Part 4 out of 6
Then like the aweless lion's flashed his eyes,
Which mid the mountains leaps in furious mood
To meet the hunters that draw nigh his cave,
Thinking to steal his cubs, there left alone
In a dark-shadowed glen but from a height
The beast hath spied, and on the spoilers leaps
With grim jaws terribly roaring; even so
That glorious child of Aeacus' aweless son
Against the Trojan warriors burned in wrath.
Thither his eagle-swoop descended first
Where loudest from the plain uproared the fight,
There weakest, he divined, must be the wall,
The battlements lowest, since the surge of foes
Brake heaviest there. Charged at his side the rest
Breathing the battle-spirit. There they found
Eurypylus mighty of heart and all his men
Scaling a tower, exultant in the hope
Of tearing down the walls, of slaughtering
The Argives in one holocaust. No mind
The Gods had to accomplish their desire!
But now Odysseus, Diomede the strong,
Leonteus, and Neoptolemus, as a God
In strength and beauty, hailed their javelins down,
And thrust them from the wall. As dogs and shepherds
By shouting and hard fighting drive away
Strong lions from a steading, rushing forth
From all sides, and the brutes with glaring eyes
Pace to and fro; with savage lust for blood
Of calves and kine their jaws are slavering;
Yet must their onrush give back from the hounds
And fearless onset of the shepherd folk;
[So from these new defenders shrank the foe]
A little, far as one may hurl a stone
Exceeding great; for still Eurypylus
Suffered them not to flee far from the ships,
But cheered them on to bide the brunt, until
The ships be won, and all the Argives slain;
For Zeus with measureless might thrilled all his frame.
Then seized he a rugged stone and huge, and leapt
And hurled it full against the high-built wall.
It crashed, and terribly boomed that rampart steep
To its foundations. Terror gripped the Greeks,
As though that wall had crumbled down in dust;
Yet from the deadly conflict flinched they not,
But stood fast, like to jackals or to wolves
Bold robbers of the sheep -- when mid the hills
Hunter and hound would drive them forth their caves,
Being grimly purposed there to slay their whelps.
Yet these, albeit tormented by the darts,
Flee not, but for their cubs' sake bide and fight;
So for the ships' sake they abode and fought,
And for their own lives. But Eurypylus
Afront of all the ships stood, taunting them:
"Coward and dastard souls! no darts of yours
Had given me pause, nor thrust back from your ships,
Had not your rampart stayed mine onset-rush.
Ye are like to dogs, that in a forest flinch
Before a lion! Skulking therewithin
Ye are fighting -- nay, are shrinking back from death!
But if ye dare come forth on Trojan ground,
As once when ye were eager for the fray,
None shall from ghastly death deliver you:
Slain by mine hand ye all shall lie in dust!"
So did he shout a prophecy unfulfilled,
Nor heard Doom's chariot-wheels fast rolling near
Bearing swift death at Neoptolemus' hands,
Nor saw death gleaming from his glittering spear.
Ay, and that hero paused not now from fight,
But from the ramparts smote the Trojans aye.
From that death leaping from above they quailed
In tumult round Eurypylus: deadly fear
Gripped all their hearts. As little children cower
About a father's knees when thunder of Zeus
Crashes from cloud to cloud, when all the air
Shudders and groans, so did the sons of Troy,
With those Ceteians round their great king, cower
Ever as prince Neoptolemus hurled; for death
Rode upon all he cast, and bare his wrath
Straight rushing down upon the heads of foes.
Now in their hearts those wildered Trojans said
That once more they beheld Achilles' self
Gigantic in his armour. Yet they hid
That horror in their breasts, lest panic fear
Should pass from them to the Ceteian host
And king Eurypylus; so on every side
They wavered 'twixt the stress of their hard strait
And that blood-curdling dread, 'twixt shame and fear.
As when men treading a precipitous path
Look up, and see adown the mountain-slope
A torrent rushing on them, thundering down
The rocks, and dare not meet its clamorous flood,
But hurry shuddering on, with death in sight
Holding as naught the perils of the path;
So stayed the Trojans, spite of their desire
[To flee the imminent death that waited them]
Beneath the wall. Godlike Eurypylus
Aye cheered them on to fight. He trusted still
That this new mighty foe would weary at last
With toil of slaughter; but he wearied not.
That desperate battle-travail Pallas saw,
And left the halls of Heaven incense-sweet,
And flew o'er mountain-crests: her hurrying feet
Touched not the earth, borne by the air divine
In form of cloud-wreaths, swifter than the wind.
She came to Troy, she stayed her feet upon
Sigeum's windy ness, she looked forth thence
Over the ringing battle of dauntless men,
And gave the Achaeans glory. Achilles' son
Beyond the rest was filled with valour and strength
Which win renown for men in whom they meet.
Peerless was he in both: the blood of Zeus
Gave strength; to his father's valour was he heir;
So by those towers he smote down many a foe.
And as a fisher on the darkling sea,
To lure the fish to their destruction, takes
Within his boat the strength of fire; his breath
Kindles it to a flame, till round the boat
Glareth its splendour, and from the black sea
Dart up the fish all eager to behold
The radiance -- for the last time; for the barbs
Of his three-pointed spear, as up they leap,
Slay them; his heart rejoices o'er the prey.
So that war-king Achilles' glorious son
Slew hosts of onward-rushing foes around
That wall of stone. Well fought the Achaeans all,
Here, there, adown the ramparts: rang again
The wide strand and the ships: the battered walls
Groaned ever. Men with weary ache of toil
Fainted on either side; sinews and might
Of strong men were unstrung. But o'er the son
Of battle-stay Achilles weariness
Crept not: his battle-eager spirit aye
Was tireless; never touched by palsying fear
He fought on, as with the triumphant strength
Of an ever-flowing river: though it roll
'Twixt blazing forests, though the madding blast
Roll stormy seas of flame, it feareth not,
For at its brink faint grows the fervent heat,
The strong flood turns its might to impotence;
So weariness nor fear could bow the knees
Of Hero Achilles' gallant-hearted son,
Still as he fought, still cheered his comrades on.
Of myriad shafts sped at him none might touch
His flesh, but even as snowflakes on a rock
Fell vainly ever: wholly screened was he
By broad shield and strong helmet, gifts of a God.
In these exulting did the Aeacid's son
Stride all along the wall, with ringing shouts
Cheering the dauntless Argives to the fray,
Being their mightiest far, bearing a soul
Insatiate of the awful onset-cry,
Burning with one strong purpose, to avenge
His father's death: the Myrmidons in their king
Exulted. Roared the battle round the wall.
Two sons he slew of Meges rich in gold,
Scion of Dymas -- sons of high renown,
Cunning to hurl the dart, to drive the steed
In war, and deftly cast the lance afar,
Born at one birth beside Sangarius' banks
Of Periboea to him, Celtus one,
And Eubius the other. But not long
His boundless wealth enjoyed they, for the
Fates Span them a thread of life exceeding brief.
As on one day they saw the light, they died
On one day by the same hand. To the heart
Of one Neoptolemus sped a javelin; one
He smote down with a massy stone that crashed
Through his strong helmet, shattered all its ridge,
And dashed his brains to earth. Around them fell
Foes many, a host untold. The War-god's work
Waxed ever mightier till the eventide,
Till failed the light celestial; then the host
Of brave Eurypylus from the ships drew back
A little: they that held those leaguered towers
Had a short breathing-space; the sons of Troy
Had respite from the deadly-echoing strife,
From that hard rampart-battle. Verily all
The Argives had beside their ships been slain,
Had not Achilles' strong son on that day
Withstood the host of foes and their great chief
Eurypylus. Came to that young hero's side
Phoenix the old, and marvelling gazed on one
The image of Peleides. Tides of joy
And grief swept o'er him -- grief, for memories
Of that swift-footed father -- joy, for sight
Of such a son. He for sheer gladness wept;
For never without tears the tribes of men
Live -- nay, not mid the transports of delight.
He clasped him round as father claspeth son
Whom, after long and troublous wanderings,
The Gods bring home to gladden a father's heart.
So kissed he Neoptolemus' head and breast,
Clasping him round, and cried in rapture of joy:
"Hail, goodly son of that Achilles whom
I nursed a little one in mine own arms
With a glad heart. By Heaven's high providence
Like a strong sapling waxed he in stature fast,
And daily I rejoiced to see his form
And prowess, my life's blessing, honouring him
As though he were the son of mine old age;
For like a father did he honour me.
I was indeed his father, he my son
In spirit: thou hadst deemed us of one blood
Who were in heart one: but of nobler mould
Was he by far, in form and strength a God.
Thou art wholly like him -- yea, I seem to see
Alive amid the Argives him for whom
Sharp anguish shrouds me ever. I waste away
In sorrowful age -- oh that the grave had closed
On me while yet he lived! How blest to be
By loving hands of kinsmen laid to rest!
Ah child, my sorrowing heart will nevermore
Forget him! Chide me not for this my grief.
But now, help thou the Myrmidons and Greeks
In their sore strait: wreak on the foe thy wrath
For thy brave sire. It shall be thy renown
To slay this war-insatiate Telephus' son;
For mightier art thou, and shalt prove, than he,
As was thy father than his wretched sire."
Made answer golden-haired Achilles' son:
"Ancient, our battle-prowess mighty Fate
And the o'ermastering War-god shall decide."
But, as he spake, he had fain on that same day
Forth of the gates have rushed in his sire's arms;
But night, which bringeth men release from toil,
Rose from the ocean veiled in sable pall.
With honour as of mighty Achilles' self
Him mid the ships the glad Greeks hailed, who had won
Courage from that his eager rush to war.
With princely presents did they honour him,
With priceless gifts, whereby is wealth increased;
For some gave gold and silver, handmaids some,
Brass without weight gave these, and iron those;
Others in deep jars brought the ruddy wine:
Yea, fleetfoot steeds they gave, and battle-gear,
And raiment woven fair by women's hands.
Glowed Neoptolemus' heart for joy of these.
