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I'll Take The Stand

ill hold ur hands
kiss ur tears
ill kiss ur lips
make u cheer

just believe in me that a time would come
when the chimes would sum
cause i see my self 20 years from here,
will be with u
holding ur hand
cause only u deserve
to be near....
ill take the stand
o you dont fear

ill hold ur hands
kiss ur tears
ill kiss ur lips
make u cheer...

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Appletrees

I
Sweet appletree, your branches delight me,
Luxuriantly budding my pride and joy!
I will put before the lord of Macreu,
That on Wednesday, in the valley of Machawy
Blood will flow.
Lloegyr's (England's) blades will shine.
But hear, O little pig! on Thursday
The Cymry will rejoyce
In their defence of Cymimawd,
Furiously cutting and thrusting.
The Saesons (Saxons) will be slaughtered by our ashen spears,
And their heads used as footballs.
I prophesy the unvarnished truth -
The rising of a child in the secluded South.

II
Sweet and luxuriant appletree,
Great its branches, beautiful its form!
I predict a battle that fills me with far.
At Pengwern, men drink mead,
But around Cyminawd is a deadly hewing
By a chieftain from Eryri - til only hatred remains.

III
Sweet yellow appletree,
Growing in Tal Ardd,
I predict a battle at Prydyn,
In defense of frontiers.
Seven ships will come
Across a wide lake,
Seven hundred men come to conquer.
Of those who come, only seven will return
According to my prophecy.

IV
Sweet appletree of luxuriant growth!
I used to find food at its foot,
When because of a maid,
I slept alone in the woods of Celyddon,
Shield on shoulder, sword on ,
Hear, 0 little pig! listen to my
As sweet as birds that sing on Monday
When the sovereigns come across the sea,
Blessed by the Cymry (Welsh), because of their strength.

V
Sweet appletree in the glade,
Trodden is the earth around its base.
The men of Rhydderch see me not,
Gwendyyd no longer loves nor greets me
I am hated by Rhydderch's strongest scion.
I have despoiled both his son and daughter:
Death visits them all - why not me?
After Gwnddoleu no one shall honour me,
No diversions attend me,
No fair women visit me.
Though at Arderydd (Arthuret) I wore a golden torque
The swan-white woman despises me now.

VI
Sweet appletree, growing by the river,
Who will thrive on its wondrous fruit?
When my reason was intact
I used to lie at its foot
With a fair wanton maid, of slender form.
Fifty years the plaything of lawless en
I have wandered in gloom among spirits
After great wealth, and gregarious minstrels,
I have been here so long not even sprites
Can lead me astray. I never sleep, but tremble at the thought
Of my Lord Gwenddoleu, and y own native people.
Long have I suffered unease and longing-
May I be given freedom in the end.

VII
Sweet appletree, with delicate blossom,
Growing concealed, in the wind!
At the tale was told to me
That my words had offended the most powerful minister,
Not once, not twice, but thrice in a single day.
Christ! that my end has come
Before the killing of Gwndydd's son
Was upon my hands!

VIII
Sweet appletree with your delicate blossom,
Growing amid the thickets of trees!
Chwyfleian foretells,
A tale that will come to pass
A staff of gold, signifying bravery
Will be given by the glorious Dragon Kings.
The grateful one will vanquish the profaner,
Before the child, bright and bold,
The Saesons shall fall, and bards will flourish

IX
Sweet appletree of crimson colour,
Growing, concealed in the wood of Celyddon:
Though men seek your fruit, their search is vain
Until Cadwaladyr comes from Cadfaon's meeting
To Teiwi river and Tywi's lands,
Till anger and anguish come from Arawynion,
And the long-hairs are tamed.

X
Sweet appletree of crimson colour,
Crowing, concealed, in the wood of Celyddon
Though men seek your fruit, their search is vain,
Till Cadwalad comes from Rhyd Rheon's meeting,
And with Cynon advances against the Saeson.
Victorious Cymry, glorious their leaden,
All shall how their rights again,
All Britons rejoice, sounding joyful horns.
Chanting songs of happiness and peace!

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Hard Truth

inspired by alexis

ill give you the truth,
the hard stuff
the truth that hurts so bad
but also the most revealing
you dont want to hear
what im about to say
but ill do it still
i cant let you go on
believing this lie
im gonna give you
the painful truth
The Hard Truth....

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Close To You

This land is real real as the next man
This land is there for all to see
Youre standing there so cold and calm
You stand so close to me
And you out there can keep away
Theres nothing owed to you
All I wants to lose myself and stay so close to you
The river is cruel its pipes are sprayed with long forgotten names
Big boys now with kids whose lives will never feel the same
If you out there dont get what I say theres nothing owed to you
To feel that way is born inside no matter what you do
I wonder how my fortune fell
When everything began to melt
The case I had for wasting that
That never came
I want to walk away again
Away again
Away again
There to wonder how those things will never be
Searching for that grand illusion fools have called the key
If you dont care just keep away how can I give hope to you
Nearer now are both our futures me our hearts and you
And yet all I want is to lose myself and stay so close to you
All I want is to stay so close to you

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Hallelujah - I Know Its Over

I heard there was a secret chord
That david played and it pleased the lord
But you dont really care for music, do you
Well it goes like this the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing hallelujah
Hallelujah...
Well your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to her kitchen chair
She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the hallelujah
Hallelujah...
Baby Ive been here before
Ive seen this room and Ive walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
Ive seen your flag on the marble arch
But love is not a victory march
Its a cold and its a broken hallelujah
Hallelujah...
Well there was a time when you let me know
Whats really going on below
But now you never show that to me do you?
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was hallelujah
Oh mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head
And as I climb into an empty bed - oh well, enough said
I know its over still I cling, I dont know where else I can go, over and over...
Oh mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head
See the sea it wants to take me, the knife wants to slit (cut) me
Do you think you can help me?
Sad veiled bride please be happy - handsome groom give her room
Loud loutish lover treat her kindly though she needs you
More than she loves you - and I know its over - still I cling
I dont know where else I can go - over and over.....
Oh mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head
Oh mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head
Well, maybe theres a God above
But all Ive ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
Its not a cry that you hear at night
Its not somebody whos seen the light
Its a cold and its a broken hallelujah
Hallelujah...

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Hold Onto Your Dream

You always felt you had a destiny (yeah)
You wouldnt bow down to the gods
Of money and power, baby
You burned bright to shed your light all over the world
You had a plan and it was just a matter of time now
Here today, what happened to that dream
Dont tell me its over
I still smell the fire
Stand up and hold on to your dream
Maybe this is your moment
Stand up and hold on to your dream
You know no one can take it
There is a path its always been yours
And you have the right of passage
Signed in blood and sealed in tears
Sending you a message
Across the miles and thru the years
Stand up (and be there) and hold on to your dream
With some faith and conviction (some faith and conviction)
Take a good look, you dont like what you see, (no)
You just dont come this far and never get scarred, baby
It all seemed like fate
The big dreams werent hard to make way back then
Something pure about that suffer for art, passion and pain
Standing here
What happened to those dreams
Dont tell me theyre over
While your heart is still beating
Stand up and hold on to your dream
Maybe this is your moment
Stand up and hold on to your dream
You know no one can take it
There is a path its always been yours
And you have the right of passage
Signed in blood and sealed in tears
Sending you a message
Across the miles and thru the years
Stand up (and be there) and hold on to your dream
With some faith and conviction (some faith and conviction)

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Missing My Friend

You weren’t supposed to leave that way
So smart
So caring
So uniquely you
And you were supposed to be here longer
The four of us: physically inseparable for three years
But hearts and minds were connected for much longer
Indian summers of us in the grass after running from old ladies,
Dreamed up in your head but never fulfilled
Big dreams, big thoughts, big heart
An even bigger sadness

I want you to be here
Reading this
So that its not about you so that maybe I wouldn’t be so mad
And I never admitted it;
Cried when I heard the news,
Cried when I told our friends,
Cried even harder at the memorial service
But I never acknowledged the anger
Im mad at you for leaving like this
Im mad that for making me cry this much
Mad at myself for not calling

We were supposed to grow old still connected
In rocking chair reminiscing about Cle-otis
But your gone
And bringing the 3 back together would only
Invoke thoughts, works, stories, conversations of you
Tears would follow

I don’t want to miss you
I want to pick up the phone and scream a quote in your ear
And be mockingly amazed when u know who it’s by
I want to run into you at the mall and laugh for what seems like forever
Of times from eternity past
I don’t want to be crying these tears,
Tears that hold my sorrow of trying to lay your memory to rest;
But I am
I don’t want this to end sappy or with some inside joke which makes me remember
That I can’t go back to the past when you were still here
But it has to

For a long time you were my smile when I couldn’t find my own
We laughed, we cried, we sang, we screamed, we danced (or tried to)
We liked, we loved, we hated, we marched to our own beat
You’re the reason im comfortable in my own skin
May you rest in peace,
My friend, One of those important corners in my old square,
Lauren Elizabeth Edgerton

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Ill Kill You If You Dont Come Back

From the minute I turned and laid my eyes on you, I had no eyes of my own
I was blind to the world, you were too good to be true
But you were something to see, so very young and alone
And I still dont believe the way you turned on me
Now wheres the girl that I knew?
I gave you somewhere to live and then somebody to love
You gave me nothing but trouble, man, Ive been such a fool
You gave me nothing at all, now let me give it to you
You taught me how to be cruel, now let me try it on you
How do you abuse me, let me count the ways
How many hours in how many days
How does it amuse you, let me count the pain
How many rules breaking how many games
Chorus:
How do you abuse me, let me count the ways
How many hours in how many days
How does it amuse you, let me count the pain
How many rules breaking how many games
You got your ass out of gear and your soul out of whack
Go on and take all your stuff, dont even bother to pack
In every way I want you out of my life
But Ill kill you if you dont come back, Ill kill you if you dont come back
In the pit of the night you used to pull me so close
And then youd hold me so tight
And in the wink of an eye you used to give me it all
And with a kiss in the darkness youd deliver the light
And in the pit of the night I hear you laughing so loud
I know youre laughing at me
Oh aint it funny and sad the way I fell for your lies
The way I fell into love and then I begged to be free
You gave me nothing at all, now let me give it to you
You taught me how to be cruel, now let me try it on you
Chorus
Somebody bless all the girls in the sand on the beach
Theyre dreamin of boys and staying just out of reach
Bless all the cheerleaders down on the track
Theyre glistening like diamonds with sweat on their backs
Bless all the girls in the gangs on the street
Theyre looking for danger and theyre holding their piece
Bless all the girls staying late after school
Theyre playing with fire and oh theyre playing it cool
And bless all the shy girls whore learning to dance
They stare in the mirror and they conjure romance
Bless all the girls who are always alone
They kneel down in prayer and they wait up by the phone
Bless all the homecoming queens of the night
Theyre looking for magic in gymnasium lights
And bless all the girls who know what love is about
They try not to cry and then they try to put out
And bless all the homecoming queens of the night
Theyre looking for magic in gymnasium lights
And bless all the girls who know what love is about
They try not to cry and then they try to put out
Somebody bless all these girls that I never have met
But damn you and curse you after all that youve done
Youre the one girl Ill never forget
Youre the one girl Ill never forget
Somebody bless all these girls and everything that they do
But damn me and curse me for still needing you
And Ill kill you if you dont come back
Ill kill you if you dont come back (repeats out)

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Tears For The Dying (d0 You Remember)

“Do you remember? ”

I have come to realize that you don’t have a clue
You have not a clue to why I’ve stopped talking to you
It is simply for I have no choice
The pain is too great when I hear your voice
Inside the hunger and the pain is killing me
Knowing you and I will never more be

The mails you write brings me grief
For the hurt there is just no relief
Without you life is too unfulfilling
Distancing now myself I am now willing
Please to these words do not deserve responding
For I cannot stand the thought of us never belonging

This morning I awoke in tears
For me now no one cares
Me lying with arms open wide
Dreaming you were by my side
Reaching out to give you an embrace
But you vanished without even a trace

No longer now can I kiss your face
Between us now such distance and too much space
Sadden eyes dies lacking an opinion
Chances gone now of any chanced reunion
So I try to hide the pain that’s calling
But the tears I cry descends like hurricanes falling

Wishing you were here with me
For all I have now are memories
Thoughts of the time we once shared
Thoughts of the times you once cared
Two birds of the same feather thoughts of us being
Visions of you were all I was ever seeing

How you have forgotten how I stayed with you in the hospital all night
You have forgotten how I held your hands till the morning light
You have forgotten how I prayed that you would feel better
You have forgotten how my love would stand all inclement weather
You have forgotten how to me you were my one and only treasure

Remember how by your side I stayed
Remember how it matter not to me how much you weighted
Remember how I said I loved you the way you are
Remember how I said you were my shining star
Remember how I said you’re beautiful with or without glasses
Remember I attended with you all the lama’s classes

Remember me sitting by you and my reaction
Remember me coaching you through each contraction
Remember me staying up until you gave birth
Remember me saying you were the greatest on earth
Remember how hard it was to take our child’s first picture
Remember thinking in our lives a child being a fixture

Remember the days of laughter and fun
Remember the days when our lives had just begun
Remember the days of you loving me and me loving you
Remember the days do you?
Remember the time I chased you around the house
Remember the time when you were my spouse

Remember the days for I remember them all
From your grace was such a great distance to fall
I remember how you made me feel ten foot tall
I remember being in your arms feeling so small
I remember the time when it was just you and I
Do you remember the tears I have cried?

Do you remember how worried I was the night you didn’t call?
Do you remember me saying you were my all?
Do you remember driving to the mall to escape the summer’s heat?
Do you remember when we thought life was so sweet?
Do you remember how I would defend you till the better end?
Do you remember being more than just a lover for you were my best friend?

Do you remember anything at all?
Goodbye to sweet memories
Birds in the trees no longer sing for thee
The sun no longer shines for me
The moonlight shines now for other lovers
Nothing left in this world to discover
You have gone and moved on
So must I for I have to try
But for now inside I die
So to my first true love and friend goodbye

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Here I sit with my paper…

Here I sit with my paper, my pen my ink,
First of this thing, and that thing,
and t'other thing think ;
I Then my thoughts come so pell and
I mell all into my mind,
That the sense or the subject I never can find :
This word is wrong placed, no
regard to the sense,
The present and future, instead of
past tense,
Then my grammar I want; O dear!
what a bore,
I think I shall never attempt to
write more,
With patience I then my thoughts
must arraign,
Have them all in due order like
mutes in a train,
Like them too must wait in due
patience and thought,
Or else my fine works will all come
to nought.
My wit too 's so copious, it flows
like a river,
But disperses its waters on black
and white never ;
Like smoke it appears independent
and free,
But ah luckless smoke! it all passes
like thee
Then at length all my patience entirely
lost,
My paper and pens in the fire are
tossed ;
But come, try again you must
never despair,
Our Murray's or Entick's are not
all so rare,
Implore their assistance they'll
come to your aid,
Perform all your business without
being paid,
They'll tell you the present tense,
future and past,
Which should come first, and which
should come last,
This Murray will do then to Entick
repair,
To find out the meaning of any
word rare.
This they friendly will tell, and
ne'er make you blush,
With a jeering look, taunt, or an
O fie! tush!
Then straight all your thoughts in
black and white put,
Not minding the if's, the be's, and
the but,
Then read it all over, see how it
will run,
How answers the wit, the retort,
and the pun,
Your writings may then with old
Socrates vie,
May on the same shelf with Demosthenes
lie,
May as Junius be sharp, or as Plato
be sage,
The pattern or satire to all of the
age;
But stop a mad author I mean not
to turn,
Nor with thirst of applause does my
heated brain burn,
Sufficient that sense, wit, and grammar
combined,
My letters may make some slight
food for the mind ;
That my thoughts to my friends I
may freely impart,
In all the warm language that flows
from the heart.
Hark! futurity calls! it loudly
complains,
It bids me step forward and just
hold the reins,
My excuse shall be humble, and
faithful, and true,
Such as I fear can be made but by
few
Of writers this age has abundance
and plenty,
Three score and a thousand, two
millions and twenty,
Three score of them wits who all
sharply vie,
To try what odd creature they best
can belie,
A thousand are prudes who for
Charity write,
And fill up their sheets with spleen,
envy, and spite,
One million are bards, who to
Heaven aspire,
And stuff their works full of bombast,
rant, and fire,
T'other million are wags who in
Grub-street attend,
And just like a cobbler the old writings
mend,
The twenty are those who for pulpits
indite,
And pore over sermons all Saturday
night.
And now my good friends who
come after I mean,
As I ne'er wore a cassock, or dined
with a dean,
Or like cobblers at mending I never
did try,
Nor with poets in lyrics attempted
to vie;
As for prudes these good souls I
both hate and detest,
So here I believe the matter must
rest.
I've heard your complaint my
answer I've made,
And since to your calls all the
tribute I've paid,
Adieu my good friend ; pray never
despair,
But grammar and sense and everything dare,
Attempt but to write dashing, easy,
and free,
Then take out your grammar and
pay him his fee,
Be not a coward, shrink not to a
tense,
But read it all over and make it
out sense.
What a tiresome girl! pray soon
make an end,
Else my limited patience you'll
quickly expend.
Well adieu, I no longer your patience
will try
So swift to the post now the letter
shall fly.

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Patrick White

The Night Dances With Itself Like An Only Child

The night dances with itself like an only child
to the sounds of its own silence
when it thinks no one is watching.
Every falling leaf, a gesture of the hands,
poised, a word, a bird, a butterfly on a branch,
a sacred syllable from an alphabet that can dance,
caught in the updraft of a momentary insight
of falling to paradise like a flightfeather of light,
and landing the move just right, just so, with perfect timing.

The maples by day, easels for hot palette paintings,
red shift through red, orange, yellow, green
from the outside in toward the trunk, same
as a rainbow, same as the dynastic colours of a sunset.
Same as the fires of life returning to the root.
Same as the starmaps of the visionaries
flying like shamans from the nests they were fledged in.
Same as the ripening of the fruits of the earth,
or roses with green stars under their eyelids.

Different instruments, different voices,
the wind, the rasping of the leaves, the beaver
slapping the startled flesh of the water at my approach,
a twig snapping its drumstick on a rim shot
and the crow, and the squeaking bats, and the lapping
of the waves like the plectra of an aquamarine harpsichord
at the whole notes of the rocks, but a confluence
of picture-music washing the roots of the dead violins
of the wild irises and the timpani of cattails along the mindstream.

Merrily, merrily, row your boat, life is but a dream.
But to judge from the windfalls of green planets
shaken from the black walnut trees, it's a dream
that's urgent with the myriad realities of a multiverse
waking up in a place like here, and a time like now
with a lavish appetite for inhabiting itself
as if appearance weren't just the rind
that had to be peeled away like the skin and the shell
of the meat of the real, the shapes of the known worlds
the rat snakes shed like intimate illusions
that have naturally outgrown themselves,
the new moon in the arms of the old, like a nightsky
leaving the Milky Way, a mythically deflated windsock
tangled in the tree line like a runway that tried to fly by itself.

Now the Great Shedding as the earth turns
like the old abandoned mill wheel upstream
like a circular waterclock making linear time
take its tail in its mouth like an eternal recurrence
that's always pouring itself out of itself like life
into the emptiness between the equinox of one thought
and the solstice of the next like the silence between heartbeats,
the night between the stars, like the inseparable gap
between the distant moon and the intimacy of the moon's reflection
on the newly surfaced dark skin of the water sequencing
its pentatonic scales to the seasonal themes of the mindstream
you can't step into twice, as Heraclitus said in Ephesus long ago,
though it seems that way if all you're doing is dogpaddling
like a delinquent green apple on a snow covered bough, instead
of going along with the perennial renewal of the flow
by letting go of your water skin with its lunar tattoo
like the bright vacancy of an old silo of the light
for the dark abundance of the new insight
into the nature of life when it full in October.

The fall. This hour of my becoming
when everything is burning like the sumac
with the fires of life but nothing is consumed.
Because fire doesn't burn fire and death is unperishing.
And autumn is no less of a transformation than spring
as this new day dances as readily with the old woman
watching from her kitchen window as it does the young girl,
than the rain is to the tides of a lunar ocean
swaying in its shadows as if it were dancing
with its river reeds like a lonely child
in the embrace of her imagination,
like a poet in the grip of his crazy wisdom
flirting like a firefly with the dragons of his madness
without listening to the search parties of the lighthouses
bellowing like the foghorns of mournful trains back on shore
being swept away into the distance like nightwatchmen
and unconvincing ghosts. Things are unmooring
like lifeboats full of seeds and the souls of the dead
taking to their wings like the oars of waterbirds,
and the lowest of earthbound snakes
are dreaming of feathering their scales
into the vans of a dragon firewalking with stars
around the wobbling axis of the earth
on a potter's wheel, turning it like sentient starmud
that's fired up in autumn like an urn that burns like a kiln.

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Patrick White

Unlost When I'm Writing

Unlost when I'm writing, the going's enough
and any path will do for the shining. Everywhere
space for the mind to move of its own accord,
dead bodies in the tide, waterbirds returning to the lake.
The pictures crowd together in the flames
and a flower blooms in the fire the fire cannot burn
and myriad themes are mingled in the same fragrance.
How else say it? I'm an alloy of stars, a weld
of metaphors that healed stronger than the original wound.
I don't wholly understand this, but I'm changing
bodies on the fly, dying even as I grow,
and the more radiant I become the less visible I am.

The mindstream in its flowing is a flying carpet
woven of eddies and currents, of thought, of feeling
the heaving, fall, and rush of many waters
animated by the going, inspired by the approach,
and some bring an easel, a loom, a telescope
and when the moon is shining, there are feathers
scattered on ten thousand lakes at once
as the night writes starmaps on the eye of the seeker
all but the most middling minds follow like a dancer.

I live between the coming and going like a gate,
like the breath in my throat, the systole and diastole,
the ebb and neap of my heart, between the open sky
and the canning jar of a telescope full of fireflies
like a prism in a spider mount bending light through my eye
like a goldfish in water. The full moon, a coin
lost in the river that cannot be retrieved from the river
unless you grasp it without using your hands.
The way a bird on the wind enlarges a space within
and you can hold it a moment like the sky it disappears into.

Comes a swallow at dusk and a nation at noon
and you feel the easy parity of the two as if
they were both of the one intangible fleeting substance,
a birth-sac of dew about to let its water break
and bring forth the world as the youngest child of all.
An abacus of tears, worlds within worlds,
oxymoronic unions dispersing like somnambulant bells
into more inclusive realms of understanding
where every grain of sand is the cornerstone
of the cosmos elaborated out of it as if
neither small nor large, partial nor whole
one word is a myth of origin, and two,
the whole of its long history without end.

Transformative stillness, kinetic mutability,
I refine the ore of an old wisdom
in the crucible of my heart and pour it out like stars
into the available vacancies of space and time
waiting like a waterclock of begging bowls
for their emptiness to shape the tools they'll use
to plough the moon with a sail and a rudder into fish.
How life gets around is the way I'm moved to think
in fireflies and maple keys, nebular intuitions
of the Pleiades rooting like rain in clouds
and clouds of unknowing where there's nothing
to take on faith but the small voice on the hidden hill
calling out to you like an empty lifeboat
drifting through the autumn fog an eerie morning.

I lay my madness bare and offer you a scalpel
like the bud of a narcissus, and say cut here, cut there,
slash at me like a corpse in a surgical theater,
remove my skull cap like the lid of a cookie jar,
break it open like a fortune-cookie or a surrealistic lullaby,
a lottery you couldn't lose, or American pie,
and don't say anything teleological to me
about what you find, if there's anything to find at all.
And then add me to the sum of educational body parts
on a river barge that's going to scrape them off the plate
far out at sea in a feeding frenzy of marine life.
Star meat, my flesh, I'm adorned by the mud of the earth,
and my mind, who could find that, when
there's so many more places to look than to hide?

Lightyears back I blundered into the open
like a tree on a hill in a field, running from something
ahead of me, when I discovered in a flash
of Druidic tragedy just how vulnerable words were
to the emotions I invested in them like ashes in urns.
Great dragons of passion that imploded on themselves
like caldera and women and meteors on the moon,
kissing stones subsumed in their own wombs
like nanodiamonds of insight into the impact.
And I might seem a lot gladder than I used to be
but there's still too much to forget to be happy.
And I'm not truly certain I have the right to flaunt
the strange gifts that have given me the most joy
when the night comes on like the pheromone of a firefly
and I hear the unmighty groaning in their rooms to endure.

No trick to this. No elixir, no potion, no Latinate abstraction,
no apprentice, master, or skill, I could be making
straw hats among the enlightened conifers of Japan
on a mountainside where the old stones break into laughter
and the samurai class of the grass wants me to teach it
how to fight without regard to winning or losing
no matter how many times I'm killed unceremoniously
like the Buddha in the way of some fool's redemption.
And if the king comes to your house, don't
put out a serving, put out a feast, and move on
empty-handed as a man who's given it all away
just to spite the keepers at the gate searching your exit.

You can buff a Druid into a gleeman like cut cocaine
and then you can step on it again like a court jester
and if you really want to feel sacrilegiously holy
you can burn him like a martyr at the stake of a cause
that accuses him of going to extremes to avoid the law
and then invite him to a reading to scatter his ashes on the wind.
And then beatify his spirit like a white stag you hit with an arrow
fletched by sparrows with the charisma of crows.
And that's an end of what was so mysterious about him.
That's an end of his ambiguous glaises, alphabetic trees
and golden sickles castrating fertility gods so there
was dew on the grass in the morning when the moon
gave birth to a swan in heat before the wheat
could turn from green to gold, and the Fertile Crescent
was fecund with dismemberment and bleeding mistletoe.

Death of a poet. What a small shadow among the gloom.
The eclipse of a lunar pearl in a coalpit.
And the greatness of the perennial mystery
that seeped into his blood like the effluvium
of the dark mother's afterbirth, merely the cosmic hearsay
of what he hoped it would be, up close and intimately.
And his star, now, a cold furnace, and all the warmth
of his violated human nature, a curious atrocity
of the times that are these times just as readily.
I salute the madman addled by creative chaos
like a spear of light in a storm, like a spiritual warrior
who fell upon his own heart like a hand grenade
to save some ingrate his delinquent day of reckoning,
to temper the karma by rounding out the crucials
with compassion and liberated tolerance
as swiftly as his savage indignation killed
the nude empress of pornographic frogs with a kiss
back into her old life in the nunnery of a neurotic narcissus.

And he looked for the moon in a window of a room
in a brothel of experienced muses who didn't
beat around the bush when it came time to ovulate.
St. Francis dances in the dust at the crossroads with the Sufis,
talking to the birds like David, and consulting the wolves.
Rasputin gorges on the flesh of the rainbow light body
glowing in a mystical aura of sex and death
like the dark rapture that embraces him
in the circular bow of the angel of infernal revelations.
And his accusers whip his eyes
like bi-valved goose barnacles
flagellating their feather dusters in the corals.
But there are some things that move inevitably like glaciers.

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George Meredith

A Ballad Of Fair Ladies In Revolt

I

See the sweet women, friend, that lean beneath
The ever-falling fountain of green leaves
Round the white bending stem, and like a wreath
Of our most blushful flower shine trembling through,
To teach philosophers the thirst of thieves:
Is one for me? is one for you?

II

- Fair sirs, we give you welcome, yield you place,
And you shall choose among us which you will,
Without the idle pastime of the chase,
If to this treaty you can well agree:
To wed our cause, and its high task fulfil.
He who's for us, for him are we!

III

- Most gracious ladies, nigh when light has birth,
A troop of maids, brown as burnt heather-bells,
And rich with life as moss-roots breathe of earth
In the first plucking of them, past us flew
To labour, singing rustic ritornells:
Had they a cause? are they of you?

IV

- Sirs, they are as unthinking armies are
To thoughtful leaders, and our cause is theirs.
When they know men they know the state of war:
But now they dream like sunlight on a sea,
And deem you hold the half of happy pairs.
He who's for us, for him are we!

V

- Ladies, I listened to a ring of dames;
Judicial in the robe and wig; secure
As venerated portraits in their frames;
And they denounced some insurrection new
Against sound laws which keep you good and pure.
Are you of them? are they of you?

VI

- Sirs, they are of us, as their dress denotes,
And by as much: let them together chime:
It is an ancient bell within their throats,
Pulled by an aged ringer; with what glee
Befits the yellow yesterdays of time.
He who's for us, for him are we!

VII

- Sweet ladies, you with beauty, you with wit;
Dowered of all favours and all blessed things
Whereat the ruddy torch of Love is lit;
Wherefore this vain and outworn strife renew,
Which stays the tide no more than eddy-rings?
Who is for love must be for you.

VIII

- The manners of the market, honest sirs,
'Tis hard to quit when you behold the wares.
You flatter us, or perchance our milliners
You flatter; so this vain and outworn She
May still be the charmed snake to your soft airs!
A higher lord than Love claim we.

