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She threw herself upon her couch and
On this side hung her head, and over
that Listlessly she let fall the faithless brass That made the men as faithless.
But when you Found them, or fancied them, and would not hear
That they were only vestiges of smiles, Or the impression of some amorous hair Astray from cloistered curls and roseate band, [perhaps
Which had been lying there all night Upon a skin so soft, "No, no," you said, "Sure, they are coming, yes, are come, are here:
Well, and what matters it, while thou art too!"
I LOVED him not; and yet now he is gone I feel I am alone.
I check'd him while he spoke; yet could he speak,
Alas! I would not check.
For reasons not to love him once I sought,
And wearied all my thought
To vex myself and him: I now would give
My love, could he but live
Who lately lived for me, and when he found
'Twas vain, in holy ground
He hid his face amid the shades of death.
I waste for him my breath
Who wasted his for me: but mine returns,
And this lorn bosom burns With stifling heat, heaving it up in sleep, And waking me to weep
Tears that had melted his soft heart:
for years Wept he as bitter tears. Merciful God! such was his latest
These may she never share.
Quieter is his breath, his breast more cold,
Than daisies in the mould, Where children spell, athwart the churchyard gate,
1 This and the following poem are from the Citation of William Shakespeare.
Iphigeneia. Father! I now may lean
upon your breast,
And you with unreverted eyes will grasp Iphigeneia's hand.
We are not shades
Surely for yours throb yet.
Win Troy for Greece?
And did my blood
Ah! 'twas ill done, to shrink;
But the sword gleam'd so sharp; and the good priest
Trembled, and Pallas frown'd above,
Iphigeneia. Beloved father! is the blade
Again to pierce my bosom? 'tis unfit For sacrifice; no blood is in its veins, No God requires it here: here are no
To vindicate, no realms to overthrow. You standing as at Aulis in the fane, With face averted, holding (as before) My hand; but yours burns not, as then it burn'd.
This alone shows me we are with the Blessed,
Nor subject to the sufferings we have borne.
I will win back past kindness.
Tell me then, Tell how my mother fares who loved me So,
And griev'd, as 'twere for you, to see me part.
Frown not, but pardon me for tarrying Amid too idle words, nor asking how She prais'd us both (which most?) for what we did.
Agamemnon. Ye Gods who govern here! do human pangs Reach the pure soul thus far below? do
Spring in these meadows?
1 "I imagine Agamemnon to descend from his horrible death, and to meet instantly his daughter. By the nature of things, by the suddenness of the event, Iphigeneia can have heard nothing of her mother's double crime, adultery and murder." Aspasia to Cleone, introducing the poem as first given in Pericles and Aspasia, 1836
Aulis had no sharp sword, thou wouldst exclaim,
Greece no avenger-I, her chief so late, Through Erebos, through Elysium, writhe beneath it.
Iphigeneia. Come, I have better diadems than those
Of Argos and Mycenai: come away, And I will weave them for you on the bank.
You will not look so pale when you have walk'd
A little in the grove, and have told all
O Earth! I suffered less upon thy shores! (Aside.) The bath that bubbled with my blood, the blows
That spilt it (Ọ worse torture!) must she know?
Ah! the first woman coming from My. cenai
Will pine to pour this poison in her ear, Taunting sad Charon for his slow ad
Of full-orb'd gladness! Shades we are indeed,
But mingled, let us feel it, with the blessed.
I knew it, but forgot it suddenly,
You are so like what you have ever been
I ever aim'd at: those who love me live, Save one, who loves me most, and now would chide me.
Agamemnon. We want not, O Iphigeneia, we
Want not embrace, nor kiss that cools the heart
[more With purity, nor words that more and Teach what we know, from those we know, and sink
Often most deeply where they fall most
And must away to earth again. (Ascending.) Where thou art, thou Of braided brow, Thou cull'd too soon from Argive bowers, Where thy sweet voice is heard among The shades that thrill with choral song, None can regret the parted Hours.
(As the Hours depart, the shades of the Argive warriors who had fought at Troy approach and chant in chorus the praises of Agamemnon and his daughter.)
Chorus of Argives
Maiden! be thou the spirit that breathes Triumph and joy into our song! Wear and bestow these amaranthwreaths,
To none but thee and her who reigns (Less chanted) on our bosky plains.
Iphigeneia! 'tis to thee
Glory we owe and victory.
Clash, men of Argos, clash your
To martial worth and virgin charms.
Ye men of Argos! it was sweet
This we have known at home;
To crown the king who ruled us first and last.
Father of Argos! king of men ! We chant the hymn of praise to thee.
In serried ranks we stand again,
Our glory safe, our country free.