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I never loved, the murderer of my girl,
Come 'twixt my love and me? A swift resolve
Flashed through me on pondering it: Love for Love And Blood for Blood-the simple golden rule
Taught by the elder gods.
My fixed resolve, I grew impatient for it,
Counting the laggard days. Oh, it was sweet
To simulate the yearning of a wife
Long parted from her Lord, and mock the fools
Who dogged each look and word, and but for fear Had torn me from
The impotent chatterers, who thought by words
To stay me in the act! 'Twas sweet to mock them
And read distrust within their eyes, when I,
Knowing my purpose, bade them quick prepare
All fitting honors for the King, and knew
They dared not disobey — oh, 't was enough
To wing the slow-paced hours.
I saw his sails upon the verge, and then
The sea-worn ship, and marked his face grown old,
The body a little bent, which was so straight,
The thin gray hairs which were the raven locks
Of manhood when he went, I felt a moment
I could not do the deed. But when I saw
The beautiful sad woman come with him,
The future in her eyes, and her sad voice
Proclaim the tale of doom, two thoughts at once
Assailed me, bidding me despatch with a blow
Him and his mistress, making sure the will
Of fate, and my revenge.
Oh, it was strange
To see all happen as we planned; as 't were
Some drama oft rehearsed, wherein each step,
Each word, is so prepared, the poorest player
Knows his turn come to do
The ride to the palace gate—the courtesies
Of welcome the mute crowds without the bath
Prepared within — the precious circling folds
Of tissue stretched around him, shutting out
The gaze, and folding helpless like a net
The mighty limbs the battle-axe laid down
Against the wall, and I, his wife and Queen,
Alone with him, waiting and watching still,
Till the woman shrieked without. Then with swift step
I seized the axe, and struck him as he lay
Helpless, once, twice, and thrice once for my girl,
Once for my love, once for the woman, and all
For Fate and my Revenge!
Once only, as I thought he might; and then
No sound but the quick gurgling of the blood,
As it flowed from him in streams, and turned the pure
And limpid water of the bath to red
I had not looked for that it flowed and flowed,
And seemed to madden me to look on it,
Until my love with hands bloody as mine,
But with the woman's blood, rushed in, and eyes
Rounded with horror; and we turned to go,
And left the dead alone.
Still mocked me, and a doubt unknown before
Came on me, and amid the silken shows
And luxury of power I seemed to see
Another answer to my riddle of life
Than that I gave myself, and it was murder;
And in my people's sullen mien and eyes,
66 Murder; " and in the mirror, when I looked,
"Murder" glared out, and terror lest my son
Returning, grown to manhood, should avenge
His father's blood. For somehow, as 't would seem,
The gods, if gods there be, or the stern Fate
Which doth direct our little lives, do filch
Our happiness — though bright with Love's own ray, There comes a cloud which veils it. Yet, indeed, My days were happy. I repent me not;
I would wade through seas of blood to know again Those fierce delights once more.
But my young girl
Electra, grown to woman, turned from me
Her modest maiden eyes, nor loved to set
Her kiss upon my cheek, but, all distraught
With secret care, hid her from all the pomps
And revelries which did befit her youth,
Walking alone; and often at the tomb
Of her lost sire they found her, pouring out
Libations to the dead. And evermore
I did bethink me of my son Orestes,
Who now should be a man; and yearned sometimes To see his face, yet feared lest from his eyes
His father's soul should smite me.
Happy and yet unquiet — a stern voice
Speaking of doom, which long time softer notes
Of careless weal, the music which doth spring
From the fair harmonies of life and love,
Would drown in their own concord. This at times,
Nay, day by day, stronger and dreadfuller,
With dominant accent, marred the sounds of joy
By one prevailing discord. So at length
I came to lose the Present in the dread
Of what might come; the penalty that waits
Upon successful sin; who, having sinned,
Had missed my sin's reward.
I, looking from my palace casement, saw
A humble suppliant, clad in pilgrim garb,
Approach the marble stair. A sudden throb
Thrilled thro' me, and the mother's heart went forth
Thro' all disguise of garb and rank and years,
Knowing my son. How fair he was, how tall
And vigorous, my boy! What strong straight limbs
And noble port! How beautiful the shade
Of manhood on his lip! I longed to burst
From my chamber down, yearning to throw myself
Upon his neck within the palace court,
Before the guards - spurning my queenly rank,
All but my motherhood. And then a chill
Of doubt o'erspread me, knowing what a gulf
Fate set between our lives, impassable
As that great gulf which yawns 'twixt life and death
And 'twixt this Hell and Heaven. I shrank back,
And turned to think a moment, half in fear,
And half in pain; dividing the swift mind,
Yet all in love.
Then came a cry, a groan,
From the inner court, the clash of swords, the fall
Of a body on the pavement; and one cried,
"The King is dead, slain by the young Orestes,
Who cometh hither." With the word, the door
Flew open, and my son stood straight before me,
His drawn sword dripping blood. Oh, he was fair
And terrible to see, when from his limbs,
The suppliant's mantle fallen, left the mail
And arms of a young warrior. Love and Hate,
Which are the offspring of a common sire,
Strove for the mastery, till within his eyes
I saw his father's ghost glare unappeased
From out Love's casements.
Then I knew And his - mine to be slain by my son's hand, And his to slay me, since the Furies drave Our lives to one destruction; and I took
His point within my breast.
The selfish, careless gods who wrecked our lives,
Making the King the murderer of his girl,
And me his murderess; making my son
The murderer of his mother and her love-
A mystery of blood! — I curse them all,
The careless Forces, sitting far withdrawn
Upon the heights of Space, taking men's lives
For playthings, and deriding as in sport
Our happiness and woe- I curse them all.
We have a right to joy; we have a right,
I say, as they have. Let them stand confessed
The puppets that they are too weak to give
The good they feign to love, since Fate, too strong
For them as us, beyond their painted sky,
Sits and derides them, too. I curse Fate too,
The deaf blind Fury, taking human souls
And crushing them, as a dull fretful child
Crushes its toys and knows not with what skill
Those feeble forms are feigned.
I curse, I loathe,
I spit on them. It doth repent me not.
I would 't were yet to do. I have lived my life.
I have loved. See, there he lies within the bath,
And thus I smite him! thus!
Oh, vengeance, thou art sweet!
Didst hear him groan?
What, living still?
Ah me! we cannot die! Come, torture me,
Ye Furies — for I love not soothing words
As once ye did my son. Ye miserable
Blind ministers of Hell, I do defy you;
Not all your torments can undo the Past
Of Passion and of Love !'
There came a viewless trouble in the air,