Gracious protectress! thou hast clouds
To shelter innocence distress’d,
And from the arms of iron fate,
Gently to waft her o’er the sea,
O’er the wide earth’s remotest realms,
Where’er it seemeth good to thee.
Wise art thou,—thine all-seeing eye
The future and the past surveys;
Thy glance doth o’er thy children rest,
E’en as thy light, the life of night,
Keeps o’er the earth its silent watch.
O Goddess! keep my hands from blood!
Blessing it never brings, and peace;
And still in evil hours the form
Of the chance-murder’d man appears
To fill the unwilling murderer’s soul
With horrible and gloomy fears.
For fondly the Immortals view
Man’s widely scatter’d simple race;
And the poor mortal’s transient life
Gladly prolong, that he may lift
Awhile to their eternal heavens
His sympathetic joyous gaze.
It is the path of death that now we tread
At every step my soul grows more serene.
When I implor’d Apollo to remove
The grisly band of Furies from my side,
He seem’d, with hope-inspiring, godlike words,
To promise aid and safety in the fane
Of his lov’d sister, who o’er Tauris rules.
Thus the prophetic word fulfils itself,
That with my life shall terminate my woe.
How easy ’tis for me, whose heart is crush’d,
Whose sense is deaden’d by a hand divine,
Thus to renounce the beauteous light of day!
And must the son of Atreus not entwine
The wreath of conquest round his dying brow—
Must I, as my forefathers, as my sire,
Bleed like a victim,—an ignoble death—
So be it! Better at the altar here,
Than in a nook obscure, where kindred hands
Have spread assassination’s wily net.
Yield me this brief repose, infernal Powers!
Ye, who, like loosen’d hounds, still scent the blood
Which, trickling from my feet, betrays my path.
Leave me! ere long I come to you below.
Nor you, nor I, should view the light of day.
The soft green carpet of the beauteous earth
Is no arena for unhallow’d fiends.
Below I seek you, where an equal fate
Binds all in murky, never-ending night.
Thee only, thee, my Pylades, my friend,
The guiltless partner of my crime and curse,
Thee am I loath, before thy time, to take
To yonder cheerless shore! Thy life or death
Alone awakens in me hope or fear.