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Kansa

People of the Wind:
a fitting name
for those who lived
on the windy plains.
People of the wind
live in Oklahoma now
but their name was claimed
by the center state.
Flying with the wind
when horses came
they roamed
the hills and valleys
of the place
that took their name:
The People of the Wind
on the windy plains.

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When I Gave Myself Body, Soul and Spirit

When I gave myself body, soul and spirit
I knew that there may be some pain,
I was caught like a child somewhat perplexed
but at that moment it was without any fear.
In you I have lost myself completely,
I wanted to find a soul-mate,
I could hear love beating in your heart,
I was in love and blinded from the world,
I believed in love like a child.

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Pablo Neruda

The People

I recall that man and not two centuries
have passed since I saw him,
he went neither by horse nor by carriage:
purely on foot
he outstripped
distances,
and carried no sword or armour,
only nets on his shoulder,
axe or hammer or spade,
never fighting the rest of his species:
his exploits were with water and earth,
with wheat so that it turned into bread,
with giant trees to render them wood,
with walls to open up doors,
with sand to construct the walls,
and with ocean for it to bear.

I knew him and he is still not cancelled in me.

The carriages fell to pieces,
war destroyed doors and walls,
the city was a handful of ashes,
all the clothes turned to dust,
and he remains to me,
he survives in the sand,
when everything before
seemed imperishable but him.

In the going and coming of families
at times he was my father or kinsman
or perhaps it was scarcely him or not
the one who did not return to his house
because water or earth swallowed him up
or a tree or an engine killed him,
or he was the saddened carpenter
who went behind the coffin, without tears,
someone in the end who had no name,
except those that metal or timber have,
and on whom others gazed from on high
without seeing the ant
for the anthill
and so that when his feet did not stir,
because the poor exhausted one had died,
they never saw what they had not seen:
already there were other feet where he'd been.

The other feet were still his,
and the other hands,
the man remained:
when it seemed that now he was done for
he was the same once more,
there he was digging again at the earth,
cutting cloth, minus a shirt,
there he was and was not, like before,
he had gone down and was once more,
and since he never owned graveyards,
or tombs, nor was his name carved
on the stone he sweated to quarry,
no one knew he had come
and no one knew when he died,
so that only when the poor man could
he returned to life once more, without it being noted.

He was the man, no doubt of it, without heritage,
without cattle, without a flag,
and he was not distinguished from others,
the others who were him,
from the heights he was grey like the subsoil,
tanned like the leather,
he was yellow reaping the wheat,
he was black down in the mine,
he was the colour of stone on the fortress,
in the fishing boat the colour of tuna,
and the colour of horses in the meadow:
how could anyone distinguish him
if he was inseparable, elemental,
earth, coal or sea vested in man?

Where he lived whatever
a man touched grew:
the hostile stones,
quarried
by his hands,
took on order
and one by one formed
the right clarity of a building,
he made bread with his hands,
moved the engines,
the distances peopled themselves with towns,
other men grew,
bees arrived,
and by man's creating and breeding
spring walked the market squares
between bakeries and doves.

The maker of loaves was forgotten,
he who quarried and journeyed, beating down
and opening furrows, transporting sand,
when everything existed he no longer existed,
he gave his existence, that's all.
He went elsewhere to labour, and at last
he was dead, rolling
like a stone in the river:
death carried him downstream.

I, who knew him, saw him descend
till he was no longer except what he left:
roads he could scarcely know,
houses he never ever would live in.

I turn to see him, and I await him

I see him in his grave and resurrected.

I distinguish him among all
who are his equals
and it seems to me it cannot be,
that like this we go nowhere,
that to survive like this holds no glory.

I believe that this man
must be enthroned, rightly shod and crowned.
I believe that those who made such things
must be the masters of all these things.
And that those who made bread should eat!

And those in the mines must have light!

Enough now of grey men enslaved!

Enough of the pale 'missing ones'!

Not another man passes except as a king.

Not a single woman without her crown.

Golden gauntlets for every hand.

Fruits of the sun for all the unknowns!

I knew that man and when I could,
when he still had eyes in his head,
when he still had a voice in his mouth
I searched for him among tombs, and I said
grasping his arm that was not yet dust:

'All will be gone, you will live on,

You ignite life.

You made what is yours.'

So let no one trouble themselves when
I seem to be alone and am not alone,
I am with no one and speak for them all:

Some listen to me, without knowing,
but those I sing, those who do know
go on being born, and will fill up the Earth.

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I broke the bread with You today

I broke the bread with You today
and was at a loss at what to say.
For You had born all of my disgrace
when You hung on the cross in my place.

I drank the wine with You today
and was at a loss at what to say.
For Your blood had been poured out for me
when You gave your life at Calvary.

For You poured out Your life in death
Saving my soul with Your final breath
Cried out aloud 'Father Forgive'
And gave your life that I might live.

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Listen to the Wind

If you listen to the wind
It’s like listening to your twin
As it echoes rippled reflections
On the glass lake that you swim
It shows up
Blows up in your face
Leaving breathless whispers in its place
The wind paints with many brushes
Not particular whose innocence it touches
The wind will be your courseless guide
Take you on an endless roll coaster ride
Overturning stones like lies that cannot hide
Exposing misguided fortunes of ill-gotten pride
And so the wind screams as it races
Etchings of laughter that no one embraces
And yes there are beliefs
Of old wise Indian chiefs
That our story in written in the wind
Weather beaten, eroded, but not able to rescind
The pages of the Master Journal as they fade
With Eden endings so well laid
Will get you to listen to the wind
You’ll hear confessions of those who sinned
And when the wind stops blowing
A silence for you will be all knowing
It will confirm all that’s been said
Put vaulted thoughts securely in your head
That which is known as peace
A peace you don’t want to release
Bought to you courtesy of the wind

