ANTIGONE and ISMENE approach, with a train of mourners. bearing the bodies of ETEOCLES and POLYNEICES.

Look up, look forth! the doom is plain, 
Nor spake the messenger in vain! 
A twofold sorrow, twofold strife- 
Each brave against a brother’s life! 
In double doom hath sorrow come 
How shall I speak it?-on the home! 
Alas, my sisters! be your sighs the gale, 
The smiting of your brows the plash of oars, 
Wafting the boat, to Acheron’s dim shores 
That passeth ever, with its darkened sail, 
On its uncharted voyage and sunless way, 
Far from thy beams, Apollo, god of day- 
The melancholy bark 
Bound for the common bourn, the harbour of the dark! 

Look up, look yonder! from the home 
Antigone, Ismene come, 
On the last, saddest errand bound, 
To chant a dirge of doleful sound, 
With agony of equal pain 
Above their brethren slain! 
Their sister-bosoms surely swell, 
Heart with rent heart according well 
In grief for those who fought and fell! 
Yet-ere they utter forth their woe 
We must awake the rueful strain 
To vengeful powers, in realms below, 
And mourn hell’s triumph o’er the slain! 

Alas! of all, the breast who bind,- 
Yea, all the race of womankind- 
O maidens, ye are most bereaved! 
For you, for you the tear-drops start- 
Deem that in truth, and undeceived, 
Ye hear the sorrows of my heart!

To the dead

Children of bitterness, and sternly brave- 
One, proud of heart against persuasion’s voice, 
One, against exile proof! ye win your choice- 
Each in your fatherland, a separate grave! 
Alack, on house and heritage 
They brought a baneful doom, and death for wage! 
One strove through tottering walls to force his way, 
One claimed, in bitter arrogance, the sway, 
And both alike, even now and here, 
Have closed their suit, with steel for arbiter! 
And lo, the Fury-fiend of Oedipus, their sire, 
Hath brought his curse to consummation dire 
Each in the left side smitten, see them laid- 
The children of one womb, 
Slain by a mutual doom! 
Alas, their fate! the combat murderous, 
The horror of the house, 
The curse of ancient bloodshed, now repaid! 
Yea, deep and to the heart the deathblow fell, 
Edged by their feud ineffable- 
By the grim curse, their sire did imprecate 
Discord and deadly hate! 
Hark, how the city and its towers make moan- 
How the land mourns that held them for its own! 
Fierce greed and fell division did they blend, 
Till death made end! 
They strove to part the heritage in twain, 
Giving to each a gain- 
Yet that which struck the balance in the strife, 
The arbitrating sword, 
By those who loved the twain is held abhorred- 
Loathed is the god of death, who sundered each from life! 
Here, by the stroke of steel, behold! they lie- 
And rightly may we cry 
Beside their fathers, let them here be laid- 
Iron gave their doom, witk iron their graves be made- 
A lack, the slaying sword, alack, th’ entombing spade! 
Alas, a piercing shriek, a rending groan, 
A cry unfeigned of sorrow felt at heart! 
With shuddering of grief, with tears that start, 
With wailful escort, let them hither come- 
For one or other make divided moan! 
No light lament of pity mixed with gladness, 
But with true tears, poured from the soul of sadness, 
Over the princes dead and their bereaved home 
Say we, above these brethren dead, 
On citizen, on foreign foe, 
Brave was their rush, and stern their blow- 
Now, lowly are they laid! 
Beyond all women upon earth 
Woe, woe for her who gave them birth! 
Unknowingly, her son she wed- 
The children of that marriage-bed, 
Each in the self-same womb, were bred- 
Each by a brother’s hand lies dead! 

Yea, from one seed they sprang, and by one fate 
Their heritage is desolate, 
The heart’s division sundered claim from claim, 
And, from their feud, death came! 
Now is their hate allayed, 
Now is their life-stream shed, 
Ensanguining the earth with crimson dye- 
Lo, from one blood they sprang, and in one blood they lie! 
A grievous arbiter was given the twain- 
The stranger from the northern main, 
The sharp, dividing sword, 
Fresh from the forge and fire 
The War-god treacherous gave ill award 
And brought their father’s curse to a fulfilment dire! 
They have their portion-each his lot and doom, 
Given from the gods on high! 
Yea, the piled wealth of fatherland, for tomb, 
Shall underneath them lie! 
Alas, alas! with flowers of fame and pride 
Your home ye glorified; 
But, in the end, the Furies gathered round 
With chants of boding sound, 
Shrieking, In wild defeat and disarray, 
Behold, ye pass away! 
The sign of Ruin standeth at the gate, 
There, where they strove with Fate- 
And the ill power beheld the brothers’ fall, 
And triumphed over all!

ANTIGONE, ISMENE, and the CHORUS all take part in the following responsive dirge.

Thou wert smitten, in smiting, 
Thou didst slay, and wert slain- 
By the spear of each other 
Ye lie on the plain, 
And ruthless the deed that ye wrought was, and ruthless the death of the twain! 

Take voice, O my sorrow! 
Flow tear upon tear- 
Lay the slain by the slayer, 
Made one on the bier! 
Our soul in distraction is lost, and we mourn o’er the prey of the spear! 

Ah, woe for your ending, 
Unbrotherly wrought! 
And woe for the issue, 
The fray that ye fought, 
The doom of a mutual slaughter whereby to the grave ye are brought! 

Ah, twofold the sorrow- 
The heard and the seen! 
And double the tide 
Of our tears and our teen, 
As we stand by our brothers in death and wail for the love that has been! 

O grievous the fate 
That attends upon wrong! 
Stern ghost of our sire, 
Thy vengeance is long! 
Dark Fury of hell and of death, the hands of thy kingdom are. strong! 

O dark were the sorrows 
That exile hath known! 
He slew, but returned not 
Alive to his own! 
He struck down a brother, but fell, in the moment of triumph hewn down! 

O lineage accurst, 
O doom and despair! 
Alas, for their quarrel, 
The brothers that were! 
And woe! for their pitiful end, who once were our love and our care! 

O grievous the fate 
That attends upon wrong) 
Stern ghost of our sire, 
Thy vengeance is long! 
Dark Fury of hell and of death, the hands of thy kingdom are strong! 

By proof have ye learnt it! 
At once and as one, 
O brothers beloved, 
To death ye were, done! 
Ye came to the strife of the sword, and behold! ye are both overthrown! 

O grievous the tale is, 
And grievous their fall, 
To the house, to the land, 
And to me above all! 
Ah, God! for the curse that hath come, the sin and the ruin withal! 

O children distraught, 
Who in madness have died! 
Shall ye rest with old kings 
In the place of their pride? 
Alas for the wrath of your sire if he findeth you laid by his side!

The Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus