ACT THE FIRST. SCENE I.
A Grove before the Temple of Diana.
IPHIGENIA.Beneath your leafy gloom, ye waving boughsOf this old, shady, consecrated grove,As in the goddess' silent sanctuary,With the same shudd'ring feeling forth I step,As when I trod it first, nor ever hereDoth my unquiet spirit feel at home.Long as the mighty will, to which I bow,Hath kept me here conceal'd, still, as at first,I feel myself a stranger. For the seaDoth 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 wavesBring, 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 joyEre it doth reach his lip. His restless thoughtsRevert for ever to his father's halls,Where first to him the radiant sun unclos'dThe gates of heav'n; where closer, day by day,Brothers and sisters, leagu'd in pastime sweet,Around each other twin'd 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 honourable death awaits.How circumscrib'd 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 detain'd,Bound with a heavy, though a sacred chain.Oh! with what shame, Diana, I confessThat with repugnance I perform these ritesFor thee, divine protectress! unto whomI would in freedom dedicate my life.In thee, Diana, I have always hop'd,And still I hope in thee, who didst infoldWithin the holy shelter of thine armThe outcast daughter of the mighty king.Daughter of Jove! hast thou from ruin'd TroyLed back in triumph to his native landThe 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,Preserv'd his wife, Electra, and his son.His dearest treasures?—then at length restoreThy 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.
ARKAS.The king hath sent me hither, and commandsTo hail Diana's priestess. This the day,On which for new and wonderful success,Tauris her goddess thanks. The king and hostDraw near,—I come to herald their approach.
IPHIGENIA.We are prepar'd to give them worthy greeting;Our goddess doth behold with gracious eyeThe welcome sacrifice from Thoas' hand.
ARKAS.Oh, priestess, that thine eye more mildly beam'd,—Thou much-rever'd one,—that I found thy glance,O consecrated maid, more calm, more bright,To all a happy omen! Still doth grief,With gloom mysterious, shroud thy inner mind;Still, still, through many a year we wait in vainFor one confiding utt'rance from thy breast.Long as I've known thee in this holy place,That look of thine hath ever made me shudder;And, as with iron bands, thy soul remainsLock'd in the deep recesses of thy breast.
IPHIGENIA.As doth become the exile and the orphan.
ARKAS.Dost thou then here seem exil'd and an orphan?
IPHIGENIA.Can foreign scenes our fatherland replace?
ARKAS.Thy fatherland is foreign now to thee.
IPHIGENIA.Hence is it that my bleeding heart ne'er heals.In early youth, when first my soul, in love,Held father, mother, brethren fondly twin'd,A group of tender germs, in union sweet,We sprang in beauty from the parent stem,And heavenward grew. An unrelenting curseThen seiz'd and sever'd me from those I lov'd,And wrench'd with iron grasp the beauteous bands.It vanish'd then, the fairest charm of youth,The simple gladness of life's early dawn;Though sav'd, I was a shadow of myself,And life's fresh joyance bloom'd in me no more.
ARKAS.If thus thou ever dost lament thy fate,I must accuse thee of ingratitude....