A feast they made for him amidst the tents,
And there extolled Achilles' godlike son
With praise as of the immortal Heavenly Ones;
And joyful-voiced Agamemnon spake to him:
"Thou verily art the brave-souled Aeacid's son,
His very image thou in stalwart might,
In beauty, stature, courage, and in soul.
Mine heart burns in me seeing thee. I trust
Thine hands and spear shall smite yon hosts of foes,
Shall smite the city of Priam world-renowned --
So like thy sire thou art! Methinks I see
Himself beside the ships, as when his shout
Of wrath for dead Patroclus shook the ranks
Of Troy. But he is with the Immortal Ones,
Yet, bending from that heaven, sends thee to-day
To save the Argives on destruction's brink."
Answered Achilles' battle-eager son:
"Would I might meet him living yet, O King,
That so himself might see the son of his love
Not shaming his great father's name. I trust
So shall it be, if the Gods grant me life."
So spake he in wisdom and in modesty;
And all there marvelled at the godlike man.
But when with meat and wine their hearts were filled,
Then rose Achilles' battle-eager son,
And from the feast passed forth unto the tent
That was his sire's. Much armour of heroes slain
Lay there; and here and there were captive maids
Arraying that tent widowed of its lord,
As though its king lived. When that son beheld
Those Trojan arms and handmaid-thralls, he groaned,
By passionate longing for his father seized.
As when through dense oak-groves and tangled glens
Comes to the shadowed cave a lion's whelp
Whose grim sire by the hunters hath been slain,
And looketh all around that empty den,
And seeth heaps of bones of steeds and kine
Slain theretofore, and grieveth for his sire;
Even so the heart of brave Peleides' son
With grief was numbed. The handmaids marvelling gazed;
And fair Briseis' self, when she beheld
Achilles' son, was now right glad at heart,
And sorrowed now with memories of the dead.
Her soul was wildered all, as though indeed
There stood the aweless Aeacid living yet.
Meanwhile exultant Trojans camped aloof
Extolled Eurypylus the fierce and strong,
As erst they had praised Hector, when he smote
Their foes, defending Troy and all her wealth.
But when sweet sleep stole over mortal men,
Then sons of Troy and battle-biding Greeks
All slumber-heavy slept unsentinelled.
How Hercules' Grandson perished in fight with the Son of
When from the far sea-line, where is the cave
Of Dawn, rose up the sun, and scattered light
Over the earth, then did the eager sons
Of Troy and of Achaea arm themselves
Athirst for battle: these Achilles' son
Cheered on to face the Trojans awelessly;
And those the giant strength of Telephus' seed
Kindled. He trusted to dash down the wall
To earth, and utterly destroy the ships
With ravening fire, and slay the Argive host.
Ah, but his hope was as the morning breeze
Delusive: hard beside him stood the Fates
Laughing to scorn his vain imaginings.
Then to the Myrmidons spake Achilles' son,
The aweless, to the fight enkindling them:
"Hear me, mine henchmen: take ye to your hearts
The spirit of war, that we may heal the wounds
Of Argos, and be ruin to her foes.
Let no man fear, for mighty prowess is
The child of courage; but fear slayeth strength
And spirit. Gird yourselves with strength for war;
Give foes no breathing-space, that they may say
That mid our ranks Achilles liveth yet."
Then clad he with his father's flashing arms
His shoulders. Then exulted Thetis' heart
When from the sea she saw the mighty strength
Of her son's son. Then forth with eagle-speed
Afront of that high wall he rushed, his ear
Drawn by the immortal horses of his sire.
As from the ocean-verge upsprings the sun
In glory, flashing fire far over earth --
Fire, when beside his radiant chariot-team
Races the red star Sirius, scatterer
Of woefullest diseases over men;
So flashed upon the eyes of Ilium's host
That battle-eager hero, Achilles' son.
Onward they whirled him, those immortal steeds,
The which, when now he longed to chase the foe
Back from the ships, Automedon, who wont
To rein them for his father, brought to him.
With joy that pair bore battleward their lord,
So like to Aeacus' son, their deathless hearts
Held him no worser than Achilles' self.
Laughing for glee the Argives gathered round
The might resistless of Neoptolemus,
Eager for fight as wasps [whose woodland bower
The axe] hath shaken, who dart swarming forth
Furious to sting the woodman: round their nest
Long eddying, they torment all passers by;
So streamed they forth from galley and from wall
Burning for fight, and that wide space was thronged,
And all the plain far blazed with armour-sheen,
As shone from heaven's vault the sun thereon.
As flees the cloud-rack through the welkin wide
Scourged onward by the North-wind's Titan blasts,
When winter-tide and snow are hard at hand,
And darkness overpalls the firmament;
So with their thronging squadrons was the earth
Covered before the ships. To heaven uprolled,
Dust hung on hovering wings' men's armour clashed;
Rattled a thousand chariots; horses neighed
On-rushing to the fray. Each warrior's prowess
Kindled him with its trumpet-call to war.
As leap the long sea-rollers, onward hurled
By two winds terribly o'er th' broad sea-flood
Roaring from viewless bournes, with whirlwind blasts
Crashing together, when a ruining storm
Maddens along the wide gulfs of the deep,
And moans the Sea-queen with her anguished waves
Which sweep from every hand, uptowering
Like precipiced mountains, while the bitter squall,
Ceaselessly veering, shrieks across the sea;
So clashed in strife those hosts from either hand
With mad rage. Strife incarnate spurred them on,
And their own prowess. Crashed together these
Like thunderclouds outlightening, thrilling the air.
With shattering trumpet-challenge, when the blasts
Are locked in frenzied wrestle, with mad breath
Rending the clouds, when Zeus is wroth with men
Who travail with iniquity, and flout
His law. So grappled they, as spear with spear
Clashed, shield with shield, and man on man was hurled.
And first Achilles' war-impetuous son
Struck down stout Melaneus and Alcidamas,
Sons of the war-lord Alexinomus,
Who dwelt in Caunus mountain-cradled, nigh
The clear lake shining at Tarbelus' feet
'Neath snow-capt Imbrus. Menes, fleetfoot son
Of King Cassandrus, slew he, born to him
By fair Creusa, where the lovely streams
Of Lindus meet the sea, beside the marches
Of battle-biding Carians, and the heights
Of Lycia the renowned. He slew withal
Morys the spearman, who from Phrygia came;
Polybus and Hippomedon by his side
He laid, this stabbed to the heart, that pierced between
Shoulder and neck: man after man he slew.
Earth groaned 'neath Trojan corpses; rank on rank
Crumbled before him, even as parched brakes
Sink down before the blast of ravening fire
When the north wind of latter summer blows;
So ruining squadrons fell before his charge.
Meanwhile Aeneas slew Aristolochus,
Crashing a great stone down on his head: it brake
Helmet and skull together, and fled his life.
Fleetfoot Eumaeus Diomede slew; he dwelt
In craggy Dardanus, where the bride-bed is
Whereon Anchises clasped the Queen of Love.
Agamemnon smote down Stratus: unto Thrace
Returned he not from war, but died far off
From his dear fatherland. And Meriones
Struck Chlemus down, Peisenor's son, the friend
Of god-like Glaucus, and his comrade leal,
Who by Limurus' outfall dwelt: the folk
Honoured him as their king, when reigned no more
Glaucus, in battle slain, -- all who abode
Around Phoenice's towers, and by the crest
Of Massicytus, and Chimaera's glen.
So man slew man in fight; but more than all
Eurypylus hurled doom on many a foe.
First slew he battle-bider Eurytus,
Menoetius of the glancing taslet next,
Elephenor's godlike comrades. Fell with these
Harpalus, wise Odysseus' warrior-friend;
But in the fight afar that hero toiled,
And might not aid his fallen henchman: yet
Fierce Antiphus for that slain man was wroth,
And hurled his spear against Eurypylus,
Yet touched him not; the strong shaft glanced aside,
And pierced Meilanion battle-staunch, the son
Of Cleite lovely-faced, Erylaus' bride,
Who bare him where Caicus meets the sea.
Wroth for his comrade slain, Eurypylus
Rushed upon Antiphus, but terror-winged
He plunged amid his comrades; so the spear
Of the avenger slew him not, whose doom
Was one day wretchedly to be devoured
By the manslaying Cyclops: so it pleased
Stern Fate, I know not why. Elsewhither sped
Eurypylus; and aye as he rushed on
Fell 'neath his spear a multitude untold.
As tall trees, smitten by the strength of steel
In mountain-forest, fill the dark ravines,
Heaped on the earth confusedly, so fell
The Achaeans 'neath Eurypylus' flying spears --
Till heart-uplifted met him face to face
Achilles' son. The long spears in their hands
They twain swung up, each hot to smite his foe.
But first Eurypylus cried the challenge-cry;
"Who art thou? Whence hast come to brave me here?
To Hades merciless Fate is bearing thee;
For in grim fight hath none escaped mine hands;
But whoso, eager for the fray, have come
Hither, on all have I hurled anguished death.
By Xanthus' streams have dogs devoured their flesh
And gnawed their bones. Answer me, who art thou?
Whose be the steeds that bear thee exultant on?"
Answered Achilles' battle-eager son:
"Wherefore, when I am hurrying to the fray,
Dost thou, a foe, put question thus to me,
As might a friend, touching my lineage,
Which many know? Achilles' son am I,
Son of the man whose long spear smote thy sire,
And made him flee -- yea, and the ruthless fates
Of death had seized him, but my father's self
Healed him upon the brink of woeful death.
The steeds which bear me were my godlike sire's;
These the West-wind begat, the Harpy bare:
Over the barren sea their feet can race
Skimming its crests: in speed they match the winds.
Since then thou know'st the lineage of my steeds
And mine, now put thou to the test the might
Of my strong spear, born on steep Pelion's crest,
Who hath left his father-stock and forest there."
He spake; and from the chariot sprang to earth
That glorious man: he swung the long spear up.
But in his brawny hand his foe hath seized
A monstrous stone: full at the golden shield
Of Neoptolemus he sped its flight;
But, no whir staggered by its whirlwind rush,
He like a giant mountain-foreland stood
Which all the banded fury of river-floods
Can stir not, rooted in the eternal hills;
So stood unshaken still Achilles' son.
