Much thought extends a furlong to a league. But in the end the forward voice prevailed, To face thee. I will speak though I say nothing. For plucking courage from despair methought, ‘Let the worst hap, thou canst but meet thy fate.’
I cannot tell, for there was ne’er a trace Of pick or mattock–hard unbroken ground, Without a scratch or rut of chariot wheels, No sign that human hands had been at work. When the first sentry of the morning watch Gave the alarm, we all were terror-stricken. The corpse had vanished, not interred in earth, But strewn with dust, as if by one who sought To avert the curse that haunts the unburied dead: Of hound or ravening jackal, not a sign. Thereat arose an angry war of words;
Guard railed at guard and blows were like to end it, For none was there to part us, each in turn Suspected, but the guilt brought home to none, From lack of evidence. We challenged each The ordeal, or to handle red-hot iron,
Or pass through fire, affirming on our oath Our innocence–we neither did the deed
Ourselves, nor know who did or compassed it. Our quest was at a standstill, when one spake And bowed us all to earth like quivering reeds, For there was no gainsaying him nor way
To escape perdition: _Ye_are_bound_to_tell_ _The_King,_ye_cannot_hide_it_; so he spake. And he convinced us all; so lots were cast, And I, unlucky scapegoat, drew the prize. So here I am unwilling and withal
Unwelcome; no man cares to hear ill news.
O cease, you vex me with your babblement; I am like to think you dote in your old age. Is it not arrant folly to pretend
That gods would have a thought for this dead man? Did they forsooth award him special grace, And as some benefactor bury him,
Who came to fire their hallowed sanctuaries, To sack their shrines, to desolate their land, And scout their ordinances? Or perchance The gods bestow their favors on the bad. No! no! I have long noted malcontents
Who wagged their heads, and kicked against the yoke, Misliking these my orders, and my rule.
‘Tis they, I warrant, who suborned my guards By bribes. Of evils current upon earth
The worst is money. Money ’tis that sacks Cities, and drives men forth from hearth and home; Warps and seduces native innocence,
And breeds a habit of dishonesty.
But they who sold themselves shall find their greed Out-shot the mark, and rue it soon or late. Yea, as I still revere the dread of Zeus, By Zeus I swear, except ye find and bring Before my presence here the very man
Who carried out this lawless burial, Death for your punishment shall not suffice. Hanged on a cross, alive ye first shall make Confession of this outrage. This will teach you What practices are like to serve your turn. There are some villainies that bring no gain. For by dishonesty the few may thrive,
The many come to ruin and disgrace.
I pray he may be found. But caught or not (And fortune must determine that) thou never Shalt see me here returning; that is sure. For past all hope or thought I have escaped, And for my safety owe the gods much thanks.
Many wonders there be, but naught more wondrous than man; Over the surging sea, with a whitening south wind wan, Through the foam of the firth, man makes his perilous way; And the eldest of deities Earth that knows not toil nor decay Ever he furrows and scores, as his team, year in year out, With breed of the yoked horse, the ploughshare turneth about.
The light-witted birds of the air, the beasts of the weald and the wood He traps with his woven snare, and the brood of the briny flood. Master of cunning he: the savage bull, and the hart Who roams the mountain free, are tamed by his infinite art; And the shaggy rough-maned steed is broken to bear the bit.
Speech and the wind-swift speed of counsel and civic wit, He hath learnt for himself all these; and the arrowy rain to fly And the nipping airs that freeze, ‘neath the open winter sky. He hath provision for all: fell plague he hath learnt to endure; Safe whate’er may befall: yet for death he hath found no cure.
Passing the wildest flight thought are the cunning and skill, That guide man now to the light, but now to counsels of ill. If he honors the laws of the land, and reveres the Gods of the State Proudly his city shall stand; but a cityless outcast I rate Whoso bold in his pride from the path of right doth depart; Ne’er may I sit by his side, or share the thoughts of his heart.
What strange vision meets my eyes, Fills me with a wild surprise?
Sure I know her, sure ’tis she, The maid Antigone.
Hapless child of hapless sire, Didst thou recklessly conspire,
Madly brave the King’s decree? Therefore are they haling thee?
