Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/58

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Which shall burst forth in mockery at thy fall;
But thou art gifted with a nobler sense,—
I know thou art my sovereign!—sense of pain
Endured by myriad Argives, in whose souls,
And in whose fathers' souls, thou and thy fathers
Have kept- their cherished state ; whose heart-strings, still
The living fibres of thy rooted power,
Quiver with agonies thy crimes have drawn
From heavenly justice on them.
Ad. How! my crimes?
Ion. Yes; 'tis the eternal law, that where guilt is,
Sorrow shall answer it; and thou hast not
A poor man's privilege to bear alone,
Or in the narrow circle of his kinsmen,
The penalties of evil ; for in thine,
A nation's fate lies circled. King Adrastus!
Steeled as thy heart is with the usages
Of pomp and power, a few short summers since
Thou wert a child, and canst not be relentless.
Oh, if maternal love embraced thee then,
Think of the mothers who with eyes unwet
Glare o'er their perishing children; hast thou shared
The glow of a first friendship which is born
'Midst the rude sports of boyhood, think of youth
Smitten amidst its playthings; let the spirit
Of thy own innocent childhood whisper pity!
Ad. In every word thou dost but steel my soul.
My youth was blasted: parents, brother, kin—
All that should people infancy with joy—
Conspired to poison mine; despoiled my life
Of innocence and hope,—all but the sword
And sceptre. Dost thou wonder at me now?
Ion. I know that we should pity—
Ad. Pity! Dare
To speak that word again, and torture waits thee!
I am yet king of Argos. Well, go on;
The time is short, and I am pledged to hear.
Ion. If thou hast ever loved—
Ad. Beware! beware!
Ion. Thou hast! I see thou hast! Thou art not marble,
And thou shalt hear me! Think upon the time
When the clear depths of thy yet lucid soul
Were ruffled with the troublings of strange joy,