Divers Maidens Where is the Home for me? O Cyprus, set in the sea, Aphrodite's home In the soft sea-foam, Would I could wend to thee; Where the wings of the Loves are furled, And faint the heart of the world.
Aye, unto Paphos' isle, Where the rainless meadows smile With riches rolled From the hundred-fold Mouths of the far-off Nile, Streaming beneath the waves To the roots of the seaward caves.
But a better land is there Where Olympus cleaves the air, The high still dell Where the Muses dwell, Fairest of all things fair! O there is Grace, and there is the Heart's Desire, And peace to adore thee, thou Spirit of Guiding Fire!
* * * * *
A God of Heaven is he, And born in majesty; Yet hath he mirth In the joy of the Earth,
And he loveth constantly Her who brings increase, The Feeder of Children, Peace. No grudge hath he of the great; No scorn of the mean estate; But to all that liveth His wine he giveth, Griefless, immaculate; Only on them that spurn Joy, may his anger burn.
Love thou the Day and the Night; Be glad of the Dark and the Light; And avert thine eyes From the lore of the wise, That have honour in proud men's sight. The simple nameless herd of Humanity Hath deeds and faith that are truth enough for me!
[As the Chorus ceases, a party of the guards return, leading in the midst of them DIONYSUS, bound. The SOLDIER in command stands forth, as PENTHEUS, hearing the tramp of feet, comes out from the Castle.]
SOLDIER Our quest is finished, and thy prey, O King, Caught; for the chase was swift, and this wild thing Most tame; yet never flinched, nor thought to flee, But held both hands out unresistingly— No change, no blanching of the wine-red cheek. He waited while we came, and bade us wreak All thy decree; yea, laughed, and made my best Easy, till I for very shame confessed And said: "O stranger, not of mine own will I bind thee, but his bidding to fulfil Who sent me."
And those prisoned Maids withal Whom thou didst seize and bind within the wall Of thy great dungeon, they are fled, O King. Free in the woods, a-dance and glorying To Bromios. Of their own impulse fell To earth, men say, fetter and manacle, And bars slid back untouched of mortal hand Yea, full of many wonders to thy land Is this man come.... Howbeit, it lies with thee!
PENTHEUS Ye are mad!—Unhand him. Howso swift he be, My toils are round him and he shall not fly. [The guards loose the arms of DIONYSUS; PENTHEUS studies him for a while in silence then speaks jeeringly. DIONYSUS remains gentle and unafraid.] Marry, a fair shape for a woman's eye, Sir stranger! And thou seek'st no more, I ween! Long curls, withal! That shows thou ne'er hast been A wrestler!—down both cheeks so softly tossed And winsome! And a white skin! It hath cost Thee pains, to please thy damsels with this white And red of cheeks that never face the light! [DIONYSUS is silent.] Speak, sirrah; tell me first thy name and race.
DIONYSUS No glory is therein, nor yet disgrace. Thou hast heard of Tmolus, the bright hill of flowers?
PENTHEUS Surely, the ridge that winds by Sardis towers.
DIONYSUS Thence am I; Lydia was my fatherland.
PENTHEUS And whence these revelations, that thy band Spreadeth in Hellas?
DIONYSUS Their intent and use Dionysus oped to me, the Child of Zeus.
PENTHEUS (brutally) Is there a Zeus there, that can still beget Young Gods?
DIONYSUS Nay, only He whose seal was set Here in thy Thebes on Semele.
PENTHEUS What way Descended he upon thee? In full day Or vision of night?
DIONYSUS Most clear he stood, and scanned My soul, and gave his emblems to mine hand.
PENTHEUS What like be they, these emblems?
DIONYSUS That may none Reveal, nor know, save his Elect alone.
PENTHEUS And what good bring they to the worshipper?
DIONYSUS Good beyond price, but not for thee to hear.
PENTHEUS Thou trickster? Thou wouldst prick me on the more To seek them out!
DIONYSUS His mysteries abhor The touch of sin-lovers.
PENTHEUS And so thine eyes Saw this God plain; what guise had he?
DIONYSUS What guise It liked him. 'Twas not I ordained his shape.
PENTHEUS Aye, deftly turned again. An idle jape, And nothing answered!
DIONYSUS Wise words being brought To blinded eyes will seem as things of nought.
PENTHEUS And comest thou first to Thebes, to have thy God Established?
DIONYSUS Nay; all Barbary hath trod His dance ere this.
PENTHEUS A low blind folk, I ween, Beside our Hellenes!
DIONYSUS Higher and more keen In this thing, though their ways are not thy way.
PENTHEUS How is thy worship held, by night or day?
DIONYSUS Most oft by night; 'tis a majestic thing, The darkness.
PENTHEUS Ha! with women worshipping? 'Tis craft and rottenness!
DIONYSUS By day no less, Whoso will seek may find unholiness—
PENTHEUS Enough! Thy doom is fixed, for false pretence Corrupting Thebes.
DIONYSUS Not mine; but thine, for dense Blindness of heart, and for blaspheming God!
PENTHEUS A ready knave it is, and brazen-browed, This mystery-priest!
DIONYSUS Come, say what it shall be, My doom; what dire thing wilt thou do to me?
PENTHEUS First, shear that delicate curl that dangles there. [He beckons to the soldiers, who approach DIONYSUS.]
DIONYSUS I have vowed it to my God; 'tis holy hair. [The soldiers cut off the tress.]
PENTHEUS Next, yield me up thy staff!
DIONYSUS Raise thine own hand To take it. This is Dionysus' wand. [PENTHEUS takes the staff.]
PENTHEUS Last, I will hold thee prisoned here.
DIONYSUS My Lord God will unloose me, when I speak the word.
PENTHEUS He may, if e'er again amid his bands Of saints he hears thy voice!
DIONYSUS Even now he stands Close here, and sees all that I suffer.
PENTHEUS What? Where is he? For mine eyes discern him not.
DIONYSUS Where I am! 'Tis thine own impurity That veils him from thee.
PENTHEUS The dog jeers at me! At me and Thebes! Bind him! [The soldiers begin to bind him.]
DIONYSUS I charge ye, bind Me not! I having vision and ye blind!
PENTHEUS And I, with better right, say bind the more! [The soldiers obey.]
DIONYSUS Thou knowest not what end thou seekest, nor What deed thou doest, nor what man thou art!
PENTHEUS (mocking) Agave's son, and on the father's part Echion's, hight Pentheus!
DIONYSUS So let it be, A name fore-written to calamity!
