The Dioscuri

Two Interludes

I

P OLYDEUCES

When to the knees of Zeus
His sons draw nigh, the god puts forth his hand,
And with sublime command
And tenderer grace than earthly fathers use,
Bids us approach and asketh what we choose,
Fair bride or fruitful land
Or other token he begat us. " None, "
Our thoughts make answer. " Give us what thou wilt.
Part not our fortunes while we see the sun,
And keep our souls from guilt. "
Well pleased the Father listens, for he knows
What the heart utters though the lips be dumb,
And one strong hand he throws
About my neck, with gracious words to me,
Who stand before his feet.
But to thee, noble Castor, he saith, " Come, "
And lifts thee to his seat
To hold high converse touching things to be;
And, at our parting, thee
He kisseth on the brow,
For I am mortal but immortal thou.

C ASTOR

Strange fate, to be a god in human guise,
A king without his crown!
Unmoved the changeless gods look smiling down
From their inviolate skies,
And scarce the hum of mortal agonies
Reacheth their ears. Untroubled they behold
The waning seasons and the sad eclipse
Of beauty, while their lips
Sing sweetly, as of old,
Eternal things in temporal unrolled.
And man, in his brief hour,
Is happy, too: his scope
Little extends beyond his little dower;
Helpless, he trusts the unfathomable power,
And, knowing little, hath much room for hope.
But I, alas, alone
Although immortal am bereft of peace,
In a world not mine own
Enacting fated sorrows and foreknown,
And yet unwilling that my pain should cease.
I only of the gods am yoked in love,
Having an earthly brother
Begotten with me from the loins of Jove.
Leda, unwitting mother,
Too late suspected an Olympian strove
To be her mate. Else had the fatal law
That keeps her sons asunder
Stung her with sad foreboding and dim awe,
And he that rules the thunder
Had spared her beauty, blessing what he saw.
O Polydeuces, with how mighty a bond,
In both thy death and birth,
Thou bindest an immortal to the earth!
I see the world beyond,
Yet thy love maketh heaven nothing worth
While thou liv'st under heaven;
And when thy shade disconsolate is driven
By voiceless winds along the nether streams,
Although I cannot die,
My joy will not be perfect in the sky,
And I shall flit through Hades in my dreams.

II

P OLYDEUCES

To love as they that burn
And stealthily by night go steal their bliss,
And sigh 'twixt kiss and kiss,
" Alas, and was it this
For which my hushed and brooding soul could yearn? "
Oh, keep that love far from me, stars, that turn
Fixed in your holy spheres,
Me whom a brother's tears
Set in your midst, his bright eternal peers.

C ASTOR

Fair brother, 'twas thy deeds
That made thee partner of the gods and me,
A clear eye, quick to see,
A mighty hand and free,
A heart that trembles not at pain nor heeds.
Else had I never tamed the flying steeds
Of the unreturning hours,
Nor from the nether powers
Snatched thee, brave watchman, to the etherial towers.

P OLYDEUCES

" Eurotas and thou wide
Laconian meadow rich in waving grass,
Have ye seen Castor pass? "
" He rides no more, alas,
Since Helen fled and Polydeuces died. "
So sang the shepherd, so the stream replied,
But both were sad in vain.
Queen Helen came again,
And in high heaven shone her brothers twain.

C ASTOR

" Father, " I prayed, " how live
Or be immortal if my brother die?
Grant me in earth to lie
And him to course the sky,
That what each hath the other may receive. "
" Be it, " Zeus nodded, " both your labors leave
For thrifty time to reap;
Your loves let heaven keep,
Star following star, deep gazing into deep. "
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