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English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Walter Savage Landor

554. Iphigeneia

IPHIGENEIA, when she heard her doom

At Aulis, and when all beside the king

Had gone away, took his right hand, and said,

“O father, I am young and very happy.

I do not think the pious Calchas heard

Distinctly what the Goddess spake. Old-age

Obscures the senses. If my nurse, who knew

My voice so well, sometimes misunderstood

While I was resting on her knee both arms

And hitting it to make her mind my words,

And looking in her face, and she in mine,

Might he not also hear one word amiss,

Spoken from so far off, even from Olympus?”

The father placed his cheek upon her head,

And tears dropped down it, but the king of men

Replied not. Then the maiden spake once more.

“O father! sayst thou nothing? Hear’st thou not

Me whom thou ever hast, until this hour,

Listened to fondly, and awakened me

To hear my voice among the voice of birds,

When it was inarticulate as theirs,

And the down deadened it within the nest?”

He moved her gently from him, silent still,

And this, and this alone, brought tears from her,

Although she saw fate nearer: then with sighs,

“I thought to have laid down my hair before

Benignant Artemis, and not have dimmed

Her polished altar with my virgin blood;

I thought to have selected the white flowers

To please the nymphs, and to have asked of each

By name, and with no sorrowful regret,

Whether, since both my parents willed the change,

I might at Hymen’s feet bend my clipt brow;

And (after those who mind us girls the most)

Adore our own Athena, that she would

Regard me mildly with her azure eyes.

But, father! to see you no more, and see

Your love, O father! go ere I am gone”—

Gently he moved her off, and drew her back,

Bending his lofty head far over hers,

And the dark depths of nature heaved and burst.

He turned away; not far, but silent still.

She now first shuddered; for in him so nigh,

So long a silence seemed the approach of death,

And like it. Once again she raised her voice.

“O father! if the ships are now detained,

And all your vows move not the Gods above,

When the knife strikes me there will be one prayer

The less to them: and purer can there be

Any, or more fervent than the daughter’s prayer

For her dear father’s safety and success?”

A groan that shook him shook not his resolve.

An aged man now entered, and without

One word, stept slowly on, and took the wrist

Of the pale maiden. She looked up, and saw

The fillet of the priest and calm cold eyes.

Then turned she where her parent stood, and cried

“O father! grieve no more: the ships can sail.”