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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Russia: Vol. XX. 1876–79.

Crimea (Taurica Chersonesus)

Iphigenia in Tauris

By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)

Translated by A. Swanwick

Act I. Scene 1.—A Grove before the Temple of Diana

BENEATH your leafy gloom, ye waving boughs

Of this old, shady, consecrated grove,

As in the goddess’ silent sanctuary,

With the same shuddering feeling forth I step,

As when I trod it first, nor ever here

Doth my unquiet spirit feel at home.

Long as the mighty will, to which I bow,

Hath kept me here concealed, still, as at first,

I feel myself a stranger. For the sea

Doth sever me, alas! from those I love,

And day by day upon the shore I stand,

My soul still seeking for the land of Greece.

But to my sighs the hollow-sounding waves

Bring, save their own hoarse murmurs, no reply.

Alas for him who, friendless and alone,

Remote from parents and from brethren, dwells!

From him grief snatches every coming joy

Ere it doth reach his lip. His restless thoughts

Revert forever to his father’s halls,

Where first to him the radiant sun unclosed

The gates of heaven; where closer, day by day,

Brothers and sisters, leagued in pastime sweet,

Around each other twined the bonds of love.

I will not judge the counsel of the gods;

Yet, truly, woman’s lot doth merit pity.

Man rules alike at home and in the field,

Nor is in foreign climes without resource;

Possession gladdens him, him conquest crowns,

And him an honorable death awaits.

How circumscribed is woman’s destiny!

Obedience to a harsh, imperious lord

Her duty and her comfort; sad her fate,

Whom hostile fortune drives to lands remote:

Thus I, by noble Thoas, am detained,

Bound with a heavy, though a sacred chain.

O, with what shame, Diana, I confess

That with repugnance I perform these rites

For thee, divine protectress! unto whom

I would in freedom dedicate my life.

In thee, Diana, I have always hoped,

And still I hope in thee, who didst infold

Within the holy shelter of thine arm

The outcast daughter of the mighty king.

Daughter of Jove! hast thou from ruined Troy

Led back in triumph to his native land

The mighty man, whom thou didst sore afflict,

His daughter’s life in sacrifice demanding,—

Hast thou for him, the godlike Agamemnon,

Who to thine altar led his darling child,

Preserved his wife, Electra, and his son,

His dearest treasures?—then at length restore

Thy suppliant also to her friends and home,

And save her, as thou once from death didst save,

So now, from living here, a second death.