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On the plains of hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of decision, sat down to wait, and waiting died.

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On the Plains of Hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions, who, at the Dawn of Victory, sat down to wait, and waiting--died

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Adlai E. Stevenson

On the plains of hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who at the dawn of victory lay down to rest, and in resting died.

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Quatrain #2 - Today is the Dawn of a........

Today is the Dawn of a brand new day
Grace and fortune have come my way.
The signs were written long ago for me;
how to overcome struggling and misery.

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William Butler Yeats

The Dawn

I WOULD be ignorant as the dawn
That has looked down
On that old queen measuring a town
With the pin of a brooch,
Or on the withered men that saw
From their pedantic Babylon
The careless planets in their courses,
The stars fade out where the moon comes.
And took their tablets and did sums;
I would be ignorant as the dawn
That merely stood, rocking the glittering coach
Above the cloudy shoulders of the horses;
I would be -- for no knowledge is worth a straw --
Ignorant and wanton as the dawn.

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Minstrel Of The Dawn

The minstrel of the dawn is here
To make you laugh and bend your ear
Up the steps youll hear him climb
All full of thoughts, all full of rhymes
Listen to the pictures flow
Across the room into your mind they go
Listen to the strings
They jangle and dangle
While the old guitar rings
The minstrel of the dawn is he
Not too wise but oh so free
Hell talk of life out on the street
Hell play it sad and say it sweet
Look into his shining face
Of lonelines youll always find a trace
Just like me and you
Hes tryin to get into things
More happy than blue
A minstrel of the changin tide
Hell ask for nothing but his pride
Just sit him down upon that chair
Go fetch some wine and set it there
Listen to the pictures flow
Across the room into your mind they go
Listen to the strings
They jangle and dangle
While the old guitar rings
A minstrel of the dawn is near
Just like a step n fetchit here
Hes like an old time troubador
Just wanting life and nothing more
Look into his shining eyes
And if you see a ghost dont be surprised
Like me and you
Hes tryin to get into things
More happy than blue
The minstrel boy will understand
He holds a promise in his hand
He talks of better days ahead
And by his words your fortunes read
Listen to the pictures flow
Across the room into your mind they go
Listen to the strings
They jangle and dangle
While the old guitar rings
The minstrel of the dawn is gone
I hope hell call before too long
And if you meet him you must be
The victim of his minstrelsy
Hell sing for you a song
The minstrel of the dawn

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The Columbiad: Book III

The Argument


Actions of the Inca Capac. A general invasion of his dominions threatened by the mountain savages. Rocha, the Inca's son, sent with a few companions to offer terms of peace. His embassy. His adventure with the worshippers of the volcano. With those of the storm, on the Andes. Falls in with the savage armies. Character and speech of Zamor, their chief. Capture of Rocha and his companions. Sacrifice of the latter. Death song of Azonto. War dance. March of the savage armies down the mountains to Peru. Incan army meets them. Battle joins. Peruvians terrified by an eclipse of the sun, and routed. They fly to Cusco. Grief of Oella, supposing the darkness to be occasioned by the death of Rocha. Sun appears. Peruvians from the city wall discover Roch an altar in the savage camp. They march in haste out of the city and engage the savages. Exploits of Capac. Death of Zamor. Recovery of Rocha, and submission of the enemy.


Now twenty years these children of the skies
Beheld their gradual growing empire rise.
They ruled with rigid but with generous care,
Diffused their arts and sooth'd the rage of war,
Bade yon tall temple grace their favorite isle,
The mines unfold, the cultured valleys smile,
Those broad foundations bend their arches high,
And rear imperial Cusco to the sky;
Wealth, wisdom, force consolidate the reign
From the rude Andes to the western main.

But frequent inroads from the savage bands
Lead fire and slaughter o'er the labor'd lands;
They sack the temples, the gay fields deface,
And vow destruction to the Incan race.
The king, undaunted in defensive war,
Repels their hordes, and speeds their flight afar;
Stung with defeat, they range a wider wood,
And rouse fresh tribes for future fields of blood.

Where yon blue ridges hang their cliffs on high,
And suns infulminate the stormful sky,
The nations, temper'd to the turbid air,
Breathe deadly strife, and sigh for battle's blare;
Tis here they meditate, with one vast blow,
To crush the race that rules the plains below.
Capac with caution views the dark design,
Learns from all points what hostile myriads join.
And seeks in time by proffer'd leagues to gain
A bloodless victory, and enlarge his reign.

His eldest hope, young Rocha, at his call,
Resigns his charge within the temple wall;
In whom began, with reverend forms of awe,
The functions grave of priesthood and of law,

In early youth, ere yet the ripening sun
Had three short lustres o'er his childhood run,
The prince had learnt, beneath his father's hand,
The well-framed code that sway'd the sacred land;
With rites mysterious served the Power divine,
Prepared the altar and adorn'd the shrine,
Responsive hail'd, with still returning praise,
Each circling season that the God displays,
Sooth'd with funereal hymns the parting dead,
At nuptial feasts the joyful chorus led;
While evening incense and the morning song
Rose from his hand or trembled on his tongue.

Thus form'd for empire ere he gain'd the sway,
To rule with reverence and with power obey,
Reflect the glories of the parent Sun,
And shine the Capac of his future throne,
Employed his docile years; till now from far
The rumor'd leagues proclaim approaching war;
Matured for active scenes he quits the shrine,
To aid in council or in arms to shine.

Amid the chieftains that the court compose,
In modest mien the stripling pontiff rose,
With reverence bow'd, conspicuous o'er the rest,
Approach'd the throne, and thus the sire addrest:
Great king of nations, heaven-descended sage,
Thy second heir has reach'd the destined age
To take these priestly robes; to his pure hand
I yield them pure, and wait thy kind command.
Should foes invade, permit this arm to share
The toils, the triumphs, every chance of war;
For this dread conflict all our force demands,
In one wide field to whelm the brutal bands,
Pour to the mountain gods their wonted food,
And save thy realms from future leagues of blood.
Yet oh, may sovereign mercy first ordain
Propounded compact to the savage train!
I'll go with terms of peace to spread thy sway,
And teach the blessings of the God of day.

The sire return'd: My great desire you know,
To shield from slaughter and preserve the foe,
In bands of concord all their tribes to bind,
And live the friend and guardian of mankind.
Should strife begin, thy youthful arm shall share
The toils of glory thro the walks of war;
But o'er their hills to seek alone the foes,
To gain their confidence or brave their blows,
Bend their proud souls to reason's voice divine,
Claims hardier limbs and riper years than thine.
Yet one of heavenly race the task requires,
Whose mystic rites control the solar fires;
So the sooth'd Godhead proves to faithless eyes
His love to man, his empire of the skies.

Some veteran chief, in those rough labors tried,
Shall aid thee on, and go thy faithful guide;
O'er dreary heights thy sinking limbs sustain.
Teach the dark wiles of each insidious train,
Thro all extremes of life thy voice attend,
In counsel lead thee, or in arms defend.
And three firm youths, thy chosen friends, shall go
To learn the climes and meditate the foe;
That wars of future years their skill may find,
To serve the realm and save the savage kind.

Rise then, my son, first partner of my fame,
With early toils to build thy sacred name;
In high behest, for his own legate known,
Proclaim the bounties of our sire the Sun.
Tell how his fruits beneath our culture rise,
His stars, how glorious, gem our cloudless skies;
And how to us his hand hath kindly given
His peaceful laws, the purest grace of heaven,
With power to widen his terrestrial sway,
And give our blessings where he gives the day.
Yet, should the stubborn nations still prepare
The shaft of slaughter for the barbarous war,
Tell them we know to tread the crimson plain,
And God's own children never yield to man.

But ah, my child, with steps of caution go,
The ways are hideous, and enraged the foe;
Blood stains their altars, all their feasts are blood,
Death their delight, and darkness reigns their God;
Tigers and vultures, storms and earthquakes share
Their rites of worship and their spoils of war.
Shouldst thou, my Rocha, tempt too far their ire,
Should those dear relics feed a murderous fire,
Deep sighs would rend thy wretched mother's breast,
The pale Sun sink in clouds of darkness drest,
Thy sire and mournful nations rue the day
That drew thy steps from these sad walls away.

Yet go; tis virtue calls; and realms unknown,
Won by these works, may bless thy future throne;
Millions of unborn souls in time may see
Their doom reversed, and owe their peace to thee,
Deluded sires, with murdering hands, no more
Feed fancied demons with their children's gore,
But, sway'd by happier sceptres, here behold
The rites of freedom and the shrines of gold.
Be wise, be mindful of thy realm and throne;
God speed thy labors and preserve my son!

Soon the glad prince, in robes of white array'd,
Call'd his attendants and the sire obey'd.
A diamond broad, in burning gold imprest,
Display'd the sun's bright image on his breast;
A pearl-dropt girdle bound his waist below,
And the white lautu graced his lofty brow.
They journey'd forth, o'ermarching far the mound
That flank'd the kingdom on its Andean bound;
Ridge after ridge thro vagrant hordes they past,
Where each new tribe seem'd wilder than the last;
To all they preach and prove the solar sway,
And climb fresh mountains on their tedious way.

At length, as thro disparting clouds they rise,
And hills above them still obstruct the skies,
While a dead calm o'er all the region stood?
And not a leaf could fan its parent wood,
Sudden a strange portentous noise began;
The birds fled wild, the beasts for shelter ran;
Slow, sullen, loud, with deep astounding blare,
Swell the strong tones of subterranean war;
Behind, before, beneath them groans the ground,
Earth heaves and labors with the shuddering sound;
Columns of smoke, that cap the rumbling height,
Roll reddening far thro heaven, and choke the light;
From tottering steeps descend their cliffs of snow,
The mountains reel, the valleys rend below;
The headlong streams forget their usual round,
And shrink and vanish in the gaping ground.
The sun descends; but night recals in vain
Her silent shades, to recommence her reign;
The bursting mount gapes high, a sudden glare
Coruscates wide, till all the purpling air
Breaks into flame, and wheels and roars and raves
And wraps the welkin in its folding waves;
Light sailing cinders, thro its vortex driven,
Stream high and brighten to the midst of heaven;
And, following slow, full floods of boiling ore
Swell, swoop aloft and thro the concave roar.
Torrents of molten rocks, on every side,
Lead o'er the shelves of ice their fiery tide;
Hills slide before them, skies around them burn,
Towns sink beneath and heaving plains upturn;
O'er many a league the flaming deluge hurl'd,
Sweeps total nations from the staggering world.

Meanwhile, at distance thro the livid light,
A busy concourse met their wondering sight;
The prince drew near; where lo! an altar stood,
Rude in its form, and fill'd with burning wood;
Wrapt in the flames a youth expiring lay,
And the fond father thus was heard to pray:
Receive, O dreadful Power, from feeble age,
This last pure offering to thy sateless rage;
Thrice has thy vengeance on this hated land
Claim'd a dear infant from my yielding hand;
Thrice have those lovely lips the victim prest,
And all the mother torn that tender breast;
When the dread duty stifled every sigh,
And not a tear escaped her beauteous eye.
Our fourth and last now meets the fatal doom;
Groan not, my child, thy God remands thee home;
Attend once more, thou dark infernal Name,
From yon far streaming pyramid of flame;
Snatch from his heaving flesh the blasted breath.
Sacred to thee and all the fiends of death;
Then in thy hall, with spoils of nations crown'd,
Confine thy walks beneath the rending ground;
No more on earth the embowel'd flames to pour,
And scourge my people and my race no more.

Thus Rocha heard; and to the trembling crowd
Turn'd the bright image of his beaming God.
The afflicted chief, with fear and grief opprest,
Beheld the sign, and thus the prince addrest:
From what far land, O royal stranger, say,
Ascend thy wandering steps this nightly way?
From plains like ours, by holy demons fired?
Have thy brave people in the flames expired?
And hast thou now, to stay the whelming flood,
No son to offer to the furious God?

From happier lands I came, the prince returns,
Where no red flaming flood the concave burns,
No furious God bestorms our soil and skies,
Nor yield our hands the bloody sacrifice;
But life and joy the Power delights to give,
And bids his children but rejoice and live.
Thou seest thro heaven the day-dispensing Sun
In living radiance wheel his golden throne,
O'er earth's gay surface send his genial beams,
Force from yon cliffs of ice the vernal streams;
While fruits and flowers adorn the cultured field,
And seas and lakes their copious treasures yield;
He reigns our only God. In him we trace
The friend, the father of our happy race.
Late the lone tribes, on those unlabor'd shores,
Ran wild and served imaginary Powers;
Till he, in pity, taught their feuds to cease,
Devised their laws, and fashion'd all for peace.
My sacred parents first the reign began,
Sent from his courts to guide the paths of man,
To plant his fruits, to manifest his sway,
And give their blessings where he gives the day.

The sachem proud replied: Thy garb and face
Proclaim thy lineage of superior race;
And our progenitors, no less than thine,
Sprang from a God, and own a birth divine.
From that sky-scorching mount, on floods of flame,
In elder times my great forefathers came;
There dwells the Sire, and from his dark abode
Oft claims, as now, the tribute of a God.
This victim due when willing mortals pay,
His terrors lessen and his fires decay;
While purer sleet regales the mountain air,
And our glad hosts are fired for fiercer war.

Yet know, dread chief, the pious youth rejoin'd,
Some one prime Power produced all human kind:
Some Sire supreme, whose ever-ruling soul
Creates, preserves, and regulates the whole.
That Sire supreme must roll his radiant eye
Round the wide earth and thro the boundless sky;
That all their habitants, their gods and men,
May rise unveil'd beneath his careful ken.
Could thy dark fiend, that hides his blind abode,
And cauldrons in his cave that fiery flood,
Yield the rich fruits that distant nations find?
Or praise or punish or behold mankind?
But when my God, resurging from the night,
Shall gild his chambers with the morning light,
By mystic rites he'll vindicate his throne,
And own thy servant for his duteous son.

Meantime, the chief replied, thy cares releast,
Rest here the night and share our scanty feast;
Which, driven in hasty rout, our train supplied,
When trembling earth foretold the boiling tide.
They fared, they rested; till with lucid horn
All-cheering Phosphor led the lively morn;
The prince arose, an altar rear'd in haste,
And watch'd the splendors of the reddening east.

As o'er the mountain flamed the sun's broad eye,
He call'd the host, his holy rites to try;
Then took the loaves of maize, the bounties brake,
Gave to the chief, and bade them all partake;
The hallow'd relics on the pile he placed,
With tufts of flowers the simple offering graced,
Held to the sun the image from his breast,
Whose glowing concave all the God exprest;
O'er the dried leaves the rays concentred fly,
And thus his voice ascends the listening sky:
O thou, whose splendors kindle heaven with fire.
Great Soul of nature, man's immortal Sire,
If e'er my father found thy sovereign grace,
Or thy blest will ordain'd the Incan race,
Give these lorn tribes to learn thy awful name,
Receive this offering, and the pile inflame;
So shall thy laws o'er wider bounds be known,
And earth's whole race be happy as thy own.

Thus pray'd the prince; the focal flames aspire,
The mute beholders tremble and retire,
Gaze on the miracle, full credence own,
And vow obedience to the sacred Sun.

The legates now their farther course descried,
A young cazique attending as a guide,
O'er craggy cliffs pursued their eastern way,
Trod loftier champaigns, meeting high the day,
Saw timorous tribes, in these sublime abodes,
Adore the blasts and turn the storms to gods;
While every cloud that thunders thro the skies
Claims from their hands a human sacrifice.
Awhile the youth, their better faith to gain,
Strives with his usual art, but strives in vain;
In vain he pleads the mildness of the sun;
A gale refutes him ere his speech be done;
Continual tempests from their orient blow,
And load the mountains with eternal snow.
The sun's own beam, the timid clans declare,
Drives all their evils on the tortured air;
He draws the vapors up their eastern sky,
That sail and centre round his dazzling eye;
Leads the loud storms along his midday course,
And bids the Andes meet their sweeping force;
Builds their bleak summits with an icy throne,
To shine thro heaven, a semblance of his own;
Hence the sharp sleet, these lifted lawns that wait,
And all the scourges that attend their state.

Two toilsome days the virtuous Inca strove
To social life their savage minds to move;
When the third morning glow'd serenely bright,
He led their elders to an eastern height;
The world unlimited beneath them lay,
And not a cloud obscured the rising day.
Vast Amazonia, starr'd with twinkling streams,
In azure drest, a heaven inverted seems;
Dim Paraguay extends the aching sight,
Xaraya glimmers like the moon of night,
Land, water, sky in blending borders play,
And smile and brighten to the lamp of day.
When thus the prince: What majesty divine!
What robes of gold! what flames about him shine!
There walks the God! his starry sons on high
Draw their dim veil and shrink behind the sky;
Earth with surrounding nature's born anew,
And men by millions greet the glorious view!
Who can behold his all-delighting soul
Give life and joy, and heaven and earth control,
Bid death and darkness from his presence move,
Who can behold, and not adore and love?
Those plains, immensely circling, feel his beams,
He greens the groves, he silvers gay the streams,
Swells the wild fruitage, gives the beast his food,
And mute creation hails the genial God.
But richer boons his righteous laws impart,
To aid the life and mould the social heart,
His arts of peace thro happy realms to spread,
And altars grace with sacrificial bread;
Such our distinguish'd lot, who own his sway,
Mild as his morning stars and liberal as the day.

His unknown laws, the mountain chief replied,
May serve perchance your boasted race to guide;
And yon low plains, that drink his partial ray,
At his glad shrine their just devotions pay.
But we nor fear his frown nor trust his smile;
Vain as our prayers is every anxious toil;
Our beasts are buried in his whirls of snow,
Our cabins drifted to his slaves below.
Even now his placid looks thy hopes beguile,
He lures thy raptures with a morning smile;
But soon (for so those saffron robes proclaim)
His own black tempest shall obstruct his flame,
Storm, thunder, fire, against the mountains driven,
Rake deep their sulphur'd sides, disgorging here his
heaven.

He spoke; they waited, till the fervid ray
High from the noontide shot the faithless day;
When lo, far gathering under eastern skies,
Solemn and slow, the dark red vapors rise;
Full clouds, convolving on the turbid air,
Move like an ocean to the watery war.
The host, securely raised, no dangers harm,
They sit unclouded and o'erlook the storm;
While far beneath, the sky-borne waters ride,
Veil the dark deep and sheet the mountain's side;
The lightning's glancing fires, in fury curl'd,
Bend their long forky foldings o'er the world;
Torrents and broken crags and floods of rain
From steep to steep roll down their force amain,
In dreadful cataracts; the bolts confound
The tumbling clouds, and rock the solid ground.

The blasts unburden'd take their upward course,
And o'er the mountain top resume their force.
Swift thro the long white ridges from the north
The rapid whirlwinds lead their terrors forth;
High walks the storm, the circling surges rise,
And wild gyrations wheel the hovering skies;
Vast hills of snow, in sweeping columns driven,
Deluge the air and choke the void of heaven;
Floods burst their bounds, the rocks forget their place,
And the firm Andes tremble to their base.

Long gazed the host; when thus the stubborn chief,
With eyes on fire, and fill'd with sullen grief:
Behold thy careless god, secure on high,
Laughs at our woes and peaceful walks the sky,
Drives all his evils on these seats sublime,
And wafts his favors to a happier clime;
Sire of the dastard race thy words disclose,
There glads his children, here afflicts his foes.
Hence! speed thy flight! pursue him where he leads;
Lest vengeance seize thee for thy father's deeds,
Thy immolated limbs assuage the fire
Of those curst Powers, who now a gift require.

The youth in haste collects his scanty train,
And, with the sun, flies o'er the western plain;
The fading orb with plaintive voice he plies,
To guide his steps and light him down the skies.
So when the moon and all the host of even
Hang pale and trembling on the verge of heaven,
While storms ascending threat their nightly reign,
They seek their absent sire, and sink below the main.

Now to the south he turns; where one vast plain
Calls from a hundred hordes the warrior train;
Of various dress and various form they show'd;
Each wore the ensign of his local god.

From eastern hills a grisly troop descends,
Whose war song wild the shuddering concave rends;
Cloak'd in a tiger's hide their grim chief towers,
And apes the brinded god his tribe adores.
The tusky jaws grin o'er the sachem's brow,
The bald eyes glare, the paws depend below,
From his bored ears contorted serpents hung,
And drops of gore seem'd rolling on his tongue.
The northern glens pour forth the Vulture-race;
Brown tufts of quills their shaded foreheads grace;
The claws branch wide, the beak expands for blood,
And all the armor imitates the god.
The Condor, frowning from a southern plain,
Borne on a standard, leads a numerous train:
Clench'd in his talons hangs an infant dead,
His long bill pointing where the sachems tread,
His wings, tho lifeless, frighten still the wind,
And his broad tail o'ershades the file behind.
From other plains and other hills afar,
The tribes throng dreadful to the promised war;
Some twine their forelock with a crested snake,
Some wear the emblems of a stream or lake;
All from the Power they serve assume their mode,
And foam and yell to taste the Incan blood.

The prince incautious with his men drew near,
Known for an Inca by his dress and air;
Till coop'd and caught amid the warrior trains,
They bow in silence to the victor's chains.
When now the gather'd thousands throng the plain,
And echoing skies the rending shouts retain;
Zamor, the chieftain of the Tiger-band,
By choice appointed to the first command,
Shrugg'd up his brinded spoils above the rest,
And grimly frowning thus the crowd addrest:

Warriors, attend! tomorrow leads abroad
Our sacred vengeance for our brothers' blood.
On those scorch'd plains for ever must they lie,
Their bones still naked to the burning sky?
Left in the field for foreign hawks to tear,
Nor our own vultures can the banquet share.
But soon, ye mountain gods, yon dreary west
Shall sate your hunger with an ampler feast;
When the proud Sun, that terror of the plain,
Shall grieve in heaven for all his children slain,
As o'er his realm our slaughtering armies roam,
And give to your sad Powers a happier home.
Meanwhile, ye tribes, these men of solar race,
Food for the flames, your bloody rites shall grace;
Each to a different god his panting breath
Resigns in fire; this night demands their death:
All but the Inca; him reserved in state
These conquering hands ere long shall immolate
To all the Powers at once that storm the skies,
A grateful gift, before his mother's eyes.

The sachem ceased; the chiefs of every race
Lead the bold captives to their destined place;
The sun descends, the parting day expires,
And earth and heaven display their sparkling fires.
Soon the raised altars kindle round the gloom,
And call the victims to their vengeful doom;
Led to their pyres, in sullen pomp they tread,
And sing by turns the triumphs of the dead.
Amid the crowd beside his altar stood
The youth devoted to the Tiger-god;
A beauteous form he rose, of noble grace,
The only hope of his illustrious race.
His aged sire, for numerous years, had shone
The first supporter of the Incan throne;
Wise Capac loved the youth, and graced his hand
With a fair virgin from a neighboring band;
And him the legate prince, in equal prime,
Had chose to share his mission round the clime.
He mounts the pyre, the flames approach his breath.
And thus he wakes the dauntless song of death:

Dark vault of heaven, that greet his daily throne.
Where flee the glories of your absent Sun?
Ye starry hosts, who kindle from his eye,
Can you behold him in the western sky?
Or if unseen beneath his watery bed,
The wearied God reclines his radiant head,
When next his morning steps your courts inflame,
And seek on earth for young Azonto's name,
Then point these ashes, mark the smoky pile,
And say the hero suffer'd with a smile.
So shall the Power in vengeance view the place,
In crimson clothe his terror-beaming face,
Pour swift destruction on these curst abodes,
Whelm the grim tribes and all their savage gods.

But ah, forbear to tell my stooping sire
His darling hopes have fed a coward fire;
Why should he know the tortures of the brave?
Why fruitless sorrows bend him to the grave?
Nor shalt thou e'er be told, my bridal fair,
What silent pangs these panting vitals tear;
But blooming still the patient hours employ
On the blind hope of future scenes of joy.
Now haste, ye fiends of death; the Sire of day
In absent slumber gives your malice way;
While fainter light these livid flames supply,
And short-lived thousands learn of me to die,

He ceased not speaking; when the yell of war
Drowns all their death songs in a hideous jar;
The cries rebounding from the hillsides pour,
And wolves and tigers catch the distant roar.
Now more concordant all their voices join,
And round the plain they form the festive line;
When, to the music of the dismal din,
Indignant Zamor bids the dance begin.
Dim thro the shadowy fires each changing form
Moves like a cloud before an evening storm,
When o'er the moon's pale face and starry plain
The shifting shades lead on their broken train;
The mingling tribes their mazy gambols tread,
Till the last groan proclaims the victims dead,
Then part the smoky flesh, enjoy the feast,
And lose their labors in oblivious rest.

Soon as the western hills announced the morn,
And falling fires were scarcely seen to burn,
Grimm'd by the horrors of the dreadful night,
The hosts woke fiercer for the promised fight;
And dark and silent thro the frowning grove
The different tribes beneath their standards move.