[Enter GUARD bringing ANTIGONE]
No man, my lord, should make a vow, for if He ever swears he will not do a thing,
His afterthoughts belie his first resolve. When from the hail-storm of thy threats I fled I sware thou wouldst not see me here again; But the wild rapture of a glad surprise
Intoxicates, and so I’m here forsworn. And here’s my prisoner, caught in the very act, Decking the grave. No lottery this time; This prize is mine by right of treasure-trove. So take her, judge her, rack her, if thou wilt. She’s thine, my liege; but I may rightly claim Hence to depart well quit of all these ills.
It happened thus. No sooner had we come, Driven from thy presence by those awful threats, Than straight we swept away all trace of dust, And bared the clammy body. Then we sat
High on the ridge to windward of the stench, While each man kept he fellow alert and rated Roundly the sluggard if he chanced to nap. So all night long we watched, until the sun Stood high in heaven, and his blazing beams Smote us. A sudden whirlwind then upraised A cloud of dust that blotted out the sky, And swept the plain, and stripped the woodlands bare, And shook the firmament. We closed our eyes And waited till the heaven-sent plague should pass. At last it ceased, and lo! there stood this maid. A piercing cry she uttered, sad and shrill, As when the mother bird beholds her nest Robbed of its nestlings; even so the maid Wailed as she saw the body stripped and bare, And cursed the ruffians who had done this deed. Anon she gathered handfuls of dry dust,
Then, holding high a well-wrought brazen urn, Thrice on the dead she poured a lustral stream. We at the sight swooped down on her and seized Our quarry. Undismayed she stood, and when We taxed her with the former crime and this, She disowned nothing. I was glad–and grieved; For ’tis most sweet to ‘scape oneself scot-free, And yet to bring disaster to a friend
Is grievous. Take it all in all, I deem A man’s first duty is to serve himself.
CREON (to GUARD)
Sirrah, begone whither thou wilt, and thank Thy luck that thou hast ‘scaped a heavy charge. (To ANTIGONE)
Now answer this plain question, yes or no, Wast thou acquainted with the interdict?
Yea, for these laws were not ordained of Zeus, And she who sits enthroned with gods below, Justice, enacted not these human laws.
Nor did I deem that thou, a mortal man, Could’st by a breath annul and override
The immutable unwritten laws of Heaven. They were not born today nor yesterday;
They die not; and none knoweth whence they sprang. I was not like, who feared no mortal’s frown, To disobey these laws and so provoke
The wrath of Heaven. I knew that I must die, E’en hadst thou not proclaimed it; and if death Is thereby hastened, I shall count it gain. For death is gain to him whose life, like mine, Is full of misery. Thus my lot appears
Not sad, but blissful; for had I endured To leave my mother’s son unburied there, I should have grieved with reason, but not now. And if in this thou judgest me a fool,
Methinks the judge of folly’s not acquit.
Well, let her know the stubbornest of wills Are soonest bended, as the hardest iron, O’er-heated in the fire to brittleness,
Flies soonest into fragments, shivered through. A snaffle curbs the fieriest steed, and he Who in subjection lives must needs be meek. But this proud girl, in insolence well-schooled, First overstepped the established law, and then– A second and worse act of insolence–
She boasts and glories in her wickedness. Now if she thus can flout authority
Unpunished, I am woman, she the man. But though she be my sister’s child or nearer Of kin than all who worship at my hearth, Nor she nor yet her sister shall escape
The utmost penalty, for both I hold, As arch-conspirators, of equal guilt.
Bring forth the older; even now I saw her Within the palace, frenzied and distraught. The workings of the mind discover oft
Dark deeds in darkness schemed, before the act. More hateful still the miscreant who seeks When caught, to make a virtue of a crime.
Why dally then? To me no word of thine Is pleasant: God forbid it e’er should please; Nor am I more acceptable to thee.
And yet how otherwise had I achieved A name so glorious as by burying
A brother? so my townsmen all would say, Where they not gagged by terror, Manifold A king’s prerogatives, and not the least That all his acts and all his words are law.
Woman, who like a viper unperceived Didst harbor in my house and drain my blood, Two plagues I nurtured blindly, so it proved, To sap my throne. Say, didst thou too abet This crime, or dost abjure all privity?
By you, as first by me; off with them, guards, And keep them close. Henceforward let them learn To live as women use, not roam at large. For e’en the bravest spirits run away
When they perceive death pressing on life’s heels.
Thy might, O Zeus, what mortal power can quell? Not sleep that lays all else beneath its spell, Nor moons that never tier: untouched by Time, Throned in the dazzling light
That crowns Olympus’ height,
Thou reignest King, omnipotent, sublime.
