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The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,
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Thereupon spoke the maiden, and said to her guide and companion: "Friend, unto whom I soon am to owe so kindly a fortune, Shelter and home, while many an exile's exposed to the tempest, Tell me concerning thy parents, I pray thee, and teach me to know them, Them whom with all my heart I desire to serve in the future. Who understands his master, more easily gives satisfaction, Having regard to the things which to him seem chief in importance, And on the doing of which his firm-set mind is determined. Tell me therefore, I pray, how to win thy father and mother."

And to her question made answer the good and intelligent Hermann: "Ah, what wisdom thou showest, thou good, thou excellent maiden, Asking thus first of all concerning the tastes of my parents! Know that in vain hitherto I have labored in serving my father, Taking upon me as were it my own, the charge of the household; Early and late at work in the fields, and o'erseeing the vine-yard. But my mother I fully content, who can value my service; And thou wilt also appear in her eyes the worthiest of maidens, If for the house thou carest, as were it thine own thou wast keeping. Otherwise is it with father, who cares for the outward appearance. Do not regard me, good maiden, as one who is cold and unfeeling, That unto thee a stranger I straightway discover my father. Nay, I assure thee that never before have words such as these are Freely dropped from my tongue, which is not accustomed to prattle; But from out of my bosom thou lurest its every secret. Some of the graces of life my good father covets about him, Outward signs of affection he wishes, as well as of honor; And an inferior servant might possibly give satisfaction, Who could turn these to account, while he might be displeased with a better."

Thereupon said she with joy, the while him hastening footsteps Over the darkening pathway with easy motion she quickened: "Truly I hope to them both I shall equally give satisfaction: For in thy mother's nature I find such an one as mine own is, And to the outward graces I've been from my childhood accustomed. Greatly was courtesy valued among our neighbors the Frenchmen, During their earlier days; it was common to noble and burgher, As to the peasant, and every one made it the rule of his household. So, on the side of us Germans, the children were likewise accustomed Daily to bring to their parents, with kissing of hands and with curtseys, Morning good-wishes, and all through the day to be prettily mannered. Every thing thus that I learned, and to which I've been used from my childhood, All that my heart shall suggest, shall be brought into play for thy father. But who shall tell me of thee, and how thyself shouldst be treated, Thou the only son of the house, and henceforth my master?"

Thus she said, and e'en as she spoke they stood under the pear-tree. Down from the heavens the moon at her full was shedding her splendor. Night had come on, and wholly obscured was the last gleam of sunlight, So that contrasting masses lay side by side with each other, Clear and bright as the day, and black with the shadows of midnight; Gratefully fell upon Hermann's ear the kindly asked question Under the shade of the glorious tree, the spot he so treasured, Which but this morning had witnessed the tears he had shed for the exile. And while they sat themselves down to rest them here for a little, Thus spoke the amorous youth, as he grasped the hand of the maiden: "Suffer thy heart to make answer, and follow it freely in all things." Yet naught further he ventured to say although so propitious Seemed the hour; he feared he should only haste on a refusal. Ah, and he felt besides the ring on her finger, sad token! Therefore they sat there, silent and still, beside one another.

First was the maiden to speak: "How sweet is this glorious moonlight!" Said she at length: "It is as the light of the day in its brightness.



There in the city I plainly can see the houses and court-yards, And in the gable—methinks I can number its panes—is a window."

"What thou seest," the modest youth thereupon made her answer,— "What thou seest is our dwelling, to which I am leading thee downward, And that window yonder belongs to my room in the attic, Which will be thine perhaps, for various changes are making. All these fields, too, are ours; they are ripe for the harvest to-morrow. Here in the shade we will rest, and partake of our noon-tide refreshment. But it is time we began our descent through the vineyard and garden; For dost thou mark how yon threatening storm-cloud comes nearer and nearer, Charged with lightning, and ready our fair full moon to extinguish?"

So they arose from their seats, and over the corn fields descended, Through the luxuriant grain, enjoying the brightness of evening, Until they came to the vineyard, and so entered into its shadow. Then he guided her down o'er the numerous blocks that were lying, Rough and unhewn on the pathway, and served as the steps of the alley. Slowly the maiden descended, and leaning her hands on his shoulder, While with uncertain beams, the moon through the leaves overlooked them, Ere she was veiled by the cloud, and so left the couple in darkness. Carefully Hermann's strength supported the maid that hung o'er him; But, not knowing the path and the rough-hewn steps that led down it, Missed she her footing, her ankle turned, and she surely had fallen, Had not the dexterous youth his arm outstretched in an instant, And his beloved upheld. She gently sank on his shoulder; Breast was pressed against breast, and cheek against cheek. Thus he stood there Fixed as a marble statue, the force of will keeping him steadfast, Drew her not to him more closely, but braced himself under her pressure. Thus he the glorious burden felt, the warmth of her bosom, And the perfume of her breath, that over his lips was exhaling; Bore with the heart of a man the majestic form of the woman.

But she with playfulness said, concealing the pain that she suffered: "That is a sign of misfortune, so timorous persons would tell us, When on approaching a house we stumble not far from the threshold; And for myself, I confess, I could wish for a happier omen. Let us here linger awhile that thy parents may not have to blame thee, Seeing a limping maid, and thou seem an incompetent landlord."

URANIA

PROSPECT

Muses, O ye who the course of true love so willingly favor, Ye who thus far on his way the excellent youth have conducted, Even before the betrothal have pressed to his bosom the maiden; Further your aid vouchsafe this charming pair in uniting, Straightway dispersing the clouds which over their happiness lower! Yet first of all declare what is passing meanwhile at the Lion. Now for the third time again the mother impatient had entered Where were assembled the men, whom anxious but now she had quitted; Spoke of the gathering storm, and the moonlight's rapid obscuring; Then of her son's late tarrying abroad and the dangers of nightfall; Sharply upbraided her friends that without having speech of the maiden, And without urging his suit, they had parted from Hermann so early.

"Make it not worse than it is," the father replied with displeasure. "For, as thou seest, we tarry ourselves and are waiting the issue."

Calmly, however, from where he was sitting the neighbor made answer: "Never in hours of disquiet like this do I fail to be grateful Unto my late, blessed father, who every root of impatience Tore from my heart when a child, and left no fibre remaining; So that I learned on the instant to wait as do none of your sages." "Tell us," the pastor returned, "what legerdemain he made use of." "That will I gladly relate, for all may draw from it a lesson;" So made the neighbor reply. "When a boy I once stood of a Sunday Full of impatience, and looking with eagerness out for the carriage Which was to carry us forth to the spring that lies under the lindens. Still the coach came not. I ran, like a weasel, now hither, now thither, Up stairs and down, and forward and back, 'twixt the door and the window; Even my fingers itched to be moving; I scratched on the tables, Went about pounding and stamping, and hardly could keep me from weeping. All was observed by the calm-tempered man; but at last when my folly Came to be carried too far, by the arm he quietly took me, Led me away to the window, and spoke in this serious language: 'Seest thou yonder the carpenter's shop that is closed for the Sunday? He will re-open to-morrow, when plane and saw will be started, And will keep on through the hours of labor from morning till evening. But consider you this,—a day will be presently coming When that man shall himself be astir and all of his workmen, Making a coffin for thee to be quickly and skilfully finished. Then that house of boards they will busily bring over hither, Which must at last receive alike the impatient and patient, And which is destined soon with close-pressing roof to be covered.' Straightway I saw the whole thing in my mind as if it were doing; Saw the boards fitting together, and saw the black color preparing, Sat me down patiently then, and in quiet awaited the carriage. Now when others I see, in seasons of anxious expectance, Running distracted about, I cannot but think of the coffin."

Smiling, the pastor replied: "The affecting picture of death stands Not as a dread to the wise, and not as an end to the pious. Those it presses again into life, and teaches to use it; These by affliction it strengthens in hope to future salvation. Death becomes life unto both. Thy father was greatly mistaken When to a sensitive boy he death in death thus depicted. Let us the value of nobly ripe age, point out to the young man, And to the aged the youth, that in the eternal progression Both may rejoice, and life may in life thus find its completion."

But the door was now opened, and showed the majestical couple. Filled with amaze were the friends, and amazed the affectionate parents, Seeing the form of the maid so well matched with that of her lover. Yea, the door seemed too low to allow the tall figures to enter, As they together now appeared coming over the threshold.

Hermann, with hurried words, presented her thus to his parents: "Here is a maiden," he said; "such a one as ye wish in the household. Kindly receive her, dear father: she merits it well; and thou, mother, Question her straightway on all that belongs to a house-keeper's duty, That ye may see how well she deserves to ye both to be nearer."

Quickly he then drew aside the excellent clergyman, saying: "Help me, O worthy sir, and speedily out of this trouble; Loosen, I pray thee, this knot, at whose untying I tremble. Know that 'tis not as a lover that I have brought hither the maiden; But she believes that as servant she comes to the house, and I tremble Lest in displeasure she fly as soon as there's mention of marriage. But be it straightway decided; for she no longer in error Thus shall be left, and I this suspense no longer can suffer. Hasten and show us in this a proof of the wisdom we honor."

Toward the company then the clergyman instantly turned him; But already, alas! had the soul of the maiden been troubled, Hearing the father's speech; for he, in his sociable fashion, Had in these playful words, with the kindest intention addressed her: "Ay, this is well, my child! with delight I perceive that my Hermann Has the good taste of his father, who often showed his in his young days, Leading out always the fairest to dance, and bringing the fairest Finally home as his wife; our dear little mother here that was. For by the bride that a man shall elect we can judge what himself is, Tell what the spirit is in him, and whether he feel his own value. Nor didst thou need for thyself, I'll engage, much time for decision; For, in good sooth, methinks, he's no difficult person to follow."

Hermann had heard but in part; his limbs were inwardly trembling, And of a sudden a stillness had fallen on all of the circle.

But by these words of derision, for such she could not but deem them, Wounded, and stung to the depths of her soul, the excellent maiden, Stood, while the fugitive blood o'er her cheeks and e'en to her bosom Poured its flush. But she governed herself, and her courage collecting, Answered the old man thus, her pain not wholly concealing: "Truly for such a reception thy son had in no wise prepared me, When he the ways of his father described, the excellent burgher. Thou art a man of culture, I know, before whom I am standing; Dealest with every one wisely, according as suits his position; But thou hast scanty compassion, it seems, on one such as I am, Who, a poor girl, am now crossing thy threshold with purpose to serve thee; Else, with such bitter derision, thou wouldst not have made me remember How far removed my fortune from that of thyself and thy son is. True, I come poor to thy house, and bring with me naught but my bundle Here where is every abundance to gladden the prosperous inmates. Yet I know well myself; I feel the relations between us. Say, is it noble, with so much of mockery straightway to greet me, That I am sent from the house while my foot is scarce yet on the threshold?"