PENTHEUS Away, and tie him where the steeds are tied; Aye, let him lie in the manger!—There abide And stare into the darkness!—And this rout Of womankind that clusters thee about, Thy ministers of worship, are my slaves! It may be I will sell them o'er the waves, Hither and thither; else they shall be set To labour at my distaffs, and forget Their timbrel and their songs of dawning day!
DIONYSUS I go; for that which may not be, I may Not suffer! Yet for this thy sin, lo, He Whom thou deniest cometh after thee For recompense. Yea, in thy wrong to us, Thou hast cast Him into thy prison-house! [DIONYSUS, without his wand, his hair shorn, and his arms tightly bound, is led off by the guards to his dungeon. PENTHEUS returns into the Palace.]
Some Maidens Achelous' roaming daughter, Holy Dirce, virgin water, Bathed he not of old in thee, The Babe of God, the Mystery? When from out the fire immortal To himself his God did take him, To his own flesh, and bespake him: "Enter now life's second portal, Motherless Mystery; lo, I break Mine own body for thy sake, Thou of the Twofold Door, and seal thee Mine, O Bromios,"—thus he spake— "And to this thy land reveal thee."
All Still my prayer toward thee quivers, Dirce, still to thee I hie me; Why, O Blessed among Rivers, Wilt thou fly me and deny me? By His own joy I vow, By the grape upon the bough, Thou shalt seek Him in the midnight, thou shalt love Him, even now!
Other Maidens Dark and of the dark impassioned Is this Pentheus' blood; yea, fashioned Of the Dragon, and his birth From Echion, child of Earth. He is no man, but a wonder; Did the Earth-Child not beget him, As a red Giant, to set him Against God, against the Thunder? He will bind me for his prize, Me, the Bride of Dionyse; And my priest, my friend, is taken Even now, and buried lies; In the dark he lies forsaken!
All Lo, we race with death, we perish, Dionysus, here before thee! Dost thou mark us not, nor cherish, Who implore thee, and adore thee? Hither down Olympus' side, Come, O Holy One defied, Be thy golden wand uplifted o'er the tyrant in his pride!
A Maiden Oh, where art thou? In thine own Nysa, thou our help alone? O'er fierce beasts in orient lands Doth thy thronging thyrsus wave, By the high Corycian Cave, Or where stern Olympus stands; In the elm-woods and the oaken, There where Orpheus harped of old, And the trees awoke and knew him, And the wild things gathered to him, As he sang amid the broken Glens his music manifold? Dionysus loveth thee; Blessed Land of Pierie, He will come to thee with dancing, Come with joy and mystery; With the Maenads at his hest Winding, winding to the West; Cross the flood of swiftly glancing Axios in majesty; Cross the Lydias, the giver Of good gifts and waving green; Cross that Father-Stream of story, Through a land of steeds and glory Rolling, bravest, fairest River E'er of mortals seen!
A VOICE WITHIN Io! Io! Awake, ye damsels; hear my cry, Calling my Chosen; hearken ye!
A MAIDEN Who speaketh? Oh, what echoes thus?
ANOTHER A Voice, a Voice, that calleth us!
THE VOICE Be of good cheer! Lo, it is I, The Child of Zeus and Semele.
A MAIDEN O Master, Master, it is Thou!
ANOTHER O Holy Voice, be with us now!
THE VOICE Spirit of the Chained Earthquake, Hear my word; awake, awake! [An Earthquake suddenly shakes the pillars of the Castle.]
A MAIDEN Ha! what is coming? Shall the hall Of Pentheus racked in ruin fall?
LEADER Our God is in the house! Ye maids adore Him!
CHORUS We adore Him all!
THE VOICE Unveil the Lightning's eye; arouse The fire that sleeps, against this house! [Fire leaps upon the Tomb of Semele.]
A MAIDEN Ah, saw ye, marked ye there the flame From Semele's enhallowed sod Awakened? Yea, the Death that came Ablaze from heaven of old, the same Hot splendour of the shaft of God?
LEADER Oh cast ye, cast ye, to the earth! The Lord Cometh against this house! Oh, cast ye down, Ye trembling damsels; He, our own adored, God's Child hath come, and all is overthrown!
[The Maidens cast themselves upon the ground, their eyes earthward. DIONYSUS, alone and unbound, enters from the Castle.]
DIONYSUS Ye Damsels of the Morning Hills, why lie ye thus dismayed? Ye marked him, then, our Master, and the mighty hand he laid On tower and rock, shaking the house of Pentheus?—But arise, And cast the trembling from your flesh, and lift untroubled eyes.
LEADER O Light in Darkness, is it thou? O Priest, is this thy face? My heart leaps out to greet thee from the deep of loneliness.
DIONYSUS Fell ye so quick despairing, when beneath the Gate I passed? Should the gates of Pentheus quell me, or his darkness make me fast?
LEADER Oh, what was left if thou wert gone? What could I but despair? How hast thou 'scaped the man of sin? Who freed thee from the snare?
DIONYSUS I had no pain nor peril; 'twas mine own hand set me free.
LEADER Thine arms were gyved!
DIONYSUS Nay, no gyve, no touch, was laid on me! 'Twas there I mocked him, in his gyves, and gave him dreams for food. For when he laid me down, behold, before the stall there stood A Bull of Offering. And this King, he bit his lips and straight Fell on and bound it, hoof and limb, with gasping wrath and sweat. And I sat watching!—Then a Voice; and lo, our Lord was come, And the house shook, and a great flame stood o'er his mother's tomb. And Pentheus hied this way and that, and called his thralls amain For water, lest his roof-tree burn; and all toiled, all in vain. Then deemed a-sudden I was gone; and left his fire, and sped Back to the prison portals, and his lifted sword shone red. But there, methinks, the God had wrought—I speak but as I guess— Some dream-shape in mine image; for he smote at emptiness, Stabbed in the air, and strove in wrath, as though 'twere me he slew. Then 'mid his dreams God smote him yet again! He overthrew All that high house. And there in wreck for evermore it lies, That the day of this my bondage may be sore in Pentheus' eyes! And now his sword is fallen, and he lies outworn and wan Who dared to rise against his God in wrath, being but man. And I uprose and left him, and in all peace took my path Force to my Chosen, recking light of Pentheus and his wrath. But soft, methinks a footstep sounds even now within the hall; 'Tis he; how think ye he will stand, and what words speak withal? I will endure him gently, though he come in fury hot. For still are the ways of Wisdom, and her temper trembleth not! [Enter PENTHEUS in fury]
PENTHEUS It is too much! This Eastern knave hath slipped His prison, whom I held but now, hard gripped In bondage.—Ha! 'Tis he!—What, sirrah, how Show'st thou before my portals? [He advances furiously upon him.]