Hope flits about never-wearying wings; Profit to some, to some light loves she brings, But no man knoweth how her gifts may turn, Till ‘neath his feet the treacherous ashes burn. Sure ’twas a sage inspired that spake this word; _If_evil_good_appear_
And brief the respite from her flaming sword.
Well spoken: so right-minded sons should feel, In all deferring to a father’s will.
For ’tis the hope of parents they may rear A brood of sons submissive, keen to avenge Their father’s wrongs, and count his friends their own. But who begets unprofitable sons,
He verily breeds trouble for himself, And for his foes much laughter. Son, be warned And let no woman fool away thy wits.
Ill fares the husband mated with a shrew, And her embraces very soon wax cold.
For what can wound so surely to the quick As a false friend? So spue and cast her off, Bid her go find a husband with the dead. For since I caught her openly rebelling, Of all my subjects the one malcontent,
I will not prove a traitor to the State. She surely dies. Go, let her, if she will, Appeal to Zeus the God of Kindred, for
If thus I nurse rebellion in my house, Shall not I foster mutiny without?
For whoso rules his household worthily, Will prove in civic matters no less wise. But he who overbears the laws, or thinks To overrule his rulers, such as one
I never will allow. Whome’er the State Appoints must be obeyed in everything,
But small and great, just and unjust alike. I warrant such a one in either case
Would shine, as King or subject; such a man Would in the storm of battle stand his ground, A comrade leal and true; but Anarchy–
What evils are not wrought by Anarchy! She ruins States, and overthrows the home, She dissipates and routs the embattled host; While discipline preserves the ordered ranks. Therefore we must maintain authority
And yield to title to a woman’s will. Better, if needs be, men should cast us out Than hear it said, a woman proved his match.
Father, the gods implant in mortal men Reason, the choicest gift bestowed by heaven. ‘Tis not for me to say thou errest, nor
Would I arraign thy wisdom, if I could; And yet wise thoughts may come to other men And, as thy son, it falls to me to mark
The acts, the words, the comments of the crowd. The commons stand in terror of thy frown, And dare not utter aught that might offend, But I can overhear their muttered plaints, Know how the people mourn this maiden doomed For noblest deeds to die the worst of deaths. When her own brother slain in battle lay Unsepulchered, she suffered not his corse To lie for carrion birds and dogs to maul: Should not her name (they cry) be writ in gold? Such the low murmurings that reach my ear. O father, nothing is by me more prized
Than thy well-being, for what higher good Can children covet than their sire’s fair fame, As fathers too take pride in glorious sons? Therefore, my father, cling not to one mood, And deemed not thou art right, all others wrong. For whoso thinks that wisdom dwells with him, That he alone can speak or think aright, Such oracles are empty breath when tried. The wisest man will let himself be swayed By others’ wisdom and relax in time.
See how the trees beside a stream in flood Save, if they yield to force, each spray unharmed, But by resisting perish root and branch. The mariner who keeps his mainsheet taut, And will not slacken in the gale, is like To sail with thwarts reversed, keel uppermost. Relent then and repent thee of thy wrath; For, if one young in years may claim some sense, I’ll say ’tis best of all to be endowed
With absolute wisdom; but, if that’s denied, (And nature takes not readily that ply)
Next wise is he who lists to sage advice.
She shall be taken to some desert place By man untrod, and in a rock-hewn cave,
With food no more than to avoid the taint That homicide might bring on all the State, Buried alive. There let her call in aid
The King of Death, the one god she reveres, Or learn too late a lesson learnt at last: ‘Tis labor lost, to reverence the dead.
Mad are thy subjects all, and even the wisest heart Straight to folly will fall, at a touch of thy poisoned dart. Thou didst kindle the strife, this feud of kinsman with kin, By the eyes of a winsome wife, and the yearning her heart to win. For as her consort still, enthroned with Justice above, Thou bendest man to thy will, O all invincible Love.
Friends, countrymen, my last farewell I make; My journey’s done.
One last fond, lingering, longing look I take At the bright sun.
For Death who puts to sleep both young and old Hales my young life,
And beckons me to Acheron’s dark fold, An unwed wife.
No youths have sung the marriage song for me, My bridal bed
No maids have strewn with flowers from the lea, ‘Tis Death I wed.
Nay, but the piteous tale I’ve heard men tell Of Tantalus’ doomed child,
Chained upon Siphylus’ high rocky fell, That clung like ivy wild,
Drenched by the pelting rain and whirling snow, Left there to pine,
While on her frozen breast the tears aye flow– Her fate is mine.
Alack, alack! Ye mock me. Is it meet Thus to insult me living, to my face? Cease, by our country’s altars I entreat, Ye lordly rulers of a lordly race.
O fount of Dirce, wood-embowered plain Where Theban chariots to victory speed, Mark ye the cruel laws that now have wrought my bane, The friends who show no pity in my need! Was ever fate like mine? O monstrous doom, Within a rock-built prison sepulchered, To fade and wither in a living tomb,
And alien midst the living and the dead.
At this thou touchest my most poignant pain, My ill-starred father’s piteous disgrace, The taint of blood, the hereditary stain, That clings to all of Labdacus’ famed race. Woe worth the monstrous marriage-bed where lay A mother with the son her womb had borne, Therein I was conceived, woe worth the day, Fruit of incestuous sheets, a maid forlorn, And now I pass, accursed and unwed,
To meet them as an alien there below; And thee, O brother, in marriage ill-bestead, ‘Twas thy dead hand that dealt me this death-blow.
Religion has her chains, ’tis true, Let rite be paid when rites are due. Yet is it ill to disobey
The powers who hold by might the sway. Thou hast withstood authority,
A self-willed rebel, thou must die.
If wail and lamentation aught availed To stave off death, I trow they’d never end. Away with her, and having walled her up
In a rock-vaulted tomb, as I ordained, Leave her alone at liberty to die,
Or, if she choose, to live in solitude, The tomb her dwelling. We in either case Are guiltless as concerns this maiden’s blood, Only on earth no lodging shall she find.
O grave, O bridal bower, O prison house Hewn from the rock, my everlasting home, Whither I go to join the mighty host
Of kinsfolk, Persephassa’s guests long dead, The last of all, of all more miserable,
I pass, my destined span of years cut short. And yet good hope is mine that I shall find A welcome from my sire, a welcome too,
From thee, my mother, and my brother dear; From with these hands, I laved and decked your limbs In death, and poured libations on your grave. And last, my Polyneices, unto thee
I paid due rites, and this my recompense! Yet am I justified in wisdom’s eyes.
For even had it been some child of mine, Or husband mouldering in death’s decay,
I had not wrought this deed despite the State. What is the law I call in aid? ‘Tis thus I argue. Had it been a husband dead
I might have wed another, and have borne Another child, to take the dead child’s place. But, now my sire and mother both are dead, No second brother can be born for me.
Thus by the law of conscience I was led To honor thee, dear brother, and was judged By Creon guilty of a heinous crime.
And now he drags me like a criminal, A bride unwed, amerced of marriage-song
And marriage-bed and joys of motherhood, By friends deserted to a living grave.
What ordinance of heaven have I transgressed? Hereafter can I look to any god
For succor, call on any man for help? Alas, my piety is impious deemed.
Well, if such justice is approved of heaven, I shall be taught by suffering my sin;
But if the sin is theirs, O may they suffer No worse ills than the wrongs they do to me.
My fatherland, city of Thebes divine, Ye gods of Thebes whence sprang my line, Look, puissant lords of Thebes, on me;
The last of all your royal house ye see. Martyred by men of sin, undone.
Such meed my piety hath won.
Like to thee that maiden bright,
Danae, in her brass-bound tower, Once exchanged the glad sunlight
For a cell, her bridal bower.
And yet she sprang of royal line,
My child, like thine,
And nursed the seed
By her conceived
Of Zeus descending in a golden shower. Strange are the ways of Fate, her power
Nor wealth, nor arms withstand, nor tower; Nor brass-prowed ships, that breast the sea From Fate can flee.
Thus Dryas’ child, the rash Edonian King, For words of high disdain
Did Bacchus to a rocky dungeon bring, To cool the madness of a fevered brain.
His frenzy passed,
He learnt at last
‘Twas madness gibes against a god to fling. For once he fain had quenched the Maenad’s fire; And of the tuneful Nine provoked the ire.
By the Iron Rocks that guard the double main, On Bosporus’ lone strand,
Where stretcheth Salmydessus’ plain In the wild Thracian land,
There on his borders Ares witnessed The vengeance by a jealous step-dame ta’en The gore that trickled from a spindle red, The sightless orbits of her step-sons twain.