Anxiously Hermann turned and signed to his ally the pastor That he should rush to the rescue and straightway dispel the delusion. Then stepped the wise man hastily forward and looked on the maiden's Tearful eyes, her silent pain and repressed indignation, And in his heart was impelled not at once to clear up the confusion, Rather to put to the test the girl's disquieted spirit. Therefore he unto her said in language intended to try her: "Surely, thou foreign-born maiden, thou didst not maturely consider, When thou too rashly decidedst to enter the service of strangers, All that is meant by the placing thyself 'neath the rule of a master; For by our hand to a bargain the fate of the year is determined, And but a single 'yea' compels to much patient endurance. Not the worst part of the service the wearisome steps to be taken, Neither the bitter sweat of a labor that presses unceasing; Since the industrious freeman must toil as well as the servant. But 'tis to bear with the master's caprice when he censures unjustly, Or when, at variance with self, he orders now this, now the other; Bear with the petulance, too, of the mistress, easily angered, And with the rude, overbearing ways of unmannerly children. All this is hard to endure, and yet to go on with thy duties Quickly, without delay, nor thyself grow sullen and stubborn. Yet thou appearest ill fitted for this, since already so deeply Stung by the father's jests: whereas there is nothing more common Than for a girl to be teased on account of a youth she may fancy."

Thus he spoke. The maiden had felt the full force of his language, And she restrained her no more; but with passionate out-burst her feelings Made themselves way; a sob broke forth from her now heaving bosom, And, while the scalding tears poured down, she straightway made answer "Ah, that rational man who thinks to advise us in sorrow, Knows not how little of power his cold words have in relieving Ever a heart from that woe which a sovereign fate has inflicted. Ye are prosperous and glad; how then should a pleasantry wound you? Yet but the lightest touch is a source of pain to the sick man. Nay, concealment itself, if successful, had profited nothing. Better show now what had later increased to a bitterer anguish, And to an inward consuming despair might perhaps have reduced me. Let me go back! for here in this house I can tarry no longer. I will away, and wander in search of my hapless companions, Whom I forsook in their need; for myself alone choosing the better. This is my firm resolve, and I therefore may make a confession Which might for years perhaps have else lain hid in my bosom. Deeply indeed was I hurt by the father's words of derision; Not that I'm sensitive, proud beyond what is fitting a servant; But that my heart in truth had felt itself stirred with affection Toward the youth who to-day had appeared to my eyes as a savior. When he first left me there on the road, he still remained present, Haunting my every thought; I fancied the fortunate maiden Whom as a bride, perhaps, his heart had already elected. When at the fountain I met him again, the sight of him wakened Pleasure as great as if there had met me an angel from heaven; And with what gladness I followed, when asked to come as his servant. True, that I flattered myself in my heart,—I will not deny it,— While we were hitherward coming, I might peradventure deserve him, Should I become at last the important stay of the household. Now I, alas! for the first time see what risk I was running, When I would make my home so near to the secretly loved one; Now for the first time feel how far removed a poor maiden Is from an opulent youth, no matter how great her deserving. All this I now confess, that my heart ye may not misinterpret, In that 'twas hurt by a chance to which I owe my awaking. Hiding my secret desires, this dread had been ever before me, That at some early day he would bring him a bride to his dwelling; And ah, how could I then my inward anguish have suffered! Happily I have been warned, and happily now has my bosom Been of its secret relieved, while yet there is cure for the evil. But no more; I have spoken; and now shall nothing detain me Longer here in a house where I stay but in shame and confusion, Freely confessing my love and that foolish hope that I cherished. Not the night which abroad is covered with lowering storm clouds; Not the roll of the thunder—I hear its peal—shall deter me; Not the pelt of the rain which without is beating in fury; Neither the blustering tempest; for all these things have I suffered During our sorrowful flight, and while the near foe was pursuing. Now I again go forth, as I have so long been accustomed, Carried away by the whirl of the times, and from every thing parted. Fare ye well! I tarry no longer; all now is over."

Thus she spoke and back to the door she hastily turned her, Still bearing under her arm, as she with her had brought it, her bundle. But with both of her arms the mother seized hold of the maiden, Clasping her round the waist, and exclaiming, amazed and bewildered: "Tell me, what means all this? and these idle tears, say, what mean they? I will not let thee depart: thou art the betrothed of my Hermann."

But still the father stood, observing the scene with displeasure, Looked on the weeping girl, and said in a tone of vexation: "This then must be the return that I get for all my indulgence, That at the close of the day this most irksome of all things should happen! For there is naught I can tolerate less than womanish weeping, Violent outcries, which only involve in disorder and passion, What with a little of sense had been more smoothly adjusted. Settle the thing for yourselves: I'm going to bed; I've no patience Longer to be a spectator of these your marvelous doings." Quickly he turned as he spoke, and hastened to go to the chamber Where he was wonted to rest, and his marriage bed was kept standing, But he was held by his son, who said in a tone of entreaty: "Father, hasten not from us, and be thou not wroth with the maiden. I, only I, am to blame as the cause of all this confusion, Which by his dissimulation our friend unexpectedly heightened. Speak, O worthy sir; for to thee my cause I intrusted. Heap not up sorrow and anger, but rather let all this be ended; For I could hold thee never again in such high estimation, If thou shouldst show but delight in pain, not superior wisdom."

Thereupon answered and said the excellent clergyman, smiling: "Tell me, what other device could have drawn this charming confession Out of the good maiden's lips, and thus have revealed her affection? Has not thy trouble been straightway transformed into gladness and rapture? Therefore speak up for thyself; what need of the tongue of another?"

Thereupon Hermann came forward, and spoke in these words of affection: "Do not repent of thy tears, nor repent of these passing distresses; For they complete my joy, and—may I not hope it—thine also? Not to engage the stranger, the excellent maid, as a servant, Unto the fountain I came; but to sue for thy love I came thither. Only, alas! my timorous look could thy heart's inclination Nowise perceive; I read in thine eyes of nothing but kindness, As from the fountain's tranquil mirror thou gavest me greeting. Might I but bring thee home, the half of my joy was accomplished. But thou completest it unto me now; oh, blest be thou for it!" Then with a deep emotion the maiden gazed on the stripling; Neither forbade she embrace and kiss, the summit of rapture, When to a loving pair they come as the longed for assurance, Pledge of a lifetime of bliss, that appears to them now never-ending.

Unto the others, meanwhile, the pastor had made explanation. But with feeling and grace the maid now advanced to the father, Bent her before him, and kissing the hand he would fain have withholden, Said: "Thou wilt surely be just and forgive one so startled as I was, First for my tears of distress, and now for the tears of my gladness. That emotion forgive me, and oh! forgive me this also. For I can scarce comprehend the happiness newly vouchsafed me. Yes, let that first vexation of which I, bewildered, was guilty Be, too, the last. Whatever the maid of affectionate service Faithfully promised, shall be to thee now performed by the daughter."

Straightway then, concealing his tears, the father embraced her, Cordially, too, the mother came forward and kissed her with fervor, Pressing her hands in her own: the weeping women were silent.

Thereupon quickly he seized, the good and intelligent pastor, First the father's hand, and the wedding-ring drew from his finger,— Not so easily either: the finger was plump and detained it,— Next took the mother's ring also, and with them betrothed he the children, Saying: "These golden circlets once more their office performing Firmly a tie shall unite, which in all things shall equal the old one, Deeply is this young man imbued with love of the maiden, And, as the maiden confesses, her heart is gone out to him also.



Here do I therefore betroth you and bless for the years that are coming, With the consent of the parents, and having this friend as a witness."

Then the neighbor saluted at once, and expressed his good wishes; But when the clergyman now the golden circlet was drawing Over the maiden's hand, he observed with amazement the other, Which had already by Hermann been anxiously marked at the fountain. And with a kindly raillery thus thereupon he addressed her: "So, then thy second betrothal is this? Let us hope the first bridegroom May not appear at the altar, and so prohibit the marriage."

But she, answering, said: "Oh, let me to this recollection Yet one moment devote; for so much is due the good giver, Him who bestowed it at parting, and never came back to his kindred. All that should come he foresaw, when in haste the passion for freedom, When a desire in the newly changed order of things to be working, Urged him onward to Paris, where chains and death he encountered. 'Fare thee well,' were his words; 'I go, for all is in motion Now for a time on the earth, and every thing seems to be parting. E'en in the firmest states fundamental laws are dissolving; Property falls away from the hand of the ancient possessor; Friend is parted from friend; and so parts lover from lover. Here I leave thee, and where I shall find thee again, or if ever, Who can tell? Perhaps these words are our last ones together. Man's but a stranger here on the earth, we are told and with reason; And we are each of us now become more of strangers than ever. Ours no more is the soil, and our treasures are all of them changing: Silver and gold are melting away from their time-honored patterns. All is in motion as though the already-shaped world into chaos Meant to resolve itself backward into night, and to shape itself over. Mine thou wilt keep thine heart, and should we be ever united Over the ruins of earth, it will be as newly made creatures, Beings transformed and free, no longer dependent on fortune; For can aught fetter the man who has lived through days such as these are! But if it is not to be, that, these dangers happily over, Ever again we be granted the bliss of mutual embraces, Oh, then before thy thoughts so keep my hovering image That with unshaken mind thou be ready for good or for evil! Should new ties allure thee again, and a new habitation, Enter with gratitude into the joys that fate shall prepare thee; Love those purely who love thee; be grateful to them who show kindness. But thine uncertain foot should yet be planted but lightly, For there is lurking the twofold pain of a new separation. Blessings attend thy life; but value existence no higher Than thine other possessions, and all possessions are cheating!' Thus spoke the noble youth, and never again I beheld him. Meanwhile I lost my all, and a thousand times thought of his warning. Here, too, I think of his words, when love is sweetly preparing Happiness for me anew, and glorious hopes are reviving. Oh, forgive me, excellent friend, that e'en while I hold thee Close to my side I tremble! So unto the late-landed sailor Seem the most solid foundations of firmest earth to be rocking."