IX

- One day, dear lady, missing the broad track,
I came on a wood's border, by a mead,
Where golden May ran up to moted black:
And there I saw Queen Beauty hold review,
With Love before her throne in act to plead.
Take him for me, take her for you.

X

- Ingenious gentleman, the tale is known.
Love pleaded sweetly: Beauty would not melt:
She would not melt: he turned in wrath: her throne
The shadow of his back froze witheringly,
And sobbing at his feet Queen Beauty knelt.
O not such slaves of Love are we!

XI

- Love, lady, like the star above that lance
Of radiance flung by sunset on ridged cloud,
Sad as the last line of a brave romance! -
Young Love hung dim, yet quivering round him threw
Beams of fresh fire, while Beauty waned and bowed.
Scorn Love, and dread the doom for you.

XII

- Called she not for her mirror, sir? Forth ran
Her women: I am lost, she cried, when lo,
Love in the form of an admiring man
Once more in adoration bent the knee,
And brought the faded Pagan to full blow:
For which her throne she gave: not we!

XIII

- My version, madam, runs not to that end.
A certain madness of an hour half past,
Caught her like fever; her just lord no friend
She fancied; aimed beyond beauty, and thence grew
The prim acerbity, sweet Love's outcast.
Great heaven ward off that stroke from you!

XIV

- Your prayer to heaven, good sir, is generous:
How generous likewise that you do not name
Offended nature! She from all of us
Couched idle underneath our showering tree,
May quite withhold her most destructive flame;
And then what woeful women we!

XV

- Quite, could not be, fair lady; yet your youth
May run to drought in visionary schemes:
And a late waking to perceive the truth,
When day falls shrouding her supreme adieu,
Shows darker wastes than unaccomplished dreams:
And that may be in store for you.

XVI

- O sir, the truth, the truth! is't in the skies,
Or in the grass, or in this heart of ours?
But O the truth, the truth! the many eyes
That look on it! the diverse things they see,
According to their thirst for fruit or flowers!
Pass on: it is the truth seek we.

XVII

- Lady, there is a truth of settled laws
That down the past burns like a great watch-fire.
Let youth hail changeful mornings; but your cause,
Whetting its edge to cut the race in two,
Is felony: you forfeit the bright lyre,
Much honour and much glory you!

XVIII

- Sir, was it glory, was it honour, pride,
And not as cat and serpent and poor slave,
Wherewith we walked in union by your side?
Spare to false womanliness her delicacy,
Or bid true manliness give ear, we crave:
In our defence thus chained are we.

XIX

- Yours, madam, were the privileges of life
Proper to man's ideal; you were the mark
Of action, and the banner in the strife:
Yea, of your very weakness once you drew
The strength that sounds the wells, outflies the lark:
Wrapped in a robe of flame were you!

XX

- Your friend looks thoughtful. Sir, when we were chill,
You clothed us warmly; all in honour! when
We starved you fed us; all in honour still:
Oh, all in honour, ultra-honourably!
Deep is the gratitude we owe to men,
For privileged indeed were we!

XXI

- You cite exceptions, madam, that are sad,
But come in the red struggle of our growth.
Alas, that I should have to say it! bad
Is two-sexed upon earth: this which you do,
Shows animal impatience, mental sloth:
Man monstrous! pining seraphs you!

XXII

- I fain would ask your friend . . . but I will ask
You, sir, how if in place of numbers vague,
Your sad exceptions were to break that mask
They wear for your cool mind historically,
And blaze like black lists of a PRESENT plague?
But in that light behold them we.

XXIII

- Your spirit breathes a mist upon our world,
Lady, and like a rain to pierce the roof
And drench the bed where toil-tossed man lies curled
In his hard-earned oblivion! You are few,
Scattered, ill-counselled, blinded: for a proof,
I have lived, and have known none like you.

XXIV

- We may be blind to men, sir: we embrace
A future now beyond the fowler's nets.
Though few, we hold a promise for the race
That was not at our rising: you are free
To win brave mates; you lose but marionnettes.
He who's for us, for him are we.

XXV

- Ah! madam, were they puppets who withstood
Youth's cravings for adventure to preserve
The dedicated ways of womanhood?
The light which leads us from the paths of rue,
That light above us, never seen to swerve,
Should be the home-lamp trimmed by you.

XXVI

- Ah! sir, our worshipped posture we perchance
Shall not abandon, though we see not how,
Being to that lamp-post fixed, we may advance
Beside our lords in any real degree,
Unless we move: and to advance is now
A sovereign need, think more than we.

XXVII

- So push you out of harbour in small craft,
With little seamanship; and comes a gale,
The world will laugh, the world has often laughed,
Lady, to see how bold when skies are blue,
When black winds churn the deeps how panic-pale,
How swift to the old nest fly you!

XXVIII

- What thinks your friend, kind sir? We have escaped
But partly that old half-tamed wild beast's paw
Whereunder woman, the weak thing, was shaped:
Men, too, have known the cramping enemy
In grim brute force, whom force of brain shall awe:
Him our deliverer, await we!

XXIX

- Delusions are with eloquence endowed,
And yours might pluck an angel from the spheres
To play in this revolt whereto you are vowed,
Deliverer, lady! but like summer dew
O'er fields that crack for rain your friends drop tears,
Who see the awakening for you.

XXX

- Is he our friend, there silent? he weeps not.
O sir, delusion mounting like a sun
On a mind blank as the white wife of Lot,
Giving it warmth and movement! if this be
Delusion, think of what thereby was won
For men, and dream of what win we.

XXXI

- Lady, the destiny of minor powers,
Who would recast us, is but to convulse:
You enter on a strife that frets and sours;
You can but win sick disappointment's hue;
And simply an accelerated pulse,
Some tonic you have drunk moves you.

XXXII

- Thinks your friend so? Good sir, your wit is bright;
But wit that strives to speak the popular voice,
Puts on its nightcap and puts out its light.
Curfew, would seem your conqueror's decree
To women likewise: and we have no choice
Save darkness or rebellion, we!

XXXIII

- A plain safe intermediate way is cleft
By reason foiling passion: you that rave
Of mad alternatives to right and left
Echo the tempter, madam: and 'tis due
Unto your sex to shun it as the grave,
This later apple offered you.

XXXIV

- This apple is not ripe, it is not sweet;
Nor rosy, sir, nor golden: eye and mouth
Are little wooed by it; yet we would eat.
We are somewhat tired of Eden, is our plea.
We have thirsted long; this apple suits our drouth:
'Tis good for men to halve, think we.

XXXV

- But say, what seek you, madam? 'Tis enough
That you should have dominion o'er the springs
Domestic and man's heart: those ways, how rough,
How vile, outside the stately avenue
Where you walk sheltered by your angel's wings,
Are happily unknown to you.

XXXVI

- We hear women's shrieks on them. We like your phrase,
Dominion domestic! And that roar,
'What seek you?' is of tyrants in all days.
Sir, get you something of our purity
And we will of your strength: we ask no more.
That is the sum of what seek we.

XXXVII

- O for an image, madam, in one word,
To show you as the lightning night reveals,
Your error and your perils: you have erred
In mind only, and the perils that ensue
Swift heels may soften; wherefore to swift heels
Address your hopes of safety you!

XXXVIII

- To err in mind, sir . . . your friend smiles: he may!
To err in mind, if err in mind we can,
Is grievous error you do well to stay.
But O how different from reality
Men's fiction is! how like you in the plan,
Is woman, knew you her as we!

XXXIX

- Look, lady, where yon river winds its line
Toward sunset, and receives on breast and face
The splendour of fair life: to be divine,
'Tis nature bids you be to nature true,
Flowing with beauty, lending earth your grace,
Reflecting heaven in clearness you.

XL

- Sir, you speak well: your friend no word vouchsafes.
To flow with beauty, breeding fools and worse,
Cowards and worse: at such fair life she chafes,
Who is not wholly of the nursery,
Nor of your schools: we share the primal curse;
Together shake it off, say we!

XLI

- Hear, then, my friend, madam! Tongue-restrained he stands
Till words are thoughts, and thoughts, like swords enriched
With traceries of the artificer's hands,
Are fire-proved steel to cut, fair flowers to view. -
Do I hear him? Oh, he is bewitched, bewitched!
Heed him not! Traitress beauties you!

XLII

- We have won a champion, sisters, and a sage!
- Ladies, you win a guest to a good feast!
- Sir spokesman, sneers are weakness veiling rage.
- Of weakness, and wise men, you have the key.
- Then are there fresher mornings mounting East
Than ever yet have dawned, sing we!

XLIII

- False ends as false began, madam, be sure!
- What lure there is the pure cause purifies!
- Who purifies the victim of the lure?
- That soul which bids us our high light pursue.
- Some heights are measured down: the wary wise
Shun Reason in the masque with you!

XLIV

- Sir, for the friend you bring us, take our thanks.
Yes, Beauty was of old this barren goal;
A thing with claws; and brute-like in her pranks!
But could she give more loyal guarantee
Than wooing Wisdom, that in her a soul
Has risen? Adieu: content are we!

XLV

Those ladies led their captive to the flood's
Green edge. He floating with them seemed the most
Fool-flushed old noddy ever crowned with buds.
Happier than I! Then, why not wiser too?
For he that lives with Beauty, he may boast
His comrade over me and you.

XLVI

Have women nursed some dream since Helen sailed
Over the sea of blood the blushing star,
That beauty, whom frail man as Goddess hailed,
When not possessing her (for such is he!),
Might in a wondering season seen afar,
Be tamed to say not 'I,' but 'we'?

XLVII

And shall they make of Beauty their estate,
The fortress and the weapon of their sex?
Shall she in her frost-brilliancy dictate,
More queenly than of old, how we must woo,
Ere she will melt? The halter's on our necks,
Kick as it likes us, I and you.

XLVIII

Certain it is, if Beauty has disdained
Her ancient conquests, with an aim thus high:
If this, if that, if more, the fight is gained.
But can she keep her followers without fee?
Yet ah! to hear anew those ladies cry,
He who's for us, for him are we!

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Homer

The Odyssey: Book 18

Now there came a certain common tramp who used to go begging all
over the city of Ithaca, and was notorious as an incorrigible
glutton and drunkard. This man had no strength nor stay in him, but he
was a great hulking fellow to look at; his real name, the one his
mother gave him, was Arnaeus, but the young men of the place called
him Irus, because he used to run errands for any one who would send
him. As soon as he came he began to insult Ulysses, and to try and
drive him out of his own house.
"Be off, old man," he cried, "from the doorway, or you shall be
dragged out neck and heels. Do you not see that they are all giving me
the wink, and wanting me to turn you out by force, only I do not
like to do so? Get up then, and go of yourself, or we shall come to
blows."
Ulysses frowned on him and said, "My friend, I do you no manner of
harm; people give you a great deal, but I am not jealous. There is
room enough in this doorway for the pair of us, and you need not
grudge me things that are not yours to give. You seem to be just
such another tramp as myself, but perhaps the gods will give us better
luck by and by. Do not, however, talk too much about fighting or you
will incense me, and old though I am, I shall cover your mouth and
chest with blood. I shall have more peace to-morrow if I do, for you
will not come to the house of Ulysses any more."
Irus was very angry and answered, "You filthy glutton, you run on
trippingly like an old fish-fag. I have a good mind to lay both
hands about you, and knock your teeth out of your head like so many
boar's tusks. Get ready, therefore, and let these people here stand by
and look on. You will never be able to fight one who is so much
younger than yourself."
Thus roundly did they rate one another on the smooth pavement in
front of the doorway, and when Antinous saw what was going on he
laughed heartily and said to the others, "This is the finest sport
that you ever saw; heaven never yet sent anything like it into this
house. The stranger and Irus have quarreled and are going to fight,
let us set them on to do so at once."
The suitors all came up laughing, and gathered round the two
ragged tramps. "Listen to me," said Antinous, "there are some goats'
paunches down at the fire, which we have filled with blood and fat,
and set aside for supper; he who is victorious and proves himself to
be the better man shall have his pick of the lot; he shall be free
of our table and we will not allow any other beggar about the house at
all."
The others all agreed, but Ulysses, to throw them off the scent,
said, "Sirs, an old man like myself, worn out with suffering, cannot
hold his own against a young one; but my irrepressible belly urges
me on, though I know it can only end in my getting a drubbing. You
must swear, however that none of you will give me a foul blow to
favour Irus and secure him the victory."
They swore as he told them, and when they had completed their oath
Telemachus put in a word and said, "Stranger, if you have a mind to
settle with this fellow, you need not be afraid of any one here.
Whoever strikes you will have to fight more than one. I am host, and
the other chiefs, Antinous and Eurymachus, both of them men of
understanding, are of the same mind as I am."
Every one assented, and Ulysses girded his old rags about his loins,
thus baring his stalwart thighs, his broad chest and shoulders, and
his mighty arms; but Minerva came up to him and made his limbs even
stronger still. The suitors were beyond measure astonished, and one
would turn towards his neighbour saying, "The stranger has brought
such a thigh out of his old rags that there will soon be nothing
left of Irus."
Irus began to be very uneasy as he heard them, but the servants
girded him by force, and brought him [into the open part of the court]
in such a fright that his limbs were all of a tremble. Antinous
scolded him and said, "You swaggering bully, you ought never to have
been born at all if you are afraid of such an old broken-down creature
as this tramp is. I say, therefore- and it shall surely be- if he
beats you and proves himself the better man, I shall pack you off on
board ship to the mainland and send you to king Echetus, who kills
every one that comes near him. He will cut off your nose and ears, and
draw out your entrails for the dogs to eat."
This frightened Irus still more, but they brought him into the
middle of the court, and the two men raised their hands to fight. Then
Ulysses considered whether he should let drive so hard at him as to
make an end of him then and there, or whether he should give him a
lighter blow that should only knock him down; in the end he deemed
it best to give the lighter blow for fear the Achaeans should begin to
suspect who he was. Then they began to fight, and Irus hit Ulysses
on the right shoulder; but Ulysses gave Irus a blow on the neck
under the ear that broke in the bones of his skull, and the blood came
gushing out of his mouth; he fell groaning in the dust, gnashing his
teeth and kicking on the ground, but the suitors threw up their
hands and nearly died of laughter, as Ulysses caught hold of him by
the foot and dragged him into the outer court as far as the
gate-house. There he propped him up against the wall and put his staff
in his hands. "Sit here," said he, "and keep the dogs and pigs off;
you are a pitiful creature, and if you try to make yourself king of
the beggars any more you shall fare still worse."
Then he threw his dirty old wallet, all tattered and torn, over
his shoulder with the cord by which it hung, and went back to sit down
upon the threshold; but the suitors went within the cloisters,
laughing and saluting him, "May Jove, and all the other gods," said
they, 'grant you whatever you want for having put an end to the
importunity of this insatiable tramp. We will take him over to the
mainland presently, to king Echetus, who kills every one that comes
near him."
Ulysses hailed this as of good omen, and Antinous set a great goat's
paunch before him filled with blood and fat. Amphinomus took two
loaves out of the bread-basket and brought them to him, pledging him
as he did so in a golden goblet of wine. "Good luck to you," he
said, "father stranger, you are very badly off at present, but I
hope you will have better times by and by."
To this Ulysses answered, "Amphinomus, you seem to be a man of
good understanding, as indeed you may well be, seeing whose son you
are. I have heard your father well spoken of; he is Nisus of
Dulichium, a man both brave and wealthy. They tell me you are his son,
and you appear to be a considerable person; listen, therefore, and
take heed to what I am saying. Man is the vainest of all creatures
that have their being upon earth. As long as heaven vouchsafes him
health and strength, he thinks that he shall come to no harm
hereafter, and even when the blessed gods bring sorrow upon him, he
bears it as he needs must, and makes the best of it; for God
Almighty gives men their daily minds day by day. I know all about
it, for I was a rich man once, and did much wrong in the
stubbornness of my pride, and in the confidence that my father and
my brothers would support me; therefore let a man fear God in all
things always, and take the good that heaven may see fit to send him
without vainglory. Consider the infamy of what these suitors are
doing; see how they are wasting the estate, and doing dishonour to the
wife, of one who is certain to return some day, and that, too, not
long hence. Nay, he will be here soon; may heaven send you home
quietly first that you may not meet with him in the day of his coming,
for once he is here the suitors and he will not part bloodlessly."
With these words he made a drink-offering, and when he had drunk
he put the gold cup again into the hands of Amphinomus, who walked
away serious and bowing his head, for he foreboded evil. But even so
he did not escape destruction, for Minerva had doomed him fall by
the hand of Telemachus. So he took his seat again at the place from
which he had come.
Then Minerva put it into the mind of Penelope to show herself to the
suitors, that she might make them still more enamoured of her, and win
still further honour from her son and husband. So she feigned a
mocking laugh and said, "Eurynome, I have changed my and have a
fancy to show myself to the suitors although I detest them. I should
like also to give my son a hint that he had better not have anything
more to do with them. They speak fairly enough but they mean
mischief."
"My dear child," answered Eurynome, "all that you have said is true,
go and tell your son about it, but first wash yourself and anoint your
face. Do not go about with your cheeks all covered with tears; it is
not right that you should grieve so incessantly; for Telemachus,
whom you always prayed that you might live to see with a beard, is
already grown up."
"I know, Eurynome," replied Penelope, "that you mean well, but do
not try and persuade me to wash and to anoint myself, for heaven
robbed me of all my beauty on the day my husband sailed; nevertheless,
tell Autonoe and Hippodamia that I want them. They must be with me
when I am in the cloister; I am not going among the men alone; it
would not be proper for me to do so."
On this the old woman went out of the room to bid the maids go to
their mistress. In the meantime Minerva bethought her of another
matter, and sent Penelope off into a sweet slumber; so she lay down on
her couch and her limbs became heavy with sleep. Then the goddess shed
grace and beauty over her that all the Achaeans might admire her.
She washed her face with the ambrosial loveliness that Venus wears
when she goes dancing with the Graces; she made her taller and of a
more commanding figure, while as for her complexion it was whiter than
sawn ivory. When Minerva had done all this she went away, whereon
the maids came in from the women's room and woke Penelope with the
sound of their talking.
"What an exquisitely delicious sleep I have been having," said
she, as she passed her hands over her face, "in spite of all my
misery. I wish Diana would let me die so sweetly now at this very
moment, that I might no longer waste in despair for the loss of my
dear husband, who possessed every kind of good quality and was the
most distinguished man among the Achaeans."
With these words she came down from her upper room, not alone but
attended by two of her maidens, and when she reached the suitors she
stood by one of the bearing-posts supporting the roof of the cloister,
holding a veil before her face, and with a staid maid servant on
either side of her. As they beheld her the suitors were so overpowered
and became so desperately enamoured of her, that each one prayed he
might win her for his own bed fellow.
"Telemachus," said she, addressing her son, "I fear you are no
longer so discreet and well conducted as you used to be. When you were
younger you had a greater sense of propriety; now, however, that you
are grown up, though a stranger to look at you would take you for
the son of a well-to-do father as far as size and good looks go,
your conduct is by no means what it should be. What is all this
disturbance that has been going on, and how came you to allow a
stranger to be so disgracefully ill-treated? What would have
happened if he had suffered serious injury while a suppliant in our
house? Surely this would have been very discreditable to you."
"I am not surprised, my dear mother, at your displeasure," replied
Telemachus, "I understand all about it and know when things are not as
they should be, which I could not do when I was younger; I cannot,
however, behave with perfect propriety at all times. First one and
then another of these wicked people here keeps driving me out of my
mind, and I have no one to stand by me. After all, however, this fight
between Irus and the stranger did not turn out as the suitors meant it
to do, for the stranger got the best of it. I wish Father Jove,
Minerva, and Apollo would break the neck of every one of these
wooers of yours, some inside the house and some out; and I wish they
might all be as limp as Irus is over yonder in the gate of the outer
court. See how he nods his head like a drunken man; he has had such
a thrashing that he cannot stand on his feet nor get back to his home,
wherever that may be, for has no strength left in him."
Thus did they converse. Eurymachus then came up and said, "Queen
Penelope, daughter of Icarius, if all the Achaeans in Iasian Argos
could see you at this moment, you would have still more suitors in
your house by tomorrow morning, for you are the most admirable woman
in the whole world both as regards personal beauty and strength of
understanding."
To this Penelope replied, "Eurymachus, heaven robbed me of all my
beauty whether of face or figure when the Argives set sail for Troy
and my dear husband with them. If he were to return and look after
my affairs, I should both be more respected and show a better presence
to the world. As it is, I am oppressed with care, and with the
afflictions which heaven has seen fit to heap upon me. My husband
foresaw it all, and when he was leaving home he took my right wrist in
his hand- 'Wife, 'he said, 'we shall not all of us come safe home
from Troy, for the Trojans fight well both with bow and spear. They
are excellent also at fighting from chariots, and nothing decides
the issue of a fight sooner than this. I know not, therefore,
whether heaven will send me back to you, or whether I may not fall
over there at Troy. In the meantime do you look after things here.
Take care of my father and mother as at present, and even more so
during my absence, but when you see our son growing a beard, then
marry whom you will, and leave this your present home. This is what he
said and now it is all coming true. A night will come when I shall
have to yield myself to a marriage which I detest, for Jove has
taken from me all hope of happiness. This further grief, moreover,
cuts me to the very heart. You suitors are not wooing me after the
custom of my country. When men are courting a woman who they think
will be a good wife to them and who is of noble birth, and when they
are each trying to win her for himself, they usually bring oxen and
sheep to feast the friends of the lady, and they make her
magnificent presents, instead of eating up other people's property
without paying for it."
This was what she said, and Ulysses was glad when he heard her
trying to get presents out of the suitors, and flattering them with
fair words which he knew she did not mean.
Then Antinous said, "Queen Penelope, daughter of Icarius, take as
many presents as you please from any one who will give them to you; it
is not well to refuse a present; but we will not go about our business
nor stir from where we are, till you have married the best man among
us whoever he may be."
The others applauded what Antinous had said, and each one sent his
servant to bring his present. Antinous's man returned with a large and
lovely dress most exquisitely embroidered. It had twelve beautifully
made brooch pins of pure gold with which to fasten it. Eurymachus
immediately brought her a magnificent chain of gold and amber beads
that gleamed like sunlight. Eurydamas's two men returned with some
earrings fashioned into three brilliant pendants which glistened
most beautifully; while king Pisander son of Polyctor gave her a
necklace of the rarest workmanship, and every one else brought her a
beautiful present of some kind.
Then the queen went back to her room upstairs, and her maids brought
the presents after her. Meanwhile the suitors took to singing and
dancing, and stayed till evening came. They danced and sang till it
grew dark; they then brought in three braziers to give light, and
piled them up with chopped firewood very and dry, and they lit torches
from them, which the maids held up turn and turn about. Then Ulysses
said:
"Maids, servants of Ulysses who has so long been absent, go to the
queen inside the house; sit with her and amuse her, or spin, and
pick wool. I will hold the light for all these people. They may stay
till morning, but shall not beat me, for I can stand a great deal."
The maids looked at one another and laughed, while pretty Melantho
began to gibe at him contemptuously. She was daughter to Dolius, but
had been brought up by Penelope, who used to give her toys to play
with, and looked after her when she was a child; but in spite of all
this she showed no consideration for the sorrows of her mistress,
and used to misconduct herself with Eurymachus, with whom she was in
love.
"Poor wretch," said she, "are you gone clean out of your mind? Go
and sleep in some smithy, or place of public gossips, instead of
chattering here. Are you not ashamed of opening your mouth before your
betters- so many of them too? Has the wine been getting into your
head, or do you always babble in this way? You seem to have lost
your wits because you beat the tramp Irus; take care that a better man
than he does not come and cudgel you about the head till he pack you
bleeding out of the house."
"Vixen," replied Ulysses, scowling at her, "I will go and tell
Telemachus what you have been saying, and he will have you torn limb
from limb."
With these words he scared the women, and they went off into the
body of the house. They trembled all aver, for they thought he would
do as he said. But Ulysses took his stand near the burning braziers,
holding up torches and looking at the people- brooding the while on
things that should surely come to pass.
But Minerva would not let the suitors for one moment cease their
insolence, for she wanted Ulysses to become even more bitter against
them; she therefore set Eurymachus son of Polybus on to gibe at him,
which made the others laugh. "Listen to me," said he, "you suitors
of Queen Penelope, that I may speak even as I am minded. It is not for
nothing that this man has come to the house of Ulysses; I believe
the light has not been coming from the torches, but from his own head-
for his hair is all gone, every bit of it."
Then turning to Ulysses he said, "Stranger, will you work as a
servant, if I send you to the wolds and see that you are well paid?
Can you build a stone fence, or plant trees? I will have you fed all
the year round, and will find you in shoes and clothing. Will you
go, then? Not you; for you have got into bad ways, and do not want
to work; you had rather fill your belly by going round the country
begging."
"Eurymachus," answered Ulysses, "if you and I were to work one
against the other in early summer when the days are at their
longest- give me a good scythe, and take another yourself, and let
us see which will fast the longer or mow the stronger, from dawn
till dark when the mowing grass is about. Or if you will plough
against me, let us each take a yoke of tawny oxen, well-mated and of
great strength and endurance: turn me into a four acre field, and
see whether you or I can drive the straighter furrow. If, again, war
were to break out this day, give me a shield, a couple of spears and a
helmet fitting well upon my temples- you would find me foremost in the
fray, and would cease your gibes about my belly. You are insolent
and cruel, and think yourself a great man because you live in a little
world, ind that a bad one. If Ulysses comes to his own again, the
doors of his house are wide, but you will find them narrow when you
try to fly through them."
Eurymachus was furious at all this. He scowled at him and cried,
"You wretch, I will soon pay you out for daring to say such things
to me, and in public too. Has the wine been getting into your head
or do you always babble in this way? You seem to have lost your wits
because you beat the tramp Irus. With this he caught hold of a
footstool, but Ulysses sought protection at the knees of Amphinomus of
Dulichium, for he was afraid. The stool hit the cupbearer on his right
hand and knocked him down: the man fell with a cry flat on his back,
and his wine-jug fell ringing to the ground. The suitors in the
covered cloister were now in an uproar, and one would turn towards his
neighbour, saying, "I wish the stranger had gone somewhere else, bad
luck to hide, for all the trouble he gives us. We cannot permit such
disturbance about a beggar; if such ill counsels are to prevail we
shall have no more pleasure at our banquet."
On this Telemachus came forward and said, "Sirs, are you mad? Can
you not carry your meat and your liquor decently? Some evil spirit has
possessed you. I do not wish to drive any of you away, but you have
had your suppers, and the sooner you all go home to bed the better."
The suitors bit their lips and marvelled at the boldness of his
speech; but Amphinomus the son of Nisus, who was son to Aretias, said,
"Do not let us take offence; it is reasonable, so let us make no
answer. Neither let us do violence to the stranger nor to any of
Ulysses' servants. Let the cupbearer go round with the
drink-offerings, that we may make them and go home to our rest. As for
the stranger, let us leave Telemachus to deal with him, for it is to
his house that he has come."
Thus did he speak, and his saying pleased them well, so Mulius of
Dulichium, servant to Amphinomus, mixed them a bowl of wine and
water and handed it round to each of them man by man, whereon they
made their drink-offerings to the blessed gods: Then, when they had
made their drink-offerings and had drunk each one as he was minded,
they took their several ways each of them to his own abode.

