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Agamemnon   


The king himself anon shall tell me all.
Remains to think what honour best may greet
My lord, the majesty of Argos, home.
What day beams fairer on a woman's eyes
Than this, whereon she flings the portal wide,
To hail her lord, heaven-shielded, home from war?
This to my husband, that he tarry not,
But turn the city's longing into joy!
Yea, let him come, and coming may he find
A wife no other than he left her, true
And faithful as a watch-dog to his home,
His foemen's foe, in all her duties leal,
Trusty to keep for ten long years unmarred
The store whereon he set his master-seal.
Be steel deep-dyed, before ye look to see
Ill joy, ill fame, from other wight, in me!
HERALD
'Tis fairly said: thus speaks a noble dame,
Nor speaks amiss, when truth informs the boast.

CLYTEMNESTRA withdraws again into the palace.

LEADER
So has she spoken-be it yours to learn
By clear interpreters her specious word.
Turn to me, herald-tell me if anon
The second well-loved lord of Argos comes?
Hath Menelaus safely sped with you?
HERALD
Alas-brief boon unto my friends it were,
To flatter them, for truth, with falsehoods fair!

LEADER
Speak joy, if truth be joy, but truth, at worst-
Too plainly, truth and joy are here divorced.
HERALD
The hero and his bark were rapt away
Far from the Grecian fleet; 'tis truth I say.
LEADER
Whether in all men's sight from Ilion borne,
Or from the fleet by stress of weather torn?
HERALD
Full on the mark thy shaft of speech doth light,
And one short word hath told long woes aright.
LEADER
But say, what now of him each comrade saith?
What their forebodings, of his life or death?
HERALD
Ask me no more: the truth is known to none,
Save the earth-fostering, all-surveying Sun.
LEADER
Say, by what doom the fleet of Greece was driven?
How rose, how sank the storm, the wrath of heaven?

HERALD
Nay, ill it were to mar with sorrow's tale
The day of blissful news. The gods demand
Thanksgiving sundered from solicitude.
If one as herald came with rueful face
To say, The curse has fallen, and the host
Gone down to death; and one wide wound has reached
The city's heart, and out of many homes
Many are cast and consecrate to death,
Beneath the double scourge, that Ares loves,

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