Atalanta in Calydon: A Tragedy (complete text)

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Tous zontas eu dran. katthanon de pas anerGe kai skia. to meden eis ouden repei

EUR. Fr. Mel. 20 (537)




oixeo de Boreethen apotropos' alla se Numphai egagon aspasian edupnooi kath' ala,plerousai melitos theothen stoma, me ti Poseidon blapsei, en osin exon sen meligerun opa.toios aoidos ephus: emeis d' eti klaiomen, oi sou deuometh' oixomenou, kai se pothoumen aei.eipe de Pieridon tis anastrephtheisa pros allen: elthen, idou, panton philtatos elthe broton,stemmata drepsamenos neothelea xersi geraiais, kai polion daphnais amphekalupse kara,edu ti Sikelikais epi pektisin, edu ti xordais, aisomenos: pollen gar meteballe luran,pollaki d' en bessaisi kathemenon euren Apollon, anthesi d' estepsen, terpna d' edoke legein,Pana t' aeimneston te Pitun Koruthon te dusedron, en t' ephilese thean thnetos Amadruada:pontou d' en megaroisin ekoimise Kumodameian, ten t' Agamemnonian paid' apedoke patri,pros d' ierous Delphous theoplekton epempsen Oresten, teiromenon stugerais entha kai entha theais.oixeo de kai aneuthe philon kai aneuthen aoides, drepsomenos malakes anthea Persephones.oixeo: kouk et' esei, kouk au pote soi paredoumai azomenos, xeiron xersi thigon osiais:nun d' au mnesamenon glukupikros upeluthen aidos, oia tuxon oiou pros sethen oios exo:oupote sois, geron, omma philois philon ommasi terpso, ses, geron, apsamenos, philtate, dechiteras.e psaphara konis, e psapharos bios esti: ti touton meion ephemerion; ou konis alla bios.alla moi eduteros ge peleis polu ton et' eonton, epleo gar: soi men tauta thanonti phero,paura men, all' apo keros etetuma: med' apotrephtheis, pros de balon eti nun esuxon omma dexou.ou gar exo, mega de ti thelon, sethen achia dounai, thaptomenou per apon: ou gar enestin emoi:oude melikretou parexein ganos : ei gar eneie kai se xeroin psausai kai se pot' authis idein,dakrusi te spondais te kara philon amphipoleuein ophthalmous th' ierous sous ieron te demas.eith' ophelon: mala gar tad' an ampauseie merimnes: nun de prosothen aneu sematos oikton ago:oud' epitumbidion threno melos, all' apamuntheis, all' apaneuthen exon amphidakruta pathe.alla su xaire thanon, kai exon geras isthi pros andron pros te theon, enerois ei tis epesti theos.xaire geron, phile xaire pater, polu phertat' aoidon on idomen, polu de phertat' aeisomenon:xaire, kai olbon exois, oion ge thanontes exousin, esuxian exthras kai philotetos ater.sematos oixomenou soi mnemat' es usteron estai, soi te phile mneme mnematos oixomenou:on Xarites klaiousi theai, klaiei d' Aphrodite kallixorois Mouson terpsamene stephanois.ou gar apach ierous pote geras etripsen aoidous: tende to son phainei mnema tod' aglaian.e philos es makaressi brotos, soi d' ei tini Numphai dora potheina nemein, ustata dor', edosan.tas nun xalkeos upnos ebe kai anenemos aion, kai sunthaptomenai moiran exousi mian.eudeis kai su, kalon kai agakluton en xthoni koilei upnon ephikomenos, ses aponosphi patras,tele para chanthou Tursenikon oidma katheudeis namatos, e d' eti se maia se gaia pothei,all' apexeis, kai prosthe philoptolis on per apeipas: eude: makar d' emin oud' amegartos esei.baios epixthonion ge xronos kai moira kratesei, tous de pot' euphrosune tous de pot' algos exei:pollaki d' e blaptei phaos e skotos amphikaluptei muromenous, daknei d' upnos egregorotas:oud' eth' ot' en tumboisi katedrathen omma thanonton e skotos e ti phaos dechetai eeliou:oud' onar ennuxion kai enupnion oud' upar estai e pote terpomenois e pot' oduromenois:all' ena pantes aei thakon sunexousi kai edran anti brotes abroton, kallimon anti kakes.


Althæa, daughter of Thestius and Eurythemis, queen of Calydon, being with child of Meleager her first-born son, dreamed that she brought forth a brand burning; and upon his birth came the three Fates and prophesied of him three things, namely these; that he should have great strength of his hands, and good fortune in this life, and that he should live no longer when the brand then in the fire were consumed: wherefore his mother plucked it forth and kept it by her. And the child being a man grown sailed with Jason after the fleece of gold, and won himself great praise of all men living; and when the tribes of the north and west made war upon Ætolia, he fought against their army and scattered it. But Artemis, having at the first stirred up these tribes to war against Œneus king of Calydon, because he had offered sacrifice to all the gods saving her alone, but her he had forgotten to honour, was yet more wroth because of the destruction of this army, and sent upon the land of Calydon a wild boar which slew many and wasted all their increase, but him could none slay, and many went against him and perished. Then were all the chief men of Greece gathered together, and among them Atalanta daughter of Iasius the Arcadian, a virgin; for whose sake Artemis let slay the boar, seeing she favoured the maiden greatly; and Meleager having despatched it gave the spoil thereof to Atalanta, as one beyond measure enamoured of her; but the brethren of Althæa his mother, Toxeus and Plexippus, with such others as misliked that she only should bear off the praise whereas many had borne the labour, laid wait for her to take away her spoil; but Meleager fought against them and slew them: whom when Althæa their sister beheld and knew to be slain of her son, she waxed for wrath and sorrow like as one mad, and taking the brand whereby the measure of her son's life was meted to him, she cast it upon a fire; and with the wasting thereof his life likewise wasted away, that being brought back to his father's house he died in a brief space; and his mother also endured not long after for very sorrow; and this was his end, and the end of that hunting.



isto d' ostis oux upopterosphrontisin daeis,tan a paidolumas talaina THestias mesatopurdae tina pronoian,kataithousa paidos daphoinondalon elik', epei molonmatrothen keladese;summetron te diai bioumoirokranton es amar.

Æsch. Cho. 602-612.


CHIEF HUNTSMANNow folded in the flowerless fields of heaven,Goddess whom all gods love with threefold heart,Being treble in thy divided deity,A light for dead men and dark hours, a footSwift on the hills as morning, and a handTo all things fierce and fleet that roar and rangeMortal, with gentler shafts than snow or sleep;Hear now and help and lift no violent hand,But favourable and fair as thine eye's beamHidden and shown in heaven; for I all nightAmid the king's hounds and the hunting menHave wrought and worshipped toward thee; nor shall manSee goodlier hounds or deadlier edge of spears;But for the end, that lies unreached at yetBetween the hands and on the knees of gods.O fair-faced sun, killing the stars and dewsAnd dreams and desolation of the night!Rise up, shine, stretch thine hand out, with thy bowTouch the most dimmest height of trembling heaven,And burn and break the dark about thy ways,Shot through and through with arrows; let thine hairLighten as flame above that flameless shellWhich was the moon, and thine eyes fill the worldAnd thy lips kindle with swift beams; let earthLaugh, and the long sea fiery from thy feetThrough all the roar and ripple of streaming springsAnd foam in reddening flakes and flying flowersShaken from hands and blown from lips of nymphsWhose hair or breast divides the wandering waveWith salt close tresses cleaving lock to lock,All gold, or shuddering and unfurrowed snow;And all the winds about thee with their wings,And fountain-heads of all the watered world;Each horn of Acheloüs, and the greenEuenus, wedded with the straitening sea.For in fair time thou comest; come also thou,Twin-born with him, and virgin, Artemis,And give our spears their spoil, the wild boar's hide,Sent in thine anger against us for sin doneAnd bloodless altars without wine or fire.Him now consume thou; for thy sacrificeWith sanguine-shining steam divides the dawn,And one, the maiden rose of all thy maids,Arcadian Atalanta, snowy-souled,Fair as the snow and footed as the wind,From Ladon and well-wooded MænalusOver the firm hills and the fleeting seaHast thou drawn hither, and many an armèd king,Heroes, the crown of men, like gods in fight.Moreover out of all the Ætolian land,From the full-flowered Lelantian pasturageTo what of fruitful field the son of ZeusWon from the roaring river and labouring seaWhen the wild god shrank in his horn and fledAnd foamed and lessened through his wrathful fords,Leaving clear lands that steamed with sudden sun,These virgins with the lightening of the dayBring thee fresh wreaths and their own sweeter hair,Luxurious locks and flower-like mixed with flowers,Clean offering, and chaste hymns; but me the timeDivides from these things; whom do thou not lessHelp and give honour, and to mine hounds good speed,And edge to spears, and luck to each man's hand.

CHORUS The mother of months in meadow or plainFills the shadows and windy places With lisp of leaves and ripple of rain;And the brown bright nightingale amorousIs half assuaged for Itylus,For the Thracian ships and the foreign faces, The tongueless vigil, and all the pain.

Come with bows bent and with emptying of quivers, Maiden most perfect, lady of light,With a noise of winds and many rivers, With a clamour of waters, and with might;Bind on thy sandals, O thou most fleet,Over the splendour and speed of thy feet;For the faint east quickens, the wan west shivers, Round the feet of the day and the feet of the night.

Where shall we find her, how shall we sing to her, Fold our hands round her knees, and cling?O that man's heart were as fire and could spring to her, Fire, or the strength of the streams that spring!For the stars and the winds are unto herAs raiment, as songs of the harp-player;For the risen stars and the fallen cling to her, And the southwest-wind and the west-wind sing.

For winter's rains and ruins are over, And all the season of snows and sins;The days dividing lover and lover, The light that loses, the night that wins;And time remembered is grief forgotten,And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,And in green underwood and cover Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

The full streams feed on flower of rushes, Ripe grasses trammel a travelling foot,The faint fresh flame of the young year flushes From leaf to flower and flower to fruit;And fruit and leaf are as gold and fire,And the oat is heard above the lyre,And the hoofèd heel of a satyr crushes The chestnut-husk at the chestnut-root.

And Pan by noon and Bacchus by night, Fleeter of foot than the fleet-foot kid,Follows with dancing and fills with delight The Mænad and the Bassarid;And soft as lips that laugh and hideThe laughing leaves of the trees divide,And screen from seeing and leave in sight The god pursuing, the maiden hid.

The ivy falls with the Bacchanal's hair Over her eyebrows hiding her eyes;The wild vine slipping down leaves bare Her bright breast shortening into sighs;The wild vine slips with the weight of its leaves,But the berried ivy catches and cleavesTo the limbs that glitter, the feet that scare The wolf that follows, the fawn that flies.


