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- The Iphigenia in Tauris - 9/17 -


Orestes far away.

ORESTES. And thou in mine, the evil dreaming past, Back from the dead this day! Yet through the joy tears, tears and sorrow loud Are o'er mine eyes and thine eyes, like a cloud.

IPHIGENIA. Is this the babe I knew, The little babe, light lifted like a bird? O heart of mine, too blest for any word, What shall I say or do? Beyond all wonders, beyond stories heard, This joy is here and true.

ORESTES. Could we but stay thus joined for evermore!

IPHIGENIA. A joy is mine I may not understand, Friends, and a fear, lest sudden from my hand This dream will melt and soar Up to the fiery skies from whence it came. O Argos land, O hearth and holy flame That old Cyclopes lit, I bless ye that he lives, that he is grown, A light and strength, my brother and mine own; I bless your name for it.

ORESTES. One blood we are; so much is well. But Fate, Sister, hath not yet made us fortunate.

IPHIGENIA. O most unfortunate! Did I not feel, Whose father, misery-hearted, at my bare Throat held the steel?

ORESTES. Woe's me! Methinks even now I see thee there.

IPHIGENIA. No love-song of Achilles! Crafty arms Drew me to that cold sleep, And tears, blind tears amid the altar psalms And noise of them that weep-- That was my cleansing!

ORESTES. My heart too doth bleed, To think our father wrought so dire a deed.

IPHIGENIA. My life hath known no father. Any road To any end may run, As god's will drives; else ...

ORESTES. Else, unhappy one, Thyself had spilt this day thy brother's blood!

IPHIGENIA. Ah God, my cruel deed! ... 'Twas horrible. 'Twas horrible ... O brother! Did my heart Endure it? ... And things fell Right by so frail a chance; and here thou art. Bloody my hand had been, My heart heavy with sin. And now, what end cometh? Shall Chance yet comfort me, Finding a way for thee Back from the Friendless Strand, Back from the place of death-- Ere yet the slayers come And thy blood sink in the sand-- Home unto Argos, home? ... Hard heart, so swift to slay, Is there to life no way? ...

No ship! ... And how by land? ... A rush of feet Out to the waste alone. Nay: 'twere to meet Death, amid tribes unknown And trackless ways of the waste ... Surely the sea were best. Back by the narrow bar To the Dark Blue Gate! ... Ah God, too far, too far! ... Desolate! Desolate!

What god or man, what unimagined flame, Can cleave this road where no road is, and bring To us last wrecks of Agamemnon's name, Peace from long suffering?

LEADER. Lo, deeds of wonder and beyond surmise, Not as tales told, but seen of mine own eyes.

PYLADES. Men that have found the arms of those they love Would fain long linger in the joy thereof. But we, Orestes, have no respite yet For tears or tenderness. Let us forget All but the one word Freedom, calling us To live, not die by altars barbarous. Think not of joy in this great hour, nor lose Fortune's first hold. Not thus do wise men use.

ORESTES. I think that Fortune watcheth o'er our lives, Surer than we. But well said: he who strives Will find his gods strive for him equally.

IPHIGENIA. He shall not check us so, nor baffle me Of this one word. How doth Electra move Through life? Ye twain are all I have to love.

ORESTES. A wife and happy: this man hath her hand.

IPHIGENIA. And what man's son is he, and of what land?

ORESTES. Son of King Strophios he is called of men.

IPHIGENIA. Whom Atreus' daughter wed?--My kinsman then.

ORESTES. Our cousin, and my true and only friend.

IPHIGENIA. He was not born, when I went to mine end.

ORESTES. No, Strophios had no child for many a year.

IPHIGENIA. I give thee hail, husband of one so dear.

ORESTES. My more than kinsman, saviour in my need!

IPHIGENIA. But mother ... Speak: how did ye dare that deed?

ORESTES. Our father's wrongs ... But let that story be.

IPHIGENIA. And she to slay her king! What cause had she?

ORESTES. Forget her! ... And no tale for thee it is.

IPHIGENIA. So be it.--And thou art Lord of Argolis?

ORESTES. Our uncle rules. I walk an exile's ways.

IPHIGENIA. Doth he so trample on our fallen days?

ORESTES. Nay: there be those that drive me, Shapes of Dread.

IPHIGENIA. Ah! That frenzy on the shore! 'Tis as they said...

ORESTES. They saw me in mine hour. It needs must be.

IPHIGENIA. 'Twas our dead mother's Furies hounding thee!

ORESTES. My mouth is bloody with the curb they ride.

IPHIGENIA. What brought thee here beyond the Friendless Tide?

ORESTES. What leads me everywhere--Apollo's word.

IPHIGENIA. Seeking what end?--Or may the tale be heard?

ORESTES. Nay, I can tell thee all. It needs must be The whole tale of my days of misery. When this sore evil that we speak not of Lit on my hand, this way and that they drove My body, till the God by diverse paths


The Iphigenia in Tauris - 9/17

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