Verse > Anthologies > Harvard Classics > English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald
   English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
554. Iphigeneia
Walter Savage Landor (1775–1864)
IPHIGENEIA, when she heard her doom
At Aulis, and when all beside the king
Had gone away, took his right hand, and said,
“O father, I am young and very happy.
I do not think the pious Calchas heard        5
Distinctly what the Goddess spake. Old-age
Obscures the senses. If my nurse, who knew
My voice so well, sometimes misunderstood
While I was resting on her knee both arms
And hitting it to make her mind my words,        10
And looking in her face, and she in mine,
Might he not also hear one word amiss,
Spoken from so far off, even from Olympus?”
The father placed his cheek upon her head,
And tears dropped down it, but the king of men        15
Replied not. Then the maiden spake once more.
“O father! sayst thou nothing? Hear’st thou not
Me whom thou ever hast, until this hour,
Listened to fondly, and awakened me
To hear my voice among the voice of birds,        20
When it was inarticulate as theirs,
And the down deadened it within the nest?”
He moved her gently from him, silent still,
And this, and this alone, brought tears from her,
Although she saw fate nearer: then with sighs,        25
“I thought to have laid down my hair before
Benignant Artemis, and not have dimmed
Her polished altar with my virgin blood;
I thought to have selected the white flowers
To please the nymphs, and to have asked of each        30
By name, and with no sorrowful regret,
Whether, since both my parents willed the change,
I might at Hymen’s feet bend my clipt brow;
And (after those who mind us girls the most)
Adore our own Athena, that she would        35
Regard me mildly with her azure eyes.
But, father! to see you no more, and see
Your love, O father! go ere I am gone”—
Gently he moved her off, and drew her back,
Bending his lofty head far over hers,        40
And the dark depths of nature heaved and burst.
He turned away; not far, but silent still.
She now first shuddered; for in him so nigh,
So long a silence seemed the approach of death,
And like it. Once again she raised her voice.        45
“O father! if the ships are now detained,
And all your vows move not the Gods above,
When the knife strikes me there will be one prayer
The less to them: and purer can there be
Any, or more fervent than the daughter’s prayer        50
For her dear father’s safety and success?”
A groan that shook him shook not his resolve.
An aged man now entered, and without
One word, stept slowly on, and took the wrist
Of the pale maiden. She looked up, and saw        55
The fillet of the priest and calm cold eyes.
Then turned she where her parent stood, and cried
“O father! grieve no more: the ships can sail.”


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