Exposed to the inclement skies,
Deserted and forlorn he lies,
No friend or fellow-mourner there
To soothe his sorrows and divide his care,
Or seek the healing plant of power to 'suage
His aching wound and mitigate its rage;
But if perchance, awhile released
From torturing pain, he sinks to rest,
Awakened soon, and by sharp hunger prest,
Compelled to wander forth in search of food,
He crawls in anguish to the neighbouring wood;
Even as the tottering infant in despair
Who mourns an absent mother's kind supporting care.
The teeming earth, who mortals still supplies
With every good, to him her seed denies;
A stranger to the joy that flows
From the kind aid which man on man bestows;
Nor food, alas! to him was given,
Save when his arrows pierced the birds of heaven;
Nor e'er did Bacchus' heart-expanding bow!
For ten long years relieve his cheerless soul;
But glad was he his eager thirst to slake
In the unwholesome pool, or ever-stagnant lake.
But now, behold the joyful captive freed;
A fairer fate, and brighter days succeed:
For he at last hath found a friend
Of noblest race, to save and to defend,
To guide him with protecting hand,
And safe restore him to his native land;
On Spercheius' flowery banks to join the throng
Of Malian nymphs, and lead the choral song
On Oeta's top, which saw Alcides rise,
And from the flaming pile ascend his native skies.
(NEOPTOLEMUS and PHILOCTETES enter from the cave.
PHILOCTETES is suddenly seized with spasms of pain.
He still holds in his hand the bow and arrows.)
Come, Philoctetes; why thus silent? Wherefore
This sudden terror on thee?
Whence is it?
Nothing, my son; go on!
Is it thy wound
That pains thee thus?
No; I am better now.
Why dost thou call thus on the gods?
To smile propitious, and preserve us- Oh!