DIONYSUS And set a quiet carriage to thy rage.
PENTHEUS How comest thou here? How didst thou break thy cage? Speak!
DIONYSUS Said I not, or didst thou mark not me, There was One living that should set me free?
PENTHEUS Who? Ever wilder are these tales of thine.
DIONYSUS He who first made for man the clustered vine.
PENTHEUS I scorn him and his vines.
DIONYSUS For Dionyse 'Tis well; for in thy scorn his glory lies.
PENTHEUS (to his guard) Go swift to all the towers, and bar withal Each gate!
DIONYSUS What, cannot God o'erleap a wall?
PENTHEUS Oh, wit thou hast, save where thou needest it!
DIONYSUS Whereso it most imports, there is my wit!— Nay, peace! Abide till he who hasteth from The mountain side with news for thee, be come. We will not fly, but wait on thy command. [Enter suddenly and in haste a Messenger from the Mountain.]
MESSENGER Great Pentheus, Lord of all this Theban land, I come from high Kithaeron, where the frore Snow spangles gleam and cease not evermore....
PENTHEUS And what of import may thy coming bring?
MESSENGER I have seen the Wild White Women there, O King, Whose fleet limbs darted arrow-like but now From Thebes away, and come to tell thee how They work strange deeds and passing marvel. Yet I first would learn thy pleasure. Shall I set My whole tale forth, or veil the stranger part? Yea Lord, I fear the swiftness of thy heart, Thine edged wrath and more than royal soul.
PENTHEUS Thy tale shall nothing scathe thee.—Tell the whole. It skills not to be wroth with honesty. Nay, if thy news of them be dark, 'tis he Shall pay it, who bewitched and led them on.
MESSENGER Our herded kine were moving in the dawn Up to the peaks, the greyest, coldest time, When the first rays steal earthward, and the rime Yields, when I saw three bands of them. The one Autonoe led, one Ino, one thine own Mother, Agave. There beneath the trees Sleeping they lay, like wild things flung at ease In the forest; one half sinking on a bed Of deep pine greenery; one with careless head Amid the fallen oak leaves; all most cold In purity—not as thy tale was told Of wine-cups and wild music and the chase For love amid the forest's loneliness. Then rose the Queen Agave suddenly Amid her band, and gave the God's wild cry, "Awake, ye Bacchanals! I hear the sound Of horned kine. Awake ye!"—Then, all round, Alert, the warm sleep fallen from their eyes, A marvel of swift ranks I saw them rise, Dames young and old, and gentle maids unwed Among them. O'er their shoulders first they shed Their tresses, and caught up the fallen fold Of mantles where some clasp had loosened hold, And girt the dappled fawn-skins in with long Quick snakes that hissed and writhed with quivering tongue. And one a young fawn held, and one a wild Wolf cub, and fed them with white milk, and smiled In love, young mothers with a mother's breast And babes at home forgotten! Then they pressed Wreathed ivy round their brows, and oaken sprays And flowering bryony. And one would raise Her wand and smite the rock, and straight a jet Of quick bright water came. Another set Her thyrsus in the bosomed earth, and there Was red wine that the God sent up to her, A darkling fountain. And if any lips Sought whiter draughts, with dipping finger-tips They pressed the sod, and gushing from the ground Came springs of milk. And reed-wands ivy-crowned Ran with sweet honey, drop by drop.—O King, Hadst thou been there, as I, and seen this thing, With prayer and most high wonder hadst thou gone To adore this God whom now thou rail'st upon! Howbeit, the kine-wardens and shepherds straight Came to one place, amazed, and held debate; And one being there who walked the streets and scanned The ways of speech, took lead of them whose hand Knew but the slow soil and the solemn hill, And flattering spoke, and asked: "Is it your will, Masters, we stay the mother of the King, Agave, from her lawless worshipping, And win us royal thanks?"—And this seemed good To all; and through the branching underwood We hid us, cowering in the leaves. And there Through the appointed hour they made their prayer And worship of the Wand, with one accord Of heart and cry—"Iacchos, Bromios, Lord, God of God born!"—And all the mountain felt, And worshipped with them; and the wild things knelt And ramped and gloried, and the wilderness Was filled with moving voices and dim stress. Soon, as it chanced, beside my thicket-close The Queen herself passed dancing, and I rose And sprang to seize her. But she turned her face Upon me: "Ho, my rovers of the chase, My wild White Hounds, we are hunted! Up, each rod And follow, follow, for our Lord and God!" Thereat, for fear they tear us, all we fled Amazed; and on, with hand unweaponed They swept toward our herds that browsed the green Hill grass. Great uddered kine then hadst thou seen Bellowing in sword-like hands that cleave and tear, A live steer riven asunder, and the air Tossed with rent ribs or limbs of cloven tread, And flesh upon the branches, and a red Rain from the deep green pines. Yea, bulls of pride, Horns swift to rage, were fronted and aside Flung stumbling, by those multitudinous hands Dragged pitilessly. And swifter were the bands Of garbed flesh and bone unbound withal Than on thy royal eyes the lids may fall. Then on like birds, by their own speed upborne, They swept toward the plains of waving corn That lie beside Asopus' banks, and bring To Thebes the rich fruit of her harvesting. On Hysiae and Erythrae that lie nursed Amid Kithaeron's bowering rocks, they burst Destroying, as a foeman's army comes. They caught up little children from their homes, High on their shoulders, babes unheld, that swayed And laughed and fell not; all a wreck they made; Yea, bronze and iron did shatter, and in play Struck hither and thither, yet no wound had they; Caught fire from out the hearths, yea, carried hot Flames in their tresses and were scorched not! The village folk in wrath took spear and sword, And turned upon the Bacchae. Then, dread Lord, The wonder was. For spear nor barbed brand Could scathe nor touch the damsels; but the Wand, The soft and wreathed wand their white hands sped, Blasted those men and quelled them, and they fled Dizzily. Sure some God was in these things! And the holy women back to those strange springs Returned, that God had sent them when the day Dawned, on the upper heights; and washed away The stain of battle. And those girdling snakes Hissed out to lap the waterdrops from cheeks And hair and breast. Therefore I counsel thee O King, receive this Spirit, whoe'er he be, To Thebes in glory. Greatness manifold Is all about him; and the tale is told That this is he who first to man did give The grief-assuaging vine. Oh, let him live; For if he die, then Love herself is slain, And nothing joyous in the world again!
LEADER Albeit I tremble, and scarce may speak my thought To a king's face, yet will I hide it not. Dionyse is God, no God more true nor higher!
