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COPYRIGHT DEPOSIT

ALCESTIS

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ALCESTIS

and Other Poems

BY

SARA KING WILEY

Author of

" Poems, Lyrical and Dramatic :

Cromwell, a Play "

il5etD PorS

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

London: MACMILLAN & CO.. Ltd.

1905 All Rights Reserved

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Copyright, 1905 The Macmillan Company

Set up. Printed August, 190s

THE MASON PRESS

SYRACUSE : NEW YORK

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The author desires to thank the Editors of Harpers' Magazine, The Outlook, and The Churchman for permission to re- print verse first pubHshed in their pages

CONTENTS

Alcestis ......

Page I

Iphigeneia

40

Spring Winds

48

Age (Rembrandt's "Philosopher")

49

The Clock (i)

53

The Clock (ii)

S3

Pocahontas in England

55

The Mocking Bird ....

58

Envoy

60

ALCESTIS

CHARACTERS

Admetus, King- of Thessaly

Alcestis, his wife

The Father of Admetus

The Mother of Admetus

The Priest of Apollo

Heracles

Death

The Children of Admetus and Alcestis

Servant, Steward of the Palace

Chorus, composed of men and women, the friends and servants of Admetus

The Spirits of the Dead in Hades

ALCESTIS

ACT I

Scene I. Within the palace of Admetus. The first court with a fountain and basin in the center, surrounded by the pe- ristyle, six Doric columns being visible across the end of the court, and three on either side. At the back, in the center, is seen the corridor leading through to the peristyle about the court of the women's apartments. On the left, at the back, between the pillars, is the curtained opening to the master's chamber, within which is the couch of Admetus. At the left front is a colossal statue of Apollo. At the right front is an altar and tripod. About the wall hang silver shields.

When the scene opens, the entrance to the master's chamber is covered by a curtain. The chorus of men and women enter through the corridor, singing and dancing in honor of Apollo.

P.EAN

Strophe i. Hail, O Apollo, that guidest the sun with the coursers

of light ! Hast thou forsaken thine ancient home, and the hills and the halls once beloved ? I

Alcestis Act I

Sending with dreadful falling of shafts upon us dark

death, the night, Say, hath thy beauty and blessing so far and forever

removed ?

Anti-strophe i. Golden-bright god, thou that bringest the order that

rulest our day. Thou the sweet sound from the smitten lyre, and the

song from rude speech dost release. Forth from the carven stone fair forms, and urns

from the yielding clay ; Healer, we pray thee, restore us from tumult of

pains unto peace !

Epode I.

Thou didst conquer Marsyas By thy mighty sounding strain. Force the cruel Death to pass Coming in pain ! Loxias, thou lord of light, By thy golden arrow's might.

Give back, O ruler of kings, our king to his kingdom again !

Act I Alcestis

Strophe 2. Thou that didst love Hyacinthus, and seeing his

blood, on the grass, Purphng the tender new green of spring, and across

the white Hmbs spreading slow, Mourned till the flowers opening blue were marked

with thy cry "Alas," Silently joined thy lamenting all drenched with thy tears as they flow. Anti-strophe 2. Thou the sweet Daphne pursuing with love of her

swifter than wind. Clasping her close as her trembling ceased and her

softness grew roughened and cold, Stripping with kisses the slender leaves around thy

bright brows to bind. Lifted by love she forever the symbol of honor shall hold! Epode 2.

Ah, for Asclepius, woe. Deep revenged, sore deplored, By wrath of Zeus struck low, Death conquering lord !

Alcestis Act I

Spouse's love and children's love, Both shall here thy pity move ;

Lover and father and friend art thou be thy pas- sion outpoured !

Full cho. Across the hills of Pherae gold-shafted falls the

light, But weary are the watchers that told the hours of

night Sunk ever in deeper sorrow as day reveals again Heavier on their master the wasting touch of pain.

Semi-cho. (women). How fares Alcestis ? Tell to me who love her ?

Semi-cho. (men). Fears more than ye, and more than ye she hopes.

Semi-cho. (women) . Anguish drives up her courage, as great wind Exalts the flame from embers fallen gray.

