Latest quotes | Random quotes | Vote! | Latest comments | Add quote

Lion

LION
A MAN WALKED DOWN A LONELY AVENUE AND SUDDENLY HE SAW A LION! HE RAN OFF SHOUTING AT THE TOP OF HIS VOICE! LION! LION! !
AND A MAN SITTING AT A CORNER KIOSK HEARD HIM SHOUTING LION! LION! ! AS HE RAN PAST THE CORNER KIOSK! WHAT A WAY TO CALL TO THY PET! I ALSO HAVE A DOG NAMED TIGER! STATED THE MAN!

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Related quotes

David And Goliath & Esther's Love

DAVID AND GOLIATH

David, the shepherd, a tender of sheep
Would pray to his God before he would sleep.
One day he awoke to the roar of beasts
A bear and a lion in search of a feast.

David slew both with his knife and his hand
Though still just a boy and not yet a man.
The Lord's love for David was proven once again
When he challenged the champion of the Philistine men.

Goliath's beastly fingers and hideous toes
Made David more selective with the stones that he chose.
One for the giant, he knew he would slay
Four more for his brothers who were laughing that day.

The giant told David, 'I'll tear you apart
The birds and the animals shall feast on your heart.'
David yelled back, 'I'll soon see you dead
And when I'm through I'll cut off your head! '

The worst of all men, drew high with his arm
Came forth to David to do him great harm.
The youth jumped ahead just as quick as a lynx
A stone from his sling popped the giant where he thinks.

Blood and bone spewed forth as that devil fell down
A thousand pound soldier lie dead on the ground.
With Goliath's own sword David chopped off his head
Then took it to Jerusalem to prove he was dead.

ESTHER'S LOVE

Esther of God's Bible became a king's queen
Risking all for the sake of love.
She saved her people form total extinction
By responding to her call from above.

All through history just like Esther
Ladies have pledged to protect and serve.
They love, honor, defend and provide
And it's our admiration they've earned and deserve.

What would life be without a woman's love
Meaningless, lonely, purposeless and sad.
When your blessed by an Esther love her in return
And be sure to let God know you're thankful and glad.

Tom's 464 Poems Are Free To Share!
By God's Poet
Tom Zart
Most Published Poet
On The Web!

http: //www.veteranstodayforum.com/viewforum.php? f=38
Tom Zart = www.internetvoicesradio.com/t_zart/

'To book Tom Zart for guest appearances, product, or services, contact Raymond L. LaPietra-Exclusive Personal Manager,913-681-7750 (office) , modelman@careerimages.com (e-mail) , www.careerimages.com (website) ,8802 W.147th Terrace Overland Park, Kansas 66221.'

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

David And Goliath, God & Esther's Love

David, the shepherd, a tender of sheep
Would pray to his God before he would sleep.
One day he awoke to the roar of beasts
A bear and a lion in search of a feast.

David slew both with his knife and his hand
Though still just a boy and not yet a man.
The Lord's love for David was proven once again
When he challenged the champion of the Philistine men.

Goliath's beastly fingers and hideous toes
Made David more selective with the stones that he chose.
One for the giant, he knew he would slay
Four more for his brothers who were laughing that day.

The giant told David, 'I'll tear you apart;
The birds and the animals shall feast on your heart.'
David yelled back, 'I'll soon see you dead
And when I'm through I'll cut off your head! '

The worst of all men, drew high with his arm
Came forth to David to do him great harm.
The youth jumped ahead just as quick as a lynx
A stone from his sling popped the giant where he thinks.

Blood and bone spewed forth as that devil fell down;
A thousand pound soldier lie dead on the ground.
With Goliath's own sword, David chopped off his head
Then took it to Jerusalem, to prove he was dead.

ESTHER'S LOVE

Esther of God's Bible became a king's queen
Risking all for the sake of love.
She saved her people form total extinction
By responding to her call from above.

All through history just like Esther
Ladies have pledged to protect and serve.
They love, honor, defend and provide
And it's our admiration they've earned and deserve.

What would life be without a woman's love
Meaningless, lonely, purposeless and sad.
When your blessed by an Esther love her in return
And be sure to let God know you're thankful and glad.

GOD'S DIVINE LOVE

Where would we be without God's love
Consumed by emptiness, fear, mistrust and sorrow.
Evil always hides in the shadow of man's soul
Eager to destroy the past, the present and tomorrow.

Faith teaches us to rely on God All Mighty
To help us shoulder our heartbreak and tribulation.
All which we love is by His resolve
And the wonder of Divine creation.

Always treat others with Christ in your heart
Eager to worship, love, protect and give
Never remain selfish, mean or cruel
Staying generous and willing to forgive.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Repost God's 480 Poems All You Wish = David And Goliath & Noah's Ark

David, the shepherd, a tender of sheep
Would pray to his God before he would sleep.
One day he awoke to the roar of beasts
A bear and a lion in search of a feast.

David slew both with his knife and his hand

Though still just a boy and not yet a man.
The Lord's love for David was proven once again
When he challenged the champion of the Philistine men.

Goliath's beastly fingers and hideous toes
Made David more selective with the stones that he chose.
One for the giant, he knew he would slay
Four more for his brothers who were laughing that day.

The giant told David, 'I'll tear you apart;
The birds and the animals shall feast on your heart.'
David yelled back, 'I'll soon see you dead
And when I'm through I'll cut off your head! '

The worst of all men, drew high with his arm
Came forth to David to do him great harm.
The youth jumped ahead just as quick as a lynx
A stone from his sling popped the giant where he thinks.

Blood and bone spewed forth as that devil fell down;
A thousand pound soldier lie dead on the ground.
With Goliath's own sword, David chopped off his head
Then took it to Jerusalem, to prove he was dead.

NOAH'S ARK

God saw that wickedness had fouled His world
To a state it could no longer be ignored.
While grieving sadly He chose to destroy it
Though Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

The Lord told Noah to fashion a great ark
Made of gopher wood and pitch, outside and in.
Three hundred cubits long and fifty in width
Before the world he knew, would come to its end.

Bring your food, your sons, your wife and your son's wives
And two of every living sort, be with thee.
For with you I'll establish my covenant
And all who are with thee shall survive the sea.

They all marched forth, two by two, into the ark
And waited for God's waters to flood the land.
For forty days and for forty nights
The fountains of the deep consumed beast and man.

Inside the ark nostrils kept their breath of life
As the high waters prevailed upon the earth.
Every mountain and every hilltop vanished
As all within felt the power of God's worth.

The waters from heaven were finally restrained
And after ten months the tops of mountains were seen.
God had blessed Noah and all who had joined him
To multiply, plant and fulfill His dream.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Tom Zart's = DAVID AND GOLIATH & JESUS

DAVID AND GOLIATH

David, the shepherd, a tender of sheep
Would pray to his God before he would sleep.
One day he awoke to the roar of beasts
A bear and a lion in search of a feast.

David slew both with his knife and his hand
Though still just a boy and not yet a man.
The Lord's love for David was proven once again
When he challenged the champion of the Philistine men.

Goliath's beastly fingers and hideous toes
Made David more selective with the stones that he chose.
One for the giant, he knew he would slay
Four more for his brothers who were laughing that day.

The giant told David, 'I'll tear you apart;
The birds and the animals shall feast on your heart.'
David yelled back, 'I'll soon see you dead
And when I'm through I'll cut off your head! '

The worst of all men, drew high with his arm
Came forth to David to do him great harm.
The youth jumped ahead just as quick as a lynx
A stone from his sling popped the giant where he thinks.

Blood and bone spewed forth as that devil fell down;
A thousand pound soldier lie dead on the ground.
With Goliath's own sword, David chopped off his head
Then took it to Jerusalem, to prove he was dead.

JESUS

There once was a traveler who was driven out of town
On His shoulders was a burden that pushed Him to the ground.
On His head was a crown made of thorns from a bush
And the street was so crowded the guards had to push.

They beat Him with nine tails each step of the way
Where Christ found the strength, only God could say.
They stopped at some sandstone at the top of a hill
There was a round hole the cross would soon fill.

They made Him lie down upon that wood cross
There they nailed Him to prove who was boss.
The beam was up-ended by the muscles of men
As it plunged down the hole it was carved to fit in.

Then Jesus looked up at the lightning that flew
And cried, God, My Father, they know not what they do.
They crucified our Lord as His blood flowed to earth
If inside you believe, you feel what love is worth.

They wrapped Him in loincloth when He was taken down
Then carefully removed His scarlet stained crown.
They placed Him in a cave with a large, round, stone door
Before sealing forever, they lay lilies on the floor.
Though it wasn't very long, and the stone was rolled away
For Jesus resurrected, to rise on Easter Day!

' THANK YOU FOR YOUR FRIENDSHIP'

Tom Zart’s Poems Are Free To Post To Teach Or Show Love And Support!

By God’s Poet Tom Zart
Most Published Poet
On The Web!

“MAILMAN FOR THE LORD”

To Listen To Tom Zart’s Poems Go To =

http: //new.pivtr.com/en/​ schedule/tom-zart/
http: //​ www.veteranstodayforum.com/​ viewforum.php? f=38

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Tim Tebow Poem = David And Goliath, Noah's Ark & Miracles

DAVID AND GOLIATH, NOAH'S ARK & MIRACLES

David, the shepherd, a tender of sheep
Would pray to his God before he would sleep.
One day he awoke to the roar of beasts
A bear and a lion in search of a feast.

David slew both with his knife and his hand
Though still just a boy and not yet a man.
The Lord's love for David was proven once again
When he challenged the champion of the Philistine men.

Goliath's beastly fingers and hideous toes
Made David more selective with the stones that he chose.
One for the giant, he knew he would slay
Four more for his brothers who were laughing that day.

The giant told David, 'I'll tear you apart;
The birds and the animals shall feast on your heart.'
David yelled back, 'I'll soon see you dead
And when I'm through I'll cut off your head! '

The worst of all men, drew high with his arm
Came forth to David to do him great harm.
The youth jumped ahead just as quick as a lynx
A stone from his sling popped the giant where he thinks.

Blood and bone spewed forth as that devil fell down;
A thousand pound soldier lie dead on the ground.
With Goliath's own sword, David chopped off his head
Then took it to Jerusalem, to prove he was dead.

NOAH'S ARK

God saw that wickedness had fouled his earth
To a state it could no longer be ignored.
While grieving sadly He chose to destroy it
Though Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

The Lord told Noah to fashion a great ark
Made of gopher wood and pitch, outside and in.
Three hundred cubits long and fifty in width
Before the world he knew, would come to its end.

Bring your food, your sons, your wife and your son's wives
And two of every living sort, be with thee.
For with you I'll establish my covenant
And all who are with thee shall survive the sea.

They all marched forth, two by two, into the ark
And waited for God's waters to flood the land.
For forty days and for forty nights
The fountains of the deep consumed beast and man.

Inside the ark nostrils kept their breath of life
As the high waters prevailed upon the earth.
Every mountain and every hilltop vanished
As all within felt the power of God's worth.

The waters from heaven were finally restrained
And after ten months the tops of mountains were seen.
God had blessed Noah and all who had joined him
To multiply, plant and fulfill His dream.

MIRACLES

Miracles are the extraordinary acts of God
If you don't believe it, why pray?
Some say, they're just happenings brought about by luck
Thus, superstition has led the rest of us, astray.

Woe to what the misinformed might think
Who claim their excellence is their own.
A wise man knows his gifts are from Heaven
And by repentance, his gratitude is shown.

I believe in miracles for I'm alive and well
I'm loved by God, family, and a few good friends.
I've lived long enough to see miracles transpire
As one must end, another descends.


Tom Zart Poems Are Free To Share To Teach Or Show Love And Support!

By God’s Poet
Tom Zart
Most Published Poet
On The Web!

To Listen To Tom Zart’s Poems Go To =
http: //new.pivtr.com/en/schedule/tom-zart/
www.bill crain.net/musicpage.htm
http: //www.veteranstodayforum.com/viewforum.php? f=38

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

David And Goliath, Jesus & Darts Of The Devil

DAVID AND GOLIATH

David, the shepherd, a tender of sheep
Would pray to his God before he would sleep.
One day he awoke to the roar of beasts
A bear and a lion in search of a feast.

David slew both with his knife and his hand
Though still just a boy and not yet a man.
The Lord's love for David was proven once again
When he challenged the champion of the Philistine men.

Goliath's beastly fingers and hideous toes
Made David more selective with the stones that he chose.
One for the giant, he knew he would slay
Four more for his brothers who were laughing that day.

The giant told David, 'I'll tear you apart;
The birds and the animals shall feast on your heart.'
David yelled back, 'I'll soon see you dead
And when I'm through I'll cut off your head! '

The worst of all men, drew high with his arm
Came forth to David to do him great harm.
The youth jumped ahead just as quick as a lynx
A stone from his sling popped the giant where he thinks.

Blood and bone spewed forth as that devil fell down;
A thousand pound soldier lie dead on the ground.
With Goliath's own sword, David chopped off his head
Then took it to Jerusalem, to prove he was dead.

JESUS

There once was a traveler who was driven out of town
On His shoulders was a burden that pushed Him to the ground.
On His head was a crown made of thorns from a bush
And the street was so crowded the guards had to push.

They beat Him with nine tails each step of the way
Where Christ found the strength, only God could say.
They stopped at some sandstone at the top of a hill
There was a round hole the cross would soon fill.

They made Him lie down upon that wood cross
There they nailed Him to prove who was boss.
The beam was up-ended by the muscles of men
As it plunged down the hole it was carved to fit in.

Then Jesus looked up at the lightning that flew
And cried, God, My Father, they know not what they do.
They crucified our Lord as His blood flowed to earth
If inside you believe, you feel what love is worth.

They wrapped Him in loincloth when He was taken down
Then carefully removed His scarlet stained crown.
They placed Him in a cave with a large, round, stone door
Before sealing forever, they lay lilies on the floor.
Though it wasn't very long, and the stone was rolled away
For Jesus resurrected, to rise on Easter Day!

DARTS OF THE DEVIL

The darts of the devil fly free on the winds
And sometimes they pierce both family and friends.
Remember young Adam and his wife, Eve?
When they gave into Satan, the Lord said, 'leave'.

Ever since then, right up to today
The devil makes sure we'll sin in some way.
Wear all of God's armor, whatever you do;
Should the darts of the devil seek out you.

Thank God for Jesus who died on the cross.
Our passage to heaven was paid by His loss.
Every knee shall bow and tongues confess all
That Jesus is our Lord at his final call.

Angels will descend with Jesus in the sky
He'll greet us with open arms when it's our time to fly.
For our Lord awaits all who believe
And those who do not, shall be told to leave.

GOD'S POET TOM ZART

The Lord can close doors no man can open
And open doors no man can close.
It's up to us to prove our heavenly worth
By our lifetime example of the path we chose.

Tom Zart's 462 Poems Are Free To Share To Teach Or Show Support!
By God's Poet
Tom Zart
Most Published Poet
On The Web!

To Listen To Tom Zart's Poems Go To =
http: //new.pivtr.com/en/schedule/tom-zart/
www.bill crain.net/musicpage.htm
http: //www.veteranstodayforum.com/viewforum.php? f=38

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Lenexa Baptist Church = David And Goliath, Jesus & Noah's Ark

DAVID AND GOLIATH


David, the shepherd, a tender of sheep
Would pray to his God before he would sleep.
One day he awoke to the roar of beasts
A bear and a lion in search of a feast.

David slew both with his knife and his hand
Though still just a boy and not yet a man.
The Lord's love for David was proven once again
When he challenged the champion of the Philistine men.

Goliath's beastly fingers and hideous toes
Made David more selective with the stones that he chose.
One for the giant, he knew he would slay
Four more for his brothers who were laughing that day.

The giant told David, 'I'll tear you apart;
The birds and the animals shall feast on your heart.'
David yelled back, 'I'll soon see you dead
And when I'm through I'll cut off your head! '

The worst of all men, drew high with his arm
Came forth to David to do him great harm.
The youth jumped ahead just as quick as a lynx
A stone from his sling popped the giant where he thinks.

Blood and bone spewed forth as that devil fell down;
A thousand pound soldier lie dead on the ground.
With Goliath's own sword, David chopped off his head
Then took it to Jerusalem, to prove he was dead.


JESUS


There once was a traveler who was driven out of town
On His shoulders was a burden that pushed Him to the ground.
On His head was a crown made of thorns from a bush
And the street was so crowded the guards had to push.

They beat Him with nine tails each step of the way
Where Christ found the strength, only God could say.
They stopped at some sandstone at the top of a hill
There was a round hole the cross would soon fill.

They made Him lie down upon that wood cross
There they nailed Him to prove who was boss.
The beam was up-ended by the muscles of men
As it plunged down the hole it was carved to fit in.

Then Jesus looked up at the lightning that flew
And cried, God, My Father, they know not what they do.
They crucified our Lord as His blood flowed to earth
If inside you believe, you feel what love is worth.

They wrapped Him in loincloth when He was taken down
Then carefully removed His scarlet stained crown.
They placed Him in a cave with a large, round, stone door
Before sealing forever, they lay lilies on the floor.
Though it wasn't very long, and the stone was rolled away
For Jesus resurrected, to rise on Easter Day!


DARTS OF THE DEVIL


The darts of the devil fly free on the winds
And sometimes they pierce both family and friends.
Remember young Adam and his wife, Eve?
When they gave into Satan, the Lord said, 'leave'.

Ever since then, right up to today
The devil makes sure we'll sin in some way.
Wear all of God's armor, whatever you do;
Should the darts of the devil seek out you.

Thank God for Jesus who died on the cross.
Our passage to heaven was paid by His loss.
Every knee shall bow and tongues confess all
That Jesus is our Lord at his final call.

Angels will descend with Jesus in the sky
He'll greet us with open arms when it's our time to fly.
For our Lord awaits all who believe
And those who do not, shall be told to leave.


NIGHT OF NIGHTS


In the tiny town of Bethlehem
Born in a stable, an infant lie.
While he slept his first dreamless night
A whole universe of stars passed by.

When Jesus Christ our Savior was born
Most of the angels began to sing
Of peace, and good will to all mankind
And hallelujah to Earth's new king.

There were those angels, who did not sing
For they had passed through the devil's gate.
They knew this young lad belonged to God
And for them salvation was too late.

So let's rejoice, and sing with great cheer
That night when Jesus slept without fear.
For our Lord's birthday comes once a year
On that night of nights we hold so dear.


GRACE


The Son of God came to save that which was lost
To redeem our soul from the power of the grave.
Where the prisoners of death must rest together
Except for the spirits of the kind and brave.

The preaching of the cross is ignored by fools
And sinners who are unable to conform.
By grace we are saved as a gift from our Lord
Who wipes tears from the faces that mourn.

By learning, loving, working, teaching, and prayer
We submit our years as a tale to be told.
The survival of life is our pilgrimage
As we tackle each challenge both young and old.

No one can be sure of how long they will last
Though all have a choice of whom they choose to be.
Warmongers, adulterers, thieves or saints
Everyone must some day bow down before Thee.

From dust we were made and shall return
After life has brought us to our earthly end.
Though all must walk in the shadow of death
The righteous are promised they will rise again.


NOAH'S ARK


God saw that wickedness had fouled his earth
To a state it could no longer be ignored.
While grieving sadly He chose to destroy it
Though Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

The Lord told Noah to fashion a great ark
Made of gopher wood and pitch, outside and in.
Three hundred cubits long and fifty in width
Before the world he knew, would come to its end.

Bring your food, your sons, your wife and your son's wives
And two of every living sort, be with thee.
For with you I'll establish my covenant
And all who are with thee shall survive the sea.

They all marched forth, two by two, into the ark
And waited for God's waters to flood the land.
For forty days and for forty nights
The fountains of the deep consumed beast and man.

Inside the ark nostrils kept their breath of life
As the high waters prevailed upon the earth.
Every mountain and every hilltop vanished
As all within felt the power of God's worth.

The waters from heaven were finally restrained
And after ten months the tops of mountains were seen.
God had blessed Noah and all who had joined him
To multiply, plant and fulfill His dream.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Lonely Street

Sometimes when I'm walking down this lonely street,
Well, it sure don't seem like twenty years,
Since I went walking down this lonely street
And the smell of perfumed ladies filled the air
This street ain't got no name, dead end is in the river,
And I lived where I hated life day by day,
There wasn't nothing I could do to shake a cold night shiver,
'Cause to move up Lonely Street you had to have some say
Gambling is bad luck down on Lonely Street
And it sure ain't no place to be when a man gets sore
You know I killed a man and I paid all I can,
With twenty years on a chain gang,
For the flesh and the blood on that jailhouse floor
Sometimes when I'm walking down this lonely street
I get caught up in a dream that won't let me go
And as the bright lights flash up and down this lonely street
My mind rolls back the years long time ago
I see my baby stumblin' around with tears in her eyes
And as I reach out for her she falls on the floor
She mumbles through bloody lips about a bad man, robber, raper,
And in my gut I know I got one to score
The word was comin' down, down on Lonely Street
That the bad man was a dead man if he crossed my trail
Every night I'd walk up and down this Lonely Street
I get stinkin' drunk, and always in jail,
One night they threw me in with a man they called the mangler
He was caught on the street makin' some old whore,
I remember he was quite proud of that,
So half-crazed I shot him,
And I cried in the blood on that jailhouse floor

song performed by KansasReport problemRelated quotes
Added by Lucian Velea
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

The Faceless Man

I'm dead.
Officially I'm dead. Their hope is past.
How long I stood as missing! Now, at last
        ;                 & nbsp;       &n bsp;       &nb sp;       &nbs p;   I'm dead.

Look in my face -- no likeness can you see,
No tiny trace of him they knew as "me".
How terrible the change!
Even my eyes are strange.
So keyed are they to pain,
That if I chanced to meet
My mother in the street
She'd look at me in vain.

When she got home I think she'd say:
"I saw the saddest sight to-day --
A poilu with no face at all.
Far better in the fight to fall
Than go through life like that, I think.
Poor fellow! how he made me shrink.
No face. Just eyes that seemed to stare
At me with anguish and despair.
This ghastly war! I'm almost cheered
To think my son who disappeared,
My boy so handsome and so gay,
Might have come home like him to-day."

I'm dead. I think it's better to be dead
When little children look at you with dread;
And when you know your coming home again
Will only give the ones who love you pain.
Ah! who can help but shrink? One cannot blame.
They see the hideous husk, not, not the flame
Of sacrifice and love that burns within;
While souls of satyrs, riddled through with sin,
Have bodies fair and excellent to see.
Mon Dieu! how different we all would be
If this our flesh was ordained to express
Our spirit's beauty or its ugliness.

(Oh, you who look at me with fear to-day,
And shrink despite yourselves, and turn away --
It was for you I suffered woe accurst;
For you I braved red battle at its worst;
For you I fought and bled and maimed and slew;
      &nbs p;         ;                 & nbsp;       &n bsp;       For you, for you!

For you I faced hell-fury and despair;
The reeking horror of it all I knew:
I flung myself into the furnace there;
I faced the flame that scorched me with its glare;
I drank unto the dregs the devil's brew --
Look at me now -- for you and you and you. . . .)

      &nb sp;       &nbs p;    . . . . .

I'm thinking of the time we said good-by:
We took our dinner in Duval's that night,
Just little Jacqueline, Lucette and I;
We tried our very utmost to be bright.
We laughed. And yet our eyes, they weren't gay.
I sought all kinds of cheering things to say.
"Don't grieve," I told them. "Soon the time will pass;
My next permission will come quickly round;
We'll all meet at the Gare du Montparnasse;
Three times I've come already, safe and sound."
(But oh, I thought, it's harder every time,
After a home that seems like Paradise,
To go back to the vermin and the slime,
The weariness, the want, the sacrifice.
"Pray God," I said, "the war may soon be done,
But no, oh never, never till we've won!")

Then to the station quietly we walked;
I had my rifle and my haversack,
My heavy boots, my blankets on my back;
And though it hurt us, cheerfully we talked.
We chatted bravely at the platform gate.
I watched the clock. My train must go at eight.
One minute to the hour . . . we kissed good-by,
Then, oh, they both broke down, with piteous cry.
I went. . . . Their way was barred; they could not pass.
I looked back as the train began to start;
Once more I ran with anguish at my heart
And through the bars I kissed my little lass. . . .

Three years have gone; they've waited day by day.
I never came. I did not even write.
For when I saw my face was such a sight
I thought that I had better . . . stay away.
And so I took the name of one who died,
A friendless friend who perished by my side.
In Prussian prison camps three years of hell
I kept my secret; oh, I kept it well!
And now I'm free, but none shall ever know;
They think I died out there . . . it's better so.

To-day I passed my wife in widow's weeds.
I brushed her arm. She did not even look.
So white, so pinched her face, my heart still bleeds,
And at the touch of her, oh, how I shook!
And then last night I passed the window where
They sat together; I could see them clear,
The lamplight softly gleaming on their hair,
And all the room so full of cozy cheer.
My wife was sewing, while my daughter read;
I even saw my portrait on the wall.
I wanted to rush in, to tell them all;
And then I cursed myself: "You're dead, you're dead!"
God! how I watched them from the darkness there,
Clutching the dripping branches of a tree,
Peering as close as ever I might dare,
And sobbing, sobbing, oh, so bitterly!

But no, it's folly; and I mustn't stay.
To-morrow I am going far away.
I'll find a ship and sail before the mast;
In some wild land I'll bury all the past.
I'll live on lonely shores and there forget,
Or tell myself that there has never been
The gay and tender courage of Lucette,
The little loving arms of Jacqueline.

A man lonely upon a lonely isle,
Sometimes I'll look towards the North and smile
To think they're happy, and they both believe
I died for France, and that I lie at rest;
And for my glory's sake they've ceased to grieve,
And hold my memory sacred. Ah! that's best.
And in that thought I'll find my joy and peace
As there alone I wait the Last Release.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Lenexa Baptist Church Poet Tom Zart's = HEAVEN’S HEROES

HEAVEN’S HEROES


Winning souls tend to change everything
Including who and what we are.
When our darkness within transforms to light
And our eyes have the luster of a star.

We must always pray for the lost among us
Who eagerly race toward the wrong direction.
So they may know their own repentance
Blessed by God’s, grace, love and protection.

All of Heaven’s heroes have suffered remorse
From hate, fear, lust, loneliness and war.
They do what they do with deliverance of heart
Defeating the dark side of life and more.

Noah found safety within the beams of his ark
To endure Heaven’s cleansing of earth.
Moses the deliverer, climbed a mountain
Descending with God’s guidelines of worth.

David the shepherd, a boy among men
Slew evil’s giant with a flying stone.
Samson the strong man broke from his chains
Toppling the temple with God’s help alone.

Jonah was swallowed by a monster fish
To be cast up on shore with a prophecy to tell.
Jesus of Nazareth was nailed to the cross
And without His forgiveness we’re doomed to fail.

Lord I’ll feel blessed to greet all your heroes
When it is my time to escape my woes.
I’ll clutch their hands and kiss their face
As we celebrate the journey we chose.


GOD’S WISPERS


Think of young David when he faced the giant
With nothing but his sling and five stones.
He listened to God and ran forth to glory
Toppling Goliath for birds, to pluck his bones.

When we fully surrender our soul to God
Our life is complete without blame.
Our heart beats to the joy of fulfillment
As we no longer shoulder our shame.

The more we heed to the whispers of God
The more we achieve His glorious goal.
All through life we escape temptation
Responding to evil with pureness of soul.

God keeps no secrets from all who love Him
When they repent and obey His voice.
He speaks to those who truly conform
And follow His doctrine by choice.

When we listen to God our fears fade away
And all He has proclaimed shall be.
Our trust in His love, grace and protection
Allows us to be modified, by Thee.


DAVID AND GOLIATH


David, the shepherd, a tender of sheep
Would pray to his God before he would sleep.
One day he awoke to the roar of beasts
A bear and a lion in search of a feast.

David slew both with his knife and his hand
Though still just a boy and not yet a man.
The Lord's love for David was proven once again
When he challenged the champion of the Philistine men.

Goliath's beastly fingers and hideous toes
Made David more selective with the stones that he chose.
One for the giant, he knew he would slay
Four more for his brothers who were laughing that day.

The giant told David, 'I'll tear you apart;
The birds and the animals shall feast on your heart.'
David yelled back, 'I'll soon see you dead
And when I'm through I'll cut off your head! '

The worst of all men, drew high with his arm
Came forth to David to do him great harm.
The youth jumped ahead just as quick as a lynx
A stone from his sling popped the giant where he thinks.

Blood and bone spewed forth as that devil fell down;
A thousand pound soldier lie dead on the ground.
With Goliath's own sword, David chopped off his head
Then took it to Jerusalem, to prove he was dead.


JESUS


There once was a traveler who was driven out of town
On his shoulders was a burden that pushed him to the ground.

On his head was a crown made of thorns from a bush
And the street was so crowded the guards had to push.

They beat him with nine tails each step of the way
Where Christ found the strength, only God could say.

They stopped at some sandstone at the top of a hill
There was a round hole the cross would soon fill.

They made him lie down upon that wood cross
There they nailed him to prove who was boss.

The beam was up-ended by the muscles of men
As it plunged down the hole it was carved to fit in.

Then Jesus looked up at the lightning that flew
And cried, 'God, My Father, they know not what they do.'

They crucified our Lord as his blood flowed to earth
If inside you believe, you feel what love is worth.

They wrapped him in loincloth when he was taken down
Then carefully removed his scarlet stained crown.

They placed him in a cave with a large, round, stone door
Before sealing forever, they lay lilies on the floor.

Though it wasn't very long, and the stone was rolled away
For Jesus resurrected, to rise on Easter Day!


NOAH'S ARK


God saw that wickedness had fouled his earth
To a state it could no longer be ignored.
While grieving sadly He chose to destroy it
Though Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

The Lord told Noah to fashion a great ark
Made of gopher wood and pitch, outside and in.
Three hundred cubits long and fifty in width
Before the world he knew, would come to its end.

Bring your food, your sons, your wife and your son's wives
And two of every living sort, be with thee.
For with you I'll establish my covenant
And all who are with thee shall survive the sea.

They all marched forth, two by two, into the ark
And waited for God's waters to flood the land.
For forty days and for forty nights
The fountains of the deep consumed beast and man.

Inside the ark nostrils kept their breath of life
As the high waters prevailed upon the earth.
Every mountain and every hilltop vanished
As all within felt the power of God's worth.

The waters from heaven were finally restrained
And after ten months the tops of mountains were seen.
God had blessed Noah and all who had joined him
To multiply, plant and fulfill His dream.


SERVING GOD'S PURPOSE


There’s only one trip through life and that’s it;
So what are you leaving for those left behind?
Will they miss your wisdom and unselfish love
Or will there be laughter, happiness and words unkind?

You may live your life as wicked as the devil
And regardless of your sins God still loves you.
But when you serve His purpose and intent
You’re transformed by His grace and renew.

You can’t convince me nothing really happens
When righteous men gather, confess and pray.
God has His purpose for all who submit
To His commandments for believers to obey.

Always be ready to fight your battles on your knees
Before and after you are tested by time.
Never underestimate the power of God’s will
And what happens when your purpose is “Divine”.


ACCOUNTABILITY


All of us are accountable to the judgment of God
And when we die without Christ our sadness never ends.
By the deepest longings of our heart and soul
We serve our Lord, ourselves, family and friends.

With accountability we apply God’s wisdom
And His protection to promote a righteous life.
We receive His grace by our demeanor
As He leads us through sadness and strife.

All through the Bible over and over again
The chronicle of life is our accountability.
The devil is a roaring lion feasting on souls
Corrupting man’s heart with dominance and disability.

Always remember you are never alone
And God is aware of all things around you.
Through faith, prayer, trust, love and comment
We find fulfillment and purpose in the life we pursue.


ABRAHAM


Abraham is said to be the father of the Jewish faith
The first to believe in the power of one great god alone.
Instead of the many his forefather's worshiped
In Abraham's heart there was only room for one to be known.

With his wife Sarah and his nephew Lot
At 75 he departed to seek the Promised Land.
With followers he arrived at a place called Canaan
Where he prospered by hard work and God's hand.

Then famine in the land drove him to Egypt
Where Abraham and Lot grew rich in cattle, silver and gold.
They had so many sheep that their shepherds quarreled
Over grazing land, water and jealousies of old.

Abraham and Lot agreed to live separate
Lot chose Sodom and Abraham Hebron.
When the armies of four great kings took Lot captive
Abraham and 318 of his bravest, to the rescue, were gone.

Afterward, to Sodom and neighboring Gomorrah
Lot was brought back with his worldly goods and treasure.
But soon the inhabitants of both became wicked
Shamming the Lord and shunning His measure.

God told Abraham, I will soon demolish them
For there is not one of righteousness among all.
However, he warned Lot to escape with his wife
And not to look back and ignore His law.

Lot's wife looked back and was transformed to salt
While Lot, through observance of word, was spared.
Abraham, then 99 and Sarah at 90
Were still without child in the life they shared.

Arabs claim they are descendant from Ishmael,
At 86 Abraham's son, by Sarah's handmaiden, Hagar.
Sarah believed she was too old to bare a child
So she gave Hagar to Abraham to conceive a star.

God had promised Abraham a son by Sarah
And that his descendants will out number the stars.
In time a boy named Isaac was born
Free of all birth defects, disease and scars.

Later when Isaac was still just a child
God chose to test Abraham again.
Commanding him to take Isaac to the top of a mountain
And there, by sacrifice, put his life to its end.

Abraham built an alter of wood sticks, pilled high
Bound up Isaac and laid him within them.
Just as he was about to put the knife to his son
God stopped him and said: lay not thy hand upon him.

The Lord told Abraham, I know now you fear Me
Seeing that you have not withheld your son.
Then Abraham sacrificed a lamb provided
And God blessed him for what he had done.

The Bible says Abraham died at 175
And that Sarah lived to be 127.
Christians and Muslims both traced their faith
To Abraham's commitment to one God and Heaven.


‎ IT'S NOT HOW WE START IT'S HOW WE FINISH

It's not how we start it's how we finish
That lets others know how much we care.
We make our mistakes and pray to God
For all His blessings beyond compare.

God and Satan both whisper to every ear
For they know our soul control our passions.
The outcomes of life both joyful and sad
Teach which voice rewards or rations.

All Heaven's heroes except for Jesus
Had to be forgiven for their willingness to stray.
They let God down and paid the price
And their stories still relate today.


By God’s Poet Tom Zart
Most Published Poet
On The Web

To Read Or Listen To Tom Zart’s Poems Go To =

http: //new.pivtr.com/en/schedule/tom-zart/
http: //www.veteranstodayforum.com/viewforum.php? f=38

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Religious Musings : A Desultory Poem Written On The Christmas Eve Of 1794

What tho' first,
In years unseason'd, I attuned the lay
To idle passion and unreal woe?
Yet serious truth her empire o'er my song
Hath now asserted : falsehood's evil brood
Vice and deceitful pleasure, she at once
Excluded, and my fancy's careless toil
Drew to the better cause! ~Akenside

ARGUMENT.
Introduction. Person of Christ. His prayer on the cross. The process of his doctrines on the mind of the individual. Character of the elect. Superstition. Digression to the present war. Origin and uses of government and property. The present state of society. French revolution. Millennium. Universal redemption. Conclusion.

This is the time, when most divine to hear
The voice of Adoration rouses me,
As with a Cherub's trump: and high upborne,
Yea, mingling with the Choir, I seem to view
The vision of the heavenly multitude,
Who hymned the song of Peace o'er Bethlehem's fields!
Yet thou more bright than all the Angel-blaze,
That harbingered thy birth, Thou Man of Woes!
Despiséd Galilaean ! For the Great
Invisible (by symbols only seen)
With a peculiar and surpassing light
Shines from the visage of the oppressed good man,
When heedless of himself the scourgéd saint
Mourns for the oppressor. Fair the vernal mead,
Fair the high grove, the sea, the sun, the stars ;
True impress each of their creating Sire !
Yet nor high grove, nor many-colour'd mead,
Nor the green ocean with his thousand isles,
Nor the starred azure, nor the sovran sun,
E'er with such majesty of portraiture
Imaged the supreme beauty uncreate,
As thou, meek Saviour ! at the fearful hour
When thy insulted anguish winged the prayer
Harped by Archangels, when they sing of mercy !
Which when the Almighty heard from forth his throne
Diviner light filled Heaven with ecstasy !
Heaven's hymnings paused : and Hell her yawning mouth
Closed a brief moment.
Lovely was the death
Of Him whose life was Love ! Holy with power
He on the thought-benighted Sceptic beamed
Manifest Godhead, melting into day
What floating mists of dark idolatry
Broke and misshaped the omnipresent Sire :
And first by Fear uncharmed the drowséd Soul
Till of its nobler nature it 'gan feel
Dim recollections; and thence soared to Hope.
Strong to believe whate'er of mystic good
The Eternal dooms for His immortal sons.
From Hope and firmer Faith to perfect Love
Attracted and absorbed : and centered there
God only to behold, and know, and feel,
Till by exclusive consciousness of God
All self-annihilated it shall make
God its Identity : God all in all !
We and our Father one !
And blest are they,
Who in this fleshly World, the elect of Heaven,
Their strong eye darting through the deeds of me
Adore with steadfast unpresuming gaze
Him Nature's essence, mind, and energy !
And gazing, trembling, patiently ascend
Treading beneath their feet all visible things
As steps, that upward to their Father's throne
Lead gradual--else nor glorified nor loved.
They nor contempt embosom nor revenge :
For they dare know of what may seem deform
The Supreme Fair sole operant : in whose sight
All things are pure, his strong controlling love
Alike from all educing perfect good.
Their's too celestial courage, inly armed--
Dwarfing Earth's giant brood, what time they muse
On their great Father, great beyond compare !
And marching onwards view high o'er their heads
His waving banners of Omnipotence.