Thus she spoke, and placed the two rings on her finger together. But her lover replied with a noble and manly emotion: "So much the firmer then, amid these universal convulsions, Be, Dorothea, our union! We two will hold fast and continue, Firmly maintaining ourselves, and the right to our ample possessions. For that man, who, when times are uncertain, is faltering in spirit, Only increases the evil, and further and further transmits it; While he refashions the world, who keeps himself steadfastly minded. Poorly becomes it the German to give to these fearful excitements Aught of continuance, or to be this way and that way inclining. This is our own! let that be our word, and let us maintain it! For to those resolute peoples respect will be ever accorded, Who for God and the laws, for parents, women and children, Fought and died, as together they stood with their front to the foeman. Thou art mine own; and now what is mine, is mine more than ever. Not with anxiety will I preserve it, and trembling enjoyment; Rather with courage and strength. To-day should the enemy threaten, Or in the future, equip me thyself and hand me my weapons. Let me but know that under thy care are my house and dear parents, Oh! I can then with assurance expose my breast to the foeman. And were but every man minded like me, there would be an upspring Might against might, and peace should revisit us all with its gladness."

* * * * *



INTRODUCTION TO IPHIGENIA IN TAURIS

BY ARTHUR H. PALMER, A.M., LL.D.

Professor of German Language and Literature, Yale University

To what literary genus does Goethe's Iphigenia belongs? Dramatic in form, is it a drama? For A. W. Schlegel "an echo of Greek song," and for many German critics the best modern reproduction of Greek tragedy, it is for others a thoroughly German work in its substitution of profound moral struggles for the older passionate, more external conflicts. Schiller said: "It is, however, so astonishingly modern and un-Greek, that I cannot understand how it was ever thought to resemble a Greek play. It is purely moral; but the sensuous power, the life, the agitation, and everything which specifically belongs to a dramatic work is wanting." He adds, however, that it is a marvelous production which must forever remain the delight and wonderment of mankind. This is the view of G. H. Lewes, whose characterization is so apt also in other respects: "A drama it is not; it is a marvelous dramatic poem. The grand and solemn movement responds to the large and simple ideas which it unfolds. It has the calmness of majesty. In the limpid clearness of its language the involved mental processes of the characters are as transparent as the operations of bees within a crystal hive; while a constant strain of high and lofty music makes the reader feel as if in a holy temple. And above all witcheries of detail there is one capital witchery, belonging to Greek statues more than to other works of human cunning—the perfect unity of impression produced by the whole, so that nothing in it seems made, but all to grow; nothing is superfluous, but all is in organic dependence; nothing is there for detached effect, but the whole is effect. The poem fills the mind; beautiful as the separate passages are, admirers seldom think of passages, they think of the wondrous whole."

But may we not deepen and spiritualize our conception of the drama and say that in Iphigenia, Goethe created a new dramatic genus, the soul-drama—the first psychological drama of modern literature, the result of ethical and artistic development through two milleniums? Surely a Greek dramatist of the first rank, come to life again in Goethe's age and entering into the heritage of this development, would have modernized both subject and form in the same way.

Most intimate is the relation of Iphigenia to Goethe's inner life, and this relation best illumines the spiritual import of the drama. Like his Torquato Tasso, it springs entirely from conditions and experiences of the early Weimar years and those just preceding. It was conceived and the first prose version written early in 1779; it received its final metrical form December, 1786—in Rome indeed, but it owed to Italy only a higher artistic finish.

In his autobiography Goethe has revealed to us that his works are fragments of a great confession. Moods of his pre-Weimar storm and stress vibrate in his Iphigenia—feverish unrest, defiance of conventionality, Titanic trust in his individual genius, self-reproach, and remorse for guilt toward those he loved,—Friederike and Lili. Thus feeling his inner conflicts to be like the sufferings of Orestes, he wrote in a letter, August, 1775, shortly after returning to Frankfurt from his first Swiss journey: "Perhaps the invisible scourge of the Eumenides will soon drive me out again from my fatherland."

In November, 1775, Goethe went to Weimar, and there he found redemption from his unrest and dejection in the friendship of Frau von Stein. Her beneficent influence effected his new-birth into calm self-control and harmony of spirit. On August 7, 1779, Goethe wrote in his diary: "May the idea of purity, extending even to the morsel I take into my mouth, become ever more luminous in me!" If Orestes is Goethe, Iphigenia is Frau von Stein; and in the personal sense the theme of the drama is the restoration of the poet to spiritual purity by the influence of noble womanhood.

But there is a larger, universally human sense. Such healing of Orestes is typically human; noble womanhood best realizes the ideal of the truly human (Humanitaet). In a way that transcends understanding, one pure, strong human personality may by its influence restore moral vigor and bring peace and hope to other souls rent by remorse and sunk in despair. This Goethe himself expressed as the central thought of this drama in the lines:

Alle menschlichen Gebrechen Suehnet reine Menschlichkeit

(For each human fault and frailty Pure humanity atones).

The eighteenth century's conception of "humanity," the ideal of the truly human, found two-fold classic, artistic expression in Germany at the same time; in Lessing's Nathan the Wise and in Goethe's Iphigenia in Tauris, the former rationalistic, the latter broader, more subtle, mystical.

IPHIGENIA IN TAURIS (1787)[33]

A DRAMA IN FIVE ACTS

TRANSLATED BY ANNA SWANWICK

Like Torquato Tasso, Iphigenia was originally written in prose, and in that form was acted at the Weimar Court Theatre about 1779. Goethe himself took the part of Orestes.

* * * * *

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

IPHIGENIA. THOAS, King of the Taurians. ORESTES. PYLADES. ARKAS.

* * * * *

ACT I

SCENE I. A Grove before the Temple of Diana.

IPHIGENIA

Beneath your leafy gloom, ye waving boughs Of this old, shady, consecrated grove, As in the goddess' silent sanctuary, With the same shuddering feeling forth I step, As when I trod it first, nor ever here Doth my unquiet spirit feel at home. Long as a higher will, to which I bow, Hath kept me here conceal'd, still, as at first, I feel myself a stranger. For the sea Doth sever me, alas! from those I love, And day by day upon the shore I stand, The land of Hellas seeking with my soul; But to my sighs, the hollow-sounding waves Bring, save their own hoarse murmurs, no reply. Alas for him! who friendless and alone, Remote from parents and from brethren dwells; From him grief snatches every coming joy Ere it doth reach his lip. His yearning thoughts Throng back for ever to his father's halls, Where first to him the radiant sun unclosed The gates of heav'n; where closer, day by day, Brothers and sisters, leagued in pastime sweet, Around each other twin'd love's tender bonds. I will not reckon with the gods; yet truly Deserving of lament is woman's lot. Man rules alike at home and in the field, Nor is in foreign climes without resource; Him conquest crowneth, him possession gladdens, And him an honorable death awaits. How circumscrib'd is woman's destiny! Obedience to a harsh, imperious lord, Her duty, and her comfort; sad her fate, Whom hostile fortune drives to lands remote! Thus Thoas holds me here, a noble man Bound with a heavy though a sacred chain. O how it shames me, goddess, to confess That with repugnance I perform these rites For thee, divine protectress! unto whom I would in freedom dedicate my life. In thee, Diana, I have always hoped, And still I hope in thee, who didst infold Within the holy shelter of thine arm The outcast daughter of the mighty king. Daughter of Jove! hast thou from ruin'd Troy Led back in triumph to his native land The mighty man, whom thou didst sore afflict, His daughter's life in sacrifice demanding,— Hast thou for him, the godlike Agamemnon, Who to thine altar led his darling child, Preserv'd his wife, Electra, and his son, His dearest treasures?—then at length restore Thy suppliant also to her friends and home, And save her, as thou once from death didst save, So now, from living here, a second death.



SCENE II

IPHIGENIA, ARKAS

ARKAS

The king hath sent me hither, bade me greet With hail, and fair salute, Diana's priestess. For new and wondrous conquest, this the day, When to her goddess Tauris renders thanks. I hasten on before the king and host, Himself to herald, and its near approach.

IPHIGENIA

We are prepar'd to give them worthy greeting; Our goddess doth behold with gracious eye The welcome sacrifice from Thoas' hand.

ARKAS

Would that I also found the priestess' eye, Much honor'd, much revered one, found thine eye, O consecrated maid, more calm, more bright, To all a happy omen! Still doth grief, With gloom mysterious, shroud thy inner mind; Vainly, through many a tedious year we wait For one confiding utterance from thy breast. Long as I've known thee in this holy place, That look of thine hath ever made me shudder; And, as with iron bands, thy soul remains Lock'd in the deep recesses of thy breast.

IPHIGENIA

As doth become the exile and the orphan.

ARKAS

Dost thou then here seem exil'd and an orphan?

IPHIGENIA

Can foreign scenes our fatherland replace?

ARKAS

Thy fatherland is foreign now to thee.

IPHIGENIA

Hence is it that my bleeding heart ne'er heals. In early youth, when first my soul, in love, Held father, mother, brethren fondly twin'd, A group of tender germs, in union sweet, We sprang in beauty from the parent stem, And heavenward grew; alas, a foreign curse Then seized and sever'd me from those I loved, And wrench'd with iron grasp the beauteous bands It vanish'd then, the fairest charm of youth, The simple gladness of life's early dawn; Though sav'd I was a shadow of myself, And life's fresh joyance blooms in me no more.

ARKAS

If thou wilt ever call thyself unblest, I must accuse thee of ingratitude.

IPHIGENIA

Thanks have you ever.

ARKAS

Not the honest thanks Which prompt the heart to offices of love; The joyous glance, revealing to the host A grateful spirit, with its lot content. When thee a deep mysterious destiny Brought to this sacred fane, long years ago, To greet thee, as a treasure sent from heaven, With reverence and affection, Thoas came. Benign and friendly was this shore to thee, To every stranger else with horror fraught, For, till thy coming, none e'er trod our realm But fell, according to an ancient rite, A bloody victim at Diana's shrine.

IPHIGENIA

Freely to breathe alone is not to live. Say, is it life, within this holy fane, Like a poor ghost around its sepulchre To linger out my days? Or call you that A life of conscious happiness and joy, When every hour, dream'd listlessly away, Still leadeth onward to those gloomy days, Which the sad troop of the departed spend In self-forgetfulness on Lethe's shore? A useless life is but an early death; This woman's destiny hath still been mine.