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Homer

The Odyssey: Book 2

Now when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared,
Telemachus rose and dressed himself. He bound his sandals on to his
comely feet, girded his sword about his shoulder, and left his room
looking like an immortal god. He at once sent the criers round to call
the people in assembly, so they called them and the people gathered
thereon; then, when they were got together, he went to the place of
assembly spear in hand- not alone, for his two hounds went with him.
Minerva endowed him with a presence of such divine comeliness that all
marvelled at him as he went by, and when he took his place' in his
father's seat even the oldest councillors made way for him.
Aegyptius, a man bent double with age, and of infinite experience,
the first to speak His son Antiphus had gone with Ulysses to Ilius,
land of noble steeds, but the savage Cyclops had killed him when
they were all shut up in the cave, and had cooked his last dinner
for him, He had three sons left, of whom two still worked on their
father's land, while the third, Eurynomus, was one of the suitors;
nevertheless their father could not get over the loss of Antiphus, and
was still weeping for him when he began his speech.
"Men of Ithaca," he said, "hear my words. From the day Ulysses
left us there has been no meeting of our councillors until now; who
then can it be, whether old or young, that finds it so necessary to
convene us? Has he got wind of some host approaching, and does he wish
to warn us, or would he speak upon some other matter of public moment?
I am sure he is an excellent person, and I hope Jove will grant him
his heart's desire."
Telemachus took this speech as of good omen and rose at once, for he
was bursting with what he had to say. He stood in the middle of the
assembly and the good herald Pisenor brought him his staff. Then,
turning to Aegyptius, "Sir," said he, "it is I, as you will shortly
learn, who have convened you, for it is I who am the most aggrieved. I
have not got wind of any host approaching about which I would warn
you, nor is there any matter of public moment on which I would
speak. My grieveance is purely personal, and turns on two great
misfortunes which have fallen upon my house. The first of these is the
loss of my excellent father, who was chief among all you here present,
and was like a father to every one of you; the second is much more
serious, and ere long will be the utter ruin of my estate. The sons of
all the chief men among you are pestering my mother to marry them
against her will. They are afraid to go to her father Icarius,
asking him to choose the one he likes best, and to provide marriage
gifts for his daughter, but day by day they keep hanging about my
father's house, sacrificing our oxen, sheep, and fat goats for their
banquets, and never giving so much as a thought to the quantity of
wine they drink. No estate can stand such recklessness; we have now no
Ulysses to ward off harm from our doors, and I cannot hold my own
against them. I shall never all my days be as good a man as he was,
still I would indeed defend myself if I had power to do so, for I
cannot stand such treatment any longer; my house is being disgraced
and ruined. Have respect, therefore, to your own consciences and to
public opinion. Fear, too, the wrath of heaven, lest the gods should
be displeased and turn upon you. I pray you by Jove and Themis, who is
the beginning and the end of councils, [do not] hold back, my friends,
and leave me singlehanded- unless it be that my brave father Ulysses
did some wrong to the Achaeans which you would now avenge on me, by
aiding and abetting these suitors. Moreover, if I am to be eaten out
of house and home at all, I had rather you did the eating
yourselves, for I could then take action against you to some
purpose, and serve you with notices from house to house till I got
paid in full, whereas now I have no remedy."
With this Telemachus dashed his staff to the ground and burst into
tears. Every one was very sorry for him, but they all sat still and no
one ventured to make him an angry answer, save only Antinous, who
spoke thus:
"Telemachus, insolent braggart that you are, how dare you try to
throw the blame upon us suitors? It is your mother's fault not ours,
for she is a very artful woman. This three years past, and close on
four, she has been driving us out of our minds, by encouraging each
one of us, and sending him messages without meaning one word of what
she says. And then there was that other trick she played us. She set
up a great tambour frame in her room, and began to work on an enormous
piece of fine needlework. 'Sweet hearts,' said she, 'Ulysses is indeed
dead, still do not press me to marry again immediately, wait- for I
would not have skill in needlework perish unrecorded- till I have
completed a pall for the hero Laertes, to be in readiness against
the time when death shall take him. He is very rich, and the women
of the place will talk if he is laid out without a pall.'
"This was what she said, and we assented; whereon we could see her
working on her great web all day long, but at night she would unpick
the stitches again by torchlight. She fooled us in this way for
three years and we never found her out, but as time wore on and she
was now in her fourth year, one of her maids who knew what she was
doing told us, and we caught her in the act of undoing her work, so
she had to finish it whether she would or no. The suitors,
therefore, make you this answer, that both you and the Achaeans may
understand-'Send your mother away, and bid her marry the man of her
own and of her father's choice'; for I do not know what will happen if
she goes on plaguing us much longer with the airs she gives herself on
the score of the accomplishments Minerva has taught her, and because
she is so clever. We never yet heard of such a woman; we know all
about Tyro, Alcmena, Mycene, and the famous women of old, but they
were nothing to your mother, any one of them. It was not fair of her
to treat us in that way, and as long as she continues in the mind with
which heaven has now endowed her, so long shall we go on eating up
your estate; and I do not see why she should change, for she gets
all the honour and glory, and it is you who pay for it, not she.
Understand, then, that we will not go back to our lands, neither
here nor elsewhere, till she has made her choice and married some
one or other of us."
Telemachus answered, "Antinous, how can I drive the mother who
bore me from my father's house? My father is abroad and we do not know
whether he is alive or dead. It will be hard on me if I have to pay
Icarius the large sum which I must give him if I insist on sending his
daughter back to him. Not only will he deal rigorously with me, but
heaven will also punish me; for my mother when she leaves the house
will calf on the Erinyes to avenge her; besides, it would not be a
creditable thing to do, and I will have nothing to say to it. If you
choose to take offence at this, leave the house and feast elsewhere at
one another's houses at your own cost turn and turn about. If, on
the other hand, you elect to persist in spunging upon one man,
heaven help me, but Jove shall reckon with you in full, and when you
fall in my father's house there shall be no man to avenge you."
As he spoke Jove sent two eagles from the top of the mountain, and
they flew on and on with the wind, sailing side by side in their own
lordly flight. When they were right over the middle of the assembly
they wheeled and circled about, beating the air with their wings and
glaring death into the eyes of them that were below; then, fighting
fiercely and tearing at one another, they flew off towards the right
over the town. The people wondered as they saw them, and asked each
other what an this might be; whereon Halitherses, who was the best
prophet and reader of omens among them, spoke to them plainly and in
all honesty, saying:
"Hear me, men of Ithaca, and I speak more particularly to the
suitors, for I see mischief brewing for them. Ulysses is not going
to be away much longer; indeed he is close at hand to deal out death
and destruction, not on them alone, but on many another of us who live
in Ithaca. Let us then be wise in time, and put a stop to this
wickedness before he comes. Let the suitors do so of their own accord;
it will be better for them, for I am not prophesying without due
knowledge; everything has happened to Ulysses as I foretold when the
Argives set out for Troy, and he with them. I said that after going
through much hardship and losing all his men he should come home again
in the twentieth year and that no one would know him; and now all this
is coming true."
Eurymachus son of Polybus then said, "Go home, old man, and prophesy
to your own children, or it may be worse for them. I can read these
omens myself much better than you can; birds are always flying about
in the sunshine somewhere or other, but they seldom mean anything.
Ulysses has died in a far country, and it is a pity you are not dead
along with him, instead of prating here about omens and adding fuel to
the anger of Telemachus which is fierce enough as it is. I suppose you
think he will give you something for your family, but I tell you-
and it shall surely be- when an old man like you, who should know
better, talks a young one over till he becomes troublesome, in the
first place his young friend will only fare so much the worse- he will
take nothing by it, for the suitors will prevent this- and in the
next, we will lay a heavier fine, sir, upon yourself than you will
at all like paying, for it will bear hardly upon you. As for
Telemachus, I warn him in the presence of you all to send his mother
back to her father, who will find her a husband and provide her with
all the marriage gifts so dear a daughter may expect. Till we shall go
on harassing him with our suit; for we fear no man, and care neither
for him, with all his fine speeches, nor for any fortune-telling of
yours. You may preach as much as you please, but we shall only hate
you the more. We shall go back and continue to eat up Telemachus's
estate without paying him, till such time as his mother leaves off
tormenting us by keeping us day after day on the tiptoe of
expectation, each vying with the other in his suit for a prize of such
rare perfection. Besides we cannot go after the other women whom we
should marry in due course, but for the way in which she treats us."
Then Telemachus said, "Eurymachus, and you other suitors, I shall
say no more, and entreat you no further, for the gods and the people
of Ithaca now know my story. Give me, then, a ship and a crew of
twenty men to take me hither and thither, and I will go to Sparta
and to Pylos in quest of my father who has so long been missing.
Some one may tell me something, or (and people often hear things in
this way) some heaven-sent message may direct me. If I can hear of him
as alive and on his way home I will put up with the waste you
suitors will make for yet another twelve months. If on the other
hand I hear of his death, I will return at once, celebrate his funeral
rites with all due pomp, build a barrow to his memory, and make my
mother marry again."
With these words he sat down, and Mentor who had been a friend of
Ulysses, and had been left in charge of everything with full authority
over the servants, rose to speak. He, then, plainly and in all honesty
addressed them thus:
"Hear me, men of Ithaca, I hope that you may never have a kind and
well-disposed ruler any more, nor one who will govern you equitably; I
hope that all your chiefs henceforward may be cruel and unjust, for
there is not one of you but has forgotten Ulysses, who ruled you as
though he were your father. I am not half so angry with the suitors,
for if they choose to do violence in the naughtiness of their
hearts, and wager their heads that Ulysses will not return, they can
take the high hand and eat up his estate, but as for you others I am
shocked at the way in which you all sit still without even trying to
stop such scandalous goings on-which you could do if you chose, for
you are many and they are few."
Leiocritus, son of Evenor, answered him saying, "Mentor, what
folly is all this, that you should set the people to stay us? It is
a hard thing for one man to fight with many about his victuals. Even
though Ulysses himself were to set upon us while we are feasting in
his house, and do his best to oust us, his wife, who wants him back so
very badly, would have small cause for rejoicing, and his blood
would be upon his own head if he fought against such great odds. There
is no sense in what you have been saying. Now, therefore, do you
people go about your business, and let his father's old friends,
Mentor and Halitherses, speed this boy on his journey, if he goes at
all- which I do not think he will, for he is more likely to stay where
he is till some one comes and tells him something."
On this he broke up the assembly, and every man went back to his own
abode, while the suitors returned to the house of Ulysses.
Then Telemachus went all alone by the sea side, washed his hands
in the grey waves, and prayed to Minerva.
"Hear me," he cried, "you god who visited me yesterday, and bade
me sail the seas in search of my father who has so long been
missing. I would obey you, but the Achaeans, and more particularly the
wicked suitors, are hindering me that I cannot do so."
As he thus prayed, Minerva came close up to him in the likeness
and with the voice of Mentor. "Telemachus," said she, "if you are made
of the same stuff as your father you will be neither fool nor coward
henceforward, for Ulysses never broke his word nor left his work
half done. If, then, you take after him, your voyage will not be
fruitless, but unless you have the blood of Ulysses and of Penelope in
your veins I see no likelihood of your succeeding. Sons are seldom
as good men as their fathers; they are generally worse, not better;
still, as you are not going to be either fool or coward
henceforward, and are not entirely without some share of your father's
wise discernment, I look with hope upon your undertaking. But mind you
never make common cause with any of those foolish suitors, for they
have neither sense nor virtue, and give no thought to death and to the
doom that will shortly fall on one and all of them, so that they shall
perish on the same day. As for your voyage, it shall not be long
delayed; your father was such an old friend of mine that I will find
you a ship, and will come with you myself. Now, however, return
home, and go about among the suitors; begin getting provisions ready
for your voyage; see everything well stowed, the wine in jars, and the
barley meal, which is the staff of life, in leathern bags, while I
go round the town and beat up volunteers at once. There are many ships
in Ithaca both old and new; I will run my eye over them for you and
will choose the best; we will get her ready and will put out to sea
without delay."
Thus spoke Minerva daughter of Jove, and Telemachus lost no time
in doing as the goddess told him. He went moodily and found the
suitors flaying goats and singeing pigs in the outer court. Antinous
came up to him at once and laughed as he took his hand in his own,
saying, "Telemachus, my fine fire-eater, bear no more ill blood
neither in word nor deed, but eat and drink with us as you used to do.
The Achaeans will find you in everything- a ship and a picked crew
to boot- so that you can set sail for Pylos at once and get news of
your noble father."
"Antinous," answered Telemachus, "I cannot eat in peace, nor take
pleasure of any kind with such men as you are. Was it not enough
that you should waste so much good property of mine while I was yet
a boy? Now that I am older and know more about it, I am also stronger,
and whether here among this people, or by going to Pylos, I will do
you all the harm I can. I shall go, and my going will not be in vain
though, thanks to you suitors, I have neither ship nor crew of my own,
and must be passenger not captain."
As he spoke he snatched his hand from that of Antinous. Meanwhile
the others went on getting dinner ready about the buildings, jeering
at him tauntingly as they did so.
"Telemachus," said one youngster, "means to be the death of us; I
suppose he thinks he can bring friends to help him from Pylos, or
again from Sparta, where he seems bent on going. Or will he go to
Ephyra as well, for poison to put in our wine and kill us?"
Another said, "Perhaps if Telemachus goes on board ship, he will
be like his father and perish far from his friends. In this case we
should have plenty to do, for we could then divide up his property
amongst us: as for the house we can let his mother and the man who
marries her have that."
This was how they talked. But Telemachus went down into the lofty
and spacious store-room where his father's treasure of gold and bronze
lay heaped up upon the floor, and where the linen and spare clothes
were kept in open chests. Here, too, there was a store of fragrant
olive oil, while casks of old, well-ripened wine, unblended and fit
for a god to drink, were ranged against the wall in case Ulysses
should come home again after all. The room was closed with well-made
doors opening in the middle; moreover the faithful old house-keeper
Euryclea, daughter of Ops the son of Pisenor, was in charge of
everything both night and day. Telemachus called her to the store-room
and said:
"Nurse, draw me off some of the best wine you have, after what you
are keeping for my father's own drinking, in case, poor man, he should
escape death, and find his way home again after all. Let me have
twelve jars, and see that they all have lids; also fill me some
well-sewn leathern bags with barley meal- about twenty measures in
all. Get these things put together at once, and say nothing about
it. I will take everything away this evening as soon as my mother
has gone upstairs for the night. I am going to Sparta and to Pylos
to see if I can hear anything about the return of my dear father.
When Euryclea heard this she began to cry, and spoke fondly to
him, saying, "My dear child, what ever can have put such notion as
that into your head? Where in the world do you want to go to- you, who
are the one hope of the house? Your poor father is dead and gone in
some foreign country nobody knows where, and as soon as your back is
turned these wicked ones here will be scheming to get you put out of
the way, and will share all your possessions among themselves; stay
where you are among your own people, and do not go wandering and
worrying your life out on the barren ocean."
"Fear not, nurse," answered Telemachus, "my scheme is not without
heaven's sanction; but swear that you will say nothing about all
this to my mother, till I have been away some ten or twelve days,
unless she hears of my having gone, and asks you; for I do not want
her to spoil her beauty by crying."
The old woman swore most solemnly that she would not, and when she
had completed her oath, she began drawing off the wine into jars,
and getting the barley meal into the bags, while Telemachus went
back to the suitors.
Then Minerva bethought her of another matter. She took his shape,
and went round the town to each one of the crew, telling them to
meet at the ship by sundown. She went also to Noemon son of
Phronius, and asked him to let her have a ship- which he was very
ready to do. When the sun had set and darkness was over all the
land, she got the ship into the water, put all the tackle on board her
that ships generally carry, and stationed her at the end of the
harbour. Presently the crew came up, and the goddess spoke
encouragingly to each of them.
Furthermore she went to the house of Ulysses, and threw the
suitors into a deep slumber. She caused their drink to fuddle them,
and made them drop their cups from their hands, so that instead of
sitting over their wine, they went back into the town to sleep, with
their eyes heavy and full of drowsiness. Then she took the form and
voice of Mentor, and called Telemachus to come outside.
"Telemachus," said she, "the men are on board and at their oars,
waiting for you to give your orders, so make haste and let us be off."
On this she led the way, while Telemachus followed in her steps.
When they got to the ship they found the crew waiting by the water
side, and Telemachus said, "Now my men, help me to get the stores on
board; they are all put together in the cloister, and my mother does
not know anything about it, nor any of the maid servants except one."
With these words he led the way and the others followed after.
When they had brought the things as he told them, Telemachus went on
board, Minerva going before him and taking her seat in the stern of
the vessel, while Telemachus sat beside her. Then the men loosed the
hawsers and took their places on the benches. Minerva sent them a fair
wind from the West, that whistled over the deep blue waves whereon
Telemachus told them to catch hold of the ropes and hoist sail, and
they did as he told them. They set the mast in its socket in the cross
plank, raised it, and made it fast with the forestays; then they
hoisted their white sails aloft with ropes of twisted ox hide. As
the sail bellied out with the wind, the ship flew through the deep
blue water, and the foam hissed against her bows as she sped onward.
Then they made all fast throughout the ship, filled the mixing-bowls
to the brim, and made drink offerings to the immortal gods that are
from everlasting, but more particularly to the grey-eyed daughter of
Jove.
Thus, then, the ship sped on her way through the watches of the
night from dark till dawn.

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The Lord of the Isles: Canto II.

I.
Fill the bright goblet, spread the festive board!
Summon the gay, the noble, and the fair!
Through the loud hall, in joyous concert pour'd,
Let mirth and music sound the dirge of Care!
But ask thou not if Happiness be there,
If the loud laugh disguise convulsive throe,
Or if the brow the heart's true livery wear;
Lift not the festal mask! - enough to know,
No scene of mortal life but teems with mortal woe.

II.
With beaker's clang, with harpers' lay,
With all that olden time deem'd gay,
The Island Chieftain feasted high;
But there was in his troubled eye
A gloomy fire, and on his brow
Now sudden flush'd, and faded now,
Emotions such as draw their birth
From deeper source than festal mirth.
By fits he paused, and harper's strain
And jester's tale went round in vain,
Or fell but on his idle ear
Like distant sounds which dreamers hear.
Then would he rouse him, and employ
Each art to aid the clamorous joy,
And call for pledge and lay,
And, for brief space, of all the crowd,
As he was loudest of the loud,
Seem gayest of the gay.

III.
Yet nought amiss the bridal throng
Mark'd in brief mirth, or musing long;
The vacant brow, the unlistening ear,
They gave to thoughts of raptures near,
And his fierce starts of sudden glee
Seem'd bursts of bridegroom's ecstasy.
Nor thus alone misjudged the crowd,
Since lofty Lorn, suspicious, proud,
And jealous of his honour'd line,
And that keen knight, De Argentine,
(From England sent on errand high,
The western league more firm to tie),
Both deem'd in Ronald's mood to find
A lover's transport-troubled mind.
But one sad heart, one tearful eye,
Pierced deeper through the mystery,
And watch'd, with agony and fear,
Her wayward bridegroom's varied cheer.

IV.
She watch'd - yet fear'd to meet his glance,
And he shunn'd hers; - till when by chance
They met, the point of foeman's lance
Had given a milder pang!
Beneath the intolerable smart
He writhed; - then sternly mann'd his heart
To play his hard but destined part,
And from the table sprang,
'Fill me the mighty cup!' he said,
'Erst own'd by royal Somerled:
Fill it, till on the studded brim
In burning gold the bubbles swim,
And every gem of varied shine
Glow doubly bright in rosy wine!
To you, brave Lord, and brother mine,
Of Lorn, this pledge I drink -
The Union of Our House with thine,
By this fair bridal-link!'-

V.
'Let it pass round!' quoth He of Lorn,
'And in good time - that winded horn
Must of the Abbot tell;
The laggard monk is come at last.'
Lord Ronald heard the bugle-blast,
And on the floor at random cast,
The untasted goblet fell.
But when the Warder in his ear
Tells other news, his blither cheer
Returns like sun of May,
When through a thunder-cloud it beams!-
Lord of two hundred isles, he seems
As glad of brief delay,
As some poor criminal might feel,
When from the gibbet or the wheel
Respited for a day.

VI.
'Brother of Lorn,' with hurried voice
He said, 'and you, fair lords, rejoice!
Here, to augment our glee,
Come wandering knights from travel far,
Well proved, they say, in strife of war,
And tempest on the sea.-
Ho! give them at your board such place
As best their presences may grace,
And bid them welcome free!'
With solemn step, and silver wand,
The Seneschal the presence scann'd
Of these strange guests; and well he knew
How to assign their rank its due;
For though the costly furs
That erst had deck'd their caps were torn,
And their gay robes were over-worn,
And soil'd their gilded spurs,
Yet such a high commanding grace
Was in their mien and in their face,
As suited best the princely dais,
And royal canopy;
And there he marshall'd them their place,
First of that company.

VII.
Then lords and ladies spake aside,
And angry looks the error chide,
That gave to guests unnamed, unknown,
A place so near their prince's throne;
But Owen Erraught said -
'For forty tears a seneschal,
To marshal guests in bower and hall
Has been my honour'd trade.
Worship and birth to me are known,
By look, by bearing, and by tone,
Not by furr'd robe or broider'd zone;
And 'gainst an oaken bough
I'll gage my silver wand of state,
That these three strangers oft have sate
In higher place than now.' -

VIII.
'I, too,' the aged Ferrand said,
'Am qualified by minstrel trade
Of rank and place to tell;-
Mark'd ye the younger stranger's eye,
My mates, how quick, how keen, how high,
How fierce its flashes fell,
Glancing among the noble rout
As if to seek the noblest out,
Because the owner might not brook
On any save his peers to look?
And yet it moves me more,
That steady, calm, majestic brow,
With which the elder chief even now
Scann'd the gay presence o'er,
Life being of superior kind,
In whose high-toned impartial mind
Degrees of mortal rank and state
Seem objects of indifferent weight.
The lady too - though closely tied
Her motions' veil both face and eye,
Her motions' grace it could not hide,
Nor could her form's fair symmetry.'

IX.
Suspicious doubt and lordly scorn
Lour'd on the haughty front of Lorn,
From underneath his brows of pride,
The stranger guests her sternly eyed,
And whisper'd closely what the ear
Of Argentine alone might hear;
Then question'd, high and brief,
If, in their voyage, aught they knew
Of the rebellious Scottish crew,
Who to Rath-Erin's shelter drew,
With Carrick's outlaw'd Chief?
And if, their winter's exile o'er,
They harbour'd still by Ulster's shore,
Or launch'd their galleys on the main,
To vex their native land again?

X.
That younger stranger, fierce and high,
At once confronts the Chieftain's eye
With look of equal scorn; -
'Of rebels have we nought to show;
But if of royal Bruce thou'dst know,
I warn thee he has sworn,
Ere thrice three days shall come and go,
His banner Scottish winds shall blow,
Despite each mean or mighty foe,
From England's every bill and bow,
To Allaster of Lorn.'
Kindled the mountain Chieftain's ire,
But Ronald quench'd the rising fire: -
'Brother, it better suits the time
To chase the night with Ferrand's rhyme,
Than wake, 'midst mirth and wine, the jars
That flow from these unhappy wars.'-
'Content,' said Lorn; and spoke apart
With Ferrand, master of his art,
Then whisper'd Argentine,-
'The lay I named will carry smart
To these bold strangers' haughty heart,
If right his guess of mine.'
He ceased, and it was silence all,
Until the minstrel waked the hall.

XI.

The Broach of Lorn.


'Whence the broach of burning gold,
That clasps the Chieftain's mantle-fold,
Wrought and chased with rare device,
Studded fair with gems of price,
On the varied tartans beaming,
As, through night's pale rainbow gleaming,
Fainter now, now seen afar,
Fitful shines the northern star?

'Gem! ne'er wrought on Highland mountain,
Did the fairy of the fountain,
Or the mermaid of the wave,
Frame thee in some coral cave?
Did, in Iceland's darksome mine,
Dwarf's swart hands thy metal twine?
Or, mortal-moulded, comest thou here,
From England's love, or France's fear?

XII.

Song Continued.


'No! - thy splendours nothing tell
Foreign art or faery spell.
Moulded thou for monarch's use,
By the overweening Bruce,
When the royal robe he tied
O'er a heart of wrath and pride;
Thence in triumph wert thou torn,
By the victor hand of Lorn!

'When the gem was won and lost,
Widely was the war-cry toss'd!
Rung aloud Bendourish fell,
Answer'd Douchart's sounding dell,
Fled the deer from wild Teyndrum,
When the homicide, o'ercome,
Hardly 'scaped with scathe and scorn,
Left the pledge with conquering Lorn!

XIII.

Song Continued.


'Vain was then the Douglas brand,
Vain the Campbell's vaunted hand,
Vain Kirkpatrick's bloody dirk,
Making sure of murder's work;
Barendown fled fast away,
Fled the fiery De la Haye,
When this broach, triumphant borne,
Beam'd upon the breast of Lorn.

'Farthest fled its former Lord,
Left his men to brand and cord,
Bloody brand of Highland steel,
English gibbet, axe, and wheel.
Let him fly from coast to coast,
Dogg'd by Comyn's vengeful ghost,
While his spoils, in triumph worn,
Long shall grace victorious Lorn!'

XIV.
As glares the tiger on his foes,
Hemm'd in by hunters, spears, and bows,
And, ere he bounds upon the ring,
Selects the object of his spring,-
Now on the Bard, now on his Lord,
So Edward glared and grasp'd his sword-
But stern his brother spoke,- 'Be still.
What! art thou yet so wild of will,
After high deeds and sufferings long,
To chafe thee for a menial's song? -
Well hast thou framed, Old Man, thy strains,
To praise the hand that pays thy pains!
Yet something might thy song have told
Of Lorn's three vassals, true and bold,
Who rent their Lord from Bruce's hold,
As underneath his knee he lay,
And died to save him in the fray.
I've heard the Bruce's cloak and clasp
Was clench'd within their dying grasp,
What time a hundred foemen more
Rush'd in, and back the victor bore,
Long after Lorn had left the strife,
Full glad to 'scape with limb and life.-
Enough of this - And, Minstrel, hold,
As minstrel-hire, this chain of gold,
For future lays a fair excuse,
To speak more nobly of the Bruce.'-

XV.
'Now, by Columba's shrine, I swear,
And every saint that's buried there,
'Tis he himself!' Lorn sternly cries,
'And for my kinsman's death he dies.'
As loudly Ronald calls - 'Forbear!
Not in my sight wile brand I wear,
O'ermatch'd by odds, shall warrior fall,
Or blood of stranger stain my hall!
This ancient fortress of my race
Shall be misfortune's resting-place,
Shelter and shield of the distress'd,
No slaughter-house for shipwreck'd guest.'-
'Of odds or match! - when Comyn died,
Three daggers clash'd within his side!
Talk not to me of sheltering hall,
The Church of God saw Comyn fall!
On God's own altar stream'd his blood,
While o'er my prostrate kinsman stood
The ruthless murderer - e'en as now -
With armed hand and scornful brow! -
Up, all who love me! blow on blow!
And lay the outlaw'd felons low!'

XVI.
Then up sprang many a mainland Lord,
Obedient to their Chieftain's word.
Barcaldine's arm is high in air,
And Kinloch-Alline's blade is bare,
Black Murthok's dirk has left its sheath,
And clench'd is Dermid's hand of death.
Their mutter'd threats of vengeance swell
Into a wild and warlike yell;
Onward they press with weapons high,
The affrighted females shriek and fly,
And, Scotland, then thy brightest ray
Had darken'd ere its noon of day,
But every chief of birth and fame,
That from the Isles of Ocean came,
At Ronald's side that hour withstood
Fierce Lorn's relentless thirst for blood.

XVII.
Brave Torquil from Dunvegan high,
Lord of the misty hills of Skye,
Mac-Niel, wild Bara's ancient thane,
Duart, of bold Clan-Gillian's strain,
Fergus, of Canna's castled bay,
Mac-Duffith, Lord of Colonsay,
Soon as they saw the broadswords glance,
With ready weapons rose at once,
More prompt, that many an ancient feud,
Full oft suppress'd, full oft renew'd,
Glow'd 'twixt the chieftains of Argyle,
And many a lord of ocean's isle.
Wild was the scene - each sword was bare,
Back stream'd each chieftain's shaggy hair,
In gloomy opposition set,
Eyes, hands, and brandish'd weapons met;
Blue gleaming o'er the social board,
Flash'd to the torches many a sword;
And soon those bridal lights may shine
On purple blood for rosy wine.

XVIII.
While thus for blows and death prepared,
Each heart was up, and weapon bared,
Each foot advanced, - a surly pause
Still reverenced hospitable laws.
All menaced violence, but alike
Reluctant each the first to strike,
(For aye accursed in minstrel line
Is he who brawls 'mid song and wine),
And, match'd in numbers and in might,
Doubtful and desperate seem'd the fight.
Thus threat and murmur died away,
Till on the crowded hall there lay
Such silence, as the deadly still,
Ere bursts the thunder on the hill.
With blade advanced, each Chieftain bold
Show'd like the Sworder's form of old,
As wanting still the torch of life,
To wake the marble into strife.

XIX.
That awful pause the stranger maid,
And Edith, seized to pray for aid.
As to De Argentine she clung,
Away her veil the stranger flung,
And, lovely 'mid her wild despair,
Fast stream'd her eyes, wide flow'd her hair:-
'O thou, of knighthood once the flower,
Sure refuge in distressful hour,
Thou, who in Judah well hast fought
For our dear faith, and oft hast sought
Renown in knightly exercise,
When this poor hand has dealt the prize,
Say, can thy soul of honour brook
On the unequal strife to look,
When, butcher'd thus in peaceful hall,
Those once thy friends, my brethren, fall!'
To Argentine she turn'd her word,
But her eye sought the Island Lord.
A flush like evening's setting flame
Glow'd on his cheek; his hardy frame,
As with a brief convulsion, shook:
With hurried voice and eager look, -
'Fear not', he said, 'my Isabel!
What said I - Edith! - all is well -
Nay, fear not - I will well provide
The safety of my lovely bride -
My bride?' - but there the accents clung
In tremor to his faltering tongue.

XX.
Now rose De Argentine, to claim
The prisoners in his sovereign's name,
To England's crown, who, vassals sworn,
'Gainst their liege lord had weapon borne -
(Such speech, I ween, was but to hide
His care their safety to provide;
For knight more true in thought and deed
Than Argentine ne'er spurr'd a steed) -
And Ronald, who his meaning guess'd,
Seem'd half to sanction the request.
This purpose fiery Torquil broke:-
'Somewhat we've heard of England's yoke,'
He said, 'and, in our islands, Fame
Hath whisper'd of a lawful claim,
That calls the Bruce fair Scotland's Lord,
Though dispossess'd by foreign sword.
This craves reflection - but though right
And just the charge of England's Knight,
Let England's crown her rebels seize
Where she has power; - in towers like these,
'Midst Scottish Chieftains summon'd here
To bridal mirth and bridal cheer,
Be sure, with no consent of mine,
Shall either Lorn or Argentine
With chains or violence, in our sight,
Oppress a brave and banish'd Knight.'

XXI.
Then waked the wild debate again,
With brawling threat and clamour vain.
Vassals and menials, thronging in,
Lent their brute rage to swell the din;
When, far and wide, a bugle-clang
From the dark ocean upward rang.
'The Abbot comes!' they cry at once,
'The holy man, whose favour'd glance
Hath sainted visions known;
Angels have met him on the way,
Beside the blessed martyr's bay,
And by Columba's stone.
His monks have heard their hymnings high
Sound from the summit of Dun-Y,
To cheer his penance lone,
When at each cross, on girth and wold,
(Their number thrice a hundred-fold),
His prayer he made, his beads he told,
With Aves many a one -
He comes man from sainted isle;
We will his holy doom abide,
The Abbot shall our strife decide.'

XXII.
Scarcely this fair accord was o'er,
When through the wide revolving door
The black-stol'd brethren wind;
Twelve sandall'd monks, who relics bore,
With many a torch-bearer before,
And many a cross behind.
Then sunk each fierce uplifted hand,
And dagger bright and flashing brand
Dropp'd swiftly at the sight;
They vanish'd from the Churchman's eye,
As shooting stars, that glance and die,
Dart from the vault of night.

XXIII.
The Abbot on the threshold stood,
And in his hand the holy rood;
Back on his shoulders flow'd his hood,
The torch's glaring ray
Show'd, in its red and flashing light,
His wither'd cheek and amice white,
His blue eye glistening cold and bright
His tresses scant and grey.
'Fair Lords,' he said, 'Our Lady's love,
And peace be with you from above,
And Benedicite!-
-But what means this? - no peace is here! -
Do dirks unsheathed suit bridal cheer?
Or are these naked brands
A seemly show for Churchman's sight,
When he comes summon'd to unite
Betrothed hearts and hands?'

XXIV.
Then, cloaking hate with fiery zeal,
Proud Lorn first answer'd the appeal;-
'Thou comest, O holy Man,
True sons of blessed church to greet,
But little deeming here to meet
A wretch, beneath the ban
Of Pope and Church, for murder done
Even on the sacred altar-stone -
Well may'st thou wonder we should know
Such miscreant here, nor lay him low,
Or dream of greeting, peace, or truce,
With excommunicated Bruce!
Yet well I grant, to end debate,
Thy sainted voice decide his fate.'

XXV.
Then Ronald pled the stranger's cause,
And knighthood's oath and honour's laws,
And Isabel, on bended knee,
Brought pray'rs and tears to back the plea:
And Edith lent her generous aid,
And wept, and Lorn for mercy pray'd.
'Hence,' he exclaim'd, 'degenerate maid!
Was't not enough, to Ronald's bower
I brought thee, like a paramour,
Or bond-maid at her master's gate,
His careless cold approach to wait? -
But the bold Lord of Cumberland,
The gallant Clifford, seeks thy hand;
His it shall be - Nay, no reply!
Hence! till those rebel eyes be dry.' -
With grief the Abbot heard and saw,
Yet nought relax'd his brow of awe.

XXVI.
Then Argentine, in England's name,
So highly urged his sovereign's claim,
He wak'd a spark, that, long suppress'd,
Had smoulder'd in Lord Ronald's breast;
And now, as from the flint of fire,
Flash'd forth at once his generous ire.
'Enough of noble blood,' he said,
'By English Edward had been shed,
Since matchless Wallace first had been
In mock'ry crown'd with wreaths of green,
And done to death by felon hand,
For guarding well his father's land.
Where's Nigel Bruce? and De la Haye,
And valiant Seton - where are they?
Where Somerville, the kind and free?
And Fraser, flower of chivalry?
Have they not been on gibbet bound,
Their quarters flung to hawk and hound,
And hold we here a cold debate,
To yield more victims to their fate?
What! can the English Leopard's mood
Never be gorged with northern blood?
Was not the life of Athole shed,
To soothe the tyrant's sicken'd bed?
And must his word, till dying day,
Be nought but quarter, hang, and slay! -
Thou frown'st, De Argentine, - My gage
Is prompt to prove the strife I wage.' -

XXVII.
'Nor deem,' said stout Dunvegan's knight,
'That thou shalt brave alone the fight!
By saints of isle and mainland both,
By Woden wild, (my grandsire's oath),
Let Rome and England do their worst,
Howe'er attainted or accurs'd,
If Bruce shall e'er find friends again,
Once more to brave a battle-plain,
If Douglas couch again his lance,
Or Randolph dare another chance,
Old Torquil will not be to lack
With twice a thousand at his back. -
Nay, chafe not at my bearing bold,
Good Abbot! for thou know'st of old,
Torquil's rude thought and stubborn will
Smack of the wild Norwegian still;
Nor will I barter Freedom's cause
For England's wealth, or Rome's applause.'

XXVIII.
The Abbot seem'd with eye severe
The hardy Chieftain's speech to hear:
Then on King Robert turn'd the Monk
But twice his courage came and sunk,
Confronted with the hero's look;
Twice fell his eye, his accents shook;
At length, resolved in tone and brow,
Sternly he question'd him - 'And thou,
Unhappy! what hast thou to plead,
Why I denounce not on thy deed
That awful doom which canons tell
Shuts paradise, and opens hell;
Anathema of power so dread,
It blends the living with the dead,
Bids each good angel soar away,
And every ill one claim his prey;
Expels thee from the church's care,
And deafens Heaven against thy prayer;
Arms every hand against thy life,
Bans all who aid thee in the strife,
Nay, each whose succour, cold and scant,
With meanest alms relieves thy want;
Haunts thee while living, - and, when dead,
Dwells on thy yet devoted head,
Rends Honour's scutcheon from thy hearse,
Stills o'er thy bier the holy verse,
And spurns thy corpse from hallow'd ground,
Flung like vile carrion to the hound;
Such is the dire and desperate doom
For sacrilege, decreed by Rome;
And such the well-deserved meed
Of thine unhallow'd, ruthless deed.' -

XXIX.
'Abbot!' the Bruce replied, 'thy charge
It boots not to dispute at large.
This much, howe'er, I bid thee know,
No selfish vengeance dealt the blow,
For Comyn died his country's foe.
Nor blame I friends whose ill-timed speed
Fulfill'd my soon-repented deed,
Nor censer those from whose stern tongue
The dire anathema has rung.
I only blame mine own wild ire,
By Scotland's wrongs incensed to fire.
Heaven knows my purpose to atone,
Far as I may, the evil done,
And hears a penitent's appeal
From papal curse and prelate's zeal.
My first and dearest task achieved,
Fair Scotland from her thrall relieved,
Shall many a priest in cope and stole
Say requiem for Red Comyn's soul,
While I the blessed cross advance,
And expiate this unhappy chance
In Palestine, with sword and lance.
But, while content the Church should know
My conscience owns the debt I owe,
Unto De Argentine and Lorn
The name of traitor I return,
Bid them defiance stern and high,
And give them in their throats the lie!
These brief words spoke, I speak no more.
Do what thou wilt; my shrift is o'er.'

XXX.
Like man by prodigy amazed,
Upon the King the Abbot gazed;
Then o'er his pallid features glance,
Convulsions of ecstatic trance.
His breathing came more thick and fast,
And from his pale blue eyes were cast
Strange rays of wild and wandering light;
Uprise his locks of silver white,
Flush'd in his brow, through every vein
In azure tide the currents strain,
And undistinguished accents broke
The awful silence ere he spoke.

XXXI.
'De Bruce! I rose with purpose dread
To speak my curse upon thy head,
And give thee as an outcast o'er
To him who burns to shed thy gore;-
But, like the Midianite of old,
Who stood on Zophim, Heaven-controll'd,
I feel within mine aged breast
A power that will not be repress'd.
It prompts my voice, it swells my veins,
It burns, it maddens, it constrains!-
De Bruce, thy sacrilegious blow
Hath at God's altar slain thy foe:
O'ermaster'd yet by high behest,
I bless thee, and thou shalt be bless'd!'
He spoke, and o'er the astonish'd throng
Was silence, awful, deep, and long.

XXXII.
Again that light has fired his eye,
Again his form swells bold and high,
The broken voice of age is gone,
'Tis vigorous manhood's lofty tone:-
'Thrice vanquish'd on the battle-plain,
Thy followers slaughter'd, fled, or ta'en,
A hunted wanderer on the wild,
On foreign shores a man exiled,
Disown'd, deserted, and distress'd,
I bless thee, and thou shalt be bless'd!
Bless'd in the hall and in the field,
Under the mantle as the shield.
Avenger of thy country's shame,
Restorer of her injured fame,
Bless'd in thy sceptre and thy sword,
De Bruce, fair Scotland's rightful Lord,
Bless'd in thy deeds and in thy fame,
What lengthen'd honours wait thy name!
In distant ages, sire to son
Shall tell thy tale of freedom won,
And teach his infants, in the use
Of earliest speech, to falter Bruce.
Go, then, triumphant! sweep along
Thy course, the theme of many a song!
The Power, whose dictates swell my breast
Hath bless'd thee, and thou shalt be bless'd!-
Enough - my short-lived strength decays,
And sinks the momentary blaze. -
Heaven hath our destined purpose broke,
Not here must nuptial vow he spoke;
Brethren, our errand here is o'er,
Our task discharged. - Unmoor, unmoor!' -
His priests received the exhausted Monk,
As breathless in their arms he sunk.
Punctual his orders to obey,
The train refused all longer stay,
Embark'd, raised sail, and bore away.

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War Poet

SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF WORLD WAR III


The White House
Washington
Tom Zart’s Poems


March 16,2007
Ms. Lillian Cauldwell
President and Chief Executive Officer
Passionate Internet Voices Radio
Ann Arbor Michigan
Dear Lillian:
Number 41 passed on the CDs from Tom Zart. Thank you for thinking of me. I am thankful for your efforts to honor our brave military personnel and their families. America owes these courageous men and women a debt of gratitude, and I am honored to be the commander in chief of the greatest force for freedom in the history of the world.
Best Wishes.

Sincerely,

George W. Bush


ULTIMATE SACRIFICE


Our men and women give the ultimate sacrifice
When they pledge to defend our flag.
In hot spots throughout our world
They defeat our enemies who brag.

Most say their prayers to their own private God
To protect and bring them safely home.
It’s our job as patriots and Americans
To let them know we love them as our own.

Think of all of history’s heroes of freedom
And what they gave up for “Old Glory”.
Nothing has changed for over two hundred years
As our soldiers continue the story.

Those rows of white crosses in manicured fields
Tell the story of ultimate sacrifice and love.
Always remember all we treasure and enjoy
Are because of our soldiers and God above.


BRAVERY


Many brave souls lived before now
Unwept and unknown by their face.
Lost somewhere in the distant night
Till a poet chronicles their grace.

True bravery is shown by performing
Without witness what one might be
Capable of before the world
Without any or all to see.

How great the brave who rest in peace
All blessings from heaven to earth.
They gave our country but their best
Those destined to be brave from birth.


WHERE ARE THE SOLDIERS


Where are the soldiers who march in line?
Where are the soldiers every color and kind?
Where are the soldiers who made their moms cry?
Where are the pilots who face death in the sky?

Where are the soldiers born brave of heart?
Where are the girls and boys that part?
Serving our country with their future on the line
Battling the enemies of freedom of mind.

All of us are soldiers with missions of our own
We do what we do as history is sown.
Support our troops who we love and adore
Support our troops with prayers, letters and more.

Where are the soldiers so far, far away?
How many will perish no one can say.
Where are the soldiers we love night and day?
Deployed world over to keep evil at bay.


THEY SERVE TO PRESERVE


They serve to preserve our forefathers dreams,
Prayers, visions and determination.
Risking all in pursuit of fulfillment of duty
To God, freedom, faith, honor and nation.

Despite dismemberment, death and loneliness
Patriots enlist to safeguard our flag.
With honor, faith, purpose and courage
They battle the sadistic that brag.

Throughout man’s past as a creature of earth
Crime has always plagued his expectance.
Greed, hate, fear, envy and rage
Have overruled rapture and repentance.

David was a soldier who lived by his faith
Which gave him the will to become brave.
He stood up to terror and toppled the giant
Leaving Goliath headless and alone in his grave.

David’s call thrives in hearts of soldiers today
Shielding liberty from the warmongers of hell.
Facing down evil refusing to summit
Ensuring freedom and justice are alive and well.


UNYIELDING HONOR WW-III


Weakness invites moral plight, war and aggression
Encouraged by mistrust, misjudgment and delay.
All we love can be destroyed and transformed
By the powers of darkness maneuvering our way.

When something wicked stares us in the face
To corrupt our morals, faith and resolve.
God gives us courage to defend what’s right
No matter the sacrifice or danger involved.

Evil seeks to destroy the good in man
And silence the memory of God’s law.
It’s up to the faithful to stay unyielding
Defending the liberty and justice of all.

Our men and woman who serve in harm’s way
Are the armor of what the free world depends on.
Without their sacrifice of body and soul
All that we stand for is gone.


GOD LOVES HIS SOLDIERS


Sometimes it’s hard to protect what is right
Sometimes we’re scorned as for others we fight.
Some of us are willing regardless of loss
To commit our soul to save the cross.

Evil prospers on greed and human hate
Always eager to destroy and defecate.
God’s grace descends on the souls of man
Cleansing the impure wherever He can.

As long as man has struggled on earth
Life has had its troubles from birth.
God’s seed of goodness has delayed man’s demise
Thank Heaven for His heroes the strong and the wise.

The Lord adores His heroes of yesterday
Just how numerous, only He could say.
God loves His soldiers who line up to serve
By standing against evil His grace they deserve.


NEVER BE AFRAID TO BE PROUD of AMERICA


America, the abundant, the place I was born
I'll cherish till the day I die.
Where the bones of past heroes lie buried in the ground
Who loved her the same as I.

Her mountains are so tall they reach for the sky
With prairies where the green grasses grow.
There's billions of trees where wild birds nest
With creatures that flourish below.

That blue gold called water with which we are blessed
As raindrops or crystallized snow;
Changes to rivers and fresh water lakes
While the winds of our seasons blow.

There's the haunt of a whistle from a lonely freight train
Racing on ribbons of steel
With the harvest of farms and from the factories
Balanced in a box on a wheel.

Some cities have buildings a hundred stories tall
Structures of concrete, glass and steel.
A statue in a harbor, a present from France
Describes how, inside, we feel.

That flag on the moon with red and white stripes
Proves America’s dreams come true.
A country of heroes who line up to protect
The past, the present and the few.

We’ll defeat terrorism as it should be fought
Never letting Satan’s horde chase us to our door.
Safeguarding our borders and system of life
As our forefathers sacrificed before.

Never be afraid to be proud of America
And march with the brave, faithful and just.
Refusing to submit to the will of our enemies
Standing firm to preserve what we trust.


INTO THE TEETH of THE DOG


All through history man was born to struggle
Surviving nature, disease, greed, and war.
Since his conception he has remained the same
Choosing to serve evil or good as before.

Our boys and girls face the teeth of the dog
In hot spots all over our Earth.
They leave their families and all they love
To protect and preserve what liberty is worth.

The foes they face are the mad dogs of man
With a desire to kill, disfigure and enslave.
They sing and dance to the death of others
Teaching principles of hate till the grave.

Support our troops who battle the horde
While we live the good life back home.
When you see a soldier show them your smile
Say, hello we love you and you’re not alone.


THE MAD DOGS OF MAN


Wherever dwell the mad dogs of man
There is corruption, plunder and hate.
In every city, town, or village
Those who promote distrust deserve their fate.

All are born as an innocent child
Till mislead by others along the way.
God has always loved His children
Though it breaks His heart when they stray.

The mad dogs of man never repent
For they have no sense of shame or sorrow.
Worshiping dominance and the dark side of life
Abusing victims as if there were no tomorrow.

God gives us the will to sin no more
And to overcome evil unwilling to cease.
The mad dogs of man must be stopped
Who murder, rape and destroy world peace.

Samson, Solomon, and David
Were chosen by God to stand tall.
They faced great odds and the fear of death
Refusing to ignore their call.

The time has come for the good men of Earth
To band together to restrain the horde.
Standing firm against tyranny where it exists
Putting the mad dogs of man to the sword.


WHERE WARS ARE WON OR LOST


Wars are waged by older men
In battle rooms in countries apart.
Who call for greater firepower
And troops for the combat chart.

While out among the shattered flesh
The dreams of all have turned gray.
So young and determined their faces were
Till on the battlefield they lay.

Unable to overcome their pride
The politicians cast their vote.
For this or that or something else
As the rage of war sounds its note.

Wherever wars are won or lost
The soldiers fall like toys.
Down through history it remains the same
Most who die are hardly more than boys.

Like monkeys in a revolving cage
Man squabbles for the peanuts of power.
When will we rise above our greed
And become as a beautiful flower?

Death to death, dust to dust
The wrath of war is a horrible crime.
It’s the beast within that still prevails
As it has through the torments of time.


WAR IS THE GREATEST PLAGUE OF MAN


As war is fought it takes charge
And events spin out of control.
The madness of men can alter the soil
Which nourishes the roots of their soul.

Many things will forever change
Far more then wished to be.
As the wrath of war starts to destroy
Those things we fight to keep free.

War is the greatest plague of man
Religion, state, and sanity.
Any scourge is more preferred
Than the one which disables humanity.

When war breaks out, boundaries change
And all who die are a token
Of the rage that must run it's course
Before words of peace are spoken.

War I hate, though not men, flags nor race
But war itself with its ugly face.
When we lose faith in the brave, which die
Then we're not fit to greet those who cry.

What distinguishes war isn't death
But that man is slain by fellow man.
Crushed by cruelty and injustice
With his enemy's murderous hand.

War tends to punish the punishers
So the losers won't suffer alone.
The essence of war is but violence
Till the survivors come marching home.

Sometimes it's hard to defend what's right
Sometimes we're forced to rise up and fight.
Sometimes we survive, while others must die
Sometimes never knowing the reason why.

The rush of combat is a natural buzz
Caused by fear, leaving nothing as it was.
Hunting one another like wild game
Without a shortage of those to blame.

Sometimes victory comes too slow or quick
Sometimes the cost on both sides is sick.
Sometimes God is asked to intervene
To help stop the savage from being so mean.

War is a hell we visit before death
Fueled by the whisper of the devil's breath.
There must be a reason man destroys man
But why it is so, I can't understand.


SEPTEMBER 11th


After suffering the wrath of a sneak attack
America now mourns to her very core.
Though soon her enemies shall all but flee
From the sound of America waging full war.

Let there be no doubt, no doubt at all
That the devil has decided to give us a call.
We shall defeat hell’s soldiers and cast them out
And if we die; that's what freedom is about.

We shall seek them out wherever they may hide
Street by street, house-by-house, cave by cave.
They will be eradicated from the face of the earth
By the righteous, the loyal and the brave.


SATAN’S HORDE SHALL BE REMOVED


Overrun with war and uncontrolled leaders
Our world becomes more dangerous each day.
Dishonest politicians, criminals and the media
Survive by their falsehoods at play.

Bible believers preach, that the end is near
Our world as a whole is beyond reform.
God will eradicate all, which is wicked
By His fire of eruption and storm.

To evil’s victory, I will never concede
May its supporters anguish in hell.
By the grace of God and the power of faith
The goodness of man will prevail.

What we accomplish is Heaven’s measure
As patriots respond to the threats of man.
Protect and defend what we love till death
As the soldiers of Satan arise from the sand.

SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF WORLD WAR III


Our sons and daughters serve in harm’s way
To defend our way of life.
Some are students, some grandparents
Many a husband or wife.

They face great odds without complaint
Gambling life and limb for little pay.
So far away from all they love
Fight our soldiers for whom we pray.

The plotters and planners of America's doom
Pledge to murder and maim all they can.
From early childhood they are taught
To kill is to become a man.

They exploit their young as weapons of choice
Teaching in heaven, virgins will await.
Destroying lives along with their own
To learn of their falsehoods too late.

The fearful cry we must submit
And find a way to soothe them.
Where defenders worry if we stand down
The future for America is grim.

Now's not the time to fight one another
Or kiss our enemy's cheek.
All through history it remains the same
The strong enslave the weak.

May God continue to bless America
Refusing evil, the upper hand.
It's up to us to stay resolute
Defending the liberty of Man.


SO DEAR TO MY HEART


So dear to my heart are my loved ones at home
As I toss and I turn in my bunk all alone.
Everyday I see death, hate, and corruption
Combat is God's proof of man's malfunction

For family, comrades, and myself I pray
To my love with this poem I wish to convey.
I knew I loved you though never how much
Till by war, I'm forced beyond your touch.

Where violence thrives, there's the stench of death
With the taste of fear on every breath.
Who shall prevail, who shall die
As the sadistic kill beneath God's sky.

Baghdad has become man's highway to hell
Where the hearts of darkness are alive and well.
I count each day till its time to come home
And be with my love and never alone.

Love You
Your Marine

HOPE TO BE HOME BY CHRISTMAS WORLD WAR III


Darling I miss you more than words can tell
As the torments of war burden my heart.
I worry about you and how you are
As by conflict we’re forced to part.

As death confronts me I witness first hand
Just how sudden life can come to its end.
At any moment war can consume and destroy
Myself, my dreams, my enemy, my friend.

Determined though fearful I dream of home
Remaining focused, steadfast and whole.
Praying for family, country and comrades
The treasures of my existence and soul.

I suffer pain, remorse and regret
From actions I’m forced to employ.
I have no choice but to do my duty
As my solemn oath becomes my story.

Remind our kids how much I love them
And those moments they cry or play.
I’ll be home for hugs and kisses
Hopefully by Christmas Day.

Most of all I pray for words
That portray my need for your touch.
I dream of you both night and day
And sometimes a bit too much.

Letters from home, loneliness and sorrow
Have made family more precious to recall.
I love you so incredibly much
As I serve with honor, God and country’s call.

Love You
Your Marine


LOVE OF COUNTRY


I dedicate this poem from inside my tent
As the desert winds keep it's silhouette bent.
My love of country is at full boil now
I'd like to describe it but it's hard to know how.

Tomorrow I'll hunt those who enjoy our death
Cursed by their hatred and foulness of breath.
I don't care if it's another God they serve
For their crime's retribution is what they deserve.

Their horde survives by a different set of rules,
Though soon they'll learn the fate of murderous fools.
Proudly I serve my homeland and president
Who I've sworn to defend one hundred percent.

While haunted by visions of what I must do
I fight for justice, and the red, white, and blue.


VETERAN'S DAY


The cost of freedom is sometimes high
Extremely more when our loved one's die.
Men and women pledged to fight and serve
And it's our support that they deserve.

Mankind itself is the one to blame
That all through history, the story's the same.
Peace, like love, can be hard to acquire
Subject always to enemy fire.

Some how the righteous tend to prevail
Over the miss-guided, prone to fail.
No wonder we fear the tongues that lie
As mankind squabbles beneath God's sky.

The danger our solders face is real
So lets let them know just how we feel.
Put forth your flag and show them your heart
As those we love from us depart.


THE BATTLE FOR BAGHDAD


Determined though scared, I walk my beat
On the deadly streets of Baghdad.
Searching for any who plot our harm
Or by our death are joyous and glad.

Standing in shadows caused by the moon
I'm reminded of my nights back home.
I wonder if the woman I love
Is growing tired of sleeping alone?

I feel remorse for all who live here
For this place is a madman's hell.
And those who wish to keep it that way
Must be killed or locked away in jail.

My greatest fear is not my death
But that I'll end up in a wheelchair.
Disabled for the rest of my life,
Depending on others for my care.

My wife, she prays for my safe return
As night and day more GI's are killed.
She knows quite well, whatever it takes
The oath I've given will be fulfilled.


SADDAM


The king of Baghdad has fallen
Never to dictate again.
Man shall sentence him for this crimes
And heaven shun him for his sin.

For his tyranny, he was famous
In every capital on earth.
Till apprehended in his spider hole
Completely stripped of his worth.

He is guilty of rape and genocide
While he ruled without remorse.
His power and prestige were toppled
Once George Bush set his course.

Though it may seem that the wicked triumph
And have conquered by their brutality of hand,
Through the power of faith they are defeated
By the seed of goodness in man.


FORMIDABLE FOE


America is the birthday cake of earth
As the ants march from every direction.
Thank God for all who have sworn to defend her
Serving with love, honor, pride, and affection.

Since the first day George Washington marched off to war
There have been those who have wished our demise.
Their hatred, fueled by jealousy and greed
Was defeated by our brave and the wise.

Once again, we must face a formidable foe
Who have pledged by their God to destroy us all.
Misusing their faith as an excuse to kill
As for a worldwide jihad, their leaders call.

Some say we should try to appease them
For if we resist, they'll hate us even more.
But the David's among us shall cast our stones
Defeating them, as it was done before.


SHOULD TOMORROW START WITHOUT ME?


Should tomorrow start without me
Remember I love you.
Looking down from up above
Seeing everything you do.

If I become a casualty
I pray you will love again
Whom ever makes you happy
I'll consider my friend.

Should tomorrow start without me
Remind our boys, God loves all who care.
And when life seems too harsh and cruel
With 'Him' they must share their prayer.

I have proven I'm not a coward
Who breaks and runs to survive.
Always fearing death will kiss me
As the streets of Baghdad I drive.

Should tomorrow start without me
Be proud I choose to serve.
Our faith and our patriotism
Earn the freedom we deserve.

I miss home more than ever
It breaks my heart to stay away
I can't help but want to hold you
And whisper what I say.


THANK HEAVEN FOR HEROES


It’s not a priest that gives us our freedom of religion
And it’s not a reporter that gives us our freedom of voice.
It’s not any judge, lawyer, politician, preacher or teacher
But the blood of a soldier that has sacrificed by choice.

Our soldiers line up to be remembered
As the best of the best at their job.
They wish to be needed and depended on
To save all we love from the mob.

They risk their life and limb for liberty
Standing firm against evil unwilling to break.
To be part of something greater than themselves
They are willing to sacrifice whatever it will take.

Thank Heaven for the heroes of life
Who lead us to overcome those who are not.
The wise are grateful for all God's blessings
Where fools never realize what they've got.

America is the grain train of earth
Whose people exercise rule by their vote.
All have a chance to partake and prosper
As they arrive by foot, plane or boat.

Our freedom relies on the law of the land
Our future depends on our grit.
Our past has known both good and bad
And our mistakes we are willing to admit.

The grim of heart hate America
And choose to put her wonders to shame
The devotion of most who love and live here
Rise up to defeat the soldiers of blame.


THE LONELINESS OF WAR


I know I'm still here so far, far away
As I fight for what I believe is right.
I wonder about you and your mom
Every moment of every day and night.

The loneliness of war can drive you insane
If you don't get letters of concern from home.
Left, right, behind and ahead,
Death awaits leaving love ones alone.

We pray to God that we will be saved
To return home or live the here after.
Bloody, dirt-covered men, we see everyday
As we yearn for those times of laughter.

The far off stare of a fallen comrade
As you stay by his side till his end.
No mother ever carried her infant child
More carefully, than we do a friend.

Many have their own personal diaries
To help keep their faculties together.
Watching hot steel crash into human flesh
Always makes home seem far away and better.

I've become an expert at dodging, weaving and diving
So try not to worry too much about me.
Just help your mom and stand up from the ground
And while I'm gone be all you can be.


SACRIFICE TRANSFORMATION AND UNRESTRICTED WARFARE


The Japanese hadn't lost a war since 1598
Each man carried 400 rounds of ammunition
(twice as many as an American infantryman)
With five days rations and fearless determination.

The men in the badly wrapped brown uniforms
Since their early childhood had been taught
That to die for the emperor and one's country
Was the greatest of all glories to be sought.

Moreover, the hardware backing them was awesome
As sharpshooters they were accurate up to a thousand yards and more.
Their ships were faster, their guns bigger, Their torpedoes better
And their planes matchless in quality, aerobatics and score.

Only by sacrifice, transformation, and unrestricted warfare
Was America able to overcome and prevail.
Again America must stand firm to survive
As we face a new monster from Hell.


CHRISTIAN SOLDIER’S LOVE POEM


Humans have always had their need for love
Long before they could calculate the year.
Painting on the walls of caves and tombs
Stories of accomplishment, conquest and fear.

