Part 5 out of 6
With water-courses stream, and down the glades
Slide, as they thaw, the heavy sheets, to swell
The rushing waters of an ice-cold spring,
So melted she in tears of anguished pain,
And for her own, her husband, agonised,
And cried to her heart with miserable moans:
"Woe for my wickedness! O hateful life!
I loved mine hapless husband -- dreamed with him
To pace to eld's bright threshold hand in hand,
And heart in heart! The gods ordained not so.
Oh had the black Fates snatched me from the earth
Ere I from Paris turned away in hate!
My living love hath left me! -- yet will I
Dare to die with him, for I loathe the light."
So cried she, weeping, weeping piteously,
Remembering him whom death had swallowed up,
Wasting, as melteth wax before the flame
Yet secretly, being fearful lest her sire
Should mark it, or her handmaids till the night
Rose from broad Ocean, flooding all the earth
With darkness bringing men release from toil.
Then, while her father and her maidens slept,
She slid the bolts back of the outer doors,
And rushed forth like a storm-blast. Fast she ran,
As when a heifer 'mid the mountains speeds,
Her heart with passion stung, to meet her mate,
And madly races on with flying feet,
And fears not, in her frenzy of desire,
The herdman, as her wild rush bears her on,
So she but find her mate amid the woods;
So down the long tracks flew Oenone's feet;
Seeking the awful pyre, to leap thereon.
No weariness she knew: as upon wings
Her feet flew faster ever, onward spurred
By fell Fate, and the Cyprian Queen. She feared
No shaggy beast that met her in the dark
Who erst had feared them sorely -- rugged rock
And precipice of tangled mountain-slope,
She trod them all unstumbling; torrent-beds
She leapt. The white Moon-goddess from on high
Looked on her, and remembered her own love,
Princely Endymion, and she pitied her
In that wild race, and, shining overhead
In her full brightness, made the long tracks plain.
Through mountain-gorges so she won to where
Wailed other Nymphs round Alexander's corpse.
Roared up about him a great wall of fire;
For from the mountains far and near had come
Shepherds, and heaped the death-bale broad and high
For 1ove's and sorrow's latest service done
To one of old their comrade and their king.
Sore weeping stood they round. She raised no wail,
The broken-hearted, when she saw him there,
But, in her mantle muffling up her face,
Leapt on the pyre: loud wailed that multitude.
There burned she, clasping Paris. All the Nymphs
Marvelled, beholding her beside her lord
Flung down, and heart to heart spake whispering:
"Verily evil-hearted Paris was,
Who left a leal true wife, and took for bride
A wanton, to himself and Troy a curse.
Ah fool, who recked not of the broken heart
Of a most virtuous wife, who more than life
Loved him who turned from her and loved her not!"
So in their hearts the Nymphs spake: but they twain
Burned on the pyre, never to hail again
The dayspring. Wondering herdmen stood around,
As once the thronging Argives marvelling saw
Evadne clasping mid the fire her lord
Capaneus, slain by Zeus' dread thunderbolt.
But when the blast of the devouring fire
Had made twain one, Oenone and Paris, now
One little heap of ashes, then with wine
Quenched they the embers, and they laid their bones
In a wide golden vase, and round them piled
The earth-mound; and they set two pillars there
That each from other ever turn away;
For the old jealousy in the marble lives.
How the sons of Troy for the last time fought from her walls and
Troy's daughters mourned within her walls; might none
Go forth to Paris' tomb, for far away
From high-built Troy it lay. But the young men
Without the city toiled unceasingly
In fight wherein from slaughter rest was none,
Though dead was Paris; for the Achaeans pressed
Hard on the Trojans even unto Troy.
Yet these charged forth -- they could not choose but so,
For Strife and deadly Enyo in their midst
Stalked, like the fell Erinyes to behold,
Breathing destruction from their lips like flame.
Beside them raged the ruthless-hearted Fates
Fiercely: here Panic-fear and Ares there
Stirred up the hosts: hard after followed
Dread With slaughter's gore besprent, that in one host
Might men see, and be strong, in the other fear;
And all around were javelins, spears, and darts
Murder-athirst from this side, that side, showered.
Aye, as they hurled together, armour clashed,
As foe with foe grappled in murderous fight.
There Neoptolemus slew Laodamas,
Whom Lycia nurtured by fair Xanthus' stream,
The stream revealed to men by Leto, bride
Of Thunderer Zeus, when Lycia's stony plain
Was by her hands uptorn mid agonies
Of travail-throes wherein she brought to light
Mid bitter pangs those babes of birth divine.
Nirus upon him laid he dead; the spear
Crashed through his jaw, and clear through mouth and tongue
Passed: on the lance's irresistible point
Shrieking was he impaled: flooded with gore
His mouth was as he cried. The cruel shaft,
Sped on by that strong hand, dashed him to earth
In throes of death. Evenor next he smote
Above the flank, and onward drave the spear
Into his liver: swiftly anguished death
Came upon him. Iphition next he slew:
He quelled Hippomedon, Hippasus' bold son,
Whom Ocyone the Nymph had borne beside
Sangarius' river-flow. Ne'er welcomed she
Her son's returning face, but ruthless Fate
With anguish thrilled her of her child bereaved.
Bremon Aeneas slew, and Andromachus,
Of Cnossus this, of hallowed Lyctus that:
On one spot both from their swift chariots fell;
This gasped for breath, his throat by the long spear
Transfixed; that other, by a massy stone,
Sped from a strong hand, on the temple struck,
Breathed out his life, and black doom shrouded him.
The startled steeds, bereft of charioteers,
Fleeing, mid all those corpses were confused,
And princely Aeneas' henchmen seized on them
With hearts exulting in the goodly spoil.
There Philoctetes with his deadly shaft
Smote Peirasus in act to flee the war:
The tendons twain behind the knee it snapped,
And palsied all his speed. A Danaan marked,
And leapt on that maimed man with sweep of sword
Shearing his neck through. On the breast of earth
The headless body fell: the head far flung
Went rolling with lips parted as to shriek;
And swiftly fleeted thence the homeless soul.
Polydamas struck down Eurymachus
And Cleon with his spear. From Syme came
With Nireus' following these: cunning were both
In craft of fisher-folk to east the hook
Baited with guile, to drop into the sea
The net, from the boat's prow with deftest hands
Swiftly and straight to plunge the three-forked spear.
But not from bane their sea-craft saved them now.
Eurypylus battle-staunch laid Hellus low,
Whom Cleito bare beside Gygaea's mere,
Cleito the fair-cheeked. Face-down in the dust
Outstretched he lay: shorn by the cruel sword
From his strong shoulder fell the arm that held
His long spear. Still its muscles twitched, as though
Fain to uplift the lance for fight in vain;
For the man's will no longer stirred therein,
But aimlessly it quivered, even as leaps
The severed tail of a snake malignant-eyed,
Which cannot chase the man who dealt the wound;
So the right hand of that strong-hearted man
With impotent grip still clutched the spear for fight.
Aenus and Polydorus Odysseus slew,
Ceteians both; this perished by his spear,
That by his sword death-dealing. Sthenelus
Smote godlike Abas with a javelin-cast:
On through his throat and shuddering nape it rushed:
Stopped were his heart-beats, all his limbs collapsed.
Tydeides slew Laodocus; Melius fell
By Agamemnon's hand; Deiphobus
Smote Alcimus and Dryas: Hippasus,
How war-renowned soe'er, Agenor slew
Far from Peneius' river. Crushed by fate,
Love's nursing-debt to parents ne'er he paid.
Lamus and stalwart Lyncus Thoas smote,
And Meriones slew Lycon; Menelaus
Laid low Archelochus. Upon his home
Looked down Corycia's ridge, and that great rock
Of the wise Fire-god, marvellous in men's eyes;
For thereon, nightlong, daylong, unto him
Fire blazes, tireless and unquenchable.
Laden with fruit around it palm-trees grow,
While mid the stones fire plays about their roots.
Gods' work is this, a wonder to all time.
By Teucer princely Hippomedon's son was slain,
Menoetes: as the archer drew on him,
Rushed he to smite him; but already hand
And eye, and bow-craft keen were aiming straight
On the arching horn the shaft. Swiftly released
It leapt on the hapless man, while sang the string.
Stricken full front he heaved one choking gasp,
Because the fates on the arrow riding flew
Right to his heart, the throne of thought and strength
For men, whence short the path is unto death.
Far from his brawny hand Euryalus hurled
A massy stone, and shook the ranks of Troy.
As when in anger against long-screaming cranes
A watcher of the field leaps from the ground,
In swift hand whirling round his head the sling,
And speeds the stone against them, scattering
Before its hum their ranks far down the wind
Outspread, and they in huddled panic dart
With wild cries this way and that, who theretofore
Swept on in ordered lines; so shrank the foe
To right and left from that dread bolt of doom
Hurled of Euryalus. Not in vain it flew
Fate-winged; it shattered Meles' helm and head
Down to the eyes: so met him ghastly death.
Still man slew man, while earth groaned all around,
As when a mighty wind scourges the land,
And this way, that way, under its shrieking blasts
Through the wide woodland bow from the roots and fall
Great trees, while all the earth is thundering round;
So fell they in the dust, so clanged their arms,
So crashed the earth around. Still hot were they
For fell fight, still dealt bane unto their foes.
Nigh to Aeneas then Apollo came,
And to Eurymachus, brave Antenor's son;
For these against the mighty Achaeans fought
Shoulder to shoulder, as two strong oxen, matched
In age, yoked to a wain; nor ever ceased
From battling. Suddenly spake the God to these
In Polymestor's shape, the seer his mother
By Xanthus bare to the Far-darter's priest:
"Eurymachus, Aeneas, seed of Gods,
'Twere shame if ye should flinch from Argives! Nay,
Not Ares' self should joy to encounter you,
An ye would face him in the fray; for Fate
Hath spun long destiny-threads for thee and thee."
He spake, and vanished, mingling with the winds.
