Robert Browning.

The complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning online

. (page 167 of 198)
Online LibraryRobert BrowningThe complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning → online text (page 167 of 198)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


me

With the dark drop of slanghteroos dew, — re-
joicing

No lees than, at the piod-g^iTen dewy-oomf ort.

The sown-stnff in its birth-throes from the
calyx.

Since so these things are, — Argives, my re-
yered her^, —

Ye may rejoice — if ye rejoice : but I — boast I

If it were nt on oorme to pour Ubation,

That would be rignt — right oyer and above,
tool

The cup of evils in the house he, having

Filled with such curses, himself coming drinks
of.
Cko, We wonder at thy tongue : since bold-
mouthed truly

Is she who in such speech boasts o W her hus-
band!
Klu, Ye test me as I were a witless woman:

But I — with heart intrepid — to you knowers

Say (and thou — if thou wilt or praise or blame
me.

Comes to the same) — this man is Agamem-
non,

My husband, dead, the work of the right hand
here.

Ay, of ajnst artificer: so things are.
Cho, What evil, O woman, food or drink,
earth-bred

Or sent from the flowing sea,

Of such having fee

Didst thou set on thee

This sacrifice

And popular cries

Of a curse on thy head f

Off thou hast thrown him, off hast out

The man from the city : but

Off from the cit^ thyself shalt be

Out — to the citizens

A hate immense I
Klu, Now, indeed, thou adjudgest exile to
me.

And citizens* hate, and to have popular curses :

Nothing of this against the man here bringing.

Who, no more awe-checked than as 't were a
beast's fate, —

With sheep abundant in the well-fleeced graze-
flocks, —

Sacrificed his child, — dearest fruit of travail

To me, — as soiig«pell against Threkian blow-
ings.

Not him did it behoove thee hence to banish

— Pollution's penally ? But hearing my deeds

Justioer rough Uiou art I Now, this I tell thee :

To threaten Ums — me, one prepared to have
thee

(On like conditions, thy hand conquering) o'er
me

Rule : but if God the opposite ordain us.

Thou shalt learn — late taught, certes — to be
modest.
Cho, Greatly-intending thou art :

Much-mindful, too, hast thou cried

(Since thy mind, with its 8lau^teiH>utpouring
part.

Is frantic) that over the eyes, a patch



Of blood — with blood to mateh
Is plain for a pride I
Yet still, bereft of friends, thy &ta
Is — blow with blow to expiate I

Klu, And this thou hearest— of myosllii^
just warrant I
By who fulfilled things for my dangfater, J«-

tice,
At4, Erinus. — by whose help I slew him, —
Not mine the fancy — Fear will tread my

palace
So lonff as on mv hearth there bums a fire,
AigisthoB as before well-«aring for me ;
Since he to me is shield, no small, of bnldnw
Here does he lie — outrapier of this female.
Dainty of all the Chmseids under Dion ;
And she — the captive, the soothsayer sdso
And oouchmate of this man, oracle-speaker,
Faithful bedfellow, — ay, the sailors' boidieB
They wore in commonunor unpunished did so,
Since he is — thus! While, as for her, — swafe^

fashion.
Her latest having chanted, — dying wailii^
She lies, — to him, a sweetheart: me die

brought to
My bed's by-nicety, the whet of daUianee.

Cho, Alas, that some
Fate would come
Upon us in quickness —
Neither much sickness
Neither bed-keeping —
And bear unended deeping,
Now that subdued
Is our keeper, the kindest of mood I
Having borne, for a woman's sake, ma/k

strife —
By a woman he withered ^m life !
An me!

Law-breaking Helena who, one.
Hast many, so many souls undone
'Neath Troia ! and now the eonsumniAted
Much-memorable curse
Hast thou made flower>forth, red
With the blood no rains disperse.
That which was then in the House —
Strife all-subduing, the woe of a spouse.

Klu. Nowise, of death die fate —
Burdened by these things — supplicate!
Nor on Helena turn thy wrath
As the man-destroyer, as ** she who hath.
Being but one.

Many and many a soul undone
Of the men. the Danaoi " —
And wrought immense annoy !

