O famed Salamis, thou amidst
Breaking surges abidest ever
Blissful, a joy to the eyes of all men.
But I the while long and wearily tarrying
Through countless months still encamped on the fields of Ida
In misery here have made my couch,
By time broken and worn,
In dread waiting the hour
When I shall enter at last the terrible shadow abode of Hades.
Now dismays me a new despair,
This incurable frenzy (woe, ah
Woe's me!) cast by the gods on Ajax,
Whom thou of old sentest forth from thy shores, a strong
And valiant chief; but now, to his friends a sore grief,
Devouring his lonely heart he sits.
His once glorious deeds
Are now fallen and scorned,
Fallen to death without love from the loveless and pitiless sons
His mother, 'tis most like, burdened with many days,
And whitened with old age, when she shall hear how frenzy
Has smitten his soul to ruin,
Will break forth her despair, not as the nightingale's
Plaintive, tender lament, no, but in passion's wailing
Shrill-toned cries; and with fierce strokes
Wildly smiting her bosom,
In grief's anguish her hands will rend her grey locks.
Yea, better Hell should hide one who is sick in soul,
Though there be none than he sprung from a nobler lineage
Of the war-weary Greeks, yet
Strayed from his inbred mood
Now amidst alien thoughts dwells he a stranger.
Hapless father! alas, bitter the tale that waits thee,
Thy son's grievous affliction.
No life save his alone
Of Aeacid kings such a curse has ever haunted.
(AJAX enters, carrying a sword. As he speaks, TECMESSA also enters.)
All things the long and countless lapse of time
Brings forth. displays, then hides once more in gloom.
Nought is too strange to look for; but the event
May mock the sternest oath, the firmest will.
Thus I, who late so strong, so stubborn seemed
Like iron dipped, yet now grow soft with pity
Before this woman, whom I am loath to leave
Midst foes a widow with this orphaned child.
But I will seek the meadows by the shore:
There will I wash and purge these stains, if so
I may appease Athena's heavy wrath.
Then will I find some lonely place, where I
May hide this sword, beyond all others cursed,
Buried where none may see it, deep in earth.