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Aristophanes - Lysistrata (Section 2) lyrics

But who's garred this Council o' Women to meet here?

I have.

Propound then what you want o' us.

What is the amazing news you have to tell?

I'll tell you, but first answer one small question.

As you like.

Are you not sad your children's fathers
Go endlessly off soldiering afar
In this plodding war? I am willing to wager
There's not one here whose husband is at home.

Mine's been in Thrace, keeping an eye on Eucrates
For five months past.

And mine left me for Pylos
Seven months ago at least.

And as for mine
No sooner has he slipped out frae the line
He straps his shield and he's snickt off again.

And not the slightest glitter of a lover!
And since the Milesians betrayed us, I've not seen
The image of a single upright man
To be a marble consolation to us.
Now will you help me, if I find a means
To stamp the war out.

By the two Goddesses, Yes!
I will though I've to pawn this very dress
And drink the barter-money the same day.

And I too though I'm split up like a turbot
And half is hackt off as
the price of peace.

And I too! Why, to get a peep at the shy thing
I'd clamber up to the tip-top o' Taygetus.

Then I'll expose my mighty mystery.
O women, if we would compel the men
To bow to Peace, we must refrain--

From what?
O tell us!

Will you truly do it then?

We will, we will, if we must die for it.

We must refrain from every depth of love....
Why do you turn your backs? Where are you going?
Why do you bite your lips and shake your heads?
Why are your faces blanched? Why do you weep?
Will you or won't you, or what do you mean?

No, I won't do it. Let the war proceed.

No, I won't do it. Let the war proceed.

You too, dear turbot, you that said just now
You didn't mind being split right up in the least?

Anything else? O bid me walk in fire
But do not rob us of that darling joy.
What else is like it, dearest Lysistrata?

And you?

O please give me the fire instead.

Lewd to the least drop in the tiniest vein,
Our s** is fitly food for
Tragic Poets,
Our whole life's but a pile of kisses and babies.
But, hardy Spartan, if you join with me
All may be righted yet. O
help me, help me.

It's a sair, sair thing to ask of us, by the Twa,
A la** to sleep her lane and never fill
Love's lack except wi' makeshifts.... But let it be.
Peace maun be thought of first.

My friend, my friend!
The only one amid this herd of weaklings.

But if--which heaven forbid--we should refrain
As you would have us, how is Peace induced?

By the two Goddesses, now can't you see
All we have to do is idly sit indoors
With smooth roses powdered on our cheeks,
Our bodies burning naked through the folds
Of shining Amorgos' silk, and meet the men
With our dear Venus-plats plucked trim and neat.
Their stirring love will rise up furiously,
They'll beg our arms to open.
That's our time!
We'll disregard their knocking, beat them off--
And they will soon be rabid for a Peace.
I'm sure of it.

Menelaus, they say,
Seeing the bosom of his naked Helen
Flang down the sword.

we'll be tearful fools
If our husbands take us at our word and leave us.

There's only left then, in Pherecrates' phrase,
To flay a skinned dog--flay more our flayed desires.

Bah, proverbs will never warm a celibate.
But what avail will your scheme be if the men
Drag us for all our kicking on to the couch?

Cling to the doorposts.

if they should force us?

Yield then, but with a sluggish, cold indifference.
There is no joy to them in sullen mating.
Besides we have other ways to madden them;
They cannot stand up long, and they've no delight
Unless we fit their aim with merry succour.

Well if you must have it so, we'll all agree.

For us I ha' no doubt. We can persuade
Our men to strike a fair an' decent Peace,
But how will ye pitch out the battle-frenzy
O' the
Athenian populace?

I promise you
We'll wither up that curse.

I don't believe it.
Not while they own ane trireme oared an' rigged,
Or a' those stacks an' stacks an' stacks O' siller.

I've thought the whole thing out till there's no flaw.
We shall surprise the Acropolis today:
That is the duty set the older dames.
While we sit here talking, they are to go
And under pretence of sacrificing, seize it.

Certie, that's fine; all's working for the best.

Now quickly, Lampito, let us tie ourselves
To this high purpose as tightly as the hemp of words
Can knot together.

Set out the terms in detail
And we'll a' swear to them.

Of course.... Well then
Where is our Scythianess? Why are you staring?
First lay the shield, boss downward, on the floor
And bring the victim's inwards.

But, Lysistrata,
What is this oath that we're to swear?

What oath!
In Aeschylus they take a slaughtered sheep
And swear upon a buckler. Why not we?

O Lysistrata, Peace sworn on a buckler!

What oath would suit us then?

Something burden bearing
Would be our best insignia.... A white horse!
Let's swear upon its entrails.

A horse indeed!

Then what will symbolise us?

This, as I tell you--
First set a great dark bowl upon the ground
And disembowel a skin of Thasian wine,
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Then swear that we'll not add a drop of water.

Ah, what aith could clink pleasanter than that!

Bring me a bowl then and a skin of wine.

My dears, see what a splendid bowl it is;
I'd not say No if asked to sip it off.

Put down the bowl. Lay hands, all, on the victim.
Skiey Queen who givest the last word in arguments,
And thee, O Bowl, dear comrade, we beseech:
Accept our oblation and be propitious to us.

What healthy blood, la, how it gushes out!

An' what a leesome fragrance through the air.

Now, dears, if you will let me, I'll speak first.

Only if you draw the lot, by Aphrodite

SO, grasp the brim, you, Lampito, and all.
You, Calonice, repeat for the rest
Each word I say. Then you must all take oath
And pledge your arms to the same stern conditions--

To husband or lover I'll not open arms

To husband or lover I'll not open arms

Though love and denial may enlarge his charms.

