The words are uttered ; now a pitiless fate1
Draws me towards yonder desolate dark cave2
On the dim mountain side, where steps of men,3
Of wandering shepherds, homeward to the fold4
Guiding their weary flocks at eventide,5
Approach not—even the place where I must die.6
And thou, O Hœmon ! whom amidst the youth—7
The chosen youth of Thebes—I have so loved8
And given my virgin heart, remember me9
With calm thoughts of that unforgotten time,10
Long hoped-for, but now lost, for ever lost—11
Yield not thy soul to a passionate despair.12
The sunlight, or the eternal roll and change13
Of gracious seasons—or the pitying stars14
Which light me, moving towards perpetual night—15
Or sad Ismene, with her fruitless prayer16
For mercy—or the anguish in thy soul17
Scares not the awful shadow, which not yet18
Has ceased to hover, spreading fatal wings19
O’er the doomed race of wretched Œdipus.20
Ah me, unhappy ! retribution comes—21
Stalking in gloom thro’ melancholy halls22
Once beautiful, the stateliest in the land—23
Thy home now, cruel Creon ; yet my crime24
Is not my shame, but thine ; for I behold25
Polynices the beloved one on the shore26
In the silent land of shadows, and I come.27
Lo ! I depart thro’ the dim wavering gates28
The mist-like portals of that Autumn realm,29
Where mighty Orcus reigns ; and the stern queen30
Persephoné, who rules, with sceptre pale31
And calm eternal eyes, the gliding shades32
That wail around the shores of Acheron—33
Calls me, with sweet sad voice to take my place34
In divine dells, and glades of happy rest.35