Meantime the solar king collects from far
His martial bands, to meet the expected war,
Camps on the confines of an eastern plain
That skirts the steep rough limit of his reign;
He trains their ranks, their pliant force combines,
To close in columns or extend in lines,
To wheel, change front, in broken files dispart,
And draw new strength from all the warrior's art.

But now the rising sun relumes the plain,
And calls to arms the well-accustom'd train.
High in the front imperial Capac strode,
In fair effulgence like the beaming God;
A golden girdle bound his snowy vest,
A mimic sun hung sparkling on his breast;
The lautu's horned wreath his temples twined,
The bow, the quiver shade his waist behind;
Raised high in air his golden sceptre burn'd,
And hosts surrounding trembled as he turn'd.

O'er eastern hills he cast his watchful eye,
Thro the broad breaks that lengthen down the sky;
In whose blue clefts the sloping pathways bend,
Where annual floods from melting snows descend.
Now dry and deep, they lead from every height
The savage files that headlong rush to fight;
They throng and thicken thro the smoky air,
And every breach pours down the dusky war.
So when a hundred streams explore their way,
Down the same slopes, convolving to the sea,
They boil, they bend, they force their floods amain,
Swell o'er obstructing crags, and sweep the plain.

Capac beholds and waits the coming shock,
As for the billows waits the storm-beat rock;
And while for fight his ardent troops prepare,
Thus thro the ranks he breathes the soul of war:
Ye tribes that flourish in the Sun's mild reign,
Long have your flocks adorn'd the peaceful plain,
As o'er the realm his smiles persuasive flow'd,
And conquer'd all without the stain of blood;
But lo, at last that wild infuriate band
With savage war demands your happy land.
Beneath the dark immeasurable host,
Descending, swarming, how the crags are lost!
Already now their ravening eyes behold
Your star-bright temples and your gates of gold;
And to their gods in fancied goblets pour
The warm libation of your children's gore.
Move then to vengeance, meet the sons of blood,
Led by this arm and lighted by that God;
The strife is fierce, your fanes and fields the prize,
The warrior conquers or the infant dies.

Fill'd with his fire, the troops in squared array
Wait the wild hordes loose huddling to the fray;
Their pointed arrows, rising on the bow,
Look up the sky and chide the lagging foe.

Dread Zamor leads the homicidious train,
Moves from the clefts and stretches o'er the plain.
He gives the shriek; the deep convulsing sound
The hosts reecho, and the hills around
Retain the rending tumult; all the air
Clangs in the conflict of the clashing war;
But firm undaunted as a shelvy strand
That meets the surge, the bold Peruvians stand,
With steady aim the sounding bowstring ply,
And showers of arrows thicken thro the sky;
When each grim host, in closer conflict join'd,
Clench the dire ax and cast the bow behind;
Thro broken ranks sweep wide their slaughtering course.
Now struggle back, now sidelong swray the force.
Here from grim chiefs is lopt the grisly head;
All gride the dying, all deface the dead;
There scattering o'er the field in thin array,
Man tugs with man, and clubs with axes play;
With broken shafts they follow and they fly,
And yells and groans and shouts invade the sky;
Round all the shatter'd groves the ground is strow'd
With sever'd limbs and corses bathed in blood.
Long raged the strife; and where, on either side,
A friend, a father or a brother died,
No trace remain'd of what he was before,
Mangled with horrid wounds and black with gore.

Now the Peruvians, in collected might,
With one wide stroke had wing'd the savage flighty
But their bright Godhead, in his midday race,
With glooms unusual veil'd his radiant face,
Quench'd all his beams, tho cloudless, in affright,
As loth to view from heaven the finish'd fight.
A trembling twilight o'er the welkin moves,
Browns the dim void, and darkens deep the groves;
The waking stars, embolden'd at the sight,
Peep out and gem the anticipated night;
Day-birds, and beasts of light to covert fly,
And owls and wolves begin their evening cry.
The astonish'd Inca marks, with wild surprise,
Dead chills on earth, no cloud in all the skies,
His host o'ershaded in the field of blood,
Gored by his foes, deserted by his God.
Mute with amaze, they cease the war to wage,
Gaze on their leaders and forget their rage;
When pious Capac to the listening crowd
Raised high his wand and pour'd his voice aloud:
Ye chiefs and warriors of Peruvian race,
Some sore offence obscures my father's face;
What moves the Numen to desert the plain,
Nor save his children, nor behold them slain?
Fly! speed your course, regain the guardian town,
Ere darkness shroud you in a deeper frown;
The faithful walls your squadrons shall defend,
While my sad steps the sacred dome ascend,
To learn the cause, and ward the woes we fear:
Haste, haste, my sons! I guard the flying rear.

The hero spoke; the trembling tribes obey,
While deeper glooms obscure the source of day.
Sudden the savage bands collect amain,
Hang on the rear and sweep them o'er the plain;
Their shouts, redoubling with the flying war.
Drown the loud groans and torture all the air.
The hawks of heaven, that o'er the field had stood,
Scared by the tumult from the scent of blood,
Cleave the far gloom; the beasts forget their prey,
And scour the waste, and give the war its way.

Zamor elate with horrid joy beheld
The Sun depart, his children fly the field,
And raised his rending voice: Thou darkening sky,
Deepen thy damps, the fiend of death is nigh;
Behold him rising from his shadowy throne,
To veil this heaven and drive the conquer'd Sun;
The glaring Godhead yields to sacred night,
And his foil'd armies imitate his flight.
Confirm, infernal Power, thy rightful reign,
Give deadlier shades and heap the piles of slain;
Soon the young captive prince shall roll in fire,
And all his race accumulate the pyre.
Ye mountain vultures, here your food explore,
Tigers and condors, all ye gods of gore,
In these rich fields, beneath your frowning sky,
A plenteous feast shall every god supply.
Rush forward, warriors, hide the plains with dead;
Twas here our friends in former combat bled;
Strow'd thro the waste their naked bones demand
This tardy vengeance from our conquering hand.

He said; and high before the Tiger-train
With longer strides hangs forward o'er the slain,
Bends like a falling tree to reach the foe,
And o'er tall Capac aims a forceful blow.
The king beheld the ax, and with his wand
Struck the raised weapon from the sachem's hand;
Then clench'd the falling helve, and whirling round,
Fell'd a close file of heroes to the ground;
Nor stay'd, but follow'd where his people run,
Fearing to fight, forsaken by the Sun;
Till Cusco's walls salute their longing sight,
And the wide gates receive their rapid flight.
The folds are barr'd, the foes in shade conceal'd,
Like howling wolves, rave round the frighted field.

The monarch now ascends the sacred dome;
The Sun's fixt image there partakes the gloom;
Thro all the shrines, where erst on new-moon day
Swell'd the full quires of consecrated praise,
A tomb-like silence reigns; till female cries
Burst forth at last, and these sad accents rise:
Was it for this, my son to distant lands
Must trace the wilds, and tempt those lawless bands?
And does the God obscure his golden throne
In mournful darkness for my slaughter'd son?
Oh, had his beam; ere that disastrous day
That call'd the youth from these fond arms away,
Received my spirit to its native sky,
That sad Oella might have seen him die!

Where slept thy shaft of vengeance, O my God,
When those fell tigers drank his sacred blood?
Did not the pious prince, with rites divine,
Feed the pure flame in this thy hallow'd shrine;
And early learn, beneath his father's hand,
To shed thy blessings round the favor'd land?
Form'd by thy laws the royal seat to grace,
Son of thy son, and glory of his race.
Where, my lost Rocha, rests thy lovely head?
Where the rent robes thy hapless mother made?
I see thee, mid those hideous hills of snow,
Pursued and slaughter'd by the wildman foe;
Or, doom'd a feast for some pretended god,
Drench his black altar with celestial blood.
Snatch me, O Sun, to happier worlds of light-
No: shroud me, shroud me with thyself in night.
Thou hear'st me not, thou dread departed Power,
Thy face is dark, and Rocha lives no more.

Thus heard the silent king; his equal heart
Caught all her grief, and bore a father's part.
The cause, suggested by her tender moan,
The cause perchance that veil'd the midday sun,
And shouts that spoke the still approaching foe,
Fixt him suspense, in all the strength of woe.
A doubtful moment held his changing choice;
Now would he sooth her, half assumes his voice;
But greater cares the rising wish control,
And call forth all his energy of soul.
Why should he cease to ward the coming fate?
Or she be told the foes besiege the gate?
He turn'd in haste; and now their image-god
High on the spire with newborn lustre glow'd;
Swift thro the portal flew the hero's eye,
And hail'd the growing splendor in the sky.

The troops courageous at return of light
Throng round the dome, impatient for the fight;
The king descending in the portal stood,
And thus addrest the all-delighting God:
O sovereign Soul of heaven, thy changing face
Makes or destroys the glory of thy race.
If from this mortal life my child he fled,
First of thy line that ever graced the dead;
If thy bright splendor ceased on high to burn
For that loved youth who never must return.
Forgive thine armies, when in fields of blood
They lose their strength and fear the frowning God.
As now thy glory, with superior day,
Glows thro the field and leads the warrior's way,
May our exalted souls, to vengeance driven,
Burn with new brightness in the cause of heaven!
For thy slain son the murderous horde shall bleed;
We mourn the hero, but avenge the deed.

He said; and from the battlement on high
A watchful warrior raised a sudden cry:
'An Inca white on yonder altar tied-
Tis Rocha's self-the flame ascends his side.'

In sweeping haste the bursting gates unbar,
And flood the champaign with a tide of war;
A cloud of arrows leads the rapid train,
They shout, they swarm, they hide the dusty plain;
Bows, quivers, girdles strow the field behind,
And the raised axes cleave the passing wind.
The prince, confest to every warrior's sight,
Inspires each soul and centres all the fight;
Each hopes to snatch him from the kindling pyre,
Each fears his breath already flits in fire.
Here Zamor ranged his ax-men deep and wide,
Wedged like a wall, and thus the king defied:
Haste, son of Light, pour fast the winged war,
The prince, the dying prince demands your care;
Hear how his death song chides your dull delay,
Lift longer strides, bend forward to the fray,
Ere flames infolding suffocate his groan,
Child of your beaming God, a victim to our own.

This said, he raised his shaggy shoulders high,
And bade the shafts glide thicker thro the sky.
Like the broad billows of the lifted main,
Rolls into sight the long Peruvian train;
A white sail bounding, on the billows tost,
Is Capac towering o'er the furious host.

Now meet the dreadful chiefs, with eyes on fire;
Beneath their blows the parting ranks retire;
In whirlwind-sweep their meeting axes bound,
Wheel, crash in air, and plow the trembling ground;
Their sinewy limbs in fierce contortions bend,
And mutual strokes with equal force descend,
Parried with equal art, now gyring prest
High at the head, now plunging for the breast.
The king starts backward from the struggling foe,
Collects new strength, and with a circling blow
Rush'd furious on; his flinty edge, whirl'd wide,
Met Zamor's helve, and glancing grazed his side
And settled in his groin; so plunged it lay,
That scarce the king could tear his ax away.
The savage fell; when thro the Tiger-train
The driving Inca turns his force amain;
Where still compact they hem the murderous pyre,
And Rocha's voice seems faltering to expire.
The phrensied father rages, thunders wild,
Hews armies down, to save the sinking child;
The ranks fall staggering where he lifts his arm,
Or roll before him like a billowy storm;
Behind his steps collecting warriors close;
Deep centred in a circling ridge of foes
He cleaves his wasting way; the prince unties,
And thus his voice: Dread Sovereign of the skies.
Accept my living son, again bestow'd
To grace with rites the temple of his God.
Move, heroes, move; complete the work begun.
Crush the grim race, avenge your injured Sun.

The savage host, that view'd the daring deed,
And saw their nations with their leader bleed,
Raised high the shriek of horror; all the plain
Is trod with flight and cover'd with the slain.
The bold Peruvians compass round the field,
Confine their flight, and force the rest to yield;
When Capac raised his placid voice again;
Ye conquering troops, collect the vanquish'd train;
The Sun commands to stay the rage of war,
He knows to conquer, but he loves to spare.

He ceased; and where the savage leader lay
Weltering in gore, directs his eager way,
Unwraps the tiger's hide, and strives in vain
To close the wound, and mitigate the pain;
And while compassion for a foe distrest
Mixt with reproach, he thus the chief addrest:
Too long, proud prince, thy fearless heart withstood
Our sacred arms, and braved the living God;
His sovereign will commands all feuds to cease,
His realm is concord and his pleasure peace;
This copious carnage, spreading far the plain,
Insults his bounties, but confirms his reign.
Enough! tis past; thy parting breath demands
The last sad office from my yielding hands.
To share thy pains and feel thy hopeless woe,
Are rites ungrateful to a fallen foe:
Yet rest in peace; and know, a chief so brave,
When life departs, shall find an honor'd grave;
Myself in princely pomp thy tomb shall rear,
And tribes unborn thy hapless fate declare.

Insult me not with tombs! the monster cried,
Let closing clods thy coward carcase hide;
But these brave bones, unburied on the plain,
Touch not with dust, nor dare with rites profane;
Let no curst earth conceal this gory head,
Nor songs proclaim the dreadful Zamor dead,
Me, whom the hungry gods from plain to plain
Have follow'd, feasting on thy slaughter'd train,
Me wouldst thou cover? No! from yonder sky,
The wide-beak'd hawk, that now beholds me die,
Soon with his cowering train my flesh shall tear,
And wolves and tigers vindicate their share.
Receive, dread Powers (since I can slay no more),
My last glad victim, this devoved gore.

Thus pour'd the vengeful chief his fainting breath,
And lost his utterance in the gasp of death.
The sad remaining tribes confess the Power,
That sheds his bounties round Peruvia's shore;
All bow obedient to the Incan throne,
And blest Oella hails her living son.