CHORUSAnd raiment meet for service: lest the dayTurn sharp with all its honey in our lips.

ALTHÆASwifter than dreams the white flown feet of sleep;Will ye pray back the night with any prayers?And though the spring put back a little whileWinter, and snows that plague all men for sin,And the iron time of cursing, yet I knowSpring shall be ruined with the rain, and stormEat up like fire the ashen autumn days.I marvel what men do with prayers awakeWho dream and die with dreaming; any god,Yea the least god of all things called divine,Is more than sleep and waking; yet we say,Perchance by praying a man shall match his god.For if sleep have no mercy, and man's dreamsBite to the blood and burn into the bone,What shall this man do waking? By the gods,He shall not pray to dream sweet things to-night,Having dreamt once more bitter things than death.

CHORUSFor thy speech flickers like a blown-out flame.

ALTHÆAFor all my sleep is turned into a fire,And all my dreams to stuff that kindles it.





ALTHÆAThey mock us with a little piteousness,And we say prayers, and weep; but at the last,Sparing awhile, they smite and spare no whit.

CHORUSWhat have they done that thou dishonourest them?

ALTHÆAI praise not, and for wasting of the boarThat mars with tooth and tusk and fiery feetGreen pasturage and the grace of standing cornAnd meadow and marsh with springs and unblown leaves,Flocks and swift herds and all that bite sweet grass,I praise her not; what things are these to praise?

CHORUSEach god fair dues of wheat and blood and wine,Her not with bloodshed nor burnt-offeringRevered he, nor with salt or cloven cake;Wherefore being wroth she plagued the land; but nowTakes off from us fate and her heavy things.Which deed of these twain were not good to praise?For a just deed looks always either wayWith blameless eyes, and mercy is no fault.

ALTHÆATo hurt us where she healed us; and hath litFire where the old fire went out, and where the windSlackened, hath blown on us with deadlier air.




ALTHÆALove, or in dens where strange beasts lurk, or fire,Or snows on the extreme hills, or iron landWhere no spring is; I would she had sought thereinAnd found, or ever love had found her here.

CHORUSThe sprinkled water or fume of perfect fire;Chaste, dedicated to pure prayers, and filledWith higher thoughts than heaven; a maiden clean,Pure iron, fashioned for a sword; and manShe loves not; what should one such do with love?

ALTHÆABut as a queen speaks, being heart-vexed; for oftI hear my brothers wrangling in mid hall,And am not moved; and my son chiding them,And these things nowise move me, but I knowFoolish and wise men must be to the end,And feed myself with patience; but this most,This moves me, that for wise men as for foolsLove is one thing, an evil thing, and turnsChoice words and wisdom into fire and air.And in the end shall no joy come, but grief,Sharp words and soul's division and fresh tearsFlower-wise upon the old root of tears brought forth,Fruit-wise upon the old flower of tears sprung up,Pitiful sighs, and much regrafted pain.These things are in my presage, and myselfAm part of them and know not; but in dreamsThe gods are heavy on me, and all the fatesShed fire across my eyelids mixed with night,And burn me blind, and disilluminateMy sense of seeing, and my perspicuous soulDarken with vision; seeing I see not, hearAnd hearing am not holpen, but mine eyesStain many tender broideries in the bedDrawn up about my face that I may weepAnd the king wake not; and my brows and lipsTremble and sob in sleeping, like swift flamesThat tremble, or water when it sobs with heatKindled from under; and my tears fill my breastAnd speck the fair dyed pillows round the kingWith barren showers and salter than the sea,Such dreams divide me dreaming; for long sinceI dreamed that out of this my womb had sprungFire and a firebrand; this was ere my son,Meleager, a goodly flower in fields of fight,Felt the light touch him coming forth, and wailedChildlike; but yet he was not; and in timeI bare him, and my heart was great; for yetSo royally was never strong man born,Nor queen so nobly bore as noble a thingAs this my son was: such a birth God sentAnd such a grace to bear it. Then came inThree weaving women, and span each a thread,Saying This for strength and That for luck, and oneSaying Till the brand upon the hearth burn down,So long shall this man see good days and live.And I with gathered raiment from the bedSprang, and drew forth the brand, and cast on itWater, and trod the flame bare-foot, and crushedWith naked hand spark beaten out of sparkAnd blew against and quenched it; for I said,These are the most high Fates that dwell with us,And we find favour a little in their sight,A little, and more we miss of, and much timeFoils us; howbeit they have pitied me, O son,And thee most piteous, thee a tenderer thingThan any flower of fleshly seed alive.Wherefore I kissed and hid him with my hands,And covered under arms and hair, and wept,And feared to touch him with my tears, and laughed;So light a thing was this man, grown so greatMen cast their heads back, seeing against the sunBlaze the armed man carven on his shield, and hearThe laughter of little bells along the braceRing, as birds singing or flutes blown, and watch,High up, the cloven shadow of either plumeDivide the bright light of the brass, and makeHis helmet as a windy and wintering moonSeen through blown cloud and plume-like drift, when shipsDrive, and men strive with all the sea, and oarsBreak, and the beaks dip under, drinking death;Yet was he then but a span long, and moanedWith inarticulate mouth inseparate words,And with blind lips and fingers wrung my breastHard, and thrust out with foolish hands and feet,Murmuring; but those grey women with bound hairWho fright the gods frighted not him; he laughedSeeing them, and pushed out hands to feel and haulDistaff and thread, intangible; but theyPassed, and I hid the brand, and in my heartLaughed likewise, having all my will of heaven.But now I know not if to left or rightThe gods have drawn us hither; for againI dreamt, and saw the black brand burst on fireAs a branch bursts in flower, and saw the flameFade flower-wise, and Death came and with dry lipsBlew the charred ash into my breast; and LoveTrampled the ember and crushed it with swift feet.This I have also at heart; that not for me,Not for me only or son of mine, O girls,The gods have wrought life, and desire of life,Heart's love and heart's division; but for allThere shines one sun and one wind blows till night.And when night comes the wind sinks and the sun,And there is no light after, and no storm,But sleep and much forgetfulness of things.In such wise I gat knowledge of the godsYears hence, and heard high sayings of one most wise,Eurythemis my mother, who beheldWith eyes alive and spake with lips of theseAs one on earth disfleshed and disalliedFrom breath or blood corruptible; such giftsTime gave her, and an equal soul to theseAnd equal face to all things; thus she said.But whatsoever intolerable or gladThe swift hours weave and unweave, I go henceFull of mine own soul, perfect of myself,Toward mine and me sufficient; and what chanceThe gods cast lots for and shake out on us,That shall we take, and that much bear withal.And now, before these gather to the hunt,I will go arm my son and bring him forth,Lest love or some man's anger work him harm.

CHORUS There came to the making of manTime, with a gift of tears; Grief, with a glass that ran;Pleasure, with pain for leaven; Summer, with flowers that fell;Remembrance fallen from heaven, And madness risen from hell;Strength without hands to smite; Love that endures for a breath:Night, the shadow of light, And life, the shadow of death.And the high gods took in hand Fire, and the falling of tears,And a measure of sliding sand From under the feet of the years;And froth and drift of the sea; And dust of the labouring earth;And bodies of things to be In the houses of death and of birth;And wrought with weeping and laughter, And fashioned with loathing and loveWith life before and after And death beneath and above,For a day and a night and a morrow, That his strength might endure for a spanWith travail and heavy sorrow, The holy spirit of man.

From the winds of the north and the south They gathered as unto strife;They breathed upon his mouth, They filled his body with life;Eyesight and speech they wrought For the veils of the soul therein,A time for labour and thought, A time to serve and to sin;They gave him light in his ways, And love, and a space for delight,And beauty and length of days, And night, and sleep in the night.His speech is a burning fire; With his lips he travaileth;In his heart is a blind desire, In his eyes foreknowledge of death;He weaves, and is clothed with derision; Sows, and he shall not reap;His life is a watch or a vision Between a sleep and a sleep.

MELEAGERFair day, be fair and welcome, as to menWith deeds to do and praise to pluck from thee.Come forth a child, born with clear sound and light,With laughter and swift limbs and prosperous looks;That this great hunt with heroes for the houndsMay leave thee memorable and us well sped.

ALTHÆABut the gods hear men's hands before their lips,And heed beyond all crying and sacrificeLight of things done and noise of labouring men.But thou, being armed and perfect for the deed,Abide; for like rain-flakes in a wind they grow,The men thy fellows, and the choice of the world,Bound to root out the tuskèd plague, and leaveThanks and safe days and peace in Calydon.

MELEAGERFlames, and the soft air sounds with them that come;The gods give all these fruit of all their works.

ALTHÆAWhom there thou knowest; for sharp mixed shadow and windBlown up between the morning and the mist,With steam of steeds and flash of bridle or wheel,And fire, and parcels of the broken dawn,And dust divided by hard light, and spearsThat shine and shift as the edge of wild beasts' eyes,Smite upon mine; so fiery their blind edgeBurns, and bright points break up and baffle day.

MELEAGERPeleus the Larissæan, couched with whomSleeps the white sea-bred wife and silver-shod,Fair as fled foam, a goddess; and their sonMost swift and splendid of men's children born,Most like a god, full of the future fame.


ALTHÆAO twin-born blood of Leda, gracious headsLike kindled lights in untempestuous heaven,Fair flower-like stars on the iron foam of fight,With what glad heart and kindliness of soul,Even to the staining of both eyes with tearsAnd kindling of warm eyelids with desire,A great way off I greet you, and rejoiceSeeing you so fair, and moulded like as gods.Far off ye come, and least in years of these,But lordliest, but worth love to look upon.

MELEAGERAnd where Eurotas hollows his moist rockNigh Sparta with a strenuous-hearted stream)Even such I saw their sisters; one swan-white,The little Helen, and less fair than sheFair Clytæmnestra, grave as pasturing fawnsWho feed and fear some arrow; but at whiles,As one smitten with love or wrung with joy,She laughs and lightens with her eyes, and thenWeeps; whereat Helen, having laughed, weeps too,And the other chides her, and she being chid speaks nought,But cheeks and lips and eyelids kisses her,Laughing; so fare they, as in their bloomless budAnd full of unblown life, the blood of gods.

ALTHÆAAnd tender and temperate honours of the hearth,Peace, and a perfect life and blameless bed.But who shows next an eagle wrought in gold,That flames and beats broad wings against the sunAnd with void mouth gapes after emptier prey?

MELEAGERBetween the fierce mouths of the encountering brineOn the strait reefs of twice-washed Salamis.

ALTHÆAVine-chapleted, with savours of the sea,Glittering as wine and moving as a wave.But who girt round there roughly follows him?