ARKAS

I can forgive, though I must needs deplore, The noble pride which underrates itself; It robs thee of the happiness of life. But hast thou, since thy coming here, done naught? Who hath the monarch's gloomy temper cheered? Who hath with gentle eloquence annull'd, From year to year, the usage of our sires, By which, a victim at Diana's shrine, Each stranger perish'd, thus from certain death Sending so oft the rescued captive home? Hath not Diana, harboring no revenge For this suspension of her bloody rites, In richest measure heard thy gentle prayer? On joyous pinions o'er the advancing host, Doth not triumphant conquest proudly soar? And feels not every one a happier lot, Since Thoas, who so long hath guided us With wisdom and with valor, sway'd by thee. The joy of mild benignity approves, Which leads him to relax the rigid claims Of mute submission? Call thyself useless! Thou, When from thy being o'er a thousand hearts, A healing balsam flows? when to a race, To whom a god consign'd thee, thou dost prove A fountain of perpetual happiness, And from this dire inhospitable coast, Dost to the stranger grant a safe return?

IPHIGENIA

The little done doth vanish to the mind, Which forward sees how much remains to do.

ARKAS

Him dost thou praise, who underrates his deeds?

IPHIGENIA

Who weigheth his own deeds is justly blam'd.

ARKAS

He too, real worth too proudly who condemns, As who, too vainly, spurious worth o'er-rateth. Trust me, and heed the counsel of a man With honest zeal devoted to thy service: When Thoas comes to-day to speak with thee, Lend to his purposed words a gracious ear.

IPHIGENIA

Thy well-intention'd counsel troubles me: His offer I have ever sought to shun.

ARKAS

Thy duty and thy interest calmly weigh. Sithence King Thoas lost his son and heir, Among his followers he trusts but few, And trusts those few no more as formerly. With jealous eye he views each noble's son As the successor of his realm, he dreads A solitary, helpless age—perchance Sudden rebellion and untimely death. A Scythian studies not the rules of speech, And least of all the king. He who is used To act and to command, knows not the art, From far, with subtle tact, to guide discourse Through many windings to its destin'd goal. Thwart not his purpose by a cold refusal, By an intended misconception. Meet, With gracious mien, half-way the royal wish.

IPHIGENIA

Shall I then speed the doom that threatens me?

ARKAS

His gracious offer canst thou call a threat?

IPHIGENIA

'Tis the most terrible of all to me.

ARKAS

For his affection grant him confidence.

IPHIGENIA

If he will first redeem my soul from fear.

ARKAS

Why dost thou hide from him thy origin?

IPHIGENIA

A priestess secrecy doth well become.

ARKAS

Naught to a monarch should a secret be; And, though he doth not seek to fathom thine, His noble nature feels, ay, deeply feels, That thou with care dost hide thyself from him.

IPHIGENIA

Ill-will and anger harbors he against me?

ARKAS

Almost it seems so. True, he speaks not of thee, But casual words have taught me that the wish Thee to possess hath firmly seiz'd his soul; O leave him not a prey unto himself, Lest his displeasure, rip'ning in his breast, Should work thee woe, so with repentance thou Too late my faithful counsel shalt recall.

IPHIGENIA

How! doth the monarch purpose what no man Of noble mind, who loves his honest name, Whose bosom reverence for the gods restrains, Would ever think of? Will he force employ To drag me from the altar to his bed? Then will I call the gods, and chiefly thee, Diana, goddess resolute, to aid me; Thyself a virgin, wilt a virgin shield, And to thy priestess gladly render aid.

ARKAS

Be tranquil! Passion, and youth's fiery blood Impel not Thoas rashly to commit A deed so lawless. In his present mood, I fear from him another harsh resolve, Which (for his soul is steadfast and unmov'd) He then will execute without delay. Therefore I pray thee, canst thou grant no more; At least be grateful—give thy confidence.

IPHIGENIA

Oh tell me what is further known to thee.

ARKAS

Learn it from him. I see the king approach: Him thou dost honor, thine own heart enjoins To meet him kindly and with confidence. A man of noble mind may oft be led By woman's gentle word.

IPHIGENIA (alone)

How to observe His faithful counsel see I not in sooth. But willingly the duty I perform Of giving thanks for benefits receiv'd, And much I wish that to the king my lips With truth could utter what would please his ear.

SCENE III

IPHIGENIA, THOAS

IPHIGENIA

Her royal gifts the goddess shower on thee Imparting conquest, wealth, and high renown Dominion, and the welfare of thy house, With the fulfilment of each pious wish, That thou, whose sway for multitudes provides, Thyself may'st be supreme in happiness!

THOAS

Contented were I with my people's praise; My conquests others more than I enjoy. Oh! be he king or subject, he's most blest; Whose happiness is centred in his home. My deep affliction thou didst share with me What time, in war's encounter, the fell sword Tore from my side my last, my dearest son; So long as fierce revenge possessed my heart, I did not feel my dwelling's dreary void; But now, returning home, my rage appeas'd, Their kingdom wasted, and my son aveng'd, I find there nothing left to comfort me. The glad obedience I was wont to see Kindling in every eye, is smother'd now In discontent and gloom; each, pondering, weighs The changes which a future day may bring, And serves the childless king, because he must. To-day I come within this sacred fane, Which I have often enter'd to implore And thank the gods for conquest. In my breast I bear an old and fondly-cherish'd wish, To which methinks thou canst not be a stranger; I hope, a blessing to myself and realm, To lead thee to my dwelling as my bride.

IPHIGENIA

Too great thine offer, king, to one unknown; Abash'd the fugitive before thee stands, Who on this shore sought only what thou gavest, Safety and peace.

THOAS

Thus still to shroud thyself From me, as from the lowest, in the veil Of mystery which wrapp'd thy coming here, Would in no country be deem'd just or right. Strangers this shore appall'd; 'twas so ordain'd, Alike by law and stern necessity. From thee alone—a kindly welcom'd guest, Who hast enjoy'd each hallow'd privilege, And spent thy days in freedom unrestrain'd— From thee I hop'd that confidence to gain Which every faithful host may justly claim.

IPHIGENIA

If I conceal'd, O king, my name, my race, It was embarrassment, and not mistrust. For didst thou know who stands before thee now, And what accursed head thine arm protects, Strange horror would possess thy mighty heart; And, far from wishing me to share thy throne, Thou, ere the time appointed, from thy realm Wouldst banish me; wouldst thrust me forth, perchance Before a glad reunion with my friends And period to my wand'rings is ordain'd, To meet that sorrow, which in every clime, With cold, inhospitable, fearful hand, Awaits the outcast, exil'd from his home.

THOAS

Whate'er respecting thee the gods decree, Whate'er their doom for thee and for thy house, Since thou hast dwelt amongst us, and enjoy'd The privilege the pious stranger claims, To me hath fail'd no blessing sent from heaven; And to persuade me, that protecting thee I shield a guilty head, were hard indeed.

IPHIGENIA

Thy bounty, not the guest, draws blessings down.

THOAS

The kindness shown the wicked is not blest. End then thy silence, priestess; not unjust Is he who doth demand it. In my hands The goddess placed thee; thou hast been to me As sacred as to her, and her behest Shall for the future also be my law: If thou canst hope in safety to return Back to thy kindred, I renounce my claims: But is thy homeward path for ever closed— Or doth thy race in hopeless exile rove, Or lie extinguish'd by some mighty woe— Then may I claim thee by more laws than one. Speak openly, thou know'st I keep my word.

IPHIGENIA

Its ancient bands reluctantly my tongue Doth loose, a long hid secret to divulge; For once imparted, it resumes no more The safe asylum of the inmost heart, But thenceforth, as the powers above decree, Doth work its ministry of weal or woe. Attend! I issue from the Titan's race.

THOAS

A word momentous calmly hast thou spoken. Him nam'st thou ancestor whom all the world Knows as a sometime favorite of the gods? Is it that Tantalus, whom Jove himself Drew to his council and his social board? On whose experienc'd words, with wisdom fraught, As on the language of an oracle, E'en gods delighted hung?

IPHIGENIA

'Tis even he; But the immortal gods with mortal men Should not, on equal terms, hold intercourse; For all too feeble is the human race, Not to grow dizzy on unwonted heights. Ignoble was he not, and no betrayer; To be the Thunderer's slave, he was too great; To be his friend and comrade,—but a man. His crime was human, and their doom severe; For poets sing, that treachery and pride Did from Jove's table hurl him headlong down To grovel in the depths of Tartarus. Alas, and his whole race must bear their hate.

THOAS

Bear they their own guilt, or their ancestor's?

IPHIGENIA

The Titan's mighty breast and nervous frame Was his descendants' certain heritage; But round their brow Jove forg'd a band of brass. Wisdom and patience, prudence and restraint, He from their gloomy, fearful eye conceal'd; In them each passion grew to savage rage, And headlong rush'd with violence uncheck'd. Already Pelops, Tantalus' loved son, Mighty of will, obtained his beauteous bride, Hippodamia, child of Oenomaus, Through treachery and murder; she ere long, To glad her consort's heart, bare him two sons, Thyest and Atreus. They with envy marked The ever-growing love their father bare To his first-born, sprung from another union. Hate leagued the pair, and secretly they wrought, In fratricide, the first dread crime. The sire Hippodamia held as murderess, With savage rage he claim'd from her his son, And she in terror did destroy herself—

THOAS

Thou'rt silent? Pause not in thy narrative; Repent not of thy confidence—say on!

IPHIGENIA

How blest is he who his progenitors With pride remembers, to the listener tells The story of their greatness, of their deeds, And, silently rejoicing, sees himself The latest link of this illustrious chain! For seldom does the selfsame stock produce The monster and the demigod: a line Of good or evil ushers in, at last, The glory or the terror of the world.— After the death of Pelops, his two sons Rul'd o'er the city with divided sway. But such an union could not long endure. His brother's honor first Thyestes wounds. In vengeance Atreus drove him from the realm. Thyestes, planning horrors, long before Had stealthily procur'd his brother's son, Whom he in secret nurtur'd as his own. Revenge and fury in his breast he pour'd, Then to the royal city sent him forth, That in his uncle he might slay his sire. The meditated murder was disclos'd, And by the king most cruelly aveng'd, Who slaughter'd as he thought, his brother's son. Too late he learn'd whose dying tortures met His drunken gaze; and seeking to assuage The insatiate vengeance that possess'd his soul, He plann'd a deed unheard of. He assum'd A friendly tone, seem'd reconcil'd, appeas'd, And lur'd his brother, with his children twain, Back to his kingdom; these he seiz'd and slew; Then plac'd the loathsome and abhorrent food At his first meal before the unconscious sire. And when Thyestes had his hunger still'd With his own flesh, a sadness seiz'd his soul; He for his children ask'd,—their steps, their voice Fancied he heard already at the door; And Atreus, grinning with malicious joy, Threw in the members of the slaughter'd boys.— Shudd'ring, O king, thou dost avert thy face: So did the sun his radiant visage hide, And swerve his chariot from the eternal path. These, monarch, are thy priestess' ancestors, And many a dreadful fate of mortal doom, And many a deed of the bewilder'd brain, Dark night doth cover with her sable wing, Or shroud in gloomy twilight.

