The Life and Death of Jason

17. BOOK XVII.

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Jason at Corinth. The wedding of Glauce. The death of Jason.

SO ends the Winning of the Golden Fleece;
So ends the tale of that sweet rest and peace
That unto Jason and his love befell;
Another story now my tongue must tell,
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And tremble in the telling. Would that I
Had but some portion of that mastery
That from the rose-hung lanes of woody Kent
Through these five hundred years such songs have sent
To us, who, meshed within this smoky net
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Of unrejoicing labour, love them yet.
And thou, O Master!...Yea, my Master still,
Whatever feet have scaled Parnassus' hill,
Since like thy measures, clear and sweet and strong,
Thames' stream scarce fettered drave the dace along
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Unto the bastioned bridge, his only chain…
O Master, pardon me, if yet in vain
Thou art my Master, and I fail to bring
Before men's eyes the image of the thing
My heart is filled with: thou whose dreamy eyes
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Beheld the flush to Cressid's cheeks arise,
When Troilus rode up the praising street,
As clearly as they saw thy townsmen meet
Those who in vineyards of Poictou withstood
The glittering horror of the steel-topped wood.
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TEN years have passed, since in the market-place
The hero stood with flushed and conquering face,
And life before him like one happy day;
But many an hour thereof has passed away
In mingled trouble and felicity.
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And now at Corinth, kissed by either sea,
He dwells, not governed now nor governing,
Since there his kinsman Creon is a king.
And with him still abides the Colchian
But little changed, since o’er the waters wan
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She gazed upon the mountains that she knew
Still lessening as the plunging Argo flew
Over the billows on the way to Greece.
But in these ten sweet years of rest and peace
Two fair man-children hath she borne to him,
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Who, joyous fair of face and strong of limb,
Full oft shall hear the glorious story told
Of Argo and the well-won Fleece of Gold,
By some old mariner; and oft shall go
Where nigh the sea the wind-swept beech-trees grow,
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And with a grey old woman tending them,
Shall make an Aea of some beech-tree's stem,
About whose roots there stands the water black.
Nor of the fleece shall they have any lack,
For in the bushes hangs much tangled wool
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From wandering sheep who seek the shadow cool;
And for the dragon shall there be thereby
A many-coloured snake with glazed dull eye,
Slain by the shepherd; so shall pass their days,
Whom folk look soon to gather wealth and praise.
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AND 'midst these living things has Argo found
A home here also; on the spot of ground
'Twixt Neptune's temple and the eastern sea,
She looks across the waves unceasingly;
And as their ridges draw on towards the land,
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The winds tell stories of the kingly band.
There, with the fixed and unused oars spread out,
She lies amidst the ghosts of song and shout,
And merry laughter, that were wont to fill
Her well-built hollow, slowly dying still,
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Like all that glorious company of kings
Who in her did such well-remembered things.
But as the day comes round when o'er the seas
She darted 'twixt the blue Symplegades,
And when again she rushed across the bar,
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With King Aeetes following her afar,
And when at length the heroes laid adown
The well-worn oars at old King Aeson's town,
When, year by year, these glorious days come round,
Bright with gay garments is that spot of ground,
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And the grey rocks that o'ertop Cenchreæ
Send echoes of sweet singing o'er the sea.
For then the keel the maidens go about
Singing the songs of Orpheus, and the shout
Of rough-voiced sea-folk endeth every song;
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And then from stem to stern they hang along
Garlands of flowers, and all the oars they twine
With garlands too, and cups of royal wine
Cast o'er her bows; and at the stern a maid
Handles the tiller, she being all arrayed
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In Juno's fashion; while anigh the stem

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Stands one with wings and many-coloured hem
About her raiment, like the messenger
Who bears the high Gods' dreadful words with her,
And through the sea of old that stem did lead.
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LO, in such wise they honoured that great deed,
But Jason did they reverence as a God;
And though his kinsman bore the ivory rod
And golden circlet, little could he do
Unless the great Thessalian willed it too.
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Yet therefore Creon nowise bore him hate,
But reverencing the wise decrees of fate,
Still honoured him the more; and therewith thought,
Would that this man by some means might be brought
To wed my daughter; since when I am dead,
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By none but him the people shall be led.
And on this thought he brooded more and more,
And 'gan to hate the Colchian very sore,
And through the place, as lightly he might do,
He spread ill tales of false things and of true,
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And unto Jason's self such words did say
As well he thought might turn his heart away
From faith and truth; and as such words will come,
When wise men speak them, to a ready home,
So here they did; though soothly for his part,
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He knew it not, nor yet his restless heart.
BUT on a day it fell that as they sat
In Creon's porch, and talked of this or that,
The king spake: Yea no dread thy strong heart bears,
But is it that no whisper yet it hears
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Of what the Gods may do for Pelias?
Nay, Jason said, let what will come to pass!
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His day is past and mine is flourishing;
But doubtless is an end to everything,
And soon or late each man shall have his day.