Cho. What intolerable weight Shall the minutes bear When the hastening fate Shall approach us there

Act I Alcestis

Golden with hope or dyed black with the hue of despair,

(The curtain before the entrance to the master's chamber is drawn, showing Ad- metus upon the couch, and Alcestis bend- ing over him.) Admetus. Is there no hope? The black gnlf yawns before my sliding- feet, The cold, deep-clutching, hungry hands of death Drag me on weakening. Less and less I strive. The thickening horror presses down my breath.

0 save me, save me, mercy, pitying gods !

Alcestis (going down before the altar and kneel- ing). He sufifers ! Every breath he draws in pain Is sharper than quick swords within my breast. Send help, O Zeus, my heart is at thy feet, My life is all a prayer that he may live. My agony is an enfolding cloud,

1 draw my breath as one that breathes in fire, I move bowed down beneath a grievous load, My voice is but to cry and to beseech,

O spare my husband, spare my best beloved ! Is there no sacrifice can move thy mercy ?

Alcestis Act I

Cho. Alas, alas, no answering fire is here. Ale. (returning to Admetus).

They say the halcyon bears her sinking mate On wings outspread, above the raging waves, In power of love prevailing with the sea. So let me bear thee sheltered on this breast.

Cho. As the gathering night

That thou canst not stay, As the waning light And the speeding day, Thus the departing life that hasteth away.

As Leander strove In his strength to attain To his waiting love While the mortal pain

Gathered and overwhelmed till he struggled in vain.

In the Lethe wave The life vanisheth. And no love can save The foredoomed breath,

For deeper than seas of the earth are the waters of death.

Act I Alcestis

Scnii-cho. (men). The priest is here, O King.

(Admetus tries to speak, but fear masters him and he hides his face on the breast of Alcestis.) Semi-cho. (women). Too much he fears, he cannot hear his fate.

(The priest enters and stands alone, all drawing away from him in awe. The father and mother of Admetus enter.) Father (to Admetus). What hope, beloved son? Adm. I cannot ask.

Cho. From Apollo's shrine

May the prophet bring Such a word divine As the learned spring, As Helicon clear and bright, to our suffering king. Ale. Come forth, O priest and speak with me

apart. (The priest refuses by a sign.)

Priest. Dreadful the choice my fated word im- parts ; O ye that love the king, search now your hearts. Father. I am no weakling; speak, I love my son.

Alcestis Act I

8

Though I am old, yet is my courage high ; I fear no foe, I am a warrior still. I shall dare boldly, now, to save thee, boy, And if my strength is less, my skill is more.

Mother. What may thy mother give and what endure. Whose life was one with thine, whose yearning love Brooded about thee first of loves that were.

Ale. (-who is holding her husband, to the priest). What need that he should hear ? Come thou aside, Let him not know until we bring him health ?

(To Admetus.) Sweetheart of mine, until we bring thee health ?

Adm. No, no, I'll hear the word I am the king.

Priest. Thus spoke Apollo of the golden lyre, The golden arrows and the gold sun-fire, Forth from the gloom on rushing wind out-blown : "Who giveth life to thee shall give his own."

Semi-cho. (men). O dreadful word ; who shall abide this test ?

Semi-cho. (women). Not I, alas, although I love my king.

Father. Were there a fight, I should not hesitate,

Act I Alcestis

But here is never a chance or hope for Hfe, A certain dark and hideous overthrow.

Mother. Pheres, my lord, I cannot have thee

die— Father. What evil dost thou prate, thou foolish priest ? Apollo loves no bloody sacrifice. Thus shall his meaning be interpreted : What is "our own" ? The power and glory of life. I'll hang Apollo's altars with new gold, Till, like to beaming orbs perpetual, They flash and sparkle on the dazzled eye. Or I will fight and win a thousand lives. And shackle them to be Apollo's slaves.

Mother (to Admctus). And I will spend my days in sighs and tears. Bathing his altars with that piteous rain. And only live to plead and pray for thee.

Father (to Admetus). Look up, my son, for I

will bring thee health. Mother. O I would die for thee, but that thy father Would then be left in age companionless.

Alcestis Act I

Sweet son, believe me, I would die for thee.

Father. Speak not of such a folly. I shall go To storm Apollo's altars for thy health. And have the swollen waters of my might, Augmented by my love and by my fears, Shrunk to so small a current suddenly They cannot sweep this saplinsf from my path? Why, priest, thou darest not oppose my will.