Who the Creator love, created Might
Dread not : within their tents no Terrors walk.
For they are holy things before the Lord
Aye unprofaned, though Earth should league with Hell;
God's altar grasping with an eager hand
Fear, the wild-visag'd, pale, eye-starting wretch,
Sure-refug'd hears his hot pursuing fiends
Yell at vain distance. Soon refresh'd from Heaven
He calms the throb and tempest of his heart
His countenance settles; a soft solemn bliss
Swims in his eye--his swimming eye uprais'd
And Faith's whole armour glitters on his limbs !
And thus transfigured with a dreadless awe,
A solemn hush of soul, meek he beholds
All things of terrible seeming : yea, unmoved
Views e'en the immitigable ministers
That shower down vengeance on these latter days.
For kindling with intenser Deity
From the celestial Mercy-seat they come,
And at the renovating wells of Love
Have fill'd their vials with salutary wrath,
To sickly Nature more medicinal
Than what soft balm the weeping good man pours
Into the lone despoiléd traveller's wounds !

Thus from the Elect, regenerate through faith
Pass the dark Passions and what thirsty cares
Drink up the spirit, and the dim regards
Self-centre. Lo they vanish ! or acquire
New names, new features--by supernal grace
Enrobed with Light, and naturalised in Heaven.
As when a shepherd on a vernal morn
Through some thick fog creeps timorous with slow foot
Darkling he fixes on the immediate road
His downward eye : all else of fairest kind
Hid or deformed. But lo ! the bursting Sun !
Touched by the enchantment of that sudden beam
Straight the black vapour melteth, and in globes
Of dewy glitter gems each plant and tree;
On every leaf, on every blade it hangs !
Dance glad the new-born intermingling rays,
And wide around the landscape streams with glory !

There is one Mind, one omnipresent Mind,
Omnific. His most holy name is LOVE.
Truth of subliming import ! with the which
Who feeds and saturates his constant soul,
He from his small particular orbit flies
With blest outstarting ! From himself he flies,
Stands in the sun, and with no partial gaze
Views all creation; and he loves it all,
And blesses it, and calls it very good !
This is indeed to dwell with the Most High !
Cherubs and rapture-trembling Seraphim
Can press no nearer to the Almighty's throne.
But that we roam unconscious, or with hearts
Unfeeling of our universal Sire,
And that in His vast family no Cain
Injures uninjured (in her best-aimed blow
Victorious Murder a blind Suicide)
Haply for this some younger Angel now
Looks down on Human Nature : and, behold !
A sea of blood bestrewed with wrecks, where mad
Embattling Interests on each other rush
With unhelmed rage !
Tis the sublime of man,
Our noontide Majesty, to know ourselves
Parts and proportions of one wondrous whole !
This fraternises man, this constitutes
Our charities and bearings. But 'tis God
Diffused through all, that cloth make all one whole;
This the worst superstition, him except
Aught to desire, Supreme Reality !
The plenitude and permanence of bliss !
O Fiends of Superstition ! not that oft
The erring Priest hath stained with brother's blood
Your grisly idols, not for this may wrath
Thunder against you from the Holy One !
But o'er some plain that steameth to the sun,
Peopled with Death; or where more hideous Trade
Loud-laughing packs his bales of human anguish ;
I will raise up a mourning, O ye Fiends !
And curse your spells, that film the eye of Faith,
Hiding the present God; whose presence lost,
The moral world's cohesion, we become
An Anarchy of Spirits ! Toy-bewitched,
Made blind by lusts, disherited of soul,
No common centre Man, no common sire
Knoweth ! A sordid solitary thing,
Mid countless brethren with a lonely heart
Through courts and cities the smooth savage roams
Feeling himself, his own low self the whole;
When he by sacred sympathy might make
The whole one Self ! Self, that no alien knows !
Self, far diffused as Fancy's wing can travel !
Self, spreading still ! Oblivious of its own,
Yet all of all possessing ! This is Faith !
This the Messiah's destined victory !

But first offences needs must come ! Even now
(Black Hell laughs horrible--to hear the scoff !)
Thee to defend, meek Galilaean ! Thee
And thy mild laws of Love unutterable,
Mistrust and Enmity have burst the bands
Of social peace : and listening Treachery lurks
With pious fraud to snare a brother's life;
And childless widows o'er the groaning land
Wail numberless ; and orphans weep for bread !
Thee to defend, dear Saviour of Mankind !
Thee, Lamb of God ! Thee, blameless Prince of Peace !
From all sides rush the thirsty brood of War !--
Austria, and that foul Woman of the North,
The lustful murderess of her wedded lord !
And he, connatural Mind ! whom (in their songs
So bards of elder time had haply feigned)
Some Fury fondled in her hate to man,
Bidding her serpent hair in mazy surge
Lick his young face, and at his mouth imbreathe
Horrible sympathy ! And leagued with these
Each petty German princeling, nursed in gore
Soul-hardened barterers of human blood !
Death's prime slave-merchants ! Scorpion- whips of Fate !
Nor least in savagery of holy zeal,
Apt for the yoke, the race degenerate,
Whom Britain erst had blushed to call her sons !
Thee to defend the Moloch Priest prefers
The prayer of hate, and bellows to the herd,
That Deity, Accomplice Deity
In the fierce jealousy of wakened wrath
Will go forth with our armies and our fleets
To scatter the red ruin on their foes !
O blasphemy ! to mingle fiendish deeds
With blessedness !
Lord of unsleeping Love,
From everlasting Thou ! We shall not die.
These, even these, in mercy didst thou form,
Teachers of Good through Evil, by brief wrong
Making Truth lovely, and her future might
Magnetic o'er the fixed untrembling heart.

In the primeval age a dateless while
The vacant Shepherd wander'd with his flock,
Pitching his tent where'er the green grass waved.
But soon Imagination conjured up
An host of new desires : with busy aim,
Each for himself, Earth's eager children toiled.
So Property began, twy-streaming fount,
Whence Vice and Virtue flow, honey and gall.
Hence the soft couch, and many-coloured robe,
The timbrel, and arched dome and costly feast,
With all the inventive arts, that nursed the soul
To forms of beauty, and by sensual wants
Unsensualised the mind, which in the means
Learnt to forget the grossness of the end,
Best pleasured with its own activity.
And hence Disease that withers manhood's arm,
The daggered Envy, spirit-quenching Want,
Warriors, and Lords, and Priests--all the sore ills
That vex and desolate our mortal life.
Wide-wasting ills ! yet each the immediate source
Of mightier good. Their keen necessities
To ceaseless action goading human thought
Have made Earth's reasoning animal her Lord;
And the pale-featured Sage's trembling hand
Strong as an host of arméd Deities,
Such as the blind Ionian fabled erst.

From Avarice thus, from Luxury and War
Sprang heavenly Science; and from Science Freedom.
O'er waken'd realms Philosophers and Bards
Spread in concentric circles : they whose souls,
Conscious of their high dignities from God,
Brook not Wealth's rivalry ! and they, who long
Enamoured with the charms of order, hate
The unseemly disproportion : and whoe'er
Turn with mild sorrow from the Victor's car
And the low puppetry of thrones, to muse
On that blest triumph, when the Patriot Sage
Called the red lightnings from the o'er-rushing cloud
And dashed the beauteous terrors on the earth
Smiling majestic. Such a phalanx ne'er
Measured firm paces to the calming sound
Of Spartan flute ! These on the fated day,
When, stung to rage by Pity, eloquent men
Have roused with pealing voice the unnumbered tribes
That toil and groan and bleed, hungry and blind--
These, hush'd awhile with patient eye serene,
Shall watch the mad careering of the storm ;
Then o'er the wild and wavy chaos rush
And tame the outrageous mass, with plastic might
Moulding Confusion to such perfect forms,
As erst were wont,--bright visions of the day !--
To float before them, when, the summer noon,
Beneath some arched romantic rock reclined
They felt the sea-breeze lift their youthful locks ;
Or in the month of blossoms, at mild eve,
Wandering with desultory feet inhaled
The wafted perfumes, and the flocks and woods
And many-tinted streams and setting sun
With all his gorgeous company of clouds
Ecstatic gazed ! then homeward as they strayed
Cast the sad eye to earth, and inly mused
Why there was misery in a world so fair.

Ah ! far removed from all that glads the sense,
From all that softens or ennobles Man
The wretched Many ! Bent beneath their loads
They gape at pageant Power, nor recognise
Their cots' transmuted plunder ! From the tree
Of Knowledge, ere the vernal sap had risen
Rudely disbranched ! Blessed Society !
Fitliest depictured by some sun-scorched waste,
Where oft majestic through the tainted noon
The Simoom sails, before whose purple pomp
Who falls not prostrate dies ! And where by night,
Fast by each precious fountain on green herbs
The lion couches : or hyaena dips
Deep in the lucid stream his bloody jaws;
Or serpent plants his vast moon-glittering bulk,
Caught in whose monstrous twine Behemoth yells,
His bones loud-crashing !
O ye numberless,
Whom foul Oppression's ruffian gluttony
Drives from Life's plenteous feast ! O thou poor Wretch
Who nursed in darkness and made wild by want,
Roamest for prey, yea thy unnatural hand
Dost lift to deeds of blood ! O pale-eyed form,
The victim of seduction, doomed to know
Polluted nights and days of blasphemy;
Who in loathed orgies with lewd wassailers
Must gaily laugh, while thy remembered Home
Gnaws like a viper at thy secret heart !
O agéd Women ! ye who weekly catch
The morsel tossed by law-forced charity,
And die so slowly, that none call it murder !
O loathly suppliants !ye, that unreceived
Totter heart-broken from the closing gates
Of the full Lazar-house; or, gazing, stand,
Sick with despair ! O ye to Glory's field
Forced or ensnared, who, as ye gasp in death,
Bleed with new wounds beneath the vulture's beak !
O thou poor widow, who in dreams dost view
Thy husband's mangled corse, and from short doze
Start'st with a shriek; or in thy half-thatched cot
Waked by the wintry night-storm, wet and cold
Cow'rst o'er thy screaming baby ! Rest awhile
Children of Wretchedness ! More groans must rise,
More blood must stream, or ere your wrongs be full.
Yet is the day of Retribution nigh :
The Lamb of God hath opened the fifth seal :
And upward rush on swiftest wing of fire
The innumerable multitude of wrongs
By man on man inflicted ! Rest awhile,
Children of Wretchedness ! The hour is nigh
And lo ! the Great, the Rich, the Mighty Men,
The Kings and the Chief Captains of the World,
With all that fixed on high like stars of Heaven
Shot baleful influence, shall be cast to earth,
Vile and down-trodden, as the untimely fruit
Shook from the fig-tree by a sudden storm.
Even now the storm begins : each gentle name.
Faith and meek Piety, with fearful joy
Tremble far-off--for lo ! the Giant Frenzy
Uprooting empires with his whirlwind arm
Mocketh high Heaven; burst hideous from the cell
Where the old Hag, unconquerable, huge,
Creation's eyeless drudge, black Ruin, sits
Nursing the impatient earthquake.
O return !
Pure Faith ! meek Piety ! The abhorréd Form
Whose scarlet robe was stiff with earthly pomp,
Who drank iniquity in cups of gold,
Whose names were many and all blasphemous,
Hath met the horrible judgment ! Whence that cry ?
The mighty army of foul Spirits shrieked
Disherited of earth ! For she hath fallen
On whose black front was written Mystery;
She that reeled heavily, whose wine was blood;
She that worked whoredom with the Daemon Power,
And from the dark embrace all evil things
Brought forth and nurtured : mitred Atheism !
And patient Folly who on bended knee
Gives back the steel that stabbed him; and pale Fear
Haunted by ghastlier shapings than surround
Moon-blasted Madness when he yells at midnight !
Return pure Faith ! return meek Piety !
The kingdoms the world are your's : each heart
Self-governed, the vast family of Love
Raised from the common earth by common toil
Enjoy the equal produce. Such delights
As float to earth, permitted visitants !
When in some hour of solemn jubilee
The massy gates of Paradise are thrown
Wide open, and forth come in fragments wild
Sweet echoes of unearthly melodies,
And odours snatched from beds of Amaranth,
And they, that from the crystal river of life
Spring up on freshened wing, ambrosial gales !
The favoured good man in his lonely walk
Perceives them, and his silent spirit drinks
Strange bliss which he shall recognise in heaven.
And such delights, such strange beatitudes
Seize on my young anticipating heart
When that blest future rushes on my view !
For in his own and in his Father's might
The Saviour comes ! While as the Thousand Years
Lead up their mystic dance, the Desert shouts !
Old Ocean claps his hands ! The mighty Dead
Rise to new life, whoe'er from earliest time
With conscious zeal had urged Love's wondrous plan
Coadjutors of God. To Milton's trump
The high groves of the renovated Earth
Unbosom their glad echoes : inly hushed,
Adoring Newton his serener eye
Raises to heaven : and he of mortal kind
Wisest, he first who marked the ideal tribes
Up the fine fibres through the sentient brain.
Lo ! Priestley there, patriot, and saint, and sage,
Him, full of years, from his loved native land
Statesmen blood-stained and priests idolatrous
By dark lies maddening the blind multitude
Drove with vain hate. Calm, pitying he retired,
And mused expectant on these promised years.
O Years ! the blest pre-eminence of Saints !
Ye sweep athwart my gaze, so heavenly bright,
The wings that veil the adoring Seraphs' eyes,
What time they bend before the Jasper Throne
Reflect no lovelier hues ! Yet ye depart,
And all beyond is darkness ! Heights most strange,
Whence Fancy falls, fluttering her idle wing.
For who of woman born may paint the hour,
When seized in his mid course, the Sun shall wane
Making noon ghastly ! Who of woman born
May image in the workings of his thought,
How the black-visaged, red-eyed Fiend outstretched
Beneath the unsteady feet of Nature groans,
In feverous slumbers--destined then to wake,
When fiery whirlwinds thunder his dread name
And Angels shout, Destruction ! How his arm
The last great Spirit lifting high in air
Shall swear by Him, the ever-living One,
Time is no more !
Believe thou, O my soul,
Life is a vision shadowy of Truth ;
And vice, and anguish, and the wormy grave
Shapes of a dream ! The veiling clouds retire
And lo ! the Throne of the redeeming God
Forth flashing unimaginable day
Wraps in one blaze earth, heaven, and deepest hell.

Contemplant Spirits ! ye that hover o'er
With untired gaze the immeasurable fount
Ebullient with creative Deity !
And ye of plastic power, that interfused
Roll through the grosser and material mass
In organizing surge ! Holies of God !
(And what if Monads of the infinite mind?)
I haply journeying my immortal course
Shall sometime join your mystic choir ! Till then
I discipline my young and novice thought
In ministeries of heart-stirring song,
And aye on Meditation's heaven-ward wing
Soaring aloft I breathe the empyreal air
Of Love, omnific, omnipresent Love,
Whose day-spring rises glorious in my soul
As the great Sun, when he his influence
Sheds on the frost-bound waters--The glad stream
Flows to the ray and warbles as it flows.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Book V - Part 07 - Beginnings Of Civilization

Afterwards,
When huts they had procured and pelts and fire,
And when the woman, joined unto the man,
Withdrew with him into one dwelling place,

Were known; and when they saw an offspring born
From out themselves, then first the human race
Began to soften. For 'twas now that fire
Rendered their shivering frames less staunch to bear,
Under the canopy of the sky, the cold;
And Love reduced their shaggy hardiness;
And children, with the prattle and the kiss,
Soon broke the parents' haughty temper down.
Then, too, did neighbours 'gin to league as friends,
Eager to wrong no more or suffer wrong,
And urged for children and the womankind
Mercy, of fathers, whilst with cries and gestures
They stammered hints how meet it was that all
Should have compassion on the weak. And still,
Though concord not in every wise could then
Begotten be, a good, a goodly part
Kept faith inviolate- or else mankind
Long since had been unutterably cut off,
And propagation never could have brought
The species down the ages.
Lest, perchance,
Concerning these affairs thou ponderest
In silent meditation, let me say
'Twas lightning brought primevally to earth
The fire for mortals, and from thence hath spread
O'er all the lands the flames of heat. For thus
Even now we see so many objects, touched
By the celestial flames, to flash aglow,
When thunderbolt has dowered them with heat.
Yet also when a many-branched tree,
Beaten by winds, writhes swaying to and fro,
Pressing 'gainst branches of a neighbour tree,
There by the power of mighty rub and rub
Is fire engendered; and at times out-flares
The scorching heat of flame, when boughs do chafe
Against the trunks. And of these causes, either
May well have given to mortal men the fire.
Next, food to cook and soften in the flame
The sun instructed, since so oft they saw
How objects mellowed, when subdued by warmth
And by the raining blows of fiery beams,
Through all the fields.
And more and more each day
Would men more strong in sense, more wise in heart,
Teach them to change their earlier mode and life
By fire and new devices. Kings began
Cities to found and citadels to set,
As strongholds and asylums for themselves,
And flocks and fields to portion for each man
After the beauty, strength, and sense of each-
For beauty then imported much, and strength
Had its own rights supreme. Thereafter, wealth
Discovered was, and gold was brought to light,
Which soon of honour stripped both strong and fair;
For men, however beautiful in form
Or valorous, will follow in the main
The rich man's party. Yet were man to steer
His life by sounder reasoning, he'd own
Abounding riches, if with mind content
He lived by thrift; for never, as I guess,
Is there a lack of little in the world.
But men wished glory for themselves and power
Even that their fortunes on foundations firm
Might rest forever, and that they themselves,
The opulent, might pass a quiet life-
In vain, in vain; since, in the strife to climb
On to the heights of honour, men do make
Their pathway terrible; and even when once
They reach them, envy like the thunderbolt
At times will smite, O hurling headlong down
To murkiest Tartarus, in scorn; for, lo,
All summits, all regions loftier than the rest,
Smoke, blasted as by envy's thunderbolts;
So better far in quiet to obey,
Than to desire chief mastery of affairs
And ownership of empires. Be it so;
And let the weary sweat their life-blood out
All to no end, battling in hate along
The narrow path of man's ambition;
Since all their wisdom is from others' lips,
And all they seek is known from what they've heard
And less from what they've thought. Nor is this folly
Greater to-day, nor greater soon to be,
Than' twas of old.
And therefore kings were slain,
And pristine majesty of golden thrones
And haughty sceptres lay o'erturned in dust;
And crowns, so splendid on the sovereign heads,
Soon bloody under the proletarian feet,
Groaned for their glories gone- for erst o'er-much
Dreaded, thereafter with more greedy zest
Trampled beneath the rabble heel. Thus things
Down to the vilest lees of brawling mobs
Succumbed, whilst each man sought unto himself
Dominion and supremacy. So next
Some wiser heads instructed men to found
The magisterial office, and did frame
Codes that they might consent to follow laws.
For humankind, o'er wearied with a life
Fostered by force, was ailing from its feuds;
And so the sooner of its own free will
Yielded to laws and strictest codes. For since
Each hand made ready in its wrath to take
A vengeance fiercer than by man's fair laws
Is now conceded, men on this account
Loathed the old life fostered by force. 'Tis thence
That fear of punishments defiles each prize
Of wicked days; for force and fraud ensnare
Each man around, and in the main recoil
On him from whence they sprung. Not easy 'tis
For one who violates by ugly deeds
The bonds of common peace to pass a life
Composed and tranquil. For albeit he 'scape
The race of gods and men, he yet must dread
'Twill not be hid forever- since, indeed,
So many, oft babbling on amid their dreams
Or raving in sickness, have betrayed themselves
(As stories tell) and published at last
Old secrets and the sins.
But nature 'twas
Urged men to utter various sounds of tongue
And need and use did mould the names of things,
About in same wise as the lack-speech years
Compel young children unto gesturings,
Making them point with finger here and there
At what's before them. For each creature feels
By instinct to what use to put his powers.
Ere yet the bull-calf's scarce begotten horns
Project above his brows, with them he 'gins
Enraged to butt and savagely to thrust.
But whelps of panthers and the lion's cubs
With claws and paws and bites are at the fray
Already, when their teeth and claws be scarce
As yet engendered. So again, we see
All breeds of winged creatures trust to wings
And from their fledgling pinions seek to get
A fluttering assistance. Thus, to think
That in those days some man apportioned round
To things their names, and that from him men learned
Their first nomenclature, is foolery.
For why could he mark everything by words
And utter the various sounds of tongue, what time
The rest may be supposed powerless
To do the same? And, if the rest had not
Already one with other used words,
Whence was implanted in the teacher, then,
Fore-knowledge of their use, and whence was given
To him alone primordial faculty
To know and see in mind what 'twas he willed?
Besides, one only man could scarce subdue
An overmastered multitude to choose
To get by heart his names of things. A task
Not easy 'tis in any wise to teach
And to persuade the deaf concerning what
'Tis needful for to do. For ne'er would they
Allow, nor ne'er in anywise endure
Perpetual vain dingdong in their ears
Of spoken sounds unheard before. And what,
At last, in this affair so wondrous is,
That human race (in whom a voice and tongue
Were now in vigour) should by divers words
Denote its objects, as each divers sense
Might prompt?- since even the speechless herds, aye, since
The very generations of wild beasts
Are wont dissimilar and divers sounds
To rouse from in them, when there's fear or pain,
And when they burst with joys. And this, forsooth,
'Tis thine to know from plainest facts: when first
Huge flabby jowls of mad Molossian hounds,
Baring their hard white teeth, begin to snarl,
They threaten, with infuriate lips peeled back,
In sounds far other than with which they bark
And fill with voices all the regions round.
And when with fondling tongue they start to lick
Their puppies, or do toss them round with paws,
Feigning with gentle bites to gape and snap,
They fawn with yelps of voice far other then
Than when, alone within the house, they bay,
Or whimpering slink with cringing sides from blows.
Again the neighing of the horse, is that
Not seen to differ likewise, when the stud
In buoyant flower of his young years raves,
Goaded by winged Love, amongst the mares,
And when with widening nostrils out he snorts
The call to battle, and when haply he
Whinnies at times with terror-quaking limbs?
Lastly, the flying race, the dappled birds,
Hawks, ospreys, sea-gulls, searching food and life
Amid the ocean billows in the brine,
Utter at other times far other cries
Than when they fight for food, or with their prey
Struggle and strain. And birds there are which change
With changing weather their own raucous songs-
As long-lived generations of the crows
Or flocks of rooks, when they be said to cry
For rain and water and to call at times
For winds and gales. Ergo, if divers moods
Compel the brutes, though speechless evermore,
To send forth divers sounds, O truly then
How much more likely 'twere that mortal men
In those days could with many a different sound
Denote each separate thing.
And now what cause
Hath spread divinities of gods abroad
Through mighty nations, and filled the cities full
Of the high altars, and led to practices
Of solemn rites in season- rites which still
Flourish in midst of great affairs of state
And midst great centres of man's civic life,
The rites whence still a poor mortality
Is grafted that quaking awe which rears aloft
Still the new temples of gods from land to land
And drives mankind to visit them in throngs
On holy days- 'tis not so hard to give
Reason thereof in speech. Because, in sooth,
Even in those days would the race of man
Be seeing excelling visages of gods
With mind awake; and in his sleeps, yet more-
Bodies of wondrous growth. And, thus, to these
Would men attribute sense, because they seemed
To move their limbs and speak pronouncements high,
Befitting glorious visage and vast powers.
And men would give them an eternal life,
Because their visages forevermore
Were there before them, and their shapes remained,
And chiefly, however, because men would not think
Beings augmented with such mighty powers
Could well by any force o'ermastered be.
And men would think them in their happiness
Excelling far, because the fear of death
Vexed no one of them at all, and since
At same time in men's sleeps men saw them do
So many wonders, and yet feel therefrom
Themselves no weariness. Besides, men marked
How in a fixed order rolled around
The systems of the sky, and changed times
Of annual seasons, nor were able then
To know thereof the causes. Therefore 'twas
Men would take refuge in consigning all
Unto divinities, and in feigning all
Was guided by their nod. And in the sky
They set the seats and vaults of gods, because
Across the sky night and the moon are seen
To roll along- moon, day, and night, and night's
Old awesome constellations evermore,
And the night-wandering fireballs of the sky,
And flying flames, clouds, and the sun, the rains,
Snow and the winds, the lightnings, and the hail,
And the swift rumblings, and the hollow roar
Of mighty menacings forevermore.
O humankind unhappy!- when it ascribed
Unto divinities such awesome deeds,
And coupled thereto rigours of fierce wrath!
What groans did men on that sad day beget
Even for themselves, and O what wounds for us,
What tears for our children's children! Nor, O man,
Is thy true piety in this: with head
Under the veil, still to be seen to turn
Fronting a stone, and ever to approach
Unto all altars; nor so prone on earth
Forward to fall, to spread upturned palms
Before the shrines of gods, nor yet to dew
Altars with profuse blood of four-foot beasts,
Nor vows with vows to link. But rather this:
To look on all things with a master eye
And mind at peace. For when we gaze aloft
Upon the skiey vaults of yon great world
And ether, fixed high o'er twinkling stars,
And into our thought there come the journeyings
Of sun and moon, O then into our breasts,
O'erburdened already with their other ills,
Begins forthwith to rear its sudden head
One more misgiving: lest o'er us, percase,
It be the gods' immeasurable power
That rolls, with varied motion, round and round
The far white constellations. For the lack
Of aught of reasons tries the puzzled mind:
Whether was ever a birth-time of the world,
And whether, likewise, any end shall be
How far the ramparts of the world can still
Outstand this strain of ever-roused motion,
Or whether, divinely with eternal weal
Endowed, they can through endless tracts of age
Glide on, defying the o'er-mighty powers
Of the immeasurable ages. Lo,
What man is there whose mind with dread of gods
Cringes not close, whose limbs with terror-spell
Crouch not together, when the parched earth
Quakes with the horrible thunderbolt amain,
And across the mighty sky the rumblings run?
Do not the peoples and the nations shake,
And haughty kings do they not hug their limbs,
Strook through with fear of the divinities,
Lest for aught foully done or madly said
The heavy time be now at hand to pay?
When, too, fierce force of fury-winds at sea
Sweepeth a navy's admiral down the main
With his stout legions and his elephants,
Doth he not seek the peace of gods with vows,
And beg in prayer, a-tremble, lulled winds
And friendly gales?- in vain, since, often up-caught
In fury-cyclones, is he borne along,
For all his mouthings, to the shoals of doom.
Ah, so irrevocably some hidden power
Betramples forevermore affairs of men,
And visibly grindeth with its heel in mire
The lictors' glorious rods and axes dire,
Having them in derision! Again, when earth
From end to end is rocking under foot,
And shaken cities ruin down, or threaten
Upon the verge, what wonder is it then
That mortal generations abase themselves,
And unto gods in all affairs of earth
Assign as last resort almighty powers
And wondrous energies to govern all?
Now for the rest: copper and gold and iron
Discovered were, and with them silver's weight
And power of lead, when with prodigious heat
The conflagrations burned the forest trees
Among the mighty mountains, by a bolt
Of lightning from the sky, or else because
Men, warring in the woodlands, on their foes
Had hurled fire to frighten and dismay,
Or yet because, by goodness of the soil
Invited, men desired to clear rich fields
And turn the countryside to pasture-lands,
Or slay the wild and thrive upon the spoils.
(For hunting by pit-fall and by fire arose
Before the art of hedging the covert round
With net or stirring it with dogs of chase.)
Howso the fact, and from what cause soever
The flamy heat with awful crack and roar
Had there devoured to their deepest roots
The forest trees and baked the earth with fire,
Then from the boiling veins began to ooze
O rivulets of silver and of gold,
Of lead and copper too, collecting soon
Into the hollow places of the ground.
And when men saw the cooled lumps anon
To shine with splendour-sheen upon the ground,
Much taken with that lustrous smooth delight,
They 'gan to pry them out, and saw how each
Had got a shape like to its earthy mould.
Then would it enter their heads how these same lumps,
If melted by heat, could into any form
Or figure of things be run, and how, again,
If hammered out, they could be nicely drawn
To sharpest points or finest edge, and thus
Yield to the forgers tools and give them power
To chop the forest down, to hew the logs,
To shave the beams and planks, besides to bore
And punch and drill. And men began such work
At first as much with tools of silver and gold
As with the impetuous strength of the stout copper;
But vainly- since their over-mastered power
Would soon give way, unable to endure,
Like copper, such hard labour. In those days
Copper it was that was the thing of price;
And gold lay useless, blunted with dull edge.
Now lies the copper low, and gold hath come
Unto the loftiest honours. Thus it is
That rolling ages change the times of things:
What erst was of a price, becomes at last
A discard of no honour; whilst another
Succeeds to glory, issuing from contempt,
And day by day is sought for more and more,
And, when 'tis found, doth flower in men's praise,
Objects of wondrous honour.
Now, Memmius,
How nature of iron discovered was, thou mayst
Of thine own self divine. Man's ancient arms
Were hands, and nails and teeth, stones too and boughs-
Breakage of forest trees- and flame and fire,
As soon as known. Thereafter force of iron
And copper discovered was; and copper's use
Was known ere iron's, since more tractable
Its nature is and its abundance more.
With copper men to work the soil began,
With copper to rouse the hurly waves of war,
To straw the monstrous wounds, and seize away
Another's flocks and fields. For unto them,
Thus armed, all things naked of defence
Readily yielded. Then by slow degrees
The sword of iron succeeded, and the shape
Of brazen sickle into scorn was turned:
With iron to cleave the soil of earth they 'gan,
And the contentions of uncertain war
Were rendered equal.
And, lo, man was wont
Armed to mount upon the ribs of horse
And guide him with the rein, and play about
With right hand free, oft times before he tried
Perils of war in yoked chariot;
And yoked pairs abreast came earlier
Than yokes of four, or scythed chariots
Whereinto clomb the men-at-arms. And next
The Punic folk did train the elephants-
Those curst Lucanian oxen, hideous,
The serpent-handed, with turrets on their bulks-
To dure the wounds of war and panic-strike
The mighty troops of Mars. Thus Discord sad
Begat the one Thing after other, to be
The terror of the nations under arms,
And day by day to horrors of old war
She added an increase.
Bulls, too, they tried
In war's grim business; and essayed to send
Outrageous boars against the foes. And some
Sent on before their ranks puissant lions
With armed trainers and with masters fierce
To guide and hold in chains- and yet in vain,
Since fleshed with pell-mell slaughter, fierce they flew,
And blindly through the squadrons havoc wrought,
Shaking the frightful crests upon their heads,
Now here, now there. Nor could the horsemen calm
Their horses, panic-breasted at the roar,
And rein them round to front the foe. With spring
The infuriate she-lions would up-leap
Now here, now there; and whoso came apace
Against them, these they'd rend across the face;
And others unwitting from behind they'd tear
Down from their mounts, and twining round them, bring
Tumbling to earth, o'ermastered by the wound,
And with those powerful fangs and hooked claws
Fasten upon them. Bulls would toss their friends,
And trample under foot, and from beneath
Rip flanks and bellies of horses with their horns,
And with a threat'ning forehead jam the sod;
And boars would gore with stout tusks their allies,
Splashing in fury their own blood on spears
Splintered in their own bodies, and would fell
In rout and ruin infantry and horse.
For there the beasts-of-saddle tried to scape
The savage thrusts of tusk by shying off,
Or rearing up with hoofs a-paw in air.
In vain- since there thou mightest see them sink,
Their sinews severed, and with heavy fall
Bestrew the ground. And such of these as men
Supposed well-trained long ago at home,
Were in the thick of action seen to foam
In fury, from the wounds, the shrieks, the flight,
The panic, and the tumult; nor could men
Aught of their numbers rally. For each breed
And various of the wild beasts fled apart
Hither or thither, as often in wars to-day
Flee those Lucanian oxen, by the steel
Grievously mangled, after they have wrought
Upon their friends so many a dreadful doom.
(If 'twas, indeed, that thus they did at all:
But scarcely I'll believe that men could not
With mind foreknow and see, as sure to come,
Such foul and general disaster.- This
We, then, may hold as true in the great All,
In divers worlds on divers plan create,-
Somewhere afar more likely than upon
One certain earth.) But men chose this to do
Less in the hope of conquering than to give
Their enemies a goodly cause of woe,
Even though thereby they perished themselves,
Since weak in numbers and since wanting arms.
Now, clothes of roughly inter-plaited strands
Were earlier than loom-wove coverings;
The loom-wove later than man's iron is,
Since iron is needful in the weaving art,
Nor by no other means can there be wrought
Such polished tools- the treadles, spindles, shuttles,
And sounding yarn-beams. And nature forced the men,
Before the woman kind, to work the wool:
For all the male kind far excels in skill,
And cleverer is by much- until at last
The rugged farmer folk jeered at such tasks,
And so were eager soon to give them o'er
To women's hands, and in more hardy toil
To harden arms and hands.
But nature herself,
Mother of things, was the first seed-sower
And primal grafter; since the berries and acorns,
Dropping from off the trees, would there beneath
Put forth in season swarms of little shoots;
Hence too men's fondness for ingrafting slips
Upon the boughs and setting out in holes
The young shrubs o'er the fields. Then would they try
Ever new modes of tilling their loved crofts,
And mark they would how earth improved the taste
Of the wild fruits by fond and fostering care.
And day by day they'd force the woods to move
Still higher up the mountain, and to yield
The place below for tilth, that there they might,
On plains and uplands, have their meadow-plats,
Cisterns and runnels, crops of standing grain,
And happy vineyards, and that all along
O'er hillocks, intervales, and plains might run
The silvery-green belt of olive-trees,
Marking the plotted landscape; even as now
Thou seest so marked with varied loveliness
All the terrain which men adorn and plant
With rows of goodly fruit-trees and hedge round
With thriving shrubberies sown.
But by the mouth
To imitate the liquid notes of birds
Was earlier far 'mongst men than power to make,
By measured song, melodious verse and give
Delight to ears. And whistlings of the wind
Athrough the hollows of the reeds first taught
The peasantry to blow into the stalks
Of hollow hemlock-herb. Then bit by bit
They learned sweet plainings, such as pipe out-pours,
Beaten by finger-tips of singing men,
When heard through unpathed groves and forest deeps
And woodsy meadows, through the untrod haunts
Of shepherd folk and spots divinely still.
Thus time draws forward each and everything
Little by little unto the midst of men,
And reason uplifts it to the shores of light.
These tunes would soothe and glad the minds of mortals
When sated with food,- for songs are welcome then.
And often, lounging with friends in the soft grass
Beside a river of water, underneath
A big tree's branches, merrily they'd refresh
Their frames, with no vast outlay- most of all
If the weather were smiling and the times of the year
Were painting the green of the grass around with flowers.
Then jokes, then talk, then peals of jollity
Would circle round; for then the rustic muse
Was in her glory; then would antic Mirth
Prompt them to garland head and shoulders about
With chaplets of intertwined flowers and leaves,
And to dance onward, out of tune, with limbs
Clownishly swaying, and with clownish foot
To beat our mother earth- from whence arose
Laughter and peals of jollity, for, lo,
Such frolic acts were in their glory then,
Being more new and strange. And wakeful men
Found solaces for their unsleeping hours
In drawing forth variety of notes,
In modulating melodies, in running
With puckered lips along the tuned reeds,
Whence, even in our day do the watchmen guard
These old traditions, and have learned well
To keep true measure. And yet they no whit
Do get a larger fruit of gladsomeness
Than got the woodland aborigines
In olden times. For what we have at hand-
If theretofore naught sweeter we have known-
That chiefly pleases and seems best of all;
But then some later, likely better, find
Destroys its worth and changes our desires
Regarding good of yesterday.
And thus
Began the loathing of the acorn; thus
Abandoned were those beds with grasses strewn
And with the leaves beladen. Thus, again,
Fell into new contempt the pelts of beasts-
Erstwhile a robe of honour, which, I guess,
Aroused in those days envy so malign
That the first wearer went to woeful death
By ambuscades,- and yet that hairy prize,
Rent into rags by greedy foemen there
And splashed by blood, was ruined utterly
Beyond all use or vantage. Thus of old
'Twas pelts, and of to-day 'tis purple and gold
That cark men's lives with cares and weary with war.
Wherefore, methinks, resides the greater blame
With us vain men to-day: for cold would rack,
Without their pelts, the naked sons of earth;
But us it nothing hurts to do without
The purple vestment, broidered with gold
And with imposing figures, if we still
Make shift with some mean garment of the Plebs.
So man in vain futilities toils on
Forever and wastes in idle cares his years-
Because, of very truth, he hath not learnt
What the true end of getting is, nor yet
At all how far true pleasure may increase.
And 'tis desire for better and for more
Hath carried by degrees mortality
Out onward to the deep, and roused up
From the far bottom mighty waves of war.
But sun and moon, those watchmen of the world,
With their own lanterns traversing around
The mighty, the revolving vault, have taught
Unto mankind that seasons of the years
Return again, and that the Thing takes place
After a fixed plan and order fixed.
Already would they pass their life, hedged round
By the strong towers; and cultivate an earth
All portioned out and boundaried; already
Would the sea flower and sail-winged ships;
Already men had, under treaty pacts,
Confederates and allies, when poets began
To hand heroic actions down in verse;
Nor long ere this had letters been devised-
Hence is our age unable to look back
On what has gone before, except where reason
Shows us a footprint.
Sailings on the seas,
Tillings of fields, walls, laws, and arms, and roads,
Dress and the like, all prizes, all delights
Of finer life, poems, pictures, chiselled shapes
Of polished sculptures- all these arts were learned
By practice and the mind's experience,
As men walked forward step by eager step.
Thus time draws forward each and everything
Little by little into the midst of men,
And reason uplifts it to the shores of light.
For one thing after other did men see
Grow clear by intellect, till with their arts
They've now achieved the supreme pinnacle.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share
Homer

