Gospel Production of Sophocles
From GREAT PERFORMANCES, "Gospel at Colonus"
Men of Thebes, let every man in mankind's frailty consider his last days.
And let none presume, on his good fortune, until he finds at his death, a memory without pain.
Fair Colonus lyrics by Lee Breuer/Bob Telson
Land of running horses
Where leaves and berries throne
And wild dark ivy climbs aboard,
The sweet sojourning nightingale
Murmurs, all night long
Healed with drops of heavens dew
Clusters of Narcissus bloom (2x)
Excerpt from "Oedipus at Colonus", by Sophocles (Translated by F. Storr)
OEDIPUS Child of an old blind sire, Antigone, what region, say, whose city have we reached? Who will provide today with scanted dole this wanderer? 'Tis little that he craves, and less obtains--that less enough for me; for I am taught by suffering to endure, and the long years that have grown old with me, and last not least, by true nobility. My daughter, if thou seest a resting place on common ground or by some sacred grove, stay me and set me down. Let us discover where we have come, for strangers must inquire of denizens, and do as they are bid.
ANTIGONE Long-suffering father, Oedipus, the towers that fence the city still are faint and far; but where we stand is surely holy ground; a wilderness of laurel, olive, vine; within a choir or songster nightingales are warbling. On this native seat of rock rest; for an old man thou hast traveled far.
OEDIPUS Guide these dark steps and seat me there secure.
ANTIGONE If time can teach, I need not to be told.
OEDIPUS Say, prithee, if thou knowest, where we are.
ANTIGONE Athens I recognize, but not the spot.
OEDIPUS That much we heard from every wayfarer.
ANTIGONE Shall I go on and ask about the place?
OEDIPUS Yes, daughter, if it be inhabited.
ANTIGONE Sure there are habitations; but no need to leave thee; yonder is a man hard by.
OEDIPUS What, moving hitherward and on his way?
ANTIGONE Say rather, here already. Ask him straight the needful questions, for the man is here. (Enter STRANGER)
OEDIPUS O stranger, as I learn from her whose eyes must serve both her and me, that thou art here sent by some happy chance to serve our doubts--
STRANGER First quit that seat, then question me at large:
The spot thou treadest on is holy ground.
OEDIPUS What is the site, to what god dedicate?
STRANGER Inviolable, untrod; goddesses, dread brood of Earth and Darkness, here abide.
OEDIPUS Tell me the awful name I should invoke?
STRANGER The Gracious Ones, all-seeing, so our folk call them, but elsewhere other names are rife.
OEDIPUS Then may they show their suppliant grace, for I, from this your sanctuary will ne'er depart.
STRANGER What word is this?
OEDIPUS The watchword of my fate.
STRANGER Nay, 'tis not mine to bid thee hence without due warrant and instruction from the State.
OEDIPUS Now in God's name, O stranger, scorn me not as a wayfarer; tell me what I crave.
STRANGER Ask; your request shall not be scorned by me.
OEDIPUS How call you then the place wherein we bide?
STRANGER Whate'er I know thou too shalt know; the place is all to great Poseidon consecrate. Hard by, the Titan, he who bears the torch, Prometheus, has his worship; but the spot thou treadest, the Brass-footed Threshold named, is Athens' bastion, and the neighboring lands claim as their chief and patron yonder knight Colonus, and in common bear his name. Such, stranger, is the spot, to fame unknown, but dear to us its native worshipers.
ANTIGONE Hush! for I see some grey-beards on their way, their errand to spy out our resting-place.
OEDIPUS I will be mute, and thou shalt guide my steps into the covert from the public road, till I have learned their drift. A prudent man will ever shape his course by what he learns. (Enter CHORUS)
CHORUS (strophe 1)
Ha! Where is he? Look around! Every nook and corner scan! He the all-presumptuous man, whither vanished? search the ground! A wayfarer, I ween, a wayfarer, no countryman of ours, that old man must have been; never had native dared to tempt the Powers, or enter their demesne, the Maids in awe of whom each mortal cowers, whose name no voice betrays nor cry, and as we pass them with averted eye, we move hushed lips in reverent piety. But now some godless man, 'tis rumored, here abides; the precincts through I scan, yet wot not where he hides, the wretch profane! I search and search in vain.
OEDIPUS I am that man; I know you near ears to the blind, they say, are eyes.
CHORUS O dread to see and dread to hear!
OEDIPUS Oh sirs, I am no outlaw under ban.
CHORUS Who can he be--Zeus save us!--this old man?
OEDIPUS No favorite of fate, that ye should envy his estate, O, Sirs, would any happy mortal, say, grope by the light of other eyes his way, or face the storm upon so frail a stay?
CHORUS (antistrophe 1)
Wast thou then sightless from thy birth? Evil, methinks, and long thy pilgrimage on earth. Yet add not curse to curse and wrong to wrong. I warn thee, trespass not within this hallowed spot, lest thou shouldst find the silent grassy glade where offerings are laid, bowls of spring water mingled with sweet mead. Thou must not stay, come, come away, tired wanderer, dost thou heed? (We are far off, but sure our voice can reach.) If aught thou wouldst beseech, speak where 'tis right; till then refrain from speech.