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Erechtheus A Tragedy (New Edition)   By: (1837-1909)

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First Page:

ERECHTHEUS:

A TRAGEDY.

BY

ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE

[Greek: ô tai liparai kai iostephanoi kai aoidimoi, Hellados ereisma, kleinai Athanai, daimonion ptoliethron.]

PIND. Fr. 47.

[Greek: AT. tis de poimanôr epesti kapidespozei stratou? XO. outinos douloi keklê, tai phôtos oud' upêkooi.]

ÆSCH. Pers. 241 2.

A NEW EDITION.

London: CHATTO AND WINDUS, PICCADILLY. 1881.

PERSONS.

ERECHTHEUS. CHORUS OF ATHENIAN ELDERS. PRAXITHEA. CHTHONIA. HERALD OF EUMOLPUS. MESSENGER. ATHENIAN HERALD. ATHENA.

ERECHTHEUS.

ERECHTHEUS.

Mother of life and death and all men's days, Earth, whom I chief of all men born would bless, And call thee with more loving lips than theirs Mother, for of this very body of thine And living blood I have my breath and live, Behold me, even thy son, me crowned of men, Me made thy child by that strong cunning God Who fashions fire and iron, who begat Me for a sword and beacon fire on thee, Me fosterling of Pallas, in her shade 10 Reared, that I first might pay the nursing debt, Hallowing her fame with flower of third year feasts, And first bow down the bridled strength of steeds To lose the wild wont of their birth, and bear Clasp of man's knees and steerage of his hand, Or fourfold service of his fire swift wheels That whirl the four yoked chariot; me the king Who stand before thee naked now, and cry, O holy and general mother of all men born, But mother most and motherliest of mine, 20 Earth, for I ask thee rather of all the Gods, What have we done? what word mistimed or work Hath winged the wild feet of this timeless curse To fall as fire upon us? Lo, I stand Here on this brow's crown of the city's head That crowns its lovely body, till death's hour Waste it; but now the dew of dawn and birth Is fresh upon it from thy womb, and we Behold it born how beauteous; one day more I see the world's wheel of the circling sun 30 Roll up rejoicing to regard on earth This one thing goodliest, fair as heaven or he, Worth a God's gaze or strife of Gods; but now Would this day's ebb of their spent wave of strife Sweep it to sea, wash it on wreck, and leave A costless thing contemned; and in our stead, Where these walls were and sounding streets of men, Make wide a waste for tongueless water herds And spoil of ravening fishes; that no more Should men say, Here was Athens. This shalt thou 40 Sustain not, nor thy son endure to see, Nor thou to live and look on; for the womb Bare me not base that bare me miserable, To hear this loud brood of the Thracian foam Break its broad strength of billowy beating war Here, and upon it as a blast of death Blowing, the keen wrath of a fire souled king, A strange growth grafted on our natural soil, A root of Thrace in Eleusinian earth Set for no comfort to the kindly land, 50 Son of the sea's lord and our first born foe, Eumolpus; nothing sweet in ears of thine The music of his making, nor a song Toward hopes of ours auspicious; for the note Rings as for death oracular to thy sons That goes before him on the sea wind blown Full of this charge laid on me, to put out The brief light kindled of mine own child's life, Or with this helmsman hand that steers the state Run right on the under shoal and ridge of death 60 The populous ship with all its fraughtage gone And sails that were to take the wind of time Rent, and the tackling that should hold out fast In confluent surge of loud calamities Broken, with spars of rudders and lost oars That were to row toward harbour and find rest In some most glorious haven of all the world And else may never near it: such a song The Gods have set his lips on fire withal Who threatens now in all their names to bring 70 Ruin; but none of these, thou knowest, have I Chid with my tongue or cursed at heart for grief, Knowing how the soul runs reinless on sheer death Whose grief or joy takes part against the Gods... Continue reading book >>




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