Yet not for this Eurypylus' dauntless might
Shrank from Achilles' son invincible,
On-spurred by his own hardihood and by Fate.
Their hearts like caldrons seethed o'er fires of wrath,
Their glancing armour flashed about their limbs.
Like terrible lions each on other rushed,
Which fight amid the mountains famine-stung,
Writhing and leaping in the strain of strife
For a slain ox or stag, while all the glens
Ring with their conflict; so they grappled, so
Clashed they in pitiless strife. On either hand
Long lines of warriors Greek and Trojan toiled
In combat: round them roared up flames of war.
Like mighty rushing winds they hurled together
With eager spears for blood of life athirst.
Hard by them stood Enyo, spurred them on
Ceaselessly: never paused they from the strife.
Now hewed they each the other's shield, and now
Thrust at the greaves, now at the crested helms.
Reckless of wounds, in that grim toil pressed on
Those aweless heroes: Strife incarnate watched
And gloated o'er them. Ran the sweat in streams
From either: straining hard they stood their ground,
For both were of the seed of Blessed Ones.
From Heaven, with hearts at variance, Gods looked down;
For some gave glory to Achilles' son,
Some to Eurypylus the godlike. Still
They fought on, giving ground no more than rock.
Of granite mountains. Rang from side to side
Spear-smitten shields. At last the Pelian lance,
Sped onward by a mighty thrust, hath passed
Clear through Eurypylus' throat. Forth poured the blood
Torrent-like; through the portal of the wound
The soul from the body flew: darkness of death
Dropped o'er his eyes. To earth in clanging arms
He fell, like stately pine or silver fir
Uprooted by the fury of Boreas;
Such space of earth Eurypylus' giant frame
Covered in falling: rang again the floor
And plain of Troyland. Grey death-pallor swept
Over the corpse, and all the flush of life
Faded away. With a triumphant laugh
Shouted the mighty hero over him:
"Eurypylus, thou saidst thou wouldst destroy
The Danaan ships and men, wouldst slay us all
Wretchedly -- but the Gods would not fulfil
Thy wish. For all thy might invincible,
My father's massy spear hath now subdued
Thee under me, that spear no man shall 'scape,
Though he be brass all through, who faceth me."
He spake, and tore the long lance from the corse,
While shrank the Trojans back in dread, at sight
Of that strong-hearted man. Straightway he stripped
The armour from the dead, for friends to bear
Fast to the ships Achaean. But himself
To the swift chariot and the tireless steeds
Sprang, and sped onward like a thunderbolt
That lightning-girdled leaps through the wide air
From Zeus's hands unconquerable -- the bolt
Before whose downrush all the Immortals quail
Save only Zeus. It rusheth down to earth,
It rendeth trees and rugged mountain-crags;
So rushed he on the Trojans, flashing doom
Before their eyes; dashed to the earth they fell
Before the charge of those immortal steeds:
The earth was heaped with slain, was dyed with gore.
As when in mountain-glens the unnumbered leaves
Down-streaming thick and fast hide all the ground,
So hosts of Troy untold on earth were strewn
By Neoptolemus and fierce-hearted Greeks,
Shed by whose hands the blood in torrents ran
'Neath feet of men and horses. Chariot-rails
Were dashed with blood-spray whirled up from the tyres.
Now had the Trojans fled within their gates
As calves that flee a lion, or as swine
Flee from a storm -- but murderous Ares came,
Unmarked of other Gods, down from the heavens,
Eager to help the warrior sons of Troy.
Red-fire and Flame, Tumult and Panic-fear,
His car-steeds, bare him down into the fight,
The coursers which to roaring Boreas
Grim-eyed Erinnys bare, coursers that breathed
Life-blasting flame: groaned all the shivering air,
As battleward they sped. Swiftly he came
To Troy: loud rang the earth beneath the feet
Of that wild team. Into the battle's heart
Tossing his massy spear, he came; with a shout
He cheered the Trojans on to face the foe.
They heard, and marvelled at that wondrous cry,
Not seeing the God's immortal form, nor steeds,
Veiled in dense mist. But the wise prophet-soul
Of Helenus knew the voice divine that leapt
Unto the Trojans' ears, they knew not whence,
And with glad heart to the fleeing host he cried:
"O cravens, wherefore fear Achilles' son,
Though ne'er so brave? He is mortal even as we;
His strength is not as Ares' strength, who is come
A very present help in our sore need.
That was his shout far-pealing, bidding us
Fight on against the Argives. Let your hearts
Be strong, O friends: let courage fill your breasts.
No mightier battle-helper can draw nigh
To Troy than he. Who is of more avail
For war than Ares, when he aideth men
Hard-fighting? Lo, to our help he cometh now!
On to the fight! Cast to the winds your fears!"
They fled no more, they faced the Argive men,
As hounds, that mid the copses fled at first,
Turn them about to face and fight the wolf,
Spurred by the chiding of their shepherd-lord;
So turned the sons of Troy again to war,
Casting away their fear. Man leapt on man
Valiantly fighting; loud their armour clashed
Smitten with swords, with lances, and with darts.
Spears plunged into men's flesh: dread Ares drank
His fill of blood: struck down fell man on man,
As Greek and Trojan fought. In level poise
The battle-balance hung. As when young men
In hot haste prune a vineyard with the steel,
And each keeps pace with each in rivalry,
Since all in strength and age be equal-matched;
So did the awful scales of battle hang
Level: all Trojan hearts beat high, and firm
Stood they in trust on aweless Ares' might,
While the Greeks trusted in Achilles' son.
Ever they slew and slew: stalked through the midst
Deadly Enyo, her shoulders and her hands
Blood-splashed, while fearful sweat streamed from her limbs.
Revelling in equal fight, she aided none,
Lest Thetis' or the War-god's wrath be stirred.
Then Neoptolemus slew one far-renowned,
Perimedes, who had dwelt by Smintheus' grove;
Next Cestrus died, Phalerus battle-staunch,
Perilaus the strong, Menalcas lord of spears,
Whom Iphianassa bare by the haunted foot
Of Cilla to the cunning craftsman Medon.
In the home-land afar the sire abode,
And never kissed his son's returning head:
For that fair home and all his cunning works
Did far-off kinsmen wrangle o'er his grave.
Deiphobus slew Lycon battle-staunch:
The lance-head pierced him close above the groin,
And round the long spear all his bowels gushed out.
Aeneas smote down Dymas, who erewhile
In Aulis dwelt, and followed unto Troy
Arcesilaus, and saw never more
The dear home-land. Euryalus hurled a dart,
And through Astraeus' breast the death-winged point
Flew, shearing through the breathways of man's life;
And all that lay within was drenched with blood.
And hard thereby great-souled Agenor slew
Hippomenes, hero Teucer's comrade staunch,
With one swift thrust 'twixt shoulder and neck: his soul
Rushed forth in blood; death's night swept over him.
Grief for his comrade slain on Teucer fell;
He strained his bow, a swift-winged shaft he sped,
But smote him not, for slightly Agenor swerved.
Yet nigh him Deiophontes stood; the shaft
Into his left eye plunged, passed through the ball,
And out through his right ear, because the Fates
Whither they willed thrust on the bitter barbs.
Even as in agony he leapt full height,
Yet once again the archer's arrow hissed:
It pierced his throat, through the neck-sinews cleft
Unswerving, and his hard doom came on him.
So man to man dealt death; and joyed the Fates
And Doom, and fell Strife in her maddened glee
Shouted aloud, and Ares terribly
Shouted in answer, and with courage thrilled
The Trojans, and with panic fear the Greeks,
And shook their reeling squadrons. But one man
He scared not, even Achilles' son; he abode,
And fought undaunted, slaying foes on foes.
As when a young lad sweeps his hand around
Flies swarming over milk, and nigh the bowl
Here, there they lie, struck dead by that light touch,
And gleefully the child still plies the work;
So stern Achilles' glorious scion joyed
Over the slain, and recked not of the God
Who spurred the Trojans on: man after man
Tasted his vengeance of their charging host.
Even as a giant mountain-peak withstands
On-rushing hurricane-blasts, so he abode
Unquailing. Ares at his eager mood
Grew wroth, and would have cast his veil of cloud
Away, and met him face to face in fight,
But now Athena from Olympus swooped
To forest-mantled Ida. Quaked the earth
And Xanthus' murmuring streams; so mightily
She shook them: terror-stricken were the souls
Of all the Nymphs, adread for Priam's town.
From her immortal armour flashed around
The hovering lightnings; fearful serpents breathed
Fire from her shield invincible; the crest
Of her great helmet swept the clouds. And now
She was at point to close in sudden fight
With Ares; but the mighty will of Zeus
Daunted them both, from high heaven thundering
His terrors. Ares drew back from the war,
For manifest to him was Zeus's wrath.
To wintry Thrace he passed; his haughty heart
Reeked no more of the Trojans. In the plain
Of Troy no more stayed Pallas; she was gone
To hallowed Athens. But the armies still
Strove in the deadly fray; and fainted now
The Trojans' prowess; but all battle-fain
The Argives pressed on these as they gave ground.
As winds chase ships that fly with straining sails
On to the outsea -- as on forest-brakes
Leapeth the fury of flame -- as swift hounds drive
Deer through the mountains, eager for the prey,
So did the Argives chase them: Achilles' son
Still cheered them on, still slew with that great spear
Whomso he overtook. On, on they fled
Till into stately-gated Troy they poured.
Then had the Argives a short breathing-space
From war, when they had penned the hosts of Troy
In Priam's burg, as shepherds pen up lambs
Upon a lonely steading. And, as when
After hard strain, a breathing-space is given
To oxen that, quick-panting 'neath the yoke,
Up a steep hill have dragged a load, so breathed
Awhile the Achaeans after toil in arms.
Then once more hot for the fray did they beset
The city-towers. But now with gates fast barred
The Trojans from the walls withstood the assault.
As when within their steading shepherd-folk
Abide the lowering tempest, when a day
Of storm hath dawned, with fury of lightnings, rain
And heavy-drifting snow, and dare not haste
Forth to the pasture, howsoever fain,
Till the great storm abate, and rivers, wide
With rushing floods, again be passable;
So trembling on their walls they abode the rage
Of foes against their ramparts surging fast.