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The Voyage of Telegonus

Ill fares it with the man whose lips are set
To bitter themes and words that spite the gods;
For, seeing how the son of Saturn sways
With eyes and ears for all, this one shall halt
As on hard, hurtful hills; his days shall know
The plaintive front of sorrow; level looks
With cries ill-favoured shall be dealt to him;
And ~this~ shall be that he may think of peace
As one might think of alienated lips
Of sweetness touched for once in kind, warm dreams.
Yea, fathers of the high and holy face,
This soul thus sinning shall have cause to sob
'Ah, ah,' for sleep, and space enough to learn
The wan, wild Hyrie's aggregated song
That starts the dwellers in distorted heights,
With all the meaning of perpetual sighs
Heard in the mountain deserts of the world,
And where the green-haired waters glide between
The thin, lank weeds and mallows of the marsh.
But thou to whom these things are like to shapes
That come of darkness - thou whose life slips past
Regarding rather these with mute fast mouth -
Hear none the less how fleet Telegonus,
The brass-clad hunter, first took oar and smote
Swift eastward-going seas, with face direct
For narrowing channels and the twofold coasts
Past Colchis and the fierce Symplegades,
And utmost islands, washed by streams unknown.

For in a time when Phasis whitened wide
And drove with violent waters blown of wind
Against the bare, salt limits of the land,
It came to pass that, joined with Cytheraea,
The black-browed Ares, chafing for the wrong
Ulysses did him on the plains of Troy,
Set heart against the king; and when the storms
Sang high in thunder and the Thracian rain,
The god bethought him of a pale-mouthed priest
Of Thebae, kin to ancient Chariclo,
And of an omen which the prophet gave
That touched on death and grief to Ithaca;
Then, knowing how a heavy-handed fate
Had laid itself on Circe's brass-clad son,
He pricked the hunter with a lust that turned
All thoughts to travel and the seas remote;
But chiefly now he stirred Telegonus
To longings for his father's exiled face,
And dreams of rest and honey-hearted love
And quiet death with much of funeral flame
Far in the mountains of a favoured land
Beyond the wars and wailings of the waves.

So, past the ridges where the coast abrupt
Dips greyly westward, Circe's strong-armed son
Swept down the foam of sharp-divided straits
And faced the stress of opening seas. Sheer out
The vessel drave; but three long moons the gale
Moaned round; and swift, strong streams of fire revealed
The labouring rowers and the lightening surf,
Pale watchers deafened of sonorous storm,
And dipping decks and rents of ruined sails.
Yea, when the hollow ocean-driven ship
Wheeled sideways, like a chariot cloven through
In hard hot battle, and the night came up
Against strange headlands lying east and north,
Behold a black, wild wind with death to all
Ran shoreward, charged with flame and thunder-smoke,
Which blew the waters into wastes of white,
And broke the bark, as lightning breaks the pine;
Whereat the sea in fearful circles showed
Unpitied faces turned from Zeus and light -
Wan swimmers wasted with their agony,
And hopeless eyes and moaning mouths of men.
But one held by the fragments of the wreck,
And Ares knew him for Telegonus,
Whom heavy-handed Fate had chained to deeds
Of dreadful note with sin beyond a name.
So, seeing this, the black-browed lord of war,
Arrayed about by Jove's authentic light,
Shot down amongst the shattered clouds and called
With mighty strain, betwixt the gaps of storm
'Oceanus! Oceanus!' Whereat
The surf sprang white, as when a keel divides
The gleaming centre of a gathered wave;
And, ringed with flakes of splendid fire of foam,
The son of Terra rose half-way and blew
The triple trumpet of the water-gods,
At which great winds fell back and all the sea
Grew dumb, as on the land a war-feast breaks
When deep sleep falls upon the souls of men.
Then Ares of the night-like brow made known
The brass-clad hunter of the facile feet,
Hard clinging to the slippery logs of pine,
And told the omen to the hoary god
That touched on death and grief to Ithaca;
Wherefore Oceanus, with help of hand,
Bore by the chin the warrior of the North,
A moaning mass, across the shallowing surge,
And cast him on the rocks of alien shores
Against a wintry morning shot with storm.

Hear also, thou, how mighty gods sustain
The men set out to work the ends of Fate
Which fill the world with tales of many tears
And vex the sad face of humanity:
Six days and nights the brass-clad chief abode
Pent up in caverns by the straitening seas
And fed on ferns and limpets; but the dawn,
Before the strong sun of the seventh, brought
A fume of fire and smells of savoury meat
And much rejoicing, as from neighbouring feasts;
At which the hunter, seized with sudden lust,
Sprang up the crags, and, like a dream of fear,
Leapt, shouting, at a huddled host of hinds
Amongst the fragments of their steaming food;
And as the hoarse wood-wind in autumn sweeps
To every zone the hissing latter leaves,
So fleet Telegonus, by dint of spear
And strain of thunderous voice, did scatter these
East, south, and north. 'Twas then the chief had rest,
Hard by the outer coast of Ithaca,
Unknown to him who ate the spoil and slept.
Nor stayed he hand thereafter; but when noon
Burned dead on misty hills of stunted fir,
This man shook slumber from his limbs and sped
Against hoar beaches and the kindled cliffs
Of falling waters. These he waded through,
Beholding, past the forests of the West,
A break of light and homes of many men,
And shining corn, and flowers, and fruits of flowers.
Yea, seeing these, the facile-footed chief
Grasped by the knot the huge Aeaean lance
And fell upon the farmers; wherefore they
Left hoe and plough, and crouched in heights remote,
Companioned with the grey-winged fogs; but he
Made waste their fields and throve upon their toil -
As throve the boar, the fierce four-footed curse
Which Artemis did raise in Calydon
To make stern mouths wax white with foreign fear,
All in the wild beginning of the world.

