Like thee, Orestes, I am not prepared
Downwards to wander to yon realm of shade.
I purpose still, through the entangled paths,
Which seem as they would lead to blackest night,
Again to wind our upward way to life.
Of death I think not; I observe and mark
Whether the gods may not perchance present
Means and fit moment for a joyful flight.
Dreaded or not, the stroke of death must come;
And though the priestess stood with hand uprais’d,
Prepar’d to cut our consecrated locks,
Our safety still should be my only thought;
Uplift thy soul above this weak despair;
Desponding doubts but hasten on our peril.
Apollo pledg’d to us his sacred word,
That in his sister’s holy fane for thee
Were comfort, aid, and glad return prepar’d.
The words of Heaven are not equivocal,
As in despair the poor oppress’d one thinks.
The mystic web of life my mother cast
Around my infant head, and so I grew
An image of my sire; and my mute look
Was aye a bitter and a keen reproof
To her and base AEgisthus. Oh, how oft,
When silently within our gloomy hall
Electra sat, and mus’d beside the fire,
Have I with anguish’d spirit climb’d her knee,
And watch’d her bitter tears with sad amaze!
Then would she tell me of our noble sire
How much I long’d to see him—be with him!
Myself at Troy one moment fondly wish’d,
My sire’s return, the next. The day arrived—
Oh, of that awful hour let fiends of hell
Hold nightly converse! Of a time more fair
May the remembrance animate our hearts
To fresh heroic deeds. The gods require
On this wide earth the service of the good,
To work their pleasure. Still they count on thee;
For in thy father’s train they sent thee not,
When he to Orcus went unwilling down.
Would I had seized the border of his robe,
And followed him!
They kindly cared for me
Who held thee here; for hadst thou ceased to live,
I know not what had then become of me;
Since I with thee, and for thy sake alone,
Have from my childhood liv’d, and wish to live.
Remind me not of those delightsome days,
When me thy home a safe asylum gave;
With fond solicitude thy noble sire
The half-nipp’d, tender flow’ret gently rear’d:
While thou, a friend and playmate always gay,
Like to a light and brilliant butterfly
Around a dusky flower, didst day by day
Around me with new life thy gambols urge,
And breathe thy joyous spirit in my soul,
Until, my cares forgetting, I with thee
Was lur’d to snatch the eager joys of youth.