Both. Farewell, dear son, we shall return rejoic- ing. (They hesitate and begin to weep as they go forward to embrace him.) Mother. Say thou art easier now, beloved son. Father. Thy strength is fast returning, is it not ? (Admetus shakes his head and hides his face.) Ale. (to parents). Be not sad, I think he will not die. (Admetus starts and looks at Alcestis fear- fully.) Ale. (avoiding her husband's eyes). Go to Apollo's altar and there pray, I think indeed that he will hear thy prayers.

Act I Alcestis

II

(The father and mother look signiticantly at each other, and embrace Alcestis. Ad- metiis sinks back half disappointed.) Adm. No, no ; there is no hope, there is no hope. Father and Mother (embracing Alcestis). More than our daughter, be thou ever blessed ! We go to pray ; we go to beg for mercy. Take heart, Alcestis, we will give much gold.

Semi-cho. (men). Alas, alas, life only pays for life.

Semi-cho. (zvomen). Alas for us, the king will surely die !

Father. Get hence, ye peevish maids, your evil song Troubles the king. Hence, all ye croakers, hence! (He drives out chorus. The father and ■mother go 02it). Ale. (ptitting her hand on Adnietus' forehead) . Thy brow burns like a brazen cup thrice heated. That holds within the throb of boiling liquor.

(Takes him in her arms). Come, lay thee here, and lulled by the low motion, Sleep like the robin rocked in summer zephyrs.

Alcestis Act I

This breast stirs in the wind of love, soft blowing; Forget the world, remember how I love thee. And I will sing of love and night and spring.

Through clustered bloom of orchard trees

Murmurs the evening breeze, And rippling like a shallow stream

Lulls to a drowsy dream. In the pale sky the moon hangs pale,

The apple petals sail And sink in deep grass, gleaming green.

Where darkening shadows lean. The robins twitter, settling slow ;

The nearing cattle low ; Their herders whistle as they come,

And children scamper home. All that went forth to toil and quest Gather to love and rest. (Admetus sleeps. Alcestis goes down to the altar and prays, standing with up- lifted arms.) Ale. Refuse not, O ye gods, that solemn courage Ye breathe on warriors marching into battle. For these defend their country, I my husband.

Act I Alcestis

13

That is to me my home, and is my country. Lift up my heart above the fear of dying. Receive my yielded life, and spare my lover.

(The flame leaps upon the altar. Alcestis hows in silent prayer, and then, rising, turns tozuard Admetus.) Ale. O, thou more precious than the light of heaven, Than all the cheerful unknown days to be That beckon me to stay, accept my life!

(After a minute's pause she goes forward and draws the curtains, returning to the altar, before which she sinks weeping. The fire grows dim.) Ale. A cold breath strikes upon my happiness Like sudden fierce spring winds on early flowers. I hear the heavy plashing of his oars Who comes to take me to the realms of death. Admetus, I have lost thee in the gloom, I shall not ever feel thy clasping arms. Nor the soft pressure of my children's lips, Nor hear their bird-sweet callings at the dawn, Nor watch them grow in beauty and in strength, Nor guide and guard their tender steps from harm.

Alcestis Act I

14

My heart grows faint, my body chills and fails ; Alas, I am too weak. Give courage, Zeus !

(The -fire leaps up.)

A dm. Alcestis !

Ale. Beloved voice !

Like the sudden song of a bird in deepest night, That through the lapsed senses subtly steals. Exalting on a flood of ecstasy The dulled heart to the ringing silver heaven.

Adni. Nicias ! Erechtheus !

(Enter, hastily, the chorus of servants and friends, who draw back the curtain.)

Adm. Draw back these curtains, let me see the sun! Bring wine, my heart revives ; why did I fear ? Come hither, my Alcestis, come in joy, Strength courses through my veins like sap in spring.

Ale. (to chorus). Give me the wine. (She raises the goblet.) Asclepius, to thee I pour libation forth in prayer and praise Whose love in saving man from death brought pain On thee that loved, and death from jealous Zeus; For the all-glorious Dorian, thy sire,

Act I Alcestis

15

Slew in revenge the instruments of wrath And in the expiation of that deed Dwelt in these halls a servant to the king Whom yet as friend surpassingly he loved And in our misery hath pled for us And won from Zeus this oracle of life. The runner, sinking, passes on the torch And in the swifter hand the glory speeds Thy love, Asclepius, gives hope to mine.

(She pours a libation and goes up to Ad- mettis with the goblet.)

Say thou dost love me, say thou dost, my lord !

Adm. No need to say those words, thou knowest I do. Thy cheek grows pale, Alcestis.

Ale. It is joy,

Excess of happiness, as the bright rain Fallen after drouth bends down the shining flowers.

Adm. Thy hand is cold. Rest on this couch a space, (He rises.)

Bring wine; haste, haste! Alcestis, O my wife! Look up, thy husband calls, Admetus calls.

Ale. Be not dismayed, Admetus, grieve thou not,

Alcestis Act I

i6

I shall but sleep awhile, but sleep awhile. Yet kiss me, my beloved, it grows dark.

Adm. Nay, the bright sun still shines upon thee, sweet. (In agony he cries:)

O Zeus, the striving pinions of my prayer, Heavy with terror, cannot rise to thee! Shall I accept the priceless sacrifice? Nay, rather let me die that am foredoomed !

Ale. Forbear; for all is done. It is my will And Zeus hath sanctioned it.

Adm. No more, no more !

My mind is frozen with the chill of grief. And I am dumb save for the bitter cry, "Is there no remedy in earth or heaven?"

Ale. (faintly). Protect our children; love them for my sake With double love, care for them tenderly.

(Admetus weeps and cannot answer her.) Admetus, yonder cometh one in black, A great and formless thing I fear, I fear !

(Controlling her shuddering she tries to smile on Admetus.) Yet fear not thou for thee it cannot harm.

Act I Alcestis

17

Adm. Alas, sweet wife, alas can I not save thee?

Ale. The worst is past; the pain will cease so soon ; Beloved, thou art strong, O hold me close. Bend nearer, now I cannot see thine eyes.

Adm. Alcestis, do not leave me !

Ale. The summer evening comes, serene and sweet, The birds are calling softer, one by one. The cool woods loose their perfumes on the air, The golden glimmer sinks in greening gloom. The stillness deepens and I rest alone.

Adm. O not alone, canst thou not feel my hand?

Ale. Farew^ell, farewell, how easy 'tis to die.

ACT II

Scene I. Before the palace of Admetus. Enter from the palace the funeral train, bearing Alcestis, covered, to the tomb, and followed by Admetus, in mourning garments.

DIRGE

Semi-chorus of women.

Come every tender maiden, Your purple garments tear,

Your eyes with teardrops laden, Steel-shorn your curling hair.

Grief is a quenchless shower, For she, all praise above.

Lies like a fallen flower Trod by the foot of Love.

As when the sharp sun, stooping. In summer blazes bold.

Her golden head is drooping, A golden marigold. i8

Act II Alcestis

19

A woman, unrelying

On strength of sword or spear,

Love-panoplied, defying, She met the mortal fear.

To hero hearts compare her,

For love alike that died. Fair in her life, but fairer

In laying life aside.

Admetus. Set down your burden, let me see her face. (They uncover Alcestis.)

Thou makest even death thy servitor. His icy fingers crown thine excellence, O peerless queen. Serenely fair thou liest. Thy lily's pallor lovelier than the rose. Bring here her children, that have wept all night. For if they look on her as now she lies, Perhaps in the long motherless years to come They shall remember her, how fair she was !

(Attendants bring in the children, who cling in terror to their father and hide their faces when he tries to make them look upon Alcestis.)

Alcestis Act II

20

Adm. Alas, they know the mother's heart is still ; Take them away, and ye, take up your load. To-morrow shall we light the funeral pyre.

(He goes up the steps of the palace, and they lift the body of Alcestis.) Adm. O gentle wife, whose days were blessed- ness. Thou hast first caused me grief in leaving me. These palaces that thou hast left forlorn Shall be a temple consecrate to thee, That was a home no more forever a home !

(They all go out, leaving him alone.) Adm. 1 cannot live without her any more ; I cannot bear the daily lonely life. My kingdom is no more than parcelled earth ; Subjects and friends pass by in happiness, I cannot rule nor reign nor care for them ; And duty is a word for other men. I am a coward and take a coward's way.

