Too great thine offer, king, to one unknown;
Abash’d the fugitive before thee stands,
Who on this shore sought only what thou gavest,
Safety and peace.
Thus still to shroud thyself
From me, as from the lowest, in the veil
Of mystery which wrapp’d thy coming here,
Would in no country be deem’d just or right.
Strangers this shore appall’d; ’twas so ordain’d,
Alike by law and stern necessity.
From thee alone—a kindly welcom’d guest,
Who hast enjoy’d each hallow’d privilege,
And spent thy days in freedom unrestrain’d—
From thee I hop’d that confidence to gain
Which every faithful host may justly claim.
If I conceal’d, O king, my name, my race,
It was embarrassment, and not mistrust.
For didst thou know who stands before thee now,
And what accursed head thine arm protects,
Strange horror would possess thy mighty heart;
And, far from wishing me to share thy throne,
Thou, ere the time appointed, from thy realm
Wouldst banish me; wouldst thrust me forth, perchance
Before a glad reunion with my friends
And period to my wand’rings is ordain’d,
To meet that sorrow, which in every clime,
With cold, inhospitable, fearful hand,
Awaits the outcast, exil’d from his home.
Whate’er respecting thee the gods decree,
Whate’er their doom for thee and for thy house,
Since thou hast dwelt amongst us, and enjoy’d
The privilege the pious stranger claims,
To me hath fail’d no blessing sent from heaven;
And to persuade me, that protecting thee
I shield a guilty head, were hard indeed.
Thy bounty, not the guest, draws blessings down.
The kindness shown the wicked is not blest.
End then thy silence, priestess; not unjust
Is he who doth demand it. In my hands
The goddess placed thee; thou hast been to me
As sacred as to her, and her behest
Shall for the future also be my law:
If thou canst hope in safety to return
Back to thy kindred, I renounce my claims:
But is thy homeward path for ever closed—
Or doth thy race in hopeless exile rove,
Or lie extinguish’d by some mighty woe—
Then may I claim thee by more laws than one.
Speak openly, thou know’st I keep my word.
Its ancient bands reluctantly my tongue
Doth loose, a long hid secret to divulge;
For once imparted, it resumes no more
The safe asylum of the inmost heart,
But thenceforth, as the powers above decree,
Doth work its ministry of weal or woe.
Attend! I issue from the Titan’s race.