FAREWELL TO ALCESTIS (from "Alcestis")
When the life of Admetus could
be saved if some one would die in his stead, no one was found
willing except his wife, Alcestis.
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!
POEMS BY EURIPIDES
This English translation, by Robert
Browning, of 'Farewell to Alcestis' is reprinted from Greek
Poets in English Verse. Ed. William Hyde Appleton. Cambridge:
The Riverside Press, 1893.