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The secret fount of fire, whose bubbles went
Over the ferule's brim, and manward sent
Art's mighty means and perfect rudiment,
That sin I expiate in this agony;
Hung here in fetters, 'neath the blanching sky!
Ah, ah me! what a sound,
What a fragrance sweeps up from a pinion unseen
Of a god, or a mortal, or nature between,-
Sweeping up to this rock where the earth has her
bound, To have sight of my pangs,—or some guerdon
obtainLo! a god in the anguish, a god in the chain!
The god, Zeus hateth sore,
And his gods hate again,
As many as tread on his glorified floor,-
Because I loved mortals too much evermore!
Alas me! what a murmur and motion I hear,
As of birds flying near!
And the air undersings
The soft stroke of their wings—
And all life that approaches, I wait for in fear.
Chorus of Sea Nymphs, 1st Strophe.
Fear nothing! our troop
Floats lovingly up,
With a quick-oaring stroke
Of wings steered to the rock;
Having softened the soul of our father below!
For the gales of swift-bearing have sent me a sound,
And the clank of the iron, the malleted blow,
Smote down the profound
Of my caverns of old, And struck the red light in a blush from my brow,
Till I sprang up unsandalled, in haste to behold,
And rushed forth on my chariot of wings manifold.
Prometheus. Alas me!-alas me!
Ye offspring of Tethys who bore at her breast
Many children; and eke of Oceanus,-he,
Who coils around earth with perpetual unrest;
Behold me and see,
How transfixed with the fang
Of a fetter, I hang
On the high-jutting rocks of this fissure, and keep
An uncoveted watch o'er the world and the deep.
Chorus, 1st Antistrophe.
I behold thee, Prometheus—yet now, yet now,
A terrible cloud, whose rain is tears,
Sweeps over mine eyes that witness how
Thy body appears
Hung awaste on the rocks by infrangible chains !
For new is the hand and the rudder that steers
The ship of Olympus through surge and wind-
And of old things passed, no track is behind.
Prometheus. Under earth, under Hades,
Where the home of the shade is,
All into the deep, deep Tartarus,
I would he had hurled me adown!
I would he had plunged me, fastened thus
In the knotted chain, with the savage clang,
All into the dark, where there should be none,
Neither god nor another, to laugh and see !
But now the winds sing through and shake
The hurtled chains wherein I hang,
And I, in my naked sorrows, make
Much mirth for my enemy.
Chorus, 2d Strophe.
Nay! who of the gods hath a heart so stern,
As to use thy woe for a root of mirth?
Who would not turn more mild to learn
Thy sorrows? who of the heaven and earth,
Save Zeus? But he
Bears on his sceptral soul unbent,
And rules thereby the heavenly seed;
Nor will he cease, till he content
His thirsty heart in a finished deed;
Or till Another shall appear,
To win by fraud, to seize by fear
The hardly captured government.
Prometheus. Yet even of me he shall have need,
That monarch of the blessed seed;
Of me, of me, who now am cursed
Beneath his fetters dire !
To wring my secret out withal,
And learn by whom his sceptre shall
Be filched from him—as was, at first,
His heavenly fire!
Yet he never shall enchant me
With his honey-lipped persuasion;
Never, never shall he daunt me
With the oath and threat of passion,
Into speaking as they want me,
Till he loose this savage chain,
And accept the expiation
Of my sorrow, by his pain.
Chorus, 2d Antistrophe.
Thou art, sooth, a brave god,
And, for all thou hast borne
From the stroke of the rod,
Naught relaxest from scorn!
But thou speakest unto me
Too free and unworn-
And a terror strikes through me,
And festers my soul,
And I fear, in the roll
Of the storm, for thy fate,
In the ship far from shore-
Since the son of Saturnius is hard in his hate,
And unmoved in his heart evermore.
Prometheus. I know that Zeus is stern! I know he metes his justice by his will ! And yet, I also know his soul shall learn More softness when once broken by this ill,That, curbing his unconquerable wrath, He shall rush on in fear, to meet with me Who rush to meet with him, in agony, To issues of harmonious covenant. Chorus. Remove the veil from all things, and
relate The story to us!—of what crime accused, Zeus smites thee with dishonorable pangs. Speak! if to teach us do not grieve thyself. Prometheus. The utterance of these things is
torture to me, But so, too, is their silence ! each way lies Woe strong as fate!
When gods began with wrath,
And war rose up between their starry brows,
Some choosing to cast Chronos from his throne,
That Zeus might king it there; and some in haste
With opposite oaths that they would have no Zeus
To rule the gods for ever,-1, who brought
The counsel I thought meetest, could not move
The Titans, children of the Heaven and Earth, —
Because, disdaining in their rugged souls
My subtle machinations, they assumed
It was an easy thing for force to take
The mastery of fate. My mother, then,
Who is called not only Themis, but Earth too,
(Her single beauty joys in many names,)
Did teach me, with reiterant prophecy,
What future should be,—and how conquering gods
Should not prevail by strength and violence,
But by guile only. When I told them so,
They would not deign to contemplate the truth
On all sides round ;—and thus, I deemed it best
To lead my mother upwards, willingly,
And set my Themis face to face with Zeus,
As willing to receive her! Tartarus,
With its abysmal cloister of the Dark,
Because I gave that counsel, covers up
The antique Chronos and his siding hosts;
And, by that counsel helped, the king of gods
Hath recompensed me by these bitter pangs—
For kingship wears a cancer at the heart,-
To have no faith in friends. And then, ye ask,
What crime it is for which he tortures me-
It shall be clear before you. When at first
He filled his father's throne, he made direct
And various gifts of glory to the gods,
And dealt the empire out. Alone, of men,