MELEAGERTwo-edged for fight as the axe against his arm,Who drives against the surge of stormy spearsFull-sailed; him Cepheus follows, his twin-born,Chief name next his of all Arcadian men.

ALTHÆAHome-keeping days and household reverences.

MELEAGERThe sail and oar of this Ætolian land,Thy brethren, Toxeus and the violent-souledPlexippus, over-swift with hand and tongue;For hands are fruitful, but the ignorant mouthBlows and corrupts their work with barren breath.

ALTHÆAThings poisonous, and high-seated violences,And with charmed words and songs have men put outWild evil, and the fire of tyrannies.







ALTHÆAAnd with his whole heart worship, him all godsPraise; but who loves it only with his lips,And not in heart and deed desiring itHides a perverse will with obsequious words,Him heaven infatuates and his twin-born fateTracks, and gains on him, scenting sins far off,And the swift hounds of violent death devour.Be man at one with equal-minded gods,So shall he prosper; not through laws torn up,Violated rule and a new face of things.A woman armed makes war upon herself,Unwomanlike, and treads down use and wontAnd the sweet common honour that she hath,Love, and the cry of children, and the handTrothplight and mutual mouth of marriages.This doth she, being unloved; whom if one love,Not fire nor iron and the wide-mouthed warsAre deadlier than her lips or braided hair.For of the one comes poison, and a curseFalls from the other and burns the lives of men.But thou, son, be not filled with evil dreams,Nor with desire of these things; for with timeBlind love burns out; but if one feed it fullTill some discolouring stain dyes all his life,He shall keep nothing praiseworthy, nor dieThe sweet wise death of old men honourable,Who have lived out all the length of all their yearsBlameless, and seen well-pleased the face of gods,And without shame and without fear have wroughtThings memorable, and while their days held outIn sight of all men and the sun's great lightHave gat them glory and given of their own praiseTo the earth that bare them and the day that bred,Home friends and far-off hospitalities,And filled with gracious and memorial fameLands loved of summer or washed by violent seas,Towns populous and many unfooted ways,And alien lips and native with their own.But when white age and venerable deathMow down the strength and life within their limbs,Drain out the blood and darken their clear eyes,Immortal honour is on them, having pastThrough splendid life and death desirableTo the clear seat and remote throne of souls,Lands indiscoverable in the unheard-of west,Round which the strong stream of a sacred seaRolls without wind for ever, and the snowThere shows not her white wings and windy feet,Nor thunder nor swift rain saith anything,Nor the sun burns, but all things rest and thrive;And these, filled full of days, divine and dead,Sages and singers fiery from the god,And such as loved their land and all things goodAnd, best beloved of best men, liberty,Free lives and lips, free hands of men free-born,And whatsoever on earth was honourableAnd whosoever of all the ephemeral seed,Live there a life no liker to the godsBut nearer than their life of terrene days.Love thou such life and look for such a death.But from the light and fiery dreams of loveSpring heavy sorrows and a sleepless life,Visions not dreams, whose lids no charm shall closeNor song assuage them waking; and swift deathCrushes with sterile feet the unripening ear,Treads out the timeless vintage; whom do thouEschewing embrace the luck of this thy life,Not without honour; and it shall bear to theeSuch fruit as men reap from spent hours and wear,Few men, but happy; of whom be thou, O son,Happiest, if thou submit thy soul to fate,And set thine eyes and heart on hopes high-bornAnd divine deeds and abstinence divine.So shalt thou be toward all men all thy daysAs light and might communicable, and burnFrom heaven among the stars above the hours,And break not as a man breaks nor burn down:For to whom other of all heroic namesHave the gods given his life in hand as thine?And gloriously hast thou lived, and made thy lifeTo me that bare thee and to all men bornThankworthy, a praise for ever; and hast won fameWhen wild wars broke all round thy father's house,And the mad people of windy mountain waysLaid spears against us like a sea, and allÆtolia thundered with Thessalian hoofs;Yet these, as wind baffles the foam, and beatsStraight back the relaxed ripple, didst thou breakAnd loosen all their lances, till undoneAnd man from man they fell; for ye twain stoodGod against god, Ares and Artemis,And thou the mightier; wherefore she unleashedA sharp-toothed curse thou too shalt overcome;For in the greener blossom of thy lifeEre the full blade caught flower, and when time gaveRespite, thou didst not slacken soul nor sleep,But with great hand and heart seek praise of menOut of sharp straits and many a grievous thing,Seeing the strange foam of undivided seasOn channels never sailed in, and by shoresWhere the old winds cease not blowing, and all the nightThunders, and day is no delight to men.

CHORUSThe gods have given this woman; hear thou these.

MELEAGERNor set my mouth against thee, who art wiseEven as they say and full of sacred words.But one thing I know surely, and cleave to this;That though I be not subtle of wit as thouNor womanlike to weave sweet words, and meltMutable minds of wise men as with fire,I too, doing justly and reverencing the gods,Shall not want wit to see what things be right.For whom they love and whom reject, being gods,There is no man but seeth, and in good timeSubmits himself, refraining all his heart.And I too as thou sayest have seen great things;Seen otherwhere, but chiefly when the sailFirst caught between stretched ropes the roaring west,And all our oars smote eastward, and the windFirst flung round faces of seafaring menWhite splendid snow-flakes of the sundering foam,And the first furrow in virginal green seaFollowed the plunging ploughshare of hewn pine,And closed, as when deep sleep subdues man's breathLips close and heart subsides; and closing, shoneSunlike with many a Nereid's hair, and movedRound many a trembling mouth of doubtful gods,Risen out of sunless and sonorous gulfsThrough waning water and into shallow light,That watched us; and when flying the dove was snaredAs with men's hands, but we shot after and spedClear through the irremeable Symplegades;And chiefliest when hoar beach and herbless cliffStood out ahead from Colchis, and we heardClefts hoarse with wind, and saw through narrowing reefsThe lightning of the intolerable waveFlash, and the white wet flame of breakers burnFar under a kindling south-wind, as a lampBurns and bends all its blowing flame one way;Wild heights untravelled of the wind, and valesCloven seaward by their violent streams, and whiteWith bitter flowers and bright salt scurf of brine;Heard sweep their sharp swift gales, and bowing birdwiseShriek with birds' voices, and with furious feetTread loose the long skirts of a storm; and sawThe whole white Euxine clash together and fallFull-mouthed, and thunderous from a thousand throats:Yet we drew thither and won the fleece and wonMedea, deadlier than the sea; but thereSeeing many a wonder and fearful things to menI saw not one thing like this one seen here,Most fair and fearful, feminine, a god,Faultless; whom I that love not, being unlike,Fear, and give honour, and choose from all the gods.

ŒNEUSNot ignorant of your strife nor light of wit,Scared with vain dreams and fluttering like spent fire,I come to judge between you, but a kingFull of past days and wise from years endured.Nor thee I praise, who art fain to undo things done:Nor thee, who art swift to esteem them overmuch.For what the hours have given is given, and thisChangeless; howbeit these change, and in good timeDevise new things and good, not one thing still.Us have they sent now at our need for helpAmong men armed a woman, foreign born,Virgin, not like the natural flower of thingsThat grows and bears and brings forth fruit and dies;Unlovable, no light for a husband's house,Espoused; a glory among unwedded girls,And chosen of gods who reverence maidenhood.These too we honour in honouring her; but thou,Abstain thy feet from following, and thine eyesFrom amorous touch; nor set toward hers thine heart,Son, lest hate bear no deadlier fruit than love.

ALTHÆABut the gods love not justice more than fate,And smite the righteous and the violent mouth,And mix with insolent blood the reverent man's,And bruise the holier as the lying lips.Enough; for wise words fail me, and my heartTakes fire and trembles flamewise, O my son,O child, for thine head's sake; mine eyes wax thick,Turning toward thee, so goodly a weaponed man,So glorious; and for love of thine own eyesThey are darkened, and tears burn them, fierce as fire,And my lips pause and my soul sinks with love.But by thine hand, by thy sweet life and eyes,By thy great heart and these clasped knees, O son,I pray thee that thou slay me not with thee.For there was never a mother woman-bornLoved her sons better; and never a queen of menMore perfect in her heart toward whom she loved.For what lies light on many and they forget,Small things and transitory as a wind o' the sea,I forget never; I have seen thee all thine yearsA man in arms, strong and a joy to menSeeing thine head glitter and thine hand burn its wayThrough a heavy and iron furrow of sundering spears;But always also a flower of three suns old,The small one thing that lying drew down my lifeTo lie with thee and feed thee; a child and weak,Mine, a delight to no man, sweet to me.Who then sought to thee? who gat help? who knewIf thou wert goodly? nay, no man at all.Or what sea saw thee, or sounded with thine oar,Child? or what strange land shone with war through thee?But fair for me thou wert, O little life,Fruitless, the fruit of mine own flesh, and blind,More than much gold, ungrown, a foolish flower.For silver nor bright snow nor feather of foamWas whiter, and no gold yellower than thine hair,O child, my child; and now thou art lordlier grown,Not lovelier, nor a new thing in mine eyes,I charge thee by thy soul and this my breast,Fear thou the gods and me and thine own heart,Lest all these turn against thee; for who knowsWhat wind upon what wave of altering timeShall speak a storm and blow calamity?And there is nothing stabile in the worldBut the gods break it; yet not less, fair son,If but one thing be stronger, if one endure,Surely the bitter and the rooted loveThat burns between us, going from me to thee,Shall more endure than all things. What dost thou,Following strange loves? why wilt thou kill mine heart?Lo, I talk wild and windy words, and fallFrom my clear wits, and seem of mine own selfDethroned, dispraised, disseated; and my mind,That was my crown, breaks, and mine heart is gone,And I am naked of my soul, and standAshamed, as a mean woman; take thou thought:Live if thou wilt, and if thou wilt not, look,The gods have given thee life to lose or keep,Thou shalt not die as men die, but thine endFallen upon thee shall break me unaware.

MELEAGERAnd my limbs yearn with pity of thee, and loveCompels with grief mine eyes and labouring breath;For what thou art I know thee, and this thy breastAnd thy fair eyes I worship, and am boundToward thee in spirit and love thee in all my soul.For there is nothing terribler to menThan the sweet face of mothers, and the might.But what shall be let be; for us the dayOnce only lives a little, and is not found.Time and the fruitful hour are more than we,And these lay hold upon us; but thou, God,Zeus, the sole steersman of the helm of things,Father, be swift to see us, and as thou wiltHelp: or if adverse, as thou wilt, refrain.

CHORUSThy wings make light in the air as the wings of a dove.Thy feet are as winds that divide the stream of the sea;Earth is thy covering to hide thee, the garment of thee.Thou art swift and subtle and blind as a flame of fire;Before thee the laughter, behind thee the tears of desire;And twain go forth beside thee, a man with a maid;Her eyes are the eyes of a bride whom delight makes afraid;As the breath in the buds that stir is her bridal breath:But Fate is the name of her; and his name is Death.

