Lefty Grove could throw a lamb chop past a wolf.
A Happy Childhood
My mother stands at the screen door, laughing.
“Out out damn Spot,” she commands our silly dog.
I wonder what this means. I rise into adult air
like a hollyhock, I’m so proud to be loved
like this. The air is tight to my nervous body.
I use new clothes and shoes the way the corn-studded
soil around here uses nitrogen, giddily.
Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. Often I sing
to myself all day like a fieldful of August
insects, just things I whisper, really,
a trance in sneakers. I’m learning
to read from my mother and soon I’ll go to school,
I hate it when anyone dies or leaves and the air
goes slack around my body and I have to hug myself,
a cloud, an imaginary friend, the stream in the road-
side park. I love to be called for dinner.
Spot goes out and I go in and the lights
in the kitchen go on and the dark,
which also has a body like a cloud’s,
leans lightly against the house. Tomorrow
I’ll find the sweat stains it left, little grey smudges.
Here’s a sky no higher than a street lamp,
and a stack of morning papers cinched by wire.
It’s 4:00 A.M. A stout dog, vaguely beagle,
minces over the dry, fresh-fallen snow;
and here’s our sleep-sodden paperboy
with his pliers, his bike, his matronly dog,
his unclouding face set for paper route
like an alarm clock. Here’s a memory
in the making, for this could be the morning
he doesn’t come home and his parents
two hours later drive his route until
they find him asleep, propped against a street lamp,
his papers all delivered and his dirty paper-
satchel slack, like an emptied lung,
and he blur-faced and iconic in the morning
air rinsing itself a paler and paler blue
through which a last few dandruff-flecks
of snow meander casually down.
The dog squeaks in out of the dark,
snuffling me too me too. And here he goes
home to memory, and to hot chocolate
on which no crinkled skin forms like infant ice,
and to the long and ordinary day,
school, two triumphs and one severe
humiliation on the playground, the past
already growing its scabs, the busride home,
dinner, and evening leading to sleep
like the slide that will spill him out, come June,
into the eye-reddening chlorine waters
of the municipal pool. Here he goes to bed.
Kiss. Kiss. Teeth. Prayers. Dark. Dark.
Here the dog lies down by his bed,
and sighs and farts. Will he always be
this skinny, chicken-bones?
He’ll remember like a prayer
how his mother made breakfast for him
every morning before he trudged out
to snip the papers free. Just as
his mother will remember she felt
guilty never to wake up with him
to give him breakfast. It was Cream
of Wheat they always or never had together.
It turns out you are the story of your childhood
and you’re under constant revision,
like a lonely folktale whose invisible folks
are all the selves you’ve been, lifelong,
shadows in fog, grey glimmers at dusk.
And each of these selves had a childhood
it traded for love and grudged to give away,
now lost irretrievably, in storage
like a set of dishes from which no food,
no Cream of Wheat, no rabbit in mustard
sauce, nor even a single raspberry,
can be eaten until the afterlife,
which is only childhood in its last
disguise, all radiance or all humiliation,
and so it is forfeit a final time.
In fact it was awful, you think, or why
should the piecework of grief be endless?
Only because death is, and likewise loss,
which is not awful, but only breathtaking.
There’s no truth about your childhood,
though there’s a story, yours to tend,
like a fire or garden. Make it a good one,
since you’ll have to live it out, and all
its revisions, so long as you all shall live,
for they shall be gathered to your deathbed,
and they’ll have known to what you and they
would come, and this one time they’ll weep for you.
The map in the shopping center has an X
signed “you are here.” A dream is like that.
In a dream you are never eighty, though
you may risk death by other means:
you’re on a ledge and memory calls you
to jump, but a deft cop talks you in
to a small, bright room, and snickers.
And in a dream, you’re everyone somewhat,
but not wholly. I think I know how that
works: for twenty-one years I had a father
and then I became a father, replacing him
but not really. Soon my sons will be fathers.
Surely, that’s what middle-aged means,
being father and son to sons and father.
That a male has only one mother is another
story, told wherever men weep wholly.
Though nobody’s replaced. In one dream
I’m leading a rope of children to safety,
through a snowy farm. The farmer comes out
and I have to throw snowballs well to him
so we may pass. Even dreaming, I know
he’s my father, at ease in his catcher’s
squat, and that the dream has revived
to us both an old unspoken fantasy:
we’re a battery. I’m young, I’m brash,
I don’t know how to pitch but I can
throw a lamb chop past a wolf. And he
can handle pitchers and control a game.
I look to him for a sign. I’d nod
for anything. The damn thing is hard to grip
without seams, and I don’t rely only
on my live, young arm, but throw by all
the body I can get behind it, and it fluffs
toward him no faster than the snow
in the dream drifts down. Nothing
takes forever, but I know what the phrase
means. The children grow more cold
and hungry and cruel to each other
the longer the ball’s in the air, and it begins
to melt. By the time it gets to him we’ll be
our waking ages, and each of us is himself
alone, and we all join hands and go.
Toward dawn, rain explodes on the tin roof
like popcorn. The pale light is streaked by grey
and that green you see just under the surface
of water, a shimmer more than a color.
Time to dive back into sleep, as if into
happiness, that neglected discipline ....
In those sixth-grade book reports
you had to say if the book was optimistic
or not, and everyone looked at you
the same way: how would he turn out?
He rolls in his sleep like an otter.
Uncle Ed has a neck so fat it’s funny,
and on the way to work he pries the cap
off a Pepsi. Damn rain didn’t cool one weary
thing for long; it’s gonna be a cooker.
The boy sleeps with a thin chain of sweat
on his upper lip, as if waking itself,
becoming explicit, were hard work.
Who knows if he’s happy or not?
A child is all the tools a child has,
growing up, who makes what he can.
- quotes about dogs
- quotes about childhood
- quotes about snow
- quotes about newspaper carriers
- quotes about dreaming
- quotes about grey
- quotes about literature
- quotes about paper
Thinking of the Past
If you could go back into the past
what would you do differently?
knowing it wouldn't last.
You would have to take, the good with the bad,
you couldn't just re-live the good,
of the things you have lived, also the sad.
Thinking of the past brings depression,
you think of it to often,
it'll only bring you obession.
The past wasn't all good,
today, will be the past tommorw
are things good now? Have you understood?
Think about the past
but understand this.
it does not last.
Make the best for today,
then in the future,
you will enjoy that day.
The Big Throw
I knew a thrower once
A burly mind that knew flight
His life hemmed in by nowhere streets
and a double helix legacy that left him
enslaved by break-out opportunities:
the silence that fell as he stepped
into a pedestalled circle
into foreshortened distance and time
where impossibles faltered
I could taste it when he said
“I really believed I could throw it
clean out of the park and over the rooftops”
I followed a crystallised vision
Into his limitless sky
a thousand times further than gravity granted
and he went on believing.
I saw it in stone archways
in ancient scripts in hotel bedrooms
in an endless blur of kneeling to symbols
and crawling from under
the dusty rubble of dreams
When we were small children
When we were small children
about five and four
my dad had died
and I and my brother
had to stay during the day
with the Von Hörsten’s
when my mother drove away to work.
Uncle Hendrik was a farmer,
but also with his brother Fritz
wrote story books
and his string of children
who was much older
and bigger than us
(four boys and two girls)
kept us busy
since boys had to stay out of the house.
So it went that we
rode horses unsaddled,
tread on silage
and the second oldest Gardiël
was always on our case,
had put us on donkeys
and the lot of them laughed
while the animals run moody
and my brother fell
and got some bruises and cuts.
One day the cornfield
was cut stubble high
to get feed for the cattle
and the breeding bull Kittennel
(a black and malicious animal)
were chased into the crush-pen
and Gardiël forced us on that bull
before he chased it
with a horse
into the cornfield.
On the other side of the field
beyond the border wire
his brothers waved a red flag
up and down and up and down
and Kittennel snored though his nose,
in anger shook his body,
kicked up dust
before he got direction
and storming with full force
at the red flag.
The stubbles flashed
past his feet
and looked like spears
and we were afraid
of being pierced
and we rode Kittennel
and no bull
could throw us down that day.
[Reference: The word uncle used here out of respect and local custom and not to point out family relationship.]
The Lamb and the Wolf (Ballad)
I saw a lamb to wolf turn prey!
I saw it kill’d in gruesome way;
The lamb was rather small, I say;
I saw it frolicking that day;
It bleated while busy at play;
That day, its life, it had to pay;
And soon, I heard a plaintive cry;
The grass was smeared by lamb’s blood dry!
My good shepherd, “Did you not know? ”
My God, “Did You all this allow? ”
The wolf was dressed in fine lamb-skin;
It killed by habit, kith and kin;
Like lamb, it spoke and went so near;
It acted friendly, allayed fear;
It took the lamb afar to play;
The lamb was foolish on that day;
It was so meek and frail, not bold;
It wished to see the far-off world.
My good shepherd, “Did you not know? ”
My God, “Did You all this allow? ”
The wolf then took the lamb away,
To steep a cliff with grass to play;
In moment’s time, it pushed it down;
The foul-play was almost half-done;
The lamb remained so very dazed;
That it was live, kept me amazed;
Before it could then recover,
The wolf made plans to devour.
My good shepherd, “Did you not know? ”
My God, “Did You all this allow? ”
The wolf noticed the lamb’s sad plight
And asked if it was quite alright;
It said, “I’ll take you to mother.”
The lamb believed the lie, brother!
It took it round and round and round;
There was no sign of flock on ground;
The lamb had gone really far;
Against the wolf, it could not war.
My good shepherd, “Did you not know? ”
My God, “Did You all this allow? ”
The lamb couldn’t walk any farther;
To pray to God, it didn’t bother;
It was so tired, hungry too;
It did not know what next to do;
The wolf then caught the lamb by throat;
The blood spilled down its white fur-coat;
The lamb was dead in moments split;
The wolf ate lamb and tried to sit;
My good shepherd, “Did you not know? ”
My God, “Did You all this allow? ”
The wolf had feasted like a drill;
It ate with joy and had its fill;
It worked its way with pretty skill;
It left no trace of lamb on hill;
It was the poor lamb’s folly still.
The lamb had vanished from the rill;
It was too weak to fight by will;
The lamb had died a death cruel.
My good shepherd, “Did you not know? ”
My God, “Did You all this allow? ”
O shepherd good and experienced
With staff so long and strong and hooked;
If you had been awake and heard
The poor lamb’s cry, you could it saved;
If you had spotted wolf disguised,
One blow by staff you could have killed;
If you had watched with care, brother,
It would have stayed near its mother;
My good shepherd, “Did you not know? ”
My God, “Did You all this allow? ”
Then good shepherd, “Why didn’t you come
To save lamb’s life from wolf’s welcome? ”
The little lamb didn’t know wolf’s scent;
It was too small and innocent;
Its legs were weak and could not run;
It thought that life was only fun;
If more alert had been shepherd,
The lamb needn’t go astray or erred.
My good shepherd, “Did you not know? ”
My God, “Did You all this allow? ”
Had shepherd failed to act aright?
Had wolf deceived the lamb’s eye-sight?
Did not God know the lamb’s poor plight?
How could a lamb give wolf a fight?
Was it an act of destiny?
Was lamb to blame for mutiny?
Perhaps, the lamb was bound to die,
Allured by wolf’s broad day-light lie!
My good shepherd, “Did you not know? ”
My God, “Did You all this allow? ”
Copyright by Dr John Celes 1-11-2007
Inside many of us
is a small old man
who wants to get out.
No bigger than a two-year-old
whom you'd call lamb chop
yet this one is old and malformed.
His head is okay
but the rest of him wasn't Sanforized?
He is a monster of despair.
He is all decay.
He speaks up as tiny as an earphone
with Truman's asexual voice:
I am your dwarf.
I am the enemy within.
I am the boss of your dreams.
No. I am not the law in your mind,
the grandfather of watchfulness.
I am the law of your members,
the kindred of blackness and impulse.
See. Your hand shakes.
It is not palsy or booze.
It is your Doppelganger
trying to get out.
Beware . . . Beware . . .
There once was a miller
with a daughter as lovely as a grape.
He told the king that she could
spin gold out of common straw.
The king summoned the girl
and locked her in a room full of straw
and told her to spin it into gold
or she would die like a criminal.
Poor grape with no one to pick.
Luscious and round and sleek.
To die and never see Brooklyn.
of course, huge aquamarine tears.
The door opened and in popped a dwarf.
He was as ugly as a wart.
Little thing, what are you? she cried.
With his tiny no-sex voice he replied:
I am a dwarf.
I have been exhibited on Bond Street
and no child will ever call me Papa.
I have no private life.
If I'm in my cups the whole town knows by breakfast
and no child will ever call me Papa
I am eighteen inches high.
I am no bigger than a partridge.
I am your evil eye
and no child will ever call me Papa.
Stop this Papa foolishness,
she cried. Can you perhaps
spin straw into gold?
Yes indeed, he said,
that I can do.
He spun the straw into gold
and she gave him her necklace
as a small reward.
When the king saw what she had done
he put her in a bigger room of straw
and threatened death once more.
Again she cried.
Again the dwarf came.
Again he spun the straw into gold.
She gave him her ring
as a small reward.
The king put her in an even bigger room
but this time he promised
to marry her if she succeeded.