And as when daws or starlings drop in clouds
Down on an orchard-close, full fain to feast
Upon its pleasant fruits, and take no heed
Of men that shout to scare them thence away,
Until the reckless hunger be appeased
That makes them bold; so poured round Priam's burg
The furious Danaans. Against the gates
They hurled themselves, they strove to batter down
The mighty-souled Earth-shaker's work divine.
Yet did tim Troyfolk not, despite their fear,
Flinch from the fight: they manned their towers, they toiled
Unresting: ever from the fair-built walls
Leapt arrows, stones, and fleet-winged javelins down
Amidst the thronging foes; for Phoebus thrilled
Their souls with steadfast hardihood. Fain was he
To save them still, though Hector was no more.
Then Meriones shot forth a deadly shaft,
And smote Phylodamas, Polites' friend,
Beneath the jaw; the arrow pierced his throat.
Down fell he like a vulture, from a rock
By fowler's barbed arrow shot and slain;
So from the high tower swiftly down he fell:
His life fled; clanged his armour o'er the corpse.
With laughter of triumph stalwart Molus' son
A second arrow sped, with strong desire
To smite Polites, ill-starred Priam's son:
But with a swift side-swerve did he escape
The death, nor did the arrow touch his flesh.
As when a shipman, as his bark flies on
O'er sea-gulfs, spies amid the rushing tide
A rock, and to escape it swiftly puts
The helm about, and turns aside the ship
Even as he listeth, that a little strength
Averts a great disaster; so did he
Foresee and shun the deadly shaft of doom.
Ever they fought on; walls, towers, battlements
Were blood-besprent, wherever Trojans fell
Slain by the arrows of the stalwart Greeks.
Yet these escaped not scatheless; many of them
Dyed the earth red: aye waxed the havoc of death
As friends and foes were stricken. O'er the strife
Shouted for glee Enyo, sister of War.
Now had the Argives burst the gates, had breached
The walls of Troy, for boundless was their might;
But Ganymedes saw from heaven, and cried,
Anguished with fear for his own fatherland:
"O Father Zeus, if of thy seed I am,
If at thine best I left far-famous Troy
For immortality with deathless Gods,
O hear me now, whose soul is anguish-thrilled!
I cannot bear to see my fathers' town
In flames, my kindred in disastrous strife ú
Perishing: bitterer sorrow is there none!
Oh, if thine heart is fixed to do this thing,
Let me be far hence! Less shall be my grief
If I behold it not with these mine eyes.
That is the depth of horror and of shame
To see one's country wrecked by hands of foes."
With groans and tears so pleaded Ganymede.
Then Zeus himself with one vast pall of cloud
Veiled all the city of Priam world-renowned;
And all the murderous fight was drowned in mist,
And like a vanished phantom was the wall
In vapours heavy-hung no eye could pierce;
And all around crashed thunders, lightnings flamed
From heaven. The Danaans heard Zeus' clarion peal
Awe-struck; and Neleus' son cried unto them:
"Far-famous lords of Argives, all our strength
Palsied shall be, while Zeus protecteth thus
Our foes. A great tide of calamity
On us is rolling; haste we then to the ships;
Cease we awhile from bitter toil of strife,
Lest the fire of his wrath consume us all.
Submit we to his portents; needs must all
Obey him ever, who is mightier far
Than all strong Gods, all weakling sons of men.
On the presumptuous Titans once in wrath
He poured down fire from heaven: then burned all earth
Beneath, and Ocean's world-engirdling flood
Boiled from its depths, yea, to its utmost bounds:
Far-flowing mighty rivers were dried up:
Perished all broods of life-sustaining earth,
All fosterlings of the boundless sea, and all
Dwellers in rivers: smoke and ashes veiled
The air: earth fainted in the fervent heat.
Therefore this day I dread the might of Zeus.
Now, pass we to the ships, since for to-day
He helpeth Troy. To us too shall he grant
Glory hereafter; for the dawn on men,
Though whiles it frown, anon shall smile. Not yet,
But soon, shall Fate lead us to smite yon town,
If true indeed was Calchas' prophecy
Spoken aforetime to the assembled Greeks,
That in the tenth year Priam's burg should fall."
Then left they that far-famous town, and turned
From war, in awe of Zeus's threatenings,
Hearkening to one with ancient wisdom wise.
Yet they forgat not friends in battle slain,
But bare them from the field and buried them.
These the mist hid not, but the town alone
And its unscaleable wall, around which fell
Trojans and Argives many in battle slain.
So came they to the ships, and put from them
Their battle-gear, and strode into the waves
Of Hellespont fair-flowing, and washed away
All stain of dust and sweat and clotted gore.
The sun drave down his never-wearying steeds
Into the dark west: night streamed o'er the earth,
Bidding men cease from toil. The Argives then
Acclaimed Achilles' valiant son with praise
High as his father's. Mid triumphant mirth
He feasted in kings' tents: no battle-toil
Had wearied him; for Thetis from his limbs
Had charmed all ache of travail, making him
As one whom labour had no power to tire.
When his strong heart was satisfied with meat,
He passed to his father's tent, and over him
Sleep's dews were poured. The Greeks slept in the plain
Before the ships, by ever-changing guards
Watched; for they dreaded lest the host of Troy,
Or of her staunch allies, should kindle flame
Upon the ships, and from them all cut off
Their home-return. In Priam's burg the while
By gate and wall men watched and slept in turn,
Adread to hear the Argives' onset-shout.
How from his long lone exile returned to the war Philoctetes.
When ended was night's darkness, and the Dawn
Rose from the world's verge, and the wide air glowed
With splendour, then did Argos' warrior-sons
Gaze o'er the plain; and lo, all cloudless-clear
Stood Ilium's towers. The marvel of yesterday
Seemed a strange dream. No thought the Trojans had
Of standing forth to fight without the wall.
A great fear held them thralls, the awful thought
That yet alive was Peleus' glorious son.
But to the King of Heaven Antenor cried:
"Zeus, Lord of Ida and the starry sky,
Hearken my prayer! Oh turn back from our town
That battle-eager murderous-hearted man,
Be he Achilles who hath not passed down
To Hades, or some other like to him.
For now in heaven-descended Priam's burg
By thousands are her people perishing:
No respite cometh from calamity:
Murder and havoc evermore increase.
O Father Zeus, thou carest not though we
Be slaughtered of our foes: thou helpest them,
Forgetting thy son, godlike Dardanus!
But, if this be the purpose of thine heart
That Argives shall destroy us wretchedly,
Now do it: draw not out our agony!"
In passionate prayer he cried; and Zeus from heaven
Hearkened, and hasted on the end of all,
Which else he had delayed. He granted him
This awful boon, that myriads of Troy's sons
Should with their children perish: but that prayer
He granted not, to turn Achilles' son
Back from the wide-wayed town; nay, all the more
He enkindled him to war, for he would now
Give grace and glory to the Nereid Queen.
So purposed he, of all Gods mightiest.
But now between the city and Hellespont
Were Greeks and Trojans burning men and steeds
In battle slain, while paused the murderous strife.
For Priam sent his herald Menoetes forth
To Agamemnon and the Achaean chiefs,
Asking a truce wherein to burn the dead;
And they, of reverence for the slain, gave ear;
For wrath pursueth not the dead. And when
They had lain their slain on those close-thronging pyres,
Then did the Argives to their tents return,
And unto Priam's gold-abounding halls
The Trojans, for Eurypylus sorrowing sore:
For even as Priam's sons they honoured him.
Therefore apart from all the other slain,
Before the Gate Dardanian -- where the streams
Of eddying Xanthus down from Ida flow
Fed by the rains of heavens -- they buried him.
Aweless Achilles' son the while went forth
To his sire's huge tomb. Outpouring tears, he kissed
The tall memorial pillar of the dead,
And groaning clasped it round, and thus he cried:
"Hail, father! Though beneath the earth thou lie
In Hades' halls, I shall forget thee not.
Oh to have met thee living mid the host!
Then of each other had our souls had joy,
Then of her wealth had we spoiled Ilium.
But now, thou hast not seen thy child, nor I
Seen thee, who yearned to look on thee in life.
Yet, though thou be afar amidst the dead,
Thy spear, thy son, have made thy foes to quail;
And Danaans with exceeding joy behold
One like to thee in stature, fame and deeds."
He spake, and wiped the hot tears from his face;
And to his father's ships passed swiftly thence:
With him went Myrmidon warriors two and ten,
And white-haired Phoenix followed on with these
Woefully sighing for the glorious dead.
Night rose o'er earth, the stars flashed out in heaven;
So these brake bread, and slept till woke the Dawn.
Then the Greeks donned their armour: flashed afar
Its splendour up to the very firmament.
Forth of their gates in one great throng they poured,
Like snowflakes thick and fast, which drift adown
Heavily from the clouds in winter's cold;
So streamed they forth before the wall, and rose
Their dread shout: groaned the deep earth 'neath their tramp.
The Trojans heard that shout, and saw that host,
And marvelled. Crushed with fear were all their hearts
Foreboding doom; for like a huge cloud seemed
That throng of foes: with clashing arms they came:
Volumed and vast the dust rose 'neath their feet.
Then either did some God with hardihood thrill
Deiphobus' heart, and made it void of fear,
Or his own spirit spurred him on to fight,
To drive by thrust of spear that terrible host
Of foemen from the city of his birth.
So there in Troy he cried with heartening speech:
"O friends, be stout of heart to play the men!
Remember all the agonies that war
Brings in the end to them that yield to foes.
Ye wrestle not for Alexander alone,
Nor Helen, but for home, for your own lives,
For wives, for little ones, for parents grey,
For all the grace of life, for all ye have,
For this dear land -- oh may she shroud me o'er
Slain in the battle, ere I see her lie
'Neath foemen's spears -- my country! I know not
A bitterer pang than this for hapless men!
O be ye strong for battle! Forth to the fight
With me, and thrust this horror far away!
Think not Achilles liveth still to war
Against us: him the ravening fire consumed.
