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Act I, Scene I
The Watchman alone.
[discovered reclining on the flat roof of the palace]
I pray the gods deliverance from these toils,
Release from year-long watch, which, couch'd aloft
On these Atreidan roofs, dog-like, I keep,
Marking the stars which nightly congregate;
And those bright potentates who bring to mortals
Winter and summer, signal in the sky,
What time they wane I note, their risings too.
And for the beacon's token now I watch,
The blaze of fire, bearing from Troy a tale,
†Tidings of capture; for so proudly hopes
A woman's heart, with manly counsel fraught.
Dew-drenched and restless is my nightly couch,
By dreams unvisited, for at my side,
Fear stands, in place of sleep, nor suffers me
Soundly, in slumberous rest, my lids to close.
Then when I think to chant a strain, or hum,
(Such against sleep my tuneful counter-charm,)
Moaning, I wail the sorrows of this house,
Not wisely governed as in days of old.
But may glad respite from these toils be mine,
When fire, joy's herald, through the darkness gleams.
[He suddenly beholds the beacon-light and starts to his feet.]
Hail lamp of night, forth shining like the day,
Of many a festive dance in Argos' land,
Through joy at this event, the harbinger.
Hurrah! Hurrah! To Agamemnon's queen,
Thus with shrill cry I give th' appointed sign,
That from her couch up-rising with all speed,
She in the palace jubilant may lift
The joyous shout, to gratulate this torch,
If Ilion's citadel in truth is ta'en,
As, shining forth, this beacon-fire proclaims.
The joyous prelude I myself will dance,
For to my lords good fortune I shall score,
Now that this torch hath cast me triple six.
Well! be it mine, when comes this mansion's lord,
In this my hand his much-loved hand to hold!
The rest I speak not; o'er my tongue hath passed
An ox with heavy tread: the house itself,
Had it a voice, would tell the tale full clear;
And I, with those who know, am fain to speak,
With others, who know nothing, I forget.