Fate, that brinks all things to an end, not thus
Apportioneth my lot: ten thousand pangs
Must bow, ten thousand miseries afflict me
Ere from these bonds I freedom find, for Art
Is by much weaker than Necessity.
Who is the pilot of Necessity?
The Fates triform, and the unforgetting Furies.
So then Zeus is of lesser might than these?
Surely he shall not shun the lot apportioned.
What lot for Zeus save world-without-end reign?
Tax me no further with importunate questions.
O deep the mystery thou shroudest there
May Zeus who all things swayeth
Ne’er wreak the might none stayeth
On wayward will of mine;
May I stint not nor waver
With offerings of sweet savour
And feasts of slaughtered kine;
The holy to the holy,
With frequent feet and lowly
At altar, fane and shrine,
Over the Ocean marches,
The deep that no drought parches,
Draw near to the divine.
My tongue the Gods estrange not;
My firm set purpose change not,
As wax melts in fire-shine.
Sweet is the life that lengthens,
While joyous hope still strengthens,
And glad, bright thoughts sustain;
But shuddering I behold thee,
The sorrows that enfold thee
And all thine endless pain.
For Zeus thou hast despised;
Thy fearless heart misprized
All that his vengeance can,
Thy wayward will obeying,
Excess of honour paying,
Prometheus, unto man.
And, oh, beloved, for this graceless grace
What thanks? What prowess for thy bold essay
Shall champion thee from men of mortal race,
The petty insects of a passing day?
Saw’st not how puny is the strength they spend?
With few, faint steps walking as dreams and blind,
Nor can the utmost of their lore transcend
The harmony of the Eternal Mind.
These things I learned seeing thy glory dimmed,
Prometheus. Ah, not thus on me was shed
The rapture of sweet music, when I hymned
The marriage-song round bath and bridal bed
At thine espousals, and of thy blood-kin,
A bride thou chosest, wooing her to thee
With all good gifts that may a Goddess win,
Thy father’s child, divine Hesione.
What land is this? What people here abide?
And who is he,
The prisoner of this windswept mountain-side?
Speak, speak to me;
Tell me, poor caitiff, how did’st thou transgress,
Whither am I, half-dead with weariness,
Again the prick, the stab of gadfly-sting!
O earth, earth, hide,
The hollow shape-Argus-that evil thing-
Earth-born-herdsman! I see him yet; he stalks
With stealthy pace
And crafty watch not all my poor wit baulks!
From the deep place
Of earth that hath his bones he breaketh bound,
And from the pale
Of Death, the Underworld, a hell-sent hound
On the blood-trail,
Fasting and faint he drives me on before,
With spectral hand,
Along the windings of the wasteful shore,
The salt sea-sand!
List! List! the pipe! how drowzily it shrills!
See! See! the wax-webbed reeds! Oh, to these ills
Ye Gods on high,
Ye blessed Gods, what bourne? O wandering feet
When will ye rest?
O Cronian child, wherein by aught unmeet
Have I transgressed
To be yoke-fellow with Calamity?
My mind unstrung,
A crack-brained lack-wit, frantic mad am I,
By gad-fly stung,
Thy scourge, that tarres me on with buzzing wingl
Plunge me in fire,
Hide me in earth, to deep-sea monsters fling,
But my desire-
Kneeling I pray-grudge not to grant, O King!
Too long a race
Stripped for the course have I run to and fro;
And still I chase
The vanishing goal, the end of all my woe;
Enough have I mourned!
Hear’st thou the lowing of the maid cow-horned?
How should I hear thee not? Thou art the child
Of Inachus, dazed with the dizzying fly.
The heart of Zeus thou hast made hot with love
And Hera’s curse even as a runner stripped
Pursues thee ever on thine endless round.
How dost thou know my father’s name? Impart
To one like thee
A poor, distressful creature, who thou art.
Sorrow with me,
Sorrowful one! Tell me, whose voice proclaims
Things true and sad,
Naming by all their old, unhappy names,
What drove me mad-
Sick! Sick! ye Gods, with suffering ye have sent,
That clings and clings;
Wasting my lamp of life till it be spent!
Crazed with your stings!
Famished I come with trampling and with leaping,
Torment and shame,
To Hera’s cruel wrath, her craft unsleeping,
Captive and tame
Of all wights woe-begone and fortune-crossed,
Oh, in the storm
Of the world’s sorrow is there one so lost?
Speak, godlike form,
And be in this dark world my oracle I
Can’st thou not sift
The things to come? Hast thou no art to tell
What subtle shift,
Or sound of charming song shall make me well?
Hide naught of ill
But-if indeed thou knowest-prophesy-
In words that thrill
Clear-toned through air-what such a wretch as
Must yet abide-
The lost, lost maid that roams earth’s kingdoms wide?
I have but now ceased mourning for my griefs.
Wilt thou not grant me then so small a boon?
What is it thou dost ask? Thou shalt know all.
Declare to me who chained thee in this gorge.
The hest of Zeus, but ’twas Hephaestus’ hand.
But what transgression dost thou expiate?
Let this suffice thee: thou shalt know no more.
That it is better for thee not to know.
Oh hide not from me what I have to suffer!
Poor child! Poor child! I do not grudge the gift.
Why then, art thou so slow to tell me all?
So be it, then.
And, Io, thus much courtesy thou owest
These maidens being thine own father’s kin.
For with a moving story of our woes
To win a tear from weeping auditors
In nought demeans the teller.