When the Powers on high decree
For a feeble child of earth
Dire perplexity and woe,
And his spirit doom to pass
With tumult wild from joy to grief,
And back again from grief to joy,
In fearful alternation;
They in mercy then provide,
In the precincts of his home,
Or upon the distant shore,
That to him may never fail
Ready help in hours of need,
A tranquil, faithful friend.
Oh, bless, ye heavenly powers, our Pylades,
And whatsoever he may undertake!
He is in fight the vigorous arm of youth,
And his the thoughtful eye of age in counsel;
For tranquil is his soul; he guardeth there
Of calm a sacred and exhaustless dower,
And from its depths, in rich supply, outpours
Comfort and counsel for the sore distressed.
He tore me from my brother, upon whom,
With fond amaze, I gaz’d and gaz’d again;
I could not realize my happiness,
Nor loose him from my arms, and heeded not
The danger’s near approach that threatens us.
To execute their project of escape,
They hasten to the sea, where in a bay
Their comrades in the vessel lie conceal’d
Waiting a signal. Me they have supplied
With artful answers, should the monarch send
To urge the sacrifice. Alas! I see
I must consent to follow like a child,
I have not learn’d deception, nor the art
To gain with crafty wiles my purposes.
Detested falsehood! it doth not relieve
The breast like words of truth: it comforts not,
But is a torment in the forger’s heart,
And, like an arrow which a god directs,
Flies back and wounds the archer. Through my heart
One fear doth chase another; perhaps with rage,
Again on the unconsecrated shore,
The Furies’ grisly band my brother seize.
Perchance they are surpris’d! Methinks, I hear
The tread of armed men. A messenger
Is coming from the king, with hasty steps.
How throbs my heart, how troubled is my soul,
Now that I gaze upon the face of one,
Whom with a word untrue I must encounter!
Priestess, with speed conclude the sacrifice!
Impatiently the king and people wait.
I had perform’d my duty and thy will,
Had not an unforeseen impediment
The execution of my purpose thwarted.
What is it that obstructs the king’s commands?
Chance, which from mortals will not brook control.
Possess me with the reason, that with speed
I may inform the king, who hath decreed
The death of both.