Life is a constant contest of struggle
Plagued by greed, love, war, work and debate.
Between all we love; those we tolerate
And some we can’t help but hate.

I’d rather be loved and love in return
Then have a rich man’s gold piled high.
Id rather be loved by someone worthy
With honor, compassion and no need to lie.

I’d rather be loved than be crowned a king
Of a vast empire of power and domain.
I’d rather be loved and never forgotten
Not alone, overwhelmed and ashamed.

I'd rather be loved for my unselfish behavior
Eager to protect, provide and preserve.
I’d rather be loved for staying resolute
To my commitment to love and to serve.

I’d rather be loved for my awareness of duty
More than anything life can bestow me.
I’d rather be loved and receive God’s grace
As I lay down my life before Thee.


FREEDOM


In their new uniforms
The young march off
Not knowing who shall return.
With a proud devotion
They brandish their flag
Leaving loved ones to wonder and yearn.

May we all be buried
By all of our children
Is an ancient tribal prayer.
They're so easy to lose
But so hard to forget
Such a burden for a parent to bear.

The taste of victory
Shall soon be forgotten
But never that which was lost.
For those rows of white headstones
In peaceful green fields
Make it easy to tally the cost.

America has survived
All attempts to destroy
Knowing the cruelty of war
And we who remain
Must help keep her free
For those who can march no more!


OUR FLAG


Our flag is fabric wove of thread
Carried by heroes live and dead.
She stands for justice and courage too
With her colors; red, white and blue.

For all who serve her, there’ll be cheers
For any who die, there’ll be tears
For all who love her, honor will prevail
Any who harm her, shall suffer and fail.

How many moms have cried before
As they sent their children to war?
How many dads have not returned
Because our freedom must be earned?

Wars were waged where brave men died
As patriots fought side by side.
Our flag is still the pearl of Earth
Because of those who prove her worth.


THE MADNESS of WAR TELLS ITS STORY


Goodness must overrule absolute evil
Though there’s nothing worse than war.
Sometimes we have no alternative option
Except to kill or be killed as before.

The best of plans can go amiss
With uncertainties till the first shots are fired.
As generals plot their path toward victory
It’s up to the wounded, the fallen and tired.

It’s not how strong or athletic you are
That decides who is blessed to return.
Those who survive are a product of luck
And our prayers and support they’ve earned.

War seems to peel the veneer off society
Exposing our villain within.
A crazy obsession to rule over others
By death, destruction and sin.

The mayhem of conflict is a ongoing scourge
Robbing man from intended glory.
The hinge of history swings in all directions
As the madness of war tells its story.


WAR


As war is fought it takes charge
And events spin out of control.
The madness of men can alter the soil
Which nourishes the roots of their soul.

Many things will forever change
Far more then wished to be.
As the wrath of war starts to destroy
Those things we fight to keep free.

War is the greatest plague of man,
Religion, state and sanity.
Any scourge is more preferred
Than the one which disables humanity.

When war breaks out, boundaries change
And all who die are a token
Of the rage that must run it's course
Before words of peace are spoken.

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The Lord of the Isles: Canto V.

I.
On fair Loch-Ranza stream'd the early day,
Thin wreaths of cottage-smoke are upward curl'd
From the lone hamlet, which her inland bay
And circling mountains sever from the world.
And there the fisherman his sail unfurl'd,
The goat-herd drove his kids to steep Ben-Ghoil,
Before the hut the dame her spindle twirl'd,
Courting the sunbeam as she plied her toil, -
For, wake where'er he may, Man wakes to care and coil.

But other duties call'd each convent maid,
Roused by the summons of the moss-grown bell;
Sung were the matins, and the mass was said,
And every sister sought her separate cell,
Such was the rule, her rosary to tell.
And Isabel has knelt in lonely prayer;
The sunbeam, through the narrow lattice, fell
Upon the snowy neck and long dark hair,
As stoop'd her gentle head in meek devotion there.

II.
She raised her eyes, that duty done,
When glanced upon the pavement-stone,
Gemm'd and enchased, a golden ring,
Bound to a scroll with silken string,
With few brief words inscribed to tell,
'This for the Lady Isabel.'
Within, the writing farther bore,-
''Twas with this ring his plight he swore,
With this his promise I restore;
To her who can the heart command,
Well may I yield the plighted hand.
And O! for better fortune born,
Grudge not a passing sigh to mourn
Her who was Edith once of Lorn!'
One single flash of glad surprise
Just glanced from Isabel's dark eyes,
But vanish'd in the blush of shame,
That, as its penance, instant came.
'O thought unworthy of my race!
Selfish, ungenerous, mean, and base,
A moment's throb of joy to own,
That rose upon her hopes o'erthrown!-
Thou pledge of vows too well believed,
Of man ingrate and maid deceived,
Think not thy lustre here shall gain
Another heart to hope in vain!
For thou shalt rest, thou tempting gaud,
Where worldly thoughts are overawed,
And worldly splendours sink debased.'
Then by the cross the ring she placed.

III.
Next rose the thought, - its owner far,
How came it here through bolt and bar?-
But the dim lattice is ajar.-
She looks abroad,- the morning dew
A light short step had brush'd anew,
And there were footprints seen
On the carved buttress rising still,
Till on the mossy window-sill
Their track effaced the green.
The ivy twigs were torn and fray'd,
As if some climber's steps to aid.-
But who the hardy messenger,
Whose venturous path these signs infer?-
Strange doubts are mine! - Mona, draw nigh;
- Nought 'scapes old Mona's curious eye-
What strangers, gentle mother, say,
Have sought these holy walls to-day?'
'None, Lady, none of note or name;
Only your brother's foot-page came,
At peep of dawn - I pray'd him pass
To chapel where they said the mass;
But like an arrow he shot by,
And tears seem'd bursting from his eye.'

IV.
The truth at once on Isabel,
As darted by a sunbeam fell:
''Tis Edith's self! - her speechless woe,
Her form, her looks, the secret show!
- Instant, good Mona, to the bay,
And to my royal brother say,
I do conjure him seek my cell,
With that mute page he loves so well.' -
'What! know'st thou not his warlike host
My old eyes saw them from the tower.
At eve they couch'd in greenwood bower,
At dawn a bugle signal, made
By their bold Lord, their ranks array'd;
Up sprung the spears through bush and tree,
No time for benedicite!
Like deer, that, rousing from their lair,
Just shake the dewdrops from their hair,
And toss their armed crests aloft,
Such matins theirs!' - 'Good mother, soft-
Where does my brother bend his way?'-
'As I have heard, for Brodick-Bay,
Across the isle - of barks a score
Lie there, 'tis said, to waft them o'er,
On sudden news, to Carrick-shore.'-
'If such their purpose, deep the need,'
Said anxious Isabel, 'of speed!
Call Father Augustine, good dame.'-
The nun obey'd, the Father came.

V.
'Kind Father, hie without delay,
Across the hills to Brodick-Bay.
This message to the Bruce be given;
I pray him, by his hopes of Heaven,
That, till he speak with me, he stay!
Or, if his haste brook no delay,
That he deliver, on my suit,
Into thy charge that stripling mute.
Thus prays his sister Isabel,
For causes more than she may tell-
Away, good Father! and take heed,
That life and death are on thy speed.'
His cowl the good old priest did on,
Took his piked staff and sandall'd shoon,
And, like a palmer bent by eld,
O'er moss and moor his journey held.

VI.
Heavy and dull the foot of age,
And rugged was the pilgrimage;
But none was there beside, whose care
Might such important message bear.
Through birchen copse he wander'd slow,
Stunted and sapless, thin and low;
By many a mountain stream he pass'd,
From the tall cliffs in tumult cast,
Dashing to foam their waters dun,
And sparkling in the summer sun.
Round his grey head the wild curlew
In many a fearless circle flew.
O'er chasms he pass'd, where fractures wide
Craved wary eye and ample stride;
He cross'd his brow beside the stone,
Where Druids erst heard victims groan,
And at the cairns upon the wild,
O'er many a heathen hero piled,
He breathed a timid prayer for those
Who died ere Shiloh's sun arose.
Beside Macfarlane's Cross he staid,
There told his hours within the shade,
And at the stream his thirst allay'd.
Thence onward journeying slowly still,
As evening closed he reach'd the hill,
Where, rising through the woodland green,
Old Brodick's gothic towers were seen,
From Hastings, late their English lord,
Douglas had won them by the sword.
The sun that sunk behind the isle,
Now tined them with a parting smile.

VII.
But though the beams of light decay,
'Twas bustle all in Brodick-Bay.
The Bruce's followers crowd the shore,
And boats and barges some unmoor,
Some raise the sail, some seize the oar;
Their eyes oft turn'd where glimmer'd far
What might have seem'd an early star
On heaven's blue arch, save that its light
Was all too flickering, fierce, and bright.
Far distant in the south, the ray
Shone pale amid retiring day,
But as, on Carrick shore,
Dim seen in outline faintly blue,
The shades of evening closer drew,
It kindled more and more.
The monk's slow steps now press the sands,
And now amid a scene he stands,
Full strange to churchman's eye;
Warriors, who, arming for the fight,
Rivet and clasp their harness light,
And twinkling spears, and axes bright,
And helmets flashing high.
Oft, too, with unaccustom'd ears,
A language much unmeet he hears,
While, hastening all on board,
As stormy as the swelling surge
That mix'd its roar, the leaders urge
Their followers to the ocean verge,
With many a haughty word.

VIII.
Through that wild throng the Father pass'd,
And reach'd the Royal Bruce at last.
He leant against a stranded boat,
That the approaching tide must float,
And counted every rippling wave,
As higher yet her sides they lave,
And oft the distant fire he eyed,
And closer yet his hauberk tied,
And loosen'd in his sheath his brand.
Edward and Lennox were at hand,
Douglas and Ronald had the care
The soldiers to the barks to share.-
The monk approach'd and homage paid;
'And art thou come,' King Robert said,
'So far to bless us ere we part?'-
-'My Liege, and with a loyal heart!-
But other charge I have to tell,'-
And spoke the hest of Isabel.
-'Now by Saint Giles,' the Monarch cried,
'This moves me much! - this morning tide,
I spent the stripling to Saint Bride,
With my commandment there to bide.'
-'Thither he came the portress show'd,
But there, my Liege, made brief abode.'-

IX.
''Twas I,' said Edward, 'found employ
Of nobler import for the boy.
Deep pondering in my anxious mind,
A fitting messenger to find,
To bear thy written mandate o'er
To Cuthbert on the Carrick shore,
I chanced, at early dawn, to pass
The chapel gate to snatch a mass.
I found the stripling on a tomb
Low-seated, weeping for the doom
That gave his youth to convent gloom.
I told my purpose, and his eyes
Flash'd joyful at the glad surprise.
He bounded to the skiff, the sail
Was spread before a prosperous gale,
And well my charge he hath obey'd;
For, see! the ruddy signal made,
That Clifford with his merry-men all,
Guards carelessly our father's hall.'-

X.
'O wild of thought, and hard of heart!'
Answer'd the Monarch, 'on a part
Of such deep danger to employ
A mute, an orphan, and a boy!
Unfit for flight, unfit for strife,
Without a tongue to plead for life!
Now, were my right restored by Heaven,
Edward, my crown I would have given,
Ere, thrust on such adventure wild,
I perill'd thus the helpless child.'-
- Offended half, and half submiss,-
'Brother and Liege, of blame like this,'
Edward replied, 'I little dream'd.
A stranger messenger, I deem'd,
Might safest seek the beadsman's cell,
Where all thy squires are known so well.
Noteless his presence, sharp his sense,
His imperfection his defence.
If seen, none can his errand guess;
If ta'en, his words no tale express-
Methinks, too, yonder beacon's shine
Might expatiate greater fault than mine.'-
'Rash,' said King Robert, 'was the deed-
But it is done. Embark with speed!-
Good Father, say to Isabel
How this unhappy chance befell;
If well we thrive on yonder shore,
Soon shall my care her page restore.
Our greeting to our sister bear,
And think of us in mass and prayer.'

XI.
'Aye!' - said the priest, 'while this poor hand
Can chalice raise or cross command,
While my old voice has accents' use,
Can Augustine forget the Bruce!'
Then to his side Lord Ronald press'd,
And whisper'd, 'Bear thou this request,
That when by Bruce's side I fight,
For Scotland's crown and Freedom's right,
The princess grace her knight to bear
Some token of her favouring care;
It shall be shown where England's best
May shrink to see it on my crest.
And for the boy - since weightier care
For Royal Bruce the times prepare,
The helpless youth is Ronald's charge,
His couch my plaid, his fence my targe.'
He ceased; for many an eager hand
Had urged the barges from the strand.
Their number was a score and ten,
They bore thrice threescore chosen men.
With such small force did Bruce at last
The die for death or empire cast!

XII.
Now on the darkening main afloat,
Ready and mann'd rocks every boat;
Beneath their oars the ocean's might
Was dash'd to sparks of glimmering light.
Faint and more faint, as off they bore,
Their armour glanced against the shore,
And, mingled with the dashing tide,
Their murmuring voices distant died.-
'God speed them!' said the Priest, as dark
On distant billows glides each bark;
'O Heaven! when swords for freedom shine,
And monarch's right, the cause is thine!
Edge doubly every patriot blow!
Beat down the banners of the foe!
And be it to the nations known,
That Victory is from God alone!'
As up the hill his path he drew,
He turn'd his blessings to renew,
Oft turn'd, till on the darken'd coast
All traces of their course were lost;
Then slowly bent to Brodick tower,
To shelter for the evening hour.

XIII.
In night the fairy prospects sink,
Where Cumray's isles with verdant link
Close the fair entrance of the Clyde;
The woods of Bute, no more descried,
Are gone - and on the placid sea
The rowers ply their task with glee,
Impatient aid the labouring oar.
The half-faced moon shone dim and pale,
And glanced against the whiten'd sail;
But on that ruddy beacon-light
Each steersman kept the helm aright,
And oft, for such the King's command,
That all at once might reach the strand,
From boat to boat loud shout and hail
Warn'd them to crowd or slacken sail.
South and by west the armada bore,
And near at length the Carrick shore.
As less and less the distance grows,
High and more high the beacon rose;
The light, that seem'd a twinkling star,
Now blazed portentous, fierce, and far.
Dark-red the heaven above it glow'd
Dark-red the sea beneath it flow'd,
Red rose the rocks on ocean's brim,
In blood-red light her islets swim;
Wild scream the dazzled sea-fowl gave,
Dropp'd from their crags on plashing wave.
The deer to distant covert drew,
The black-cock deem'd it day, and crew.
Like some tall castle given to flame,
O'er half the land the lustre came.
'Now, good my Liege, and brother sage,
What think ye of mine elfin page?'-
'Row on!' the noble King replied,
'We'll learn the truth whate'er betide;
Yet sure the beadsman and the child
Could ne'er have waked that beacon wild.'

XIV.
With that the boats approach'd the land,
But Edward's grounded on the sand;
The eager Knight leap'd in the sea
Waist-deep and first on shore was he,
Though every barge's hardy band
Contended which should gain the land,
When that strange light, which, seen afar,
Seem'd steady as the polar star,
Now, like a prophet's fiery chair,
Wide o'er the sky the splendour glows,
As that portentous meteor rose;
Helm, axe, and falchion glitter'd bright,
And in the red and dusk light
His comrade's face each warrior saw,
Nor marvell'd it was pale with awe.
Then high in air the beams were lost,
And darkness sunk upon the coast.-
Ronald to Heaven a prayer address'd,
And Douglas cross'd his dauntless breast;
'Saint James protect us!' Lennox cried,
But reckless Edward spoke aside,
'Deem'st thou, Kirkpatrick, in that flame
Red Comyn's angry spirit came,
Or would thy dauntless heart endure
Once more to make assurance sure?'-
'Hush!' said the Bruce; 'we soon shall know,
If this be sorcerer's empty show,
Or stratagem of southern foe.
The moon shines out - upon the sand
Let every leader rank his band.'

XV.
Faintly the moon's pale beams supply
That ruddy light's unnatural dye;
The dubious cold reflection lay
On the wet sands and quiet bay.
Beneath the rocks King Robert drew
His scatter'd files to order due,
Till shield compact and serried spear
In the cool light shone blue and clear.
Then down a path that sought the tide,
That speechless page was seen to glide;
He knelt him lowly on the sand,
And gave a scroll to Robert's hand.
'A torch,' the Monarch cried, 'What, ho!
Now shall we Cuthbert's tidings know.'
But evil news the letters bear,
The Clifford's force was strong and ware,
Augmented, too, that very morn,
By mountaineers who came with Lorn.
Long harrow'd by oppressor's hand,
Courage and faith had fled the land,
And over Carrick, dark and deep,
Had sunk dejection's iron sleep.-
Cuthbert had seen that beacon flame,
Unwitting from what source it came.
Doubtful of perilous event,
Edward's mute messenger he sent,
If Bruce deceived should venture o'er,
To warn him from the fatal shore.

XVI.
As round the torch the leaders crowd,
Bruce read these chilling news aloud.
'What counsel, nobles, have we now?-
To ambush us in greenwood bough,
And take the chance which fate may send
To bring our enterprise to end?
Or shall we turn us to the main
As exiles, and embark again?'-
Answer'd fierce Edward, 'Hap what may;
In Carrick, Carrick's Lord must stay.
I would not minstrels told the tale,
Wildfire or meteor made us quail.'
Answer'd the Douglas - 'If my Liege
May win yon walls by storm or siege,
Then were each brave and patriot heart
Kindled of new for loyal part.'-
Answer'd Lord Ronald, 'Not for shame
Would I that aged Torquil came,
And found, for all our empty boast,
Without a blow we fled the coast.
I will not credit that this land,
So famed for warlike heart and hand,
The nurse of Wallace and of Bruce,
Will long with tyrants hold a truce.'-
'Prove we our fate - the brunt we'll bide!'
So Boyd and Haye and Lennox cried;
So said, so vow'd, the leaders all;
So Bruce resolved: 'And in my hall
Since the Bold Southern make their home,
The hour of payment soon shall come,
When with a rough and rugged host
Clifford may reckon to his cost.
Meantime, through well-known bosk and dell,
I'll lead where we may shelter well.'

XVII.
Now ask you whence that wondrous light,
Whose fairy glow beguil'd their sight?-
It ne'er was known - yet grey-hair'd eld
A superstitious credence held,
That never did a mortal hand
Wake its broad glare on Carrick strand;
Nay, and that on the self-same night
When Bruce cross'd o'er, still gleams the light.
Yearly it gleams o'er mount and moor,
And glittering wave and crimson'd shore -
But whether beam celestial, lent
By Heaven to aid the King's descent,
Or fire hell-kindled from beneath,
To lure him to defeat and death,
Or were it but some meteor strange,
Of such as oft through midnight range,
Startling the traveller late and lone,
I know not - and it ne'er was known.

XVIII.
Now up the rocky pass they drew,
And Ronald, to his promise true,
Still made his arm the stripling's stay,
To aid him on the rugged way.
'Now cheer thee, simple Amadine!
Why throbs that silly heart of thine?'-
-That name the pirates to their slave
(In Gaelic 'tis the Changeling) gave -
'Dost thou not rest thee on my arm?
Do not my plaid-folds hold thee warm?
Hath not the wild bull's treble hide
This targe for thee and me supplied?
Is not Clan-Colla's sword of steel?
And, trembler, canst thou terror feel?
Cheer thee, and still that throbbing heart;
From Ronald's guard thou shalt not part.'
-O! many a shaft, at random spoken,
May soothe or wound a heart that's broken!
Half sooth'd, half grieved, half terrified,
Close drew the page to Ronald's side;
A wild delirious thrill of joy
Was in that hour of agony,
As up the steepy path he strove,
Fear, toil, and sorrow, lost in love!

XIX.
The barrier of that iron shore,
The rock's steep ledge, is now climb'd o'er;
And from the castle's distant wall,
From tower to tower the warders call;
The sound wings over land and sea,
And marks a watchful enemy.-
They gain'd the Chase, a wide domain
Left for the castle's silvan reign,
(Seek not the scene - the axe, the plough,
The boor's dull fence, have marr'd it now,)
But then, soft swept in velvet green
The plain with many a glade between,
Whose tangled alleys far invade
The depth of the brown forest shade.
Here the tall fern obscured the lawn,
Fair shelter for the sportive fawn;
There, tufted close with copsewood green,
Was many a swelling hillock seen;
And all around was verdure meet
For pressure of the fairies' feet.
The glossy holly loved the park,
The yew-tree lent its shadow dark,
And many an old oak, worn and bare,
With all its shiver'd boughs was there.
Lovely between, the moonbeams fell
On lawn and hillock, glade and dell.
The gallant Monarch sigh'd to see
These glades to loved in childhood free,
Bethinking that, as outlaw now,
He ranged beneath the forest bough.

XX.
Fast o'er the moonlight Chase they sped.
Well knew the band that measured tread,
When, in retreat or in advance,
The serried warriors move at once;
And evil were the luck, if dawn
Descried them on the open lawn.
Copses they traverse, brooks they cross,
Strain up the bank and o'er the moss.
From the exhausted page's brow
Cold drops of toil are streaming now;
With effort faint and lengthen'd pause,
His wearied step the stripling draws.
'Nay, droop not yet!' the warrior said;
'Come, let me give thee ease and aid!
Strong are mine arms, and little care
A weight so slight as thine to bear.-
What! wilt thou not? - capricious boy!-
Pass but this night, and pass thy care,
I'll place thee with a lady fair,
Where thou shalt tune thy lute to tell
How Ronald loves fair Isabel!'
Worn out, dishearten'd, and dismay'd,
Here Amadine let go the plaid.
His trembling limbs their aid refuse,
He sunk among the midnight dews!

XXI.
What may be done? - the night is gone -
The Bruce's band moves swiftly on -
Eternal shame, if at the brunt
Lord Ronald grace not battle's front!-
'See yonder oak, within whose trunk
Decay a darken'd cell hath sunk;
Enter, and rest thee there a space,
Wrap in my plaid thy limbs, thy face.
I will not be, believe me, far;
But must not quit the ranks of war.
Well will I mark the bosky bourne,
And soon, to guard thee hence, return.-
Nay, weep not so, thou simple boy!
But sleep in peace, and wake in joy.'
In silvan lodging close bestow'd,
He placed the page, and onward strode
With strength put forth, o'er moss and brook,
And soon the marching band o'ertook.

XXII.
Thus strangely left, long sobb'd and wept
The page, till, wearied out, he slept -
A rough voice waked his dream - 'Nay, here,
Here by this thicket pass'd the deer-
Beneath that oak old Ryno staid -
What have we here? - A Scottish plaid,
And in its folds a stripling laid?-
Come forth! thy name and business tell!
What, silent? - then I guess thee well,
The spy that sought old Cuthbert's cell,
Wafted from Arran yester morn -
Come, comrades, we will straight return.
Our Lord may choose the rack should teach
To this young lurcher use of speech.
Thy bow-string, till I bind him fast.'-
'Nay, but he weeps and stands aghast;
Unbound we'll lead him, fear it not;
'Tis a fair stripling, though a Scot.'
The hunters to the castle sped,
And there the hapless captive led.

XXIII.
Stout Clifford in the castle-court
Prepared him for the morning sport;
And now with Lorn held deep discourse,
Now gave command for hound and horse.
War-steeds and palfreys paw'd the ground,
And many a deer-dog how'd around.
To Amadine, Lorn's well-known word
Replying to that Southern Lord,
Mix'd with this clanging din, might seem
The phantasm of a fever'd dream.
The tone upon his ringing ears
Came like the sounds which fancy hears,
Some words of woe the muser finds,
Until more loudly and more near,
Their speech arrests the page's ear.

XXIV.
'And was she thus,' said Clifford, 'lost?
The priest should rue it to his cost!
What says the monk?' - 'The holy Sire
Owns, that in masquer's quaint attire,
She sought his skiff, disguised, unknown
To all except to him alone.
But, says the priest, a bark from Lorn
Laid them aboard that very morn,
And pirates seized for her their prey.
He proffer'd ransom gold to pay,
And they agreed - but ere told o'er,
The winds blow loud, the billows roar;
They sever'd, and they met no more.
He deems - such tempests vex'd the coast -
Ship, crew, and fugitive, were lost.
So let it be, with the disgrace
And scandal of her lofty race!
Thrice better she had ne'er been born,
Than brought her infamy on Lorn!'

XXV.
Lord Clifford now the captive spied;-
'Whom, Herbert, hast thou there?' he cried.
'A spy we seized within the Chase,
A hollow oak his lurking place.'-
'What tidings can the youth afford?'-
'He plays the mute.' - 'Then noose a cord -
Unless brave Lorn reverse the doom
For his plaid's sake.' - 'Clan-Colla's loom,'
Said Lorn, whose careless glances trace
Rather the vesture than the face,
'Clan-Colla's dames such tartans twine;
Wearer nor plaid claims care of mine.
Give him, if my advice you crave,
His own scathed oak; and let him wave
In air, unless, by terror wrung,
A frank confession find his tongue.-
Nor shall he die without his rite;
-Thou, Angus Roy, attend the sight,
And give Clan-Colla'd dirge thy breath,
As they convey him to his death.'-
'O brother! cruel to the last!'
Through the poor captive's bosom pass'd
The thought, but, to his purpose true,
He said not, though he sigh'd, 'Adieu!'

XXVI.
And will he keep his purpose still,
In sight of that last closing ill,
When one poor breath, one single word,
May freedom, safety, life, afford?
Can he resist the instinctive call,
For life that bids us barter all?-
Love, strong as death, his heart hath steel'd,
His nerves hath strung - he will not yield!
Since that poor breath, that little word,
May yield Lord Ronald to the sword.-
Clan-Colla's dirge is pealing wide,
The grisly headsman's by his side;
Along the greenwood Chase they bend,
And now their march has ghastly end!
That old and shatter'd oak beneath,
They destine for the place of death.
-What thoughts are his, while all in vain
His eye for aid explores the plain?
What thoughts, while, with dizzy ear,
He hears the death-prayer mutter'd near?
And must he die such death accurst,
Or will that bosom-secret burst?
Cold on his brow breaks terror's dew,
His trembling lips are livid blue;
The agony of parting life
Has nought to match that moment's strife!

XXVII.
But other witnesses are nigh,
Who mock at fear, and death defy!
Soon as the dire lament was play'd,
It waked the lurking ambuscade.
The Island Lord look'd forth, and spied
The cause, and loud in fury cried,-
'By Heaven, they lead the page to die,
And mock me in his agony!
They shall abye it!' - On his arm
Bruce laid strong grasp, 'They shall not harm
A ringlet of the stripling's hair;
But, till I give the word, forbear.
-Douglas lead fifty of our force
Up yonder hollow water-course,
And couch thee midway on the wold,
Between the flyers and their hold:
A spear above the copse display'd,
Be signal of the ambush made.
-Edward, with forty spearmen, straight
Through yonder copse approach the gate,
And, when thou hear'st the battle-din,
Rush forward, and the passage win,
Secure the drawbridge - storm the port,
And man and guard the castle-court.-
The rest move slowly forth with me,
In shelter of the forest-tree,
Till Douglas at his post I see.'

XXVIII.
Like war-horse eager to rush on,
Compell'd to wait the signal blown,
Hid, and scarce hid, by greenwood bough,
Trembling with rage, stands Ronald now,
And in his grasp his sword gleams blue
Soon to be dyed with deadlier hue.-
Meanwhile the Bruce, with steady eye,
Sees the dark death-train moving by,
And heedful measures oft the space
The Douglas and his band must trace,
Ere they can reach their destined ground.
Now sinks the dirge's wailing sound,
Now cluster round the direful tree
That slow and solemn company,
While hymn mistuned and mutter'd prayer
The victim for his fate prepare.-
What glances o'er the greenwood shade?
The spear that marks the ambuscade!-
'Now, noble Chief! I leave thee loose;
Upon them, Ronald!' said the Bruce.

XXIX.
'The Bruce! the Bruce!' to well-known cry
His native rocks and woods reply.
'The Bruce! the Bruce!' in that dread word
The knell of hundred deaths was heard.
The astonish'd Southern gazed at first
Where the wild tempest was to burst,
That waked in that presaging name,
Before, behind, around it came!
Half-arm'd, surprised, on every side
Hemm'd in, hew'd down, they bled and died,
Deep in the ring the Bruce engaged,
And fierce Clan-Colla's broadsword raged!
Full soon the few who fought were sped,
Nor better was their lot who fled,
And met, 'mid terror's wild career,
The Douglas's redoubted spear!
Two hundred yeoman on that morn
The castle left, and none return.