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Then said the king: Neither did thine hand slay
The man thyself, or bring his death about;
Each man shall bear his own sin without doubt.
Yet do I bid thee watch and take good heed
Of what the Colchian's treacheries may breed.
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Then quickly Jason turned his head around
And said: What is there dwelling above ground
That loveth me as this one loveth me?
O Creon! I am honoured here as thee;
All do my will as if a God I were;
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Scarce can the young men see me without fear,
The elders without tears of vain regret.
And, certes, had this worshipped head been set
Upon some spike of King Aeetes' house,
But for her tender love and piteous;
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For me she gave up country kin and name,
For me she risked tormenting and the flame,
The anger of the Gods and curse of man;
For me she came across the waters wan
Through many woes, and for my sake did go
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Alone, unarmed, to my most cruel foe,
Whom there she slew by his own daughters' hands,
Making me king of all my father's lands:
Note all these things, and tell me then to flee
From that which threateneth her who loveth me.
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Yea, said the king, to make and to unmake
Is her delight; and certes for thy sake
She did all this thou sayest, yea, and yet more;
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Seeing thee death-doomed on a foreign shore,
With hardy heart, but helpless; a king's son,
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But with thy thread of life well-nigh outrun;
Therefore, I say, she did all this for thee,
And ever on the way to Thessaly
She taught thee all things needful, since ye were
As void of helpful knowledge as of fear.
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All this she did, and so was more than queen
Of thee and thine: but thou, thine age is green,
NOR will thou always dwell in this fair town,
Nor through the wild wood hunt the quarry down:
Bethink thee, of the world thou mayst be king,
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Holding the life and death of everything,
Nor will she love thee more, upon that day
When all her part will be but to obey;
Nor will it then be fitting unto thee
To have a rival in thy sovereignty
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Laid in thy bed, and sitting at thy board.
Now somewhat Jason reddened at that word,
But said: O Creon, let the thing be so!
She shall be high the while that I am low,
And as the Gods in heaven rule over me,
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Since they are greater, in such wise shall she,
Who as they gave me life, has given me life,
And glorious end to seeming hopeless strife.
Then Creon said: Yea, somewhat good it were
If thou couldst lead that life, and have no fear.
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Laughing he spoke; but quickly changed his face,
And with knit brows he rose up from his place,
And with his hand on Jason's shoulder, said:
O careless man, too full of hardihead!
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O thou ease-loving, little-thinking man,
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Whate'er thou doest, dread the Colchian!
She will unmake thee yet, as she has made,
And in a bloody grave shalt thou be laid.
Then turning, to his palace went the king,
But Jason, left alone and pondering,
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Felt in his heart a vague and gnawing fear,
Of unknown troubles slowly drawing near,
And, spite of words, the thing that Creon said
Touched in his heart that still increasing dread,
And he was moved by that grave elder's face,
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For love was dying in the ten years' space.
BUT Creon, sitting in his chamber, thought,
Surely I deem my hero may be brought
To change his mate, for in his heart I see
He wearies of his great felicity;
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Like fools, for whom fair heaven is not enough,
Who long to stumble over forests rough
With chance of death: yet no more will I say,
But let the bright sun bring about the day.
Now such an one for daughter Creon had
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As maketh wise men fools, and young men mad,
Who yet in Corinth at this time was not,
But dwelt afar upon a woody spot
Anigh Cleonæ; whither oft before
Had Jason gone for chasing of the boar
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With Creon and his folk; and on a day
With the old king again he took his way
To that dark wood, whereto, about the noon.
They came, well harbingered by thrushes' tune.
And there straight fell to hunting of the boar;
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But, either through default of woodland lore,
Or bidden by the king, huntsmen and all
The king's stout servants from the chase did fall,
And Jason with him soon was left alone.
And both saw that the day should soon be done,
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For 'midst the thick trees was it nigh twilight,
Then Jason said: Surely our bed to-night
Will be beneath these creaking boughs and black.
Nay, said the king, surely we shall not lack
Soft golden beds such as old men desire,
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Nor on the hearth the crackling of the fire,
For hereby is a little house of mine,
Where dwells my daughter Glauce, near the shrine
Of round-armed Juno; there, with two or three,
Matrons or maids, she guardeth reverently
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The altar of the Goddess. With that word
Forward his jaded horse old Creon spurred,
And Jason followed him; and when the sun
His burning course that day had well-nigh done,
The king and Jason came anigh the place
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Where stood the house upon a swarded space
Amidst thick trees, that hedged it like a wall,
Whose shadows now o'er half the lawn did fall,
While, 'twixt their stems the low sun showed like fire,
And in the east the still white moon rose higher.
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But midmost there a glittering roof of gold
Slim shafts of pale blue marble did uphold,
And under it, made by the art divine
Of some dead man, before a well-wrought shrine,
Watching her altar, kind and satisfied
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The Golden Goddess stood all open-eyed:

