The Prayer of Orestes

Orestes . O king Apollo! god Apollo! god
Powerful to smite and powerful to preserve!
If there is blood upon me, as there seems,
Purify that black stain (thou only canst)
With every rill that bubbles from these caves
Audibly; and come willing to the work.
No; 'tis not they; 'tis blood; 'tis blood again
That bubbles in my ear, that shakes the shades
Of thy dark groves, and lets in hateful gleams,
Bringing me . . what dread sight! what sounds abhorr'd!
What screams! They are my mother's: 'tis her eye
That through the snakes of those three furies glares,
And makes them hold their peace that she may speak.
Has thy voice bidden them all forth? There slink
Some that would hide away, but must turn back,
And others like blue lightnings bound along
From rock to rock; and many hiss at me
As they draw nearer. Earth, fire, water, all
Abominate the deed the Gods commanded!
Alas! I came to pray, not to complain;
And lo! my speech is impious as my deed!

Priestess of Apollo.

Take refuge here amid our Delphian shades,
O troubled breast!
Here the most pious of Mycenai's maids
Shall watch thy rest
And wave the cooling laurel o'er thy brow,
Nor insect swarm
Shall ever break thy slumbers, nor shalt thou
Start at the alarm
Of boys infesting (as they do) the street
With mocking songs,
Stopping and importuning all they meet,
And heaping wrongs
Upon thy diadem'd and sacred head,
Worse than when base
oegisthus (shudder not!) his toils outspread
Around thy race.
Altho' even in this fane the fitful blast
Thou may'st hear roar,
Thy name among our highest rocks shall last
For evermore.
Orestes . A calm comes over me: life brings it not
With any of its tides: my end is near.
O Priestess of the purifying God
Receive her! and when she hath closed mine eyes,
Do thou (weep not, my father's child!) close hers.
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