Verse > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow > Complete Poetical Works
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882).  Complete Poetical Works.  1893.
 
The Masque of Pandora
VIII. In the Garden
 
EPIMETHEUS.
The storm is past, but it hath left behind it
Ruin and desolation. All the walks
Are strewn with shattered boughs; the birds are silent;
The flowers, downtrodden by the wind, lie dead;
The swollen rivulet sobs with secret pain;        5
The melancholy reeds whisper together
As if some dreadful deed had been committed
They dare not name, and all the air is heavy
With an unspoken sorrow! Premonitions,
Foreshadowings of some terrible disaster        10
Oppress my heart. Ye Gods, avert the omen!
 
PANDORA, coming from the house.
O Epimetheus, I no longer dare
To lift mine eyes to thine, nor hear thy voice,
Being no longer worthy of thy love.
 
EPIMETHEUS.
What hast thou done?

PANDORA.
                Forgive me not, but kill me.
        15
 
EPIMETHEUS.
What hast thou done?

PANDORA.
              I pray for death, not pardon.
 
EPIMETHEUS.
What hast thou done?

PANDORA.
                    I dare not speak of it.
 
EPIMETHEUS.
Thy pallor and thy silence terrify me!
 
PANDORA.
I have brought wrath and ruin on thy house!
My heart hath braved the oracle that guarded        20
The fatal secret from us, and my hand
Lifted the lid of the mysterious chest!
 
EPIMETHEUS.
Then all is lost! I am indeed undone.
 
PANDORA.
I pray for punishment, and not for pardon.
 
EPIMETHEUS.
Mine is the fault, not thine. On me shall fall
        25
The vengeance of the Gods, for I betrayed
Their secret when, in evil hour, I said
It was a secret; when, in evil hour,
I left thee here alone to this temptation.
Why did I leave thee?

PANDORA.
                    Why didst thou return?
        30
Eternal absence would have been to me
The greatest punishment. To be left alone
And face to face with my own crime, had been
Just retribution. Upon me, ye Gods,
Let all your vengeance fall!

EPIMETHEUS.
                        On thee and me.
        35
I do not love thee less for what is done,
And cannot be undone. Thy very weakness
Hath brought thee nearer to me, and henceforth
My love will have a sense of pity in it,
Making it less a worship than before.        40
 
PANDORA.
Pity me not; pity is degradation.
Love me and kill me.

EPIMETHEUS.
                    Beautiful Pandora!
Thou art a Goddess still!

PANDORA.
                        I am a woman;
And the insurgent demon in my nature,
That made me brave the oracle, revolts        45
At pity and compassion. Let me die;
What else remains for me?

EPIMETHEUS.
                    Youth, hope, and love:
To build a new life on a ruined life,
To make the future fairer than the past,
And make the past appear a troubled dream.        50
Even now in passing through the garden walks
Upon the ground I saw a fallen nest
Ruined and full of rain; and over me
Beheld the uncomplaining birds already
Busy in building a new habitation.        55
 
PANDORA.
Auspicious omen!

EPIMETHEUS>.
                    May the Eumenides
Put out their torches and behold us not,
And fling away their whips of scorpions
And touch us not.

PANDORA.
                    Me let them punish.
Only through punishment of our evil deeds,        60
Only through suffering, are we reconciled
To the immortal Gods and to ourselves.
 
CHORUS OF THE EUMENIDES.
    Never shall souls like these
    Escape the Eumenides,
The daughters dark of Acheron and Night!        65
    Unquenched our torches glare,
    Our scourges in the air
Send forth prophetic sounds before they smite.
 
    Never by lapse of time
    The soul defaced by crime        70
Into its former self returns again;
    For every guilty deed
    Holds in itself the seed
Of retribution and undying pain.
 
    Never shall be the loss        75
    Restored, till Helios
Hath purified them with his heavenly fires;
    Then what was lost is won,
    And the new life begun,
Kindled with nobler passions and desires.        80
 
 
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