THOAS

Hidden there Let them abide. A truce to horror now, And tell me by what miracle thou sprangest From race so savage.

IPHIGENIA

Atreus' eldest son Was Agamemnon; he, O king, my sire: But I may say with truth, that, from a child, In him the model of a perfect man I witness'd ever. Clytemnestra bore To him, myself, the firstling of their love, Electra then. Peaceful the monarch rul'd, And to the house of Tantalus was given A long-withheld repose. A son alone Was wanting to complete my parents' bliss; Scarce was this wish fulfill'd, and young Orestes, The household's darling, with his sisters grew, When new misfortunes vex'd our ancient house. To you hath come the rumor of the war, Which, to avenge the fairest woman's wrongs, The force united of the Grecian kings Round Ilion's walls encamp'd. Whether the town Was humbled, and achieved their great revenge, I have not heard. My father led the host. In Aulis vainly for a favoring gale They waited; for, enrag'd against their chief, Diana stay'd their progress, and requir'd, Through Chalcas' voice, the monarch's eldest daughter. They lured me with my mother to the camp, They dragged me to the altar, and this head There to the goddess doomed.—She was appeased; She did not wish my blood, and shrouded me In a protecting cloud; within this temple I first awakened from the dream of death; Yes, I myself am she, Iphigenia, Grandchild of Atreus, Agamemnon's child, Diana's priestess, I who speak with thee.

THOAS

I yield no higher honor or regard To the king's daughter than the maid unknown; Once more my first proposal I repeat; Come follow me, and share what I possess.

IPHIGENIA

How dare I venture such a step, O king? Hath not the goddess who protected me Alone a right to my devoted head? 'Twas she who chose for me this sanctuary, Where she perchance reserves me for my sire, By my apparent death enough chastis'd. To be the joy and solace of his age. Perchance my glad return is near; and how, If I, unmindful of her purposes, Had here attach'd myself against her will? I ask'd a signal, did she wish my stay.

THOAS

The signal is that still thou tarriest here. Seek not evasively such vain pretexts. Not many words are needed to refuse, The no alone is heard by the refused.

IPHIGENIA

Mine are not words meant only to deceive; I have to thee my inmost heart reveal'd. And doth no inward voice suggest to thee, How I with yearning soul must pine to see My father, mother, and my long-lost home? Oh let thy vessels bear me thither, king? That in the ancient halls, where sorrow still In accents low doth fondly breathe my name, Joy, as in welcome of a new-born child, May round the columns twine the fairest wreath. New life thou wouldst to me and mine impart.

THOAS

Then go! Obey the promptings of thy heart; And to the voice of reason and good counsel, Close thou thine ear. Be quite the woman, give To every wish the rein, that brideless May seize on thee, and whirl thee here and there. When burns the fire of passion in her breast, No sacred tie withholds her from the wretch Who would allure her to forsake for him A husband's or a father's guardian arms; Extinct within her heart its fiery glow, The golden tongue of eloquence in vain With words of truth and power assails her ear.

IPHIGENIA

Remember now, O king, thy noble words! My trust and candor wilt thou thus repay? Thou seem'st, methinks, prepar'd to hear the truth.

THOAS

For this unlook'd-for answer not prepar'd. Yet 'twas to be expected; knew I not That with a woman I had now to deal?

IPHIGENIA

Upbraid not thus, O king, our feeble sex! Though not in dignity to match with yours, The weapons woman wields are not ignoble. And trust me, Thoas, in thy happiness I have a deeper insight than thyself. Thou thinkest, ignorant alike of both, A closer union would augment our bliss; Inspir'd with confidence and honest zeal Thou strongly urgest me to yield consent; And here I thank the gods, who give me strength To shun a doom unratified by them.

THOAS

'Tis not a god, 'tis thine own heart that speaks.

IPHIGENIA

'Tis through the heart alone they speak to us.

THOAS

To hear them have I not an equal right?

IPHIGENIA

The raging tempest drowns the still small voice.

THOAS

This voice no doubt the priestess hears alone.

IPHIGENIA

Before all others should the prince attend it.

THOAS

Thy sacred office, and ancestral right To Jove's own table, place thee with the gods In closer union than an earth-born savage.

IPHIGENIA

Thus must I now the confidence atone Thyself didst wring from me!

THOAS

I am a man. And better 'tis we end this conference. Hear then my last resolve. Be priestess still Of the great goddess who selected thee; And may she pardon me, that I from her, Unjustly and with secret self-reproach, Her ancient sacrifice so long withheld. From olden time no stranger near'd our shore But fell a victim at her sacred shrine. But thou, with kind affection (which at times Seem'd like a gentle daughter's tender love, At times assum'd to my enraptur'd heart The modest inclination of a bride), Didst so inthral me, as with magic bowls, That I forgot my duty. Thou didst rock My senses in a dream: I did not hear My people's murmurs: now they cry aloud, Ascribing my poor son's untimely death To this my guilt. No longer for thy sake Will I oppose the wishes of the crowd, Who urgently demand the sacrifice.

IPHIGENIA

For mine own sake I ne'er desired it from thee. Who to the gods ascribe a thirst for blood Do misconceive their nature, and impute To them their own inhuman dark desires. Did not Diana snatch me from the priest, Holding my service dearer than my death?

THOAS

'Tis not for us, on reason's shifting grounds, Lightly to guide and construe rites divine. Perform thy duty; I'll accomplish mine. Two strangers, whom in caverns of the shore We found conceal'd, and whose arrival here Bodes to my realm no good, are in my power. With them thy goddess may once more resume Her ancient, pious, long-suspended rites! I send them here,—thy duty not unknown. [Exit.]

IPHIGENIA (alone)

Gracious protectress! thou hast clouds To shelter innocence distress'd, And from the arms of iron fate, Gently to waft her o'er the sea, O'er the wide earth's remotest realms, Where'er it seemeth good to thee. Wise art thou,—thine all-seeing eye The future and the past surveys; Thy glance doth o'er thy children rest, E'en as thy light, the life of night, Keeps o'er the earth its silent watch. O Goddess! keep my hands from blood! Blessing it never brings, and peace; And still in evil hours the form Of the chance-murder'd man appears To fill the unwilling murderer's soul With horrible and gloomy fears. For fondly the Immortals view Man's widely scatter'd simple race; And the poor mortal's transient life Gladly prolong, that he may lift Awhile to their eternal heavens His sympathetic joyous gaze.

ACT II

SCENE I

ORESTES, PYLADES

ORESTES

It is the path of death that now we tread At every step my soul grows more serene. When I implor'd Apollo to remove The grisly band of Furies from my side, He seem'd, with hope-inspiring, godlike words, To promise aid and safety in the fane Of his lov'd sister, who o'er Tauris rules. Thus the prophetic word fulfils itself, That with my life shall terminate my woe. How easy 'tis for me, whose heart is crush'd, Whose sense is deaden'd by a hand divine, Thus to renounce the beauteous light of day! And must the son of Atreus not entwine The wreath of conquest round his dying brow— Must I, as my forefathers, as my sire, Bleed like a victim,—an ignoble death— So be it! Better at the altar here, Than in a nook obscure, where kindred hands Have spread assassination's wily net. Yield me this brief repose, infernal Powers! Ye, who, like loosen'd hounds, still scent the blood Which, trickling from my feet, betrays my path. Leave me! ere long I come to you below. Nor you, nor I, should view the light of day. The soft green carpet of the beauteous earth Is no arena for unhallow'd fiends. Below I seek you, where an equal fate Binds all in murky, never-ending night. Thee only, thee, my Pylades, my friend, The guiltless partner of my crime and curse, Thee am I loath, before thy time, to take To yonder cheerless shore! Thy life or death Alone awakens in me hope or fear.

PYLADES

Like thee, Orestes, I am not prepared Downwards to wander to yon realm of shade. I purpose still, through the entangled paths, Which seem as they would lead to blackest night, Again to wind our upward way to life. Of death I think not; I observe and mark Whether the gods may not perchance present Means and fit moment for a joyful flight. Dreaded or not, the stroke of death must come; And though the priestess stood with hand uprais'd, Prepar'd to cut our consecrated locks, Our safety still should be my only thought; Uplift thy soul above this weak despair; Desponding doubts but hasten on our peril. Apollo pledg'd to us his sacred word, That in his sister's holy fane for thee Were comfort, aid, and glad return prepar'd. The words of Heaven are not equivocal, As in despair the poor oppress'd one thinks.

ORESTES

The mystic web of life my mother cast Around my infant head, and so I grew An image of my sire; and my mute look Was aye a bitter and a keen reproof To her and base AEgisthus. Oh, how oft, When silently within our gloomy hall Electra sat, and mus'd beside the fire, Have I with anguish'd spirit climb'd her knee, And watch'd her bitter tears with sad amaze! Then would she tell me of our noble sire How much I long'd to see him—be with him! Myself at Troy one moment fondly wish'd, My sire's return, the next. The day arrived—

PYLADES

Oh, of that awful hour let fiends of hell Hold nightly converse! Of a time more fair May the remembrance animate our hearts To fresh heroic deeds. The gods require On this wide earth the service of the good, To work their pleasure. Still they count on thee; For in thy father's train they sent thee not, When he to Orcus went unwilling down.

ORESTES

Would I had seized the border of his robe, And followed him!

PYLADES

They kindly cared for me Who held thee here; for hadst thou ceased to live, I know not what had then become of me; Since I with thee, and for thy sake alone, Have from my childhood liv'd, and wish to live.