The Iliad: Book 20

Thus, then, did the Achaeans arm by their ships round you, O son
of Peleus, who were hungering for battle; while the Trojans over
against them armed upon the rise of the plain.
Meanwhile Jove from the top of many-delled Olympus, bade Themis
gather the gods in council, whereon she went about and called them
to the house of Jove. There was not a river absent except Oceanus, nor
a single one of the nymphs that haunt fair groves, or springs of
rivers and meadows of green grass. When they reached the house of
cloud-compelling Jove, they took their seats in the arcades of
polished marble which Vulcan with his consummate skill had made for
father Jove.
In such wise, therefore, did they gather in the house of Jove.
Neptune also, lord of the earthquake, obeyed the call of the
goddess, and came up out of the sea to join them. There, sitting in
the midst of them, he asked what Jove's purpose might be. "Why,"
said he, "wielder of the lightning, have you called the gods in
council? Are you considering some matter that concerns the Trojans and
Achaeans- for the blaze of battle is on the point of being kindled
between them?"
And Jove answered, "You know my purpose, shaker of earth, and
wherefore I have called you hither. I take thought for them even in
their destruction. For my own part I shall stay here seated on Mt.
Olympus and look on in peace, but do you others go about among Trojans
and Achaeans, and help either side as you may be severally disposed.
If Achilles fights the Trojans without hindrance they will make no
stand against him; they have ever trembled at the sight of him, and
now that he is roused to such fury about his comrade, he will override
fate itself and storm their city."
Thus spoke Jove and gave the word for war, whereon the gods took
their several sides and went into battle. Juno, Pallas Minerva,
earth-encircling Neptune, Mercury bringer of good luck and excellent
in all cunning- all these joined the host that came from the ships;
with them also came Vulcan in all his glory, limping, but yet with his
thin legs plying lustily under him. Mars of gleaming helmet joined the
Trojans, and with him Apollo of locks unshorn, and the archer
goddess Diana, Leto, Xanthus, and laughter-loving Venus.
So long as the gods held themselves aloof from mortal warriors the
Achaeans were triumphant, for Achilles who had long refused to fight
was now with them. There was not a Trojan but his limbs failed him for
fear as he beheld the fleet son of Peleus all glorious in his
armour, and looking like Mars himself. When, however, the Olympians
came to take their part among men, forthwith uprose strong Strife,
rouser of hosts, and Minerva raised her loud voice, now standing by
the deep trench that ran outside the wall, and now shouting with all
her might upon the shore of the sounding sea. Mars also bellowed out
upon the other side, dark as some black thunder-cloud, and called on
the Trojans at the top of his voice, now from the acropolis, and now
speeding up the side of the river Simois till he came to the hill
Callicolone.
Thus did the gods spur on both hosts to fight, and rouse fierce
contention also among themselves. The sire of gods and men thundered
from heaven above, while from beneath Neptune shook the vast earth,
and bade the high hills tremble. The spurs and crests of
many-fountained Ida quaked, as also the city of the Trojans and the
ships of the Achaeans. Hades, king of the realms below, was struck
with fear; he sprang panic-stricken from his throne and cried aloud in
terror lest Neptune, lord of the earthquake, should crack the ground
over his head, and lay bare his mouldy mansions to the sight of
mortals and immortals- mansions so ghastly grim that even the gods
shudder to think of them. Such was the uproar as the gods came
together in battle. Apollo with his arrows took his stand to face King
Neptune, while Minerva took hers against the god of war; the
archer-goddess Diana with her golden arrows, sister of far-darting
Apollo, stood to face Juno; Mercury the lusty bringer of good luck
faced Leto, while the mighty eddying river whom men can Scamander, but
gods Xanthus, matched himself against Vulcan.
The gods, then, were thus ranged against one another. But the
heart of Achilles was set on meeting Hector son of Priam, for it was
with his blood that he longed above all things else to glut the
stubborn lord of battle. Meanwhile Apollo set Aeneas on to attack
the son of Peleus, and put courage into his heart, speaking with the
voice of Lycaon son of Priam. In his likeness therefore, he said to
Aeneas, "Aeneas, counsellor of the Trojans, where are now the brave
words with which you vaunted over your wine before the Trojan princes,
saying that you would fight Achilles son of Peleus in single combat?"
And Aeneas answered, "Why do you thus bid me fight the proud son
of Peleus, when I am in no mind to do so? Were I to face him now, it
would not be for the first time. His spear has already put me to Right
from Ida, when he attacked our cattle and sacked Lyrnessus and
Pedasus; Jove indeed saved me in that he vouchsafed me strength to
fly, else had the fallen by the hands of Achilles and Minerva, who
went before him to protect him and urged him to fall upon the
Lelegae and Trojans. No man may fight Achilles, for one of the gods is
always with him as his guardian angel, and even were it not so, his
weapon flies ever straight, and fails not to pierce the flesh of him
who is against him; if heaven would let me fight him on even terms
he should not soon overcome me, though he boasts that he is made of
bronze."
Then said King Apollo, son to Jove, "Nay, hero, pray to the
ever-living gods, for men say that you were born of Jove's daughter
Venus, whereas Achilles is son to a goddess of inferior rank. Venus is
child to Jove, while Thetis is but daughter to the old man of the sea.
Bring, therefore, your spear to bear upon him, and let him not scare
you with his taunts and menaces."
As he spoke he put courage into the heart of the shepherd of his
people, and he strode in full armour among the ranks of the foremost
fighters. Nor did the son of Anchises escape the notice of white-armed
Juno, as he went forth into the throng to meet Achilles. She called
the gods about her, and said, "Look to it, you two, Neptune and
Minerva, and consider how this shall be; Phoebus Apollo has been
sending Aeneas clad in full armour to fight Achilles. Shall we turn
him back at once, or shall one of us stand by Achilles and endow him
with strength so that his heart fail not, and he may learn that the
chiefs of the immortals are on his side, while the others who have all
along been defending the Trojans are but vain helpers? Let us all come
down from Olympus and join in the fight, that this day he may take
no hurt at the hands of the Trojans. Hereafter let him suffer whatever
fate may have spun out for him when he was begotten and his mother
bore him. If Achilles be not thus assured by the voice of a god, he
may come to fear presently when one of us meets him in battle, for the
gods are terrible if they are seen face to face."
Neptune lord of the earthquake answered her saying, "Juno,
restrain your fury; it is not well; I am not in favour of forcing
the other gods to fight us, for the advantage is too greatly on our
own side; let us take our places on some hill out of the beaten track,
and let mortals fight it out among themselves. If Mars or Phoebus
Apollo begin fighting, or keep Achilles in check so that he cannot
fight, we too, will at once raise the cry of battle, and in that
case they will soon leave the field and go back vanquished to
Olympus among the other gods."
With these words the dark-haired god led the way to the high
earth-barrow of Hercules, built round solid masonry, and made by the
Trojans and Pallas Minerva for him fly to when the sea-monster was
chasing him from the shore on to the plain. Here Neptune and those
that were with him took their seats, wrapped in a thick cloud of
darkness; but the other gods seated themselves on the brow of
Callicolone round you, O Phoebus, and Mars the waster of cities.
Thus did the gods sit apart and form their plans, but neither side
was willing to begin battle with the other, and Jove from his seat
on high was in command over them all. Meanwhile the whole plain was
alive with men and horses, and blazing with the gleam of armour. The
earth rang again under the tramp of their feet as they rushed
towards each other, and two champions, by far the foremost of them
all, met between the hosts to fight- to wit, Aeneas son of Anchises,
and noble Achilles.
Aeneas was first to stride forward in attack, his doughty helmet
tossing defiance as he came on. He held his strong shield before his
breast, and brandished his bronze spear. The son of Peleus from the
other side sprang forth to meet him, fike some fierce lion that the
whole country-side has met to hunt and kill- at first he bodes no ill,
but when some daring youth has struck him with a spear, he crouches
openmouthed, his jaws foam, he roars with fury, he lashes his tail
from side to side about his ribs and loins, and glares as he springs
straight before him, to find out whether he is to slay, or be slain
among the foremost of his foes- even with such fury did Achilles
burn to spring upon Aeneas.
When they were now close up with one another Achilles was first to
speak. "Aeneas," said he, "why do you stand thus out before the host
to fight me? Is it that you hope to reign over the Trojans in the seat
of Priam? Nay, though you kill me Priam will not hand his kingdom over
to you. He is a man of sound judgement, and he has sons of his own. Or
have the Trojans been allotting you a demesne of passing richness,
fair with orchard lawns and corn lands, if you should slay me? This
you shall hardly do. I have discomfited you once already. Have you
forgotten how when you were alone I chased you from your herds
helter-skelter down the slopes of Ida? You did not turn round to
look behind you; you took refuge in Lyrnessus, but I attacked the
city, and with the help of Minerva and father Jove I sacked it and
carried its women into captivity, though Jove and the other gods
rescued you. You think they will protect you now, but they will not do
so; therefore I say go back into the host, and do not face me, or
you will rue it. Even a fool may be wise after the event."
Then Aeneas answered, "Son of Peleus, think not that your words
can scare me as though I were a child. I too, if I will, can brag
and talk unseemly. We know one another's race and parentage as matters
of common fame, though neither have you ever seen my parents nor I
yours. Men say that you are son to noble Peleus, and that your
mother is Thetis, fair-haired daughter of the sea. I have noble
Anchises for my father, and Venus for my mother; the parents of one or
other of us shall this day mourn a son, for it will be more than silly
talk that shall part us when the fight is over. Learn, then, my
lineage if you will- and it is known to many.
"In the beginning Dardanus was the son of Jove, and founded
Dardania, for Ilius was not yet stablished on the plain for men to
dwell in, and her people still abode on the spurs of many-fountained
Ida. Dardanus had a son, king Erichthonius, who was wealthiest of
all men living; he had three thousand mares that fed by the
water-meadows, they and their foals with them. Boreas was enamoured of
them as they were feeding, and covered them in the semblance of a
dark-maned stallion. Twelve filly foals did they conceive and bear
him, and these, as they sped over the rich plain, would go bounding on
over the ripe ears of corn and not break them; or again when they
would disport themselves on the broad back of Ocean they could
gallop on the crest of a breaker. Erichthonius begat Tros, king of the
Trojans, and Tros had three noble sons, Ilus, Assaracus, and
Ganymede who was comeliest of mortal men; wherefore the gods carried
him off to be Jove's cupbearer, for his beauty's sake, that he might
dwell among the immortals. Ilus begat Laomedon, and Laomedon begat
Tithonus, Priam, Lampus, Clytius, and Hiketaon of the stock of Mars.
But Assaracus was father to Capys, and Capys to Anchises, who was my
father, while Hector is son to Priam.
"Such do I declare my blood and lineage, but as for valour, Jove
gives it or takes it as he will, for he is lord of all. And now let
there be no more of this prating in mid-battle as though we were
children. We could fling taunts without end at one another; a
hundred-oared galley would not hold them. The tongue can run all
whithers and talk all wise; it can go here and there, and as a man
says, so shall he be gainsaid. What is the use of our bandying hard
like women who when they fall foul of one another go out and wrangle
in the streets, one half true and the other lies, as rage inspires
them? No words of yours shall turn me now that I am fain to fight-
therefore let us make trial of one another with our spears."
As he spoke he drove his spear at the great and terrible shield of
Achilles, which rang out as the point struck it. The son of Peleus
held the shield before him with his strong hand, and he was afraid,
for he deemed that Aeneas's spear would go through it quite easily,
not reflecting that the god's glorious gifts were little likely to
yield before the blows of mortal men; and indeed Aeneas's spear did
not pierce the shield, for the layer of gold, gift of the god,
stayed the point. It went through two layers, but the god had made the
shield in five, two of bronze, the two innermost ones of tin, and
one of gold; it was in this that the spear was stayed.
Achilles in his turn threw, and struck the round shield of Aeneas at
the very edge, where the bronze was thinnest; the spear of Pelian
ash went clean through, and the shield rang under the blow; Aeneas was
afraid, and crouched backwards, holding the shield away from him;
the spear, however, flew over his back, and stuck quivering in the
ground, after having gone through both circles of the sheltering
shield. Aeneas though he had avoided the spear, stood still, blinded
with fear and grief because the weapon had gone so near him; then
Achilles sprang furiously upon him, with a cry as of death and with
his keen blade drawn, and Aeneas seized a great stone, so huge that
two men, as men now are, would be unable to lift it, but Aeneas
wielded it quite easily.
Aeneas would then have struck Achilles as he was springing towards
him, either on the helmet, or on the shield that covered him, and
Achilles would have closed with him and despatched him with his sword,
had not Neptune lord of the earthquake been quick to mark, and said
forthwith to the immortals, "Alas, I am sorry for great Aeneas, who
will now go down to the house of Hades, vanquished by the son of
Peleus. Fool that he was to give ear to the counsel of Apollo.
Apollo will never save him from destruction. Why should this man
suffer when he is guiltless, to no purpose, and in another's
quarrel? Has he not at all times offered acceptable sacrifice to the
gods that dwell in heaven? Let us then snatch him from death's jaws,
lest the son of Saturn be angry should Achilles slay him. It is fated,
moreover, that he should escape, and that the race of Dardanus, whom
Jove loved above all the sons born to him of mortal women, shall not
perish utterly without seed or sign. For now indeed has Jove hated the
blood of Priam, while Aeneas shall reign over the Trojans, he and
his children's children that shall be born hereafter."
Then answered Juno, "Earth-shaker, look to this matter yourself, and
consider concerning Aeneas, whether you will save him, or suffer
him, brave though he be, to fall by the hand of Achilles son of
Peleus. For of a truth we two, I and Pallas Minerva, have sworn full
many a time before all the immortals, that never would we shield
Trojans from destruction, not even when all Troy is burning in the
flames that the Achaeans shall kindle."
When earth-encircling Neptune heard this he went into the battle
amid the clash of spears, and came to the place where Achilles and
Aeneas were. Forthwith he shed a darkness before the eyes of the son
of Peleus, drew the bronze-headed ashen spear from the shield of
Aeneas, and laid it at the feet of Achilles. Then he lifted Aeneas
on high from off the earth and hurried him away. Over the heads of
many a band of warriors both horse and foot did he soar as the god's
hand sped him, till he came to the very fringe of the battle where the
Cauconians were arming themselves for fight. Neptune, shaker of the
earth, then came near to him and said, Aeneas, what god has egged
you on to this folly in fighting the son of Peleus, who is both a
mightier man of valour and more beloved of heaven than you are? Give
way before him whensoever you meet him, lest you go down to the
house of Hades even though fate would have it otherwise. When Achilles
is dead you may then fight among the foremost undaunted, for none
other of the Achaeans shall slay you."
The god left him when he had given him these instructions, and at
once removed the darkness from before the eyes of Achilles, who opened
them wide indeed and said in great anger, "Alas! what marvel am I
now beholding? Here is my spear upon the ground, but I see not him
whom I meant to kill when I hurled it. Of a truth Aeneas also must
be under heaven's protection, although I had thought his boasting
was idle. Let him go hang; he will be in no mood to fight me
further, seeing how narrowly he has missed being killed. I will now
give my orders to the Danaans and attack some other of the Trojans."
He sprang forward along the line and cheered his men on as he did
so. "Let not the Trojans," he cried, "keep you at arm's length,
Achaeans, but go for them and fight them man for man. However
valiant I may be, I cannot give chase to so many and fight all of
them. Even Mars, who is an immortal, or Minerva, would shrink from
flinging himself into the jaws of such a fight and laying about him;
nevertheless, so far as in me lies I will show no slackness of hand or
foot nor want of endurance, not even for a moment; I will utterly
break their ranks, and woe to the Trojan who shall venture within
reach of my spear."
Thus did he exhort them. Meanwhile Hector called upon the Trojans
and declared that he would fight Achilles. "Be not afraid, proud
Trojans," said he, "to face the son of Peleus; I could fight gods
myself if the battle were one of words only, but they would be more
than a match for me, if we had to use our spears. Even so the deed
of Achilles will fall somewhat short of his word; he will do in
part, and the other part he will clip short. I will go up against
him though his hands be as fire- though his hands be fire and his
strength iron."
Thus urged the Trojans lifted up their spears against the
Achaeans, and raised the cry of battle as they flung themselves into
the midst of their ranks. But Phoebus Apollo came up to Hector and
said, "Hector, on no account must you challenge Achilles to single
combat; keep a lookout for him while you are under cover of the others
and away from the thick of the fight, otherwise he will either hit you
with a spear or cut you down at close quarters."
Thus he spoke, and Hector drew back within the crowd, for he was
afraid when he heard what the god had said to him. Achilles then
sprang upon the Trojans with a terrible cry, clothed in valour as with
a garment. First he killed Iphition son of Otrynteus, a leader of much
people whom a naiad nymph had borne to Otrynteus waster of cities,
in the land of Hyde under the snowy heights of Mt. Tmolus. Achilles
struck him full on the head as he was coming on towards him, and split
it clean in two; whereon he fell heavily to the ground and Achilles
vaunted over him saying, "You he low, son of Otrynteus, mighty hero;
your death is here, but your lineage is on the Gygaean lake where your
father's estate lies, by Hyllus, rich in fish, and the eddying
waters of Hermus."
Thus did he vaunt, but darkness closed the eyes of the other. The
chariots of the Achaeans cut him up as their wheels passed over him in
the front of the battle, and after him Achilles killed Demoleon, a
valiant man of war and son to Antenor. He struck him on the temple
through his bronze-cheeked helmet. The helmet did not stay the
spear, but it went right on, crushing the bone so that the brain
inside was shed in all directions, and his lust of fighting was ended.
Then he struck Hippodamas in the midriff as he was springing down from
his chariot in front of him, and trying to escape. He breathed his
last, bellowing like a bull bellows when young men are dragging him to
offer him in sacrifice to the King of Helice, and the heart of the
earth-shaker is glad; even so did he bellow as he lay dying.
Achilles then went in pursuit of Polydorus son of Priam, whom his
father had always forbidden to fight because he was the youngest of
his sons, the one he loved best, and the fastest runner. He, in his
folly and showing off the fleetness of his feet, was rushing about
among front ranks until he lost his life, for Achilles struck him in
the middle of the back as he was darting past him: he struck him
just at the golden fastenings of his belt and where the two pieces
of the double breastplate overlapped. The point of the spear pierced
him through and came out by the navel, whereon he fell groaning on
to his knees and a cloud of darkness overshadowed him as he sank
holding his entrails in his hands.
When Hector saw his brother Polydorus with his entrails in his hands
and sinking down upon the ground, a mist came over his eyes, and he
could not bear to keep longer at a distance; he therefore poised his
spear and darted towards Achilles like a flame of fire. When
Achilles saw him he bounded forward and vaunted saying, "This is he
that has wounded my heart most deeply and has slain my beloved
comrade. Not for long shall we two quail before one another on the
highways of war."
He looked fiercely on Hector and said, "Draw near, that you may meet
your doom the sooner." Hector feared him not and answered, "Son of
Peleus, think not that your words can scare me as though I were a
child; I too if I will can brag and talk unseemly; I know that you are
a mighty warrior, mightier by far than I, nevertheless the issue
lies in the the lap of heaven whether I, worse man though I be, may
not slay you with my spear, for this too has been found keen ere now."
He hurled his spear as he spoke, but Minerva breathed upon it, and
though she breathed but very lightly she turned it back from going
towards Achilles, so that it returned to Hector and lay at his feet in
front of him. Achilles then sprang furiously on him with a loud cry,
bent on killing him, but Apollo caught him up easily as a god can, and
hid him in a thick darkness. Thrice did Achilles spring towards him
spear in hand, and thrice did he waste his blow upon the air. When
he rushed forward for the fourth time as though he were a god, he
shouted aloud saying, "Hound, this time too you have escaped death-
but of a truth it came exceedingly near you. Phoebus Apollo, to whom
it seems you pray before you go into battle, has again saved you;
but if I too have any friend among the gods I will surely make an
end of you when I come across you at some other time. Now, however,
I will pursue and overtake other Trojans."
On this he struck Dryops with his spear, about the middle of his
neck, and he fell headlong at his feet. There he let him lie and
stayed Demouchus son of Philetor, a man both brave and of great
stature, by hitting him on the knee with a spear; then he smote him
with his sword and killed him. After this he sprang on Laogonus and
Dardanus, sons of Bias, and threw them from their chariot, the one
with a blow from a thrown spear, while the other he cut down in
hand-to-hand fight. There was also Tros the son of Alastor- he came up
to Achilles and clasped his knees in the hope that he would spare
him and not kill him but let him go, because they were both of the
same age. Fool, he might have known that he should not prevail with
him, for the man was in no mood for pity or forbearance but was in
grim earnest. Therefore when Tros laid hold of his knees and sought
a hearing for his prayers, Achilles drove his sword into his liver,
and the liver came rolling out, while his bosom was all covered with
the black blood that welled from the wound. Thus did death close his
eyes as he lay lifeless.
Achilles then went up to Mulius and struck him on the ear with a
spear, and the bronze spear-head came right out at the other ear. He
also struck Echeclus son of Agenor on the head with his sword, which
became warm with the blood, while death and stern fate closed the eyes
of Echeclus. Next in order the bronze point of his spear wounded
Deucalion in the fore-arm where the sinews of the elbow are united,
whereon he waited Achilles' onset with his arm hanging down and
death staring him in the face. Achilles cut his head off with a blow
from his sword and flung it helmet and all away from him, and the
marrow came oozing out of his backbone as he lay. He then went in
pursuit of Rhigmus, noble son of Peires, who had come from fertile
Thrace, and struck him through the middle with a spear which fixed
itself in his belly, so that he fell headlong from his chariot. He
also speared Areithous squire to Rhigmus in the back as he was turning
his horses in flight, and thrust him from his chariot, while the
horses were struck with panic.
As a fire raging in some mountain glen after long drought- and the
dense forest is in a blaze, while the wind carries great tongues of
fire in every direction- even so furiously did Achilles rage, wielding
his spear as though he were a god, and giving chase to those whom he
would slay, till the dark earth ran with blood. Or as one who yokes
broad-browed oxen that they may tread barley in a threshing-floor- and
it is soon bruised small under the feet of the lowing cattle- even
so did the horses of Achilles trample on the shields and bodies of the
slain. The axle underneath and the railing that ran round the car were
bespattered with clots of blood thrown up by the horses' hoofs, and
from the tyres of the wheels; but the son of Peleus pressed on to
win still further glory, and his hands were bedrabbled with gore.

poem by , translated by Samuel ButlerReport problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Pharsalia - Book 1

The Crossing of the Rubicon

Wars worse than civil on Emathian plains,
And crime let loose we sing; how Rome's high race
Plunged in her vitals her victorious sword;
Armies akin embattled, with the force
Of all the shaken earth bent on the fray;
And burst asunder, to the common guilt,
A kingdom's compact; eagle with eagle met,
Standard to standard, spear opposed to spear.

Whence, citizens, this rage, this boundless lust
To sate barbarians with the blood of Rome?
Did not the shade of Crassus, wandering still,
Cry for his vengeance? Could ye not have spoiled,
To deck your trophies, haughty Babylon?
Why wage campaigns that send no laurels home?
What lands, what oceans might have been the prize
Of all the blood thus shed in civil strife!
Where Titan rises, where night hides the stars,
'Neath southern noons all quivering with heat,
Or where keen frost that never yields to spring
In icy fetters binds the Scythian main:
Long since barbarians by the Eastern sea
And far Araxes' stream, and those who know
(If any such there be) the birth of Nile
Had felt our yoke. Then, Rome, upon thyself
With all the world beneath thee, if thou must,
Wage this nefarious war, but not till then.

Now view the houses with half-ruined walls
Throughout Italian cities; stone from stone
Has slipped and lies at length; within the home
No guard is found, and in the ancient streets so
Scarce seen the passer by. The fields in vain,
Rugged with brambles and unploughed for years,
Ask for the hand of man; for man is not.
Nor savage Pyrrhus nor the Punic horde
E'er caused such havoc: to no foe was given
To strike thus deep; but civil strife alone
Dealt the fell wound and left the death behind.
Yet if the fates could find no other way
For Nero coming, nor the gods with ease
Gain thrones in heaven; and if the Thunderer
Prevailed not till the giant's war was done,
Complaint is silent. For this boon supreme
Welcome, ye gods, be wickedness and crime;
Thronged with our dead be dire Pharsalia's fields,
Be Punic ghosts avenged by Roman blood;
Add to these ills the toils of Mutina;
Perusia's dearth; on Munda's final field
The shock of battle joined; let Leucas' Cape
Shatter the routed navies; servile hands
Unsheath the sword on fiery Etna's slopes:
Still Rome is gainer by the civil war.
Thou, Caesar, art her prize. When thou shalt choose,
Thy watch relieved, to seek divine abodes,
All heaven rejoicing; and shalt hold a throne,
Or else elect to govern Phoebus' car
And light a subject world that shall not dread
To owe her brightness to a different Sun;
All shall concede thy right: do what thou wilt,
Select thy Godhead, and the central clime
Whence thou shalt rule the world with power divine.
And yet the Northern or the Southern Pole
We pray thee, choose not; but in rays direct
Vouchsafe thy radiance to thy city Rome.
Press thou on either side, the universe
Should lose its equipoise: take thou the midst,
And weight the scales, and let that part of heaven
Where Caesar sits, be evermore serene
And smile upon us with unclouded blue.
Then may all men lay down their arms, and peace
Through all the nations reign, and shut the gates
That close the temple of the God of War.
Be thou my help, to me e'en now divine!
Let Delphi's steep her own Apollo guard,
And Nysa keep her Bacchus, uninvoked.
Rome is my subject and my muse art thou!

First of such deeds I purpose to unfold
The causes -- task immense -- what drove to arms
A maddened nation, and from all the world
Struck peace away.

By envious fate's decrees
Abide not long the mightiest lords of earth;
Beneath too heavy a burden great the fall.
Thus Rome o'ergrew her strength. So when that hour,
The last in all the centuries, shall sound
The world's disruption, all things shall revert
To that primaeval chaos, stars on stars
Shall crash; and fiery meteors from the sky
Plunge in the ocean. Earth shall then no more
Front with her bulwark the encroaching sea:
The moon, indignant at her path oblique,
Shall drive her chariot 'gainst her brother Sun
And claim the day for hers; and discord huge
Shall rend the spheres asunder.
On themselves
Great powers are dashed: such bounds the gods have placed
Upon the prosperous; nor doth Fortune lend
To any nations, so that they may strike
The sovereign power that rules the earth and sea,
The weapons of her envy. Triple reign
And baleful compact for divided power --
Ne'er without peril separate before --
Made Rome their victim. Oh! Ambition blind,
That stirred the leaders so to join their strength
In peace that ended ill, their prize the world!
For while the Sea on Earth and Earth on Air
Lean for support: while Titan runs his course,
And night with day divides an equal sphere,
No king shall brook his fellow, nor shall power
Endure a rival. Search no foreign lands:
These walls are proof that in their infant days
A hamlet, not the world, was prize enough
To cause the shedding of a brother's blood.

Concord, on discord based, brief time endured,
Unwelcome to the rivals; and alone
Crassus delayed the advent of the war.
Like to the slender neck that separates
The seas of Graecia: should it be engulfed
Then would th' Ionian and Aegean mains
Break each on other: thus when Crassus fell,
Who held apart the chiefs, in piteous death,
And stained Assyria's plains with Latian blood,
Defeat in Parthia loosed the war in Rome.
More in that victory than ye thought was won,
Ye sons of Arsaces; your conquered foes
Took at your hands the rage of civil strife.
The mighty realm that earth and sea contained,
To which all peoples bowed, split by the sword,
Could not find space for two . For Julia bore,
Cut off by fate unpitying, the bond
Of that ill-omened marriage, and the pledge
Of blood united, to the shades below.
Had'st thou but longer stayed, it had been thine
To keep the husband and the sire apart,
And, as the Sabine women did of old,
Dash down the threatening swords and join the hands.
With thee all trust was buried, and the chiefs
Could give their courage vent, and rushed to war.

Lest newer glories triumphs past obscure,
Late conquered Gaul the bays from pirates won,
This, Magnus, was thy fear; thy roll of fame,
Of glorious deeds accomplished for the state
Allows no equal; nor will Caesar's pride
A prior rival in his triumphs brook;
Which had the right 'twere impious to enquire;
Each for his cause can vouch a judge supreme;
The victor, heaven: the vanquished, Cato, thee.
Nor were they like to like: the one in years
Now verging towards decay, in times of peace
Had unlearned war; but thirsting for applause
Had given the people much, and proud of fame
His former glory cared not to renew,
But joyed in plaudits of the theatre,
His gift to Rome: his triumphs in the past,
Himself the shadow of a mighty name.
As when some oak, in fruitful field sublime,
Adorned with venerable spoils, and gifts
Of bygone leaders, by its weight to earth
With feeble roots still clings; its naked arms
And hollow trunk, though leafless, give a shade;
And though condemned beneath the tempest's shock
To speedy fall, amid the sturdier trees
In sacred grandeur rules the forest still.
No such repute had Ceesar won, nor fame;
But energy was his that could not rest --
The only shame he knew was not to win.
Keen and unvanquished, where revenge or hope
Might call, resistless would he strike the blow
With sword unpitying: every victory won
Reaped to the full; the favour of the gods
Pressed to the utmost; all that stayed his course
Aimed at the summit of power, was thrust aside:
Triumph his joy, though ruin marked his track.
As parts the clouds a bolt by winds compelled,
With crack of riven air and crash of worlds,
And veils the light of day, and on mankind,
Blasting their vision with its flames oblique,
Sheds deadly fright; then turning to its home, '
Nought but the air opposing, through its path
Spreads havoc, and collects its scattered fires.

Such were the hidden motives of the chiefs;
But in the public life the seeds of war
Their hold had taken, such as are the doom
Of potent nations: and when fortune poured
Through Roman gates the booty of a world,
The curse of luxury, chief bane of states,
Fell on her sons. Farewell the ancient ways!
Behold the pomp profuse, the houses decked
With ornament; their hunger loathed the food
Of former days; men wore attire for dames
Scarce fitly fashioned; poverty was scorned,
Fruitful of warriors; and from all the world
Came that which ruins nations; while the fields
Furrowed of yore by great Camillus' plough,
Or by the mattock which a Curius held,
Lost their once narrow bounds, and widening tracts
By hinds unknown were tilled. No nation this
To sheathe the sword, with tranquil peace content
And with her liberties; but prone to ire;
Crime holding light as though by want compelled:
And great the glory in the minds of men,
Ambition lawful even at point of sword,
To rise above their country: might their law:
Decrees are forced from Senate and from Plebs:
Consul and Tribune break the laws alike:
Bought are the fasces, and the people sell
For gain their favour: bribery's fatal curse
Corrupts the annual contests of the Field.
Then covetous usury rose, and interest
Was greedier ever as the seasons came;
Faith tottered; thousands saw their gain in war.

Caesar has crossed the Alps, his mighty soul
Great tumults pondering and the coming shock.
Now on the marge of Rubicon, he saw,
In face most sorrowful and ghostly guise,
His trembling country's image; huge it seemed
Through mists of night obscure; and hoary hair
Streamed from the lofty front with turrets crowned:
Torn were her locks and naked were her arms.
Then thus, with broken sighs the Vision spake:
"What seek ye, men of Rome? and whither hence
Bear ye my standards? If by right ye come,
My citizens, stay here; these are the bounds;
No further dare." But Caesar's hair was stiff
With horror as he gazed, and ghastly dread
Restrained his footsteps on the further bank.
Then spake he, "Thunderer, who from the rock
Tarpeian seest the wall of mighty Rome;
Gods of my race who watched o'er Troy of old;
Thou Jove of Alba's height, and Vestal fires,
And rites of Romulus erst rapt to heaven,
And God-like Rome; be friendly to my quest.
Not with offence or hostfie arms I come,
Thy Caesar, conqueror by land and sea,
Thy soldier here and wheresoe'er thou wilt:
No other's; his, his only be the guilt
Whose acts make me thy foe.' He gives the word
And bids his standards cross the swollen stream.
So in the wastes of Afric's burning clime
The lion crouches as his foes draw near,
Feeding his wrath the while, his lashing tail
Provokes his fury; stiff upon his neck
Bristles his mane: deep from his gaping jaws
Resounds a muttered growl, and should a lance
Or javelin reach him from the hunter's ring,
Scorning the puny scratch he bounds afield.

From modest fountain blood-red Rubicon
In summer's heat flows on; his pigmy tide
Creeps through the valleys and with slender marge
Divides the Italian peasant from the Gaul.
Then winter gave him strength, and fraught with rain
The third day's crescent moon; while Eastern winds
Thawed from the Alpine slopes the yielding snow.
The cavalry first form across the stream '
To break the torrent's force; the rest with ease
Beneath their shelter gain the further bank.
When Csesar crossed and trod beneath his feet
The soil of Italy's forbidden fields,
"Here," spake he, "peace, here broken laws be left;
Farewell to treaties. Fortune, lead me on;
War is our judge, and in the fates our trust."
Then in the shades of night he leads the troops
Swifter than Balearic sling or shaft
Winged by retreating Parthian, to the walls
Of threatened Rimini, while fled the stars,
Save Lucifer, before the coming sun,
Whose fires were veiled in clouds, by south wind driven,
Or else at heaven's command: and thus drew on
The first dark morning of the civil war.

Now stand the troops within the captured town,
Their standards planted; and the trumpet clang
Rings forth in harsh alarums, giving note
Of impious strife: roused from their sleep the men
Rush to the hall and snatch the ancient arms
Long hanging through the years of peace; the shield
With crumbling frame; dark with the tooth of rust
Their swords ; and javelins with blunted point.
But when the well-known signs and eagles shone,
And Caesar towering o'er the throng was seen,
They shook for terror, fear possessed their limbs,
And thoughts unuttered stirred within their souls.
"O miserable those to whom their home
Denies the peace that all men else enjoy!
Placed as we are beside the Northern bounds
And scarce a footstep from the restless Gaul,
We fall the first; would that our lot had been
Beneath the Eastern sky, or frozen North,
To lead a wandering life, rather than keep
The gates of Latium. Brennus sacked the town
And Hannibal, and all the Teuton hosts.
For when the fate of Rome is in the scale
By this path war advances." Thus they moan
Their fears but speak them not; no sound is heard
Giving their anguish utterance: as when
In depth of winter all the fields are still,
The birds are voiceless and no sound is heard
To break the silence of the central sea.
But when the day had broken through the shades
Of chilly darkness, lo! the torch of war!
For by the hand of Fate is swift dispersed
All Caesar's shame of battle, and his mind
Scarce doubted more; and Fortune toiled to make
His action just and give him cause for arms.
For while Rome doubted and the tongues of men
Spoke of the chiefs who won them rights of yore,
The hostile Senate, in contempt of right,
Drove out the Tribunes. They to Caesar's camp
With Curio hasten, who of venal tongue,
Bold, prompt, persuasive, had been wont to preach
Of Freedom to the people, and to call
Upon the chiefs to lay their weapons down .
And when he saw how deeply Caesar mused,
"While from the rostrum I had power," he said,
To call the populace to aid thy cause,
By this my voice against the Senate's will
Was thy command prolonged. But silenced now
Are laws in war: we driven from our homes;
Yet is our exile willing; for thine arms
Shall make us citizens of Rome again.
Strike; for no strength as yet the foe hath gained.
Occasion calls, delay shall mar it soon:
Like risk, like labour, thou hast known before,
But never such reward. Could Gallia hold
Thine armies ten long years ere victory came,
That little nook of earth? One paltry fight
Or twain, fought out by thy resistless hand,
And Rome for thee shall have subdued the world:
'Tis true no triumph now would bring thee home;
No captive tribes would grace thy chariot wheels
Winding in pomp around the ancient hill.
Spite gnaws the factions; for thy conquests won
Scarce shalt thou be unpunished. Yet 'tis fate
Thou should'st subdue thy kinsman: share the world
With him thou canst not; rule thou canst, alone."
As when at Elis' festival a horse
In stable pent gnaws at his prison bars
Impatient, and should clamour from without
Strike on his ear, bounds furious at restraint,
So then was Caesar, eager for the fight,
Stirred by the words of Curio. To the ranks
He bids his soldiers; with majestic mien
And hand commanding silence as they come.
"Comrades," he cried, "victorious returned,
Who by my side for ten long years have faced,
'Mid Alpine winters and on Arctic shores,
The thousand dangers of the battle-field --
Is this our country's welcome, this her prize
For death and wounds and Roman blood outpoured?
Rome arms her choicest sons; the sturdy oaks
Are felled to make a fleet; -- what could she more
If from the Alps fierce Hannibal were come
With all his Punic host? By land and sea
Caesar shall fly! Fly? Though in adverse war
Our best had fallen, and the savage Gaul
Were hard upon our track, we would not fly.
And now, when fortune smiles and kindly gods
Beckon us on to glory! -- Let him come
Fresh from his years of peace, with all his crowd
Of conscript burgesses, Marcellus' tongue
And Cato's empty name! We will not fly.
Shall Eastern hordes and greedy hirelings keep
Their loved Pompeius ever at the helm?
Shall chariots of triumph be for him
Though youth and law forbad them? Shall he seize
On Rome's chief honours ne'er to be resigned?
And what of harvests blighted through the world
And ghastly famine made to serve his ends?
Who hath forgotten how Pompeius' bands
Seized on the forum, and with glittering arms
Made outraged justice tremble, while their swords
Hemmed in the judgment-seat where Milo stood?
And now when worn and old and ripe for rest ,
Greedy of power, the impious sword again
He draws. As tigers in Hyrcanian woods
Wandering, or in the caves that saw their birth,
Once having lapped the blood of slaughtered kine,
Shall never cease from rage; e'en so this whelp
Of cruel Sulla, nursed in civil war,
Outstrips his master; and the tongue which licked
That reeking weapon ever thirsts for more.
Stain once the lips with blood, no other meal
They shall enjoy. And shall there be no end
Of these long years of power and of crime?
Nay, this one lesson, e'er it be too late,
Learn of thy gentle Sulla -- to retire!
Of old his victory o'er Cilician thieves
And Pontus' weary monarch gave him fame,
By poison scarce attained. His latest prize
Shall I be, Caesar, I, who would not quit
My conquering eagles at his proud command?
Nay, if no triumph is reserved for me,
Let these at least of long and toilsome war
'Neath other leaders the rewards enjoy.
Where shall the weary soldier find his rest?
What cottage homes their joys, what fields their fruit
Shall to our veterans yield? Will Magnus say
That pirates only till the fields alight?
Unfurl your standards; victory gilds them yet,
As through those glorious years. Deny our rights!
He that denies them makes our quarrel just.
Nay! use the strength that we have made our own.
No booty seek we, nor imperial power.
This would-be ruler of subservient Rome
We force to quit his grasp; and Heaven shall smile
On those who seek to drag the tyrant down."

Thus Caesar spake; but doubtful murmurs ran
Throughout the listening crowd, this way and that
Their wishes urging them; the thoughts of home
And household gods and kindred gave them pause:
But fear of Caesar and the pride of war
Their doubts resolved. Then Laelius, who wore
The well-earned crown for Roman life preserved,
The foremost Captain of the army, spake:
"O greatest leader of the Roman name,
If 'tis thy wish the very truth to hear
'Tis mine to speak it; we complain of this,
That gifted with such strength thou did'st refrain
From using it. Had'st thou no trust in us?
While the hot life-blood fills these glowing veins,
While these strong arms avail to hurl the lance,
Wilt thou make peace and bear the Senate's rule?
Is civil conquest then so base and vile?
Lead us through Scythian deserts, lead us where
The inhospitable Syrtes line the shore
Of Afric's burning sands, or where thou wilt:
This hand, to leave a conquered world behind,
Held firm the oar that tamed the Northern Sea
And Rhine's swift torrent foaming to the main.
To follow thee fate gives me now the power:
The will was mine before. No citizen
I count the man 'gainst whom thy trumpets sound.
By ten campaigns of victory, I swear,
By all thy world-wide triumphs, though with hand
Unwilling, should'st thou now demand the life
Of sire or brother or of faithful spouse,
Caesar, the life were thine. To spoil the gods
And sack great Juno's temple on the hill,
To plant our arms o'er Tiber's yellow stream,
To measure out the camp, against the wall
To drive the fatal ram, and raze the town,
This arm shall not refuse, though Rome the prize."

His comrades swore consent with lifted hands
And vowed to follow wheresoe'er he led.
And such a clamour rent the sky as when
Some Thracian blast on Ossa's pine-clad rocks
Falls headlong, and the loud re-echoing woods,
Or bending, or rebounding from the stroke,
In sounding chorus lift the roar on high.

When Csesar saw them welcome thus the war
And Fortune leading on, and favouring fates,
He seized the moment, called his troops from Gaul,
And breaking up his camp set on for Rome.

The tents are vacant by Lake Leman's side;
The camps upon the beetling crags of Vosges
No longer hold the warlike Lingon down,
Fierce in his painted arms; Isere is left,
Who past his shallows gliding, flows at last
Into the current of more famous Rhone,
To reach the ocean in another name.
The fair-haired people of Cevennes are free:
Soft Aude rejoicing bears no Roman keel,
Nor pleasant Var, since then Italia's bound;
The harbour sacred to Alcides' name
Where hollow crags encroach upon the sea,
Is left in freedom: there nor Zephyr gains
Nor Caurus access, but the Circian blast
Forbids the roadstead by Monaecus' hold.
And others left the doubtful shore, which sea
And land alternate claim, whene'er the tide
Pours in amain or when the wave rolls back --
Be it the wind which thus compels the deep
From furthest pole, and leaves it at the flood;
Or else the moon that makes the tide to swell,
Or else, in search of fuel for his fires,
The sun draws heavenward the ocean wave; --
Whate'er the cause that may control the main
I leave to others; let the gods for me
Lock in their breasts the secrets of the world.

Those who kept watch beside the western shore
Have moved their standards home; the happy Gaul
Rejoices in their absence; fair Garonne
Through peaceful meads glides onward to the sea.
And where the river broadens, neath the cape
Her quiet harbour sleeps. No outstretched arm
Except in mimic war now hurls the lance.
No skilful warrior of Seine directs
The scythed chariot 'gainst his country's foe.
Now rest the Belgians, and the Arvernian race
That boasts our kinship by descent from Troy;
And those brave rebels whose undaunted hands
Were dipped in Cotta's blood, and those who wear
Sarmatian garb. Batavia's warriors fierce
No longer listen for the bugle call,
Nor those who dwell where Rhone's swift eddies sweep
Saone to the ocean; nor the mountain tribes
Who dwell about its source. Thou, too, oh Treves,
Rejoicest that the war has left thy bounds.
Ligurian tribes, now shorn, in ancient days
First of the long-haired nations, on whose necks
Once flowed the auburn locks in pride supreme;
And those who pacify with blood accursed
Savage Teutates, Hesus' horrid shrines,
And Taranis' altars cruel as were those
Loved by Diana, goddess of the north;
All these now rest in peace. And you, ye Bards,
Whose martial lays send down to distant times
The fame of valorous deeds in battle done,
Pour forth in safety more abundant song.
While you, ye Druids , when the war was done,
To mysteries strange and hateful rites returned:
To you alone 'tis given the gods and stars
To know or not to know; secluded groves
Your dwelling-place, and forests far remote.
If what ye sing be true, the shades of men
Seek not the dismal homes of Erebus
Or death's pale kingdoms; but the breath of life
Still rules these bodies in another age --
Life on this hand and that, and death between.
Happy the peoples 'neath the Northern Star
In this their false belief; for them no fear
Of that which frights all others: they with hands
And hearts undaunted rush upon the foe
And scorn to spare the life that shall return.
Ye too depart who kept the banks of Rhine
Safe from the foe, and leave the Teuton tribes
Free at their will to march upon the world.

Caesar, with strength increased and gathered troops
New efforts daring, spreads his bands afar
Through Italy, and fills the neighbouring towns.
Then empty rumour to well-grounded fear
Gave strength, and heralding the coming war
In hundred voices 'midst the people spread.
One cries in terror, "Swift the squadrons come
Where Nar with Tiber joins: and where, in meads
By oxen loved, Mevania spreads her walls,
Fierce Caesar hurries his barbarian horse.
Eagles and standards wave above his head,
And broad the march that sweeps across the land."
Nor is he pictured truly; greater far
More fierce and pitiless -- from conquered foes
Advancing; in his rear the peoples march.
Snatched from their homes between the Rhine and Alps,
To pillage Rome while Roman chiefs look on.
Thus each man's panic thought swells rumour's lie:
They fear the phantoms they themselves create.
Nor does the terror seize the crowd alone:
But fled the Fathers, to the Consuls first
Issuing their hated order, as for war;
And doubting of their safety, doubting too
Where lay the peril, through the choking gates,
Each where he would, rushed all the people forth.
Thou would'st believe that blazing to the torch
Were men's abodes, or nodding to their fall.
So streamed they onwards, frenzied with affright,
As though in exile only could they find
Hope for their country. So, when southern blasts
From Libyan whirlpools drive the boundless main,
And mast and sail crash down upon a ship
With ponderous weight, but still the frame is sound,
Her crew and captain leap into the sea,
Each making shipwreck for himself. 'Twas thus
They passed the city gates and fled to war.
No aged parent now could stay his son;
Nor wife her spouse, nor did they pray the gods
To grant the safety of their fatherland.
None linger on the threshold for a look
Of their loved city, though perchance the last.

Ye gods, who lavish priceless gifts on men,
Nor care to guard them, see victorious Rome
Teeming with life, chief city of the world,
With ample walls that all mankind might hold,
To coming Caesar left an easy prey.
The Roman soldier, when in foreign lands
Pressed by the enemy, in narrow trench
And hurried mound finds guard enough to make
His slumber safe; but thou, imperial Rome,
Alone on rumour of advancing foes
Art left a desert, and thy battlements
They trust not for one night. Yet for their fear
This one excuse was left; Pompeius fled.
Nor found they room for hope; for nature gave
Unerring portents of worse ills to come.
The angry gods filled earth and air and sea
With frequent prodigies; in darkest nights
Strange constellations sparkled through the gloom:
The pole was all afire, and torches flew
Across the depths of heaven; with horrid hair
A blazing comet stretched from east to west
And threatened change to kingdoms. From the blue
Pale lightning flashed, and in the murky air
The fire took divers shapes; a lance afar
Would seem to quiver or a misty torch;
A noiseless thunderbolt from cloudless sky
Rushed down, and drawing fire in northern parts
Plunged on the summit of the Alban mount.
The stars that run their courses in the night
Shone in full daylight; and the orbed moon,
Hid by the shade of earth, grew pale and wan.
The sun himself, when poised in mid career,
Shrouded his burning car in blackest gloom
And plunged the world in darkness, so that men
Despaired of day -- like as he veiled his light
From that fell banquet which Mycenae saw
The jaws of Etna were agape with flame
That rose not heavenwards, but headlong fell
In smoking stream upon the Italian flank.
Then black Charybdis, from her boundless depth,
Threw up a gory sea. In piteous tones
Howled the wild dogs; the Vestal fire was snatched
From off the altar; and the flame that crowned
The Latin festival was split in twain,
As on the Theban pyre in ancient days;
Earth tottered on its base: the mighty Alps
From off their summits shook th' eternal snow .
In huge upheaval Ocean raised his waves
O'er Calpe's rock and Atlas' hoary head.
The native gods shed tears, and holy sweat
Dropped from the idols; gifts in temples fell:
Foul birds defiled the day; beasts left the woods
And made their lair among the streets of Rome.
All this we hear; nay more: dumb oxen spake;
Monsters were brought to birth and mothers shrieked
At their own offspring; words of dire import
From Cumae's prophetess were noised abroad.
Bellona's priests with bleeding arms, and slaves
Of Cybele's worship, with ensanguined hair,
Howled chants of havoc and of woe to men.
Arms clashed; and sounding in the pathless woods
Were heard strange voices; spirits walked the earth:
And dead men's ashes muttered from the urn.
Those who live near the walls desert their homes,
For lo! with hissing serpents in her hair,
Waving in downward whirl a blazing pine,
A fiend patrols the town, like that which erst
At Thebes urged on Agave , or which hurled
Lycurgus' bolts, or that which as he came
From Hades seen, at haughty Juno's word,
Brought terror to the soul of Hercules.
Trumpets like those that summon armies forth
Were heard re-echoing in the silent night:
And from the earth arising Sulla's ghost
Sang gloomy oracles, and by Anio's wave
All fled the homesteads, frighted by the shade
Of Marius waking from his broken tomb.

In such dismay they summon, as of yore,
The Tuscan sages to the nation's aid.
Aruns, the eldest, leaving his abode
In desolate Luca, came, well versed in all
The lore of omens; knowing what may mean
The flight of hovering bird, the pulse that beats
In offered victims, and the levin bolt.
All monsters first, by most unnatural birth
Brought into being, in accursd flames
He bids consume.Then round the walls of Rome
Each trembling citizen in turn proceeds.
The priests, chief guardians of the public faith,
With holy sprinkling purge the open space
That borders on the wall; in sacred garb
Follows the lesser crowd: the Vestals come
By priestess led with laurel crown bedecked,
To whom alone is given the right to see
Minerva's effigy that came from Troy
Next come the keepers of the sacred books
And fate's predictions; who from Almo's brook
Bring back Cybebe laved; the augur too
Taught to observe sinister flight of birds;
And those who serve the banquets to the gods;
And Titian brethren; and the priest of Mars,
Proud of the buckler that adorns his neck;
By him the Flamen, on his noble head
The cap of office. While they tread the path
That winds around the walls, the aged seer
Collects the thunderbolts that fell from heaven,
And lays them deep in earth, with muttered words
Naming the spot accursed. Next a steer,
Picked for his swelling neck and beauteous form,
He leads to the altar, and with slanting knife
Spreads on his brow the meal, and pours the wine.
The victim's struggles prove the gods averse;
But when the servers press upon his horns

He bends the knee and yields him to the blow.
No crimson torrent issued at the stroke,
But from the wound a dark empoisoned stream
Ebbed slowly downward. Aruns at the sight
Aghast, upon the entrails of the beast
Essayed to read the anger of the gods.
Their very colour terrified the seer;
Spotted they were and pale, with sable streaks
Of lukewarm gore bespread; the liver damp
With foul disease, and on the hostile part
The angry veins defiant; of the lungs
The fibre hid, and through the vital parts
The membrane small; the heart had ceased to throb;
Blood oozes through the ducts; the caul is split:
And, fatal omen of impending ill,
One lobe o'ergrows the other; of the twain
The one lies flat and sick, the other beats
And keeps the pulse in rapid strokes astir.

Disaster's near approach thus learned, he cries --
"Whate'er may be the purpose of the gods,
'Tis not for me to tell; this offered beast
Not Jove possesses, but the gods below.
We dare not speak our fears, yet fear doth make
The future worse than fact. May all the gods
Prosper the tokens, and the sacrifice
Be void of truth, and Tages
Have vainly taught these mysteries." Such his words
Involved, mysterious. Figulus, to whom
For knowledge of the secret depths of space
And laws harmonious that guide the stars,
Memphis could find no peer, then spake at large:
"Either," he said, "the world and countless orbs
Throughout the ages wander at their will;
Or, if the fates control them, ruin huge
Hangs o'er this city and o'er all mankind.
Shall Earth yawn open and engulph the towns?
Shall scorching heat usurp the temperate air
And fields refuse their timely fruit? The streams
Flow mixed with poison? In what plague, ye gods,
In what destruction shall ye wreak your ire?
Whate'er the truth, the days in which we live
Shall find a doom for many. Had the star
Of baleful Saturn, frigid in the height,
Kindled his lurid fires, the sky had poured
Its torrents forth as in Deucalion's time,
And whelmed the world in waters. Or if thou,
Phoebus, beside the Nemean lion fierce
Wert driving now thy chariot, flames should seize
The universe and set the air ablaze.
These are at peace; but, Mars, why art thou bent
On kindling thus the Scorpion, his tail
Portending evil and his claws aflame?
Deep sunk is kindly Jupiter, and dull
Sweet Venus' star, and rapid Mercury
Stays on his course: Mars only holds the sky.
Why does Orion's sword too brightly shine?
Why planets leave their paths and through the void
Thus journey on obscure? 'Tis war that comes,
Fierce rabid war: the sword shall bear the rule
Confounding justice; hateful crime usurp
The name of virtue; and the havoc spread
Through many a year. But why entreat the gods?
The end Rome longs for and the final peace
Comes with a despot. Draw thou out thy chain
Of lengthening slaughter, and (for such thy fate)
Make good thy liberty through civil war."

The frightened people heard, and as they heard
His words prophetic made them fear the more.
But worse remained; for as on Pindus' slopes
Possessed with fury from the Theban god
Speeds some Bacchante, thus in Roman streets
Behold a matron run, who, in her trance,
Relieves her bosom of the god within.

"Where dost thou snatch me, Paean, to what shore
Through airy regions borne? I see the snows
Of Thracian mountains; and Philippi's plains
Lie broad beneath. But why these battle lines,
No foe to vanquish -- Rome on either hand?
Again I wander 'neath the rosy hues
That paint thine eastern skies, where regal Nile
Meets with his flowing wave the rising tide.
Known to mine eyes that mutilated trunk
That lies upon the sand! Across the seas
By changing whirlpools to the burning climes
Of Libya borne, again I see the hosts
From Thracia brought by fate's command. And now
Thou bear'st me o'er the cloud-compelling Alps
And Pyrenean summits; next to Rome.
There in mid-Senate see the closing scene
Of this foul war in foulest murder done.
Again the factions rise; through all the world
Once more I pass; but give me some new land,
Some other region, Phoebus, to behold!
Washed by the Pontic billows! for these eyes
Already once have seen Philippi's plains!"

The frenzy left her and she speechless fell.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share
Homer

The Iliad: Book 17

Brave Menelaus son of Atreus now came to know that Patroclus had
fallen, and made his way through the front ranks clad in full armour
to bestride him. As a cow stands lowing over her first calf, even so
did yellow-haired Menelaus bestride Patroclus. He held his round
shield and his spear in front of him, resolute to kill any who
should dare face him. But the son of Panthous had also noted the body,
and came up to Menelaus saying, "Menelaus, son of Atreus, draw back,
leave the body, and let the bloodstained spoils be. I was first of the
Trojans and their brave allies to drive my spear into Patroclus, let
me, therefore, have my full glory among the Trojans, or I will take
aim and kill you."
To this Menelaus answered in great anger "By father Jove, boasting
is an ill thing. The pard is not more bold, nor the lion nor savage
wild-boar, which is fiercest and most dauntless of all creatures, than
are the proud sons of Panthous. Yet Hyperenor did not see out the days
of his youth when he made light of me and withstood me, deeming me the
meanest soldier among the Danaans. His own feet never bore him back to
gladden his wife and parents. Even so shall I make an end of you
too, if you withstand me; get you back into the crowd and do not
face me, or it shall be worse for you. Even a fool may be wise after
the event."
Euphorbus would not listen, and said, "Now indeed, Menelaus, shall
you pay for the death of my brother over whom you vaunted, and whose
wife you widowed in her bridal chamber, while you brought grief
unspeakable on his parents. I shall comfort these poor people if I
bring your head and armour and place them in the hands of Panthous and
noble Phrontis. The time is come when this matter shall be fought
out and settled, for me or against me."
As he spoke he struck Menelaus full on the shield, but the spear did
not go through, for the shield turned its point. Menelaus then took
aim, praying to father Jove as he did so; Euphorbus was drawing
back, and Menelaus struck him about the roots of his throat, leaning
his whole weight on the spear, so as to drive it home. The point
went clean through his neck, and his armour rang rattling round him as
he fell heavily to the ground. His hair which was like that of the
Graces, and his locks so deftly bound in bands of silver and gold,
were all bedrabbled with blood. As one who has grown a fine young
olive tree in a clear space where there is abundance of water- the
plant is full of promise, and though the winds beat upon it from every
quarter it puts forth its white blossoms till the blasts of some
fierce hurricane sweep down upon it and level it with the ground- even
so did Menelaus strip the fair youth Euphorbus of his armour after
he had slain him. Or as some fierce lion upon the mountains in the
pride of his strength fastens on the finest heifer in a herd as it
is feeding- first he breaks her neck with his strong jaws, and then
gorges on her blood and entrails; dogs and shepherds raise a hue and
cry against him, but they stand aloof and will not come close to
him, for they are pale with fear- even so no one had the courage to
face valiant Menelaus. The son of Atreus would have then carried off
the armour of the son of Panthous with ease, had not Phoebus Apollo
been angry, and in the guise of Mentes chief of the Cicons incited
Hector to attack him. "Hector," said he, "you are now going after
the horses of the noble son of Aeacus, but you will not take them;
they cannot be kept in hand and driven by mortal man, save only by
Achilles, who is son to an immortal mother. Meanwhile Menelaus son
of Atreus has bestridden the body of Patroclus and killed the
noblest of the Trojans, Euphorbus son of Panthous, so that he can
fight no more."
The god then went back into the toil and turmoil, but the soul of
Hector was darkened with a cloud of grief; he looked along the ranks
and saw Euphorbus lying on the ground with the blood still flowing
from his wound, and Menelaus stripping him of his armour. On this he
made his way to the front like a flame of fire, clad in his gleaming
armour, and crying with a loud voice. When the son of Atreus heard
him, he said to himself in his dismay, "Alas! what shall I do? I may
not let the Trojans take the armour of Patroclus who has fallen
fighting on my behalf, lest some Danaan who sees me should cry shame
upon me. Still if for my honour's sake I fight Hector and the
Trojans single-handed, they will prove too many for me, for Hector
is bringing them up in force. Why, however, should I thus hesitate?
When a man fights in despite of heaven with one whom a god
befriends, he will soon rue it. Let no Danaan think ill of me if I
give place to Hector, for the hand of heaven is with him. Yet, if I
could find Ajax, the two of us would fight Hector and heaven too, if
we might only save the body of Patroclus for Achilles son of Peleus.
This, of many evils would be the least."
While he was thus in two minds, the Trojans came up to him with
Hector at their head; he therefore drew back and left the body,
turning about like some bearded lion who is being chased by dogs and
men from a stockyard with spears and hue and cry, whereon he is
daunted and slinks sulkily off- even so did Menelaus son of Atreus
turn and leave the body of Patroclus. When among the body of his
men, he looked around for mighty Ajax son of Telamon, and presently
saw him on the extreme left of the fight, cheering on his men and
exhorting them to keep on fighting, for Phoebus Apollo had spread a
great panic among them. He ran up to him and said, "Ajax, my good
friend, come with me at once to dead Patroclus, if so be that we may
take the body to Achilles- as for his armour, Hector already has it."
These words stirred the heart of Ajax, and he made his way among the
front ranks, Menelaus going with him. Hector had stripped Patroclus of
his armour, and was dragging him away to cut off his head and take the
body to fling before the dogs of Troy. But Ajax came up with his
shield like wall before him, on which Hector withdrew under shelter of
his men, and sprang on to his chariot, giving the armour over to the
Trojans to take to the city, as a great trophy for himself; Ajax,
therefore, covered the body of Patroclus with his broad shield and
bestrode him; as a lion stands over his whelps if hunters have come
upon him in a forest when he is with his little ones- in the pride and
fierceness of his strength he draws his knit brows down till they
cover his eyes- even so did Ajax bestride the body of Patroclus, and
by his side stood Menelaus son of Atreus, nursing great sorrow in
his heart.
Then Glaucus son of Hippolochus looked fiercely at Hector and
rebuked him sternly. "Hector," said he, "you make a brave show, but in
fight you are sadly wanting. A runaway like yourself has no claim to
so great a reputation. Think how you may now save your town and
citadel by the hands of your own people born in Ilius; for you will
get no Lycians to fight for you, seeing what thanks they have had
for their incessant hardships. Are you likely, sir, to do anything
to help a man of less note, after leaving Sarpedon, who was at once
your guest and comrade in arms, to be the spoil and prey of the
Danaans? So long as he lived he did good service both to your city and
yourself; yet you had no stomach to save his body from the dogs. If
the Lycians will listen to me, they will go home and leave Troy to its
fate. If the Trojans had any of that daring fearless spirit which lays
hold of men who are fighting for their country and harassing those who
would attack it, we should soon bear off Patroclus into Ilius. Could
we get this dead man away and bring him into the city of Priam, the
Argives would readily give up the armour of Sarpedon, and we should
get his body to boot. For he whose squire has been now killed is the
foremost man at the ships of the Achaeans- he and his close-fighting
followers. Nevertheless you dared not make a stand against Ajax, nor
face him, eye to eye, with battle all round you, for he is a braver
man than you are."
Hector scowled at him and answered, "Glaucus, you should know
better. I have held you so far as a man of more understanding than any
in all Lycia, but now I despise you for saying that I am afraid of
Ajax. I fear neither battle nor the din of chariots, but Jove's will
is stronger than ours; Jove at one time makes even a strong man draw
back and snatches victory from his grasp, while at another he will set
him on to fight. Come hither then, my friend, stand by me and see
indeed whether I shall play the coward the whole day through as you
say, or whether I shall not stay some even of the boldest Danaans from
fighting round the body of Patroclus."
As he spoke he called loudly on the Trojans saying, "Trojans,
Lycians, and Dardanians, fighters in close combat, be men, my friends,
and fight might and main, while I put on the goodly armour of
Achilles, which I took when I killed Patroclus."
With this Hector left the fight, and ran full speed after his men
who were taking the armour of Achilles to Troy, but had not yet got
far. Standing for a while apart from the woeful fight, he changed
his armour. His own he sent to the strong city of Ilius and to the
Trojans, while he put on the immortal armour of the son of Peleus,
which the gods had given to Peleus, who in his age gave it to his son;
but the son did not grow old in his father's armour.
When Jove, lord of the storm-cloud, saw Hector standing aloof and
arming himself in the armour of the son of Peleus, he wagged his
head and muttered to himself saying, "A! poor wretch, you arm in the
armour of a hero, before whom many another trembles, and you reck
nothing of the doom that is already close upon you. You have killed
his comrade so brave and strong, but it was not well that you should
strip the armour from his head and shoulders. I do indeed endow you
with great might now, but as against this you shall not return from
battle to lay the armour of the son of Peleus before Andromache."
The son of Saturn bowed his portentous brows, and Hector fitted
the armour to his body, while terrible Mars entered into him, and
filled his whole body with might and valour. With a shout he strode in
among the allies, and his armour flashed about him so that he seemed
to all of them like the great son of Peleus himself. He went about
among them and cheered them on- Mesthles, Glaucus, Medon,
Thersilochus, Asteropaeus, Deisenor and Hippothous, Phorcys,
Chromius and Ennomus the augur. All these did he exhort saying,
"Hear me, allies from other cities who are here in your thousands,
it was not in order to have a crowd about me that I called you
hither each from his several city, but that with heart and soul you
might defend the wives and little ones of the Trojans from the
fierce Achaeans. For this do I oppress my people with your food and
the presents that make you rich. Therefore turn, and charge at the
foe, to stand or fall as is the game of war; whoever shall bring
Patroclus, dead though he be, into the hands of the Trojans, and shall
make Ajax give way before him, I will give him one half of the
spoils while I keep the other. He will thus share like honour with
myself."
When he had thus spoken they charged full weight upon the Danaans
with their spears held out before them, and the hopes of each ran high
that he should force Ajax son of Telamon to yield up the body- fools
that they were, for he was about to take the lives of many. Then
Ajax said to Menelaus, "My good friend Menelaus, you and I shall
hardly come out of this fight alive. I am less concerned for the
body of Patroclus, who will shortly become meat for the dogs and
vultures of Troy, than for the safety of my own head and yours. Hector
has wrapped us round in a storm of battle from every quarter, and
our destruction seems now certain. Call then upon the princes of the
Danaans if there is any who can hear us."
Menelaus did as he said, and shouted to the Danaans for help at
the top of his voice. "My friends," he cried, "princes and counsellors
of the Argives, all you who with Agamemnon and Menelaus drink at the
public cost, and give orders each to his own people as Jove vouchsafes
him power and glory, the fight is so thick about me that I cannot
distinguish you severally; come on, therefore, every man unbidden, and
think it shame that Patroclus should become meat and morsel for Trojan
hounds."
Fleet Ajax son of Oileus heard him and was first to force his way
through the fight and run to help him. Next came Idomeneus and
Meriones his esquire, peer of murderous Mars. As for the others that
came into the fight after these, who of his own self could name them?
The Trojans with Hector at their head charged in a body. As a
great wave that comes thundering in at the mouth of some heaven-born
river, and the rocks that jut into the sea ring with the roar of the
breakers that beat and buffet them- even with such a roar did the
Trojans come on; but the Achaeans in singleness of heart stood firm
about the son of Menoetius, and fenced him with their bronze
shields. Jove, moreover, hid the brightness of their helmets in a
thick cloud, for he had borne no grudge against the son of Menoetius
while he was still alive and squire to the descendant of Aeacus;
therefore he was loth to let him fall a prey to the dogs of his foes
the Trojans, and urged his comrades on to defend him.
At first the Trojans drove the Achaeans back, and they withdrew from
the dead man daunted. The Trojans did not succeed in killing any
one, nevertheless they drew the body away. But the Achaeans did not
lose it long, for Ajax, foremost of all the Danaans after the son of
Peleus alike in stature and prowess, quickly rallied them and made
towards the front like a wild boar upon the mountains when he stands
at bay in the forest glades and routs the hounds and lusty youths that
have attacked him- even so did Ajax son of Telamon passing easily in
among the phalanxes of the Trojans, disperse those who had
bestridden Patroclus and were most bent on winning glory by dragging
him off to their city. At this moment Hippothous brave son of the
Pelasgian Lethus, in his zeal for Hector and the Trojans, was dragging
the body off by the foot through the press of the fight, having
bound a strap round the sinews near the ancle; but a mischief soon
befell him from which none of those could save him who would have
gladly done so, for the son of Telamon sprang forward and smote him on
his bronze-cheeked helmet. The plumed headpiece broke about the
point of the weapon, struck at once by the spear and by the strong
hand of Ajax, so that the bloody brain came oozing out through the
crest-socket. His strength then failed him and he let Patroclus'
foot drop from his hand, as he fell full length dead upon the body;
thus he died far from the fertile land of Larissa, and never repaid
his parents the cost of bringing him up, for his life was cut short
early by the spear of mighty Ajax. Hector then took aim at Ajax with a
spear, but he saw it coming and just managed to avoid it; the spear
passed on and struck Schedius son of noble Iphitus, captain of the
Phoceans, who dwelt in famed Panopeus and reigned over much people; it
struck him under the middle of the collar-bone the bronze point went
right through him, coming out at the bottom of his shoulder-blade, and
his armour rang rattling round him as he fell heavily to the ground.
Ajax in his turn struck noble Phorcys son of Phaenops in the middle of
the belly as he was bestriding Hippothous, and broke the plate of
his cuirass; whereon the spear tore out his entrails and he clutched
the ground in his palm as he fell to earth. Hector and those who
were in the front rank then gave ground, while the Argives raised a
loud cry of triumph, and drew off the bodies of Phorcys and Hippothous
which they stripped presently of their armour.
The Trojans would now have been worsted by the brave Achaeans and
driven back to Ilius through their own cowardice, while the Argives,
so great was their courage and endurance, would have achieved a
triumph even against the will of Jove, if Apollo had not roused
Aeneas, in the likeness of Periphas son of Epytus, an attendant who
had grown old in the service of Aeneas' aged father, and was at all
times devoted to him. In his likeness, then, Apollo said, "Aeneas, can
you not manage, even though heaven be against us, to save high
Ilius? I have known men, whose numbers, courage, and self-reliance
have saved their people in spite of Jove, whereas in this case he
would much rather give victory to us than to the Danaans, if you would
only fight instead of being so terribly afraid."
Aeneas knew Apollo when he looked straight at him, and shouted to
Hector saying, "Hector and all other Trojans and allies, shame on us
if we are beaten by the Achaeans and driven back to Ilius through
our own cowardice. A god has just come up to me and told me that
Jove the supreme disposer will be with us. Therefore let us make for
the Danaans, that it may go hard with them ere they bear away dead
Patroclus to the ships."
As he spoke he sprang out far in front of the others, who then
rallied and again faced the Achaeans. Aeneas speared Leiocritus son of
Arisbas, a valiant follower of Lycomedes, and Lycomedes was moved with
pity as he saw him fall; he therefore went close up, and speared
Apisaon son of Hippasus shepherd of his people in the liver under
the midriff, so that he died; he had come from fertile Paeonia and was
the best man of them all after Asteropaeus. Asteropaeus flew forward
to avenge him and attack the Danaans, but this might no longer be,
inasmuch as those about Patroclus were well covered by their
shields, and held their spears in front of them, for Ajax had given
them strict orders that no man was either to give ground, or to
stand out before the others, but all were to hold well together
about the body and fight hand to hand. Thus did huge Ajax bid them,
and the earth ran red with blood as the corpses fell thick on one
another alike on the side of the Trojans and allies, and on that of
the Danaans; for these last, too, fought no bloodless fight though
many fewer of them perished, through the care they took to defend
and stand by one another.
Thus did they fight as it were a flaming fire; it seemed as though
it had gone hard even with the sun and moon, for they were hidden over
all that part where the bravest heroes were fighting about the dead
son of Menoetius, whereas the other Danaans and Achaeans fought at
their ease in full daylight with brilliant sunshine all round them,
and there was not a cloud to be seen neither on plain nor mountain.
These last moreover would rest for a while and leave off fighting, for
they were some distance apart and beyond the range of one another's
weapons, whereas those who were in the thick of the fray suffered both
from battle and darkness. All the best of them were being worn out
by the great weight of their armour, but the two valiant heroes,
Thrasymedes and Antilochus, had not yet heard of the death of
Patroclus, and believed him to be still alive and leading the van
against the Trojans; they were keeping themselves in reserve against
the death or rout of their own comrades, for so Nestor had ordered
when he sent them from the ships into battle.
Thus through the livelong day did they wage fierce war, and the
sweat of their toil rained ever on their legs under them, and on their
hands and eyes, as they fought over the squire of the fleet son of
Peleus. It was as when a man gives a great ox-hide all drenched in fat
to his men, and bids them stretch it; whereon they stand round it in a
ring and tug till the moisture leaves it, and the fat soaks in for the
many that pull at it, and it is well stretched- even so did the two
sides tug the dead body hither and thither within the compass of but a
little space- the Trojans steadfastly set on drag ing it into Ilius,
while the Achaeans were no less so on taking it to their ships; and
fierce was the fight between them. Not Mars himself the lord of hosts,
nor yet Minerva, even in their fullest fury could make light of such a
battle.
Such fearful turmoil of men and horses did Jove on that day ordain
round the body of Patroclus. Meanwhile Achilles did not know that he
had fallen, for the fight was under the wall of Troy a long way off
the ships. He had no idea, therefore, that Patroclus was dead, and
deemed that he would return alive as soon as he had gone close up to
the gates. He knew that he was not to sack the city neither with nor
without himself, for his mother had often told him this when he had
sat alone with her, and she had informed him of the counsels of
great Jove. Now, however, she had not told him how great a disaster
had befallen him in the death of the one who was far dearest to him of
all his comrades.
The others still kept on charging one another round the body with
their pointed spears and killing each other. Then would one say, "My
friends, we can never again show our faces at the ships- better, and
greatly better, that earth should open and swallow us here in this
place, than that we should let the Trojans have the triumph of bearing
off Patroclus to their city."
The Trojans also on their part spoke to one another saying,
"Friends, though we fall to a man beside this body, let none shrink
from fighting." With such words did they exhort each other. They
fought and fought, and an iron clank rose through the void air to
the brazen vault of heaven. The horses of the descendant of Aeacus
stood out of the fight and wept when they heard that their driver
had been laid low by the hand of murderous Hector. Automedon,
valiant son of Diores, lashed them again and again; many a time did he
speak kindly to them, and many a time did he upbraid them, but they
would neither go back to the ships by the waters of the broad
Hellespont, nor yet into battle among the Achaeans; they stood with
their chariot stock still, as a pillar set over the tomb of some
dead man or woman, and bowed their heads to the ground. Hot tears fell
from their eyes as they mourned the loss of their charioteer, and
their noble manes drooped all wet from under the yokestraps on
either side the yoke.
The son of Saturn saw them and took pity upon their sorrow. He
wagged his head, and muttered to himself, saying, "Poor things, why
did we give you to King Peleus who is a mortal, while you are
yourselves ageless and immortal? Was it that you might share the
sorrows that befall mankind? for of all creatures that live and move
upon the earth there is none so pitiable as he is- still, Hector son
of Priam shall drive neither you nor your chariot. I will not have it.
It is enough that he should have the armour over which he vaunts so
vainly. Furthermore I will give you strength of heart and limb to bear
Automedon safely to the ships from battle, for I shall let the Trojans
triumph still further, and go on killing till they reach the ships;
whereon night shall fall and darkness overshadow the land."
As he spoke he breathed heart and strength into the horses so that
they shook the dust from out of their manes, and bore their chariot
swiftly into the fight that raged between Trojans and Achaeans. Behind
them fought Automedon full of sorrow for his comrade, as a vulture
amid a flock of geese. In and out, and here and there, full speed he
dashed amid the throng of the Trojans, but for all the fury of his
pursuit he killed no man, for he could not wield his spear and keep
his horses in hand when alone in the chariot; at last, however, a
comrade, Alcimedon, son of Laerces son of Haemon caught sight of him
and came up behind his chariot. "Automedon," said he, "what god has
put this folly into your heart and robbed you of your right mind, that
you fight the Trojans in the front rank single-handed? He who was your
comrade is slain, and Hector plumes himself on being armed in the
armour of the descendant of Aeacus."
Automedon son of Diores answered, "Alcimedon, there is no one else
who can control and guide the immortal steeds so well as you can, save
only Patroclus- while he was alive- peer of gods in counsel. Take then
the whip and reins, while I go down from the car and fight.
Alcimedon sprang on to the chariot, and caught up the whip and
reins, while Automedon leaped from off the car. When Hector saw him he
said to Aeneas who was near him, "Aeneas, counsellor of the
mail-clad Trojans, I see the steeds of the fleet son of Aeacus come
into battle with weak hands to drive them. I am sure, if you think
well, that we might take them; they will not dare face us if we both
attack them."
The valiant son of Anchises was of the same mind, and the pair
went right on, with their shoulders covered under shields of tough dry
ox-hide, overlaid with much bronze. Chromius and Aretus went also with
them, and their hearts beat high with hope that they might kill the
men and capture the horses- fools that they were, for they were not to
return scatheless from their meeting with Automedon, who prayed to
father Jove and was forthwith filled with courage and strength
abounding. He turned to his trusty comrade Alcimedon and said,
"Alcimedon, keep your horses so close up that I may feel their
breath upon my back; I doubt that we shall not stay Hector son of
Priam till he has killed us and mounted behind the horses; he will
then either spread panic among the ranks of the Achaeans, or himself
be killed among the foremost."
On this he cried out to the two Ajaxes and Menelaus, "Ajaxes
captains of the Argives, and Menelaus, give the dead body over to them
that are best able to defend it, and come to the rescue of us
living; for Hector and Aeneas who are the two best men among the
Trojans, are pressing us hard in the full tide of war. Nevertheless
the issue lies on the lap of heaven, I will therefore hurl my spear
and leave the rest to Jove."
He poised and hurled as he spoke, whereon the spear struck the round
shield of Aretus, and went right through it for the shield stayed it
not, so that it was driven through his belt into the lower part of his
belly. As when some sturdy youth, axe in hand, deals his blow behind
the horns of an ox and severs the tendons at the back of its neck so
that it springs forward and then drops, even so did Aretus give one
bound and then fall on his back the spear quivering in his body till
it made an end of him. Hector then aimed a spear at Automedon but he
saw it coming and stooped forward to avoid it, so that it flew past
him and the point stuck in the ground, while the butt-end went on
quivering till Mars robbed it of its force. They would then have
fought hand to hand with swords had not the two Ajaxes forced their
way through the crowd when they heard their comrade calling, and
parted them for all their fury- for Hector, Aeneas, and Chromius
were afraid and drew back, leaving Aretus to lie there struck to the
heart. Automedon, peer of fleet Mars, then stripped him of his
armour and vaunted over him saying, "I have done little to assuage
my sorrow for the son of Menoetius, for the man I have killed is not
so good as he was."
As he spoke he took the blood-stained spoils and laid them upon
his chariot; then he mounted the car with his hands and feet all
steeped in gore as a lion that has been gorging upon a bull.
And now the fierce groanful fight again raged about Patroclus, for
Minerva came down from heaven and roused its fury by the command of
far-seeing Jove, who had changed his mind and sent her to encourage
the Danaans. As when Jove bends his bright bow in heaven in token to
mankind either of war or of the chill storms that stay men from
their labour and plague the flocks- even so, wrapped in such radiant
raiment, did Minerva go in among the host and speak man by man to
each. First she took the form and voice of Phoenix and spoke to
Menelaus son of Atreus, who was standing near her. "Menelaus," said
she, "it will be shame and dishonour to you, if dogs tear the noble
comrade of Achilles under the walls of Troy. Therefore be staunch, and
urge your men to be so also."
Menelaus answered, "Phoenix, my good old friend, may Minerva
vouchsafe me strength and keep the darts from off me, for so shall I
stand by Patroclus and defend him; his death has gone to my heart, but
Hector is as a raging fire and deals his blows without ceasing, for
Jove is now granting him a time of triumph."
Minerva was pleased at his having named herself before any of the
other gods. Therefore she put strength into his knees and shoulders,
and made him as bold as a fly, which, though driven off will yet
come again and bite if it can, so dearly does it love man's blood-
even so bold as this did she make him as he stood over Patroclus and
threw his spear. Now there was among the Trojans a man named Podes,
son of Eetion, who was both rich and valiant. Hector held him in the
highest honour for he was his comrade and boon companion; the spear of
Menelaus struck this man in the girdle just as he had turned in
flight, and went right through him. Whereon he fell heavily forward,
and Menelaus son of Atreus drew off his body from the Trojans into the
ranks of his own people.
Apollo then went up to Hector and spurred him on to fight, in the
likeness of Phaenops son of Asius who lived in Abydos and was the most
favoured of all Hector's guests. In his likeness Apollo said, "Hector,
who of the Achaeans will fear you henceforward now that you have
quailed before Menelaus who has ever been rated poorly as a soldier?
Yet he has now got a corpse away from the Trojans single-handed, and
has slain your own true comrade, a man brave among the foremost, Podes
son of Eetion.
A dark cloud of grief fell upon Hector as he heard, and he made
his way to the front clad in full armour. Thereon the son of Saturn
seized his bright tasselled aegis, and veiled Ida in cloud: he sent
forth his lightnings and his thunders, and as he shook his aegis he
gave victory to the Trojans and routed the Achaeans.
The panic was begun by Peneleos the Boeotian, for while keeping
his face turned ever towards the foe he had been hit with a spear on
the upper part of the shoulder; a spear thrown by Polydamas had grazed
the top of the bone, for Polydamas had come up to him and struck him
from close at hand. Then Hector in close combat struck Leitus son of
noble Alectryon in the hand by the wrist, and disabled him from
fighting further. He looked about him in dismay, knowing that never
again should he wield spear in battle with the Trojans. While Hector
was in pursuit of Leitus, Idomeneus struck him on the breastplate over
his chest near the nipple; but the spear broke in the shaft, and the
Trojans cheered aloud. Hector then aimed at Idomeneus son of Deucalion
as he was standing on his chariot, and very narrowly missed him, but
the spear hit Coiranus, a follower and charioteer of Meriones who
had come with him from Lyctus. Idomeneus had left the ships on foot
and would have afforded a great triumph to the Trojans if Coiranus had
not driven quickly up to him, he therefore brought life and rescue
to Idomeneus, but himself fell by the hand of murderous Hector. For
Hector hit him on the jaw under the ear; the end of the spear drove
out his teeth and cut his tongue in two pieces, so that he fell from
his chariot and let the reins fall to the ground. Meriones gathered
them up from the ground and took them into his own hands, then he said
to Idomeneus, "Lay on, till you get back to the ships, for you must
see that the day is no longer ours."
On this Idomeneus lashed the horses to the ships, for fear had taken
hold upon him.
Ajax and Menelaus noted how Jove had turned the scale in favour of
the Trojans, and Ajax was first to speak. "Alas," said he, "even a
fool may see that father Jove is helping the Trojans. All their
weapons strike home; no matter whether it be a brave man or a coward
that hurls them, Jove speeds all alike, whereas ours fall each one
of them without effect. What, then, will be best both as regards
rescuing the body, and our return to the joy of our friends who will
be grieving as they look hitherwards; for they will make sure that
nothing can now check the terrible hands of Hector, and that he will
fling himself upon our ships. I wish that some one would go and tell
the son of Peleus at once, for I do not think he can have yet heard
the sad news that the dearest of his friends has fallen. But I can see
not a man among the Achaeans to send, for they and their chariots
are alike hidden in darkness. O father Jove, lift this cloud from over
the sons of the Achaeans; make heaven serene, and let us see; if you
will that we perish, let us fall at any rate by daylight."
Father Jove heard him and had compassion upon his tears. Forthwith
he chased away the cloud of darkness, so that the sun shone out and
all the fighting was revealed. Ajax then said to Menelaus, "Look,
Menelaus, and if Antilochus son of Nestor be still living, send him at
once to tell Achilles that by far the dearest to him of all his
comrades has fallen."
Menelaus heeded his words and went his way as a lion from a
stockyard- the lion is tired of attacking the men and hounds, who keep
watch the whole night through and will not let him feast on the fat of
their herd. In his lust of meat he makes straight at them but in vain,
for darts from strong hands assail him, and burning brands which daunt
him for all his hunger, so in the morning he slinks sulkily away- even
so did Menelaus sorely against his will leave Patroclus, in great fear
lest the Achaeans should be driven back in rout and let him fall
into the hands of the foe. He charged Meriones and the two Ajaxes
straitly saying, "Ajaxes and Meriones, leaders of the Argives, now
indeed remember how good Patroclus was; he was ever courteous while
alive, bear it in mind now that he is dead."
With this Menelaus left them, looking round him as keenly as an
eagle, whose sight they say is keener than that of any other bird-
however high he may be in the heavens, not a hare that runs can escape
him by crouching under bush or thicket, for he will swoop down upon it
and make an end of it- even so, O Menelaus, did your keen eyes range
round the mighty host of your followers to see if you could find the
son of Nestor still alive. Presently Menelaus saw him on the extreme
left of the battle cheering on his men and exhorting them to fight
boldly. Menelaus went up to him and said, "Antilochus, come here and
listen to sad news, which I would indeed were untrue. You must see
with your own eyes that heaven is heaping calamity upon the Danaans,
and giving victory to the Trojans. Patroclus has fallen, who was the
bravest of the Achaeans, and sorely will the Danaans miss him. Run
instantly to the ships and tell Achilles, that he may come to rescue
the body and bear it to the ships. As for the armour, Hector already
has it."
Antilochus was struck with horror. For a long time he was
speechless; his eyes filled with tears and he could find no utterance,
but he did as Menelaus had said, and set off running as soon as he had
given his armour to a comrade, Laodocus, who was wheeling his horses
round, close beside him.
Thus, then, did he run weeping from the field, to carry the bad news
to Achilles son of Peleus. Nor were you, O Menelaus, minded to succour
his harassed comrades, when Antilochus had left the Pylians- and
greatly did they miss him- but he sent them noble Thrasymedes, and
himself went back to Patroclus. He came running up to the two Ajaxes
and said, "I have sent Antilochus to the ships to tell Achilles, but
rage against Hector as he may, he cannot come, for he cannot fight
without armour. What then will be our best plan both as regards
rescuing the dead, and our own escape from death amid the battle-cries
of the Trojans?"
Ajax answered, "Menelaus, you have said well: do you, then, and
Meriones stoop down, raise the body, and bear it out of the fray,
while we two behind you keep off Hector and the Trojans, one in
heart as in name, and long used to fighting side by side with one
another."
On this Menelaus and Meriones took the dead man in their arms and
lifted him high aloft with a great effort. The Trojan host raised a
hue and cry behind them when they saw the Achaeans bearing the body
away, and flew after them like hounds attacking a wounded boar at
the loo of a band of young huntsmen. For a while the hounds fly at him
as though they would tear him in pieces, but now and again he turns on
them in a fury, scaring and scattering them in all directions- even so
did the Trojans for a while charge in a body, striking with sword
and with spears pointed ai both the ends, but when the two Ajaxes
faced them and stood at bay, they would turn pale and no man dared
press on to fight further about the dead.
In this wise did the two heroes strain every nerve to bear the
body to the ships out of the fight. The battle raged round them like
fierce flames that when once kindled spread like wildfire over a city,
and the houses fall in the glare of its burning- even such was the
roar and tramp of men and horses that pursued them as they bore
Patroclus from the field. Or as mules that put forth all their
strength to draw some beam or great piece of ship's timber down a
rough mountain-track, and they pant and sweat as they, go even so
did Menelaus and pant and sweat as they bore the body of Patroclus.
Behind them the two Ajaxes held stoutly out. As some wooded
mountain-spur that stretches across a plain will turn water and
check the flow even of a great river, nor is there any stream strong
enough to break through it- even so did the two Ajaxes face the
Trojans and stern the tide of their fighting though they kept
pouring on towards them and foremost among them all was Aeneas son
of Anchises with valiant Hector. As a flock of daws or starlings
fall to screaming and chattering when they see a falcon, foe to i'll
small birds, come soaring near them, even so did the Achaean youth
raise a babel of cries as they fled before Aeneas and Hector,
unmindful of their former prowess. In the rout of the Danaans much
goodly armour fell round about the trench, and of fighting there was
no end.

