Now for the things to come; what I shall say
Concerns ye both alike. Return we then
And follow our old track. There is a city
Yclept Canobus, built at the land's end,
Even at the mouth and mounded silt of Nile,
And there shall Zeus restore to thee thy mind
With touch benign and laying on of hands.
And from that touch thou shalt conceive and bear
Swarth Epaphus, touch-born; and he shall reap
As much of earth as Nilus watereth
With his broad-flowing river. In descent
The fifth from him there shall come back to Argos,
Thine ancient home, but driven by hard hap,
Two score and ten maids, daughters of one house,
Fleeing pollution of unlawful marriage
With their next kin, who winged with wild desire,
As hawks that follow hard on cushat-doves,
Shall harry prey which they should not pursue
And hunt forbidden brides. But God shall be
Exceeding jealous for their chastity;
And old Pelasgia, for the mortal thrust
Of woman's hands and midnight murder done
Upon their new-wed lords, shall shelter them;
For every wife shall strike her husband down
Dipping a two-edged broadsword in his blood.
Oh, that mine enemies might wed such wivesl
But of the fifty, one alone desire
Shall tame, as with the stroke of charming-wand,
So that she shall not lift her hands to slay
The partner of her bed; yea, melting love
Shall blunt her sharp-set will, and she shall choose
Rather to be called weak and womanly
Than the dark stain of blood; and she shall be
Mother of kings in Argos. 'Tis a tale
Were't told in full, would occupy us long.
For, of her sowing, there shall spring to fame
The lion's whelp, the archer bold, whose bow
Shall set me free. This is the oracle
Themis, my ancient Mother, Titan-born,
Disclosed to me; but how and in what wise
Were long to tell, nor would it profit thee.
Again they come, again
The fury and the pain!
The gangrened wound! The ache of pulses dinned
With raging throes
It beats upon my brain-the burning wind
That madness blows!
It pricks-the barb, the hook not forged with heat,
The gadfly dart!
Against my ribs with thud of trampling feet
Hammers my heart!
And like a bowling wheel mine eyeballs spin,
And I am flung
By fierce winds from my course, nor can rein in
My frantic tongue
That raves I know not what!-a random tide
Of words-a froth
Of muddied waters buffeting the wide,
High-crested, hateful wave of ruin and God's wrath! Exit raving.
I hold him wise who first in his own mind
This canon fixed and taught it to mankind: