I will not weary of soft words to thee, That never mayst thou say, Behold me spurned, An elder by a younger deity, And from this land rejected and forlorn, Unhonoured by the men who dwell therein. But, if Persuasion’s grace be sacred to thee, Soft in the soothing accents of my tongue, Tarry, I Dray thee, yet, if go thou wilt. Not rightfully wilt thou on this my town Sway down the scale that beareth wrath and teen Or wasting plague uport this folk. ‘Tis thine, If so thou wilt, inheritress to be Of this my land, its utmost grace to win.
O queen, what refuge dost thou promise me?
Refuge untouched by bale: take thou my boon.
What, if I take it, shall mine honour be?
No house shall prosper without grace of thine.
Canst thou achieve and grant such power to me?
Yea, for my hand shall bless thy worshippers.
And wilt thou pledge me this for time eterne?
Yea: none can bid me pledge beyond my power.
Lo, I desist from wrath, appeased by thee.
Then in the land’s heart shalt thou win thee friends.
What chant dost bid me raise, to greet the land?
Such as aspires towards a victory Unrued by any: chants from breast of earth, From wave, from sky; and let the wild winds’ breath Pass with soft sunlight o’er the lap of land,- Strong wax the fruits of earth, fair teem the kine, Unfailing, for my town’s prosperity, And constant be the growth of mortal seed. But more and more root out the impious, For as a gardener fosters what he sows, So foster I this race, whom righteousness Doth fend from sorrow. Such the proffered boon. But I, if wars must be, and their loud clash And carnage, for my town, will ne’er endure That aught but victory shall crown her fame.
Lo, I accept it; at her very side Doth Pallas bid me dwell: I will not wrong the city of her pride, Which even Almighty Zeus and Ares hold Heaven’s earthly citadel, Loved home of Grecian gods, the young, the old, The sanctuary divine, The shield of every shrine! For Athens I say forth a gracious prophecy,- The glory of the sunlight and the skies Shall bid from earth arise Warm wavelets of new life and glad prosperity.
Behold, with gracious heart well pleased I for my citizens do grant Fulfilment of this covenant: And here, their wrath at length appeased, These mighty deities shall stay. For theirs it is by right to sway The lot that rules our mortal day, And he who hath not inly felt Their stern decree, ere long on him, Not knowing why and whence, the grim Life-crushing blow is dealt. The father’s sin upon the child Descends, and sin is silent death, And leads him on the downward path, By stealth beguiled, Unto the Furies: though his state On earth were high, and loud his boast, Victim of silent ire and hate He dwells among the Lost.
To my blessing now give ear.- Scorching blight nor singed air Never blast thine olives fair! Drouth, that wasteth bud and plant, Keep to thine own place. Avaunt, Famine fell, and come not hither Stealthily to waste and wither! Let the land, in season due, Twice her waxing fruits renew; Teem the kine in double measure; Rich in new god-given treasure; Here let men the powers adore For sudden gifts unhoped before!
O hearken, warders of the wall That guards mine Athens, what a dower Is unto her ordained and given! For mighty is the Furies’ power, And deep-revered in courts of heaven And realms of hell; and clear to all They weave thy doom, mortality! And some in joy and peace shall sing; But unto other some they bring Sad life and tear-dimmed eye.
And far away I ban thee and remove, Untimely death of youths too soon brought low! And to each maid, O gods, when time is come for love, Grant ye a warrior’s heart, a wedded life to know. Ye too, O Fates, children of mother Night, Whose children too are we, O goddesses Of just award, of all by sacred right Queens, who in time and in eternity Do rule, a present power for righteousness, Honoured beyond all Gods, hear ye and grant my cry!
And I too, I with joy am fain, Hearing your voice this gift ordain Unto my land. High thanks be thine, Persuasion, who with eyes divine Into my tongue didst look thy strength, To bend and to appease at length Those who would not be comforted. Zeus, king of parley, doth prevail, And ye and I will strive nor fail, That good may stand in evil’s stead, And lasting bliss for bale.
And nevermore these walls within Shall echo fierce sedition’s din, Unslaked with blood and crime; The thirsty dust shall nevermore Suck up the darkly streaming gore Of civic broils, shed out in wrath And vengeance, crying death for death! But man with man and state with state Shall vow The pledge of common hate And common friendship, that for man Hath oft made blessing, out of ban, Be ours unto all time.
Skill they, or not, the path to find Of favouring speech and presage kind? Yea, even from these, who, grim and stern, Glared anger upon you of old, O citizens, ye now shall earn A recompense right manifold. Deck them aright, extol them high, Be loyal to their loyalty, And ye shall make your town and land Sure, propped on justice’ saving hand, And Fame’s eternity.
All hail unto each honoured guest! Whom to the chambers of your rest ‘Tis mine to lead, and to provide The hallowed torch, the guard and guide. Pass down, the while these altars glow With sacred fire, to earth below And your appointed shrine. There dwelling, from the land restrain The force of fate, the breath of bane, But waft on us the gift and gain Of Victory divine! And ye, the men of Cranaos’ seed, I bid you now with reverence lead These alien Powers that thus are made Athenian evermore. To you Fair be their will henceforth, to do Whate’er may bless and aid!
Once more I praise the promise of your vows, And now I bid the golden torches’ glow Pass down before you to the hidden depth Of earth, by mine own sacred servants borne, My loyal guards of statue and of shrine. Come forth, O flower of Attic land, O glorious band of children and of wives, And ye, O train of matrons crowned with eld! Deck you with festal robes of scarlet dye In honour of this day: O gleaming torch, Lead onward, that these gracious powers of earth Henceforth be seen to bless the life of men.
ATHENA leads the procession downwards into the Cave of the FURIES, now Eumenides, under the Areopagus: as they go, the escort of women and children chant aloud
With loyalty we lead you; proudly go, Night’s childless children, to your home below! O citizens, awhile from words forbear! To darkness’ deep primeval lair, Far in Earth’s bosom, downward fare, Adored with prayer and sacrifice. O citizens, forbear your cries! Pass hitherward, ye powers of Dread, With all your former wrath allayed, Into the heart of this loved land; With joy unto your temple wend, The while upon your steps attend The flames that feed upon the brand- Now, now ring out your chant, your joy’s acclaim! Behind them, as they downward fare, Let holy hands libations bear, And torches’ sacred flame. All-seeing Zeus and Fate come down To battle fair for Pallas’ town! Ring out your chant, ring out your joy’s acclaim!