XXX.
Not on their flight press'd Ronald's brand,
A gentler duty claim'd his hand.
He raised the page, where the plain
His fear had sunk him with the slain:
And twice, that morn, surprise well near
Betray'd the secret kept by fear;
Once, when, with life returning, came
To the boy's lip Lord Ronald's name,
And hardly recollection drown'd
The accents in a murmuring sound;
And once, when scarce he could resist
The Chieftain's care to loose the vest,
Drawn tightly o'er his labouring breast.
But then the Bruce's bugle blew,
For martial work was yet to do.

XXXI.
A harder task fierce Edward waits.
Ere signal given, the castle gates
His fury had assail'd;
Such was his wonted reckless mood,
Yet desperate valour oft made good,
Even by its daring, venture rude,
Where prudence might have fail'd.
Upon the bridge his strength he threw,
And struck the iron chain in two,
By which its planks arose;
The warder next his axe's edge
Struck down upon the threshold ledge,
'Twixt door and post and ghastly wedge!
The gate they may not close.
Well fought the Southern in the fray,
Clifford and Lorn fought well that day,
But stubborn Edward forced his way
Against a hundred foes.
Loud came the cry, 'The Bruce, the Bruce!'
No hope or in defence or truce,-
Fresh combatants pour in;
Mad with success, and drunk with gore,
They drive the struggling foe before,
And ward on ward they win.
Unsparing was the vengeful sword,
And limbs were lopp'd, and life-blood pour'd,
The cry of death and conflict roar'd,
And fearful was the din!
The startling horses plunged and flung,
Clamour'd the dogs till turrets rung,
Nor sunk the fearful cry,
Till not a foeman was there found
Alive, save those who on the ground
Groan'd in their agony!

XXXII.
The valiant Clifford is no more;
On Ronald's broadsword stream's his gore.
But better hap had he of Lorn,
Who, by the foeman backward borne,
Yet gain'd with slender train the port,
Where lay his bark beneath the fort,
And cut the cable loose.
Short were his shrift in that debate,
That hour of fury and of fate,
If Lorn encounter'd Bruce!
Then long and loud the victor shout
From turret and from tower rung out,
The rugged vaults replied;
And from the donjon tower on high,
The men of Carrick may descry
Saint Andrew's cross, in blazonry
Of silver, waving wide!

XXXIII.
The Bruce hath won his father's hall!
-'Welcome, brave friends and comrades all,
Welcome to mirth and joy!
The first, the last, is welcome here,
From lord and chieftain, prince and peer,
To this poor speechless boy.
Great God! once more my sire's abode
Is mine - behold the floor I trode
In tottering infancy!
And there the vaulted arch, whose sound
Echoed my joyous shout and bound
In boyhood, and that rung around
To youth's unthinking glee!
O first, to thee, all-gracious Heaven,
Then to my friends, my thanks be given!'-
He paused a space, his brow he cross'd-
Then on the board his sword he toss'd,
Yet steaming hot; with Southern gore
From hilt to point 'twas crimson'd o'er.

XXXIV.
'Bring here,' he said, 'the mazers four,
My noble fathers loved of yore.
Thrice let them circle round the board,
The pledge, fair Scotland's rights restor'd!
And he whose lip shall touch the wine,
Without a vow as true as mine,
To hold both lands and life at nought,
Until her freedom shall be bought,-
Be brand of a disloyal Scot,
And lasting infamy his lot!
Sit, gentle friends! our hour of glee
Is brief, we'll spend it joyously!
Blithest of all the sun's bright beams,
When betwixt storm and storm he gleams.
Well is our country's work begun,
But more, far more, must yet be done.
Speed messengers the country through;
Arouse old friends, and gather new;
Warn Lanark's knights to gird their mail,
Rouse the brave sons of Teviotdale,
Let Ettrick's archers sharp their darts,
The fairest forms, the truest hearts!
Call all, call all! from Reedswair-Path,
To the wild confines of Cape-Wrath;
Wide let the news through Scotland ring,-
The Northern Eagle claps his wing!'

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Homer

The Iliad: Book 18

Thus then did they fight as it were a flaming fire. Meanwhile the
fleet runner Antilochus, who had been sent as messenger, reached
Achilles, and found him sitting by his tall ships and boding that
which was indeed too surely true. "Alas," said he to himself in the
heaviness of his heart, "why are the Achaeans again scouring the plain
and flocking towards the ships? Heaven grant the gods be not now
bringing that sorrow upon me of which my mother Thetis spoke, saying
that while I was yet alive the bravest of the Myrmidons should fall
before the Trojans, and see the light of the sun no longer. I fear the
brave son of Menoetius has fallen through his own daring and yet I
bade him return to the ships as soon as he had driven back those
that were bringing fire against them, and not join battle with
Hector."
As he was thus pondering, the son of Nestor came up to him and
told his sad tale, weeping bitterly the while. "Alas," he cried,
"son of noble Peleus, I bring you bad tidings, would indeed that
they were untrue. Patroclus has fallen, and a fight is raging about
his naked body- for Hector holds his armour."
A dark cloud of grief fell upon Achilles as he listened. He filled
both hands with dust from off the ground, and poured it over his head,
disfiguring his comely face, and letting the refuse settle over his
shirt so fair and new. He flung himself down all huge and hugely at
full length, and tore his hair with his hands. The bondswomen whom
Achilles and Patroclus had taken captive screamed aloud for grief,
beating their breasts, and with their limbs failing them for sorrow.
Antilochus bent over him the while, weeping and holding both his hands
as he lay groaning for he feared that he might plunge a knife into his
own throat. Then Achilles gave a loud cry and his mother heard him
as she was sitting in the depths of the sea by the old man her father,
whereon she screamed, and all the goddesses daughters of Nereus that
dwelt at the bottom of the sea, came gathering round her. There were
Glauce, Thalia and Cymodoce, Nesaia, Speo, thoe and dark-eyed Halie,
Cymothoe, Actaea and Limnorea, Melite, Iaera, Amphithoe and Agave,
Doto and Proto, Pherusa and Dynamene, Dexamene, Amphinome and
Callianeira, Doris, Panope, and the famous sea-nymph Galatea,
Nemertes, Apseudes and Callianassa. There were also Clymene, Ianeira
and Ianassa, Maera, Oreithuia and Amatheia of the lovely locks, with
other Nereids who dwell in the depths of the sea. The crystal cave was
filled with their multitude and they all beat their breasts while
Thetis led them in their lament.
"Listen," she cried, "sisters, daughters of Nereus, that you may
hear the burden of my sorrows. Alas, woe is me, woe in that I have
borne the most glorious of offspring. I bore him fair and strong, hero
among heroes, and he shot up as a sapling; I tended him as a plant
in a goodly garden, and sent him with his ships to Ilius to fight
the Trojans, but never shall I welcome him back to the house of
Peleus. So long as he lives to look upon the light of the sun he is in
heaviness, and though I go to him I cannot help him. Nevertheless I
will go, that I may see my dear son and learn what sorrow has befallen
him though he is still holding aloof from battle."
She left the cave as she spoke, while the others followed weeping
after, and the waves opened a path before them. When they reached
the rich plain of Troy, they came up out of the sea in a long line
on to the sands, at the place where the ships of the Myrmidons were
drawn up in close order round the tents of Achilles. His mother went
up to him as he lay groaning; she laid her hand upon his head and
spoke piteously, saying, "My son, why are you thus weeping? What
sorrow has now befallen you? Tell me; hide it not from me. Surely Jove
has granted you the prayer you made him, when you lifted up your hands
and besought him that the Achaeans might all of them be pent up at
their ships, and rue it bitterly in that you were no longer with
them."
Achilles groaned and answered, "Mother, Olympian Jove has indeed
vouchsafed me the fulfilment of my prayer, but what boots it to me,
seeing that my dear comrade Patroclus has fallen- he whom I valued
more than all others, and loved as dearly as my own life? I have
lost him; aye, and Hector when he had killed him stripped the wondrous
armour, so glorious to behold, which the gods gave to Peleus when they
laid you in the couch of a mortal man. Would that you were still
dwelling among the immortal sea-nymphs, and that Peleus had taken to
himself some mortal bride. For now you shall have grief infinite by
reason of the death of that son whom you can never welcome home-
nay, I will not live nor go about among mankind unless Hector fall
by my spear, and thus pay me for having slain Patroclus son of
Menoetius."
Thetis wept and answered, "Then, my son, is your end near at hand-
for your own death awaits you full soon after that of Hector."
Then said Achilles in his great grief, "I would die here and now, in
that I could not save my comrade. He has fallen far from home, and
in his hour of need my hand was not there to help him. What is there
for me? Return to my own land I shall not, and I have brought no
saving neither to Patroclus nor to my other comrades of whom so many
have been slain by mighty Hector; I stay here by my ships a bootless
burden upon the earth, I, who in fight have no peer among the
Achaeans, though in council there are better than I. Therefore, perish
strife both from among gods and men, and anger, wherein even a
righteous man will harden his heart- which rises up in the soul of a
man like smoke, and the taste thereof is sweeter than drops of
honey. Even so has Agamemnon angered me. And yet- so be it, for it
is over; I will force my soul into subjection as I needs must; I
will go; I will pursue Hector who has slain him whom I loved so
dearly, and will then abide my doom when it may please Jove and the
other gods to send it. Even Hercules, the best beloved of Jove- even
he could not escape the hand of death, but fate and Juno's fierce
anger laid him low, as I too shall lie when I am dead if a like doom
awaits me. Till then I will win fame, and will bid Trojan and
Dardanian women wring tears from their tender cheeks with both their
hands in the grievousness of their great sorrow; thus shall they
know that he who has held aloof so long will hold aloof no longer.
Hold me not back, therefore, in the love you bear me, for you shall
not move me."
Then silver-footed Thetis answered, "My son, what you have said is
true. It is well to save your comrades from destruction, but your
armour is in the hands of the Trojans; Hector bears it in triumph upon
his own shoulders. Full well I know that his vaunt shall not be
lasting, for his end is close at hand; go not, however, into the press
of battle till you see me return hither; to-morrow at break of day I
shall be here, and will bring you goodly armour from King Vulcan."
On this she left her brave son, and as she turned away she said to
the sea-nymphs her sisters, "Dive into the bosom of the sea and go
to the house of the old sea-god my father. Tell him everything; as for
me, I will go to the cunning workman Vulcan on high Olympus, and ask
him to provide my son with a suit of splendid armour."
When she had so said, they dived forthwith beneath the waves,
while silver-footed Thetis went her way that she might bring the
armour for her son.
Thus, then, did her feet bear the goddess to Olympus, and
meanwhile the Achaeans were flying with loud cries before murderous
Hector till they reached the ships and the Hellespont, and they
could not draw the body of Mars's servant Patroclus out of reach of
the weapons that were showered upon him, for Hector son of Priam
with his host and horsemen had again caught up to him like the flame
of a fiery furnace; thrice did brave Hector seize him by the feet,
striving with might and main to draw him away and calling loudly on
the Trojans, and thrice did the two Ajaxes, clothed in valour as
with a garment, beat him from off the body; but all undaunted he would
now charge into the thick of the fight, and now again he would stand
still and cry aloud, but he would give no ground. As upland
shepherds that cannot chase some famished lion from a carcase, even so
could not the two Ajaxes scare Hector son of Priam from the body of
Patroclus.
And now he would even have dragged it off and have won
imperishable glory, had not Iris fleet as the wind, winged her way
as messenger from Olympus to the son of Peleus and bidden him arm. She
came secretly without the knowledge of Jove and of the other gods, for
Juno sent her, and when she had got close to him she said, "Up, son of
Peleus, mightiest of all mankind; rescue Patroclus about whom this
fearful fight is now raging by the ships. Men are killing one another,
the Danaans in defence of the dead body, while the Trojans are
trying to hale it away, and take it to wind Ilius: Hector is the
most furious of them all; he is for cutting the head from the body and
fixing it on the stakes of the wall. Up, then, and bide here no
longer; shrink from the thought that Patroclus may become meat for the
dogs of Troy. Shame on you, should his body suffer any kind of
outrage."
And Achilles said, "Iris, which of the gods was it that sent you
to me?"
Iris answered, "It was Juno the royal spouse of Jove, but the son of
Saturn does not know of my coming, nor yet does any other of the
immortals who dwell on the snowy summits of Olympus."
Then fleet Achilles answered her saying, "How can I go up into the
battle? They have my armour. My mother forbade me to arm till I should
see her come, for she promised to bring me goodly armour from
Vulcan; I know no man whose arms I can put on, save only the shield of
Ajax son of Telamon, and he surely must be fighting in the front
rank and wielding his spear about the body of dead Patroclus."
Iris said, 'We know that your armour has been taken, but go as you
are; go to the deep trench and show yourelf before the Trojans, that
they may fear you and cease fighting. Thus will the fainting sons of
the Achaeans gain some brief breathing-time, which in battle may
hardly be."
Iris left him when she had so spoken. But Achilles dear to Jove
arose, and Minerva flung her tasselled aegis round his strong
shoulders; she crowned his head with a halo of golden cloud from which
she kindled a glow of gleaming fire. As the smoke that goes up into
heaven from some city that is being beleaguered on an island far out
at sea- all day long do men sally from the city and fight their
hardest, and at the going down of the sun the line of beacon-fires
blazes forth, flaring high for those that dwell near them to behold,
if so be that they may come with their ships and succour them- even so
did the light flare from the head of Achilles, as he stood by the
trench, going beyond the wall- but he aid not join the Achaeans for he
heeded the charge which his mother laid upon him.
There did he stand and shout aloud. Minerva also raised her voice
from afar, and spread terror unspeakable among the Trojans. Ringing as
the note of a trumpet that sounds alarm then the foe is at the gates
of a city, even so brazen was the voice of the son of Aeacus, and when
the Trojans heard its clarion tones they were dismayed; the horses
turned back with their chariots for they boded mischief, and their
drivers were awe-struck by the steady flame which the grey-eyed
goddess had kindled above the head of the great son of Peleus.
Thrice did Achilles raise his loud cry as he stood by the trench,
and thrice were the Trojans and their brave allies thrown into
confusion; whereon twelve of their noblest champions fell beneath
the wheels of their chariots and perished by their own spears. The
Achaeans to their great joy then drew Patroclus out of reach of the
weapons, and laid him on a litter: his comrades stood mourning round
him, and among them fleet Achilles who wept bitterly as he saw his
true comrade lying dead upon his bier. He had sent him out with horses
and chariots into battle, but his return he was not to welcome.
Then Juno sent the busy sun, loth though he was, into the waters
of Oceanus; so he set, and the Achaeans had rest from the tug and
turmoil of war.
Now the Trojans when they had come out of the fight, unyoked their
horses and gathered in assembly before preparing their supper. They
kept their feet, nor would any dare to sit down, for fear had fallen
upon them all because Achilles had shown himself after having held
aloof so long from battle. Polydamas son of Panthous was first to
speak, a man of judgement, who alone among them could look both before
and after. He was comrade to Hector, and they had been born upon the
same night; with all sincerity and goodwill, therefore, he addressed
them thus:-
"Look to it well, my friends; I would urge you to go back now to
your city and not wait here by the ships till morning, for we are
far from our walls. So long as this man was at enmity with Agamemnon
the Achaeans were easier to deal with, and I would have gladly
camped by the ships in the hope of taking them; but now I go in
great fear of the fleet son of Peleus; he is so daring that he will
never bide here on the plain whereon the Trojans and Achaeans fight
with equal valour, but he will try to storm our city and carry off our
women. Do then as I say, and let us retreat. For this is what will
happen. The darkness of night will for a time stay the son of
Peleus, but if he find us here in the morning when he sallies forth in
full armour, we shall have knowledge of him in good earnest. Glad
indeed will he be who can escape and get back to Ilius, and many a
Trojan will become meat for dogs and vultures may I never live to hear
it. If we do as I say, little though we may like it, we shall have
strength in counsel during the night, and the great gates with the
doors that close them will protect the city. At dawn we can arm and
take our stand on the walls; he will then rue it if he sallies from
the ships to fight us. He will go back when he has given his horses
their fill of being driven all whithers under our walls, and will be
in no mind to try and force his way into the city. Neither will he
ever sack it, dogs shall devour him ere he do so."
Hector looked fiercely at him and answered, "Polydamas, your words
are not to my liking in that you bid us go back and be pent within the
city. Have you not had enough of being cooped up behind walls? In
the old-days the city of Priam was famous the whole world over for its
wealth of gold and bronze, but our treasures are wasted out of our
houses, and much goods have been sold away to Phrygia and fair Meonia,
for the hand of Jove has been laid heavily upon us. Now, therefore,
that the son of scheming Saturn has vouchsafed me to win glory here
and to hem the Achaeans in at their ships, prate no more in this
fool's wise among the people. You will have no man with you; it
shall not be; do all of you as I now say;- take your suppers in your
companies throughout the host, and keep your watches and be wakeful
every man of you. If any Trojan is uneasy about his possessions, let
him gather them and give them out among the people. Better let
these, rather than the Achaeans, have them. At daybreak we will arm
and fight about the ships; granted that Achilles has again come
forward to defend them, let it be as he will, but it shall go hard
with him. I shall not shun him, but will fight him, to fall or
conquer. The god of war deals out like measure to all, and the
slayer may yet be slain."
Thus spoke Hector; and the Trojans, fools that they were, shouted in
applause, for Pallas Minerva had robbed them of their understanding.
They gave ear to Hector with his evil counsel, but the wise words of
Polydamas no man would heed. They took their supper throughout the
host, and meanwhile through the whole night the Achaeans mourned
Patroclus, and the son of Peleus led them in their lament. He laid his
murderous hands upon the breast of his comrade, groaning again and
again as a bearded lion when a man who was chasing deer has robbed him
of his young in some dense forest; when the lion comes back he is
furious, and searches dingle and dell to track the hunter if he can
find him, for he is mad with rage- even so with many a sigh did
Achilles speak among the Myrmidons saying, "Alas! vain were the
words with which I cheered the hero Menoetius in his own house; I said
that I would bring his brave son back again to Opoeis after he had
sacked Ilius and taken his share of the spoils- but Jove does not give
all men their heart's desire. The same soil shall be reddened here
at Troy by the blood of us both, for I too shall never be welcomed
home by the old knight Peleus, nor by my mother Thetis, but even in
this place shall the earth cover me. Nevertheless, O Patroclus, now
that I am left behind you, I will not bury you, till I have brought
hither the head and armour of mighty Hector who has slain you.
Twelve noble sons of Trojans will I behead before your bier to
avenge you; till I have done so you shall lie as you are by the ships,
and fair women of Troy and Dardanus, whom we have taken with spear and
strength of arm when we sacked men's goodly cities, shall weep over
you both night and day."
Then Achilles told his men to set a large tripod upon the fire
that they might wash the clotted gore from off Patroclus. Thereon they
set a tripod full of bath water on to a clear fire: they threw
sticks on to it to make it blaze, and the water became hot as the
flame played about the belly of the tripod. When the water in the
cauldron was boiling they washed the body, anointed it with oil, and
closed its wounds with ointment that had been kept nine years. Then
they laid it on a bier and covered it with a linen cloth from head
to foot, and over this they laid a fair white robe. Thus all night
long did the Myrmidons gather round Achilles to mourn Patroclus.
Then Jove said to Juno his sister-wife, "So, Queen Juno, you have
gained your end, and have roused fleet Achilles. One would think
that the Achaeans were of your own flesh and blood."
And Juno answered, "Dread son of Saturn, why should you say this
thing? May not a man though he be only mortal and knows less than we
do, do what he can for another person? And shall not I- foremost of
all goddesses both by descent and as wife to you who reign in
heaven- devise evil for the Trojans if I am angry with them?"
Thus did they converse. Meanwhile Thetis came to the house of
Vulcan, imperishable, star-bespangled, fairest of the abodes in
heaven, a house of bronze wrought by the lame god's own hands. She
found him busy with his bellows, sweating and hard at work, for he was
making twenty tripods that were to stand by the wall of his house, and
he set wheels of gold under them all that they might go of their own
selves to the assemblies of the gods, and come back again- marvels
indeed to see. They were finished all but the ears of cunning
workmanship which yet remained to be fixed to them: these he was now
fixing, and he was hammering at the rivets. While he was thus at
work silver-footed Thetis came to the house. Charis, of graceful
head-dress, wife to the far-famed lame god, came towards her as soon
as she saw her, and took her hand in her own, saying, "Why have you
come to our house, Thetis, honoured and ever welcome- for you do not
visit us often? Come inside and let me set refreshment before you."
The goddess led the way as she spoke, and bade Thetis sit on a
richly decorated seat inlaid with silver; there was a footstool also
under her feet. Then she called Vulcan and said, "Vulcan, come here,
Thetis wants you"; and the far-famed lame god answered, "Then it is
indeed an august and honoured goddess who has come here; she it was
that took care of me when I was suffering from the heavy fall which
I had through my cruel mother's anger- for she would have got rid of
me because I was lame. It would have gone hardly with me had not
Eurynome, daughter of the ever-encircling waters of Oceanus, and
Thetis, taken me to their bosom. Nine years did I stay with them,
and many beautiful works in bronze, brooches, spiral armlets, cups,
and chains, did I make for them in their cave, with the roaring waters
of Oceanus foaming as they rushed ever past it; and no one knew,
neither of gods nor men, save only Thetis and Eurynome who took care
of me. If, then, Thetis has come to my house I must make her due
requital for having saved me; entertain her, therefore, with all
hospitality, while I put by my bellows and all my tools."
On this the mighty monster hobbled off from his anvil, his thin legs
plying lustily under him. He set the bellows away from the fire, and
gathered his tools into a silver chest. Then he took a sponge and
washed his face and hands, his shaggy chest and brawny neck; he donned
his shirt, grasped his strong staff, and limped towards the door.
There were golden handmaids also who worked for him, and were like
real young women, with sense and reason, voice also and strength,
and all the learning of the immortals; these busied themselves as
the king bade them, while he drew near to Thetis, seated her upon a
goodly seat, and took her hand in his own, saying, "Why have you
come to our house, Thetis honoured and ever welcome- for you do not
visit us often? Say what you want, and I will do it for you at once if
I can, and if it can be done at all."
Thetis wept and answered, "Vulcan, is there another goddess in
Olympus whom the son of Saturn has been pleased to try with so much
affliction as he has me? Me alone of the marine goddesses did he
make subject to a mortal husband, Peleus son of Aeacus, and sorely
against my will did I submit to the embraces of one who was but
mortal, and who now stays at home worn out with age. Neither is this
all. Heaven vouchsafed me a son, hero among heroes, and he shot up
as a sapling. I tended him as a plant in a goodly garden and sent
him with his ships to Ilius to fight the Trojans, but never shall I
welcome him back to the house of Peleus. So long as he lives to look
upon the light of the sun, he is in heaviness, and though I go to
him I cannot help him; King Agamemnon has made him give up the
maiden whom the sons of the Achaeans had awarded him, and he wastes
with sorrow for her sake. Then the Trojans hemmed the Achaeans in at
their ships' sterns and would not let them come forth; the elders,
therefore, of the Argives besought Achilles and offered him great
treasure, whereon he refused to bring deliverance to them himself, but
put his own armour on Patroclus and sent him into the fight with
much people after him. All day long they fought by the Scaean gates
and would have taken the city there and then, had not Apollo
vouchsafed glory to Hector and slain the valiant son of Menoetius
after he had done the Trojans much evil. Therefore I am suppliant at
your knees if haply you may be pleased to provide my son, whose end is
near at hand, with helmet and shield, with goodly greaves fitted
with ancle-clasps, and with a breastplate, for he lost his own when
his true comrade fell at the hands of the Trojans, and he now lies
stretched on earth in the bitterness of his soul."
And Vulcan answered, "Take heart, and be no more disquieted about
this matter; would that I could hide him from death's sight when his
hour is come, so surely as I can find him armour that shall amaze
the eyes of all who behold it."
When he had so said he left her and went to his bellows, turning
them towards the fire and bidding them do their office. Twenty bellows
blew upon the melting-pots, and they blew blasts of every kind, some
fierce to help him when he had need of them, and others less strong as
Vulcan willed it in the course of his work. He threw tough copper into
the fire, and tin, with silver and gold; he set his great anvil on its
block, and with one hand grasped his mighty hammer while he took the
tongs in the other.
First he shaped the shield so great and strong, adorning it all over
and binding it round with a gleaming circuit in three layers; and
the baldric was made of silver. He made the shield in five
thicknesses, and with many a wonder did his cunning hand enrich it.
He wrought the earth, the heavens, and the sea; the moon also at her
full and the untiring sun, with all the signs that glorify the face of
heaven- the Pleiads, the Hyads, huge Orion, and the Bear, which men
also call the Wain and which turns round ever in one place, facing.
Orion, and alone never dips into the stream of Oceanus.
He wrought also two cities, fair to see and busy with the hum of
men. In the one were weddings and wedding-feasts, and they were
going about the city with brides whom they were escorting by
torchlight from their chambers. Loud rose the cry of Hymen, and the
youths danced to the music of flute and lyre, while the women stood
each at her house door to see them.
Meanwhile the people were gathered in assembly, for there was a
quarrel, and two men were wrangling about the blood-money for a man
who had been killed, the one saying before the people that he had paid
damages in full, and the other that he had not been paid. Each was
trying to make his own case good, and the people took sides, each
man backing the side that he had taken; but the heralds kept them
back, and the elders sate on their seats of stone in a solemn
circle, holding the staves which the heralds had put into their hands.
Then they rose and each in his turn gave judgement, and there were two
talents laid down, to be given to him whose judgement should be deemed
the fairest.
About the other city there lay encamped two hosts in gleaming
armour, and they were divided whether to sack it, or to spare it and
accept the half of what it contained. But the men of the city would
not yet consent, and armed themselves for a surprise; their wives
and little children kept guard upon the walls, and with them were
the men who were past fighting through age; but the others sallied
forth with Mars and Pallas Minerva at their head- both of them wrought
in gold and clad in golden raiment, great and fair with their armour
as befitting gods, while they that followed were smaller. When they
reached the place where they would lay their ambush, it was on a
riverbed to which live stock of all kinds would come from far and near
to water; here, then, they lay concealed, clad in full armour. Some
way off them there were two scouts who were on the look-out for the
coming of sheep or cattle, which presently came, followed by two
shepherds who were playing on their pipes, and had not so much as a
thought of danger. When those who were in ambush saw this, they cut
off the flocks and herds and killed the shepherds. Meanwhile the
besiegers, when they heard much noise among the cattle as they sat
in council, sprang to their horses, and made with all speed towards
them; when they reached them they set battle in array by the banks
of the river, and the hosts aimed their bronze-shod spears at one
another. With them were Strife and Riot, and fell Fate who was
dragging three men after her, one with a fresh wound, and the other
unwounded, while the third was dead, and she was dragging him along by
his heel: and her robe was bedrabbled in men's blood. They went in and
out with one another and fought as though they were living people
haling away one another's dead.
He wrought also a fair fallow field, large and thrice ploughed
already. Many men were working at the plough within it, turning
their oxen to and fro, furrow after furrow. Each time that they turned
on reaching the headland a man would come up to them and give them a
cup of wine, and they would go back to their furrows looking forward
to the time when they should again reach the headland. The part that
they had ploughed was dark behind them, so that the field, though it
was of gold, still looked as if it were being ploughed- very curious
to behold.
He wrought also a field of harvest corn, and the reapers were
reaping with sharp sickles in their hands. Swathe after swathe fell to
the ground in a straight line behind them, and the binders bound
them in bands of twisted straw. There were three binders, and behind
them there were boys who gathered the cut corn in armfuls and kept
on bringing them to be bound: among them all the owner of the land
stood by in silence and was glad. The servants were getting a meal
ready under an oak, for they had sacrificed a great ox, and were
busy cutting him up, while the women were making a porridge of much
white barley for the labourers' dinner.
He wrought also a vineyard, golden and fair to see, and the vines
were loaded with grapes. The bunches overhead were black, but the
vines were trained on poles of silver. He ran a ditch of dark metal
all round it, and fenced it with a fence of tin; there was only one
path to it, and by this the vintagers went when they would gather
the vintage. Youths and maidens all blithe and full of glee, carried
the luscious fruit in plaited baskets; and with them there went a
boy who made sweet music with his lyre, and sang the Linus-song with
his clear boyish voice.
He wrought also a herd of homed cattle. He made the cows of gold and
tin, and they lowed as they came full speed out of the yards to go and
feed among the waving reeds that grow by the banks of the river. Along
with the cattle there went four shepherds, all of them in gold, and
their nine fleet dogs went with them. Two terrible lions had
fastened on a bellowing bull that was with the foremost cows, and
bellow as he might they haled him, while the dogs and men gave
chase: the lions tore through the bull's thick hide and were gorging
on his blood and bowels, but the herdsmen were afraid to do
anything, and only hounded on their dogs; the dogs dared not fasten on
the lions but stood by barking and keeping out of harm's way.
The god wrought also a pasture in a fair mountain dell, and large
flock of sheep, with a homestead and huts, and sheltered sheepfolds.
Furthermore he wrought a green, like that which Daedalus once made
in Cnossus for lovely Ariadne. Hereon there danced youths and
maidens whom all would woo, with their hands on one another's
wrists. The maidens wore robes of light linen, and the youths well
woven shirts that were slightly oiled. The girls were crowned with
garlands, while the young men had daggers of gold that hung by
silver baldrics; sometimes they would dance deftly in a ring with
merry twinkling feet, as it were a potter sitting at his work and
making trial of his wheel to see whether it will run, and sometimes
they would go all in line with one another, and much people was
gathered joyously about the green. There was a bard also to sing to
them and play his lyre, while two tumblers went about performing in
the midst of them when the man struck up with his tune.
All round the outermost rim of the shield he set the mighty stream
of the river Oceanus.
Then when he had fashioned the shield so great and strong, he made a
breastplate also that shone brighter than fire. He made helmet,
close fitting to the brow, and richly worked, with a golden plume
overhanging it; and he made greaves also of beaten tin.
Lastly, when the famed lame god had made all the armour, he took
it and set it before the mother of Achilles; whereon she darted like a
falcon from the snowy summits of Olympus and bore away the gleaming
armour from the house of Vulcan.

