Oresteia: The Furies (2 of 13)
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[_The scene opens, disclosing the interior of the temple: Orestes
clings to the central altar; the Furies lie slumbering at a little
distance; Apollo and Hermes appear from the innermost shrine_.
Lo, I desert thee never: to the end,
Hard at thy side as now, or sundered far,
I am thy guard, and to thine enemies
Implacably oppose me: look on them,
These greedy fiends, beneath my craft subdued!
See, they are fallen on sleep, these beldames oid,
Unto whose grim and wizened maidenhood
Nor god nor man nor beast can e'er draw near.
Yea, evil were they born, for evil's doom,
Evil the dark abyss of Tartarus
Wherein they dwell, and they themselves the hate
Of men on earth, and of Olympian gods.
But thou, flee far and with unfaltering speed;
For they shall hunt thee through the mainland wide
Where'er throughout the tract of travelled earth
Thy foot may roam, and o'er and o'er the seas
And island homes of men. Faint not nor fail,
Too soon and timidly within thy breast
Shepherding thoughts forlorn of this thy toil;
But unto Pallas' city go, and there
Crouch at her shrine, and in thine arms enfold
Her ancient image: there we well shall find
Meet judges for this cause and suasive pleas,
Skilled to contrive for thee deliverance
From all this woe. Be such my pledge to thee,
For by my hest thou didst thy mother slay.
O king Apollo, since right well thou know'st
What justice bids, have heed, fulfil the same,--
Thy strength is all-sufficient to achieve.
Have thou too heed, nor let thy fear prevail
Above thy will. And do thou guard him, Hermes,
Whose blood is brother unto mine, whose sire
The same high God. Men call thee guide and guard,
Guide therefore thou and guard my suppliant;
For Zeus himself reveres the outlaw's right,
Boon of fair escort, upon man conferred.
[_Exeunt Apollo, Hermes, and Orestes The Ghost of Clytemnestra near_
GHOST OF CLYTEMNESTRA
Sleep on! awake! what skills your sleep to me--
Me, among all the dead by you dishonoured--
Me from whom never, in the world of death,
Dieth this curse, _'Tis she who smote and slew_,
And shamed and scorned I roam? Awake, and hear
My plaint of dead men's hate intolerable.
Me, sternly slain by them that should have loved,
Me doth no god arouse him to avenge,
Hewn down in blood by matricidal hands.
Mark ye these wounds from which the heart's blood ran,
And by whose hand, bethink ye! for the sense
When shut in sleep hath then the spirit-sight,
But in the day the inward eye is blind.
List, ye who drank so oft with lapping tongue
The wineless draught by me outpoured to soothe
Your vengeful ire! how oft on kindled shrine
I laid the feast of darkness, at the hour
Abhorred of every god but you alone!
Lo, all my service trampled down and scorned!
And he hath baulked your chase, as stag the hounds;
Yea, lightly bounding from the circling toils,
Hath wried his face in scorn, and flieth far.
Awake and hear--for mine own soul I cry--
Awake, ye powers of hell! the wandering ghost
That once was Clytemnestra calls--Arise!
[_The Furies mutter grimly, as in a dream_.
Mutter and murmur! He hath flown afar--
My kin have gods to guard them, I have none!
[_The Furies mutter as before_.
O drowsed in sleep too deep to heed my pain!
Orestes flies, who me, his mother, slew.
[_The Furies give a confused cry_.
Yelping, and drowsed again? Up and be doing
That which alone is yours, the deed of hell!
[_The Furies give another cry_.
Lo, sleep and toil, the sworn confederates,
Have quelled your dragon-anger, once so fell!
THE FURIES (_muttering more fiercely and loudly_)
Seize, seize, seize, seize--mark, yonder!
In dreams ye chase a prey, and like some hound,
That even in sleep doth ply his woodland toil,
Ye bell and bay. What do ye, sleeping here?
Be not o'ercome with toil, nor sleep-subdued,
Be heedless of my wrong. Up! thrill your heart
With the just chidings of my tongue,--such words
Are as a spur to purpose firmly held.
Blow forth on him the breath of wrath and blood,
Scorch him with reek of fire that burns in you,
Waste him with new pursuit--swift, hound him down!