The tribes, the nations, who shall name,
That guest-like, there assembled came?
From Theseus’ town, from Aulis’ strand—
From Phocis, from the Spartans’ land—
From Asia’s wave-divided clime,
The Isles that gem the AEgean Sea,
To hearken on that Stage Sublime,
The Dark Choir’s mournful melody!
True to the awful rites of old,
In long and measured strides, behold
The Chorus from the hinder ground,
Pace the vast circle’s solemn round.
So this World’s women never strode—
Their race from Mortals ne’er began;
Gigantic, from their grim abode,
They tower above the Sons of Man!
Across their loins the dark robe clinging,
In fleshless hands the torches swinging,
Now to and fro, with dark red glow—
No blood that lives the dead cheeks know!
Where flow the locks that woo to love
On human temples—ghastly dwell
The serpents, coil’d the brow above,
And the green asps with poison swell.
Thus circling, horrible, within
That space—doth their dark hymn begin,
And round the sinner as they go,
Cleave to the heart their words of woe.
Dismally wails, the senses chilling,
The hymn—the FURIES’ solemn song;
And froze the very marrow thrilling
As roll’d the gloomy sounds along.
And weal to him—from crime
Who keeps his soul as childhood’s pure;
Life’s path he roves, a wanderer free—
We near him not-THE AVENGERS, WE,
But woe to him for whom we weave
The doom for deeds that shun the light:
Fast to the murderer’s feet we cleave,
The fearful Daughters of the Night.
“And deems he flight from us can
Still on dark wings We sail beside him!
The murderer’s feet the snare enthralls—
Or soon or late, to earth he falls!
Untiring, hounding on, we go;
For blood can no remorse atone I
On, ever—to the Shades below,
And there—we grasp him, still our own!”
So singing, their slow dance they wreathe,
And stillness, like a silent death,
Heavily there lay cold and drear,
As if the Godhead’s self were near.
Then, true to those strange rites of old,
Pacing the circle’s solemn round,
In long and measured strides—behold,
They vanish in the hinder ground!
Confused and doubtful—half
The solemn truth and phantom scene,
The crowd revere the Power, presiding
O’er secret deeps, to justice guiding—
The Unfathom’d and Inscrutable
By whom the web of doom is spun,
Whose shadows in the deep heart dwell,
Whose form is seen not in the sun!
Just then, amidst the highest tier,
Breaks forth a voice that starts the ear;
“See there—see there, Timotheus,
Behold the Cranes of Ibycus!”
A sudden darkness wraps the sky;
Above the roofless building hover
Dusk, swarming wings; and heavily
Sweep the slow Cranes, hoarse-murmuring, over!