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Homer

The Iliad: Book 24

The assembly now broke up and the people went their ways each to his
own ship. There they made ready their supper, and then bethought
them of the blessed boon of sleep; but Achilles still wept for
thinking of his dear comrade, and sleep, before whom all things bow,
could take no hold upon him. This way and that did he turn as he
yearned after the might and manfulness of Patroclus; he thought of all
they had done together, and all they had gone through both on the
field of battle and on the waves of the weary sea. As he dwelt on
these things he wept bitterly and lay now on his side, now on his
back, and now face downwards, till at last he rose and went out as one
distraught to wander upon the seashore. Then, when he saw dawn
breaking over beach and sea, he yoked his horses to his chariot, and
bound the body of Hector behind it that he might drag it about. Thrice
did he drag it round the tomb of the son of Menoetius, and then went
back into his tent, leaving the body on the ground full length and
with its face downwards. But Apollo would not suffer it to be
disfigured, for he pitied the man, dead though he now was; therefore
he shielded him with his golden aegis continually, that he might
take no hurt while Achilles was dragging him.
Thus shamefully did Achilles in his fury dishonour Hector; but the
blessed gods looked down in pity from heaven, and urged Mercury,
slayer of Argus, to steal the body. All were of this mind save only
Juno, Neptune, and Jove's grey-eyed daughter, who persisted in the
hate which they had ever borne towards Ilius with Priam and his
people; for they forgave not the wrong done them by Alexandrus in
disdaining the goddesses who came to him when he was in his
sheepyards, and preferring her who had offered him a wanton to his
ruin.
When, therefore, the morning of the twelfth day had now come,
Phoebus Apollo spoke among the immortals saying, "You gods ought to be
ashamed of yourselves; you are cruel and hard-hearted. Did not
Hector burn you thigh-bones of heifers and of unblemished goats? And
now dare you not rescue even his dead body, for his wife to look upon,
with his mother and child, his father Priam, and his people, who would
forthwith commit him to the flames, and give him his due funeral
rites? So, then, you would all be on the side of mad Achilles, who
knows neither right nor ruth? He is like some savage lion that in
the pride of his great strength and daring springs upon men's flocks
and gorges on them. Even so has Achilles flung aside all pity, and all
that conscience which at once so greatly banes yet greatly boons him
that will heed it. man may lose one far dearer than Achilles has lost-
a son, it may be, or a brother born from his own mother's womb; yet
when he has mourned him and wept over him he will let him bide, for it
takes much sorrow to kill a man; whereas Achilles, now that he has
slain noble Hector, drags him behind his chariot round the tomb of his
comrade. It were better of him, and for him, that he should not do so,
for brave though he be we gods may take it ill that he should vent his
fury upon dead clay."
Juno spoke up in a rage. "This were well," she cried, "O lord of the
silver bow, if you would give like honour to Hector and to Achilles;
but Hector was mortal and suckled at a woman's breast, whereas
Achilles is the offspring of a goddess whom I myself reared and
brought up. I married her to Peleus, who is above measure dear to
the immortals; you gods came all of you to her wedding; you feasted
along with them yourself and brought your lyre- false, and fond of low
company, that you have ever been."
Then said Jove, "Juno, be not so bitter. Their honour shall not be
equal, but of all that dwell in Ilius, Hector was dearest to the gods,
as also to myself, for his offerings never failed me. Never was my
altar stinted of its dues, nor of the drink-offerings and savour of
sacrifice which we claim of right. I shall therefore permit the body
of mighty Hector to be stolen; and yet this may hardly be without
Achilles coming to know it, for his mother keeps night and day
beside him. Let some one of you, therefore, send Thetis to me, and I
will impart my counsel to her, namely that Achilles is to accept a
ransom from Priam, and give up the body."
On this Iris fleet as the wind went forth to carry his message. Down
she plunged into the dark sea midway between Samos and rocky Imbrus;
the waters hissed as they closed over her, and she sank into the
bottom as the lead at the end of an ox-horn, that is sped to carry
death to fishes. She found Thetis sitting in a great cave with the
other sea-goddesses gathered round her; there she sat in the midst
of them weeping for her noble son who was to fall far from his own
land, on the rich plains of Troy. Iris went up to her and said,
"Rise Thetis; Jove, whose counsels fail not, bids you come to him."
And Thetis answered, "Why does the mighty god so bid me? I am in great
grief, and shrink from going in and out among the immortals. Still,
I will go, and the word that he may speak shall not be spoken in
vain."
The goddess took her dark veil, than which there can be no robe more
sombre, and went forth with fleet Iris leading the way before her. The
waves of the sea opened them a path, and when they reached the shore
they flew up into the heavens, where they found the all-seeing son
of Saturn with the blessed gods that live for ever assembled near him.
Minerva gave up her seat to her, and she sat down by the side of
father Jove. Juno then placed a fair golden cup in her hand, and spoke
to her in words of comfort, whereon Thetis drank and gave her back the
cup; and the sire of gods and men was the first to speak.
"So, goddess," said he, "for all your sorrow, and the grief that I
well know reigns ever in your heart, you have come hither to
Olympus, and I will tell you why I have sent for you. This nine days
past the immortals have been quarrelling about Achilles waster of
cities and the body of Hector. The gods would have Mercury slayer of
Argus steal the body, but in furtherance of our peace and amity
henceforward, I will concede such honour to your son as I will now
tell you. Go, then, to the host and lay these commands upon him; say
that the gods are angry with him, and that I am myself more angry than
them all, in that he keeps Hector at the ships and will not give him
up. He may thus fear me and let the body go. At the same time I will
send Iris to great Priam to bid him go to the ships of the Achaeans,
and ransom his son, taking with him such gifts for Achilles as may
give him satisfaction.
Silver-footed Thetis did as the god had told her, and forthwith down
she darted from the topmost summits of Olympus. She went to her
son's tents where she found him grieving bitterly, while his trusty
comrades round him were busy preparing their morning meal, for which
they had killed a great woolly sheep. His mother sat down beside him
and caressed him with her hand saying, "My son, how long will you keep
on thus grieving and making moan? You are gnawing at your own heart,
and think neither of food nor of woman's embraces; and yet these too
were well, for you have no long time to live, and death with the
strong hand of fate are already close beside you. Now, therefore, heed
what I say, for I come as a messenger from Jove; he says that the gods
are angry with you, and himself more angry than them all, in that
you keep Hector at the ships and will not give him up. Therefore let
him go, and accept a ransom for his body."
And Achilles answered, "So be it. If Olympian Jove of his own motion
thus commands me, let him that brings the ransom bear the body away."
Thus did mother and son talk together at the ships in long discourse
with one another. Meanwhile the son of Saturn sent Iris to the
strong city of Ilius. "Go," said he, "fleet Iris, from the mansions of
Olympus, and tell King Priam in Ilius, that he is to go to the ships
of the Achaeans and free the body of his dear son. He is to take
such gifts with him as shall give satisfaction to Achilles, and he
is to go alone, with no other Trojan, save only some honoured
servant who may drive his mules and waggon, and bring back the body of
him whom noble Achilles has slain. Let him have no thought nor fear of
death in his heart, for we will send the slayer of Argus to escort
him, and bring him within the tent of Achilles. Achilles will not kill
him nor let another do so, for he will take heed to his ways and sin
not, and he will entreat a suppliant with all honourable courtesy."
On this Iris, fleet as the wind, sped forth to deliver her
message. She went to Priam's house, and found weeping and
lamentation therein. His sons were seated round their father in the
outer courtyard, and their raiment was wet with tears: the old man sat
in the midst of them with his mantle wrapped close about his body, and
his head and neck all covered with the filth which he had clutched
as he lay grovelling in the mire. His daughters and his sons' wives
went wailing about the house, as they thought of the many and brave
men who lay dead, slain by the Argives. The messenger of Jove stood by
Priam and spoke softly to him, but fear fell upon him as she did so.
"Take heart," she said, "Priam offspring of Dardanus, take heart and
fear not. I bring no evil tidings, but am minded well towards you. I
come as a messenger from Jove, who though he be not near, takes
thought for you and pities you. The lord of Olympus bids you go and
ransom noble Hector, and take with you such gifts as shall give
satisfaction to Achilles. You are to go alone, with no Trojan, save
only some honoured servant who may drive your mules and waggon, and
bring back to the city the body of him whom noble Achilles has
slain. You are to have no thought, nor fear of death, for Jove will
send the slayer of Argus to escort you. When he has brought you within
Achilles' tent, Achilles will not kill you nor let another do so,
for he will take heed to his ways and sin not, and he will entreat a
suppliant with all honourable courtesy."
Iris went her way when she had thus spoken, and Priam told his
sons to get a mule-waggon ready, and to make the body of the waggon
fast upon the top of its bed. Then he went down into his fragrant
store-room, high-vaulted, and made of cedar-wood, where his many
treasures were kept, and he called Hecuba his wife. "Wife," said he,
"a messenger has come to me from Olympus, and has told me to go to the
ships of the Achaeans to ransom my dear son, taking with me such gifts
as shall give satisfaction to Achilles. What think you of this matter?
for my own part I am greatly moved to pass through the of the Achaeans
and go to their ships."
His wife cried aloud as she heard him, and said, "Alas, what has
become of that judgement for which you have been ever famous both
among strangers and your own people? How can you venture alone to
the ships of the Achaeans, and look into the face of him who has slain
so many of your brave sons? You must have iron courage, for if the
cruel savage sees you and lays hold on you, he will know neither
respect nor pity. Let us then weep Hector from afar here in our own
house, for when I gave him birth the threads of overruling fate were
spun for him that dogs should eat his flesh far from his parents, in
the house of that terrible man on whose liver I would fain fasten
and devour it. Thus would I avenge my son, who showed no cowardice
when Achilles slew him, and thought neither of Right nor of avoiding
battle as he stood in defence of Trojan men and Trojan women."
Then Priam said, "I would go, do not therefore stay me nor be as a
bird of ill omen in my house, for you will not move me. Had it been
some mortal man who had sent me some prophet or priest who divines
from sacrifice- I should have deemed him false and have given him no
heed; but now I have heard the goddess and seen her face to face,
therefore I will go and her saying shall not be in vain. If it be my
fate to die at the ships of the Achaeans even so would I have it;
let Achilles slay me, if I may but first have taken my son in my
arms and mourned him to my heart's comforting."
So saying he lifted the lids of his chests, and took out twelve
goodly vestments. He took also twelve cloaks of single fold, twelve
rugs, twelve fair mantles, and an equal number of shirts. He weighed
out ten talents of gold, and brought moreover two burnished tripods,
four cauldrons, and a very beautiful cup which the Thracians had given
him when he had gone to them on an embassy; it was very precious,
but he grudged not even this, so eager was he to ransom the body of
his son. Then he chased all the Trojans from the court and rebuked
them with words of anger. "Out," he cried, "shame and disgrace to me
that you are. Have you no grief in your own homes that you are come to
plague me here? Is it a small thing, think you, that the son of Saturn
has sent this sorrow upon me, to lose the bravest of my sons? Nay, you
shall prove it in person, for now he is gone the Achaeans will have
easier work in killing you. As for me, let me go down within the house
of Hades, ere mine eyes behold the sacking and wasting of the city."
He drove the men away with his staff, and they went forth as the old
man sped them. Then he called to his sons, upbraiding Helenus,
Paris, noble Agathon, Pammon, Antiphonus, Polites of the loud
battle-cry, Deiphobus, Hippothous, and Dius. These nine did the old
man call near him. "Come to me at once," he cried, "worthless sons who
do me shame; would that you had all been killed at the ships rather
than Hector. Miserable man that I am, I have had the bravest sons in
all Troy- noble Nestor, Troilus the dauntless charioteer, and Hector
who was a god among men, so that one would have thought he was son
to an immortal- yet there is not one of them left. Mars has slain them
and those of whom I am ashamed are alone left me. Liars, and light
of foot, heroes of the dance, robbers of lambs and kids from your
own people, why do you not get a waggon ready for me at once, and
put all these things upon it that I may set out on my way?"
Thus did he speak, and they feared the rebuke of their father.
They brought out a strong mule-waggon, newly made, and set the body of
the waggon fast on its bed. They took the mule-yoke from the peg on
which it hung, a yoke of boxwood with a knob on the top of it and
rings for the reins to go through. Then they brought a yoke-band
eleven cubits long, to bind the yoke to the pole; they bound it on
at the far end of the pole, and put the ring over the upright pin
making it fast with three turns of the band on either side the knob,
and bending the thong of the yoke beneath it. This done, they
brought from the store-chamber the rich ransom that was to purchase
the body of Hector, and they set it all orderly on the waggon; then
they yoked the strong harness-mules which the Mysians had on a time
given as a goodly present to Priam; but for Priam himself they yoked
horses which the old king had bred, and kept for own use.
Thus heedfully did Priam and his servant see to the yolking of their
cars at the palace. Then Hecuba came to them all sorrowful, with a
golden goblet of wine in her right hand, that they might make a
drink-offering before they set out. She stood in front of the horses
and said, "Take this, make a drink-offering to father Jove, and
since you are minded to go to the ships in spite of me, pray that
you may come safely back from the hands of your enemies. Pray to the
son of Saturn lord of the whirlwind, who sits on Ida and looks down
over all Troy, pray him to send his swift messenger on your right
hand, the bird of omen which is strongest and most dear to him of
all birds, that you may see it with your own eyes and trust it as
you go forth to the ships of the Danaans. If all-seeing Jove will
not send you this messenger, however set upon it you may be, I would
not have you go to the ships of the Argives."
And Priam answered, "Wife, I will do as you desire me; it is well to
lift hands in prayer to Jove, if so be he may have mercy upon me."
With this the old man bade the serving-woman pour pure water over
his hands, and the woman came, bearing the water in a bowl. He
washed his hands and took the cup from his wife; then he made the
drink-offering and prayed, standing in the middle of the courtyard and
turning his eyes to heaven. "Father Jove," he said, "that rulest
from Ida, most glorious and most great, grant that I may be received
kindly and compassionately in the tents of Achilles; and send your
swift messenger upon my right hand, the bird of omen which is
strongest and most dear to you of all birds, that I may see it with my
own eyes and trust it as I go forth to the ships of the Danaans."
So did he pray, and Jove the lord of counsel heard his prayer.
Forthwith he sent an eagle, the most unerring portent of all birds
that fly, the dusky hunter that men also call the Black Eagle. His
wings were spread abroad on either side as wide as the well-made and
well-bolted door of a rich man's chamber. He came to them flying
over the city upon their right hands, and when they saw him they
were glad and their hearts took comfort within them. The old man
made haste to mount his chariot, and drove out through the inner
gateway and under the echoing gatehouse of the outer court. Before him
went the mules drawing the four-wheeled waggon, and driven by wise
Idaeus; behind these were the horses, which the old man lashed with
his whip and drove swiftly through the city, while his friends
followed after, wailing and lamenting for him as though he were on his
road to death. As soon as they had come down from the city and had
reached the plain, his sons and sons-in-law who had followed him
went back to Ilius.
But Priam and Idaeus as they showed out upon the plain did not
escape the ken of all-seeing Jove, who looked down upon the old man
and pitied him; then he spoke to his son Mercury and said, "Mercury,
for it is you who are the most disposed to escort men on their way,
and to hear those whom you will hear, go, and so conduct Priam to
the ships of the Achaeans that no other of the Danaans shall see him
nor take note of him until he reach the son of Peleus."
Thus he spoke and Mercury, guide and guardian, slayer of Argus,
did as he was told. Forthwith he bound on his glittering golden
sandals with which he could fly like the wind over land and sea; he
took the wand with which he seals men's eyes in sleep, or wakes them
just as he pleases, and flew holding it in his hand till he came to
Troy and to the Hellespont. To look at, he was like a young man of
noble birth in the hey-day of his youth and beauty with the down
just coming upon his face.
Now when Priam and Idaeus had driven past the great tomb of Ilius,
they stayed their mules and horses that they might drink in the river,
for the shades of night were falling, when, therefore, Idaeus saw
Mercury standing near them he said to Priam, "Take heed, descendant of
Dardanus; here is matter which demands consideration. I see a man
who I think will presently fall upon us; let us fly with our horses,
or at least embrace his knees and implore him to take compassion
upon us?
When he heard this the old man's heart failed him, and he was in
great fear; he stayed where he was as one dazed, and the hair stood on
end over his whole body; but the bringer of good luck came up to him
and took him by the hand, saying, "Whither, father, are you thus
driving your mules and horses in the dead of night when other men
are asleep? Are you not afraid of the fierce Achaeans who are hard
by you, so cruel and relentless? Should some one of them see you
bearing so much treasure through the darkness of the flying night,
what would not your state then be? You are no longer young, and he who
is with you is too old to protect you from those who would attack you.
For myself, I will do you no harm, and I will defend you from any
one else, for you remind me of my own father."
And Priam answered, "It is indeed as you say, my dear son;
nevertheless some god has held his hand over me, in that he has sent
such a wayfarer as yourself to meet me so Opportunely; you are so
comely in mien and figure, and your judgement is so excellent that you
must come of blessed parents."
Then said the slayer of Argus, guide and guardian, "Sir, all that
you have said is right; but tell me and tell me true, are you taking
this rich treasure to send it to a foreign people where it may be
safe, or are you all leaving strong Ilius in dismay now that your
son has fallen who was the bravest man among you and was never lacking
in battle with the Achaeans?"
And Priam said, "Wo are you, my friend, and who are your parents,
that you speak so truly about the fate of my unhappy son?"
The slayer of Argus, guide and guardian, answered him, "Sir, you
would prove me, that you question me about noble Hector. Many a time
have I set eyes upon him in battle when he was driving the Argives
to their ships and putting them to the sword. We stood still and
marvelled, for Achilles in his anger with the son of Atreus suffered
us not to fight. I am his squire, and came with him in the same
ship. I am a Myrmidon, and my father's name is Polyctor: he is a
rich man and about as old as you are; he has six sons besides
myself, and I am the seventh. We cast lots, and it fell upon me to
sail hither with Achilles. I am now come from the ships on to the
plain, for with daybreak the Achaeans will set battle in array about
the city. They chafe at doing nothing, and are so eager that their
princes cannot hold them back."
Then answered Priam, "If you are indeed the squire of Achilles son
of Peleus, tell me now the Whole truth. Is my son still at the
ships, or has Achilles hewn him limb from limb, and given him to his
hounds?"
"Sir," replied the slayer of Argus, guide and guardian, "neither
hounds nor vultures have yet devoured him; he is still just lying at
the tents by the ship of Achilles, and though it is now twelve days
that he has lain there, his flesh is not wasted nor have the worms
eaten him although they feed on warriors. At daybreak Achilles drags
him cruelly round the sepulchre of his dear comrade, but it does him
no hurt. You should come yourself and see how he lies fresh as dew,
with the blood all washed away, and his wounds every one of them
closed though many pierced him with their spears. Such care have the
blessed gods taken of your brave son, for he was dear to them beyond
all measure."
The old man was comforted as he heard him and said, "My son, see
what a good thing it is to have made due offerings to the immortals;
for as sure as that he was born my son never forgot the gods that hold
Olympus, and now they requite it to him even in death. Accept
therefore at my hands this goodly chalice; guard me and with
heaven's help guide me till I come to the tent of the son of Peleus."
Then answered the slayer of Argus, guide and guardian, "Sir, you are
tempting me and playing upon my youth, but you shall not move me,
for you are offering me presents without the knowledge of Achilles
whom I fear and hold it great guiltless to defraud, lest some evil
presently befall me; but as your guide I would go with you even to
Argos itself, and would guard you so carefully whether by sea or land,
that no one should attack you through making light of him who was with
you."
The bringer of good luck then sprang on to the chariot, and
seizing the whip and reins he breathed fresh spirit into the mules and
horses. When they reached the trench and the wall that was before
the ships, those who were on guard had just been getting their
suppers, and the slayer of Argus threw them all into a deep sleep.
Then he drew back the bolts to open the gates, and took Priam inside
with the treasure he had upon his waggon. Ere long they came to the
lofty dwelling of the son of Peleus for which the Myrmidons had cut
pine and which they had built for their king; when they had built it
they thatched it with coarse tussock-grass which they had mown out
on the plain, and all round it they made a large courtyard, which
was fenced with stakes set close together. The gate was barred with
a single bolt of pine which it took three men to force into its place,
and three to draw back so as to open the gate, but Achilles could draw
it by himself. Mercury opened the gate for the old man, and brought in
the treasure that he was taking with him for the son of Peleus. Then
he sprang from the chariot on to the ground and said, "Sir, it is I,
immortal Mercury, that am come with you, for my father sent me to
escort you. I will now leave you, and will not enter into the presence
of Achilles, for it might anger him that a god should befriend
mortal men thus openly. Go you within, and embrace the knees of the
son of Peleus: beseech him by his father, his lovely mother, and his
son; thus you may move him."
With these words Mercury went back to high Olympus. Priam sprang
from his chariot to the ground, leaving Idaeus where he was, in charge
of the mules and horses. The old man went straight into the house
where Achilles, loved of the gods, was sitting. There he found him
with his men seated at a distance from him: only two, the hero
Automedon, and Alcimus of the race of Mars, were busy in attendance
about his person, for he had but just done eating and drinking, and
the table was still there. King Priam entered without their seeing
him, and going right up to Achilles he clasped his knees and kissed
the dread murderous hands that had slain so many of his sons.
As when some cruel spite has befallen a man that he should have
killed some one in his own country, and must fly to a great man's
protection in a land of strangers, and all marvel who see him, even so
did Achilles marvel as he beheld Priam. The others looked one to
another and marvelled also, but Priam besought Achilles saying, "Think
of your father, O Achilles like unto the gods, who is such even as I
am, on the sad threshold of old age. It may be that those who dwell
near him harass him, and there is none to keep war and ruin from
him. Yet when he hears of you being still alive, he is glad, and his
days are full of hope that he shall see his dear son come home to
him from Troy; but I, wretched man that I am, had the bravest in all
Troy for my sons, and there is not one of them left. I had fifty
sons when the Achaeans came here; nineteen of them were from a
single womb, and the others were borne to me by the women of my
household. The greater part of them has fierce Mars laid low, and
Hector, him who was alone left, him who was the guardian of the city
and ourselves, him have you lately slain; therefore I am now come to
the ships of the Achaeans to ransom his body from you with a great
ransom. Fear, O Achilles, the wrath of heaven; think on your own
father and have compassion upon me, who am the more pitiable, for I
have steeled myself as no man yet has ever steeled himself before
me, and have raised to my lips the hand of him who slew my son."
Thus spoke Priam, and the heart of Achilles yearned as he
bethought him of his father. He took the old man's hand and moved
him gently away. The two wept bitterly- Priam, as he lay at
Achilles' feet, weeping for Hector, and Achilles now for his father
and now for Patroclous, till the house was filled with their
lamentation. But when Achilles was now sated with grief and had
unburthened the bitterness of his sorrow, he left his seat and
raised the old man by the hand, in pity for his white hair and
beard; then he said, "Unhappy man, you have indeed been greatly
daring; how could you venture to come alone to the ships of the
Achaeans, and enter the presence of him who has slain so many of
your brave sons? You must have iron courage: sit now upon this seat,
and for all our grief we will hide our sorrows in our hearts, for
weeping will not avail us. The immortals know no care, yet the lot
they spin for man is full of sorrow; on the floor of Jove's palace
there stand two urns, the one filled with evil gifts, and the other
with good ones. He for whom Jove the lord of thunder mixes the gifts
he sends, will meet now with good and now with evil fortune; but he to
whom Jove sends none but evil gifts will be pointed at by the finger
of scorn, the hand of famine will pursue him to the ends of the world,
and he will go up and down the face of the earth, respected neither by
gods nor men. Even so did it befall Peleus; the gods endowed him
with all good things from his birth upwards, for he reigned over the
Myrmidons excelling all men in prosperity and wealth, and mortal
though he was they gave him a goddess for his bride. But even on him
too did heaven send misfortune, for there is no race of royal children
born to him in his house, save one son who is doomed to die all
untimely; nor may I take care of him now that he is growing old, for I
must stay here at Troy to be the bane of you and your children. And
you too, O Priam, I have heard that you were aforetime happy. They say
that in wealth and plenitude of offspring you surpassed all that is in
Lesbos, the realm of Makar to the northward, Phrygia that is more
inland, and those that dwell upon the great Hellespont; but from the
day when the dwellers in heaven sent this evil upon you, war and
slaughter have been about your city continually. Bear up against it,
and let there be some intervals in your sorrow. Mourn as you may for
your brave son, you will take nothing by it. You cannot raise him from
the dead, ere you do so yet another sorrow shall befall you."
And Priam answered, "O king, bid me not be seated, while Hector is
still lying uncared for in your tents, but accept the great ransom
which I have brought you, and give him to me at once that I may look
upon him. May you prosper with the ransom and reach your own land in
safety, seeing that you have suffered me to live and to look upon
the light of the sun."
Achilles looked at him sternly and said, "Vex me, sir, no longer;
I am of myself minded to give up the body of Hector. My mother,
daughter of the old man of the sea, came to me from Jove to bid me
deliver it to you. Moreover I know well, O Priam, and you cannot
hide it, that some god has brought you to the ships of the Achaeans,
for else, no man however strong and in his prime would dare to come to
our host; he could neither pass our guard unseen, nor draw the bolt of
my gates thus easily; therefore, provoke me no further, lest I sin
against the word of Jove, and suffer you not, suppliant though you
are, within my tents."
The old man feared him and obeyed. Then the son of Peleus sprang
like a lion through the door of his house, not alone, but with him
went his two squires Automedon and Alcimus who were closer to him than
any others of his comrades now that Patroclus was no more. These
unyoked the horses and mules, and bade Priam's herald and attendant be
seated within the house. They lifted the ransom for Hector's body from
the waggon. but they left two mantles and a goodly shirt, that
Achilles might wrap the body in them when he gave it to be taken home.
Then he called to his servants and ordered them to wash the body and
anoint it, but he first took it to a place where Priam should not
see it, lest if he did so, he should break out in the bitterness of
his grief, and enrage Achilles, who might then kill him and sin
against the word of Jove. When the servants had washed the body and
anointed it, and had wrapped it in a fair shirt and mantle, Achilles
himself lifted it on to a bier, and he and his men then laid it on the
waggon. He cried aloud as he did so and called on the name of his dear
comrade, "Be not angry with me, Patroclus," he said, "if you hear even
in the house of Hades that I have given Hector to his father for a
ransom. It has been no unworthy one, and I will share it equitably
with you."
Achilles then went back into the tent and took his place on the
richly inlaid seat from which he had risen, by the wall that was at
right angles to the one against which Priam was sitting. "Sir," he
said, "your son is now laid upon his bier and is ransomed according to
desire; you shall look upon him when you him away at daybreak; for the
present let us prepare our supper. Even lovely Niobe had to think
about eating, though her twelve children- six daughters and six
lusty sons- had been all slain in her house. Apollo killed the sons
with arrows from his silver bow, to punish Niobe, and Diana slew the
daughters, because Niobe had vaunted herself against Leto; she said
Leto had borne two children only, whereas she had herself borne
many- whereon the two killed the many. Nine days did they lie
weltering, and there was none to bury them, for the son of Saturn
turned the people into stone; but on the tenth day the gods in
heaven themselves buried them, and Niobe then took food, being worn
out with weeping. They say that somewhere among the rocks on the
mountain pastures of Sipylus, where the nymphs live that haunt the
river Achelous, there, they say, she lives in stone and still nurses
the sorrows sent upon her by the hand of heaven. Therefore, noble sir,
let us two now take food; you can weep for your dear son hereafter
as you are bearing him back to Ilius- and many a tear will he cost
you."
With this Achilles sprang from his seat and killed a sheep of
silvery whiteness, which his followers skinned and made ready all in
due order. They cut the meat carefully up into smaller pieces, spitted
them, and drew them off again when they were well roasted. Automedon
brought bread in fair baskets and served it round the table, while
Achilles dealt out the meat, and they laid their hands on the good
things that were before them. As soon as they had had enough to eat
and drink, Priam, descendant of Dardanus, marvelled at the strength
and beauty of Achilles for he was as a god to see, and Achilles
marvelled at Priam as he listened to him and looked upon his noble
presence. When they had gazed their fill Priam spoke first. "And
now, O king," he said, "take me to my couch that we may lie down and
enjoy the blessed boon of sleep. Never once have my eyes been closed
from the day your hands took the life of my son; I have grovelled
without ceasing in the mire of my stable-yard, making moan and
brooding over my countless sorrows. Now, moreover, I have eaten
bread and drunk wine; hitherto I have tasted nothing."
As he spoke Achilles told his men and the women-servants to set beds
in the room that was in the gatehouse, and make them with good red
rugs, and spread coverlets on the top of them with woollen cloaks
for Priam and Idaeus to wear. So the maids went out carrying a torch
and got the two beds ready in all haste. Then Achilles said laughingly
to Priam, "Dear sir, you shall lie outside, lest some counsellor of
those who in due course keep coming to advise with me should see you
here in the darkness of the flying night, and tell it to Agamemnon.
This might cause delay in the delivery of the body. And now tell me
and tell me true, for how many days would you celebrate the funeral
rites of noble Hector? Tell me, that I may hold aloof from war and
restrain the host."
And Priam answered, "Since, then, you suffer me to bury my noble son
with all due rites, do thus, Achilles, and I shall be grateful. You
know how we are pent up within our city; it is far for us to fetch
wood from the mountain, and the people live in fear. Nine days,
therefore, will we mourn Hector in my house; on the tenth day we
will bury him and there shall be a public feast in his honour; on
the eleventh we will build a mound over his ashes, and on the twelfth,
if there be need, we will fight."
And Achilles answered, "All, King Priam, shall be as you have
said. I will stay our fighting for as long a time as you have named."
As he spoke he laid his hand on the old man's right wrist, in
token that he should have no fear; thus then did Priam and his
attendant sleep there in the forecourt, full of thought, while
Achilles lay in an inner room of the house, with fair Briseis by his
side.
And now both gods and mortals were fast asleep through the
livelong night, but upon Mercury alone, the bringer of good luck,
sleep could take no hold for he was thinking all the time how to get
King Priam away from the ships without his being seen by the strong
force of sentinels. He hovered therefore over Priam's head and said,
"Sir, now that Achilles has spared your life, you seem to have no fear
about sleeping in the thick of your foes. You have paid a great
ransom, and have received the body of your son; were you still alive
and a prisoner the sons whom you have left at home would have to
give three times as much to free you; and so it would be if
Agamemnon and the other Achaeans were to know of your being here."
When he heard this the old man was afraid and roused his servant.
Mercury then yoked their horses and mules, and drove them quickly
through the host so that no man perceived them. When they came to
the ford of eddying Xanthus, begotten of immortal Jove, Mercury went
back to high Olympus, and dawn in robe of saffron began to break
over all the land. Priam and Idaeus then drove on toward the city
lamenting and making moan, and the mules drew the body of Hector. No
one neither man nor woman saw them, till Cassandra, fair as golden
Venus standing on Pergamus, caught sight of her dear father in his
chariot, and his servant that was the city's herald with him. Then she
saw him that was lying upon the bier, drawn by the mules, and with a
loud cry she went about the city saying, "Come hither Trojans, men and
women, and look on Hector; if ever you rejoiced to see him coming from
battle when he was alive, look now on him that was the glory of our
city and all our people."
At this there was not man nor woman left in the city, so great a
sorrow had possessed them. Hard by the gates they met Priam as he
was bringing in the body. Hector's wife and his mother were the
first to mourn him: they flew towards the waggon and laid their
hands upon his head, while the crowd stood weeping round them. They
would have stayed before the gates, weeping and lamenting the livelong
day to the going down of the sun, had not Priam spoken to them from
the chariot and said, "Make way for the mules to pass you.
Afterwards when I have taken the body home you shall have your fill of
weeping."
On this the people stood asunder, and made a way for the waggon.
When they had borne the body within the house they laid it upon a
bed and seated minstrels round it to lead the dirge, whereon the women
joined in the sad music of their lament. Foremost among them all
Andromache led their wailing as she clasped the head of mighty
Hector in her embrace. "Husband," she cried, "you have died young, and
leave me in your house a widow; he of whom we are the ill-starred
parents is still a mere child, and I fear he may not reach manhood.
Ere he can do so our city will be razed and overthrown, for you who
watched over it are no more- you who were its saviour, the guardian of
our wives and children. Our women will be carried away captives to the
ships, and I among them; while you, my child, who will be with me will
be put to some unseemly tasks, working for a cruel master. Or, may be,
some Achaean will hurl you (O miserable death) from our walls, to
avenge some brother, son, or father whom Hector slew; many of them
have indeed bitten the dust at his hands, for your father's hand in
battle was no light one. Therefore do the people mourn him. You have
left, O Hector, sorrow unutterable to your parents, and my own grief
is greatest of all, for you did not stretch forth your arms and
embrace me as you lay dying, nor say to me any words that might have
lived with me in my tears night and day for evermore."
Bitterly did she weep the while, and the women joined in her lament.
Hecuba in her turn took up the strains of woe. "Hector," she cried,
"dearest to me of all my children. So long as you were alive the
gods loved you well, and even in death they have not been utterly
unmindful of you; for when Achilles took any other of my sons, he
would sell him beyond the seas, to Samos Imbrus or rugged Lemnos;
and when he had slain you too with his sword, many a time did he
drag you round the sepulchre of his comrade- though this could not
give him life- yet here you lie all fresh as dew, and comely as one
whom Apollo has slain with his painless shafts."
Thus did she too speak through her tears with bitter moan, and
then Helen for a third time took up the strain of lamentation.
"Hector," said she, "dearest of all my brothers-in-law-for I am wife
to Alexandrus who brought me hither to Troy- would that I had died ere
he did so- twenty years are come and gone since I left my home and
came from over the sea, but I have never heard one word of insult or
unkindness from you. When another would chide with me, as it might
be one of your brothers or sisters or of your brothers' wives, or my
mother-in-law- for Priam was as kind to me as though he were my own
father- you would rebuke and check them with words of gentleness and
goodwill. Therefore my tears flow both for you and for my unhappy
self, for there is no one else in Troy who is kind to me, but all
shrink and shudder as they go by me."
She wept as she spoke and the vast crowd that was gathered round her
joined in her lament. Then King Priam spoke to them saying, "Bring
wood, O Trojans, to the city, and fear no cunning ambush of the
Argives, for Achilles when he dismissed me from the ships gave me
his word that they should not attack us until the morning of the
twelfth day."
Forthwith they yoked their oxen and mules and gathered together
before the city. Nine days long did they bring in great heaps wood,
and on the morning of the tenth day with many tears they took trave
Hector forth, laid his dead body upon the summit of the pile, and
set the fire thereto. Then when the child of morning rosy-fingered
dawn appeared on the eleventh day, the people again assembled, round
the pyre of mighty Hector. When they were got together, they first
quenched the fire with wine wherever it was burning, and then his
brothers and comrades with many a bitter tear gathered his white
bones, wrapped them in soft robes of purple, and laid them in a golden
urn, which they placed in a grave and covered over with large stones
set close together. Then they built a barrow hurriedly over it keeping
guard on every side lest the Achaeans should attack them before they
had finished. When they had heaped up the barrow they went back
again into the city, and being well assembled they held high feast
in the house of Priam their king.
Thus, then, did they celebrate the funeral of Hector tamer of
horses.

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Till the dawn-light; ember lilts

The eyes of dawn will make my bed
In the river of some dream,
Where half-forgotten limbs will rise
Like vapor's on the breeze;
But who will walk or lean on me
Lean against this idle frame?

Who will take my grey-goose quilt?
And wrap it around my arms
And say wake my love for I am here
For I am here to stir your lonesome heart
And warm your bones in winter's dark
Till the dawn-light; ember lilts.

