re of jagged Lemnos,
a land bound by waves, untrodden, lonely.
Here I abandoned Poias's son,
Philoktetes of Melos, years ago.
Neoptolemos, child of Lord Achilles,
the greatest by far of our Greek fighters,
I had to cast him away here:
our masters, the princes, commanded me to,
for disease had conquered him, and his foot
was eaten away by festering sores.
We had no recourse. At our holy feasts,
we could not reach for meat and wine.
He would not let us sleep;
he howled all night, wilder than a wolf.
He blanketed our camp with evil cries,
But there is no time to talk of such things:
no time for long speeches and explanations.
He might hear us coming
and foil my scheme to take him back.
Your orders are to serve me,
to spy out the cave I found for him here---
a two-mouthed cave, exposed to the sun
for warmth in the cold months,
admitting cool breezes in summer's heat;
to the left, nearby it, a sweet-running spring,
if it is still sweet.
If he still lives in this cave or another place,