|O hounds raging and blind,|
| Up by the mountain road,|
|Sprites of the maddened mind,|
| To the wild Maids of God;|| 1204|
|Fill with your rage their eyes,|
| Rage at the rage unblest,|
|Watching in womans guise,|
| The spy upon Gods Possessed.|| 1208|
Who shall be first, to mark
| Eyes in the rock that spy,|
|Eyes in the pine-tree dark|
| Is it his mother?and cry:|| 1212|
|Lo, what is this that comes,|
| Haunting, troubling still,|
|Even in our heights, our homes,|
| The wild Maids of the Hill?|| 1216|
|What flesh hare this child?|
| Never on womans breast|
|Changeling so evil smiled;|
| Man is he not, but Beast!|| 1220|
|Loin-shape of the wild,|
| Gorgon-breed of the waste!|
All the Chorus
Hither, for doom and deed!
| Hither with lifted sword,|| 1224|
| Justice, Wrath of the Lord,|
| Come in our visible need!|
| Smite till the throat shall bleed,|
| Smite till the heart shall bleed,|| 1228|
|Him the tyrannous, lawless, Godless, Echîons earth-born seed!|
Tyrannously hath he trod;
| Marched him, in Laws despite,|
|Against thy Light, O God,|| 1232|
| Yea, and thy Mothers Light;|
|Girded him, falsely bold,|
| Blinded in craft, to quell|
|And by mans violence hold|| 1236|
| Things unconquerable|
A strait pitiless mind
| Is death unto godliness;|
|And to feel in human kind|| 1240|
| Life, and a pain the less.|
|Knowledge, we are not foes!|
| I seek thee diligently;|
|But the world with a great wind blows,|| 1244|
| Shining, and not from thee;|
|Blowing to beautiful things,|
| On, amid dark and light,|
|Till Life, through the trammellings|| 1248|
| Of Laws that are not the Right,|
|Breaks, clean and pure, and sings|
| Glorying to God in the height!|
All the Chorus
Hither for doom and deed!
| Hither with lifted sword,|
| Justice, Wrath of the Lord,|
| Come in our visible need!|
| Smite till the throat shall bleed,|| 1256|
| Smite till the heart shall bleed,|
|Him the tyrannous, lawless, Godless, Echîons earth born seed!|
Appear, appear, whatso thy shape or name
| O Mountain Bull, Snake of the Hundred Heads,|| 1260|
| Lion of Burning Flame!|
|O God, Beast, Mystery, come! Thy mystic maids|
|Are hunted!Blast their hunter with thy breath,|
| Cast oer his head thy snare;|| 1264|
|And laugh aloud and drag him to his death,|
| Who stalks thy herded madness in its lair!|
Enter hastily a MESSENGER from the Mountain, pale and distraught.
Woe to the house once blest in Hellas! Woe
|To thee, old King Sidonian, who didst sow|| 1268|
|The dragon-seed on Ares bloody lea!|
|Alas, even thy slaves must weep for thee!|
News from the mountain?Speak! How hath it sped?
Pentheus, my king, Echîons son, is dead!
All hail, God of the Voice,
| Manifest ever more!|
What sayst thou?And how strange thy tone, as though
|In joy at this my masters overthrow!|| 1276|
With fierce Joy I rejoice,
| Child of a savage shore;|
|For the chains of my prison are broken, and the dread where I cowered of yore!|
And deemst thou Thebes so beggared, so forlorn
|Of manhood, as to sit beneath thy scorn?|
Thebes bath oer me no sway!
| None save Him I obey,|
|Dionysus, Child of the Highest, Him I obey and adore!|| 1284|
One can forgive thee!Yet tis no fair thing,
|Maids, to rejoice in a mans suffering.|
Speak of the mountain side!
