Not till thou hast indulged a wish of mine.
First let us hear the story of her grief
And she herself shall tell the woeful tale.
After, thy wisdom shall impart to her
The conflict yet to come.
So be it, then.
And, Io, thus much courtesy thou owest
These maidens being thine own father's kin.
For with a moving story of our woes
To win a tear from weeping auditors
In nought demeans the teller.
I know not
How fitly to refuse; and at your wish
All ye desire to know I will in plain,
Round terms set forth. And yet the telling of it
Harrows my soul; this winter's tale of wrong,
Of angry Gods and brute deformity,
And how and why on me these horrors swooped.
Always there were dreams visiting by night
The woman's chambers where I slept; and they
With flattering words admonished and cajoled me,
Saying, "O lucky one, so long a maid?
And what a match for thee if thou would'st wed
Why, pretty, here is Zeus as hot as hot-
Love-sick-to have thee! Such a bolt as thou
Hast shot clean through his heart And he won't rest
Till Cypris help him win thee! Lift not then,
My daughter, a proud foot to spurn the bed
Of Zeus: but get thee gone to meadow deep
By Lerna's marsh, where are thy father's flocks
And cattle-folds, that on the eye of Zeus
May fall the balm that shall assuage desire."
Such dreams oppressed me, troubling all my nights,
Woe's me! till I plucked courage up to tell
My father of these fears that walked in darkness.
And many times to Pytho and Dodona
He sent his sacred missioners, to inquire
How, or by deed or word, he might conform
To the high will and pleasure of the Gods.
And they returned with slippery oracles,
Nought plain, but all to baffle and perplex-
And then at last to Inachus there raught
A saying that flashed clear; the drift, that
Must be put out from home and country, forced
To be a wanderer at the ends of the earth,
A thing devote and dedicate; and if
I would not, there should fall a thunderbolt
From Zeus, with blinding flash, and utterly
Destroy my race. So spake the oracle
Of Loxias. In sorrow he obeyed,
And from beneath his roof drove forth his child
Grieving as he grieved, and from house and home
Bolted and barred me out. But the high hand
Of Zeus bear hardly on the rein of fate.
And, instantly-even in a moment-mind
And body suffered strange distortion. Horned
Even as ye see me now, and with sharp bite
Of gadfly pricked, with high-flung skip, stark-mad,
I bounded, galloping headlong on, until
I came to the sweet and of the stream
Kerchneian, hard by Lerna's spring. And thither