For an evil blossom was born Of sea-foam and the frothing of blood, Blood-red and bitter of fruit, And the seed of it laughter and tears,And the leaves of it madness and scorn; A bitter flower from the bud, Sprung of the sea without root, Sprung without graft from the years.

The weft of the world was untorn That is woven of the day on the night, The hair of the hours was not whiteNor the raiment of time overworn, When a wonder, a world's delight,A perilous goddess was born; And the waves of the sea as she cameClove, and the foam at her feet, Fawning, rejoiced to bring forth A fleshly blossom, a flameFilling the heavens with heat To the cold white ends of the north.

And in air the clamorous birds, And men upon earth that hearSweet articulate words Sweetly divided apart, And in shallow and channel and mereThe rapid and footless herds, Rejoiced, being foolish of heart.

For all they said upon earth, She is fair, she is white like a dove, And the life of the world in her breathBreathes, and is born at her birth; For they knew thee for mother of love, And knew thee not mother of death.What hadst thou to do being born, Mother, when winds were at ease,As a flower of the springtime of corn, A flower of the foam of the seas?For bitter thou wast from thy birth, Aphrodite, a mother of strife;For before thee some rest was on earth, A little respite from tears; A little pleasure of life;For life was not then as thou art, But as one that waxeth in years Sweet-spoken, a fruitful wife; Earth had no thorn, and desireNo sting, neither death any dart; What hadst thou to do amongst these, Thou, clothed with a burning fire,Thou, girt with sorrow of heart, Thou, sprung of the seed of the seasAs an ear from a seed of corn, As a brand plucked forth of a pyre,As a ray shed forth of the morn, For division of soul and disease,For a dart and a sting and a thorn?What ailed thee then to be born?

Was there not evil enough, Mother, and anguish on earth Born with a man at his birth,Wastes underfoot, and above Storm out of heaven, and dearthShaken down from the shining thereof, Wrecks from afar overseas And peril of shallow and firth, And tears that spring and increase In the barren places of mirth,That thou, having wings as a dove, Being girt with desire for a girth, That thou must come after these,That thou must lay on him love?

Thou shouldst not so have been born: But death should have risen with thee, Mother, and visible fear, Grief, and the wringing of hands,And noise of many that mourn; The smitten bosom, the knee Bowed, and in each man's ear A cry as of perishing lands,A moan as of people in prison, A tumult of infinite griefs; And thunder of storm on the sands, And wailing of wives on the shore;And under thee newly arisen Loud shoals and shipwrecking reefs, Fierce air and violent light; Sail rent and sundering oar, Darkness, and noises of night;Clashing of streams in the sea, Wave against wave as a sword, Clamour of currents, and foam; Rains making ruin on earth, Winds that wax ravenous and roam As wolves in a wolfish horde;Fruits growing faint in the tree, And blind things dead in their birth; Famine, and blighting of corn, When thy time was come to be born.All these we know of; but thee Who shall discern or declare?In the uttermost ends of the sea The light of thine eyelids and hair, The light of thy bosom as fire Between the wheel of the sun And the flying flames of the air? Wilt thou turn thee not yet nor have pity,But abide with despair and desire And the crying of armies undone, Lamentation of one with another And breaking of city by city; The dividing of friend against friend, The severing of brother and brother; Wilt thou utterly bring to an end? Have mercy, mother!

For against all men from of old Thou hast set thine hand as a curse, And cast out gods from their places. These things are spoken of thee.Strong kings and goodly with gold Thou hast found out arrows to pierce, And made their kingdoms and races As dust and surf of the sea.All these, overburdened with woes And with length of their days waxen weak, Thou slewest; and sentest moreover Upon Tyro an evil thing,Rent hair and a fetter and blows Making bloody the flower of the cheek, Though she lay by a god as a lover, Though fair, and the seed of a king.For of old, being full of thy fire, She endured not longer to wear On her bosom a saffron vest, On her shoulder an ashwood quiver;Being mixed and made one through desire With Enipeus, and all her hair Made moist with his mouth, and her breast Filled full of the foam of the river.

ATALANTALate risen and long sought after, and you just godsWhose hands divide anguish and recompense,But first the sun's white sister, a maid in heaven,On earth of all maids worshipped -- hail, and hear,And witness with me if not without sign sent,Not without rule and reverence, I a maidHallowed, and huntress holy as whom I serve,Here in your sight and eyeshot of these menStand, girt as they toward hunting, and my shaftsDrawn; wherefore all ye stand up on my side,If I be pure and all ye righteous gods,Lest one revile me, a woman, yet no wife,That bear a spear for spindle, and this bow strungFor a web woven; and with pure lips saluteHeaven, and the face of all the gods, and dawnFilling with maiden flames and maiden flowersThe starless fold o' the stars, and making sweetThe warm wan heights of the air, moon-trodden waysAnd breathless gates and extreme hills of heaven.Whom, having offered water and bloodless gifts,Flowers, and a golden circlet of pure hair,Next Artemis I bid be favourableAnd make this day all golden, hers and ours,Gracious and good and white to the unblamed end.But thou, O well-beloved, of all my daysBid it be fruitful, and a crown for all,To bring forth leaves and bind round all my hairWith perfect chaplets woven for thine of thee.For not without the word of thy chaste mouth,For not without law given and clean command,Across the white straits of the running seaFrom Elis even to the Acheloïan horn,I with clear winds came hither and gentle gods,Far off my father's house, and left uncheeredIasius, and uncheered the Arcadian hillsAnd all their green-haired waters, and all woodsDisconsolate, to hear no horn of mineBlown, and behold no flash of swift white feet.

MELEAGERO holiest Atalanta, no man daresPraise thee, though fairer than whom all men praise,And godlike for thy grace of hallowed hairAnd holy habit of thine eyes, and feetThat make the blown foam neither swift nor whiteThough the wind winnow and whirl it; yet we praiseGods, found because of thee adorableAnd for thy sake praiseworthiest from all men:Thee therefore we praise also, thee as these,Pure, and a light lit at the hands of gods.

TOXEUSFight, and kill beasts dry-handed with sweet words?Cease, or talk still and slay thy boars at home.

PLEXIPPUSSit thou for her and spin; a man grown girlIs worth a woman weaponed; sit thou here.

ALTHÆALest words turn snakes and bite you uttering them.

TOXEUSWhat profit shall a maid be among men?

PLEXIPPUSBleat out her spirit and die, and so shall menThrough her too prosper and through prosperous gods,But nowise through her living; shall she liveA flower-bud of the flower-bed, or sweet fruitFor kisses and the honey-making mouth,And play the shield for strong men and the spear?Then shall the heifer and her mate lock horns,And the bride overbear the groom, and menGods; for no less division sunders these;Since all things made are seasonable in time,But if one alter unseasonable are all.But thou, O Zeus, hear me that I may slayThis beast before thee and no man halve with meNor woman, lest these mock thee, though a god,Who hast made men strong, and thou being wise be heldFoolish; for wise is that thing which endures.

ATALANTAKing, I beseech you a little bear with me.For if my life be shameful that I live,Let the gods witness and their wrath; but theseCast no such word against me. Thou, O mine,O holy, O happy goddess, if I sinChanging the words of women and the worksFor spears and strange men's faces, hast not thouOne shaft of all thy sudden seven that piercedSeven through the bosom or shining throat or side,All couched about one mother's loosening knees,All holy born, engraffed of Tantalus?But if toward any of you I am overboldThat take thus much upon me, let him thinkHow I, for all my forest holiness,Fame, and this armed and iron maidenhood,Pay thus much also; I shall have no man's loveFor ever, and no face of children bornOr feeding lips upon me or fastening eyesFor ever, nor being dead shall kings my sonsMourn me and bury, and tears on daughters' cheeksBurn; but a cold and sacred life, but strange,But far from dances and the back-blowing torch,Far off from flowers or any bed of man,Shall my life be for ever: me the snowsThat face the first o' the morning, and cold hillsFull of the land-wind and sea-travelling stormsAnd many a wandering wing of noisy nightsThat know the thunder and hear the thickening wolves --Me the utmost pine and footless frost of woodsThat talk with many winds and gods, the hoursRe-risen, and white divisions of the dawn,Springs thousand-tongued with the intermitting reedAnd streams that murmur of the mother snow --Me these allure, and know me; but no manKnows, and my goddess only. Lo now, seeIf one of all you these things vex at all.Would God that any of you had all the praiseAnd I no manner of memory when I die,So might I show before her perfect eyesPure, whom I follow, a maiden to my death.But for the rest let all have all they will;For is it a grief to you that I have part,Being woman merely, in your male might and deedsDone by main strength? yet in my body is thronedAs great a heart, and in my spirit, O men,I have not less of godlike. Evil it wereThat one a coward should mix with you, one handFearful, one eye abase itself; and theseWell might ye hate and well revile, not me.For not the difference of the several fleshBeing vile or noble or beautiful or baseMakes praiseworthy, but purer spirit and heartHigher than these meaner mouths and limbs, that feed,Rise, rest, and are and are not; and for me,What should I say? but by the gods of the worldAnd this my maiden body, by all oathsThat bind the tongue of men and the evil will,I am not mighty-minded, nor desireCrowns, nor the spoil of slain things nor the fame;Feed ye on these, eat and wax fat; cry out,Laugh, having eaten, and leap without a lyre,Sing, mix the wind with clamour, smite and shakeSonorous timbrels and tumultuous hair,And fill the dance up with tempestuous feet,For I will none; but having prayed my prayersAnd made thank-offering for prosperities,I shall go hence and no man see me more.What thing is this for you to shout me down,What, for a man to grudge me this my lifeAs it were envious of all yours, and IA thief of reputations? nay, for now,If there be any highest in heaven, a godAbove all thrones and thunders of the godsThroned, and the wheel of the world roll under him,Judge he between me and all of you, and seeIf I transgress at all: but ye, refrainTransgressing hands and reinless mouths, and keepSilence, lest by much foam of violent wordsAnd proper poison of your lips ye die.

ŒNEUSAnd holiest head of women, have good cheerOf thy good words: but ye, depart with herIn peace and reverence, each with blameless eyeFollowing his fate; exalt your hands and hearts,Strike, cease not, arrow on arrow and wound on wound,And go with gods and with the gods return.

