Antigone Part 6

*[start of Section 6: Lines 656-700]

[Enter ISMENE]

CHORUS
Lo from out the palace gate,
Weeping o’er her sister’s fate,
Comes Ismene; see her brow,
Once serene, beclouded now,
See her beauteous face o’erspread
With a flush of angry red.

CREON
Woman, who like a viper unperceived
Didst harbor in my house and drain my blood,
Two plagues I nurtured blindly, so it proved,
To sap my throne. Say, didst thou too abet
This crime, or dost abjure all privity?

ISMENE
I did the deed, if she will have it so,
And with my sister claim to share the guilt.

ANTIGONE
That were unjust. Thou would’st not act with me
At first, and I refused thy partnership.

ISMENE
But now thy bark is stranded, I am bold
To claim my share as partner in the loss.

ANTIGONE
Who did the deed the under-world knows well:
A friend in word is never friend of mine.

ISMENE
O sister, scorn me not, let me but share
Thy work of piety, and with thee die.

ANTIGONE
Claim not a work in which thou hadst no hand;
One death sufficeth. Wherefore should’st thou die?

ISMENE
What would life profit me bereft of thee?

ANTIGONE
Ask Creon, he’s thy kinsman and best friend.

ISMENE
Why taunt me? Find’st thou pleasure in these gibes?
ANTIGONE
‘Tis a sad mockery, if indeed I mock.

ISMENE
O say if I can help thee even now.

ANTIGONE
No, save thyself; I grudge not thy escape.

ISMENE
Is e’en this boon denied, to share thy lot?

ANTIGONE
Yea, for thou chosed’st life, and I to die.

ISMENE
Thou canst not say that I did not protest.

ANTIGONE
Well, some approved thy wisdom, others mine.

ISMENE
But now we stand convicted, both alike.

ANTIGONE
Fear not; thou livest, I died long ago
Then when I gave my life to save the dead.

CREON
Both maids, methinks, are crazed. One suddenly
Has lost her wits, the other was born mad.

ISMENE
Yea, so it falls, sire, when misfortune comes,
The wisest even lose their mother wit.

CREON
I’ faith thy wit forsook thee when thou mad’st
Thy choice with evil-doers to do ill.

ISMENE
What life for me without my sister here?

CREON
Say not thy sister _here_: thy sister’s dead.

ISMENE
What, wilt thou slay thy own son’s plighted bride?

CREON
Aye, let him raise him seed from other fields.

ISMENE
No new espousal can be like the old.

CREON
A plague on trulls who court and woo our sons.

ANTIGONE
O Haemon, how thy sire dishonors thee!

CREON
A plague on thee and thy accursed bride!

CHORUS
What, wilt thou rob thine own son of his bride?

CREON
‘Tis death that bars this marriage, not his sire.

CHORUS
So her death-warrant, it would seem, is sealed.

CREON
By you, as first by me; off with them, guards,
And keep them close. Henceforward let them learn
To live as women use, not roam at large.
For e’en the bravest spirits run away
When they perceive death pressing on life’s heels.

CHORUS

(Str. 1)
Thrice blest are they who never tasted pain!
If once the curse of Heaven attaint a race,
The infection lingers on and speeds apace,
Age after age, and each the cup must drain.
So when Etesian blasts from Thrace downpour
Sweep o’er the blackening main and whirl to land
From Ocean’s cavernous depths his ooze and sand,
Billow on billow thunders on the shore.

(Ant. 1)
On the Labdacidae I see descending
Woe upon woe; from days of old some god
Laid on the race a malison, and his rod
Scourges each age with sorrows never ending.
The light that dawned upon its last born son
Is vanished, and the bloody axe of Fate
Has felled the goodly tree that blossomed late.
O Oedipus, by reckless pride undone!

(Str. 2)
Thy might, O Zeus, what mortal power can quell?
Not sleep that lays all else beneath its spell,
Nor moons that never tier: untouched by Time,
Throned in the dazzling light
That crowns Olympus’ height,
Thou reignest King, omnipotent, sublime.
Past, present, and to be,
All bow to thy decree,
All that exceeds the mean by Fate
Is punished, Love or Hate.

(Ant. 2)
Hope flits about never-wearying wings;
Profit to some, to some light loves she brings,
But no man knoweth how her gifts may turn,
Till ‘neath his feet the treacherous ashes burn.
Sure ’twas a sage inspired that spake this word;
_If_evil_good_appear_
_To_any, _Fate_is_near_;
And brief the respite from her flaming sword.
Hither comes in angry mood
Haemon, latest of thy brood;
Is it for his bride he’s grieved,
Or her marriage-bed deceived,
Doth he make his mourn for thee,
Maid forlorn, Antigone?