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She went, and crown'd it, and address'd her vows,
Plucking the myrtle bough: nor tear, nor sigh
Came from bor, neither did th' approaching ill
Change the fresh beauties of her vermeil cheek.
Her chamber then she visits, and her bed ;
There her tears flow'd, and thus she spoke, O bed,
To which my wedded lord, for whom I die,
Led me a virgin bride, farewell: to thee
No blame do I impute, for me alone
Hast thou destroy'd : disdaining to betray
Thee, and my lord, I die: to thee shall come
Some other woman, not more chaste, perchance
More happy: as she lay, she kiss'd the couch,
And bath'd it with a flood of tears: that pass'd,
She left her chamber, then retürn'd, and oft
She left it, oft return'd, and on the couch
Fondly, each time she enter'd, cast herself.
Her children, as they hung upon her robes
Weeping, she rais'd, and clasp'd them to her breast
Each after each, as now about to die.
Each servant through the house burst into tears
In pity of their mistress ; she to each
Stretch'd her right hand; nor was there one so mean
To whom she spoke not, and admitted him
To speak to her again. Within the house
These are our griefs. Admetus must have died,
Have perish'd; but escaping is immers’d
In sorrows, which his heart shall ne'er forget. . CHOR. Well may the groan burst from him, thus to lose
A wife with every excellence adorn'd.
Атт. He weeps indeed, and in his arms supports
His much-lov'd wife, entreats her not to leave him,
Asking impossibilities : She wastes
And fades with her disease; her languid limbs
Supporting on his hand, yet while some breath
Of life remains, she wishes to behold
The radiance of the sun, 'tis her last view,
As never more to see his golden orb.
I go to tell them thou art here: not all ,
Bear to their lords that firm unshaken faith,
- T' attend them in their ills; but thou of old
Hast to this house approved thyself a friend.
CHOR. Supreme of gods, is there no remedy
To these afflictions; from the storms of fate
No refuge to our lords? Some means of safety
Hast thou assign’d? Or must these locks be shorn,
And sorrow robe me in her sable weeds?
Too plain, my friends, too plain: yet to the gods
Breathe we our vows, for great their pow'r to save.
O royal Pæan, for Admetus' ills
Find some relief; assist him, O assist him;
As thou before didst save him, save him now
From death, repress the tyrant's murd'rous haste! CHOR. Alas, alas! Woe, woe is me! Thou son
Of Pheres, wilt thou bear to live, deprived
Of such a wife? Will not Despair unsheath
The self-destroying sword? Will it not find
Some means of violent death? This day thy wife,
Dear should I say? nay dearest to thy soul,
Shalt thou see dead. But she comes forth, and with her
Her husband. Groan, thou land of Pheres, raise
The cry of mourning; for the best of women
Wastes with disease, and drooping to the earth
Sinks to th' infernal Pluto's dreary realms.
Never will I pronounce the nuptial state .
To pleasure more allied than grief: of old
This often have I noted, chiefly now
Viewing my king's affliction, who, bereft
Of this sweet excellence, is doom'd to pass
A solitary life estranged from joy.
ALCESTIS, ADMETUS, EUMELUS, CHORUS. ALC. Thou sun, and thou fair light of day, ye clouds
That in quick eddies whirl along the sky!
ADM. Sees thee and me most wretched, yet in nought
Offending 'gainst the gods that thou shou’dst die.
O earth, ye tow'red roofs, thou bridal bed
Rais'd in Iolcos, my paternal seat!
ADM. O thou poor sufferer, raise thee, leave me not;
Entreat the pow'rful gods to pity thee. .
ALC. I see the two-oar'd boat, the Stygian barge;
And be, that wafts the dead, grasps in his hand
His pole, and calls me, Why dost thou delay?
Haste thee; thou lingerest; all is ready here.
Charon impatient speeds me to be gone. Hie
ADM. A melancholy voyage this to me.
O thou unbappy, what a fate is ours !
ALC. He drags me, some one drags me to the gates
That close upon the dead; dost thou not see him,
How stern he frowns beneath his gloomy brows,
Th' impetuous Pluto? What wou’dst thou with me?