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And round her temple was a little close
Shut by a gilded trellis of red rose
From off the forest green-sward; and from thence
Carried by winds about the beechwood dense,
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The scent of lilies rose up in the air,
And store of Juno's fowl was roosting there,
Or moving lazily across the grass.
BUT from the temple did the two kings pass
Unto a marble house that was thereby,
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Not great indeed, but builded cunningly,
And set about with carven images,
Built in a close of slim young apple-trees;
A marble fountain was there nigh the door,
Wherein the restless water trickled o’er
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A smooth-hewn basin coloured like a shell,
And from the wet pink lip thereof it fell
By many a thin streak into a square pool,
From whence it ran again, the grass to cool,
In a small stream o’er sand and earth and flint,
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Edged all about with fragrant blue-flowered mint,
Or hidden by the flat-leaved quivering sedge.
But from the pool's smooth-wrought and outmost edge
There went a marble step the fount to meet,
Well worn by many a water-drawer's feet.
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And thereon now they saw a damsel stand,
Holding the basin's lip with either hand,
While at her feet a brazen ewer stood;
But when she heard them coming from the wood,
She turned about, and, seeing men near by,
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Caught up the brazen vessel hastily,
And swiftly ran back towards the marble house;
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But Creon, in his voice imperious,
Cried: Hither, Glauce, am I grown so old,
That without fear thou canst no more behold
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Thy father, Creon? Nay, come near, O child,
And bid us welcome to the forest wild.
Then straight she stopped, and setting down the urn,
Unto her father and his guest did turn,
While o'er his saddle-bow old Creon bent,
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Rejoicing in her beauty as she went;
And for one moment every scheme forgat,
For raising this thing and abasing that;
As well he might, for as in poor array
She drew on towards them at that end of day,
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With raiment fluttering in the evening breeze,
She seemed like Her, the crown of Goddesses,
Who, o'er the dark sea, at the sunset came
To be in heaven a joy, on earth a flame.
Blushing, she came to Creon's saddle-bow,
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And kissed him, who said, smiling: Fearest thou
Thy father, grown the oldest of old men?
How wilt thou look upon this stranger then,
Who is no God, though such he seems to be,
But.Jason, leader of the Minyæ?
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Somewhat she started at the glorious name,
And o'er her face deeper the red flush came,
As she, with upraised face and shamefast eyes,
Said: Welcome, winner of the guarded prize!
Good hap it is indeed that thou art come
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Unto my little-peopled woodland home.
Come then, my lords, to what awaits you here;
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Not rich Mæonean wine, nor dainty cheer
Your lips shall taste, but of fair simple flowers,
Plucked at the edges of the beechen bowers,
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Your drink shall savour, and your meat shall be
Red-coated squirrels from the beechen tree.
Then fain to hide her eyes and blushing face,
She turned from them, and at a gentle pace
Unto the pillared porch she led the twain.
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There they, alighting the dark house did gain,
And there they ate and drank, making such cheer
As fasting men will do; and still anear
Was Glauce to them, telling every maid
How such and such a thing should be arrayed;
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And ever the Thessalian's eager eyes
Did follow her, and to his heart did rise
Vague feelings of a new-found happiness.
But now as the round moon was growing less,
And waxing brighter, and of fitting food
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The kings had eaten as they thought it good,
Then Creon said: O daughter, rise and take
This full cup to the hero for my sake,
And bid him drink thereof, and tell thee all
That unto him at Aea did befall,
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And what fate did as still he journeyed home.
Then unto Jason did the maiden come,
Bearing the cup, and when he saw her thus,
The lapse of time seemed strange and piteous;
For he bethought him of that other tide,
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When certain-seeming death he did abide
In King Aetes' hall; and when she drew
Anigh unto him, back the past years flew,
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And he became that man entrapped again,
And newly felt, as then, that joyous pain,
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And in his hand as then the cup he took,
With the warm fingers, and as then her look
Sent fire throughout his veins; yea, and as then
He had no heed of any Gods or men.
Therewith her musical sweet voice he heard,
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Speaking again the king her father's word:
O Jason, if it please thee, tell me all
That unto thee at Aea did befall,
And what thou sawest as thou journeydst home,
And how it happed thee to thy land to come.
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But ever as she spake she gazed at him,
And with new thoughts her simple eyes did swim,
Thinking her happy that this man had wed;
And therewithal she turned from pale to red,
And red to pale. Then said he; Thou shall know,
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O fair king's daughter, all I have to show.
And so the story of the Fleece began,
And how fair Argo crossed the water wan;
While from his glittering eyes, deep sunk with eld,
The wily king those beauteous folk beheld,
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As still from Jason's lips poured forth the tale,
And she sat listening, whiles with cheeks grown pale
And parted lips, and whiles with downcast eyes,
And blushing for the thoughts that would arise
Uncalled for; and thus passed that eve away
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Till time of rest came. Then until the day,
In his fair silken bed did Jason dream
Of Argo struggling with the unknown stream,
And all the wonders of their by-gone quest,
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And well-known faces long time laid to rest.
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BUT when the night was o’er, and the great sun
Another day for all things had begun,
The kings arising unto Corinth rode;
But ere they left the woodland fair abode,
Unto the Goddess did they sacrifice,
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And on her altar in such woodland wise
As huntsmen use, their offerings did they lay.
With them was Glauce on that dawn of day,
Upon the left hand of the ancient king,
Unto the reverend Goddess ministring.
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But when they turned once more unto the town,
The half-quenched censer did she lay adown,
And holding still the fresh-plucked flowery wreath,
Bade them farewell. Then by thick wood and heath
They rode, and on their journey Jason said
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Few words and wandering; for still that maid
Did he behold before his waking eyes.
And with the oft-recurring memories
Of days and things a long time passed away
Her image mixed, and words that she did say.
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But when upon the threshold of his house
He met Medea, who, with amorous
And humble words, spoke to him greetings kind,
He felt as he whose eyes the fire doth blind,
That presently about his limbs shall twine,
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And in her face and calm grey eyes divine
He read his own destruction; none the less
In his false heart fair Glauce's loveliness
Seemed that which he had loved his whole life long,
And little did he feel his old love's wrong.
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Alas for truth! each day, yea, hour by hour,
He longed once more to see the beechen bower,
And her who dwelt thereby. Alas, alas!
Oft from his lips the hated words would pass:
O wavering traitor, still unsatisfied!
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O false betrayer of the love so tried!
Fool! to cast off the beauty that thou knowst,
Clear-seeing wisdom, better than a host
Against thy foes, and truth and constancy
Thou wilt not know again, whate'er shall be!
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So oft he spoke words that were words indeed,
And had no sting, nor would his changed heart heed
The very bitterest of them all, as he
Thought of his woodland fair divinity,
And of her upturned face, so wondering
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At this or that oft-told unheeded thing.
Yet whiles indeed old memories had some power
Over his heart; in such an awful hour
As that, when darksome night is well-nigh done,
And earth is waiting silent for the sun;
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Then would he turn about his mate to see,
From lips half open breathing peacefully;
And open, listless, the fair fingers laid,
That unto him had brought such mighty aid.
Then groaning from her would he turn away,
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And wish he might not see another day,
For certainly his wretched soul he knew,
And of the cruel God his heart that drew.
But when the bright day had come round again,
With noise of men, came foolish thoughts and vain,
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And, feeding fond desire, needs must he burn

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Unto Cleonae his swift steps to turn.
Nor to these matters was the Colchian blind,
And though as yet his speech to her was kind,
Good heed she took of all his moody ways,
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And how he loved her not as in past days;
And how he shrunk from her, yet knew it not,
She noted, and the stammering words and hot,
Wherewith as she grew kinder still he strove
To hide from her the changing of his love.
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Long time she tried to shut her eyes to this,
Striving to save that fair abode of bliss;
But so it might not be; and day by day
She saw the happy time fade fast away;
And as she fell from out that happiness,
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Again she grew to be the sorceress,
Worker of fearful things, as once she was,
When what my tale has told she brought to pass.
SO, on a weary, hopeless day, she said:
Ah, poor Medea, art thou then betrayed
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By that thou trustedst? Art thou brought to nought
By that which erst, with wonders strangely wrought,
Thou madest live through happy days and long?
Lo, now shall be avenged those poor maids' wrong,
Who, in that temple o'er the murmuring sea,
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Ran maddening here and there; and now shall be
That word accomplished that I uttered then,
Nor yet believed…that to all earthly men,
In spite of right and wrong, and love and hate,
One day shall come the turn of luckless fate.
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Alas! then I believed it not, when I

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Saw Argo's painted prow triumphantly
Cleave the grey seas, and knew that I it was,
My very self, who brought those things to pass,
And lit those eyes unseen. How could I know
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Unto what cruel folly men will grow?
She wept therewith; and once more on that night
She stole abroad about the mirk midnight,
Once more upon a wood's edge from her feet
She stripped the shoes and bared her shoulder sweet.
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Once more that night over the lingering fire
She hung with sick heart famished of desire.
Once more she turned back when her work was done:
Once more she fled the coming of the sun;
Once more she reached her dusky, glimmering room;
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Once more she lighted up the dying gloom;
Once more she lay adown, and in sad sleep
Her weary body and sick heart did steep.
Alas! no more did tender Love come down
And smooth her troubled face of fear and frown;
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No more with hope half-opened lips did smile.
Not long she slept, but in a little while,
Sighing, she rose, when now the sun was high,
And, going to her wallet wearily,
Took forth a phial thence, which she unstopped
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And a small driblet therefrom slowly dropped
Upon a shred of linen, which straightway
In the sun's gleaming pathway did she lay;
But when across it the first sunbeam came,
Therefrom there burst a colourless bright flame,
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Which still burnt on when every shred was gone
Of that which seemed to feed the flame alone;
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Nor burnt it less for water, that she threw
Across it and across. Thereon she drew
A linen tunic from a brazen chest,
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Wherein lay hid the fairest and the best
Of all her raiment; this she held, and said:
Jason, thy love is fair by likelihead,
Pity it were to hide her over-much,
And when this garment her fair limbs shall touch,
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So will it hide them as the water green
Hid Citheræa, when she first was seen.
Soothly she spoke, because the web was fair
And thin, and delicate beyond compare,
And had been woven in no common loom,
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For she herself within her fair-hung room
Had set the warp and watched the fine web glide
Up from the roller, while from side to side,
Scarce seen, the shuttle flew from fingers thin
Of a dark Indian maid, whom gold did win
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From some Phœnician, that loved nought but gold.
But sighing now the raiment to behold,
She poured into a well-wrought bowl of brass
The thing that in the phial hidden was,
And therein, fold by fold, the linen laid,
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Then for a little while her hands she stayed,
Till it had drunk the moisture thoroughly;
Whereon she took it forth and laid it by,
Far from the sunlight, on her royal bed,
Saying: O thou who hast the hardihead,
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Whoe'er thou art, to take from me mine own,
It had been better for thee that of stone
Thy limbs were wrought, nor made to suffer pain,
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If this morn's deed has not been quite in vain.
So saying, did she mutter moodily,
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Watching the spread-out linen slowly dry;
At last she took it and within a bright
Fair silver casket hid it from the sight.
This done, about the noble house she went,
And bitterly full oft her eyes she bent
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On man and maid, and things grown old and dear,
'Midst hope of rest, no longer hoped for there.
AND, meantime Jason by the wily king
Still watched, had little joy in anything,
For while with fierce desire his heart still burned,
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Yet now again for rest and peace he yearned,
Nor praise of other men yet counted nought,
And somewhat of the coming days he thought,
Arid helpless eld with many memories
Beset, and pictures of reproachful eyes;
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Yet thinking of the chain of days and nights
Stretched out all barren of once-hoped delights,
A sorry thing life seemed to him to be,
And one path only from that misery
Seemed open to him…where the fair girl stood,
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Within the shadow of the beechen wood.
But while he wavered thus 'twixt love and fear,
And something of the old time grown too dear
To cast off lightly, Creon noted all;
Fair grew his hope that things should so befall
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As he had willed, and in such wise he wrought
That all unto an ending soon he brought.
Therefore it happed that on a July morn,
Jason at last, by many troubles torn,
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Mounted his horse, and toward Cleonæ turned.
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But as with pale face, and a heart that burned
To end all things in sweet love at the last,
He by the palace of King Creon passed,
There Creon stood before the door, and said:
Where goest thou, O Jason? By my head,
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Wilt thou not sit at our high feast to-day?
What do'st thou then, upon the stony way
That leads to Argolis? O King, said he,
I am not meet for your solemnity,
Because the Gods to-day have made me sad;
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Nor knew I that high feast should here be had,
But thought to-day to see my arrows fly
Within the green glades of the wood hereby.
Meseems, the king said, Summer yet is young,
And on the wall thy quiver may be hung,
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When unto Citheræa's house of gold
Go thronging man and maid and young and old:
When elders like to me will hold this feast;
Who in their foolish hearts can mourn at least
For days and things that never come again.
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Yet, for myself, I shall not feast in vain,
For on this day my daughter comes to me;
Her whom anigh Cleonæ thou didst see;
And she too goes with flower-bearing hands
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So saying, did his ancient wily eyes
Behold the blood to Jason's brow arise,
And inwardly he laughed; but Jason said:
Yea then, O King, to chase my drearihead,
This were a fair sight for mine eyes to see,
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And since thou willest, I will go with thee.
Then 'lighting from his horse, beside the king
He stood, and talked of this or that light thing,
And saw meanwhile full many a wain broad-wheeled,
Laden with blossoms plucked from close and field,
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Go toward the temple of the Cyprian queen,
And youths and maidens, wreathed about with green,
Pass singing carols through the listening street.
At last the king said: Come, and let us meet
This joyous band within the very fane.
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So forth they went, and soon the place did gain,
Where the fair temple of the Goddess rose
From 'midst a grassy apple-planted close.
But each side of the door a maid there stood,
Clad in thin silken raiment red as blood,
595
Who had by her a gilded basket light,
Filled full of blossoms woven for delight,
Wherefrom unto the passing kings they gave
Wreaths bound with gold, that somewhat they might have
To offer to the dread divinity,
600
Whose image wrought of silver cunningly
Stood 'neath a canopy of gleaming gold
Midmost the place, where damsels fair did hold
Baskets of flowers, or swung rich censers high;
Then to the precious shrine they drew anigh
605
And forth stood Creon, and the fragrant wreath
Laid on the altar, and beneath his breath
Some prayer he muttered; and next Jason laid
His gift by Creon's, but of much afraid,
And hoping much, he made not any prayer
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610
Unto the Goddess; then amid the fair
Slim pillars did he stand beside the king,
Confused as in a dream, and wondering
How all would end. But as they waited thus,
Within that fragrant place and amorous,
615
Languid grew Jason with the roses' scent
And with the incense-cloud that ever went
Unto the half-seen golden roof above,
Amongst whose glimmering dusk the grey-winged dove
Hung crooning o'er his wrongs; moreover there
620
The temple-damsels passed them, shy and fair,
With white limbs shining through their thin attire,
And steadfast eyes, the hearts of men to fire,
Beneath their heavy crowns of roses red;
And veiled sweet voices through the place did shed
625
Strange fitful music, telling more than words,
Confused by twitter of the restless birds
Within the temple-eaves, and by the doves,
Who 'mid the pillars murmured of their loves.
But when the pleasure of that temple fair
630
Had sunk into his soul, upon the air
Was borne the sound of flutes from folk outside,
And soon the greatest doors were opened wide,
And all the rout of worshippers poured in,
Clad in fair raiment, summer-like and thin,
635
And holding wreaths, part twined of fragrant flowers…
The children of the soft, sweet April showers…
And part of blossoms wrought in ruddy gold.
Now back the incense from the altar rolled
At their incoming, driven by the wind,
640
And round the pillars of the place it twined,

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Enwrapping Jason, so that faint and dim
The fair show of the maidens was to him,
As each upon the altar laid adown
The blossoms mingled with the golden crown,
645
And prayed her prayer, then passed behind the shrine.
At last from 'midst that cloud did Venus shine
Before the face of the Thessalian,
Who, with fixed eyes, and lips grown thin and wan,
Stared at the image, little though he saw,
650
But at her feet a sweet face, grave with awe,
Just bending over toward the silver feet,
Which Glauce with a timid kiss did greet,
And this being done, drew backward murmuring
Her prayer to Venus: Goddess, a small thing
655
Before this altar do I ask of thee,
That I my hero and my love may see,
That I but therewithal her face she raised,
And met his hungry eyes that on her gazed,
And stopped all trembling, letting fall adown
660
The hand that held the gold-enwoven crown.
Yet little anger Venus had therefore,
But rather smiled to see her learn her lore
Within her house upon her festal day.
But now upon the altar did she lay
665
Her mingled crown, and yet she finished not
Her prayer begun, though in her poor heart, hot
With thoughts of love, full many a prayer she prayed.
And now was all that pageant well arrayed
To pass about the temple, and her place
670
Did Glauce take with flushed and eager face;
But on her finger did she loose a ring,
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Which that same day the wise Corinthian king
Had given unto her; thus she went along,
Murmuring faint words amidst her fellows' song.
675
Then past the kings the long procession swept,
And somewhat from the pillars Jason stepped,
Seeking a sign from that desired face;
And when the damsels at a gentle pace
Went by him, and for fear of him and awe
680
Shrunk back, and with their slender hands did draw
Closer about them the thin fragrant weed;
Still nought of all their beauty did he heed,
But as the maiden army passed him by
Into sweet Glauce's eyes appealingly
685
He gazed, who, trembling like some snow-trapped dove,
From her soft eyes sent forth one look of love
Then dropped the lids, as, blind with love and shame,
Unto the place where stood the kings she came.
And there her hand that down beside her hung
690
She raised a little, and her faltering tongue
Just framed the words: O love, for thee, for thee!
And with that word she trembled piteously,
In terror at the sound of her own voice.
And much did wily Creon then rejoice,
695
Looking askance, and feigning to see nought,
When he beheld those hands together brought.
But Jason, when those fingers touched his own,
Forgat all joys that he had ever known;
And when her hand left his hand with the ring,
700
Still in the palm, like some lost, stricken thing
He stood and stared, as from his eyes she passed.
And from that hour all fear away was cast,
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All memory of the past time, all regret
For days that did those changed days beget,
705
And therewithal adown the wind he flung
The love whereon his yearning heart once hung.
AH! Let me turn the page, nor chronicle
In many words the death of faith, nor tell
Of meetings by the newly-risen moon,
710
Of passionate silence ’midst the brown birds’ tune,
Of wild tears wept within the noontide shade,
Of wild vows spoken that of old were made,
For other ears, when, amidst other flowers,
He wandered through the love-begetting hours.
715
Suffice it that unhappy was each day
Which without speech from Glauce passed away,
And troublous dreams would visit him at night,
When day had passed all barren of her sight.
And at the last, that Creon, the old king,
720
Being prayed with gifts, and joyful of the thing,
Had given a day when these twain should be wed.
MEANWHILE, the once-loved sharer of his bed
Knew all at last, and fierce tormenting fire
Consumed her as the dreadful day drew nigher,
725
And much from other lips than his she heard:
Till, on a day, this dreadful, blighting word,
Her eyes beheld within a fair scroll writ,
And ‘twixt her closed teeth still she muttered it:
Depart in peace! And take great heaps of gold,
730
For nevermore thy body will I fold
Within these arms. Let Gods wed Goddesses
And sea-folk wed the women of the seas,
And men wed women; but thee, who can wed
And dwell with thee without consuming dread,
735
O wise kin of the dreadful sorceress!

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And yet perchance thy beauty still may bless
Some man to whom the world seems small and poor,
And who already stands beside his door,
Armed for the conquest of all earthly things.
740
Lo, such an one, the vanquisher of kings,
And equal to the Gods should be thy mate.
But me, who for a peaceful end but wait,
Desiring nought but love…canst thou love me?
Or can I give my whole heart up to thee?
745
I hear thee talk of old days thou didst know…
Are they not gone?...wilt thou not let them go,
Nor to their shadows still cling desperately,
Longing for things that never more can be?
What! wilt thou blame me still that the times change?
750
Once through the oak-wood happy did I range,
And thought no ill; but then came over me
Madness, I know not why, and o'er the sea
I needs must go in strife to win me fame,
And certes won it, and my envied name
755
Was borne with shouts about the towns of Greece.
All that has vanished now, and my old peace,
Through lapse of changing years, has come to me.
Once more I seem the woodland paths to see,
Tunes of old songs are ringing in mine ears,
760
Heard long ago in that place free from fears,
Where no one wept above his fellow dead,
And looked at death himself with little dread.
The times are changed, with them is changed my heart,
Nor in my life canst thou have any part,
765
Nor can I live in joy and peace with thee,

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Nor yet, for all thy words, canst thou love me.
Yet, is the world so narrow for us twain
That all our life henceforth must be but vain?
Nay, thou shalt go, and be a queen henceforth
770
Of fairer worlds than mine, of greater worth:
And wheresoe'er thou goest shalt thou fare
As one for whom the Gods have utmost care.
YEA, she knew all, yet when these words she read,
She felt as though upon her bowed-down head
775
Had fallen a misery not known before,
And all seemed light that erst her crushed heart bore.
For she was wrapped in uttermost despair,
And motionless within the chamber fair
She stood, as one struck dead and past all thought.
780
But as she stood, a sound to her was brought
Of children's voices, and she 'gan to wail
With tearless eyes, and from writhed lips and pale
Faint words of woe she muttered, meaningless,
But such as such lips utter-none the less.
785
Then all at once thoughts of some dreadful thing
Back to her mind some memory seemed to bring
As she beheld the casket gleaming fair,
Wherein was laid that she was wont to wear,
Which in the venom lay that other morn;
790
And therewithal unto her heart was borne
The image of two lovers, side by side.
Then with a groan the fingers that did hide
Her tortured face slowly she drew away,
And going up to where her tablets lay,
795
Fit for the white hands of the Goddesses,
Therein she wrote such piteous words as these:
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WOULD God that Argo's brazen-banded mast
'Twixt the blue clashing rocks had never passed
Unto the Colchian land! Or would that I
800
Had had such happy fortune as to die
Then, when I saw thee standing by the Fleece,
Safe on the long-desired shore of Greece!
Alas O Jason! for thy cruel praise!
Alas, for all the kindness of past days!
805
That to thy heart seems but a story told
Which happed to other folk in times of old.
But unto me indeed, its memory
Was bliss in happy hours, and now shall be
Such misery as never tongue can tell.
810
Jason, I heed thy cruel message well,
Nor will I stay to vex thee, nor will stay
Until thy slaves thrust me thy love away.
Be happy! think that I have never been;
Forget these eyes, that none the less have seen
815
Thy hands take life at my hands, and thy heart
O'erflow in tears, when needs was we should part.
But for a little; though, upon the day
When I for evermore must go away,
I think indeed thou wilt not weep for this;
820
Yea, if thou weepest then, some honied kiss
From other lips shall make thy grey eyes wet,
Betwixt the words that bid thee to forget
That even thou hast loved but her alone.
Yet of all times mayst thou remember one,
825
The second time that ever thou and I
Had met alone together; mournfully
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The soft wind murmured on that happy night,
The round moon, growing low, was large and bright,
As on my father's marble house it gleamed,
830
While from the fane a baneful light outstreamed,
Lighting the horror of that prodigy,
The only fence betwixt whose wrath and thee
Was this poor body. Ah! thou knowest then
How thou beheldst the shadows of thy men
835
Steal silently towards Argo's painted head.
Thou knowest yet the whispered words I said
Upon that night; thou never canst forget
That happy night of all nights. Ah! and yet
Why make I these long words, that thou the more
840
Mayst hate me, who already hat'st me sore,
Since 'midst thy pleasure I am grown a pain.
Be happy! for thou shalt not hear again
My voice, and with one word this scroll is done;
Jason, I love thee, yea, love thee alone;
845
God help me, therefore! and would God that I
Such as thou sayst I am were verily,
Then what a sea of troubles shouldst thou feel
Rise up against thy life! how shouldst thou steel
Thy heart to bear all, failing at the last;
850
Then wouldst thou raise thine head o'erwhelmed downcast,
And round about once more shouldst look for me,
Who led thee o'er strange land and unknown sea.
And not in vain, O dearest! not in vain!
Would I not come and weep at all thy pain,
855
That I myself had wrought? would I not raise

