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"It is the leading out of this great maze of life,' by following the thread of love,' that fate steps in and makes a good intention a sad tragedy. In Agamemnon's absence bitterness made Clytemnestra fancy she loved Ægisthus; but when her husband came back from Troy she realized her self-delusion: in every quality Ægisthus was mean in comparison. Mr. Hagedorn has been charitable with Clytemnestra's character and purpose in the light of the Homeric conception. He absolves her of murdering Agamemnon. Refusing to run away with Ægisthus, she tells him the truth about her feelings for him in these lines:

"I never loved you. You are nothing to me. You were the drug to make my sick brain cease Ravelling and unravelling forever

A golden yarn.

You were the knife I chose

To cut the living canker from my heart.

You failed, you failed. You left the canker there. You were not even a good tool, Ægisthus."

"This young American poet takes liberty with Homer, I see," charged Cassandra. "The pitiless murderess becomes the pitied victim of her children's misguided revenge. Should we like this new Clytemnestra, I wonder?"

"I do," Psyche instantly declared.

"Homer has had his day with her," Jason expressed his view, "and I see no harm in Mr. Hagedorn having his only with such a predecessor his task is harder. There will be readers to condemn him to failure without the benefit of

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a reading. This is the injustice which veneration for the dead masters of art impose upon the modern writer who treat old stories and characters from a new point of view. Mr. Hagedorn has made his Clytemnestra very human and appealing; and his conception of her relations to Agamemnon and Ægisthus convincingly plausible.”

"As he conceives her," I said, "it would be impossible for her to murder Agamemnon, or to connive his death with Ægisthus. It was jealous rage on the part of the disappointed lover which drove him to do the deed. I have read the passage where Agamemnon entered Clytemnestra's room late one night to speak his forgiveness and love. It was also the time and place when Ægisthus urged the queen to fly with him, eliciting from her that scornful denunciation which I have also quoted. Fate has set the scene for the tragedy -"One room enclosed the three of them at last.' Unable to resist Agamemnon's appeal, the queen staggered toward him with wide arms 'but let the poet tell what happened:

66 A hand

Thrust her aside, a thin and icy hand

Thrust her among her tables and her chairs,
Her combs and broken vases, thrust her back,
And gave the breast of Agamemnon not
A woman, but a sword.

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He fell, thrashing, he rose, he fell. The sword

Shook itself loose and on the marble floor

Fell clattering. He fought for breath, he choked,

Trying to speak, and then reproachfully

He moaned her name, and then 'Why?' And again,

More faintly, 'Why? Why?' On his breath, the word

Hung, tremulously fading. When it died,

He went with it into the windy night.

"From somewhere in the world there came a cry, Then steps and other cries, Electra's voice, And other voices out of every day,

Steps hurrying!

66

'Across the littered floor

Blindly, toward where he lay and made no sound
In the chill blackness, Clytemnestra drew
Her bruised and fainting body, reaching out
Quivering fingers, seeking him, and crying,
'Where are you, oh, where are you?' in low tones,
Inhuman as the wind. She lost her way,
And fell amid the shards of Tyrian glass
His hand had scattered there, and raised herself
And struggled on with bleeding body and face,
Groping through the enormous emptiness
To find a fallen king. She found a sword;
And then she found his hand across the sword,
His open eyes, his bleeding breast, his feet.

She moaned, and kissed his feet and kissed his feet.
Ægisthus staggered wildly to the window

And tore the curtain down. The moonlight fell

Whitely on Clytemnestra where she knelt.

He stared, gasping, 'Why? - Why?

Why?'”

Why?" repeated Psyche. "Does Clotho,

Lachesis or Atropos ever answer?"

"No," Jason replied. "And we will go on asking them to the end."

"No one can doubt that Mr. Hagedorn has arrived with this poem," I observed, as we prepared to return to The Farm. "It's a beautiful achievement."

VII

SELLING ALADDIN'S LAMP

"THE lives of some people subsist upon untasted delights-to be prosaic I ought to say, unrealized hopes; but that wouldn't be exactly truthful because hopes are seldom realized; it is the disillusion that becomes a fact. Expectation is the most nourishing of human emotions; it has the form of desire, and instinct is its substance. A man labors and sacrifices all a life-time to save a few dollars to buy a useless article, and has to spend the money for some vital need; a woman will want a jewel or a house, and will have the money to obtain both, but the first will not be of the right design nor the second in the right locality to satisfy her desire and her social vanity, and life is frustrated; and so on. Well, you know about Henry James' schoolteacher and Edgar Lee Masters' village cosmopolite, who dreamed of Europe. Carcassonne may be any old place or any old thing in the life of a man or woman, and the expectation of it is the strength upon which they live. I am looking forward to the time,' says the king on his throne: 'I am looking forward to the time,' says the beggar in the streets: 'I am looking forward to the

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