CHORUSA thorn for peril and a snare for sin?For in the word his life is and his breath, And in the word his death,That madness and the infatuate heart may breed From the word's womb the deedAnd life bring one thing forth ere all pass by,Even one thing which is ours yet cannot die --Death. Hast thou seen him ever anywhere,Time's twin-born brother, imperishable as heIs perishable and plaintive, clothed with care And mutable as sand,But death is strong and full of blood and fairAnd perdurable and like a lord of land?Nay, time thou seest not, death thou wilt not seeTill life's right hand be loosened from thine hand And thy life-days from thee.For the gods very subtly fashion Madness with sadness upon earth:Not knowing in any wise compassion, Nor holding pity of any worth;And many things they have given and taken, And wrought and ruined many things;The firm land have they loosed and shaken, And sealed the sea with all her springs;They have wearied time with heavy burdensAnd vexed the lips of life with breath:Set men to labour and given them guerdons, Death, and great darkness after death:Put moans into the bridal measure And on the bridal wools a stain;And circled pain about with pleasure, And girdled pleasure about with pain;And strewed one marriage-bed with tears and fireFor extreme loathing and supreme desire.

What shall be done with all these tears of ours? Shall they make watersprings in the fair heavenTo bathe the brows of morning? or like flowersBe shed and shine before the starriest hours, Or made the raiment of the weeping Seven?Or rather, O our masters, shall they beFood for the famine of the grievous sea, A great well-head of lamentationSatiating the sad gods? or fall and flowAmong the years and seasons to and fro, And wash their feet with tribulationAnd fill them full with grieving ere they go? Alas, our lords, and yet alas again,Seeing all your iron heaven is gilt as gold But all we smite thereat in vain;Smite the gates barred with groanings manifold, But all the floors are paven with our pain.Yea, and with weariness of lips and eyes,With breaking of the bosom, and with sighs, We labour, and are clad and fed with griefAnd filled with days we would not fain beholdAnd nights we would not hear of; we wax old, All we wax old and wither like a leaf.We are outcast, strayed between bright sun and moon; Our light and darkness are as leaves of flowers,Black flowers and white, that perish; and the noon As midnight, and the night as daylight hours. A little fruit a little while is ours, And the worm finds it soon.

But up in heaven the high gods one by one Lay hands upon the draught that quickeneth,Fulfilled with all tears shed and all things done, And stir with soft imperishable breath The bubbling bitterness of life and death,And hold it to our lips and laugh; but theyPreserve their lips from tasting night or day, Lest they too change and sleep, the fates that spun,The lips that made us and the hands that slay; Lest all these change, and heaven bow down to none,Change and be subject to the secular sway And terrene revolution of the sun.Therefore they thrust it from them, putting time away.

I would the wine of time, made sharp and sweet With multitudinous days and nights and tears And many mixing savours of strange years,Were no more trodden of them under feet, Cast out and spilt about their holy places:That life were given them as a fruit to eatAnd death to drink as water; that the lightMight ebb, drawn backward from their eyes, and night Hide for one hour the imperishable faces.That they might rise up sad in heaven, and knowSorrow and sleep, one paler than young snow, One cold as blight of dew and ruinous rain;Rise up and rest and suffer a little, and beAwhile as all things born with us and we, And grieve as men, and like slain men be slain.

For now we know not of them; but one saith The gods are gracious, praising God; and one,When hast thou seen? or hast thou felt his breath Touch, nor consume thine eyelids as the sun,Nor fill thee to the lips with fiery death? None hath beheld him, noneSeen above other gods and shapes of things,Swift without feet and flying without wings,Intolerable, not clad with death or life, Insatiable, not known of night or day,The lord of love and loathing and of strife Who gives a star and takes a sun away;Who shapes the soul, and makes her a barren wife To the earthly body and grievous growth of clay;Who turns the large limbs to a little flame And binds the great sea with a little sand;Who makes desire, and slays desire with shame; Who shakes the heaven as ashes in his hand;Who, seeing the light and shadow for the same, Bids day waste night as fire devours a brand,Smites without sword, and scourges without rod; The supreme evil, God.Yea, with thine hate, O God, thou hast covered us, One saith, and hidden our eyes away from sight,And made us transitory and hazardous, Light things and slight;Yet have men praised thee, saying, He hath made man thus, And he doeth right.Thou hast kissed us, and hast smitten; thou hast laidUpon us with thy left hand life, and said,Live: and again thou hast said, Yield up your breath,And with thy right hand laid upon us death.Thou hast sent us sleep, and stricken sleep with dreams, Saying, Joy is not, but love of joy shall be;Thou hast made sweet springs for all the pleasant streams, In the end thou hast made them bitter with the sea.Thou hast fed one rose with dust of many men; Thou hast marred one face with fire of many tears;Thou hast taken love, and given us sorrow again; With pain thou hast filled us full to the eyes and ears.Therefore because thou art strong, our father, and we Feeble; and thou art against us, and thine handConstrains us in the shallows of the sea And breaks us at the limits of the land;Because thou hast bent thy lightnings as a bow, And loosed the hours like arrows; and let fallSins and wild words and many a wingèd woe And wars among us, and one end of all;Because thou hast made the thunder, and thy feet Are as a rushing water when the skiesBreak, but thy face as an exceeding heat And flames of fire the eyelids of thine eyes;Because thou art over all who are over us; Because thy name is life and our name death;Because thou art cruel and men are piteous, And our hands labour and thine hand scattereth;Lo, with hearts rent and knees made tremulous, Lo, with ephemeral lips and casual breath, At least we witness of thee ere we dieThat these things are not otherwise, but thus; That each man in his heart sigheth, and saith, That all men even as I,All we are against thee, against thee, O God most high.

But ye, keep ye on earth Your lips from over-speech,Loud words and longing are so little worth; And the end is hard to reach.For silence after grievous things is good, And reverence, and the fear that makes men whole,And shame, and righteous governance of blood, And lordship of the soul.But from sharp words and wits men pluck no fruit,And gathering thorns they shake the tree at root;For words divide and rend;But silence is most noble till the end.

ALTHÆAAnd came forth eastward hither, where the dawnCheers first these warder gods that face the sunAnd next our eyes unrisen; for unawareCame clashes of swift hoofs and trampling feetAnd through the windy pillared corridorLight sharper than the frequent flames of dayThat daily fill it from the fiery dawn;Gleams, and a thunder of people that cried out,And dust and hurrying horsemen; lo their chief,That rode with Œneus rein by rein, returned.What cheer, O herald of my lord the king?





ALTHÆAThese gods and all the lintel, and shed wine,Fetch sacrifice and slay; for heaven is good.

HERALDWest of that narrowing range of warrior hillsWhose brooks have bled with battle when thy sonSmote Acarnania, there all they made halt,And with keen eye took note of spear and hound,Royally ranked; Laertes island-born,The young Gerenian Nestor, Panopeus,And Cepheus and Ancæus, mightiest thewed,Arcadians; next, and evil-eyed of these,Arcadian Atalanta, with twain houndsLengthening the leash, and under nose and browGlittering with lipless tooth and fire-swift eye;But from her white braced shoulder the plumed shaftsRang, and the bow shone from her side; next herMeleager, like a sun in spring that strikesBranch into leaf and bloom into the world,A glory among men meaner; Iphicles,And following him that slew the biform bullPirithous, and divine Eurytion,And, bride-bound to the gods, Æacides.Then Telamon his brother, and Argive-bornThe seer and sayer of visions and of truth,Amphiaraus; and a four-fold strength,Thine, even thy mother's and thy sister's sons.And recent from the roar of foreign foamJason, and Dryas twin-begot with war,A blossom of bright battle, sword and manShining; and Idas, and the keenest eyeOf Lynceus, and Admetus twice-espoused,And Hippasus and Hyleus, great in heart.These having halted bade blow horns, and rodeThrough woods and waste lands cleft by stormy streams,Past yew-trees and the heavy hair of pines,And where the dew is thickest under oaks,This way and that; but questing up and downThey saw no trail nor scented; and one said,Plexippus, Help, or help not, Artemis,And we will flay thy boarskin with male hands;But saying, he ceased and said not that he would,Seeing where the green ooze of a sun-struck marshShook with a thousand reeds untunable,And in their moist and multitudinous flowerSlept no soft sleep, with violent visions fed,The blind bulk of the immeasurable beast.And seeing, he shuddered with sharp lust of praiseThrough all his limbs, and launched a double dart.And missed; for much desire divided him,Too hot of spirit and feebler than his will,That his hand failed, though fervent; and the shaft,Sundering the rushes, in a tamarisk stemShook, and stuck fast; then all abode save one,The Arcadian Atalanta; from her sideSprang her hounds, labouring at the leash, and slipped,And plashed ear-deep with plunging feet; but sheSaying, Speed it as I send it for thy sake,Goddess, drew bow and loosed; the sudden stringRang, and sprang inward, and the waterish airHissed, and the moist plumes of the songless reedsMoved as a wave which the wind moves no more.But the boar heaved half out of ooze and slimeHis tense flank trembling round the barbèd wound,Hateful; and fiery with invasive eyesAnd bristling with intolerable hairPlunged, and the hounds clung, and green flowers and whiteReddened and broke all round them where they came.And charging with sheer tusk he drove, and smoteHyleus; and sharp death caught his sudden soul,And violent sleep shed night upon his eyes.Then Peleus, with strong strain of hand and heart,Shot; but the sidelong arrow slid, and slewHis comrade born and loving countryman,Under the left arm smitten, as he no lessPoised a like arrow; and bright blood brake afoam,And falling, and weighed back by clamorous arms,Sharp rang the dead limbs of Eurytion.Then one shot happier, the Cadmean seer,Amphiaraus; for his sacred shaftPierced the red circlet of one ravening eyeBeneath the brute brows of the sanguine boar,Now bloodier from one slain; but he so galledSprang straight, and rearing cried no lesser cryThan thunder and the roar of wintering streamsThat mix their own foam with the yellower sea;And as a tower that falls by fire in fightWith ruin of walls and all its archery,And breaks the iron flower of war beneath,Crushing charred limbs and molten arms of men;So through crushed branches and the reddening brakeClamoured and crashed the fervour of his feet,And trampled, springing sideways from the tusk,Too tardy a moving mould of heavy strength,Ancæus; and as flakes of weak-winged snowBreak, all the hard thews of his heaving limbsBroke, and rent flesh fell every way, and bloodFlew, and fierce fragments of no more a man.Then all the heroes drew sharp breath, and gazed,And smote not; but Meleager, but thy son,Right in the wild way of the coming curseRock-rooted, fair with fierce and fastened lips,Clear eyes, and springing muscle and shortening limb --With chin aslant indrawn to a tightening throat,Grave, and with gathered sinews, like a god, --Aimed on the left side his well-handled spearGrasped where the ash was knottiest hewn, and smote,And with no missile wound, the monstrous boarRight in the hairiest hollow of his hideUnder the last rib, sheer through bulk and bone,Deep in; and deeply smitten, and to death,The heavy horror with his hanging shaftsLeapt, and fell furiously, and from raging lipsFoamed out the latest wrath of all his life.And all they praised the gods with mightier heart,Zeus and all gods, but chiefliest Artemis,Seeing; but Meleager bade whet knives and flay,Strip and stretch out the splendour of the spoil;And hot and horrid from the work all theseSat, and drew breath and drank and made great cheerAnd washed the hard sweat off their calmer brows.For much sweet grass grew higher than grew the reed,And good for slumber, and every holier herb,Narcissus, and the low-lying melilote,And all of goodliest blade and bloom that springsWhere, hid by heavier hyacinth, violet budsBlossom and burn; and fire of yellower flowersAnd light of crescent lilies, and such leavesAs fear the Faun's and know the Dryad's foot;Olive and ivy and poplar dedicate,And many a well-spring overwatched of these.There now they rest; but me the king bade bearGood tidings to rejoice this town and thee.Wherefore be glad, and all ye give much thanks,For fallen is all the trouble of Calydon.

