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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Ion’s Song
By Euripides (c. 480–406 B.C.)
 
        
Translation of Henry Hart Milman
  
  [The boy Ion is in charge of the temple at Delphi, and his duties include driving away the birds.]

BEHOLD! behold!
Now they come, they quit the nest
On Parnassus’s topmost crest.
Hence! away! I warn ye all!
Light not on our hallowed wall!        5
From eave and cornice keep aloof,
And from the golden gleaming roof!
Herald of Jove! of birds the king!
Fierce of talon, strong of wing,—
Hence! begone! or thou shalt know        10
The terrors of this deadly bow.
Lo! where rich the altar fumes,
Soars yon swan on oary plumes.
Hence, and quiver in thy flight
Thy foot that gleams with purple light,        15
Even though Phœbus’s harp rejoice
To mingle with thy tuneful voice;
Far away thy white wings shake
O’er the silver Delian lake.
Hence! obey! or end in blood        20
The music of thy sweet-voiced ode.
 
Away! away! another stoops!
Down his flagging pinion droops;
Shall our marble eaves be hung
With straw nests for your callow young?        25
Hence, or dread this twanging bow,
Hence, where Alpheus’s waters flow;
Or the Isthmian groves among
Go and rear your nestling young.
Hence, nor dare pollute or stain        30
Phœbus’s offerings, Phœbus’s fane.
Yet I feel a sacred dread,
Lest your scattered plumes I shed;
Holy birds! ’tis yours to show
Heaven’s auguries to men below.        35
 
 
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