Again she cried.
Again the dwarf came.
But she had nothing to give him.
Without a reward the dwarf would not spin.
He was on the scent of something bigger.
He was a regular bird dog.
Give me your first-born
and I will spin.
She thought: Piffle!
He is a silly little man.
And so she agreed.
So he did the trick.
Gold as good as Fort Knox.
The king married her
and within a year
a son was born.
He was like most new babies,
as ugly as an artichoke
but the queen thought him in pearl.
She gave him her dumb lactation,
delicate, trembling, hidden,
And then the dwarf appeared
to claim his prize.
Indeed! I have become a papa!
cried the little man.
She offered him all the kingdom
but he wanted only this -
a living thing
to call his own.
And being mortal
who can blame him?
The queen cried two pails of sea water.
She was as persistent
as a Jehovah's Witness.
And the dwarf took pity.
He said: I will give you
three days to guess my name
and if you cannot do it
I will collect your child.
The queen sent messengers
throughout the land to find names
of the most unusual sort.
When he appeared the next day
she asked: Melchior?
But each time the dwarf replied:
No! No! That's not my name.
The next day she asked:
But it was still no-no.
On the third day the messenger
came back with a strange story.
He told her:
As I came around the corner of the wood
where the fox says good night to the hare
I saw a little house with a fire
burning in front of it.
Around that fire a ridiculous little man
was leaping on one leg and singing:
Today I bake.
Tomorrow I brew my beer.
The next day the queen's only child will be mine.
Not even the census taker knows
that Rumpelstiltskin is my name . . .
The queen was delighted.
She had the name!
Her breath blew bubbles.
When the dwarf returned
she called out:
Is your name by any chance Rumpelstiltskin?
He cried: The devil told you that!
He stamped his right foot into the ground
and sank in up to his waist.
Then he tore himself in two.
Somewhat like a split broiler.
He laid his two sides down on the floor,
one part soft as a woman,
one part a barbed hook,
one part papa,
one part Doppelganger.
The Man from Snowy River
There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses - he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.
There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up-
He would go wherever horse and man could go.
And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,
No better horseman ever held the reins;
For never horse could throw him while the saddle girths would stand,
He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.
And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast,
He was something like a racehorse undersized,
With a touch of Timor pony - three parts thoroughbred at least -
And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.
He was hard and tough and wiry - just the sort that won't say die -
There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.
But so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,
And the old man said, "That horse will never do
For a long and tiring gallop-lad, you'd better stop away,
Those hills are far too rough for such as you."
So he waited sad and wistful - only Clancy stood his friend -
"I think we ought to let him come," he said;
"I warrant he'll be with us when he's wanted at the end,
For both his horse and he are mountain bred."
"He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko's side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse's hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.
And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen."
So he went - they found the horses by the big mimosa clump -
They raced away towards the mountain's brow,
And the old man gave his orders, "Boys, go at them from the jump,
No use to try for fancy riding now.
And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel them to the right.
Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills,
For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight,
If once they gain the shelter of those hills."
So Clancy rode to wheel them - he was racing on the wing
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his stockhorse past them, and he made the ranges ring
With stockwhip, as he met them face to face.
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash,
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.
Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges deep and black
Resounded to the thunder of their tread,
And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back
From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.
And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held their sway,
Were mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;
And the old man muttered fiercely, "We may bid the mob good day,
No man can hold them down the other side."
When they reached the mountain's summit, even Clancy took a pull,
It well might make the boldest hold their breath,
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear.
He sent the flint stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,
He cleared the fallen timbers in his stride,
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat -
It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.
Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound,
At the bottom of that terrible descent.
He was right among the horses as they climbed the further hill
And the watchers on the mountain standing mute,
Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely, he was right among them still,
As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.
Then they lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met
In the ranges, but a final glimpse reveals
On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses racing yet,
With the man from Snowy River at their heels.
And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam.
He followed like a bloodhound in their track,
Till they halted cowed and beaten, then he turned their heads for home,
And alone and unassisted brought them back.
But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot,
He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;
But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot,
For never yet was mountain horse a cur.
And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around The Overflow the reed beds sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The man from Snowy River is a household word today,
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.
The Odyssey: Book 24
Then Mercury of Cyllene summoned the ghosts of the suitors, and in
his hand he held the fair golden wand with which he seals men's eyes
in sleep or wakes them just as he pleases; with this he roused the
ghosts and led them, while they followed whining and gibbering
behind him. As bats fly squealing in the hollow of some great cave,
when one of them has fallen out of the cluster in which they hang,
even so did the ghosts whine and squeal as Mercury the healer of
sorrow led them down into the dark abode of death. When they had
passed the waters of Oceanus and the rock Leucas, they came to the
gates of the sun and the land of dreams, whereon they reached the
meadow of asphodel where dwell the souls and shadows of them that
can labour no more.
Here they found the ghost of Achilles son of Peleus, with those of
Patroclus, Antilochus, and Ajax, who was the finest and handsomest man
of all the Danaans after the son of Peleus himself.
They gathered round the ghost of the son of Peleus, and the ghost of
Agamemnon joined them, sorrowing bitterly. Round him were gathered
also the ghosts of those who had perished with him in the house of
Aeisthus; and the ghost of Achilles spoke first.
"Son of Atreus," it said, "we used to say that Jove had loved you
better from first to last than any other hero, for you were captain
over many and brave men, when we were all fighting together before
Troy; yet the hand of death, which no mortal can escape, was laid upon
you all too early. Better for you had you fallen at Troy in the
hey-day of your renown, for the Achaeans would have built a mound over
your ashes, and your son would have been heir to your good name,
whereas it has now been your lot to come to a most miserable end."
"Happy son of Peleus," answered the ghost of Agamemnon, "for
having died at Troy far from Argos, while the bravest of the Trojans
and the Achaeans fell round you fighting for your body. There you
lay in the whirling clouds of dust, all huge and hugely, heedless
now of your chivalry. We fought the whole of the livelong day, nor
should we ever have left off if Jove had not sent a hurricane to
stay us. Then, when we had borne you to the ships out of the fray,
we laid you on your bed and cleansed your fair skin with warm water
and with ointments. The Danaans tore their hair and wept bitterly
round about you. Your mother, when she heard, came with her immortal
nymphs from out of the sea, and the sound of a great wailing went
forth over the waters so that the Achaeans quaked for fear. They would
have fled panic-stricken to their ships had not wise old Nestor
whose counsel was ever truest checked them saying, 'Hold, Argives, fly
not sons of the Achaeans, this is his mother coming from the sea
with her immortal nymphs to view the body of her son.'
"Thus he spoke, and the Achaeans feared no more. The daughters of
the old man of the sea stood round you weeping bitterly, and clothed
you in immortal raiment. The nine muses also came and lifted up
their sweet voices in lament- calling and answering one another; there
was not an Argive but wept for pity of the dirge they chaunted. Days
and nights seven and ten we mourned you, mortals and immortals, but on
the eighteenth day we gave you to the flames, and many a fat sheep
with many an ox did we slay in sacrifice around you. You were burnt in
raiment of the gods, with rich resins and with honey, while heroes,
horse and foot, clashed their armour round the pile as you were
burning, with the tramp as of a great multitude. But when the flames
of heaven had done their work, we gathered your white bones at
daybreak and laid them in ointments and in pure wine. Your mother
brought us a golden vase to hold them- gift of Bacchus, and work of
Vulcan himself; in this we mingled your bleached bones with those of
Patroclus who had gone before you, and separate we enclosed also those
of Antilochus, who had been closer to you than any other of your
comrades now that Patroclus was no more.
"Over these the host of the Argives built a noble tomb, on a point
jutting out over the open Hellespont, that it might be seen from far
out upon the sea by those now living and by them that shall be born
hereafter. Your mother begged prizes from the gods, and offered them
to be contended for by the noblest of the Achaeans. You must have been
present at the funeral of many a hero, when the young men gird
themselves and make ready to contend for prizes on the death of some
great chieftain, but you never saw such prizes as silver-footed Thetis
offered in your honour; for the gods loved you well. Thus even in
death your fame, Achilles, has not been lost, and your name lives
evermore among all mankind. But as for me, what solace had I when
the days of my fighting were done? For Jove willed my destruction on
my return, by the hands of Aegisthus and those of my wicked wife."
Thus did they converse, and presently Mercury came up to them with
the ghosts of the suitors who had been killed by Ulysses. The ghosts
of Agamemnon and Achilles were astonished at seeing them, and went
up to them at once. The ghost of Agamemnon recognized Amphimedon son
of Melaneus, who lived in Ithaca and had been his host, so it began to
talk to him.
"Amphimedon," it said, "what has happened to all you fine young men-
all of an age too- that you are come down here under the ground? One
could pick no finer body of men from any city. Did Neptune raise his
winds and waves against you when you were at sea, or did your
enemies make an end of you on the mainland when you were
cattle-lifting or sheep-stealing, or while fighting in defence of
their wives and city? Answer my question, for I have been your
guest. Do you not remember how I came to your house with Menelaus,
to persuade Ulysses to join us with his ships against Troy? It was a
whole month ere we could resume our voyage, for we had hard work to
persuade Ulysses to come with us."
And the ghost of Amphimedon answered, "Agamemnon, son of Atreus,
king of men, I remember everything that you have said, and will tell
you fully and accurately about the way in which our end was brought
about. Ulysses had been long gone, and we were courting his wife,
who did not say point blank that she would not marry, nor yet bring
matters to an end, for she meant to compass our destruction: this,
then, was the trick she played us. She set up a great tambour frame in
her room and began to work on an enormous piece of fine needlework.
'Sweethearts,' said she, 'Ulysses is indeed dead, still, do not
press me to marry again immediately; wait- for I would not have my
skill in needlework perish unrecorded- till I have completed a pall
for the hero Laertes, against the time when death shall take him. He
is very rich, and the women of the place will talk if he is laid out
without a pall.' This is what she said, and we assented; whereupon
we could see her working upon her great web all day long, but at night
she would unpick the stitches again by torchlight. She fooled us in
this way for three years without our finding it out, but as time
wore on and she was now in her fourth year, in the waning of moons and
many days had been accomplished, one of her maids who knew what she
was doing told us, and we caught her in the act of undoing her work,
so she had to finish it whether she would or no; and when she showed
us the robe she had made, after she had had it washed, its splendour
was as that of the sun or moon.
"Then some malicious god conveyed Ulysses to the upland farm where
his swineherd lives. Thither presently came also his son, returning
from a voyage to Pylos, and the two came to the town when they had
hatched their plot for our destruction. Telemachus came first, and
then after him, accompanied by the swineherd, came Ulysses, clad in
rags and leaning on a staff as though he were some miserable old
beggar. He came so unexpectedly that none of us knew him, not even the
older ones among us, and we reviled him and threw things at him. He
endured both being struck and insulted without a word, though he was
in his own house; but when the will of Aegis-bearing Jove inspired
him, he and Telemachus took the armour and hid it in an inner chamber,
bolting the doors behind them. Then he cunningly made his wife offer
his bow and a quantity of iron to be contended for by us ill-fated
suitors; and this was the beginning of our end, for not one of us
could string the bow- nor nearly do so. When it was about to reach the
hands of Ulysses, we all of us shouted out that it should not be given
him, no matter what he might say, but Telemachus insisted on his
having it. When he had got it in his hands he strung it with ease
and sent his arrow through the iron. Then he stood on the floor of the
cloister and poured his arrows on the ground, glaring fiercely about
him. First he killed Antinous, and then, aiming straight before him,
he let fly his deadly darts and they fell thick on one another. It was
plain that some one of the gods was helping them, for they fell upon
us with might and main throughout the cloisters, and there was a
hideous sound of groaning as our brains were being battered in, and
the ground seethed with our blood. This, Agamemnon, is how we came
by our end, and our bodies are lying still un-cared for in the house
of Ulysses, for our friends at home do not yet know what has happened,
so that they cannot lay us out and wash the black blood from our
wounds, making moan over us according to the offices due to the
"Happy Ulysses, son of Laertes," replied the ghost of Agamemnon,
"you are indeed blessed in the possession of a wife endowed with
such rare excellence of understanding, and so faithful to her wedded
lord as Penelope the daughter of Icarius. The fame, therefore, of
her virtue shall never die, and the immortals shall compose a song
that shall be welcome to all mankind in honour of the constancy of
Penelope. How far otherwise was the wickedness of the daughter of
Tyndareus who killed her lawful husband; her song shall be hateful
among men, for she has brought disgrace on all womankind even on the
Thus did they converse in the house of Hades deep down within the
bowels of the earth. Meanwhile Ulysses and the others passed out of
the town and soon reached the fair and well-tilled farm of Laertes,
which he had reclaimed with infinite labour. Here was his house,
with a lean-to running all round it, where the slaves who worked for
him slept and sat and ate, while inside the house there was an old
Sicel woman, who looked after him in this his country-farm. When
Ulysses got there, he said to his son and to the other two:
"Go to the house, and kill the best pig that you can find for
dinner. Meanwhile I want to see whether my father will know me, or
fail to recognize me after so long an absence."