poem by , translated by Samuel ButlerReport problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share
Homer

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
them.
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
troubles."
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
Hades."
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
Trojans.
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
Trojans.
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
kill him."
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
follow him.
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
ships.

poem by , translated by Samuel ButlerReport problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Orlando Furioso Canto 17

ARGUMENT
Charles goes, with his, against King Rodomont.
Gryphon in Norandino's tournament
Does mighty deeds; Martano turns his front,
Showing how recreant is his natural bent;
And next, on Gryphon to bring down affront,
Stole from the knight the arms in which he went;
Hence by the kindly monarch much esteemed,
And Gryphon scorned, whom he Martano deemed.

I
God, outraged by our rank iniquity,
Whenever crimes have past remission's bound,
That mercy may with justice mingled be,
Has monstrous and destructive tyrants crowned;
And gifted them with force and subtlety,
A sinful world to punish and confound.
Marius and Sylla to this end were nursed,
Rome with two Neros and a Caius cursed;

II
Domitian and the latter Antonine;
And, lifted from the lowest rabble's lees,
To imperial place and puissance, Maximine:
Hence Thebes to cruel Creon bent her knees,
Mezentius ruled the subject Agiline,
Fattening his fields with blood. To pests like these
Our Italy was given in later day,
To Lombard, Goth, and Hun a bleeding prey.

III
What shall I of fierce Attila, what say
Of wicked Ezzeline, and hundreds more?
Whom, because men still trod the crooked way,
God sent them for their pain and torment sore.
Of this ourselves have made a clear assay,
As well as those who lived in days of yore;
Consigned to ravening wolves, ordained to keep
Us, his ill-nurturing and unuseful sheep;

IV
Who, as if having more than served to fill
Their hungry maw, invite from foreign wood
Beyond the mountain, wolves of greedier will,
With them to be partakers of their food.
The bones which Thrasymene and Trebbia fill,
And Cannae, seem but few to what are strewed
On fattened field and bank, where on their way
Adda and Mella, Ronco and Tarro stray.

V
Now God permits that we should feel the spite
Of people, who are haply worse than we,
For errors multiplied and infinite,
And foul and pestilent iniquity.
The time will come we may such ill requite
Upon their shores, if we shall better be,
And their transgressions ever prove above
The long endurance of AETERNAL LOVE.

VI
The Christian people then God's placid front
Must have disturbed with their excesses sore;
Since them with slaughter, rape, and rapine hunt,
Through all their quarters, plundering Turk and Moor:
But the unsparing rage of Rodomont
Proves worse than all the ills endured before.
I said that Charlemagne had made repair
In search of him towards the city square.

VII
Charles, by the way, his people's butchery
Beholds - burnt palaces and ruined fanes -
And sees large portion of the city lie
In unexampled wreck. - 'Ye coward trains,
Whither in heartless panic would ye fly?
Will none his loss contemplate? what remains
To you, - what place of refuge, say, is left,
If this from you so shamefully be reft?

VIII
'Then shall one man alone, a prisoned foe,
Who cannot scale the walls which round him spread,
Unscathed, unquestioned, from your city go,
When all are by his vengeful arm laid dead?'
Thus Charlemagne, whose veins with anger glow,
And shame, too strong to brook, in fury said;
And to the spacious square made good his way,
Where he beheld the foe his people slay.

IX
Thither large portion of the populace,
Climbing the palace roof, had made resort;
For strongly walled, and furnished was the place
With ammunition, for their long support.
Rodomont, mad with pride, had, in his chace
Of the scared burghers, singly cleared the court,
He with one daring hand, which scorned the world,
Brandished the sword; - his other wildfire hurled;

X
And smote and thundered, 'mid a fearful shower,
At the sublime and royal house's gate.
To their life's peril, crumbling roof and tower
Is tost by them that on the summit wait:
Nor any fears to ruin hall or bower;
But wood and stone endure one common fate,
And marbled column, slab, and gilded beam,
By sire and grandsire held in high esteem.

XI
Rodomont stands before the portal, bright
With steel, his head and bust secured in mail,
Like to a serpent, issued into light,
Having cast off his slough, diseased and stale:
Who more than ever joying in his might,
Renewed in youth, and proud of polished scale,
Darts his three tongues, fire flashing from his eyes;
While every frighted beast before him flies.

XII
Nor bulwark, stone, nor arbalest, nor bow,
Nor what upon the paynim smote beside,
Sufficed to arrest the sanguinary foe;
Who broke and hewed, and shook that portal wide,
And in his fury let such day-light through,
'Twas easy to espy - and might be spied -
In visages o'ercast in death-like sort,
That full of people was the palace court.

XIII
Through those fair chambers echoed shouts of dread,
And feminine lament from dame distrest;
And grieving, through the house, pale women fled,
Who wept, afflicted sore, and beat their breast.
And hugged the door-post and the genial bed,
Too soon to be by stranger lords possest.
The matter in this state of peril hung
When thither came the king, his peers among.

XIV
Charles turned him round to these, of vigorous hand,
Whom he had found in former peril true.
'Are you not those that erst with me did stand
'Gainst Agolant in Aspramont? In you
Is vigour now so spent, (he said), the band,
Who him, Troyano, and Almontes slew,
With hundreds more, that you now fear to face
One of that very blood, that very race?

XV
'Why should I now in contest with the foe
Less strength in you behold than them? Your might
Upon this hound (pursued the monarch) show;
This hound who preys on man. - A generous sprite
The thought of death - approach he fast or slow -
So that he dies but well, holds cheap and light.
But where you are, I doubt my fortune ill,
For by your succour, have I conquered still.'

XVI
This said, he spurred his courser, couched his spear,
And charged the paynim; nor of life less free,
Sir Ogier joined the king in his career;
Namus and Oliver; and, with the three,
Avino, Avolio, Otho, and Berlinghier:
(For one without the rest I never see)
And on the bosom, flanks, and on the front,
All smote together at King Rodomont.

XVII
But let us, sir, for love of Heaven, forego
Of anger and of death the noisome lore;
And be it deemed that I have said enow,
For this while, of that Saracen, not more
Cruel than strong; 'tis time in trace to go
Of Gryphon, left with Origille, before
Damascus' gate, and him who with her came,
The adulterer, not the brother of the dame.

XVIII
Of all the cities under eastern skies,
Most wealthy, populous, and fairly dight,
'Tis said, Damascus is; which distant lies
From Salem seven days' journey; its fair site,
A fertile plain, abundant fruits supplies,
Winter and summer, sojourn of delight.
Shading the city from the dawning day,
A mountain intercepts its early ray.

XIX
Two crystal streams the wealthy city scower;
Whose currents, parted into many a rill,
Infinite gardens, never bare of flower,
Or stript of leaf, with grateful murmur fill:
'Tis said the perfumed waters are of power
(So plenteously they swell) to turn a mill;
And that whoever wander through the streets,
Scent, issuing from each home, a cloud of sweets.

XX
Then the high-street gay signs of triumph wore,
Covered with showy cloths of different dye,
Which deck the walls, while sylvan leaves in store,
And scented herbs upon the pavement lie.
Adorned is every window, every door,
With carpeting and finest drapery;
But more with ladies fair, and richly drest,
In costly jewels and in gorgeous vest.

XXI
Within the city gates in frolic sport,
Many are seen to ply the festive dance;
And here the burghers of the better sort
Upon their gay and well-trapt coursers prance.
A fairer show remains; the sumptuous court
Of barons bold and vassals, who advance,
Garnished with what could be procured, of ore
And pearl, from Ind and Erythraean shore.

XXII
Forward Sir Gryphon pricked, with his array,
Surveying, here and there, the whole at ease;
When them a knight arrested by the way,
And (such his wont and natural courtesies)
Obliged beneath his palace-roof to stay;
Where he let nought be wanting which might please;
And chearfully the guests, with bath restored,
Next welcomed at his costly supper-board;

XXIII
And told how he, who, Norandino hight,
Damascus and all Syria's kingdom swayed,
Native and foreigner had bade invite,
On whom the sword of knighthood had been laid,
To a fair joust, which at the morrow's light,
Ensuing, in the square was to be made.
Where they might show, and without further faring,
If they had valour equal to their bearing.

XXIV
Gryphon, though he came not that joust to see,
Accepts the challenge of the cavalier;
For when occasion serves, it cannot be
An evil use to make our worth appear:
Then questioned more of that solemnity;
- If 'twere a wonted feast, held every year,
Or new emprise; by which, in martial course,
The monarch would assay his warriors' force. -

XXV
'The gorgeous feast our monarch will display
Each fourth succeeding moon,' the baron said;
'This is the first that you will now survey;
None have been held beside. The cause which bred
The solemn usage is, that on such day
The king from sovereign peril saved his head,
After four months, consumed in doleful wise,
'Mid tears and groans, with death before his eyes.

XXVI
'Our monarch, who is named king Norandine
(Fully to you the matter to recite),
Through many and many a year for her did pine,
Above all other damsels fair and bright,
The king of Cyprus' daughter; whom, in fine,
Espoused, he, with his bride, and dame, and knight,
To wait upon her home, a fair array,
Towards his Syrian realm had shaped his way.

XXVII
'But as we scoured the fell Carpathian sea,
With flowing sheet, at distance from the shore,
A storm assailed us, of such cruelty,
The tempest even scared our pilot hoar.
Drifting three days and nights at random, we
Our devious course 'mid threatening waves explore;
Then, wet and weary, land 'mid verdant hills,
Between well-shaded and refreshing rills.

XXVIII
'We our pavilions pitch, and, 'mid those groves,
Joyfully strain our awnings overhead;
And kitchens there construct, and rustic stoves,
And carpets for the intended banquet spread.
Meanwhile through neighbouring vale the monarch roves,
And secret wood, scarce pervious to the tread,
Seeking red deer, goat, fallow-buck, and doe;
And, following him, two servants bear his bow.

XXIX
'While, with much solace, seated in a round,
We from the chace expect our lord's return,
Approaching us along the shore, astound,
The orc, that fearful monster, we discern.
God grant, fair sir, he never may confound
Your eyesight with his semblance foul and stern!
Better it is of him by fame to hear,
Than to behold him by approaching near.

XXX
'To calculate the griesly monster's height,
(So measureless is he) exceeds all skill;
Of fungus-hue, in place of orbs of sight,
Their sockets two small bones like berries fill.
Towards us, as I say, he speeds outright
Along the shore, and seems a moving hill.
Tusks jutting out like savage swine he shows,
A breast with drivel foul, and pointed nose.

XXXI
'Running, the monster comes, and bears his snout
In guise of brach, who enters on the trail.
We who behold him fly (a helpless rout),
Wherever terror drives, with visage pale.
'Tis little comfort, that he is without
Eye-sight, who winds his plunder in the gale,
Better than aught possest of scent and sight:
And wing and plume were needed for our flight.

XXXII
'Some here, some there make off, but little gain
By flying him; for swifter is the pest
Than the south wind. Of forty, ten, with pain,
Swimming aboard the bark in safety rest.
Under his arm some wretches of our train
He packed, nor empty left his lap or breast:
And loaded a capacious scrip beside,
Which, like a shepherd's, to his waist was tied.

XXXIII
'Us to his den the sightless monster carried,
Hollowed within a rock, upon the shore;
Of snowy marble was that cavern quarried,
As white as leaf, unstained by inky score.
With him within the cave a matron tarried,
Who marked by grief and pain a visage wore.
With her were wife and maid, a numerous court,
Both fair and foul, of every age and sort.

XXXIV
'Large as the other, and that grotto near,
Almost upon the summit of the rock,
Another cavern was contrived, to rear,
And from the weather fend his woolly flock,
Which he still herded through the changeful year;
So numerous, it were hard to count his stock:
Wont in due season these to pen or loose,
And play the shepherd more for sport than use.

XXXV
'The flesh of man he savoured more than sheep,
And this, before he reached the cave, was seen.
Three youths of ours, ere yet he climbed the steep,
He are alive, or rather swallowed clean;
Then moved the stone, which closed that cavern deep,
And lodged us there. With that, to pasture green
His flock he led, as wont, the meads among,
Sounding the pipe which at his neck was hung.

XXXVI
'Our lord, meanwhile, returning to the strand,
The loss which he had suffered comprehends;
For in deep silence, upon every hand,
Through empty tent and hut the monarch wends:
Nor who has robbed him can be understand;
And full of terror to the beach descends;
Whence he his sailors in the offing sees
Unmoor and spread their canvas to the breeze.

XXXVII
'As soon as Norandino was in view,
They launched and sent their pinnace to convey
The monarch thence: but he no sooner knew
Of the fell orc, and those he made his prey,
Then he, without more thought, would him pursue
And follow, wheresoe'er he bent his way.
To lose Lucina is such cruel pain,
That life is loathsome save he her regain.

XXXVIII
'When on the newly printed sand his eyes
Norandine fixt, he with the swiftness sped
With which the rage of love a man supplies,
Until he reached the cave of which I said,
Where we, enduring greater agonies
Than e'er were suffered, there await in dread
The orc, and deem at every sound we hear,
The famished brute about to re-appear.

XXXIX
'The monarch to the cave did Fortune guide,
When the orc's wife alone was in the lair.
Seeing the king: `Fly! - Woe to thee!' (she cried)
`Should the orc take thee!' - `Woeful every where
I cannot choose but be,' (the king replied)
`Whether be take or miss me, kill or spare.
Not hither I by chance have wandered, I
Come with desire beside my wife to die.'

XXX
'He afterwards the dame for tidings pressed
Of those the orc had taken on the shore;
And of Lucina above all the rest;
If slain or prisoner kept. With kindly lore,
She Norandino, in return, addressed;
And said Lucina lived, nor need he more
Have of her future safety any dread,
For the orc on flesh of woman never fed.

XLI
' `Of this you may behold the proof in me,
And all these other dames who with me dwell;
Nor me, nor them the orc offends, so we
Depart not ever from this caverned cell.
But vainly who would from her prison flee,
Hopes peace or pardon from our tyrant fell:
Buried alive, or bound with griding band,
Of, in the sun, stript naked on the sand.

XLII
' `When hither he to-day conveyed your crew,
The females from the males he severed not;
But, as he took them, in confusion threw
All he had captive made, into that grot.
He will scent out their sex; not tremble, you,
Lest he the women slay: the others' lot
Is fixt; and, of four men or six a-day,
Be sure the greedy orc will make his prey.

XLIII
' `I have no counsel for you how to free
The lady; but content thyself to hear,
She in no danger of her life will be,
Who will our lot, in good or evil, share.
But go, for love of Heaven, my son, lest thee
The monster smell, and on thy body fare;
For when arrived, he sniffs about the house,
And, such his subtle scent, can wind a mouse.'

XLIV
'To her the amorous monarch made reply,
That he the cave would not abandon, ere
He saw Lucina, and near her to die,
Than to live far from her, esteemed more dear.
- Seeing that she can nothing more supply
Fitted to shake the purpose of the peer,
Upon a new design the matron hits.
Pursued with all her pains, with all her wits.

XLV
'With slaughtered sheep and goat was evermore
The cavern filled, the numerous flock's increase,
Which served her and her household as a store;
And from the ceiling dangled many a fleece.
The dame made Norandino from a hoar
And huge he-goat's fat bowels take the grease,
And with the suet all his members pay,
Until he drove his natural scent away.

XLVI
'And when she thought he had imbibed the smell
Which the rank goat exhales, she took the hide,
And made him creep into the shaggy fell;
Who was well covered by that mantle wide.
Him in this strange disguise she from the cell
Crawling (for such was her command) did guide,
Where, prisoned by a stone, in her retreat,
Was hid his beauteous lady's visage sweet.

XLVII
'Kin Norandine, as bid, took up his ground
Before the cavern, on the greensward laid,
That he might enter with the flock who wound
Homeward; and longing sore, till evening stayed.
At eve he hears the hollow elder's sound,
Upon whose pipes the wonted tune was played,
Calling his sheep from pasture to their rock,
By the fell swain who stalked behind his flock.

XLVIII
'Think if his heart is trembling at its core,
When Norandino hears the approaching strains;
And now advancing to the cavern door,
The sight of that terrific face sustains!
But if fear shook him, pity moved him more:
You see if he loves well or only feigns!
The orc removed the stone, unbarred the cote,
And the king entered, amid sheep and goat.

XLIX
'His flock so housed, to us the orc descended,
But first had care the cavern door to close:
Then scented all about, and having ended
His quest, two wretches for his supper chose.
So is remembrance by this meal offended,
It makes me tremble yet: this done, he goes;
And being gone, the king his goatish vest
Casts off, and folds his lady to his breast.

L
'Whereas she him with pleasure should descry,
She, seeing him, but suffers grief and pain.
She sees him thither but arrived to die,
Who cannot hinder her from being slain.
` 'Twas no small joy 'mid all the woes, that.'
To him exclaimed Lucina, 'here sustain.
That thou wert not among us found to-day,
When hither I was brought, the monster's prey.

LI
' `For though to find myself about to leave
This life be bitter and afflict me sore,
Such is our common instinct, I should grieve
But for myself; but whether thee, before
Of after me, the orc of life bereave,
Assure thyself thy death will pain me more
Than mine.' And thus the dame persists to moan
More Norandino's danger than her own.

LII
' `A hope conducts me here,' the monarch said,
`To save thee and thy followers every one;
And, if I cannot, I were better dead,
Than living without light of thee, my sun!
I trust to scape, as hither I have spied;
As ye shall all, if, as ourselves have done,
To compass our design, you do not shrink
To imbue your bodies with the loathsome stink.'

LIII
'The trick he told, wherewith the monster's smell
To cheat, as first to him the wife had told:
In any case to cloathe us in the fell,
That he may feel is issueing from the fold.
As many men as women in the cell,
We slay (persuaded by the monarch bold)
As many goats as with our number square,
Of those which stink the most and oldest are.

LIV
'We smeared our bodies with the fruitful grease
Which round about the fat intestines lay,
And cloathed our bodies with the shaggy fleece:
This while from golden dwelling broke the day.
And now, his flock returning to release,
We viewed the shepherd, with the dawning ray;
Who, giving breath to the sonorous reeds,
Piped forth his prisoned flock to hill and meads.

LV
'He held his hand before the opened lair,
Lest with the herd we issued from the den,
And stopt us short; but feeling wool or hair
Upon our bodies, let us go again.
By such a strange device we rescued were,
Cloathed in our shaggy fleeces, dames and men:
Nor any issuing thence the monster kept,
Till thither, sore alarmed, Lucina crept.

LVI
'Lucina - whether she abhorred the scent,
And, like us others, loathed herself to smear,
- Or whether with a slower gait she went
Than might like the pretended beast's appear,
- Or whether, when the orc her body hent,
Her dread so mastered her, she screamed for fear,
- Or that her hair escaped from neck or brow,
Was known; nor can I well inform you how.

LVII
'So were we all intent on our own case,
We for another's danger had no eyes:
Him, turning at the scream. I saw uncase
Already her whom he had made his prize,
And force her to the cavern to retrace
Her steps: we, couching in our quaint disguise,
Wend with the flock, where us the shepherd leads,
Through verdant mountains, into pleasant meads.

LVIII
'There we awaited, till beneath the shade
Secure, we saw the beaked orc asleep;
When one along the shore of ocean made,
And one betook him to the mountain steep.
King Norandine his love alone delayed;
Who would return disguised among the sheep,
Nor from the place depart, while life remained,
Unless his faithful consort he regained.

LIX
'For when before, on the flock issuing out,
He saw her prisoned in the cave alone,
Into the orc's wide throat he was about
To spring; so grief had reason overthrown,
And he advanced even to the monster's snout,
And, but by little, scaped the grinding stone:
Yet him the hope detained amid the flock,
Trusting to bear Lucina from the rock.

LX
'The orc, at eve, when to the cave again
He brings the herd, nor finds us in the stall,
And knows that he must supperless remain,
Lucina guilty of the whole does call,
Condemned to stand, fast girded with a chain,
In open air, upon the summit tall.
The king who caused her woes, with pitying eye
Looks on, and pines, - and only cannot die.

LXI
'Morning and evening, her, lamenting sore,
Ever the unhappy lover might survey;
What time he grieving went afield before
The issuing flock, or homeward took his way.
She, with sad face, and suppliant evermore,
Signed that for love of Heaven he would not stay;
Since there he tarried at great risk of life.
Nor could in any thing assist his wife.

LXII
'So the orc's wife, as well upon her side,
Implored him to depart, but moved him nought;
To go without Lucina he denied,
And but remained more constant in his thought.
In this sad servitude he long was tried,
By Love and Pity bound: till Fortune brought
A pair of warriors to the rocky won,
Gradasso, and Agrican's redoubted son:

LXIII
'Where, with their arms so wrought the champions brave,
They freed Lucina from the chains she wore,
(Though he Wit less than Fortune served in save)
And running to the sea their burden bore:
Her to her father, who was there, they gave.
This was at morn, when in the cavern hoar,
Mixt with the goats, king Norandino stood,
Which ruminating, chewed their grassy food:

LXIV
'But when, at day-light, 'twas unbarred, and now
He was instructed that his wife was gone;
For the orc's consort told the tale, and how,
In every point, the thing rehearsed was done;
He thanked his God, and begged, with promised vow,
That, since 'twas granted her such ill to shun,
He would direct his wife to some repair,
Whence he might free her, by arms, gold, or prayer.

LXV
'Together with the flat-nosed herd his way
He took, and for green meads rejoicing made.
He here expected, till the monster lay
Extended, underneath the gloomy shade:
Then journeyed all the night and all the day;
Till, of the cruel orc no more afraid,
He climbed a bark on Satalia's strand,
And, three days past, arrived on Syrian land.

LXVI
'In Cyprus, and in Rhodes, by tower and town,
Which in near Egypt, Turkey, or Afric lay,
The king bade seek Lucina up and down,
Nor could hear news of her till the other day.
The other day, his father-in-law made known
He had her safe with him. What caused her stay
In Nicosia was a cruel gale
Which had long time been adverse to her sail.

LXVII
'The king, for pleasure of the tidings true,
Prepares the costly feast in solemn state;
And will on each fourth moon that shall ensue
Make one, resembling this we celebrate.
Pleased of that time the memory to renew,
That he, in the orc's cavern, had to wait,
- For four months and a day - which is to-morrow;
When he was rescued from such cruel sorrow.

LXVIII
'The things related I in part descried,
And from him, present at the whole, heard more;
From Norandine, through calend and through ide,
Pent, till he changed to smiles his anguish sore:
And if from other you hear aught beside,
Say, he is ill instructed in his lore.'
The Syrian gentleman did thus display
The occasion of that feast and fair array.

LXIX
Large portion of the night, in like discourse,
Was by those cavaliers together spent,
Who deemed that Love and Pity's mickle force
Was proved in that so dread experiment;
Then rising, when the supper's sumptuous course
Was cleared, to good and pleasant lodgings went;
And, as the ensuing morning fairly broke,
To sounds of triumph and rejoicing woke.

