- Medea’s Vow
(Creon, having banished Medea from Corinth, exits.She addresses the chorus of Corinthian women.)
It’s all gone wrong. No one disputes that.Just don’t you presume I’ve been defeated yet.Torments are coming for that young bride—and that bridegroom, too.Do you imagine I would truckle to that old manWithout certain calculations, without a plan?I would not speak, much less touch him with these hands.True enough: if he had banished me outright—as he meant to—He could have thwarted any scheme of mine.But now he’s bungled it, giving me just one more day,One day to make red flesh of those three creaturesI despise: father, daughter, and my husband—So many ways for them to die that I,Dear friends, can scarcely decide among them.What if I should torch their bridal hall?Or whet a sword, steal into that room where bedsheetsTangle them, and skewer both their pumping hearts?Just one thing blocks my way there:I could be taken in the act;They’d butcher me and my enemies could laugh.The sure way’s best, the way my secret skills point out:Poison. So, then, so be it.And after they’re wiped out, who would take me in?What lord would offer me a haven in his country,Safety and a home?Not one of them. Let’s wait, though, just a little;Some faithful friend might still come to light,So I could carry out these deaths through my dark powers. [End Page 356] Nonetheless, if fate refuses me all help,Even if death’s certain, I will grip that swordIn my own hands and kill, implacable in evils.I will wrench gall, wrench anguish into their marriage,Make bitter this alliance and my banishment.Resolve yourself, Medea: in your designs and strategiesForget none of the black arts you’ve learned.To it, then; plunge on to this dire act. Such timesDemand a stalwart, stout heart.Never forget how much they’ve made you suffer.Never let these Corinthians mock you with Jason’s marriage.Your father was a king; your grandsire was the sun.You have forbidden crafts. You are a woman. [End Page 357]
w. d. snodgrass was a frequent contributor to The Southern Review. “Medea’s Vow” was his last translation, completed a few months before his death in January 2009.