So one went down and told Laertes' son
Of what the brass-clad stranger from the straits
Had worked in Ithaca; whereat the King
Rose, like a god, and called his mighty heir,
Telemachus, the wisest of the wise;
And these two, having counsel, strode without,
And armed them with the arms of warlike days -
The helm, the javelin, and the sun-like shield,
And glancing greaves and quivering stars of steel.
Yea, stern Ulysses, rusted not with rest,
But dread as Ares, gleaming on his car
Gave out the reins; and straightway all the lands
Were struck by noise of steed and shouts of men,
And furious dust, and splendid wheels of flame.
Meanwhile the hunter (starting from a sleep
In which the pieces of a broken dream
Had shown him Circe with most tearful face),
Caught at his spear, and stood like one at bay
When Summer brings about Arcadian horns
And headlong horses mixt with maddened hounds;
Then huge Ulysses, like a fire of fight,
Sprang sideways on the flying car, and drave
Full at the brass-clad warrior of the North
His massive spear; but fleet Telegonus
Stooped from the death, but heard the speedy lance
Sing like a thin wind through the steaming air;
Yet he, dismayed not by the dreadful foe -
Unknown to him - dealt out his strength, and aimed
A strenuous stroke at great Laertes' son,
Which missed the shield, but bit through flesh and bone,
And drank the blood, and dragged the soul from thence.
So fell the King! And one cried 'Ithaca!
Ah, Ithaca!' and turned his face and wept.
Then came another - wise Telemachus -
Who knelt beside the man of many days
And pored upon the face; but lo, the life
Was like bright water spilt in sands of thirst,
A wasted splendour swiftly drawn away.
Yet held he by the dead: he heeded not
The moaning warrior who had learnt his sin -
Who waited now, like one in lairs of pain,
Apart with darkness, hungry for his fate;
For had not wise Telemachus the lore
Which makes the pale-mouthed seer content to sleep
Amidst the desolations of the world?
So therefore he, who knew Telegonus,
The child of Circe by Laertes' son,
Was set to be a scourge of Zeus, smote not,
But rather sat with moody eyes, and mused,
And watched the dead. For who may brave the gods?

Yet, O my fathers, when the people came,
And brought the holy oils and perfect fire,
And built the pile, and sang the tales of Troy -
Of desperate travels in the olden time,
By shadowy mountains and the roaring sea,
Near windy sands and past the Thracian snows -
The man who crossed them all to see his sire,
And had a loyal heart to give the king,
Instead of blows - this man did little more
Than moan outside the fume of funeral rites,
All in a rushing twilight full of rain,
And clap his palms for sharper pains than swords.
Yea, when the night broke out against the flame,
And lonely noises loitered in the fens,
This man nor stirred nor slept, but lay at wait,
With fastened mouth. For who may brave the gods?

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The Poem of Antar

Have the poets left in the garment a place for a patch to be patched by me; and did you know the abode of your beloved after reflection?2

The vestige of the house, which did not speak, confounded thee, until it spoke by means of signs, like one deaf and dumb.

Verily, I kept my she-camel there long grumbling, with a yearning at the blackened stones, keeping and standing firm in their own places.

It is the abode of a friend, languishing in her glance, submissive in the embrace, pleasant of smile.

Oh house of 'Ablah situated at Jiwaa, talk with me about those who resided in you. Good morning to you, O house of 'Ablah, and be safe from ruin.

I halted my she-camel in that place; and it was as though she were a high palace; in order that I might perform the wont of the lingerer.

And 'Ablah takes up her abode at Jiwaa; while our people went to Hazan, then to Mutathallam.

She took up her abode in the land of my enemies; so it became difficult for me to seek you, O daughter of Mahzam.

I was enamored of her unawares, at a time when I was killing her people, desiring her in marriage; but by your father's life I swear, this was not the time for desiring.3

And verily you have occupied in my heart the place of the honored loved one, so do not think otherwise than this, that you are my beloved.

And how may be the visiting of her; while her people have taken up their residence in the spring at 'Unaizatain and our people at Ghailam?

I knew that you had intended departing, for, verily, your camels were bridled on a dark night.

Nothing caused me fear of her departure, except that the baggage camels of her people were eating the seeds of the Khimkhim tree throughout the country.4

Amongst them were two and forty milk-giving camels, black as the wing-feathers of black crows.

When she captivates you with a mouth possessing sharp, and white teeth, sweet as to its place of kissing, delicious of taste.

As if she sees with the two eyes of a young, grown up gazelle from the deer.

It was as though the musk bag of a merchant in his case of perfumes preceded her teeth toward you from her mouth.

Or as if it is an old wine-skin, from Azri'at, preserved long, such as the kings of Rome preserve;

Or her mouth is as an ungrazed meadow, whose herbage the rain has guaranteed, in which there is but little dung; and which is not marked with the feet of animals.

The first pure showers of every rain-cloud rained upon it, and left every puddle in it bright and round like a dirham;

Sprinkling and pouring; so that the water flows upon it every evening, and is not cut off from it.

The fly enjoyed yet alone, and so it did not cease humming, as is the act of the singing drunkard;

Humming, while he rubs one foreleg against the other, as the striking on the flint of one, bent on the flint, and cut off as to his palm.

She passes her evenings and her mornings on the surface of a well-stuffed couch, while I pass my nights on the back of a bridled black horse.

And my couch is a saddle upon a horse big-boned in the leg, big in his flanks, great of girth.

Would a Shadanian she-camel cause me to arrive at her abode, who is cursed with an udder scanty of milk and cut off?5

After traveling all night, she is lashing her sides with her tail, and is strutting proudly, and she breaks up the mounds of earth she passes over with her foot with its sole, treading hard.

As if I in the evening am breaking the mounds of earth by means of an ostrich, very small as to the distance between its two feet, and earless.6

The young ostriches flock toward him, as the herds of Yamanian camels flock to a barbarous, unintelligible speaker.

They follow the crest of his head, as though it was a howdah on a large litter, tented for them.

He is small headed, who returns constantly to look after his eggs at Zil-'Ushairah; he is like a slave, with a long fur cloak and without ears.

She drank of the water of Duhruzain and then turned away, being disgusted, from the pools of stagnant water.7

And she swerves away with her right side from the fear of one, whistling in the evening, a big, ugly-headed one;8

From the fear of a cat, led at her side, every time she turned toward him, in anger, he met her with both claws and mouth.

She knelt down at the edge of the pool of Rada', and groaned as though she had knelt on a reed, broken, and emitting a cracking noise.

And the sweat on the back was as though it were oil or thick pitch, with which fire is lighted round the sides of a retort.