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Homer

The Iliad: Book 21

Now when they came to the ford of the full-flowing river Xanthus,
begotten of immortal Jove, Achilles cut their forces in two: one
half he chased over the plain towards the city by the same way that
the Achaeans had taken when flying panic-stricken on the preceding day
with Hector in full triumph; this way did they fly pell-mell, and Juno
sent down a thick mist in front of them to stay them. The other half
were hemmed in by the deep silver-eddying stream, and fell into it
with a great uproar. The waters resounded, and the banks rang again,
as they swam hither and thither with loud cries amid the whirling
eddies. As locusts flying to a river before the blast of a grass fire-
the flame comes on and on till at last it overtakes them and they
huddle into the water- even so was the eddying stream of Xanthus
filled with the uproar of men and horses, all struggling in
confusion before Achilles.
Forthwith the hero left his spear upon the bank, leaning it
against a tamarisk bush, and plunged into the river like a god,
armed with his sword only. Fell was his purpose as he hewed the
Trojans down on every side. Their dying groans rose hideous as the
sword smote them, and the river ran red with blood. As when fish fly
scared before a huge dolphin, and fill every nook and corner of some
fair haven- for he is sure to eat all he can catch- even so did the
Trojans cower under the banks of the mighty river, and when
Achilles' arms grew weary with killing them, he drew twelve youths
alive out of the water, to sacrifice in revenge for Patroclus son of
Menoetius. He drew them out like dazed fawns, bound their hands behind
them with the girdles of their own shirts, and gave them over to his
men to take back to the ships. Then he sprang into the river,
thirsting for still further blood.
There he found Lycaon, son of Priam seed of Dardanus, as he was
escaping out of the water; he it was whom he had once taken prisoner
when he was in his father's vineyard, having set upon him by night, as
he was cutting young shoots from a wild fig-tree to make the wicker
sides of a chariot. Achilles then caught him to his sorrow unawares,
and sent him by sea to Lemnos, where the son of Jason bought him.
But a guest-friend, Eetion of Imbros, freed him with a great sum,
and sent him to Arisbe, whence he had escaped and returned to his
father's house. He had spent eleven days happily with his friends
after he had come from Lemnos, but on the twelfth heaven again
delivered him into the hands of Achilles, who was to send him to the
house of Hades sorely against his will. He was unarmed when Achilles
caught sight of him, and had neither helmet nor shield; nor yet had he
any spear, for he had thrown all his armour from him on to the bank,
and was sweating with his struggles to get out of the river, so that
his strength was now failing him.
Then Achilles said to himself in his surprise, "What marvel do I see
here? If this man can come back alive after having been sold over into
Lemnos, I shall have the Trojans also whom I have slain rising from
the world below. Could not even the waters of the grey sea imprison
him, as they do many another whether he will or no? This time let
him taste my spear, that I may know for certain whether mother earth
who can keep even a strong man down, will be able to hold him, or
whether thence too he will return."
Thus did he pause and ponder. But Lycaon came up to him dazed and
trying hard to embrace his knees, for he would fain live, not die.
Achilles thrust at him with his spear, meaning to kill him, but Lycaon
ran crouching up to him and caught his knees, whereby the spear passed
over his back, and stuck in the ground, hungering though it was for
blood. With one hand he caught Achilles' knees as he besought him, and
with the other he clutched the spear and would not let it go. Then
he said, "Achilles, have mercy upon me and spare me, for I am your
suppliant. It was in your tents that I first broke bread on the day
when you took me prisoner in the vineyard; after which you sold away
to Lemnos far from my father and my friends, and I brought you the
price of a hundred oxen. I have paid three times as much to gain my
freedom; it is but twelve days that I have come to Ilius after much
suffering, and now cruel fate has again thrown me into your hands.
Surely father Jove must hate me, that he has given me over to you a
second time. Short of life indeed did my mother Laothoe bear me,
daughter of aged Altes- of Altes who reigns over the warlike Lelegae
and holds steep Pedasus on the river Satnioeis. Priam married his
daughter along with many other women and two sons were born of her,
both of whom you will have slain. Your spear slew noble Polydorus as
he was fighting in the front ranks, and now evil will here befall
me, for I fear that I shall not escape you since heaven has delivered
me over to you. Furthermore I say, and lay my saying to your heart,
spare me, for I am not of the same womb as Hector who slew your
brave and noble comrade."
With such words did the princely son of Priam beseech Achilles;
but Achilles answered him sternly. "Idiot," said he, "talk not to me
of ransom. Until Patroclus fell I preferred to give the Trojans
quarter, and sold beyond the sea many of those whom I had taken alive;
but now not a man shall live of those whom heaven delivers into my
hands before the city of Ilius- and of all Trojans it shall fare
hardest with the sons of Priam. Therefore, my friend, you too shall
die. Why should you whine in this way? Patroclus fell, and he was a
better man than you are. I too- see you not how I am great and goodly?
I am son to a noble father, and have a goddess for my mother, but
the hands of doom and death overshadow me all as surely. The day
will come, either at dawn or dark, or at the noontide, when one
shall take my life also in battle, either with his spear, or with an
arrow sped from his bow."
Thus did he speak, and Lycaon's heart sank within him. He loosed his
hold of the spear, and held out both hands before him; but Achilles
drew his keen blade, and struck him by the collar-bone on his neck; he
plunged his two-edged sword into him to the very hilt, whereon he
lay at full length on the ground, with the dark blood welling from him
till the earth was soaked. Then Achilles caught him by the foot and
flung him into the river to go down stream, vaunting over him the
while, and saying, "Lie there among the fishes, who will lick the
blood from your wound and gloat over it; your mother shall not lay you
on any bier to mourn you, but the eddies of Scamander shall bear you
into the broad bosom of the sea. There shall the fishes feed on the
fat of Lycaon as they dart under the dark ripple of the waters- so
perish all of you till we reach the citadel of strong Ilius- you in
flight, and I following after to destroy you. The river with its broad
silver stream shall serve you in no stead, for all the bulls you
offered him and all the horses that you flung living into his
waters. None the less miserably shall you perish till there is not a
man of you but has paid in full for the death of Patroclus and the
havoc you wrought among the Achaeans whom you have slain while I
held aloof from battle."
So spoke Achilles, but the river grew more and more angry, and
pondered within himself how he should stay the hand of Achilles and
save the Trojans from disaster. Meanwhile the son of Peleus, spear
in hand, sprang upon Asteropaeus son of Pelegon to kill him. He was
son to the broad river Axius and Periboea eldest daughter of
Acessamenus; for the river had lain with her. Asteropaeus stood up out
of the water to face him with a spear in either hand, and Xanthus
filled him with courage, being angry for the death of the youths
whom Achilles was slaying ruthlessly within his waters. When they were
close up with one another Achilles was first to speak. "Who and whence
are you," said he, "who dare to face me? Woe to the parents whose
son stands up against me." And the son of Pelegon answered, "Great son
of Peleus, why should you ask my lineage. I am from the fertile land
of far Paeonia, captain of the Paeonians, and it is now eleven days
that I am at Ilius. I am of the blood of the river Axius- of Axius
that is the fairest of all rivers that run. He begot the famed warrior
Pelegon, whose son men call me. Let us now fight, Achilles."
Thus did he defy him, and Achilles raised his spear of Pelian ash.
Asteropaeus failed with both his spears, for he could use both hands
alike; with the one spear he struck Achilles' shield, but did not
pierce it, for the layer of gold, gift of the god, stayed the point;
with the other spear he grazed the elbow of Achilles! right arm
drawing dark blood, but the spear itself went by him and fixed
itself in the ground, foiled of its bloody banquet. Then Achilles,
fain to kill him, hurled his spear at Asteropaeus, but failed to hit
him and struck the steep bank of the river, driving the spear half its
length into the earth. The son of Peleus then drew his sword and
sprang furiously upon him. Asteropaeus vainly tried to draw
Achilles' spear out of the bank by main force; thrice did he tug at
it, trying with all his might to draw it out, and thrice he had to
leave off trying; the fourth time he tried to bend and break it, but
ere he could do so Achilles smote him with his sword and killed him.
He struck him in the belly near the navel, so that all his bowels came
gushing out on to the ground, and the darkness of death came over
him as he lay gasping. Then Achilles set his foot on his chest and
spoiled him of his armour, vaunting over him and saying, "Lie there-
begotten of a river though you be, it is hard for you to strive with
the offspring of Saturn's son. You declare yourself sprung from the
blood of a broad river, but I am of the seed of mighty Jove. My father
is Peleus, son of Aeacus ruler over the many Myrmidons, and Aeacus was
the son of Jove. Therefore as Jove is mightier than any river that
flows into the sea, so are his children stronger than those of any
river whatsoever. Moreover you have a great river hard by if he can be
of any use to you, but there is no fighting against Jove the son of
Saturn, with whom not even King Achelous can compare, nor the mighty
stream of deep-flowing Oceanus, from whom all rivers and seas with all
springs and deep wells proceed; even Oceanus fears the lightnings of
great Jove, and his thunder that comes crashing out of heaven."
With this he drew his bronze spear out of the bank, and now that
he had killed Asteropaeus, he let him lie where he was on the sand,
with the dark water flowing over him and the eels and fishes busy
nibbling and gnawing the fat that was about his kidneys. Then he
went in chase of the Paeonians, who were flying along the bank of
the river in panic when they saw their leader slain by the hands of
the son of Peleus. Therein he slew Thersilochus, Mydon, Astypylus,
Mnesus, Thrasius, Oeneus, and Ophelestes, and he would have slain
yet others, had not the river in anger taken human form, and spoken to
him from out the deep waters saying, "Achilles, if you excel all in
strength, so do you also in wickedness, for the gods are ever with you
to protect you: if, then, the son of Saturn has vouchsafed it to you
to destroy all the Trojans, at any rate drive them out of my stream,
and do your grim work on land. My fair waters are now filled with
corpses, nor can I find any channel by which I may pour myself into
the sea for I am choked with dead, and yet you go on mercilessly
slaying. I am in despair, therefore, O captain of your host, trouble
me no further."
Achilles answered, "So be it, Scamander, Jove-descended; but I
will never cease dealing out death among the Trojans, till I have pent
them up in their city, and made trial of Hector face to face, that I
may learn whether he is to vanquish me, or I him."
As he spoke he set upon the Trojans with a fury like that of the
gods. But the river said to Apollo, "Surely, son of Jove, lord of
the silver bow, you are not obeying the commands of Jove who charged
you straitly that you should stand by the Trojans and defend them,
till twilight fades, and darkness is over an the earth."
Meanwhile Achilles sprang from the bank into mid-stream, whereon the
river raised a high wave and attacked him. He swelled his stream
into a torrent, and swept away the many dead whom Achilles had slain
and left within his waters. These he cast out on to the land,
bellowing like a bull the while, but the living he saved alive, hiding
them in his mighty eddies. The great and terrible wave gathered
about Achilles, falling upon him and beating on his shield, so that he
could not keep his feet; he caught hold of a great elm-tree, but it
came up by the roots, and tore away the bank, damming the stream
with its thick branches and bridging it all across; whereby Achilles
struggled out of the stream, and fled full speed over the plain, for
he was afraid.
But the mighty god ceased not in his pursuit, and sprang upon him
with a dark-crested wave, to stay his hands and save the Trojans
from destruction. The son of Peleus darted away a spear's throw from
him; swift as the swoop of a black hunter-eagle which is the strongest
and fleetest of all birds, even so did he spring forward, and the
armour rang loudly about his breast. He fled on in front, but the
river with a loud roar came tearing after. As one who would water
his garden leads a stream from some fountain over his plants, and
all his ground-spade in hand he clears away the dams to free the
channels, and the little stones run rolling round and round with the
water as it goes merrily down the bank faster than the man can follow-
even so did the river keep catching up with Achilles albeit he was a
fleet runner, for the gods are stronger than men. As often as he would
strive to stand his ground, and see whether or no all the gods in
heaven were in league against him, so often would the mighty wave come
beating down upon his shoulders, and be would have to keep flying on
and on in great dismay; for the angry flood was tiring him out as it
flowed past him and ate the ground from under his feet.
Then the son of Peleus lifted up his voice to heaven saying, "Father
Jove, is there none of the gods who will take pity upon me, and save
me from the river? I do not care what may happen to me afterwards. I
blame none of the other dwellers on Olympus so severely as I do my
dear mother, who has beguiled and tricked me. She told me I was to
fall under the walls of Troy by the flying arrows of Apollo; would
that Hector, the best man among the Trojans, might there slay me; then
should I fall a hero by the hand of a hero; whereas now it seems
that I shall come to a most pitiable end, trapped in this river as
though I were some swineherd's boy, who gets carried down a torrent
while trying to cross it during a storm."
As soon as he had spoken thus, Neptune and Minerva came up to him in
the likeness of two men, and took him by the hand to reassure him.
Neptune spoke first. "Son of Peleus," said he, "be not so exceeding
fearful; we are two gods, come with Jove's sanction to assist you,
I, and Pallas Minerva. It is not your fate to perish in this river; he
will abate presently as you will see; moreover we strongly advise you,
if you will be guided by us, not to stay your hand from fighting
till you have pent the Trojan host within the famed walls of Ilius- as
many of them as may escape. Then kill Hector and go back to the ships,
for we will vouchsafe you a triumph over him."
When they had so said they went back to the other immortals, but
Achilles strove onward over the plain, encouraged by the charge the
gods had laid upon him. All was now covered with the flood of
waters, and much goodly armour of the youths that had been slain was
rifting about, as also many corpses, but he forced his way against the
stream, speeding right onwards, nor could the broad waters stay him,
for Minerva had endowed him with great strength. Nevertheless
Scamander did not slacken in his pursuit, but was still more furious
with the son of Peleus. He lifted his waters into a high crest and
cried aloud to Simois saying, "Dear brother, let the two of us unite
to save this man, or he will sack the mighty city of King Priam, and
the Trojans will not hold out against him. Help me at once; fill
your streams with water from their sources, rouse all your torrents to
a fury; raise your wave on high, and let snags and stones come
thundering down you that we may make an end of this savage creature
who is now lording it as though he were a god. Nothing shall serve him
longer, not strength nor comeliness, nor his fine armour, which
forsooth shall soon be lying low in the deep waters covered over
with mud. I will wrap him in sand, and pour tons of shingle round him,
so that the Achaeans shall not know how to gather his bones for the
silt in which I shall have hidden him, and when they celebrate his
funeral they need build no barrow."
On this he upraised his tumultuous flood high against Achilles,
seething as it was with foam and blood and the bo&ies of the dead. The
dark waters of the river stood upright and would have overwhelmed
the son of Peleus, but Juno, trembling lest Achilles should be swept
away in the mighty torrent, lifted her voice on high and called out to
Vulcan her son. "Crook-foot," she cried, "my child, be up and doing,
for I deem it is with you that Xanthus is fain to fight; help us at
once, kindle a fierce fire; I will then bring up the west and the
white south wind in a mighty hurricane from the sea, that shall bear
the flames against the heads and armour of the Trojans and consume
them, while you go along the banks of Xanthus burning his trees and
wrapping him round with fire. Let him not turn you back neither by
fair words nor foul, and slacken not till I shout and tell you. Then
you may stay your flames."
On this Vulcan kindled a fierce fire, which broke out first upon the
plain and burned the many dead whom Achilles had killed and whose
bodies were lying about in great numbers; by this means the plain
was dried and the flood stayed. As the north wind, blowing on an
orchard that has been sodden with autumn rain, soon dries it, and
the heart of the owner is glad- even so the whole plan was dried and
the dead bodies were consumed. Then he turned tongues of fire on to
the river. He burned the elms the willows and the tamarisks, the lotus
also, with the rushes and marshy herbage that grew abundantly by the
banks of the river. The eels and fishes that go darting about
everywhere in the water, these, too, were sorely harassed by the
flames that cunning Vulcan had kindled, and the river himself was
scalded, so that he spoke saying, "Vulcan, there is no god can hold
his own against you. I cannot fight you when you flare out your flames
in this way; strive with me no longer. Let Achilles drive the
Trojans out of city immediately. What have I to do with quarrelling
and helping people?"
He was boiling as he spoke, and all his waters were seething. As a
cauldron upon 'a large fire boils when it is melting the lard of
some fatted hog, and the lard keeps bubbling up all over when the
dry faggots blaze under it- even so were the goodly waters of
Xanthus heated with the fire till they were boiling. He could flow
no longer but stayed his stream, so afflicted was he by the blasts
of fire which cunning Vulcan had raised. Then he prayed to Juno and
besought her saying, "Juno, why should your son vex my stream with
such especial fury? I am not so much to blame as all the others are
who have been helping the Trojans. I will leave off, since you so
desire it, and let son leave off also. Furthermore I swear never again
will I do anything to save the Trojans from destruction, not even when
all Troy is burning in the flames which the Achaeans will kindle."
As soon as Juno heard this she said to her son Vulcan, "Son
Vulcan, hold now your flames; we ought not to use such violence
against a god for the sake of mortals."
When she had thus spoken Vulcan quenched his flames, and the river
went back once more into his own fair bed.
Xanthus was now beaten, so these two left off fighting, for Juno
stayed them though she was still angry; but a furious quarrel broke
out among the other gods, for they were of divided counsels. They fell
on one another with a mighty uproar- earth groaned, and the spacious
firmament rang out as with a blare of trumpets. Jove heard as he was
sitting on Olympus, and laughed for joy when he saw the gods coming to
blows among themselves. They were not long about beginning, and Mars
piercer of shields opened the battle. Sword in hand he sprang at
once upon Minerva and reviled her. "Why, vixen," said he, "have you
again set the gods by the ears in the pride and haughtiness of your
heart? Have you forgotten how you set Diomed son of Tydeus on to wound
me, and yourself took visible spear and drove it into me to the hurt
of my fair body? You shall now suffer for what you then did to me."
As he spoke he struck her on the terrible tasselled aegis- so
terrible that not even can Jove's lightning pierce it. Here did
murderous Mars strike her with his great spear. She drew back and with
her strong hand seized a stone that was lying on the plain- great
and rugged and black- which men of old had set for the boundary of a
field. With this she struck Mars on the neck, and brought him down.
Nine roods did he cover in his fall, and his hair was all soiled in
the dust, while his armour rang rattling round him. But Minerva
laughed and vaunted over him saying, "Idiot, have you not learned
how far stronger I am than you, but you must still match yourself
against me? Thus do your mother's curses now roost upon you, for she
is angry and would do you mischief because you have deserted the
Achaeans and are helping the Trojans."
She then turned her two piercing eyes elsewhere, whereon Jove's
daughter Venus took Mars by the hand and led him away groaning all the
time, for it was only with great difficulty that he had come to
himself again. When Queen Juno saw her, she said to Minerva, "Look,
daughter of aegis-bearing Jove, unweariable, that vixen Venus is again
taking Mars through the crowd out of the battle; go after her at
once."
Thus she spoke. Minerva sped after Venus with a will, and made at
her, striking her on the bosom with her strong hand so that she fell
fainting to the ground, and there they both lay stretched at full
length. Then Minerva vaunted over her saying, "May all who help the
Trojans against the Argives prove just as redoubtable and stalwart
as Venus did when she came across me while she was helping Mars. Had
this been so, we should long since have ended the war by sacking the
strong city of Ilius."
Juno smiled as she listened. Meanwhile King Neptune turned to Apollo
saying, "Phoebus, why should we keep each other at arm's length? it is
not well, now that the others have begun fighting; it will be
disgraceful to us if we return to Jove's bronze-floored mansion on
Olympus without having fought each other; therefore come on, you are
the younger of the two, and I ought not to attack you, for I am
older and have had more experience. Idiot, you have no sense, and
forget how we two alone of all the gods fared hardly round about Ilius
when we came from Jove's house and worked for Laomedon a whole year at
a stated wage and he gave us his orders. I built the Trojans the
wall about their city, so wide and fair that it might be
impregnable, while you, Phoebus, herded cattle for him in the dales of
many valleyed Ida. When, however, the glad hours brought round the
time of payment, mighty Laomedon robbed us of all our hire and sent us
off with nothing but abuse. He threatened to bind us hand and foot and
sell us over into some distant island. He tried, moreover, to cut
off the ears of both of us, so we went away in a rage, furious about
the payment he had promised us, and yet withheld; in spite of all
this, you are now showing favour to his people, and will not join us
in compassing the utter ruin of the proud Trojans with their wives and
children."
And King Apollo answered, "Lord of the earthquake, you would have no
respect for me if I were to fight you about a pack of miserable
mortals, who come out like leaves in summer and eat the fruit of the
field, and presently fall lifeless to the ground. Let us stay this
fighting at once and let them settle it among themselves."
He turned away as he spoke, for he would lay no hand on the
brother of his own father. But his sister the huntress Diana,
patroness of wild beasts, was very angry with him and said, "So you
would fly, Far-Darter, and hand victory over to Neptune with a cheap
vaunt to boot. Baby, why keep your bow thus idle? Never let me again
hear you bragging in my father's house, as you have often done in
the presence of the immortals, that you would stand up and fight
with Neptune."
Apollo made her no answer, but Jove's august queen was angry and
upbraided her bitterly. "Bold vixen," she cried, "how dare you cross
me thus? For all your bow you will find it hard to hold your own
against me. Jove made you as a lion among women, and lets you kill
them whenever you choose. You will And it better to chase wild
beasts and deer upon the mountains than to fight those who are
stronger than you are. If you would try war, do so, and find out by
pitting yourself against me, how far stronger I am than you are."
She caught both Diana's wrists with her left hand as she spoke,
and with her right she took the bow from her shoulders, and laughed as
she beat her with it about the ears while Diana wriggled and writhed
under her blows. Her swift arrows were shed upon the ground, and she
fled weeping from under Juno's hand as a dove that flies before a
falcon to the cleft of some hollow rock, when it is her good fortune
to escape. Even so did she fly weeping away, leaving her bow and
arrows behind her.
Then the slayer of Argus, guide and guardian, said to Leto, "Leto, I
shall not fight you; it is ill to come to blows with any of Jove's
wives. Therefore boast as you will among the immortals that you
worsted me in fair fight."
Leto then gathered up Diana's bow and arrows that had fallen about
amid the whirling dust, and when she had got them she made all haste
after her daughter. Diana had now reached Jove's bronze-floored
mansion on Olympus, and sat herself down with many tears on the
knees of her father, while her ambrosial raiment was quivering all
about her. The son of Saturn drew her towards him, and laughing
pleasantly the while began to question her saying, "Which of the
heavenly beings, my dear child, has been treating you in this cruel
manner, as though you had been misconducting yourself in the face of
everybody?" and the fair-crowned goddess of the chase answered, "It
was your wife Juno, father, who has been beating me; it is always
her doing when there is any quarrelling among the immortals."
Thus did they converse, and meanwhile Phoebus Apollo entered the
strong city of Ilius, for he was uneasy lest the wall should not
hold out and the Danaans should take the city then and there, before
its hour had come; but the rest of the ever-living gods went back,
some angry and some triumphant to Olympus, where they took their seats
beside Jove lord of the storm cloud, while Achilles still kept on
dealing out death alike on the Trojans and on their As when the
smoke from some burning city ascends to heaven when the anger of the
gods has kindled it- there is then toil for all, and sorrow for not
a few- even so did Achilles bring toil and sorrow on the Trojans.
Old King Priam stood on a high tower of the wall looking down on
huge Achilles as the Trojans fled panic-stricken before him, and there
was none to help them. Presently he came down from off the tower and
with many a groan went along the wall to give orders to the brave
warders of the gate. "Keep the gates," said he, "wide open till the
people come flying into the city, for Achilles is hard by and is
driving them in rout before him. I see we are in great peril. As
soon as our people are inside and in safety, close the strong gates
for I fear lest that terrible man should come bounding inside along
with the others."
As he spoke they drew back the bolts and opened the gates, and
when these were opened there was a haven of refuge for the Trojans.
Apollo then came full speed out of the city to meet them and protect
them. Right for the city and the high wall, parched with thirst and
grimy with dust, still they fied on, with Achilles wielding his
spear furiously behind them. For he was as one possessed, and was
thirsting after glory.
Then had the sons of the Achaeans taken the lofty gates of Troy if
Apollo had not spurred on Agenor, valiant and noble son to Antenor. He
put courage into his heart, and stood by his side to guard him,
leaning against a beech tree and shrouded in thick darkness. When
Agenor saw Achilles he stood still and his heart was clouded with
care. "Alas," said he to himself in his dismay, "if I fly before
mighty Achilles, and go where all the others are being driven in rout,
he will none the less catch me and kill me for a coward. How would
it be were I to let Achilles drive the others before him, and then fly
from the wall to the plain that is behind Ilius till I reach the spurs
of Ida and can hide in the underwood that is thereon? I could then
wash the sweat from off me in the river and in the evening return to
Ilius. But why commune with myself in this way? Like enough he would
see me as I am hurrying from the city over the plain, and would
speed after me till he had caught me- I should stand no chance against
him, for he is mightiest of all mankind. What, then, if I go out and
meet him in front of the city? His flesh too, I take it, can be
pierced by pointed bronze. Life is the same in one and all, and men
say that he is but mortal despite the triumph that Jove son of
Saturn vouchsafes him."
So saying he stood on his guard and awaited Achilles, for he was now
fain to fight him. As a leopardess that bounds from out a thick covert
to attack a hunter- she knows no fear and is not dismayed by the
baying of the hounds; even though the man be too quick for her and
wound her either with thrust or spear, still, though the spear has
pierced her she will not give in till she has either caught him in her
grip or been killed outright- even so did noble Agenor son of
Antenor refuse to fly till he had made trial of Achilles, and took aim
at him with his spear, holding his round shield before him and
crying with a loud voice. "Of a truth," said he, "noble Achilles,
you deem that you shall this day sack the city of the proud Trojans.
Fool, there will be trouble enough yet before it, for there is many
a brave man of us still inside who will stand in front of our dear
parents with our wives and children, to defend Ilius. Here
therefore, huge and mighty warrior though you be, here shall you cue.
As he spoke his strong hand hurled his javelin from him, and the
spear struck Achilles on the leg beneath the knee; the greave of newly
wrought tin rang loudly, but the spear recoiled from the body of him
whom it had struck, and did not pierce it, for the gods gift stayed
it. Achilles in his turn attacked noble Agenor, but Apollo would not
vouchsafe him glory, for he snatched Agenor away and hid him in a
thick mist, sending him out of the battle unmolested Then he
craftily drew the son of Peleus away from going after the host, for he
put on the semblance of Agenor and stood in front of Achilles, who ran
towards him to give him chase and pursued him over the corn lands of
the plain, turning him towards the deep waters of the river Scamander.
Apollo ran but a little way before him and beguiled Achilles by making
him think all the time that he was on the point of overtaking him.
Meanwhile the rabble of routed Trojans was thankful to crowd within
the city till their numbers thronged it; no longer did they dare
wait for one another outside the city walls, to learn who had
escaped and who were fallen in fight, but all whose feet and knees
could still carry them poured pell-mell into the town.

