sail from Greece, Fearless to cross the sea, With ransom and with peace To my sick captivity. O home, to see thee still, And the old walls on the hill!

Dreams, dreams, gather to me! Bear me on wings over the sea; O joy of the night, to slave and free, One good thing that abideth!

LEADER. But lo, the twain whom Thoas sends, Their arms in bondage grasped sore; Strange offering this, to lay before The Goddess! Hold your peace, O friends.

Onward, still onward, to this shrine They lead the first-fruits of the Greek. 'Twas true, the tale he came to speak, That watcher of the mountain kine.

O holy one, if it afford Thee joy, what these men bring to thee, Take thou their sacrifice, which we, By law of Hellas, hold abhorred.

[Enter ORESTES and PYLADES, bound, and guarded by taurians. re-enter IPHIGENIA.]

IPHIGENIA. So be it. My foremost care must be that nothing harms The temple's holy rule.--Untie their arms. That which is hallowed may no more be bound. You, to the shrine within! Let all be found As the law bids, and as we need this day.

[ORESTES and PYLADES are set free; some ATTENDANTS go into the temple.]

Ah me! What mother then was yours, O strangers, say, And father? And your sister, if you have A sister: both at once, so young and brave To leave her brotherless! Who knows when heaven May send that fortune? For to none is given To know the coming nor the end of woe; So dark is God, and to great darkness go His paths, by blind chance mazed from our ken. Whence are ye come, O most unhappy men? From some far home, methinks, ye have found this shore And far shall stay from home for evermore.

ORESTES. Why weepest thou, woman, to make worse the smart Of that which needs must be, whoe'er thou art? I count it not for gentleness, when one Who means to slay, seeks first to make undone By pity that sharp dread. Nor praise I him, With hope long dead, who sheddeth tears to dim The pain that grips him close. The evil so Is doubled into twain. He doth but show His feeble heart, and, as he must have died, Dies.--Let ill fortune float upon her tide And weep no more for us. What way this land Worships its god we know and understand.

IPHIGENIA. Say first ... which is it men call Pylades?

ORESTES. 'Tis this man's name, if that will give thee ease.

IPHIGENIA. From what walled town of Hellas cometh he?

ORESTES. Enough!--How would the knowledge profit thee?

IPHIGENIA. Are ye two brethren of one mother born?

ORESTES. No, not in blood. In love we are brothers sworn.

IPHIGENIA. Thou also hast a name: tell me thereof.

ORESTES. Call me Unfortunate. 'Tis name enough.

IPHIGENIA. I asked not that. Let that with Fortune lie.

ORESTES. Fools cannot laugh at them that nameless die.

IPHIGENIA. Why grudge me this? Hast thou such mighty fame?

ORESTES. My body, if thou wilt, but not my name.

IPHIGENIA. Nor yet the land of Greece where thou wast bred?

ORESTES. What gain to have told it thee, when I am dead?

IPHIGENIA. Nay: why shouldst thou deny so small a grace?

ORESTES. Know then, great Argos was my native place.

IPHIGENIA. Stranger! The truth! ... From Argos art thou come?

ORESTES. Mycenae, once a rich land, was my home.

IPHIGENIA. 'Tis banishment that brings thee here--or what?

ORESTES. A kind of banishment, half forced, half sought.

IPHIGENIA. Wouldst thou but tell me all I need of thee!

ORESTES. 'Twere not much added to my misery.

IPHIGENIA. From Argos! ... Oh, how sweet to see thee here!

ORESTES. Enjoy it, then. To me 'tis sorry cheer.

IPHIGENIA. Thou knowest the name of Troy? Far doth it flit.

ORESTES. Would God I had not; nay, nor dreamed of it.

IPHIGENIA. Men fable it is fallen beneath the sword?

ORESTES. Fallen it is. Thou hast heard no idle word.

IPHIGENIA. Fallen! At last!--And Helen taken too?

ORESTES. Aye; on an evil day for one I knew.

IPHIGENIA. Where is she? I too have some anger stored ...

The Iphigenia in Tauris - 5/17

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