Some other Achaean was it who so late
Enkindled them to war. Oh, shame it were
If men who fight for fatherland should fear
Achilles' self, or any Greek beside!
Let us not flinch from war-toil! have we not
Endured much battle-travail heretofore?
What, know ye not that to men sorely tried
Prosperity and joyance follow toil?
So after scourging winds and ruining storms
Zeus brings to men a morn of balmy air;
After disease new strength comes, after war
Peace: all things know Time's changeless law of change."
Then eager all for war they armed themselves
In haste. All through the town rang clangour of arms
As for grim fight strong men arrayed their limbs.
Here stood a wife, shuddering with dread of war,
Yet piling, as she wept, her husband's arms
Before his feet. There little children brought
To a father his war-gear with eager haste;
And now his heart was wrung to hear their sobs,
And now he smiled on those small ministers,
And stronger waxed his heart's resolve to fight
To the last gasp for these, the near and dear.
Yonder again, with hands that had not lost
Old cunning, a grey father for the fray
Girded a son, and murmured once and again:
"Dear boy, yield thou to no man in the war!"
And showed his son the old scars on his breast,
Proud memories of fights fought long ago.
So when they all stood mailed in battle-gear,
Forth of the gates they poured all eager-souled
For war. Against the chariots of the Greeks
Their chariots charged; their ranks of footmen pressed
To meet the footmen of the foe. The earth
Rang to the tramp of onset; pealed the cheer
From man to man; swift closed the fronts of war.
Loud clashed their arms all round; from either side
War-cries were mingled in one awful roar
Swift-winged full many a dart and arrow flew
From host to host; loud clanged the smitten shields
'Neath thrusting spears. neath javelin-point and sword:
Men hewed with battle-axes lightening down;
Crimson the armour ran with blood of men.
And all this while Troy's wives and daughters watched
From high walls that grim battle of the strong.
All trembled as they prayed for husbands, sons,
And brothers: white-haired sires amidst them sat,
And gazed, while anguished fear for sons devoured
Their hearts. But Helen in her bower abode
Amidst her maids, there held by utter shame.
So without pause before the wall they fought,
While Death exulted o'er them; deadly Strife
Shrieked out a long wild cry from host to host.
With blood of slain men dust became red mire:
Here, there, fast fell the warriors mid the fray.
Then slew Deiphobus the charioteer
Of Nestor, Hippasus' son: from that high car
Down fell he 'midst the dead; fear seized his lord
Lest, while his hands were cumbered with the reins,
He too by Priam's strong son might be slain.
Melanthius marked his plight: swiftly he sprang
Upon the car; he urged the horses on,
Shaking the reins, goading them with his spear,
Seeing the scourge was lost. But Priam's son
Left these, and plunged amid a throng of foes.
There upon many he brought the day of doom;
For like a ruining tempest on he stormed
Through reeling ranks. His mighty hand struck down
Foes numberless: the plain was heaped with dead.
As when a woodman on the long-ridged hills
Plunges amid the forest-depths, and hews
With might and main, and fells sap-laden trees
To make him store of charcoal from the heaps
Of billets overturfed and set afire:
The trunks on all sides fallen strew the slopes,
While o'er his work the man exulteth; so
Before Deiphobus' swift death-dealing hands
In heaps the Achaeans each on other fell.
The charging lines of Troy swept over some;
Some fled to Xanthus' stream: Deiphobus chased
Into the flood yet more, and slew and slew.
As when on fish-abounding Hellespont's strand
The fishermen hard-straining drag a net
Forth of the depths to land; but, while it trails
Yet through the sea, one leaps amid the waves
Grasping in hand a sinuous-headed spear
To deal the sword-fish death, and here and there,
Fast as he meets them, slays them, and with blood
The waves are reddened; so were Xanthus' streams
Impurpled by his hands, and choked with dead.
Yet not without sore loss the Trojans fought;
For all this while Peleides' fierce-heart son
Of other ranks made havoc. Thetis gazed
Rejoicing in her son's son, with a joy
As great as was her grief for Achilles slain.
For a great host beneath his spear were hurled
Down to the dust, steeds, warriors slaughter-blent.
And still he chased, and still he slew: he smote
Amides war-renowned, who on his steed
Bore down on him, but of his horsemanship
Small profit won. The bright spear pierced him through
From navel unto spine, and all his bowels
Gushed out, and deadly Doom laid hold on him
Even as he fell beside his horse's feet.
Ascanius and Oenops next he slew;
Under the fifth rib of the one he drave
His spear, the other stabbed he 'neath the throat
Where a wound bringeth surest doom to man.
Whomso he met besides he slew -- the names
What man could tell of all that by the hands
Of Neoptolemus died? Never his limbs
Waxed weary. As some brawny labourer,
With strong hands toiling in a fruitful field
The livelong day, rains down to earth the fruit
Of olives, swiftly beating with his pole,
And with the downfall covers all the ground,
So fast fell 'neath his hands the thronging foe.
Elsewhere did Agamemnon, Tydeus' son,
And other chieftains of the Danaans toil
With fury in the fight. Yet never quailed
The mighty men of Troy: with heart and soul
They also fought, and ever stayed from flight
Such as gave back. Yet many heeded not
Their chiefs, but fled, cowed by the Achaeans' might.
Now at the last Achilles' strong son marked
How fast beside Scamander's outfall Greeks
Were perishing. Those Troyward-fleeing foes
Whom he had followed slaying, left he now,
And bade Automedon thither drive, where hosts
Were falling of the Achaeans. Straightway he
Hearkened, and scourged the steeds immortal on
To that wild fray: bearing their lord they flew
Swiftly o'er battle-highways paved with death.
As Ares chariot-borne to murderous war
Fares forth, and round his onrush quakes the ground,
While on the God's breast clash celestial arms
Outflashing fire, so charged Achilles' son
Against Deiphobus. Clouds of dust upsoared
About his horses' feet. Automedon marked
The Trojan chief, and knew him. To his lord
Straightway he named that hero war-renowned:
"My king, this is Deiphobus' array --
The man who from thy father fled in fear.
Some God or fiend with courage fills him now."
Naught answered Neoptolemus, save to bid
Drive on the steeds yet faster, that with speed
He might avert grim death from perishing friends.
But when to each other now full nigh they drew,
Deiphobus, despite his battle-lust,
Stayed, as a ravening fire stays when it meets
Water. He marvelled, seeing Achilles' steeds
And that gigantic son, huge as his sire;
And his heart wavered, choosing now to flee,
And now to face that hero, man to man
As when a mountain boar from his young brood
Chases the jackals -- then a lion leaps
From hidden ambush into view: the boar
Halts in his furious onset, loth to advance,
Loth to retreat, while foam his jaws about
His whetted tusks; so halted Priam's son
Car-steeds and car, perplexed, while quivered his hands
About the lance. Shouted Achilles' son:
"Ho, Priam's son, why thus so mad to smite
Those weaker Argives, who have feared thy wrath
And fled thine onset? So thou deem'st thyself
Far mightiest! If thine heart be brave indeed,
Of my spear now make trial in the strife."
On rushed he, as a lion against a stag,
Borne by the steeds and chariot of his sire.
And now full soon his lance had slain his foe,
Him and his charioteer -- but Phoebus poured
A dense cloud round him from the viewless heights
Of heaven, and snatched him from the deadly fray,
And set him down in Troy, amid the rout
Of fleeing Trojans: so did Peleus' son
Stab but the empty air; and loud he cried:
"Dog, thou hast 'scaped my wrath! No might of thine
Saved thee, though ne'er so fain! Some God hath cast
Night's veil o'er thee, and snatched thee from thy death."
Then Cronos' Son dispersed that dense dark cloud:
Mist-like it thinned and vanished into air:
Straightway the plain and all the land were seen.
Then far away about the Scaean Gate
He saw the Trojans: seeming like his sire,
He sped against them; they at his coming quailed.
As shipmen tremble when a wild wave bears
Down on their bark, wind-heaved until it swings
Broad, mountain-high above them, when the sea
Is mad with tempest; so, as on he came,
Terror clad all those Trojans as a cloak,
The while he shouted, cheering on his men:
"Hear, friends! -- fill full your hearts with dauntless strength,
The strength that well beseemeth mighty men
Who thirst to win them glorious victory,
To win renown from battle's tumult! Come,
Brave hearts, now strive we even beyond our strength
Till we smite Troy's proud city, till we win
Our hearts' desire! Foul shame it were to abide
Long deedless here and strengthless, womanlike!
Ere I be called war-blencher, let me die!"
Then unto Ares' work their spirits flamed.
Down on the Trojans charged they: yea, and these
Fought with high courage, round their city now,
And now from wall and gate-towers. Never lulled
The rage of war, while Trojan hearts were hot
To hurl the foemen back, and the strong Greeks
To smite the town: grim havoc compassed all.
Then, eager for the Trojans' help, swooped down
Out of Olympus, cloaked about with clouds,
The son of Leto. Mighty rushing winds
Bare him in golden armour clad; and gleamed
With lightning-splendour of his descent the long
Highways of air. His quiver clashed; loud rang
The welkin; earth re-echoed, as he set
His tireless feet by Xanthus. Pealed his shout
Dreadly, with courage filling them of Troy,
Scaring their foes from biding the red fray.
But of all this the mighty Shaker of Earth
Was ware: he breathed into the fainting
Greeks Fierce valour, and the fight waxed murderous
Through those Immortals' clashing wills. Then died
Hosts numberless on either side. In wrath
Apollo thought to smite Achilles' son
In the same place where erst he smote his sire;
But birds of boding screamed to left, to stay
His mood, and other signs from heaven were sent;
Yet was his wrath not minded to obey
Those portents. Swiftly drew Earth-shaker nigh
In mist celestial cloaked: about his feet
Quaked the dark earth as came the Sea-king on.
Then, to stay Phoebus' hand, he cried to him:
"Refrain thy wrath: Achilles' giant son
Slay not! Olympus' Lord himself shall be
Wroth for his death, and bitter grief shall light
On me and all the Sea-gods, as erstwhile
For Achilles' sake. Nay, get thee back to heights
Celestial, lest thou kindle me to wrath,
And so I cleave a sudden chasm in earth,
And Ilium and all her walls go down
To darkness. Thine own soul were vexed thereat."
