The seven against thebes
Come at our wailing cry, and stand
As throned sentries of our land!
For pity and sorrow it were that this immemorial town
Should sink to be slave of the spear, to dust and to ashes gone
By the gods of Achaean worship and arms of Achaean might
Sacked and defiled and dishonoured, its women the prize of the
That, haled by the hair as a steed, their mantles dishevelled and
The maiden and matron alike should pass to the wedlock of scorn!
I hear it arise from the city, the manifold wail of despair-
Woe, woe for the doom that shall be-as in grasp of the foeman they
For a woe and a weeping it is, if the maiden inviolate flower
Is plucked by the foe in his might, not culled in the bridal bower!
Alas for the hate and the horror-how say it?-less hateful by far
Is the doom to be slain by the sword, hewn down in the carnage of
For wide, ah! wide is the woe when the foeman has mounted the wall;
There is havoc and terror and flame, and the dark smoke broods over
And wild is the war-god's breath, as in frenzy of conquest he
And pollutes with the blast of his lips the glory of holiest
Up to the citadel rise clash and din,
The war-net closes in,
The spear is in the heart: with blood imbrued
Young mothers wail aloud,
For children at their breast who scream and die!
And boys and maidens fly,
Yet scape not the pursuer, in his greed
To thrust and grasp and feed!
Robber with robber joins, each calls his mate
Unto the feast of hate-
The banquet, lo! is spread-seize, rend, and tear!
No need to choose or share!
And all the wealth of earth to waste is poured-
A sight by all abhorred!
The grieving housewives eye it; heaped and blent,
Earth's boons are spoiled and spent,
And waste to nothingness; and O alas,
Young maids, forlorn ye pass-
Fresh horror at your hearts-beneath the power
Of those who crop the flower!
Ye own the ruffian ravisher for lord,
And night brings rites abhorred!
Woe, woe for you! upon your grief and pain
There comes a fouler stain.
On one side the SPY enters; on the other, ETEOCLES and the SIX