Vision of Queen Atossa, The. "The Persians"

— The P ERSIANS . —

Ever with many visions of the night
Am I encompast, since my son went forth,
Leading a mighty host, with aim to sack
The land of the Ionians. But ne'er yet
Have I beheld a dream so manifest
As in the night just past. And this I'll tell thee:
There stood by me two women in fair robes;
And one in Persian garments was arrayed,
The other in Dorian came before mine eyes;
In stature both of tallest, comeliest size,
And both of faultless beauty, sisters twain,
Of the same stock. And they twain had their homes,
One in the Hellenic, one in alien land.
And these, as I dreamt I saw, were set
At variance with each other. And my son
Learnt it and checkt and mollified their wrath,
And yoked them to his chariot, and his collar
He placed upon thier necks. And one was proud
Of that equipment and in harness gave
Her mouth obedient; but the other kickt
And tore the chariot's trappings with her hands,
And rusht away uncurbed and broke its yoke
Asunder. And my son fell low and then
His father came, Dareios, pitying him,
And lo! when Xerxes saw him, he his clothes
Rent round his limbs. These things I say I saw
In visions of the night; and when I rose
And dipt my hands in fountain flowing clear,
I at the altar stood with hand that bore
Sweet incense, wishing holy chrism to pour
To the averting gods whom thus men worship.
And I beheld an eagle in full flight
To Phoibos' altar-hearth; and then, my friends,
I stood, struck dumb with fear; and next I saw
A kite pursuing in her winged course
And with his claws tearing the eagle's head
Which did not else but crouch and yield itself.
Such terrors it has been my lot to see
And yours to hear: for be ye sure, my son,
If he succeed, will wonder-worthy prove;
But if he fall, still irresponsible
He to the people, and in either case,
He, should he but return, is sovereign still.

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