(He draws his sword and is about to kill himself when the Steward enters.) Steward. Great Heracles is come, the son of Zeus,

Act II Alcestis

21

Passing from Thebes on mighty conquest bound,

Who spht the jaws of the Nemean lion,

And tamed the fearful steeds that belched forth fire,

Wrestled with Titans monstrous as the clouds

And cleansed the stables of the Augean herd.

So great is he our fear is topped with awe ;

The crowds run not but freeze in wonderment.

Shall we not bid him hasten on his way

And leave this house of mourning?

Adm. Nay, not so. She would not have it so whose open hand Fulfilled the rites of hospitality. Strew flowers, set the tables and bring wine.

Stezvard. Alas, how can we bear his merriment! No weariness can blight that joy of his, He will carouse and laugh the whole night through Till all the house rings with his roaring songs.

Adm. Do as I bid thee and forbear thy speech ; Thou didst not prate before thy mistress thus, Nor pause upon her bidding to confer.

(After a moment he adds kindly:) Good, faithful lad ; I know it is thy grief.

Alcestis Act II

(The Steward goes. Heracles enters and Admetus with a great effort conceals his sorrow.)

Herac. All hail, Admetus, king of Thessaly ! Adm. (embracing him). Be welcome, O Alcides. Glad the day That sets thy feet toward thy friend's abode.

Herac. I heard a sound of weeping as I came; I fear my visit breaks upon some grief.

Adm. At thy approach I lay my grief aside : Be welcome, honored guest and dearest friend.

Herac. I am thy friend, and mark thine altered face. Cheat me not, dear Admetus, with fair words. What sorrow is on thine house? Where are thy children ? Adm. They play within. I pray thee, come and

dine. Herac. Where is Alcestis? Ah, thou canst not speak. Thy mantle of concealment falls aside. Alas, alas, Alcestis is no more !

(Heracles weeps.)

Act II Alcestis

23

Adm. Tears from thine eyes, Alcides, from thine eyes, That looked on countless dreadful deaths unmoved ! (Heracles takes Admctus in his arms.)

Herac. Weep here, my friend.

Adm. Alas, I cannot weep !

Listen, she died for me, I let her die ; I took my life that dared not face my death. I say, she died for me, I let her die. And now I taste of death each hour I live. I have my life, thou sayest, and life is sweet They cry it after me along the ways "Behold the man that let a woman die! See where he goes, that loved his wife so well. The coward, the coward, that feared and dared not die!"

Herac. Thou hast thy children.

Adm. Yea, they do accuse me.

They cry for her that shall not come again. And by a thousand lovely, careless ways They bring remembrance like the bitter lees That I must drink who quaffed the golden wine. What's hfe to me, who have no joy of life?

Alcestis Act II

24

My vacant home, my arms that grope in vain ; Why, what is left of Hfe that is to come? All that remains is ashes of the fire, All that remains is scentless dust of flowers, All that remains is but a brook run dry

(He checks himself suddenly.)

But thou art weary, friend, come in and rest,

I see thy heavy leaning on thy staff.

Thou hast a little eased my heart with speech.

Herac. Where is thy sweetness now, Alcestis, where? She cast a radiance round her like the moon. Gentling the rough dark world with silver rays.

Adm. I cannot bear her praise : I pray thee, cease, I knew not how I dwelt within her love Sheltered from rude alarms and horrid hate In all-sufficing blissful certitude Till I was thrust forth naked and bereft Across the barren world a wanderer.

Herac. Admetus, I have loved thee heartily And now in this thy grief am knit to thee And shaken with thy pangs. What love may do

Act II Alcestis

25

That would I do or suffer. Words are weak, But deeds are scarcer and more eloquent. I'll say, "Despair not yet." Lean on my heart; Here is a power that many have sought to quell This little throbbing force that shall not cease However pain and fear shall thrust at it Till when my father shall command an end, And through the serving of mine enemy I wrest my godhead from reluctant heaven. Surely an end shall be to all our grief. Bear strongly then ; survive in confidence. Death may be less a thing than we can know ; His chiefest terror lies in our poor hearts Shrinking from the unknown as children do That people the unfriendly dark with fears.

Adm. And thou at least wouldst live. Come in and dine.

Herac. Farewell, Admetus, I must forth again. Give me thy promise, as a friend to friend, Thou wilt await me here till my return.

Adm. Where wilt thou go, that art so weary now?

