CHORUS

I have no voice, no swelling harmony, 
No descant, save these notes of wo, 
Harsh, and responsive to the sullen sigh, 
Rude strains, that unmelodious flow, 
To welcome thy return.

XERXES

Then bid them flow, bid the wild measures flow 
Hollow, unmusical, the notes of grief; 
They suit my fortune, and dejected state.

CHORUS

Yes, at thy royal bidding shall the strain 
Pour the deep sorrows of my soul; 
The suff’rings of my bleeding country plain, 
And bid the mournful measures roll. 
Again the voice of wild despair 
With thrilling shrieks shall pierce the air; 
For high the god of war his flaming crest 
Raised, with the fleet of Greece surrounded, 
The haughty arms of Greece with conquest bless’d, 
And Persia’s wither’d force confounded, 
Dash’d on the dreary beach her heroes slain, 
Or whelm’d them in the darken’d main.

XERXES

To swell thy griefs ask ev’ry circumstance.

CHORUS

Where are thy valiant friends, thy chieftains where? 
Pharnaces, Susas, and the might 
Of Pelagon, and Dotamas? The spear 
Of Agabates bold in fight? 
Psammis in mailed cuirass dress’d, 
And Susiscanes’ glitt’ring crest?

XERXES

Dash’d from the Tyrian vessel on the rocks 
Of Salamis they sunk, and smear’d with gore 
The heroes on the dreary strand are stretch’d.

CHORUS

Where is Pharnuchus? Ariomardus where, 
With ev’ry gentle virtue graced? 
Lilaeus, that from chiefs renown’d in war 
His high-descended lineage traced? 
Where rears Sebalces his crown-circled head: 
Where Tharybis to battles bred, 
Artembares, Hystaechmes bold, 
Memphis, Masistress sheath’d in gold?

XERXES

Wretch that I am! These on the abhorred town 
Ogygian Athens, roll’d their glowing eyes 
Indignant; but at once in the fierce shock 
Of battle fell, dash’d breathless on the ground.

CHORUS

There does the son of Batanochus lie, 
Through whose rich veins the unsullied blood 
Of Susamus, down from the lineage high 
Of noble Mygabatas flow’d: 
Alpistus, who with faithful care 
Number’d the deep’ning files of war, 
The monarch’s eye; on the ensanguined plain 
Low is the mighty warrior laid? 
Is great Aebares ‘mong the heroes slain, 
And Partheus number’d with the dead?- 
Ah me! those bursting groans, deep-charged with wo, 
The fate of Persia’s princes show.

XERXES

To my grieved memory thy mournful voice, 
Tuned to the saddest notes of wo, recalls 
My brave friends lost; and my rent heart returns 
In dreadful symphony the sorrowing strain.

CHORUS

Yet once more shall I ask thee, yet once more, 
Where is the Mardian Xanthes’ might, 
The daring chief, that from the Pontic shore 
Led his strong phalanx to the fight? 
Anchares where, whose high-raised shield 
Flamed foremost in the embattled field? 
Where the high leaders of thy mail-clad horse, 
Daixis and Arsaces where? 
Where Cigdadatas and Lythimnas’ force, 
Waving untired his purple spear?

XERXES

Entomb’d, I saw them in the earth entomb’d; 
Nor did the rolling car with solemn state 
Attend their rites: I follow’d: low they lie 
(Ah me, the once great leaders of my host! 
Low in the earth, without their honours lie.)

CHORUS

O wo, wo, wo! Unutterable wo 
The demons of revenge have spread; 
And Ate from her drear abode below 
Rises to view the horrid deed.

XERXES

Dismay, and rout, and ruin, ills that wait 
On man’s afflicted fortune, sink us down.

CHORUS

Dismay, and rout, and ruin on us wait, 
And all the vengeful storms of Fate: 
Ill flows on ill, on sorrows sorrows rise; 
Misfortune leads her baleful train; 
Before the Ionian squadrons Persia flies, 
Or sinks ingulf’d beneath the main. 
Fall’n, fall’n is her imperial power, 
And conquest on her banners waits no more.

XERXES

At such a fall, such troops of heroes lost, 
How can my soul but sink in deep despair! 
Cease thy sad strain.

CHORUS

Is all thy glory lost?

XERXES

Seest thou these poor remains of my rent robes?

CHORUS

I see, I see.

XERXES

And this ill-furnish’d quiver?

CHORUS

Wherefore preserved?

XERXES

To store my treasured arrows.

CHORUS

Few, very few.

XERXES

And few my friendly aids.

CHORUS

I thought these Grecians shrunk appall’d at arms.

XERXES

No: they are bold and daring: these sad eyes 
Beheld their violent and deathful deeds.

CHORUS

The ruin, sayst thou, of thy shattered fleet?

XERXES

And in the anguish of my soul I rent 
My royal robes.

CHORUS

Wo, wo!

XERXES

And more than wo.

CHORUS

Redoubled, threefold wo!

XERXES

Disgrace to me, 
But triumph to the foe.

CHORUS

Are all thy powers 
In ruin crush’d?

XERXES

No satrap guards me now.

CHORUS

Thy faithful friends sunk in the roaring main.

XERXES

Weep, weep their loss, and lead me to my house; 
Answer my grief with grief, an ill return 
Of ills for ills. Yet once more raise that strain 
Lamenting my misfortunes; beat thy breast, 
Strike, heave the groan; awake the Mysian strain 
To notes of loudest wo; rend thy rich robes, 
Pluck up thy beard, tear off thy hoary locks, 
And battle thine eyes in tears: thus through the streets 
Solemn and slow with sorrow lead my steps; 
Lead to my house, and wail the fate of Persia.

CHORUS

Yes, once more at thy bidding shall the strain 
Pour the deep sorrows of my soul; 
The suff’rings of my bleeding untry plain, 
And bid the Mysian measures roll. 
Again the voice of wild despair 
With thrilling shrieks shall pierce the air; 
For high the god of war his flaming crest 
Raised, with the fleet of Greece surrounded, 
The haughty arms of Greece with conquest bless’d, 
And Persia’s withered force confounded, 
Dash’d on the dreary beach her heroes slain., 
Or whelm’d them in the darken’d main.

THE END