LXX
The circling drums' and trumpets' echoing strain
Assemble all the town within the square;
And now, when mixt with sound of horse and wain,
Loud outcries through the streets repeated are,
Sir Gryphon dons his glittering arms again,
A panoply of those esteemed most rare;
Whose mail, impassable by spear or brand,
She, the white fay, had tempered with her hand.

LXXI
The man of Antioch in his company,
Armed him (a recreant worse than he was none),
Provided by their landlord's courtesy
With sturdy spears and good, the course to run;
Who with his kindred, a fair chivalry,
To bring the warriors to the square is gone;
With squires afoot and mounted upon steeds,
Whom he bestowed, as aptest for their needs.

LXXII
They in the square arrived and stood aside,
Nor of themselves awhile would make display;
Better to see the martial gallants ride
By twos and threes, or singly, to the fray.
One told, by colours cunningly allied,
His joy or sorrow to his lady gay;
One, with a painted Love on crest or shield,
If she were cruel or were kind, revealed.

LXXIII
It was the Syrians' practise in that age
To arm them in this fashion of the west.
Haply this sprung out of their vicinage
And constant commerce with the Franks, possest
In those days of the sacred heritage,
That God incarnate with his presence blest;
Which now, to them abandoned by the train
Of wretched Christians, heathen hounds profane.

LXXIV
God's worshippers, where they should couch the lance,
For furtherance of his holy faith and true,
Against each other's breast the spear advance,
To the destruction of the faithful few.
You men of Spain, and you, ye men of France,
And Switzers, turn your steps elsewhere , and you,
Ye Germans, worthier empire to acquire;
For that is won for Christ, which you desire.

LXXV
If verily most Christian you would be,
- I speak to you, that catholic are hight -
Why slain by you Christ's people do I see?
Wherefore are they despoiled of their right?
Why seek you not Jerusalem to free
From renegades? By Turkish Moslemite
Impure, why is Byzantium, with the best
And fairest portion of the world, possest?

LXXVI
Thou Spain, hast thou not fruitful Afric nigh?
And has she not in sooth offended more
Than Italy? yet her to scathe, that high,
And noble, enterprize wilt thou give o'er.
Alas! thou sleepest, drunken Italy,
Of every vice and crime the fetid sewer!
Nor grievest, as a hand-maid, to obey,
In turn, the nations that have owned thy sway.

LXXVII
If fear of famishing within thy cave,
Switzer, does thee to Lombardy convey,
And thou, among our people, dost but crave
A hand to give thee daily bread, or slay, -
The Turk has ready wealth; across the wave,
Drive him from Europe or from Greece away:
So shalt thou in those parts have wherewithal
To feed thy hunger, or more nobly fall.

LXXVIII
I to the German neighbour of thy lair
Say what I say to thee; the wealth o' the west,
Which Constantine brought off from Rome, is there -
Brought off the choicest, gave away the rest -
There golden Hermus and Pactolus are,
Mygdonia and Lydia: nor that country blest,
Which many tales for many praises note,
If thou wouldst thither wend, is too remote.

LXXIX
Thou mighty Lion, that art charged to keep
The keys of Paradise, a weighty care,
Oh! let not Italy lie plunged in sleep,
If thy strong hand is planted in her hair.
To thee, his shepherd, God, to guide his sheep,
Has given that wand and furious name to bear;
That thou may'st roar, and wide thine arms extend,
And so from greedy wolves thy flock defend.

LXXX
But whither have I roved! who evermore
So from one topic to the other stray?
Yet think not I the road I kept before
To have missed so far, but I can find my way.
I said, the Syrians then observed the lore
Or arming like the Christians of that day.
So that Damascus' crowded square was bright
With corslet, plate, and helm of belted knight.

LXXXI
The lovely ladies from their scaffolds throw
Upon the jousters yellow flowers and red;
While these, as loud the brazen trumpets blow,
Make their steeds leap and wheel and proudly tread.
Each, rode he well or ill, his art would show,
And with the goring spur his courser bled.
Hence this good cavalier earns fame and praise,
While others scornful hoots and laughter raise.

LXXXII
A suit of arms was prize of the assay,
Presented to the king some days before;
Which late a merchant found upon the way
Returning from Armenia; this the more
To grace, a vest, with noblest tissue gay,
The Syrian king subjoined, so powdered o'er
With jewels, gold, and pearls in rich device,
They made the meed a thing of passing price.

LXXXIII
If the good king had known the panoply,
This he had held above all others dear;
Nor this had given, as full of courtesy,
To be contented for with sword and spear.
'Twere long to tell who so unworthily
Had erst mistreated thus the goodly gear,
That lay the way the harness had been strowed,
A prey to whosoever past the road.

LXXXIV
Of this you more in other place shall hear.
Of Gryphon now I tell, who at the just
Arrived, saw broken many a knightly spear,
And more than one good stroke and one good thrust.
Eight were there who made league together, dear
To Norandine, and held in sovereign trust;
Youths quick in arms and practised in the shock:
All lords, or scions of illustrious stock.

LXXXV
At open barriers, one by one, the place
They kept against all comers for a day;
At first with lance, and next with sword or mace,
While them the king delighted to survey.
Ofttimes they pierce the corslet's iron case,
And every thing in fine perform in play,
Which foemen do that deadly weapons measure,
Save that the king may part them at his pleasure.

LXXXVI
That witless Antiochite, who, worthily,
By name was cowardly Martano hight,
Thinking, because his comrade, he must be
Partaker of the noble Gryphon's might,
Into the martial press rides valiantly,
Then stops; and the issue of a furious fight,
Which had begun between two cavaliers,
To wait, retiring from the strife, appears.

LXXXVII
Seleucia's lord, of those companions one,
Combined in that emprize to keep the place,
Who then a course with bold Ombruno run,
Wounded the unhappy warrior in mid-face,
So that he slew him; mourned by every one,
Who as a worthy knight the warrior grace,
And over and above his worth, before
All others, hold him for his courteous lore.

LXXXVIII
When vile Martano from his place discerned
The fate which might be his with fearful eye,
Into his craven nature be returned,
And straight began to think how he might fly:
But him from flight the watchful Gryphon turned,
And, after much ado, with act and cry,
Urged him against a knight upon the ground,
As at the ravening wolf men slip the hound.

LXXXIX
Who will pursue the brindled beast for ten,
Or twenty yards, and, after, stop to bay;
When he beholds his flashing eyes, and when
He sees the griesly beast his teeth display.
'Twas thus, before those valiant gentlemen
And princes, present there in fair array,
Fearful Martano, seized with panic dread,
Turned to the right his courser's rein and head.

XC
Yet he who would excuse the sudden wheel,
Upon his courser might the blame bestow:
But, after, he so ill his strokes did deal,
Demosthenes his cause might well forego.
With paper armed he seems, and not with steel,
So shrinks he at the wind of every blow:
At length he breaks the ordered champions through,
Amid loud laughter from the circling crew.

XCI
Clapping of hands, and cries, at every turn,
Were heard from all that rubble widely spread.
As a wolf sorely hunted makes return
To earth, to his retreat Martano fled.
Gryphon remained, and sullied with the scorn
Esteemed himself, which on his mate was shed;
And rather than be there, he, in his ire,
Would gladly find himself i' the midst of fire.

XCII
With burning heart, and visage red with shame,
He thinks the knight's disgrace is all his own,
Because by deeds like his with whom he came,
He weens the mob expects to see him known.
So that it now behoves his valour flame
More clear than light, or they, to censure prone,
- Errs he a finger's breadth - an inch - will swell
His fault, and of that inch will make an ell.

XCIII
Already he the lance upon his thigh
Has rested, little used to miss the foe:
Then makes with flowing rein his courser fly,
And next, somedeal advanced, directs the blow;
And, smiting, puts to the last agony
Sidonia's youthful lord, by him laid low.
O'ercome with wonder each assistant rises,
Whom sore the unexpected deed surprises.

XCIV
Gryphon returned, and did the weapon wield.
Whole and recovered, which he couched before,
And in three pieces broke it on the shield
Which bold Laodicea's baron bore.
Thrice of four times about to press the field
He seemed, and lay along the crupper, sore
Astound; yet rose at length, unsheathed his blade,
Wheeled his good courser, and at Gryphon made.

XCV
Gryphon, who in his saddle sees the peer
Advancing towards him, nor unseated by
The encounter, says: 'The failure of the spear
In a few strokes the sabre shall supply;'
And on his temples smote a stroke so shear,
It seemed that it descended from the sky;
And matched it with another, and again
Another, till he stretched him on the plain.

XCVI
Here two good brothers of Apamia were,
In tourney wont to have the upper hand:
Corimbo named and Thyrsis was the pair;
Both overturned by Gryphon on the land.
One at the encounter left his saddle bare,
On the other Gryphon used his trenchant brand:
This valiant knight, was, in the common trust,
Sure to obtain the honours of the just.

XCVII
Bold Salinterno, mid the warlike train,
Was in the lists, vizier and marshal hight,
Who had the government of all that reign,
And was, withal, a puissant man of might:
The tourney's prize he sees, with much disdain,
About to be borne off by foreign knight.
A lance he snatches, and to Gryphon cries,
And him with many menaces defies.

XCVIII
But he makes answer with a massy spear,
Out of ten others chosen as the best;
And levelling at the buckler of the peer,
For greater surety, pierces plate and breast.
'Twixt rib and rib, it bored the cavalier,
Issuing a palm behind. To all the rest,
The king excepted, welcome was the blow:
For each was greedy Salinterno's foe.

XCIX
Two of Damascus next Sir Gryphon sped,
Hermophilo and Carmondo. This, arraid
Under his flag, the king's militia led;
That was as lord high admiral obeyed.
This lightly at the shock on earth was shed,
And that, reversed, upon the ground o'erlaid
By his weak horse, too feeble to withstand
Sir Gryphon's mighty push and puissant hand.

C
Yet in the field remained Seleucia's knight,
The best of all the other seven at need;
And one who well accompanied his might
With perfect armour and a gallant steed.
Both at the helmet, where it locks, take sight,
And with their spears to the encounter speed:
But Gryphon hardest smote, whose paynim foe
Lost his left stirrup, staggered by the blow.

CI
They cast the truncheons down, their coursers wheel,
And, full of daring, with drawn falchions close.
Sir Gryphon was the first a stroke to deal,
Which might have split an anvil; at the blow's
Descent, the shield is splintered - bone and steel -
This had its lord mid thousand others chose;
And, but 'twas double, and the coat as well,
The sword had cleft the thigh on which it fell.

CII
He of Seleucia at Sir Gryphon's casque,
At the same time, so fell a blow addrest,
It would have rent and torn the iron mask,
Had it not been enchanted like the rest.
The paynim's labour is a fruitless task,
Of arms so hard Sir Gryphon is possest;
Who has the foe's already cleft and broke
In many parts, nor thrown away a stroke.

CIII
Each one might see how much Seleucia's lord
Was overmatched by Gryphon, and that day,
The worsted men had perished by the sword,
Had not the monarch quickly stopt the fray.
To his guard king Norandino spake the word,
And bade them enter, and the duel stay:
They part the knight, whom they asunder bear,
And much the king is lauded for his care.

CIV
The eight, who had to keep the field pretended
From all the world, nor yet their part had done
On a sole knight, - their quarrel ill defended, -
Had vanished from the tilt-yard one by one.
The others, who with them should have contended,
Stood idle; for to answer them was none.
Since Gryphon had forestalled, in the debate,
What they should all have done against those eight;

CV
And, for such little time endured the play,
Less than an hour sufficed to finish all.
But Norandine, the pastime to delay,
And to continue it till even-fall,
Descending from his place, bade clear the way;
And the huge squad divided, at his call,
Into two troops, whom, ranked by blood and might,
The monarch formed, and marched for other fight.

CVI
Sir Gryphon, during this, had made return
Homeward, with anger and with fury stung;
Less thinking of his honours that the scorn
Which on the vile Martano had been flung.
Hence, from himself the opprobrious shame to turn,
Martano now employs his lying tongue;
And she, the false and cunning courtezan,
Assists him in his scheme as best she can.

CVII
Whether the youth believed the tale or no,
He the excuse received, like one discreet;
And deemed it best for them at once to go,
And secretly and silently retreat,
For fear, that if the populace should know
Martano base, they him might ill entreat.
So, by short ways and close, they quit the abode,
And issue from the gates upon their road.

CVIII
Sir Gryphon, was he or his horse foredone
With toil, or was it sleep his eyes down weighed,
Ere yet the troop beyond two miles had gone,
At the first inn upon the highway stayed.
He doffed his armour all, and morion,
And had the steeds of trappings disarrayed;
And next alone he to a chamber sped,
Locked himself in, undrest, and went to bed.

CIX
No sooner he his head had rested there,
Than, with deep sleep opprest, he closed his eye:
So heavily, no badgers in their lair,
Or dormice, overcome with slumber, lie.
Martano and Origille, to take the air,
Entered this while a garden which was nigh;
And there the strangest fraud together bred,
Which ever entered into mortal head.

CX
Martano schemed to take away the steed
And gear, in which Sir Gryphon had been dight,
And stand before the monarch, in the weed
Of him who had in joust so proved his might.
As he had shaped in thought, he did the deed:
He took away the warrior's horse, more white
Than milk, his buckler, surcoat, arms, and crest;
In all Sir Gryphon's knightly ensigns drest.

CXI
He, who was clad in trappings not his own,
Like the ass mantled in the lion's hide,
As he expected, to the king, unknown,
Was called in place of Gryphon: when descried
Or Norandine, he rising from his throne,
Embraced and kissed, and placed him by his side:
Nor deems enough to praise and hold him dear,
But wills that all around his praise should hear:

CXII
And bids them the sonorous metal blow,
Proclaiming him the conqueror of that day:
And round about loud voices, high and low,
The unworthy name throughout the lists convey.
He wills that, side by side, with him shall go
The knight, when homeward he shall take his way;
And him such favour shows, intent to please,
As might have honoured Mars or Hercules.

CXIII
Him lodgings fair he gave, wherein to dwell
At court; and she who with the peer did ride
Was honoured by the courteous king as well,
- False Origille, - with knight and page supplied.
But it is time that I of Gryphon tell;
Who unsuspecting, she, or wight beside,
Him would with treacherous stratagem deceive,
Had fallen asleep, nor ever waked till eve.

CXIV
When he how late it was, awaking, knew,
With speed he from the chamber did withdraw;
And hastened where he, with the other crew,
Left Origille and her false brother-in-law:
And when, nor these, nor, upon better view,
His armour nor his wonted clothes he saw,
Suspicious waxed; and more suspicion bred
The ensigns of his comrade left instead.

CXV
The host, arriving, him at full possest
Of every thing, - and how, in white array,
That warrior, with the lady and the rest,
Had to the city measured back their way.
By little and by little, Gryphon guessed
What love from him had hidden till that day;
And knew, to his great sorrow, in the other
Origille's paramour, and not her brother.

CXVI
Now he lamenting for his folly stood,
That having heard the truths the pilgrim said,
He should have let her story change his mood,
Who him before so often had betrayed.
He might have venged himself, nor did: - now wou'd,
Too late, inflict the punishment delaid;
Constrained (a crying error!) in his need
To take that wily treachour's arms and steed.

CXVII
He better would have gone like naked man,
Than braced the unworthy cuirass on his breast;
Or hastened the detested shield to span,
Or place upon his helm the scorned crest.
But of the lover, and that courtezan,
He, passion mastering reason, took the quest:
And bending to Damascus' gate his way,
Arrived an hour before the close of day.

CXVIII
On the left hand a castle richly dight
Stood nigh the gate, to which Sir Gryphon rode.
Besides, that it was strong and armed for fight,
Filled with rare chambers was the rich abode.
The first of Syria, king, and lord, and knight,
And lady, in a gentle group bestowed,
There in an open gallery fairly met,
Were at their glad and costly supper set.

CXIX
With the high tower the beauteous gallery, clear
Beyond the city-wall, projected out,
From whence might be discovered, far and near,
The spacious fields and different roads about.
When Gryphon now, in his opprobrious gear,
And arms, dishonoured by the rabble's flout,
Makes, by ill fortune, to the gate resort,
He by the king is seen, and all his court;

CXX
And, taken for the man whose crest he wears,
In dame and knight moves laughter, through the ring.
The vile Martano, as a man who shares
The royal grace, sits next below the king;
And next, she, whom her love so fitly pairs;
Whom Norandino gaily questioning.
Demands of them, who is the coward knight,
That of his honour makes so passing light;

CXXI
Who, after feat so base and foul, anew
Approaches, with such front and shameless cheer,
- And cries, 'It seems a thing unheard, that you,
An excellent and worthy cavalier,
Should take this man for your companion, who
Has not in all our wide Levant his peer.
Did you with him for contrast-sake combine,
That so your valour might more brightly shine?

CXXII
'- But did not love for you my will restrain,
By the eternal gods, I truly swear,
He should endure such ignominious stain,
As I am wont to make his fellows share:
Him would I make of my long-nursed disdain
Of cowardice perpetual record bear.
To you, by whom he hither was conveyed,
If now unpunished, let his thanks be paid.'

CXXIII
That vessel of all filthy vices, he,
Made answer: 'Mighty sir, I cannot say
Who is the stranger, that fell in with me
Journeying from Antioch hither, by the way:
But him I worthy of my company
Deemed, by his warlike semblance led astray.
I nothing of his deeds have heard or seen,
Save what ill feats to-day have witnessed been;

CXXIV
'Which moved me so, it little lacked but I,
For punishment of his unworthy fear,
Had put him out of case again to ply,
In martial tournament, the sword or spear;
And, but in reverence to your majesty
And presence, I forbore by hand to rear,
Not for his sake: - nor by thy mercy showed
On him, as my companion on the road;

CXXV
'Whose former fellowship appears a stain;
And ever 'twill sit heavy at my heart,
If I, uninjured, see the wretch again
'Scape, to the scandal of the warlike art.
'Twere better he from tower, a worthy pain,
Were gibbeted, than suffered to depart:
Hung as a beacon for the coward's gaze.
Such were a princely deed, and worthy praise.'

CXXVI
A voucher he in Origilla had,
Who well, without a sign, his purpose read.
'I deem not,' cried the king, 'his works so bad,
That they should cost the stranger knight his head:
Enough that he again the people glad,
For penance of his weighty sin.' This said,
He quickly called a baron of his crew,
And him enjoined the deed he was to do.

CXXVII
With many armed men that baron fares,
And to the city-gate descending, here
Collects his troop, and for the attempt prepares,
Waiting the coming of the cavalier;
And him surprises so at unawares,
He, softly, 'twixt two bridges, takes the peer;
And him detains, with mockery and scorn,
In a dark chamber, till returning morn.

CXXVIII
The early sun had scarce his golden hair
Uplifted from his ancient nurse's breast,
Beginning, upon Alpine regions bare,
To chase the shades and gild the mountain-crest,
When Martan', fearing Gryphon might declare
His wrong, and to the king the truth attest,
Retorting upon him the slander cast,
Took leave, and thence upon his journey past.

CXXIX
His ready wit a fit excuse supplies
Why he stays not, to see the recreant shown.
He is with other gifts, beside the prize,
Rewarded for the victory, not his own,
And letters patent, drawn in ample wise,
Wherein his lofty honours wide are blown.
Let him depart; I promise he shall meet
A guerdon worthy of his treacherous feat.

CXXX
Gryphon is brought with shame into the square,
When it is fully thronged with gazing wight,
Whom they of cuirass and of helmet bare,
And leave in simple cassock, meanly dight;
And, as to slaughter he conducted were,
Place on a wain, conspicuous to the sight;
Harnessed to which two sluggish cows are seen,
Weary and weak, and with long hunger lean.

CXXXI
Thronging about the ignoble car, appear
Brazen-faced boy and girl of evil fame,
Who, each in turn, will play the charioteer,
And all assail the knight with bitter blame.
The boys might be a cause of greater fear,
For, joined to mocks and mows, and words of shame,
The warrior they with volleyed stones would slay,
But that the wiser few their fury stay.

CXXXII
That which of his disgrace had been the ground,
Though no true evidence of guilt, his mail
And plate, are dragged in due dishonour round,
Suspended at the shameful waggon's tail.
The wain is stopt, and to the trumpet's sound,
Heralds, in front of a tribunal's pale,
His shame, before his eyes, amid the crowd,
(Another's evil deed) proclaim aloud.

CXXXIII
They take their prisoner thence, and so repair
In front of temple, dwelling-house, and store;
Nor any cruel name of mockery spare,
Nor leave unsaid a word of filthy lore;
And him at last without the city bear:
The foolish rabble, trusting evermore
Their thrall to banish to the sound of blows,
Who passing little of its prisoner knows.

CXXXIV
The warrior's gyves no sooner they undo,
And from their manacles free either hand,
Than Gryphon seizes shield and sword, and, through
The rabble, makes long furrows with his brand.
With pike and spear unfurnished was the crew,
Who without weapons came, a witless band.
The rest for other canto I suspend,
For, sir, 'tis time this song should have an end.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share
Homer

