Prometheus! O Titan! Now in chains
Exposing limbs to elemental rains
And snow or sleet. And burning rays of sun.
What have you done to merit expulsion
From fair Olympus? Where among the lords
And gods of earth you shared in their rewards
Escaping from the doom others befell
Your brothers, father, and your friends as well
All loaded down with chains in nether hell?
And brother Atlas: shouldering now
The world upon his straightened back somehow?
Now thee also have joined the Titans too
Who felt what Jove the master’s strength can do:
He hurled you out of heaven unto earth –
Where you were present there at mankind’s birth –
And pinned you down with levin-bolted fire
Upon Caucasian rocks, a painful pyre
And then you felt the force Zeus’s matchless ire!
Protecting men: you thought to do them good
And taught them knowledge of all things they should
Do well. Their lore you formed. They worshiped too
Olympian deities as they must do:
Attempting to placate Zeus’ bitter ire
After you’d stolen them Olympic fire
And brought the holy gift straight down to men
Who – staring with amaze, by you gotten –
Use it to cook. Then forge their tools. And live
And become little gods on earth who give
Good blessings to each other. But in vain!
For Zeus would punish whom he will. And fain
Would have the Titan thrown out of heaven
Upon the rocks: and never be forgiven.
Did Zeus not make Pandora to afflict
The mankind that you loved? So these he tricked
By giving to Pandora a fair form
That pleased the eyes of men and gods. She – lorn
And meek won quickly to her side all those
Who did not once suspect the gods their foes.
Your warnings fell on deafened ears entire
And eyes made blind by love’s heightened desire.
Pandora’s pyx when opened cursed the human race
With grim, vexatious sicknesses that trace
Their sickly round to every hut and home
To add their sufferings to men who moan
For mercy to the gods. Did you not then
As tutelary doctor teach the men
The doctor’s art: to nurse and heal the sick
And ease the pain of men who still were quick?
For disobeying Zeus, Zeus has confined
Your hapless limbs in mountain chains a time:
For many ages by the count of men.
But you – now chained – will only to rise again.
And though Jove’s eagle daily tears your flesh
You cannot die. Each night you heal afresh.
You know – how soon that a new rising power
Will overthrow King Zeus. You know the hour.
You scorned the threats of Zeus to make you tell
The secret which the Fates vouchsafed you well.
And by your second-sight – you also know
A son of he who rules will let you go.
A hero, strong, will smash your chains and free
Your body – long constrained to misery –
With herculean strength. Jove’s eagle slay
And with good wishes, speed you on your way.
Where will you go – the day when you are freed?
Will mankind still your guard and wardship need?
Or, your task finished – will your path you set
Away from middle earth, and men forget?
To lose yourself beyond the worlds of Zeus
Beyond his reach, contentedly recluse?
So on the day this Titan shall be freed
Us men will gain – to lose – a friend indeed.