But their hearts felt the God's power: suddenly
Flooded with boundless courage were their frames,
Maddened their spirits: on the foe they leapt
Like furious wasps that in a storm of rage
Swoop upon bees, beholding them draw nigh
In latter-summer to the mellowing grapes,
Or from their hives forth-streaming thitherward;
So fiercely leapt these sons of Troy to meet
War-hardened Greeks. The black Fates joyed to see
Their conflict, Ares laughed, Enyo yelled
Horribly. Loud their glancing armour clanged:
They stabbed, they hewed down hosts of foes untold
With irresistible hands. The reeling ranks
Fell, as the swath falls in the harvest heat,
When the swift-handed reapers, ranged adown
The field's long furrows, ply the sickle fast;
So fell before their hands ranks numberless:
With corpses earth was heaped, with torrent blood
Was streaming: Strife incarnate o'er the slain
Gloated. They paused not from the awful toil,
But aye pressed on, like lions chasing sheep.
Then turned the Greeks to craven flight; all feet
Unmaimed as yet fled from the murderous war.
Aye followed on Anchises' warrior son,
Smiting foes' backs with his avenging spear:
On pressed Eurymachus, while glowed the heart
Of Healer Apollo watching from on high.
As when a man descries a herd of swine
Draw nigh his ripening corn, before the sheaves
Fall neath the reapers' hands, and harketh on
Against them his strong dogs; as down they rush,
The spoilers see and quake; no more think they
Of feasting, but they turn in panic flight
Huddling: fast follow at their heels the hounds
Biting remorselessly, while long and loud
Squealing they flee, and joys the harvest's lord;
So rejoiced Phoebus, seeing from the war
Fleeing the mighty Argive host. No more
Cared they for deeds of men, but cried to the Gods
For swift feet, in whose feet alone was hope
To escape Eurymachus' and Aeneas' spears
Which lightened ever all along their rear.
But one Greek, over-trusting in his strength,
Or by Fate's malice to destruction drawn,
Curbed in mid flight from war's turmoil his steed,
And strove to wheel him round into the fight
To face the foe. But fierce Agenor thrust
Ere he was ware; his two-edged partizan
Shore though his shoulder; yea, the very bone
Of that gashed arm was cloven by the steel;
The tendons parted, the veins spirted blood:
Down by his horse's neck he slid, and straight
Fell mid the dead. But still the strong arm hung
With rigid fingers locked about the reins
Like a live man's. Weird marvel was that sight,
The bloody hand down hanging from the rein,
Scaring the foes yet more, by Ares' will.
Thou hadst said, "It craveth still for horsemanship!"
So bare the steed that sign of his slain lord.
Aeneas hurled his spear; it found the waist
Of Anthalus' son, it pierced the navel through,
Dragging the inwards with it. Stretched in dust,
Clutching with agonized hands at steel and bowels,
Horribly shrieked he, tore with his teeth the earth
Groaning, till life and pain forsook the man.
Scared were the Argives, like a startled team
Of oxen 'neath the yoke-band straining hard,
What time the sharp-fanged gadfly stings their flanks
Athirst for blood, and they in frenzy of pain
Start from the furrow, and sore disquieted
The hind is for marred work, and for their sake,
Lest haply the recoiling ploughshare light
On their leg-sinews, and hamstring his team;
So were the Danaans scared, so feared for them
Achilles' son, and shouted thunder-voiced:
"Cravens, why flee, like starlings nothing-worth
Scared by a hawk that swoopeth down on them?
Come, play the men! Better it is by far
To die in war than choose unmanly flight!"
Then to his cry they hearkened, and straightway
Were of good heart. Mighty of mood he leapt
Upon the Trojans, swinging in his hand
The lightening spear: swept after him his host
Of Myrmidons with hearts swelled with the strength
Resistless of a tempest; so the Greeks
Won breathing-space. With fury like his sire's
One after other slew he of the foe.
Recoiling back they fell, as waves on-rolled
By Boreas foaming from the deep to the strand,
Are caught by another blast that whirlwind-like
Leaps, in a short lull of the north-wind, forth,
Smites them full-face, and hurls them back from the shore;
So them that erewhile on the Danaans pressed
Godlike Achilles' son now backward hurled
A short space only brave Aeneas' spirit
Let him not flee, but made him bide the fight
Fearlessly; and Enyo level held
The battle's scales. Yet not against Aeneas
Achilles' son upraised his father's spear,
But elsewhither turned his fury: in reverence
For Aphrodite, Thetis splendour-veiled
Turned from that man her mighty son's son's rage
And giant strength on other hosts of foes.
There slew he many a Trojan, while the ranks
Of Greeks were ravaged by Aeneas' hand.
Over the battle-slain the vultures joyed,
Hungry to rend the hearts and flesh of men.
But all the Nymphs were wailing, daughters born
Of Xanthus and fair-flowing Simois.
So toiled they in the fight: the wind's breath rolled
Huge dust-clouds up; the illimitable air
Was one thick haze, as with a sudden mist:
Earth disappeared, faces were blotted out;
Yet still they fought on; each man, whomso he met,
Ruthlessly slew him, though his very friend
It might be -- in that turmoil none could tell
Who met him, friend or foe: blind wilderment
Enmeshed the hosts. And now had all been blent
Confusedly, had perished miserably,
All falling by their fellows' murderous swords,
Had not Cronion from Olympus helped
Their sore strait, and he swept aside the dust
Of conflict, and he calmed those deadly winds.
Yet still the hosts fought on; but lighter far
Their battle-travail was, who now discerned
Whom in the fray to smite, and whom to spare.
The Danaans now forced back the Trojan host,
The Trojans now the Danaan ranks, as swayed
The dread fight to and fro. From either side
Darts leapt and fell like snowflakes. Far away
Shepherds from Ida trembling watched the strife,
And to the Heaven-abiders lifted hands
Of supplication, praying that all their foes
Might perish, and that from the woeful war
Troy might win breathing-space, and see at last
The day of freedom: the Gods hearkened not.
Far other issues Fate devised, nor recked
Of Zeus the Almighty, nor of none beside
Of the Immortals. Her unpitying soul
Cares naught what doom she spinneth with her thread
Inevitable, be it for men new-born
Or cities: all things wax and wane through her.
So by her hest the battle-travail swelled
'Twixt Trojan chariot-lords and Greeks that closed
In grapple of fight -- they dealt each other death
Ruthlessly: no man quailed, but stout of heart
Fought on; for courage thrusts men into war.
But now when many had perished in the dust,
Then did the Argive might prevail at last
By stern decree of Pallas; for she came
Into the heart of battle, hot to help
The Greeks to lay waste Priam's glorious town.
Then Aphrodite, who lamented sore
For Paris slain, snatched suddenly away
Renowned Aeneas from the deadly strife,
And poured thick mist about him. Fate forbade
That hero any longer to contend
With Argive foes without the high-built wall.
Yea, and his mother sorely feared the wrath
Of Pallas passing-wise, whose heart was keen
To help the Danaans now -- yea, feared lest she
Might slay him even beyond his doom, who spared
Not Ares' self, a mightier far than he.
No more the Trojans now abode the edge
Of fight, but all disheartened backward drew.
For like fierce ravening beasts the Argive men
Leapt on them, mad with murderous rage of war.
Choked with their slain the river-channels were,
Heaped was the field; in red dust thousands fell,
Horses and men; and chariots overturned
Were strewn there: blood was streaming all around
Like rain, for deadly Doom raged through the fray.
Men stabbed with swords, and men impaled on spears
Lay all confusedly, like scattered beams,
When on the strand of the low-thundering sea
Men from great girders of a tall ship's hull
Strike out the bolts and clamps, and scatter wide
Long planks and timbers, till the whole broad beach
Is paved with beams o'erplashed by darkling surge;
So lay in dust and blood those slaughtered men,
Rapture and pain of fight forgotten now.
A remnant from the pitiless strife escaped
Entered their stronghold, scarce eluding doom.
Children and wives from their limbs blood-besprent
Received their arms bedabbled with foul gore;
And baths for all were heated. Leeches ran
Through all the town in hot haste to the homes
Of wounded men to minister to their hurts.
Here wives and daughters moaned round men come back
From war, there cried on many who came not
Here, men stung to the soul by bitter pangs
Groaned upon beds of pain; there, toil-spent men
Turned them to supper. Whinnied the swift steeds
And neighed o'er mangers heaped. By tent and ship
Far off the Greeks did even as they of Troy.
When o'er the streams of Ocean Dawn drove up
Her splendour-flashing steeds, and earth's tribes waked,
Then the strong Argives' battle-eager sons
Marched against Priam's city lofty-towered,
Save some that mid the tents by wounded men
Tarried, lest haply raiders on the ships
Might fall, to help the Trojans, while these fought
The foe from towers, while rose the flame of war.
Before the Scaean gate fought Capaneus' son
And godlike Diomedes. High above
Deiphobus battle-staunch and strong Polites
With many comrades, stoutly held them back
With arrows and huge stones. Clanged evermore
The smitten helms and shields that fenced strong men
From bitter doom and unrelenting fate,
Before the Gate Idaean Achilles' son
Set in array the fight: around him toiled
His host of battle-cunning Myrmidons.
Helenus and Agenor gallant-souled,
Down-hailing darts, against them held the wall,
Aye cheering on their men. No spurring these
Needed to fight hard for their country's walls.
Odysseus and Eurypylus made assault
Unresting on the gates that fated the plain
And looked to the swift ships. From wall and tower
With huge stones brave Aeneas made defence.
In battle-stress by Simons Teucer toiled.
Each endured hardness at his several post.
Then round war-wise Odysseus men renowned,
By that great captain's battle cunning ruled,
Locked shields together, raised them o'er their heads
Ranged side by side, that many were made one.
Thou hadst said it was a great hall's solid roof,
Which no tempestuous wind-blast misty wet
Can pierce, nor rain from heaven in torrents poured.
