Page:Tragedies of Seneca (1907) Miller.djvu/329

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311
Thyestes


Will ever feel its ties.
When wrath, by some great cause aroused,
Hath burst the bonds of amity,
And raised the dreadful cry of war;
When gleaming squadrons thunder down
With champing steeds; when flashing swords, 555
By carnage-maddened Mars upreared,
Gleam with a deadly rain of blows:
E'en then for sacred piety
Those warring hands will sheathe the sword
And join in the clasp of peace.
What god has given this sudden lull 560
In the midst of loud alarms? But now
Throughout Mycenae's borders rang
The noisy prelude of a strife
'Twixt brothers' arms. Here mothers pale
Embraced their sons, and the trembling wife
Looked on her armed lord in fear,
While the sword to his hand reluctant came, 565
Foul with the rust of peace.
One strove to renew the tottering walls.
And one to strengthen the shattered towers,
And close the gates with iron bars;
While on the battlements the guard 570
His anxious nightly vigils kept.
The daily fear of war is worse
Than war itself.
But fallen now are the sword's dire threats,
The deep-voiced trumpet blare is still,
And the shrill, harsh notes of the clarion 575
Are heard no more. While peace profound
Broods once again o'er the happy state.
So when, beneath the storm blast's lash.
The heaving waves break on the shore
Of Bruttium, and Scylla roars
Responsive from her cavern's depths;
Then, even within their sheltered port, 580
The sailors fear the foaming sea
Which greedy Charybdis vomits up;