| Tell us the doom he died,|| 1288|
|The sinner smitten to death, even where his sin was sore!|
We climbed beyond the utmost habitings
|Of Theban shepherds, passed Asopus springs,|
|And struck into the land of rock on dim|| 1292|
|KithaeronPentheus, and, attending him,|
|I, and the Stranger who should guide our way,|
|Then first in a green dell we stopped, and lay,|
|Lips dumb and feet unmoving, warily|| 1296|
|Watching, to be unseen and yet to see.|
| A narrow glen it was, by crags oertowered,|
|Torn through by tossing waters, and there lowered|
|A shadow of great pines over it. And there|| 1300|
|The Maenad maidens sate; in toil they were,|
|Busily glad. Some with an ivy chain|
|Tricked a worn wand to toss its locks again;|
|Some, wild in joyance, like young steeds set free,|| 1304|
|Made answering songs of mystic melody.|
| But my poor master saw not the great band|
|Before him. Stranger, he cried, where we stand|
|Mine eyes can reach not these false saints of thine.|| 1308|
|Mount we the bank, or some high-shouldered pine,|
|And I shall see their follies clear! At that|
|There came a marvel. For the Stranger straight|
|Touched a great pine-trees high and heavenward crown,|| 1312|
|And lower, lower, lower, urged it down|
|To the herbless floor. Round like a bending bow,|
|Or slow wheels rim a joiner forces to,|
|So in those hands that tough and mountain stem|| 1316|
|Bowed slowoh, strength not mortal dwelt in them!|
|To the very earth. And there he set the King,|
|And slowly, lest it cast him in its spring,|
|Let back the young and straining tree, till high|| 1320|
|It towered again amid the towering sky;|
|And Pentheus in the branches! Well, I ween,|
|He saw the Maenads then, and well was seen!|
|For scarce was he aloft, when suddenly|| 1324|
|There was no stranger any more with me,|
|But out of Heaven a Voiceoh, what voice else?|
|Twas He that called! Behold, O damosels,|
|I bring ye him who turneth to despite|| 1328|
|Both me and ye, and darkeneth my great Light.|
|Tis yours to avenge! So spake he, and there came|
|Twixt earth and sky a pillar of high flame.|
|And silence took the air, and no leaf stirred|| 1332|
|In all the forest dell. Thou hadst not heard|
|In that vast silence any wild thingss cry.|
|And up they sprang; but with bewildered eye,|
|Agaze and listening, scarce yet hearing true.|| 1336|
|Then came the Voice again. And when they knew|
|Their Gods clear call, old Cadmus royal brood,|
|Up, like wild pigeons startled in a wood,|
|On flying feet they came, his mother blind,|| 1340|
|Agâvê, and her sisters, and behind|
|All the wild crowd, more deeply maddened then,|
|Through the angry rocks and torrent-tossing glen,|
|Until they spied him in the dark pine-tree:|| 1344|
|Then climbed a crag hard by and furiously|
|Some sought to stone him, some their wands would fling|
|Lance-wise aloft, in cruel targeting.|
|But none could strike. The height oertopped their rage,|| 1348|
|And there he clung, unscathed, as in a cage|
|Caught. And of all their strife no end was found.|
|Then, Hither, cried Agâvê; stand we round|
|And grip the stem, my Wild Ones, till we take|| 1352|
|This climbing cat-o-the-mount! He shall not make|
|A tale of Gods high dances! Out then shone|
|Arm upon arm, past count, and closed upon|
|The pine, and gripped; and the ground gave, and down|| 1356|
|It reeled. And that high sitter from the crown|
|Of the green pine-top, with a shrieking cry|
|Fell, as his mind grew clear, and there hard by|
|Was horror visible. Twas his mother stood|| 1360|
|Oer him, first priestess of those rites of blood.|
|He tore the coif, and from his head away|
|Flung it, that she might know him, and not slay|
|To her own misery. He touched the wild|| 1364|
|Cheek, crying: Mother, it is I, thy child,|
|Thy Pentheus, born thee in Echîons hall!|
|Have mercy, Mother! Let it not befall|
|Through sin of mine, that thou shouldst slay thy son!|| 1368|
| But she, with lips a-foam and eyes that run|
|Like leaping fire, with thoughts that neer should be|
|On earth, possessed by Bacchios utterly,|
|Stays not nor hears. Round his left arm she put|| 1372|
|Both hands, set hard against his side her foot,|
and the shoulder severed!not by might|
|Of arm, but easily, as the God made light|
|Her hands essay. And at the other side|| 1376|
|Was Ino rending; and the torn flesh cried,|
|And on Autonoë pressed, and all the crowd|
|Of ravening arms. Yea, all the air was loud|
|With groans that faded into sobbing breath,|| 1380|
|Dim shrieks, and joy, and triumph-cries of death.|
|And here was borne a severed arm, and there|
|A hunters hooted foot; white bones lay bare|
|With rending; and swift hands ensanguinèd|| 1384|
|Tossed as in sport the flesh of Pentheus dead.|
| His body lies afar. The precipice|
|Hath part, and parts in many an interstice|
|Lurk of the tangled woodlandno light quest|| 1388|
|To find. And, ah, the head! Of all the rest,|
|His mother hath it, pierced upon a wand,|
|As one might pierce a lions, and through the land,|
|Leaving her sisters in their dancing place,|| 1392|
|Bears it on high! Yea, to these walls her face|
|Was set, exulting in her deed of blood,|
|Calling upon her Bromios, her God,|
|Her Comrade, Fellow-Render of the Prey,|| 1396|
|Her All-Victorious, to whom this day|
|She bears in triumph
her own broken heart!|
| For me, after that sight, I will depart|
|Before Agâvê comes.Oh, to fulfil|| 1400|
|Gods laws, and have no thought beyond His will,|
|Is mans hest treasure. Aye, and wisdom true,|
|Methinks, for things of dust to cleave unto! [The MESSENGER departs into the Castle.|
Weave ye the dance, and call
| Praise to God!|
|Bless ye the Tyrants fall!|
| Down is trod|
|Pentheus, the Dragons Seed!|| 1408|
|Wore he the womans weed?|
|Clasped he his death indeed,|
| Clasped the rod?|
Yea, the wild ivy lapt him, and the doomed
|Wild Bull of Sacrifice before him loomed!|
Ye who did Bromios scorn,
| Praise Him the more,|
|Bacchanals, Cadmus-born;|| 1416|
| Praise with sore|
|Agony, yea, with tears!|
|Great are the gifts he bears!|
|Hands that a mother rears|| 1420|
| Red with gore!|
But stay, Agâvê cometh! And her eyes
|Make fire around her, reeling! Ho, the prize|
|Cometh! All hail, O Rout of Dionyse! [Enter from the Mountain AGAVE, mad, and to all seeming wondrously happy, bearing the head of PENTHEUS in her hand. The CHORUS MAIDENS stand horror-struck at the sight; the LEADER, also horror-struck, strives to accept it and rejoice in it as the Gods deed.|| 1424|
Ye from the lands of Morn!
Call me not; I give praise!
Lo, from the trunk new-shorn
|Hither a Mountain Thorn|| 1428|
|Bear we! O Asia-born|
| Baechanals, bless this chase!|
I see. Yea; I see.
|Have I not welcomed thee?|| 1432|
AGAVE (very calmly and peacefully)
He was young in the wildwood:
| Without nets I caught him!|
| Nay; look without fear on|
| The Lion; I have taen him!|| 1436|
Where in the wildwood?
| Whence have ye brought him?|
The Mountain hath slain him!
Who first came nigh him?
I, I, tis confessèd!
|And they named me there by him|| 1444|
| Agâvê the Blessèd!|
Who was next in the hand on him?
Of Cadmus laid hand on him.
| But the swift hand that slaughters|
|Is mine; mine is the praise!|
|Bless ye this day of days! [The LEADER tries to speak, but is not able; AGAVE begins gently stroking the head.|| 1452|
Gather ye now to the feast!
