Blind, Blind

What fierce misfortune! What a fall from grace!
What dread horrors, pains, men are forced to face!
Since Oedipus loved his parents he fled,
For a prophecy had pronounced that dead
His father would fall, slain by his own hand;
To escape this doom, he sought another land:
But on the road he met a man whose pride
Demanded Oedipus should step aside:
The Theban king made a fatal error,
To his dismay and unexpected terror;
Because he was king, he presumed that all
Would bow and scrape, and be to him in thrall;
For this misjudgment he met a sudden end,
From Oedipus’ staff he could not defend
Himself, but stricken, from his chariot fell:
But the end of sorrows did not this tell.
Though later Oedipus ruled Thebes as king,
A grievous plague on them the gods did bring.
The Sphinx’s riddle had Oedipus solved,
But from this his crime he was not absolved;
Though he loved the Thebans and ruled them well,
His pollution the gods sought to expel.
The cause of the sickness which vexed the city
In his heart evoked sorrow and pity,
And he sought the cause, if by chance, relief
Could be procured from their illness and grief;
But when inquiry had revealed, at last,
The reason, then his grief couldn’t be surpassed.
The prophet he scorned was shown to be right,
When the deeds of the king were brought to light;
Oedipus’ mother to a shepherd gave
Her son to his life deliver and save;
The shepherd passed him on to another,
Hobbled by pity just like his mother;
The other delivered the child to he
Who ruled Corinth. But word of the prophecy
Reached Oedipus when to Delphi he went;
And his sorrow and fear did Oedipus vent:
So Oedipus fled, determined that no
Blood of his father’s by his hand would flow:
But still he fulfilled the curse of the god,
When his father, unknown, he smote with his rod.
For Laius was he, that he struck on the road,
Then made his native Thebes his place of abode.
He sired his children by his mother, the queen:
By her his brothers and sons both were weaned.
And when, by inquiry, all this was known,
How poor Oedipus in spirit did groan!
His mother went in to her chamber and hung
Herself; from the rafters her dead body swung.
Insane into the room Oedipus burst,
Aggrieved, afflicted, agonized and accursed.
Pinned to the dress that the poor woman wore
Were two brooches that he from the garment tore;
The ornaments’ pins he stabbed in his eyes;
Blood rushed down his cheeks, then echoed his cries:
“Blind, blind in the darkness! Blind shall you be!
No more the pain of your deeds shall you see!
No more shall your eyes torment by the sight
The horror of all accursed by this blight!
In darkness shall I have relief from the pain,
Though blood from my eyes shall fall down like rain!
My sorrow, my grief, I’ll keep in my heart,
But dwell alone, in exile and apart.
The ruin of Thebes I’ll never perceive
By my eyes, though I’ll cease never to grieve;
The curse of the gods in darkness I’ll bear;
Into the blackness of Chaos I’ll stare.
Too long did I look on the curse of my house,
Polluted sons by my polluted spouse.
May the darkness one day cover my mind:
Then in all things, at last, I shall be blind!”

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