E (480 – 406 / Greece)

Farewell To Alcestis

Daughters of Pelias, with farewell from me,
I' the house of Hades have thy unsunned home!
Let Hades know, the dark-haired deity,
And he who sits to row and steer alike,
Old corpse-conductor, let him know he bears
Over the Acherontian lake this time,
I' the two-oared boat, the best, -oh, best by far
Of womankind! For thee, Alkestis Queen,
Many a time those haunters of the Muse
Shall sing to thee the seven stringèd mountain-shell,
And glorify in hymns that need no harp,
At Sparta when the cycle comes about,
And that Karneian month wherein the moon
Rises and never sets the whole night through:
So too at splendid and magnificent
Athenai. Such the spread of thy renown,
And such the lay that, dying, thou hast left
Singer and sayer. Oh that I availed
Of my own might to send thee once again
From Hades' hall, Kokutos' stream, by help
O' the oar that dips the river, back to-day!
Light from above thee, lady, fall the earth,
Thou only one of womankind to die,
Wife for her husband! If Admetos take
Any thing to him like a second spouse,
Hate from his offspring and from us shall be
His portion, let the king assure himself!
No mind his mother had to hide in earth
Her body for her son's sake, nor his sire
Had heart to save whom he begot, - not they,
The white-haired wretches! Only thou it was,
I' the bloom of youth, didst save him and so die!
Might it be mine to chance on such a mate
And partner! For there's penury in life
Of such allowance: were she mine at least,
So wonderful a wife, assuredly
She would companion me throughout my days
And never once bring sorrow!

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