See, it falls to his breast,
|Curling and gently tressed,|| 1456|
|The hair of the Wild Bulls crest|
| The young steer of the fell!|
Most like a beast of the wild
|That head, those lacks defiled.|| 1460|
AGAVE (lifting up the head, more excitedly)
He wakened his Mad Ones,
| A Chase-God, a wise God!|
| He sprang them to seize this!|
| He preys where his band preys.|| 1464|
LEADER (brooding, with horror)
In the trail of thy Mad Ones
| Thou tearest thy prize, God!|
Dost praise it?
I praise this?
Ah, soon shall the land praise!
And Pentheus, O Mother,
| Thy child?|
He shall cry on
|My name as none other,|
| Bless the spoils of the Lion!|
Aye, strange is thy treasure!
And strange was the taking!
Thou art glad?
| Yea, glad in the breaking|
|Of dawn upon all this land,|| 1480|
|By the prize, the prize of my hand!|
Show them to all the land, unhappy one,
|The trophy of this deed that thou hast done!|
Ho, all ye men that round the citadel
|And shining towers of ancient Thêbê dwell,|
|Come! Look upon this prize, this lions spoil,|
|That we have takenyea, with our own toil,|
|We, Cadmus daughters! Not with leathern-set|| 1488|
|Thessalian javelins, not with hunters net,|
|Only white arms and swift hands bladed fall.|
|Why make ye much ado, and boast withal|
|Your armourers engines? See, these palms were bare|| 1492|
|That caught the angry beast, and held, and tare|
|The limbs of him!
Go, bring to me|
Aye, and Pentheus, where is he,|
|My son? He shall set up a ladder-stair|| 1496|
|Against this house, and in the triglyphs there|
|Nail me this lions head, that gloriously|
|I bring ye, having slain himI, even I! [She goes through the crowd towards the Castle, showing the head and looking for a place to hang it. Enter from the Mountain CADMUS, with attendants, bearing the body of PENTHEUS on a bier.|
On, with your awful burden. Follow me,
|Thralls, to his house, whose body grievously|
|With many a weary search at last in dim|
|Kithaerons glens I found, torn limb from limb,|
|And through the intervening forest weed|| 1504|
|Scattered.Men told me of my daughters deed,|
|When I was just returned within these walls,|
|With grey Teiresias, from the Bacchanals.|
|And back I hied me to the hills again|| 1508|
|To seek my murdered son. There saw I plain|
|Actaeons mother, ranging where he died,|
|Autonoë; and Ino by her side,|
|Wandering ghastly in the pine-copses.|| 1512|
| Agâvê was not there. The rumour is|
|She cometh fleet-foot hither.Ah! Tis true;|
|A sight I scarce can bend mine eyes unto.|
(turning from the Palace and seeing him)
|My father, a great boast is thine this hour.|
|Thou hast begotten daughters, high in power|
|And valiant above all mankindyea, all|
|Valiant, though none like me! I have let fall|| 1520|
|The shuttle by the loom, and raised my hand|
|For higher things, to slay from out thy land|
|Wild beasts! See, in mine arms I hear the prize,|
|That nailed above these portals it may rise|| 1524|
|To show what things thy daughters did! Do thou|
|Take it, and call a feast. Proud art thou now|
|And highly favoured in our valiancy!|
O depth of grief, how can I fathom thee
|Or look upon thee!Poor, poor bloodstained hand!|
|Poor sisters!A fair sacrifice to stand|
|Before Gods altars, daughter; yea, and call|
|Me and my citizens to feast withal!|| 1532|
| Nay, let me weepfor thine affliction most,|
|Then for mine own. All, all of us are lost,|
|Not wrongfully, yet is it hard, from one|
|Who might have lovedour Bromios, our own!|| 1536|
How crabbèd and how scowling in the eyes
|Is mans old age!Would that my son likewise|
|Were happy of his hunting, in my way|
|When with his warrior hands he will essay|| 1540|
|The wild beast!Nay, his valiance is to fight|
|With Gods will! Father, thou shouldst set him right
|Will no one bring him thither, that mine eyes|
|May look on his, and show him this my prize!|| 1544|
Alas, if ever ye can know again
|The truth of what ye did, what pain of pain|
|That truth shall bring! Or were it best to wait|
|Darkened for evermore, and deem your state|| 1548|
|Not misery, though ye know no happiness?|
What seest thou here to chide, or not to bless?