So fenced about with shields firm stood the ranks
Of Argives, one in heart for fight, and one
In that array close-welded. From above
The Trojans hailed great stones; as from a rock
Rolled these to earth. Full many a spear and dart
And galling javelin in the pierced shields stood;
Some in the earth stood; many glanced away
With bent points falling baffled from the shields
Battered on all sides. But that clangorous din
None feared; none flinched; as pattering drops of rain
They heard it. Up to the rampart's foot they marched:
None hung back; shoulder to shoulder on they came
Like a long lurid cloud that o'er the sky
Cronion trails in wild midwinter-tide.
On that battalion moved, with thunderous tread
Of tramping feet: a little above the earth
Rose up the dust; the breeze swept it aside
Drifting away behind the men. There went
A sound confused of voices with them, like
The hum of bees that murmur round the hives,
And multitudinous panting, and the gasp
Of men hard-breathing. Exceeding glad the sons
Of Atreus, glorying in them, saw that wall
Unwavering of doom-denouncing war.
In one dense mass against the city-gate
They hurled themselves, with twibills strove to breach
The long walls, from their hinges to upheave
The gates, and dash to earth. The pulse of hope
Beat strong in those proud hearts. But naught availed
Targes nor levers, when Aeneas' might
Swung in his hands a stone like a thunderbolt,
Hurled it with uttermost strength, and dashed to death
All whom it caught beneath the shields, as when
A mountain's precipice-edge breaks off and falls
On pasturing goats, and all that graze thereby
Tremble; so were those Danaans dazed with dread.
Stone after stone he hurled on the reeling ranks,
As when amid the hills Olympian Zeus
With thunderbolts and blazing lightnings rends
From their foundations crags that rim a peak,
And this way, that way, sends them hurtling down;
Then the flocks tremble, scattering in wild flight;
So quailed the Achaeans, when Aeneas dashed
To sudden fragments all that battle-wall
Moulded of adamant shields, because a God
Gave more than human strength. No man of them
Could lift his eyes unto him in that fight,
Because the arms that lapped his sinewy limbs
Flashed like the heaven-born lightnings. At his side
Stood, all his form divine in darkness cloaked,
Ares the terrible, and winged the flight
Of what bare down to the Argives doom or dread.
He fought as when Olympian Zeus himself
From heaven in wrath smote down the insolent bands
Of giants grim, and shook the boundless earth,
And sea, and ocean, and the heavens, when reeled
The knees of Atlas neath the rush of Zeus.
So crumbled down beneath Aeneas' bolts
The Argive squadrons. All along the wall
Wroth with the foeman rushed he: from his hands
Whatso he lighted on in onslaught-haste
Hurled he; for many a battle-staying bolt
Lay on the walls of those staunch Dardan men.
With such Aeneas stormed in giant might,
With such drave back the thronging foes. All round
The Trojans played the men. Sore travail and pain
Had all folk round the city: many fell,
Argives and Trojans. Rang the battle-cries:
Aeneas cheered the war-fain Trojans on
To fight for home, for wives, and their own souls
With a good heart: war-staunch Achilles' son
Shouted: "Flinch not, ye Argives, from the walls,
Till Troy be taken, and sink down in flames!"
And round these twain an awful measureless roar
Rang, daylong as they fought: no breathing-space
Came from the war to them whose spirits burned,
These, to smite Ilium, those, to guard her safe.
But from Aeneas valiant-souled afar
Fought Aias, speeding midst the men of Troy
Winged death; for now his arrow straight through air
Flew, now his deadly dart, and smote them down
One after one: yet others cowered away
Before his peerless prowess, and abode
The fight no more, but fenceless left the wall
Then one, of all the Locrians mightiest,
Fierce-souled Alcimedon, trusting in his prince
And his own might and valour of his youth,
All battle-eager on a ladder set
Swift feet, to pave for friends a death-strewn path
Into the town. Above his head he raised
The screening shield; up that dread path he went
Hardening his heart from trembling, in his hand
Now shook the threatening spear, now upward climbed �
Fast high in air he trod the perilous way.
Now on the Trojans had disaster come,
But, even as above the parapet
His head rose, and for the first time and the last
From her high rampart he looked down on Troy,
Aeneas, who had marked, albeit afar,
That bold assault, rushed on him, dashed on his head
So huge a stone that the hero's mighty strength
Shattered the ladder. Down from on high he rushed
As arrow from the string: death followed him
As whirling round he fell; with air was blent
His lost life, ere he crashed to the stony ground.
Strong spear, broad shield, in mid fall flew from his hands,
And from his head the helm: his corslet came
Alone with him to earth. The Locrian men
Groaned, seeing their champion quelled by evil doom;
For all his hair and all the stones around
Were brain-bespattered: all his bones were crushed,
And his once active limbs besprent with gore.
Then godlike Poeas' war-triumphant son
Marked where Aeneas stormed along the wall
In lion-like strength, and straightway shot a shaft
Aimed at that glorious hero, neither missed
The man: yet not through his unyielding targe
To the fair flesh it won, being turned aside
By Cytherea and the shield, but grazed
The buckler lightly: yet not all in vain
Fell earthward, but between the targe and helm
Smote Medon: from the tower he fell, as falls
A wild goat from a crag, the hunter's shaft
Deep in its heart: so nerveless-flung he fell,
And fled away from him the precious life.
Wroth for his friend, a stone Aeneas hurled,
And Philoctetes' stalwart comrade slew,
Toxaechmes; for he shattered his head and crushed
Helmet and skull-bones; and his noble heart
Was stilled. Loud shouted princely Poeas' son:
"Aeneas, thou, forsooth, dost deem thyself
A mighty champion, fighting from a tower
Whence craven women war with foes! Now if
Thou be a man, come forth without the wall
In battle-harness, and so learn to know
In spear-craft and in bow-craft Poeas' son!"
So cried he; but Anchises' valiant seed,
How fain soe'er, naught answered, for the stress
Of desperate conflict round that wall and burg
Ceaselessly raging: pause from fight was none:
Yea, for long time no respite had there been
For the war-weary from that endless toil.
How the Wooden Horse was fashioned, and brought into Troy by her
When round the walls of Troy the Danaan host
Had borne much travail, and yet the end was not,
By Calchas then assembled were the chiefs;
For his heart was instructed by the hests
Of Phoebus, by the flights of birds, the stars,
And all the signs that speak to men the will
Of Heaven; so he to that assembly cried:
"No longer toil in leaguer of yon walls;
Some other counsel let your hearts devise,
Some stratagem to help the host and us.
For here but yesterday I saw a sign:
A falcon chased a dove, and she, hard pressed,
Entered a cleft of the rock; and chafing he
Tarried long time hard by that rift, but she
Abode in covert. Nursing still his wrath,
He hid him in a bush. Forth darted she,
In folly deeming him afar: he swooped,
And to the hapless dove dealt wretched death.
Therefore by force essay we not to smite Troy,
but let cunning stratagem avail."
He spake; but no man's wit might find a way
To escape their grievous travail, as they sought
To find a remedy, till Laertes' son
Discerned it of his wisdom, and he spake:
"Friend, in high honour held of the Heavenly Ones,
If doomed it be indeed that Priam's burg
By guile must fall before the war-worn Greeks,
A great Horse let us fashion, in the which
Our mightiest shall take ambush. Let the host
Burn all their tents, and sail from hence away
To Tenedos; so the Trojans, from their towers
Gazing, shall stream forth fearless to the plain.
Let some brave man, unknown of any in Troy,
With a stout heart abide without the Horse,
Crouching beneath its shadow, who shall say:
"`Achaea's lords of might, exceeding fain
Safe to win home, made this their offering
For safe return, an image to appease
The wrath of Pallas for her image stolen
From Troy.' And to this story shall he stand,
How long soe'er they question him, until,
Though never so relentless, they believe,
And drag it, their own doom, within the town.
Then shall war's signal unto us be given --
To them at sea, by sudden flash of torch,
To the ambush, by the cry, `Come forth the Horse!'
When unsuspecting sleep the sons of Troy."
He spake, and all men praised him: most of all
Extolled him Calchas, that such marvellous guile
He put into the Achaeans' hearts, to be
For them assurance of triumph, but for Troy
Ruin; and to those battle-lords he cried:
"Let your hearts seek none other stratagem,
Friends; to war-strong Odysseus' rede give ear.
His wise thought shall not miss accomplishment.
Yea, our desire even now the Gods fulfil.
Hark! for new tokens come from the Unseen!
Lo, there on high crash through the firmament
Zeus' thunder and lightning! See, where birds to right
Dart past, and scream with long-resounding cry!
Go to, no more in endless leaguer of Troy
Linger we. Hard necessity fills the foe
With desperate courage that makes cowards brave;
For then are men most dangerous, when they stake
Their lives in utter recklessness of death,
As battle now the aweless sons of Troy
All round their burg, mad with the lust of fight."
But cried Achilles' battle-eager son:
"Calchas, brave men meet face to face their foes!
Who skulk behind their walls, and fight from towers,
Are nidderings, hearts palsied with base fear.
Hence with all thought of wile and stratagem!
The great war-travail of the spear beseems
True heroes. Best in battle are the brave."
But answer made to him Laertes' seed:
"Bold-hearted child of aweless Aeacus' son,
This as beseems a hero princely and brave,
Dauntlessly trusting in thy strength, thou say'st.
Yet thine invincible sire's unquailing might
Availed not to smite Priam's wealthy burg,
Nor we, for all our travail. Nay, with speed,
As counselleth Calchas, go we to the ships,
And fashion we the Horse by Epeius' hands,
Who in the woodwright's craft is chiefest far
Of Argives, for Athena taught his lore."
Then all their mightiest men gave ear to him
Save twain, fierce-hearted Neoptolemus
And Philoctetes mighty-souled; for these
Still were insatiate for the bitter fray,
Still longed for turmoil of the fight. They bade
Their own folk bear against that giant wall
What things soe'er for war's assaults avail,
In hope to lay that stately fortress low,
Seeing Heaven's decrees had brought them both to war.
Yea, they had haply accomplished all their will,
But from the sky Zeus showed his wrath; he shook
The earth beneath their feet, and all the air
Shuddered, as down before those heroes twain
He hurled his thunderbolt: wide echoes crashed
Through all Dardania. Unto fear straightway
Turned were their bold hearts: they forgat their might,
And Calchas' counsels grudgingly obeyed.
So with the Argives came they to the ships
In reverence for the seer who spake from Zeus
Or Phoebus, and they obeyed him utterly.
What time round splendour-kindled heavens the stars
From east to west far-flashing wheel, and when
Man doth forget his toil, in that still hour
Athena left the high mansions of the Blest,
Clothed her in shape of a maiden tender-fleshed,
And came to ships and host. Over the head
Of brave Epeius stood she in his dream,
And bade him build a Horse of tree: herself
Would labour in his labour, and herself
Stand by his side, to the work enkindling him.
Hearing the Goddess' word, with a glad laugh
Leapt he from careless sleep: right well he knew
The Immortal One celestial. Now his heart
Could hold no thought beside; his mind was fixed
Upon the wondrous work, and through his soul
Marched marshalled each device of craftsmanship.
When rose the dawn, and thrust back kindly night
To Erebus, and through the firmament streamed
Glad glory, then Epeius told his dream
To eager Argives -- all he saw and heard;
And hearkening joyed they with exceeding joy.
Straightway to tall-tressed Ida's leafy glades
The sons of Atreus sent swift messengers.
These laid the axe unto the forest-pines,
And hewed the great trees: to their smiting rang
The echoing glens. On those far-stretching hills
All bare of undergrowth the high peaks rose:
Open their glades were, not, as in time past,
Haunted of beasts: there dry the tree-trunks rose
Wooing the winds. Even these the Achaeans hewed
With axes, and in haste they bare them down
From those shagged mountain heights to Hellespont's shores.
Strained with a strenuous spirit at the work
Young men and mules; and all the people toiled
Each at his task obeying Epeius's hest.
For with the keen steel some were hewing beams,
Some measuring planks, and some with axes lopped
Branches away from trunks as yet unsawn:
Each wrought his several work. Epeius first
Fashioned the feet of that great Horse of Wood:
The belly next he shaped, and over this
Moulded the back and the great loins behind,
The throat in front, and ridged the towering neck
With waving mane: the crested head he wrought,
The streaming tail, the ears, the lucent eyes --
All that of lifelike horses have. So grew
Like a live thing that more than human work,
For a God gave to a man that wondrous craft.
And in three days, by Pallas's decree,
Finished was all. Rejoiced thereat the host
Of Argos, marvelling how the wood expressed
Mettle, and speed of foot -- yea, seemed to neigh.
Godlike Epeius then uplifted hands
To Pallas, and for that huge Horse he prayed:
"Hear, great-souled Goddess: bless thine Horse and me!"
He spake: Athena rich in counsel heard,
And made his work a marvel to all men
Which saw, or heard its fame in days to be.
But while the Danaans o'er Epeius' work
Joyed, and their routed foes within the walls
Tarried, and shrank from death and pitiless doom,
Then, when imperious Zeus far from the Gods
Had gone to Ocean's streams and Tethys' caves,
Strife rose between the Immortals: heart with heart
Was set at variance. Riding on the blasts
Of winds, from heaven to earth they swooped: the air
Crashed round them. Lighting down by Xanthus' stream
Arrayed they stood against each other, these
For the Achaeans, for the Trojans those;
And all their souls were thrilled with lust of war:
There gathered too the Lords of the wide Sea.
These in their wrath were eager to destroy
The Horse of Guile and all the ships, and those
Fair Ilium. But all-contriving Fate
Held them therefrom, and turned their hearts to strife
Against each other. Ares to the fray
Rose first, and on Athena rushed. Thereat
Fell each on other: clashed around their limbs
The golden arms celestial as they charged.
Round them the wide sea thundered, the dark earth
Quaked 'neath immortal feet. Rang from them all
Far-pealing battle-shouts; that awful cry
Rolled up to the broad-arching heaven, and down
Even to Hades' fathomless abyss:
Trembled the Titans there in depths of gloom.
Ida's long ridges sighed, sobbed clamorous streams
Of ever-flowing rivers, groaned ravines
Far-furrowed, Argive ships, and Priam's towers.
Yet men feared not, for naught they knew of all
That strife, by Heaven's decree. Then her high peaks
The Gods' hands wrenched from Ida's crest, and hurled
Against each other: but like crumbling sands
Shivered they fell round those invincible limbs,
Shattered to small dust. But the mind of Zeus,
At the utmost verge of earth, was ware of all:
Straight left he Ocean's stream, and to wide heaven
Ascended, charioted upon the winds,
The East, the North, the West-wind, and the South:
For Iris rainbow-plumed led 'neath the yoke
Of his eternal ear that stormy team,
The ear which Time the immortal framed for him
Of adamant with never-wearying hands.
So came he to Olympus' giant ridge.
His wrath shook all the firmament, as crashed
From east to west his thunders; lightnings gleamed,
As thick and fast his thunderbolts poured to earth,
And flamed the limitless welkin. Terror fell
Upon the hearts of those Immortals: quaked
The limbs of all -- ay, deathless though they were!
Then Themis, trembling for them, swift as thought
Leapt down through clouds, and came with speed to them --
For in the strife she only had no part
And stood between the fighters, and she cried:
"Forbear the conflict! O, when Zeus is wroth,
It ill beseems that everlasting Gods
Should fight for men's sake, creatures of a day:
Else shall ye be all suddenly destroyed;
For Zeus will tear up all the hills, and hurl
Upon you: sons nor daughters will he spare,
But bury 'neath one ruin of shattered earth
All. No escape shall ye find thence to light,
In horror of darkness prisoned evermore."
Dreading Zeus' menace gave they heed to her,
From strife refrained, and cast away their wrath,
And were made one in peace and amity.
Some heavenward soared, some plunged into the sea,
On earth stayed some. Amid the Achaean host
Spake in his subtlety Laertes' son:
"O valorous-hearted lords of the Argive host,
Now prove in time of need what men ye be,
How passing-strong, how flawless-brave! The hour
Is this for desperate emprise: now, with hearts
Heroic, enter ye yon carven horse,
So to attain the goal of this stern war.
For better it is by stratagem and craft
Now to destroy this city, for whose sake
Hither we came, and still are suffering
Many afflictions far from our own land.
Come then, and let your hearts be stout and strong
For he who in stress of fight hath turned to bay
And snatched a desperate courage from despair,
Oft, though the weaker, slays a mightier foe.
For courage, which is all men's glory, makes
The heart great. Come then, set the ambush, ye
Which be our mightiest, and the rest shall go
To Tenedos' hallowed burg, and there abide
Until our foes have haled within their walls
Us with the Horse, as deeming that they bring
A gift unto Tritonis. Some brave man,
One whom the Trojans know not, yet we lack,
To harden his heart as steel, and to abide
Near by the Horse. Let that man bear in mind
Heedfully whatsoe'er I said erewhile.
And let none other thought be in his heart,
Lest to the foe our counsel be revealed."
Then, when all others feared, a man far-famed
Made answer, Sinon, marked of destiny
To bring the great work to accomplishment.
Therefore with worship all men looked on him,
The loyal of heart, as in the midst he spake:
"Odysseus, and all ye Achaean chiefs,
This work for which ye crave will I perform --
Yea, though they torture me, though into fire
Living they thrust me; for mine heart is fixed
Not to escape, but die by hands of foes,
Except I crown with glory your desire."
Stoutly he spake: right glad the Argives were;
And one said: "How the Gods have given to-day
High courage to this man! He hath not been
Heretofore valiant. Heaven is kindling him
To be the Trojans' ruin, but to us
Salvation. Now full soon, I trow, we reach
The goal of grievous war, so long unseen."
So a voice murmured mid the Achaean host.
Then, to stir up the heroes, Nestor cried:
"Now is the time, dear sons, for courage and strength:
Now do the Gods bring nigh the end of toil:
Now give they victory to our longing hands.
Come, bravely enter ye this cavernous Horse.
For high renown attendeth courage high.
Oh that my limbs were mighty as of old,
When Aeson's son for heroes called, to man
Swift Argo, when of the heroes foremost I
Would gladly have entered her, but Pelias
The king withheld me in my own despite.
Ah me, but now the burden of years -- O nay,
As I were young, into the Horse will I
Fearlessly! Glory and strength shall courage give."
Answered him golden-haired Achilles' son:
"Nestor, in wisdom art thou chief of men;
But cruel age hath caught thee in his grip:
No more thy strength may match thy gallant will;
Therefore thou needs must unto Tenedos' strand.
We will take ambush, we the youths, of strife
Insatiate still, as thou, old sire, dost bid."
Then strode the son of Neleus to his side,
And kissed his hands, and kissed the head of him
Who offered thus himself the first of all
To enter that huge horse, being peril-fain,
And bade the elder of days abide without.
Then to the battle-eager spake the old:
"Thy father's son art thou! Achilles' might
And chivalrous speech be here! O, sure am I
That by thine hands the Argives shall destroy
The stately city of Priam. At the last,
After long travail, glory shall be ours,
Ours, after toil and tribulation of war;
The Gods have laid tribulation at men's feet
But happiness far off, and toil between:
Therefore for men full easy is the path
To ruin, and the path to fame is hard,
Where feet must press right on through painful toil."
He spake: replied Achilles' glorious son:
"Old sire, as thine heart trusteth, be it vouchsafed
In answer to our prayers; for best were this:
But if the Gods will otherwise, be it so.
Ay, gladlier would I fall with glory in fight
Than flee from Troy, bowed 'neath a load of shame."
Then in his sire's celestial arms he arrayed
His shoulders; and with speed in harness sheathed
Stood the most mighty heroes, in whose healers
Was dauntless spirit. Tell, ye Queens of Song,
Now man by man the names of all that passed
Into the cavernous Horse; for ye inspired
My soul with all my song, long ere my cheek
Grew dark with manhood's beard, what time I fed
My goodly sheep on Smyrna's pasture-lea,
From Hermus thrice so far as one may hear
A man's shout, by the fane of Artemis,
In the Deliverer's Grove, upon a hill
Neither exceeding low nor passing high.
Into that cavernous Horse Achilles' son
First entered, strong Menelaus followed then,
Odysseus, Sthenelus, godlike Diomede,
Philoctetes and Menestheus, Anticlus,
Thoas and Polypoetes golden-haired,
Aias, Eurypylus, godlike Thrasymede,
Idomeneus, Meriones, far-famous twain,
Podaleirius of spears, Eurymachus,
Teucer the godlike, fierce Ialmenus,
Thalpius, Antimachus, Leonteus staunch,
Eumelus, and Euryalus fair as a God,
Amphimachus, Demophoon, Agapenor,
Akamas, Meges stalwart Phyleus' son --
Yea, more, even all their chiefest, entered in,
So many as that carven Horse could hold.
Godlike Epeius last of all passed in,
The fashioner of the Horse; in his breast lay
The secret of the opening of its doors
And of their closing: therefore last of all
He entered, and he drew the ladders up
Whereby they clomb: then made he all secure,
And set himself beside the bolt. So all
In silence sat 'twixt victory and death.
But the rest fired the tents, wherein erewhile
They slept, and sailed the wide sea in their ships.
Two mighty-hearted captains ordered these,
Nestor and Agamemnon lord of spears.
Fain had they also entered that great Horse,
But all the host withheld them, bidding stay
With them a-shipboard, ordering their array:
For men far better work the works of war
When their kings oversee them; therefore these
Abode without, albeit mighty men.
So came they swiftly unto Tenedos' shore,
And dropped the anchor-stones, then leapt in haste
Forth of the ships, and silent waited there
Keen-watching till the signal-torch should flash.
But nigh the foe were they in the Horse, and now
Looked they for death, and now to smite the town;
And on their hopes and fears uprose the dawn.
Then marked the Trojans upon Hellespont's strand
The smoke upleaping yet through air: no more
Saw they the ships which brought to them from Greece
Destruction dire. With joy to the shore they ran,
But armed them first, for fear still haunted them
Then marked they that fair-carven Horse, and stood
Marvelling round, for a mighty work was there.
A hapless-seeming man thereby they spied,
Sinon; and this one, that one questioned him
Touching the Danaans, as in a great ring
They compassed him, and with unangry words
First questioned, then with terrible threatenings.
Then tortured they that man of guileful soul
Long time unceasing. Firm as a rock abode
The unquivering limbs, the unconquerable will.
His ears, his nose, at last they shore away
In every wise tormenting him, until
He should declare the truth, whither were gone
The Danaans in their ships, what thing the Horse
Concealed within it. He had armed his mind
With resolution, and of outrage foul
Recked not; his soul endured their cruel stripes,
Yea, and the bitter torment of the fire;
For strong endurance into him Hera breathed;
And still he told them the same guileful tale:
"The Argives in their ships flee oversea
Weary of tribulation of endless war.
This horse by Calchas' counsel fashioned they
For wise Athena, to propitiate
Her stern wrath for that guardian image stol'n
From Troy. And by Odysseus' prompting I
Was marked for slaughter, to be sacrificed
To the sea-powers, beside the moaning waves,
To win them safe return. But their intent
I marked; and ere they spilt the drops of wine,
And sprinkled hallowed meal upon mine head,
Swiftly I fled, and, by the help of Heaven,
I flung me down, clasping the Horse's feet;
And they, sore loth, perforce must leave me there
Dreading great Zeus's daughter mighty-souled."
In subtlety so he spake, his soul untamed
By pain; for a brave man's part is to endure
To the uttermost. And of the Trojans some
Believed him, others for a wily knave
Held him, of whose mind was Laocoon.
Wisely he spake: "A deadly fraud is this,"
He said, "devised by the Achaean chiefs!"
And cried to all straightway to burn the Horse,
And know if aught within its timbers lurked.
Yea, and they had obeyed him, and had 'scaped
Destruction; but Athena, fiercely wroth
With him, the Trojans, and their city, shook
Earth's deep foundations 'neath Laocoon's feet.
Straight terror fell on him, and trembling bowed
The knees of the presumptuous: round his head
Horror of darkness poured; a sharp pang thrilled
His eyelids; swam his eyes beneath his brows;
His eyeballs, stabbed with bitter anguish, throbbed
Even from the roots, and rolled in frenzy of pain.
Clear through his brain the bitter torment pierced
Even to the filmy inner veil thereof;
Now bloodshot were his eyes, now ghastly green;
Anon with rheum they ran, as pours a stream
Down from a rugged crag, with thawing snow
Made turbid. As a man distraught he seemed:
All things he saw showed double, and he groaned
Fearfully; yet he ceased not to exhort
The men of Troy, and recked not of his pain.
Then did the Goddess strike him utterly blind.
Stared his fixed eyeballs white from pits of blood;
And all folk groaned for pity of their friend,
And dread of the Prey-giver, lest he had sinned
In folly against her, and his mind was thus
Warped to destruction yea, lest on themselves
Like judgment should be visited, to avenge
The outrage done to hapless Sinon's flesh,
Whereby they hoped to wring the truth from him.
So led they him in friendly wise to Troy,
Pitying him at the last. Then gathered all,
And o'er that huge Horse hastily cast a rope,
And made it fast above; for under its feet
Smooth wooden rollers had Epeius laid,
That, dragged by Trojan hands, it might glide on
Into their fortress. One and all they haled
With multitudinous tug and strain, as when
Down to the sea young men sore-labouring drag
A ship; hard-crushed the stubborn rollers groan,
As, sliding with weird shrieks, the keel descends
Into the sea-surge; so that host with toil
Dragged up unto their city their own doom,
Epeius' work. With great festoons of flowers
They hung it, and their own heads did they wreathe,
While answering each other pealed the flutes.
Grimly Enyo laughed, seeing the end
Of that dire war; Hera rejoiced on high;
Glad was Athena. When the Trojans came
Unto their city, brake they down the walls,
Their city's coronal, that the Horse of Death
Might be led in. Troy's daughters greeted it
With shouts of salutation; marvelling all
Gazed at the mighty work where lurked their doom.
But still Laocoon ceased not to exhort
His countrymen to burn the Horse with fire:
They would not hear, for dread of the Gods' wrath.
But then a yet more hideous punishment
Athena visited on his hapless sons.
A cave there was, beneath a rugged cliff
Exceeding high, unscalable, wherein
Dwelt fearful monsters of the deadly brood
Of Typhon, in the rock-clefts of the isle
Calydna that looks Troyward from the sea.
Thence stirred she up the strength of serpents twain,
And summoned them to Troy. By her uproused
They shook the island as with earthquake: roared
The sea; the waves disparted as they came.
Onward they swept with fearful-flickering tongues:
Shuddered the very monsters of the deep:
Xanthus' and Simois' daughters moaned aloud,
The River-nymphs: the Cyprian Queen looked down
In anguish from Olympus. Swiftly they came
Whither the Goddess sped them: with grim jaws
Whetting their deadly fangs, on his hapless sons
Sprang they. All Trojans panic-stricken fled,
Seeing those fearsome dragons in their town.
No man, though ne'er so dauntless theretofore,
Dared tarry; ghastly dread laid hold on all
Shrinking in horror from the monsters. Screamed
The women; yea, the mother forgat her child,
Fear-frenzied as she fled: all Troy became
One shriek of fleers, one huddle of jostling limbs:
The streets were choked with cowering fugitives.
Alone was left Laocoon with his sons,
For death's doom and the Goddess chained their feet.
Then, even as from destruction shrank the lads,
Those deadly fangs had seized and ravined up
The twain, outstretching to their sightless sire
Agonized hands: no power to help had he.
Trojans far off looked on from every side
Weeping, all dazed. And, having now fulfilled
Upon the Trojans Pallas' awful hest,
Those monsters vanished 'neath the earth; and still
Stands their memorial, where into the fane
They entered of Apollo in Pergamus
The hallowed. Therebefore the sons of Troy
Gathered, and reared a cenotaph for those
Who miserably had perished. Over it
Their father from his blind eyes rained the tears:
Over the empty tomb their mother shrieked,
Boding the while yet worse things, wailing o'er
The ruin wrought by folly of her lord,
Dreading the anger of the Blessed Ones.
As when around her void nest in a brake
In sorest anguish moans the nightingale
Whose fledglings, ere they learned her plaintive song,
A hideous serpent's fangs have done to death,
And left the mother anguish, endless woe,
And bootless crying round her desolate home;
So groaned she for her children's wretched death,
So moaned she o'er the void tomb; and her pangs
Were sharpened by her lord's plight stricken blind.
While she for children and for husband moaned --
These slain, he of the sun's light portionless --
The Trojans to the Immortals sacrificed,
Pouring the wine. Their hearts beat high with hope
To escape the weary stress of woeful war.
Howbeit the victims burned not, and the flames
Died out, as though 'neath heavy-hissing rain;
And writhed the smoke-wreaths blood-red, and the thighs
Quivering from crumbling altars fell to earth.
Drink-offerings turned to blood, Gods' statues wept,
And temple-walls dripped gore: along them rolled
Echoes of groaning out of depths unseen;
And all the long walls shuddered: from the towers
Came quick sharp sounds like cries of men in pain;
And, weirdly shrieking, of themselves slid back
The gate-bolts. Screaming "Desolation!" wailed
The birds of night. Above that God-built burg
A mist palled every star; and yet no cloud
Was in the flashing heavens. By Phoebus' fane
Withered the bays that erst were lush and green.
Wolves and foul-feeding jackals came and howled
Within the gates. Ay, other signs untold
Appeared, portending woe to Dardanus' sons
And Troy: yet no fear touched the Trojans' hearts
Who saw all through the town those portents dire:
Fate crazed them all, that midst their revelling
Slain by their foes they might fill up their doom.
One heart was steadfast, and one soul clear-eyed,
Cassandra. Never her words were unfulfilled;
Yet was their utter truth, by Fate's decree,
Ever as idle wind in the hearers' ears,
That no bar to Troy's ruin might be set.
She saw those evil portents all through Troy
Conspiring to one end; loud rang her cry,
As roars a lioness that mid the brakes
A hunter has stabbed or shot, whereat her heart
Maddens, and down the long hills rolls her roar,
And her might waxes tenfold; so with heart
Aflame with prophecy came she forth her bower.
Over her snowy shoulders tossed her hair
Streaming far down, and wildly blazed her eyes.
Her neck writhed, like a sapling in the wind
Shaken, as moaned and shrieked that noble maid:
"O wretches! into the Land of Darkness now
We are passing; for all round us full of fire
And blood and dismal moan the city is.
Everywhere portents of calamity
Gods show: destruction yawns before your feet.
Fools! ye know not your doom: still ye rejoice
With one consent in madness, who to Troy
Have brought the Argive Horse where ruin lurks!
Oh, ye believe not me, though ne'er so loud
I cry! The Erinyes and the ruthless Fates,
For Helen's spousals madly wroth, through Troy
Dart on wild wings. And ye, ye are banqueting there
In your last feast, on meats befouled with gore,
When now your feet are on the Path of Ghosts!"
Then cried a scoffing voice an ominous word:
"Why doth a raving tongue of evil speech,
Daughter of Priam, make thy lips to cry
Words empty as wind? No maiden modesty
With purity veils thee: thou art compassed round
With ruinous madness; therefore all men scorn
Thee, babbler! Hence, thine evil bodings speak
To the Argives and thyself! For thee doth wait
Anguish and shame yet bitterer than befell
Presumptuous Laocoon. Shame it were
In folly to destroy the Immortals' gift."
So scoffed a Trojan: others in like sort
Cried shame on her, and said she spake but lies,
Saying that ruin and Fate's heavy stroke
Were hard at hand. They knew not their own doom,
And mocked, and thrust her back from that huge Horse �
For fain she was to smite its beams apart,
Or burn with ravening fire. She snatched a brand
Of blazing pine-wood from the hearth and ran
In fury: in the other hand she bare
A two-edged halberd: on that Horse of Doom
She rushed, to cause the Trojans to behold
With their own eyes the ambush hidden there.
But straightway from her hands they plucked and flung
Afar the fire and steel, and careless turned
To the feast; for darkened o'er them their last night.
Within the horse the Argives joyed to hear
The uproar of Troy's feasters setting at naught
Cassandra, but they marvelled that she knew
So well the Achaeans' purpose and device.
As mid the hills a furious pantheress,
Which from the steading hounds and shepherd-folk
Drive with fierce rush, with savage heart turns back
Even in departing, galled albeit by darts:
So from the great Horse fled she, anguish-racked
For Troy, for all the ruin she foreknew.
How Troy in the night was taken and sacked with fire and
So feasted they through Troy, and in their midst
Loud pealed the flutes and pipes: on every hand
Were song and dance, laughter and cries confused
Of banqueters beside the meats and wine.
They, lifting in their hands the beakers brimmed,
Recklessly drank, till heavy of brain they grew,
Till rolled their fluctuant eyes. Now and again
Some mouth would babble the drunkard's broken words.
The household gear, the very roof and walls
Seemed as they rocked: all things they looked on seemed
Whirled in wild dance. About their eyes a veil
Of mist dropped, for the drunkard's sight is dimmed,
And the wit dulled, when rise the fumes to the brain:
And thus a heavy-headed feaster cried:
"For naught the Danaans mustered that great host
Hither! Fools, they have wrought not their intent,
But with hopes unaccomplished from our town
Like silly boys or women have they fled."
So cried a Trojan wit-befogged with wine,
Fool, nor discerned destruction at the doors.
When sleep had locked his fetters everywhere
Through Troy on folk fulfilled of wine and meat,
Then Sinon lifted high a blazing torch
To show the Argive men the splendour of fire.
But fearfully the while his heart beat, lest
The men of Troy might see it, and the plot
Be suddenly revealed. But on their beds
Sleeping their last sleep lay they, heavy with wine.
The host saw, and from Tenedos set sail.
Then nigh the Horse drew Sinon: softly he called,
Full softly, that no man of Troy might hear,
But only Achaea's chiefs, far from whose eyes
Sleep hovered, so athirst were they for fight.
They heard, and to Odysseus all inclined
Their ears: he bade them urgently go forth
Softly and fearlessly; and they obeyed
That battle-summons, pressing in hot haste
To leap to earth: but in his subtlety
He stayed them from all thrusting eagerly forth.
But first himself with swift unfaltering hands,
Helped of Epeius, here and there unbarred
The ribs of the Horse of beams: above the planks
A little he raised his head, and gazed around
On all sides, if he haply might descry
One Trojan waking yet. As when a wolf,
With hunger stung to the heart, comes from the hills,
And ravenous for flesh draws nigh the flock
Penned in the wide fold, slinking past the men
And dogs that watch, all keen to ward the sheep,
Then o'er the fold-wall leaps with soundless feet;
So stole Odysseus down from the Horse: with him
Followed the war-fain lords of Hellas' League,
Orderly stepping down the ladders, which
Epeius framed for paths of mighty men,
For entering and for passing forth the Horse,
Who down them now on this side, that side, streamed
As fearless wasps startled by stroke of axe
In angry mood pour all together forth
From the tree-bole, at sound of woodman's blow;
So battle-kindled forth the Horse they poured
Into the midst of that strong city of Troy
With hearts that leapt expectant. [With swift hands
Snatched they the brands from dying hearths, and fired
Temple and palace. Onward then to the gates
Sped they,] and swiftly slew the slumbering guards,
[Then held the gate-towers till their friends should come.]
Fast rowed the host the while; on swept the ships
Over the great flood: Thetis made their paths
Straight, and behind them sent a driving wind
Speeding them, and the hearts Achaean glowed.
Swiftly to Hellespont's shore they came, and there
Beached they the keels again, and deftly dealt
With whatso tackling appertains to ships.
Then leapt they aland, and hasted on to Troy
Silent as sheep that hurry to the fold
From woodland pasture on an autumn eve;
So without sound of voices marched they on
Unto the Trojans' fortress, eager all
To help those mighty chiefs with foes begirt.
Now these -- as famished wolves fierce-glaring round
Fall on a fold mid the long forest-hills,
While sleeps the toil-worn watchman, and they rend
The sheep on every hand within the wall
In darkness, and all round [are heaped the slain;
So these within the city smote and slew,
As swarmed the awakened foe around them; yet,
Fast as they slew, aye faster closed on them
Those thousands, mad to thrust them from the gates.]
Slipping in blood and stumbling o'er the dead
[Their line reeled,] and destruction loomed o'er them,
Though Danaan thousands near and nearer drew.
But when the whole host reached the walls of Troy,
Into the city of Priam, breathing rage
Of fight, with reckless battle-lust they poured;
And all that fortress found they full of war
And slaughter, palaces, temples, horribly
Blazing on all sides; glowed their hearts with joy.
In deadly mood then charged they on the foe.
Ares and fell Enyo maddened there:
Blood ran in torrents, drenched was all the earth,
As Trojans and their alien helpers died.
Here were men lying quelled by bitter death
All up and down the city in their blood;
Others on them were falling, gasping forth
Their life's strength; others, clutching in their hands
Their bowels that looked through hideous gashes forth,
Wandered in wretched plight around their homes:
Others, whose feet, while yet asleep they lay,
Had been hewn off, with groans unutterable
Crawled mid the corpses. Some, who had rushed to fight,
Lay now in dust, with hands and heads hewn off.
Some were there, through whose backs, even as they fled,
The spear had passed, clear through to the breast, and some
Whose waists the lance had pierced, impaling them
Where sharpest stings the anguish-laden steel.
And all about the city dolorous howls
Of dogs uprose, and miserable moans
Of strong men stricken to death; and every home
With awful cries was echoing. Rang the shrieks
Of women, like to screams of cranes, which see
An eagle stooping on them from the sky,
Which have no courage to resist, but scream
Long terror-shrieks in dread of Zeus's bird;
So here, so there the Trojan women wailed,
Some starting from their sleep, some to the ground
Leaping: they thought not in that agony
Of robe and zone; in naught but tunics clad
Distraught they wandered: others found nor veil
Nor cloak to cast about them, but, as came
Onward their foes, they stood with beating hearts
Trembling, as lettered by despair, essaying,
All-hapless, with their hands alone to hide
Their nakedness. And some in frenzy of woe:
Their tresses tore, and beat their breasts, and screamed.
Others against that stormy torrent of foes
Recklessly rushed, insensible of fear,
Through mad desire to aid the perishing,
Husbands or children; for despair had given
High courage. Shrieks had startled from their sleep
Soft little babes whose hearts had never known
Trouble -- and there one with another lay
Gasping their lives out! Some there were whose dreams
Changed to a sudden vision of doom. All round
The fell Fates gloated horribly o'er the slain.
And even as swine be slaughtered in the court
Of a rich king who makes his folk a feast,
So without number were they slain. The wine
Left in the mixing-bowls was blent with blood
Gruesomely. No man bare a sword unstained
With murder of defenceless folk of Troy,
Though he were but a weakling in fair fight.
And as by wolves or jackals sheep are torn,
What time the furnace-breath of midnoon-heat
Darts down, and all the flock beneath the shade
Are crowded, and the shepherd is not there,
But to the homestead bears afar their milk;
And the fierce brutes leap on them, tear their throats,
Gorge to the full their ravenous maws, and then
Lap the dark blood, and linger still to slay
All in mere lust of slaughter, and provide
An evil banquet for that shepherd-lord;
So through the city of Priam Danaans slew
One after other in that last fight of all.
No Trojan there was woundless, all men's limbs
With blood in torrents spilt were darkly dashed.
Nor seetheless were the Danaans in the fray:
With beakers some were smitten, with tables some,
Thrust in the eyes of some were burning brands
Snatched from the hearth; some died transfixed with spits
Yet left within the hot flesh of the swine
Whereon the red breath of the Fire-god beat;
Others struck down by bills and axes keen
Gasped in their blood: from some men's hands were shorn
The fingers, who, in wild hope to escape
The imminent death, had clutched the blades of swords.
And here in that dark tumult one had hurled
A stone, and crushed the crown of a friend's head.
Like wild beasts trapped and stabbed within a fold
On a lone steading, frenziedly they fought,
Mad with despair-enkindled rage, beneath
That night of horror. Hot with battle-lust
Here, there, the fighters rushed and hurried through
The palace of Priam. Many an Argive fell
Spear-slain; for whatso Trojan in his halls
Might seize a sword, might lift a spear in hand,
Slew foes -- ay, heavy though he were with wine.
Upflashed a glare unearthly through the town,
For many an Argive bare in hand a torch
To know in that dim battle friends from foes.
Then Tydeus' son amid the war-storm met
Spearman Coroebus, lordly Mygdon's son,
And 'neath the left ribs pierced him with the lance
Where run the life-ways of man's meat and drink;
So met him black death borne upon the spear:
Down in dark blood he fell mid hosts of slain.
Ah fool! the bride he won not, Priam's child
Cassandra, yea, his loveliest, for whose sake
To Priam's burg but yesterday he came,
And vaunted he would thrust the Argives back
From Ilium. Never did the Gods fulfil
His hope: the Fates hurled doom upon his head.
With him the slayer laid Eurydamas low,
Antenor's gallant son-in-law, who most
For prudence was pre-eminent in Troy.
Then met he Ilioneus the elder of days,
And flashed his terrible sword forth. All the limbs
Of that grey sire were palsied with his fear:
He put forth trembling hands, with one he caught
The swift avenging sword, with one he clasped
The hero's knees. Despite his fury of war,
A moment paused his wrath, or haply a God
Held back the sword a space, that that old man
Might speak to his fierce foe one word of prayer.
Piteously cried he, terror-overwhelmed:
"I kneel before thee, whosoe'er thou be
Of mighty Argives. Oh compassionate
My suppliant hands! Abate thy wrath! To slay
The young and valiant is a glorious thing;
But if thou smite an old man, small renown
Waits on thy prowess. Therefore turn from me
Thine hands against young men, if thou dost hope
Ever to come to grey hairs such as mine."
So spake he; but replied strong Tydeus' son:
"Old man, I look to attain to honoured age;
But while my Strength yet waxeth, will not I
Spare any foe, but hurl to Hades all.
The brave man makes an end of every foe."
Then through his throat that terrible warrior drave
The deadly blade, and thrust it straight to where
The paths of man's life lead by swiftest way
Blood-paved to doom: death palsied his poor strength
By Diomedes' hands. Thence rushed he on
Slaying the Trojans, storming in his might
All through their fortress: pierced by his long spear
Eurycoon fell, Perimnestor's son renowned.
Amphimedon Aias slew: Agamemnon smote
Damastor's son: Idomeneus struck down
Mimas: by Meges Deiopites died.
Achilles' son with his resistless lance
Smote godlike Pammon; then his javelin pierced
Polites in mid-rush: Antiphonus
Dead upon these he laid, all Priam's sons.
Agenor faced him in the fight, and fell:
Hero on hero slew he; everywhere
Stalked at his side Death's black doom manifest:
Clad in his sire's might, whomso he met he slew.
Last, on Troy's king in murderous mood he came.
By Zeus the Hearth-lord's altar. Seeing him,
Old Priam knew him and quaked not; for he longed
Himself to lay his life down midst his sons;
And craving death to Achilles' seed he spake:
"Fierce-hearted son of Achilles strong in war,
Slay me, and pity not my misery.
I have no will to see the sun's light more,
Who have suffered woes so many and so dread.
With my sons would I die, and so forget
Anguish and horror of war. Oh that thy sire
Had slain me, ere mine eyes beheld aflame
Illium, had slain me when I brought to him
Ransom for Hector, whom thy father slew.
He spared me -- so the Fates had spun my thread
Of destiny. But thou, glut with my blood
Thy fierce heart, and let me forget my pain."
Answered Achilles' battle-eager son:
"Fain am I, yea, in haste to grant thy prayer.
A foe like thee will I not leave alive;
For naught is dearer unto men than life."
With one stroke swept he off that hoary head
Lightly as when a reaper lops an ear
In a parched cornfield at the harvest-tide.
With lips yet murmuring low it rolled afar
From where with quivering limbs the body lay
Amidst dark-purple blood and slaughtered men.
So lay he, chiefest once of all the world
In lineage, wealth, in many and goodly sons.
Ah me, not long abides the honour of man,
But shame from unseen ambush leaps on him
So clutched him Doom, so he forgat his woes.
Yea, also did those Danaan car-lords hurl
From a high tower the babe Astyanax,
Dashing him out of life. They tore the child
Out of his mother's arms, in wrathful hate
Of Hector, who in life had dealt to them
Such havoc; therefore hated they his seed,
And down from that high rampart flung his child --
A wordless babe that nothing knew of war!
As when amid the mountains hungry wolves
Chase from the mother's side a suckling calf,
And with malignant cunning drive it o'er
An echoing cliffs edge, while runs to and fro
Its dam with long moans mourning her dear child,
And a new evil followeth hard on her,
For suddenly lions seize her for a prey;
So, as she agonized for her son, the foe
To bondage haled with other captive thralls
That shrieking daughter of King Eetion.
Then, as on those three fearful deaths she thought
Of husband, child, and father, Andromaehe
Longed sore to die. Yea, for the royally-born
Better it is to die in war, than do
The service of the thrall to baser folk.
All piteously the broken-hearted cried:
"Oh hurl my body also from the wall,
Or down the cliff, or cast me midst the fire,
Ye Argives! Woes are mine unutterable!
For Peleus' son smote down my noble father
In Thebe, and in Troy mine husband slew,
Who unto me was all mine heart's desire,
Who left me in mine halls one little child,
My darling and my pride -- of all mine hopes
In him fell merciless Fate hath cheated me!
Oh therefore thrust this broken-hearted one
Now out of life! Hale me not overseas
Mingled with spear-thralls; for my soul henceforth
Hath no more pleasure in life, since God hath slain
My nearest and my dearest! For me waits
Trouble and anguish and lone homelessness!"
So cried she, longing for the grave; for vile
Is life to them whose glory is swallowed up
Of shame: a horror is the scorn of men.
But, spite her prayers, to thraldom dragged they her.
In all the homes of Troy lay dying men,
And rose from all a lamentable cry,
Save only Antenor's halls; for unto him
The Argives rendered hospitality's debt,
For that in time past had his roof received
And sheltered godlike Menelaus, when
He with Odysseus came to claim his own.
Therefore the mighty sons of Achaea showed
Grace to him, as to a friend, and spared his life
And substance, fearing Themis who seeth all.
Then also princely Anchises' noble son --
Hard had he fought through Priam's burg that night
With spear and valour, and many had he slain --
When now he saw the city set aflame
By hands of foes, saw her folk perishing
In multitudes, her treasures spoiled, her wives
And children dragged to thraldom from their homes,
No more he hoped to see the stately walls
Of his birth-city, but bethought him now
How from that mighty ruin to escape.
And as the helmsman of a ship, who toils
On the deep sea, and matches all his craft
Against the winds and waves from every side
Rushing against him in the stormy time,
Forspent at last, both hand and heart, when now
The ship is foundering in the surge, forsakes
The helm, to launch forth in a little boat,
And heeds no longer ship and lading; so
Anchises' gallant son forsook the town
And left her to her foes, a sea of fire.
His son and father alone he snatched from death;
The old man broken down with years he set
On his broad shoulders with his own strong hands,
And led the young child by his small soft hand,
Whose little footsteps lightly touched the ground;
And, as he quaked to see that work of deaths
His father led him through the roar of fight,
And clinging hung on him the tender child,
Tears down his soft cheeks streaming. But the man
O'er many a body sprang with hurrying feet,
And in the darkness in his own despite
Trampled on many. Cypris guided them,
Earnest to save from that wild ruin her son,
His father, and his child. As on he pressed,
The flames gave back before him everywhere:
The blast of the Fire-god's breath to right and left
Was cloven asunder. Spears and javelins hurled
Against him by the Achaeans harmless fell.
Also, to stay them, Calchas cried aloud:
"Forbear against Aeneas' noble head
To hurl the bitter dart, the deadly spear!
Fated he is by the high Gods' decree
To pass from Xanthus, and by Tiber's flood
To found a city holy and glorious
Through all time, and to rule o'er tribes of men
Far-sundered. Of his seed shall lords of earth
Rule from the rising to the setting sun.
Yea, with the Immortals ever shall he dwell,
Who is son of Aphrodite lovely-tressed.
From him too is it meet we hold our hands
Because he hath preferred his father and son
To gold, to all things that might profit a man
Who fleeth exiled to an alien land.
This one night hath revealed to us a man
Faithful to death to his father and his child."
Then hearkened they, and as a God did all
Look on him. Forth the city hasted he
Whither his feet should bear him, while the foe
Made havoc still of goodly-builded Troy.
Then also Menelaus in Helen's bower
Found, heavy with wine, ill-starred Deiphobus,
And slew him with the sword: but she had fled
And hidden her in the palace. O'er the blood
Of that slain man exulted he, and cried:
"Dog! I, even I have dealt thee unwelcome death
This day! No dawn divine shall meet thee again
Alive in Troy -- ay, though thou vaunt thyself
Spouse of the child of Zeus the thunder-voiced!
Black death hath trapped thee slain in my wife's bower!
Would I had met Alexander too in fight
Ere this, and plucked his heart out! So my grief
Had been a lighter load. But he hath paid
Already justice' debt, hath passed beneath
Death's cold dark shadow. Ha, small joy to thee
My wife was doomed to bring! Ay, wicked men
Never elude pure Themis: night and day
Her eyes are on them, and the wide world through
Above the tribes of men she floats in air,
Holpen of Zeus, for punishment of sin."
On passed he, dealing merciless death to foes,
For maddened was his soul with jealousy.
Against the Trojans was his bold heart full
Of thoughts of vengeance, which were now fulfilled
By the dread Goddess Justice, for that theirs
Was that first outrage touching Helen, theirs
That profanation of the oaths, and theirs
That trampling on the blood of sacrifice
When their presumptuous souls forgat the Gods.
Therefore the Vengeance-friends brought woes on them
Thereafter, and some died in fighting field,
Some now in Troy by board and bridal bower.
Menelaus mid the inner chambers found
At last his wife, there cowering from the wrath
Of her bold-hearted lord. He glared on her,
Hungering to slay her in his jealous rage.
But winsome Aphrodite curbed him, struck
Out of his hand the sword, his onrush reined,
Jealousy's dark cloud swept she away, and stirred
Love's deep sweet well-springs in his heart and eyes.
Swept o'er him strange amazement: powerless all
Was he to lift the sword against her neck,
Seeing her splendour of beauty. Like a stock
Of dead wood in a mountain forest, which
No swiftly-rushing blasts of north-winds shake,
Nor fury of south-winds ever, so he stood,
So dazed abode long time. All his great strength
Was broken, as he looked upon his wife.
And suddenly had he forgotten all
Yea, all her sins against her spousal-troth;
For Aphrodite made all fade away,
She who subdueth all immortal hearts
And mortal. Yet even so he lifted up
From earth his sword, and made as he would rush
Upon his wife but other was his intent,
Even as he sprang: he did but feign, to cheat
Achaean eyes. Then did his brother stay
His fury, and spake with pacifying words,
Fearing lest all they had toiled for should be lost:
"Forbear wrath, Menelaus, now: 'twere shame
To slay thy wedded wife, for whose sake we
Have suffered much affliction, while we sought
Vengeance on Priam. Not, as thou dost deem,
Was Helen's the sin, but his who set at naught
The Guest-lord, and thine hospitable board;
So with death-pangs hath God requited him."
Then hearkened Menelaus to his rede.
But the Gods, palled in dark clouds, mourned for Troy,
A ruined glory save fair-tressed Tritonis
And Hera: their hearts triumphed, when they saw
The burg of god-descended Priam destroyed.
Yet not the wise heart Trito-born herself
Was wholly tearless; for within her fane
Outraged Cassandra was of Oileus son
Lust-maddened. But grim vengeance upon him
Ere long the Goddess wreaked, repaying insult
With mortal sufferance. Yea, she would not look
Upon the infamy, but clad herself
With shame and wrath as with a cloak: she turned
Her stern eyes to the temple-roof, and groaned
The holy image, and the hallowed floor
Quaked mightily. Yet did he not forbear
His mad sin, for his soul was lust-distraught.
Here, there, on all sides crumbled flaming homes
In ruin down: scorched dust with smoke was blent:
Trembled the streets to the awful thunderous crash.
Here burned Aeneas' palace, yonder flamed
Antimachus' halls: one furnace was the height
Of fair-built Pergamus; flames were roaring round
Apollo's temple, round Athena's fane,
And round the Hearth-lord's altar: flames licked up
Fair chambers of the sons' sons of a king;
And all the city sank down into hell.
Of Trojans some by Argos' sons were slain,
Some by their own roofs crashing down in fire,
Giving at once in death and tomb to them:
Some in their own throats plunged the steel, when foes
And fire were in the porch together seen:
Some slew their wives and children, and flung themselves
Dead on them, when despair had done its work
Of horror. One, who deemed the foe afar,
Caught up a vase, and, fain to quench the flame,
Hasted for water. Leapt unmarked on him
An Argive, and his spirit, heavy with wine,
Was thrust forth from the body by the spear.
Clashed the void vase above him, as he fell
Backward within the house. As through his hall
Another fled, the burning roof-beam crashed
Down on his head, and swift death came with it.
And many women, as in frenzied flight
They rushed forth, suddenly remembered babes
Left in their beds beneath those burning roofs:
With wild feet sped they back -- the house fell in
Upon them, and they perished, mother and child.
Horses and dogs in panic through the town
Fled from the flames, trampling beneath their feet
The dead, and dashing into living men
To their sore hurt. Shrieks rang through all the town.
In through his blazing porchway rushed a man
To rescue wife and child. Through smoke and flame
Blindly he groped, and perished while he cried
Their names, and pitiless doom slew those within.
The fire-glow upward mounted to the sky,
The red glare o'er the firmament spread its wings,
And all the tribes of folk that dwelt around
Beheld it, far as Ida's mountain-crests,
And sea-girt Tenedos, and Thracian Samos.
And men that voyaged on the deep sea cried:
"The Argives have achieved their mighty task
After long toil for star-eyed Helen's sake.
All Troy, the once queen-city, burns in fire:
For all their prayers, no God defends them now;
For strong Fate oversees all works of men,
And the renownless and obscure to fame
She raises, and brings low the exalted ones.
Oft out of good is evil brought, and good
From evil, mid the travail and change of life."
So spake they, who from far beheld the glare
Of Troy's great burning. Compassed were her folk
With wailing misery: through her streets the foe
Exulted, as when madding blasts turmoil
The boundless sea, what time the Altar ascends
To heaven's star-pavement, turned to the misty south
Overagainst Arcturus tempest-breathed,
And with its rising leap the wild winds forth,
And ships full many are whelmed 'neath ravening seas;
Wild as those stormy winds Achaea's sons
Ravaged steep Ilium while she burned in flame.
As when a mountain clothed with shaggy woods
Burns swiftly in a fire-blast winged with winds,
And from her tall peaks goeth up a roar,
And all the forest-children this way and that
Rush through the wood, tormented by the flame;
So were the Trojans perishing: there was none
To save, of all the Gods. Round these were staked
The nets of Fate, which no man can escape.
Then were Demophoon and Acamas
By mighty Theseus' mother Aethra met.
Yearning to see them was she guided on
To meet them by some Blessed One, the while
'Wildered from war and fire she fled. They saw
In that red glare a woman royal-tall,
Imperial-moulded, and they weened that this
Was Priam's queen, and with swift eagerness
Laid hands on her, to lead her captive thence
To the Danaans; but piteously she moaned:
"Ah, do not, noble sons of warrior Greeks,
To your ships hale me, as I were a foe!
I am not of Trojan birth: of Danaans came
My princely blood renowned. In Troezen's halls
Pittheus begat me, Aegeus wedded me,
And of my womb sprang Theseus glory-crowned.
For great Zeus' sake, for your dear parents' sake,
I pray you, if the seed of Theseus came
Hither with Atreus' sons, O bring ye me
Unto their yearning eyes. I trow they be
Young men like you. My soul shall be refreshed
If living I behold those chieftains twain."
Hearkening to her they called their sire to mind,
His deeds for Helen's sake, and how the sons
Of Zeus the Thunderer in the old time smote
Aphidnae, when, because these were but babes,
Their nurses hid them far from peril of fight;
And Aethra they remembered -- all she endured
Through wars, as mother-in-law at first, and thrall
Thereafter of Helen. Dumb for joy were they,
Till spake Demophoon to that wistful one:
"Even now the Gods fulfil thine heart's desire:
We whom thou seest are the sons of him,
Thy noble son: thee shall our loving hands
Bear to the ships: with joy to Hellas' soil
Thee will we bring, where once thou wast a queen."
Then his great father's mother clasped him round
With clinging arms: she kissed his shoulders broad,
His head, his breast, his bearded lips she kissed,
And Acamas kissed withal, the while she shed
Glad tears on these who could not choose but weep.
As when one tarries long mid alien men,
And folk report him dead, but suddenly
He cometh home: his children see his face,
And break into glad weeping; yea, and he,
His arms around them, and their little heads
Upon his shoulders, sobs: echoes the home
With happy mourning's music-beating wings;
So wept they with sweet sighs and sorrowless moans.
Then, too, affliction-burdened Priam's child,
Laodice, say they, stretched her hands to heaven,
Praying the mighty Gods that earth might gape
To swallow her, ere she defiled her hand
With thralls' work; and a God gave ear, and rent
Deep earth beneath her: so by Heaven's decree
Did earth's abysmal chasm receive the maid
In Troy's last hour. Electra's self withal,
The Star-queen lovely-robed, shrouded her form
In mist and cloud, and left the Pleiad-band,
Her sisters, as the olden legend tells.
Still riseth up in sight of toil-worn men
Their bright troop in the skies; but she alone
Hides viewless ever, since the hallowed town
Of her son Dardanus in ruin fell,
When Zeus most high from heaven could help her not,
Because to Fate the might of Zeus must bow;
And by the Immortals' purpose all these things
Had come to pass, or by Fate's ordinance.
Still on Troy's folk the Argives wreaked their wrath,
And battle's issues Strife Incarnate held.
How the conquerors sailed from Troy unto judgment of tempest and
Then rose from Ocean Dawn the golden-throned
Up to the heavens; night into Chaos sank.
And now the Argives spoiled fair-fenced Troy,
And took her boundless treasures for a prey.
Like river-torrents seemed they, that sweep down,
By rain, floods swelled, in thunder from the hills,
And seaward hurl tall trees and whatsoe'er
Grows on the mountains, mingled with the wreck
Of shattered cliff and crag; so the long lines
Of Danaans who had wasted Troy with fire
Seemed, streaming with her plunder to the ships.
Troy's daughters therewithal in scattered bands
They haled down seaward -- virgins yet unwed,
And new-made brides, and matrons silver-haired,
And mothers from whose bosoms foes had torn
Babes for the last time closing lips on breasts.
Amidst of these Menelaus led his wife
Forth of the burning city, having wrought
A mighty triumph -- joy and shame were his.
Cassandra heavenly-fair was haled the prize
Of Agamemnon: to Achilles' son
Andromache had fallen: Hecuba
Odysseus dragged unto his ship. The tears
Poured from her eyes as water from a spring;