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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
A Prayer to Artemis
By Æschylus (c. 525–456 B.C.)
 
From Anna Swanwick’s Translation of ‘The Suppliants’

STROPHE IV
    THOUGH Zeus plan all things right,
Yet is his heart’s desire full hard to trace;
        Nathless in every place
    Brightly it gleameth, e’en in darkest night,
Fraught with black fate to man’s speech-gifted race.        5
 
ANTISTROPHE IV
    Steadfast, ne’er thrown in fight,
The deed in brow of Zeus to ripeness brought;
      For wrapt in shadowy night,
    Tangled, unscanned by mortal sight,
Extend the pathways of his secret thought.        10
 
STROPHE V
From towering hopes mortals he hurleth prone
        To utter doom; but for their fall
        No force arrayeth he; for all
    That gods devise is without effort wrought.
A mindful Spirit aloft on holy throne        15
    By inborn energy achieves his thought.
 
ANTISTROPHE V
But let him mortal insolence behold:—
      How with proud contumacy rife,
      Wantons the stem in lusty life
My marriage craving;—frenzy over-bold,        20
Spur ever-pricking, goads them on to fate,
By ruin taught their folly all too late.
 
STROPHE VI
    Thus I complain, in piteous strain,
    Grief-laden, tear-evoking, shrill;
        Ah woe is me! woe! woe!        25
    Dirge-like it sounds; mine own death-trill
    I pour, yet breathing vital air.
    Hear, hill-crowned Apia, hear my prayer!
          Full well, O land,
My voice barbaric thou canst understand;        30
    While oft with rendings I assail
My byssine vesture and Sidonian veil.
 
ANTISTROPHE VI
    My nuptial right in Heaven’s pure sight
    Pollution were, death-laden, rude;
        Ah woe is me! woe! woe!        35
    Alas for sorrow’s murky brood!
    Where will this billow hurl me? Where?
    Hear, hill-crowned Apia, hear my prayer;
          Full well, O land,
My voice barbaric thou canst understand,        40
    While oft with rendings I assail
My byssine vesture and Sidonian veil.
 
STROPHE VII
  The oar indeed and home with sails
  Flax-tissued, swelled with favoring gales,
  Staunch to the wave, from spear-storm free,        45
  Have to this shore escorted me,
  Nor so far blame I destiny.
  But may the all-seeing Father send
  In fitting time propitious end;
  So our dread Mother’s mighty brood,        50
  The lordly couch may ’scape, ah me,
        Unwedded, unsubdued!
 
ANTISTROPHE VII
  Meeting my will with will divine,
  Daughter of Zeus, who here dost hold
        Steadfast thy sacred shrine,—        55
  Me, Artemis unstained, behold,
  Do thou, who sovereign might dost wield,
  Virgin thyself, a virgin shield;
  So our dread Mother’s mighty brood
  The lordly couch may ’scape, ah me,        60
        Unwedded, unsubdued!
 
 
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