Her places of flexure were wetted with it and she lavishly poured of it, on a spreading forelock, short and well-bred.

The length of the journey left her a strong, well-built body, like a high palace, built with cement, and rising high; and feet like the supports of a firmly pitched tent.

And surely I recollected you, even when the lances were drinking my blood, and bright swords of Indian make were dripping with my blood.

I wished to kiss the swords, for verily they shone as bright as the flash of the foretooth of your smiling mouth.

If you lower your veil over yourself in front of me, of what use will it be? for, verily, I am expert in capturing the mailed horseman.

Praise me for the qualities which you know I possess, for, verily, when I am not ill-treated, I am gentle to associate with.

And if I am ill-treated, then, verily, my tyranny is severe, very bitter is the taste of it, as the taste of the colocynth.

And, verily, I have drunk wine after the midday heats have subsided, buying it with the bright stamped coin.

From a glass, yellow with the lines of the glass-cutter on it, which was accompanied by a white-stoppered bottle on the left-hand side.

And when I have drunk, verily, I am the squanderer of my property, and my honor is great, and is not sullied.9

And when I have become sober, I do not diminish in my generosity, and as you know, so are my qualities and my liberality.

And many a husband of a beautiful woman, I have left prostrate on the ground, with his shoulders hissing like the side of the mouth of one with a split lip.10

My two hands preceded him with a hasty blow, striking him before he could strike me; and with the drops of blood from a penetrating stroke, red like the color of Brazil wood.

Why did you not ask the horsemen, O daughter Malik! if you were ignorant, concerning what you did not know about my condition,

At a time when I never ceased to be in the saddle of a long striding, wounded, sturdy horse, against whom the warriors came in succession.

At one time he is detached to charge the enemy with the lance, and at another he joins the large host with their bows tightly strung.

He who was present in the battle will inform you that verily I rush into battle, but I abstain at the time of taking the booty.

I see spoils, which, if I want I would win; but my bashfulness and my magnanimity hold me back from them.

And many a fully armed one, whom the warriors shunned fighting with, neither a hastener in flight, nor a surrenderer;

My hands were generous to him by a quick point with a straightened spear, strong in the joints;

Inflicting a wound wide of its two sides, the sound of the flow of blood from it leads at night the prowling wolves, burning with hunger.

I rent his vesture with a rigid spear, for the noble one is not forbidden to the spears.

Then I left him a prey for the wild beasts, who seize him, and gnaw the beauty of his fingers and wrist.

And many a long, closely woven coat of mail, I have split open the links of it, with a sword, off one defending his rights, and renowned for bravery.

Whose hands are ready with gambling arrows when it is winter, a tearer-down of the signs of the wine-sellers, and one reproached for his extravagance.11

When he saw that I had descended from my horse and was intending killing him, he showed his teeth, but without smiling.12

My meeting with him was when the day spread out, and he was as if his fingers and his head were dyed with indigo.13

I pierced him with my spear, and then I set upon him with my Indian sword pure of steel, and keen.

A warrior, so stately in size as if his clothes were on a high tree: soft leather shoes are worn by him and he is not twinned.

Oh, how wonderful is the beauty of the doe of the hunt, to whom is she lawful? To me she is unlawful; would to God that she was not unlawful.14

So, I sent my female slave, and said to her, "Go, find out news of her and inform me."

She said, "I saw carelessness on the part of the enemies, and that the doe is possible to him who is shooting."

And it was as though she looked toward me with the neck of a doe, a fawn of the gazelles, pure and with a white upper lip.

I am informed that 'Amru is unthankful for my kindness while ingratitude is a cause of evil to the soul of the giver.15

And, verily, I remember the advice of my uncle, in the battle, when the two lips quiver from off the white teeth of the mouth,

In the thick of the battle, of which the warriors do not complain of the rigors, except with an unintelligible noise.

When they (i.e., my people) defended themselves with me against the spears of the enemy, I did not refrain from them (i.e., the spears) through cowardice, but the place of my advance had become too strait.

When I heard the cry of Murrah rise, and saw the two sons of Rabi'ah in the thick dust,

While the tribe of Muhallam were struggling under their banners, and death was under the banners of the tribe of Mulhallam {sic.},

I made sure that at the time of their encounter there would be a blow, which would make the heads fly from the bodies, as the bird flies from off her young ones sitting close.

When I saw the people, while their mass advanced, excite one another to fight, I turned against them without being reproached for any want of bravery.

They were calling 'Antarah, while the spears were as though they were well-ropes in the breast of Adham.

They were calling 'Antarah, while the swords were as though they were the flash of lightnings in a dark cloud.

They were calling 'Antarah, while the arrows were flying, as though they were a flight of locusts, hovering above watering places.

They were calling " O 'Antarah," while the coats of mail shone with close rings, shining as though they were the eyeballs of frogs floating in a wavy pond.

I did not cease charging them, (the enemy,) with the prominent part of his (horse's) throat and breast, until he became covered with a shirt of blood.

Then he turned on account of the falling of the spears on his breast, and complained to me with tears and whinnyings.

If he had known what conversation was, he would have complained with words, and verily he would have, had he known speech, talked with me.

And verily the speech of the horsemen, "Woe to you, 'Antarah, advance, and attack the enemy," cured my soul and removed its sickness.

While the horses sternly frowning were charging over the soft soil, being partly the long-bodied mares, and partly the long-bodied, well-bred horses.

My riding-camels are tractable, they go wherever I wish; while my intellect is my helper, and I drive it forward with a firm order.16

Verily, it lay beyond my power that I should visit you; so, know what you have known, and some of what you have not known.

The lances of the tribe of Bagheez intercepted you and the perpetrators of the war set aside those who did not perpetrate it.

And, verily, I turned the horse for the attack, while his neck was bleeding, until the horses began to shun me.

And verily I feared that I should die, while there has not yet been a turn for war against the two sons of Zamzam;17

The two revilers of my honor, while I did not revile them, and the threateners of my blood, when I did not see them.

There is no wonder should they do so, for I left their father a prey for the wild beasts and every large old vulture.