ALTHÆAAnd what shall be they hide until their time.Much good and somewhat grievous hast thou said,And either well; but let all sad things be,Till all have made before the prosperous godsBurnt-offering, and poured out the floral wine.Look fair, O gods, and favourable; for wePraise you with no false heart or flattering mouth,Being merciful, but with pure souls and prayer.

HERALDBut once being prosperous waxes huge of heart,Him shall some new thing unaware destroy.

CHORUSBy deep wells and water-floods,Streams of ancient hills, and whereAll the wan green places bearBlossoms cleaving to the sod,Fruitless fruit, and grasses fair,Or such darkest ivy-budsAs divide thy yellow hair,Bacchus, and their leaves that nodRound thy fawnskin brush the bareSnow-soft shoulders of a god;There the year is sweet, and thereEarth is full of secret springs,And the fervent rose-cheeked hours,Those that marry dawn and noon,There are sunless, there look paleIn dim leaves and hidden air,Pale as grass or latter flowersOr the wild vine's wan wet ringsFull of dew beneath the moon,And all day the nightingaleSleeps, and all night sings;There in cold remote recessesThat nor alien eyes assail,Feet, nor imminence of wings,Nor a wind nor any tune,Thou, O queen and holiest,Flower the whitest of all things,With reluctant lengthening tressesAnd with sudden splendid breastSave of maidens unbeholden,There art wont to enter, thereThy divine swift limbs and goldenMaiden growth of unbound hair,Bathed in waters white,Shine, and many a maid's by theeIn moist woodland or the hillyFlowerless brakes where wells aboundOut of all men's sight;Or in lower pools that seeAll their marges clothed all roundWith the innumerable lily,Whence the golden-girdled beeFlits through flowering rush to fretWhite or duskier violet,Fair as those that in far yearsWith their buds left luminousAnd their little leaves made wet,From the warmer dew of tears,Mother's tears in extreme need,Hid the limbs of Iamus,Of thy brother's seed;For his heart was piteousToward him, even as thine heart nowPitiful toward us;Thine, O goddess, turning hitherA benignant blameless brow;Seeing enough of evil doneAnd lives withered as leaves witherIn the blasting of the sun;Seeing enough of hunters dead,Ruin enough of all our year,Herds and harvests slain and shed,Herdsmen stricken many an one,Fruits and flocks consumed together,And great length of deadly days.Yet with reverent lips and fearTurn we toward thee, turn and praiseFor this lightening of clear weatherAnd prosperities begun.For not seldom, when all airAs bright water without breathShines, and when men fear not, fateWithout thunder unawareBreaks, and brings down death.Joy with grief ye great gods give,Good with bad, and overbearAll the pride of us that live,All the high estate,As ye long since overbore,As in old time long before,Many a strong man and a great,All that were.But do thou, sweet, otherwise,Having heed of all our prayer,Taking note of all our sighs;We beseech thee by thy light,By thy bow, and thy sweet eyes,And the kingdom of the night,Be thou favourable and fair;By thine arrows and thy mightAnd Orion overthrown;By the maiden thy delight,By the indissoluble zoneAnd the sacred hair.

MESSENGERBow down, cry, wail for pity; is this a timeFor singing? nay, for strewing of dust and ash,Rent raiment, and for bruising of the breast.

CHORUSWhat snake's tongue in thy lips? what fire in the eyes?

ALTHÆACovered? no mean men living, but now slainSuch honour have they, if any dwell with death.

ALTHÆAIf it be mine indeed, and I will weep.

ALTHÆAWell loved and well reputed, I should weepTears dearer than the dear blood drawn from youBut that I know you not uncomforted,Sleeping no shameful sleep, however slain,For my son surely hath avenged you dead.










ALTHÆAI would I were not here in sight of the sun.But thou, speak all thou sawest, and I will die.

MESSENGERA little word may hold so great mischance.For in division of the sanguine spoilThese men thy brethren wrangling bade yield upThe boar's head and the horror of the hideThat this might stand a wonder in Calydon,Hallowed; and some drew toward them; but thy sonWith great hands grasping all that weight of hairCast down the dead heap clanging and collapsedAt female feet, saying This thy spoil not mine,Maiden, thine own hand for thyself hath reaped,And all this praise God gives thee: she thereatLaughed, as when dawn touches the sacred nightThe sky sees laugh and redden and divideDim lips and eyelids virgin of the sun,Hers, and the warm slow breasts of morning heave,Fruitful, and flushed with flame from lamp-lit hours,And maiden undulation of clear hairColour the clouds; so laughed she from pure heart,Lit with a low blush to the braided hair,And rose-coloured and cold like very dawn,Golden and godlike, chastely with chaste lips,A faint grave laugh; and all they held their peace,And she passed by them. Then one cried Lo now,Shall not the Arcadian shoot out lips at us,Saying all we were despoiled by this one girl?And all they rode against her violentlyAnd cast the fresh crown from her hair, and nowThey had rent her spoil away, dishonouring her,Save that Meleager, as a tame lion chafed,Bore on them, broke them, and as fire cleaves woodSo clove and drove them, smitten in twain; but sheSmote not nor heaved up hand; and this man first,Plexippus, crying out This for love's sake, sweet,Drove at Meleager, who with spear straighteningPierced his cheek through; then Toxeus made for him,Dumb, but his spear spake; vain and violent words.Fruitless; for him too stricken through both sidesThe earth felt falling, and his horse's foamBlanched thy son's face, his slayer; and these being slain,None moved nor spake; but Œneus bade bear henceThese made of heaven infatuate in their deaths,Foolish; for these would baffle fate, and fell.And they passed on, and all men honoured her,Being honourable, as one revered of heaven.


ALTHÆAYe have no part in, these ye know not ofAs I that was their sister, a sacrificeSlain in their slaying. I would I had died for these;For this man dead walked with me, child by child,And made a weak staff for my feebler feetWith his own tender wrist and hand, and heldAnd led me softly and shewed me gold and steelAnd shining shapes of mirror and bright crownAnd all things fair; and threw light spears, and broughtYoung hounds to huddle at my feet and thrustTame heads against my little maiden breastsAnd please me with great eyes; and those days wentAnd these are bitter and I a barren queenAnd sister miserable, a grievous thingAnd mother of many curses; and she too,My sister Leda, sitting overseasWith fair fruits round her, and her faultless lord,Shall curse me, saying A sorrow and not a son,Sister, thou barest, even a burning fire,A brand consuming thine own soul and me.But ye now, sons of Thestius, make good cheer,For ye shall have such wood to funeral fireAs no king hath; and flame that once burnt downOil shall not quicken or breath relume or wineRefresh again; much costlier than fine gold,And more than many lives of wandering men.

CHORUSThine husband, and the great strength of thy son.

ALTHÆAWho bear them? who bring forth in lieu of these?Are not our fathers and our brethren one,And no man like them? are not mine here slain?Have we not hung together, he and I,Flowerwise feeding as the feeding bees,With mother-milk for honey? and this man too,Dead, with my son's spear thrust between his sides,Hath he not seen us, later born than he,Laugh with lips filled, and laughed again for love?There were no sons then in the world, nor spears,Nor deadly births of women; but the godsAllowed us, and our days were clear of these.I would I had died unwedded, and brought forthNo swords to vex the world; for these that spakeSweet words long since and loved me will not speakNor love nor look upon me; and all my lifeI shall not hear nor see them living men.But I too living, how shall I now live?What life shall this be with my son, to knowWhat hath been and desire what will not be,Look for dead eyes and listen for dead lips,And kill mine own heart with remembering them,And with those eyes that see their slayer aliveWeep, and wring hands that clasp him by the hand?How shall I bear my dreams of them, to hearFalse voices, feel the kisses of false mouthsAnd footless sound of perished feet, and thenWake and hear only it may be their own houndsWhine masterless in miserable sleep,And see their boar-spears and their beds and seatsAnd all the gear and housings of their livesAnd not the men? shall hounds and horses mourn,Pine with strange eyes, and prick up hungry ears,Famish and fail at heart for their dear lords,And I not heed at all? and those blind thingsFall off from life for love's sake, and I live?Surely some death is better than some life,Better one death for him and these and meFor if the gods had slain them it may beI had endured it; if they had fallen by warOr by the nets and knives of privy deathAnd by hired hands while sleeping, this thing tooI had set my soul to suffer; or this hunt,Had this despatched them, under tusk or toothTorn, sanguine, trodden, broken; for all deathsOr honourable or with facile feet avengedAnd hands of swift gods following, all save this,Are bearable; but not for their sweet landFighting, but not a sacrifice, lo theseDead; for I had not then shed all mine heartOut at mine eyes: then either with good speed,Being just, I had slain their slayer atoningly,Or strewn with flowers their fire and on their tombsHung crowns, and over them a song, and seenTheir praise outflame their ashes: for all men,All maidens, had come thither, and from pure lipsShed songs upon them, from heroic eyesTears; and their death had been a deathless life;But now, by no man hired nor alien sword,By their own kindred are they fallen, in peace,After much peril, friendless among friends,By hateful hands they loved; and how shall mineTouch these returning red and not from war,These fatal from the vintage of men's veins,Dead men my brethren? how shall these wash offNo festal stains of undelightful wine,How mix the blood, my blood on them, with me,Holding mine hand? or how shall I say, son,That am no sister? but by night and dayShall we not sit and hate each other, and thinkThings hate-worthy? not live with shamefast eyes,Brow-beaten, treading soft with fearful feet,Each unupbraided, each without rebukeConvicted, and without a word reviledEach of another? and I shall let thee liveAnd see thee strong and hear men for thy sakePraise me, but these thou wouldest not let liveNo man shall praise for ever? these shall lieDead, unbeloved, unholpen, all through thee?Sweet were they toward me living, and mine heartDesired them, but was then well satisfied,That now is as men hungered; and these deadI shall want always to the day I die.For all things else and all men may renew;Yea, son for son the gods may give and take,But never a brother or sister any more.

