SONG OF THE FURIES (from “The Eumenides” Poetry/Poem by Aeschylus
UP and lead the dance of Fate!
Lift the song that mortals hate!
Tell what rights are ours on earth,
Over all of human birth.
Swift of foot to avenge are we!
He whose hands are clean and pure,
Naught our wrath to dread hath he;
Calm his cloudless days endure.
But the man that seeks to hide
Like him , his gore-bedewèd hands,
Witnesses to them that died,
The blood avengers at his side,
The Furies’ troop forever stands.
O’er our victim come begin!
Come, the incantation sing,
Frantic all and maddening,
To the heart a brand of fire,
The Furies’ hymn,
That which claims the senses dim,
Tuneless to the gentle lyre,
Withering the soul within.
The pride of all of human birth,
All glorious in the eye of day,
Dishonored slowly melts away,
Trod down and trampled to the earth,
Whene’er our dark-stoled troop advances,
Whene’er our feet lead on the dismal dances.
For light our footsteps are,
And perfect is our might,
Awful remembrances of guilt and crime,
Implacable to mortal prayer,
Far from the gods, unhonored, and heaven’s light,
We hold our voiceless dwellings dread,
All unapproached by living or by dead.
What mortal feels not awe,
Nor trembles at our name,
Hearing our fate-appointed power sublime,
Fixed by the eternal law.
For old our office, and our fame,
Might never yet of its due honors fail,
Though ‘neath the earth our realm in unsunned regions pale.
This English translation, by Henry Hart Milman, of ‘Song of the Furies’ is reprinted from Greek Poets in English Verse. Ed. William Hyde Appleton. Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1893.