ORESTES

Remind me not of those delightsome days, When me thy home a safe asylum gave; With fond solicitude thy noble sire The half-nipp'd, tender flow'ret gently rear'd: While thou, a friend and playmate always gay, Like to a light and brilliant butterfly Around a dusky flower, didst day by day Around me with new life thy gambols urge, And breathe thy joyous spirit in my soul, Until, my cares forgetting, I with thee Was lur'd to snatch the eager joys of youth.

PYLADES

My very life began when thee I lov'd.

ORESTES

Say, then thy woes began, and thou speak'st truly. This is the sharpest sorrow of my lot, That, like a plague-infected wretch, I bear Death and destruction hid within my breast; That, where I tread, e'en on the healthiest spot, Ere long the blooming faces round betray The anguish'd features of a ling'ring death.

PYLADES

Were thy breath venom, I had been the first To die, that death, Orestes. Am I not, As ever, full of courage and of joy? And love and courage are the spirit's wings Wafting to noble actions.

ORESTES

Noble actions? Time was, when fancy painted such before us! When oft, the game pursuing, on we roam'd O'er hill and valley; hoping that ere long, Like our great ancestors in heart and hand, With club and weapon arm'd, we so might track The robber to his den, or monster huge. And then at twilight, by the boundless sea, Peaceful we sat, reclin'd against each other, The waves came dancing to our very feet, And all before us lay the wide, wide world; Then on a sudden one would seize his sword, And future deeds shone round us like the stars, Which gemm'd in countless throngs the vault of night.

PYLADES

Endless, my friend, the projects which the soul Burns to accomplish. We would every deed At once perform as grandly as it shows After long ages, when from land to land The poet's swelling song hath roll'd it on. It sounds so lovely what our fathers did, When, in the silent evening shade reclin'd, We drink it in with music's melting tones; And what we do is, as their deeds to them, Toilsome and incomplete! Thus we pursue what always flies before; We disregard the path in which we tread, Scarce see around the footsteps of our sires, Or heed the trace of their career on earth. We ever hasten on to chase their shades, Which, godlike, at a distance far remote, On golden clouds, the mountain summits crown. The man I prize not who esteems himself Just as the people's breath may chance to raise him. But thou, Orestes, to the gods give thanks. That they through thee have early done so much.

ORESTES

When they ordain a man to noble deeds, To shield from dire calamity his friends, Extend his empire, or protect its bounds, Or put to flight its ancient enemies, Let him be grateful! For to him a god Imparts the first, the sweetest joy of life. Me have they doom'd to be a slaughterer, To be an honor'd mother's murderer, And shamefully a deed of shame avenging, Me through their own decree they have o'erwhelm'd. Trust me, the race of Tantalus is doom'd; And I, his last descendant, may not perish, Or crown'd with honor or unstain'd by crime.

PYLADES

The gods avenge not on the son the deeds Done by the father. Each, or good or bad, Of his own actions reaps the due reward. The parents' blessing, not their curse, descends.

ORESTES

Methinks their blessing did not lead us here.

PYLADES

It was at least the mighty gods' decree.

ORESTES

Then is it their decree which doth destroy us.

PYLADES

Perform what they command, and wait the event. Do thou Apollo's sister bear from hence, That they at Delphi may united dwell, There by a noble-thoughted race revered, Thee, for this deed, the lofty pair will view With gracious eye, and from the hateful grasp Of the infernal Powers will rescue thee. E'en now none dares intrude within this grove.

ORESTES

So shall I die at least a peaceful death.

PYLADES

Far other are my thoughts, and not unskill'd Have I the future and the past combin'd In quiet meditation. Long, perchance, Hath ripen'd in the counsel of the gods The great event. Diana yearns to leave The savage coast of these barbarians, Foul with their sacrifice of human blood. We were selected for the high emprize; To us it is assign'd, and strangely thus We are conducted to the threshold here.

ORESTES

My friend, with wondrous skill thou link'st thy wish With the predestin'd purpose of the gods.

PYLADES

Of what avail is prudence, if it fail Heedful to mark the purposes of Heaven! A noble man, who much hath sinn'd, some god Doth summon to a dangerous enterprize, Which to achieve appears impossible. The hero conquers, and atoning serves Mortals and gods, who thenceforth honor him.

ORESTES

Am I foredoom'd to action and to life, Would that a god from my distemper'd brain Might chase this dizzy fever, which impels My restless steps along a slipp'ry path. Stain'd with a mother's blood, to direful death; And pitying, dry the fountain, whence the blood, For ever spouting from a mother's wounds, Eternally defiles me!

PYLADES

Wait in peace! Thou dost increase the evil, and dost take The office of the Furies on thyself. Let me contrive,—be still! And when at length The time for action claims our powers combin'd, Then will I summon thee, and on we'll stride, With cautious boldness to achieve the event.

ORESTES

I hear Ulysses speak.

PYLADES

Nay, mock me not. Each must select the hero after whom To climb the steep and difficult ascent Of high Olympus. And to me it seems That him nor stratagem nor art defiles Who consecrates himself to noble deeds.

ORESTES

I most esteem the brave and upright man.

PYLADES

And therefore have I not desir'd thy counsel. One step's already taken. From our guards E'en now I this intelligence have gained. A strange and godlike woman holds in check The execution of that bloody law Incense, and prayer, and an unsullied heart, These are the gifts she offers to the gods. Rumor extols her highly, it is thought That from the race of Amazon she springs, And hither fled some great calamity.

ORESTES

Her gentle sway, it seems, lost all its power When hither came the culprit, whom the curse, Like murky night, envelops and pursues. Our doom to seal, the pious thirst for blood The ancient cruel rite again unchains The monarch's savage will decrees our death; A woman cannot save when he condemns.

PYLADES

That 'tis a woman, is a ground for hope! A man, the very best, with cruelty At length may so familiarize his mind, His character through custom so transform, That he shall come to make himself a law Of what at first his very soul abhorr'd. But woman doth retain the stamp of mind She first assum'd. On her we may depend In good or evil with more certainty. She comes; leave us alone. I dare not tell At once our names, nor unreserv'd confide Our fortunes to her. Now retire awhile, And ere she speaks with thee we'll meet again.

SCENE II

IPHIGENIA, PYLADES

IPHIGENIA

Whence art thou? Stranger, speak! To me thy bearing Stamps thee of Grecian, not of Scythian race.

[She unbinds his chains.]

The freedom that I give is dangerous; The gods avert the doom that threatens you!

PYLADES

Delicious music! dearly welcome tones Of our own language in a foreign land With joy my captive eye once more beholds The azure mountains of my native coast. Oh, let this joy that I, too, am a Greek Convince thee, priestess! How I need thine aid, A moment I forget, my spirit rapt In contemplation of so fair a vision. If fate's dread mandate doth not seal thy lips, From which of our illustrious races say, Dost thou thy godlike origin derive?

IPHIGENIA

The priestess whom the goddess hath herself Selected and ordained, doth speak with thee. Let that suffice: but tell me, who art thou, And what unbless'd o'erruling destiny Hath hither led thee with thy friend?

PYLADES

The woe, Whose hateful presence ever dogs our steps, I can with ease relate. Oh, would that thou Couldst with like ease, divine one, shed on us One ray of cheering hope! We are from Crete, Adrastus' sons, and I, the youngest born, Named Cephalus; my eldest brother, he, Laodamas. Between us stood a youth Savage and wild, who severed e'en in sport The joy and concord of our early youth. Long as our father led his powers at Troy, Passive our mother's mandate we obey'd; But when, enrich'd with booty, he return'd, And shortly after died, a contest fierce Both for the kingdom and their father's wealth, His children parted. I the eldest joined; He slew our brother; and the Furies hence For kindred murder dog his restless steps. But to this savage shore the Delphian god Hath sent us, cheer'd by hope. He bade us wait Within his sister's consecrated fane The blessed hand of aid. Captives we are, And, hither brought, before thee now we stand Ordain'd for sacrifice. My tale is told.

IPHIGENIA

Fell Troy! Dear man, assure me of its fall.

PYLADES

Prostrate it lies. O unto us ensure Deliverance. The promised aid of Heaven More swiftly bring. Take pity on my brother. O say to him a kind, a gracious word; But spare him when thou speakest, earnestly This I implore: for all too easily Through joy and sorrow and through memory Torn and distracted is his inmost being. A feverish madness oft doth seize on him, Yielding his spirit, beautiful and free, A prey to furies.

IPHIGENIA

Great as is thy woe, Forget it, I conjure thee, for a while, Till I am satisfied.

PYLADES

The stately town, Which ten long years withstood the Grecian host, Now lies in ruins, ne'er to rise again; Yet many a hero's grave will oft recall Our sad remembrance to that barbarous shore. There lies Achilles and his noble friend.

IPHIGENIA

So are ye godlike forms reduc'd to dust!

PYLADES

Nor Palamede, nor Ajax, ere again The daylight of their native land beheld.

IPHIGENIA

He speaks not of my father, doth not name Him with the fallen. He may yet survive! I may behold him! still hope on, fond heart!

PYLADES

Yet happy are the thousands who receiv'd Their bitter death-blow from a hostile hand! For terror wild, and end most tragical. Some hostile, angry deity prepar'd, Instead of triumph, for the home-returning. Do human voices never reach this shore? Far as their sound extends, they bear the fame Of deeds unparallel'd. And is the woe Which fills Mycene's halls with ceaseless sighs To thee a secret still?—And know'st thou not That Clytemnestra, with AEgisthus' aid, Her royal consort artfully ensnar'd, And murder'd on the day of his return?— The monarch's house thou honorest! I perceive. Thy breast with tidings vainly doth contend Fraught with such monstrous and unlook'd for woe. Art thou the daughter of a friend? Art born Within the circuit of Mycene's walls? Conceal it not, nor call me to account That here the horrid crime I first announce.

IPHIGENIA

Proceed, and tell me how the deed was done.

PYLADES

The day of his return, as from the bath Arose the monarch, tranquil and refresh'd, His robe demanding from his consort's hand, A tangled garment, complicate with folds, She o'er his shoulders flung and noble head; And when, as from a net, he vainly strove To extricate himself, the traitor, base AEgisthus, smote him, and envelop'd thus Great Agamemnon sought the shades below.

IPHIGENIA

And what reward receiv'd the base accomplice?

PYLADES

A queen and kingdom he possess'd already.

IPHIGENIA

Base passion prompted then the deed of shame?

PYLADES

And feelings, cherish'd long, of deep revenge.

IPHIGENIA

How had the monarch injured Clytemnestra?