PENTHEUS It bursts hard by us, like a smothered fire, This frenzy of Bacchic women! All my land Is made their mock.—This needs an iron hand! Ho, Captain! Quick to the Electran Gate; Bid gather all my men-at-arms thereat; Call all that spur the charger, all who know To wield the orbed targe or bend the bow; We march to war—'Fore God, shall women dare Such deeds against us? 'Tis too much to bear!
DIONYSUS Thou mark'st me not, O King, and holdest light My solemn words; yet, in thine own despite, I warn thee still. Lift thou not up thy spear Against a God, but hold thy peace, and fear His wrath! He will not brook it, if thou fright His Chosen from the hills of their delight.
PENTHEUS Peace, thou! And if for once thou hast slipped chain, Give thanks!—Or shall I knot thine arms again?
DIONYSUS Better to yield him prayer and sacrifice Than kick against the pricks, since Dionyse Is God, and thou but mortal.
PENTHEUS That will I! Yea, sacrifice of women's blood, to cry His name through all Kithaeron!
DIONYSUS Ye shall fly, All, and abase your shields of bronzen rim Before their wands.
PENTHEUS There is no way with him, This stranger that so dogs us! Well or ill I may entreat him, he must babble still!
DIONYSUS Wait, good my friend! These crooked matters may Even yet be straightened. [PENTHEUS has started as though to seek his army at the gate.]
PENTHEUS Aye, if I obey Mine own slaves' will; how else?
DIONYSUS Myself will lead The damsels hither, without sword or steed.
PENTHEUS How now?—This is some plot against me!
DIONYSUS What Dost fear? Only to save thee do I plot.
PENTHEUS It is some compact ye have made, whereby To dance these hills for ever!
DIONYSUS Verily, That is my compact, plighted with my Lord!
PENTHEUS (turning from him) Ho, armourers! Bring forth my shield and sword!— And thou, be silent!
DIONYSUS (after regarding him fixedly, speaks with resignation) Ah!—Have then thy will! [He fixes his eyes upon PENTHEUS again, while the armourers bring out his armour; then speaks in a tone of command.] Man, thou wouldst fain behold them on the hill Praying!
PENTHEUS (who during the rest of this scene, with a few exceptions, simply speaks the thoughts that DIONYSUS puts into him, losing power over his own mind) That would I, though it cost me all The gold of Thebes!
DIONYSUS So much? Thou art quick to fall To such great longing.
PENTHEUS (somewhat bewildered at what he has said) Aye; 'twould grieve me much To see them flown with wine.
DIONYSUS Yet cravest thou such A sight as would much grieve thee?
PENTHEUS Yes; I fain Would watch, ambushed among the pines.
DIONYSUS 'Twere vain To hide. They soon will track thee out.
PENTHEUS Well said! 'Twere best done openly.
DIONYSUS Wilt thou be led By me, and try the venture?
PENTHEUS Aye, indeed! Lead on. Why should we tarry?
DIONYSUS First we need A rich and trailing robe of fine-linen To gird thee.
PENTHEUS Nay; am I a woman, then, And no man more.
DIONYSUS Wouldst have them slay thee dead? No man may see their mysteries.
PENTHEUS Well said'— I marked thy subtle temper long ere now.
DIONYSUS 'Tis Dionyse that prompteth me.
PENTHEUS And how Mean'st thou the further plan?
DIONYSUS First take thy way Within. I will array thee.
PENTHEUS What array! The woman's? Nay, I will not.
DIONYSUS Doth it change So soon, all thy desire to see this strange Adoring?
PENTHEUS Wait! What garb wilt thou bestow About me?
DIONYSUS First a long tress dangling low Beneath thy shoulders.
PENTHEUS Aye, and next?
DIONYSUS The same red Robe, falling to thy feet; and on thine head A snood.
PENTHEUS And after? Hast thou aught beyond?
DIONYSUS Surely; the dappled fawn-skin and the wand.
PENTHEUS (after a struggle with himself) Enough! I cannot wear a robe and snood.
DIONYSUS Wouldst liefer draw the sword and spill men's blood?
PENTHEUS (again doubting) True, that were evil.—Aye; 'tis best to go First to some place of watch.
DIONYSUS Far wiser so, Than seek by wrath wrath's bitter recompense.
PENTHEUS What of the city streets? Canst lead me hence Unseen of any?
DIONYSUS Lonely and untried Thy path from hence shall be, and I thy guide!
PENTHEUS I care for nothing, so these Bacchanals Triumph not against me! ...Forward to my halls Within!—I will ordain what seemeth best.
DIONYSUS So be it, O King! 'Tis mine to obey thine hest, Whate'er it be.
PENTHEUS (after hesitating once more and waiting) Well, I will go—perchance To march and scatter them with serried lance. Perchance to take thy plan.... I know not yet. [Exit PENTHEUS into the Castle.]
DIONYSUS Damsels, the lion walketh to the net! He finds his Bacchae now, and sees and dies, And pays for all his sin!—O Dionyse, This is thine hour and thou not far away. Grant us our vengeance!—First, O Master, stay The course of reason in him, and instil A foam of madness. Let his seeing will, Which ne'er had stooped to put thy vesture on, Be darkened, till the deed is lightly done. Grant likewise that he find through all his streets Loud scorn, this man of wrath and bitter threats That made Thebes tremble, led in woman's guise. I go to fold that robe of sacrifice On Pentheus, that shall deck him to the dark. His mother's gift!—So shall he learn and mark God's true Son, Dionyse, in fulness God, Most fearful, yet to man most soft of mood. [Exit DIONYSUS, following PENTHEUS into Castle.]
Will they ever come to me, ever again, The long long dances, On through the dark till the dim stars wane? Shall I feel the dew on my throat, and the stream Of wind in my hair? Shall our white feet gleam In the dim expanses? Oh, feet of a fawn to the greenwood fled, Alone in the grass and the loveliness;
Leap of the hunted, no more in dread, Beyond the snares and the deadly press: Yet a voice still in the distance sounds, A voice and a fear and a haste of hounds; O wildly labouring, fiercely fleet, Onward yet by river and glen ... Is it joy or terror, ye storm-swift feet? ... To the dear lone lands untroubled of men, Where no voice sounds, and amid the shadowy green The little things of the woodland live unseen.
What else is Wisdom? What of man's endeavour Or God's high grace, so lovely and so great? To stand from fear set free, to breathe and wait; To hold a hand uplifted over Hate; And shall not Loveliness be loved for ever?