Cho, Daimon, who fallest
Upon this household and Uie double-fmoed
Tantalidai, a rule^ minded like theirs di^laeed,
Thou mlest me with, now.
Whose heart thou gallest I
And on the body, like a hateful crow.
Stationed, all out of tune, his chant to efaaak
Doth Something vaunt !

Klu. Now, of a truth, hast thou set
Thy mouth's opinion, —
Naming the Sprite,
The triply-gross.
O'er the race that has dominion :
For through him it is that Eros



Digitized by



Google



THE AGAMEMNON OF iESCHYLUS



847



The oamaffe-lioker

In ihe belly is bred : ere ended quite

Is €tie elder throe — new ichor !

Cho, Certainly, neat of mijgrht
And heayy of wratn, the Sprite
Thoa teilest of, in the palace
(Woe, woe I)

— An evil tale of a fate
By At^'s malice
Rendered insatiate I
Oh, oh,—

King, kingr, how shall I beweep thee ?

From friendly soul what ever sa^jr ?

Thoa Uest where webs of the spider o^ersweep

thee
In impious death, life breathing away.

me — me I.

This couch, not free I

By a slavish death subdued thou art.

From the hand, by the two-edged dart.

£/u. Thou boastest this deed to be mine:
But leave off styling me
*' The Agamemnoman wife I *'
For, showing himself in sigrn
Of the spouse of the corpse thou dost see,
Did the ancient bitter ayenging^ost
Of Atreus, savage host,
Paj the man here as price —
A full-grown for the young one's sacrifice.

Cho. That no cause, indeed, of this killing
art thou.
Who shall be witness-bearer ?
How shall he bear it — how ?
But the sire's ayenging-ghost might be in the

deed a sharer.
He is forced on and on
By the kin-bom flowing of blood,

— Black Ares : to where, haying gone.
He shall leave off, flowing done.

At the frozen-childVflesh food.

King, king, how shall I beweep thee I

From friendly soul what ever say ?

Thou liest where webs of the spider o'enweep

thee.
In impious death, life breathing away.
Ohj me — me !
This couch not free I
By a slavish death subdued thou art.
From the hand, bv the two-edged dart.

Klu. No death ^* unfit for the free '»
Do I think this man's to be.:
For did not himself a slavish curse
To his household decree ?
But the scion of him, myself did nurse —
That mueh-bewailed Iphigeneia, he
Having done well by, — and as well, nor worse.
Been done to, —let him not in Haides loudly
Bear himself proudly 1
Being by sword-destroying death amerced^
For that sword's punishment himself inflicted
first.

Cho. I at a loss am left —
Of a feasible scheme of mind bereft —
Where I may turn: for the house is falling:

1 fear the bloody crash of the^rain
That ruins the roof as it bursts amain:
The waming<lrop

Has come to a stop.



Destiny doth Justice whet

For otner deed of hurt, on other whetstones yet.

Woe, earth, earth — would thou hadst taken nm

Ere I saw the man I see.

On the pallet-bed

Of the silver^ided bath-vase, dead !

Who is it shall bury him, who

Sing his dir^ ? Can it be true

That thou wilt dare this same to do —

Having slain thy husband, thine own,

To make his funeral moan :

And for the soul of him, in place

Of his mighty deeds, a graceless grace

To wickedly institute ? By whom

Shall the tale of praise o'er the tomb

At the god-like man be sent —

From the truth of his mind as he toils intent ?

Klu. It belongs not to thee to declare
This olnect of care I
Bj us Old he fall — down there !
Did he die — down there ! and down, no lees.
We will bury him there, and not beneath
The wails of the household over lus death :
But Iphifi:eneia, — with kindliness, —
His daughter, — as the case requires.
Facing mm full, at the rapid-flowing
Passage of Qroans shall — both hands throwing
Around him — kiss that kindest of sires I

Cho. This blame comes in the place of blame :
Hard battle it is to judge each claim.
** He is borne away who bears away:
And the kiUer has aU to pay."
And this remains while Zevm is remaining,
** The doer shall suffer in time " — for, such his

ordaining.
Who may cast out of the House its cursed

brood?
The race is to At^ glued !