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Homer

The Iliad: Book 9

Thus did the Trojans watch. But Panic, comrade of blood-stained
Rout, had taken fast hold of the Achaeans and their princes were all
of them in despair. As when the two winds that blow from Thrace- the
north and the northwest- spring up of a sudden and rouse the fury of
the main- in a moment the dark waves uprear their heads and scatter
their sea-wrack in all directions- even thus troubled were the
hearts of the Achaeans.
The son of Atreus in dismay bade the heralds call the people to a
council man by man, but not to cry the matter aloud; he made haste
also himself to call them, and they sat sorry at heart in their
assembly. Agamemnon shed tears as it were a running stream or cataract
on the side of some sheer cliff; and thus, with many a heavy sigh he
spoke to the Achaeans. "My friends," said he, "princes and councillors
Of the Argives, the hand of heaven has been laid heavily upon me.
Cruel Jove gave me his solemn promise that I should sack the city of
Troy before returning, but he has played me false, and is now
bidding me go ingloriously back to Argos with the loss of much people.
Such is the will of Jove, who has laid many a proud city in the dust
as he will yet lay others, for his power is above all. Now, therefore,
let us all do as I say and sail back to our own country, for we
shall not take Troy."
Thus he spoke, and the sons of the Achaeans for a long while sat
sorrowful there, but they all held their peace, till at last Diomed of
the loud battle-cry made answer saying, "Son of Atreus, I will chide
your folly, as is my right in council. Be not then aggrieved that I
should do so. In the first place you attacked me before all the
Danaans and said that I was a coward and no soldier. The Argives young
and old know that you did so. But the son of scheming Saturn endowed
you by halves only. He gave you honour as the chief ruler over us, but
valour, which is the highest both right and might he did not give you.
Sir, think you that the sons of the Achaeans are indeed as unwarlike
and cowardly as you say they are? If your own mind is set upon going
home- go- the way is open to you; the many ships that followed you
from Mycene stand ranged upon the seashore; but the rest of us stay
here till we have sacked Troy. Nay though these too should turn
homeward with their ships, Sthenelus and myself will still fight on
till we reach the goal of Ilius, for for heaven was with us when we
came."
The sons of the Achaeans shouted applause at the words of Diomed,
and presently Nestor rose to speak. "Son of Tydeus," said he, "in
war your prowess is beyond question, and in council you excel all
who are of your own years; no one of the Achaeans can make light of
what you say nor gainsay it, but you have not yet come to the end of
the whole matter. You are still young- you might be the youngest of my
own children- still you have spoken wisely and have counselled the
chief of the Achaeans not without discretion; nevertheless I am
older than you and I will tell you every" thing; therefore let no man,
not even King Agamemnon, disregard my saying, for he that foments
civil discord is a clanless, hearthless outlaw.
"Now, however, let us obey the behests of night and get our suppers,
but let the sentinels every man of them camp by the trench that is
without the wall. I am giving these instructions to the young men;
when they have been attended to, do you, son of Atreus, give your
orders, for you are the most royal among us all. Prepare a feast for
your councillors; it is right and reasonable that you should do so;
there is abundance of wine in your tents, which the ships of the
Achaeans bring from Thrace daily. You have everything at your disposal
wherewith to entertain guests, and you have many subjects. When many
are got together, you can be guided by him whose counsel is wisest-
and sorely do we need shrewd and prudent counsel, for the foe has
lit his watchfires hard by our ships. Who can be other than
dismayed? This night will either be the ruin of our host, or save it."
Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said. The sentinels
went out in their armour under command of Nestor's son Thrasymedes,
a captain of the host, and of the bold warriors Ascalaphus and
Ialmenus: there were also Meriones, Aphareus and Deipyrus, and the son
of Creion, noble Lycomedes. There were seven captains of the
sentinels, and with each there went a hundred youths armed with long
spears: they took their places midway between the trench and the wall,
and when they had done so they lit their fires and got every man his
supper.
The son of Atreus then bade many councillors of the Achaeans to
his quarters prepared a great feast in their honour. They laid their
hands on the good things that were before them, and as soon as they
had enough to eat and drink, old Nestor, whose counsel was ever
truest, was the first to lay his mind before them. He, therefore, with
all sincerity and goodwill addressed them thus.
"With yourself, most noble son of Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon,
will I both begin my speech and end it, for you are king over much
people. Jove, moreover, has vouchsafed you to wield the sceptre and to
uphold righteousness, that you may take thought for your people
under you; therefore it behooves you above all others both to speak
and to give ear, and to out the counsel of another who shall have been
minded to speak wisely. All turns on you and on your commands,
therefore I will say what I think will be best. No man will be of a
truer mind than that which has been mine from the hour when you,
sir, angered Achilles by taking the girl Briseis from his tent against
my judgment. I urged you not to do so, but you yielded to your own
pride, and dishonoured a hero whom heaven itself had honoured- for you
still hold the prize that had been awarded to him. Now, however, let
us think how we may appease him, both with presents and fair
speeches that may conciliate him."
And King Agamemnon answered, "Sir, you have reproved my folly
justly. I was wrong. I own it. One whom heaven befriends is in himself
a host, and Jove has shown that he befriends this man by destroying
much people of the Achaeans. I was blinded with passion and yielded to
my worser mind; therefore I will make amends, and will give him
great gifts by way of atonement. I will tell them in the presence of
you all. I will give him seven tripods that have never yet been on the
fire, and ten talents of gold. I will give him twenty iron cauldrons
and twelve strong horses that have won races and carried off prizes.
Rich, indeed, both in land and gold is he that has as many prizes as
my horses have won me. I will give him seven excellent workwomen,
Lesbians, whom I chose for myself when he took Lesbos- all of
surpassing beauty. I will give him these, and with them her whom I
erewhile took from him, the daughter of Briseus; and I swear a great
oath that I never went up into her couch, nor have been with her after
the manner of men and women.
"All these things will I give him now down, and if hereafter the
gods vouchsafe me to sack the city of Priam, let him come when we
Achaeans are dividing the spoil, and load his ship with gold and
bronze to his liking; furthermore let him take twenty Trojan women,
the loveliest after Helen herself. Then, when we reach Achaean
Argos, wealthiest of all lands, he shall be my son-in-law and I will
show him like honour with my own dear son Orestes, who is being
nurtured in all abundance. I have three daughters, Chrysothemis,
Laodice, and lphianassa, let him take the one of his choice, freely
and without gifts of wooing, to the house of Peleus; I will add such
dower to boot as no man ever yet gave his daughter, and will give
him seven well established cities, Cardamyle, Enope, and Hire, where
there is grass; holy Pherae and the rich meadows of Anthea; Aepea
also, and the vine-clad slopes of Pedasus, all near the sea, and on
the borders of sandy Pylos. The men that dwell there are rich in
cattle and sheep; they will honour him with gifts as though he were
a god, and be obedient to his comfortable ordinances. All this will
I do if he will now forgo his anger. Let him then yieldit is only
Hades who is utterly ruthless and unyielding- and hence he is of all
gods the one most hateful to mankind. Moreover I am older and more
royal than himself. Therefore, let him now obey me."
Then Nestor answered, "Most noble son of Atreus, king of men,
Agamemnon. The gifts you offer are no small ones, let us then send
chosen messengers, who may go to the tent of Achilles son of Peleus
without delay. Let those go whom I shall name. Let Phoenix, dear to
Jove, lead the way; let Ajax and Ulysses follow, and let the heralds
Odius and Eurybates go with them. Now bring water for our hands, and
bid all keep silence while we pray to Jove the son of Saturn, if so be
that he may have mercy upon us."
Thus did he speak, and his saying pleased them well. Men-servants
poured water over the hands of the guests, while pages filled the
mixing-bowls with wine and water, and handed it round after giving
every man his drink-offering; then, when they had made their
offerings, and had drunk each as much as he was minded, the envoys set
out from the tent of Agamemnon son of Atreus; and Nestor, looking
first to one and then to another, but most especially at Ulysses,
was instant with them that they should prevail with the noble son of
Peleus.
They went their way by the shore of the sounding sea, and prayed
earnestly to earth-encircling Neptune that the high spirit of the
son of Aeacus might incline favourably towards them. When they reached
the ships and tents of the Myrmidons, they found Achilles playing on a
lyre, fair, of cunning workmanship, and its cross-bar was of silver.
It was part of the spoils which he had taken when he sacked the city
of Eetion, and he was now diverting himself with it and singing the
feats of heroes. He was alone with Patroclus, who sat opposite to
him and said nothing, waiting till he should cease singing. Ulysses
and Ajax now came in- Ulysses leading the way -and stood before him.
Achilles sprang from his seat with the lyre still in his hand, and
Patroclus, when he saw the strangers, rose also. Achilles then greeted
them saying, "All hail and welcome- you must come upon some great
matter, you, who for all my anger are still dearest to me of the
Achaeans."
With this he led them forward, and bade them sit on seats covered
with purple rugs; then he said to Patroclus who was close by him, "Son
of Menoetius, set a larger bowl upon the table, mix less water with
the wine, and give every man his cup, for these are very dear friends,
who are now under my roof."
Patroclus did as his comrade bade him; he set the chopping-block
in front of the fire, and on it he laid the loin of a sheep, the
loin also of a goat, and the chine of a fat hog. Automedon held the
meat while Achilles chopped it; he then sliced the pieces and put them
on spits while the son of Menoetius made the fire burn high. When
the flame had died down, he spread the embers, laid the spits on top
of them, lifting them up and setting them upon the spit-racks; and
he sprinkled them with salt. When the meat was roasted, he set it on
platters, and handed bread round the table in fair baskets, while
Achilles dealt them their portions. Then Achilles took his seat facing
Ulysses against the opposite wall, and bade his comrade Patroclus
offer sacrifice to the gods; so he cast the offerings into the fire,
and they laid their hands upon the good things that were before
them. As soon as they had had enough to eat and drink, Ajax made a
sign to Phoenix, and when he saw this, Ulysses filled his cup with
wine and pledged Achilles.
"Hail," said he, "Achilles, we have had no scant of good cheer,
neither in the tent of Agamemnon, nor yet here; there has been
plenty to eat and drink, but our thought turns upon no such matter.
Sir, we are in the face of great disaster, and without your help
know not whether we shall save our fleet or lose it. The Trojans and
their allies have camped hard by our ships and by the wall; they
have lit watchfires throughout their host and deem that nothing can
now prevent them from falling on our fleet. Jove, moreover, has sent
his lightnings on their right; Hector, in all his glory, rages like
a maniac; confident that Jove is with him he fears neither god nor
man, but is gone raving mad, and prays for the approach of day. He
vows that he will hew the high sterns of our ships in pieces, set fire
to their hulls, and make havoc of the Achaeans while they are dazed
and smothered in smoke; I much fear that heaven will make good his
boasting, and it will prove our lot to perish at Troy far from our
home in Argos. Up, then, and late though it be, save the sons of the
Achaeans who faint before the fury of the Trojans. You will repent
bitterly hereafter if you do not, for when the harm is done there will
be no curing it; consider ere it be too late, and save the Danaans
from destruction.
"My good friend, when your father Peleus sent you from Phthia to
Agamemnon, did he not charge you saying, 'Son, Minerva and Juno will
make you strong if they choose, but check your high temper, for the
better part is in goodwill. Eschew vain quarrelling, and the
Achaeans old and young will respect you more for doing so.' These were
his words, but you have forgotten them. Even now, however, be
appeased, and put away your anger from you. Agamemnon will make you
great amends if you will forgive him; listen, and I will tell you what
he has said in his tent that he will give you. He will give you
seven tripods that have never yet been on the fire, and ten talents of
gold; twenty iron cauldrons, and twelve strong horses that have won
races and carried off prizes. Rich indeed both in land and gold is
he who has as many prizes as these horses have won for Agamemnon.
Moreover he will give you seven excellent workwomen, Lesbians, whom he
chose for himself, when you took Lesbos- all of surpassing beauty.
He will give you these, and with them her whom he erewhile took from
you, the daughter of Briseus, and he will swear a great oath, he has
never gone up into her couch nor been with her after the manner of men
and women. All these things will he give you now down, and if
hereafter the gods vouchsafe him to sack the city of Priam, you can
come when we Achaeans are dividing the spoil, and load your ship
with gold and bronze to your liking. You can take twenty Trojan women,
the loveliest after Helen herself. Then, when we reach Achaean
Argos, wealthiest of all lands, you shall be his son-in-law, and he
will show you like honour with his own dear son Orestes, who is
being nurtured in all abundance. Agamemnon has three daughters,
Chrysothemis, Laodice, and Iphianassa; you may take the one of your
choice, freely and without gifts of wooing, to the house of Peleus; he
will add such dower to boot as no man ever yet gave his daughter,
and will give you seven well-established cities, Cardamyle, Enope, and
Hire where there is grass; holy Pheras and the rich meadows of Anthea;
Aepea also, and the vine-clad slopes of Pedasus, all near the sea, and
on the borders of sandy Pylos. The men that dwell there are rich in
cattle and sheep; they will honour you with gifts as though were a
god, and be obedient to your comfortable ordinances. All this will
he do if you will now forgo your anger. Moreover, though you hate both
him and his gifts with all your heart, yet pity the rest of the
Achaeans who are being harassed in all their host; they will honour
you as a god, and you will earn great glory at their hands. You
might even kill Hector; he will come within your reach, for he is
infatuated, and declares that not a Danaan whom the ships have brought
can hold his own against him."
Achilles answered, "Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, I should give you
formal notice plainly and in all fixity of purpose that there be no
more of this cajoling, from whatsoever quarter it may come. Him do I
hate even as the gates of hell who says one thing while he hides
another in his heart; therefore I will say what I mean. I will be
appeased neither by Agamemnon son of Atreus nor by any other of the
Danaans, for I see that I have no thanks for all my fighting. He
that fights fares no better than he that does not; coward and hero are
held in equal honour, and death deals like measure to him who works
and him who is idle. I have taken nothing by all my hardships- with my
life ever in my hand; as a bird when she has found a morsel takes it
to her nestlings, and herself fares hardly, even so man a long night
have I been wakeful, and many a bloody battle have I waged by day
against those who were fighting for their women. With my ships I
have taken twelve cities, and eleven round about Troy have I stormed
with my men by land; I took great store of wealth from every one of
them, but I gave all up to Agamemnon son of Atreus. He stayed where he
was by his ships, yet of what came to him he gave little, and kept
much himself.
"Nevertheless he did distribute some meeds of honour among the
chieftains and kings, and these have them still; from me alone of
the Achaeans did he take the woman in whom I delighted- let him keep
her and sleep with her. Why, pray, must the Argives needs fight the
Trojans? What made the son of Atreus gather the host and bring them?
Was it not for the sake of Helen? Are the sons of Atreus the only
men in the world who love their wives? Any man of common right feeling
will love and cherish her who is his own, as I this woman, with my
whole heart, though she was but a fruitling of my spear. Agamemnon has
taken her from me; he has played me false; I know him; let him tempt
me no further, for he shall not move me. Let him look to you, Ulysses,
and to the other princes to save his ships from burning. He has done
much without me already. He has built a wall; he has dug a trench deep
and wide all round it, and he has planted it within with stakes; but
even so he stays not the murderous might of Hector. So long as I
fought the Achaeans Hector suffered not the battle range far from
the city walls; he would come to the Scaean gates and to the oak tree,
but no further. Once he stayed to meet me and hardly did he escape
my onset: now, however, since I am in no mood to fight him, I will
to-morrow offer sacrifice to Jove and to all the gods; I will draw
my ships into the water and then victual them duly; to-morrow morning,
if you care to look, you will see my ships on the Hellespont, and my
men rowing out to sea with might and main. If great Neptune vouchsafes
me a fair passage, in three days I shall be in Phthia. I have much
there that I left behind me when I came here to my sorrow, and I shall
bring back still further store of gold, of red copper, of fair
women, and of iron, my share of the spoils that we have taken; but one
prize, he who gave has insolently taken away. Tell him all as I now
bid you, and tell him in public that the Achaeans may hate him and
beware of him should he think that he can yet dupe others for his
effrontery never fails him.
"As for me, hound that he is, he dares not look me in the face. I
will take no counsel with him, and will undertake nothing in common
with him. He has wronged me and deceived me enough, he shall not cozen
me further; let him go his own way, for Jove has robbed him of his
reason. I loathe his presents, and for himself care not one straw.
He may offer me ten or even twenty times what he has now done, nay-
not though it be all that he has in the world, both now or ever
shall have; he may promise me the wealth of Orchomenus or of
Egyptian Thebes, which is the richest city in the whole world, for
it has a hundred gates through each of which two hundred men may drive
at once with their chariots and horses; he may offer me gifts as the
sands of the sea or the dust of the plain in multitude, but even so he
shall not move me till I have been revenged in full for the bitter
wrong he has done me. I will not marry his daughter; she may be fair
as Venus, and skilful as Minerva, but I will have none of her: let
another take her, who may be a good match for her and who rules a
larger kingdom. If the gods spare me to return home, Peleus will
find me a wife; there are Achaean women in Hellas and Phthia,
daughters of kings that have cities under them; of these I can take
whom I will and marry her. Many a time was I minded when at home in
Phthia to woo and wed a woman who would make me a suitable wife, and
to enjoy the riches of my old father Peleus. My life is more to me
than all the wealth of Ilius while it was yet at peace before the
Achaeans went there, or than all the treasure that lies on the stone
floor of Apollo's temple beneath the cliffs of Pytho. Cattle and sheep
are to be had for harrying, and a man buy both tripods and horses if
he wants them, but when his life has once left him it can neither be
bought nor harried back again.
"My mother Thetis tells me that there are two ways in which I may
meet my end. If I stay here and fight, I shall not return alive but my
name will live for ever: whereas if I go home my name will die, but it
will be long ere death shall take me. To the rest of you, then, I say,
'Go home, for you will not take Ilius.' Jove has held his hand over
her to protect her, and her people have taken heart. Go, therefore, as
in duty bound, and tell the princes of the Achaeans the message that I
have sent them; tell them to find some other plan for the saving of
their ships and people, for so long as my displeasure lasts the one
that they have now hit upon may not be. As for Phoenix, let him
sleep here that he may sail with me in the morning if he so will.
But I will not take him by force."
They all held their peace, dismayed at the sternness with which he
had denied them, till presently the old knight Phoenix in his great
fear for the ships of the Achaeans, burst into tears and said,
"Noble Achilles, if you are now minded to return, and in the
fierceness of your anger will do nothing to save the ships from
burning, how, my son, can I remain here without you? Your father
Peleus bade me go with you when he sent you as a mere lad from
Phthia to Agamemnon. You knew nothing neither of war nor of the arts
whereby men make their mark in council, and he sent me with you to
train you in all excellence of speech and action. Therefore, my son, I
will not stay here without you- no, not though heaven itself vouchsafe
to strip my years from off me, and make me young as I was when I first
left Hellas the land of fair women. I was then flying the anger of
father Amyntor, son of Ormenus, who was furious with me in the
matter of his concubine, of whom he was enamoured to the wronging of
his wife my mother. My mother, therefore, prayed me without ceasing to
lie with the woman myself, that so she hate my father, and in the
course of time I yielded. But my father soon came to know, and
cursed me bitterly, calling the dread Erinyes to witness. He prayed
that no son of mine might ever sit upon knees- and the gods, Jove of
the world below and awful Proserpine, fulfilled his curse. I took
counsel to kill him, but some god stayed my rashness and bade me think
on men's evil tongues and how I should be branded as the murderer of
my father: nevertheless I could not bear to stay in my father's
house with him so bitter a against me. My cousins and clansmen came
about me, and pressed me sorely to remain; many a sheep and many an ox
did they slaughter, and many a fat hog did they set down to roast
before the fire; many a jar, too, did they broach of my father's wine.
Nine whole nights did they set a guard over me taking it in turns to
watch, and they kept a fire always burning, both in the cloister of
the outer court and in the inner court at the doors of the room
wherein I lay; but when the darkness of the tenth night came, I
broke through the closed doors of my room, and climbed the wall of the
outer court after passing quickly and unperceived through the men on
guard and the women servants. I then fled through Hellas till I came
to fertile Phthia, mother of sheep, and to King Peleus, who made me
welcome and treated me as a father treats an only son who will be heir
to all his wealth. He made me rich and set me over much people,
establishing me on the borders of Phthia where I was chief ruler
over the Dolopians.
"It was I, Achilles, who had the making of you; I loved you with all
my heart: for you would eat neither at home nor when you had gone
out elsewhere, till I had first set you upon my knees, cut up the
dainty morsel that you were to eat, and held the wine-cup to your
lips. Many a time have you slobbered your wine in baby helplessness
over my shirt; I had infinite trouble with you, but I knew that heaven
had vouchsafed me no offspring of my own, and I made a son of you,
Achilles, that in my hour of need you might protect me. Now,
therefore, I say battle with your pride and beat it; cherish not
your anger for ever; the might and majesty of heaven are more than
ours, but even heaven may be appeased; and if a man has sinned he
prays the gods, and reconciles them to himself by his piteous cries
and by frankincense, with drink-offerings and the savour of burnt
sacrifice. For prayers are as daughters to great Jove; halt, wrinkled,
with eyes askance, they follow in the footsteps of sin, who, being
fierce and fleet of foot, leaves them far behind him, and ever baneful
to mankind outstrips them even to the ends of the world; but
nevertheless the prayers come hobbling and healing after. If a man has
pity upon these daughters of Jove when they draw near him, they will
bless him and hear him too when he is praying; but if he deny them and
will not listen to them, they go to Jove the son of Saturn and pray
that he may presently fall into sin- to his ruing bitterly
hereafter. Therefore, Achilles, give these daughters of Jove due
reverence, and bow before them as all good men will bow. Were not
the son of Atreus offering you gifts and promising others later- if he
were still furious and implacable- I am not he that would bid you
throw off your anger and help the Achaeans, no matter how great
their need; but he is giving much now, and more hereafter; he has sent
his captains to urge his suit, and has chosen those who of all the
Argives are most acceptable to you; make not then their words and
their coming to be of none effect. Your anger has been righteous so
far. We have heard in song how heroes of old time quarrelled when they
were roused to fury, but still they could be won by gifts, and fair
words could soothe them.
"I have an old story in my mind- a very old one- but you are all
friends and I will tell it. The Curetes and the Aetolians were
fighting and killing one another round Calydon- the Aetolians
defending the city and the Curetes trying to destroy it. For Diana
of the golden throne was angry and did them hurt because Oeneus had
not offered her his harvest first-fruits. The other gods had all
been feasted with hecatombs, but to the daughter of great Jove alone
he had made no sacrifice. He had forgotten her, or somehow or other it
had escaped him, and this was a grievous sin. Thereon the archer
goddess in her displeasure sent a prodigious creature against him- a
savage wild boar with great white tusks that did much harm to his
orchard lands, uprooting apple-trees in full bloom and throwing them
to the ground. But Meleager son of Oeneus got huntsmen and hounds from
many cities and killed it- for it was so monstrous that not a few were
needed, and many a man did it stretch upon his funeral pyre. On this
the goddess set the Curetes and the Aetolians fighting furiously about
the head and skin of the boar.
"So long as Meleager was in the field things went badly with the
Curetes, and for all their numbers they could not hold their ground
under the city walls; but in the course of time Meleager was angered
as even a wise man will sometimes be. He was incensed with his
mother Althaea, and therefore stayed at home with his wedded wife fair
Cleopatra, who was daughter of Marpessa daughter of Euenus, and of
Ides the man then living. He it was who took his bow and faced King
Apollo himself for fair Marpessa's sake; her father and mother then
named her Alcyone, because her mother had mourned with the plaintive
strains of the halcyon-bird when Phoebus Apollo had carried her off.
Meleager, then, stayed at home with Cleopatra, nursing the anger which
he felt by reason of his mother's curses. His mother, grieving for the
death of her brother, prayed the gods, and beat the earth with her
hands, calling upon Hades and on awful Proserpine; she went down
upon her knees and her bosom was wet with tears as she prayed that
they would kill her son- and Erinys that walks in darkness and knows
no ruth heard her from Erebus.
"Then was heard the din of battle about the gates of Calydon, and
the dull thump of the battering against their walls. Thereon the
elders of the Aetolians besought Meleager; they sent the chiefest of
their priests, and begged him to come out and help them, promising him
a great reward. They bade him choose fifty plough-gates, the most
fertile in the plain of Calydon, the one-half vineyard and the other
open plough-land. The old warrior Oeneus implored him, standing at the
threshold of his room and beating the doors in supplication. His
sisters and his mother herself besought him sore, but he the more
refused them; those of his comrades who were nearest and dearest to
him also prayed him, but they could not move him till the foe was
battering at the very doors of his chamber, and the Curetes had scaled
the walls and were setting fire to the city. Then at last his
sorrowing wife detailed the horrors that befall those whose city is
taken; she reminded him how the men are slain, and the city is given
over to the flames, while the women and children are carried into
captivity; when he heard all this, his heart was touched, and he
donned his armour to go forth. Thus of his own inward motion he
saved the city of the Aetolians; but they now gave him nothing of
those rich rewards that they had offered earlier, and though he
saved the city he took nothing by it. Be not then, my son, thus
minded; let not heaven lure you into any such course. When the ships
are burning it will be a harder matter to save them. Take the gifts,
and go, for the Achaeans will then honour you as a god; whereas if you
fight without taking them, you may beat the battle back, but you
will not be held in like honour."
And Achilles answered, "Phoenix, old friend and father, I have no
need of such honour. I have honour from Jove himself, which will abide
with me at my ships while I have breath in my body, and my limbs are
strong. I say further- and lay my saying to your heart- vex me no more
with this weeping and lamentation, all in the cause of the son of
Atreus. Love him so well, and you may lose the love I bear you. You
ought to help me rather in troubling those that trouble me; be king as
much as I am, and share like honour with myself; the others shall take
my answer; stay here yourself and sleep comfortably in your bed; at
daybreak we will consider whether to remain or go."
On this she nodded quietly to Patroclus as a sign that he was to
prepare a bed for Phoenix, and that the others should take their
leave. Ajax son of Telamon then said, "Ulysses, noble son of
Laertes, let us be gone, for I see that our journey is vain. We must
now take our answer, unwelcome though it be, to the Danaans who are
waiting to receive it. Achilles is savage and remorseless; he is
cruel, and cares nothing for the love his comrades lavished upon him
more than on all the others. He is implacable- and yet if a man's
brother or son has been slain he will accept a fine by way of amends
from him that killed him, and the wrong-doer having paid in full
remains in peace among his own people; but as for you, Achilles, the
gods have put a wicked unforgiving spirit in your heart, and this, all
about one single girl, whereas we now offer you the seven best we
have, and much else into the bargain. Be then of a more gracious mind,
respect the hospitality of your own roof. We are with you as
messengers from the host of the Danaans, and would fain he held
nearest and dearest to yourself of all the Achaeans."
"Ajax," replied Achilles, "noble son of Telamon, you have spoken
much to my liking, but my blood boils when I think it all over, and
remember how the son of Atreus treated me with contumely as though I
were some vile tramp, and that too in the presence of the Argives. Go,
then, and deliver your message; say that I will have no concern with
fighting till Hector, son of noble Priam, reaches the tents of the
Myrmidons in his murderous course, and flings fire upon their ships.
For all his lust of battle, I take it he will be held in check when he
is at my own tent and ship."
On this they took every man his double cup, made their
drink-offerings, and went back to the ships, Ulysses leading the
way. But Patroclus told his men and the maid-servants to make ready
a comfortable bed for Phoenix; they therefore did so with
sheepskins, a rug, and a sheet of fine linen. The old man then laid
himself down and waited till morning came. But Achilles slept in an
inner room, and beside him the daughter of Phorbas lovely Diomede,
whom he had carried off from Lesbos. Patroclus lay on the other side
of the room, and with him fair Iphis whom Achilles had given him
when he took Scyros the city of Enyeus.
When the envoys reached the tents of the son of Atreus, the Achaeans
rose, pledged them in cups of gold, and began to question them. King
Agamemnon was the first to do so. Tell me, Ulysses," said he, "will he
save the ships from burning, or did be refuse, and is he still
furious?"
Ulysses answered, "Most noble son of Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon,
Achilles will not be calmed, but is more fiercely angry than ever, and
spurns both you and your gifts. He bids you take counsel with the
Achaeans to save the ships and host as you best may; as for himself,
he said that at daybreak he should draw his ships into the water. He
said further that he should advise every one to sail home likewise,
for that you will not reach the goal of Ilius. 'Jove,' he said, 'has
laid his hand over the city to protect it, and the people have taken
heart.' This is what he said, and the others who were with me can tell
you the same story- Ajax and the two heralds, men, both of them, who
may be trusted. The old man Phoenix stayed where he was to sleep,
for so Achilles would have it, that he might go home with him in the
morning if he so would; but he will not take him by force."
They all held their peace, sitting for a long time silent and
dejected, by reason of the sternness with which Achilles had refused
them, till presently Diomed said, "Most noble son of Atreus, king of
men, Agamemnon, you ought not to have sued the son of Peleus nor
offered him gifts. He is proud enough as it is, and you have
encouraged him in his pride am further. Let him stay or go as he will.
He will fight later when he is in the humour, and heaven puts it in
his mind to do so. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say; we have
eaten and drunk our fill, let us then take our rest, for in rest there
is both strength and stay. But when fair rosy-fingered morn appears,
forthwith bring out your host and your horsemen in front of the ships,
urging them on, and yourself fighting among the foremost."
Thus he spoke, and the other chieftains approved his words. They
then made their drink-offerings and went every man to his own tent,
where they laid down to rest and enjoyed the boon of sleep.

poem by , translated by Samuel ButlerReport problemRelated quotes
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