The Iliad: Book 16

Thus did they fight about the ship of Protesilaus. Then Patroclus
drew near to Achilles with tears welling from his eyes, as from some
spring whose crystal stream falls over the ledges of a high precipice.
When Achilles saw him thus weeping he was sorry for him and said,
"Why, Patroclus, do you stand there weeping like some silly child that
comes running to her mother, and begs to be taken up and carried-
she catches hold of her mother's dress to stay her though she is in
a hurry, and looks tearfully up until her mother carries her- even
such tears, Patroclus, are you now shedding. Have you anything to
say to the Myrmidons or to myself? or have you had news from Phthia
which you alone know? They tell me Menoetius son of Actor is still
alive, as also Peleus son of Aeacus, among the Myrmidons- men whose
loss we two should bitterly deplore; or are you grieving about the
Argives and the way in which they are being killed at the ships, throu
their own high-handed doings? Do not hide anything from me but tell me
that both of us may know about it."
Then, O knight Patroclus, with a deep sigh you answered,
"Achilles, son of Peleus, foremost champion of the Achaeans, do not be
angry, but I weep for the disaster that has now befallen the
Argives. All those who have been their champions so far are lying at
the ships, wounded by sword or spear. Brave Diomed son of Tydeus has
been hit with a spear, while famed Ulysses and Agamemnon have received
sword-wounds; Eurypylus again has been struck with an arrow in the
thigh; skilled apothecaries are attending to these heroes, and healing
them of their wounds; are you still, O Achilles, so inexorable? May it
never be my lot to nurse such a passion as you have done, to the
baning of your own good name. Who in future story will speak well of
you unless you now save the Argives from ruin? You know no pity;
knight Peleus was not your father nor Thetis your mother, but the grey
sea bore you and the sheer cliffs begot you, so cruel and
remorseless are you. If however you are kept back through knowledge of
some oracle, or if your mother Thetis has told you something from
the mouth of Jove, at least send me and the Myrmidons with me, if I
may bring deliverance to the Danaans. Let me moreover wear your
armour; the Trojans may thus mistake me for you and quit the field, so
that the hard-pressed sons of the Achaeans may have breathing time-
which while they are fighting may hardly be. We who are fresh might
soon drive tired men back from our ships and tents to their own city."
He knew not what he was asking, nor that he was suing for his own
destruction. Achilles was deeply moved and answered, "What, noble
Patroclus, are you saying? I know no prophesyings which I am
heeding, nor has my mother told me anything from the mouth of Jove,
but I am cut to the very heart that one of my own rank should dare
to rob me because he is more powerful than I am. This, after all
that I have gone through, is more than I can endure. The girl whom the
sons of the Achaeans chose for me, whom I won as the fruit of my spear
on having sacked a city- her has King Agamemnon taken from me as
though I were some common vagrant. Still, let bygones be bygones: no
man may keep his anger for ever; I said I would not relent till battle
and the cry of war had reached my own ships; nevertheless, now gird my
armour about your shoulders, and lead the Myrmidons to battle, for the
dark cloud of Trojans has burst furiously over our fleet; the
Argives are driven back on to the beach, cooped within a narrow space,
and the whole people of Troy has taken heart to sally out against
them, because they see not the visor of my helmet gleaming near
them. Had they seen this, there would not have been a creek nor grip
that had not been filled with their dead as they fled back again.
And so it would have been, if only King Agamemnon had dealt fairly
by me. As it is the Trojans have beset our host. Diomed son of
Tydeus no longer wields his spear to defend the Danaans, neither
have I heard the voice of the son of Atreus coming from his hated
head, whereas that of murderous Hector rings in my cars as he gives
orders to the Trojans, who triumph over the Achaeans and fill the
whole plain with their cry of battle. But even so, Patroclus, fall
upon them and save the fleet, lest the Trojans fire it and prevent
us from being able to return. Do, however, as I now bid you, that
you may win me great honour from all the Danaans, and that they may
restore the girl to me again and give me rich gifts into the
bargain. When you have driven the Trojans from the ships, come back
again. Though Juno's thundering husband should put triumph within your
reach, do not fight the Trojans further in my absence, or you will rob
me of glory that should be mine. And do not for lust of battle go on
killing the Trojans nor lead the Achaeans on to Ilius, lest one of the
ever-living gods from Olympus attack you- for Phoebus Apollo loves
them well: return when you have freed the ships from peril, and let
others wage war upon the plain. Would, by father Jove, Minerva, and
Apollo, that not a single man of all the Trojans might be left
alive, nor yet of the Argives, but that we two might be alone left
to tear aside the mantle that veils the brow of Troy."
Thus did they converse. But Ajax could no longer hold his ground for
the shower of darts that rained upon him; the will of Jove and the
javelins of the Trojans were too much for him; the helmet that gleamed
about his temples rang with the continuous clatter of the missiles
that kept pouring on to it and on to the cheek-pieces that protected
his face. Moreover his left shoulder was tired with having held his
shield so long, yet for all this, let fly at him as they would, they
could not make him give ground. He could hardly draw his breath, the
sweat rained from every pore of his body, he had not a moment's
respite, and on all sides he was beset by danger upon danger.
And now, tell me, O Muses that hold your mansions on Olympus, how
fire was thrown upon the ships of the Achaeans. Hector came close up
and let drive with his great sword at the ashen spear of Ajax. He
cut it clean in two just behind where the point was fastened on to the
shaft of the spear. Ajax, therefore, had now nothing but a headless
spear, while the bronze point flew some way off and came ringing
down on to the ground. Ajax knew the hand of heaven in this, and was
dismayed at seeing that Jove had now left him utterly defenceless
and was willing victory for the Trojans. Therefore he drew back, and
the Trojans flung fire upon the ship which was at once wrapped in
flame.
The fire was now flaring about the ship's stern, whereon Achilles
smote his two thighs and said to Patroclus, "Up, noble knight, for I
see the glare of hostile fire at our fleet; up, lest they destroy
our ships, and there be no way by which we may retreat. Gird on your
armour at once while I call our people together."
As he spoke Patroclus put on his armour. First he greaved his legs
with greaves of good make, and fitted with ancle-clasps of silver;
after this he donned the cuirass of the son of Aeacus, richly inlaid
and studded. He hung his silver-studded sword of bronze about his
shoulders, and then his mighty shield. On his comely head he set his
helmet, well wrought, with a crest of horse-hair that nodded
menacingly above it. He grasped two redoubtable spears that suited his
hands, but he did not take the spear of noble Achilles, so stout and
strong, for none other of the Achaeans could wield it, though Achilles
could do so easily. This was the ashen spear from Mount Pelion,
which Chiron had cut upon a mountain top and had given to Peleus,
wherewith to deal out death among heroes. He bade Automedon yoke his
horses with all speed, for he was the man whom he held in honour
next after Achilles, and on whose support in battle he could rely most
firmly. Automedon therefore yoked the fleet horses Xanthus and Balius,
steeds that could fly like the wind: these were they whom the harpy
Podarge bore to the west wind, as she was grazing in a meadow by the
waters of the river Oceanus. In the side traces he set the noble horse
Pedasus, whom Achilles had brought away with him when he sacked the
city of Eetion, and who, mortal steed though he was, could take his
place along with those that were immortal.
Meanwhile Achilles went about everywhere among the tents, and bade
his Myrmidons put on their armour. Even as fierce ravening wolves that
are feasting upon a homed stag which they have killed upon the
mountains, and their jaws are red with blood- they go in a pack to lap
water from the clear spring with their long thin tongues; and they
reek of blood and slaughter; they know not what fear is, for it is
hunger drives them- even so did the leaders and counsellors of the
Myrmidons gather round the good squire of the fleet descendant of
Aeacus, and among them stood Achilles himself cheering on both men and
horses.
Fifty ships had noble Achilles brought to Troy, and in each there
was a crew of fifty oarsmen. Over these he set five captains whom he
could trust, while he was himself commander over them all.
Menesthius of the gleaming corslet, son to the river Spercheius that
streams from heaven, was captain of the first company. Fair Polydora
daughter of Peleus bore him to ever-flowing Spercheius- a woman
mated with a god- but he was called son of Borus son of Perieres, with
whom his mother was living as his wedded wife, and who gave great
wealth to gain her. The second company was led by noble Eudorus, son
to an unwedded woman. Polymele, daughter of Phylas the graceful
dancer, bore him; the mighty slayer of Argos was enamoured of her as
he saw her among the singing women at a dance held in honour of
Diana the rushing huntress of the golden arrows; he therefore-
Mercury, giver of all good- went with her into an upper chamber, and
lay with her in secret, whereon she bore him a noble son Eudorus,
singularly fleet of foot and in fight valiant. When Ilithuia goddess
of the pains of child-birth brought him to the light of day, and he
saw the face of the sun, mighty Echecles son of Actor took the
mother to wife, and gave great wealth to gain her, but her father
Phylas brought the child up, and took care of him, doting as fondly
upon him as though he were his own son. The third company was led by
Pisander son of Maemalus, the finest spearman among all the
Myrmidons next to Achilles' own comrade Patroclus. The old knight
Phoenix was captain of the fourth company, and Alcimedon, noble son of
Laerceus of the fifth.
When Achilles had chosen his men and had stationed them all with
their captains, he charged them straitly saying, "Myrmidons,
remember your threats against the Trojans while you were at the
ships in the time of my anger, and you were all complaining of me.
'Cruel son of Peleus,' you would say, 'your mother must have suckled
you on gall, so ruthless are you. You keep us here at the ships
against our will; if you are so relentless it were better we went home
over the sea.' Often have you gathered and thus chided with me. The
hour is now come for those high feats of arms that you have so long
been pining for, therefore keep high hearts each one of you to do
battle with the Trojans."
With these words he put heart and soul into them all, and they
serried their companies yet more closely when they heard the of
their king. As the stones which a builder sets in the wall of some
high house which is to give shelter from the winds- even so closely
were the helmets and bossed shields set against one another. Shield
pressed on shield, helm on helm, and man on man; so close were they
that the horse-hair plumes on the gleaming ridges of their helmets
touched each other as they bent their heads.
In front of them all two men put on their armour- Patroclus and
Automedon- two men, with but one mind to lead the Myrmidons. Then
Achilles went inside his tent and opened the lid of the strong chest
which silver-footed Thetis had given him to take on board ship, and
which she had filled with shirts, cloaks to keep out the cold, and
good thick rugs. In this chest he had a cup of rare workmanship,
from which no man but himself might drink, nor would he make
offering from it to any other god save only to father Jove. He took
the cup from the chest and cleansed it with sulphur; this done he
rinsed it clean water, and after he had washed his hands he drew wine.
Then he stood in the middle of the court and prayed, looking towards
heaven, and making his drink-offering of wine; nor was he unseen of
Jove whose joy is in thunder. "King Jove," he cried, "lord of
Dodona, god of the Pelasgi, who dwellest afar, you who hold wintry
Dodona in your sway, where your prophets the Selli dwell around you
with their feet unwashed and their couches made upon the ground- if
you heard me when I prayed to you aforetime, and did me honour while
you sent disaster on the Achaeans, vouchsafe me now the fulfilment
of yet this further prayer. I shall stay here where my ships are
lying, but I shall send my comrade into battle at the head of many
Myrmidons. Grant, O all-seeing Jove, that victory may go with him; put
your courage into his heart that Hector may learn whether my squire is
man enough to fight alone, or whether his might is only then so
indomitable when I myself enter the turmoil of war. Afterwards when he
has chased the fight and the cry of battle from the ships, grant
that he may return unharmed, with his armour and his comrades,
fighters in close combat."
Thus did he pray, and all-counselling Jove heard his prayer. Part of
it he did indeed vouchsafe him- but not the whole. He granted that
Patroclus should thrust back war and battle from the ships, but
refused to let him come safely out of the fight.
When he had made his drink-offering and had thus prayed, Achilles
went inside his tent and put back the cup into his chest.
Then he again came out, for he still loved to look upon the fierce
fight that raged between the Trojans and Achaeans.
Meanwhile the armed band that was about Patroclus marched on till
they sprang high in hope upon the Trojans. They came swarming out like
wasps whose nests are by the roadside, and whom silly children love to
tease, whereon any one who happens to be passing may get stung- or
again, if a wayfarer going along the road vexes them by accident,
every wasp will come flying out in a fury to defend his little ones-
even with such rage and courage did the Myrmidons swarm from their
ships, and their cry of battle rose heavenwards. Patroclus called
out to his men at the top of his voice, "Myrmidons, followers of
Achilles son of Peleus, be men my friends, fight with might and with
main, that we may win glory for the son of Peleus, who is far the
foremost man at the ships of the Argives- he, and his close fighting
followers. The son of Atreus King Agamemnon will thus learn his
folly in showing no respect to the bravest of the Achaeans."
With these words he put heart and soul into them all, and they
fell in a body upon the Trojans. The ships rang again with the cry
which the Achaeans raised, and when the Trojans saw the brave son of
Menoetius and his squire all gleaming in their armour, they were
daunted and their battalions were thrown into confusion, for they
thought the fleet son of Peleus must now have put aside his anger, and
have been reconciled to Agamemnon; every one, therefore, looked
round about to see whither he might fly for safety.
Patroclus first aimed a spear into the middle of the press where men
were packed most closely, by the stern of the ship of Protesilaus.
He hit Pyraechmes who had led his Paeonian horsemen from the Amydon
and the broad waters of the river Axius; the spear struck him on the
right shoulder, and with a groan he fell backwards in the dust; on
this his men were thrown into confusion, for by killing their
leader, who was the finest soldier among them, Patroclus struck
panic into them all. He thus drove them from the ship and quenched the
fire that was then blazing- leaving the half-burnt ship to lie where
it was. The Trojans were now driven back with a shout that rent the
skies, while the Danaans poured after them from their ships,
shouting also without ceasing. As when Jove, gatherer of the
thunder-cloud, spreads a dense canopy on the top of some lofty
mountain, and all the peaks, the jutting headlands, and forest
glades show out in the great light that flashes from the bursting
heavens, even so when the Danaans had now driven back the fire from
their ships, they took breath for a little while; but the fury of
the fight was not yet over, for the Trojans were not driven back in
utter rout, but still gave battle, and were ousted from their ground
only by sheer fighting.
The fight then became more scattered, and the chieftains killed
one another when and how they could. The valiant son of Menoetius
first drove his spear into the thigh of Areilycus just as he was
turning round; the point went clean through, and broke the bone so
that he fell forward. Meanwhile Menelaus struck Thoas in the chest,
where it was exposed near the rim of his shield, and he fell dead. The
son of Phyleus saw Amphiclus about to attack him, and ere he could
do so took aim at the upper part of his thigh, where the muscles are
thicker than in any other part; the spear tore through all the
sinews of the leg, and his eyes were closed in darkness. Of the sons
of Nestor one, Antilochus, speared Atymnius, driving the point of
the spear through his throat, and down he fell. Maris then sprang on
Antilochus in hand-to-hand fight to avenge his brother, and bestrode
the body spear in hand; but valiant Thrasymedes was too quick for him,
and in a moment had struck him in the shoulder ere he could deal his
blow; his aim was true, and the spear severed all the muscles at the
root of his arm, and tore them right down to the bone, so he fell
heavily to the ground and his eyes were closed in darkness. Thus did
these two noble comrades of Sarpedon go down to Erebus slain by the
two sons of Nestor; they were the warrior sons of Amisodorus, who
had reared the invincible Chimaera, to the bane of many. Ajax son of
Oileus sprang on Cleobulus and took him alive as he was entangled in
the crush; but he killed him then and there by a sword-blow on the
neck. The sword reeked with his blood, while dark death and the strong
hand of fate gripped him and closed his eyes.
Peneleos and Lycon now met in close fight, for they had missed
each other with their spears. They had both thrown without effect,
so now they drew their swords. Lycon struck the plumed crest of
Peneleos' helmet but his sword broke at the hilt, while Peneleos smote
Lycon on the neck under the ear. The blade sank so deep that the
head was held on by nothing but the skin, and there was no more life
left in him. Meriones gave chase to Acamas on foot and caught him up
just as he was about to mount his chariot; he drove a spear through
his right shoulder so that he fell headlong from the car, and his eyes
were closed in darkness. Idomeneus speared Erymas in the mouth; the
bronze point of the spear went clean through it beneath the brain,
crashing in among the white bones and smashing them up. His teeth were
all of them knocked out and the blood came gushing in a stream from
both his eyes; it also came gurgling up from his mouth and nostrils,
and the darkness of death enfolded him round about.
Thus did these chieftains of the Danaans each of them kill his
man. As ravening wolves seize on kids or lambs, fastening on them when
they are alone on the hillsides and have strayed from the main flock
through the carelessness of the shepherd- and when the wolves see this
they pounce upon them at once because they cannot defend themselves-
even so did the Danaans now fall on the Trojans, who fled with
ill-omened cries in their panic and had no more fight left in them.
Meanwhile great Ajax kept on trying to drive a spear into Hector,
but Hector was so skilful that he held his broad shoulders well
under cover of his ox-hide shield, ever on the look-out for the
whizzing of the arrows and the heavy thud of the spears. He well
knew that the fortunes of the day had changed, but still stood his
ground and tried to protect his comrades.
As when a cloud goes up into heaven from Olympus, rising out of a
clear sky when Jove is brewing a gale- even with such panic stricken
rout did the Trojans now fly, and there was no order in their going.
Hector's fleet horses bore him and his armour out of the fight, and he
left the Trojan host penned in by the deep trench against their
will. Many a yoke of horses snapped the pole of their chariots in
the trench and left their master's car behind them. Patroclus gave
chase, calling impetuously on the Danaans and full of fury against the
Trojans, who, being now no longer in a body, filled all the ways
with their cries of panic and rout; the air was darkened with the
clouds of dust they raised, and the horses strained every nerve in
their flight from the tents and ships towards the city.
Patroclus kept on heading his horses wherever he saw most men flying
in confusion, cheering on his men the while. Chariots were being
smashed in all directions, and many a man came tumbling down from
his own car to fall beneath the wheels of that of Patroclus, whose
immortal steeds, given by the gods to Peleus, sprang over the trench
at a bound as they sped onward. He was intent on trying to get near
Hector, for he had set his heart on spearing him, but Hector's
horses were now hurrying him away. As the whole dark earth bows before
some tempest on an autumn day when Jove rains his hardest to punish
men for giving crooked judgement in their courts, and arriving justice
therefrom without heed to the decrees of heaven- all the rivers run
full and the torrents tear many a new channel as they roar headlong
from the mountains to the dark sea, and it fares ill with the works of
men- even such was the stress and strain of the Trojan horses in their
flight.
Patroclus now cut off the battalions that were nearest to him and
drove them back to the ships. They were doing their best to reach
the city, but he would not Yet them, and bore down on them between the
river and the ships and wall. Many a fallen comrade did he then
avenge. First he hit Pronous with a spear on the chest where it was
exposed near the rim of his shield, and he fell heavily to the ground.
Next he sprang on Thestor son of Enops, who was sitting all huddled up
in his chariot, for he had lost his head and the reins had been torn
out of his hands. Patroclus went up to him and drove a spear into
his right jaw; he thus hooked him by the teeth and the spear pulled
him over the rim of his car, as one who sits at the end of some
jutting rock and draws a strong fish out of the sea with a hook and
a line- even so with his spear did he pull Thestor all gaping from his
chariot; he then threw him down on his face and he died while falling.
On this, as Erylaus was on to attack him, he struck him full on the
head with a stone, and his brains were all battered inside his helmet,
whereon he fell headlong to the ground and the pangs of death took
hold upon him. Then he laid low, one after the other, Erymas,
Amphoterus, Epaltes, Tlepolemus, Echius son of Damastor, Pyris,
lpheus, Euippus and Polymelus son of Argeas.
Now when Sarpedon saw his comrades, men who wore ungirdled tunics,
being overcome by Patroclus son of Menoetius, he rebuked the Lycians
saying. "Shame on you, where are you flying to? Show your mettle; I
will myself meet this man in fight and learn who it is that is so
masterful; he has done us much hurt, and has stretched many a brave
man upon the ground."
He sprang from his chariot as he spoke, and Patroclus, when he saw
this, leaped on to the ground also. The two then rushed at one another
with loud cries like eagle-beaked crook-taloned vultures that scream
and tear at one another in some high mountain fastness.
The son of scheming Saturn looked down upon them in pity and said to
Juno who was his wife and sister, "Alas, that it should be the lot
of Sarpedon whom I love so dearly to perish by the hand of
Patroclus. I am in two minds whether to catch him up out of the
fight and set him down safe and sound in the fertile land of Lycia, or
to let him now fall by the hand of the son of Menoetius."
And Juno answered, "Most dread son of Saturn, what is this that
you are saying? Would you snatch a mortal man, whose doom has long
been fated, out of the jaws of death? Do as you will, but we shall not
all of us be of your mind. I say further, and lay my saying to your
heart, that if you send Sarpedon safely to his own home, some other of
the gods will be also wanting to escort his son out of battle, for
there are many sons of gods fighting round the city of Troy, and you
will make every one jealous. If, however, you are fond of him and pity
him, let him indeed fall by the hand of Patroclus, but as soon as
the life is gone out of him, send Death and sweet Sleep to bear him
off the field and take him to the broad lands of Lycia, where his
brothers and his kinsmen will bury him with mound and pillar, in due
honour to the dead."
The sire of gods and men assented, but he shed a rain of blood
upon the earth in honour of his son whom Patroclus was about to kill
on the rich plain of Troy far from his home.
When they were now come close to one another Patroclus struck
Thrasydemus, the brave squire of Sarpedon, in the lower part of the
belly, and killed him. Sarpedon then aimed a spear at Patroclus and
missed him, but he struck the horse Pedasus in the right shoulder, and
it screamed aloud as it lay, groaning in the dust until the life
went out of it. The other two horses began to plunge; the pole of
the chariot cracked and they got entangled in the reins through the
fall of the horse that was yoked along with them; but Automedon knew
what to do; without the loss of a moment he drew the keen blade that
hung by his sturdy thigh and cut the third horse adrift; whereon the
other two righted themselves, and pulling hard at the reins again went
together into battle.
Sarpedon now took a second aim at Patroclus, and again missed him,
the point of the spear passed over his left shoulder without hitting
him. Patroclus then aimed in his turn, and the spear sped not from his
hand in vain, for he hit Sarpedon just where the midriff surrounds the
ever-beating heart. He fell like some oak or silver poplar or tall
pine to which woodmen have laid their axes upon the mountains to
make timber for ship-building- even so did he lie stretched at full
length in front of his chariot and horses, moaning and clutching at
the blood-stained dust. As when a lion springs with a bound upon a
herd of cattle and fastens on a great black bull which dies
bellowing in its clutches- even so did the leader of the Lycian
warriors struggle in death as he fell by the hand of Patroclus. He
called on his trusty comrade and said, "Glaucus, my brother, hero
among heroes, put forth all your strength, fight with might and
main, now if ever quit yourself like a valiant soldier. First go about
among the Lycian captains and bid them fight for Sarpedon; then
yourself also do battle to save my armour from being taken. My name
will haunt you henceforth and for ever if the Achaeans rob me of my
armour now that I have fallen at their ships. Do your very utmost
and call all my people together."
Death closed his eyes as he spoke. Patroclus planted his heel on his
breast and drew the spear from his body, whereon his senses came out
along with it, and he drew out both spear-point and Sarpedon's soul at
the same time. Hard by the Myrmidons held his snorting steeds, who
were wild with panic at finding themselves deserted by their lords.
Glaucus was overcome with grief when he heard what Sarpedon said,
for he could not help him. He had to support his arm with his other
hand, being in great pain through the wound which Teucer's arrow had
given him when Teucer was defending the wall as he, Glaucus, was
assailing it. Therefore he prayed to far-darting Apollo saying,
"Hear me O king from your seat, may be in the rich land of Lycia, or
may be in Troy, for in all places you can hear the prayer of one who
is in distress, as I now am. I have a grievous wound; my hand is
aching with pain, there is no staunching the blood, and my whole arm
drags by reason of my hurt, so that I cannot grasp my sword nor go
among my foes and fight them, thou our prince, Jove's son Sarpedon, is
slain. Jove defended not his son, do you, therefore, O king, heal me
of my wound, ease my pain and grant me strength both to cheer on the
Lycians and to fight along with them round the body of him who has
fallen."
Thus did he pray, and Apollo heard his prayer. He eased his pain,
staunched the black blood from the wound, and gave him new strength.
Glaucus perceived this, and was thankful that the mighty god had
answered his prayer; forthwith, therefore, he went among the Lycian
captains, and bade them come to fight about the body of Sarpedon. From
these he strode on among the Trojans to Polydamas son of Panthous
and Agenor; he then went in search of Aeneas and Hector, and when he
had found them he said, "Hector, you have utterly forgotten your
allies, who languish here for your sake far from friends and home
while you do nothing to support them. Sarpedon leader of the Lycian
warriors has fallen- he who was at once the right and might of
Lycia; Mars has laid him low by the spear of Patroclus. Stand by
him, my friends, and suffer not the Myrmidons to strip him of his
armour, nor to treat his body with contumely in revenge for all the
Danaans whom we have speared at the ships."
As he spoke the Trojans were plunged in extreme and ungovernable
grief; for Sarpedon, alien though he was, had been one of the main
stays of their city, both as having much people with him, and
himself the foremost among them all. Led by Hector, who was infuriated
by the fall of Sarpedon, they made instantly for the Danaans with
all their might, while the undaunted spirit of Patroclus son of
Menoetius cheered on the Achaeans. First he spoke to the two Ajaxes,
men who needed no bidding. "Ajaxes," said he, "may it now please you
to show youselves the men you have always been, or even better-
Sarpedon is fallen- he who was first to overleap the wall of the
Achaeans; let us take the body and outrage it; let us strip the armour
from his shoulders, and kill his comrades if they try to rescue his
body."
He spoke to men who of themselves were full eager; both sides,
therefore, the Trojans and Lycians on the one hand, and the
Myrmidons and Achaeans on the other, strengthened their battalions,
and fought desperately about the body of Sarpedon, shouting fiercely
the while. Mighty was the din of their armour as they came together,
and Jove shed a thick darkness over the fight, to increase the of
the battle over the body of his son.
At first the Trojans made some headway against the Achaeans, for one
of the best men among the Myrmidons was killed, Epeigeus, son of noble
Agacles who had erewhile been king in the good city of Budeum; but
presently, having killed a valiant kinsman of his own, he took
refuge with Peleus and Thetis, who sent him to Ilius the land of noble
steeds to fight the Trojans under Achilles. Hector now struck him on
the head with a stone just as he had caught hold of the body, and
his brains inside his helmet were all battered in, so that he fell
face foremost upon the body of Sarpedon, and there died. Patroclus was
enraged by the death of his comrade, and sped through the front
ranks as swiftly as a hawk that swoops down on a flock of daws or
starlings. Even so swiftly, O noble knight Patroclus, did you make
straight for the Lycians and Trojans to avenge your comrade. Forthwith
he struck Sthenelaus the son of Ithaemenes on the neck with a stone,
and broke the tendons that join it to the head and spine. On this
Hector and the front rank of his men gave ground. As far as a man
can throw a javelin when competing for some prize, or even in
battle- so far did the Trojans now retreat before the Achaeans.
Glaucus, captain of the Lycians, was the first to rally them, by
killing Bathycles son of Chalcon who lived in Hellas and was the
richest man among the Myrmidons. Glaucus turned round suddenly, just
as Bathycles who was pursuing him was about to lay hold of him, and
drove his spear right into the middle of his chest, whereon he fell
heavily to the ground, and the fall of so good a man filled the
Achaeans with dismay, while the Trojans were exultant, and came up
in a body round the corpse. Nevertheless the Achaeans, mindful of
their prowess, bore straight down upon them.
Meriones then killed a helmed warrior of the Trojans, Laogonus son
of Onetor, who was priest of Jove of Mt. Ida, and was honoured by
the people as though he were a god. Meriones struck him under the
jaw and ear, so that life went out of him and the darkness of death
laid hold upon him. Aeneas then aimed a spear at Meriones, hoping to
hit him under the shield as he was advancing, but Meriones saw it
coming and stooped forward to avoid it, whereon the spear flew past
him and the point stuck in the ground, while the butt-end went on
quivering till Mars robbed it of its force. The spear, therefore, sped
from Aeneas's hand in vain and fell quivering to the ground. Aeneas
was angry and said, "Meriones, you are a good dancer, but if I had hit
you my spear would soon have made an end of you."
And Meriones answered, "Aeneas, for all your bravery, you will not
be able to make an end of every one who comes against you. You are
only a mortal like myself, and if I were to hit you in the middle of
your shield with my spear, however strong and self-confident you may
be, I should soon vanquish you, and you would yield your life to Hades
of the noble steeds."
On this the son of Menoetius rebuked him and said, "Meriones, hero
though you be, you should not speak thus; taunting speeches, my good
friend, will not make the Trojans draw away from the dead body; some
of them must go under ground first; blows for battle, and words for
council; fight, therefore, and say nothing."
He led the way as he spoke and the hero went forward with him. As
the sound of woodcutters in some forest glade upon the mountains-
and the thud of their axes is heard afar- even such a din now rose
from earth-clash of bronze armour and of good ox-hide shields, as
men smote each other with their swords and spears pointed at both
ends. A man had need of good eyesight now to know Sarpedon, so covered
was he from head to foot with spears and blood and dust. Men swarmed
about the body, as flies that buzz round the full milk-pails in spring
when they are brimming with milk- even so did they gather round
Sarpedon; nor did Jove turn his keen eyes away for one moment from the
fight, but kept looking at it all the time, for he was settling how
best to kill Patroclus, and considering whether Hector should be
allowed to end him now in the fight round the body of Sarpedon, and
strip him of his armour, or whether he should let him give yet further
trouble to the Trojans. In the end, he deemed it best that the brave
squire of Achilles son of Peleus should drive Hector and the Trojans
back towards the city and take the lives of many. First, therefore, he
made Hector turn fainthearted, whereon he mounted his chariot and
fled, bidding the other Trojans fly also, for he saw that the scales
of Jove had turned against him. Neither would the brave Lycians
stand firm; they were dismayed when they saw their king lying struck
to the heart amid a heap of corpses- for when the son of Saturn made
the fight wax hot many had fallen above him. The Achaeans, therefore
stripped the gleaming armour from his shoulders and the brave son of
Menoetius gave it to his men to take to the ships. Then Jove lord of
the storm-cloud said to Apollo, "Dear Phoebus, go, I pray you, and
take Sarpedon out of range of the weapons; cleanse the black blood
from off him, and then bear him a long way off where you may wash
him in the river, anoint him with ambrosia, and clothe him in immortal
raiment; this done, commit him to the arms of the two fleet
messengers, Death, and Sleep, who will carry him straightway to the
rich land of Lycia, where his brothers and kinsmen will inter him, and
will raise both mound and pillar to his memory, in due honour to the
dead."
Thus he spoke. Apollo obeyed his father's saying, and came down from
the heights of Ida into the thick of the fight; forthwith he took
Sarpedon out of range of the weapons, and then bore him a long way
off, where he washed him in the river, anointed him with ambrosia
and clothed him in immortal raiment; this done, he committed him to
the arms of the two fleet messengers, Death, and Sleep, who
presently set him down in the rich land of Lycia.
Meanwhile Patroclus, with many a shout to his horses and to
Automedon, pursued the Trojans and Lycians in the pride and
foolishness of his heart. Had he but obeyed the bidding of the son
of Peleus, he would have, escaped death and have been scatheless;
but the counsels of Jove pass man's understanding; he will put even
a brave man to flight and snatch victory from his grasp, or again he
will set him on to fight, as he now did when he put a high spirit into
the heart of Patroclus.
Who then first, and who last, was slain by you, O Patroclus, when
the gods had now called you to meet your doom? First Adrestus,
Autonous, Echeclus, Perimus the son of Megas, Epistor and
Melanippus; after these he killed Elasus, Mulius, and Pylartes.
These he slew, but the rest saved themselves by flight.
The sons of the Achaeans would now have taken Troy by the hands of
Patroclus, for his spear flew in all directions, had not Phoebus
Apollo taken his stand upon the wall to defeat his purpose and to
aid the Trojans. Thrice did Patroclus charge at an angle of the high
wall, and thrice did Apollo beat him back, striking his shield with
his own immortal hands. When Patroclus was coming on like a god for
yet a fourth time, Apollo shouted to him with an awful voice and said,
"Draw back, noble Patroclus, it is not your lot to sack the city of
the Trojan chieftains, nor yet will it be that of Achilles who is a
far better man than you are." On hearing this, Patroclus withdrew to
some distance and avoided the anger of Apollo.
Meanwhile Hector was waiting with his horses inside the Scaean
gates, in doubt whether to drive out again and go on fighting, or to
call the army inside the gates. As he was thus doubting Phoebus Apollo
drew near him in the likeness of a young and lusty warrior Asius,
who was Hector's uncle, being own brother to Hecuba, and son of
Dymas who lived in Phrygia by the waters of the river Sangarius; in
his likeness Jove's son Apollo now spoke to Hector saying, "Hector,
why have you left off fighting? It is ill done of you. If I were as
much better a man than you, as I am worse, you should soon rue your
slackness. Drive straight towards Patroclus, if so be that Apollo
may grant you a triumph over him, and you may rull him."
With this the god went back into the hurly-burly, and Hector bade
Cebriones drive again into the fight. Apollo passed in among them, and
struck panic into the Argives, while he gave triumph to Hector and the
Trojans. Hector let the other Danaans alone and killed no man, but
drove straight at Patroclus. Patroclus then sprang from his chariot to
the ground, with a spear in his left hand, and in his right a jagged
stone as large as his hand could hold. He stood still and threw it,
nor did it go far without hitting some one; the cast was not in
vain, for the stone struck Cebriones, Hector's charioteer, a bastard
son of Priam, as he held the reins in his hands. The stone hit him
on the forehead and drove his brows into his head for the bone was
smashed, and his eyes fell to the ground at his feet. He dropped
dead from his chariot as though he were diving, and there was no
more life left in him. Over him did you then vaunt, O knight
Patroclus, saying, "Bless my heart, how active he is, and how well
he dives. If we had been at sea this fellow would have dived from
the ship's side and brought up as many oysters as the whole crew could
stomach, even in rough water, for he has dived beautifully off his
chariot on to the ground. It seems, then, that there are divers also
among the Trojans."
As he spoke he flung himself on Cebriones with the spring, as it
were, of a lion that while attacking a stockyard is himself struck
in the chest, and his courage is his own bane- even so furiously, O
Patroclus, did you then spring upon Cebriones. Hector sprang also from
his chariot to the ground. The pair then fought over the body of
Cebriones. As two lions fight fiercely on some high mountain over
the body of a stag that they have killed, even so did these two mighty
warriors, Patroclus son of Menoetius and brave Hector, hack and hew at
one another over the corpse of Cebriones. Hector would not let him
go when he had once got him by the head, while Patroclus kept fast
hold of his feet, and a fierce fight raged between the other Danaans
and Trojans. As the east and south wind buffet one another when they
beat upon some dense forest on the mountains- there is beech and ash
and spreading cornel; the to of the trees roar as they beat on one
another, and one can hear the boughs cracking and breaking- even so
did the Trojans and Achaeans spring upon one another and lay about
each other, and neither side would give way. Many a pointed spear fell
to ground and many a winged arrow sped from its bow-string about the
body of Cebriones; many a great stone, moreover, beat on many a shield
as they fought around his body, but there he lay in the whirling
clouds of dust, all huge and hugely, heedless of his driving now.
So long as the sun was still high in mid-heaven the weapons of
either side were alike deadly, and the people fell; but when he went
down towards the time when men loose their oxen, the Achaeans proved
to be beyond all forecast stronger, so that they drew Cebriones out of
range of the darts and tumult of the Trojans, and stripped the
armour from his shoulders. Then Patroclus sprang like Mars with fierce
intent and a terrific shout upon the Trojans, and thrice did he kill
nine men; but as he was coming on like a god for a time, then, O
Patroclus, was the hour of your end approaching, for Phoebus fought
you in fell earnest. Patroclus did not see him as he moved about in
the crush, for he was enshrouded in thick darkness, and the god struck
him from behind on his back and his broad shoulders with the flat of
his hand, so that his eyes turned dizzy. Phoebus Apollo beat the
helmet from off his head, and it rolled rattling off under the horses'
feet, where its horse-hair plumes were all begrimed with dust and
blood. Never indeed had that helmet fared so before, for it had served
to protect the head and comely forehead of the godlike hero
Achilles. Now, however, Zeus delivered it over to be worn by Hector.
Nevertheless the end of Hector also was near. The bronze-shod spear,
so great and so strong, was broken in the hand of Patroclus, while his
shield that covered him from head to foot fell to the ground as did
also the band that held it, and Apollo undid the fastenings of his
corslet.
On this his mind became clouded; his limbs failed him, and he
stood as one dazed; whereon Euphorbus son of Panthous a Dardanian, the
best spearman of his time, as also the finest horseman and fleetest
runner, came behind him and struck him in the back with a spear,
midway between the shoulders. This man as soon as ever he had come
up with his chariot had dismounted twenty men, so proficient was he in
all the arts of war- he it was, O knight Patroclus, that first drove a
weapon into you, but he did not quite overpower you. Euphorbus then
ran back into the crowd, after drawing his ashen spear out of the
wound; he would not stand firm and wait for Patroclus, unarmed
though he now was, to attack him; but Patroclus unnerved, alike by the
blow the god had given him and by the spear-wound, drew back under
cover of his men in fear for his life. Hector on this, seeing him to
be wounded and giving ground, forced his way through the ranks, and
when close up with him struck him in the lower part of the belly
with a spear, driving the bronze point right through it, so that he
fell heavily to the ground to the great of the Achaeans. As when a
lion has fought some fierce wild-boar and worsted him- the two fight
furiously upon the mountains over some little fountain at which they
would both drink, and the lion has beaten the boar till he can
hardly breathe- even so did Hector son of Priam take the life of the
brave son of Menoetius who had killed so many, striking him from close
at hand, and vaunting over him the while. "Patroclus," said he, "you
deemed that you should sack our city, rob our Trojan women of their
freedom, and carry them off in your ships to your own country. Fool;
Hector and his fleet horses were ever straining their utmost to defend
them. I am foremost of all the Trojan warriors to stave the day of
bondage from off them; as for you, vultures shall devour you here.
Poor wretch, Achilles with all his bravery availed you nothing; and
yet I ween when you left him he charged you straitly saying, 'Come not
back to the ships, knight Patroclus, till you have rent the
bloodstained shirt of murderous Hector about his body. Thus I ween did
he charge you, and your fool's heart answered him 'yea' within you."
Then, as the life ebbed out of you, you answered, O knight
Patroclus: "Hector, vaunt as you will, for Jove the son of Saturn
and Apollo have vouchsafed you victory; it is they who have vanquished
me so easily, and they who have stripped the armour from my shoulders;
had twenty such men as you attacked me, all of them would have
fallen before my spear. Fate and the son of Leto have overpowered
me, and among mortal men Euphorbus; you are yourself third only in the
killing of me. I say further, and lay my saying to your heart, you too
shall live but for a little season; death and the day of your doom are
close upon you, and they will lay you low by the hand of Achilles
son of Aeacus."
When he had thus spoken his eyes were closed in death, his soul left
his body and flitted down to the house of Hades, mourning its sad fate
and bidding farewell to the youth and vigor of its manhood. Dead
though he was, Hector still spoke to him saying, "Patroclus, why
should you thus foretell my doom? Who knows but Achilles, son of
lovely Thetis, may be smitten by my spear and die before me?"
As he spoke he drew the bronze spear from the wound, planting his
foot upon the body, which he thrust off and let lie on its back. He
then went spear in hand after Automedon, squire of the fleet
descendant of Aeacus, for he longed to lay him low, but the immortal
steeds which the gods had given as a rich gift to Peleus bore him
swiftly from the field.

poem by , translated by Samuel ButlerReport problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Third Book

'TO-DAY thou girdest up thy loins thyself,
And goest where thou wouldest: presently
Others shall gird thee,' said the Lord, 'to go
Where thou would'st not.' He spoke to Peter thus,
To signify the death which he should die
When crucified head downwards.
If He spoke
To Peter then, He speaks to us the same;
The word suits many different martyrdoms,
And signifies a multiform of death,
Although we scarcely die apostles, we,
And have mislaid the keys of heaven and earth.

For tis not in mere death that men die most;
And, after our first girding of the loins
In youth's fine linen and fair broidery,
To run up hill and meet the rising sun,
We are apt to sit tired, patient as a fool,
While others gird us with the violent bands
Of social figments, feints, and formalisms,
Reversing our straight nature, lifting up
Our base needs, keeping down our lofty thoughts,
Head downward on the cross-sticks of the world.
Yet He can pluck us from the shameful cross.
God, set our feet low and our forehead high,
And show us how a man was made to walk!

Leave the lamp, Susan, and go up to bed.
The room does very well; I have to write
Beyond the stroke of midnight. Get away;
Your steps, for ever buzzing in the room,
Tease me like gnats. Ah, letters! throw them down
At once, as I must have them, to be sure,
Whether I bid you never bring me such
At such an hour, or bid you. No excuse.
You choose to bring them, as I choose perhaps
To throw them in the fire. Now, get to bed,
And dream, if possible, I am not cross.

Why what a pettish, petty thing I grow,–
A mere, mere woman,–a mere flaccid nerve,-
A kerchief left out all night in the rain,
Turned soft so,–overtasked and overstrained
And overlived in this close London life!
And yet I should be stronger.
Never burn
Your letters, poor Aurora! for they stare
With red seals from the table, saying each,
'Here's something that you know not.' Out alas,
'Tis scarcely that the world's more good and wise
Or even straighter and more consequent
Since yesterday at this time–yet, again,
If but one angel spoke from Ararat,
I should be very sorry not to hear:
So open all the letters! let me read.
Blanche Ord, the writer in the 'Lady's Fan,'
Requests my judgment on . . that, afterwards.
Kate Ward desires the model of my cloak,
And signs, 'Elisha to you.' Pringle Sharpe
Presents his work on 'Social Conduct,' . . craves
A little money for his pressing debts . .
From me, who scarce have money for my needs,–
Art's fiery chariot which we journey in
Being apt to singe our singing-robes to holes,
Although you ask me for my cloak, Kate Ward!
Here's Rudgely knows it,–editor and scribe–
He's 'forced to marry where his heart is not,
Because the purse lacks where he lost his heart.'
Ah,–lost it because no one picked it up!
That's really loss! (and passable impudence.)
My critic Hammond flatters prettily,
And wants another volume like the last.
My critic Belfair wants another book
Entirely different, which will sell, (and live?)
A striking book, yet not a startling book,
The public blames originalities.
(You must not pump spring-water unawares
Upon a gracious public, full of nerves–)
Good things, not subtle, new yet orthodox,
As easy reading as the dog-eared page
That's fingered by said public, fifty years,
Since first taught spelling by its grandmother,
And yet a revelation in some sort:
That's hard, my critic, Belfair! So–what next?
My critic Stokes objects to abstract thoughts;
'Call a man, John, a woman, Joan,' says he,
'And do not prate so of humanities:'
Whereat I call my critic, simply Stokes.
My critic Jobson recommends more mirth,
Because a cheerful genius suits the times,
And all true poets laugh unquenchably
Like Shakspeare and the gods. That's very hard,
The gods may laugh, and Shakspeare; Dante smiled
With such a needy heart on two pale lips,
We cry, 'Weep rather, Dante.' Poems are
Men, if true poems: and who dares exclaim
At any man's door, 'Here, 'tis probable
The thunder fell last week, and killed a wife,
And scared a sickly husband–what of that?
Get up, be merry, shout, and clap your hands,
Because a cheerful genius suits the times–'?
None says so to the man,–and why indeed
Should any to the poem? A ninth seal;
The apocalypse is drawing to a close.
Ha,–this from Vincent Carrington,–'Dear friend,
I want good counsel. Will you lend me wings
To raise me to the subject, in a sketch
I'll bring to-morrow–may I? at eleven?
A poet's only born to turn to use;
So save you! for the world . . and Carrington.'

'(Writ after.) Have you heard of Romney Leigh,
Beyond what's said of him in newspapers,
His phalansteries there, his speeches here,
His pamphlets, pleas, and statements, everywhere?
He dropped me long ago; but no one drops
A golden apple–though, indeed, one day,
You hinted that, but jested. Well, at least,
You know Lord Howe, who sees him . . whom he sees,
And you see, and I hate to see,–for Howe
Stands high upon the brink of theories,
Observes the swimmers, and cries 'Very fine,'
But keeps dry linen equally,–unlike
That gallant breaster, Romney. Strange it is,
Such sudden madness, seizing a young man,
To make earth over again,–while I'm content
To make the pictures. Let me bring the sketch.
A tiptoe Danae, overbold and hot:
Both arms a-flame to meet her wishing Jove
Halfway, and burn him faster down; the face
And breasts upturned and straining, the loose locks
All glowing with the anticipated gold.
Or here's another on the self-same theme.
She lies here–flat upon her prison-floor,
The long hair swathed about her to the heel,
Like wet sea-weed. You dimly see her through
The glittering haze of that prodigious rain,
Half blotted out of nature by a love
As heavy as fate. I'll bring you either sketch.
I think, myself, the second indicates
More passion. '
Surely. Self is put away,
And calm with abdication. She is Jove,
And no more Danae–greater thus. Perhaps
The painter symbolises unawares
Two states of the recipient artist-soul;
One, forward, personal, wanting reverence,
Because aspiring only. We'll be calm,
And know that, when indeed our Joves come down.
We all turn stiller than we have ever been.

Kind Vincent Carrington. I'll let him come.
He talks of Florence,–and may say a word
Of something as it chanced seven years ago,–
A hedgehog in the path, or a lame bird,
In those green country walks, in that good time,
When certainly I was so miserable . .
I seem to have missed a blessing ever since.

The music soars within the little lark,
And the lark soars. It is not thus with men.
We do not make our places with our strains,–
Content, while they rise, to remain behind,
Alone on earth instead of so in heaven.
No matter–I bear on my broken tale.

When Romney Leigh and I had parted thus,
I took a chamber up three flights of stairs
Not far from being as steep as some larks climb,
And, in a certain house in Kensington,
Three years I lived and worked. Get leave to work
In this world,–'tis the best you get at all;
For God, in cursing, gives us better gifts
Than men in benediction. God says, 'Sweat
For foreheads;' men say 'crowns;' and so we are crowned,
Ay, gashed by some tormenting circle of steel
Which snaps with a secret spring. Get work; get work;
Be sure 'tis better than what you work to get.

So, happy and unafraid of solitude,
I worked the short days out,–and watched the sun
On lurid morns or monstrous afternoons,
Like some Druidic idol's fiery brass,
With fixed unflickering outline of dead heat,
In which the blood of wretches pent inside
Seemed oozing forth to incarnadine the air,–
Push out through fog with his dilated disk,
And startle the slant roofs and chimney-pots
With splashes of fierce colour. Or I saw
Fog only, the great tawny weltering fog,
Involve the passive city, strangle it
Alive, and draw it off into the void,
Spires, bridges, streets, and squares, as if a sponge
Had wiped out London,–or as noon and night
Had clapped together and utterly struck out
The intermediate time, undoing themselves
In the act. Your city poets see such things,
Not despicable. Mountains of the south,
When, drunk and mad with elemental wines,
They rend the seamless mist and stand up bare,
Make fewer singers, haply. No one sings,
Descending Sinai; on Parnassus mount,
You take a mule to climb, and not a muse,
Except in fable and figure: forests chant
Their anthems to themselves, and leave you dumb.
But sit in London, at the day's decline,
And view the city perish in the mist
Like Pharaoh's armaments in the deep Red Sea,–
The chariots, horsemen, footmen, all the host,
Sucked down and choked to silence–then, surprised
By a sudden sense of vision and of tune,
You feel as conquerors though you did not fight,
And you and Israel's other singing girls,
Ay, Miriam with them, sing the song you choose.

I worked with patience which means almost power
I did some excellent things indifferently,
Some bad things excellently. Both were praised,
The latter loudest. And by such a time
That I myself had set them down as sins
Scarce worth the price of sackcloth, week by week,
Arrived some letter through the sedulous post,
Like these I've read, and yet dissimilar,
With pretty maiden seals,–initials twined
Of lilies, or a heart marked Emily,
(Convicting Emily of being all heart);
Or rarer tokens from young bachelors,
Who wrote from college (with the same goosequill,
Suppose, they had been just plucked of) and a snatch
From Horace, 'Collegisse juvat,' set
Upon the first page. Many a letter signed
Or unsigned, showing the writers at eighteen
Had lived too long, though every muse should help
The daylight, holding candles,–compliments,
To smile or sigh at. Such could pass with me
No more than coins from Moscow circulate
At Paris. Would ten rubles buy a tag
Of ribbon on the boulevard, worth a sou?
I smiled that all this youth should love me,–sighed
That such a love could scarcely raise them up
To love what was more worthy than myself;
Then sighed again, again, less generously,
To think the very love they lavished so,
Proved me inferior. The strong loved me not,
And he . . my cousin Romney . . did not write.
I felt the silent finger of his scorn
Prick every bubble of my frivolous fame
As my breath blew it, and resolve it back
To the air it came from. Oh, I justified
The measure he had taken of my height:
The thing was plain–he was not wrong a line;
I played at art, made thrusts with a toy-sword,
Amused the lads and maidens.
Came a sigh
Deep, hoarse with resolution,–I would work
To better ends, or play in earnest. 'Heavens,
I think I should be almost popular
If this went on!'–I ripped my verses up,
And found no blood upon the rapier's point:
The heart in them was just an embryo's heart,
Which never yet had beat, that it should die:
Just gasps of make-believe galvanic life;
Mere tones, inorganised to any tune.

And yet I felt it in me where it burnt,
Like those hot fire-seeds of creation held
In Jove's clenched palm before the worlds were sown;
But II was not Juno even! my hand
Was shut in weak convulsion, woman's ill,
And when I yearned to loose a finger–lo,
The nerve revolted. 'Tis the same even now:
This hand may never, haply, open large,
Before the spark is quenched, or the palm charred,
To prove the power not else than by the pain.

It burns, it burnt–my whole life burnt with it,
And light, not sunlight and not torchlight, flashed
My steps out through the slow and difficult road.
I had grown distrustful of too forward Springs,
The season's books in drear significance
Of morals, dropping round me. Lively books?
The ash has livelier verdure than the yew;
And yet the yew's green longer, and alone
Found worthy of the holy Christmas time.
We'll plant more yews if possible, albeit
We plant the graveyards with them.
Day and night
I worked my rhythmic thought, and furrowed up
Both watch and slumber with long lines of life
Which did not suit their season. The rose fell
From either cheek, my eyes globed luminous
Through orbits of blue shadow, and my pulse
Would shudder along the purple-veined wrist
Like a shot bird. Youth's stern, set face to face
With youth's ideal: and when people came
And said, 'You work too much, you are looking ill,'
I smiled for pity of them who pitied me,
And thought I should be better soon perhaps
For those ill looks. Observe–' I,' means in youth
Just I . . the conscious and eternal soul
With all its ends,–and not the outside life,
The parcel-man, the doublet of the flesh,
The so much liver, lung, integument,
Which make the sum of 'I' hereafter, when
World-talkers talk of doing well or ill.
I prosper, if I gain a step, although
A nail then pierced my foot: although my brain
Embracing any truth, froze paralysed,
I prosper. I but change my instrument;
I break the spade off, digging deep for gold,
And catch the mattock up.
I worked on, on.
Through all the bristling fence of nights and days
Which hedges time in from the eternities,
I struggled, . . never stopped to note the stakes
Which hurt me in my course. The midnight oil
Would stink sometimes; there came some vulgar needs:
I had to live, that therefore I might work.
And, being but poor, I was constrained, for life,
To work with one hand for the booksellers,
While working with the other for myself
And art. You swim with feet as well as hands
Or make small way. I apprehended this,–
In England, no one lives by verse that lives;
And, apprehending, I resolved by prose
To make a space to sphere my living verse.
I wrote for cyclopædias, magazines,
And weekly papers, holding up my name
To keep it from the mud. I learnt the use
Of the editorial 'we' in a review,
As courtly ladies the fine trick of trains,
And swept it grandly through the open doors
As if one could not pass through doors at all
Save so encumbered. I wrote tales beside,
Carved many an article on cherry-stones
To suit light readers,–something in the lines
Revealing, it was said, the mallet-hand,
But that, I'll never vouch for. What you do
For bread, will taste of common grain, not grapes,
Although you have a vineyard in Champagne,–
Much less in Nephelococcygia,
As mine was, peradventure.
Having bread
For just so many days, just breathing room
For body and verse, I stood up straight and worked
My veritable work. And as the soul
Which grows within a child, makes the child grow,–
Or as the fiery sap, the touch from God,
Careering through a tree, dilates the bark,
And roughs with scale and knob, before it strikes
The summer foliage out in a green flame–
So life, in deepening with me, deepened all
The course I took, the work I did. Indeed,
The academic law convinced of sin;
The critics cried out on the falling off
Regretting the first manner. But I felt
My heart's life throbbing in my verse to show
It lived, it also–certes incomplete,
Disordered with all Adam in the blood,
But even its very tumours, warts, and wens,
Still organised by, and implying life.

