James Clerk Maxwell

Specimen of Translation from the Ajax of Sophocles

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O had he first been swept away,
Through air by wild winds tossed,
Or sunk from Heaven's ethereal ray,
To Pluto's dreary coast.
Who trained the Grecians to the field,
Taught them the sword, the spear to wield,
And steeled the gentle mind!
Hence toil gives birth to toil again,
Hence carnage stains the ensanguined plain,
For he destroyed mankind.

Nor the brow with chaplets bound,
Breathing balmy odours round,
Nor the social glow of soul,
Kindling o’er the generous bowl,
Nor the dulcet strain that rings
Jocund from the sounding strings,
Nor endearing love’s delight,
Which with rapture fills the night,
Me will he permit to prove,
He, alas! hath murdered love.
But neglected here I lie,
Open to the inclement sky;
And my rough and matted hair
Drinks the dews of night's moist air,
Memorials sad of Troy.
Yet till now, when pale affright
Rolled her hideous form through night
Great in arms, thy shield to oppose,
Ajax at his rampire rose,
And my terror was no more.
Now the hero I deplore,
To the gloomy god consigned,
Now, what joy can touch the mind?
O that on the pine-clad brow,
Darkening o’er the sea below,
Where the cliffs of Sunium rise,
Rocky bulwarks to the skies,
I were placed—with sweet address
Sacred Athens would I bless,
And feel a social joy.

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