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Hasier Agirre

A trench is a half-finished tomb.

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Half Finished No More

hands feverish aching to form
chords that resound
the rythym in my loins
born in the words I sing

half finished songs
conceived in mad frenzy
imploring me to complete or
abort this rush of thought

but the feelings remain
like cold puddles in the rain
splashing and rippling my insides
until the storm subsides

the bridge that ties
all the feelings that bind
repeating chorus and rising cresendo
to each alone the lyric is blind

cascading like a wave
crashing upon the shore
libido swirling like a violent eddy until
half finished no more

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Half-blessed! But Why?

Everything I do seems half-blessed;
Everything I do turns life insecure;
Everything I do remains half-finished;
Everything I do is unsuccessful;

Everything I do is wrongly done;
Everything I do is risky;
Everything I do is clumsy.
Everything I do is unsatisfactory.

Everything I do lacks progress;
Everything I do seems dangerous;
Everything I do lessens mind’s peace;
Everything I do is cumbersome.

And when I ponder why,
Perhaps the God of High
Isn’t satisfied with my
Soul’s state of grace and lie!

Copyright by Dr John Celes 11-16-2005

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Eclogue 9: Lycidas Moeris

LYCIDAS
Say whither, Moeris?- Make you for the town,
Or on what errand bent?

MOERIS

O Lycidas,
We have lived to see, what never yet we feared,
An interloper own our little farm,
And say, 'Be off, you former husbandmen!
These fields are mine.' Now, cowed and out of heart,
Since Fortune turns the whole world upside down,
We are taking him- ill luck go with the same!-'
These kids you see.

LYCIDAS

But surely I had heard
That where the hills first draw from off the plain,
And the high ridge with gentle slope descends,
Down to the brook-side and the broken crests
Of yonder veteran beeches, all the land
Was by the songs of your Menalcas saved.

MOERIS
Heard it you had, and so the rumour ran,
But 'mid the clash of arms, my Lycidas,
Our songs avail no more than, as 'tis said,
Doves of Dodona when an eagle comes.
Nay, had I not, from hollow ilex-bole
Warned by a raven on the left, cut short
The rising feud, nor I, your Moeris here,
No, nor Menalcas, were alive to-day.

LYCIDAS
Alack! could any of so foul a crime
Be guilty? Ah! how nearly, thyself,
Reft was the solace that we had in thee,
Menalcas! Who then of the Nymphs had sung,
Or who with flowering herbs bestrewn the ground,
And o'er the fountains drawn a leafy veil?-
Who sung the stave I filched from you that day
To Amaryllis wending, our hearts' joy?-
'While I am gone, 'tis but a little way,
Feed, Tityrus, my goats, and, having fed,
Drive to the drinking-pool, and, as you drive,
Beware the he-goat; with his horn he butts.'

MOERIS
Ay, or to Varus that half-finished lay,
'Varus, thy name, so still our Mantua live-
Mantua to poor Cremona all too near-
Shall singing swans bear upward to the stars.'

LYCIDAS
So may your swarms Cyrnean yew-trees shun,
Your kine with cytisus their udders swell,
Begin, if aught you have. The Muses made
Me too a singer; I too have sung; the swains
Call me a poet, but I believe them not:
For naught of mine, or worthy Varius yet
Or Cinna deem I, but account myself
A cackling goose among melodious swans.

MOERIS
'Twas in my thought to do so, Lycidas;
Even now was I revolving silently
If this I could recall- no paltry song:
'Come, Galatea, what pleasure is 't to play
Amid the waves? Here glows the Spring, here earth
Beside the streams pours forth a thousand flowers;
Here the white poplar bends above the cave,
And the lithe vine weaves shadowy covert: come,
Leave the mad waves to beat upon the shore.'

LYCIDAS
What of the strain I heard you singing once
On a clear night alone? the notes I still
Remember, could I but recall the words.

MOERIS
'Why, Daphnis, upward gazing, do you mark
The ancient risings of the Signs? for look
Where Dionean Caesar's star comes forth
In heaven, to gladden all the fields with corn,
And to the grape upon the sunny slopes
Her colour bring! Now, the pears;
So shall your children's children pluck their fruit.

Time carries all things, even our wits, away.
Oft, as a boy, I sang the sun to rest,
But all those songs are from my memory fled,
And even his voice is failing Moeris now;
The wolves eyed Moeris first: but at your wish
Menalcas will repeat them oft enow.

LYCIDAS
Your pleas but linger out my heart's desire:
Now all the deep is into silence hushed,
And all the murmuring breezes sunk to sleep.
We are half-way thither, for Bianor's tomb
Begins to show: here, Moeris, where the hinds
Are lopping the thick leafage, let us sing.
Set down the kids, yet shall we reach the town;
Or, if we fear the night may gather rain
Ere we arrive, then singing let us go,
Our way to lighten; and, that we may thus
Go singing, I will case you of this load.

MOERIS
Cease, boy, and get we to the work in hand:
We shall sing better when himself is come.

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Ecologue IX

LYCIDAS, MOERIS

Lycidas.
Say whither, Moeris?- Make you for the town,
Or on what errand bent?

Moeris. O Lycidas,
We have lived to see, what never yet we feared,
An interloper own our little farm,
And say, 'Be off, you former husbandmen!
These fields are mine.' Now, cowed and out of heart,
Since Fortune turns the whole world upside down,
We are taking him- ill luck go with the same!-'
These kids you see.

Lycidas.
But surely I had heard
That where the hills first draw from off the plain,
And the high ridge with gentle slope descends,
Down to the brook-side and the broken crests
Of yonder veteran beeches, all the land
Was by the songs of your Menalcas saved.

Moeris.
Heard it you had, and so the rumour ran,
But 'mid the clash of arms, my Lycidas,
Our songs avail no more than, as 'tis said,
Doves of Dodona when an eagle comes.
Nay, had I not, from hollow ilex-bole
Warned by a raven on the left, cut short
The rising feud, nor I, your Moeris here,
No, nor Menalcas, were alive to-day.

Lycidas.
Alack! could any of so foul a crime
Be guilty? Ah! how nearly, thyself,
Reft was the solace that we had in thee,
Menalcas! Who then of the Nymphs had sung,
Or who with flowering herbs bestrewn the ground,
And o'er the fountains drawn a leafy veil?-
Who sung the stave I filched from you that day
To Amaryllis wending, our hearts' joy?-
'While I am gone, 'tis but a little way,
Feed, Tityrus, my goats, and, having fed,
Drive to the drinking-pool, and, as you drive,
Beware the he-goat; with his horn he butts.'

Moeris.
Ay, or to Varus that half-finished lay,
'Varus, thy name, so still our Mantua live-
Mantua to poor Cremona all too near-
Shall singing swans bear upward to the stars.'

Lycidas.
So may your swarms Cyrnean yew-trees shun,
Your kine with cytisus their udders swell,
Begin, if aught you have. The Muses made
Me too a singer; I too have sung; the swains
Call me a poet, but I believe them not:
For naught of mine, or worthy Varius yet
Or Cinna deem I, but account myself
A cackling goose among melodious swans.

Moeris.
'Twas in my thought to do so, Lycidas;
Even now was I revolving silently
If this I could recall- no paltry song:
'Come, Galatea, what pleasure is 't to play
Amid the waves? Here glows the Spring, here earth
Beside the streams pours forth a thousand flowers;
Here the white poplar bends above the cave,
And the lithe vine weaves shadowy covert: come,
Leave the mad waves to beat upon the shore.'

Lycidas.
What of the strain I heard you singing once
On a clear night alone? the notes I still
Remember, could I but recall the words.

Moeris.
'Why, Daphnis, upward gazing, do you mark
The ancient risings of the Signs? for look
Where Dionean Caesar's star comes forth
In heaven, to gladden all the fields with corn,
And to the grape upon the sunny slopes
Her colour bring! Now, the pears;
So shall your children's children pluck their fruit.
Time carries all things, even our wits, away.
Oft, as a boy, I sang the sun to rest,
But all those songs are from my memory fled,
And even his voice is failing Moeris now;
The wolves eyed Moeris first: but at your wish
Menalcas will repeat them oft enow.