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Thy burdened head with hopes of happy days?
Would I not draw thee forth from all thy woe?
And fearless by thy side would I not go,
As once I went through many unknown lands,
860
When I had saved thee from my father's hands?
All would I do, that I have done erewhile,
To have thy love once more, and feel thy smile;
As freed from snow about the first spring days
The meadows feel the young sun's fickle rays.
865
But I am weak, and past all, nor will I
Pray any more for kindly memory;
Yet shall thou have one last gift more from me,
To give thy new love, since men say that she
Is fairer than all things man can behold.
870
Within this casket lies in many a fold
Raiment that my forgotten limbs did press.
When thou wert wont to praise their loveliness.
Fear not to take it from the sorceress' hands,
Though certainly with balms from many lands
875
Is it made fragrant, wondrous with a charm
To guard the wearer's body from all harm.
Upon the morn that she shall make thee glad,
With this fair tunic let her limbs be clad,
But see that no sun falls upon its folds
880
Until her hand the king, her father, holds,
To greet thine eyes: then, when in godlike light
She shines, with all her beauty grown so bright,
That eyes of men can scarcely gaze thereon…
Then, when thy new desire at last is won…
885
Then, wilt thou not a little think of me,
Who saved thy life for this felicity?
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SHE ceased, and moaning to herself she said:
Ah! when will all be ended? If the dead
Have unto them some little memory left
890
Of things that while they lived Fate from them reft,
Ere life itself was reft from them at last,
Yet would to God these days at least were past,
And all be done that here must needs be done!
Ah! shall I, living underneath the sun,
895
I wonder, wish for anything again,
Or ever know what pleasure means, and pain?
And for these deeds I do; and thou the first,
O woman, whose young beauty has so cursed
My hapless life, at least I save thee this,
900
The slow descent to misery from bliss,
With bitter torment growing day by day,
And faint hope lessening till it fades away
Into dull waiting for the certain blow.
But thou, who nought of coming fate dost know,
905
One overwhelming fear, one agony,
And in a little minute shalt thou be
Where thou wouldst be in threescore years at most;
And surely but a poor gift thou hast lost.
The new-made slave, the toiler on the sea,
910
The once rich fallen into poverty,
In one hour knows more grief than thou canst know;
And many an one there is who fain would go
And try their fortune in the unknown life
If they could win some ending to this strife,
915
Unlooked-for, sudden, as thine end shall be.
Kindly I deal with thee, mine enemy;
Since swift forgetfulness to thee I send.
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But thou shalt die--his eyes shall see thine end.
Ah! if thy death alone could end it all!
920
But ye, shall I behold you when leaves fall,
In some sad evening of the autumn-tide?
Or shall I have you sitting by my side
Amidst the feast, so that folk stare and say,
Sure the grey wolf has seen the queen to-day?
925
What! when I kneel in temples of the Gods,
Must I bethink me of the upturned sods,
And hear a voice say: Mother, wilt thou come
And see us resting in our new made home,
Since thou wert used to make us lie full soft,
930
Smoothing our pillows many a time and oft?
O mother, now no dainty food we need,
Whereof thou once wert wont to have such heed.
O mother, now we need no gown of gold,
Nor in the winter time do we grow cold;
935
Thy hands would bathe us when we were thine own,
Now doth the rain wash every shining bone.
No pedagogue we need, for surely heaven
Lies spread above us, with the planets seven,
To teach us all its lore. Ah! day by day
940
Would I have hearkened all the folk would say.
Ah! in the sweet beginning of your days
Would I have garnered every word of praise.
What fearless backers of the untamed steed!
What matchless spears, what loyal friends at need!
945
What noble hearts, how bountiful and free!
How like their father on the troublous sea!
O sons, with what sweet counsels and what tears
Would I have hearkened to the hopes and fears
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Of your first loves: what rapture had it been
950
Your dear returning footsteps to have seen
Amidst the happy warriors of the land;
But now, but now, this is a little hand
Too often kissed since love did first begin
To win such curses as it yet shall win,
955
When after all bad deeds there comes a worse;
Praise to the Gods! ye know not how to curse.
But when in some dim land we meet again
Will ye remember all the loss and pain?
Will ye the form of children keep for aye
960
With thoughts of men? and Mother, will ye say,
Why didst thou slay us ere we came to know
That men die? hadst thou waited until now,
An easy thing it had been then to die;
For in the thought of immortality
965
Do children play about the flowery meads,
And win their heaven with a crown of weeds.
O children! that I would have died to save,
How fair a life of pleasure might ye have,
But for your mother: nay, for thee, for thee,
970
For thee who might'st have lived so happily;
For thee, O traitor! who didst bring them here
Into this cruel world, this lovely bier
Of youth and love, and joy and happiness,
That unforeseeing happy fools still bless.
975
AMID these wild words had the evening come
Of the last day in that once happy home;
So, rising, did she take the casket fair,
And gave it to a faithful slave to bear,
With all those wailing words that she had writ
980
To Jason, her love once; then did she sit