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Homer

The Odyssey: Book 13

Thus did he speak, and they all held their peace throughout the
covered cloister, enthralled by the charm of his story, till presently
Alcinous began to speak.
"Ulysses," said he, "now that you have reached my house I doubt
not you will get home without further misadventure no matter how
much you have suffered in the past. To you others, however, who come
here night after night to drink my choicest wine and listen to my
bard, I would insist as follows. Our guest has already packed up the
clothes, wrought gold, and other valuables which you have brought
for his acceptance; let us now, therefore, present him further, each
one of us, with a large tripod and a cauldron. We will recoup
ourselves by the levy of a general rate; for private individuals
cannot be expected to bear the burden of such a handsome present."
Every one approved of this, and then they went home to bed each in
his own abode. When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn,
appeared, they hurried down to the ship and brought their cauldrons
with them. Alcinous went on board and saw everything so securely
stowed under the ship's benches that nothing could break adrift and
injure the rowers. Then they went to the house of Alcinous to get
dinner, and he sacrificed a bull for them in honour of Jove who is the
lord of all. They set the steaks to grill and made an excellent
dinner, after which the inspired bard, Demodocus, who was a
favourite with every one, sang to them; but Ulysses kept on turning
his eyes towards the sun, as though to hasten his setting, for he
was longing to be on his way. As one who has been all day ploughing
a fallow field with a couple of oxen keeps thinking about his supper
and is glad when night comes that he may go and get it, for it is
all his legs can do to carry him, even so did Ulysses rejoice when the
sun went down, and he at once said to the Phaecians, addressing
himself more particularly to King Alcinous:
"Sir, and all of you, farewell. Make your drink-offerings and send
me on my way rejoicing, for you have fulfilled my heart's desire by
giving me an escort, and making me presents, which heaven grant that I
may turn to good account; may I find my admirable wife living in peace
among friends, and may you whom I leave behind me give satisfaction to
your wives and children; may heaven vouchsafe you every good grace,
and may no evil thing come among your people."
Thus did he speak. His hearers all of them approved his saying and
agreed that he should have his escort inasmuch as he had spoken
reasonably. Alcinous therefore said to his servant, "Pontonous, mix
some wine and hand it round to everybody, that we may offer a prayer
to father Jove, and speed our guest upon his way."
Pontonous mixed the wine and handed it to every one in turn; the
others each from his own seat made a drink-offering to the blessed
gods that live in heaven, but Ulysses rose and placed the double cup
in the hands of queen Arete.
"Farewell, queen," said he, "henceforward and for ever, till age and
death, the common lot of mankind, lay their hands upon you. I now take
my leave; be happy in this house with your children, your people,
and with king Alcinous."
As he spoke he crossed the threshold, and Alcinous sent a man to
conduct him to his ship and to the sea shore. Arete also sent some
maid servants with him- one with a clean shirt and cloak, another to
carry his strong-box, and a third with corn and wine. When they got to
the water side the crew took these things and put them on board,
with all the meat and drink; but for Ulysses they spread a rug and a
linen sheet on deck that he might sleep soundly in the stern of the
ship. Then he too went on board and lay down without a word, but the
crew took every man his place and loosed the hawser from the pierced
stone to which it had been bound. Thereon, when they began rowing
out to sea, Ulysses fell into a deep, sweet, and almost deathlike
slumber.
The ship bounded forward on her way as a four in hand chariot
flies over the course when the horses feel the whip. Her prow curveted
as it were the neck of a stallion, and a great wave of dark blue water
seethed in her wake. She held steadily on her course, and even a
falcon, swiftest of all birds, could not have kept pace with her.
Thus, then, she cut her way through the water. carrying one who was as
cunning as the gods, but who was now sleeping peacefully, forgetful of
all that he had suffered both on the field of battle and by the
waves of the weary sea.
When the bright star that heralds the approach of dawn began to
show. the ship drew near to land. Now there is in Ithaca a haven of
the old merman Phorcys, which lies between two points that break the
line of the sea and shut the harbour in. These shelter it from the
storms of wind and sea that rage outside, so that, when once within
it, a ship may lie without being even moored. At the head of this
harbour there is a large olive tree, and at no distance a fine
overarching cavern sacred to the nymphs who are called Naiads. There
are mixing-bowls within it and wine-jars of stone, and the bees hive
there. Moreover, there are great looms of stone on which the nymphs
weave their robes of sea purple- very curious to see- and at all times
there is water within it. It has two entrances, one facing North by
which mortals can go down into the cave, while the other comes from
the South and is more mysterious; mortals cannot possibly get in by
it, it is the way taken by the gods.
Into this harbour, then, they took their ship, for they knew the
place, She had so much way upon her that she ran half her own length
on to the shore; when, however, they had landed, the first thing
they did was to lift Ulysses with his rug and linen sheet out of the
ship, and lay him down upon the sand still fast asleep. Then they took
out the presents which Minerva had persuaded the Phaeacians to give
him when he was setting out on his voyage homewards. They put these
all together by the root of the olive tree, away from the road, for
fear some passer by might come and steal them before Ulysses awoke;
and then they made the best of their way home again.
But Neptune did not forget the threats with which he had already
threatened Ulysses, so he took counsel with Jove. "Father Jove,"
said he, "I shall no longer be held in any sort of respect among you
gods, if mortals like the Phaeacians, who are my own flesh and
blood, show such small regard for me. I said I would Ulysses get
home when he had suffered sufficiently. I did not say that he should
never get home at all, for I knew you had already nodded your head
about it, and promised that he should do so; but now they have brought
him in a ship fast asleep and have landed him in Ithaca after
loading him with more magnificent presents of bronze, gold, and
raiment than he would ever have brought back from Troy, if he had
had his share of the spoil and got home without misadventure."
And Jove answered, "What, O Lord of the Earthquake, are you
talking about? The gods are by no means wanting in respect for you. It
would be monstrous were they to insult one so old and honoured as
you are. As regards mortals, however, if any of them is indulging in
insolence and treating you disrespectfully, it will always rest with
