Oedipus at Colonus
Colonus, and in common bear his name.
Such, stranger, is the spot, to fame unknown,
But dear to us its native worshipers.
OEDIPUS Thou sayest there are dwellers in these parts?
STRANGER Surely; they bear the name of yonder god.
OEDIPUS Ruled by a king or by the general voice?
STRANGER The lord of Athens is our over-lord.
OEDIPUS Who is this monarch, great in word and might?
STRANGER Theseus, the son of Aegeus our late king.
OEDIPUS Might one be sent from you to summon him?
STRANGER Wherefore? To tell him aught or urge his coming?
OEDIPUS Say a slight service may avail him much.
STRANGER How can he profit from a sightless man?
OEDIPUS The blind man's words will be instinct with sight.
STRANGER Heed then; I fain would see thee out of harm;
For by the looks, marred though they be by fate,
I judge thee noble; tarry where thou art,
While I go seek the burghers-those at hand,
Not in the city. They will soon decide
Whether thou art to rest or go thy way. (Exit STRANGER)
OEDIPUS Tell me, my daughter, has the stranger gone?
ANTIGONE Yes, he has gone; now we are all alone,
And thou may'st speak, dear father, without fear.
OEDIPUS Stern-visaged queens, since coming to this land
First in your sanctuary I bent the knee,
Frown not on me or Phoebus, who, when erst
He told me all my miseries to come,
Spake of this respite after many years,
Some haven in a far-off land, a rest
Vouchsafed at last by dread divinities.
«There,» said he, «shalt thou round thy weary life,
A blessing to the land wherein thou dwell'st,
But to the land that cast thee forth, a curse.»
And of my weird he promised signs should come,
Earthquake, or thunderclap, or lightning flash.
And now I recognize as yours the sign
That led my wanderings to this your grove;
Else had I never lighted on you first,
A wineless man on your seat of native rock.
O goddesses, fulfill Apollo's word,
Grant me some consummation of my life,
If haply I appear not all too vile,
A thrall to sorrow worse than any slave.
Hear, gentle daughters of primeval Night,
Hear, namesake of great Pallas; Athens, first Of cities, pity this dishonored shade, The ghost of him who once was Oedipus.
ANTIGONE Hush! for I see some grey-beards on their way,
Their errand to spy out our resting-place.
OEDIPUS I will be mute, and thou shalt guide my steps
Into the covert from the public road,
Till I have learned their drift. A prudent man
Will ever shape his course by what he learns. (Enter CHORUS)
CHORUS (strophe 1)
Ha! Where is he? Look around!
Every nook and corner scan!
He the all-presumptuous man,
Whither vanished? search the ground!
A wayfarer, I ween,
A wayfarer, no countryman of ours,
That old man must have been;
Never had native dared to tempt the Powers,
Or enter their demesne,
The Maids in awe of whom each mortal cowers,
Whose name no voice betrays nor cry,
And as we pass them with averted eye,