He then took off his armour and gave it to Eumaeus and Philoetius,
who went straight on to the house, while he turned off into the
vineyard to make trial of his father. As he went down into the great
orchard, he did not see Dolius, nor any of his sons nor of the other
bondsmen, for they were all gathering thorns to make a fence for the
vineyard, at the place where the old man had told them; he therefore
found his father alone, hoeing a vine. He had on a dirty old shirt,
patched and very shabby; his legs were bound round with thongs of
oxhide to save him from the brambles, and he also wore sleeves of
leather; he had a goat skin cap on his head, and was looking very
woe-begone. When Ulysses saw him so worn, so old and full of sorrow,
he stood still under a tall pear tree and began to weep. He doubted
whether to embrace him, kiss him, and tell him all about his having
come home, or whether he should first question him and see what he
would say. In the end he deemed it best to be crafty with him, so in
this mind he went up to his father, who was bending down and digging
about a plant.
"I see, sir," said Ulysses, "that you are an excellent gardener-
what pains you take with it, to be sure. There is not a single
plant, not a fig tree, vine, olive, pear, nor flower bed, but bears
the trace of your attention. I trust, however, that you will not be
offended if I say that you take better care of your garden than of
yourself. You are old, unsavoury, and very meanly clad. It cannot be
because you are idle that your master takes such poor care of you,
indeed your face and figure have nothing of the slave about them,
and proclaim you of noble birth. I should have said that you were
one of those who should wash well, eat well, and lie soft at night
as old men have a right to do; but tell me, and tell me true, whose
bondman are you, and in whose garden are you working? Tell me also
about another matter. Is this place that I have come to really Ithaca?
I met a man just now who said so, but he was a dull fellow, and had
not the patience to hear my story out when I was asking him about an
old friend of mine, whether he was still living, or was already dead
and in the house of Hades. Believe me when I tell you that this man
came to my house once when I was in my own country and never yet did
any stranger come to me whom I liked better. He said that his family
came from Ithaca and that his father was Laertes, son of Arceisius.
I received him hospitably, making him welcome to all the abundance
of my house, and when he went away I gave him all customary
presents. I gave him seven talents of fine gold, and a cup of solid
silver with flowers chased upon it. I gave him twelve light cloaks,
and as many pieces of tapestry; I also gave him twelve cloaks of
single fold, twelve rugs, twelve fair mantles, and an equal number
of shirts. To all this I added four good looking women skilled in
all useful arts, and I let him take his choice."
His father shed tears and answered, "Sir, you have indeed come to
the country that you have named, but it is fallen into the hands of
wicked people. All this wealth of presents has been given to no
purpose. If you could have found your friend here alive in Ithaca,
he would have entertained you hospitably and would have required
your presents amply when you left him- as would have been only right
considering what you have already given him. But tell me, and tell
me true, how many years is it since you entertained this guest- my
unhappy son, as ever was? Alas! He has perished far from his own
country; the fishes of the sea have eaten him, or he has fallen a prey
to the birds and wild beasts of some continent. Neither his mother,
nor I his father, who were his parents, could throw our arms about him
and wrap him in his shroud, nor could his excellent and richly dowered
wife Penelope bewail her husband as was natural upon his death bed,
and close his eyes according to the offices due to the departed. But
now, tell me truly for I want to know. Who and whence are you- tell me
of your town and parents? Where is the ship lying that has brought you
and your men to Ithaca? Or were you a passenger on some other man's
ship, and those who brought you here have gone on their way and left
"I will tell you everything," answered Ulysses, "quite truly. I come
from Alybas, where I have a fine house. I am son of king Apheidas, who
is the son of Polypemon. My own name is Eperitus; heaven drove me
off my course as I was leaving Sicania, and I have been carried here
against my will. As for my ship it is lying over yonder, off the
open country outside the town, and this is the fifth year since
Ulysses left my country. Poor fellow, yet the omens were good for
him when he left me. The birds all flew on our right hands, and both
he and I rejoiced to see them as we parted, for we had every hope that
we should have another friendly meeting and exchange presents."
A dark cloud of sorrow fell upon Laertes as he listened. He filled
both hands with the dust from off the ground and poured it over his
grey head, groaning heavily as he did so. The heart of Ulysses was
touched, and his nostrils quivered as he looked upon his father;
then he sprang towards him, flung his arms about him and kissed him,
saying, "I am he, father, about whom you are asking- I have returned
after having been away for twenty years. But cease your sighing and
lamentation- we have no time to lose, for I should tell you that I
have been killing the suitors in my house, to punish them for their
insolence and crimes."
"If you really are my son Ulysses," replied Laertes, "and have
come back again, you must give me such manifest proof of your identity
as shall convince me."
"First observe this scar," answered Ulysses, "which I got from a
boar's tusk when I was hunting on Mount Parnassus. You and my mother
had sent me to Autolycus, my mother's father, to receive the
presents which when he was over here he had promised to give me.
Furthermore I will point out to you the trees in the vineyard which
you gave me, and I asked you all about them as I followed you round
the garden. We went over them all, and you told me their names and
what they all were. You gave me thirteen pear trees, ten apple
trees, and forty fig trees; you also said you would give me fifty rows
of vines; there was corn planted between each row, and they yield
grapes of every kind when the heat of heaven has been laid heavy
Laertes' strength failed him when he heard the convincing proofs
which his son had given him. He threw his arms about him, and
Ulysses had to support him, or he would have gone off into a swoon;
but as soon as he came to, and was beginning to recover his senses, he
said, "O father Jove, then you gods are still in Olympus after all, if
the suitors have really been punished for their insolence and folly.
Nevertheless, I am much afraid that I shall have all the townspeople
of Ithaca up here directly, and they will be sending messengers
everywhere throughout the cities of the Cephallenians."
Ulysses answered, "Take heart and do not trouble yourself about
that, but let us go into the house hard by your garden. I have already
told Telemachus, Philoetius, and Eumaeus to go on there and get dinner
ready as soon as possible."
Thus conversing the two made their way towards the house. When
they got there they found Telemachus with the stockman and the
swineherd cutting up meat and mixing wine with water. Then the old
Sicel woman took Laertes inside and washed him and anointed him with
oil. She put him on a good cloak, and Minerva came up to him and
gave him a more imposing presence, making him taller and stouter
than before. When he came back his son was surprised to see him
looking so like an immortal, and said to him, "My dear father, some
one of the gods has been making you much taller and better-looking."
Laertes answered, "Would, by Father Jove, Minerva, and Apollo,
that I were the man I was when I ruled among the Cephallenians, and
took Nericum, that strong fortress on the foreland. If I were still
what I then was and had been in our house yesterday with my armour on,
I should have been able to stand by you and help you against the
suitors. I should have killed a great many of them, and you would have
rejoiced to see it."
Thus did they converse; but the others, when they had finished their
work and the feast was ready, left off working, and took each his
proper place on the benches and seats. Then they began eating; by
and by old Dolius and his sons left their work and came up, for
their mother, the Sicel woman who looked after Laertes now that he was
growing old, had been to fetch them. When they saw Ulysses and were
certain it was he, they stood there lost in astonishment; but
Ulysses scolded them good-naturedly and said, "Sit down to your
dinner, old man, and never mind about your surprise; we have been
wanting to begin for some time and have been waiting for you."
Then Dolius put out both his hands and went up to Ulysses. "Sir,"
said he, seizing his master's hand and kissing it at the wrist, "we
have long been wishing you home: and now heaven has restored you to us
after we had given up hoping. All hail, therefore, and may the gods
prosper you. But tell me, does Penelope already know of your return,
or shall we send some one to tell her?"
"Old man," answered Ulysses, "she knows already, so you need not
trouble about that." On this he took his seat, and the sons of
Dolius gathered round Ulysses to give him greeting and embrace him one
after the other; then they took their seats in due order near Dolius
While they were thus busy getting their dinner ready, Rumour went
round the town, and noised abroad the terrible fate that had
befallen the suitors; as soon, therefore, as the people heard of it
they gathered from every quarter, groaning and hooting before the
house of Ulysses. They took the dead away, buried every man his own,
and put the bodies of those who came from elsewhere on board the
fishing vessels, for the fishermen to take each of them to his own
place. They then met angrily in the place of assembly, and when they
were got together Eupeithes rose to speak. He was overwhelmed with
grief for the death of his son Antinous, who had been the first man
killed by Ulysses, so he said, weeping bitterly, "My friend, this
man has done the Achaeans great wrong. He took many of our best men
away with him in his fleet, and he has lost both ships and men; now,
moreover, on his return he has been killing all the foremost men among
the Cephallenians. Let us be up and doing before he can get away to
Pylos or to Elis where the Epeans rule, or we shall be ashamed of
ourselves for ever afterwards. It will be an everlasting disgrace to
us if we do not avenge the murder of our sons and brothers. For my own
part I should have no mote pleasure in life, but had rather die at
once. Let us be up, then, and after them, before they can cross over
to the mainland."
He wept as he spoke and every one pitied him. But Medon and the bard
Phemius had now woke up, and came to them from the house of Ulysses.
Every one was astonished at seeing them, but they stood in the
middle of the assembly, and Medon said, "Hear me, men of Ithaca.
Ulysses did not do these things against the will of heaven. I myself
saw an immortal god take the form of Mentor and stand beside him. This
god appeared, now in front of him encouraging him, and now going
furiously about the court and attacking the suitors whereon they
fell thick on one another."
On this pale fear laid hold of them, and old Halitherses, son of
Mastor, rose to speak, for he was the only man among them who knew
both past and future; so he spoke to them plainly and in all
"Men of Ithaca, it is all your own fault that things have turned out
as they have; you would not listen to me, nor yet to Mentor, when we
bade you check the folly of your sons who were doing much wrong in the
wantonness of their hearts- wasting the substance and dishonouring the
wife of a chieftain who they thought would not return. Now, however,
let it be as I say, and do as I tell you. Do not go out against
Ulysses, or you may find that you have been drawing down evil on
your own heads."
This was what he said, and more than half raised a loud shout, and
at once left the assembly. But the rest stayed where they were, for
the speech of Halitherses displeased them, and they sided with
Eupeithes; they therefore hurried off for their armour, and when
they had armed themselves, they met together in front of the city, and
Eupeithes led them on in their folly. He thought he was going to
avenge the murder of his son, whereas in truth he was never to return,
but was himself to perish in his attempt.
Then Minerva said to Jove, "Father, son of Saturn, king of kings,
answer me this question- What do you propose to do? Will you set
them fighting still further, or will you make peace between them?"
And Jove answered, "My child, why should you ask me? Was it not by
your own arrangement that Ulysses came home and took his revenge
upon the suitors? Do whatever you like, but I will tell you what I
think will be most reasonable arrangement. Now that Ulysses is
revenged, let them swear to a solemn covenant, in virtue of which he
shall continue to rule, while we cause the others to forgive and
forget the massacre of their sons and brothers. Let them then all
become friends as heretofore, and let peace and plenty reign."
This was what Minerva was already eager to bring about, so down
she darted from off the topmost summits of Olympus.
Now when Laertes and the others had done dinner, Ulysses began by
saying, "Some of you go out and see if they are not getting close up
to us." So one of Dolius's sons went as he was bid. Standing on the
threshold he could see them all quite near, and said to Ulysses, "Here
they are, let us put on our armour at once."
They put on their armour as fast as they could- that is to say
Ulysses, his three men, and the six sons of Dolius. Laertes also and
Dolius did the same- warriors by necessity in spite of their grey
hair. When they had all put on their armour, they opened the gate
and sallied forth, Ulysses leading the way.
Then Jove's daughter Minerva came up to them, having assumed the
form and voice of Mentor. Ulysses was glad when he saw her, and said
to his son Telemachus, "Telemachus, now that are about to fight in
an engagement, which will show every man's mettle, be sure not to
disgrace your ancestors, who were eminent for their strength and
courage all the world over."
"You say truly, my dear father," answered Telemachus, "and you shall
see, if you will, that I am in no mind to disgrace your family."
Laertes was delighted when he heard this. "Good heavens, he
exclaimed, "what a day I am enjoying: I do indeed rejoice at it. My
son and grandson are vying with one another in the matter of valour."
On this Minerva came close up to him and said, "Son of Arceisius-
best friend I have in the world- pray to the blue-eyed damsel, and
to Jove her father; then poise your spear and hurl it."
As she spoke she infused fresh vigour into him, and when he had
prayed to her he poised his spear and hurled it. He hit Eupeithes'
helmet, and the spear went right through it, for the helmet stayed
it not, and his armour rang rattling round him as he fell heavily to
the ground. Meantime Ulysses and his son fell the front line of the
foe and smote them with their swords and spears; indeed, they would
have killed every one of them, and prevented them from ever getting
home again, only Minerva raised her voice aloud, and made every one
pause. "Men of Ithaca," she cried, cease this dreadful war, and settle
the matter at once without further bloodshed."
On this pale fear seized every one; they were so frightened that
their arms dropped from their hands and fell upon the ground at the
sound of the goddess's voice, and they fled back to the city for their
lives. But Ulysses gave a great cry, and gathering himself together
swooped down like a soaring eagle. Then the son of Saturn sent a
thunderbolt of fire that fell just in front of Minerva, so she said to
Ulysses, "Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, stop this warful strife, or
Jove will be angry with you."
Thus spoke Minerva, and Ulysses obeyed her gladly. Then Minerva
assumed the form and voice of Mentor, and presently made a covenant of
peace between the two contending parties.