yourself to deal with him as you may think proper, so do just as you
please."
"I should have done so at once," replied Neptune, "if I were not
anxious to avoid anything that might displease you; now, therefore,
I should like to wreck the Phaecian ship as it is returning from its
escort. This will stop them from escorting people in future; and I
should also like to bury their city under a huge mountain."
"My good friend," answered Jove, "I should recommend you at the very
moment when the people from the city are watching the ship on her way,
to turn it into a rock near the land and looking like a ship. This
will astonish everybody, and you can then bury their city under the
mountain."
When earth-encircling Neptune heard this he went to Scheria where
the Phaecians live, and stayed there till the ship, which was making
rapid way, had got close-in. Then he went up to it, turned it into
stone, and drove it down with the flat of his hand so as to root it in
the ground. After this he went away.
The Phaeacians then began talking among themselves, and one would
turn towards his neighbour, saying, "Bless my heart, who is it that
can have rooted the ship in the sea just as she was getting into port?
We could see the whole of her only moment ago."
This was how they talked, but they knew nothing about it; and
Alcinous said, "I remember now the old prophecy of my father. He
said that Neptune would be angry with us for taking every one so
safely over the sea, and would one day wreck a Phaeacian ship as it
was returning from an escort, and bury our city under a high mountain.
This was what my old father used to say, and now it is all coming
true. Now therefore let us all do as I say; in the first place we must
leave off giving people escorts when they come here, and in the next
let us sacrifice twelve picked bulls to Neptune that he may have mercy
upon us, and not bury our city under the high mountain." When the
people heard this they were afraid and got ready the bulls.
Thus did the chiefs and rulers of the Phaecians to king Neptune,
standing round his altar; and at the same time Ulysses woke up once
more upon his own soil. He had been so long away that he did not
know it again; moreover, Jove's daughter Minerva had made it a foggy
day, so that people might not know of his having come, and that she
might tell him everything without either his wife or his fellow
citizens and friends recognizing him until he had taken his revenge
upon the wicked suitors. Everything, therefore, seemed quite different
to him- the long straight tracks, the harbours, the precipices, and
the goodly trees, appeared all changed as he started up and looked
upon his native land. So he smote his thighs with the flat of his
hands and cried aloud despairingly.
"Alas," he exclaimed, "among what manner of people am I fallen?
Are they savage and uncivilized or hospitable and humane? Where
shall I put all this treasure, and which way shall I go? I wish I
had stayed over there with the Phaeacians; or I could have gone to
some other great chief who would have been good to me and given me
an escort. As it is I do not know where to put my treasure, and I
cannot leave it here for fear somebody else should get hold of it.
In good truth the chiefs and rulers of the Phaeacians have not been
dealing fairly by me, and have left me in the wrong country; they said
they would take me back to Ithaca and they have not done so: may
Jove the protector of suppliants chastise them, for he watches over
everybody and punishes those who do wrong. Still, I suppose I must
count my goods and see if the crew have gone off with any of them."
He counted his goodly coppers and cauldrons, his gold and all his
clothes, but there was nothing missing; still he kept grieving about
not being in his own country, and wandered up and down by the shore of
the sounding sea bewailing his hard fate. Then Minerva came up to
him disguised as a young shepherd of delicate and princely mien,
with a good cloak folded double about her shoulders; she had sandals
on her comely feet and held a javelin in her hand. Ulysses was glad
when he saw her, and went straight up to her.
"My friend," said he, "you are the first person whom I have met with
in this country; I salute you, therefore, and beg you to be will
disposed towards me. Protect these my goods, and myself too, for I
embrace your knees and pray to you as though you were a god. Tell
me, then, and tell me truly, what land and country is this? Who are
its inhabitants? Am I on an island, or is this the sea board of some
continent?"
Minerva answered, "Stranger, you must be very simple, or must have
come from somewhere a long way off, not to know what country this
is. It is a very celebrated place, and everybody knows it East and
West. It is rugged and not a good driving country, but it is by no
means a bid island for what there is of it. It grows any quantity of
corn and also wine, for it is watered both by rain and dew; it
breeds cattle also and goats; all kinds of timber grow here, and there
are watering places where the water never runs dry; so, sir, the
name of Ithaca is known even as far as Troy, which I understand to
be a long way off from this Achaean country."
Ulysses was glad at finding himself, as Minerva told him, in his own
country, and he began to answer, but he did not speak the truth, and
made up a lying story in the instinctive wiliness of his heart.
"I heard of Ithaca," said he, "when I was in Crete beyond the
seas, and now it seems I have reached it with all these treasures. I
have left as much more behind me for my children, but am flying
because I killed Orsilochus son of Idomeneus, the fleetest runner in
Crete. I killed him because he wanted to rob me of the spoils I had
got from Troy with so much trouble and danger both on the field of
battle and by the waves of the weary sea; he said I had not served his
father loyally at Troy as vassal, but had set myself up as an
independent ruler, so I lay in wait for him and with one of my
followers by the road side, and speared him as he was coming into town
from the country. my It was a very dark night and nobody saw us; it
was not known, therefore, that I had killed him, but as soon as I
had done so I went to a ship and besought the owners, who were
Phoenicians, to take me on board and set me in Pylos or in Elis
where the Epeans rule, giving them as much spoil as satisfied them.
They meant no guile, but the wind drove them off their course, and
we sailed on till we came hither by night. It was all we could do to
get inside the harbour, and none of us said a word about supper though
we wanted it badly, but we all went on shore and lay down just as we
were. I was very tired and fell asleep directly, so they took my goods
out of the ship, and placed them beside me where I was lying upon
the sand. Then they sailed away to Sidonia, and I was left here in
great distress of mind."
Such was his story, but Minerva smiled and caressed him with her
hand. Then she took the form of a woman, fair, stately, and wise,
"He must be indeed a shifty lying fellow," said she, "who could
surpass you in all manner of craft even though you had a god for
your antagonist. Dare-devil that you are, full of guile, unwearying in
deceit, can you not drop your tricks and your instinctive falsehood,
