Antigone Part 9


[start of Section 9: Lines 895-969]


(Str. 1)
Friends, countrymen, my last farewell I make;
My journey’s done.
One last fond, lingering, longing look I take
At the bright sun.
For Death who puts to sleep both young and old
Hales my young life,
And beckons me to Acheron’s dark fold,
An unwed wife.
No youths have sung the marriage song for me,
My bridal bed
No maids have strewn with flowers from the lea,
‘Tis Death I wed.

But bethink thee, thou art sped,
Great and glorious, to the dead.
Thou the sword’s edge hast not tasted,
No disease thy frame hath wasted.
Freely thou alone shalt go
Living to the dead below.


(Ant. 1)
Nay, but the piteous tale I’ve heard men tell
Of Tantalus’ doomed child,
Chained upon Siphylus’ high rocky fell,
That clung like ivy wild,
Drenched by the pelting rain and whirling snow,
Left there to pine,
While on her frozen breast the tears aye flow–
Her fate is mine.

She was sprung of gods, divine,
Mortals we of mortal line.
Like renown with gods to gain
Recompenses all thy pain.
Take this solace to thy tomb
Hers in life and death thy doom.


(Str. 2)
Alack, alack! Ye mock me. Is it meet
Thus to insult me living, to my face?
Cease, by our country’s altars I entreat,
Ye lordly rulers of a lordly race.
O fount of Dirce, wood-embowered plain
Where Theban chariots to victory speed,
Mark ye the cruel laws that now have wrought my bane,
The friends who show no pity in my need!
Was ever fate like mine? O monstrous doom,
Within a rock-built prison sepulchered,
To fade and wither in a living tomb,
And alien midst the living and the dead.


(Str. 3)
In thy boldness over-rash
Madly thou thy foot didst dash
‘Gainst high Justice’ altar stair.
Thou a father’s guild dost bear.


(Ant. 2)
At this thou touchest my most poignant pain,
My ill-starred father’s piteous disgrace,
The taint of blood, the hereditary stain,
That clings to all of Labdacus’ famed race.
Woe worth the monstrous marriage-bed where lay
A mother with the son her womb had borne,
Therein I was conceived, woe worth the day,
Fruit of incestuous sheets, a maid forlorn,
And now I pass, accursed and unwed,
To meet them as an alien there below;
And thee, O brother, in marriage ill-bestead,
‘Twas thy dead hand that dealt me this death-blow.

Religion has her chains, ’tis true,
Let rite be paid when rites are due.
Yet is it ill to disobey
The powers who hold by might the sway.
Thou hast withstood authority,
A self-willed rebel, thou must die.

Unwept, unwed, unfriended, hence I go,
No longer may I see the day’s bright eye;
Not one friend left to share my bitter woe,
And o’er my ashes heave one passing sigh.

If wail and lamentation aught availed
To stave off death, I trow they’d never end.
Away with her, and having walled her up
In a rock-vaulted tomb, as I ordained,
Leave her alone at liberty to die,
Or, if she choose, to live in solitude,
The tomb her dwelling. We in either case
Are guiltless as concerns this maiden’s blood,
Only on earth no lodging shall she find.