Klu. Thou hast gone into this oracle
With a true result. For me^ then, — I will
— To the Daimon of the Pleisthenidai
Making an oath — with all these things comply
Hard as they are to bear. For the rwt —
Goiuff from out this House, a guest.
May he wear some other fami^
To naught, with the deaths of kin by kin !
And — keeping a little ^art of my goods —
Wholly am I contented in
Having expelled from the royal House
These frenzied moods
The mutually-murderous.
Aigisthos. O light propitious of day justice-
bringing I
I may say tnuy, now, that men's avengers,
The gods from high, of earth behold the sor

rows —
Seeing, as I have, i' the spun robes of the Eri-

nuee, .
This man here lying, — sight to me how

pleasant I —
His father's hands' contrivances repajring.
For Atreus, this land's lord, of this man father,
Thuestes, my own father — to speak dearly —
His brother too, -^ being i' the rule oontested[, —
Drove forth to exile from both town and house-
hold :
And, coming back, to the hearth turned, a sup-
pliant.



Digitized by



Google



848



THE AGAMEMNON OF iCSCHYLUS



Wretched Thnestea found the fate aaBored him
— Not to die, hloodying: his paternal threahold
Just there: bat hoet-wise thia man*s impions

father
Atreus, sonl-keenly more than kindly, ~ seem-
ing
To joyous hold a flesh-day, — to m^ father
Served up a meal, the nesh of his own chil-
dren.
The feet indeed and the hands' top divisions
He hid, high np and isolated sitting :
But, their nnshowing parts in ignorance taking,
He forthwith eats food — as thou seest— per-
dition
To the race: and then,' 'ware of the deed ill-
omened.
He shrieked O ! — falls back, vomiting, from

the carnage,
And fate on the Pelopidai past bearing
He prays down — putting m his curse together
The kickine down o* the feast — that so might

perish
The race of Pleisthenes entire : and thence is
That it is given thee to see this man prostrate.
And I was rightly of this slaughter stitch-
man:
Since me, — being third from ten, — with my

poor father
He drives out — being then a babe in swathe-
bands:
But, grown up, back again has justice brought

me:
And of this man I got hold — being without-

doors -^
Fitting together the whole scheme of ill-will.
So, sweet, in fine, even to die were to me, ^
Seeing as I have, this man i' the toils of
justice I
Cho, AigiBthoe, arrogance in ills I love not.
Dost thou say — willing, thou didst kill the

man here.
And, alone, plot this lamentable slaughter ?
I say — thy head in justice will escape not
The peoDie's throwmg — know that I— stones
ana curses!
Aig. Thou such things soundest — seated at
the lower
Oarage to those who rule at the ship's mid-

• bench ?
Thou shalt know, being old, how heavy is

teaching
To one of the like age — bidden be modest !



lage

Dost .not, seeing aught, see



But chains and old age and the pann of fasting

Stand out before all else in teaching, — pro-
phets

At souls'-cure!
this too?

Against goads kick not, lest tript-up thou suf-
fer I
Cho, Woman, thou, — of him coming new
from battle

Honseguard-^thy husband's bed the while

For the Army-leader didst thou plan this fate
. too?
Aig, These words too are of groans the
^^ prime-begetters \
Truly a tongue opposed to Orpheus hast thou :



For he led all things bv his voice's grace-eharm.
But thou, npstirring tnem by these wild ye^

Wilt lead them I Forced, thou wilt appear the
tamer!
Cho, So — thou shalt be my king Uien ol
the Areeians —
Who, not when for this man his fate tlioi

plannedst,
Daredst to do this deed — thyself the slayer I
Aig, For, to deceive him was the wife^ part,
certes:
I was looked after — foe, av, old-begotten 1
But out of this man's wealth will I endeavor
To rule the citizens : and the no-man-minder
— Him will I heavily yoke — by no meant

trace-horse,
A comed-up colt ! but that bad friend in dark-
ness,
Famine its housemate, shall behold him gentle.
Cho, Why^ then, tnis man here, from a

But,— helped.



coward spirit.
Didst not thou slay thyself?