Others O Strength of God, slow art thou and still, Yet failest never! On them that worship the Ruthless Will, On them that dream, doth His judgment wait. Dreams of the proud man, making great And greater ever, Things which are not of God. In wide And devious coverts, hunter-wise, He coucheth Time's unhasting stride, Following, following, him whose eyes Look not to Heaven. For all is vain, The pulse of the heart, the plot of the brain, That striveth beyond the laws that live. And is thy Fate so much to give, Is it so hard a thing to see, That the Spirit of God, whate'er it be, The Law that abides and changes not, ages long, The Eternal and Nature-born—these things be strong?
What else is Wisdom? What of man's endeavour Or God's high grace so lovely and so great? To stand from fear set free, to breathe and wait; To hold a hand uplifted over Hate; And shall not Loveliness be loved for ever?
LEADER Happy he, on the weary sea Who hath fled the tempest and won the haven. Happy whoso hath risen, free, Above his striving. For strangely graven Is the orb of life, that one and another In gold and power may outpass his brother, And men in their millions float and flow And seethe with a million hopes as leaven; And they win their Will, or they miss their Will, And the hopes are dead or are pined for still, But whoe'er can know, As the long days go, That To Live is happy, hath found his Heaven!
[Re-enter DIONYSUS, from the Castle]
DIONYSUS O eye that cravest sights thou must not see, O heart athirst for that which slakes not! Thee, Pentheus, I call; forth and be seen, in guise Of woman, Maenad, saint of Dionyse, To spy upon His Chosen and thine own Mother! [Enter PENTHEUS, clad like a Bacchanal, and strangely excited, a spirit of Bacchic madness overshadowing him.] Thy shape, methinks, is like to one Of Cadmus' royal maids!
PENTHEUS Yea; and mine eye Is bright! Yon sun shines twofold in the sky, Thebes twofold and the Wall of Seven Gates.... And is it a Wild Bull this, that walks and waits Before me? There are horns upon thy brow! What art thou, man or beast! For surely now The Bull is on thee!
DIONYSUS He who erst was wrath, Goes with us now in gentleness. He hath Unsealed thine eyes to see what thou shouldst see.
PENTHEUS Say; stand I not as Ino stands, or she Who bore me?
DIONYSUS When I look on thee, it seems I see their very selves!—But stay; why streams That lock abroad, not where I laid it, crossed Under the coif?
PENTHEUS I did it, as I tossed My head in dancing, to and fro, and cried His holy music!
DIONYSUS (tending him) It shall soon be tied Aright. 'Tis mine to tend thee. . . .Nay, but stand With head straight.
PENTHEUS In the hollow of thine hand I lay me. Deck me as thou wilt.
DIONYSUS Thy zone Is loosened likewise; and the folded gown Not evenly falling to the feet.
PENTHEUS 'Tis so, By the right foot. But here methinks, they flow In one straight line to the heel.
DIONYSUS (_while tending him) And if thou prove Their madness true, aye, more than true, what love And thanks hast thou for me?
PENTHEUS (not listening to him) In my right hand Is it, or thus, that I should bear the wand To be most like to them?
DIONYSUS Up let it swing In the right hand, timed with the right foot's spring.... 'Tis well thy heart is changed!
PENTHEUS (_more wildly) What strength is this! Kithaeron's steeps and all that in them is— How say'st thou?—Could my shoulders lift the whole?
DIONYSUS Surely thou canst, and if thou wilt! Thy soul, Being once so sick, now stands as it should stand.
PENTHEUS Shall it be bars of iron? Or this bare hand And shoulder to the crags, to wrench them down?
DIONYSUS Wouldst wreck the Nymphs' wild temples, and the brown Rocks, where Pan pipes at noonday?
PENTHEUS Nay; not I! Force is not well with women. I will lie Hid in the pine-brake.
DIONYSUS Even as fits a spy On holy and fearful things, so shalt thou lie!
PENTHEUS (with a laugh) They lie there now, methinks—the wild birds, caught By love among the leaves, and fluttering not!
DIONYSUS It may be. That is what thou goest to see, Aye, and to trap them—so they trap not thee!
PENTHEUS Forth through the Thebans' town! I am their king, Aye, their one Man, seeing I dare this thing!
DIONYSUS Yea, thou shalt bear their burden, thou alone; Therefore thy trial awaiteth thee!—But on; With me into thine ambush shalt thou come Unscathed; then let another bear thee home!
PENTHEUS The Queen, my mother.
DIONYSUS Marked of every eye.
PENTHEUS For that I go!
DIONYSUS Thou shalt be borne on high!
PENTHEUS That were like pride!
DIONYSUS Thy mother's hands shall share Thy carrying.
PENTHEUS Nay; I need not such soft care!
DIONYSUS So soft?
PENTHEUS Whate'er it be, I have earned it well! [Exit PENTHEUS towards the Mountain.]
DIONYSUS Fell, fell art thou; and to a doom so fell Thou walkest, that thy name from South to North Shall shine, a sign for ever!—Reach thou forth Thine arms, Agave, now, and ye dark-browed Cadmeian sisters! Greet this prince so proud To the high ordeal, where save God and me, None walks unscathed!—The rest this day shall see. [Exit DIONYSUS following PENTHEUS.]
Some Maidens O hounds raging and blind, Up by the mountain road, Sprites of the maddened mind, To the wild Maids of God; Fill with your rage their eyes, Rage at the rage unblest, Watching in woman's guise, The spy upon God's Possessed.
A Bacchanal Who shall be first, to mark Eyes in the rock that spy, Eyes in the pine-tree dark— Is it his mother?—and cry: "Lo, what is this that comes, Haunting, troubling still, Even in our heights, our homes, The wild Maids of the Hill? What flesh bare this child? Never on woman's breast Changeling so evil smiled; Man is he not, but Beast! Loin-shape of the wild, Gorgon-breed of the waste!"
All the Chorus Hither, for doom and deed! Hither with lifted sword, Justice, Wrath of the Lord, Come in our visible need! Smite till the throat shall bleed, Smite till the heart shall bleed, Him the tyrannous, lawless, Godless, Echion's earthborn seed!
Other Maidens Tyrannously hath he trod; Marched him, in Law's despite, Against thy Light, O God, Yea, and thy Mother's Light; Girded him, falsely bold, Blinded in craft, to quell And by man's violence hold, Things unconquerable
A Bacchanal A strait pitiless mind Is death unto godliness; And to feel in human kind Life, and a pain the less. Knowledge, we are not foes! I seek thee diligently; But the world with a great wind blows, Shining, and not from thee; Blowing to beautiful things, On, amid dark and light, Till Life, through the trammellings Of Laws that are not the Right, Breaks, clean and pure, and sings Glorying to God in the height!
All the Chorus Hither for doom and deed! Hither with lifted sword, Justice, Wrath of the Lord, Come in our visible need! Smite till the throat shall bleed, Smite till the heart shall bleed, Him the tyrannous, lawless, Godless, Echion's earthborn seed!
LEADER Appear, appear, whatso thy shape or name O Mountain Bull, Snake of the Hundred Heads, Lion of Burning Flame! O God, Beast, Mystery, come! Thy mystic maids Are hunted!—Blast their hunter with thy breath, Cast o'er his head thy snare; And laugh aloud and drag him to his death, Who stalks thy herded madness in its lair! [Enter hastily a MESSENGER from the Mountain, pale and distraught.]
MESSENGER Woe to the house once blest in Hellas! Woe To thee, old King Sidonian, who didst sow The dragon-seed on Ares' bloody lea! Alas, even thy slaves must weep for thee!
LEADER News from the mountain?—Speak! How hath it sped?
MESSENGER Pentheus, my king, Echion's son, is dead!
LEADER All hail, God of the Voice, Manifest ever more!
MESSENGER What say'st thou?—And how strange thy tone, as though In joy at this my master's overthrow!
LEADER With fierce joy I rejoice, Child of a savage shore; For the chains of my prison are broken, and the dread where I cowered of yore!
MESSENGER And deem'st thou Thebes so beggared, so forlorn Of manhood, as to sit beneath thy scorn?
LEADER Thebes hath o'er me no sway! None save Him I obey, Dionysus, Child of the Highest, Him I obey and adore!
MESSENGER One can forgive thee!—Yet 'tis no fair thing, Maids, to rejoice in a man's suffering.
LEADER Speak of the mountain side! Tell us the doom he died, The sinner smitten to death, even where his sin was sore!
MESSENGER We climbed beyond the utmost habitings Of Theban shepherds, passed Asopus' springs, And struck into the land of rock on dim Kithaeron—Pentheus, and, attending him, I, and the Stranger who should guide our way, Then first in a green dell we stopped, and lay, Lips dumb and feet unmoving, warily Watching, to be unseen and yet to see.
A narrow glen it was, by crags o'ertowered, Torn through by tossing waters, and there lowered A shadow of great pines over it. And there The Maenad maidens sate; in toil they were, Busily glad. Some with an ivy chain Tricked a worn wand to toss its locks again; Some, wild in joyance, like young steeds set free, Made answering songs of mystic melody.
But my poor master saw not the great band Before him. "Stranger," he cried, "where we stand Mine eyes can reach not these false saints of thine. Mount we the bank, or some high-shouldered pine, And I shall see their follies clear!" At that There came a marvel. For the Stranger straight Touched a great pine-tree's high and heavenward crown, And lower, lower, lower, urged it down To the herbless floor. Round like a bending bow, Or slow wheel's rim a joiner forces to. So in those hands that tough and mountain stem Bowed slow—oh, strength not mortal dwelt in them!— To the very earth. And there he set the King, And slowly, lest it cast him in its spring. Let back the young and straining tree, till high It towered again amid the towering sky; And Pentheus in the branches! Well, I ween, He saw the Maenads then, and well was seen! For scarce was he aloft, when suddenly There was no stranger any more with me, But out of Heaven a Voice—oh, what voice else?— 'Twas He that called! "Behold, O damosels, I bring ye him who turneth to despite Both me and ye, and darkeneth my great Light. Tis yours to avenge!" So spake he, and there came 'Twixt earth and sky a pillar of high flame. And silence took the air, and no leaf stirred In all the forest dell. Thou hadst not heard In that vast silence any wild things's cry. And up they sprang; but with bewildered eye, Agaze and listening, scarce yet hearing true. Then came the Voice again. And when they knew Their God's clear call, old Cadmus' royal brood, Up, like wild pigeons startled in a wood, On flying feet they came, his mother blind, Agave, and her sisters, and behind All the wild crowd, more deeply maddened then, Through the angry rocks and torrent-tossing glen, Until they spied him in the dark pine-tree: Then climbed a crag hard by and furiously Some sought to stone him, some their wands would fling Lance-wise aloft, in cruel targeting. But none could strike. The height o'ertopped their rage, And there he clung, unscathed, as in a cage Caught. And of all their strife no end was found. Then, "Hither," cried Agave; "stand we round And grip the stem, my Wild Ones, till we take This climbing cat-o'-the-mount! He shall not make A tale of God's high dances!" Out then shone Arm upon arm, past count, and closed upon The pine, and gripped; and the ground gave, and down It reeled. And that high sitter from the crown Of the green pine-top, with a shrieking cry Fell, as his mind grew clear, and there hard by Was horror visible. 'Twas his mother stood O'er him, first priestess of those rites of blood. He tore the coif, and from his head away Flung it, that she might know him, and not slay To her own misery. He touched the wild Cheek, crying: "Mother, it is I, thy child, Thy Pentheus, born thee in Echion's hall! Have mercy, Mother! Let it not befall Through sin of mine, that thou shouldst slay thy son!" But she, with lips a-foam and eyes that run Like leaping fire, with thoughts that ne'er should be On earth, possessed by Bacchios utterly, Stays not nor hears. Round his left arm she put Both hands, set hard against his side her foot, Drew ... and the shoulder severed!—not by might Of arm, but easily, as the God made light Her hand's essay. And at the other side Was Ino rending; and the torn flesh cried, And on Autonoe pressed, and all the crowd Of ravening arms. 'Yea, all the air was loud With groans that faded into sobbing breath, Dim shrieks, and joy, and triumph-cries of death. And here was borne a severed arm, and there A hunter's booted foot; white bones lay bare With rending; and swift hands ensanguined Tossed as in sport the flesh of Pentheus dead. His body lies afar. The precipice Hath part, and parts in many an interstice Lurk of the tangled woodland—no light quest To find. And, ah, the head! Of all the rest, His mother hath it, pierced upon a wand, As one might pierce a lion's, and through the land, Leaving her sisters in their dancing place, Bears it on high! Yea, to these walls her face Was set, exulting in her deed of blood, Calling upon her Bromios, her God, Her Comrade, Fellow-Render of the Prey, Her All-Victorious, to whom this day She bears in triumph ... her own broken heart. For me, after that sight, I will depart Before Agave comes.—Oh, to fulfil God's laws, and have no thought beyond His will, Is man's best treasure. Aye, and wisdom true, Methinks, for things of dust to cleave unto! [The MESSENGER departs into the Castle.]
