The Masque of Pandora
III. Tower of Prometheus on Mount Caucasus
I hear the trumpet of Alectryon
Proclaim the dawn. The stars begin to fade,
And all the heavens are full of prophecies
And evil auguries. Blood-red last night
I saw great Kronos rise; the crescent moon
Sank through the mist, as if it were the scythe
His parricidal hand had flung far down
The western steeps. O ye Immortal Gods,
What evil are ye plotting and contriving?
(HERMES and PANDORA at the threshold.)
I cannot cross the threshold. An unseen
And icy hand repels me. These blank walls
Oppress me with their weight!
Powerful ye are,
But not omnipotent. Ye cannot fight
Against Necessity. The Fates control you,
As they do us, and so far we are equals!
Motionless, passionless, companionless,
He sits there muttering in his beard. His voice
Is like a river flowing underground!
Who calls me?
It is I.
Dost thou not know me?
By thy wingéd cap
And wingéd heels I know thee. Thou art Hermes,
Captain of thieves! Hast thou again been stealing
The heifers of Admetus in the sweet
Meadows of asphodel? or Hera's girdle?
Or the earth-shaking trident of Poseidon?
And thou, Prometheus; say, hast thou again
Been stealing fire from Helios' chariot-wheels
To light thy furnaces?
Why comest thou hither
So early in the dawn?
The Immortal Gods
Know naught of late or early. Zeus himself
The omnipotent hath sent me.
For what purpose?
To bring this maiden to thee.
The Gods and all their gifts. If they have sent her
It is for no good purpose.
Could she bring on thy house, who is a woman?
The Gods are not my friends, nor am I theirs.
Whatever comes from them, though in a shape
As beautiful as this, is evil only.
Who art thou?
One who, though to thee unknown,
Yet knoweth thee.
How shouldst thou know me, woman?
Who knoweth not Prometheus the humane?
Prometheus the unfortunate; to whom
Both Gods and men have shown themselves ungrateful.
When every spark was quenched on every hearth
Throughout the earth, I brought to man the fire
And all its ministrations. My reward
Hath been the rock and vulture.
But the Gods
At last relent and pardon.
They relent not;
They pardon not; they are implacable,
As a pledge
Of reconciliation they have sent to thee
This divine being, to be thy companion,
And bring into thy melancholy house
The sunshine and the fragrance of her youth.
I need them not. I have within myself
All that my heart desires; the ideal beauty
Which the creative faculty of mind
Fashions and follows in a thousand shapes
More lovely than the real. My own thoughts
Are my companions; my designs and labors
And aspirations are my only friends.
Decide not rashly. The decision made
Can never be recalled. The Gods implore not,
Plead not, solicit not; they only offer
Choice and occasion, which once being passed
Return no more. Dost thou accept the gift?
No gift of theirs, in whatsoever shape
It comes to me, with whatsoever charm
To fascinate my sense, will I receive.
Let us go hence. I will not stay.
We leave thee to thy vacant dreams, and all
The silence and the solitude of thought,
The endless bitterness of unbelief,
The loneliness of existence without love.
CHORUS OF THE FATES
How the Titan, the defiant,
The self-centred, self-reliant,
Wrapped in visions and illusions,
Robs himself of life's best gifts!
Till by all the storm-winds shaken,
By the blast of fate o'ertaken,
Hopeless, helpless, and forsaken,
In the mists of his confusions
To the reefs of doom he drifts!
Sorely tried and sorely tempted,
From no agonies exempted,
In the penance of his trial,
And the discipline of pain;
Often by illusions cheated,
Often baffled and defeated
In the tasks to be completed,
He, by toil and self-denial,
To the highest shall attain.
Tempt no more the noble schemer;
Bear unto some idle dreamer
This new toy and fascination,
This new dalliance and delight!
To the garden where reposes
Epimetheus crowned with roses,
To the door that never closes
Upon pleasure and temptation,
Bring this vision of the night!