Treasure Island

Aristophanes

(448 BC - 380 BC / Athens)

Grand Chorus Of Birds


Come on then, ye dwellers by nature in darkness, and like to the
leaves' generations,
That are little of might, that are molded of mire, unenduring
and shadowlike nations,
Poor plumeless ephemerals, comfortless mortals, as visions of
shadows fast fleeing,
Lift up your mind unto us that are deathless, and dateless the date
of our being;
Us, children of heaven, us, ageless for aye, us, all of whose thoughts
are eternal:
That ye may from henceforth, having heard of us all things aright
as to matters supernal,
Of the being of birds, and beginning of gods, and of streams, and
the dark beyond reaching,
Trustfully knowing aright, in my name bid Prodicus pack with his
preaching!
It was Chaos and Night at the first, and the blackness of darkness,
and Hell's broad border,
Earth was not, nor air, neither heaven; when in depths of the womb
of the dark without order
First thing, first-born of the black-plumed Night, was a wind-egg
hatched in her bosom,
Whence timely with seasons revolving again sweet Love burst out as
a blossom,
Gold wings glittering forth of his back, like whirlwinds gustily
turning.
He, after his wedlock with Chaos, whose wings are of darkness, in
Hell broad-burning,
For his nestlings begat him the race of us first, and upraised us to
light new-lighted.
And before this was not the race of the gods, until all things by Love
were united:
And of kind united in kind with communion of nature the sky and
the sea are
Brought forth, and the earth, and the race of the gods everlasting and
blest. So that we are
Far away the most ancient of all things blest. And that we are of
Love's generation
There are manifest manifold signs. We have wings, and with us have
the Loves habitation;
And manifold fair young folk that forswore love once, ere the bloom
of them ended,
Have the men that pursued and desired them subdued by the help of
us only befriended,
With such baits as a quail, a flamingo, a goose, or a cock's comb
staring and splendid.
All best good things that befall men come from us birds, as is plain
to all reason:
For first we proclaim and make known to them spring, and the
winter and autumn in season;
Bid sow, when the crane starts clanging for Afric in shrill-voiced
emigrant number,
And calls to the pilot to hang up his rudder again for the season and
slumber;
And then weave a cloak for Orestes the thief, lest he strip men of
theirs if it freezes.
And again thereafter the kite reappearing announces a change in
the breezes.
And that here is the season for shearing your sheep of their spring
wool. Then does the swallow
Give you notice to sell your great-coat, and provide something light
for the heat that's to follow.
Thus are we as Ammon or Delphi unto you. Dodona, nay, Phoebus
Apollo.
For, as first ye come all to get auguries of birds, even such is in
all things your carriage,
Be the matter a matter of trade, or of earning your bread, or of any
one's marriage.
And all things ye lay to the charge of a bird that belong to
discerning prediction:
Winged fame is a bird, as you reckon; you sneeze, and the sign's as
a bird for conviction;
All tokens are 'birds' with you--sounds, too, and lackeys and donkeys.
Then must it not follow
That we are to you all as the manifest godhead that speaks in
prophetic Apollo?

Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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