CADMUS (after hesitation, resolving himself)
Raise me thine eyes to yon blue dome of air!
Tis done. What dost thou bid me seek for there?
Is it the same, or changèd in thy sight?
More shining than before, more heavenly bright!
And that wild tremour, is it with thee still?
I know not what thou sayest; but my will
|Clears, and some change cometh, I know not how.|
Caust hearken then, being changed, and answer Dow!
I have forgotten something; else I could.
What husband led thee of old from mine abode?
Echîon, whom men named the Child of Earth.
And what child in Echîons house had birth?
Pentheus, of my love and his fathers bred.
Thou bearest in thine arms an head-what head?
AGAVE (beginning to tremble, and not looking at what she carries)
A lionsso they all said in the chase.
Turn to it nowtis no long toiland gaze.
Ah! But what is it? What am I carrying here?
Look once upon it full, till all be clear!
most deadly pain! Oh, woe is me!
Wears it the likeness of a lion to thee?
No; tis the headO God!of Pentheus, this!
Blood-drenched ere thou wouldst know him! Aye tis his.
Who slew him?How came I to hold this thing?
O cruel Truth, is this thine home-coming?
Answer! My heart is hanging on thy breath!
Twas thou.Thou and thy sisters wrought his death.
In what place was it? His own house, or where?
Where the dogs tore Actaeon, even there.
Why went he to Kithaeron? What sought he?
To mock the God and thine own ecstasy.
But how should we he on the hills this day?
Being mad! A spirit drove all the land that way.
Tis Dionyse hath done it! Now I see.
Ye wronged Him! Ye denied his deity!
AGAVE (turning from him)
Show me the body of the son I love!
CADMUS (leading her to the bier)
Tis here, my child. Hard was the quest thereof.
Laid in due state? [As there is no answer, she lifts the veil of the bier, and sees.
| Oh, if I wrought a sin,|| 1588|
|Twas mine! What portion had my child therein!|
He made him like to you, adoring not
|The God; who therefore to one bane hath brought|
|You and this body, wrecking all our line,|| 1592|
|And me. Aye, no man-child was ever mine;|
|And now this first-fruit of the flesh of thee,|
|Sad woman, foully here and frightfully|
|Lies murdered! Whom the house looked up unto, [Kneeling by the body.|| 1596|
|O Child, my daughters child! who heldest true|
|My castle walls; and to the folk a name|
|Of fear thou wast; and no man sought to shame|
|My grey beard, when they knew that thou wast there,|| 1600|
|Else had they swift reward!And now I fare|
|Forth in dishonour, outcast, I, the great|
|Cadmus, who sowed the seed-rows of this state|
|Of Thebes, and reaped the harvest wonderful.|| 1604|
|O my belovèd, though thy heart is dull|
|In death, O still belovèd, and alway|
|Beloved! Never more, then, shalt thou lay|
|Thine hand to this white heard, and speak to me|| 1608|
|Thy Mothers Father; ask Who wrongeth thee?|
|Who stints thine honour, or with malice stirs|
|Thine heart? Speak, and I smite thine injurers!|
|But nowwoe, woe, to me and thee also,|| 1612|
|Woe to thy mother and her sisters, woe|
|Alway! Oh, whoso walketh not in dread|
|Of Gods, let him but look on this man dead!|
Lo, I weep with thee. Twas but due reward
|God sent on Pentheus; but for thee
My father, thou canst see the change in me,
· · · · ·
| · · · · ·|
[A page or more has here been torn out of the MS. from which all our copies of The Bacchæ are derived. It evidently contained a speech of Agâvê (followed presumably by some words of the Chorus), and an appearance of DIONYSUS upon a cloud. He must have pronounced judgment upon the Thebans in general, and especially upon the daughters of CADMUS, have justified his own action, and declared his determination to establish his godhead. Where the MS. begins again, we find him addressing CADMUS.]