Alcestis Act II

26

Herac. I go to serve one that my heart loves more Than rest or food. My heart sustains my feet. I must go forth and labor till the end.

ACT III

Scene I. The abode of the dead. Barren cliffs rising from a waste of sand. An intense and pallid glare lights the scene. Miserable creatures of grey and starved countenance hurry to and fro, gazing in one another's faces with curious hatred.

Clio. O for escape from the unpitying light! O for a rest for the unflagging feet ! O let us sleep, and for the time forget !

Herac. Say, who are ye, tormented thus, that roam?

Cho. We are those creatures tortured with regret ; The gentle deed undone, the word unsaid, The hand of help withheld, the love ungiven, Float like mirage above the quivering air. Shining impalpable and swiftly gone The joy of giving now forever lost. We are the cowards and the renegades, The misers and the cold and dry of heart ; Not hastily nor of a single hour Wrought we our doom, but through neglectful years, Piled like the sifting grains of arid sand.

27

Alcestis Act III

28

Ourselves secure we cared not for earth's pain,

We aided not the wretched, nor consoled.

We let the vicious wander unredeemed.

We shrugged and sauntered on our easeful way,

And now we see, in clear, intensest light,

The barren semblance of the life we lived,

And each upon the other looks to find

The meanness and the shames himself doth bear.

(Darkness falls upon the scene, then the clouds lift until in a deep gloom is seen the second hell. Here lie creatures silent and motionless, in postures of agony. Though very dim, it may he perceived that their eyes are fixed and opened zvide.) Herac. Say, who are ye, that lie immovable ? Can ye not speak, nor sigh, nor stir, nor see?

(His own voice alone is heard. It's echoes die away.) The awful stillness hangs upon my breath I must go forth !

(The voice of Death without.) Death. O Hero, these lie sunk in their remorse.

Act III Alcestis

29

Each heart, weighed into stillness, knows itself,

And of itself alone contemplative

Broods chained in deep unswerving agony.

Hcrac. (approaching them). Drawn brows and writhen lips immovable, Faces of frozen anguish, and blank eyes, Wide stretched, that stare unseeing.

Death. They look within. These spirits turned high powers to deeds of ill, Tipped with the poison of a festered heart Their gifts, like arrows, fell among mankind. This now they think on ; each looks on his own. Deep in the blackness of his evil sunk In pain that cannot seek relief from pain.

Herac. O horror let me forth Where are the blest ?

(The scene darkens and grows light, dis- playing aisles of a great forest. The branches meet overhead, the sky above them being of the clear and shining pal- lor of a summer evening when the sun has just fallen belozv the horizon. Be- neath the trees it is neither dark nor

Alcestis Act III

30

bright, but a green twilight shines through the leaves. Pillowed upon the deep green moss lie many white-robed forms easily disposed in sleep. Alcestis lies in the foreground. There is a sound of light wind, and the branches stir and sway. A drowsing bird calls softly.)

Death. Hero, there lie the good in peaceful sleep. In yonder deep green shade, serene and fair, They rest enfolded in beatitude, In dreamless sweetness of accomplished toil, Lapped around with all the love they bore on earth.

Herac. (advancing to Alcestis). How deep she sleeps, and, smiling in her sleep. Moves now a Httle, and her easeful breath Comes gently in soft comfort to and fro. Never had one on earth such pure repose. Almost I do repent me of my task.

I feel a presence near me in the air, I feel and cannot see, but know it near,

Act III Alcestis

31

By the cold sweat that gathers over me, The trembling and the horror of my flesh, I know thee. Death.

Death. Thou canst not see me till thine hour has come.

(Heracles shakes himself, lion-like.) Herac. I am that Heracles, the son of light. Decay and foulness and devouring wrong Cannot oppose me, nor can suffering stay, Nor swarming evil sap my patience. I am unresting as the falling streams, And patient as the hills beneath the snow. And tireless as the quick and soaring flames, For in my veins there flows the blood of God,

(Death becomes visible.) Death. Behold me, Heracles. What wouldst

thou have ? Herac. Give back Alcestis to her mourning

house. Death. Not so ; who cometh here cannot return. Herac. I shall compel thee. Death. Pause, O Heracles ;

Alcestis Act III

32

Then shalt thou die, and yet be saved aHve, Tasting thy death decreed a second time.