even now that you are in your own country again? We will say no
more, however, about this, for we can both of us deceive upon
occasion- you are the most accomplished counsellor and orator among
all mankind, while I for diplomacy and subtlety have no equal among
the gods. Did you not know Jove's daughter Minerva- me, who have
been ever with you, who kept watch over you in all your troubles,
and who made the Phaeacians take so great a liking to you? And now,
again, I am come here to talk things over with you, and help you to
hide the treasure I made the Phaeacians give you; I want to tell you
about the troubles that await you in your own house; you have got to
face them, but tell no one, neither man nor woman, that you have
come home again. Bear everything, and put up with every man's
insolence, without a word."
And Ulysses answered, "A man, goddess, may know a great deal, but
you are so constantly changing your appearance that when he meets
you it is a hard matter for him to know whether it is you or not. This
much, however, I know exceedingly well; you were very kind to me as
long as we Achaeans were fighting before Troy, but from the day on
which we went on board ship after having sacked the city of Priam, and
heaven dispersed us- from that day, Minerva, I saw no more of you, and
cannot ever remember your coming to my ship to help me in a
difficulty; I had to wander on sick and sorry till the gods
delivered me from evil and I reached the city of the Phaeacians, where
you encouraged me and took me into the town. And now, I beseech you in
your father's name, tell me the truth, for I do not believe I am
really back in Ithaca. I am in some other country and you are
mocking me and deceiving me in all you have been saying. Tell me
then truly, have I really got back to my own country?"
"You are always taking something of that sort into your head,"
replied Minerva, "and that is why I cannot desert you in your
afflictions; you are so plausible, shrewd and shifty. Any one but
yourself on returning from so long a voyage would at once have gone
home to see his wife and children, but you do not seem to care about
asking after them or hearing any news about them till you have
exploited your wife, who remains at home vainly grieving for you,
and having no peace night or day for the tears she sheds on your
behalf. As for my not coming near you, I was never uneasy about you,
for I was certain you would get back safely though you would lose
all your men, and I did not wish to quarrel with my uncle Neptune, who
never forgave you for having blinded his son. I will now, however,
point out to you the lie of the land, and you will then perhaps
believe me. This is the haven of the old merman Phorcys, and here is
the olive tree that grows at the head of it; [near it is the cave
sacred to the Naiads;] here too is the overarching cavern in which you
have offered many an acceptable hecatomb to the nymphs, and this is
the wooded mountain Neritum."
As she spoke the goddess dispersed the mist and the land appeared.
Then Ulysses rejoiced at finding himself again in his own land, and
kissed the bounteous soil; he lifted up his hands and prayed to the
nymphs, saying, "Naiad nymphs, daughters of Jove, I made sure that I
was never again to see you, now therefore I greet you with all
loving salutations, and I will bring you offerings as in the old days,
if Jove's redoubtable daughter will grant me life, and bring my son to
manhood."
"Take heart, and do not trouble yourself about that," rejoined
Minerva, "let us rather set about stowing your things at once in the
cave, where they will be quite safe. Let us see how we can best manage
it all."
Therewith she went down into the cave to look for the safest
hiding places, while Ulysses brought up all the treasure of gold,
bronze, and good clothing which the Phaecians had given him. They
stowed everything carefully away, and Minerva set a stone against
the door of the cave. Then the two sat down by the root of the great
olive, and consulted how to compass the destruction of the wicked
suitors.
"Ulysses," said Minerva, "noble son of Laertes, think how you can
lay hands on these disreputable people who have been lording it in
your house these three years, courting your wife and making wedding
presents to her, while she does nothing but lament your absence,
giving hope and sending your encouraging messages to every one of
them, but meaning the very opposite of all she says'
And Ulysses answered, "In good truth, goddess, it seems I should
have come to much the same bad end in my own house as Agamemnon did,
if you had not given me such timely information. Advise me how I shall
best avenge myself. Stand by my side and put your courage into my
heart as on the day when we loosed Troy's fair diadem from her brow.
Help me now as you did then, and I will fight three hundred men, if
you, goddess, will be with me."
"Trust me for that," said she, "I will not lose sight of you when
once we set about it, and I would imagine that some of those who are
devouring your substance will then bespatter the pavement with their
blood and brains. I will begin by disguising you so that no human
being shall know you; I will cover your body with wrinkles; you
shall lose all your yellow hair; I will clothe you in a garment that
shall fill all who see it with loathing; I will blear your fine eyes
for you, and make you an unseemly object in the sight of the
suitors, of your wife, and of the son whom you left behind you. Then
go at once to the swineherd who is in charge of your pigs; he has been
always well affected towards you, and is devoted to Penelope and
your son; you will find him feeding his pigs near the rock that is
called Raven by the fountain Arethusa, where they are fattening on
beechmast and spring water after their manner. Stay with him and
find out how things are going, while I proceed to Sparta and see
your son, who is with Menelaus at Lacedaemon, where he has gone to try
and find out whether you are still alive."
"But why," said Ulysses, "did you not tell him, for you knew all
about it? Did you want him too to go sailing about amid all kinds of
hardship while others are eating up his estate?"
Minerva answered, "Never mind about him, I sent him that he might be
well spoken of for having gone. He is in no sort of difficulty, but is
staying quite comfortably with Menelaus, and is surrounded with
abundance of every kind. The suitors have put out to sea and are lying
in wait for him, for they mean to kill him before he can get home. I
do not much think they will succeed, but rather that some of those who
are now eating up your estate will first find a grave themselves."
As she spoke Minerva touched him with her wand and covered him
with wrinkles, took away all his yellow hair, and withered the flesh
over his whole body; she bleared his eyes, which were naturally very
fine ones; she changed his clothes and threw an old rag of a wrap
about him, and a tunic, tattered, filthy, and begrimed with smoke; she
also gave him an undressed deer skin as an outer garment, and
furnished him with a staff and a wallet all in holes, with a twisted
thong for him to sling it over his shoulder.
When the pair had thus laid their plans they parted, and the goddess
went straight to Lacedaemon to fetch Telemachus.