CHORUSFull of thy milk, warm from thy womb, and drainsLife and the blood of life and all thy fruit,Eats thee and drinks thee as who breaks bread and eats,Treads wine and drinks, thyself, a sect of thee;And if he feed not, shall not thy flesh faint?Or drink not, are not thy lips dead for thirst?This thing moves more than all things, even thy son,That thou cleave to him; and he shall honour thee,Thy womb that bare him and the breasts he knew,Reverencing most for thy sake all his gods.

ALTHÆANot reverencing his gods nor mine own heartNor the old sweet years nor all venerable things,But cruel, and in his ravin like a beast,Hath taken away to slay them: yea, and sheShe the strange woman, she the flower, the sword,Red from spilt blood, a mortal flower to men,Adorable, detestable -- even sheSaw with strange eyes and with strange lips rejoiced,Seeing these mine own slain of mine own, and meMade miserable above all miseries made,A grief among all women in the world,A name to be washed out with all men's tears.

CHORUSChance, and the wheel of all necessities?Hard things have fallen upon us from harsh gods,Whom lest worse hap rebuke we not for these.

ALTHÆAFor these things' sake cry out on mine own soulThat it endures outrage, and dolorous days,And life, and this inexpiable impotence.Weak am I, weak and shameful; my breath drawnShames me, and monstrous things and violent gods.What shall atone? what heal me? what bring backStrength to the foot, light to the face? what herbAssuage me? what restore me? what release?What strange thing eaten or drunken, O great gods,Make me as you or as the beasts that feed,Slay and divide and cherish their own hearts?For these ye show us; and we less than theseHave not wherewith to live as all these thingsWhich all their lives fare after their own kindAs who doth well rejoicing; but we ill,Weeping or laughing, we whom eyesight fails,Knowledge and light of face and perfect heart,And hands we lack, and wit; and all our daysSin, and have hunger, and die infatuated.For madness have ye given us and not health,And sins whereof we know not; and for theseDeath, and sudden destruction unaware.What shall we say now? what thing comes of us?

ALTHÆADie as a dog dies, eaten of creeping things,Abominable, a loathing; but though deadShall they have honour and such funereal flameAs strews men's ashes in their enemies' faceAnd blinds their eyes who hate them: lest men say,"Lo how they lie, and living had great kin,And none of these hath pity of them, and noneRegards them lying, and none is wrung at heart,None moved in spirit for them, naked and slain,Abhorred, abased, and no tears comfort them:"And in the dark this grieve Eurythemis,Hearing how these her sons come down to herUnburied, unavenged, as kinless men,And had a queen their sister. That were shameWorse than this grief. Yet how to atone at allI know not; seeing the love of my born son,A new-made mother's new-born love, that growsFrom the soft child to the strong man, now softNow strong as either, and still one sole same love,Strives with me, no light thing to strive withal;This love is deep, and natural to man's blood,And ineffaceable with many tears.Yet shall not these rebuke me though I die,Nor she in that waste world with all her dead,My mother, among the pale flocks fallen as leaves,Folds of dead people, and alien from the sun;Nor lack some bitter comfort, some poor praise,Being queen, to have borne her daughter like a queen,Righteous; and though mine own fire burn me too,She shall have honour and these her sons, though dead.But all the gods will, all they do, and weNot all we would, yet somewhat; and one choiceWe have, to live and do just deeds and die.

CHORUSSwift fiery eyes in doubt against herself,And murmurs as who talks in dreams with death.

ALTHÆAHate, and himself abhors the unrighteousness,And seeth his own dishonour intolerable.But I being just, doing right upon myself,Slay mine own soul, and no man born shames me.For none constrains nor shall rebuke, being done,What none compelled me doing; thus these things fare.Ah, ah, that such things should so fare; ah me,That I am found to do them and endure,Chosen and constrained to choose, and bear myselfMine own wound through mine own flesh to the heartViolently stricken, a spoiler and a spoil,A ruin ruinous, fallen on mine own son.Ah, ah, for me too as for these; alas,For that is done that shall be, and mine handFull of the deed, and full of blood mine eyes,That shall see never nor touch anythingSave blood unstanched and fire unquenchable.

CHORUSShakes ruinously; wilt thou bring fire for it?

ALTHÆALo ye, who stand and weave, between the doors,There; and blood drips from hand and thread, and stainsThreshold and raiment and me passing inFlecked with the sudden sanguine drops of death.

CHORUSFate than all gods: and these are fallen on us.

ALTHÆAI never shall be glad or sad again.

ALTHÆAI shall weep never and laugh not any more.

CHORUSWithhold thyself a little and fear the gods.

ALTHÆAAnd fear is of the living; these fear none.



ALTHÆASmote it of old, and now the axe is here.

CHORUS Nor as with cleaving of the sea Nor fierce foreshadowings of a birth Nor flying dreams of death to be Nor loosening of the large world's girth And quickening of the body of night, And sound of thunder in men's ears And fire of lightning in men's sight, Fate, mother of desires and fears, Bore unto men the law of tears; But sudden, an unfathered flame, And broken out of night, she shone, She, without body, without name, In days forgotten and foregone; And heaven rang round her as she came Like smitten cymbals, and lay bare; Clouds and great stars, thunders and snows, The blue sad fields and folds of air, The life that breathes, the life that grows, All wind, all fire, that burns or blows, Even all these knew her: for she is great; The daughter of doom, the mother of death, The sister of sorrow; a lifelong weight That no man's finger lighteneth, Nor any god can lighten fate; A landmark seen across the way Where one race treads as the other trod; An evil sceptre, an evil stay, Wrought for a staff, wrought for a rod, The bitter jealousy of God.

For death is deep as the sea, And fate as the waves thereof. Shall the waves take pity on thee Or the southwind offer thee love? Wilt thou take the night for thy day Or the darkness for light on thy way, Till thou say in thine heart Enough? Behold, thou art over fair, thou art over wise;The sweetness of spring in thine hair, and the light in thine eyes.The light of the spring in thine eyes, and the sound in thine ears;Yet thine heart shall wax heavy with sighs and thine eyelids with tears.Wilt thou cover thine hair with gold, and with silver thy feet?Hast thou taken the purple to fold thee, and made thy mouth sweet?Behold, when thy face is made bare, he that loved thee shall hate;Thy face shall be no more fair at the fall of thy fate.For thy life shall fall as a leaf and be shed as the rain;And the veil of thine head shall be grief; and the crown shall be pain.

ALTHÆATill I be come among you. Hide your tears,Ye little weepers, and your laughing lips,Ye laughers for a little; lo mine eyesThat outweep heaven at rainiest, and my mouthThat laughs as gods laugh at us. Fate's are we,Yet fate is ours a breathing-space; yea, mine,Fate is made mine for ever; he is my son,My bedfellow, my brother. You strong gods,Give place unto me; I am as any of you,To give life and to take life. Thou, old earth,That hast made man and unmade; thou whose mouthLooks red from the eaten fruits of thine own womb;Behold me with what lips upon what foodI feed and fill my body; even with fleshMade of my body. Lo, the fire I litI burn with fire to quench it; yea, with flameI burn up even the dust and ash thereof.









ALTHÆAAre blinder than night's face at fall of moon.That is my son, my flesh, my fruit of life,My travail, and the year's weight of my womb,Meleager, a fire enkindled of mine handsAnd of mine hands extinguished; this is he.


CHORUSAnd in thy mouth has death set up his house.

ALTHÆAUntil I see the brand burnt down and die.

CHORUSAnd cleaves unto the ground with staggering feet.

ALTHÆAI that did this will weep not nor cry out,Cry ye and weep: I will not call on gods,Call ye on them; I will not pity man,Shew ye your pity. I know not if I live;Save that I feel the fire upon my faceAnd on my cheek the burning of a brand.Yea the smoke bites me, yea I drink the steamWith nostril and with eyelid and with lipInsatiate and intolerant; and mine handsBurn, and fire feeds upon mine eyes; I reelAs one made drunk with living, whence he drawsDrunken delight; yet I, though mad for joy,Loathe my long living and am waxen redAs with the shadow of shed blood; behold,I am kindled with the flames that fade in him,I am swollen with subsiding of his veins,I am flooded with his ebbing; my lit eyesFlame with the falling fire that leaves his lidsBloodless; my cheek is luminous with bloodBecause his face is ashen. Yet, O child,Son, first-born, fairest -- O sweet mouth, sweet eyes,That drew my life out through my suckling breast,That shone and clove mine heart through -- O soft kneesClinging, O tender treadings of soft feet,Cheeks warm with little kissings -- O child, child,What have we made each other? Lo, I feltThy weight cleave to me, a burden of beauty, O son,Thy cradled brows and loveliest loving lips,The floral hair, the little lightening eyes,And all thy goodly glory; with mine handsDelicately I fed thee, with my tongueTenderly spake, saying, Verily in God's time,For all the little likeness of thy limbs,Son, I shall make thee a kingly man to fight,A lordly leader; and hear before I die,"She bore the goodliest sword of all the world."Oh! oh! For all my life turns round on me;I am severed from myself, my name is gone,My name that was a healing, it is changed,My name is a consuming. From this time,Though mine eyes reach to the end of all these things,My lips shall not unfasten till I die.

SEMICHORUS And the ways thereof with tears;She arose, she girdled her sides,She set her face as a bride's;She wept, and she had no pity; Trembled, and felt no fears.

SEMICHORUS Her brows were fresh as the day;She girdled herself with gold,Her robes were manifold;But the days of her worship are done, Her praise is taken away.

SEMICHORUS With her mouth she kindled the same;As the mouth of a flute-player,So was the mouth of her;With the might of her strong desire She blew the breath of the flame.

SEMICHORUS She took the fire in her hand;As one who is nigh to death,She panted with strange breath;She opened her lips unto blood, She breathed and kindled the brand.

SEMICHORUS She sobbed and lifted her breast;She sighed and covered her eyes,Filling her lips with sighs;She sighed, she withdrew herself not, She refrained not, taking not rest;

SEMICHORUS And as the air which is death,As storm that severeth ships,Her breath severing her lips,The breath came forth of her mouth And the fire came forth of her breath.

SECOND MESSENGERA thing more deadly than the face of death;Meleager the good lord is as one slain.

SEMICHORUS Slain, and slain without hand.

SECOND MESSENGERHis limbs divide, and as thawed snow the fleshThaws from off all his body to the hair.

SEMICHORUS With the brand he fades as a brand.

SECOND MESSENGERLifted both hands to crown the Arcadian's hairAnd fix the looser leaves, both hands fell down.

