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Chorus from Philoctetes


O cave of hollow rock,
Now hot, now icy cold,
And I was doomed, ah me!
To leave thee never more;
But e'en in death thou still wilt be to me
My one true helping friend.
O woe, woe, woe!
O home most full of grief,
My grief, me miserable!
What now shall come to me
As day succeeds to day?
Whence shall I, in my woe,
Find hope of food to live?
Ah, now the swift-winged birds
Will soar in loftiest flight,
High through the whistling wind;
For I am powerless.


O miserable me!
OUtraged with foulest wrong,
Who for the years to come
In woe, no helper near,
Shall henceforth, dwelling here, consume away,
(Ah me! ah me!)
Gaining no food for life
From those my swift-winged darts,
With firm hands grasping them;
But unsuspected words
Of guileful mind deceived;
Would I might see the man
Whose heart devised these things,
Bearing these pains of mine
As long as I have borne!


Ah, woe is me! he sits,
Where the shore is white with waves,
And laughs within himself,
And tosses in his hands
What fed my wretched life,
By none else borne till now.
O bow, of me beloved,
Torn from my loving grasp,
Surely, if thou can'st feel,
Thou lookest piteously
On me, the bosom friend of Heracles,
Who never more shall bend thee as of old;
But now thou changest hands,
Art wielded by a man of many wiles,
And seest foul deceits,
A man thou needs must loathe and execrate,
Ten thousand plots from shameful deeds upspringing,
Such as none else contrived.


O all ye wing├Ęd game,
And tribes of bright-eyed deer,
Who on these high lawns fed,
No more from this my home
Will ye allure me forth.
I wield not in my hands
The strength I had of old
(Ah me!) from those my darts;
Full carelessly this place
Is barred against you now,
No longer fearful; come ye, now 'tis well
That ye in turn should glut your ravenous maw
With this my spotted flesh.
Soon I shall end my life; for whence can I
Find means withal to live?
Who thus can feed upon the empty winds,
Gaining no more what earth brings forth to men,
The giver of their life?