‘Tis mute, the word they went to hear on high Dodona
When winds were in the oakenshaws, and all the cauldrons
And mute’s the midland navel-stone beside the singing fountian,
And echoes list to silence now where gods told lies of old.
I took my question to the shrine that has not ceased from
The heart within, that tells the truth and tells it twice as
And from the cave of oracles I heard the priestess shrieking
That she and I should surely die and never live again.
O priestess, what you cry is clear, and sound good sense I
But let the screaming echoes rest and froth your mouth
‘Tis true there’s better boose than brine, but he that drowns
must drink it;
And oh, my lass, the news is news that men have heard
The King with half the East at heel is marched from lands of
Their fighters drink the rivers up, their shafts benight
And he that stands will die for naught, and home there’s no
The Spartans on the sea-wet rock sat down and combed
A. E. HOUSMAN.
Housman, A. E. “The Oracle[s].” The Venture: an Annual of Art and Literature, vol. 1, 1903, p. 39. Venture Digital Edition, edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2019-2021. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2021, https://1890s.ca/vv1-ae-housman-oracle