The Recluse - Book First
HOME AT GRASMERE
ONCE to the verge of yon steep barrier came
A roving school-boy; what the adventurer's age
Hath now escaped his memory--but the hour,
One of a golden summer holiday,
He well remembers, though the year be gone--
Alone and devious from afar he came;
And, with a sudden influx overpowered
At sight of this seclusion, he forgot
His haste, for hasty had his footsteps been
As boyish his pursuits; and sighing said,
'What happy fortune were it here to live!
And, if a thought of dying, if a thought
Of mortal separation, could intrude
With paradise before him, here to die!'
No Prophet was he, had not even a hope,
Scarcely a wish, but one bright pleasing thought,
A fancy in the heart of what might be
The lot of others, never could be his.
The station whence he looked was soft and green,
Not giddy yet aerial, with a depth
Of vale below, a height of hills above.
For rest of body perfect was the spot,
All that luxurious nature could desire;
But stirring to the spirit; who could gaze
And not feel motions there? He thought of clouds
That sail on winds: of breezes that delight
To play on water, or in endless chase
Pursue each other through the yielding plain
Of grass or corn, over and through and through,
In billow after billow, evermore
Disporting--nor unmindful was the boy
Of sunbeams, shadows, butterflies and birds;
Of fluttering sylphs and softly-gliding Fays,
Genii, and winged angels that are Lords
Without restraint of all which they behold.
The illusion strengthening as he gazed, he felt
That such unfettered liberty was his,
Such power and joy; but only for this end,
To flit from field to rock, from rock to field,
From shore to island, and from isle to shore,
From open ground to covert, from a bed
Of meadow-flowers into a tuft of wood;
From high to low, from low to high, yet still
Within the bound of this huge concave; here
Must be his home, this valley be his world.
Since that day forth the Place to him--'to me'
(For I who live to register the truth
Was that same young and happy Being) became
As beautiful to thought, as it had been
When present, to the bodily sense; a haunt
Of pure affections, shedding upon joy
A brighter joy; and through such damp and gloom
Of the gay mind, as ofttimes splenetic youth
Mistakes for sorrow, darting beams of light
That no self-cherished sadness could withstand;
And now 'tis mine, perchance for life, dear Vale,
Beloved Grasmere (let the wandering streams
Take up, the cloud-capt hills repeat, the Name)
One of thy lowly Dwellings is my Home.
And was the cost so great? and could it seem
An act of courage, and the thing itself
A conquest? who must bear the blame? Sage man
Thy prudence, thy experience, thy desires,
Thy apprehensions--blush thou for them all.
Yes the realities of life so cold,
So cowardly, so ready to betray,
So stinted in the measure of their grace
As we pronounce them, doing them much wrong,
Have been to me more bountiful than hope,
Less timid than desire--but that is past.
On Nature's invitation do I come,
By Reason sanctioned. Can the choice mislead,
That made the calmest fairest spot of earth
With all its unappropriated good
My own; and not mine only, for with me
Entrenched, say rather peacefully embowered,
Under yon orchard, in yon humble cot,
A younger Orphan of a home extinct,
The only Daughter of my Parents dwells.
Ay, think on that, my heart, and cease to stir,
Pause upon that and let the breathing frame
No longer breathe, but all be satisfied.
--Oh, if such silence be not thanks to God
For what hath been bestowed, then where, where then
Shall gratitude find rest? Mine eyes did ne'er
Fix on a lovely object, nor my mind
Take pleasure in the midst of happy thoughts,
But either She whom now I have, who now
Divides with me this loved abode, was there,
Or not far off. Where'er my footsteps turned,
Her voice was like a hidden Bird that sang,
The thought of her was like a flash of light,
Or an unseen companionship, a breath
Of fragrance independent of the Wind.
In all my goings, in the new and old
Of all my meditations, and in this
Favourite of all, in this the most of all.
--What being, therefore, since the birth of Man
Had ever more abundant cause to speak
Thanks, and if favours of the Heavenly Muse
Make him more thankful, then to call on Verse
To aid him and in song resound his joy?
The boon is absolute; surpassing grace
To me hath been vouchsafed; among the bowers
Of blissful Eden this was neither given
Nor could be given, possession of the good
Which had been sighed for, ancient thought fulfilled,
And dear Imaginations realised,
Up to their highest measure, yea and more.
Embrace me then, ye Hills, and close me in;
Now in the clear and open day I feel
Your guardianship; I take it to my heart;
'Tis like the solemn shelter of the night.
But I would call thee beautiful, for mild,
And soft, and gay, and beautiful thou art
Dear Valley, having in thy face a smile
Though peaceful, full of gladness. Thou art pleased,
Pleased with thy crags and woody steeps, thy Lake,
Its one green island and its winding shores;
The multitude of little rocky hills,
Thy Church and cottages of mountain stone
Clustered like stars some few, but single most,
And lurking dimly in their shy retreats,
Or glancing at each other cheerful looks
Like separated stars with clouds between.
What want we? have we not perpetual streams,
Warm woods, and sunny hills, and fresh green fields,
And mountains not less green, and flocks and herds,
And thickets full of songsters, and the voice
Of lordly birds, an unexpected sound
Heard now and then from morn to latest eve,
Admonishing the man who walks below
Of solitude and silence in the sky?
These have we, and a thousand nooks of earth
Have also these, but nowhere else is found,
Nowhere (or is it fancy?) can be found
The one sensation that is here; 'tis here,
Here as it found its way into my heart
In childhood, here as it abides by day,
By night, here only; or in chosen minds
That take it with them hence, where'er they go.
--'Tis, but I cannot name it, 'tis the sense
Of majesty, and beauty, and repose,
A blended holiness of earth and sky,
Something that makes this individual spot,
This small abiding-place of many men,
A termination, and a last retreat,
A centre, come from wheresoe'er you will,
A whole without dependence or defect,
Made for itself, and happy in itself,
Perfect contentment, Unity entire.
Bleak season was it, turbulent and bleak,
When hitherward we journeyed side by side
Through burst of sunshine and through flying showers;
Paced the long vales--how long they were--and yet
How fast that length of way was left behind,
Wensley's rich Vale, and Sedbergh's naked heights.
The frosty wind, as if to make amends
For its keen breath, was aiding to our steps,
And drove us onward like two ships at sea,
Or like two birds, companions in mid-air,
Parted and reunited by the blast.
Stern was the face of nature; we rejoiced
In that stern countenance, for our souls thence drew
A feeling of their strength. The naked trees,
The icy brooks, as on we passed, appeared
To question us. 'Whence come ye, to what end?'
They seemed to say, 'What would ye,' said the shower,
'Wild Wanderers, whither through my dark domain?'
The sunbeam said, 'Be happy.' When this vale
We entered, bright and solemn was the sky
That faced us with a passionate welcoming,
And led us to our threshold. Daylight failed
Insensibly, and round us gently fell
Composing darkness, with a quiet load
Of full contentment, in a little shed
Disturbed, uneasy in itself as seemed,
And wondering at its new inhabitants.
It loves us now, this Vale so beautiful
Begins to love us! by a sullen storm,
Two months unwearied of severest storm,
It put the temper of our minds to proof,
And found us faithful through the gloom, and heard
The poet mutter his prelusive songs
With cheerful heart, an unknown voice of joy
Among the silence of the woods and hills;
Silent to any gladsomeness of sound
With all their shepherds.
But the gates of Spring
Are opened; churlish winter hath given leave
That she should entertain for this one day,
Perhaps for many genial days to come,
His guests, and make them jocund.--They are pleased,
But most of all the birds that haunt the flood
With the mild summons; inmates though they be
Of Winter's household, they keep festival
This day, who drooped, or seemed to droop, so long;
They show their pleasure, and shall I do less?
Happier of happy though I be, like them
I cannot take possession of the sky,
Mount with a thoughtless impulse, and wheel there
One of a mighty multitude, whose way
Is a perpetual harmony and dance
Magnificent. Behold how with a grace
Of ceaseless motion, that might scarcely seem
Inferior to angelical, they prolong
Their curious pastime, shaping in mid-air,
And sometimes with ambitious wing that soars
High as the level of the mountain tops,
A circuit ampler than the lake beneath,
Their own domain;--but ever, while intent
On tracing and retracing that large round,
Their jubilant activity evolves
Hundreds of curves and circlets, to and fro,
Upwards and downwards; progress intricate
Yet unperplexed, as if one spirit swayed
Their indefatigable flight. 'Tis done,
Ten times and more I fancied it had ceased,
But lo! the vanished company again
Ascending, they approach. I hear their wings
Faint, faint at first; and then an eager sound
Passed in a moment--and as faint again!
They tempt the sun to sport among their plumes;
Tempt the smooth water, or the gleaming ice,
To show them a fair image,--'tis themselves,
Their own fair forms upon the glimmering plain
Painted more soft and fair as they descend,
Almost to touch,--then up again aloft,
Up with a sally and a flash of speed,
As if they scorned both resting-place and rest!
--This day is a thanksgiving, 'tis a day
Of glad emotion and deep quietness;
Not upon me alone hath been bestowed,
Me rich in many onward-looking thoughts,
The penetrating bliss; oh surely these
Have felt it, not the happy choirs of spring,
Her own peculiar family of love
That sport among green leaves, a blither train!
But two are missing, two, a lonely pair
Of milk-white Swans; wherefore are they not seen
Partaking this day's pleasure? From afar
They came, to sojourn here in solitude,
Choosing this Valley, they who had the choice
Of the whole world. We saw them day by day,
Through those two months of unrelenting storm,
Conspicuous at the centre of the Lake
Their safe retreat, we knew them well, I guess
That the whole valley knew them; but to us
They were more dear than may be well believed,
Not only for their beauty, and their still
And placid way of life, and constant love
Inseparable, not for these alone,
But that 'their' state so much resembled ours,
They having also chosen this abode;
They strangers, and we strangers, they a pair,
And we a solitary pair like them.
They should not have departed; many days
Did I look forth in vain, nor on the wing
Could see them, nor in that small open space
Of blue unfrozen water, where they lodged
And lived so long in quiet, side by side.
Shall we behold them consecrated friends,
Faithful companions, yet another year
Surviving, they for us, and we for them,
And neither pair be broken? nay perchance
It is too late already for such hope;
The Dalesmen may have aimed the deadly tube,
And parted them; or haply both are gone
One death, and that were mercy given to both.
Recall, my song, the ungenerous thought; forgive,
Thrice favoured Region, the conjecture harsh
Of such inhospitable penalty
Inflicted upon confidence so pure.
Ah! if I wished to follow where the sight
Of all that is before my eyes, the voice
Which speaks from a presiding spirit here,
Would lead me, I should whisper to myself:
They who are dwellers in this holy place
Must needs themselves be hallowed, they require
No benediction from the stranger's lips,
For they are blessed already; none would give
The greeting 'peace be with you' unto them,
For peace they have; it cannot but be theirs,
And mercy, and forbearance--nay--not these--
'Their' healing offices a pure good-will
Precludes, and charity beyond the bounds
Of charity--an overflowing love;
Not for the creature only, but for all
That is around them; love for everything
Which in their happy Region they behold!
Thus do we soothe ourselves, and when the thought
Is passed, we blame it not for having come.
--What if I floated down a pleasant stream,
And now am landed, and the motion gone,
Shall I reprove myself? Ah no, the stream
Is flowing, and will never cease to flow,
And I shall float upon that stream again.
By such forgetfulness the soul becomes,
Words cannot say how beautiful: then hail,
Hail to the visible Presence, hail to thee,
Delightful Valley, habitation fair!
And to whatever else of outward form
Can give an inward help, can purify,
And elevate, and harmonise, and soothe,
And steal away, and for a while deceive
And lap in pleasing rest, and bear us on
Without desire in full complacency,
Contemplating perfection absolute,
And entertained as in a placid sleep.
But not betrayed by tenderness of mind
That feared, or wholly overlooked the truth,
Did we come hither, with romantic hope
To find in midst of so much loveliness
Love, perfect love: of so much majesty
A like majestic-frame of mind in those
Who here abide, the persons like the place.
Not from such hope, or aught of such belief,
Hath issued any portion of the joy
Which I have felt this day. An awful voice
'Tis true hath in my walks been often heard,
Sent from the mountains or the sheltered fields,
Shout after shout--reiterated whoop,
In manner of a bird that takes delight
In answering to itself: or like a hound
Single at chase among the lonely woods,
His yell repeating; yet it was in truth
A human voice--a spirit of coming night;
How solemn when the sky is dark, and earth
Not dark, nor yet enlightened, but by snow
Made visible, amid a noise of winds
And bleatings manifold of mountain sheep,
Which in that iteration recognise
Their summons, and are gathering round for food,
Devoured with keenness, ere to grove or bank
Or rocky bield with patience they retire.
That very voice, which, in some timid mood
Of superstitious fancy, might have seemed
Awful as ever stray demoniac uttered,
His steps to govern in the wilderness;
Or as the Norman Curfew's regular beat
To hearths when first they darkened at the knell:
That shepherd's voice, it may have reached mine ear
Debased and under profanation, made
The ready organ of articulate sounds
From ribaldry, impiety, or wrath,
Issuing when shame hath ceased to check the brawls
Of some abused Festivity--so be it.
I came not dreaming of unruffled life,
Untainted manners; born among the hills,
Bred also there, I wanted not a scale
To regulate my hopes; pleased with the good
I shrink not from the evil with disgust,
Or with immoderate pain. I look for Man,
The common creature of the brotherhood,
Differing but little from the Man elsewhere,
For selfishness and envy and revenge,
Ill neighbourhood--pity that this should be--
Flattery and double-dealing, strife and wrong.
Yet is it something gained, it is in truth
A mighty gain, that Labour here preserves
His rosy face, a servant only here
Of the fireside or of the open field,
A Freeman therefore sound and unimpaired:
That extreme penury is here unknown,
And cold and hunger's abject wretchedness
Mortal to body and the heaven-born mind:
That they who want are not too great a weight
For those who can relieve; here may the heart
Breathe in the air of fellow-suffering
Dreadless, as in a kind of fresher breeze
Of her own native element, the hand
Be ready and unwearied without plea,
From tasks too frequent or beyond its power,
For languor or indifference or despair.
And as these lofty barriers break the force
Of winds,--this deep Vale, as it doth in part
Conceal us from the storm, so here abides
A power and a protection for the mind,
Dispensed indeed to other solitudes
Favoured by noble privilege like this,
Where kindred independence of estate
Is prevalent, where he who tills the field,
He, happy man! is master of the field,
And treads the mountains which his Fathers trod.
Not less than halfway up yon mountain's side,
Behold a dusky spot, a grove of Firs
That seems still smaller than it is; this grove
Is haunted--by what ghost? a gentle spirit
Of memory faithful to the call of love;
For, as reports the Dame, whose fire sends up
Yon curling smoke from the grey cot below,
The trees (her first-born child being then a babe)
Were planted by her husband and herself,
That ranging o'er the high and houseless ground
Their sheep might neither want from perilous storm
Of winter, nor from summer's sultry heat,
A friendly covert; 'and they knew it well,'
Said she, 'for thither as the trees grew up
We to the patient creatures carried food
In times of heavy snow.' She then began
In fond obedience to her private thoughts
To speak of her dead husband; is there not
An art, a music, and a strain of words
That shall be life, the acknowledged voice of life,
Shall speak of what is done among the fields,
Done truly there, or felt, of solid good
And real evil, yet be sweet withal,
More grateful, more harmonious than the breath,
The idle breath of softest pipe attuned
To pastoral fancies? Is there such a stream
Pure and unsullied flowing from the heart
With motions of true dignity and grace?
Or must we seek that stream where Man is not?
Methinks I could repeat in tuneful verse,
Delicious as the gentlest breeze that sounds
Through that aerial fir-grove--could preserve
Some portion of its human history
As gathered from the Matron's lips, and tell
Of tears that have been shed at sight of it,
And moving dialogues between this Pair
Who in their prime of wedlock, with joint hands
Did plant the grove, now flourishing, while they
No longer flourish, he entirely gone,
She withering in her loneliness. Be this
A task above my skill--the silent mind
Has her own treasures, and I think of these,
Love what I see, and honour humankind.
No, we are not alone, we do not stand,
My sister here misplaced and desolate,
Loving what no one cares for but ourselves,
We shall not scatter through the plains and rocks
Of this fair Vale, and o'er its spacious heights,
Unprofitable kindliness, bestowed
On objects unaccustomed to the gifts
Of feeling, which were cheerless and forlorn
But few weeks past, and would be so again
Were we not here; we do not tend a lamp
Whose lustre we alone participate,
Which shines dependent upon us alone,
Mortal though bright, a dying, dying flame.
Look where we will, some human hand has been
Before us with its offering; not a tree
Sprinkles these little pastures, but the same
Hath furnished matter for a thought; perchance
For some one serves as a familiar friend.
Joy spreads, and sorrow spreads; and this whole Vale,
Home of untutored shepherds as it is,
Swarms with sensation, as with gleams of sunshine,
Shadows or breezes, scents or sounds. Nor deem
These feelings, though subservient more than ours
To every day's demand for daily bread,
And borrowing more their spirit and their shape
From self-respecting interests; deem them not
Unworthy therefore, and unhallowed--no,
They lift the animal being, do themselves
By nature's kind and ever-present aid
Refine the selfishness from which they spring,
Redeem by love the individual sense
Of anxiousness, with which they are combined.
And thus it is that fitly they become
Associates in the joy of purest minds:
They blend therewith congenially: meanwhile
Calmly they breathe their own undying life
Through this their mountain sanctuary; long
Oh long may it remain inviolate,
Diffusing health and sober cheerfulness,
And giving to the moments as they pass
Their little boons of animating thought
That sweeten labour, make it seen and felt
To be no arbitrary weight imposed,
But a glad function natural to man.
Fair proof of this, newcomer though I be,
Already have I gained; the inward frame,
Though slowly opening, opens every day
With process not unlike to that which cheers
A pensive stranger journeying at his leisure
Through some Helvetian Dell; when low-hung mists
Break up and are beginning to recede;
How pleased he is where thin and thinner grows
The veil, or where it parts at once, to spy
The dark pines thrusting forth their spiky heads;
To watch the spreading lawns with cattle grazed;
Then to be greeted by the scattered huts
As they shine out; and 'see' the streams whose murmur
Had soothed his ear while 'they' were hidden; how pleased
To have about him which way e'er he goes
Something on every side concealed from view,
In every quarter something visible
Half seen or wholly, lost and found again,
Alternate progress and impediment,
And yet a growing prospect in the main.
Such pleasure now is mine, albeit forced,
Herein less happy than the Traveller,
To cast from time to time a painful look
Upon unwelcome things which unawares
Reveal themselves, not therefore is my heart
Depressed, nor does it fear what is to come;
But confident, enriched at every glance,
The more I see the more delight my mind
Receives, or by reflection can create:
Truth justifies herself, and as she dwells
With Hope, who would not follow where she leads?
Nor let me pass unheeded other loves
Where no fear is, and humbler sympathies.
Already hath sprung up within my heart
A liking for the small grey horse that bears
The paralytic man, and for the brute
In Scripture sanctified--the patient brute
On which the cripple, in the quarry maimed,
Rides to and fro: I know them and their ways.
The famous sheep-dog, first in all the vale,
Though yet to me a stranger, will not be
A stranger long; nor will the blind man's guide,
Meek and neglected thing, of no renown!
Soon will peep forth the primrose, ere it fades
Friends shall I have at dawn, blackbird and thrush
To rouse me, and a hundred warblers more!
And if those Eagles to their ancient hold
Return, Helvellyn's Eagles! with the Pair
From my own door I shall be free to claim
Acquaintance, as they sweep from cloud to cloud.
The owl that gives the name to Owlet-Crag
Have I heard whooping, and he soon will be
A chosen one of my regards. See there
The heifer in yon little croft belongs
To one who holds it dear; with duteous care
She reared it, and in speaking of her charge
I heard her scatter some endearing words
Domestic, and in spirit motherly,
She being herself a mother; happy Beast,
If the caresses of a human voice
Can make it so, and care of human hands.
And ye as happy under Nature's care,
Strangers to me and all men, or at least
Strangers to all particular amity,
All intercourse of knowledge or of love
That parts the individual from his kind.
Whether in large communities ye keep
From year to year, not shunning man's abode,
A settled residence, or be from far
Wild creatures, and of many homes, that come
The gift of winds, and whom the winds again
Take from us at your pleasure; yet shall ye
Not want for this your own subordinate place
In my affections. Witness the delight
With which erewhile I saw that multitude
Wheel through the sky, and see them now at rest,
Yet not at rest upon the glassy lake:
They 'cannot' rest--they gambol like young whelps;
Active as lambs, and overcome with joy
They try all frolic motions; flutter, plunge,
And beat the passive water with their wings.
Too distant are they for plain view, but lo!
Those little fountains, sparkling in the sun,
Betray their occupation, rising up
First one and then another silver spout,
As one or other takes the fit of glee,
Fountains and spouts, yet somewhat in the guise
Of plaything fireworks, that on festal nights
Sparkle about the feet of wanton boys.
--How vast the compass of this theatre,
Yet nothing to be seen but lovely pomp
And silent majesty; the birch-tree woods
Are hung with thousand thousand diamond drops
Of melted hoar-frost, every tiny knot
In the bare twigs, each little budding-place
Cased with its several beads; what myriads these
Upon one tree, while all the distant grove,
That rises to the summit of the steep,
Shows like a mountain built of silver light:
See yonder the same pageant, and again
Behold the universal imagery
Inverted, all its sun-bright features touched
As with the varnish and the gloss of dreams.
Dreamlike the blending also of the whole
Harmonious landscape: all along the shore
The boundary lost--the line invisible
That parts the image from reality;
And the clear hills, as high as they ascend
Heavenward, so deep piercing the lake below.
Admonished of the days of love to come
The raven croaks, and fills the upper air
With a strange sound of genial harmony;
And in and all about that playful band,
Incapable although they be of rest,
And in their fashion very rioters,
There is a stillness, and they seem to make
Calm revelry in that their calm abode.
Them leaving to their joyous hours I pass,
Pass with a thought the life of the whole year
That is to come: the throng of woodland flowers
And lilies that will dance upon the waves.
Say boldly then that solitude is not
Where these things are: he truly is alone,
He of the multitude whose eyes are doomed
To hold a vacant commerce day by day
With Objects wanting life--repelling love;
He by the vast metropolis immured,
Where pity shrinks from unremitting calls,
Where numbers overwhelm humanity,
And neighbourhood serves rather to divide
Than to unite--what sighs more deep than his,
Whose nobler will hath long been sacrificed;
Who must inhabit under a black sky
A city, where, if indifference to disgust
Yield not to scorn or sorrow, living men
Are ofttimes to their fellow-men no more
Than to the forest Hermit are the leaves
That hang aloft in myriads; nay, far less,
For they protect his walk from sun and shower,
Swell his devotion with their voice in storms,
And whisper while the stars twinkle among them
His lullaby. From crowded streets remote,
Far from the living and dead Wilderness
Of the thronged world, Society is here
A true community--a genuine frame
Of many into one incorporate.
'That' must be looked for here: paternal sway,
One household, under God, for high and low,
One family and one mansion; to themselves
Appropriate, and divided from the world,
As if it were a cave, a multitude
Human and brute, possessors undisturbed
Of this Recess--their legislative Hall,
Their Temple, and their glorious Dwelling-place.
Dismissing therefore all Arcadian dreams,
All golden fancies of the golden age,
The bright array of shadowy thoughts from times
That were before all time, or are to be
Ere time expire, the pageantry that stirs
Or will be stirring, when our eyes are fixed
On lovely objects, and we wish to part
With all remembrance of a jarring world,
--Take we at once this one sufficient hope,
What need of more? that we shall neither droop
Nor pine for want of pleasure in the life
Scattered about us, nor through want of aught
That keeps in health the insatiable mind.
--That we shall have for knowledge and for love
Abundance, and that feeling as we do
How goodly, how exceeding fair, how pure
From all reproach is yon ethereal vault,
And this deep Vale, its earthly counterpart,
By which and under which we are enclosed
To breathe in peace; we shall moreover find
(If sound, and what we ought to be ourselves,
If rightly we observe and justly weigh)
The inmates not unworthy of their home,
The Dwellers of their Dwelling.
And if this
Were otherwise, we have within ourselves
Enough to fill the present day with joy,
And overspread the future years with hope,
Our beautiful and quiet home, enriched
Already with a stranger whom we love
Deeply, a stranger of our Father's house,
A never-resting Pilgrim of the Sea,
Who finds at last an hour to his content
Beneath our roof. And others whom we love
Will seek us also, Sisters of our hearts,
And one, like them, a Brother of our hearts,
Philosopher and Poet, in whose sight
These mountains will rejoice with open joy.
--Such is our wealth! O Vale of Peace we are
And must be, with God's will, a happy Band.
Yet 'tis not to enjoy that we exist,
For that end only; something must be done:
I must not walk in unreproved delight
These narrow bounds, and think of nothing more,
No duty that looks further, and no care.
Each Being has his office, lowly some
And common, yet all worthy if fulfilled
With zeal, acknowledgment that with the gift
Keeps pace a harvest answering to the seed.
Of ill-advised Ambition and of Pride
I would stand clear, but yet to me I feel
That an internal brightness is vouchsafed
That must not die, that must not pass away.
Why does this inward lustre fondly seek
And gladly blend with outward fellowship?
Why do 'they' shine around me whom I love?
Why do they teach me, whom I thus revere?
Strange question, yet it answers not itself.
That humble Roof embowered among the trees,
That calm fireside, it is not even in them,
Blest as they are, to furnish a reply
That satisfies and ends in perfect rest.
Possessions have I that are solely mine,
Something within which yet is shared by none,
Not even the nearest to me and most dear,
Something which power and effort may impart;
I would impart it, I would spread it wide:
Immortal in the world which is to come--
Forgive me if I add another claim--
And would not wholly perish even in this,
Lie down and be forgotten in the dust,
I and the modest Partners of my days
Making a silent company in death;
Love, knowledge, all my manifold delights,
All buried with me without monument
Or profit unto any but ourselves!
It must not be, if I, divinely taught,
Be privileged to speak as I have felt
Of what in man is human or divine.
