This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Of souls of babes upon the threshold plaining;
Whom, ere they took their portion of sweet life,
Dark Fate from nursing bosoms tore, and plunged
In bitterness of death. Nor far from these,
The throng of dead by unjust judgment slain.
Not without judge or law these realms abide:
Wise Minos there the urn of justice moves,
And holds assembly of the silent shades,
Hearing the stories of their lives and deeds.
Close on this place those doleful ghosts abide,
Who, not for crime, but loathing life and light
With their own hands took death, and cast away
The vital essence. Willingly, alas!
They now would suffer need, or burdens bear,
If only life were given! But Fate forbids.
Around them winds the sad, unlovely wave
Of Styx: nine times it coils and interflows.
Not far from hence, on every side outspread,
The Fields of Sorrow lie,—such name they bear;
Here all whom ruthless love did waste away
Wander in paths unseen, or in the gloom
Of dark myrtle grove: not even in death
Have they forgot their griefs of long ago.
Here impious Phaedra and poor Procris bide;
Lorn Eriphyle bares the vengeful wounds
Her own son's dagger made; Evadne here,
And foul Pasiphaë are seen; hard by,
Laodamia, nobly fond and fair;
And Caeneus, not a boy, but maiden now,
By Fate remoulded to her native seeming.
Here Tyrian Dido, too, her wound unhealed,
Roamed through a mighty wood. The Trojan's eyes
Beheld her near him through the murky gloom,
As when, in her young month and crescent pale,
One sees th' o'er-clouded moon, or thinks he sees.
Down dropped his tears, and thus he fondly spoke:
“0 suffering Dido! Were those tidings true
That thou didst fling thee on the fatal steel?
Thy death, ah me! I dealt it. But I swear
By stars above us, by the powers in Heaven,
Or whatsoever oath ye dead believe,
That not by choice I fled thy shores, 0 Queen!
Divine decrees compelled me, even as now
Among these ghosts I pass, and thread my way
Along this gulf of night and loathsome land.
How could I deem my cruel taking leave
Would bring thee at the last to all this woe?
0, stay! Why shun me? Wherefore haste away?
Our last farewell! Our doom! I speak it now!”
Thus, though she glared with fierce, relentless gaze,
Aaeneas, with fond words and tearful plea,
Would soothe her angry soul. But on the ground
She fixed averted eyes. For all he spoke
Moved her no more than if her frowning brow
Were changeless flint or carved in Parian stone.
Then, after pause, away in wrath she fled,
And refuge took within the cool, dark grove,
Where her first spouse, Sichaeus, with her tears
Mingled his own in mutual love and true.
Aeneas, none the less, her guiltless woe
With anguish knew, watched with dimmed eyes her way,
And pitied from afar the fallen Queen.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.