SPEECH OF THE CHORUS,
In the same Tragedy, to dissuade Medea from her purpose of putting her children to death, and flying for protection to Athens.
1 O HAGGARD queen! to Athens dost thou guide
2 Thy glowing chariot, steep'd in kindred gore;
3 Or seek to hide thy damned parracide
4 Where Peace and Mercy dwell for evermore?
5 The land where Truth, pure, precious, and sublime,
6 Woos the deep silence of sequester'd bowers,
7 And warriors, matchless since the first of Time,
8 Rear their bright banners o'er unconquer'd towers!
9 Where joyous youth, to Music's mellow strain,
10 Twines in the dance with Nymphs for ever fair,
11 While Spring eternal, on the lilied plain,
12 Waves amber radiance through the fields of air?
13 The tuneful Nine, so sacred legends tell,
14 First wak'd their heavenly lyre these scenes among;
15 Still in your greenwood bowers they love to dwell;
16 Still in your vales they swell the choral song!
17 For there the tuneful, chaste, Pierian fair,
18 The guardian nymphs of green Parnassus, now
19 Sprung from Harmonia, while her graceful hair
20 Waved in bright auburn o'er her polish'd brow!
ANTISTROPHE I. [Page 97]
21 Where silent vales, and glades of green array,
22 The murm'ring wreaths of cool Cephisus lave,
23 There, as the Muse hath sung, at noon of day,
24 The Queen of Beauty bow'd to taste the wave!
25 And blest the stream, and breath'd across the land,
26 The soft sweet gale that fans yon summer bowers;
27 And there the sister Loves, a smiling band,
28 Crown'd with the fragrant wreaths of rosy flowers!
29 "And go," she cries, "in yonder valleys rove,
30 With Beauty's torch the solemn scenes illume;
31 Wake in each eye the radiant light of love,
32 Breathe on each cheek young Passion's tender bloom!
33 Entwine, with myrtle chains, your soft controul,
34 To sway the hearts of Freedom's darling kind!
35 With glowing charms enrapture Wisdom's soul,
36 And mould to grace ethereal Virtue's mind. "
STROPHE II. [Page 98]
37 The land where Heaven's own hallow'd waters play,
38 Where Friendship binds the generous and the good,
39 Say, shall it hail thee from thy frantic way,
40 Unholy woman! with thy hands embrued
41 In thine own children's gore? — oh! ere they bleed,
42 Let Nature's voice thy ruthless heart appal!
43 Pause at the bold, irrevocable deed —
44 The mother strikes — the guiltless babes shall fall!
45 Think what remorse thy maddening thoughts shall sting,
46 When dying pangs their gentle bosoms tear,
47 Where shalt thou sink, when ling'ring echoes ring
48 The screams of horror in thy tortur'd ear?
49 No! let thy bosom melt to Pity's cry, —
50 In dust we kneel — by sacred Heaven implore —
51 O! stop thy lifted arm, ere yet they die,
52 Nor dip thy horrid hands in infant gore! —
ANTISTROPHE II. [Page 99]
53 Say, how shalt thou that barb'rous soul assume?
54 Undamp'd by horror at the daring plan,
55 Hast thou a heart to work thy children's doom?
56 Or hands to finish what thy wrath began?
57 When o'er each babe you look a last adieu,
58 And gaze on Innocence that smiles asleep,
59 Shall no fond feeling beat, to Nature true,
60 Charm thee to pensive thought — and bid thee weep?
61 When the young suppliants clasp their Parent dear,
62 Heave the deep sob, and pour the artless prayer, —
63 Ay! thou shalt melt; — and many a heart-shed tear
64 Gush o'er the harden'd features of despair!
65 Nature shall throb in every tender string, —
66 Thy trembling heart the ruffian's task deny; —
67 Thy horror-smitten hands afar shall fling
68 The blade, undrench'd in blood's eternal dye!
CHORUS. [Page 100]
69 Hallow'd Earth! with indignation
70 Mark oh, mark the murderous deed!
71 Radiant eye of wide Creation
72 Watch the damned parracide!
73 Yet, ere Colchia's rugged daughter
74 Perpetrate the dire design,
75 And consign to kindred slaughter
76 Children of thy golden line!
77 Shall the hand with murther gory
78 Cause immortal blood to flow?
79 Sun of Heaven! — array'd in glory! —
80 Rise, — forbid, — avert the blow! —
81 In these vales of placid gladness
82 Let no rueful maniac range;
83 Chase afar the fiend of madness,
84 Wrest the dagger from Revenge!
85 Say, hast thou, with fond affection,
86 Rear'd thy smiling race in vain;
87 Fost'ring Nature's fond affection,
88 Tender cares, and pleasing pain?
89 Hast thou, on the troubled ocean,
90 Braved the tempest loud and strong,
91 Where the waves, with wild commotion,
92 Roar Cyanean rocks among?
93 Didst thou roam the paths of danger
94 Hymenean joys to prove?
95 Spare, O sanguinary stranger,
96 Pledges of thy sacred love!
97 Shall not Heaven, with indignation,
98 Watch thee o'er the barb'rous deed?
99 Shalt thou cleanse, with expiation,
100 Monstrous, murd'rous, parracide?