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Within that chamber, with her heavy head
Laid on her arms, and scarce more than the dead
She moved, for many hours, until at last
A stupor over her some kind God cast,
985
So that she slept, and had forgetfulness
A little while from fury and distress.
But Jason, when he read that bitter word
Was sore ashamed, and in his ears he heard
Words that men durst not speak before his face;
990
Therewith, for very shame, that silver case
And what it held he sent unto his bride,
And therewithal this word: Whatso betide,
Let not the sun shine on it till the hour
When thou hast left for aye thy maiden bower,
995
And with the king thou standest in the hall,
Then unto thee shall all good things befall.
So to his rest he went, but, sooth to say,
He slept but little till the dawn of day,
So troubled was his mind with many a thing,
1,000
And in his ears long-spoken words did ring.
Good speed, O traitor! who shall think to wed
Soft limbs and white, and find thy royal bed
Dripping with blood and burning up with fire.
So there, 'twixt fear and shame and strong desire,
1,005
Sleepless he lay until the day began,
The conqueror, the king, the envied man.
BUT on the chamber where sweet Glauce lay,
Fair broke the dawning of that dreadful day,
And fairer from her bed did she arise,
1,010
And looking down with shamefast timid eyes,
Beheld the bosom that no man had seen,
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And round limbs worthy of the Sea-born Queen.
With that she murmured words of joy and love,
No louder than the grey pink-footed dove,
1,015
When at the dawn he first begins his tale,
Not knowing if he means a song or wail.
Then soon her maidens came, and every rite
That was the due of that slim body white,
They wrought with careful hands; and last they took
1,020
Medea's gift, and all the folds outshook,
And in a cool room looking toward the north,
They clad the queen therewith, nor brought her forth
Till over all a gold cloak they had laid.
Then to King Creon did they bring the maid,
1,025
Rejoicing in the greatness of her love,
Which well she thought no lapse of time could move,
And on the daisof the royal hall
They waited till the minute should befall
When Jason and his friends would bear her thence
1,030
With gentle rape and tender violence,
As then the manner was, and the old king
Sat there beside her, glad at every thing.
Meanwhile the people thronged in every way,
Clad in gay weed, rejoicing for that day,
1,035
Since that their lords had bidden them rejoice;
And in the streets was many a jocund voice,
That carolled to the honour of the twain
Who on that day such blissful life should gain.
But Jason set out from his pillared house,
1,040
Clad in rich raiment, fair and ainorous,
Forgetful of the troubles of the night,
Nor thinking more of that impending blight,
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As with his fellows, glittering gay with gold,
1,045
Towards Creon's palace did he take his way,
To meet the bride that he should wed that day.
But in the hall the pillars one by one
Had barred the pathway of the travelling sun,
As toward the west he turned, and now at last
1,050
Upon the daïs were his hot rays cast,
As they within heard the glad minstrelsy
Of Jason to his loved one drawing nigh.
Then Creon took fair Glauce by the hand,
And round about her did her damsels stand,
1,055
Making a ring 'gainst that sweet violence,
That soon should bear their lovely mistress thence.
While Glauce, trembling with her shamefast joy,
With the gold mantle's clasp began to toy,
Eager to cast that covering off, and feel
1,060
The hero's mighty arms about her steal.
MEANWHILE, her lover through the court had passed,
And at the open door he stood at last,
Amidst his friends, and looking thence, he saw
The white arms of the damsels round her draw
1,065
A wall soon to be broken; but her face
Over their flower-crowned heads made glad the place;
Giddy with joy one moment did he gaze
And saw his love her slender fingers raise
Unto the mantle's clasp, the next the hall
1,070
Was filled with darting flames from wall to wall,
And bitter screams rang out, as here and there,
Scorched, and with outspread arms, the damsels fair
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Rushed through the hall; but swiftly Jason ran,
Grown in one moment like an old worn man,
1,075
Up to the dais, whence one bitter cry
He heard, of one in utmost agony,
Calling upon his once so helpful name;
But when unto the fiery place he came,
Nought saw he but the flickering tongues of fire
1,080
That up the wall were climbing high and higher;
And on the floor a heap of ashes white,
The remnant of his once beloved delight,
For whom his ancient love he cast away,
And of her sire who brought about that day.
1,085
Then he began to know what he had done,
And madly through the palace did he run,
Calling on Glauce, mingling with her name
Hers that erewhile had brought him unto fame,
Colchian Medea, who, for her reward,
1,090
Had lonely life made terrible and hard,
By love cast back, within her heart to grow
To madness and the vengeance wrought out now;
But as about the burning place he ran,
Full many a maid he met and pale-faced man,
1,095
Wild with their terror, knowing not what end
That which their eyes had seen might yet portend:
But these shrunk backward from his brandished sword
And open shouting mouth, and frenzied word,
As still from chamber unto chamber fair
1,100
He rushed, scarce knowing what he sought for there,
Nor where he went, till his unresting feet
Had borne him out at last into the street,
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Where armed and unarmed people stood to gaze
On Creon's palace that began to blaze
1,105
From every window out into the air,
With strange light making pale that noontide fair.
But they, bewildered sore, and timorous,
Gazed helplessly upon the burning house,
And dreaded yet some hidden enemy,
1,110
Thinking indeed a dreadful God to see,
Bearing a fresh destruction in his hand.
But now, when Jason with his glittering brand
Broke in upon them from the growing fire,
With wild pale face, and half-burnt rich attire,
1,115
They fell back shuddering as his face they knew,
Changed though it was, and soon a murmur grew:
Death to the sorceress, slay the Colchian!
But he, unheeding still, from 'midst them ran,
Until unto his own fair house he came,
1,120
Where gazed his folk upon the far-off flame,
And muttered low for fear and woefulness.
Then he knew not his own, but none the less,
Into the court he passed, and his bright sword
Cast down, and said: What feeble, timid lord
1,125
Hides here when all the world is on a blaze,
And laughing, from their heaven the high Gods gaze
At foolish men shut in the burning place?
With that he turned about his haggard face,
And stared upon his own fair-sculptured frieze,
1,130
Carved into likeness of the tumbling seas,
And Argo, and the heroes he had led,
And fair Medea. Then he cried, and said:
Lo, how the Gods are mocking me with this,
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And show me pictures of my vanished bliss,
1,135
As though on earth I were, and not in hell;
And images of things I know full well
Have set about me. Can I die again,
And in some lower hell forget the pain
My life is passed in now? And with that word
1,140
He cast his eyes upon his glittering sword,
And caught it up and set it to his breast,
And in one moment had he been at rest
From all his troubles, when a woman old,
His nurse in past times, did the deed behold,
1,145
And ran and caught the hero's mighty hand,
And hanging round about him did she stand,
And cried: Ah, Jason! ah, my lord, let be!
For who can give another life to thee?
And though to-day the very sun looks black,
1,150
And wholesome air the whole world seems to lack,
Yet shalt thou yet have wealth of happy days,
And well fulfilled desires, and all men's praise;
Unless the Gods have quite forgotten thee.
O Jason! O my child! come now with me,
1,155
That I may give thee sweet forgetfulness
A little while of sorrow and distress.
Then with the crone did Jason go along,
And let her thin hand hold his fingers strong,
As though a child he were, in that old day,
1,160
Ere in the centaur's woodland cave he lay.
But through the house unto a distant room,
Dark-hung, she brought him, where, amidst the gloom,
Speechless he lay, when she had made him drink
Some potion pressed from herbs plucked by the brink
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1,165
Of scarce-known lakes of Pontus; then she said,
As she beheld at last his weary head
Sink on the pillow: Jason, rest thee now,
And may some kind God smooth thy wrinkled brow.
Behold to-morrow comes, and thou art young,
1,170
Nor on one string are all life's jewels strung;
Thou shalt be great, and many a land shalt save,
And of thy coming life more joy shalt have
Than thou hast thought of yet. He heard her words,
But as the far-off murmur of the birds
1,175
The townsman hears ere yet the morn is late,
While streets are void and shut is every gate
But still they soothed him, and he fell asleep,
While at his feet good watch the crone did keep.
BUT what a waking that dull sleep abode!
1,180
Ah what a shame, and what a weary load
His life shall bear! His old love cast away,
His new love dead upon that fearful day,
Childless, dishonoured, must his days go by.
For in another chamber did there lie
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Two little helpless bodies side by side,
Smiling as though in sweet sleep they had died,
And feared no ill. And she who thus had slain
Those fruits of love, the folk saw not again,
Nor knew where she was gone; yet she died not,
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But fleeing, somehow, from that fatal spot,
She came to Athens, and there long did dwell,
Whose after life I list not here to tell.
BUT as for Jason; Creon now being slain,
And Corinth kingless, every man was fain,
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Remembering Jason's wisdom and sharp sword,

