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Death of Salemenes

by George Gordon Byron, 1881

(Sardanapalus, Act v. Scene 1.)

To MYRRHA and BALEA, enter Soldiers, bearing in SALEMENES wounded, with a broken Javelin in his Side: they seat him upon one of the Couches which furnish the Apartment.

Myr.  oh, Jove!
  Bal.                Then all is over.
  Sal.                                That is false.
Hew down the slave who says so, if a soldier.
  Myr.  Spare him—he’s none: a mere court butterfly,
That flutters in the pageant of a monarch.
  Sal.  Let him live on, then.
  Myr.                        So wilt thou, I trust.
  Sal.  I fain would live this hour out, and the event,
But doubt it. Wherefore did ye bear me here?
  Sol.  By the king’s order. When the javelin struck you,
You fell and fainted: ’twas his strict command
To bear you to this hall.
  Sal.                    ’Twas not ill done:
For seeming slain in that cold dizzy trance,
The sight might shake our soldiers—but—’tis vain,
I feel it ebbing!
  Myr.                Let me see the wound;
I am not quite skilless: in my native land
’Tis part of our instruction. War being constant,
We are nerved to look on such things.
  Sol.                            Best extract
The javelin.
  Myr.        Hold! no, no, it cannot be.
  Sal.  I am sped, then!
  Myr.                With the blood that fast must follow
The extracted weapon, I do fear thy life.
  Sal.  And I not death. Where was the king when you
Convey’d me from the spot where I was stricken?
  Sol.  Upon the same ground, and encouraging
With voice and gesture the dispirited troops
Who had seen you fall, and falter’d back.
  Sal.                                Whom heard ye
Named next to the command?
  Sol.                        I did not hear.
  Sal.  Fly, then, and tell him, ’twas my last request
That Zames take my post until the junction,
So hoped for, yet delay’d, of Ofratanes,
Satrap of Susa. Leave me here: our troops
Are not so numerous as to spare your absence.
  Sol.  But prince——
  Sal.                Hence, I say! Here’s a courtier and
A woman, the best chamber company.
As you would not permit me to expire
Upon the field, I’ll have no idle soldiers
About my sick couch. Hence! and do my bidding!
[Exeunt the Soldiers.

  Myr.  Gallant and glorious spirit! must the earth
So soon resign thee?
  Sal.                Gentle Myrrha, ’tis
The end I would have chosen had I saved
The monarch or the monarchy by this;
As ’tis, I have not outlived them.
  Myr.                            You wax paler.
  Sal.  Your hand; this broken weapon but prolongs
My pangs, without sustaining life enough,
To make me useful: I would draw it forth,
And my life with it, could I but hear how
The fight goes.

Enter SARDANAPALUS and Soldiers.

  Sar.                My best brother!
  Sal.                            And the battle
Is lost?
  Sar. (despondingly.)  You see me here.
  Sal.                            I’d rather see you thus!
[He draws out the weapon from the wound, and dies.

Published in Poetry of Byron

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