· · · · ·
· · · · ·
· · · · ·
And tell of Time, what gifts for thee he bears,
|What griefs and wonders in the winding years.|
|For thou must change and be a Serpent Thing|
|Strange, and beside thee she whom thou didst bring|
|Of old to be thy bride from Heaven afar,|| 1624|
|Harmonia, daughter of the Lord of War.|
|Yea, and a chariot of kineso spake|
|The word of Zeusthee and thy Queen shall take|
|Through many lands, Lord of a wild array|| 1628|
|Of orient spears. And many towns shall they|
|Destroy beneath thee, that vast horde, until|
|They touch Apollos dwelling, and fulfil|
|Their doom, back driven on stormy ways and steep.|| 1632|
|Thee only and thy spouse shall Ares keep,|
|And save alive to the Islands of the Blest.|
| Thus speaketh Dionysus, Son confessed|
|Of no man but of Zeus!Ah, had ye seen|| 1636|
|Truth in the hour ye would not, all had been|
|Well with ye, and the Child of God your friend!|
Dionysus, we beseech thee! We have sinned!
Too late! When there was time, ye knew me not!
We have confessed. Yet is thine hand too hot.
Ye mocked me, being God; this your wage.
Should God be like a proud man in his rage?
Tis as my sire, Zeus, willed it long ago.
AGAVE (turning from him almost with disdain)
Old man, the word is spoken; we must go.
And seeing ye must, what is it that ye wait?
Child, we are come into a deadly strait,
|All; thou, poor sufferer, and thy sisters twain,|| 1648|
|And my sad self. Far off to barbarous men,|
|A grey-haired wanderer, I must take my road.|
|And then the oracle, the doom of God,|
|That I must lead a raging horde far-flown|| 1652|
|To prey on Hellas; lead my spouse, mine own|
|Harmonia, Ares child, discorporate|
|And haunting forms, dragon and dragon-mate,|
|Against the tombs and altar-stones of Greece,|| 1656|
|Lance upon lance behind us; and not cease|
|From toils, like other men, nor dream, nor past|
|The foam of Acheron find my peace at last.|
Father! And I must wander far from thee!
O Child, why wilt thou reach thine arms to me,
|As yearns the milk-white swan, when old swans die?|
Where shall I turn me else? No home have I
I know not; I can help thee not.
Farewell, O home, O ancient tower!
| Lo, I am outcast from my bower,|
|And leave ye for a worser lot.|
Go forth, go forth to misery,
| The way Actaeons father went!|
Father, for thee my tears are spent.
Nay, Child, tis I must weep for thee;
|For thee and for thy sisters twain!|| 1672|
On all this house, in bitter wise,
| Our Lord and Master, Dionyse,|
|Hath poured the utter dregs of pain!|
In bitter wise, for bitter was the shame
|Ye did me, when Thebes honoured not my name.|
Then lead me where my sisters be;
| Together let our tears be shed,|
| Our ways be wandered; where no red|| 1680|
|Kithaeron waits to gaze on me;|
|Nor I gaze back; no thyrsus stem,|
| Nor song, nor memory in the air.|
| Oh, other Bacchanals be there,|| 1684|
|Not I, not I, to dream of them! [AGAVE with her group of attendants goes out on the side away from the Mountain. DIONYSUS rises upon the Cloud and disappears.|
There may he many shapes of mystery,
|And many things God makes to be,|
| Past hope or fear.|| 1688|
|And the end men looked for cometh not,|
|And a path is there where no man thought.|
| So hath it fallen here. [Exeunt.|