Wasting away they mourned their piteous doom, The blasted issue of their mother’s womb. But she her lineage could trace
To great Erecththeus’ race;
Daughter of Boreas in her sire’s vast caves Reared, where the tempest raves,
Swift as his horses o’er the hills she sped; A child of gods; yet she, my child, like thee, By Destiny
That knows not death nor age–she too was vanquished. [Enter TEIRESIAS and BOY]
The divination of my arts shall tell. Sitting upon my throne of augury,
As is my wont, where every fowl of heaven Find harborage, upon mine ears was borne A jargon strange of twitterings, hoots, and screams; So knew I that each bird at the other tare With bloody talons, for the whirr of wings Could signify naught else. Perturbed in soul, I straight essayed the sacrifice by fire On blazing altars, but the God of Fire
Came not in flame, and from the thigh bones dripped And sputtered in the ashes a foul ooze;
Gall-bladders cracked and spurted up: the fat Melted and fell and left the thigh bones bare. Such are the signs, taught by this lad, I read– As I guide others, so the boy guides me– The frustrate signs of oracles grown dumb. O King, thy willful temper ails the State, For all our shrines and altars are profaned By what has filled the maw of dogs and crows, The flesh of Oedipus’ unburied son.
Therefore the angry gods abominate
Our litanies and our burnt offerings; Therefore no birds trill out a happy note, Gorged with the carnival of human gore.
O ponder this, my son. To err is common To all men, but the man who having erred Hugs not his errors, but repents and seeks The cure, is not a wastrel nor unwise.
No fool, the saw goes, like the obstinate fool. Let death disarm thy vengeance. O forbear To vex the dead. What glory wilt thou win By slaying twice the slain? I mean thee well; Counsel’s most welcome if I promise gain.
Old man, ye all let fly at me your shafts Like anchors at a target; yea, ye set
Your soothsayer on me. Peddlers are ye all And I the merchandise ye buy and sell.
Go to, and make your profit where ye will, Silver of Sardis change for gold of Ind; Ye will not purchase this man’s burial,
Not though the winged ministers of Zeus Should bear him in their talons to his throne; Not e’en in awe of prodigy so dire
Would I permit his burial, for I know No human soilure can assail the gods;
This too I know, Teiresias, dire’s the fall Of craft and cunning when it tries to gloss Foul treachery with fair words for filthy gain.
Know then for sure, the coursers of the sun Not many times shall run their race, before Thou shalt have given the fruit of thine own loins In quittance of thy murder, life for life; For that thou hast entombed a living soul, And sent below a denizen of earth,
And wronged the nether gods by leaving here A corpse unlaved, unwept, unsepulchered. Herein thou hast no part, nor e’en the gods In heaven; and thou usurp’st a power not thine. For this the avenging spirits of Heaven and Hell Who dog the steps of sin are on thy trail: What these have suffered thou shalt suffer too. And now, consider whether bought by gold I prophesy. For, yet a little while,
And sound of lamentation shall be heard, Of men and women through thy desolate halls; And all thy neighbor States are leagues to avenge Their mangled warriors who have found a grave I’ the maw of wolf or hound, or winged bird That flying homewards taints their city’s air. These are the shafts, that like a bowman I Provoked to anger, loosen at thy breast, Unerring, and their smart thou shalt not shun. Boy, lead me home, that he may vent his spleen On younger men, and learn to curb his tongue With gentler manners than his present mood. [Exit TEIRESIAS]
I go hot-foot. Bestir ye one and all, My henchmen! Get ye axes! Speed away
To yonder eminence! I too will go,
For all my resolution this way sways. ‘Twas I that bound, I too will set her free. Almost I am persuaded it is best
To keep through life the law ordained of old. [Exit CREON]
Oh, as thou lov’st this city best of all, To thee, and to thy Mother levin-stricken, In our dire need we call;
Thou see’st with what a plague our townsfolk sicken. Thy ready help we crave,
Whether adown Parnassian heights descending, Or o’er the roaring straits thy swift was wending, Save us, O save!
Brightest of all the orbs that breathe forth light, Authentic son of Zeus, immortal king, Leader of all the voices of the night,
Come, and thy train of Thyiads with thee bring, Thy maddened rout
Who dance before thee all night long, and shout, Thy handmaids we,
Attend all ye who dwell beside the halls Of Cadmus and Amphion. No man’s life
As of one tenor would I praise or blame, For Fortune with a constant ebb and rise Casts down and raises high and low alike, And none can read a mortal’s horoscope.
