‘Klytemnestra’ is the title of a pair of sonnets by Emily Jane Pfeiffer, first published in The Contemporary Review (June 1878), page 544. In this question I’m asking about the first sonnet, quoted in full below:
Daughter of gods and men, great ruling will,
Seething in oily rage within the sphere
Which gods and men assign the woman here,
Till, stricken where the wound approved thee still
Mother and mortal, all the tide of ill
Rushed through the gap, and nothing more seemed dear
But power to wreak high ruin, nothing clear
But the long dream you waited to fulfil.
Mother and spouse,—queen of the king of men,—
What fury brought Ægysthus to thy side?—
That bearded semblant, man to outward ken,
But else mere mawworm, made to fret man’s pride;
Woman, thy foot was on thy tyrant then—
Mother, thou wert avenged for love defied!
This is tagged interpretation so I’m looking for open-ended interpretation of any aspects of this poem, but I have some suggestions for where you might start:
Why is Klytemnestra’s rage “oily”? What is the “wound” that she is stricken with? In what way does it “approve” her “still mother and mortal”? What is the “tide of ill”? How is Ægysthus a “semblant” or a “mawworm”? What’s the meaning of “fret man’s pride”? Is there anything interesting to say about the rhythm? Does the poem contain allusions or responses to Æschylus, and if so, what are they? What is the poem’s take on the character?