Lycidas.
Your pleas but linger out my heart's desire:
Now all the deep is into silence hushed,
And all the murmuring breezes sunk to sleep.
We are half-way thither, for Bianor's tomb
Begins to show: here, Moeris, where the hinds
Are lopping the thick leafage, let us sing.
Set down the kids, yet shall we reach the town;
Or, if we fear the night may gather rain
Ere we arrive, then singing let us go,
Our way to lighten; and, that we may thus
Go singing, I will case you of this load.

Moeris.
Cease, boy, and get we to the work in hand:
We shall sing better when himself is come

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Temora - Book VII

ARGUMENT.

This book begins about the middle of the third night from the opening of the poem. The poet describes a kind of mist, which rose by night from the Lake of Lego, and was the usual residence of the souls of the dead, during the interval between their decease and the funeral song. The appearance of the ghost of Fillan above the cave where his body lay. His voice comes to Fingal on the rock of Cormul. The king strikes the shield of Trenmor, which was an infallible sign of his appearing in arms himself. The extraordinary effect of the sound of the shield. Sul-malla, starting from sleep, awakes Cathmor. Their affecting discourse. She insists with him to sue for peace; he resolves to continue the war. He directs her to retire to the neighboring valley of Lona, which was the residence of an old Druid, until the battle of the next day should be over. He awakes his army with the sound of his shield. The shield described. Fonar, the bard, at the desire of Cathmor, relates the first settlement of the Fir-bolg in Ireland, under their leader Larthon. Morning comes. Sul-malla retires to the valley of Lona. A lyric song concludes the book.

From the wood-skirted waters of Lego ascend, at times, gray-bosomed mists; when the gates of the west are closed, on the sun's eagle eye. Wide, over Lara's stream, is poured the vapor dark and deep: the moon, like a dim shield, lay swimming through its folds. With this, clothe the spirits of old their sudden gestures on the wind, when they stride, from blast to blast, along the dusky night. Often, blended with the gale, to some warrior's grave, they roll the mist a gray dwelling to his ghost, until the songs arise.

A sound came from the desert; it was Conar, king of Inis-fail. He poured his mist on the grave of Fillan, at blue-winding Lubar. Dark and mournful sat the ghost, in his gray ridge of smoke. The blast, at times, rolled him together; but the form returned again. It returned with bending eyes, and dark winding of locks of mist.

It was dark. The sleeping host were still in the skirts of night. The flame decayed, on the hill of Fingal; the king lay lonely on his shield. His eyes were half clothed in sleep: the voice of Fillan came. "Sleeps the husband of Clatho? Dwells the father of the fallen in rest? Am I forgot in the folds of darkness; lonely in the season of night?"

"Why dost thou mix," said the king, "with the dreams of my father? Can I forget thee, my son, or thy path of fire in the field? Not such come the deeds of the valiant on the soul of Fingal. They are not a beam of lightning, which is seen and is then no more. I remember thee, O Fillan! and my wrath begins to rise."

The king took his deathful spear, and struck the deeply-sounding shield: his shield, that hung high in night, the dismal sign of war. Ghosts fled on every side, and rolled their gathered forms on the wind. Thrice from the winding vales arose the voice of deaths. The harps of the bards, untouched, sound mournful over the hill.

He struck again the shield; battles rose in the dreams of his host. The wide-tumbling strife is gleaming over their souls. Blue-shielded kings descended to war. Backward-looking armies fly; and mighty deeds are half hid in the bright gleams of steel.

But when the third sound arose, deer started from the clefts of their rocks. The screams of fowl are heard in the desert, as each flew frightened on his blast. The sons of Selma half rose and half assumed their spears. But silence rolled back on the host: they knew the shield of the king. Sleep returned to their eyes; the field was dark and still.

No sleep was thine in darkness, blue-eyed daughter of Conmor! Sul-malla heard the dreadful shield, and rose, amid the night. Her steps are towards the king of Atha. "Can danger shake his daring soul?" In doubt, she stands with bending eyes. Heaven burns with all its stars.

Again the shield resounds! She rushed. She stopt. Her voice half rose. It failed. She saw him, amidst his arms, that gleamed to heaven's fire. She saw him dim in his locks, that rose to nightly wind. Away, for fear, she turned her steps. "Why should the king of Erin awake? Thou art not a dream to his rest, daughter of Inis-huna."

More dreadful rings the shield. Sul-malla starts. Her helmet fails. Loud echoes Lubar's rock, as over it rolls the steel. Bursting from the dreams of night, Cathmor half rose beneath his tree. He saw the form of the maid above him, on the rock. A red star, with twinkling beams, looked through her floating hair.

"Who comes through night to Cathmor in the season of his dreams? Bring'st thou aught of war? Who art thou, son of night? Stand'st thou before me, a form of the times of old? a voice from the fold of a cloud, to warn me of the danger of Erin?"

"Nor lonely scout am I, nor voice from folded cloud," she said, "but I warn thee of the danger of Erin. Dost thou hear that sound? It is not the feeble, king of Atha, that rolls his signs on night."

"Let the warrior roll his signs," he replied, "To Cathmor they are the sounds of harps. My joy is great, voice of night, and burns over all my thoughts. This is the music of kings, on lonely hills, by night; when they light their daring souls, the sons of mighty deeds! The feeble dwell alone, in the valley of the breeze; where mists lift their morning skirts, from the blue-winding streams."

"Not feeble, king of men, were they, the fathers of my race. They dwelt in the folds of battle, in their distant lands. Yet delights not my soul in the signs of death! Lie, who never yields, comes forth: O send the bard of peace!"

Like a dropping rock in the desert, stood Cathmor in his tears. Her voice came, a breeze on his soul, and waked the memory of her land; where she dwelt by her peaceful streams, before he came to the war of Conmor.

"Daughter of strangers," he said, (she trembling turned away,) "long have I marked thee in thy steel, young pine of Inis-huna. But my soul, I said, is folded in a storm. Why should that beam arise, till my steps return in peace? Have I been pale in thy presence, as thou bid'st me to fear the king? The time of danger, O maid, is the season of my soul; for then it swells a mighty stream, and rolls me on the foe.

"Beneath the moss-covered rock of Lona, near his own loud stream; gray in his locks of age, dwells Clonmal king of harps. Above him is his echoing tree, and the dun bounding of roes. The noise of our strife reaches his ear, as he bends in the thoughts of years. There let thy rest be, Sul-malla, until our battle cease. Until I return, in my arms, from the skirts of the evening mist, that rises on Lona, round the dwelling of my love."

A light fell on the soul of the maid: it rose kindled before the king. She turned her face to Cathmor, from amidst her waving locks. "Sooner shall the eagle of heaven be torn from the stream of his roaring wind, when he sees the dun prey before him, the young sons of the bounding roe, than thou, O Cathmor, be turned from the strife of renown. Soon may I see thee, warrior, from the skirts of the evening mist, when it is rolled around me, on Lona of the streams. While yet thou art distant far, strike, Cathmor, strike the shield, that joy may return to my darkened soul, as I lean on the mossy rock. But if thou shouldst fall, I am in the land of strangers; O send thy voice from thy cloud, to the midst of Inis-huna!"

"Young branch of green-headed Lumon, why dost thou shake in the storm? Often has Cathmor returned, from darkly rolling wars. The darts of death are but hail to me; they have often rattled along my shield. I have risen brightened from battle, like a meteor from a stormy cloud. Return not, fair beam, from thy vale, when the roar of battle grows. Then might the foe escape, as from my fathers of old.

"They told to Son-mor, of Clunar, who was slain by Cormac in fight. Three days darkened Son-mor, over his brother's fall. His spouse beheld the silent king and foresaw his steps in war. She prepared the bow, in secret, to attend her blue-shielded hero. To her dwelt darkness at Atha, when he was not there. From their hundred streams, by night, poured down the sons of Alnecma. They had heard the shield of the king, and their rage arose. In clanging arms, they moved along towards Ullin of the groves. Son-mor struck his shield, at times the leader of the war.

"Far behind followed Sul-allin, over the streamy hills. She was a light on the mountain, when they crossed the vale below. Her steps were stately on the vale, when they rose on the mossy hill. She feared to approach the king, who left her in echoing Atha. But when the roar of battle rose; when host was rolled on host, when Son-mor burnt, like the fire of heaven in clouds, with her spreading hair came Sul-allin, for she trembled for her king. He stopt the rushing strife to save the love of heroes. The foe fled by night; Clunar slept without his blood; the blood which ought to be poured upon the warrior's tomb.

"Nor rose the rage of Son-mor, but his days were silent and dark. Sul-allin wandered by her gray stream. with her tearful eyes. Often did she look on the hero, when he was folded in his thoughts. But she shrunk from his eyes, and turned her lone steps away. Battles rose, like a tempest, and drove the mist from his soul. He beheld with joy her steps in the hall, and the white rising of her hands on the harp."

In his arms strode the chief of Atha, to where his shield hung, high, in night: high on a mossy bough over Lubar's streamy roar. Seven bosses rose on the shield; the seven voices of the king, which his warriors received, from the wind, and marked over all the tribes.

On each boss is placed a star of night: Canmathon with beams unshorn; Col-derna rising from a cloud; U-leicho robed in mist; and the soft beam of Cathlin glittering on a rock. Smiling, on its own blue wave, Rel-durath half sinks its western light. The red eye of Berthin looks, through a grove, on the hunter, as he returns, by night, with the spoils of the bounding roe. Wide, in the midst, rose the cloudless beams of Ton-théna, that star, which looked by night on the course of the sea-tossed Larthon: Larthon, the first of Bolga's race, who travelled on the winds. White-bosomed spread the sails of the king, towards streamy Inis-fail; dun night was rolled before him, with its skirts of mist. Unconstant blew the winds, and rolled him from wave to wave. Then rose the fiery-haired Ton-théna, and smiled from her parted cloud. Larthon blessed the well-known beam, as it faint gleamed on the deep.

Beneath the spear of Cathmor rose that voice which awakes the bards. They came, dark winding from every side: each with the sound of his harp. Before him rejoiced the king, as the traveller, in the day of the sun; when he hears, far rolling around, the murmur of mossy streams: streams that burst in the desert from the rock of roes.

"Why," said Fonar, "hear we the voice of the king in the season of his rest? Were the dim forms of thy fathers bending in thy dreams? Perhaps they stand on that cloud, and wait for Fonar's song; often they come to the fields where their sons are to lift the spear. Or shall our voice arise for him who lifts the spear no more; he that consumed the field, from Moma of the groves?"

"Not forgot is that cloud in war, bard of other times. High shall his tomb rise, on Moi-lena, the dwelling of renown. But, now, roll back my soul to the times of my fathers: to the years when first they rose, on Inis-huna's waves. Nor alone pleasant to Cathmor is the remembrance of wood-covered Lumon. Lumon of the streams, the dwelling of white-bosomed maids."

"Lumon of the streams, thou risest on Fonar's soul! Thy sun is on thy side, on the rocks of thy bending trees. The dun roe is seen from thy furze; the deer lifts its branchy head; for he sees, at times, the hound on the half-covered heath. Slow, on the vale, are the steps of maids; the white-armed daughters of the bow: they lift their blue eyes to the hill, from amidst their wandering locks. Not there is the stride of Larthon, chief of Inis-huna. He mounts the wave on his own dark oak, in Cluba's ridgy bay. That oak which he cut from Lumon, to bound along the sea. The maids turn their eyes away, lest the king should be lowly laid; for never had they seen a ship, dark rider of the wave!

"Now he dares to call the winds, and to mix with the mist of ocean. Blue Inis-fail rose, in smoke; but dark-skirted night came down. The sons of Bolga feared. The fiery-haired Ton-théna rose. Culbin's bay received the ship, in the bosom of its echoing woods. There issued a stream from Duthuma's horrid cave; where spirits gleamed, at times, with their half finished forms.

"Dreams descended on Larthon: he saw seven spirits of his fathers. He heard their half-formed words, and dimly beheld the times to come. He beheld the kings of Atha, the sons of future days. They led their hosts along the field, like ridges of mist, which winds pour in autumn, over Atha of the groves.

Larthon raised the hall of Semla, to the music of the harp. He went forth to the roes of Erin, to their wonted streams. Nor did he forget green-headed Lumon; he often bounded over his seas, to where white-handed Flathal looked from the hill of roes. Lumon of the foamy streams, thou risest on Fonar's soul!"

Mourning pours from the east. The misty heads of the mountains rise. Valleys show, on every side, the gray winding of the streams. His host heard the shield of Cathmor: at once they rose around; like a crowded sea, when first it feels the wings of the wind, The waves know not whither to roll; they lift their troubled heads.

Sad and slow retired Sul-malla to Lona of the streams. She went, and often turned; her blue eyes rolled in tears. But when she came to the rock, that darkly covered Lona's vale, she looked, from her bursting soul, on the king; and sunk, at once, behind.

Son of Alpin, strike the string. Is there aught of joy in the harp? Pour it then on the soul of Ossian: it is folded in mist. I hear thee, O bard! in my night. But cease the lightly-trembling sound. The joy of grief belongs to Ossian, amidst his dark-brown years.

Green thorn of the hill of ghosts, that shakest thy head to nightly winds! I hear no sound in thee, is there no spirit's windy skirt now rustling in thy leaves? Often are the steps of the dead, in the dark-eddying blasts; when the moon, a dun shield, from the east is rolled along the sky.

Ullin, Carril, and Ryno, voices of the days of old! Let me hear you, while yet it is dark, to please and awake my soul. I hear you not, ye sons of song; in what hall of the clouds is your rest? Do you touch the shadowy harp, robed with morning mist, where the rustling sun comes forth from his green-headed waves?

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Homer

The Iliad: Book 2

Now the other gods and the armed warriors on the plain slept
soundly, but Jove was wakeful, for he was thinking how to do honour to
Achilles, and destroyed much people at the ships of the Achaeans. In
the end he deemed it would be best to send a lying dream to King
Agamemnon; so he called one to him and said to it, "Lying Dream, go to
the ships of the Achaeans, into the tent of Agamemnon, and say to
him word to word as I now bid you. Tell him to get the Achaeans
instantly under arms, for he shall take Troy. There are no longer
divided counsels among the gods; Juno has brought them to her own
mind, and woe betides the Trojans."
The dream went when it had heard its message, and soon reached the
ships of the Achaeans. It sought Agamemnon son of Atreus and found him
in his tent, wrapped in a profound slumber. It hovered over his head
in the likeness of Nestor, son of Neleus, whom Agamemnon honoured
above all his councillors, and said:-
"You are sleeping, son of Atreus; one who has the welfare of his
host and so much other care upon his shoulders should dock his
sleep. Hear me at once, for I come as a messenger from Jove, who,
though he be not near, yet takes thought for you and pities you. He
bids you get the Achaeans instantly under arms, for you shall take
Troy. There are no longer divided counsels among the gods; Juno has
brought them over to her own mind, and woe betides the Trojans at
the hands of Jove. Remember this, and when you wake see that it does
not escape you."
The dream then left him, and he thought of things that were,
surely not to be accomplished. He thought that on that same day he was
to take the city of Priam, but he little knew what was in the mind
of Jove, who had many another hard-fought fight in store alike for
Danaans and Trojans. Then presently he woke, with the divine message
still ringing in his ears; so he sat upright, and put on his soft
shirt so fair and new, and over this his heavy cloak. He bound his
sandals on to his comely feet, and slung his silver-studded sword
about his shoulders; then he took the imperishable staff of his
father, and sallied forth to the ships of the Achaeans.
The goddess Dawn now wended her way to vast Olympus that she might
herald day to Jove and to the other immortals, and Agamemnon sent
the criers round to call the people in assembly; so they called them
and the people gathered thereon. But first he summoned a meeting of
the elders at the ship of Nestor king of Pylos, and when they were
assembled he laid a cunning counsel before them.
"My friends," said he, "I have had a dream from heaven in the dead
of night, and its face and figure resembled none but Nestor's. It
hovered over my head and said, 'You are sleeping, son of Atreus; one
who has the welfare of his host and so much other care upon his
shoulders should dock his sleep. Hear me at once, for I am a messenger
from Jove, who, though he be not near, yet takes thought for you and
pities you. He bids you get the Achaeans instantly under arms, for you
shall take Troy. There are no longer divided counsels among the
gods; Juno has brought them over to her own mind, and woe betides
the Trojans at the hands of Jove. Remember this.' The dream then
vanished and I awoke. Let us now, therefore, arm the sons of the
Achaeans. But it will be well that I should first sound them, and to
this end I will tell them to fly with their ships; but do you others
go about among the host and prevent their doing so."
He then sat down, and Nestor the prince of Pylos with all
sincerity and goodwill addressed them thus: "My friends," said he,
"princes and councillors of the Argives, if any other man of the
Achaeans had told us of this dream we should have declared it false,
and would have had nothing to do with it. But he who has seen it is
the foremost man among us; we must therefore set about getting the
people under arms."
With this he led the way from the assembly, and the other sceptred
kings rose with him in obedience to the word of Agamemnon; but the
people pressed forward to hear. They swarmed like bees that sally from
some hollow cave and flit in countless throng among the spring
flowers, bunched in knots and clusters; even so did the mighty
multitude pour from ships and tents to the assembly, and range
themselves upon the wide-watered shore, while among them ran
Wildfire Rumour, messenger of Jove, urging them ever to the fore. Thus
they gathered in a pell-mell of mad confusion, and the earth groaned
under the tramp of men as the people sought their places. Nine heralds
went crying about among them to stay their tumult and bid them
listen to the kings, till at last they were got into their several
places and ceased their clamour. Then King Agamemnon rose, holding his
sceptre. This was the work of Vulcan, who gave it to Jove the son of
Saturn. Jove gave it to Mercury, slayer of Argus, guide and
guardian. King Mercury gave it to Pelops, the mighty charioteer, and
Pelops to Atreus, shepherd of his people. Atreus, when he died, left
it to Thyestes, rich in flocks, and Thyestes in his turn left it to be
borne by Agamemnon, that he might be lord of all Argos and of the
isles. Leaning, then, on his sceptre, he addressed the Argives.
"My friends," he said, "heroes, servants of Mars, the hand of heaven
has been laid heavily upon me. Cruel Jove gave me his solemn promise
that I should sack the city of Priam before returning, but he has
played me false, and is now bidding me go ingloriously back to Argos
with the loss of much people. Such is the will of Jove, who has laid
many a proud city in the dust, as he will yet lay others, for his
power is above all. It will be a sorry tale hereafter that an
Achaean host, at once so great and valiant, battled in vain against
men fewer in number than themselves; but as yet the end is not in
sight. Think that the Achaeans and Trojans have sworn to a solemn
covenant, and that they have each been numbered- the Trojans by the
roll of their householders, and we by companies of ten; think
further that each of our companies desired to have a Trojan
householder to pour out their wine; we are so greatly more in number
that full many a company would have to go without its cup-bearer.
But they have in the town allies from other places, and it is these
that hinder me from being able to sack the rich city of Ilius. Nine of
Jove years are gone; the timbers of our ships have rotted; their
tackling is sound no longer. Our wives and little ones at home look
anxiously for our coming, but the work that we came hither to do has
not been done. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say: let us sail
back to our own land, for we shall not take Troy."
With these words he moved the hearts of the multitude, so many of
them as knew not the cunning counsel of Agamemnon. They surged to
and fro like the waves of the Icarian Sea, when the east and south
winds break from heaven's clouds to lash them; or as when the west
wind sweeps over a field of corn and the ears bow beneath the blast,
even so were they swayed as they flew with loud cries towards the
ships, and the dust from under their feet rose heavenward. They
cheered each other on to draw the ships into the sea; they cleared the
channels in front of them; they began taking away the stays from
underneath them, and the welkin rang with their glad cries, so eager
were they to return.
Then surely the Argives would have returned after a fashion that was
not fated. But Juno said to Minerva, "Alas, daughter of
aegis-bearing Jove, unweariable, shall the Argives fly home to their
own land over the broad sea, and leave Priam and the Trojans the glory
of still keeping Helen, for whose sake so many of the Achaeans have
died at Troy, far from their homes? Go about at once among the host,
and speak fairly to them, man by man, that they draw not their ships
into the sea."
Minerva was not slack to do her bidding. Down she darted from the
topmost summits of Olympus, and in a moment she was at the ships of
the Achaeans. There she found Ulysses, peer of Jove in counsel,
standing alone. He had not as yet laid a hand upon his ship, for he
was grieved and sorry; so she went close up to him and said, "Ulysses,
noble son of Laertes, are you going to fling yourselves into your
ships and be off home to your own land in this way? Will you leave
Priam and the Trojans the glory of still keeping Helen, for whose sake
so many of the Achaeans have died at Troy, far from their homes? Go
about at once among the host, and speak fairly to them, man by man,
that they draw not their ships into the sea."
Ulysses knew the voice as that of the goddess: he flung his cloak
from him and set off to run. His servant Eurybates, a man of Ithaca,
who waited on him, took charge of the cloak, whereon Ulysses went
straight up to Agamemnon and received from him his ancestral,
imperishable staff. With this he went about among the ships of the
Achaeans.
Whenever he met a king or chieftain, he stood by him and spoke him
fairly. "Sir," said he, "this flight is cowardly and unworthy. Stand
to your post, and bid your people also keep their places. You do not
yet know the full mind of Agamemnon; he was sounding us, and ere
long will visit the Achaeans with his displeasure. We were not all
of us at the council to hear what he then said; see to it lest he be
angry and do us a mischief; for the pride of kings is great, and the
hand of Jove is with them."
But when he came across any common man who was making a noise, he
struck him with his staff and rebuked him, saying, "Sirrah, hold
your peace, and listen to better men than yourself. You are a coward
and no soldier; you are nobody either in fight or council; we cannot
all be kings; it is not well that there should be many masters; one
man must be supreme- one king to whom the son of scheming Saturn has
given the sceptre of sovereignty over you all."
Thus masterfully did he go about among the host, and the people
hurried back to the council from their tents and ships with a sound as
the thunder of surf when it comes crashing down upon the shore, and
all the sea is in an uproar.
The rest now took their seats and kept to their own several
places, but Thersites still went on wagging his unbridled tongue- a
man of many words, and those unseemly; a monger of sedition, a
railer against all who were in authority, who cared not what he
said, so that he might set the Achaeans in a laugh. He was the ugliest
man of all those that came before Troy- bandy-legged, lame of one
foot, with his two shoulders rounded and hunched over his chest. His
head ran up to a point, but there was little hair on the top of it.
Achilles and Ulysses hated him worst of all, for it was with them that
he was most wont to wrangle; now, however, with a shrill squeaky voice
he began heaping his abuse on Agamemnon. The Achaeans were angry and
disgusted, yet none the less he kept on brawling and bawling at the
son of Atreus.
"Agamemnon," he cried, "what ails you now, and what more do you
want? Your tents are filled with bronze and with fair women, for
whenever we take a town we give you the pick of them. Would you have
yet more gold, which some Trojan is to give you as a ransom for his
son, when I or another Achaean has taken him prisoner? or is it some
young girl to hide and lie with? It is not well that you, the ruler of
the Achaeans, should bring them into such misery. Weakling cowards,
women rather than men, let us sail home, and leave this fellow here at
Troy to stew in his own meeds of honour, and discover whether we
were of any service to him or no. Achilles is a much better man than
he is, and see how he has treated him- robbing him of his prize and
keeping it himself. Achilles takes it meekly and shows no fight; if he
did, son of Atreus, you would never again insult him."
Thus railed Thersites, but Ulysses at once went up to him and
rebuked him sternly. "Check your glib tongue, Thersites," said be,
"and babble not a word further. Chide not with princes when you have
none to back you. There is no viler creature come before Troy with the
sons of Atreus. Drop this chatter about kings, and neither revile them
nor keep harping about going home. We do not yet know how things are
going to be, nor whether the Achaeans are to return with good
success or evil. How dare you gibe at Agamemnon because the Danaans
have awarded him so many prizes? I tell you, therefore- and it shall
surely be- that if I again catch you talking such nonsense, I will
either forfeit my own head and be no more called father of Telemachus,
or I will take you, strip you stark naked, and whip you out of the
assembly till you go blubbering back to the ships."
On this he beat him with his staff about the back and shoulders till
he dropped and fell a-weeping. The golden sceptre raised a bloody weal
on his back, so he sat down frightened and in pain, looking foolish as
he wiped the tears from his eyes. The people were sorry for him, yet
they laughed heartily, and one would turn to his neighbour saying,
"Ulysses has done many a good thing ere now in fight and council,
but he never did the Argives a better turn than when he stopped this
fellow's mouth from prating further. He will give the kings no more of
his insolence."
Thus said the people. Then Ulysses rose, sceptre in hand, and
Minerva in the likeness of a herald bade the people be still, that
those who were far off might hear him and consider his council. He
therefore with all sincerity and goodwill addressed them thus:-
"King Agamemnon, the Achaeans are for making you a by-word among all
mankind. They forget the promise they made you when they set out
from Argos, that you should not return till you had sacked the town of
Troy, and, like children or widowed women, they murmur and would set
off homeward. True it is that they have had toil enough to be
disheartened. A man chafes at having to stay away from his wife even
for a single month, when he is on shipboard, at the mercy of wind
and sea, but it is now nine long years that we have been kept here;
I cannot, therefore, blame the Achaeans if they turn restive; still we
shall be shamed if we go home empty after so long a stay- therefore,
my friends, be patient yet a little longer that we may learn whether
the prophesyings of Calchas were false or true.
"All who have not since perished must remember as though it were
yesterday or the day before, how the ships of the Achaeans were
detained in Aulis when we were on our way hither to make war on
Priam and the Trojans. We were ranged round about a fountain
offering hecatombs to the gods upon their holy altars, and there was a
fine plane-tree from beneath which there welled a stream of pure
water. Then we saw a prodigy; for Jove sent a fearful serpent out of
the ground, with blood-red stains upon its back, and it darted from
under the altar on to the plane-tree. Now there was a brood of young
sparrows, quite small, upon the topmost bough, peeping out from
under the leaves, eight in all, and their mother that hatched them
made nine. The serpent ate the poor cheeping things, while the old
bird flew about lamenting her little ones; but the serpent threw his
coils about her and caught her by the wing as she was screaming. Then,
when he had eaten both the sparrow and her young, the god who had sent
him made him become a sign; for the son of scheming Saturn turned
him into stone, and we stood there wondering at that which had come to
pass. Seeing, then, that such a fearful portent had broken in upon our
hecatombs, Calchas forthwith declared to us the oracles of heaven.
'Why, Achaeans,' said he, 'are you thus speechless? Jove has sent us
this sign, long in coming, and long ere it be fulfilled, though its
fame shall last for ever. As the serpent ate the eight fledglings
and the sparrow that hatched them, which makes nine, so shall we fight
nine years at Troy, but in the tenth shall take the town.' This was
what he said, and now it is all coming true. Stay here, therefore, all
of you, till we take the city of Priam."
On this the Argives raised a shout, till the ships rang again with
the uproar. Nestor, knight of Gerene, then addressed them. "Shame on
you," he cried, "to stay talking here like children, when you should
fight like men. Where are our covenants now, and where the oaths
that we have taken? Shall our counsels be flung into the fire, with
our drink-offerings and the right hands of fellowship wherein we
have put our trust? We waste our time in words, and for all our
talking here shall be no further forward. Stand, therefore, son of
Atreus, by your own steadfast purpose; lead the Argives on to
battle, and leave this handful of men to rot, who scheme, and scheme
in vain, to get back to Argos ere they have learned whether Jove be
true or a liar. For the mighty son of Saturn surely promised that we
should succeed, when we Argives set sail to bring death and
destruction upon the Trojans. He showed us favourable signs by
flashing his lightning on our right hands; therefore let none make
haste to go till he has first lain with the wife of some Trojan, and
avenged the toil and sorrow that he has suffered for the sake of
Helen. Nevertheless, if any man is in such haste to be at home
again, let him lay his hand to his ship that he may meet his doom in
the sight of all. But, O king, consider and give ear to my counsel,
for the word that I say may not be neglected lightly. Divide your men,
Agamemnon, into their several tribes and clans, that clans and
tribes may stand by and help one another. If you do this, and if the
Achaeans obey you, you will find out who, both chiefs and peoples, are
brave, and who are cowards; for they will vie against the other.
Thus you shall also learn whether it is through the counsel of
heaven or the cowardice of man that you shall fail to take the town."
And Agamemnon answered, "Nestor, you have again outdone the sons
of the Achaeans in counsel. Would, by Father Jove, Minerva, and
Apollo, that I had among them ten more such councillors, for the
city of King Priam would then soon fall beneath our hands, and we
should sack it. But the son of Saturn afflicts me with bootless
wranglings and strife. Achilles and I are quarrelling about this girl,
in which matter I was the first to offend; if we can be of one mind
again, the Trojans will not stave off destruction for a day. Now,
therefore, get your morning meal, that our hosts join in fight. Whet
well your spears; see well to the ordering of your shields; give
good feeds to your horses, and look your chariots carefully over, that
we may do battle the livelong day; for we shall have no rest, not
for a moment, till night falls to part us. The bands that bear your
shields shall be wet with the sweat upon your shoulders, your hands
shall weary upon your spears, your horses shall steam in front of your
chariots, and if I see any man shirking the fight, or trying to keep
out of it at the ships, there shall be no help for him, but he shall
be a prey to dogs and vultures."
Thus he spoke, and the Achaeans roared applause. As when the waves
run high before the blast of the south wind and break on some lofty
headland, dashing against it and buffeting it without ceasing, as
the storms from every quarter drive them, even so did the Achaeans
rise and hurry in all directions to their ships. There they lighted
their fires at their tents and got dinner, offering sacrifice every
man to one or other of the gods, and praying each one of them that
he might live to come out of the fight. Agamemnon, king of men,
sacrificed a fat five-year-old bull to the mighty son of Saturn, and
invited the princes and elders of his host. First he asked Nestor
and King Idomeneus, then the two Ajaxes and the son of Tydeus, and
sixthly Ulysses, peer of gods in counsel; but Menelaus came of his own
accord, for he knew how busy his brother then was. They stood round
the bull with the barley-meal in their hands, and Agamemnon prayed,
saying, "Jove, most glorious, supreme, that dwellest in heaven, and
ridest upon the storm-cloud, grant that the sun may not go down, nor
the night fall, till the palace of Priam is laid low, and its gates
are consumed with fire. Grant that my sword may pierce the shirt of
Hector about his heart, and that full many of his comrades may bite
the dust as they fall dying round him."
Thus he prayed, but the son of Saturn would not fulfil his prayer.
He accepted the sacrifice, yet none the less increased their toil
continually. When they had done praying and sprinkling the barley-meal
upon the victim, they drew back its head, killed it, and then flayed
it. They cut out the thigh-bones, wrapped them round in two layers
of fat, and set pieces of raw meat on the top of them. These they
burned upon the split logs of firewood, but they spitted the inward
meats, and held them in the flames to cook. When the thigh-bones
were burned, and they had tasted the inward meats, they cut the rest
up small, put the pieces upon spits, roasted them till they were done,
and drew them off; then, when they had finished their work and the
feast was ready, they ate it, and every man had his full share, so
that all were satisfied. As soon as they had had enough to eat and
drink, Nestor, knight of Gerene, began to speak. "King Agamemnon,"
said he, "let us not stay talking here, nor be slack in the work
that heaven has put into our hands. Let the heralds summon the
people to gather at their several ships; we will then go about among
the host, that we may begin fighting at once."
Thus did he speak, and Agamemnon heeded his words. He at once sent
the criers round to call the people in assembly. So they called
them, and the people gathered thereon. The chiefs about the son of
Atreus chose their men and marshalled them, while Minerva went among
them holding her priceless aegis that knows neither age nor death.
From it there waved a hundred tassels of pure gold, all deftly
woven, and each one of them worth a hundred oxen. With this she darted
furiously everywhere among the hosts of the Achaeans, urging them
forward, and putting courage into the heart of each, so that he
might fight and do battle without ceasing. Thus war became sweeter
in their eyes even than returning home in their ships. As when some
great forest fire is raging upon a mountain top and its light is
seen afar, even so as they marched the gleam of their armour flashed
up into the firmament of heaven.
They were like great flocks of geese, or cranes, or swans on the
plain about the waters of Cayster, that wing their way hither and
thither, glorying in the pride of flight, and crying as they settle
till the fen is alive with their screaming. Even thus did their tribes
pour from ships and tents on to the plain of the Scamander, and the
ground rang as brass under the feet of men and horses. They stood as
thick upon the flower-bespangled field as leaves that bloom in summer.
As countless swarms of flies buzz around a herdsman's homestead in
the time of spring when the pails are drenched with milk, even so
did the Achaeans swarm on to the plain to charge the Trojans and
destroy them.
The chiefs disposed their men this way and that before the fight
began, drafting them out as easily as goatherds draft their flocks
when they have got mixed while feeding; and among them went King
Agamemnon, with a head and face like Jove the lord of thunder, a waist
like Mars, and a chest like that of Neptune. As some great bull that
lords it over the herds upon the plain, even so did Jove make the
son of Atreus stand peerless among the multitude of heroes.
And now, O Muses, dwellers in the mansions of Olympus, tell me-
for you are goddesses and are in all places so that you see all
things, while we know nothing but by report- who were the chiefs and
princes of the Danaans? As for the common soldiers, they were so
that I could not name every single one of them though I had ten
tongues, and though my voice failed not and my heart were of bronze
within me, unless you, O Olympian Muses, daughters of aegis-bearing
Jove, were to recount them to me. Nevertheless, I will tell the
captains of the ships and all the fleet together.
Peneleos, Leitus, Arcesilaus, Prothoenor, and Clonius were
captains of the Boeotians. These were they that dwelt in Hyria and
rocky Aulis, and who held Schoenus, Scolus, and the highlands of
Eteonus, with Thespeia, Graia, and the fair city of Mycalessus. They
also held Harma, Eilesium, and Erythrae; and they had Eleon, Hyle, and
Peteon; Ocalea and the strong fortress of Medeon; Copae, Eutresis, and
Thisbe the haunt of doves; Coronea, and the pastures of Haliartus;
Plataea and Glisas; the fortress of Thebes the less; holy Onchestus
with its famous grove of Neptune; Arne rich in vineyards; Midea,
sacred Nisa, and Anthedon upon the sea. From these there came fifty
ships, and in each there were a hundred and twenty young men of the
Boeotians.
Ascalaphus and Ialmenus, sons of Mars, led the people that dwelt
in Aspledon and Orchomenus the realm of Minyas. Astyoche a noble
maiden bore them in the house of Actor son of Azeus; for she had
gone with Mars secretly into an upper chamber, and he had lain with
her. With these there came thirty ships.
The Phoceans were led by Schedius and Epistrophus, sons of mighty
Iphitus the son of Naubolus. These were they that held Cyparissus,
rocky Pytho, holy Crisa, Daulis, and Panopeus; they also that dwelt in
Anemorea and Hyampolis, and about the waters of the river Cephissus,
and Lilaea by the springs of the Cephissus; with their chieftains came
forty ships, and they marshalled the forces of the Phoceans, which
were stationed next to the Boeotians, on their left.
Ajax, the fleet son of Oileus, commanded the Locrians. He was not so
great, nor nearly so great, as Ajax the son of Telamon. He was a
little man, and his breastplate was made of linen, but in use of the
spear he excelled all the Hellenes and the Achaeans. These dwelt in
Cynus, Opous, Calliarus, Bessa, Scarphe, fair Augeae, Tarphe, and
Thronium about the river Boagrius. With him there came forty ships
of the Locrians who dwell beyond Euboea.
The fierce Abantes held Euboea with its cities, Chalcis, Eretria,
Histiaea rich in vines, Cerinthus upon the sea, and the rock-perched
town of Dium; with them were also the men of Carystus and Styra;
Elephenor of the race of Mars was in command of these; he was son of
Chalcodon, and chief over all the Abantes. With him they came, fleet
of foot and wearing their hair long behind, brave warriors, who
would ever strive to tear open the corslets of their foes with their
long ashen spears. Of these there came fifty ships.
And they that held the strong city of Athens, the people of great
Erechtheus, who was born of the soil itself, but Jove's daughter,
Minerva, fostered him, and established him at Athens in her own rich
sanctuary. There, year by year, the Athenian youths worship him with
sacrifices of bulls and rams. These were commanded by Menestheus,
son of Peteos. No man living could equal him in the marshalling of
chariots and foot soldiers. Nestor could alone rival him, for he was
older. With him there came fifty ships.
Ajax brought twelve ships from Salamis, and stationed them alongside
those of the Athenians.
The men of Argos, again, and those who held the walls of Tiryns,
with Hermione, and Asine upon the gulf; Troezene, Eionae, and the
vineyard lands of Epidaurus; the Achaean youths, moreover, who came
from Aegina and Mases; these were led by Diomed of the loud
battle-cry, and Sthenelus son of famed Capaneus. With them in
command was Euryalus, son of king Mecisteus, son of Talaus; but Diomed
was chief over them all. With these there came eighty ships.
Those who held the strong city of Mycenae, rich Corinth and Cleonae;
Orneae, Araethyrea, and Licyon, where Adrastus reigned of old;
Hyperesia, high Gonoessa, and Pellene; Aegium and all the coast-land
round about Helice; these sent a hundred ships under the command of
King Agamemnon, son of Atreus. His force was far both finest and
most numerous, and in their midst was the king himself, all glorious
in his armour of gleaming bronze- foremost among the heroes, for he
was the greatest king, and had most men under him.
And those that dwelt in Lacedaemon, lying low among the hills,
Pharis, Sparta, with Messe the haunt of doves; Bryseae, Augeae,
Amyclae, and Helos upon the sea; Laas, moreover, and Oetylus; these
were led by Menelaus of the loud battle-cry, brother to Agamemnon, and
of them there were sixty ships, drawn up apart from the others.
Among them went Menelaus himself, strong in zeal, urging his men to
fight; for he longed to avenge the toil and sorrow that he had
suffered for the sake of Helen.
The men of Pylos and Arene, and Thryum where is the ford of the
river Alpheus; strong Aipy, Cyparisseis, and Amphigenea; Pteleum,
Helos, and Dorium, where the Muses met Thamyris, and stilled his
minstrelsy for ever. He was returning from Oechalia, where Eurytus
lived and reigned, and boasted that he would surpass even the Muses,
daughters of aegis-bearing Jove, if they should sing against him;
whereon they were angry, and maimed him. They robbed him of his divine
power of song, and thenceforth he could strike the lyre no more. These
were commanded by Nestor, knight of Gerene, and with him there came
ninety ships.
And those that held Arcadia, under the high mountain of Cyllene,
near the tomb of Aepytus, where the people fight hand to hand; the men
of Pheneus also, and Orchomenus rich in flocks; of Rhipae, Stratie,
and bleak Enispe; of Tegea and fair Mantinea; of Stymphelus and
Parrhasia; of these King Agapenor son of Ancaeus was commander, and
they had sixty ships. Many Arcadians, good soldiers, came in each
one of them, but Agamemnon found them the ships in which to cross
the sea, for they were not a people that occupied their business
upon the waters.
The men, moreover, of Buprasium and of Elis, so much of it as is
enclosed between Hyrmine, Myrsinus upon the sea-shore, the rock
Olene and Alesium. These had four leaders, and each of them had ten
ships, with many Epeans on board. Their captains were Amphimachus
and Thalpius- the one, son of Cteatus, and the other, of Eurytus- both
of the race of Actor. The two others were Diores, son of Amarynces,
and Polyxenus, son of King Agasthenes, son of Augeas.
And those of Dulichium with the sacred Echinean islands, who dwelt
beyond the sea off Elis; these were led by Meges, peer of Mars, and
the son of valiant Phyleus, dear to Jove, who quarrelled with his
father, and went to settle in Dulichium. With him there came forty
ships.
Ulysses led the brave Cephallenians, who held Ithaca, Neritum with
its forests, Crocylea, rugged Aegilips, Samos and Zacynthus, with
the mainland also that was over against the islands. These were led by
Ulysses, peer of Jove in counsel, and with him there came twelve
ships.
Thoas, son of Andraemon, commanded the Aetolians, who dwelt in
Pleuron, Olenus, Pylene, Chalcis by the sea, and rocky Calydon, for
the great king Oeneus had now no sons living, and was himself dead, as
was also golden-haired Meleager, who had been set over the Aetolians
to be their king. And with Thoas there came forty ships.
The famous spearsman Idomeneus led the Cretans, who held Cnossus,
and the well-walled city of Gortys; Lyctus also, Miletus and
Lycastus that lies upon the chalk; the populous towns of Phaestus
and Rhytium, with the other peoples that dwelt in the hundred cities
of Crete. All these were led by Idomeneus, and by Meriones, peer of
murderous Mars. And with these there came eighty ships.
Tlepolemus, son of Hercules, a man both brave and large of
stature, brought nine ships of lordly warriors from Rhodes. These
dwelt in Rhodes which is divided among the three cities of Lindus,
Ielysus, and Cameirus, that lies upon the chalk. These were
commanded by Tlepolemus, son of Hercules by Astyochea, whom he had
carried off from Ephyra, on the river Selleis, after sacking many
cities of valiant warriors. When Tlepolemus grew up, he killed his
father's uncle Licymnius, who had been a famous warrior in his time,
but was then grown old. On this he built himself a fleet, gathered a
great following, and fled beyond the sea, for he was menaced by the
other sons and grandsons of Hercules. After a voyage. during which
he suffered great hardship, he came to Rhodes, where the people
divided into three communities, according to their tribes, and were
dearly loved by Jove, the lord, of gods and men; wherefore the son
of Saturn showered down great riches upon them.
And Nireus brought three ships from Syme- Nireus, who was the
handsomest man that came up under Ilius of all the Danaans after the
son of Peleus- but he was a man of no substance, and had but a small
following.
And those that held Nisyrus, Crapathus, and Casus, with Cos, the
city of Eurypylus, and the Calydnian islands, these were commanded
by Pheidippus and Antiphus, two sons of King Thessalus the son of
Hercules. And with them there came thirty ships.
Those again who held Pelasgic Argos, Alos, Alope, and Trachis; and
those of Phthia and Hellas the land of fair women, who were called
Myrmidons, Hellenes, and Achaeans; these had fifty ships, over which
Achilles was in command. But they now took no part in the war,
inasmuch as there was no one to marshal them; for Achilles stayed by
his ships, furious about the loss of the girl Briseis, whom he had
taken from Lyrnessus at his own great peril, when he had sacked
Lyrnessus and Thebe, and had overthrown Mynes and Epistrophus, sons of
king Evenor, son of Selepus. For her sake Achilles was still grieving,
but ere long he was again to join them.
And those that held Phylace and the flowery meadows of Pyrasus,
sanctuary of Ceres; Iton, the mother of sheep; Antrum upon the sea,
and Pteleum that lies upon the grass lands. Of these brave Protesilaus
had been captain while he was yet alive, but he was now lying under
the earth. He had left a wife behind him in Phylace to tear her cheeks
in sorrow, and his house was only half finished, for he was slain by a
Dardanian warrior while leaping foremost of the Achaeans upon the soil
of Troy. Still, though his people mourned their chieftain, they were
not without a leader, for Podarces, of the race of Mars, marshalled
them; he was son of Iphiclus, rich in sheep, who was the son of
Phylacus, and he was own brother to Protesilaus, only younger,
Protesilaus being at once the elder and the more valiant. So the
people were not without a leader, though they mourned him whom they
had lost. With him there came forty ships.
And those that held Pherae by the Boebean lake, with Boebe,
Glaphyrae, and the populous city of Iolcus, these with their eleven
ships were led by Eumelus, son of Admetus, whom Alcestis bore to
him, loveliest of the daughters of Pelias.
And those that held Methone and Thaumacia, with Meliboea and
rugged Olizon, these were led by the skilful archer Philoctetes, and
they had seven ships, each with fifty oarsmen all of them good
archers; but Philoctetes was lying in great pain in the Island of
Lemnos, where the sons of the Achaeans left him, for he had been
bitten by a poisonous water snake. There he lay sick and sorry, and
full soon did the Argives come to miss him. But his people, though
they felt his loss were not leaderless, for Medon, the bastard son
of Oileus by Rhene, set them in array.
Those, again, of Tricca and the stony region of Ithome, and they
that held Oechalia, the city of Oechalian Eurytus, these were
commanded by the two sons of Aesculapius, skilled in the art of
healing, Podalirius and Machaon. And with them there came thirty
ships.
The men, moreover, of Ormenius, and by the fountain of Hypereia,
with those that held Asterius, and the white crests of Titanus,
these were led by Eurypylus, the son of Euaemon, and with them there
came forty ships.
Those that held Argissa and Gyrtone, Orthe, Elone, and the white
city of Oloosson, of these brave Polypoetes was leader. He was son
of Pirithous, who was son of Jove himself, for Hippodameia bore him to
Pirithous on the day when he took his revenge on the shaggy mountain
savages and drove them from Mt. Pelion to the Aithices. But Polypoetes
was not sole in command, for with him was Leonteus, of the race of
Mars, who was son of Coronus, the son of Caeneus. And with these there
came forty ships.
Guneus brought two and twenty ships from Cyphus, and he was followed
by the Enienes and the valiant Peraebi, who dwelt about wintry Dodona,
and held the lands round the lovely river Titaresius, which sends
its waters into the Peneus. They do not mingle with the silver
eddies of the Peneus, but flow on the top of them like oil; for the
Titaresius is a branch of dread Orcus and of the river Styx.
Of the Magnetes, Prothous son of Tenthredon was commander. They were
they that dwelt about the river Peneus and Mt. Pelion. Prothous, fleet
of foot, was their leader, and with him there came forty ships.
Such were the chiefs and princes of the Danaans. Who, then, O
Muse, was the foremost, whether man or horse, among those that
followed after the sons of Atreus?
Of the horses, those of the son of Pheres were by far the finest.
They were driven by Eumelus, and were as fleet as birds. They were
of the same age and colour, and perfectly matched in height. Apollo,
of the silver bow, had bred them in Perea- both of them mares, and
terrible as Mars in battle. Of the men, Ajax, son of Telamon, was much
the foremost so long as Achilles' anger lasted, for Achilles
excelled him greatly and he had also better horses; but Achilles was
now holding aloof at his ships by reason of his quarrel with
Agamemnon, and his people passed their time upon the sea shore,
throwing discs or aiming with spears at a mark, and in archery.
Their horses stood each by his own chariot, champing lotus and wild
celery. The chariots were housed under cover, but their owners, for
lack of leadership, wandered hither and thither about the host and
went not forth to fight.
Thus marched the host like a consuming fire, and the earth groaned
beneath them when the lord of thunder is angry and lashes the land
about Typhoeus among the Arimi, where they say Typhoeus lies. Even
so did the earth groan beneath them as they sped over the plain.
And now Iris, fleet as the wind, was sent by Jove to tell the bad
news among the Trojans. They were gathered in assembly, old and young,
at Priam's gates, and Iris came close up to Priam, speaking with the
voice of Priam's son Polites, who, being fleet of foot, was
stationed as watchman for the Trojans on the tomb of old Aesyetes,
to look out for any sally of the Achaeans. In his likeness Iris spoke,
saying, "Old man, you talk idly, as in time of peace, while war is
at hand. I have been in many a battle, but never yet saw such a host
as is now advancing. They are crossing the plain to attack the city as
thick as leaves or as the sands of the sea. Hector, I charge you above
all others, do as I say. There are many allies dispersed about the
city of Priam from distant places and speaking divers tongues.
Therefore, let each chief give orders to his own people, setting
them severally in array and leading them forth to battle."
Thus she spoke, but Hector knew that it was the goddess, and at once
broke up the assembly. The men flew to arms; all the gates were
opened, and the people thronged through them, horse and foot, with the
tramp as of a great multitude.
Now there is a high mound before the city, rising by itself upon the
plain. Men call it Batieia, but the gods know that it is the tomb of
lithe Myrine. Here the Trojans and their allies divided their forces.
Priam's son, great Hector of the gleaming helmet, commanded the
Trojans, and with him were arrayed by far the greater number and
most valiant of those who were longing for the fray.
The Dardanians were led by brave Aeneas, whom Venus bore to
Anchises, when she, goddess though she was, had lain with him upon the
mountain slopes of Ida. He was not alone, for with him were the two
sons of Antenor, Archilochus and Acamas, both skilled in all the
arts of war.
They that dwelt in Telea under the lowest spurs of Mt. Ida, men of
substance, who drink the limpid waters of the Aesepus, and are of
Trojan blood- these were led by Pandarus son of Lycaon, whom Apollo
had taught to use the bow.
They that held Adresteia and the land of Apaesus, with Pityeia,
and the high mountain of Tereia- these were led by Adrestus and
Amphius, whose breastplate was of linen. These were the sons of Merops
of Percote, who excelled in all kinds of divination. He told them
not to take part in the war, but they gave him no heed, for fate lured
them to destruction.
They that dwelt about Percote and Practius, with Sestos, Abydos, and
Arisbe- these were led by Asius, son of Hyrtacus, a brave commander-
Asius, the son of Hyrtacus, whom his powerful dark bay steeds, of
the breed that comes from the river Selleis, had brought from Arisbe.
Hippothous led the tribes of Pelasgian spearsmen, who dwelt in
fertile Larissa- Hippothous, and Pylaeus of the race of Mars, two sons
of the Pelasgian Lethus, son of Teutamus.
Acamas and the warrior Peirous commanded the Thracians and those
that came from beyond the mighty stream of the Hellespont.
Euphemus, son of Troezenus, the son of Ceos, was captain of the
Ciconian spearsmen.
Pyraechmes led the Paeonian archers from distant Amydon, by the
broad waters of the river Axius, the fairest that flow upon the earth.
The Paphlagonians were commanded by stout-hearted Pylaemanes from
Enetae, where the mules run wild in herds. These were they that held
Cytorus and the country round Sesamus, with the cities by the river
Parthenius, Cromna, Aegialus, and lofty Erithini.
Odius and Epistrophus were captains over the Halizoni from distant
Alybe, where there are mines of silver.
Chromis, and Ennomus the augur, led the Mysians, but his skill in
augury availed not to save him from destruction, for he fell by the
hand of the fleet descendant of Aeacus in the river, where he slew
others also of the Trojans.
Phorcys, again, and noble Ascanius led the Phrygians from the far
country of Ascania, and both were eager for the fray.
Mesthles and Antiphus commanded the Meonians, sons of Talaemenes,
born to him of the Gygaean lake. These led the Meonians, who dwelt
under Mt. Tmolus.
Nastes led the Carians, men of a strange speech. These held
Miletus and the wooded mountain of Phthires, with the water of the
river Maeander and the lofty crests of Mt. Mycale. These were
commanded by Nastes and Amphimachus, the brave sons of Nomion. He came
into the fight with gold about him, like a girl; fool that he was, his
gold was of no avail to save him, for he fell in the river by the hand
of the fleet descendant of Aeacus, and Achilles bore away his gold.
Sarpedon and Glaucus led the Lycians from their distant land, by the
eddying waters of the Xanthus.

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Never let fools see half-finished work.

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A painting that is well composed is half finished.

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I've written a couple screenplays and half-finished plays.

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There is nothing so fatal to character as half finished tasks.

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Matsuo Basho

First snow

First snow
falling
on the half-finished bridge.


Translated by Robert Hass

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The roads of life are strewn with the wreckage of run-down and half-finished loves.

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I'm not performing now. What I do now is listen to music all day long. Listening is very nourishing to me. I might go back to perform, I might make another record. I've got a record half finished.

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Once they're lost

Old books piled
every dusty room
notebooks scattered
on every stack.
Some full others not
just gathering poems
on pages most bad
a few worth typing.
Can't find half finished sonnet
start throwing
filled notebooks in boxes
as they fill
put in garage
a couple years before rereading.
Only then will half-finished poem
let itself be found,
muse playing games.

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Sonnet- Doing things

One ought to find the land to build a house,
And get the plan approved and buy the bricks;
But most of all, it must be liked by spouse!
The project must not give you much pin-pricks.

To do a thing, you ought to start somehow;
From scrap and work it up with immense toil;
Let hurdles come; just meet them if you can, wow,
All things will happen; mood never must spoil.

Great things are wrought by labour and struggle;
A mind determined will pull off all things;
'Tis nice sometimes to blow our own bugle;
'Tis worth the joy that finally it brings.
A half finished work, cannot bring success,
Try to do things ahead and in excess.

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The Dead Dont Cry

the dead dont cry,
they weep...
for the undone deeds
of the living...
for the work not finished,
the cup left half-empty,
the song that no one heard.

for the deaf ears,
and the blinded eyes.
for the callous heart,
the spirit left in chains.

for the house half finished,
and the home abandoned.
for the love left holding
the purse, and the scar!

for the holy child
born out of wedlock...
for the table left empty,
the chairs that long and pine.

for the touch that failed,
the quivering lip unseen.
for the pot left empty,
and the fire untended.

for the bodies walking
who have no face...
for the latched door,
and the candle unlit...

the dead dont cry,
they weep...
and the sound of their weeping
shakes the earth!

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Oscar The Dog

Oscar the dog, white and fluffy.
He told people that one day in
February during a snow storm when
Everyone stayed in their houses while
He went outside chasing the snow and
Caught them all, “Sometimes what you catch
(like an over-affectionate boyfriend or girlfriend)
never leaves you”, Said Oscar the dog.

From a straight-male’s perspective, if you learn
To kiss a woman like Oscar the dog,
She’ll definitely leave you and she will run over mountains
to Niagara Falls for a shower.
But if you learn to kiss a man
Like Oscar the dog, you’ll make the people
In the gay parade proud.

One can learn much from Oscar the dog
Especially during a party. He will amble around
The room sweeping away half-finished salads,
Or a bowl of rice and then napkins to wipe himself
Before lecturing his guests the meaning of sharing.

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The Window

In after years, when you look back upon
This time, and upon me, who am no more
Close to your heart nor a shadow in your sun,
Perhaps you will stand still and lean on the door
Or lay down something, feeling quite undone.

Some passing stranger, or a turn of phrase,
Or any echo or shade, will be enough,
Anything that is worn and almost effaced,
Anything half finished, will be proof
I was no natural but an acquired taste.

So you will stand there, looking back, inspired
As though the curtains parted on some view
Not quite to be believed in, nor desired,
And which did not exist except for you,
Like some clay thing the potter never fired.

No, it would not be wise to throw the window wide.
Close it quickly, before it hurts, and go
About your usual tasks, and let time hide
Beneath mountains of hours, what you know
Cannot be lived again, yet has not died.

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Dreaming

I drempt I was dreaming
Life was deep instrumental music
Packed full of ineffable meaning,
I was frustrated so
For all the words I wanted to sing,
But just did not know.

In my dream I awoke from the dream
Only to find
More unexplainable mystery,
As I was still in unreality within my own mind.

In my dream
I climb,
A long, long hill
At the top
All is still,
There upon resides a great mansion
Half-finished, mostly empty, undone -
Inside there is a picture
Hung on a wall, near the end of a long dark hall,
It is a picture of the entire family...
All that is missing
Is me;
I look it over, wondering why 'tis so,
And where in the world did I go?

A Voice from somewhere
Comes to me
Soft and slow
Gently singing:
' I sent you,
To bring home all the others,
Didn't you know? '

I awake with a start!
Yet, a depth of peace beyond description
Is left, ever laying comfortably
Within my heart.

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Narrating Few Events

On the day when to wedding
I ended with funeral
Death and life opposed
Extremes of sorrow
The young boys with white complexion
Extreme of celebration dancing on music
In black
Both wedding and sorrow
The beginning and the end
Juxtaposed emotions

The solitary reaper
Was cutting grass on the road side
From autumn
For heat
And to sell to satiate her poverty
With her sickle scratching the back
Of mother earth

The terrified passengers
Waiting in line
On the way to their workplace
Doubting each other
Seeing faces to know
Who was the angle of death

Sleeping long
For want of life
The strings of music frozen
Some unfulfilled desires
Of seeing the world
At least once before the curtain
Is drawn

Of holding the holy waters
On the wall
Eroded with age
To the steaming car of the gentleman
Cooling it down

Some half finished books
Some begun anew
Life is making me
Irrelevant with every passing moment
25/11/2009

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