Though love and denial may enlarge his charms.
O, O, my knees are failing me, Lysistrata!

But still at home, ignoring him, I'll stay,

But still at home, ignoring him, I'll stay,

Beautiful, clad in saffron silks all day

Beautiful, clad in saffron silks all day.

If then he seizes me by dint of force,

If then he seizes me by dint of force,

I'll give him reason for a long remorse.

I'll give him reason for a long remorse.

I'll never lie and stare up at the ceiling,

I'll never lie and stare up at the ceiling,

Nor like a lion on all fours go kneeling.

Nor like a lion on all fours go kneeling.

If I keep faith, then bounteous cups be mine.

If I keep faith, then bounteous cups be mine.

If not, to nauseous water change this wine.

If not, to nauseous water change this wine.

Do you all swear to this?

We do, we do.

Then I shall immolate the victim thus.
She drinks.

Here now, share fair, haven't we made a pact?
Let's all quaff down
that friendship in our turn.

Hark, what caterwauling hubbub's that?

As I told you,
The women have appropriated the citadel.
So, Lampito, dash off to your own land
And raise the rebels there. These will serve as hostages,
While we ourselves take our places in the ranks
And drive the bolts right home.

But won't the men
March straight against us?

And what if they do?
No threat shall creak our hinges wide, no torch
Shall light a fear in us; we will come out
To Peace alone.

That's it, by Aphrodite!
As of old let us seem hard and obdurate.

LAMPITO and some go off; the others go up into the Acropolis.

Chorus of OLD MEN enter to attack the captured Acropolis.

Make room, Draces, move ahead; why your shoulder's chafed, I see,
With lugging uphill these lopped branches of the olive-tree.
How upside-down and wrong-way-round a long life sees things grow.
Ah, Strymodorus, who'd have thought affairs could tangle so?

The women whom at home we fed,
Like witless fools, with fostering bread,
Have impiously come to this--
They've stolen the Acropolis,
With bolts and bars our orders flout
And shut us out.

Come, Philurgus, bustle thither; lay our faggots on the ground,
In neat stacks beleaguering the insurgents all around;
And the vile conspiratresses, plotters of such mischief dire,
Pile and burn them all together in one vast and righteous pyre:
Fling with our own hands Lycon's wife to fry in the thickest fire.
By Demeter, they'll get no brag while I've a vein to beat!
Cleomenes himself was hurtled out in sore defeat.
His stiff-backed Spartan pride was bent.
Out, stripped of all his arms, he went:
A pigmy cloak that would not stretch
To hide his rump (the draggled wretch),
Six sprouting years of beard, the spilth
Of six years' filth.

That was a siege! Our men were ranged in lines of seventeen deep
Before the gates, and never left their posts there, even to sleep.
Shall I not smite the rash presumption then of foes like these,
Detested both of all the gods and of Euripides--
Else, may the
Marathon-plain not boast my trophied victories!

Ah, now, there's but a little space
To reach the place!
A deadly climb it is, a tricky road
With all this bumping load:
A pack-a** soon would tire....
How these logs bruise my shoulders! further still
Jog up the hill,
And puff the fire inside,
Or just as we reach the top we'll find it's died.
Ough, phew!
I choke with the smoke.

Lord Heracles, how acrid-hot
Out of the pot
This mad-dog smoke leaps, worrying me
And biting angrily....
'Tis Lemnian fire that smokes,
Or else it would not sting my eyelids thus....
Haste, all of us;
Athene invokes our aid.
Laches, now or never the a**ault must be made!
Ough, phew!
I choke with the smoke. ..

Thanked be the gods! The fire peeps up and crackles as it should.
Now why not first slide off our backs these weary loads of wood
And dip a vine-branch in the brazier till it glows, then straight
Hurl it at the battering-ram against the stubborn gate?
If they refuse to draw the bolts in immediate compliance,
We'll set fire to the wood, and smoke will strangle their defiance.

Phew, what a spluttering drench of smoke! Come, now from off my back....
Is there no Samos-general to help me to unpack?
Ah there, that's over! For the last time now it's galled my shoulder.
Flare up thine embers, brazier, and dutifully smoulder,
To kindle a brand, that I the first may strike the citadel.
Aid me, Lady Victory, that a triumph-trophy may tell
How we did anciently this insane audacity quell!

Chorus of WOMEN.

What's that rising yonder? That ruddy glare, that smoky skurry?
O is it something in a blaze? Quick, quick, my comrades, hurry!
Nicodice, helter-skelter!
Or poor Calyce's in flames And Cratylla's stifled in the welter. O these dreadful old men
And their darklaws of hate!
There, I'm all of a tremble lest I turn out to be too late.
I could scarcely get near to the spring though I rose before dawn,
What with tattling of tongues and rattling of pitchers in one jostling din
With slaves pushing in!....

Still here at last the water's drawn
And with it eagerly I run
To help those of my friends who stand
In danger of being burned alive.
For I am told a dribbling band
Of greybeards hobble to the field,
Great faggots in each palsied hand,
As if a hot bath to prepare,
And threatening that out they'll drive
These wicked women or soon leave them charring into ashes there.
O Goddess, suffer not, I pray, this harsh deed to be done,
But show us Greece and Athens with their warlike acts repealed!
For this alone, in this thy hold,
Thou Goddess with the helm of gold,
We laid hands on thy sanctuary,
Athene.... Then our ally be
And where they cast
their fires of slaughter
Direct our water!

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