Then, overawed by the brother of his sire,
And fearing for Troy's fate and for her folk,
To heaven went back Apollo, to the sea
Poseidon. But the sons of men fought on,
And slew; and Strife incarnate gloating watched.
At last by Calchas' counsel Achaea's sons
Drew back to the ships, and put from them the thought
Of battle, seeing it was not foreordained
That Ilium should fall until the might
Of war-wise Philoctetes came to aid
The Achaean host. This had the prophet learnt.
From birds of prosperous omen, or had read
In hearts of victims. Wise in prophecy-lore
Was he, and like a God knew things to be.
Trusting in him, the sons of Atreus stayed
Awhile the war, and unto Lemnos, land
Of stately mansions, sent they Tydeus' son
And battle-staunch Odysseus oversea.
Fast by the Fire-god's city sped they on
Over the broad flood of the Aegean Sea
To vine-clad Lemnos, where in far-off days
The wives wreaked murderous vengeance on their lords,
In fierce wrath that they gave them not their due,
But couched beside the handmaid-thralls of Thrace,
The captives of their spears when they laid waste
The land of warrior Thracians. Then these wives,
Their hearts with fiery jealousy's fever filled,
Murdered in every home with merciless hands
Their husbands: no compassion would they show
To their own wedded lords -- such madness shakes
The heart of man or woman, when it burns
With jealousy's fever, stung by torturing pangs.
So with souls filled with desperate hardihood
In one night did they slaughter all their lords;
And on a widowed nation rose the sun.
To hallowed Lemnos came those heroes twain;
They marked the rocky cave where lay the son
Of princely Poeas. Horror came on them
When they beheld the hero of their quest
Groaning with bitter pangs, on the hard earth
Lying, with many feathers round him strewn,
And others round his body, rudely sewn
Into a cloak, a screen from winter's cold.
For, oft as famine stung him, would he shoot
The shaft that missed no fowl his aim had doomed.
Their flesh he ate, their feathers vestured him.
And there lay herbs and healing leaves, the which,
Spread on his deadly wound, assuaged its pangs.
Wild tangled elf-locks hung about his head.
He seemed a wild beast, that hath set its foot,
Prowling by night, upon a hidden trap,
And so hath been constrained in agony
To bite with fierce teeth through the prisoned limb
Ere it could win back to its cave, and there
In hunger and torturing pains it languisheth.
So in that wide cave suffering crushed the man;
And all his frame was wasted: naught but skin
Covered his bones. Unwashen there he crouched
With famine-haggard cheeks, with sunken eyes
Glaring his misery 'neath cavernous brows.
Never his groaning ceased, for evermore
The ulcerous black wound, eating to the bone,
Festered with thrills of agonizing pain.
As when a beetling cliff, by seething seas
Aye buffeted, is carved and underscooped,
For all its stubborn strength, by tireless waves,
Till, scourged by winds and lashed by tempest-flails,
The sea into deep caves hath gnawed its base;
So greater 'neath his foot grew evermore
The festering wound, dealt when the envenomed fangs
Tare him of that fell water-snake, which men
Say dealeth ghastly wounds incurable,
When the hot sun hath parched it as it crawls
Over the sands; and so that mightiest man
Lay faint and wasted with his cureless pain;
And from the ulcerous wound aye streamed to earth
Fetid corruption fouling all the floor
Of that wide cave, a marvel to be heard
Of men unborn. Beside his stony bed
Lay a long quiver full of arrows, some
For hunting, some to smite his foes withal;
With deadly venom of that fell water-snake
Were these besmeared. Before it, nigh to his hand,
Lay the great bow, with curving tips of horn,
Wrought by the mighty hands of Hercules.
Now when that solitary spied these twain
Draw nigh his cave, he sprang to his bow, he laid
The deadly arrow on the string; for now
Fierce memory of his wrongs awoke against
These, who had left him years agone, in pain
Groaning upon the desolate sea-shore.
Yea, and his heart's stem will he had swiftly wrought,
But, even as upon that godlike twain
He gazed, Athena caused his bitter wrath
To melt away. Then drew they nigh to him
With looks of sad compassion, and sat down
On either hand beside him in the cave,
And of his deadly wound and grievous pangs
Asked; and he told them all his sufferings.
And they spake hope and comfort; and they said:
"Thy woeful wound, thine anguish, shall be healed,
If thou but come with us to Achaea's host --
The host that now is sorrowing after thee
With all its kings. And no man of them all
Was cause of thine affliction, but the Fates,
The cruel ones, whom none that walk the earth
Escape, but aye they visit hapless men
Unseen; and day by day with pitiless hearts
Now they afflict men, now again exalt
To honour -- none knows why; for all the woes
And all the joys of men do these devise
After their pleasure." Hearkening he sat
To Odysseus and to godlike Diomede;
And all the hoarded wrath for olden wrongs
And all the torturing rage, melted away.
Straight to the strand dull-thundering and the ship,
Laughing for joy, they bare him with his bow.
There washed they all his body and that foul wound
With sponges, and with plenteous water bathed:
So was his soul refreshed. Then hasted they
And made meat ready for the famished man,
And in the galley supped with him. Then came
The balmy night, and sleep slid down on them.
Till rose the dawn they tarried by the strand
Of sea-girt Lemnos, but with dayspring cast
The hawsers loose, and heaved the anchor-stones
Out of the deep. Athena sent a breeze
Blowing behind the galley taper-prowed.
They strained the sail with either stern-sheet taut;
Seaward they pointed the stout-girdered ship;
O'er the broad flood she leapt before the wind;
Broken to right and left the dark wave sighed,
And seething all around was hoary foam,
While thronging dolphins raced on either hand
Flashing along the paths of silver sea.
Full soon to fish-fraught Hellespont they came
And the far-stretching ships. Glad were the Greeks
To see the longed-for faces. Forth the ship
With joy they stepped; and Poeas' valiant son
On those two heroes leaned thin wasted hands,
Who bare him painfully halting to the shore
Staying his weight upon their brawny arms.
As seems mid mountain-brakes an oak or pine
By strength of the woodcutter half hewn through,
Which for a little stands on what was left
Of the smooth trunk by him who hewed thereat
Hard by the roots, that its slow-smouldering wood
Might yield him pitch -- now like to one in pain
It groans, in weakness borne down by the wind,
Yet is upstayed upon its leafy boughs
Which from the earth bear up its helpless weight;
So by pain unendurable bowed down
Leaned he on those brave heroes, and was borne
Unto the war-host. Men beheld, and all
Compassionated that great archer, crushed
By anguish of his hurt. But one drew near,
Podaleirius, godlike in his power to heal.
Swifter than thought he made him whole and sound;
For deftly on the wound he spread his salves,
Calling on his physician-father's name;
And soon the Achaeans shouted all for joy,
All praising with one voice Asclepius' son.
Lovingly then they bathed him, and with oil
Anointed. All his heaviness of cheer
And misery vanished by the Immortals' will;
And glad at heart were all that looked on him;
And from affliction he awoke to joy.
Over the bloodless face the flush of health
Glowed, and for wretched weakness mighty strength
Thrilled through him: goodly and great waxed all his limbs.
As when a field of corn revives again
Which erst had drooped, by rains of ruining storm
Down beaten flat, but by warm summer winds
Requickened, o'er the laboured land it smiles,
So Philoctetes' erstwhile wasted frame
Was all requickened: -- in the galley's hold
He seemed to have left all cares that crushed his soul.
And Atreus' sons beheld him marvelling
As one re-risen from the dead: it seemed
The work of hands immortal. And indeed
So was it verily, as their hearts divined;
For 'twas the glorious Trito-born that shed
Stature and grace upon him. Suddenly
He seemed as when of old mid Argive men
He stood, before calamity struck him down.
Then unto wealthy Agamemnon's tent
Did all their mightiest men bring Poeas' son,
And set him chief in honour at the feast,
Extolling him. When all with meat and drink
Were filled, spake Agamemnon lord of spears:
"Dear friend, since by the will of Heaven our souls
Were once perverted, that in sea-girt Lemnos
We left thee, harbour not thine heart within
Fierce wrath for this: by the blest Gods constrained
We did it; and, I trow, the Immortals willed
To bring much evil on us, bereft of thee,
Who art of all men skilfullest to quell
With shafts of death all foes that face thee in fight.
For all the tangled paths of human life,
By land and sea, are by the will of Fate
Hid from our eyes, in many and devious tracks
Are cleft apart, in wandering mazes lost.
Along them men by Fortune's dooming drift
Like unto leaves that drive before the wind.
Oft on an evil path the good man's feet
Stumble, the brave finds not a prosperous path;
And none of earth-born men can shun the Fates,
And of his own will none can choose his way.
So then doth it behove the wise of heart
Though on a troublous track the winds of fate
Sweep him away to suffer and be strong.
Since we were blinded then, and erred herein,
With rich gifts will we make amends to thee
Hereafter, when we take the stately towers
Of Troy: but now receive thou handmaids seven,
Fleet steeds two-score, victors in chariot-race,
And tripods twelve, wherein thine heart may joy
Through all thy days; and always in my tent
Shall royal honour at the feast be thine."
He spake, and gave the hero those fair gifts.
Then answered Poeas' mighty-hearted son;
"Friend, I forgive thee freely, and all beside
Whoso against me haply hath trangressed.
I know how good men's minds sometimes be warped:
Nor meet it is that one be obdurate
Ever, and nurse mean rancours: sternest wrath
Must yield anon unto the melting mood.
Now pass we to our rest; for better is sleep
Than feasting late, for him who longs to fight."
He spake, and rose, and came to his comrades' tent;
Then swiftly for their war-fain king they dight
The couch, while laughed their hearts for very joy.
Gladly he laid him down to sleep till dawn.
So passed the night divine, till flushed the hills
In the sun's light, and men awoke to toil.