Herac. Thus let it be ; Alcides serves his friend. (Heracles wrestles with Death, and is seized in an agony, tearing at himself. He wrestles the more violently as he suf- fers.) Herac. I burn ! I burn ! yield O thou cruel tyrant ! My flesh is unconsumed O let me die ! Light, light the funeral pyre, and let me perish ! Think not to conquer in mine agony, I shall prevail before thine hour is come, And though I die yet shall Alcestis live ! The bleeding heart and terror-darkened eyes Of the tormented race of man in me Rouse energies that like the streams of spring Swelling in flood across the sunken fields Upbear me on great tides invincible.

Death, (conquered). Thou hast prevailed. Al- cides, take thy prize. (Heracles falls spent into the arms of Death, who sustains him.)

Act III Alcestis

33

Herac. Merciful Death, O give me thy repose; Let me now rest.

Death. Arouse thee, Hero, much is yet to do ; The world has need of thee ; Admetus waits.

Herac. O let me rest with thee, benignant spirit

Death. Now thou hast known me kinder is thy speech ; Not yet, however, is the appointed time; Thou must go forth and serve mankind, Alcides.

Herac. (rousing himself). Yea, I shall go. Yet tell me, ere I leave thee. If those that roam without may ever pause, And those in stark, unmoving pain be free ? Yea, even if these blest sleepers shall awake?

Death. Look in thy hero-heart, O Heracles, There hast thou found forever hope, for love Drives thee still forth to labor for the world. Love works in death in ways diverse from life. Yet ever works on to an end unseen.

ACT IV

Scene I. In the great garden of Admetus. Beyond are rolling meadows to the east. The light is that of a spring morning before the dawn. As the scene proceeds the dawn breaks and the sun rises.

Admetus (alone).

O changing sky, Thou canst not bring my dawn ;

Returning day. My Hght forever withdrawn.

Awakening year, Bloom visits not my spring,

My joy of hfe Not ever wakening.

Can ye not bide away or fade before ye blow, ye

flowers ? Can ye not weep forever, O silver April showers ? And thou, O fair May moon, do not awake, For at thy lover's light this heart shall break. 34

Act IV Alcestis

35

Sweet-throated choir of spring, let all your music

fail; And thou come not, come not O nightingale Love's voice come not ; be mute, O nightingale ; For Love's own sake, come not, O nightingale. Surely the spring shall cease, the days grow drear, I cannot bear the spring she is not here.

Return Alcestis!

How canst thou leave me here thus desolate ?

My cry goes forth to the unpitying air

I know that I must live till death alone.

Heart of my heart, since love did make us one.

Live on in me, O spirit of my love.

Thy nobler soul shall purify my soul.

And my low life ascend to meet thy life.

Come, then, a second bridal of the soul.

And let the mystic bond be consecrate.

So shall I live in thee forevermore.

Receive this life, O love, that turns to thee.

The dim, dark heaven waits solicitous, The distant cock-crows ring upon the air, And stillness flows, heavily flooding in.

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36

The grey-green leaves in shadowy mysteries Float up and settle. A bird calls sleepily, And now another, and now a stirring throng.

(Enter Heracles, supporting Alcestis, who is completely veiled in white.)

I see a form against the shining sky, Look ! slowly coming from the brightening east Walks Heracles, with lingering steps of woe, Returning sadly to this sorrowing home.

(As Heracles and Alcestis draw nearer, Ad- metus calls to Heracles.)

Adm. Whom hast thou there, that hangs upon thine arm As hangs the white-flowered vine against the oak. Fluttering in every breeze, and like to fall ?

Herac. One that must pass from my support to thine.

Adm. Take her within and bid them care for her. Since thou hast brought her she shall nothing lack.

Herac. I bring her unto thee, and thee alone.

Adm. What dost thou mean, O friend?

Herac. Receive a bride.

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37

Adm. Thou art my friend; thy thought is hid from me, But even in this I trust thee, as I know So deep the perfect fountain of thy heart. There cannot flow therefrom polluted tides. Such word to me had been another's death. This lady shall be honored for thy sake, But even for thee I cannot take a bride Her place that is no more cannot be filled. Nor shall I mock my sacred memories.

Herac. (commandingly). Take yet her hand, and love her for my sake.

Adm. Give me thy hand, O stranger; for his sake That brought thee, thou art precious in my eyes.

