With fiery eloquence she pictured forth
Each circumstance of that atrocious deed,
Her own oppress’d and miserable life,
The prosperous traitor’s insolent demeanor,
The perils threat’ning Agamemnon’s race
From her who had become their stepmother,
Then in his hand the ancient dagger thrust,
Which often in the house of Tantalus
With savage fury rag’d,—and by her son
Was Clytemnestra slain.
Whose pure and blest existence glides away
’Mid ever shifting clouds, me have ye kept
So many years secluded from the world,
Retain’d me near yourselves, consign’d to me
The childlike task to feed the sacred fire,
And taught my spirit, like the hallow’d flame,
With never-clouded brightness to aspire
To your pure mansions,—but at length to feel
With keener woe the horror of my house?
O tell me of the poor unfortunate!
Speak of Orestes!
O could I speak to tell thee of his death!
Forth from the slain one’s spouting blood arose
His mother’s ghost;
And to the ancient daughters of the night
Cries,—“Let him not escape,—the matricide!
Pursue the victim, dedicate to you!”
They hear, and glare around with hollow eyes,
Like greedy eagles. In their murky dens
They stir themselves, and from the corners creep
Their comrades, dire Remorse and pallid Fear;
Before them fumes a mist of Acheron;
Perplexingly around the murderer’s brow
The eternal contemplation of the past
Rolls in its cloudy circles. Once again
The grisly band, commission’d to destroy,
Pollute earth’s beautiful and heaven-sown fields,
From which an ancient curse had banish’d them.
Their rapid feet the fugitive pursue;
They only pause to start a wilder fear.
Unhappy one; thy lot resembles his,
Thou feel’st what he, poor fugitive, must suffer.
What say’st thou? why presume my fate like his?
A brother’s murder weighs upon thy soul;
Thy younger brother told the mournful tale.
I cannot suffer that thy noble soul
Should by a word of falsehood be deceived.
In cunning rich and practised in deceit
A web ensnaring let the stranger weave
To snare the stranger’s feet; between us twain
I am Orestes! and this guilty head
Is stooping to the tomb, and covets death;
It will be welcome now in any shape.
Whoe’er thou art, for thee and for my friend
I wish deliverance—I desire it not.
Thou seem’st to linger here against thy will;
Contrive some means of flight, and leave me here
My lifeless corpse hurl’d headlong from the rock,
My blood shall mingle with the dashing waves,
And bring a curse upon this barbarous shore!
Return together home to lovely Greece,
With joy a new existence to commence.