Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. III. Sorrow and Consolation
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume III. Sorrow and Consolation.  1904.
 
III. Adversity
The Wail of Prometheus Bound
Æschylus (c. 525–456 B.C.)
 
From the Greek by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

From “Prometheus”

O HOLY Æther, and swift-winged Winds,
And River-wells, and laughter innumerous
Of yon Sea-waves! Earth, mother of us all,
And all-viewing cyclic Sun, I cry on you,—
Behold me a god, what I endure from gods!        5
        Behold, with throe on throe,
        How, wasted by this woe,
I wrestle down the myriad years of Time!
        Behold, how fast around me
The new King of the happy ones sublime        10
Has flung the chain he forged, has shamed and bound me!
Woe, woe! to-day’s woe and the coming morrow’s
  I cover with one groan. And where is found me
        A limit to these sorrows?
  And yet what word do I say? I have foreknown        15
  Clearly all things that should be; nothing done
  Comes sudden to my soul—and I must bear
  What is ordained with patience, being aware
  Necessity doth front the universe
  With an invincible gesture. Yet this curse        20
  Which strikes me now, I find it hard to brave
  In silence or in speech. Because I gave
  Honor to mortals, I have yoked my soul
  To this compelling fate. Because I stole
  The secret fount of fire, whose bubbles went        25
  Over the ferrule’s brim, and manward sent
  Art’s mighty means and perfect rudiment,
  That sin I expiate in this agony,
  Hung here in fetters, ’neath the blanching sky.
        Ah, ah me! what a sound,        30
What a fragrance sweeps up from a pinion unseen
Of a god, or a mortal, or nature between,
Sweeping up to this rock where the earth has her bound,
To have sight of my pangs, or some guerdon obtain—
Lo, a god in the anguish, a god in the chain!        35
        The god Zeus hateth sore,
        And his gods hate again,
As many as tread on his glorified floor,
Because I loved mortals too much evermore.
Alas me! what a murmur and motion I hear,        40
        As of birds flying near!
        And the air undersings
        The light stroke of their wings—
And all life that approaches I wait for in fear.
 
 
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