A lady called upon me on such a day.
She had the low voice of your English dames,
Unused, it seems, to need rise half a note
To catch attention,–and their quiet mood,
As if they lived too high above the earth
For that to put them out in anything:
So gentle, because verily so proud;
So wary and afeared of hurting you,
By no means that you are not really vile,
But that they would not touch you with their foot
To push you to your place; so self-possessed
Yet gracious and conciliating, it takes
An effort in their presence to speak truth:
You know the sort of woman,–brilliant stuff,
And out of nature. 'Lady Waldemar.'
She said her name quite simply, as if it meant
Not much indeed, but something,–took my hands,
And smiled, as if her smile could help my case,
And dropped her eyes on me, and let them melt.
'Is this,' she said, 'the Muse?'
'No sibyl even,'
I answered, 'since she fails to guess the cause
Which taxed you with this visit, madam.'
'Good,'
She said, 'I like to be sincere at once;
Perhaps, if I had found a literal Muse,
The visit might have taxed me. As it is,
You wear your blue so chiefly in your eyes,
My fair Aurora, in a frank good way,
It comforts me entirely for your fame,
As well as for the trouble of my ascent
To this Olympus. '
There, a silver laugh
Ran rippling through her quickened little breaths
The steep stair somewhat justified.
'But still
Your ladyship has left me curious why
You dared the risk of finding the said Muse?'

'Ah,–keep me, notwithstanding, to the point
Like any pedant. Is the blue in eyes
As awful as in stockings, after all,
I wonder, that you'd have my business out
Before I breathe–exact the epic plunge
In spite of gasps? Well, naturally you think
I've come here, as the lion-hunters go
To deserts, to secure you, with a trap
For exhibition in my drawing-rooms
On zoologic soirées? Not in the least.
Roar softly at me; I am frivolous,
I dare say; I have played at lions, too
Like other women of my class,–but now
I meet my lion simply as Androcles
Met his . . when at his mercy.'
So, she bent
Her head, as queens may mock,–then lifting up
Her eyelids with a real grave queenly look,
Which ruled, and would not spare, not even herself,
'I think you have a cousin:–Romney Leigh.'

'You bring a word from him? '–my eyes leapt up
To the very height of hers,– 'a word from him? '

'I bring a word about him, actually.
But first,'–she pressed me with her urgent eyes–
'You do not love him,–you?'
'You're frank at least
In putting questions, madam,' I replied.
'I love my cousin cousinly–no more.'

'I guessed as much. I'm ready to be frank
In answering also, if you'll question me,
Or even with something less. You stand outside,
You artist women, of the common sex;
You share not with us, and exceed us so
Perhaps by what you're mulcted in, your hearts
Being starved to make your heads: so run the old
Traditions of you. I can therefore speak,
Without the natural shame which creatures feel
When speaking on their level, to their like.
There's many a papist she, would rather die
Than own to her maid she put a ribbon on
To catch the indifferent eye of such a man,–
Who yet would count adulteries on her beads
At holy Mary's shrine, and never blush;
Because the saints are so far off, we lose
All modesty before them. Thus, to-day.
'Tis I, love Romney Leigh.'
'Forbear,' I cried.
'If here's no muse, still less is any saint;
Nor even a friend, that Lady Waldemar
Should make confessions' . .
'That's unkindly said.
If no friend, what forbids to make a friend
To join to our confession ere we have done?
I love your cousin. If it seems unwise
To say so, it's still foolisher (we're frank)
To feel so. My first husband left me young,
And pretty enough, so please you, and rich enough,
To keep my booth in May-fair with the rest
To happy issues. There are marquises
Would serve seven years to call me wife, I know:
And, after seven, I might consider it,
For there's some comfort in a marquisate
When all's said,–yes, but after the seven years;
I, now, love Romney. You put up your lip,
So like a Leigh! so like him!–Pardon me,
I am well aware I do not derogate
In loving Romney Leigh. The name is good,
The means are excellent; but the man, the man
Heaven help us both,–I am near as mad as he
In loving such an one.'
She slowly wrung
Her heavy ringlets till they touched her smile,
As reasonably sorry for herself;
And thus continued,–
'Of a truth, Miss Leigh,
I have not, without a struggle, come to this.
I took a master in the German tongue,
I gamed a little, went to Paris twice;
But, after all, this love! . . . you eat of love,
And do as vile a thing as if you ate
Of garlic–which, whatever else you eat,
Tastes uniformly acrid, till your peach
Reminds you of your onion! Am I coarse?
Well, love's coarse, nature's coarse–ah there's the rub!
We fair fine ladies, who park out our lives
From common sheep-paths, cannot help the crows
From flying over,–we're as natural still
As Blowsalinda. Drape us perfectly
In Lyons' velvet,–we are not, for that,
Lay-figures, like you! we have hearts within,
Warm, live, improvident, indecent hearts,
As ready for distracted ends and acts
As any distressed sempstress of them all
That Romney groans and toils for. We catch love
And other fevers, in the vulgar way.
Love will not be outwitted by our wit,
Nor outrun by our equipages:–mine
Persisted, spite of efforts. All my cards
Turned up but Romney Leigh; my German stopped
At germane Wertherism; my Paris rounds
Returned me from the Champs Elysées just
A ghost, and sighing like Dido's. I came home
Uncured,–convicted rather to myself
Of being in love . . in love! That's coarse you'll say
I'm talking garlic.'
Coldly I replied.
'Apologise for atheism, not love!
For, me, I do believe in love, and God.
I know my cousin: Lady Waldemar
I know not: yet I say as much as this–
Whoever loves him, let her not excuse
But cleanse herself; that, loving such a man,
She may not do it with such unworthy love
He cannot stoop and take it.'
'That is said
Austerely, like a youthful prophetess,
Who knits her brows across her pretty eyes
To keep them back from following the grey flight
Of doves between the temple-columns. Dear,
Be kinder with me. Let us two be friends.
I'm a mere woman–the more weak perhaps
Through being so proud; you're better; as for him,
He's best. Indeed he builds his goodness up
So high, it topples down to the other side,
And makes a sort of badness; there's the worst
I have to say against your cousin's best!
And so be mild, Aurora, with my worst,
For his sake, if not mine.'
'I own myself
Incredulous of confidence like this
Availing him or you.'
'I, worthy of him?
In your sense I am not so–let it pass.
And yet I save him if I marry him;
Let that pass too.'
'Pass, pass, we play police
Upon my cousin's life, to indicate
What may or may not pass?' I cried. 'He knows
what's worthy of him; the choice remains with him;
And what he chooses, act or wife, I think
I shall not call unworthy, I, for one.'
'Tis somewhat rashly said,' she answered slow.
Now let's talk reason, though we talk of love.
Your cousin Romney Leigh's a monster! there,
The word's out fairly; let me prove the fact.
We'll take, say, that most perfect of antiques,
They call the Genius of the Vatican,
Which seems too beauteous to endure itself
In this mixed world, and fasten it for once
Upon the torso of the Drunken Fawn,
(Who might limp surely, if he did not dance,)
Instead of Buonarroti's mask: what then?
We show the sort of monster Romney is,
With god-like virtue and heroic aims
Subjoined to limping possibilities
Of mismade human nature. Grant the man
Twice godlike, twice heroic,–still he limps,
And here's the point we come to.'
'Pardon me,
But, Lady Waldemar, the point's the thing
We never come to.'
'Caustic, insolent
At need! I like you'–(there, she took my hands)
'And now my lioness, help Androcles,
For all your roaring. Help me! for myself
I would not say so–but for him. He limps
So certainly, he'll fall into the pit
A week hence,–so I lose him–so he is lost!
And when he's fairly married, he a Leigh,
To a girl of doubtful life, undoubtful birth,
Starved out in London, till her coarse-grained hands
Are whiter than her morals,–you, for one,
May call his choice most worthy.'
'Married! lost!
He, . . . Romney!'
'Ah, you're moved at last,' she said.
'These monsters, set out in the open sun,
Of course throw monstrous shadows: those who think
Awry, will scarce act straightly. Who but he?
And who but you can wonder? He has been mad,
The whole world knows, since first, a nominal man,
He soured the proctors, tried the gownsmen's wits,
With equal scorn of triangles and wine,
And took no honours, yet was honourable.
They'll tell you he lost count of Homer's ships
In Melbourne's poor-bills, Ashley's factory bills,–
Ignored the Aspasia we all dared to praise,
For other women, dear, we could not name
Because we're decent. Well, he had some right
On his side probably; men always have,
Who go absurdly wrong. The living boor
Who brews your ale, exceeds in vital worth
Dead Caesar who 'stops bungholes' in the cask;
And also, to do good is excellent,
For persons of his income, even to boors:
I sympathise with all such things. But he
Went mad upon them . . madder and more mad,
From college times to these,–as, going down hill,
The faster still, the farther! you must know
Your Leigh by heart; he has sown his black young curls
With bleaching cares of half a million men
Already. If you do not starve, or sin,
You're nothing to him. Pay the income-tax,
And break your heart upon't . . . he'll scarce be touched;
But come upon the parish, qualified
For the parish stocks, and Romney will be there
To call you brother, sister, or perhaps
A tenderer name still. Had I any chance
With Mister Leigh, who am Lady Waldemar,
And never committed felony?'
'You speak
Too bitterly,' I said, 'for the literal truth.'

'The truth is bitter. Here's a man who looks
For ever on the ground! you must be low;
Or else a pictured ceiling overhead,
Good painting thrown away. For me, I've done
What women may, (we're somewhat limited,
We modest women) but I've done my best.
–How men are perjured when they swear our eyes
Have meaning in them! they're just blue or brown,–
They just can drop their lids a little. In fact,
Mine did more, for I read half Fourier through,
Proudhon, Considerant, and Louis Blanc
With various other of his socialists;
And if I had been a fathom less in love,
Had cured myself with gaping. As it was,
I quoted from them prettily enough,
Perhaps, to make them sound half rational
To a saner man than he, whene'er we talked,
(For which I dodged occasion)–learnt by heart
His speeches in the Commons and elsewhere
Upon the social question; heaped reports
Of wicked women and penitentiaries,
On all my tables, with a place for Sue;
And gave my name to swell subscription-lists
Toward keeping up the sun at nights in heaven,
And other possible ends. All things I did,
Except the impossible . . such as wearing gowns
Provided by the Ten Hours' movement! there,
I stopped–we must stop somewhere. He, meanwhile,
Unmoved as the Indian tortoise 'neath the world
Let all that noise go on upon his back;
He would not disconcert or throw me out;
'Twas well to see a woman of my class
With such a dawn of conscience. For the heart,
Made firewood for his sake, and flaming up
To his very face . . he warmed his feet at it:
But deigned to let my carriage stop him short
In park or street,–he leaning on the door
With news of the committee which sate last
On pickpockets at suck.'

'You jest–you jest.'

'As martyrs jest, dear (if you read their lives),
Upon the axe which kills them. When all's done
By me, . . for him–you'll ask him presently
The color of my hair–he cannot tell,
Or answers 'dark' at random,–while, be sure,
He's absolute on the figure, five or ten,
Of my last subscription. Is it bearable,
And I a woman?'
'Is it reparable,
Though I were a man?'
'I know not. That's to prove.
But, first, this shameful marriage?'
'Ay?' I cried.
'Then really there's a marriage.'
'Yesterday
I held him fast upon it. 'Mister Leigh,'
Said I, 'shut up a thing, it makes more noise.
'The boiling town keeps secrets ill; I've known
'Yours since last week. Forgive my knowledge so:
'You feel I'm not the woman of the world
'The world thinks; you have borne with me before
'And used me in your noble work, our work,
'And now you shall not cast me off because
'You're at the difficult point, the join. 'Tis true
'Even if I can scarce admit the cogency
'Of such a marriage . . where you do not love
'(Except the class), yet marry and throw your name
'Down to the gutter, for a fire-escape
'To future generation! it's sublime,
'A great example,–a true Genesis
'Of the opening social era. But take heed;
'This virtuous act must have a patent weight,
'Or loses half its virtue. Make it tell,
'Interpret it, and set it in the light,
'And do not muffle it in a winter-cloak
'As a vulgar bit of shame,–as if, at best,
'A Leigh had made a misalliance and blushed
'A Howard should know it.' Then, I pressed him more–
'He would not choose,' I said, 'that even his kin, . .
'Aurora Leigh, even . . should conceive his act
'Less sacrifice, more appetite.' At which
He grew so pale, dear, . . to the lips, I knew
I had touched him. 'Do you know her,' he inquired,
'My cousin Aurora?' 'Yes,' I said, and lied
(But truly we all know you by your books),
And so I offered to come straight to you,
Explain the subject, justify the cause,
And take you with me to Saint Margaret's Court
To see this miracle, this Marian Erle,
This drover's daughter (she's not pretty, he swears),
Upon whose finger, exquisitely pricked
By a hundred needles, we're to hang the tie
'Twixt class and class in England,–thus indeed
By such a presence, yours and mine, to lift
The match up from the doubtful place. At once
He thanked me, sighing, . . murmured to himself
'She'll do it perhaps; she's noble,'–thanked me, twice,
And promised, as my guerdon, to put off
His marriage for a month.'
I answered then.
'I understand your drift imperfectly.
You wish to lead me to my cousin's betrothed,
To touch her hand if worthy, and hold her hand
If feeble, thus to justify his match.
So be it then. But how this serves your ends,
And how the strange confession of your love
Serves this, I have to learn–I cannot see.'

She knit her restless forehead. 'Then, despite,
Aurora, that most radiant morning name,
You're dull as any London afternoon.
I wanted time,–and gained it,–wanted you,
And gain you! You will come and see the girl
In whose most prodigal eyes, the lineal pearl
And pride of all your lofty race of Leighs
Is destined to solution. Authorised
By sight and knowledge, then, you'll speak your mind,
And prove to Romney, in your brilliant way,
He'll wrong the people and posterity
(Say such a thing is bad for you and me,
And you fail utterly), by concluding thus
An execrable marriage. Break it up.
Disroot it–peradventure, presently,
We'll plant a better fortune in its place.
Be good to me, Aurora, scorn me less
For saying the thing I should not. Well I know
I should not. I have kept, as others have,
The iron rule of womanly reserve
In lip and life, till now: I wept a week
Before I came here.'–Ending, she was pale;
The last words, haughtily said, were tremulous.
This palfrey pranced in harness, arched her neck,
And, only by the foam upon the bit,
You saw she champed against it.
Then I rose.
'I love love: truth's no cleaner thing than love.
I comprehend a love so fiery hot
It burns its natural veil of august shame,
And stands sublimely in the nude, as chaste
As Medicean Venus. But I know,
A love that burns through veils will burn through masks
And shrivel up treachery. What, love and lie!
Nay–go to the opera! your love's curable.'

'I love and lie!' she said–'I lie, forsooth?'
And beat her taper foot upon the floor,
And smiled against the shoe,–'You're hard, Miss Leigh,
Unversed in current phrases.–Bowling-greens
Of poets are fresher than the world's highways:
Forgive me that I rashly blew the dust
Which dims our hedges even, in your eyes,
And vexed you so much. You find, probably,
No evil in this marriage,–rather good
Of innocence, to pastoralise in song:
You'll give the bond your signature, perhaps,
Beneath the lady's work,–indifferent
That Romney chose a wife, could write her name,
In witnessing he loved her.'
'Loved!' I cried;
'Who tells you that he wants a wife to love?
He gets a horse to use, not love, I think:
There's work for wives as well,–and after, straw,
When men are liberal. For myself, you err
Supposing power in me to break this match.
I could not do it, to save Romney's life,
And would not, to save mine.'
'You take it so,'
She said, 'farewell then. Write your books in peace,
As far as may be for some secret stir
Now obvious to me,–for, most obviously,
In coming hither I mistook the way.'
Whereat she touched my hand and bent her head,
And floated from me like a silent cloud
That leaves the sense of thunder.
I drew breath,
As hard as in a sick-room. After all,
This woman breaks her social system up
For love, so counted–the love possible
To such,–and lilies are still lilies, pulled
By smutty hands, though spotted from their white;
And thus she is better, haply, of her kind,
Than Romney Leigh, who lives by diagrams,
And crosses out the spontaneities
Of all his individual, personal life
With formal universals. As if man
Were set upon a high stool at a desk,
To keep God's books for Him, in red and black,
And feel by millions! What, if even God
Were chiefly God by living out Himself
To an individualism of the Infinite,
Eterne, intense, profuse,–still throwing up
The golden spray of multitudinous worlds
In measure to the proclive weight and rush
Of his inner nature,–the spontaneous love
Still proof and outflow of spontaneous life?
Then live, Aurora!
Two hours afterward,
Within Saint Margaret's Court I stood alone,
Close-veiled. A sick child, from an ague-fit,
Whose wasted right hand gambled 'gainst his left
With an old brass button, in a blot of sun,
Jeered weakly at me as I passed across
The uneven pavement; while a woman, rouged
Upon the angular cheek-bones, kerchief torn,
Thin dangling locks, and flat lascivious mouth,
Cursed at a window, both ways, in and out,
By turns some bed-rid creature and myself,–
'Lie still there, mother! liker the dead dog
You'll be to-morrow. What, we pick our way,
Fine madam, with those damnable small feet!
We cover up our face from doing good,
As if it were our purse! What brings you here,
My lady? is't to find my gentleman
Who visits his tame pigeon in the eaves?
Our cholera catch you with its cramps and spasms,
And tumble up your good clothes, veil and all,
And turn your whiteness dead-blue.' I looked up;
I think I could have walked through hell that day,
And never flinched. 'The dear Christ comfort you,'
I said, 'you must have been most miserable
To be so cruel,'–and I emptied out
My purse upon the stones: when, as I had cast
The last charm in the cauldron, the whole court
Went boiling, bubbling up, from all its doors
And windows, with a hideous wail of laughs
And roar of oaths, and blows perhaps . . I passed
Too quickly for distinguishing . . and pushed
A little side-door hanging on a hinge,
And plunged into the dark, and groped and climbed
The long, steep, narrow stair 'twixt broken rail
And mildewed wall that let the plaster drop
To startle me in the blackness. Still, up, up!
So high lived Romney's bride. I paused at last
Before a low door in the roof, and knocked;
There came an answer like a hurried dove–
'So soon! can that be Mister Leigh? so soon?'
And, as I entered, an ineffable face
Met mine upon the threshold. 'Oh, not you,
Not you!' . . the dropping of the voice implied;
'Then, if not you, for me not any one.'
I looked her in the eyes, and held her hands,
And said 'I am his cousin,–Romney Leigh's;
And here I'm come to see my cousin too.'
She touched me with her face and with her voice,
This daughter of the people. Such soft flowers
From such rough roots? The people, under there,
Can sin so, curse so, look so, smell so . . . faugh!
Yet have such daughters!
Nowise beautiful
Was Marian Erle. She was not white nor brown,
But could look either, like a mist that changed
According to being shone on more or less:
The hair, too, ran its opulence of curls
In doubt 'twixt dark and bright, nor left you clear
To name the color. Too much hair perhaps
(I'll name a fault here) for so small a head,
Which seemed to droop on that side and on this,
As a full-blown rose uneasy with its weight,
Though not a breath should trouble it. Again,
The dimple in the cheek had better gone
With redder, fuller rounds; and somewhat large
The mouth was, though the milky little teeth
Dissolved it to so infantile a smile!
For soon it smiled at me; the eyes smiled too,
But 'twas as if remembering they had wept,
And knowing they should, some day, weep again.

We talked. She told me all her story out,
Which I'll re-tell with fuller utterance,
As coloured and confirmed in aftertimes
By others, and herself too. Marian Erle
Was born upon the ledge of Malvern Hill,
To eastward, in a hut, built up at night,
To evade the landlord's eye, of mud and turf,
Still liable, if once he looked that way,
To being straight levelled, scattered by his foot,
Like any other anthill. Born, I say;
God sent her to his world, commissioned right,
Her human testimonials fully signed,
Not scant in soul–complete in lineaments;
But others had to swindle her a place
To wail in when she had come. No place for her,
By man's law! born an outlaw, was this babe;
Her first cry in our strange and strangling air,
When cast in spasms out by the shuddering womb,
Was wrong against the social code,–forced wrong.
What business had the baby to cry there?

I tell her story and grow passionate.
She, Marian, did not tell it so, but used
Meek words that made no wonder of herself
For being so sad a creature. 'Mister Leigh
Considered truly that such things should change.
They will, in heaven–but meantime, on the earth,
There's none can like a nettle as a pink,
Except himself. We're nettles, some of us,
And give offence by the act of springing up;
And, if we leave the damp side of the wall,
The hoes, of course, are on us.' So she said.
Her father earned his life by random jobs
Despised by steadier workmen–keeping swine
On commons, picking hops, or hurrying on
The harvest at wet seasons,–or, at need,
Assisting the Welsh drovers, when a drove
Of startled horses plunged into the mist
Below the mountain-road, and sowed the wind
With wandering neighings. In between the gaps
Of such irregular work, he drank and slept,
And cursed his wife because, the pence being out,
She could not buy more drink. At which she turned,
(The worm), and beat her baby in revenge
For her own broken heart. There's not a crime
But takes its proper change out still in crime
If once rung on the counter of this world:
Let sinners look to it.
Yet the outcast child,
For whom the very mother's face forewent
The mother's special patience, lived and grew;
Learnt early to cry low, and walk alone,
With that pathetic vacillating roll
Of the infant body on the uncertain feet,
(The earth being felt unstable ground so soon)
At which most women's arms unclose at once
With irrepressive instinct. Thus, at three,
This poor weaned kid would run off from the fold,
This babe would steal off from the mother's chair,
And, creeping through the golden walls of gorse,
Would find some keyhole toward the secrecy
Of Heaven's high blue, and, nestling down, peer out–
Oh, not to catch the angels at their games,
She had never heard of angels, but to gaze
She knew not why, to see she knew not what,
A-hungering outward from the barren earth
For something like a joy. She liked, she said,
To dazzle black her sight against the sky,
For then, it seemed, some grand blind Love came down,
And groped her out, and clasped her with a kiss;
She learnt God that way, and was beat for it
Whenever she went home,–yet came again,
As surely as the trapped hare, getting free,
Returns to his form. This grand blind Love, she said,
This skyey father and mother both in one,
Instructed her and civilised her more
Than even the Sunday-school did afterward,
To which a lady sent her to learn books
And sit upon a long bench in a row
With other children. Well, she laughed sometimes
To see them laugh and laugh, and moil their texts;
But ofter she was sorrowful with noise,
And wondered if their mothers beat them hard
That ever they should laugh so. There was one
She loved indeed,–Rose Bell, a seven years' child,
So pretty and clever, who read syllables
When Marian was at letters; she would laugh
At nothing–hold your finger up, she laughed,
Then shook her curls down on her eyes and mouth
To hide her make-mirth from the schoolmaster.
And Rose's pelting glee, as frank as rain
On cherry-blossoms, brightened Marian too,
To see another merry whom she loved.
She whispered once (the children side by side,
With mutual arms entwined about their necks)
'Your mother lets you laugh so?' 'Ay,' said Rose,
'She lets me. She was dug into the ground
Six years since, I being but a yearling wean.
Such mothers let us play and lose our time,
And never scold nor beat us! Don't you wish
You had one like that?' There, Marian, breaking off
Looked suddenly in my face. 'Poor Rose,' said she,
'I heard her laugh last night in Oxford Street.
I'd pour out half my blood to stop that laugh,–
Poor Rose, poor Rose!' said Marian.
She resumed.
It tried her, when she had learnt at Sunday-school
What God was, what he wanted from us all,
And how, in choosing sin, we vexed the Christ,
To go straight home and hear her father pull
The name down on us from the thunder-shelf,
Then drink away his soul into the dark
From seeing judgment. Father, mother, home,
Were God and heaven reversed to her: the more
She knew of Right, the more she guessed their wrong:
Her price paid down for knowledge, was to know
The vileness of her kindred: through her heart,
Her filial and tormented heart, henceforth
They struck their blows at virtue. Oh, 'tis hard
To learn you have a father up in heaven
By a gathering certain sense of being, on earth,
Still worse than orphaned: 'tis too heavy a grief,
The having to thank God for such a joy!

And so passed Marian's life from year to year.
Her parents took her with them when they tramped,
Dodged lanes and heaths, frequented towns and fairs,
And once went farther and saw Manchester,
And once the sea, that blue end of the world,
That fair scroll-finis of a wicked book,–
And twice a prison, back at intervals,
Returning to the hills. Hills draw like heaven,
And stronger sometimes, holding out their hands
To pull you from the vile flats up to them;
And though, perhaps, these strollers still strolled back,
As sheep do, simply that they knew the way,
They certainly felt bettered unawares
Emerging from the social smut of towns
To wipe their feet clean on the mountain turf.
In which long wanderings, Marian lived and learned,
Endured and learned. The people on the roads
Would stop and ask her how her eyes outgrew
Her cheeks, and if she meant to lodge the birds
In all that hair; and then they lifted her,
The miller in his cart, a mile or twain,
The butcher's boy on horseback. Often, too,
The pedlar stopped, and tapped her on the head
With absolute forefinger, brown and ringed,
And asked if peradventure she could read:
And when she answered 'ay,' would toss her down
Some stray odd volume from his heavy pack,
A Thomson's Seasons, mulcted of the Spring,
Or half a play of Shakespeare's, torn across:
(She had to guess the bottom of a page
By just the top sometimes,–as difficult,
As, sitting on the moon, to guess the earth!),
Or else a sheaf of leaves (for that small Ruth's
Small gleanings) torn out from the heart of books,
From Churchyard Elegies and Edens Lost,
From Burns, and Bunyan, Selkirk, and Tom Jones.
'Twas somewhat hard to keep the things distinct,
And oft the jangling influence jarred the child
Like looking at a sunset full of grace
Through a pothouse window while the drunken oaths
Went on behind her; but she weeded out
Her book-leaves, threw away the leaves that hurt,
(First tore them small, that none should find a word),
And made a nosegay of the sweet and good
To fold within her breast, and pore upon
At broken moments of the noontide glare,
When leave was given her to untie her cloak
And rest upon the dusty roadside bank
From the highway's dust. Or oft, the journey done,
Some city friend would lead her by the hand
To hear a lecture at an institute.
And thus she had grown, this Marian Erle of ours,
To no book-learning,–she was ignorant
Of authors,–not in earshot of the things
Out-spoken o'er the heads of common men,
By men who are uncommon,–but within
The cadenced hum of such, and capable
Of catching from the fringes of the wind
Some fragmentary phrases, here and there,
Of that fine music,–which, being carried in
To her soul, had reproduced itself afresh
In finer motions of the lips and lids.

She said, in speaking of it, 'If a flower
Were thrown you out of heaven at intervals,
You'd soon attain to a trick of looking up,–
And so with her.' She counted me her years,
Till I felt old; and then she counted me
Her sorrowful pleasures, till I felt ashamed.
She told me she was almost glad and calm
On such and such a season; sate and sewed,
With no one to break up her crystal thoughts:
While rhymes from lovely poems span around
Their ringing circles of ecstatic tune,
Beneath the moistened finger of the Hour.
Her parents called her a strange, sickly child,
Not good for much, and given to sulk and stare,
And smile into the hedges and the clouds,
And tremble if one shook her from her fit
By any blow, or word even. Out-door jobs
Went ill with her; and household quiet work
She was not born to. Had they kept the north,
They might have had their pennyworth out of her
Like other parents, in the factories;
(Your children work for you, not you for them,
Or else they better had been choked with air
The first breath drawn;) but, in this tramping life,
Was nothing to be done with such a child,
But tramp and tramp. And yet she knitted hose
Not ill, and was not dull at needlework;
And all the country people gave her pence
For darning stockings past their natural age,
And patching petticoats from old to new,
And other light work done for thrifty wives.

One day, said Marian–the sun shone that day–
Her mother had been badly beat, and felt
The bruises sore about her wretched soul
(That must have been): she came in suddenly,
And snatching, in a sort of breathless rage,
Her daughter's headgear comb, let down the hair
Upon her, like a sudden waterfall,
Then drew her drenched and passive, by the arm,
Outside the hut they lived in. When the child
Could clear her blinded face from all that stream
Of tresses . . there, a man stood, with beasts' eyes
That seemed as they would swallow her alive,
Complete in body and spirit, hair and all,–
With burning stertorous breath that hurt her cheek,
He breathed so near. The mother held her tight,
Saying hard between her teeth–'Why wench, why wench,
The squire speaks to you now–the squire's too good,
He means to set you up and comfort us.
Be mannerly at least.' The child turned round
And looked up piteous in the mother's face
(Be sure that mother's death-bed will not want
Another devil to damn, than such a look),
'Oh, mother!' then, with desperate glance to heaven,
'Good, free me from my mother,' she shrieked out,
'These mothers are too dreadful.' And, with force
As passionate as fear, she tore her hands,
Like lilies from the rocks, from hers and his,
And sprang down, bounded headlong down the steep,
Away from both–away, if possible,
As far as God,–away! They yelled at her,
As famished hounds at a hare. She heard them yell;
She felt her name hiss after her from the hills,
Like shot from guns. On, on. And now she had cast
The voices off with the uplands. On. Mad fear
Was running in her feet and killing the ground;
The white roads curled as if she burnt them up,
The green fields melted, wayside trees fell back
To make room for her. Then her head grew vexed;
Trees, fields, turned on her and ran after her;
She heard the quick pants of the hills behind,
Their keen air pricked her neck. She had lost her feet,
Could run no more, yet somehow went as fast,–
The horizon, red, 'twixt steeples in the east
So sucked her forward, forward, while her heart
Kept swelling, swelling, till it swelled so big
It seemed to fill her body; then it burst,
And overflowed the world and swamped the light,
'And now I am dead and safe,' thought Marian Erle–
She had dropped, she had fainted.
When the sense returned,
The night had passed–not life's night. She was 'ware
Of heavy tumbling motions, creaking wheels,
The driver shouting to the lazy team
That swung their rankling bells against her brain,
While, through the waggon's coverture and chinks,
The cruel yellow morning pecked at her
Alive or dead, upon the straw inside,–
At which her soul ached back into the dark
And prayed, 'no more of that.' A waggoner
Had found her in a ditch beneath the moon,
As white as moonshine, save for the oozing blood.
At first he thought her dead; but when he had wiped
The mouth and heard it sigh, he raised her up,
And laid her in his waggon in the straw,
And so conveyed her to the distant town
To which his business called himself, and left
That heap of misery at the hospital.

She stirred;–the place seemed new and strange as death.
The white strait bed, with others strait and white,
Like graves dug side by side, at measured lengths,
And quiet people walking in and out
With wonderful low voices and soft steps,
And apparitional equal care for each,
Astonished her with order, silence, law:
And when a gentle hand held out a cup,
She took it, as you do at sacrament,
Half awed, half melted,–not being used, indeed,
To so much love as makes the form of love
And courtesy of manners. Delicate drinks
And rare white bread, to which some dying eyes
Were turned in observation. O my God,
How sick we must be, ere we make men just!
I think it frets the saints in heaven to see
How many Desolate creatures on the earth
Have learnt the simple dues of fellowship
And social comfort, in a hospital,
As Marian did. She lay there, stunned, half tranced,
And wished, at intervals of growing sense,
She might be sicker yet, if sickness made
The world so marvellous kind, the air so hushed,
And all her wake-time quiet as a sleep;
For now she understood, (as such things were)
How sickness ended very oft in heaven,
Among the unspoken raptures. Yet more sick,
And surelier happy. Then she dropped her lids,
And, folding up her hands as flowers at night,
Would lose no moment of the blessed time.

She lay and seethed in fever many weeks;
But youth was strong and overcame the test;
Revolted soul and flesh were reconciled
And fetched back to the necessary day
And daylight duties. She could creep about
The long bare rooms, and stare out drearily
From any narrow window on the street,
Till some one, who had nursed her as a friend,
Said coldly to her, as an enemy,
'She had leave to go next week, being well enough,'
While only her heart ached. 'Go next week,' thought she,
'Next week! how would it be with her next week,
Let out into that terrible street alone
Among the pushing people, . . to go . . where?'

One day, the last before the dreaded last,
Among the convalescents, like herself
Prepared to go next morning, she sate dumb,
And heard half absently the women talk,
How one was famished for her baby's cheeks–
'The little wretch would know her! a year old,
And lively, like his father!' one was keen
To get to work, and fill some clamorous mouths;
And one was tender for her dear goodman
Who had missed her sorely,–and one, querulous . .
'Would pay those scandalous neighbours who had dared
To talk about her as already dead,'–
And one was proud . . 'and if her sweetheart Luke
Had left her for a ruddier face than hers,
(The gossip would be seen through at a glance)
Sweet riddance of such sweethearts–let him hang!
'Twere good to have been as sick for such an end.'

And while they talked, and Marian felt the worse
For having missed the worst of all their wrongs,
A visitor was ushered through the wards
And paused among the talkers. 'When he looked,
It was as if he spoke, and when he spoke
He sang perhaps,' said Marian; 'could she tell?
She only knew' (so much she had chronicled,
As seraphs might, the making of the sun)
'That he who came and spake was Romney Leigh,
And then, and there, she saw and heard him first.'
And when it was her turn to have the face
Upon her,–all those buzzing pallid lips
Being satisfied with comfort–when he changed
To Marian, saying, 'And you? You're going, where?'–
She, moveless as a worm beneath a stone
Which some one's stumbling foot has spurned aside,
Writhed suddenly, astonished with the light,
And breaking into sobs cried, 'Where I go?
None asked me till this moment. Can I say
Where I go? When it has not seemed worth while
To God himself, who thinks of every one,
To think of me, and fix where I shall go?'

'So young,' he gently asked her, 'you have lost
Your father and your mother?'
'Both' she said,
'Both lost! My father was burnt up with gin
Or ever I sucked milk, and so is lost.
My mother sold me to a man last month,
And so my mother's lost, 'tis manifest.
And I, who fled from her for miles and miles,
As if I had caught sight of the fires of hell
Through some wild gap, (she was my mother, sir)
It seems I shall be lost too, presently,
And so we end, all three of us.'
'Poor child!'
He said,–with such a pity in his voice,
It soothed her more than her own tears,–'poor child!
'Tis simple that betrayal by mother's love
Should bring despair of God's too. Yet be taught
He's better to us than many mothers are,
And children cannot wander beyond reach
Of the sweep of his white raiment. Touch and hold'
And if you weep still, weep where John was laid
While Jesus loved him.'
'She could say the words,'
She told me, 'exactly as he uttered them
A year back, . . since in any doubt or dark,
They came out like the stars, and shone on her
With just their comfort. Common words, perhaps;
The ministers in church might say the same;
But he, he made the church with what he spoke,–
The difference was the miracle,' said she.

Then catching up her smile to ravishment,
She added quickly, 'I repeat his words,
But not his tones: can any one repeat
The music of an organ, out of church?
And when he said 'poor child,' I shut my eyes
To feel how tenderly his voice broke through,
As the ointment-box broke on the Holy feet
To let out the rich medicative nard.'

She told me how he had raised and rescued her
With reverent pity, as, in touching grief,
He touched the wounds of Christ,–and made her feel
More self-respecting. Hope, he called, belief
In God,–work, worship . . therefore let us pray!
And thus, to snatch her soul from atheism,
And keep it stainless from her mother's face,
He sent her to a famous sempstress-house
Far off in London, there to work and hope.

With that they parted. She kept sight of Heaven,
But not of Romney. He had good to do
To others: through the days and through the nights,
She sewed and sewed and sewed. She drooped sometimes,
And wondered, while, along the tawny light,
She struck the new thread into her needle's eye,
How people without mothers on the hills,
Could choose the town to live in!–then she drew
The stitch, and mused how Romney's face would look,
And if 'twere likely he'd remember hers,
When they two had their meeting after death.

poem by from Aurora Leigh (1856)Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Veronica Serbanoiu
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

One night in the tranquillity I heard Him pass

One night in the tranquillity
I heard Him pass,
for long moments nature was silent,
as if all things had come to a standstill,
when the sun was setting lingering He was near;
the bright moon
suddenly caught me later like a child,
as I was shaking and blinded by my sin.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share
 

Search


Recent searches | Top searches