Off, let me go. Ah, what a dreary path,
Wretched, most wretched, must I downwards tread !' ADM. To thy friends mournful, most to me, and these
Thy children, who with me this sorrow share,'
ALC. No longer hold me up, hold me no longer;
Here lay me down : I have not strength to stand:
Death is hard by: dark night creeps o'er my eyes.
My children, O my children, now no more,
Your mother is no more: farewell; may you
· More happy see the golden light of heav'n!
Ah, what a mournful word is this! to me
Than any death more painful: by the gods,
Forsake me not; shou’dst thou be taken from me,
I were no more; in thee I live; thy love,
Thy sweet society my soul reveres.
Thou seest, Admetus, what to me the Fates
Assign; yet, e'er I die, I wish to tell thee
What lies most near my heart. I honour'd thee,
And in exchange for thine my forfeit life
Devoted; now I die for thee, though free
Not to have died, but from Thessalia's chiefs
Preferring whom I pleas’d in royal state
To bave 'lived happy here: I had no will
To live bereft of thee with these poor orphans:
I die without reluctance, though the gifts :
Of youth are mine to make life grateful to me.
Yet he that gave thee birth, and she that bore thee,
Deserted thee, though well it had beseem'd them
With honour to have died for thee, t' have saved
Their son with honour, glorious in their death.
They had no child but thee, they had no hope
©f other offspring, shou’dst thou die; and I
Might thus have lived, thou might'st have lived till age
Crept slowly on, nor wou’dst thou heave the sigh
Thus of thy wife deprived, nor train alone
Thy orphan children: but some god appointed
It should be thus: thus be it: thou to me
Requite this kindness; never shall I ask
An equal retribution, nothing bears
A value high as life: yet my request
Is just, thou wilt confess it; for thy love
To these our children equals mine, thy soul
If wisdom tempers: in their mother's house
Let them be lords : wed not again, to set
A stepdame o'er my children, some base woman
That wants my virtues; she through jealousy
Will work against their lives, because to thee
I bore them: do not this, I beg thee do not;
For to the offspring of a former bed
A stepdame comes sharp as a serpent's tooth.
My son, that holds endearing converse with thee,
Hath in his father a secure protection.
But who, my daughter, shall with honour guide
Thy virgin years ? What woman shalt thou find
New-wedded to thy father, whose vile arts
Will not with slanderous falsehoods taint thy name,
And blast thy nuptials in youth's freshest bloom?
For never shall thy mother see thee led
A bride, nor at thy throes speak comfort to thee,
Then present when a mother's tenderness
Is most alive: for I must die; the ill
Waits not a day, but quickly shall I be
Number'd among'st the dead. Farewell, be happy.
And thou, my husband, may'st with honour boast
Thou hast been wedded to a virtuous wife;
And you, my children, glory in your mother.
CHOR. Fear not: I boldly pledge my faith that this
He will perform, if reason holds her seat.
ADM. This shall be done, let not such fears disturb thee,
It shall be done; for living thou wast mine,
And dead thou only shalt be call'd my wife.'
Never in thy dear place Thessalian bride
Shall call me husband: no; nor other woman,
Though from a line of ancient kings she draws
Her noble blood, and boasts each peerless grace
Of native beauty. I am blest with children,
Nor wish I more; in these I pray the gods,
I may have joy, since all my joy in thee
Is lost. This mourning not one single year,
But to my life's last period, shall be borne.
How hateful are my parents for tbeir words
Alone were friendly, not their deeds; whilst thou,
Paying the dearest forfeit for my life,
Hast saved me: Shall I ever cease to mourn,
Deprived of such a wife? Hence I renounce
The feast, the cheerful guest, the flow'ry wreath,
And song that used to echo through my house:
For never will 1 touch the lyre again,
Nor to the Libyan flute's sweet measures raise
My voice: with thee all my delights are dead.
Thy beauteous figure, by the artist's hand
Skilfully wrought, shall in my bed be laid;