Some Maidens Weave ye the dance, and call Praise to God! Bless ye the Tyrant's fall! Down is trod Pentheus, the Dragon's Seed! Wore he the woman's weed? Clasped he his death indeed, Clasped the rod?
A Bacchanal Yea, the wild ivy lapt him, and the doomed Wild Bull of Sacrifice before him loomed!
Others Ye who did Bromios scorn, Praise Him the more, Bacchanals, Cadmus-born; Praise with sore Agony, yea, with tears! Great are the gifts he bears! Hands that a mother rears Red with gore!
LEADER But stay, Agave cometh! And her eyes Make fire around her, reeling! Ho, the prize Cometh! All hail, O Rout of Dionyse! [Enter from the Mountain AGAVE, mad, and to all seeming wondrously happy, bearing the head of PENTHEUS in her hand. The CHORUS MAIDENS stand horror-struck at the sight; the LEADER, also horror-struck, strives to accept it and rejoice in it as the God's deed.]
AGAVE Ye from the lands of Morn!
LEADER Call me not; I give praise!
AGAVE Lo, from the trunk new-shorn Hither a Mountain Thorn Bear we! O Asia-born Bacchanals, bless this chase!
LEADER I see. Yea; I see. Have I not welcomed thee?
AGAVE (very calmly and peacefully) He was young in the wildwood Without nets I caught him! Nay; look without fear on The Lion; I have ta'en him!
LEADER Where in the wildwood? Whence have ye brought him?
AGAVE Kithaeron. . . .
AGAVE The Mountain hath slain him!
LEADER Who first came nigh him?
I, I, 'tis confessed! And they named me there by him Agave the Blessed!
LEADER Who was next in the band on him?
AGAVE The daughters....
LEADER The daughters?
AGAVE Of Cadmus laid hand on him. But the swift hand that slaughters Is mine; mine is the praise! Bless ye this day of days! [The LEADER tries to speak, but is not able; AGAVE begins gently stroking the head.]
AGAVE Gather ye now to the feast!
LEADER Feast!—O miserable!
AGAVE See, it falls to his breast, Curling and gently tressed, The hair of the Wild Bull's crest— The young steer of the fell!
LEADER Most like a beast of the wild That head, those locks defiled.
AGAVE (lifting up the head, more excitedly) He wakened his Mad Ones, A Chase-God, a wise God! He sprang them to seize this! He preys where his band preys.
LEADER (brooding, with horror) In the trail of thy Mad Ones Thou tearest thy prize, God!
AGAVE Dost praise it?
LEADER I praise this?
AGAVE Ah, soon shall the land praise!
LEADER And Pentheus, O Mother, Thy child?
AGAVE He shall cry on My name as none other, Bless the spoils of the Lion!
LEADER Aye, strange is thy treasure!
AGAVE And strange was the taking!
LEADER Thou art glad?
AGAVE Beyond measure; Yea, glad in the breaking Of dawn upon all this land, By the prize, the prize of my hand!
LEADER Show them to all the land, unhappy one, The trophy of this deed that thou hast done!
AGAVE Ho, all ye men that round the citadel And shining towers of ancient Thebe dwell, Come! Look upon this prize, this lion's spoil, That we have taken—yea, with our own toil, We, Cadmus' daughters! Not with leathern-set Thessalian javelins, not with hunter's net, Only white arms and swift hands' bladed fall Why make ye much ado, and boast withal Your armourers' engines? See, these palms were bare That caught the angry beast, and held, and tare The limbs of him! ... Father! ... Go, bring to me My father! ... Aye, and Pentheus, where is he, My son? He shall set up a ladder-stair Against this house, and in the triglyphs there Nail me this lion's head, that gloriously I bring ye, having slain him—I, even I! [She goes through the crowd towards the Castle, showing the head and looking for a place to hang it. Enter from the Mountain CADMUS, with attendants, bearing the body of PENTHEUS on a bier.]
CADMUS On, with your awful burden. Follow me, Thralls, to his house, whose body grievously With many a weary search at last in dim Kithaeron's glens I found, torn limb from limb, And through the intervening forest weed Scattered.—Men told me of my daughters' deed, When I was just returned within these walls, With grey Teiresias, from the Bacchanals. And back I hied me to the hills again To seek my murdered son. There saw I plain Actaeon's mother, ranging where he died, Autonoe; and Ino by her side, Wandering ghastly in the pine-copses.
Agave was not there. The rumour is She cometh fleet-foot hither.—Ah! 'Tis true; A sight I scarce can bend mine eyes unto.
AGAVE (turning from the Palace and seeing him) My father, a great boast is thine this hour. Thou hast begotten daughters, high in power And valiant above all mankind—yea, all Valiant, though none like me! I have let fall The shuttle by the loom, and raised my hand For higher things, to slay from out thy land Wild beasts! See, in mine arms I bear the prize, That nailed above these portals it may rise To show what things thy daughters did! Do thou Take it, and call a feast. Proud art thou now And highly favoured in our valiancy!
CADMUS O depth of grief, how can I fathom thee Or look upon thee!—Poor, poor bloodstained hand! Poor sisters!—A fair sacrifice to stand Before God's altars, daughter; yea, and call Me and my citizens to feast withal!
Nay, let me weep—for thine affliction most, Then for mine own. All, all of us are lost, Not wrongfully, yet is it hard, from one Who might have loved—our Bromios, our own!
AGAVE How crabbed and how scowling in the eyes Is man's old age!—Would that my son likewise Were happy of his hunting, in my way When with his warrior bands he will essay The wild beast!—Nay, his valiance is to fight With God's will! Father, thou shouldst set him right. Will no one bring him thither, that mine eyes May look on his, and show him this my prize!
CADMUS Alas, if ever ye can know again The truth of what ye did, what pain of pain That truth shall bring! Or were it best to wait Darkened for evermore, and deem your state Not misery, though ye know no happiness?
AGAVE What seest thou here to chide, or not to bless?
CADMUS (after hesitation, resolving himself) Raise me thine eyes to yon blue dome of air!
AGAVE 'Tis done. What dost thou bid me seek for there?
CADMUS Is it the same, or changed in thy sight?
AGAVE More shining than before, more heavenly bright!
CADMUS And that wild tremour, is it with thee still?
AGAVE (troubled) I know not what thou sayest; but my will Clears, and some change cometh, I know not how.
CADMUS Canst hearken then, being changed, and answer, now!
AGAVE I have forgotten something; else I could.
CADMUS What husband led thee of old from mine abode?
AGAVE Echion, whom men named the Child of Earth.
CADMUS And what child in Echion's house had birth?
AGAVE Pentheus, of my love and his father's bred.
CADMUS Thou bearest in thine arms an head—what head?