While yet an innocent little one, with a heart
That doubtless wanted not its tender moods,
I breathed (for this I better recollect)
Among wild appetites and blind desires,
Motions of savage instinct my delight
And exaltation. Nothing at that time
So welcome, no temptation half so dear
As that which urged me to a daring feat,
Deep pools, tall trees, black chasms, and dizzy crags,
And tottering towers: I loved to stand and read
Their looks forbidding, read and disobey,
Sometimes in act and evermore in thought.
With impulses, that scarcely were by these
Surpassed in strength, I heard of danger met
Or sought with courage; enterprise forlorn
By one, sole keeper of his own intent,
Or by a resolute few, who for the sake
Of glory fronted multitudes in arms.
Yea, to this hour I cannot read a Tale
Of two brave vessels matched in deadly fight,
And fighting to the death, but I am pleased
More than a wise man ought to be; I wish,
Fret, burn, and struggle, and in soul am there.
But me hath Nature tamed, and bade to seek
For other agitations, or be calm;
Hath dealt with me as with a turbulent stream,
Some nursling of the mountains which she leads
Through quiet meadows, after he has learnt
His strength, and had his triumph and his joy,
His desperate course of tumult and of glee.
That which in stealth by Nature was performed
Hath Reason sanctioned: her deliberate Voice
Hath said; be mild, and cleave to gentle things,
Thy glory and thy happiness be there.
Nor fear, though thou confide in me, a want
Of aspirations that have been--of foes
To wrestle with, and victory to complete,
Bounds to be leapt, darkness to be explored;
All that inflamed thy infant heart, the love,
The longing, the contempt, the undaunted quest,
All shall survive, though changed their office, all
Shall live, it is not in their power to die.
Then farewell to the Warrior's Schemes, farewell
The forwardness of soul which looks that way
Upon a less incitement than the Cause
Of Liberty endangered, and farewell
That other hope, long mine, the hope to fill
The heroic trumpet with the Muse's breath!
Yet in this peaceful Vale we will not spend
Unheard-of days, though loving peaceful thought,
A voice shall speak, and what will be the theme?
On Man, on Nature, and on Human Life,
Musing in solitude, I oft perceive
Fair trains of imagery before me rise,
Accompanied by feelings of delight
Pure, or with no unpleasing sadness mixed;
And I am conscious of affecting thoughts
And dear remembrances, whose presence soothes
Or elevates the Mind, intent to weigh
The good and evil of our mortal state.
--To these emotions, whencesoe'er they come,
Whether from breath of outward circumstance,
Or from the Soul--an impulse to herself--
I would give utterance in numerous verse.
Of Truth, of Grandeur, Beauty, Love, and Hope,
And melancholy Fear subdued by Faith;
Of blessed consolations in distress;
Of moral strength, and intellectual Power;
Of joy in widest commonalty spread;
Of the individual Mind that keeps her own
Inviolate retirement, subject there
To Conscience only, and the law supreme
Of that Intelligence which governs all--
I sing:--'fit audience let me find though few!'
So prayed, more gaining than he asked, the Bard--
In holiest mood. Urania, I shall need
Thy guidance, or a greater Muse, if such
Descend to earth or dwell in highest heaven!
For I must tread on shadowy ground, must sink
Deep--and, aloft ascending, breathe in worlds
To which the heaven of heavens is but a veil.
All strength--all terror, single or in bands,
That ever was put forth in personal form--
Jehovah--with his thunder, and the choir
Of shouting Angels, and the empyreal thrones--
I pass them unalarmed. Not Chaos, not
The darkest pit of lowest Erebus,
Nor aught of blinder vacancy, scooped out
By help of dreams--can breed such fear and awe
As fall upon us often when we look
Into our Minds, into the Mind of Man--
My haunt, and the main region of my song
--Beauty--a living Presence of the earth,
Surpassing the most fair ideal Forms
Which craft of delicate Spirits hath composed
From earth's materials--waits upon my steps;
Pitches her tents before me as I move,
An hourly neighbour. Paradise, and groves
Elysian, Fortunate Fields--like those of old
Sought in the Atlantic Main--why should they be
A history only of departed things,
Or a mere fiction of what never was?
For the discerning intellect of Man,
When wedded to this goodly universe
In love and holy passion, shall find these
A simple produce of the common day.
--I, long before the blissful hour arrives,
Would chant, in lonely peace, the spousal verse
Of this great consummation:--and, by words
Which speak of nothing more than what we are,
Would I arouse the sensual from their sleep
Of Death, and win the vacant and the vain
To noble raptures; while my voice proclaims
How exquisitely the individual Mind
(And the progressive powers perhaps no less
Of the whole species) to the external World
Is fitted:--and how exquisitely, too--
Theme this but little heard of among men--
The external World is fitted to the Mind;
And the creation (by no lower name
Can it be called) which they with blended might
Accomplish:--this is our high argument.
--Such grateful haunts foregoing, if I oft
Must turn elsewhere--to travel near the tribes
And fellowships of men, and see ill sights
Of madding passions mutually inflamed;
Must hear Humanity in fields and groves
Pipe solitary anguish; or must hang
Brooding above the fierce confederate storm
Of sorrow, barricadoed evermore
Within the walls of cities--may these sounds
Have their authentic comment; that even these
Hearing, I be not downcast or forlorn!--
Descend, prophetic Spirit! that inspir'st
The human Soul of universal earth,
Dreaming on things to come; and dost possess
A metropolitan temple in the hearts
Of mighty Poets; upon me bestow
A gift of genuine insight; that my Song
With star-like virtue in its place may shine,
Shedding benignant influence, and secure
Itself from all malevolent effect
Of those mutations that extend their sway
Throughout the nether sphere!--And if with this
I mix more lowly matter; with the thing
Contemplated, describe the Mind and Man
Contemplating; and who, and what he was--
The transitory Being that beheld
This Vision;--when and where, and how he lived;
Be not this labour useless. If such theme
May sort with highest objects, then--dread Power!
Whose gracious favour is the primal source
Of all illumination--may my Life
Express the image of a better time,
More wise desires, and simpler manners;--nurse
My Heart in genuine freedom:--all pure thoughts
Be with me;--so shall thy unfailing love
Guide, and support, and cheer me to the end!
The Iliad: Book 15
But when their flight had taken them past the trench and the set
stakes, and many had fallen by the hands of the Danaans, the Trojans
made a halt on reaching their chariots, routed and pale with fear.
Jove now woke on the crests of Ida, where he was lying with
golden-throned Juno by his side, and starting to his feet he saw the
Trojans and Achaeans, the one thrown into confusion, and the others
driving them pell-mell before them with King Neptune in their midst.
He saw Hector lying on the ground with his comrades gathered round
him, gasping for breath, wandering in mind and vomiting blood, for
it was not the feeblest of the Achaeans who struck him.
The sire of gods and men had pity on him, and looked fiercely on
Juno. "I see, Juno," said he, "you mischief- making trickster, that
your cunning has stayed Hector from fighting and has caused the rout
of his host. I am in half a mind to thrash you, in which case you will
be the first to reap the fruits of your scurvy knavery. Do you not
remember how once upon a time I had you hanged? I fastened two
anvils on to your feet, and bound your hands in a chain of gold
which none might break, and you hung in mid-air among the clouds.
All the gods in Olympus were in a fury, but they could not reach you
to set you free; when I caught any one of them I gripped him and
hurled him from the heavenly threshold till he came fainting down to
earth; yet even this did not relieve my mind from the incessant
anxiety which I felt about noble Hercules whom you and Boreas had
spitefully conveyed beyond the seas to Cos, after suborning the
tempests; but I rescued him, and notwithstanding all his mighty
labours I brought him back again to Argos. I would remind you of
this that you may learn to leave off being so deceitful, and
discover how much you are likely to gain by the embraces out of
which you have come here to trick me."
Juno trembled as he spoke, and said, "May heaven above and earth
below be my witnesses, with the waters of the river Styx- and this
is the most solemn oath that a blessed god can take- nay, I swear also
by your own almighty head and by our bridal bed- things over which I
could never possibly perjure myself- that Neptune is not punishing
Hector and the Trojans and helping the Achaeans through any doing of
mine; it is all of his own mere motion because he was sorry to see the
Achaeans hard pressed at their ships: if I were advising him, I should
tell him to do as you bid him."
The sire of gods and men smiled and answered, "If you, Juno, were
always to support me when we sit in council of the gods, Neptune, like
it or no, would soon come round to your and my way of thinking. If,
then, you are speaking the truth and mean what you say, go among the
rank and file of the gods, and tell Iris and Apollo lord of the bow,
that I want them- Iris, that she may go to the Achaean host and tell
Neptune to leave off fighting and go home, and Apollo, that he may
send Hector again into battle and give him fresh strength; he will
thus forget his present sufferings, and drive the Achaeans back in
confusion till they fall among the ships of Achilles son of Peleus.
Achilles will then send his comrade Patroclus into battle, and
Hector will kill him in front of Ilius after he has slain many
warriors, and among them my own noble son Sarpedon. Achilles will kill
Hector to avenge Patroclus, and from that time I will bring it about
that the Achaeans shall persistently drive the Trojans back till
they fulfil the counsels of Minerva and take Ilius. But I will not
stay my anger, nor permit any god to help the Danaans till I have
accomplished the desire of the son of Peleus, according to the promise
I made by bowing my head on the day when Thetis touched my knees and
besought me to give him honour."
Juno heeded his words and went from the heights of Ida to great
Olympus. Swift as the thought of one whose fancy carries him over vast
continents, and he says to himself, "Now I will be here, or there,"
and he would have all manner of things- even so swiftly did Juno
wing her way till she came to high Olympus and went in among the
gods who were gathered in the house of Jove. When they saw her they
all of them came up to her, and held out their cups to her by way of
greeting. She let the others be, but took the cup offered her by
lovely Themis, who was first to come running up to her. "Juno," said
she, "why are you here? And you seem troubled- has your husband the
son of Saturn been frightening you?"
And Juno answered, "Themis, do not ask me about it. You know what
a proud and cruel disposition my husband has. Lead the gods to
table, where you and all the immortals can hear the wicked designs
which he has avowed. Many a one, mortal and immortal, will be
angered by them, however peaceably he may be feasting now."
On this Juno sat down, and the gods were troubled throughout the
house of Jove. Laughter sat on her lips but her brow was furrowed with
care, and she spoke up in a rage. "Fools that we are," she cried,
"to be thus madly angry with Jove; we keep on wanting to go up to
him and stay him by force or by persuasion, but he sits aloof and
cares for nobody, for he knows that he is much stronger than any other
of the immortals. Make the best, therefore, of whatever ills he may
choose to send each one of you; Mars, I take it, has had a taste of
them already, for his son Ascalaphus has fallen in battle- the man
whom of all others he loved most dearly and whose father he owns
himself to be."
When he heard this Mars smote his two sturdy thighs with the flat of
his hands, and said in anger, "Do not blame me, you gods that dwell in
heaven, if I go to the ships of the Achaeans and avenge the death of
my son, even though it end in my being struck by Jove's lightning
and lying in blood and dust among the corpses."
As he spoke he gave orders to yoke his horses Panic and Rout,
while he put on his armour. On this, Jove would have been roused to
still more fierce and implacable enmity against the other immortals,
had not Minerva, ararmed for the safety of the gods, sprung from her
seat and hurried outside. She tore the helmet from his head and the
shield from his shoulders, and she took the bronze spear from his
strong hand and set it on one side; then she said to Mars, "Madman,
you are undone; you have ears that hear not, or you have lost all
judgement and understanding; have you not heard what Juno has said
on coming straight from the presence of Olympian Jove? Do you wish
to go through all kinds of suffering before you are brought back
sick and sorry to Olympus, after having caused infinite mischief to
all us others? Jove would instantly leave the Trojans and Achaeans
to themselves; he would come to Olympus to punish us, and would grip
us up one after another, guilty or not guilty. Therefore lay aside
your anger for the death of your son; better men than he have either
been killed already or will fall hereafter, and one cannot protect
every one's whole family."
With these words she took Mars back to his seat. Meanwhile Juno
called Apollo outside, with Iris the messenger of the gods. "Jove,"
she said to them, "desires you to go to him at once on Mt. Ida; when
you have seen him you are to do as he may then bid you."
Thereon Juno left them and resumed her seat inside, while Iris and
Apollo made all haste on their way. When they reached
many-fountained Ida, mother of wild beasts, they found Jove seated
on topmost Gargarus with a fragrant cloud encircling his head as
with a diadem. They stood before his presence, and he was pleased with
them for having been so quick in obeying the orders his wife had given
He spoke to Iris first. "Go," said he, "fleet Iris, tell King
Neptune what I now bid you- and tell him true. Bid him leave off
fighting, and either join the company of the gods, or go down into the
sea. If he takes no heed and disobeys me, let him consider well
whether he is strong enough to hold his own against me if I attack
him. I am older and much stronger than he is; yet he is not afraid
to set himself up as on a level with myself, of whom all the other
gods stand in awe."
Iris, fleet as the wind, obeyed him, and as the cold hail or
snowflakes that fly from out the clouds before the blast of Boreas,
even so did she wing her way till she came close up to the great
shaker of the earth. Then she said, "I have come, O dark-haired king
that holds the world in his embrace, to bring you a message from Jove.