— a woman.
The country's pest, and that of gods o'

countey.
Skilled him I Orestes, where may he see light

now ?
That coming hither back, with gradons £oc^

tune,
Of both these he may be the all-conqnering

slayer?
Aig, But since this to do thou thinkest —

and not talk — thou soon shalt know I
Up then, comrades dear ! the proper thing to

do — not distant this I
Cho, Up then! hilt in hold, his sword let

every one aright dispose !
Aig, Ay, but I m^lf too, hilt in hold, do

not refuse to die !
Cho, Thou wilt die, thou say'st, to who

accept it. We the chance denuuid !
Klu, Nowise, O belovedest of men, may we

do other iUs !
To have reaped away these, even, is a harvcit

much to me !
Go, both thou and these the old men, to the

homes apTOinted each.
Ere ye suffer I It behooved one do these tilings

just as we did :
And u of these troubles, there should be

enough — we may assent
— By the i>aimon's heavy heel unfortunately

stricken ones !
So a woman's counsel hath it — if one judge it

learning-worth.
Aig, But to think that these at me the idle

tongue should thus o'erbloom,
And throw out such words — the Daimon's

power experimenting on —
And, of modest knowledge missing, — me, the

ruler, . . .
Cho, Ne'er may this befall Arg^dans—

wicked man to fawn before !
Aig, Anyhow, in aftex^days, will I, yea, L

be at thee yet I
Cho, Not if hither should the Daimon make

Orestes straightway come I



Digitized by



Google



LA SAISIAZ



849



Aig. Oh, I know, myself, that fogitiyes on
hopee are pasture-fed 1

Cho. Do thj deed, ^t fat, defiling jnstioe,
sinoe the power is thine I

Aig. Know that thou shalt give me satisfac-
tion for this folly's sake I



Cho, Boast on, bearing thee aadaeions, like a

coek his females by I
EJu.^ Have not thou respect for these same

idle yelpings I I ana thou
Will arrange it, o'er this household mling

excellently welL



LA SAISIAZ



DEDICATED TO MRS. SUTHERLAND ORR



M188 A. EaBBTON-SiOTH was, at the time
of her death, one of Browning's oldest women
friends. ** He first met her," says Mis. Snthei^
land Orr, ** as a yoong woman in Florence when
ahe was yisiting there ; and the love for and
proficiency in mnsic soon asserted itself as a
bond of sympathy between them. They did
not, howeyer, see much of each other till he
had finally left Italy, and she also had made
her home in London. . . . Mr. Browning was
one of the yery few peisons whose so<nety she

€k>OD, io f orgiye :

Bestftoforvetl

Liying, we net ;
Dying, we liye.
Fretlees and free, ^

Soul, clap thy pinion !

Earth haye aon '
Body, o'er thee I

Wander at will.

Day after day, —

Wander away.
Wandering still —
Soul that canst soar I

Body mav slumber:

Body shall cumber
Soul-flight no moro.

Waft of soul's wing !

What lies aboye?

Sunshine and Loye,
Sk^blue and Spring I
Body hides — whero ?

Ferns of all feather.

Mosses and heather.
Yours be the care I



LA SAISIAZ

A. E. S. Septbmbbr 14, 1877.

Dabied and done : at last I stand upon the

summit. Dear and True I
Singly dared and done ; the climbing both of us

were bound to do.
Petty feat and yet prodigious: eyezy side my

glance was bent



oared to oultiyate : and for many years the com-
mon musical interest took the practical, and for
both of them conyenient, form, of their going
to concerts together." Browning was at La
Saisiaz, under the Sal^ye, when Miss Egerton-
Smith, who was also domiciled thero, died sud-
denly in the autumn of 1877, and it was after
the shock of her loss that he composed the
poem to which he gaye the title of tiieir sum-
mer resort. The poem is dated Koyember 9,
1877.

