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Hippolytus; The Bacchae Part 20

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DIONYSUS * * * * *

And tell of Time, what gifts for thee he bears, What griefs and wonders in the winding years.

For thou must change and be a Serpent Thing Strange, and beside thee she whom thou didst bring Of old to be thy bride from Heaven afar, Harmonia, daughter of the Lord of War.

Yea, and a chariot of kine--so spake The word of Zeus--thee and thy Queen shall take Through many lands, Lord of a wild array Of orient spears. And many towns shall they Destroy beneath thee, that vast horde, until They touch Apollo's dwelling, and fulfil Their doom, back driven on stormy ways and steep.

Thee only and thy spouse shall Ares keep, And save alive to the Islands of the Blest.

Thus speaketh Dionysus, Son confessed Of no man but of Zeus!--Ah, had ye seen Truth in the hour ye would not, all had been Well with ye, and the Child of G.o.d your friend!

AGAVE Dionysus, we beseech thee! We have sinned!

DIONYSUS Too late! When there was time, ye knew me not!

AGAVE We have confessed. Yet is thine hand too hot.

DIONYSUS Ye mocked me, being G.o.d; this your wage.

AGAVE Should G.o.d be like a proud man in his rage?

DIONYSUS 'Tis as my sire, Zeus, willed it long ago.

AGAVE (_turning from him almost with disdain_) Old man, the word is spoken; we must go.

DIONYSUS And seeing ye must, what is it that ye wait?

CADMUS Child, we are come into a deadly strait, All; thou, poor sufferer, and thy sisters twain, And my sad self. Far off to barbarous men, A grey-haired wanderer, I must take my road.

And then the oracle, the doom of G.o.d, That I must lead a raging horde far-flown To prey on h.e.l.las; lead my spouse, mine own Harmonia. Ares' child, discorporate And haunting forms, dragon and dragon-mate, Against the tombs and altar-stones of Greece, Lance upon lance behind us; and not cease From toils, like other men, nor dream, nor past The foam of Acheron find my peace at last.

AGAVE Father! And I must wander far from thee!

CADMUS O Child, why wilt thou reach thine arms to me, As yearns the milk-white swan, when old swans die?

AGAVE Where shall I turn me else? No home have I.

CADMUS I know not; I can help thee not.

AGAVE Farewell, O home, O ancient tower!

Lo, I am outcast from my bower, And leave ye for a worser lot.

CADMUS Go forth, go forth to misery, The way Actaeon's father went!

AGAVE Father, for thee my tears are spent.

CADMUS Nay, Child, 'tis I must weep for thee; For thee and for thy sisters twain!

AGAVE On all this house, in bitter wise, Our Lord and Master, Dionyse, Hath poured the utter dregs of pain!

DIONYSUS In bitter wise, for bitter was the shame Ye did me, when Thebes honoured not my name.

AGAVE Then lead me where my sisters be; Together let our tears be shed, Our ways be wandered; where no red Kithaeron waits to gaze on me; Nor I gaze back; no thyrsus stem, Nor song, nor memory in the air.

Oh, other Baccha.n.a.ls be there, Not I, not I, to dream of them!

[AGAVE _with her group of attendants goes out on the side away from the Mountain._ DIONYSUS _rises upon the Cloud and disappears._]

CHORUS There may be many shapes of mystery, And many things G.o.d makes to be, Past hope or fear.

And the end men looked for cometh not, And a path is there where no man thought.

So hath it fallen here. [_Exeunt_.]

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Hippolytus; The Bacchae Part 20 summary

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