Then all athirst for war the Argive men
'Gan whet the spear smooth-shafted, or the dart,
Or javelin, and they brake the bread of dawn,
And foddered all their horses. Then to these
Spake Poeas' son with battle-kindling speech:
"Up! let us make us ready for the war!
Let no man linger mid the galleys, ere
The glorious walls of Ilium stately-towered
Be shattered, and her palaces be burned!"
Then at his words each heart and spirit glowed:
They donned their armour, and they grasped their shields.
Forth of the ships in one huge mass they poured
Arrayed with bull-hide bucklers, ashen spears,
And gallant-crested helms. Through all their ranks
Shoulder to shoulder marched they: thou hadst seen
No gap 'twixt man and man as on they charged;
So close they thronged, so dense was their array.
How Paris was stricken to death, and in vain sought help of
Now were the Trojans all without the town
Of Priam, armour-clad, with battle-cars
And chariot-steeds; for still they burnt their dead,
And still they feared lest the Achaean men
Should fall on them. They looked, and saw them come
With furious speed against the walls. In haste
They cast a hurried earth-mound o'er the slain,
For greatly trembled they to see their foes.
Then in their sore disquiet spake to them
Polydamas, a wise and prudent chief:
"Friends, unendurably against us now
Maddens the war. Go to, let us devise
How we may find deliverance from our strait.
Still bide the Danaans here, still gather strength:
Now therefore let us man our stately towers,
And thence withstand them, fighting night and day,
Until yon Danaans weary, and return
To Sparta, or, renownless lingering here
Beside the wall, lose heart. No strength of theirs
Shall breach the long walls, howsoe'er they strive,
For in the imperishable work of Gods
Weakness is none. Food, drink, we shall not lack,
For in King Priam's gold-abounding halls
Is stored abundant food, that shall suffice
For many more than we, through many years,
Though thrice so great a host at our desire
Should gather, eager to maintain our cause."
Then chode with him Anchises' valiant son:
"Polydamas, wherefore do they call thee wise,
Who biddest suffer endless tribulations
Cooped within walls? Never, how long soe'er
The Achaeans tarry here, will they lose heart;
But when they see us skulking from the field,
More fiercely will press on. So ours shall be
The sufferance, perishing in our native home,
If for long season they beleaguer us.
No food, if we be pent within our walls,
Shall Thebe send us, nor Maeonia wine,
But wretchedly by famine shall we die,
Though the great wall stand firm. Nay, though our lot
Should be to escape that evil death and doom,
And not by famine miserably to die;
Yet rather let us fight in armour clad
For children and grey fathers! Haply Zeus
Will help us yet; of his high blood are we.
Nay, even though we be abhorred of him,
Better straightway to perish gloriously
Fighting unto the last for fatherland,
Than die a death of lingering agony!"
Shouted they all who heard that gallant rede.
Swiftly with helms and shields and spears they stood
In close array. The eyes of mighty Zeus
From heaven beheld the Trojans armed for fight
Against the Danaans: then did he awake
Courage in these and those, that there might be
Strain of unflinching fight 'twixt host and host.
That day was Paris doomed, for Helen's sake
Fighting, by Philoctetes' hands to die.
To one place Strife incarnate drew them all,
The fearful Battle-queen, beheld of none,
But cloaked in clouds blood-raining: on she stalked
Swelling the mighty roar of battle, now
Rushed through Troy's squadrons, through Achaea's now;
Panic and Fear still waited on her steps
To make their father's sister glorious.
From small to huge that Fury's stature grew;
Her arms of adamant were blood-besprent,
The deadly lance she brandished reached the sky.
Earth quaked beneath her feet: dread blasts of fire
Flamed from her mouth: her voice pealed thunder-like
Kindling strong men. Swift closed the fronts of fight
Drawn by a dread Power to the mighty work.
Loud as the shriek of winds that madly blow
In early spring, when the tall woodland trees
Put forth their leaves -- loud as the roar of fire
Blazing through sun-scorched brakes -- loud as the voice
Of many waters, when the wide sea raves
Beneath the howling blast, with thunderous crash
Of waves, when shake the fearful shipman's knees;
So thundered earth beneath their charging feet.
Strife swooped on them: foe hurled himself on foe.
First did Aeneas of the Danaans slay
Harpalion, Arizelus' scion, born
In far Boeotia of Amphinome,
Who came to Troy to help the Argive men
With godlike Prothoenor. 'Neath his waist
Aeneas stabbed, and reft sweet life from him.
Dead upon him he cast Thersander's son,
For the barbed javelin pierced through Hyllus' throat
Whom Arethusa by Lethaeus bare
In Crete: sore grieved Idomeneus for his fall.
By this Peleides' son had swiftly slain
Twelve Trojan warriors with his father's spear.
First Cebrus fell, Harmon, Pasitheus then,
Hysminus, Schedius, and Imbrasius,
Phleges, Mnesaeus, Ennomus, Amphinous,
Phasis, Galenus last, who had his home
By Gargarus' steep -- a mighty warrior he
Among Troy's mighties: with a countless host
To Troy he came: for Priam Dardanus' son
Promised him many gifts and passing fair.
Ah fool! his own doom never he foresaw,
Whose weird was suddenly to fall in fight
Ere he bore home King Priam's glorious gifts.
Doom the Destroyer against the Argives sped
Valiant Aeneas' friend, Eurymenes.
Wild courage spurred him on, that he might slay
Many -- and then fill death's cup for himself.
Man after man he slew like some fierce beast,
And foes shrank from the terrible rage that burned
On his life's verge, nor reeked of imminent doom.
Yea, peerless deeds in that fight had he done,
Had not his hands grown weary, his spear-head
Bent utterly: his sword availed him not,
Snapped at the hilt by Fate. Then Meges' dart
Smote 'neath his ribs; blood spurted from his mouth,
And in death's agony Doom stood at his side.
Even as he fell, Epeius' henchmen twain,
Deileon and Amphion, rushed to strip
His armour; but Aeneas brave and strong
Chilled their hot hearts in death beside the dead.
As one in latter summer 'mid his vines
Kills wasps that dart about his ripening grapes,
And so, ere they may taste the fruit, they die;
So smote he them, ere they could seize the arms.
Menon and Amphinous Tydeides slew,
Both goodly men. Paris slew Hippasus' son
Demoleon, who in Laconia's land
Beside the outfall of Eurotas dwelt,
The stream deep-flowing, and to Troy he came
With Menelaus. Under his right breast
The shaft of Paris smote him unto death,
Driving his soul forth like a scattering breath.
Teucer slew Zechis, Medon's war-famed son,
Who dwelt in Phrygia, land of myriad flocks,
Below that haunted cave of fair-haired Nymphs
Where, as Endymion slept beside his kine,
Divine Selene watched him from on high,
And slid from heaven to earth; for passionate love
Drew down the immortal stainless Queen of Night.
And a memorial of her couch abides
Still 'neath the oaks; for mid the copses round
Was poured out milk of kine; and still do men
Marvelling behold its whiteness. Thou wouldst say
Far off that this was milk indeed, which is
A well-spring of white water: if thou draw
A little nigher, lo, the stream is fringed
As though with ice, for white stone rims it round.
Rushed on Alcaeus Meges, Phyleus' son,
And drave his spear beneath his fluttering heart.
Loosed were the cords of sweet life suddenly,
And his sad parents longed in vain to greet
That son returning from the woeful war
To Margasus and Phyllis lovely-girt,
Dwellers by lucent streams of Harpasus,
Who pours the full blood of his clamorous flow
Into Maeander madly rushing aye.
With Glaucus' warrior-comrade Scylaceus
Odeus' son closed in the fight, and stabbed
Over the shield-rim, and the cruel spear
Passed through his shoulder, and drenched his shield with blood.
Howbeit he slew him not, whose day of doom
Awaited him afar beside the wall
Of his own city; for when Illium's towers
Were brought low by that swift avenging host
Fleeing the war to Lycia then he came
Alone; and when he drew nigh to the town,
The thronging women met and questioned him
Touching their sons and husbands; and he told
How all were dead. They compassed him about,
And stoned the man with great stones, that he died.
So had he no joy of his winning home,
But the stones muffled up his dying groans,
And of the same his ghastly tomb was reared
Beside Bellerophon's grave and holy place
In Tlos, nigh that far-famed Chimaera's Crag.
Yet, though he thus fulfilled his day of doom,
As a God afterward men worshipped him
By Phoebus' hest, and never his honour fades.
Now Poeas' son the while slew Deioneus
And Acamas, Antenor's warrior son:
Yea, a great host of strong men laid he low.
On, like the War-god, through his foes he rushed,
Or as a river roaring in full flood
Breaks down long dykes, when, maddening round its rocks,
Down from the mountains swelled by rain it pours
An ever-flowing mightily-rushing stream
Whose foaming crests over its forelands sweep;
So none who saw him even from afar
Dared meet renowned Poeas' valiant son,
Whose breast with battle-fury was fulfilled,
Whose limbs were clad in mighty Hercules' arms
Of cunning workmanship; for on the belt
Gleamed bears most grim and savage, jackals fell,
And panthers, in whose eyes there seems to lurk
A deadly smile. There were fierce-hearted wolves,
And boars with flashing tusks, and mighty lions
All seeming strangely alive; and, there portrayed
Through all its breadth, were battles murder-rife.
With all these marvels covered was the belt;
And with yet more the quiver was adorned.
There Hermes was, storm-footed Son of Zeus,
Slaying huge Argus nigh to Inachus' streams,
Argus, whose sentinel eyes in turn took sleep.
And there was Phaethon from the Sun-car hurled
Into Eridanus. Earth verily seemed
Ablaze, and black smoke hovered on the air.
There Perseus slew Medusa gorgon-eyed
By the stars' baths and utmost bounds of earth
And fountains of deep-flowing Ocean, where
Night in the far west meets the setting sun.
There was the Titan Iapetus' great son
Hung from the beetling crag of Caucasus
In bonds of adamant, and the eagle tare
His liver unconsumed -- he seemed to groan!
All these Hephaestus' cunning hands had wrought
For Hercules; and these to Poeas' son,
Most near of friends and dear, he gave to bear.
So glorying in those arms he smote the foe.