O'er the grandeur and the beauty layished

through the whole ascent.
Ledge by ledge, out broke new maryels, now

minute and now immense :
Earth's most exmiisite disdosuro, heayen's own

Qod in eyidenoe !
And no berry in its hiding, no blue space in its

outspread.
Pleaded to escape my footstep, challenged my

emexging head,
(As I climbed or paused from climbing, now

o'erbranched by shrub and tree.
Now built round by rock and boulder, now at

just a turn set froe.
Stationed face to face with — Naturo? rather

with Infinitude,)

— No royealment of them all, as singly I my

path pursued,
But a bitter touched its sweetness, for the

thought stung " £yen so
Both of us had loyed and wondered just the

same, fiye days ago 1 "
Fiye short days, sufficient hardly to entice,

from out its den
Splintered in the slab, this pink perfection of

the cyclamen ;
Scarce enough to heal and coat with amber gum

the sloe-troe's gash.
Bronze the clustered wilaing apple, redden ripe

the mountain-ash :
Yet of might to place between us — Oh the bar-
rier I Yon Profound
Shrinks beside it, proyes a pin-point : barrier

tlus, without a bound !
Boundless though it be, I reach you : somehow

seem to haye you hero

— Who aro thero. Yes, there you dwell now,

plain the four low walls appear ;
Those are yineyards, they enclose from; and
the little spire which points



Digitized by



Google



850



LA SAISIAZ



— That 's Gollonge, henoefoith your dwelling.

All the same, howe'er disjoints
Past from present, no less certain yon are here,

not tuere : nave dared,
Done tiie feat of moantain-dimbing, — fiye

days since, we both prepared
Dazine, doinc:, arm in arm, if other help should

iiaply fail.
For yon aaked, as forth we sallied to see sunset

from the yale,
** Why not try for once the mountain, — take a

foretaste, snatch by stealth
Sight and sound, some unconsidered fragment

of the hoarded wealth ?
Six weeks at its base, yet neyer once haye we

together won
Sight or sound by honest climbing : let us two

haye dared and done
Just so much of twilight journey as may proye

to-morrow's launt
Not the only mode of wayfare — wheeled to

reach the eaglets haunt ! "
So, we turned from the low grass-path yon were

pleased to call "your own,"
Set our faces to the rose-bloom o*er the sum-
mit's front of stone
Where Sal^ye obtains, from Jura and the sunken

sun she hides.
Due return of blushing " Good Night," rosy as

a bome-off bride's.
For his masculine " 600a Morrow " when, with

sunrise still in hold,
Qbj he hails her, and, magnific, thrilled her

black length bums to gold.
Up and up we went, how careless — nay, how

joyous ! All was new,
All was strange. " Call progress toilsome ?

that were just insulting you !
How the trees must temper noontide ! Ah, the

thicket's sudden break I
What will be the morning glory, when at dusk

thus gleams the lake ?
Light by light puts forth Gteneya : what a land

— and, 01 the land.
Can there be a loyelier station than this spot

where now we stand ?
Is it late, and wrong to linger ? True, to-mor-
row makes amends.
Toilsome progress ? child's play, call it —

specially when one descends !
There, the droad descent is oyer — hardly our

adyenture, though !
Take the yale where late we left it, pace the

gras&-path, * mine.' you know I .
Proud completion of acnieyement ! " And we

paced it, praudncf still
lliat soft tread on yefyet yerdure as it wound

through hill and hill ;
And at yery end there met us, coming from

Collonge, the piur

— All our people of the Chalet — two, enough

and none to spare.

So, we made for home together, and we reached
it as the stars

One by one came lamping — chiefly that pre-
potency of Mars —

And your last word was " I owe yon this enjoy-
ment I " — met with **Nay :



With yourself it rests to haye a month of ]

rows like to-day I "
Then the meal, with talk and laughter, and the

news of that rare nook
Yet untroubled by the tourist, touched on by

no trayel-book,
All the same — though latent— patent, hybrid

birth of land and sea.
And (our trayelled friend assured 70a) — if

such miracle might be —
Comparable for completeness of both blessings

— all around

Nature, and, inside her circle, safety from

world's sight and sound —
Comparable to our Saisiaz. " Hold it fast and

guard it well !
Qo and see and youch for certain, then oome

back and neyer tell
Liying soul but us ; and haply, proye our sky

from doud as clear,
There may we four meet, praise fortune just at

now, another year I "

Thus you chained him on departure : not with-
out the nnal charge,

** Mind to-morrow's early meeting I We nmsl
leaye our journey marge

Ample for the wayside wonders: there's the
stoppage at the inn

Three-parts up the mountain, where tlie hard-
snips of the track begin ;

There 's the conyent worth a yisit ; but, the
triumph crowning all —

There 's SaJ^ye's own platform iadog g^ory
which strikes greatness small,

— Blanc, supreme aboye his earth-brood, nee-
dles red and white and green.

