Therefore to bear this gift of graceless worth-
O Earth, my nursing mother!-
The woman god-accurs'd doth send me forth
Lest one crime bring another.
Ill is the very word to speak, for none
Can ransom or atone
For blood once shed and darkening the plain.
O hearth of woe and bane,
O state that low doth lie!
Sunless, accursed of men, the shadows brood
Above the home of murdered majesty.
Rumour of might, unquestioned, unsubdued,
Pervading ears and soul of lesser men,
Is silent now and dead.
Yet rules a viler dread;
For bliss and power, however won,
As gods, and more than gods, dazzle our mortal ken.
Justice doth mark, with scales that swiftly sway,
Some that are yet in light;
Others in interspace of day and night,
Till Fate arouse them, stay;
And some are lapped in night, where all things are undone
On the life-giving lap of Earth
Blood hath flowed forth;
And now, the seed of vengeance, clots the plain-
Unmelting, uneffaced the stain.
And Ate tarries long, but at the last
The sinner's heart is cast
Into pervading, waxing pangs of pain.
Lo, when man's force doth ope
The virgin doors, there is nor cure nor hope
For what is lost,-even so, I deem,
Though in one channel ran Earth's every stream,
Laving the hand defiled from murder's stain,
It were in vain.
And upon me-ah me!-the gods have laid
The woe that wrapped round Troy,
What time they led me down from home and kin
Unto a slave's employ-
The doom to bow the head
And watch our master's will
Work deeds of good and ill-
To see the headlong sway of force and sin,
And hold restrained the spirit's bitter hate,
Wailing the monarch's fruitless fate,
Hiding my face within my robe, and fain
Of tears, and chilled with frost of hidden pain.