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Among Those Killed in the Dawn Raid Was a Man Aged a Hundred

When the morning was waking over the war
He put on his clothes and stepped out and he died,
The locks yawned loose and a blast blew them wide,
He dropped where he loved on the burst pavement stone
And the funeral grains of the slaughtered floor.
Tell his street on its back he stopped a sun
And the craters of his eyes grew springshots and fire
When all the keys shot from the locks, and rang.
Dig no more for the chains of his grey-haired heart.
The heavenly ambulance drawn by a wound
Assembling waits for the spade's ring on the cage.
O keep his bones away from the common cart,
The morning is flying on the wings of his age
And a hundred storks perch on the sun's right hand.

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The Ballad Of Buckethead

Whos this guitar-playing sonsa bitch? , is a question common asked.
On his head a bucket of chicken bones, on his face a plaster mask.
Hes the bastard son of a preacher man, on the town he left a stain.
They made him live in a chicken house to try to and hide the shame.
He was born in a coop, raised in a cage. children fear him, critics rage.
Hes half alive, hes half dead. folks just call him buckethead.
Farmers would torment him as he snuggled with the hens.
Theyd hose him down with water, and steal his little friends.
Now late at night hed sneak off to the graveyard all alone,
And play a soapbox guitar to the faces made of stone.
Buckethead found his freedom at the age of 17,
When he burned the chicked house down with a quart of gasoline.
He did puppet shows on corners and bought a real guitar,
And with the help of colonel sanders, hes bound to be a star.
He was born in a coop, raised in a cage. children fear him, critics rage.
Hes half alive, hes half dead. folks just call him buckethead.

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The Front Tooth

A-sittin' in the Bull and Pump
With double gins to keep us cheery
Says she to me, says Polly Crump"
"What makes ye look so sweet. me dearie?
As if ye'd gotten back yer youth . . . ."
Says I: "It's just me new front tooth."

Says Polly Crump: "A gummy grin
Don't help to make one's business active;
We gels wot gains our bread by sin
Have got to make ourselves attractive.
I hope yer dentist was no rook?"
Says I: "A quid is what he took."

Says Polly Crump: "The shoes you wear
Are down at heel and need new soleing;
Why doncher buy a better pair?
The rain goes in and out the holeing.
They're squelchin' as ye walk yer beat. . . ."
Says I: "blokes don't look at me feet."

Says Polly Crump: "You cough all day;
It just don't do in our profession;
A girl's got to be pert and gay
To give a guy a good impression;
For if ye cough he's shy of you. . . ."
Says I: "An' wots a gel to do?"

Says Polly Crump: "I'm pink an' fat,
But you are bones an' pale as plaster;
At this dam' rate you're goin' at
You'll never live to be a laster.
You'll have the daisy roots for door. . . ."
Says I: "It's 'ell to be a 'ore.

"But I don't care now I can smile,
Smile, smile and not that gap-toothed grinning;
I'm wet and cold, but it's worth while
To once again look fairly winning.
And send ten bob or so to Mother. . . ."
Said Polly Crump: "Gwad! Have another?"

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The Lion of the Dawn

The sun sliced through the ample sighs
Of the foggy dawn and grazed
The inert life in each
Quiescent leaves
Of the forest's canopy.
The world was a burning orb
In the misty horizon
Of its arid skin.
Every fraction started
Rousing into life,
From the blossoming buds
Of the wild bougainvilleas,
The elucidation of
The forest floor clad in moss,
The subtle tremble
In the boughs
Of the yawning tress,
The lifting waves
Of the hampered grass,
The fading of
The cricket's revelry
Paving way
For the cacophonous harmony
Of chirping birds;
And there was something sublime
Inside the chromospheres
Of the fulmination of life.
Something supple as
The battering of eyelashes
That is all the same surreal
That it can set forth
Colossal waves to another
Acknowledging eye.

Unfortunately,
Only a lionhearted soul
Could grapple this in sentience
Without suffocating the feral splendor.

In the belly of the shuddering abstraction
Lies a pristine vista
Of an olive pond.
It was making billowing ripples
Instigated by a pink unwavering tongue.
Massive paws rested on the fringes
Of the sodden aqueous mirror,
Serpentine tail wags in svelte grace,
And tuft suspicious ears
Twitch invariably as
An immensely sized and aloof head
Of gilded ropy hair
Bows into the mirror.
The steely gold orbits
That drown in the dithering cesspool
Mused on the pockmarks and scars
That squandered the dazzles
Of the tawny skin
He used to muse upon.
But then again,
With every roll of the undulating water,
He had seen the forest bloom
In a looming dance of ethereal flames
In the unfathomable surface
Of the impenetrable membranes
Of the pond.

The forest emerged vigorously
In its sedentary breathing,
Cloying the qualms of a
Ferocious cat in the distorted
Reflection of the pond
Of delusions.
The lion's heart was made of glass,
Frangible and brittle;
His bones were hollow
And they constantly quaver.
The lion's heart roared and prowled
Ripping the evanescence
Of both anguish and bliss.
The lion was weak
And easy to topple
But he burned of golden cinders
That spoke of a fervent desire
To stand in the front line of surrealistic
Crusades of heart
Without any remedy.

The forest has ears
And he can hear the vying
In every pounding of the forlorn chamber
Of the lion's heart.
The forest has eyes
And he can see the lion rising
Every time the sun would shatter
The mistral darkness of the eve
With zealous desire for life
In the verisimilitude of
The breaking dawn itself.
The forest had no tongue
But it had called the lion several times,
And the leaves pranced
For the wind to carry its message,
Brushing the laments of the lion.
The forest called him "The Lion of the Dawn".
And the forest could only brood
In the whim of each gloaming,
That he could never speak of
What the lion was
And no one would ever find
The lion in his lanky,
Unattractive and farcical veneer.

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The Morn That Breaks Its Heart Of Gold

From an ode 'In Commemoration of the Founding of the
Massachusetts Bay Colony.'

The morn that breaks its heart of gold
Above the purple hills;
The eve, that spills
Its nautilus splendor where the sea is rolled;
The night, that leads the vast procession in
Of stars and dreams,-
The beauty that shall never die or pass:-
The winds, that spin
Of rain the misty mantles of the grass,
And thunder raiment of the mountain-streams;
The sunbeams, penciling with gold the dusk
Green cowls of ancient woods;
The shadows, thridding, veiled with musk,
The moon-pathed solitudes,
Call to my Fancy, saying, 'Follow! follow!'
Till, following, I see,-
Fair as a cascade in a rainbowed hollow,-
A dream, a shape, take form,
Clad on with every charm,-

The vision of that Ideality,
Which lured the pioneer in wood and hill,
And beckoned him from earth and sky;
The dream that cannot die,
Their children's children did fulfill,
In stone and iron and wood,
Out of the solitude,
And by a stalwart act
Create a mighty fact-
A Nation, now that stands
Clad on with hope and beauty, strength and song,
Eternal, young and strong,
Planting her heel on wrong,
Her starry banner in triumphant hands….

Within her face the rose
Of Alleghany dawns;
Limbed with Alaskan snows,
Floridian starlight in her eyes,-
Eyes stern as steel yet tender as a fawn's,-
And in her hair
The rapture of her rivers; and the dare,
As perishless as truth,
That o'er the crags of her Sierras flies,
Urging the eagle ardor through her veins,
Behold her where,
Around her radiant youth,

The spirits of the cataracts and plains,
The genii of the floods and forests, meet,
In rainbow mists circling her brow and feet:
The forces vast that sit
In session round her; powers paraclete,
That guard her presence; awful forms and fair,
Making secure her place;
Guiding her surely as the worlds through space
Do laws sidereal; edicts, thunder-lit,
Of skyed eternity, in splendor borne
On planetary wings of night and morn.

*

From her high place she sees
Her long procession of accomplished acts,
Cloud-winged refulgences
Of thoughts in steel and stone, of marble dreams,
Lift up tremendous battlements,
Sun-blinding, built of facts;
While in her soul she seems,
Listening, to hear, as from innumerable tents,
AEonian thunder, wonder, and applause
Of all the heroic ages that are gone;
Feeling secure
That, as her Past, her Future shall endure,
As did her Cause
When redly broke the dawn
Of fierce rebellion, and, beneath its star,
The firmaments of war
Poured down infernal rain,
And North and South lay bleeding mid their slain.
And now, no less, shall her great Cause prevail,
More so in peace than war,
Through the thrilled wire and electric rail,
Carrying her message far:
Shaping her dream
Within the brain of steam,
That, with a myriad hands,
Labors unceasingly, and knits her lands
In firmer union; joining plain and stream
With steel; and binding shore to shore
With bands of iron;-nerves and arteries,
Along whose adamant forever pour
Her concrete thoughts, her tireless energies.

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Into The Dawn

Heart beating against my chest,
I plunge the knife deep into the stranger's heart,
Feeling bones break,
Hearing their crack as they move aside.
The look in the person's face stuck in permanent surprise,
As if it's only in the moment that I'm killing them,
Only the moment that their life begins to leave their body,
That they realize that they're alive.
I leave the knife behind and let them fall to the ground,
As I do I turn and walk through the doorway.

I walk out onto the streets of Paris,
People rushing around,
My eyes light up with joy at the scents, and sounds,
I walk around the corner and he's standing there,
My arms open wide,
My mouth letting out a shriek of happiness,
Of course he'd be here, he always is,
But every time I feel the same excitement,
Every time I run into his arms,
Every time I run home.

As I collide into him,
My tears break out,
Tears of complete release,
Reassurance and love.
This is where I belong.
I open my eyes and look around,
Everyone's here,
The friends with the warmest hearts,
The brightest smiles,
All of them here, for me.

Completing my circle I blink,
In that moment I'm on top of the Great Wall of China,
Most of the same people are running around me,
Playing games of foolish recklessness.
I stand at the edge looking down,
Taking in the entire idea of the wall and it's being.
Breathing in the presence of the past,
Feeling every bit of the present.
A smile grabs hold of my face as his arms slip around me,
But as soon as I look, he's gone.

My joy quickly turns to fear,
Eyes darting to the sky,
Responding to the loud scream of something monstrous,
The beast flies overhead,
Barely high enough to pass over the trees,
A dragon?
My mind races, trying to connect the dots,
As he swoops back, his talons out stretched ready to scoop me up.
Clasped in his grip we fly higher and higher,
And suddenly, I'm falling.

The Earth comes rushing towards me,
I close my eyes in desperate attempt to wish myself away.
A calm rushes over me and I hear the gentle sound of the ocean,
I look down and realize I'm soaring above the crystal blue water,
My arms are outstretched as I fly farther and farther,
Seagulls surround me ignoring my presence as if I were one of them,
Again I am happy, peaceful,
Gliding down to the water, I graze my hand on its surface,
The sound echoing in my ears,
And just like that I'm back.

I'm standing on the ground again,
My friends around me once more,
Only this time in a vast field,
With bright summer colors,
Flowers, birds, and laughter fill the empty spaces,
I realize I'm in his arms,
I look up at him and smile a confused smile,
He just laughs and spins me around in a delicate circle,
Stopping me as I face him,
A bright light interrupts the scene, small at first, then consuming everything.

Blinking away the pain I look around,
I'm in an empty room,
Laying on the floor,
I strain to stand up only to realize I can't move,
Fear overtakes me once again,
A figure appears in the corner of my eye, laughing.
It slinks towards me, the grimace on its face shining through its darkness,
It starts to melt to the floor, still coming towards me,
Slowly, it covers me, a lead blanket of sorrow,
I clench my eyes closed and scream.


I'm falling now.
Not from the sky,
But into a cave.
An endless abyss expanding below me.
I hear the excited scream of a familiar voice,
'Pull the string, ' They yell at me.
I fumble at my shoulders and pull what ends up being a parachute.
Relief floods over me and I let out a holler of adrenaline,
As I reach the bottom I find myself surround by whales.

Just then my parachute is replaced with a tank,
My mouth covered with a mask,
I suck in the oxygen and swim up to one of the creatures,
Slowly reaching out my hand, placing it next to the animal's eye.
Its size overwhelms me and I jerk my hand back as its head moves.
They swim off and I am left in the middle of the ocean,
Nothing but blue on every side, and nothing but blue above.
So much beauty, so much unknown wonder,
I swim to the surface,
Removing my mask and breathing the fresh air.

A beach ball flies over me,
And I feel the impact of a splash on the back of my head,
I whirl around, already knowing who it was,
I return the attack with an attack of my own.
Then quickly dodging their counterattack,
I grab a beach ball and throw it over my shoulder,
With their defenses down I face them,
Laughing and splashing I approach them and launch myself onto their shoulders,
Pushing the both of us underwater,
As I break the surface again the scene is quiet.

I'm in a lake, the moon shining bright,
I hoped that I wasn't alone, and I wasn't.
I hoped the person would be him, and it was.
He smiled as he walked through the water towards me.
Stopping just in front of me, reaching for my hands.
Fingers intertwined in mine he steps closer,
His forehead rests on mine,
His voice ringing in my ears, then he goes silent,
He frees a hand and traces the curves of my face,
Encouraging me too look up at him, he steals a kiss.


My eyes close and we're dancing,
I hesitate to open my eyes, knowing I would find a different place,
Though he's still the one with me so I feel safe enough to peak out of my shell,
The ball room is full, obviously a special occasion,
On either side of us there are two other couples dancing, the rest of the floor is still,
The music starts then,
Forming the soundtrack to our movements,
Step, step, turn, step, step, turn,
I memorize the feeling of each breath we take,
Knowing it most likely won't last long.

The music plays on, we dance on,
Slowly the music turns to a repetition of chords,
Growing louder and more abrasive.
The people around don't seem to notice, though,
So thinking it to just be in my head I go along with it,
Continuing with the memorized choreography,
Since the music no longer matches.
The room becomes dim, almost fading away.
I stop dancing and hug him tight,
Knowing that it's goodbye, for now.

As the last part of the scene fades to black,
He kisses my forehead, the feeling imprinted on my skin,
I smile, and let the rest fade out.
The sound that had started continues to pound in my ears.
I'm laying on something soft,
Wrapped in the warmth and comfort of familiarity.
My heart is slowed, my breathing faint,
I replay the experiences again in my head before opening my eyes once more,
To be greeted by the start of more, different, adventures, but I lay there still,
Wondering what I'll dream of tonight.

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Clancy Of The Mounted Police

In the little Crimson Manual it's written plain and clear
That who would wear the scarlet coat shall say good-bye to fear;
Shall be a guardian of the right, a sleuth-hound of the trail--
In the little Crimson Manual there's no such word as "fail"--
Shall follow on though heavens fall, or hell's top-turrets freeze,
Half round the world, if need there be, on bleeding hands and knees.
It's duty, duty, first and last, the Crimson Manual saith;
The Scarlet Rider makes reply: "It's duty--to the death."
And so they sweep the solitudes, free men from all the earth;
And so they sentinel the woods, the wilds that know their worth;
And so they scour the startled plains and mock at hurt and pain,
And read their Crimson Manual, and find their duty plain.
Knights of the lists of unrenown, born of the frontier's need,
Disdainful of the spoken word, exultant in the deed;
Unconscious heroes of the waste, proud players of the game,
Props of the power behind the throne, upholders of the name:
For thus the Great White Chief hath said, "In all my lands be peace",
And to maintain his word he gave his West the Scarlet Police.

Livid-lipped was the valley, still as the grave of God;
Misty shadows of mountain thinned into mists of cloud;
Corpselike and stark was the land, with a quiet that crushed and awed,
And the stars of the weird sub-arctic glimmered over its shroud.

Deep in the trench of the valley two men stationed the Post,
Seymour and Clancy the reckless, fresh from the long patrol;
Seymour, the sergeant, and Clancy--Clancy who made his boast
He could cinch like a bronco the Northland, and cling to the prongs of the Pole.

Two lone men on detachment, standing for law on the trail;
Undismayed in the vastness, wise with the wisdom of old--
Out of the night hailed a half-breed telling a pitiful tale,
"White man starving and crazy on the banks of the Nordenscold."

Up sprang the red-haired Clancy, lean and eager of eye;
Loaded the long toboggan, strapped each dog at its post;
Whirled his lash at the leader; then, with a whoop and a cry,
Into the Great White Silence faded away like a ghost.

The clouds were a misty shadow, the hills were a shadowy mist;
Sunless, voiceless and pulseless, the day was a dream of woe;
Through the ice-rifts the river smoked and bubbled and hissed;
Behind was a trail fresh broken, in front the untrodden snow.

Ahead of the dogs ploughed Clancy, haloed by steaming breath;
Through peril of open water, through ache of insensate cold;
Up rivers wantonly winding in a land affianced to death,
Till he came to a cowering cabin on the banks of the Nordenscold.

Then Clancy loosed his revolver, and he strode through the open door;
And there was the man he sought for, crouching beside the fire;
The hair of his beard was singeing, the frost on his back was hoar,
And ever he crooned and chanted as if he never would tire:--

"I panned and I panned in the shiny sand, and I sniped on the river bar;
But I know, I know, that it's down below that the golden treasures are;
So I'll wait and wait till the floods abate, and I'll sink a shaft once more,
And I'd like to bet that I'll go home yet with a brass band playing before."

He was nigh as thin as a sliver, and he whined like a Moose-hide cur;
So Clancy clothed him and nursed him as a mother nurses a child;
Lifted him on the toboggan, wrapped him in robes of fur,
Then with the dogs sore straining started to face the Wild.

Said the Wild, "I will crush this Clancy, so fearless and insolent;
For him will I loose my fury, and blind and buffet and beat;
Pile up my snows to stay him; then when his strength is spent,
Leap on him from my ambush and crush him under my feet.

"Him will I ring with my silence, compass him with my cold;
Closer and closer clutch him unto mine icy breast;
Buffet him with my blizzards, deep in my snows enfold,
Claiming his life as my tribute, giving my wolves the rest."

Clancy crawled through the vastness; o'er him the hate of the Wild;
Full on his face fell the blizzard; cheering his huskies he ran;
Fighting, fierce-hearted and tireless, snows that drifted and piled,
With ever and ever behind him singing the crazy man.

"Sing hey, sing ho, for the ice and snow,
And a heart that's ever merry;
Let us trim and square with a lover's care
(For why should a man be sorry?)
A grave deep, deep, with the moon a-peep,
A grave in the frozen mould.
Sing hey, sing ho, for the winds that blow,
And a grave deep down in the ice and snow,
A grave in the land of gold."

Day after day of darkness, the whirl of the seething snows;
Day after day of blindness, the swoop of the stinging blast;
On through a blur of fury the swing of staggering blows;
On through a world of turmoil, empty, inane and vast.
Night with its writhing storm-whirl, night despairingly black;
Night with its hours of terror, numb and endlessly long;
Night with its weary waiting, fighting the shadows back,
And ever the crouching madman singing his crazy song.

Cold with its creeping terror, cold with its sudden clinch;
Cold so utter you wonder if 'twill ever again be warm;
Clancy grinned as he shuddered, "Surely it isn't a cinch
Being wet-nurse to a looney in the teeth of an arctic storm.

"The blizzard passed and the dawn broke, knife-edged and crystal clear;
The sky was a blue-domed iceberg, sunshine outlawed away;
Ever by snowslide and ice-rip haunted and hovered the Fear;
Ever the Wild malignant poised and panted to slay.

The lead-dog freezes in harness--cut him out of the team!
The lung of the wheel-dog's bleeding--shoot him and let him lie!
On and on with the others--lash them until they scream!
"Pull for your lives, you devils! On! To halt is to die."

There in the frozen vastness Clancy fought with his foes;
The ache of the stiffened fingers, the cut of the snowshoe thong;
Cheeks black-raw through the hood-flap, eyes that tingled and closed,
And ever to urge and cheer him quavered the madman's song.

Colder it grew and colder, till the last heat left the earth,
And there in the great stark stillness the bale fires glinted and gleamed,
And the Wild all around exulted and shook with a devilish mirth,
And life was far and forgotten, the ghost of a joy once dreamed.

Death! And one who defied it, a man of the Mounted Police;
Fought it there to a standstill long after hope was gone;
Grinned through his bitter anguish, fought without let or cease,
Suffering, straining, striving, stumbling, struggling on.

Till the dogs lay down in their traces, and rose and staggered and fell;
Till the eyes of him dimmed with shadows, and the trail was so hard to see;
Till the Wild howled out triumphant, and the world was a frozen hell--
Then said Constable Clancy: "I guess that it's up to me."

Far down the trail they saw him, and his hands they were blanched like bone;
His face was a blackened horror, from his eyelids the salt rheum ran;
His feet he was lifting strangely, as if they were made of stone,
But safe in his arms and sleeping he carried the crazy man.

So Clancy got into Barracks, and the boys made rather a scene;
And the O. C. called him a hero, and was nice as a man could be;
But Clancy gazed down his trousers at the place where his toes had been,
And then he howled like a husky, and sang in a shaky key:

"When I go back to the old love that's true to the finger-tips,
I'll say: `Here's bushels of gold, love,' and I'll kiss my girl on the lips;
It's yours to have and to hold, love.' It's the proud, proud boy I'll be,
When I go back to the old love that's waited so long for me."

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The Ballad Of The Northern Lights

One of the Down and Out--that's me. Stare at me well, ay, stare!
Stare and shrink--say! you wouldn't think that I was a millionaire.
Look at my face, it's crimped and gouged--one of them death-mask things;
Don't seem the sort of man, do I, as might be the pal of kings?
Slouching along in smelly rags, a bleary-eyed, no-good bum;
A knight of the hollow needle, pard, spewed from the sodden slum.
Look me all over from head to foot; how much would you think I was worth?
A dollar? a dime? a nickel? Why, I'm the wealthest man on earth.

No, don't you think that I'm off my base. You'll sing a different tune
If only you'll let me spin my yarn. Come over to this saloon;
Wet my throat--it's as dry as chalk, and seeing as how it's you,
I'll tell the tale of a Northern trail, and so help me God, it's true.
I'll tell of the howling wilderness and the haggard Arctic heights,
Of a reckless vow that I made, and how I staked the Northern Lights.

Remember the year of the Big Stampede and the trail of Ninety-eight,
When the eyes of the world were turned to the North, and the hearts of men elate;
Hearts of the old dare-devil breed thrilled at the wondrous strike,
And to every man who could hold a pan came the message, "Up and hike".
Well, I was there with the best of them, and I knew I would not fail.
You wouldn't believe it to see me now; but wait till you've heard my tale.

You've read of the trail of Ninety-eight, but its woe no man may tell;
It was all of a piece and a whole yard wide, and the name of the brand was "Hell".
We heard the call and we staked our all; we were plungers playing blind,
And no man cared how his neighbor fared, and no man looked behind;
For a ruthless greed was born of need, and the weakling went to the wall,
And a curse might avail where a prayer would fail, and the gold lust crazed us all.

Bold were we, and they called us three the "Unholy Trinity";
There was Ole Olson, the Sailor Swede, and the Dago Kid and me.
We were the discards of the pack, the foreloopers of Unrest,
Reckless spirits of fierce revolt in the ferment of the West.
We were bound to win and we revelled in the hardships of the way.
We staked our ground and our hopes were crowned, and we hoisted out the pay.
We were rich in a day beyond our dreams, it was gold from the grass-roots down;
But we weren't used to such sudden wealth, and there was the siren town.
We were crude and careless frontiersmen, with much in us of the beast;
We could bear the famine worthily, but we lost our heads at the feast.
The town looked mighty bright to us, with a bunch of dust to spend,
And nothing was half too good them days, and everyone was our friend.
Wining meant more than mining then, and life was a dizzy whirl,
Gambling and dropping chunks of gold down the neck of a dance-hall girl;
Till we went clean mad, it seems to me, and we squandered our last poke,
And we sold our claim, and we found ourselves one bitter morning--broke.

The Dago Kid he dreamed a dream of his mother's aunt who died--
In the dawn-light dim she came to him, and she stood by his bedside,
And she said: "Go forth to the highest North till a lonely trail ye find;
Follow it far and trust your star, and fortune will be kind."
But I jeered at him, and then there came the Sailor Swede to me,
And he said: "I dreamed of my sister's son, who croaked at the age of three.
From the herded dead he sneaked and said: `Seek you an Arctic trail;
'Tis pale and grim by the Polar rim, but seek and ye shall not fail.'"
And lo! that night I too did dream of my mother's sister's son,
And he said to me: "By the Arctic Sea there's a treasure to be won.
Follow and follow a lone moose trail, till you come to a valley grim,
On the slope of the lonely watershed that borders the Polar brim."
Then I woke my pals, and soft we swore by the mystic Silver Flail,
'Twas the hand of Fate, and to-morrow straight we would seek the lone moose trail.

We watched the groaning ice wrench free, crash on with a hollow din;
Men of the wilderness were we, freed from the taint of sin.
The mighty river snatched us up and it bore us swift along;
The days were bright, and the morning light was sweet with jewelled song.
We poled and lined up nameless streams, portaged o'er hill and plain;
We burnt our boat to save the nails, and built our boat again;
We guessed and groped, North, ever North, with many a twist and turn;
We saw ablaze in the deathless days the splendid sunsets burn.
O'er soundless lakes where the grayling makes a rush at the clumsy fly;
By bluffs so steep that the hard-hit sheep falls sheer from out the sky;
By lilied pools where the bull moose cools and wallows in huge content;
By rocky lairs where the pig-eyed bears peered at our tiny tent.
Through the black canyon's angry foam we hurled to dreamy bars,
And round in a ring the dog-nosed peaks bayed to the mocking stars.
Spring and summer and autumn went; the sky had a tallow gleam,
Yet North and ever North we pressed to the land of our Golden Dream.

So we came at last to a tundra vast and dark and grim and lone;
And there was the little lone moose trail, and we knew it for our own.
By muskeg hollow and nigger-head it wandered endlessly;
Sorry of heart and sore of foot, weary men were we.
The short-lived sun had a leaden glare and the darkness came too soon,
And stationed there with a solemn stare was the pinched, anaemic moon.
Silence and silvern solitude till it made you dumbly shrink,
And you thought to hear with an outward ear the things you thought to think.

Oh, it was wild and weird and wan, and ever in camp o' nights
We would watch and watch the silver dance of the mystic Northern Lights.
And soft they danced from the Polar sky and swept in primrose haze;
And swift they pranced with their silver feet, and pierced with a blinding blaze.
They danced a cotillion in the sky; they were rose and silver shod;
It was not good for the eyes of man--'twas a sight for the eyes of God.
It made us mad and strange and sad, and the gold whereof we dreamed
Was all forgot, and our only thought was of the lights that gleamed.

Oh, the tundra sponge it was golden brown, and some was a bright blood-red;
And the reindeer moss gleamed here and there like the tombstones of the dead.
And in and out and around about the little trail ran clear,
And we hated it with a deadly hate and we feared with a deadly fear.
And the skies of night were alive with light, with a throbbing, thrilling flame;
Amber and rose and violet, opal and gold it came.
It swept the sky like a giant scythe, it quivered back to a wedge;
Argently bright, it cleft the night with a wavy golden edge.
Pennants of silver waved and streamed, lazy banners unfurled;
Sudden splendors of sabres gleamed, lightning javelins were hurled.
There in our awe we crouched and saw with our wild, uplifted eyes
Charge and retire the hosts of fire in the battlefield of the skies.

But all things come to an end at last, and the muskeg melted away,
And frowning down to bar our path a muddle of mountains lay.
And a gorge sheered up in granite walls, and the moose trail crept betwixt;
'Twas as if the earth had gaped too far and her stony jaws were fixt.
Then the winter fell with a sudden swoop, and the heavy clouds sagged low,
And earth and sky were blotted out in a whirl of driving snow.

We were climbing up a glacier in the neck of a mountain pass,
When the Dago Kid slipped down and fell into a deep crevasse.
When we got him out one leg hung limp, and his brow was wreathed with pain,
And he says: "'Tis badly broken, boys, and I'll never walk again.
It's death for all if ye linger here, and that's no cursed lie;
Go on, go on while the trail is good, and leave me down to die."
He raved and swore, but we tended him with our uncouth, clumsy care.
The camp-fire gleamed and he gazed and dreamed with a fixed and curious stare.
Then all at once he grabbed my gun and he put it to his head,
And he says: "I'll fix it for you, boys"--them are the words he said.

So we sewed him up in a canvas sack and we slung him to a tree;
And the stars like needles stabbed our eyes, and woeful men were we.
And on we went on our woeful way, wrapped in a daze of dream,
And the Northern Lights in the crystal nights came forth with a mystic gleam.
They danced and they danced the devil-dance over the naked snow;
And soft they rolled like a tide upshoaled with a ceaseless ebb and flow.
They rippled green with a wondrous sheen, they fluttered out like a fan;
They spread with a blaze of rose-pink rays never yet seen of man.
They writhed like a brood of angry snakes, hissing and sulphur pale;
Then swift they changed to a dragon vast, lashing a cloven tail.
It seemed to us, as we gazed aloft with an everlasting stare,
The sky was a pit of bale and dread, and a monster revelled there.

We climbed the rise of a hog-back range that was desolate and drear,
When the Sailor Swede had a crazy fit, and he got to talking queer.
He talked of his home in Oregon and the peach trees all in bloom,
And the fern head-high, and the topaz sky, and the forest's scented gloom.
He talked of the sins of his misspent life, and then he seemed to brood,
And I watched him there like a fox a hare, for I knew it was not good.
And sure enough in the dim dawn-light I missed him from the tent,
And a fresh trail broke through the crusted snow, and I knew not where it went.
But I followed it o'er the seamless waste, and I found him at shut of day,
Naked there as a new-born babe--so I left him where he lay.

Day after day was sinister, and I fought fierce-eyed despair,
And I clung to life, and I struggled on, I knew not why nor where.
I packed my grub in short relays, and I cowered down in my tent,
And the world around was purged of sound like a frozen continent.
Day after day was dark as death, but ever and ever at nights,
With a brilliancy that grew and grew, blazed up the Northern Lights.

They rolled around with a soundless sound like softly bruised silk;
They poured into the bowl of the sky with the gentle flow of milk.
In eager, pulsing violet their wheeling chariots came,
Or they poised above the Polar rim like a coronal of flame.
From depths of darkness fathomless their lancing rays were hurled,
Like the all-combining search-lights of the navies of the world.
There on the roof-pole of the world as one bewitched I gazed,
And howled and grovelled like a beast as the awful splendors blazed.
My eyes were seared, yet thralled I peered through the parka hood nigh blind;
But I staggered on to the lights that shone, and never I looked behind.

There is a mountain round and low that lies by the Polar rim,
And I climbed its height in a whirl of light, and I peered o'er its jagged brim;
And there in a crater deep and vast, ungained, unguessed of men,
The mystery of the Arctic world was flashed into my ken.
For there these poor dim eyes of mine beheld the sight of sights--
That hollow ring was the source and spring of the mystic Northern Lights.
Then I staked that place from crown to base, and I hit the homeward trail.
Ah, God! it was good, though my eyes were blurred, and I crawled like a sickly snail.
In that vast white world where the silent sky communes with the silent snow,
In hunger and cold and misery I wandered to and fro.
But the Lord took pity on my pain, and He led me to the sea,
And some ice-bound whalers heard my moan, and they fed and sheltered me.
They fed the feeble scarecrow thing that stumbled out of the wild
With the ravaged face of a mask of death and the wandering wits of a child--
A craven, cowering bag of bones that once had been a man.
They tended me and they brought me back to the world, and here I am.

Some say that the Northern Lights are the glare of the Arctic ice and snow;
And some that it's electricity, and nobody seems to know.
But I'll tell you now--and if I lie, may my lips be stricken dumb--
It's a mine, a mine of the precious stuff that men call radium.
I'ts a million dollars a pound, they say, and there's tons and tons in sight.
You can see it gleam in a golden stream in the solitudes of night.
And it's mine, all mine--and say! if you have a hundred plunks to spare,
I'll let you have the chance of your life, I'll sell you a quarter share.
You turn it down? Well, I'll make it ten, seeing as you are my friend.
Nothing doing? Say! don't be hard--have you got a dollar to lend?
Just a dollar to help me out, I know you'll treat me white;
I'll do as much for you some day . . . God bless you, sir; good-night.

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Homer

The Odyssey: Book 21

Minerva now put it in Penelope's mind to make the suitors try
their skill with the bow and with the iron axes, in contest among
themselves, as a means of bringing about their destruction. She went
upstairs and got the store room key, which was made of bronze and
had a handle of ivory; she then went with her maidens into the store
room at the end of the house, where her husband's treasures of gold,
bronze, and wrought iron were kept, and where was also his bow, and
the quiver full of deadly arrows that had been given him by a friend
whom he had met in Lacedaemon- Iphitus the son of Eurytus. The two
fell in with one another in Messene at the house of Ortilochus,
where Ulysses was staying in order to recover a debt that was owing
from the whole people; for the Messenians had carried off three
hundred sheep from Ithaca, and had sailed away with them and with
their shepherds. In quest of these Ulysses took a long journey while
still quite young, for his father and the other chieftains sent him on
a mission to recover them. Iphitus had gone there also to try and
get back twelve brood mares that he had lost, and the mule foals
that were running with them. These mares were the death of him in
the end, for when he went to the house of Jove's son, mighty Hercules,
who performed such prodigies of valour, Hercules to his shame killed
him, though he was his guest, for he feared not heaven's vengeance,
nor yet respected his own table which he had set before Iphitus, but
killed him in spite of everything, and kept the mares himself. It
was when claiming these that Iphitus met Ulysses, and gave him the bow
which mighty Eurytus had been used to carry, and which on his death
had been left by him to his son. Ulysses gave him in return a sword
and a spear, and this was the beginning of a fast friendship, although
they never visited at one another's houses, for Jove's son Hercules
killed Iphitus ere they could do so. This bow, then, given him by
Iphitus, had not been taken with him by Ulysses when he sailed for
Troy; he had used it so long as he had been at home, but had left it
behind as having been a keepsake from a valued friend.
Penelope presently reached the oak threshold of the store room;
the carpenter had planed this duly, and had drawn a line on it so as
to get it quite straight; he had then set the door posts into it and
hung the doors. She loosed the strap from the handle of the door,
put in the key, and drove it straight home to shoot back the bolts
that held the doors; these flew open with a noise like a bull
bellowing in a meadow, and Penelope stepped upon the raised
platform, where the chests stood in which the fair linen and clothes
were laid by along with fragrant herbs: reaching thence, she took down
the bow with its bow case from the peg on which it hung. She sat
down with it on her knees, weeping bitterly as she took the bow out of
its case, and when her tears had relieved her, she went to the
cloister where the suitors were, carrying the bow and the quiver, with
the many deadly arrows that were inside it. Along with her came her
maidens, bearing a chest that contained much iron and bronze which her
husband had won as prizes. When she reached the suitors, she stood
by one of the bearing-posts supporting the roof of the cloister,
holding a veil before her face, and with a maid on either side of her.
Then she said:
"Listen to me you suitors, who persist in abusing the hospitality of
this house because its owner has been long absent, and without other
pretext than that you want to marry me; this, then, being the prize
that you are contending for, I will bring out the mighty bow of
Ulysses, and whomsoever of you shall string it most easily and send
his arrow through each one of twelve axes, him will I follow and
quit this house of my lawful husband, so goodly, and so abounding in
wealth. But even so I doubt not that I shall remember it in my
dreams."
As she spoke, she told Eumaeus to set the bow and the pieces of iron
before the suitors, and Eumaeus wept as he took them to do as she
had bidden him. Hard by, the stockman wept also when he saw his
master's bow, but Antinous scolded them. "You country louts," said he,
"silly simpletons; why should you add to the sorrows of your
mistress by crying in this way? She has enough to grieve her in the
loss of her husband; sit still, therefore, and eat your dinners in
silence, or go outside if you want to cry, and leave the bow behind
you. We suitors shall have to contend for it with might and main,
for we shall find it no light matter to string such a bow as this
is. There is not a man of us all who is such another as Ulysses; for I
have seen him and remember him, though I was then only a child."
This was what he said, but all the time he was expecting to be
able to string the bow and shoot through the iron, whereas in fact
he was to be the first that should taste of the arrows from the
hands of Ulysses, whom he was dishonouring in his own house- egging
the others on to do so also.
Then Telemachus spoke. "Great heavens!" he exclaimed, "Jove must
have robbed me of my senses. Here is my dear and excellent mother
saying she will quit this house and marry again, yet I am laughing and
enjoying myself as though there were nothing happening. But,
suitors, as the contest has been agreed upon, let it go forward. It is
for a woman whose peer is not to be found in Pylos, Argos, or
Mycene, nor yet in Ithaca nor on the mainland. You know this as well
as I do; what need have I to speak in praise of my mother? Come on,
then, make no excuses for delay, but let us see whether you can string
the bow or no. I too will make trial of it, for if I can string it and
shoot through the iron, I shall not suffer my mother to quit this
house with a stranger, not if I can win the prizes which my father won
before me."
As he spoke he sprang from his seat, threw his crimson cloak from
him, and took his sword from his shoulder. First he set the axes in
a row, in a long groove which he had dug for them, and had Wade
straight by line. Then he stamped the earth tight round them, and
everyone was surprised when they saw him set up so orderly, though
he had never seen anything of the kind before. This done, he went on
to the pavement to make trial of the bow; thrice did he tug at it,
trying with all his might to draw the string, and thrice he had to
leave off, though he had hoped to string the bow and shoot through the
iron. He was trying for the fourth time, and would have strung it
had not Ulysses made a sign to check him in spite of all his
eagerness. So he said:
"Alas! I shall either be always feeble and of no prowess, or I am
too young, and have not yet reached my full strength so as to be
able to hold my own if any one attacks me. You others, therefore,
who are stronger than I, make trial of the bow and get this contest
settled."
On this he put the bow down, letting it lean against the door
[that led into the house] with the arrow standing against the top of
the bow. Then he sat down on the seat from which he had risen, and
Antinous said:
"Come on each of you in his turn, going towards the right from the
place at which the. cupbearer begins when he is handing round the
wine."
The rest agreed, and Leiodes son of OEnops was the first to rise. He
was sacrificial priest to the suitors, and sat in the corner near
the mixing-bowl. He was the only man who hated their evil deeds and
was indignant with the others. He was now the first to take the bow
and arrow, so he went on to the pavement to make his trial, but he
could not string the bow, for his hands were weak and unused to hard
work, they therefore soon grew tired, and he said to the suitors,
"My friends, I cannot string it; let another have it; this bow shall
take the life and soul out of many a chief among us, for it is
better to die than to live after having missed the prize that we
have so long striven for, and which has brought us so long together.
Some one of us is even now hoping and praying that he may marry
Penelope, but when he has seen this bow and tried it, let him woo
and make bridal offerings to some other woman, and let Penelope
marry whoever makes her the best offer and whose lot it is to win
her."
On this he put the bow down, letting it lean against the door,
with the arrow standing against the tip of the bow. Then he took his
seat again on the seat from which he had risen; and Antinous rebuked
him saying:
"Leiodes, what are you talking about? Your words are monstrous and
intolerable; it makes me angry to listen to you. Shall, then, this bow
take the life of many a chief among us, merely because you cannot bend
it yourself? True, you were not born to be an archer, but there are
others who will soon string it."
Then he said to Melanthius the goatherd, "Look sharp, light a fire
in the court, and set a seat hard by with a sheep skin on it; bring us
also a large ball of lard, from what they have in the house. Let us
warm the bow and grease it we will then make trial of it again, and
bring the contest to an end."
Melanthius lit the fire, and set a seat covered with sheep skins
beside it. He also brought a great ball of lard from what they had
in the house, and the suitors warmed the bow and again made trial of
it, but they were none of them nearly strong enough to string it.
Nevertheless there still remained Antinous and Eurymachus, who were
the ringleaders among the suitors and much the foremost among them
all.
Then the swineherd and the stockman left the cloisters together, and
Ulysses followed them. When they had got outside the gates and the
outer yard, Ulysses said to them quietly:
"Stockman, and you swineherd, I have something in my mind which I am
in doubt whether to say or no; but I think I will say it. What
manner of men would you be to stand by Ulysses, if some god should
bring him back here all of a sudden? Say which you are disposed to do-
to side with the suitors, or with Ulysses?"
"Father Jove," answered the stockman, "would indeed that you might
so ordain it. If some god were but to bring Ulysses back, you should
see with what might and main I would fight for him."
In like words Eumaeus prayed to all the gods that Ulysses might
return; when, therefore, he saw for certain what mind they were of,
Ulysses said, "It is I, Ulysses, who am here. I have suffered much,
but at last, in the twentieth year, I am come back to my own
country. I find that you two alone of all my servants are glad that
I should do so, for I have not heard any of the others praying for
my return. To you two, therefore, will I unfold the truth as it
shall be. If heaven shall deliver the suitors into my hands, I will
find wives for both of you, will give you house and holding close to
my own, and you shall be to me as though you were brothers and friends
of Telemachus. I will now give you convincing proofs that you may know
me and be assured. See, here is the scar from the boar's tooth that
ripped me when I was out hunting on Mount Parnassus with the sons of
Autolycus."
As he spoke he drew his rags aside from the great scar, and when
they had examined it thoroughly, they both of them wept about Ulysses,
threw their arms round him and kissed his head and shoulders, while
Ulysses kissed their hands and faces in return. The sun would have
gone down upon their mourning if Ulysses had not checked them and
said:
"Cease your weeping, lest some one should come outside and see us,
and tell those who a are within. When you go in, do so separately, not
both together; I will go first, and do you follow afterwards; Let this
moreover be the token between us; the suitors will all of them try
to prevent me from getting hold of the bow and quiver; do you,
therefore, Eumaeus, place it in my hands when you are carrying it
about, and tell the women to close the doors of their apartment. If
they hear any groaning or uproar as of men fighting about the house,
they must not come out; they must keep quiet, and stay where they
are at their work. And I charge you, Philoetius, to make fast the
doors of the outer court, and to bind them securely at once."
When he had thus spoken, he went back to the house and took the seat
that he had left. Presently, his two servants followed him inside.
At this moment the bow was in the hands of Eurymachus, who was
warming it by the fire, but even so he could not string it, and he was
greatly grieved. He heaved a deep sigh and said, "I grieve for
myself and for us all; I grieve that I shall have to forgo the
marriage, but I do not care nearly so much about this, for there are
plenty of other women in Ithaca and elsewhere; what I feel most is the
fact of our being so inferior to Ulysses in strength that we cannot
string his bow. This will disgrace us in the eyes of those who are yet
unborn."
"It shall not be so, Eurymachus," said Antinous, "and you know it
yourself. To-day is the feast of Apollo throughout all the land; who
can string a bow on such a day as this? Put it on one side- as for the
axes they can stay where they are, for no one is likely to come to the
house and take them away: let the cupbearer go round with his cups,
that we may make our drink-offerings and drop this matter of the
bow; we will tell Melanthius to bring us in some goats to-morrow-
the best he has; we can then offer thigh bones to Apollo the mighty
archer, and again make trial of the bow, so as to bring the contest to
an end."
The rest approved his words, and thereon men servants poured water
over the hands of the guests, while pages filled the mixing-bowls with
wine and water and handed it round after giving every man his
drink-offering. Then, when they had made their offerings and had drunk
each as much as he desired, Ulysses craftily said:
"Suitors of the illustrious queen, listen that I may speak even as I
am minded. I appeal more especially to Eurymachus, and to Antinous who
has just spoken with so much reason. Cease shooting for the present
and leave the matter to the gods, but in the morning let heaven give
victory to whom it will. For the moment, however, give me the bow that
I may prove the power of my hands among you all, and see whether I
still have as much strength as I used to have, or whether travel and
neglect have made an end of it."
This made them all very angry, for they feared he might string the
bow; Antinous therefore rebuked him fiercely saying, "Wretched
creature, you have not so much as a grain of sense in your whole body;
you ought to think yourself lucky in being allowed to dine unharmed
among your betters, without having any smaller portion served you than
we others have had, and in being allowed to hear our conversation.
No other beggar or stranger has been allowed to hear what we say among
ourselves; the wine must have been doing you a mischief, as it does
with all those drink immoderately. It was wine that inflamed the
Centaur Eurytion when he was staying with Peirithous among the
Lapithae. When the wine had got into his head he went mad and did
ill deeds about the house of Peirithous; this angered the heroes who
were there assembled, so they rushed at him and cut off his ears and
nostrils; then they dragged him through the doorway out of the
house, so he went away crazed, and bore the burden of his crime,
bereft of understanding. Henceforth, therefore, there was war
between mankind and the centaurs, but he brought it upon himself
through his own drunkenness. In like manner I can tell you that it
will go hardly with you if you string the bow: you will find no
mercy from any one here, for we shall at once ship you off to king
Echetus, who kills every one that comes near him: you will never get
away alive, so drink and keep quiet without getting into a quarrel
with men younger than yourself."
Penelope then spoke to him. "Antinous," said she, "it is not right
that you should ill-treat any guest of Telemachus who comes to this
house. If the stranger should prove strong enough to string the mighty
bow of Ulysses, can you suppose that he would take me home with him
and make me his wife? Even the man himself can have no such idea in
his mind: none of you need let that disturb his feasting; it would
be out of all reason."
"Queen Penelope," answered Eurymachus, "we do not suppose that
this man will take you away with him; it is impossible; but we are
afraid lest some of the baser sort, men or women among the Achaeans,
should go gossiping about and say, 'These suitors are a feeble folk;
they are paying court to the wife of a brave man whose bow not one
of them was able to string, and yet a beggarly tramp who came to the
house strung it at once and sent an arrow through the iron.' This is
what will be said, and it will be a scandal against us."
"Eurymachus," Penelope answered, "people who persist in eating up
the estate of a great chieftain and dishonouring his house must not
expect others to think well of them. Why then should you mind if men
talk as you think they will? This stranger is strong and well-built,
he says moreover that he is of noble birth. Give him the bow, and
let us see whether he can string it or no. I say- and it shall
surely be- that if Apollo vouchsafes him the glory of stringing it,
I will give him a cloak and shirt of good wear, with a javelin to keep
off dogs and robbers, and a sharp sword. I will also give him sandals,
and will see him sent safely whereever he wants to go."
Then Telemachus said, "Mother, I am the only man either in Ithaca or
in the islands that are over against Elis who has the right to let any
one have the bow or to refuse it. No one shall force me one way or the
other, not even though I choose to make the stranger a present of
the bow outright, and let him take it away with him. Go, then,
within the house and busy yourself with your daily duties, your
loom, your distaff, and the ordering of your servants. This bow is a
man's matter, and mine above all others, for it is I who am master
here."
She went wondering back into the house, and laid her son's saying in
her heart. Then going upstairs with her handmaids into her room, she
mourned her dear husband till Minerva sent sweet sleep over her
eyelids.
The swineherd now took up the bow and was for taking it to
Ulysses, but the suitors clamoured at him from all parts of the
cloisters, and one of them said, "You idiot, where are you taking
the bow to? Are you out of your wits? If Apollo and the other gods
will grant our prayer, your own boarhounds shall get you into some
quiet little place, and worry you to death."
Eumaeus was frightened at the outcry they all raised, so he put
the bow down then and there, but Telemachus shouted out at him from
the other side of the cloisters, and threatened him saying, "Father
Eumaeus, bring the bow on in spite of them, or young as I am I will
pelt you with stones back to the country, for I am the better man of
the two. I wish I was as much stronger than all the other suitors in
the house as I am than you, I would soon send some of them off sick
and sorry, for they mean mischief."
Thus did he speak, and they all of them laughed heartily, which
put them in a better humour with Telemachus; so Eumaeus brought the
bow on and placed it in the hands of Ulysses. When he had done this,
he called Euryclea apart and said to her, "Euryclea, Telemachus says
you are to close the doors of the women's apartments. If they hear any
groaning or uproar as of men fighting about the house, they are not to
come out, but are to keep quiet and stay where they are at their
work."
Euryclea did as she was told and closed the doors of the women's
apartments.
Meanwhile Philoetius slipped quietly out and made fast the gates
of the outer court. There was a ship's cable of byblus fibre lying
in the gatehouse, so he made the gates fast with it and then came in
again, resuming the seat that he had left, and keeping an eye on
Ulysses, who had now got the bow in his hands, and was turning it
every way about, and proving it all over to see whether the worms
had been eating into its two horns during his absence. Then would
one turn towards his neighbour saying, "This is some tricky old
bow-fancier; either he has got one like it at home, or he wants to
make one, in such workmanlike style does the old vagabond handle it."
Another said, "I hope he may be no more successful in other things
than he is likely to be in stringing this bow."
But Ulysses, when he had taken it up and examined it all over,
strung it as easily as a skilled bard strings a new peg of his lyre
and makes the twisted gut fast at both ends. Then he took it in his
right hand to prove the string, and it sang sweetly under his touch
like the twittering of a swallow. The suitors were dismayed, and
turned colour as they heard it; at that moment, moreover, Jove
thundered loudly as a sign, and the heart of Ulysses rejoiced as he
heard the omen that the son of scheming Saturn had sent him.
He took an arrow that was lying upon the table- for those which
the Achaeans were so shortly about to taste were all inside the
quiver- he laid it on the centre-piece of the bow, and drew the
notch of the arrow and the string toward him, still seated on his
seat. When he had taken aim he let fly, and his arrow pierced every
one of the handle-holes of the axes from the first onwards till it had
gone right through them, and into the outer courtyard. Then he said to
Telemachus:
"Your guest has not disgraced you, Telemachus. I did not miss what I
aimed at, and I was not long in stringing my bow. I am still strong,
and not as the suitors twit me with being. Now, however, it is time
for the Achaeans to prepare supper while there is still daylight,
and then otherwise to disport themselves with song and dance which are
the crowning ornaments of a banquet."
As he spoke he made a sign with his eyebrows, and Telemachus
girded on his sword, grasped his spear, and stood armed beside his
father's seat.

poem by , translated by Samuel ButlerReport problemRelated quotes
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The Abencerrage : Canto III.

Heroes of elder days! untaught to yield,
Who bled for Spain on many an ancient field;
Ye, that around the oaken cross of yore
Stood firm and fearless on Asturia's shore,
And with your spirit, ne'er to be subdued,
Hallowed the wild Cantabrian solitude;
Rejoice amidst your dwellings of repose,
In the last chastening of your Moslem foes!
Rejoice! - for Spain, arising in her strength,
Hath burst the remnant of their yoke at length,
And they, in turn, the cup of woe must drain,
And bathe their fetters with their tears in vain.
And thou, the warrior
born in happy hour,

Valencia's lord, whose name alone was power,
Theme of a thousand songs in days gone by,
Conqueror of kings! exult, O Cid! on high.
For still 'twas thine to guard thy country's weal,
In life, in death, the watcher for Castile!

Thou, in that hour when Mauritania's bands
Rushed from their palmy groves and burning lands,
E'en in the realm of spirits didst retain
A patriot's vigilance, remembering Spain!
Then, at deep midnight, rose the mighty sound,
By Leon heard, in shuddering awe profound,
As through her echoing streets, in dread array,
Beings, once mortal, held their viewless way:
Voices from worlds we know not - and the tread
Of marching hosts, the armies of the dead,
Thou and thy buried chieftains - from the grave
Then did thy summons rouse a king to save,
And join thy warriors with unearthly might
To aid the rescue in Tolosa's fight.
Those days are past - the crescent on thy shore,
O realm of evening! sets, to rise no more.
What banner of streams afar from Vela's tower?
The cross, bright ensign of Iberia's power!
What the glad shout of each exulting voice?
Castile and Aragon! rejoice, rejoice!
Yielding free entrance to victorious foes,
The Moorish city sees her gates unclose,
And Spain's proud host, with pennon, shield, and lance,
Through her long streets in knightly garb advance.

Oh! ne'er in lofty dreams hath Fancy's eye
Dwelt on a scene of statelier pageantry,
At joust or tourney, theme of poet's lore,
High masque, or solemn festival of yore.
The giled cupolas, that proudly rise
O'erarched by cloudless and cerulean skies;
Tall minarets, shining mosques, barbaric skies;
Fountains, and palaces, and cypress bowers:
And they, the splendid and triumphant throng,
With helmets glittering as they move along
With broidered scarf, and gem-bestudded mail,
And graceful plumage streaming on the gale;
Shields, gold-embossed, and pennons floating far,
And all the gorgeous blazonry of war,
All brightened by the rich transparent hues
That southern suns o'er heaven and earth diffuse;
Blend in one scene of glory, formed to throw
O'er memory's page a never-fading glow.
And there, too, foremost 'midst the conquering brave,
Your azure-plumes, O Aben-Zurrahs! wave.
There Hamet moves; the chief whose lofty port
Seems nor reproach to shun, nor praise to court;
Calm, stern, collected - yet within his breast
Is there no pang, no struggle, unconfessed?
If such there be, it still must dwell unseen,
Nor cloud a triumph with a sufferer's mien.

Hear'st thou the solemn yet exulting sound
Of the deep anthem floating far around?
The choral voices, to the skies that raise
The full majestic harmony of praise?
Lo! where, surrounded by their princely train,
They come, the sovereigns of rejoicing Spain,
Borne on their trophied car - lo! bursting thence
A blaze of chivalrous magnificence!

Onward their slow and stately course they bend
To where the Alhambra's ancient towers ascend,
Reared and adorned by Moorish kings of yore,
Whose lost descendants there shall dwell no more.

They reached those towers - irregularly vast
And rude they seem, in mould barbaric cast:
They enter - to their wondering sight is given
A genii palace - an Arabian heaven!
A scene by magic raised, so strange, so fair,
Its forms and colour seem alike of air.
Here, by sweet orange-bows, half shaded o'er,
The deep clear bath reveals its marble floor,
Its margin fringed with flowers, whose glowing hues
The calm transparence of its wave suffuse.
There, round the court, where Moorish arches bend,
Aerial columns, richly decked, ascend;
Unlike the models of each classic race,
Of Doric grandeur, or Corinthian grace,
But answering well each vision that portrays
Arabian splendour to the poet's gaze:
Wild, wondrous, brilliant, all - a mingling glow
Of rainbow-tints, above, around, below;
Bright streaming from the many-tinctured veins
Of precious marble, and the vivid stains
Of rich mosaics o'er the light arcade,
In gay festoons and fairy knots displayed.
On through the enchanted realm, that only seems
Meet for the radiant creatures of our dreams,
The royal conquerors pass - while still their sight
On some new wonder dwells with fresh delight.
Here the eye roves through slender colonnades,
O'er bowery terraces and myrtle shades;
Dark olive-woods beyond, and far on high
The vast sierra mingling with the sky.
There, scattering far around their diamond spray,
Clear streams from founts of alabaster play,
Through pillared halls, where exquisitely wrought,
Rich arabesques, with glittering foliage fraught,
Surmount each fretted arch, and lend the scene
A wild, romantic, Oriental mien:
While many a verse, from Eastern bards of old,
Borders the walls in characters of gold.
Here Moslem luxury, in her own domain,
Hath held for ages her voluptuous reign
'Midst gorgeous domes, where soon shall silence brood,
And all be lone - a splendid solitude.
Now wake their echoes to a thousand songs,
From mingling voices of exulting throngs;
Tambour, and flute, and atabal, are there,
And joyous clarions pealing on the air;
While every hall resounds, 'Granada won!
Granada! for Castile and Aragon!'

'Tis night - from dome and tower, in dazzling maze,
The festal lamps innumerably blaze;
Through long arcades their quivering lustre gleams
From every lattice their quivering lustre gleams
'Midst orange-gardens plays on fount and rill,
And gilds the waves of Darro and Xenil;
Red flame the torches on each minaret's height,
And shines each street an avenue of light;
And midnight feasts are held, and music's voice
Through the long night still summons to rejoice.

Yet there, while all would seem to heedless eye
One blaze of pomp, one burst of revelry,
Are hearts unsoothed by those delusive hours,
Galled by the chain, though decked awhile with flowers;
Stern passions working in the indignant breast,
Deep pangs untold, high feelings unexpressed,
Heroic spirits, unsubmitting yet -
Vengeance, and keen remorse, and vain regret.

From yon proud height, whose olive-shaded brow
Commands the wide, luxuriant plains below,
Who lingering gazes o'er the lovely scene,
Anguish and shame contending in his mien?
He, who, of heroes and of kings the son,
Hath lived to lose whate'er his fathers won;
Whose doubt and fears his people's fate have sealed,
Wavering alike in council and in field;
Weak, timid ruler of the wise and brave,
Still a fierce tyrant or a yielding slave.

Far from these vine-clad hills and azure skies,
To Afric's wilds the royal exile flies;
Yet pauses on his way, to weep in vain
O'er all he never must behold again.
Fair spreads the scene around - for him
too
fair,
Each glowing charm but deepens his despair.
The Vega's meads, the city's glittering spires,
The old majestic palace of his sires,
The gay pavillions, and retired alcoves,
Bosomed in citron and pomegranate groves;
Tower-crested rocks, and streams that wind in light,
All in one moment bursting on his sight,
Speak to his soul of glory's vanished years,
And wake the source of unavailing tears.
- Weepest thou, Abdallah? - Thou dost well to weep,
O feeble heart! o'er all thou couldst not keep!
Well do a woman's tears befit the eye
Of him who knew not, as a man, to die.

The gale sighs mournfully through Zayda's bower,
The hand is gone that nursed each infant flower.
No voice, no step, is in her father's halls,
Mute are the echoes of their marble walls;
No stranger enters at the chieftain's gate,
But all is hushed, and void, and desolate.

There, through each tower and solitary shade,
In vain doth Hamet seek the Zegri maid:
Her grove is silent, her pavilion lone,
Her lute forsaken, and her doom unknown;
And through the scene she loved, unheeded flows
The stream whose music lulled her to repose.

But oh! to him, whose self-accusing thought
Whispers, 'twas
he
that desolation wrought -
He, who his country and his faith betrayed,
And lent Castile revengeful, powerful aid -
A voice of sorrow swells in every gale,
Each wave, low rippling, tells a mournful tale;
And as the shrubs, untended, unconfined,
In wild exuberance rustle to the wind;
Each leaf hath language to his startled sense,
And seems to murmur, 'Thou hast driven her hence!'
- Where hath lost love been once recalled again?
In her pure breast, so long by anguish torn,
His name can rouse no feeling now - but scorn.
O bitter hour! when first the shuddering heart
Wakes to behold the void within - and start!
To feel its own abandonment, and brood
O'er the chill bosom's depth of solitude:
The stormy passions that in Hamet's breast
Have swayed so long, so fiercely, are at rest;
The avenger's task is closed : - he finds, too late,
It hath not changed his feelings, but his fate.
He was a lofty spirit, turned aside
From its bright path by woes, and wrongs, and pride,
And onward, in its new tumultuous course,
Borne with too rapid and intense a force
To pause one moment in the dread career,
And ask - if such could be its native sphere?
Now are those days of wild delirium o'er,
Their fears and hopes excite his soul no more;
The feverish energies of passion close,
And his heart sinks in desolate repose,
Turns sickening from the world, yet shrinks not less
From its own deep and utter loneliness.

There is a sound of voices on the air,
A flash of armour to the sunbeam's glare,
'Midst the wild Alpuxarras; - there, on high,
Where mountain-snows are mingling with the sky,
A few brave tribes, with spirit yet unbroke,
Have fled indignant from the Spaniard's yoke.

O ye dread scenes! where Nature dwells alone,
Severely glorious on her craggy throne;
Ye citadels of rock, gigantic forms,
Veiled by the mists, and girdled by the storms, -
Ravines, and glens, and deep resounding caves,
That hold communion with the torrent-waves;
And ye, the unstained and everlasting snows,
That dwell above in bright and still repose;
To you, in every clime, in every age,
Far from the tyrant's or the conqueror's rage,
Hath Freedom led her sons - untired to keep
Her fearless vigils on the barren steep.
She, like the mountain eagle, still delights
To gaze exulting from unconquered heights,
And build her eyrie in defiance proud,
To dare the wind, and mingle with the cloud.

Now her deep voice, the soul's awakener, swells,
Wild Alpuxarras, through your inmost dells.
There, the dark glens and lonely rocks among,
As at the clarion's call, her children throng.
She with enduring strength had nerved each frame,
And made each heart the temple of her flame,
Her own resisting spirit, which shall glow
Unquenchably, surviving all below.

There high-born maids, that moved upon the earth
More like bright creatures of aerial birth,
Nurslings of palaces, have fled to share
The fate of brothers and of sires; to bear,
All undismayed, privation and distress,
And smile the roses of the wilderness:
And mothers with their infants, there to dwell
In the deep forest or the cavern cell,
And rear their offspring 'midst the rock, to be,
If now no more the mighty, still the free.

And 'midst that band are veterans, o'er whose head
Sorrows and years their mingled snow have shed?
They saw thy glory, they have wept thy fall,
O royal city! and the wreck of all
They loved and hallowed most: - doth aught remain
For these to prove of happiness or pain?
Life's cup is drained - earth fades before their eye;
Their task is closing - they have but to die.
Ask ye, why fled they hither? - that their doom
Might be, to sink unfettered to the tomb.
And youth, in all its pride of strength, is there,
And buoyancy of spirit, formed to dare
And suffer all things - fallen on evil days,
Yet darting o'er the world an ardent gaze,
As on the arena where its powers may find
Full scope to strive for glory with mankind.
Such are the tenants of the mountain-hold,
The high in heart, unconquered, uncontrolled:
The day, the huntsmen of the wild - by night,
Unwearied guardians of the watch-fire's light,
They from their bleak majestic home have caught
A sterner tone of unsubmitting thought,
While all around them bids the soul arise
To blend with Nature's dread sublimities.
- But these are lofty dreams, and must not be
Were tyranny is near: - the bended knee,
The eye whose glance no inborn grandeur fires,
And the tamed heart, are tributes she requires;
Nor must the dwellers of the rock look down
On regal conquerors, and defy their frown.
What warrior-band is toiling to explore
The mountain-pass, with pine-wood shadowed o'er,
Startling with martial sounds each rude recess,
Where the deep echo slept in loneliness!
These are the sons of Spain! - Your foes are near,
O exiles of the wild sierra! hear!
Hear! wake! arise! and from your inmost caves
Pour like the torrent in its might of waves!

Who leads the invaders on? - his features bear
The deep-worn traces of a calm despair;
Yet his dark brow is haughty - and his eye
Speaks of a soul that asks not sympathy.
'Tis he! 'tis he again! the apostate chief;
He comes in all the sternness of his grief.
He comes, but changed in heart, no more to wield
Falchion for proud Castile in battle field.
Against his country's children - though he leads
Castilian bands again to hostile deeds;
His hope is but from ceaseless pangs to fly,
To rush upon the Moslem spears, and die.
So shall remorse and love the heart release,
Which dares not dream of joy, but sighs for peace.
The mountain-echoes are awake - a sound
Of strife is ringing through the rocks around.
Within the steep defile that winds between
Cliffs piled on cliffs, a dark, terrific scene,
Where Moorish exile and Castilian knight
Are wildly mingling in the serried fight.
Red flows the foaming streamlet of the glen,
Whose bright transparence ne'er was stained till then;
While swell the war-note and the clash of spears
To the bleak dwellings of the mountaineers,
Where thy sad daughters, lost Granada! wait,
In dread suspense, the tidings of their fate.
But he - whose spirit, panting for its rest,
Would fain each sword concentrate in his breast -
Who, where a spear is pointed, or a lance
Almed at another's breast, would still advance -
Courts death in vain; each weapon glances by,
As if for him 'twas bliss too great to die.
Yes, Aben-Zurrah! there are deeper woes
Reserved for thee ere Nature's last repose;
Thou knowest not yet what vengeance fate can wreak,
Nor all the heart can suffer ere it break.
Doubtful and long the strife, and bravely fell
The sons of battle in that narrow dell;
Youth in its light of beauty there hath past,
And age, the weary, found repose at last;
Till, few and faint, the Moslem tribes recoil,
Borne down by numbers, and o'erpowered by toil.
Dispersed, disheartened, through the pass they fly,
Pierce the deep wood, or mount the cliff on high;
While Hamet's band in wonder gaze, nor dare
Track o'er their dizzy path the footsteps of despair.

Yet he, to whom each danger hath become
A dark delight, and every wild a home,
Still urges onward - undismayed to tread
Where life's fond lovers would recoil with dread.
But fear is for the happy -
they
may shrink
From the steep precipice, or torrent's brink;
They to whom earth is paradise - their doom
Lends to stern courage to approach the tomb:
Not such his lot, who, schooled by fate severe,
Were but too blest if aught remained to fear.
Up the rude crags, whose giant masses throw
Eternal shadows o'er the glen below;
And by the fall, whose many-tinctured spray
Half in a mist of radiance veils its way,
He holds his venturous track: - supported now
By some o'erhanging pine or ilex bough;
Now by some jutting stone, that seems to dwell
Half in mid-air, as balanced by a spell.
Now hath his footstep gained the summit's head,
A level span, with emerald verdure spread,
A fairy circle - there the heath-flowers rise,
And the rock-rose unnoticed blooms and dies;
And brightly plays the stream, ere yet its tide
In foam and thunder cleave the mountain-side;
But all is wild beyond - and Hamet's eye
Roves o'er a world of rude sublimity.
That dell beneath, where e'en at noon of day
Earth's chartered guest, the sunbeam, scarce can stray;
Around, untrodden woods; and far above,
Where mortal footstep ne'er may hope to rove,
Bare granite cliffs, whose fixed, inherent dyes
Rival the tints that float o'er summer skies;
And the pure glittering snow-realm, yet more high,
That seems a part of Heaven's eternity.

There is no track of man where Hamet stands
Pathless the scene as Lybia's desert sands;
Yet on the calm still air a sound is heard
Of distant voices, and the gathering-word
Of Islam's tribes, now faint and fainter grown,
Now but the lingering echo of a tone.

That sound, whose cadence dies upon his ear,
He follows, reckless if his bands are near.
On by the rushing stream his way he bends,
And through the mountain's forest zone ascends;
Piercing the still and solitary shades
Of ancient pine, and dark luxuriant glades,
Eternal twilight's reign: - those mazes past,
The glowing sunbeams meet his eyes at last,
And the lone wanderer now hath reached the source
Whence the wave gushes, foaming on its course.
But there he pauses -for the lonely scene
Towers in such dread magnificence of mien,
And, mingled oft with some wild eagle's cry,
From rock-built eyrie rushing to the sky,
So deep the solemn and majestic sound
Of forests, and of waters murmuring round -
That, rapt in wondering awe, his heart forgets
Its fleeting struggles and its vain regrets.
- What earthly feeling unabashed can dwell
In Nature's mighty presence? - 'midst the swell
Of everlasting hills, the roar of floods,
And frown of rocks, and pomp of waving woods?
These their own grandeur on the soul impress,
And bid each passion feel its nothingness.

'Midst the vast marble cliffs, a lofty cave
Rears its broad arch beside the rushing wave;
Shadowed by giant oaks, and rude and lone,
It seems the temple of some power unknown,
Where earthly being may not dare intrude
To pierce the secrets of the solitude.
Yet thence at intervals a voice of wail
Is rising, wild and solemn, on the gale.
Did thy heart thrill, O Hamet! at the tone?
Came it not o'er thee as a spirit's moan?
As some loved sound, that long from earth had fled,
The unforgotten accents of the dead?
E'en thus it rose - and springing from his trance
His eager footsteps to the sound advance.
He mounts the cliffs, he gains the cavern floor;
Its dark green moss with blood is sprinkled o'er;
He rushes on - and lo! where Zayda rends
Her locks, as o'er her slaughtered sire she bends
Lost in despair; - yet, as a step draws nigh,
Disturbing sorrow's lonely sanctity,
She lifts her head, and, all-subdued by grief,
Views with a wild sad smile the once-loved chief;
While rove her thoughts, unconscious of the past,
And every woe forgetting - but the last.

'Comest thou to weep with me? - for I am left
Alone on earth, of every tie bereft.
Low lies the warrior on his blood-stained bier;
His child may call, but he no more shall hear.
He sleeps - but never shall those eyes unclose;
'Twas not my voice that lulled him to repose;
Nor can it break his slumbers. - Dost thou mourn?
And is thy heart, like mine, with anguish torn?
Weep, and my soul a joy in grief shall know,
That o'er his grave my tears with Hamet's flow!'

But scarce her voice had breathed that well-known name
When, swiftly rushing o'er her spirit, came
Each dark remembrance - by affliction's power
Awhile effaced in that o'erwhelming hour,
To wake with tenfold strength: 'twas then her eye
Resumed its light, her mien its majesty,
And o'er her wasted cheek a burning glow
Spreads, while her lips' indignant accents flow.

'Away! I dream! Oh, how hath sorrow's might
Bowed down my soul, and quenched its native light -
That I should thus forget! and bid
thy
tear
With mine be mingled o'er a father's bier!
Did he not perish, haply by thy hand,
In the last combat with thy ruthless band?
The morn beheld that conflict of despair: -
'Twas then he fell - he fell! - and thou wert there!
Thou! who thy country's children hast pursued
To their last refuge 'midst these mountains rude.
Was it for this I loved thee? - Thou hast taught
My soul all grief, all bitterness of thought!
'Twill soon be past - I bow to Heaven's decree,
Which bade each pang be ministered by thee.'

'I had not deemed that aught remained below
For me to prove of yet untasted woe;
But thus to meet thee, Zayda! can impart
One more, one keener agony of heart.
Oh, hear me yet! - I would have died to save
My foe, but still thy father, from the grave
But, in the fierce confusion of the strife,
In my own stern despair and scorn of life,
Borne wildly on, I saw not, knew not aught,
Save that to perish there in vain I sought.
And let me share thy sorrows! - hadst thou known
All I have felt in silence and alone,
E'en
thou
mightst then relent, and deem, at last,
A grief like mine might expiate all the past.

'But oh! for thee, the loved and precious flower,
So fondly reared in luxury's guarded bower,
From every danger, every storm secured,
How hast
thou
suffered! what hast thou endured!
Daughter of palaces! and can it be
That this bleak desert is a home for thee!
These rocks
thy
dwelling! thou, who shouldst have known
Of life the sunbeam and the smile alone!
Oh, yet forgive! be all my guilt forgot,
Nor bid me leave thee to so rude a lot!'

'That lot is fixed; 'twere fruitless to repine:
Still must a gulf divide my fate from thine.
I may forgive - but not at will the heart
Can bid its dark remembrances depart.
No, Hamet, no! - too deeply are these traced,
Yet the hour comes when all shall be effaced!
Not long on earth, not long, shall Zayda keep
Her lonely vigils o'er the grave to weep:
E'en now, prophetic of my early doom,
Speaks to my soul a presage of the tomb;
And ne'er in vain did hopeless mourner feel
That deep foreboding o'er the bosom steal!
Soon shall I slumber calmly by the side
Of him for whom I lived, and would have died;
Till then, one thought shall soothe my orphan lot,
In pain and peril - I forsook him not.

'And now, farewell! - behold the summer-day
Is passing like the dreams of life, away.
Soon will the tribe of him who sleeps draw nigh,
With the last rites his bier to sanctify.
Oh, yet in time, away! - 'twere not
my
prayer
This hour they come - and dost thou scorn to fly?
Save me that one last pang - to see thee die!
E'en while she speaks is heard their echoing tread,
Onward they move, the kindred of the dead.
They reach the cave - they enter - slow their pace,
And calm, deep sadness marks each mourner's face,
And all is hushed, till he who seems to wait
In silent, stern devotedness, his fate,
Hath met their glance - then grief to fury turns;
Each mien is changed, each eye indignant burns,
And voices rise, and swords have left their sheath:
Blood must atone for blood, and death for death!
They close around him; lofty still his mien,
His cheek unaltered, and his brow serene.
Unheard, or heard in vain, is Zayda's cry;
Fruitless her prayer, unmarked her agony,
But as his foremost foes their weapons bend
Against the life he seeks not to defend,
Wildly she darts between - each feeling past,
Save strong affection, which prevails at last.
Oh, not in vain its daring! - for the blow
Aimed at his heart hath bade her life-blood flow;
And she hath sunk a martyr on the breast,
Where, in that hour, her head may calmly rest,
For he is saved! Behold the Zegri band,
Pale with dismay and grief, around her stand:
While, every thought of hate and vengeance o'er,
They weep for her who soon shall weep no more.
She, she alone is calm: - a fading smile,
Like sunset, passes o'er her cheek the while;
And in her eye, ere yet it closes, dwell
Those last faint rays, the parting soul's farewell.

'Now is the conflict past, and I have proved
How well, how deeply thou hast been beloved!
Yes! in an hour like this 'twere vain to hide
The heart so long and so severely tried:
Still to thy name that heart hath fondly thrilled,
But sterner duties called - and were fulfilled:
And I am blest! - To every holier tie
My life was faithful, - and for thee I die!
Nor shall the love so purified be vain;
Severed on earth, we yet shall meet again.
Farewell! - And ye, at Zayda's dying prayer,
Spare him, my kindred tribe! forgive and spare!
Oh! be his guilt forgotten in his woes,
While I, beside my sire, in peace repose.'

Now fades her cheek, her voice hath sunk, and death:
Sits in her eye, and struggles in her breath.
One pang - 'tis past - her task on earth is done,
And the pure spirit to its rest hath flown.
But he for whom she died - Oh! who may paint
The grief, to which all other woes were faint?
There is no power in language to impart
The deeper pangs, the ordeals of the heart,
By the dread Searcher of the soul surveyed;
These have no words - nor are by words portrayed.

A dirge is rising on the mountain-air,
Whose fitful swells its plaintive murmurs bear
Far o'er the Alpuxarras; - wild its tone,
And rocks and caverns echo, 'Thou art gone!'

Daughter of heroes! thou art gone
To share his tomb who gave thee birth;
Peace to the lovely spirit flown!
It was not formed for earth.
Thou wert a sunbeam in thy race,
Which brightly passed, and left no trace.

But calmly sleep! - for thou art free,
And hands unchained thy tomb shall raise.
Sleep! they are closed at length for thee,
Life's few and evil days!
Nor shalt thou watch, with tearful eye,
The lingering death of liberty.

Flower of the desert! thou thy bloom
Didst early to the storm resign:
We bear it still - and dark
their
doom
Who cannot weep for thine!
For us, whose every hope is fled,
The time is past to mourn the dead.

The days have been when o'er thy bier
Far other strains than these had flowed;
Now, as a home from grief and fear,
We hail thy dark abode!
We, who but linger to bequeath
Our sons the choice of chains or death.

Thou art with those, the free, the brave,
The mighty of departed years;
And for the slumberers of the grave
Our fate hath left no tears.
Though loved and lost, to weep were vain
For thee, who ne'er shalt weep again.

Have we not seen, despoiled by foes,
The land our fathers won of yore?
And is there yet a pang for those
Who gaze on
this
no more?
Oh, that like them 'twere ours to rest!
Daughter of heroes! thou art blest!

A few short years, and in the lonely cave
Where sleeps the Zegri maid, is Hamet's grave.
Severed in life, united in the tomb -
Such, of the hearts that loved so well, the doom!
Their dirge, of woods and waves the eternal moan;
Their sepulchre, the pine-clad rocks alone.
And oft beside the midnight watch-fire's blaze,
Amidst those rocks, in long departed days
(When freedom fled, to hold, sequestered there,
The stern and lofty councils of despair),
Some exiled Moor, a warrior of the wild,
Who the lone hours with mournful strains beguiled,
Hath taught his mountain-home the tale of those
Who thus have suffered, and who thus repose.

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William Blake

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

THE ARGUMENT

RINTRAH roars and shakes his
fires in the burdenM air,
Hungry clouds swag on the deep.

Once meek, and in a perilous path

The just man kept his course along

The Vale of Death.

Roses are planted where thorns grow,

And on the barren heath

Sing the honey bees.

Then the perilous path was planted,
And a river and a spring
On every cliff and tomb;

5

THE MARRIAGE OF

And on the bleached bones
Red clay brought forth:
Till the villain left the paths of ease
To walk in perilous paths, and drive
The just man into barren climes.

Now the sneaking serpent walks
In mild humility ;

And the just man rages in the wilds
Where Uons roam.

Rintrah roars and shakes his fires in

the burdened air,
Hungry clouds swag on the deep.

As a new heaven is begun, and it is
now thirty-three years since its advent,
the Eternal Hell revives. And lo!
Swedenborg is the angel sitting at
the tomb: his writings are the Unen
clothes folded up. Now is the domin-
ion of Edom, and the return of Adam
into Paradise. — See Isaiah xxxiv. and
XXXV. chap.

6

HEAVEN AND HELL

Without contraries is no progres-
sion. Attraction and repulsion, rea-
son and energy, love and hate, are
necessary to human existence.

From these contraries spring what
the religious call Good and Evil.
Good is the passive that obeys reason;
Evil is the active springing from
Energy.

Good is heaven. Evil is hell.

THE MARRIAGE OF

THE VOICE OF THE DEVIL

All Bibles or sacred codes have been
the cause of the following errors : —

1. That man has two real existing
principles, viz., a Body and a Soul.

2. That Energy, called Evil, is alone
from the Body ; and that Reason, called
Good, is alone from the Soul.

3. That God will torment man in
Eternity for following his Energies.

But the following contraries to
these are true : —

1 . Man has no Body distinct from his
Soul. For that called Body is a por-
tion of Soul discerned by the five senses,
the chief inlets of Soul in this age.

2 . Energy is the only life , and is from
the Body; and Reason is the bound
or outward circumference of Energy.

8

HEAVEN AND HELL

3. Energy is Eternal Delight.

Those who restrain desire, do so
because theirs is weak enough to be
restrained; and the restrainer or
reason usurps its place and governs
the unwilling.

And being restrained, it by degrees
becomes passive, till it is only the
shadow of desire.

The history of this is written in
Paradise Lost, and the Governor or
Reason is called Messiah.

And the original Archangel or pos-
sessor of the command of the heavenly
host is called the Devil, or Satan, and
his children are called Sin and Death.

But in the book of Job, Milton's
Messiah is called Satan.

For this history has been adopted by
both parties.

It indeed appeared to Reason as if

9

THE MARRIAGE OF

desire was cast out, but the Devil's
account is, that the Messiah fell, and
formed a heaven of what he stole from
the abyss.

This is shown in the Gospel, where
he prays to the Father to send the
Comforter or desire that Reason may
have ideas to build on, the Jehovah
of the Bible being no other than he
who dwells in flaming fire. Know
that after Christ's death he became
Jehovah.

But in Milton, the Father is Destiny,
the Son a ratio of the five senses, and
the Holy Ghost vacuum !

Note. — The reason Milton wrote
in fetters when he wrote of Angels
and God, and at Uberty when of
Devils and Hell, is because he was
a true poet, and of the Devil's party
without knowing it.

10

HEAVEN AND HELL

A MEMORABLE FANCY

As I was walking among the fires
of Hell, delighted with the enjoyments
of Genius, which to Angels look like
torment and insanity, I collected some
of their proverbs, thinking that as the
sayings used in a nation mark its
character, so the proverbs of Hell show
the nature of infernal wisdom better
than any description of buildings or
garments.

When I came home, on the abyss
of the five senses, where a flat-sided
steep frowns over the present world, I
saw a mighty Devil folded in black
clouds hovering on the sides of the
rock; with corroding fires he wrote
the following sentence now perceived
by the minds of men, and read by
them on earth : —

II

THE MARRIAGE OF

'How do you know but every bird
that cuts the airy way
Is an immense world of delight,
closed by your senses five?'

12

HEAVEN AND HELL

PROVERBS OF HELL

In seed-time learn, in harvest teach,
in winter enjoy.

Drive your cart and your plough
over the bones of the dead.

The road of excess leads to the
palace of wisdom.

Prudence is a rich ugly old maid
courted by Incapacity.

He who desires, but acts not, breeds
pestilence.

The cut worm forgives the plough.

Dip him in the river who loves
water.

A fool sees not the same tree that a
wise man sees.

He whose face gives no light shall
never become a star.

13

THE MARRIAGE OF

Eternity is in love with the produc-
tions of time.

The busy bee has no time for sor-
row.

The hours of folly are measured by
the clock, but of wisdom no clock can
measure.

All wholesome food is caught with-
out a net or a trap.

Bring out number, weight, and
measure in a year of dearth.

No bird soars too high if he soars
with his own wings.

A dead body revenges not injuries.

The most sublime act is to set an-
other before you.

If the fool would persist in his folly
he would become wise.

Folly is the cloak of knavery.

Shame is Pride's cloak.

14

HEAVEN AND HELL

Prisons are built with stones of law,
brothels with bricks of religion.

The pride of the peacock is the
glory of God.

The lust of the goat is the bounty
of God.

The wrath of the lion is the wisdom
of God.

The nakedness of woman is the
work of God.

Excess of sorrow laughs, excess of
joy weeps.

The roaring of lions, the howling of
wolves, the raging of the stormy sea,
and the destructive sword, are por-
tions of Eternity too great for the eye
of man.

The fox condemns the trap, not
himself.

Joys impregnate, sorrows bring
forth.

15

THE MARRIAGE OF

Let man wear the fell of the lion,
woman the fleece of the sheep.

The bird a nest, the spider a web,
man friendship.

The selfish smiling fool and the
sullen frowning fool shall be both
thought wise that they may be a rod.

What is now proved was once only
imagined.

The rat, the mouse, the fox, the
rabbit watch the roots; the Hon, the
tiger, the horse, the elephant watch
the fruits.

The cistern contains, the fountain
overflows.

One thought fills immensity.

Always be ready to speak your
mind, and a base man will avoid you.

Everything possible to be believed
is an image of truth.

The eagle never lost so much time

z6

HEAVEN AND HELL

as when he submitted to learn of the
crow.

The fox provides for himself, but
God provides for the lion.

Think in the morning, act in the
noon, eat in the evening, sleep in the
night.

He who has suffered you to impose
on him knows you.

As the plough follows words, so
God rewards prayers.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than
the horses of instruction.

Expect poison from the standing
water.

You never know what is enough
unless you know what is more than
enough.

Listen to the fool's reproach; it is a
kingly title.

The eyes of fire, the nostrils of air,

17

THE MARRIAGE OF

the mouth of water, the beard of
earth.

The weak in courage is strong in
cunning.

The apple tree never asks the beech
how he shall grow, nor the lion the
horse how he shall take his prey.

The thankful receiver bears a plenti-
ful harvest.

If others had not been foolish we
should have been so.

The soul of sweet delight can never
be defiled.

When thou seest an eagle, thou
seest a portion of Genius. Lift up thy
head!

As the caterpillar chooses the fairest
leaves to lay her eggs on, so the priest
lays his curse on the fairest joys.

To create a little flower is the labour
of ages.

i8

HEAVEN AND HELL

Damn braces; bless relaxes.

The best wine is the oldest, the best
water the newest.

Prayers plough not; praises reap
not; joys laugh not; sorrows weep
not.

The head Sublime, the heart Pathos,
the genitals Beauty, the hands and
feet Proportion.

As the air to a bird, or the sea
to a fish, so is contempt to the con-
temptible.

The crow wished everything was
black; the owl that everything was
white.

Exuberance is Beauty.

If the lion was advised by the fox,
he would be cunning.

Improvement makes straight roads,
but the crooked roads without Improve-
ment are roads of Genius.

19

THE MARRIAGE OF

Sooner murder an infant in its
cradle than nurse unacted desires.

Where man is not, nature is barren.

Truth can never be told so as to be
understood and not to be believed.

Enough! or Too much.

The ancient poets animated all sen-
sible objects with Gods or Geniuses,
calling them by the names and adorn-
ing them with properties of woods,
rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, na-
tions, and whatever their enlarged
and numerous senses could perceive.
And particularly they studied the
Genius of each city and country,
placing it under its mental deity. Till
a system was formed, which some
took advantage of and enslaved the
vulgar by attempting to realize or
abstract the mental deities from their
objects. Thus began Priesthood.

20

HEAVEN AND HELL

Choosing forms of worship from
poetic tales. And at length they pro-
nounced that the Gods had ordered
such things. Thus men forgot that
all deities reside in the human breast.

21

THE MARRIAGE OF

A MEMORABLE FANCY

The Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel
dined with me, and I asked them how
they dared so roundly to assert that
God spoke to them, and whether they
did not think at the time that they
would be misunderstood, and so be
the cause of imposition.

Isaiah answered: 'I saw no God,
nor heard any, in a finite organical
perception: but my senses discovered
the infinite in everything; and as I
was then persuaded, and remained
confirmed, that the voice of honest
indignation is the voice of God, I cared
not for consequences, but wrote.'*

Then I asked: 'Does a firm per-
suasion that a thing is so, make it
so?'

He replied: 'All poets believe that

22

HEAVEN AND HELL

it does, and in ages of imagination
this firm persuasion removed moun-
tains; but many are not capable of a
firm persuasion of anything.'

Then Ezekiel said : ' The philosophy
of the East taught the first principles
of human perception; some nations
held one principle for the origin, and
some another. We of Israel taught
that the Poetic Genius (as you now
call it) was the first principle, and all
the others merely derivative, which
was the cause of our despising the
Priests and Philosophers of other
countries, and prophesying that all
Gods would at last be proved to origi-
nate in ours, and to be the tributaries
of the Poetic Genius. It was this that
our great poet King David desired so
fervently, and invokes so pathetically,
saying by this he conquers enemies
and governs kingdoms; and we so
loved our Ggd that we cursed in His

i3

THE MARRIAGE OF

name all the deities of surrounding
nations, and asserted that they had
rebelled. From these opinions the
vulgar came to think that all nations
would at last be subject to the Jews.

'This,' said he, 'like all firm per-
suasions, is come to pass, for all
nations believe the Jews' code, and
worship the Jews' God; and what
greater subjection can be?'

I heard this with some wonder, and
must confess my own conviction.
After dinner I asked Isaiah to favour
the world with his lost works; he said
none of equal value was lost. Ezekiel
said the same of his.

I also asked Isaiah what made him
go naked and barefoot three years.
He answered: 'The same that made
our friend Diogenes the Grecian.'

I then asked Ezekiel why he ate
dung, and lay so long on his right and

24

HEAVEN AND HELL

left side. He answered: 'The desire
of raising other men into a perception
of the infinite. This the North Ameri-
can tribes practise. And is he honest
who resists his genius or conscience,
only for the sake of present ease or
gratification?'

The ancient tradition that the world
will be consumed in fire at the end of
six thousand years is true, as I have
heard from Hell.

For the cherub with his flaming
sword is hereby commanded to leave
his guard at [the] tree of life, and
when he does, the whole creation will
be consumed and appear infinite and
holy, whereas it now appears finite
and corrupt.

This will come to pass by an im-
provement of sensual enjoyment.

But first the notion that man has

25

THE MARRIAGE OF

a body distinct from his soul is to be
expunged; this I shall do by printing
in the infernal method by corrosives,
which in Hell are salutary and medici-
nal, melting apparent surfaces away,
and displaying the infinite which was
hid.

If the doors of perception were
cleansed everything would appear to
man as it is, infinite.

For man has closed himself up, till
he sees all things through narrow
chinks of his cavern.

26

HEAVEN AND HELL

A MEMORABLE FANCY

I was in a printing-house in Hell,
and saw the method in which knowl-
edge is transmitted from generation
to generation.

In the first chamber was a dragon-
man, clearing away the rubbish from
a cave's mouth; within, a number of
dragons were hollowing the cave.

In the second chamber was a viper
folding round the rock and the cave,
and others adorning it with gold, silver,
and precious stones.

In the third chamber was an eagle
with wings and feathers of air; he
caused the inside of the cave to be
infinite; around were numbers of
eagle-like men, who built palaces in
the immense cliffs.

In the fourth chamber were lions

27

THE MARRIAGE OF

of flaming fire raging around and
melting the metals into living fluids.

In the fifth chamber were unnamed
forms, which cast the metals into the
expanse.

There they were received by men
who occupied the sixth chamber, and
took the forms of books, and were
arranged in libraries.

The Giants who formed this world
into its sensual existence and now
seem to live in it in chains are in
truth the causes of its life and the
sources of all activity, but the chains
are the cunning of weak and tame
minds, which have power to resist
energy, according to the proverb,
'The weak in courage is strong in
cunning.'

Thus one portion of being is the

28

HEAVEN AND HELL

Prolific, the other the Devouring. To
the devourer it seems as if the pro-
ducer was in his chains; but it is not
so, he only takes portions of existence,
and fancies that the whole.

But the Prolific would cease to be
prolific unless the Devourer as a sea
received the excess of his delights.

Some will say, 'Is not God alone
the Prolific?' I answer: 'God only
acts and is in existing beings or
men.'

These two classes of men are always
upon earth, and they should be ene-
mies: whoever tries to reconcile them
seeks to destroy existence.

Religion is an endeavour to recon-
cile the two.

Note. — Jesus Christ did not wish
to unite but to separate them, as in
the parable of sheep and goats; and

29

THE MARRIAGE OF

He says : ' I came not to send peace,
but a sword.'

Messiah, or Satan, or Tempter, was
formerly thought to be one of the
antediluvians who are our Energies.

30

HEAVEN AND HELL

A MEMORABLE FANCY

An Angel came to me and said: '0
pitiable foolish young man! hor-
rible, dreadful state! Consider the
hot burning dungeon thou art prepar-
ing for thyself to all Eternity, to which
thou art going in such career.'

I said : ' Perhaps you will be willing
to show me my eternal lot, and we
will contemplate together upon it, and
see whether your lot or mine is most
desirable.'*

So he took me through a stable, and
through a church, and down into the
church vault, at the end of v/hich was
a mill; through the mill we went, and
came to a cave; down the winding
cavern we groped our tedious way,
till a void boundless as a nether sky
appeared beneath us, and we held by

31

THE MARRIAGE OF

the roots of trees, and hung over this
immensity; but I said: 'If you please,
we will commit ourselves to this void,
and see whether Providence is here
also; if you will not, I will.' But he
answered : ' Do not presume, young
man; but as we here remain, behold
thy lot, which will soon appear when
the darkness passes away.'

So I remained with him sitting in
the twisted root of an oak; he was
suspended in a fungus, which hung
with the head downward into the
deep.

By degrees we beheld the infinite
abyss, fiery as the smoke of a burning
city; beneath us at an immense dis-
tance was the sun, black but shining;
round it were fiery tracks on which
revolved vast spiders, crawling after
their prey, which flew, or rather
swum, in the infinite deep, in the most

32

HEAVEN AND HELL

terrific shapes of animals sprung from
corruption; and the air was full of
them, and seemed composed of them.
These are Devils, and are called powers
of the air. I now asked my com-
panion which was my eternal lot.
He said: 'Between the black and
white spiders.''

But now, from between the black
and white spiders, a cloud and fire
burst and rolled through the deep,
blackening all beneath so that the
nether deep grew black as a sea, and
rolled with a terrible noise. Beneath
us was nothing now to be seen but a
black tempest, till looking East be-
tween the clouds and the waves, we
saw a cataract of blood mixed with
fire, and not many stones' throw from
us appeared and sunk again the scaly
fold of a monstrous serpent. At last
to the East, distant about three degrees,
appeared a fiery crest above the waves ;

33

THE MARRIAGE OF

slowly it reared like a ridge of golden
rocks, till we discovered two globes
of crimson fire, from which the sea
fled away in clouds of smoke; and
now we saw it was the head of Le-
viathan. His forehead was divided
into streaks of green and purple, like
those on a tiger's forehead; soon we
saw his mouth and red gills hang just
above the raging foam, tinging the
black deeps with beams of blood, ad-
vancing toward us with all the fury
of a spiritual existence.

My friend the Angel climbed up
from his station into the mill. I
remained alone, and then this ap-
pearance was no more; but I found
myself sitting on a pleasant bank beside
a river by moonlight, hearing a harper
who sung to the harp; and his theme
was: 'The man who never alters his
opinion is like standing water, and
breeds reptiles of the mind.'

34

HEAVEN AND HELL

But I arose, and sought for the
mill, and there I found my Angel,
who, surprised, asked me how I
escaped.

I answered: 'All that we saw was
owing to your metaphysics; for when
you ran away, I found myself on a
bank by moonlight, hearing a harper.
But now we have seen my eternal
lot, shall I show you yours?' He
laughed at my proposal; but I by
force suddenly caught him in my
arms, and flew Westerly through the
night, till we were elevated above the
earth's shadow; then I flung myself
with him directly into the body of the
sun; here I clothed myself in white,
and taking in my hand Swedenborg*s
volumes, sunk from the glorious clime,
and passed all the planets till we came
to Saturn. Here I stayed to rest, and
then leaped into the void between
Saturn and the fixed stars.

35

THE MARRIAGE OF

'Here,' said I, 'is your lot; in this
space, if space it may be called.'
Soon we saw the stable and the church,
and I took him to the altar and opened
the Bible, and lo! it was a deep pit,
into which I descended, driving the
Angel before me. Soon we saw seven
houses of brick. One we entered. In
it were a number of monkeys, baboons,
and all of that species, chained by the
middle, grinning and snatching at one
another, but withheld by the shortness
of their chains. However, I saw that
they sometimes grew numerous, and
then the weak were caught by the
strong, and with a grinning aspect,
first coupled with and then devoured
by plucking off first one Umb and then
another till the body was left a help-
less trunk; this, after grinning and
kissing it with seeming fondness, they
devoured too. And here and there I
saw one savourily picking the fiesh off

36

HEAVEN AND HELL

his own tail. As the stench terribly
annoyed us both, we went into the
mill; and I in my hand brought the
skeleton of a body, which in the mill
was Aristotle's Analytics.

So the Angel said; 'Thy phantasy
has imposed upon me, and thou ought-
est to be ashamed.'

I answered: 'We impose on one
another, and it is but lost time to con-
verse with you whose works are only
Analytics.'*

'I have always found that Angels
have the vanity to speak of them-
selves as the only wise; this they do
with a confident insolence sprouting
from systematic reasoning.

'Thus Swedenborg boasts that what
he writes is new ; though it is only the
contents or index of already published
books.

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THE MARRIAGE OF

'A man carried a monkey about
for a show, and because he was a Uttle
wiser than the monkey, grew vain,
and conceived himself as much wiser
than seven men. It is so with
Swedenborg; he shows the folly of
churches, and exposes hypocrites, till
he imagines that all are religious, and
himself the single one on earth that
ever broke a net.

'Now hear a plain fact: Sweden-
borg has not written one new truth.
Now hear another: he has written all
the old falsehoods.

'And now hear the reason: he con-
versed with Angels who are all re-
ligious, and conversed not with Devils
who all hate reUgion, for he was
incapable through his conceited no-
tions.

'Thus Swedenborg's writings are
a recapitulation of all superficial

38

HEAVEN AND HELL

opinions, and an analysis of the more
sublime, but no further.

'Have now another plain fact: any
man of mechanical talents may from
the writings of Paracelsus or Jacob
Behmen produce ten thousand volumes
of equal value with Swedenborg's, and
from those of Dante or Shakespeare an
infinite number.

'But when he has done this, let
him not say that he knows better than
his master, for he only holds a candle
in sunshine.'

39

THE MARRIAGE OF

A MEMORABLE FANCY

Once I saw a Devil in a flame of
fire, who arose before an Angel that
sat on a cloud, and the Devil uttered
these words: 'The worship of God is,
honouring His gifts in other men each
according to his genius, and loving
the greatest men best. Those who
envy or calumniate great men hate
God, for there is no other God.'

The Angel hearing this became
almost blue, but mastering himself he
grew yellow, and at last white-pink
and smiling, and then replied: 'Thou
idolater, is not God One? and is not
He visible in Jesus Christ? and has
not Jesus Christ given His sanction to
the law of ten commandments? and
are not all other men fools, sinners,
and nothings?'

40

HEAVEN AND HELL

The Devil answered: 'Bray a fool
in a mortar with wheat, yet shall not
his folly be beaten out of him. If
Jesus Christ is the greatest man, you
ought to love Him in the greatest
degree. Now hear how He has given
His sanction to the law of ten com-
mandments. Did He not mock at the
Sabbath, and so mock the Sabbath's
God? murder those who were mur-
dered because of Him? turn away the
law from the woman taken in adultery,
steal the labour of others to support
Him? bear false witness when He
omitted making a defence before
Pilate? covet when He prayed for His
disciples, and when He bid them
shake off the dust of their feet against
such as refused to lodge them? I tell
you, no virtue can exist without break-
ing these ten commandments. Jesus
was all virtue, and acted from im-
pulse, not from rules.'

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THE MARRIAGE OF

When he had so spoken, I beheld
the Angel, who stretched out his arms
embracing the flame of fire, and he
was consumed, and arose as Elijah.

Note. — This Angel, who is now
become a Devil, is my particular
friend; we often read the Bible to-
gether in its infernal or diabolical
sense, which the world shall have if
they behave well.

I have also the Bible of Hell, which
the world shall have whether they
will or no.

One law for the lion and ox is Op-
pression.

42

HEAVEN AND HELL

A SONG OF LIBERTY

1. The Eternal Female groan'd; it
was heard over all the earth:

2. Albion's coast is sick silent; the
American meadows faint.

3. Shadows of prophecy shiver
along by the lakes and the rivers, and
mutter across the ocean. France,
rend down thy dungeon!

4. Golden Spain, burst the barriers
of old Rome !

5. Cast thy keys, Rome, into
the deep — down falling, even to
eternity down falling;

6. And weep!

7. In her trembling hands she took
the new-born terror, howling.

8. On those infinite mountains
of light now barr'd out by the Atlantic

43

THE MARRIAGE OF

sea, the new-born fire stood before the
starry king.

9. Flagg'd with grey-browM snows
and thunderous visages, the jealous
wings wavM over the deep.

10. The speary hand burn'd aloft;
unbuckled was the shield; forth went
the hand of jealousy among the flam-
ing hair, and hurl'd the new-born
wonder through the starry night.

11. The fire, the fire is falling !

12. Look up! look up! citizen
of London, enlarge thy countenance!
O Jew, leave counting gold; return to
thy oil and wine! African, black
African! (Go, winged thought, widen
his forehead.)

13. The fiery limbs, the flaming hair
shot like the sinking sun into the
Western sea.

14. WakM from his eternal sleep,
the hoary element roaring fled away.

44

HEAVEN AND HELL

15. Down rush'd, beating his wings
in vain, the jealous king, his grey-
brow'd councillors, thunderous war-
riors, curl'd veterans, among helms
and shields, and chariots, horses, ele-
phants, banners, castles, slings, and
rocks.

16. Falling, rushing, ruining;
buried in the ruins, on Urthona's
dens.

17. All night beneath the ruins;
then their sullen flames, faded, emerge
round the gloomy king.

18. With thunder and fire, leading
his starry hosts through the waste
wilderness, he promulgates his ten
commandments, glancing his beamy
eyelids over the deep in dark dismay.

19. Where the Son of Fire in his
Eastern cloud, while the Morning
plumes her golden breast,

20. Spuming the clouds written

45

THE MARRIAGE OF

with curses, stamps the stony law to
dust, loosing the eternal horses from
the dens of night, crying: 'Empire is
no more! and now the lion and wolf
shall cease.'

46

HEAVEN AND HELL

CHORUS

Let the Priests of the Raven of
Dawn, no longer in deadly black, with
hoarse note curse the Sons of Joy.
Nor his accepted brethren whom,
tyrant, he calls free, lay the bound or
build the roof. Nor pale religious
lechery call that virginity that wishes,
but acts not !

For everything that lives is holy.

47

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Homer

The Iliad: Book 8

Now when Morning, clad in her robe of saffron, had begun to suffuse
light over the earth, Jove called the gods in council on the topmost
crest of serrated Olympus. Then he spoke and all the other gods gave
ear. "Hear me," said he, "gods and goddesses, that I may speak even as
I am minded. Let none of you neither goddess nor god try to cross
me, but obey me every one of you that I may bring this matter to an
end. If I see anyone acting apart and helping either Trojans or
Danaans, he shall be beaten inordinately ere he come back again to
Olympus; or I will hurl him down into dark Tartarus far into the
deepest pit under the earth, where the gates are iron and the floor
bronze, as far beneath Hades as heaven is high above the earth, that
you may learn how much the mightiest I am among you. Try me and find
out for yourselves. Hangs me a golden chain from heaven, and lay
hold of it all of you, gods and goddesses together- tug as you will,
you will not drag Jove the supreme counsellor from heaven to earth;
but were I to pull at it myself I should draw you up with earth and
sea into the bargain, then would I bind the chain about some
pinnacle of Olympus and leave you all dangling in the mid firmament.
So far am I above all others either of gods or men."
They were frightened and all of them of held their peace, for he had
spoken masterfully; but at last Minerva answered, "Father, son of
Saturn, king of kings, we all know that your might is not to be
gainsaid, but we are also sorry for the Danaan warriors, who are
perishing and coming to a bad end. We will, however, since you so
bid us, refrain from actual fighting, but we will make serviceable
suggestions to the Argives that they may not all of them perish in
your displeasure."
Jove smiled at her and answered, "Take heart, my child,
Trito-born; I am not really in earnest, and I wish to be kind to you."
With this he yoked his fleet horses, with hoofs of bronze and
manes of glittering gold. He girded himself also with gold about the
body, seized his gold whip and took his seat in his chariot. Thereon
he lashed his horses and they flew forward nothing loth midway twixt
earth and starry heaven. After a while he reached many-fountained Ida,
mother of wild beasts, and Gargarus, where are his grove and
fragrant altar. There the father of gods and men stayed his horses,
took them from the chariot, and hid them in a thick cloud; then he
took his seat all glorious upon the topmost crests, looking down
upon the city of Troy and the ships of the Achaeans.
The Achaeans took their morning meal hastily at the ships, and
afterwards put on their armour. The Trojans on the other hand likewise
armed themselves throughout the city, fewer in numbers but
nevertheless eager perforce to do battle for their wives and children.
All the gates were flung wide open, and horse and foot sallied forth
with the tramp as of a great multitude.
When they were got together in one place, shield clashed with
shield, and spear with spear, in the conflict of mail-clad men. Mighty
was the din as the bossed shields pressed hard on one another-
death- cry and shout of triumph of slain and slayers, and the earth
ran red with blood.
Now so long as the day waxed and it was still morning their
weapons beat against one another, and the people fell, but when the
sun had reached mid-heaven, the sire of all balanced his golden
scales, and put two fates of death within them, one for the Trojans
and the other for the Achaeans. He took the balance by the middle, and
when he lifted it up the day of the Achaeans sank; the death-fraught
scale of the Achaeans settled down upon the ground, while that of
the Trojans rose heavenwards. Then he thundered aloud from Ida, and
sent the glare of his lightning upon the Achaeans; when they saw this,
pale fear fell upon them and they were sore afraid.
Idomeneus dared not stay nor yet Agamemnon, nor did the two
Ajaxes, servants of Mars, hold their ground. Nestor knight of Gerene
alone stood firm, bulwark of the Achaeans, not of his own will, but
one of his horses was disabled. Alexandrus husband of lovely Helen had
hit it with an arrow just on the top of its head where the mane begins
to grow away from the skull, a very deadly place. The horse bounded in
his anguish as the arrow pierced his brain, and his struggles threw
others into confusion. The old man instantly began cutting the
traces with his sword, but Hector's fleet horses bore down upon him
through the rout with their bold charioteer, even Hector himself,
and the old man would have perished there and then had not Diomed been
quick to mark, and with a loud cry called Ulysses to help him.
"Ulysses," he cried, "noble son of Laertes where are you flying
to, with your back turned like a coward? See that you are not struck
with a spear between the shoulders. Stay here and help me to defend
Nestor from this man's furious onset."
Ulysses would not give ear, but sped onward to the ships of the
Achaeans, and the son of Tydeus flinging himself alone into the
thick of the fight took his stand before the horses of the son of
Neleus. "Sir," said he, "these young warriors are pressing you hard,
your force is spent, and age is heavy upon you, your squire is naught,
and your horses are slow to move. Mount my chariot and see what the
horses of Tros can do- how cleverly they can scud hither and thither
over the plain either in flight or in pursuit. I took them from the
hero Aeneas. Let our squires attend to your own steeds, but let us
drive mine straight at the Trojans, that Hector may learn how
furiously I too can wield my spear."
Nestor knight of Gerene hearkened to his words. Thereon the
doughty squires, Sthenelus and kind-hearted Eurymedon, saw to Nestor's
horses, while the two both mounted Diomed's chariot. Nestor took the
reins in his hands and lashed the horses on; they were soon close up
with Hector, and the son of Tydeus aimed a spear at him as he was
charging full speed towards them. He missed him, but struck his
charioteer and squire Eniopeus son of noble Thebaeus in the breast
by the nipple while the reins were in his hands, so that he died there
and then, and the horses swerved as he fell headlong from the chariot.
Hector was greatly grieved at the loss of his charioteer, but let
him lie for all his sorrow, while he went in quest of another
driver; nor did his steeds have to go long without one, for he
presently found brave Archeptolemus the son of Iphitus, and made him
get up behind the horses, giving the reins into his hand.
All had then been lost and no help for it, for they would have
been penned up in Ilius like sheep, had not the sire of gods and men
been quick to mark, and hurled a fiery flaming thunderbolt which
fell just in front of Diomed's horses with a flare of burning
brimstone. The horses were frightened and tried to back beneath the
car, while the reins dropped from Nestor's hands. Then he was afraid
and said to Diomed, "Son of Tydeus, turn your horses in flight; see
you not that the hand of Jove is against you? To-day he vouchsafes
victory to Hector; to-morrow, if it so please him, he will again grant
it to ourselves; no man, however brave, may thwart the purpose of
Jove, for he is far stronger than any."
Diomed answered, "All that you have said is true; there is a grief
however which pierces me to the very heart, for Hector will talk among
the Trojans and say, 'The son of Tydeus fled before me to the
ships.' This is the vaunt he will make, and may earth then swallow
me."
"Son of Tydeus," replied Nestor, "what mean you? Though Hector say
that you are a coward the Trojans and Dardanians will not believe him,
nor yet the wives of the mighty warriors whom you have laid low."
So saying he turned the horses back through the thick of the battle,
and with a cry that rent the air the Trojans and Hector rained their
darts after them. Hector shouted to him and said, "Son of Tydeus,
the Danaans have done you honour hitherto as regards your place at
table, the meals they give you, and the filling of your cup with wine.
Henceforth they will despise you, for you are become no better than
a woman. Be off, girl and coward that you are, you shall not scale our
walls through any Hinching upon my part; neither shall you carry off
our wives in your ships, for I shall kill you with my own hand."
The son of Tydeus was in two minds whether or no to turn his
horses round again and fight him. Thrice did he doubt, and thrice
did Jove thunder from the heights of. Ida in token to the Trojans that
he would turn the battle in their favour. Hector then shouted to
them and said, "Trojans, Lycians, and Dardanians, lovers of close
fighting, be men, my friends, and fight with might and with main; I
see that Jove is minded to vouchsafe victory and great glory to
myself, while he will deal destruction upon the Danaans. Fools, for
having thought of building this weak and worthless wall. It shall
not stay my fury; my horses will spring lightly over their trench, and
when I am BOOK at their ships forget not to bring me fire that I may
burn them, while I slaughter the Argives who will be all dazed and
bewildered by the smoke."
Then he cried to his horses, "Xanthus and Podargus, and you Aethon
and goodly Lampus, pay me for your keep now and for all the
honey-sweet corn with which Andromache daughter of great Eetion has
fed you, and for she has mixed wine and water for you to drink
whenever you would, before doing so even for me who am her own
husband. Haste in pursuit, that we may take the shield of Nestor,
the fame of which ascends to heaven, for it is of solid gold, arm-rods
and all, and that we may strip from the shoulders of Diomed. the
cuirass which Vulcan made him. Could we take these two things, the
Achaeans would set sail in their ships this self-same night."
Thus did he vaunt, but Queen Juno made high Olympus quake as she
shook with rage upon her throne. Then said she to the mighty god of
Neptune, "What now, wide ruling lord of the earthquake? Can you find
no compassion in your heart for the dying Danaans, who bring you
many a welcome offering to Helice and to Aegae? Wish them well then.
If all of us who are with the Danaans were to drive the Trojans back
and keep Jove from helping them, he would have to sit there sulking
alone on Ida."
King Neptune was greatly troubled and answered, "Juno, rash of
tongue, what are you talking about? We other gods must not set
ourselves against Jove, for he is far stronger than we are."
Thus did they converse; but the whole space enclosed by the ditch,
from the ships even to the wall, was filled with horses and
warriors, who were pent up there by Hector son of Priam, now that
the hand of Jove was with him. He would even have set fire to the
ships and burned them, had not Queen Juno put it into the mind of
Agamemnon, to bestir himself and to encourage the Achaeans. To this
end he went round the ships and tents carrying a great purple cloak,
and took his stand by the huge black hull of Ulysses' ship, which
was middlemost of all; it was from this place that his voice would
carry farthest, on the one hand towards the tents of Ajax son of
Telamon, and on the other towards those of Achilles- for these two
heroes, well assured of their own strength, had valorously drawn up
their ships at the two ends of the line. From this spot then, with a
voice that could be heard afar, he shouted to the Danaans, saying,
"Argives, shame on you cowardly creatures, brave in semblance only;
where are now our vaunts that we should prove victorious- the vaunts
we made so vaingloriously in Lemnos, when we ate the flesh of horned
cattle and filled our mixing-bowls to the brim? You vowed that you
would each of you stand against a hundred or two hundred men, and
now you prove no match even for one- for Hector, who will be ere
long setting our ships in a blaze. Father Jove, did you ever so ruin a
great king and rob him so utterly of his greatness? yet, when to my
sorrow I was coming hither, I never let my ship pass your altars
without offering the fat and thigh-bones of heifers upon every one
of them, so eager was I to sack the city of Troy. Vouchsafe me then
this prayer- suffer us to escape at any rate with our lives, and let
not the Achaeans be so utterly vanquished by the Trojans."
Thus did he pray, and father Jove pitying his tears vouchsafed him
that his people should live, not die; forthwith he sent them an eagle,
most unfailingly portentous of all birds, with a young fawn in its
talons; the eagle dropped the fawn by the altar on which the
Achaeans sacrificed to Jove the lord of omens; When, therefore, the
people saw that the bird had come from Jove, they sprang more fiercely
upon the Trojans and fought more boldly.
There was no man of all the many Danaans who could then boast that
he had driven his horses over the trench and gone forth to fight
sooner than the son of Tydeus; long before any one else could do so he
slew an armed warrior of the Trojans, Agelaus the son of Phradmon.
He had turned his horses in flight, but the spear struck him in the
back midway between his shoulders and went right through his chest,
and his armour rang rattling round him as he fell forward from his
chariot.
After him came Agamemnon and Menelaus, sons of Atreus, the two
Ajaxes clothed in valour as with a garment, Idomeneus and his
companion in arms Meriones, peer of murderous Mars, and Eurypylus
the brave son of Euaemon. Ninth came Teucer with his bow, and took his
place under cover of the shield of Ajax son of Telamon. When Ajax
lifted his shield Teucer would peer round, and when he had hit any one
in the throng, the man would fall dead; then Teucer would hie back
to Ajax as a child to its mother, and again duck down under his
shield.
Which of the Trojans did brave Teucer first kill? Orsilochus, and
then Ormenus and Ophelestes, Daetor, Chromius, and godlike
Lycophontes, Amopaon son of Polyaemon, and Melanippus. these in turn
did he lay low upon the earth, and King Agamemnon was glad when he saw
him making havoc of the Trojans with his mighty bow. He went up to him
and said, "Teucer, man after my own heart, son of Telamon, captain
among the host, shoot on, and be at once the saving of the Danaans and
the glory of your father Telamon, who brought you up and took care
of you in his own house when you were a child, bastard though you
were. Cover him with glory though he is far off; I will promise and
I will assuredly perform; if aegis-bearing Jove and Minerva grant me
to sack the city of Ilius, you shall have the next best meed of honour
after my own- a tripod, or two horses with their chariot, or a woman
who shall go up into your bed."
And Teucer answered, "Most noble son of Atreus, you need not urge
me; from the moment we began to drive them back to Ilius, I have never
ceased so far as in me lies to look out for men whom I can shoot and
kill; I have shot eight barbed shafts, and all of them have been
buried in the flesh of warlike youths, but this mad dog I cannot hit."
As he spoke he aimed another arrow straight at Hector, for he was
bent on hitting him; nevertheless he missed him, and the arrow hit
Priam's brave son Gorgythion in the breast. His mother, fair
Castianeira, lovely as a goddess, had been married from Aesyme, and
now he bowed his head as a garden poppy in full bloom when it is
weighed down by showers in spring- even thus heavy bowed his head
beneath the weight of his helmet.
Again he aimed at Hector, for he was longing to hit him, and again
his arrow missed, for Apollo turned it aside; but he hit Hector's
brave charioteer Archeptolemus in the breast, by the nipple, as he was
driving furiously into the fight. The horses swerved aside as he
fell headlong from the chariot, and there was no life left in him.
Hector was greatly grieved at the loss of his charioteer, but for
all his sorrow he let him lie where he fell, and bade his brother
Cebriones, who was hard by, take the reins. Cebriones did as he had
said. Hector thereon with a loud cry sprang from his chariot to the
ground, and seizing a great stone made straight for Teucer with intent
kill him. Teucer had just taken an arrow from his quiver and had
laid it upon the bow-string, but Hector struck him with the jagged
stone as he was taking aim and drawing the string to his shoulder;
he hit him just where the collar-bone divides the neck from the chest,
a very deadly place, and broke the sinew of his arm so that his
wrist was less, and the bow dropped from his hand as he fell forward
on his knees. Ajax saw that his brother had fallen, and running
towards him bestrode him and sheltered him with his shield.
Meanwhile his two trusty squires, Mecisteus son of Echius, and
Alastor, came up and bore him to the ships groaning in his great pain.
glad when he saw
Jove now again put heart into the Trojans, and they drove the
Achaeans to their deep trench with Hector in all his glory at their
head. As a hound grips a wild boar or lion in flank or buttock when he
gives him chase, and watches warily for his wheeling, even so did
Hector follow close upon the Achaeans, ever killing the hindmost as
they rushed panic-stricken onwards. When they had fled through the set
stakes and trench and many Achaeans had been laid low at the hands
of the Trojans, they halted at their ships, calling upon one another
and praying every man instantly as they lifted up their hands to the
gods; but Hector wheeled his horses this way and that, his eyes
glaring like those of Gorgo or murderous Mars.
Juno when she saw them had pity upon them, and at once said to
Minerva, "Alas, child of aegis-bearing Jove, shall you and I take no
more thought for the dying Danaans, though it be the last time we ever
do so? See how they perish and come to a bad end before the onset of
but a single man. Hector the son of Priam rages with intolerable fury,
and has already done great mischief."
Minerva answered, "Would, indeed, this fellow might die in his own
land, and fall by the hands of the Achaeans; but my father Jove is mad
with spleen, ever foiling me, ever headstrong and unjust. He forgets
how often I saved his son when he was worn out by the labours
Eurystheus had laid on him. He would weep till his cry came up to
heaven, and then Jove would send me down to help him; if I had had the
sense to foresee all this, when Eurystheus sent him to the house of
Hades, to fetch the hell-hound from Erebus, he would never have come
back alive out of the deep waters of the river Styx. And now Jove
hates me, while he lets Thetis have her way because she kissed his
knees and took hold of his beard, when she was begging him to do
honour to Achilles. I shall know what to do next time he begins
calling me his grey-eyed darling. Get our horses ready, while I go
within the house of aegis-bearing Jove and put on my armour; we
shall then find out whether Priam's son Hector will be glad to meet us
in the highways of battle, or whether the Trojans will glut hounds and
vultures with the fat of their flesh as they he dead by the ships of
the Achaeans."
Thus did she speak and white-armed Juno, daughter of great Saturn,
obeyed her words; she set about harnessing her gold-bedizened
steeds, while Minerva daughter of aegis-bearing Jove flung her
richly vesture, made with her own hands, on to the threshold of her
father, and donned the shirt of Jove, arming herself for battle.
Then she stepped into her flaming chariot, and grasped the spear so
stout and sturdy and strong with which she quells the ranks of
heroes who have displeased her. Juno lashed her horses, and the
gates of heaven bellowed as they flew open of their own accord-
gates over which the Hours preside, in whose hands are heaven and
Olympus, either to open the dense cloud that hides them or to close
it. Through these the goddesses drove their obedient steeds.
But father Jove when he saw them from Ida was very angry, and sent
winged Iris with a message to them. "Go," said he, "fleet Iris, turn
them back, and see that they do not come near me, for if we come to
fighting there will be mischief. This is what I say, and this is
what I mean to do. I will lame their horses for them; I will hurl them
from their chariot, and will break it in pieces. It will take them all
ten years to heal the wounds my lightning shall inflict upon them;
my grey-eyed daughter will then learn what quarrelling with her father
means. I am less surprised and angry with Juno, for whatever I say she
always contradicts me."
With this Iris went her way, fleet as the wind, from the heights
of Ida to the lofty summits of Olympus. She met the goddesses at the
outer gates of its many valleys and gave them her message. "What,"
said she, "are you about? Are you mad? The son of Saturn forbids
going. This is what he says, and this is he means to do, he will
lame your horses for you, he will hurl you from your chariot, and will
break it in pieces. It will take you all ten years to heal the
wounds his lightning will inflict upon you, that you may learn,
grey-eyed goddess, what quarrelling with your father means. He is less
hurt and angry with Juno, for whatever he says she always
contradicts him but you, bold bold hussy, will you really dare to
raise your huge spear in defiance of Jove?"
With this she left them, and Juno said to Minerva, "Of a truth,
child of aegis-bearing Jove, I am not for fighting men's battles
further in defiance of Jove. Let them live or die as luck will have
it, and let Jove mete out his judgements upon the Trojans and
Danaans according to his own pleasure."
She turned her steeds; the Hours presently unyoked them, made them
fast to their ambrosial mangers, and leaned the chariot against the
end wall of the courtyard. The two goddesses then sat down upon
their golden thrones, amid the company of the other gods; but they
were very angry.
Presently father Jove drove his chariot to Olympus, and entered
the assembly of gods. The mighty lord of the earthquake unyoked his
horses for him, set the car upon its stand, and threw a cloth over it.
Jove then sat down upon his golden throne and Olympus reeled beneath
him. Minerva and Juno sat alone, apart from Jove, and neither spoke
nor asked him questions, but Jove knew what they meant, and said,
"Minerva and Juno, why are you so angry? Are you fatigued with killing
so many of your dear friends the Trojans? Be this as it may, such is
the might of my hands that all the gods in Olympus cannot turn me; you
were both of you trembling all over ere ever you saw the fight and its
terrible doings. I tell you therefore-and it would have surely been- I
should have struck you with lighting, and your chariots would never
have brought you back again to Olympus."
Minerva and Juno groaned in spirit as they sat side by side and
brooded mischief for the Trojans. Minerva sat silent without a word,
for she was in a furious passion and bitterly incensed against her
father; but Juno could not contain herself and said, "What, dread
son of Saturn, are you talking about? We know how great your power is,
nevertheless we have compassion upon the Danaan warriors who are
perishing and coming to a bad end. We will, however, since you so
bid us, refrain from actual fighting, but we will make serviceable
suggestions to the Argives, that they may not all of them perish in
your displeasure."
And Jove answered, "To-morrow morning, Juno, if you choose to do so,
you will see the son of Saturn destroying large numbers of the
Argives, for fierce Hector shall not cease fighting till he has roused
the son of Peleus when they are fighting in dire straits at their
ships' sterns about the body of Patroclus. Like it or no, this is
how it is decreed; for aught I care, you may go to the lowest depths
beneath earth and sea, where Iapetus and Saturn dwell in lone Tartarus
with neither ray of light nor breath of wind to cheer them. You may go
on and on till you get there, and I shall not care one whit for your
displeasure; you are the greatest vixen living."
Juno made him no answer. The sun's glorious orb now sank into
Oceanus and drew down night over the land. Sorry indeed were the
Trojans when light failed them, but welcome and thrice prayed for
did darkness fall upon the Achaeans.
Then Hector led the Trojans back from the ships, and held a
council on the open space near the river, where there was a spot ear
corpses. They left their chariots and sat down on the ground to hear
the speech he made them. He grasped a spear eleven cubits long, the
bronze point of which gleamed in front of it, while the ring round the
spear-head was of gold Spear in hand he spoke. "Hear me," said he,
"Trojans, Dardanians, and allies. I deemed but now that I should
destroy the ships and all the Achaeans with them ere I went back to
Ilius, but darkness came on too soon. It was this alone that saved
them and their ships upon the seashore. Now, therefore, let us obey
the behests of night, and prepare our suppers. Take your horses out of
their chariots and give them their feeds of corn; then make speed to
bring sheep and cattle from the city; bring wine also and corn for
your horses and gather much wood, that from dark till dawn we may burn
watchfires whose flare may reach to heaven. For the Achaeans may try
to fly beyond the sea by night, and they must not embark scatheless
and unmolested; many a man among them must take a dart with him to
nurse at home, hit with spear or arrow as he is leaping on board his
ship, that others may fear to bring war and weeping upon the
Trojans. Moreover let the heralds tell it about the city that the
growing youths and grey-bearded men are to camp upon its
heaven-built walls. Let the women each of them light a great fire in
her house, and let watch be safely kept lest the town be entered by
surprise while the host is outside. See to it, brave Trojans, as I
have said, and let this suffice for the moment; at daybreak I will
instruct you further. I pray in hope to Jove and to the gods that we
may then drive those fate-sped hounds from our land, for 'tis the
fates that have borne them and their ships hither. This night,
therefore, let us keep watch, but with early morning let us put on our
armour and rouse fierce war at the ships of the Achaeans; I shall then
know whether brave Diomed the son of Tydeus will drive me back from
the ships to the wall, or whether I shall myself slay him and carry
off his bloodstained spoils. To-morrow let him show his mettle,
abide my spear if he dare. I ween that at break of day, he shall be
among the first to fall and many another of his comrades round him.
Would that I were as sure of being immortal and never growing old, and
of being worshipped like Minerva and Apollo, as I am that this day
will bring evil to the Argives."
Thus spoke Hector and the Trojans shouted applause. They took
their sweating steeds from under the yoke, and made them fast each
by his own chariot. They made haste to bring sheep and cattle from the
city, they brought wine also and corn from their houses and gathered
much wood. They then offered unblemished hecatombs to the immortals,
and the wind carried the sweet savour of sacrifice to heaven- but
the blessed gods partook not thereof, for they bitterly hated Ilius
with Priam and Priam's people. Thus high in hope they sat through
the livelong night by the highways of war, and many a watchfire did
they kindle. As when the stars shine clear, and the moon is bright-
there is not a breath of air, not a peak nor glade nor jutting
headland but it stands out in the ineffable radiance that breaks
from the serene of heaven; the stars can all of them be told and the
heart of the shepherd is glad- even thus shone the watchfires of the
Trojans before Ilius midway between the ships and the river Xanthus. A
thousand camp-fires gleamed upon the plain, and in the glow of each
there sat fifty men, while the horses, champing oats and corn beside
their chariots, waited till dawn should come.

poem by , translated by Samuel ButlerReport problemRelated quotes
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