Oedipus at Colonus
To move without the help of guiding hand.
ISMENE Then I will go perform these rites, but where
To find the spot, this have I yet to learn.
CHORUS Beyond this grove; if thou hast need of aught,
The guardian of the close will lend his aid.
ISMENE I go, and thou, Antigone, meanwhile
Must guard our father. In a parent's cause
Toil, if there be toil, is of no account. (Exit ISMENE)
CHORUS (strophe 1)
Ill it is, stranger, to awake
Pain that long since has ceased to ache,
And yet I fain would hear-
OEDIPUS What thing?
CHORUS Thy tale of cruel suffering
For which no cure was found,
The fate that held thee bound.
OEDIPUS O bid me not (as guest I claim
This grace) expose my shame.
CHORUS The tale is bruited far and near,
And echoes still from ear to ear.
The truth, I fain would hear.
OEDIPUS Ah me!
CHORUS I prithee yield.
OEDIPUS Ah me!
CHORUS Grant my request, I granted all to thee.
OEDIPUS (antistrophe 1)
Know then I suffered ills most vile, but none
(So help me Heaven!) from acts in malice done.
CHORUS Say how.
OEDIPUS The State around
An all unwitting bridegroom bound
An impious marriage chain;
That was my bane.
CHORUS Didst thou in sooth then share
A bed incestuous with her that bare-
OEDIPUS It stabs me like a sword,
That two-edged word,
O stranger, but these maids-my own-
CHORUS Say on.
OEDIPUS Two daughters, curses twain.
CHORUS Oh God!
OEDIPUS Sprang from the wife and mother's travail-pain.
CHORUS (strophe 2)
What, then thy offspring are at once-
OEDIPUS Too true. Their father's very sister's too.
CHORUS Oh horror!
OEDIPUS Horrors from the boundless deep
Back on my soul in refluent surges sweep.
CHORUS Thou hast endured-
OEDIPUS Intolerable woe.
CHORUS And sinned-
OEDIPUS I sinned not.
CHORUS How so?
OEDIPUS I served the State; would I had never won
That graceless grace by which I was undone.
CHORUS (antistrophe 2)
And next, unhappy man, thou hast shed blood?
OEDIPUS Must ye hear more?
CHORUS A father's?