AGAVE (beginning to tremble, and not looking at what she carries) A lion's—so they all said in the chase.
CADMUS Turn to it now—'tis no long toil—and gaze.
AGAVE Ah! But what is it? What am I carrying here?
CADMUS Look once upon it full, till all be clear!
AGAVE I see... most deadly pain! Oh, woe is me!
CADMUS Wears it the likeness of a lion to thee?
AGAVE No; 'tis the head—O God!—of Pentheus, this!
CADMUS Blood-drenched ere thou wouldst know him! Aye, 'tis his.
AGAVE Who slew him?—How came I to hold this thing?
CADMUS O cruel Truth, is this thine home-coming?
AGAVE Answer! My heart is hanging on thy breath!
CADMUS 'Twas thou.—Thou and thy sisters wrought his death.
AGAVE In what place was it? His own house, or where?
CADMUS Where the dogs tore Actaeon, even there.
AGAVE Why went he to Kithaeron? What sought he?
CADMUS To mock the God and thine own ecstasy.
AGAVE But how should we be on the hills this day?
CADMUS Being mad! A spirit drove all the land that way.
AGAVE 'Tis Dionyse hath done it! Now I see.
CADMUS (earnestly) Ye wronged Him! Ye denied his deity!
AGAVE (turning from him) Show me the body of the son I love!
CADMUS (leading her to the bier) 'Tis here, my child. Hard was the quest thereof.
AGAVE Laid in due state? [As there is no answer, she lifts the veil of the bier, and sees.] Oh, if I wrought a sin, 'Twas mine! What portion had my child therein!
CADMUS He made him like to you, adoring not The God; who therefore to one bane hath brought You and this body, wrecking all our line, And me. Aye, no man-child was ever mine; And now this first-fruit of the flesh of thee, Sad woman, foully here and frightfully Lies murdered! Whom the house looked up unto, [Kneeling by the body.] O Child, my daughter's child! who heldest true My castle walls; and to the folk a name Of fear thou wast; and no man sought to shame My grey beard, when they knew that thou wast there, Else had they swift reward!—And now I fare Forth in dishonour, outcast, I, the great Cadmus, who sowed the seed-rows of this state Of Thebes, and reaped the harvest wonderful. O my beloved, though thy heart is dull In death, O still beloved, and alway Beloved! Never more, then, shalt thou lay Thine hand to this white beard, and speak to me Thy "Mother's Father"; ask "Who wrongeth thee? Who stints thine honour, or with malice stirs Thine heart? Speak, and I smite thine injurers!" But now—woe, woe, to me and thee also, Woe to thy mother and her sisters, woe Alway! Oh, whoso walketh not in dread Of Gods, let him but look on this man dead!
LEADER Lo, I weep with thee. 'Twas but due reward God sent on Pentheus; but for thee ... 'Tis hard.
AGAVE My father, thou canst see the change in me, * * * * * * * * * * [A page or more has here been torn out of the MS. from which all our copies of "The Bacchae" are derived. It evidently contained a speech of Agave (followed presumably by some words of the Chorus), and an appearance of DIONYSUS upon a cloud. He must have pronounced judgment upon the Thebans in general, and especially upon the daughters of CADMUS, have justified his own action, and declared his determination to establish his godhead. Where the MS begins again, we find him addressing CADMUS.] * * * * *
DIONYSUS * * * * * * * * * * And tell of Time, what gifts for thee he bears, What griefs and wonders in the winding years. For thou must change and be a Serpent Thing Strange, and beside thee she whom thou didst bring Of old to be thy bride from Heaven afar, Harmonia, daughter of the Lord of War. Yea, and a chariot of kine—so spake The word of Zeus—thee and thy Queen shall take Through many lands, Lord of a wild array Of orient spears. And many towns shall they Destroy beneath thee, that vast horde, until They touch Apollo's dwelling, and fulfil Their doom, back driven on stormy ways and steep. Thee only and thy spouse shall Ares keep, And save alive to the Islands of the Blest. Thus speaketh Dionysus, Son confessed Of no man but of Zeus!—Ah, had ye seen Truth in the hour ye would not, all had been Well with ye, and the Child of God your friend!
AGAVE Dionysus, we beseech thee! We have sinned!
DIONYSUS Too late! When there was time, ye knew me not!
AGAVE We have confessed. Yet is thine hand too hot.
DIONYSUS Ye mocked me, being God; this your wage.
AGAVE Should God be like a proud man in his rage?
DIONYSUS 'Tis as my sire, Zeus, willed it long ago.
AGAVE (turning from him almost with disdain) Old man, the word is spoken; we must go.
DIONYSUS And seeing ye must, what is it that ye wait?
CADMUS Child, we are come into a deadly strait, All; thou, poor sufferer, and thy sisters twain, And my sad self. Far off to barbarous men, A grey-haired wanderer, I must take my road. And then the oracle, the doom of God, That I must lead a raging horde far-flown To prey on Hellas; lead my spouse, mine own Harmonia. Ares' child, discorporate And haunting forms, dragon and dragon-mate, Against the tombs and altar-stones of Greece, Lance upon lance behind us; and not cease From toils, like other men, nor dream, nor past The foam of Acheron find my peace at last.
AGAVE Father! And I must wander far from thee!
CADMUS O Child, why wilt thou reach thine arms to me, As yearns the milk-white swan, when old swans die?
AGAVE Where shall I turn me else? No home have I.
CADMUS I know not; I can help thee not.
AGAVE Farewell, O home, O ancient tower! Lo, I am outcast from my bower, And leave ye for a worser lot.
CADMUS Go forth, go forth to misery, The way Actaeon's father went!
AGAVE Father, for thee my tears are spent.
CADMUS Nay, Child, 'tis I must weep for thee; For thee and for thy sisters twain!
AGAVE On all this house, in bitter wise, Our Lord and Master, Dionyse, Hath poured the utter dregs of pain!
DIONYSUS In bitter wise, for bitter was the shame Ye did me, when Thebes honoured not my name.
AGAVE Then lead me where my sisters be; Together let our tears be shed, Our ways be wandered; where no red Kithaeron waits to gaze on me; Nor I gaze back; no thyrsus stem, Nor song, nor memory in the air. Oh, other Bacchanals be there, Not I, not I, to dream of them! [AGAVE with her group of attendants goes out on the side away from the Mountain. DIONYSUS rises upon the Cloud and disappears.]
CHORUS There may be many shapes of mystery, And many things God makes to be, Past hope or fear. And the end men looked for cometh not, And a path is there where no man thought. So hath it fallen here. [Exeunt.]