SEMICHORUS Lament ye, mourn for him, weep.

SECOND MESSENGERFirst fallen; and he, grasping his own hair, groanedAnd cast his raiment round his face and fell.

SEMICHORUS And soothsayings spoken in sleep.

SECOND MESSENGERAnd caught him, crying out twice "O child" and thrice,So that men's eyelids thickened with their tears.

SEMICHORUS Cry, for an end is at hand.

SECOND MESSENGERPity me; but Meleager with sharp lipsGasped, and his face waxed like as sunburnt grass.

SEMICHORUS O stricken, a ruinous land.

SECOND MESSENGERWith feeble hands heaved up a lessening weight,And laid him sadly in strange hands, and wept.

SEMICHORUS Thy dear blood wasted as rain.

SECOND MESSENGERBear hither a breathing body, wept uponAnd lightening at each footfall, sick to death.

SEMICHORUS With fire for a sword thou art slain.

SECOND MESSENGERFallen; and the huntress and the hunter trapped;And weeping and changed faces and veiled hair.

MELEAGER Round the weight of my head; Lift ye my feet As the feet of the dead;For the flesh of my body is molten, the limbs of it molten as lead.

CHORUS Thine imperious eyes! O the grief, O the grace, As of day when it dies!Who is this bending over thee, lord, with tears and suppression of sighs?

MELEAGER Is a maid so meek? With unchapleted hair, With unfilleted cheek,Atalanta, the pure among women, whose name is as blessing to speak.

ATALANTA Unsandalled, unshod, Overbold, overfleet, I had swum not nor trodFrom Arcadia to Calydon northward, a blast of the envy of God.

MELEAGER Unto each as he saith In whose fingers the weight Of the world is as breath;Yet I would that in clamour of battle mine hands had laid hold upon death.

CHORUS And their clash in thine ear, When the lord of fought fields Breaketh spearshaft from spear,Thou art broken, our lord, thou art broken, with travail and labour and fear.

MELEAGER Beneath fresh boughs! Would God he had bound me Unawares in mine house,With light in mine eyes, and songs in my lips, and a crown on my brows!

CHORUS Whither thy goal? How art thou rent from us, Thou that wert whole,As with severing of eyelids and eyes, as with sundering of body and soul!

MELEAGER As an ash in the fire; Whosoever hath seen me, Without lute, without lyre,Shall sing of me grievous things, even things that were ill to desire.

CHORUS From the house of the dead? Or what man praise thee That thy praise may be said?Alas thy beauty! alas thy body! alas thine head!

MELEAGER The dreamer of dreams, Wilt thou bring forth another To feel the sun's beamsWhen I move among shadows a shadow, and wail by impassable streams?

ŒNEUS Now this thing is done? A man wilt thou give me, A son for my son,For the light of mine eyes, the desire of my life, the desirable one?

CHORUS Yea, fair beyond word; Thou wert glad among mothers; For each man that heardOf thee, praise there was added unto thee, as wings to the feet of a bird.

ŒNEUS Thy face of old years With travail made black, Grown grey among fears,Mother of sorrow, mother of cursing, mother of tears?

MELEAGER Fed with fuel in vain, My delight, my desire, Is more chaste than the rain,More pure than the dewfall, more holy than stars are that live without stain.

ATALANTA My life's blood had thawn, Or as winter's wan daughter Leaves lowland and lawnSpring-stricken, or ever mine eyes had beheld thee made dark in thy dawn.

CHORUS Of the chosen of Thrace, None turned him again Nor endured he thy faceClothed round with the blush of the battle, with light from a terrible place.

ŒNEUS For whom none sheddeth tears; Filling thine eyes And fulfilling thine earsWith the brilliance of battle, the bloom and the beauty, the splendour of spears.

CHORUS It is sung, it is told, And the light thereof hurled And the noise thereof rolledFrom the Acroceraunian snow to the ford of the fleece of gold.

MELEAGER Forth of all these; Heap sand and bury me By the ChersoneseWhere the thundering Bosphorus answers the thunder of Pontic seas.

ŒNEUS And the singing begun And the men of strange days Praising my sonIn the folds of the hills of home, high places of Calydon?

MELEAGER Ah, better to be What the flower of the foam is In fields of the sea,That the sea-waves might be as my raiment, the gulf-stream a garment for me.

CHORUS And restore thee thy day, When the dove dipt her wing And the oars won their wayWhere the narrowing Symplegades whitened the straits of Propontis with spray?

MELEAGER Or exalt me my name, Now my spirits consume, Now my flesh is a flame?Let the sea slake it once, and men speak of me sleeping to praise me or shame.

CHORUS As who turns him to wake; Though the life in thee burn thee, Couldst thou bathe it and slakeWhere the sea-ridge of Helle hangs heavier, and east upon west waters break?

MELEAGER Or the waves hurl me home? Ah, to touch in the track Where the pine learnt to roamCold girdles and crowns of the sea-gods, cool blossoms of water and foam!

CHORUS That they made fast; Thy soul shall have ease In thy limbs at the last;But what shall they give thee for life, sweet life that is overpast?

MELEAGER Not of flesh that conceives; But the grace that remains, The fair beauty that cleavesTo the life of the rains in the grasses, the life of the dews on the leaves.

CHORUS Wilt thou turn in an hour, Thy limbs to the leaf, Thy face to the flower,Thy blood to the water, thy soul to the gods who divide and devour?

MELEAGER They wail all their days; The gods wax angry And weary of praise;And who shall bridle their lips? and who shall straiten their ways?

CHORUS With sword and with rod; Weaving shadow to cover us, Heaping the sod,That law may fulfil herself wholly, to darken man's face before God.

MELEAGERGuiltless, yet red from alien guilt, yet foulWith kinship of contaminated lives,Lo, for their blood I die; and mine own bloodFor bloodshedding of mine is mixed therewith,That death may not discern me from my kin.Yet with clean heart I die and faultless hand,Not shamefully; thou therefore of thy loveSalute me, and bid fare among the deadWell, as the dead fare; for the best man deadFares sadly; nathless I now faring wellPass without fear where nothing is to fearHaving thy love about me and thy goodwill,O father, among dark places and men dead.

ŒNEUSAnd bid thee comfort, being a perfect manIn fight, and honourable in the house of peace.The gods give thee fair wage and dues of death,And me brief days and ways to come at thee.

MELEAGERAnd full of ease and kingdom; seeing in deathThere is no comfort and none aftergrowth,Nor shall one thence look up and see day's dawnNor light upon the land whither I go.Live thou and take thy fill of days and dieWhen thy day comes; and make not much of deathLest ere thy day thou reap an evil thing.Thou too, the bitter mother and mother-plagueOf this my weary body -- thou too, queen,The source and end, the sower and the scythe,The rain that ripens and the drought that slays,The sand that swallows and the spring that feeds,To make me and unmake me -- thou, I say,Althæa, since my father's ploughshare, drawnThrough fatal seedland of a female field,Furrowed thy body, whence a wheaten earStrong from the sun and fragrant from the rainsI sprang and cleft the closure of thy womb,Mother, I dying with unforgetful tongueHail thee as holy and worship thee as justWho art unjust and unholy; and with my kneesWould worship, but thy fire and subtlety,Dissundering them, devour me; for these limbsAre as light dust and crumblings from mine urnBefore the fire has touched them; and my faceAs a dead leaf or dead foot's mark on snow,And all this body a broken barren treeThat was so strong, and all this flower of lifeDisbranched and desecrated miserably,And minished all that god-like muscle and mightAnd lesser than a man's: for all my veinsFail me, and all mine ashen life burns down.I would thou hadst let me live; but gods averse,But fortune, and the fiery feet of change,And time, these would not, these tread out my life,These and not thou; me too thou hast loved, and IThee; but this death was mixed with all my life,Mine end with my beginning: and this law,This only, slays me, and not my mother at all.And let no brother or sister grieve too sore,Nor melt their hearts out on me with their tears,Since extreme love and sorrowing overmuchVex the great gods, and overloving menSlay and are slain for love's sake; and this houseShall bear much better children; why should theseWeep? but in patience let them live their livesAnd mine pass by forgotten: thou alone,Mother, thou sole and only, thou not these,Keep me in mind a little when I dieBecause I was thy first-born; let thy soulPity me, pity even me gone hence and dead,Though thou wert wroth, and though thou bear againMuch happier sons, and all men later bornExceedingly excel me; yet do thouForget not, nor think shame; I was thy son.Time was I did not shame thee; and time wasI thought to live and make thee honourableWith deeds as great as these men's; but they live,These, and I die; and what thing should have beenSurely I know not; yet I charge thee, seeingI am dead already, love me not the less,Me, O my mother; I charge thee by these gods,My father's, and that holier breast of thine,By these that see me dying, and that which nursed,Love me not less, thy first-born: though grief come,Grief only, of me, and of all these great joy,And shall come always to thee; for thou knowest,O mother, O breasts that bare me, for ye know,O sweet head of my mother, sacred eyes,Ye know my soul albeit I sinned, ye knowAlbeit I kneel not neither touch thy knees,But with my lips I kneel, and with my heartI fall about thy feet and worship thee.And ye farewell now, all my friends; and ye,Kinsmen, much younger and glorious more than I,Sons of my mother's sister; and all farewellThat were in Colchis with me, and bare downThe waves and wars that met us: and though timesChange, and though now I be not anything,Forget not me among you, what I didIn my good time; for even by all those days,Those days and this, and your own living souls,And by the light and luck of you that live,And by this miserable spoil, and meDying, I beseech you, let my name not die.But thou, dear, touch me with thy rose-like hands,And fasten up mine eyelids with thy mouth,A bitter kiss; and grasp me with thine arms,Printing with heavy lips my light waste flesh,Made light and thin by heavy-handed fate,And with thine holy maiden eyes drop dew,Drop tears for dew upon me who am dead,Me who have loved thee; seeing without sin doneI am gone down to the empty weary houseWhere no flesh is nor beauty nor swift eyesNor sound of mouth nor might of hands and feet.But thou, dear, hide my body with thy veil,And with thy raiment cover foot and head,And stretch thyself upon me and touch handsWith hands and lips with lips: be pitifulAs thou art maiden perfect; let no manDefile me to despise me, saying, This manDied woman-wise, a woman's offering, slainThrough female fingers in his woof of life,Dishonourable; for thou hast honoured me.And now for God's sake kiss me once and twiceAnd let me go; for the night gathers me,And in the night shall no man gather fruit.

ATALANTATurn homeward and am gone out of thine eyes.

CHORUS Or cross them or do them wrong? Who shall bind them as with cords? Who shall tame them as with song? Who shall smite them as with swords? For the hands of their kingdom are strong.

© Algernon Charles Swinburne