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To have the hero for their king and lord.
So on his weary brows they set the crown,
And he began to rule that noble town.
And 'midst all things, somewhat his misery
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Was dulled unto him, as the days went by,
And he began again to cast his eyes
On lovely things, and hope began to rise
Once more within his heart. But on a day
From out the goodly town he took his way,
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To where, beneath the cliffs of Cenchreæ,
Lay Argo, looking o'er the ridgy sea.
Being fain once more to ponder o'er past days,
Ere he should set his face to winning praise
Among the shouts of men and clash of steel.
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But when he reached the well-remembered keel
The sun was far upon his downward way,
At afternoon of a bright summer day.
Hot was it, and still o'er the long rank grass,
Beneath the hull, a widening shade did pass;
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And further off, the sunny daisied sward,
The raised oars with their creeping shadows barred;
And grey shade from the hills of Cenchreæ
Began to move on toward the heaving sea.
So Jason, lying in the shadow dark
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Cast by the stem, the warble of the lark,
The chirrup of the cricket, well could hear;
And now and then the sound would come anear
Of peasants shouting o'er the laden wain.
But looking o'er the blue and heaving plain,
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Sailless it was, and beaten by no oar,
And on the yellow edges of the shore
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The ripple fell in murmur soft and low,
As with wide-sweeping wings the gulls did go
About the breakers crying plaintively.
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But Jason, looking out across the sea,
Beheld the signs of wind a-drawing nigh,
Gathering about the clear cold eastern sky,
And many an evening then he thought upon
Ere yet the quays of Aea they had won,
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And yearnings that had long been gathering
Stirred in his heart, and now he felt the sting
Of life within him, and at last he said:
Why should I move-about as move the dead,
And take no heed of what all men desire?
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Once more I feel within my heart the fire
That drave me forth unto the white-wailed town,
Leaving the sunny slopes, and thick-leaved crown
Of grey old Pelion, that alone I knew,
Great deeds and wild, and desperate things to do.
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Ah! the strange life of happiness and woe
That I have led, since my young feet did go
From that grey, peaceful, much-beloved abode,
But now, indeed, will I cast off the load
Of memory of vain hopes that came to nought,
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Of rapturous joys with biting sorrows bought.
The past is past, though I cannot forget
Those days, with long life laid before me yet.
Ah, but one moment, ere I turn the page,
And leave regret to white hairs and to age.
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Once did I win a noble victory,
I won a kingdom, and I cast it by
For rest and peace, and rest and peace are gone.
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I had a fair love, that loved me alone,
And made me that I am in all men’s eyes;
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And like my hard-earned kingdom, my fair prize,
I cast my tender heart, my Love away;
Yet failed I not to love, until a day,
A day I nigh forget, took all from me
That once I had…And she is gone, yea, she
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Whose innocent sweet eyes and tender hands
Made me a mocking unto distant lands:
Alas, poor child! yet is that as a dream,
And still my life a happy life I deem,
But ah! so short, so short! for I am left
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Of love, of honour, and of joy bereft,
And yet not dead; ah, if I could but see
But once again her who delivered me
From death and many troubles, then no more
Would I turn backward from the shadowy shore,
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And all my life would seem but perfect gain.
Alas! what hope is this? is it in vain
I long to see her? Lo, am I not young?
In many a song my past deeds have been sung,
And these my hands that guided Argo through
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The blue Symplegades, still deeds may do,
For now the world has swerved from truth and right,
Cumbered with monsters, empty of delight;
And, 'midst all this, what honour I may win,
That she may know of and rejoice therein,
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And come to seek me, and upon my throne
May find me sitting worshipped and alone?
Ah! if it should be, how should I rejoice
To hear once more that once beloved voice
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Rise through the burden of dull words well-known:
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How should I clasp again my love, mine own,
And set the crown upon her golden head,
And with the eyes of lovers newly wed,
How should we gaze each upon each again.
O hope not vain! O surely not quite vain!
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For, with the next returning light will I
Cast off my moody sorrow utterly,
And once more live my life as in times past,
And 'mid the chance of war the die will cast.
And surely, whatso great deeds have been done,
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Since with my fellows the Gold Fleece I won,
Still here some wild bull clears the frightened fields;
There a great lion cleaves the sevenfold shields;
There dwells some giant robber of the land;
There whirls some woman-slayer's red right hand.
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Yea, what is this they speak of even now,
That Theseus, having brought his conquering prow
From lying Crete unto the fair-walled town,
Now gathers folk, since there are coming down
The shielded women of the Asian plain,
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Myriads past counting, in the hope to gain
The mastery of this lovely land of Greece?
So be it, surely shall I snatch fair peace
From out the hand of war, and calm delight
From the tumultuous horror of the fight.
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SO saying, gazing still across the main,
Heavy with days and nights of restless pain,
His eyes waxed dim, and calmer still he grew,
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Still pondering over times and things he knew,
While now the sun had sunk behind the hill,
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And from a white-thorn nigh a thrush did fill
The balmy air with echoing minstrelsy,
And cool the night-wind blew across the sea,
And round about the soft-winged bats did sweep.
SO 'midst all this at last he fell asleep,
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Nor did his eyes behold another day,
For Argo, slowly rotting all away,
Had dropped a timber here, and there an oar,
All through that year, but people of the shore
Set all again in order as if fell.
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But now the stempost, that had carried well,
The second rafter in King Pelias’ hall,
Began at last to quiver towards its fall,
And whether it were loosed by God’s own hand,
Or that the rising sea-wind smote the land
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And drave full on it, surely I know not…
But, when the day dawned, still on the same spot,
Beneath the ruined stem did Jason lie
Crushed, and all dead of him that here can die.
WHAT more?...Some shepherd of the lone grey slope,
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Drawn to the sandy sea-beach by the hope
Of trapping quick-eared rabbits, found him there,
And running back, called from the vineyards fair,
Vine-dressers and their mates who through the town
Ere then had borne their well-filled baskets brown;
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These looking on his dead face straight way knew
This was the king that all men kneeled unto,
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Who dwelt between the seas; therefore they made
A bier of white-thorn boughs, and thereon laid
The dead man, straightening every drawn up-limb;
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And, casting flowers and green leaves over him,
They bore him unto Corinth, where the folk,
When they knew all, into loud wailing broke,
Calling him mighty hero, crown of kings.
But him ere long to where the sea-wind sings
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O’er the grey hill-side did they bear again.
And there, where he had hoped that hope in vain,
They laid him in a marble tomb carved fair
With histories of his mighty deeds; and there
Such games as once he loved yet being alive,
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They held for ten days, and withal did give
Gifts to the Gods with many a sacrifice,
But chiefest, among all the things of price.
Argo they offered to the Diety
Who shakes the hard earth with the rolling sea.
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And now is all that ancient story told
Of him who won the guarded Fleece of Gold. Notes Book XVII


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Content I II III IV V VI VII VIII
IX X XI XII XIII XIV XV XVI XVII

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