But Paris at the last to meet him sprang
Fearlessly, bearing in his hands his bow
And deadly arrows -- but his latest day
Now met himself. A flying shaft he sped
Forth from the string, which sang as leapt the dart,
Which flew not vainly: yet the very mark
It missed, for Philoctetes swerved aside
A hair-breadth, and it smote above the breast
Cleodorus war-renowned, and cleft a path
Clear through his shoulder; for he had not now
The buckler broad which wont to fence from death
Its bearer, but was falling back from fight,
Being shieldless; for Polydamas' massy lance
Had cleft the shoulder-belt whereby his targe
Hung, and he gave back therefore, fighting still
With stubborn spear. But now the arrow of death
Fell on him, as from ambush leaping forth.
For so Fate willed, I trow, to bring dread doom
On noble-hearted Lernus' scion, born
Of Amphiale, in Rhodes the fertile land.
But soon as Poeas' battle-eager son
Marked him by Paris' deadly arrow slain,
Swiftly he strained his bow, shouting aloud:
"Dog! I will give thee death, will speed thee down
To the Unseen Land, who darest to brave me!
And so shall they have rest, who travail now
For thy vile sake. Destruction shall have end
When thou art dead, the author of our bane."
Then to his breast he drew the plaited cord.
The great bow arched, the merciless shaft was aimed
Straight, and the terrible point a little peered
Above the bow, in that constraining grip.
Loud sang the string, as the death-hissing shaft
Leapt, and missed not: yet was not Paris' heart
Stilled, but his spirit yet was strong in him;
For that first arrow was not winged with death:
It did but graze the fair flesh by his wrist.
Then once again the avenger drew the bow,
And the barbed shaft of Poeas' son had plunged,
Ere he could swerve, 'twixt flank and groin. No more
He abode the fight, but swiftly hasted back
As hastes a dog which on a lion rushed
At first, then fleeth terror-stricken back.
So he, his very heart with agony thrilled,
Fled from the war. Still clashed the grappling hosts,
Man slaying man: aye bloodier waxed the fray
As rained the blows: corpse upon corpse was flung
Confusedly, like thunder-drops, or flakes
Of snow, or hailstones, by the wintry blast
At Zeus' behest strewn over the long hills
And forest-boughs; so by a pitiless doom
Slain, friends with foes in heaps on heaps were strown.
Sorely groaned Paris; with the torturing wound
Fainted his spirit. Leeches sought to allay
His frenzy of pain. But now drew back to Troy
The Trojans, and the Danaans to their ships
Swiftly returned, for dark night put an end
To strife, and stole from men's limbs weariness,
Pouring upon their eyes pain-healing sleep.
But through the livelong night no sleep laid hold
On Paris: for his help no leech availed,
Though ne'er so willing, with his salves. His weird
Was only by Oenone's hands to escape
Death's doom, if so she willed. Now he obeyed
The prophecy, and he went -- exceeding loth,
But grim necessity forced him thence, to face
The wife forsaken. Evil-boding fowl
Shrieked o'er his head, or darted past to left,
Still as he went. Now, as he looked at them,
His heart sank; now hope whispered, "Haply vain
Their bodings are!" but on their wings were borne
Visions of doom that blended with his pain.
Into Oenone's presence thus he came.
Amazed her thronging handmaids looked on him
As at the Nymph's feet that pale suppliant fell
Faint with the anguish of his wound, whose pangs
Stabbed him through brain and heart, yea, quivered through
His very bones, for that fierce venom crawled
Through all his inwards with corrupting fangs;
And his life fainted in him agony-thrilled.
As one with sickness and tormenting thirst
Consumed, lies parched, with heart quick-shuddering,
With liver seething as in flame, the soul,
Scarce conscious, fluttering at his burning lips,
Longing for life, for water longing sore;
So was his breast one fire of torturing pain.
Then in exceeding feebleness he spake:
"O reverenced wife, turn not from me in hate
For that I left thee widowed long ago!
Not of my will I did it: the strong Fates
Dragged me to Helen -- oh that I had died
Ere I embraced her -- in thine arms had died!
All, by the Gods I pray, the Lords of Heaven,
By all the memories of our wedded love,
Be merciful! Banish my bitter pain:
Lay on my deadly wound those healing salves
Which only can, by Fate's decree, remove
This torment, if thou wilt. Thine heart must speak
My sentence, to be saved from death or no.
Pity me -- oh, make haste to pity me!
This venom's might is swiftly bringing death!
Heal me, while life yet lingers in my limbs!
Remember not those pangs of jealousy,
Nor leave me by a cruel doom to die
Low fallen at thy feet! This should offend
The Prayers, the Daughters of the Thunderer Zeus,
Whose anger followeth unrelenting pride
With vengeance, and the Erinnys executes
Their wrath. My queen, I sinned, in folly sinned;
Yet from death save me -- oh, make haste to save!"
So prayed he; but her darkly-brooding heart
Was steeled, and her words mocked his agony:
"Thou comest unto me! -- thou, who didst leave
Erewhile a wailing wife in a desolate home! --
Didst leave her for thy Tyndarid darling! Go,
Lie laughing in her arms for bliss! She is better
Than thy true wife -- is, rumour saith, immortal!
Make haste to kneel to her but not to me!
Weep not to me, nor whimper pitiful prayers!
Oh that mine heart beat with a tigress' strength,
That I might tear thy flesh and lap thy blood
For all the pain thy folly brought on me!
Vile wretch! where now is Love's Queen glory-crowned?
Hath Zeus forgotten his daughter's paramour?
Have them for thy deliverers! Get thee hence
Far from my dwelling, curse of Gods and men!
Yea, for through thee, thou miscreant, sorrow came
On deathless Gods, for sons and sons' sons slain.
Hence from my threshold! -- to thine Helen go!
Agonize day and night beside her bed:
There whimper, pierced to the heart with cruel pangs,
Until she heal thee of thy grievous pain."
So from her doors she drave that groaning man --
Ah fool! not knowing her own doom, whose weird
Was straightway after him to tread the path
Of death! So Fate had spun her destiny-thread.
Then, as he stumbled down through Ida's brakes,
Where Doom on his death-path was leading him
Painfully halting, racked with heart-sick pain,
Hera beheld him, with rejoicing soul
Throned in the Olympian palace-court of Zeus.
And seated at her side were handmaids four
Whom radiant-faced Selene bare to the Sun
To be unwearying ministers in Heaven,
In form and office diverse each from each;
For of these Seasons one was summer's queen,
And one of winter and his stormy star,
Of spring the third, of autumn-tide the fourth.
So in four portions parted is man's year
Ruled by these Queens in turn -- but of all this
Be Zeus himself the Overseer in heaven.
And of those issues now these spake with her
Which baleful Fate in her all-ruining heart
Was shaping to the birth the new espousals
Of Helen, fatal to Deiphobus --
The wrath of Helenus, who hoped in vain
For that fair bride, and how, when he had fled,
Wroth with the Trojans, to the mountain-height,
Achaea's sons would seize him and would hale
Unto their ships -- how, by his counselling
Strong Tydeus' son should with Odysseus scale
The great wall, and should slay Alcathous
The temple-warder, and should bear away
Pallas the Gracious, with her free consent,
Whose image was the sure defence of Troy; --
Yea, for not even a God, how wroth soe'er,
Had power to lay the City of Priam waste
While that immortal shape stood warder there.
No man had carven that celestial form,
But Cronos' Son himself had cast it down
From heaven to Priam's gold-abounding burg.
Of these things with her handmaids did the Queen
Of Heaven hold converse, and of many such,
But Paris, while they talked, gave up the ghost
On Ida: never Helen saw him more.
Loud wailed the Nymphs around him; for they still
Remembered how their nursling wont to lisp
His childish prattle, compassed with their smiles.
And with them mourned the neatherds light of foot,
Sorrowful-hearted; moaned the mountain-glens.
Then unto travail-burdened Priam's queen
A herdman told the dread doom of her son.
Wildly her trembling heart leapt when she heard;
With failing limbs she sank to earth and wailed:
"Dead! thou dead, O dear child! Grief heaped on grief
Hast thou bequeathed me, grief eternal! Best
Of all my sons, save Hector alone, wast thou!
While beats my heart, my grief shall weep for thee.
The hand of Heaven is in our sufferings:
Some Fate devised our ruin -- oh that I
Had lived not to endure it, but had died
In days of wealthy peace! But now I see
Woes upon woes, and ever look to see
Worse things -- my children slain, my city sacked
And burned with fire by stony-hearted foes,
Daughters, sons' wives, all Trojan women, haled
Into captivity with our little ones!"
So wailed she; but the King heard naught thereof,
But weeping ever sat by Hector's grave,
For most of all his sons he honoured him,
His mightiest, the defender of his land.
Nothing of Paris knew that pierced heart;
But long and loud lamented Helen; yet
Those wails were but for Trojan ears; her soul
With other thoughts was busy, as she cried:
"Husband, to me, to Troy, and to thyself
A bitter blow is this thy woeful death!
In misery hast thou left me, and I look
To see calamities more deadly yet.
Oh that the Spirits of the Storm had snatched
Me from the earth when first I fared with thee
Drawn by a baleful Fate! It might not be;
The Gods have meted ruin to thee and me.
With shuddering horror all men look on me,
All hate me! Place of refuge is there none
For me; for if to the Danaan host I fly,
With torments will they greet me. If I stay,
Troy's sons and daughters here will compass me
And rend me. Earth shall cover not my corpse,
But dogs and fowl of ravin shall devour.
Oh had Fate slain me ere I saw these woes!"
So cried she: but for him far less she mourned
Than for herself, remembering her own sin.
Yea, and Troy's daughters but in semblance wailed
For him: of other woes their hearts were full.
Some thought on parents, some on husbands slain,
These on their sons, on honoured kinsmen those.
One only heart was pierced with grief unfeigned,
Oenone. Not with them of Troy she wailed,
But far away within that desolate home
Moaning she lay on her lost husband's bed.
As when the copses on high mountains stand
White-veiled with frozen snow, which o'er the glens
The west-wind blasts have strown, but now the sun
And east-wind melt it fast, and the long heights