(Admetus takes the hand of Alcestis.) Adm. This hand ! This hand ! A touch of fire that flashes to my heart. I know each fold, each yieldine of this flesh ; Each motion is more eloquent than speech ; The pressure of thy fingers passes through me.

Herac. Admetus, I must go. Farewell, dear friend.

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(He approaches them, hut they do not move nor see him.)

In mystic, perfect loneliness they stand, Cut off from men farther than space can move. Through many blissful years hallow the earth, That mankind turn from wrong by seeing love. O happy pair, bless by thy happiness !

(He goes slowly out.)

Adm. I dare not lift thy veil, lest I awake, O sweetest dream, yet must I see thy face.

(He lifts her veil as the sun rises.) Alcestis !

Ale. Admetus ! My husband ! Adm. Beloved. (Pause.) Alcestis! Ale. (Pause.) Admetus!

Adm. Come heart to heari and let throb answer throb, We live together and together love.

(He takes Alcestis in his arms.)

Ale. We live together and together love. Adm. Fair morning, clear across the shining green,

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Meseems the sun was never so gold before, Nor the Hght air so dehcate and sweet, Nor all the birds so gay.

Ale. O blessed morn that brings me unto thee. Not thee alone, but all the world I love.

Adiii. The golden cup of joy is overrun. Become a living fountain for the world.

Both. O hasten, all ye people, and rejoice. For love is proven conqueror of death.

(The chorus enters.)

Chorus. What Love shall do who may foretell? Stricken he seems, and suddenly displays New ardors irresistible to quell That the astonished fates compel

Unto his praise. The night that gathers on our ways Is terrible no more, nor dread therof

Shadows the coming days ; For like a torch among us Love has passed And on beyond the appalling dark at last Far beaconing behold the face of Love.

IPHIGENEIA

[The scene is at Aulis, before the tent of Agamemnon.] Iphigeneia :

Chorus : Consisting of Greek warriors and the maidens who have accompanied Iphigeneia from Mycenae.

Chorus of Men.

When fierce through Hellas Menelaus ran forth Calling the Greeks, swift to our arms we sprang, Impatient to avenge him of his wrongs And bound by solemn oath of Tyndareus. Behold at Aulis hath our haste and rage Been wasted impotent, till Chalcas bids We offer Agamemnon's daughter here A sacrifice to ruling Artemis, That we may win a favorable breeze To waft our galleys through the azure sea. Long hath the king withstood our dread demand, Perforce hath yielded and the maid is come Lured from her quiet home by a pretense, A summoning to be Achilles' bride She, who must bleed on the appointed stone.

40

Iphigeneia 41

Ye bright tressed girls whose cheeks are wan with

fear, No harm is purposed you, but she shall die.

Chorus of Maidens. We mourn for her we serve and dearly love. Alas, how blithe has been our journey here That ends in tears. We sported through the fields Where hoary olives in the breeze and sun Flashed into silver, or we rested cool In the deep shade of solemn cypresses That pace the pale green hills in dark stoled march. White ran the road to urge us on our way With scarlet poppies beckoning in the heat. Iphigeneia, ah, alas for thee ! Lured in thine innocence to dreadful death, Caught in the coil by Helen's beauty spun That like a floating web ensnares and binds How many, many more that yet shall fall.

Men.

We shall avenge her, blood for blood When Paris pays for love with life And over the tall towers of Troy

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Her last sun flames on fiercer fires Forth leaping under pitch black smoke. When on the purple couches' pride The gilded beams crash sundering ; When Hector's sword no more shall gleam, And white haired Priam deeper sleeps, And shield and helm are red with gore And hung with gems and plundered gold.

Maidens. O Helen, are thy slumbers sweet? Do not the ghosts untimely dead Gather about thy perfumed feet And cry above thy golden head ? Dost thou not wake in chilly dread While loud thy startled pulses beat ?

O Helen, are thy slumbers light ? Is not the darkness tongued with flame. The thunder groaning through the night For thy god-fated sin and shame, The miseries on Troy that came Therefrom to purchase thy deHght?

Men. Let be ! Iphigeneia from the tent

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Comes forth with brow serene and quiet face Gazing as one that looks on distant lands.

Iphigeneia.

Across the fields I see the morning light

Dawn clearly after rain.

The scented meadows shining silver white,

I shall