He bids you leave off fighting, and either join the company of the
gods or go down into the sea; if, however, you take no heed and
disobey him, he says he will come down here and fight you. He would
have you keep out of his reach, for he is older and much stronger than
you are, and yet you are not afraid to set yourself up as on a level
with himself, of whom all the other gods stand in awe."
Neptune was very angry and said, "Great heavens! strong as Jove
may be, he has said more than he can do if he has threatened
violence against me, who am of like honour with himself. We were three
brothers whom Rhea bore to Saturn- Jove, myself, and Hades who rules
the world below. Heaven and earth were divided into three parts, and
each of us was to have an equal share. When we cast lots, it fell to
me to have my dwelling in the sea for evermore; Hades took the
darkness of the realms under the earth, while air and sky and clouds
were the portion that fell to Jove; but earth and great Olympus are
the common property of all. Therefore I will not walk as Jove would
have me. For all his strength, let him keep to his own third share and
be contented without threatening to lay hands upon me as though I were
nobody. Let him keep his bragging talk for his own sons and daughters,
who must perforce obey him.
Iris fleet as the wind then answered, "Am I really, Neptune, to take
this daring and unyielding message to Jove, or will you reconsider
your answer? Sensible people are open to argument, and you know that
the Erinyes always range themselves on the side of the older person."
Neptune answered, "Goddess Iris, your words have been spoken in
season. It is well when a messenger shows so much discretion.
Nevertheless it cuts me to the very heart that any one should rebuke
so angrily another who is his own peer, and of like empire with
himself. Now, however, I will give way in spite of my displeasure;
furthermore let me tell you, and I mean what I say- if contrary to the
desire of myself, Minerva driver of the spoil, Juno, Mercury, and King
Vulcan, Jove spares steep Ilius, and will not let the Achaeans have
the great triumph of sacking it, let him understand that he will incur
our implacable resentment."
Neptune now left the field to go down under the sea, and sorely
did the Achaeans miss him. Then Jove said to Apollo, "Go, dear
Phoebus, to Hector, for Neptune who holds the earth in his embrace has
now gone down under the sea to avoid the severity of my displeasure.
Had he not done so those gods who are below with Saturn would have
come to hear of the fight between us. It is better for both of us that
he should have curbed his anger and kept out of my reach, for I should
have had much trouble with him. Take, then, your tasselled aegis,
and shake it furiously, so as to set the Achaean heroes in a panic;
take, moreover, brave Hector, O Far-Darter, into your own care, and
rouse him to deeds of daring, till the Achaeans are sent flying back
to their ships and to the Hellespont. From that point I will think
it well over, how the Achaeans may have a respite from their
Apollo obeyed his father's saying, and left the crests of Ida,
flying like a falcon, bane of doves and swiftest of all birds. He
found Hector no longer lying upon the ground, but sitting up, for he
had just come to himself again. He knew those who were about him,
and the sweat and hard breathing had left him from the moment when the
will of aegis-bearing Jove had revived him. Apollo stood beside him
and said, "Hector, son of Priam, why are you so faint, and why are you
here away from the others? Has any mishap befallen you?"
Hector in a weak voice answered, "And which, kind sir, of the gods
are you, who now ask me thus? Do you not know that Ajax struck me on
the chest with a stone as I was killing his comrades at the ships of
the Achaeans, and compelled me to leave off fighting? I made sure that
this very day I should breathe my last and go down into the house of
Then King Apollo said to him, "Take heart; the son of Saturn has
sent you a mighty helper from Ida to stand by you and defend you, even
me, Phoebus Apollo of the golden sword, who have been guardian
hitherto not only of yourself but of your city. Now, therefore,
order your horsemen to drive their chariots to the ships in great
multitudes. I will go before your horses to smooth the way for them,
and will turn the Achaeans in flight."
As he spoke he infused great strength into the shepherd of his
people. And as a horse, stabled and full-fed, breaks loose and gallops
gloriously over the plain to the place where he is wont to take his
bath in the river- he tosses his head, and his mane streams over his
shoulders as in all the pride of his strength he flies full speed to
the pastures where the mares are feeding- even so Hector, when he
heard what the god said, urged his horsemen on, and sped forward as
fast as his limbs could take him. As country peasants set their hounds
on to a homed stag or wild goat- he has taken shelter under rock or
thicket, and they cannot find him, but, lo, a bearded lion whom
their shouts have roused stands in their path, and they are in no
further humour for the chase- even so the Achaeans were still charging
on in a body, using their swords and spears pointed at both ends,
but when they saw Hector going about among his men they were afraid,
and their hearts fell down into their feet.
Then spoke Thoas son of Andraemon, leader of the Aetolians, a man
who could throw a good throw, and who was staunch also in close fight,
while few could surpass him in debate when opinions were divided. He
then with all sincerity and goodwill addressed them thus: "What, in
heaven's name, do I now see? Is it not Hector come to life again?
Every one made sure he had been killed by Ajax son of Telamon, but
it seems that one of the gods has again rescued him. He has killed
many of us Danaans already, and I take it will yet do so, for the hand
of Jove must be with him or he would never dare show himself so
masterful in the forefront of the battle. Now, therefore, let us all
do as I say; let us order the main body of our forces to fall back
upon the ships, but let those of us who profess to be the flower of
the army stand firm, and see whether we cannot hold Hector back at the
point of our spears as soon as he comes near us; I conceive that he
will then think better of it before he tries to charge into the
press of the Danaans."
Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said. Those who
were about Ajax and King Idomeneus, the followers moreover of
Teucer, Meriones, and Meges peer of Mars called all their best men
about them and sustained the fight against Hector and the Trojans, but
the main body fell back upon the ships of the Achaeans.
The Trojans pressed forward in a dense body, with Hector striding on
at their head. Before him went Phoebus Apollo shrouded in cloud
about his shoulders. He bore aloft the terrible aegis with its
shaggy fringe, which Vulcan the smith had given Jove to strike
terror into the hearts of men. With this in his hand he led on the
The Argives held together and stood their ground. The cry of
battle rose high from either side, and the arrows flew from the
bowstrings. Many a spear sped from strong hands and fastened in the
bodies of many a valiant warrior, while others fell to earth midway,
before they could taste of man's fair flesh and glut themselves with
blood. So long as Phoebus Apollo held his aegis quietly and without
shaking it, the weapons on either side took effect and the people
fell, but when he shook it straight in the face of the Danaans and
raised his mighty battle-cry their hearts fainted within them and they
forgot their former prowess. As when two wild beasts spring in the
dead of night on a herd of cattle or a large flock of sheep when the
herdsman is not there- even so were the Danaans struck helpless, for
Apollo filled them with panic and gave victory to Hector and the
The fight then became more scattered and they killed one another
where they best could. Hector killed Stichius and Arcesilaus, the one,
leader of the Boeotians, and the other, friend and comrade of
Menestheus. Aeneas killed Medon and Iasus. The first was bastard son
to Oileus, and brother to Ajax, but he lived in Phylace away from
his own country, for he had killed a man, a kinsman of his
stepmother Eriopis whom Oileus had married. Iasus had become a
leader of the Athenians, and was son of Sphelus the son of Boucolos.
Polydamas killed Mecisteus, and Polites Echius, in the front of the
battle, while Agenor slew Clonius. Paris struck Deiochus from behind
in the lower part of the shoulder, as he was flying among the
foremost, and the point of the spear went clean through him.
While they were spoiling these heroes of their armour, the
Achaeans were flying pellmell to the trench and the set stakes, and
were forced back within their wall. Hector then cried out to the
Trojans, "Forward to the ships, and let the spoils be. If I see any
man keeping back on the other side the wall away from the ships I will
have him killed: his kinsmen and kinswomen shall not give him his dues
of fire, but dogs shall tear him in pieces in front of our city."
As he spoke he laid his whip about his horses' shoulders and
called to the Trojans throughout their ranks; the Trojans shouted with
a cry that rent the air, and kept their horses neck and neck with
his own. Phoebus Apollo went before, and kicked down the banks of
the deep trench into its middle so as to make a great broad bridge, as
broad as the throw of a spear when a man is trying his strength. The
Trojan battalions poured over the bridge, and Apollo with his
redoubtable aegis led the way. He kicked down the wall of the Achaeans
as easily as a child who playing on the sea-shore has built a house of
sand and then kicks it down again and destroys it- even so did you,
O Apollo, shed toil and trouble upon the Argives, filling them with
panic and confusion.
Thus then were the Achaeans hemmed in at their ships, calling out to
one another and raising their hands with loud cries every man to
heaven. Nestor of Gerene, tower of strength to the Achaeans, lifted up
his hands to the starry firmament of heaven, and prayed more fervently
than any of them. "Father Jove," said he, "if ever any one in
wheat-growing Argos burned you fat thigh-bones of sheep or heifer
and prayed that he might return safely home, whereon you bowed your
head to him in assent, bear it in mind now, and suffer not the Trojans
to triumph thus over the Achaeans."
All counselling Jove thundered loudly in answer to die prayer of the
aged son of Neleus. When the heard Jove thunder they flung
themselves yet more fiercely on the Achaeans. As a wave breaking
over the bulwarks of a ship when the sea runs high before a gale-
for it is the force of the wind that makes the waves so great- even so
did the Trojans spring over the wall with a shout, and drive their
chariots onwards. The two sides fought with their double-pointed
spears in hand-to-hand encounter-the Trojans from their chariots,
and the Achaeans climbing up into their ships and wielding the long
pikes that were lying on the decks ready for use in a sea-fight,
jointed and shod with bronze.
Now Patroclus, so long as the Achaeans and Trojans were fighting
about the wall, but were not yet within it and at the ships,
remained sitting in the tent of good Eurypylus, entertaining him
with his conversation and spreading herbs over his wound to ease his
pain. When, however, he saw the Trojans swarming through the breach in
the wall, while the Achaeans were clamouring and struck with panic, he
cried aloud, and smote his two thighs with the flat of his hands.
"Eurypylus," said he in his dismay, "I know you want me badly, but I
cannot stay with you any longer, for there is hard fighting going
on; a servant shall take care of you now, for I must make all speed to
Achilles, and induce him to fight if I can; who knows but with
heaven's help I may persuade him. A man does well to listen to the
advice of a friend."
When he had thus spoken he went his way. The Achaeans stood firm and
resisted the attack of the Trojans, yet though these were fewer in
number, they could not drive them back from the ships, neither could
the Trojans break the Achaean ranks and make their way in among the
tents and ships. As a carpenter's line gives a true edge to a piece of
ship's timber, in the hand of some skilled workman whom Minerva has
instructed in all kinds of useful arts- even so level was the issue of
the fight between the two sides, as they fought some round one and
some round another.
Hector made straight for Ajax, and the two fought fiercely about the
same ship. Hector could not force Ajax back and fire the ship, nor yet
could Ajax drive Hector from the spot to which heaven had brought him.
Then Ajax struck Caletor son of Clytius in the chest with a spear as
he was bringing fire towards the ship. He fell heavily to the ground
and the torch dropped from his hand. When Hector saw his cousin fallen
in front of the ship he shouted to the Trojans and Lycians saying,
"Trojans, Lycians, and Dardanians good in close fight, bate not a jot,
but rescue the son of Clytius lest the Achaeans strip him of his
armour now that he has fallen."
He then aimed a spear at Ajax, and missed him, but he hit
Lycophron a follower of Ajax, who came from Cythera, but was living
with Ajax inasmuch as he had killed a man among the Cythereans.
Hector's spear struck him on the head below the ear, and he fell
headlong from the ship's prow on to the ground with no life left in
him. Ajax shook with rage and said to his brother, "Teucer, my good
fellow, our trusty comrade the son of Mastor has fallen, he came to
live with us from Cythera and whom we honoured as much as our own
parents. Hector has just killed him; fetch your deadly arrows at
once and the bow which Phoebus Apollo gave you."
Teucer heard him and hastened towards him with his bow and quiver in
his hands. Forthwith he showered his arrows on the Trojans, and hit
Cleitus the son of Pisenor, comrade of Polydamas the noble son of
Panthous, with the reins in his hands as he was attending to his
horses; he was in the middle of the very thickest part of the fight,
doing good service to Hector and the Trojans, but evil had now come
upon him, and not one of those who were fain to do so could avert
it, for the arrow struck him on the back of the neck. He fell from his
chariot and his horses shook the empty car as they swerved aside. King
Polydamas saw what had happened, and was the first to come up to the
horses; he gave them in charge to Astynous son of Protiaon, and
ordered him to look on, and to keep the horses near at hand. He then
went back and took his place in the front ranks.
Teucer then aimed another arrow at Hector, and there would have been
no more fighting at the ships if he had hit him and killed him then
and there: Jove, however, who kept watch over Hector, had his eyes
on Teucer, and deprived him of his triumph, by breaking his
bowstring for him just as he was drawing it and about to take his aim;
on this the arrow went astray and the bow fell from his hands.
Teucer shook with anger and said to his brother, "Alas, see how heaven
thwarts us in all we do; it has broken my bowstring and snatched the
bow from my hand, though I strung it this selfsame morning that it
might serve me for many an arrow."
Ajax son of Telamon answered, "My good fellow, let your bow and your
arrows be, for Jove has made them useless in order to spite the
Danaans. Take your spear, lay your shield upon your shoulder, and both
fight the Trojans yourself and urge others to do so. They may be
successful for the moment but if we fight as we ought they will find
it a hard matter to take the ships."