PYLADES

By such a dreadful deed, that if on earth Aught could exculpate murder, it were this. To Aulis he allur'd her, when the fleet With unpropitious winds the goddess stay'd; And there, a victim at Diana's shrine, The monarch, for the welfare of the Greeks, Her eldest daughter doomed, Iphigenia. And this, so rumor saith, within her heart Planted such deep abhorrence that forthwith She to AEgisthus hath resigned herself, And round her husband flung the web of death.

IPHIGENIA (veiling herself)

It is enough! Thou wilt again behold me.

PYLADES (alone)

The fortune of this royal house, it seems, Doth move her deeply. Whosoe'er she be, She must herself have known the monarch well;— For our good fortune, from a noble house, She hath been sold to bondage. Peace, my heart! And let us steer our course with prudent zeal Toward the star of hope which gleams upon us.

ACT III

SCENE I

IPHIGENIA, ORESTES

IPHIGENIA

Unhappy man, I only loose thy bonds In token of a still severer doom. The freedom which the sanctuary imparts, Like the last life-gleam o'er the dying face, But heralds death. I cannot, dare not, say Your doom is hopeless; for, with murderous hand, Could I inflict the fatal blow myself? And while I here am priestess of Diana, None, be he who he may, dare touch your heads. But the incensed king, should I refuse Compliance with the rites himself enjoin'd, Will choose another virgin from my train As my successor. Then, alas! with naught, Save ardent wishes, can I succor you. Much honored countrymen! The humblest slave, Who had but near'd our sacred household hearth, Is dearly welcome in a foreign land; How with proportion'd joy and blessing, then, Shall I receive the man who doth recall The image of the heroes, whom I learn'd To honor from my parents, and who cheers My inmost heart with flatt'ring gleams of hope!

ORESTES

Does prudent forethought prompt thee to conceal Thy name and race? or may I hope to know Who, like a heavenly vision, meets me thus?

IPHIGENIA

Yes, thou shalt know me. Now conclude the tale Of which thy brother only told me half Relate their end, who coming home from Troy, On their own threshold met a doom severe And most unlook'd for. Young I was in sooth When first conducted to this foreign shore, Yet well I recollect the timid glance Of wonder and amazement which I cast On those heroic forms. When they went forth It seem'd as though Olympus had sent down The glorious figures of a bygone world, To frighten Ilion; and above them all, Great Agamemnon tower'd preeminent! Oh, tell me! Fell the hero in his home, Through Clytemnestra's and AEgisthus' wiles?

ORESTES

He fell!

IPHIGENIA

Unblest Mycene! Thus the sons Of Tantalus, with barbarous hands, have sown Curse upon curse; and, as the shaken weed Scatters around a thousand poison-seeds, So they assassins ceaseless generate, Their children's children ruthless to destroy.— Now tell the remnant of thy brother's tale, Which horror darkly hid from me before. How did the last descendant of the race,— The gentle child, to whom the Gods assign'd The office of avenger,—how did he Escape that day of blood? Did equal fate Around Orestes throw Avernus' net Say, was he saved? and is he still alive? And lives Electra, too?

ORESTES

They both survive.

IPHIGENIA

Golden Apollo, lend thy choicest beams! Lay them an offering at the throne of Jove! For I am poor and dumb.

ORESTES

If social bonds Or ties more close connect thee with this house, As this thy rapturous joy betrayeth to me, O then rein in thy heart and hold it fast! For insupportable the sudden plunge From happiness to sorrow's gloomy depth. Thou knowest only Agamemnon's death.

IPHIGENIA

And is not this intelligence enough?

ORESTES

Half of the horror only hast thou heard.

IPHIGENIA

What should I fear'? Orestes, Electra lives.

ORESTES

And fearest thou for Clytemnestra naught?

IPHIGENIA

Her, neither hope nor fear have power to save.

ORESTES

She to the land of hope hath bid farewell.

IPHIGENIA

Did her repentant hand shed her own blood?

ORESTES

Not so; yet her own blood inflicted death.

IPHIGENIA

More plainly speak, nor leave me in suspense. Uncertainty around my anxious head Her dusky, thousand-folded pinion waves.

ORESTES

Have then the powers above selected me To be the herald of a dreadful deed, Which in the drear and soundless realms of night I fain would hide for ever? 'Gainst my will Thy gentle voice constrains me; it demands, And shall receive, a tale of direst woe. Electra, on the day when fell her sire, Her brother from impending doom conceal'd; Him Strophius, his father's relative, Receiv'd with kindest care, and rear'd him up With his own son, named Pylades, who soon Around the stranger twin'd love's fairest bonds. And as they grew, within their inmost souls There sprang the burning longing to revenge The monarch's death. Unlook'd for, and disguis'd, They reach Mycene, feigning to have brought The mournful tidings of Orestes' death, Together with his ashes. Them the queen Gladly receives. Within the house they enter; Orestes to Electra shows himself: She fans the fires of vengeance into flame, Which in the sacred presence of a mother Had burn'd more dimly. Silently she leads Her brother to the spot where fell their sire; Where lurid blood-marks, on the oft-wash'd floor, With pallid streaks, anticipate revenge. With fiery eloquence she pictured forth Each circumstance of that atrocious deed, Her own oppress'd and miserable life, The prosperous traitor's insolent demeanor, The perils threat'ning Agamemnon's race From her who had become their stepmother, Then in his hand the ancient dagger thrust, Which often in the house of Tantalus With savage fury rag'd,—and by her son Was Clytemnestra slain.

IPHIGENIA

Immortal powers! Whose pure and blest existence glides away 'Mid ever shifting clouds, me have ye kept So many years secluded from the world, Retain'd me near yourselves, consign'd to me The childlike task to feed the sacred fire, And taught my spirit, like the hallow'd flame, With never-clouded brightness to aspire To your pure mansions,—but at length to feel With keener woe the horror of my house? O tell me of the poor unfortunate! Speak of Orestes!

ORESTES

O could I speak to tell thee of his death! Forth from the slain one's spouting blood arose His mother's ghost; And to the ancient daughters of the night Cries,—"Let him not escape,—the matricide! Pursue the victim, dedicate to you!" They hear, and glare around with hollow eyes, Like greedy eagles. In their murky dens They stir themselves, and from the corners creep Their comrades, dire Remorse and pallid Fear; Before them fumes a mist of Acheron; Perplexingly around the murderer's brow The eternal contemplation of the past Rolls in its cloudy circles. Once again The grisly band, commission'd to destroy, Pollute earth's beautiful and heaven-sown fields, From which an ancient curse had banish'd them. Their rapid feet the fugitive pursue; They only pause to start a wilder fear.

IPHIGENIA

Unhappy one; thy lot resembles his, Thou feel'st what he, poor fugitive, must suffer.

ORESTES

What say'st thou? why presume my fate like his?

IPHIGENIA

A brother's murder weighs upon thy soul; Thy younger brother told the mournful tale.

ORESTES

I cannot suffer that thy noble soul Should by a word of falsehood be deceived. In cunning rich and practised in deceit A web ensnaring let the stranger weave To snare the stranger's feet; between us twain Be truth! I am Orestes! and this guilty head Is stooping to the tomb, and covets death; It will be welcome now in any shape. Whoe'er thou art, for thee and for my friend I wish deliverance—I desire it not. Thou seem'st to linger here against thy will; Contrive some means of flight, and leave me here My lifeless corpse hurl'd headlong from the rock, My blood shall mingle with the dashing waves, And bring a curse upon this barbarous shore! Return together home to lovely Greece, With joy a new existence to commence.

[ORESTES retires.]

IPHIGENIA

At length Fulfilment, fairest child of Jove, Thou dost descend upon me from on high! How vast thine image! Scarce my straining eye Can reach thy hands, which, fill'd with golden fruit And wreaths of blessing, from Olympus' height Shower treasures down. As by his bounteous gifts We recognize the monarch (for what seems To thousands opulence, is naught to him), So you, ye heavenly Powers, are also known By bounty long withheld, and wisely plann'd. Ye only know what things are good for us; Ye view the future's wide-extended realm, While from our eye a dim or starry veil The prospect shrouds. Calmly ye hear our prayers, When we like children sue for greater speed. Not immature ye pluck heaven's golden fruit; And woe to him, who with impatient hand, His date of joy forestalling, gathers death. Let not this long-awaited happiness, Which yet my heart hath scarcely realiz'd, Like to the shadow of departed friends, Glide vainly by with triple sorrow fraught!

ORESTES (returning)

Dost thou for Pylades and for thyself Implore the gods, blend not my name with yours; Thou wilt not save the wretch whom thou wouldst join, But will participate his curse and woe.

IPHIGENIA

My destiny is firmly bound to thine.

ORESTES

No; say not so: alone and unattended Let me descend to Hades. Though thou shouldst In thine own veil enwrap the guilty one, Thou couldst not shroud him from his wakeful foes; And e'en thy sacred presence, heavenly maid, But driveth them aside and scares them not. With brazen, impious feet they dare not tread Within the precincts of this sacred grove Yet in the distance, ever and anon, I hear their horrid laughter, like the howl Of famish'd wolves, beneath the tree wherein The traveler hides. Without, encamp'd they lie, And should I quit this consecrated grove, Shaking their serpent locks, they would arise, And, raising clouds of dust on every side, Ceaseless pursue their miserable prey.

IPHIGENIA

Orestes, canst thou hear a friendly word

ORESTES

Reserve it for one favor'd by the gods.

IPHIGENIA

To thee they give anew the light of hope.

ORESTES

Through clouds and smoke I see the feeble gleam Of the death-stream which lights me down to hell.

IPHIGENIA

Hast thou one sister only, thy Electra?

ORESTES

I knew but one: yet her kind destiny, Which seemed to us so terrible, betimes Removed an elder sister from the woe Which o'er the house of Pelops aye impends. O cease thy questions, nor thus league thyself With the Erinnys; still they blow away, With fiendish joy, the ashes from my soul, Lest the last embers of the fiery brand The fatal heritage of Pelops' house, Should there be quenched. Must then the fire for aye, Deliberately kindled and supplied With hellish sulphur, sear my tortured soul!

IPHIGENIA

I scatter fragrant incense in the flame. O let the pure, the gentle breath of love, Low murmuring, cool thy bosom's fiery glow. Orestes, fondly lov'd,—canst thou not hear me? Hath the terrific Furies' grisly band Dried up the blood of life within thy veins? Creeps there, as from the Gorgon's direful head, A petrifying charm through all thy limbs? With hollow accents from a mother's blood, If voices call thee to the shades below, May not a sister's word with blessing rife Call from Olympus' height help-rendering gods?