Horns of silyer, fangs of crystal set on edge in
his demesne.

So, some three weeks since, we saw them : so,
to-morrow we intend^

You shall see them likewise j therefore Good
Night tiU to-morrow, fnend ! "

Last, the nothings that extinguish embers of a
yiyid day :

"What might be the Marshal's next move,
what Gambetta's counter-play ? "

Tin the landing on the staircase saw ceeape

" Sleep you weU ! " "Sleep but as weU, yoo I "

— lazy loye quenched, all was dark.

Nothing dark next day at sundawn! Up I

rose and forth I fared :
Took my plunge within the bath-i»ool, paeified

the waton-dog scared.
Saw proceed the transmutation — Jur&'s blaek

to one gold glow,
Trod your leyel path that let me drink tiie

morning deep and slow.
Reached the little quarry — rayage reeom-

pensed by shrub and fern —
Till the oyerflowing ardors told me time was

for return.
So, return I did, and gayly. But, for once,

from no far mound
Wayed salute a tall white figure. ** Has her

sleep been so profound ?



Digitized by



Google



LA SAISIAZ



8si



F<
Ay,



^oreeieht, rather, pradent saving

day's expenditure I
ly, the ehamber-window 's open:



the terrace, sure I



strength for
out and on



Ko, the terrace showed no figure, tall, white,

leaning through the wreaths.
Tangle-twine of leaf and bloom that intercept

the air one breathes,
Interpose between one's love and Nature's

loving, hill and dale
Down to where the blue lake's wrinkle marks

the river's inrush pale
— Mazy^ Arve : whereon no vessel but goes

giiH^ng "white and plain.
Not a steamboat pants from harbor bnt one

hears pulsate amain,
Past the dty's congregated peace of homes

and pomp of spires
— Man's mild protest that there's something

more than Nature, man requires.
And that, useful as is Nature to attract the

tourist's foot,
Qniet slow sure money-making proves the

matter's very root, —
Need for body, — while the spirit also needs a

comfort reached
By no he^ of lake or mountain, but the texts

whence Calvin preached.
^* Here 's the veil wiuidrawn from landscape:

ui> to Jura and beyond.
All awaits us ranged and ready ; yet she vio-
lates the bond.
Neither leans nor looks nor listens: why is

this ? " A turn of eye
Took the whole sole answer, gave the undis-
puted reason ** why " I

This dread way you had your summons ! No

premonitory touch,
Ab you talked and laughed ('t is told me) scarce

a minute ere the clut<UL
Captured you in cold forever. Cold? nay,

wann you were as life
When I raised you, while the others used, in

passionate poor strife.
All the means that seemed to promise any aid,

and all in vain.
Gone you were,* and I shall never see that

earnest face agun
Grew transparent, grow transfigured with the

sudden light that le<q>t
At the first word's provocation, from the

heart-deeps where it slept.

Therefore, paying piteous duty, what seemed
You nave we oonsi^ed

Peacefully to — what I think were, of all earth-
beds, to your mind

Most the choice for quiet, yonder : low walls
stop the vines' approach.

Lovingly Sal^ve protects you ; village-sports
wiU ne'er encroach

On the stranger lady's silence, whom friends
bore so kind and well

Thither ^^just for love's sake," — such their
own word was: and who can tell ?



Tou supposed that few or none had known and

loved you in the world :
Maybe I flower that 's full-blown tempts the

butterfly, not flower that 's furled.
But more learned sense unlocked you, loosed

the sheath and let expand
Bud to bell and outspread nower-shape at the

least warm touch of hand

— Maybe, throb of heart, beneath which —



Online LibraryRobert BrowningThe complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning → online text (page 167 of 198)