Teucer then took his bow and put it by in his tent. He hung a shield
four hides thick about his shoulders, and on his comely head he set
his helmet well wrought with a crest of horse-hair that nodded
menacingly above it; he grasped his redoubtable bronze-shod spear, and
forthwith he was by the side of Ajax.
When Hector saw that Teucer's bow was of no more use to him, he
shouted out to the Trojans and Lycians, "Trojans, Lycians, and
Dardanians good in close fight, be men, my friends, and show your
mettle here at the ships, for I see the weapon of one of their
chieftains made useless by the hand of Jove. It is easy to see when
Jove is helping people and means to help them still further, or
again when he is bringing them down and will do nothing for them; he
is now on our side, and is going against the Argives. Therefore
swarm round the ships and fight. If any of you is struck by spear or
sword and loses his life, let him die; he dies with honour who dies
fighting for his country; and he will leave his wife and children safe
behind him, with his house and allotment unplundered if only the
Achaeans can be driven back to their own land, they and their ships."
With these words he put heart and soul into them all. Ajax on the
other side exhorted his comrades saying, "Shame on you Argives, we are
now utterly undone, unless we can save ourselves by driving the
enemy from our ships. Do you think, if Hector takes them, that you
will be able to get home by land? Can you not hear him cheering on his
whole host to fire our fleet, and bidding them remember that they
are not at a dance but in battle? Our only course is to fight them
with might and main; we had better chance it, life or death, once
for all, than fight long and without issue hemmed in at our ships by
worse men than ourselves."
With these words he put life and soul into them all. Hector then
killed Schedius son of Perimedes, leader of the Phoceans, and Ajax
killed Laodamas captain of foot soldiers and son to Antenor. Polydamas
killed Otus of Cyllene a comrade of the son of Phyleus and chief of
the proud Epeans. When Meges saw this he sprang upon him, but
Polydamas crouched down, and he missed him, for Apollo would not
suffer the son of Panthous to fall in battle; but the spear hit
Croesmus in the middle of his chest, whereon he fell heavily to the
ground, and Meges stripped him of his armour. At that moment the
valiant soldier Dolops son of Lampus sprang upon Lampus was son of
Laomedon and for his valour, while his son Dolops was versed in all
the ways of war. He then struck the middle of the son of Phyleus'
shield with his spear, setting on him at close quarters, but his
good corslet made with plates of metal saved him; Phyleus had
brought it from Ephyra and the river Selleis, where his host, King
Euphetes, had given it him to wear in battle and protect him. It now
served to save the life of his son. Then Meges struck the topmost
crest of Dolops's bronze helmet with his spear and tore away its plume
of horse-hair, so that all newly dyed with scarlet as it was it
tumbled down into the dust. While he was still fighting and
confident of victory, Menelaus came up to help Meges, and got by the
side of Dolops unperceived; he then speared him in the shoulder,
from behind, and the point, driven so furiously, went through into his
chest, whereon he fell headlong. The two then made towards him to
strip him of his armour, but Hector called on all his brothers for
help, and he especially upbraided brave Melanippus son of Hiketaon,
who erewhile used to pasture his herds of cattle in Percote before the
war broke out; but when the ships of the Danaans came, he went back to
Ilius, where he was eminent among the Trojans, and lived near Priam
who treated him as one of his own sons. Hector now rebuked him and
said, "Why, Melanippus, are we thus remiss? do you take no note of the
death of your kinsman, and do you not see how they are trying to
take Dolops's armour? Follow me; there must be no fighting the Argives
from a distance now, but we must do so in close combat till either
we kill them or they take the high wall of Ilius and slay her people."
He led on as he spoke, and the hero Melanippus followed after.
Meanwhile Ajax son of Telamon was cheering on the Argives. "My
friends," he cried, "be men, and fear dishonour; quit yourselves in
battle so as to win respect from one another. Men who respect each
other's good opinion are less likely to be killed than those who do
not, but in flight there is neither gain nor glory."
Thus did he exhort men who were already bent upon driving back the
Trojans. They laid his words to heart and hedged the ships as with a
wall of bronze, while Jove urged on the Trojans. Menelaus of the
loud battle-cry urged Antilochus on. "Antilochus," said he, "you are
young and there is none of the Achaeans more fleet of foot or more
valiant than you are. See if you cannot spring upon some Trojan and
He hurried away when he had thus spurred Antilochus, who at once
darted out from the front ranks and aimed a spear, after looking
carefully round him. The Trojans fell back as he threw, and the dart
did not speed from his hand without effect, for it struck Melanippus
the proud son of Hiketaon in the breast by the nipple as he was coming
forward, and his armour rang rattling round him as he fell heavily
to the ground. Antilochus sprang upon him as a dog springs on a fawn
which a hunter has hit as it was breaking away from its covert, and
killed it. Even so, O Melanippus, did stalwart Antilochus spring
upon you to strip you of your armour; but noble Hector marked him, and
came running up to him through the thick of the battle. Antilochus,
brave soldier though he was, would not stay to face him, but fled like
some savage creature which knows it has done wrong, and flies, when it
has killed a dog or a man who is herding his cattle, before a body
of men can be gathered to attack it. Even so did the son of Nestor
fly, and the Trojans and Hector with a cry that rent the air
showered their weapons after him; nor did he turn round and stay his
flight till he had reached his comrades.
The Trojans, fierce as lions, were still rushing on towards the
ships in fulfilment of the behests of Jove who kept spurring them on
to new deeds of daring, while he deadened the courage of the Argives
and defeated them by encouraging the Trojans. For he meant giving
glory to Hector son of Priam, and letting him throw fire upon the
ships, till he had fulfilled the unrighteous prayer that Thetis had
made him; Jove, therefore, bided his time till he should see the glare
of a blazing ship. From that hour he was about so to order that the
Trojans should be driven back from the ships and to vouchsafe glory to
the Achaeans. With this purpose he inspired Hector son of Priam, who
was cager enough already, to assail the ships. His fury was as that of
Mars, or as when a fire is raging in the glades of some dense forest
upon the mountains; he foamed at the mouth, his eyes glared under
his terrible eye-brows, and his helmet quivered on his temples by
reason of the fury with which he fought. Jove from heaven was with
him, and though he was but one against many, vouchsafed him victory
and glory; for he was doomed to an early death, and already Pallas
Minerva was hurrying on the hour of his destruction at the hands of
the son of Peleus. Now, however, he kept trying to break the ranks
of the enemy wherever he could see them thickest, and in the goodliest
armour; but do what he might he could not break through them, for they
stood as a tower foursquare, or as some high cliff rising from the
grey sea that braves the anger of the gale, and of the waves that
thunder up against it. He fell upon them like flames of fire from
every quarter. As when a wave, raised mountain high by wind and storm,
breaks over a ship and covers it deep in foam, the fierce winds roar
against the mast, the hearts of the sailors fail them for fear, and
they are saved but by a very little from destruction- even so were the
hearts of the Achaeans fainting within them. Or as a savage lion
attacking a herd of cows while they are feeding by thousands in the
low-lying meadows by some wide-watered shore- the herdsman is at his
wit's end how to protect his herd and keeps going about now in the van
and now in the rear of his cattle, while the lion springs into the
thick of them and fastens on a cow so that they all tremble for
fear- even so were the Achaeans utterly panic-stricken by Hector and
father Jove. Nevertheless Hector only killed Periphetes of Mycenae; he
was son of Copreus who was wont to take the orders of King
Eurystheus to mighty Hercules, but the son was a far better man than
the father in every way; he was fleet of foot, a valiant warrior,
and in understanding ranked among the foremost men of Mycenae. He it
was who then afforded Hector a triumph, for as he was turning back
he stumbled against the rim of his shield which reached his feet,
and served to keep the javelins off him. He tripped against this and
fell face upward, his helmet ringing loudly about his head as he did
so. Hector saw him fall and ran up to him; he then thrust a spear into
his chest, and killed him close to his own comrades. These, for all
their sorrow, could not help him for they were themselves terribly
afraid of Hector.
They had now reached the ships and the prows of those that had
been drawn up first were on every side of them, but the Trojans came
pouring after them. The Argives were driven back from the first row of
ships, but they made a stand by their tents without being broken up
and scattered; shame and fear restrained them. They kept shouting
incessantly to one another, and Nestor of Gerene, tower of strength to
the Achaeans, was loudest in imploring every man by his parents, and
beseeching him to stand firm.
"Be men, my friends," he cried, "and respect one another's good
opinion. Think, all of you, on your children, your wives, your
property, and your parents whether these be alive or dead. On their
behalf though they are not here, I implore you to stand firm, and
not to turn in flight."
With these words he put heart and soul into them all. Minerva lifted
the thick veil of darkness from their eyes, and much light fell upon
them, alike on the side of the ships and on that where the fight was
raging. They could see Hector and all his men, both those in the
rear who were taking no part in the battle, and those who were
fighting by the ships.
Ajax could not bring himself to retreat along with the rest, but
strode from deck to deck with a great sea-pike in his hands twelve
cubits long and jointed with rings. As a man skilled in feats of
horsemanship couples four horses together and comes tearing full speed
along the public way from the country into some large town- many
both men and women marvel as they see him for he keeps all the time
changing his horse, springing from one to another without ever missing
his feet while the horses are at a gallop- even so did Ajax go
striding from one ship's deck to another, and his voice went up into
the heavens. He kept on shouting his orders to the Danaans and
exhorting them to defend their ships and tents; neither did Hector
remain within the main body of the Trojan warriors, but as a dun eagle
swoops down upon a flock of wild-fowl feeding near a river-geese, it
may be, or cranes, or long-necked swans- even so did Hector make
straight for a dark-prowed ship, rushing right towards it; for Jove
with his mighty hand impelled him forward, and roused his people to
And now the battle again raged furiously at the ships. You would
have thought the men were coming on fresh and unwearied, so fiercely
did they fight; and this was the mind in which they were- the Achaeans
did not believe they should escape destruction but thought
themselves doomed, while there was not a Trojan but his heart beat
high with the hope of firing the ships and putting the Achaean
heroes to the sword.
Thus were the two sides minded. Then Hector seized the stern of
the good ship that had brought Protesilaus to Troy, but never bore him
back to his native land. Round this ship there raged a close
hand-to-hand fight between Danaans and Trojans. They did not fight
at a distance with bows and javelins, but with one mind hacked at
one another in close combat with their mighty swords and spears
pointed at both ends; they fought moreover with keen battle-axes and
with hatchets. Many a good stout blade hilted and scabbarded with
iron, fell from hand or shoulder as they fought, and the earth ran red
with blood. Hector, when he had seized the ship, would not loose his
hold but held on to its curved stern and shouted to the Trojans,
"Bring fire, and raise the battle-cry all of you with a single
voice. Now has Jove vouchsafed us a day that will pay us for all the
rest; this day we shall take the ships which came hither against
heaven's will, and which have caused us such infinite suffering
through the cowardice of our councillors, who when I would have done
battle at the ships held me back and forbade the host to follow me; if
Jove did then indeed warp our judgements, himself now commands me
and cheers me on."
As he spoke thus the Trojans sprang yet more fiercely on the
Achaeans, and Ajax no longer held his ground, for he was overcome by
the darts that were flung at him, and made sure that he was doomed.
Therefore he left the raised deck at the stern, and stepped back on to
the seven-foot bench of the oarsmen. Here he stood on the look-out,
and with his spear held back Trojan whom he saw bringing fire to the
ships. All the time he kept on shouting at the top of his voice and
exhorting the Danaans. "My friends," he cried, "Danaan heroes,
servants of Mars, be men my friends, and fight with might and with
main. Can we hope to find helpers hereafter, or a wall to shield us
more surely than the one we have? There is no strong city within
reach, whence we may draw fresh forces to turn the scales in our
favour. We are on the plain of the armed Trojans with the sea behind
us, and far from our own country. Our salvation, therefore, is in
the might of our hands and in hard fighting."
As he spoke he wielded his spear with still greater fury, and when
any Trojan made towards the ships with fire at Hector's bidding, he
would be on the look-out for him, and drive at him with his long
spear. Twelve men did he thus kill in hand-to-hand fight before the
But because I could throw so hard when I got to college they made me a pitcher.
I loved running. I can catch everything in the outfield. I could throw people out from the fence.
It's long been a cliche in Washington that if you hang a lamb chop in your window, guests will come.
There was always the consolation that if I didn't like what I wrote I could throw it away or burn it.
I wish I could throw off the thoughts which poison my happiness. And yet I take a kind of pleasure in indulging them.
There would have to be something wrong with someone who could throw out a child's first Valentine card saying, I love you, Mommy.
All us Youngs could throw. I used to kill squirrels with a stone when I was a kid, and my granddad once killed a turkey buzzard on the fly with a rock.
There once was a guy named Ben,
Who asked me money for a lend,
And so I told him
I could trust him as far as I could throw him,
And so he never spoke to me again.
Basically, I hate conformity. I hate people telling me what to do. It makes me want to smash things. So-called normal behaviour patterns make me so bored, I could throw up!
I wish there was a disease where you're afraid of clouds, because I think I could cure it. First, you sit the patient down and have a long personal talk. After that, I'm not sure, but maybe you could throw some water in his face or something.