ORESTES

She calls! she calls!—Dost thou desire my doom? Is there a Fury shrouded in thy form? Who art thou, that thy voice thus horribly Can harrow up my bosom's inmost depths!

IPHIGENIA

Thine inmost heart reveals it. I am she,— Iphigenia,—look on me, Orestes!

ORESTES

Thou!

IPHIGENIA

My own brother!

ORESTES

Hence, away, begone! I counsel thee, touch not these fatal locks! As from Creusa's bridal robe, from me An inextinguishable fire is kindled. Leave me! Like Hercules, a death of shame, Unworthy wretch, locked in myself, I'll die!

IPHIGENIA

Thou shalt not perish! Would that I might hear One quiet word from thee! dispel my doubts, Make sure the bliss I have implored so long. A wheel of joy and sorrow in my heart, Ceaseless revolves. I from a man unknown With horror turn; but with resistless might My inmost heart impels me to my brother.

ORESTES

Is this Lyaeus' temple? Doth the glow Of holy rage unbridled thus possess The sacred priestess?

IPHIGENIA

Hear me, oh, look up! See how my heart, which hath been closed so long Doth open to the bliss of seeing thee, The dearest treasure that the world contains,— Of falling on thy neck, and folding thee Within my longing arms, which have till now Met the embraces of the empty wind. Do not repulse me,—the eternal spring, Whose crystal waters from Parnassus flow, Bounds not more gaily on from rock to rock, Down to the golden vale, than from my heart The waters of affection freely gush, And round me form a circling sea of bliss. Orestes! O my brother!

ORESTES

Lovely nymph! Nor thy caresses, nor thyself I trust; Diana claims attendants more severe, And doth avenge her desecrated fane. Remove thy circling arm! Wilt thou indeed Safety and love upon a youth bestow, And fondly tender him earth's fairest joy Unto my friend, more worthy than myself, Impart thy favors; 'mong yon rocks he roves. Go, seek him; guide him hence, and heed not me.

IPHIGENIA

Brother, command thyself, and better know Thy sister, newly found! Misconstrue not Her pure and heavenly rapture, blaming it As lustful heat unbridled. O ye gods, Remove delusion from his rigid gaze, Lest that this moment, fraught with bliss supreme, Should make us trebly wretched! She is here, Thine own, thy long-lost sister! From the altar The goddess rescued me, and placed me here, Secure within her consecrated fane— A captive thou, prepared for sacrifice, And findest here a sister in the priestess.

ORESTES

Unblessed one! So may the radiant sun The final horror of our house behold! Is not Electra here? That she with us May also perish, nor her life prolong For heavier destiny and direr woe. 'Tis well,—I follow, priestess! Fratricide Is an old custom of our ancient house; And you, ye gods, I thank, that ye resolve Childless to root me hence. Thee let me counsel To view too fondly neither sun nor stars. Come, follow to the gloomy realms below! As dragons, gender'd in the sulphur pool, Swallow each other with voracious rage, So our accursed race destroys itself. Childless and guiltless come below with me! There's pity in thy look! oh, gaze not so,— 'Twas with such looks that Clytemnestra sought An entrance to her son Orestes' heart, And yet his uprais'd arm her bosom pierc'd. His mother fell!—Appear, indignant shade! Within the circle step, ye fiends of hell, Be present at the welcome spectacle, The last, most horrible that ye prepare! Nor hate, nor vengeance whets the poniard now; A loving sister is constrain'd to deal The fatal blow. Weep not! Thou hast no guilt. From earliest infancy I naught have lov'd, As thee I could have lov'd, my sister. Come, The weapon raise, spare not, this bosom rend, And make an outlet for its boiling streams!

[He sinks exhausted.]

IPHIGENIA

Alone I cannot bear this bliss and woe. Where art thou, Pylades? Thine aid I need. [IPHIGENIA retires.]

SCENE II

ORESTES (recovering from his swoon and standing up)

Give yet another! reach from Lethe's stream The last reviving draught of cool refreshment! Soon shall its waters in my bosom still Life's fitful fever; and my spirit then Adown oblivion's stream shall glide to you, Ye spirits shrouded in eternal mist. With tranquil pleasure in your deep repose A weary son of earth may lave his soul!— What whisp'ring sounds pervade the dreary grove? What hollow murmurs haunt its twilight gloom?— They gather round to view the stranger guest! Who are you troop in high communion met, Like an assembled family of princes? They mingle peacefully, of every age, Of either sex; godlike, of kindred mould, Appear the gliding figures. Yes, 'tis they, The fathers of my race! With Atreus, In friendly converse glides Thyestes' shade, And children playfully around them sport. Is there no enmity among you now? And is revenge extinguish'd with the sun So am I also welcome, and may hope To mingle in your solemn company. Welcome, my sires! Orestes bids you hail! The seed that ye have sow'd, that hath he reap'd. Laden with curses he descends to you. But burdens here are lighter far to bear. Receive him, oh, receive him in your circle! Thee, Atreus, I revere, and thee, Thyestes Here all are free from enmity and hate.— Show me my father, whom I only once In life beheld.—Art thou my father, thou, My mother leading thus familiarly? Dares Clytemnestra reach her hand to thee Then may Orestes also draw near her, And say, Behold thy son!—My ancestors, Behold your son, and bid him welcome here. Among the sons of ancient Tantalus, A kind salute on earth was murder's watchword, And all their joys commence beyond the grave. Ye welcome me! Ye bid me join your circle! Oh, lead me to my honor'd ancestor! Where is our aged sire? Let me behold The dear, the venerable head of him Who with the immortal gods in council sat. Ye seem to shudder and to turn away! What may this mean? Suffers the godlike man? Alas! the mighty gods, with ruthless hate, To his heroic breast, with brazen chains, Have cruel pangs indissolubly bound.

SCENE III

ORESTES, IPHIGENIA, PYLADES

ORESTES

How! Are ye come already here below? Welcome, my sister! Still Electra fails; O that some kindly god, with gentle arrow, Her too, full speedily, would downward send! Thee, hapless friend, I must compassionate! Come with me! Come! To Pluto's gloomy throne, There to salute our hosts like stranger guests.

IPHIGENIA

Celestial pair, who from the realms above By night and day shed down the beauteous light To cheer mankind, but who may not illume Departed spirits, save a mortal pair! A brother's and a sister's anguish pity! For thou, Diana, lov'st thy gentle brother Beyond what earth and heaven can offer thee; And dost, with quiet yearning, ever turn Thy virgin face to his eternal light.



Let not my only brother, found so late, Rave in the darkness of insanity! And is thy will, when 'thou didst here conceal me, At length fulfill'd,—wouldst thou to me through him To him through me, thy gracious aid extend,— Oh, free him from the fetters of this curse, Lest vainly pass the precious hours of safety.

PYLADES

Dost thou not know us, and this sacred grove, And this blest light, which shines not on the dead? Dost thou not feel thy sister and thy friend, Who hold thee living in their firm embrace? Us firmly grasp; we are not empty shades. Mark well my words! Collect thy scatter'd thoughts! Attend! Each moment is of priceless worth, And our return hangs on a slender thread, Which, as it seems, some gracious fate doth spin.

ORESTES (to IPHIGENIA)

My sister, let me for the first time taste, With open hearts pure joy within thine arms! Ye gods, who charge the heavy clouds with dread, And sternly gracious send the long-sought rain With thunder and the rush of mighty winds, A horrid deluge on the trembling earth; Yet dissipate at length man's dread suspense, Exchanging timid wonder's anxious gaze For grateful looks and joyous songs of praise, When in each sparkling drop which gems the leaves, Apollo, thousand-fold, reflects his beam, And Iris colors with a magic hand The dusty texture of the parting clouds; Oh, let me also in my sister's arms, And on the bosom of my friend, enjoy With grateful thanks the bliss ye now bestow; My heart assures me that your curses cease. The dread Eumenides at length retire, The brazen gates of Tartarus I hear Behind them closing with a thunderous clang. A quick'ning odor from the earth ascends, Inviting me to chase, upon its plains, The joys of life and deeds of high emprize.

PYLADES

Lose not the moments which are limited! The favoring gale, which swells our parting sail, Must to Olympus waft our perfect joy. Quick counsel and resolve the time demands.

ACT IV

SCENE I

IPHIGENIA

When the Powers on high decree For a feeble child of earth Dire perplexity and woe, And his spirit doom to pass With tumult wild from joy to grief, And back again from grief to joy, In fearful alternation; They in mercy then provide, In the precincts of his home, Or upon the distant shore, That to him may never fail Ready help in hours of need, A tranquil, faithful friend. Oh, bless, ye heavenly powers, our Pylades, And whatsoever he may undertake! He is in fight the vigorous arm of youth, And his the thoughtful eye of age in counsel; For tranquil is his soul; he guardeth there Of calm a sacred and exhaustless dower, And from its depths, in rich supply, outpours Comfort and counsel for the sore distressed. He tore me from my brother, upon whom, With fond amaze, I gaz'd and gaz'd again; I could not realize my happiness, Nor loose him from my arms, and heeded not The danger's near approach that threatens us. To execute their project of escape, They hasten to the sea, where in a bay Their comrades in the vessel lie conceal'd Waiting a signal. Me they have supplied With artful answers, should the monarch send To urge the sacrifice. Alas! I see I must consent to follow like a child, I have not learn'd deception, nor the art To gain with crafty wiles my purposes. Detested falsehood! it doth not relieve The breast like words of truth: it comforts not, But is a torment in the forger's heart, And, like an arrow which a god directs, Flies back and wounds the archer. Through my heart One fear doth chase another; perhaps with rage, Again on the unconsecrated shore, The Furies' grisly band my brother seize. Perchance they are surpris'd! Methinks, I hear The tread of armed men. A messenger Is coming from the king, with hasty steps. How throbs my heart, how troubled is my soul, Now that I gaze upon the face of one, Whom with a word untrue I must encounter!

SCENE II

IPHIGENIA, ARKAS

ARKAS

Priestess, with speed conclude the sacrifice! Impatiently the king and people wait.

IPHIGENIA

I had perform'd my duty and thy will, Had not an unforeseen impediment The execution of my purpose thwarted.

ARKAS

What is it that obstructs the king's commands?

IPHIGENIA

Chance, which from mortals will not brook control.

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