Take Creon; he, methought, if any man, Was enviable. He had saved this land
Of Cadmus from our enemies and attained A monarch’s powers and ruled the state supreme, While a right noble issue crowned his bliss. Now all is gone and wasted, for a life
Without life’s joys I count a living death. You’ll tell me he has ample store of wealth, The pomp and circumstance of kings; but if These give no pleasure, all the rest I count The shadow of a shade, nor would I weigh His wealth and power ‘gainst a dram of joy.
Ye men of Thebes, I overheard your talk. As I passed out to offer up my prayer
To Pallas, and was drawing back the bar To open wide the door, upon my ears
There broke a wail that told of household woe Stricken with terror in my handmaids’ arms I fell and fainted. But repeat your tale To one not unacquaint with misery.
Dear mistress, I was there and will relate The perfect truth, omitting not one word. Why should we gloze and flatter, to be proved Liars hereafter? Truth is ever best.
Well, in attendance on my liege, your lord, I crossed the plain to its utmost margin, where The corse of Polyneices, gnawn and mauled, Was lying yet. We offered first a prayer To Pluto and the goddess of cross-ways,
With contrite hearts, to deprecate their ire. Then laved with lustral waves the mangled corse, Laid it on fresh-lopped branches, lit a pyre, And to his memory piled a mighty mound
Of mother earth. Then to the caverned rock, The bridal chamber of the maid and Death, We sped, about to enter. But a guard
Heard from that godless shrine a far shrill wail, And ran back to our lord to tell the news. But as he nearer drew a hollow sound
Of lamentation to the King was borne. He groaned and uttered then this bitter plaint: “Am I a prophet? miserable me!
Is this the saddest path I ever trod? ‘Tis my son’s voice that calls me. On press on, My henchmen, haste with double speed to the tomb Where rocks down-torn have made a gap, look in And tell me if in truth I recognize
The voice of Haemon or am heaven-deceived.” So at the bidding of our distraught lord We looked, and in the craven’s vaulted gloom I saw the maiden lying strangled there,
A noose of linen twined about her neck; And hard beside her, clasping her cold form, Her lover lay bewailing his dead bride
Death-wedded, and his father’s cruelty. When the King saw him, with a terrible groan He moved towards him, crying, “O my son
What hast thou done? What ailed thee? What mischance Has reft thee of thy reason? O come forth, Come forth, my son; thy father supplicates.” But the son glared at him with tiger eyes, Spat in his face, and then, without a word, Drew his two-hilted sword and smote, but missed His father flying backwards. Then the boy, Wroth with himself, poor wretch, incontinent Fell on his sword and drove it through his side Home, but yet breathing clasped in his lax arms The maid, her pallid cheek incarnadined
With his expiring gasps. So there they lay Two corpses, one in death. His marriage rites Are consummated in the halls of Death:
A witness that of ills whate’er befall Mortals’ unwisdom is the worst of all.
I marvel too, but entertain good hope. ‘Tis that she shrinks in public to lament Her son’s sad ending, and in privacy
Would with her maidens mourn a private loss. Trust me, she is discreet and will not err.
Woe for sin of minds perverse, Deadly fraught with mortal curse.
Behold us slain and slayers, all akin. Woe for my counsel dire, conceived in sin. Alas, my son,
Life scarce begun,
Thou wast undone.
The fault was mine, mine only, O my son!
By sorrow schooled. Heavy the hand of God, Thorny and rough the paths my feet have trod, Humbled my pride, my pleasure turned to pain; Poor mortals, how we labor all in vain!
[Enter SECOND MESSENGER]
How bottomless the pit!
Does claim me too, O Death?
What is this word he saith,
This woeful messenger? Say, is it fit To slay anew a man already slain?
Is Death at work again,
Stroke upon stroke, first son, then mother slain?
Beside the altar on a keen-edged sword She fell and closed her eyes in night, but erst She mourned for Megareus who nobly died
Long since, then for her son; with her last breath She cursed thee, the slayer of her child.
Away with me, a worthless wretch who slew Unwitting thee, my son, thy mother too.
Whither to turn I know now; every way Leads but astray,
And on my head I feel the heavy weight Of crushing Fate.
Of happiness the chiefest part
Is a wise heart:
And to defraud the gods in aught With peril’s fraught.
Swelling words of high-flown might Mightily the gods do smite.
Chastisement for errors past
Wisdom brings to age at last.