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Homer

The Iliad: Book 23

Thus did they make their moan throughout the city, while the
Achaeans when they reached the Hellespont went back every man to his
own ship. But Achilles would not let the Myrmidons go, and spoke to
his brave comrades saying, "Myrmidons, famed horsemen and my own
trusted friends, not yet, forsooth, let us unyoke, but with horse
and chariot draw near to the body and mourn Patroclus, in due honour
to the dead. When we have had full comfort of lamentation we will
unyoke our horses and take supper all of us here."
On this they all joined in a cry of wailing and Achilles led them in
their lament. Thrice did they drive their chariots all sorrowing round
the body, and Thetis stirred within them a still deeper yearning.
The sands of the seashore and the men's armour were wet with their
weeping, so great a minister of fear was he whom they had lost.
Chief in all their mourning was the son of Peleus: he laid his
bloodstained hand on the breast of his friend. "Fare well," he
cried, "Patroclus, even in the house of Hades. I will now do all
that I erewhile promised you; I will drag Hector hither and let dogs
devour him raw; twelve noble sons of Trojans will I also slay before
your pyre to avenge you."
As he spoke he treated the body of noble Hector with contumely,
laying it at full length in the dust beside the bier of Patroclus. The
others then put off every man his armour, took the horses from their
chariots, and seated themselves in great multitude by the ship of
the fleet descendant of Aeacus, who thereon feasted them with an
abundant funeral banquet. Many a goodly ox, with many a sheep and
bleating goat did they butcher and cut up; many a tusked boar
moreover, fat and well-fed, did they singe and set to roast in the
flames of Vulcan; and rivulets of blood flowed all round the place
where the body was lying.
Then the princes of the Achaeans took the son of Peleus to
Agamemnon, but hardly could they persuade him to come with them, so
wroth was he for the death of his comrade. As soon as they reached
Agamemnon's tent they told the serving-men to set a large tripod
over the fire in case they might persuade the son of Peleus 'to wash
the clotted gore from this body, but he denied them sternly, and swore
it with a solemn oath, saying, "Nay, by King Jove, first and mightiest
of all gods, it is not meet that water should touch my body, till I
have laid Patroclus on the flames, have built him a barrow, and shaved
my head- for so long as I live no such second sorrow shall ever draw
nigh me. Now, therefore, let us do all that this sad festival demands,
but at break of day, King Agamemnon, bid your men bring wood, and
provide all else that the dead may duly take into the realm of
darkness; the fire shall thus burn him out of our sight the sooner,
and the people shall turn again to their own labours."
Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said. They made haste
to prepare the meal, they ate, and every man had his full share so
that all were satisfied. As soon as they had had had enough to eat and
drink, the others went to their rest each in his own tent, but the son
of Peleus lay grieving among his Myrmidons by the shore of the
sounding sea, in an open place where the waves came surging in one
after another. Here a very deep slumber took hold upon him and eased
the burden of his sorrows, for his limbs were weary with chasing
Hector round windy Ilius. Presently the sad spirit of Patroclus drew
near him, like what he had been in stature, voice, and the light of
his beaming eyes, clad, too, as he had been clad in life. The spirit
hovered over his head and said-
"You sleep, Achilles, and have forgotten me; you loved me living,
but now that I am dead you think for me no further. Bury me with all
speed that I may pass the gates of Hades; the ghosts, vain shadows
of men that can labour no more, drive me away from them; they will not
yet suffer me to join those that are beyond the river, and I wander
all desolate by the wide gates of the house of Hades. Give me now your
hand I pray you, for when you have once given me my dues of fire,
never shall I again come forth out of the house of Hades. Nevermore
shall we sit apart and take sweet counsel among the living; the
cruel fate which was my birth-right has yawned its wide jaws around
me- nay, you too Achilles, peer of gods, are doomed to die beneath the
wall of the noble Trojans.
"One prayer more will I make you, if you will grant it; let not my
bones be laid apart from yours, Achilles, but with them; even as we
were brought up together in your own home, what time Menoetius brought
me to you as a child from Opoeis because by a sad spite I had killed
the son of Amphidamas- not of set purpose, but in childish quarrel
over the dice. The knight Peleus took me into his house, entreated
me kindly, and named me to be your squire; therefore let our bones lie
in but a single urn, the two-handled golden vase given to you by
your mother."
And Achilles answered, "Why, true heart, are you come hither to
lay these charges upon me? will of my own self do all as you have
bidden me. Draw closer to me, let us once more throw our arms around
one another, and find sad comfort in the sharing of our sorrows."
He opened his arms towards him as he spoke and would have clasped
him in them, but there was nothing, and the spirit vanished as a
vapour, gibbering and whining into the earth. Achilles sprang to his
feet, smote his two hands, and made lamentation saying, "Of a truth
even in the house of Hades there are ghosts and phantoms that have
no life in them; all night long the sad spirit of Patroclus has
hovered over head making piteous moan, telling me what I am to do
for him, and looking wondrously like himself."
Thus did he speak and his words set them all weeping and mourning
about the poor dumb dead, till rosy-fingered morn appeared. Then
King Agamemnon sent men and mules from all parts of the camp, to bring
wood, and Meriones, squire to Idomeneus, was in charge over them. They
went out with woodmen's axes and strong ropes in their hands, and
before them went the mules. Up hill and down dale did they go, by
straight ways and crooked, and when they reached the heights of
many-fountained Ida, they laid their axes to the roots of many a
tall branching oak that came thundering down as they felled it. They
split the trees and bound them behind the mules, which then wended
their way as they best could through the thick brushwood on to the
plain. All who had been cutting wood bore logs, for so Meriones squire
to Idomeneus had bidden them, and they threw them down in a line
upon the seashore at the place where Achilles would make a mighty
monument for Patroclus and for himself.
When they had thrown down their great logs of wood over the whole
ground, they stayed all of them where they were, but Achilles
ordered his brave Myrmidons to gird on their armour, and to yoke
each man his horses; they therefore rose, girded on their armour and
mounted each his chariot- they and their charioteers with them. The
chariots went before, and they that were on foot followed as a cloud
in their tens of thousands after. In the midst of them his comrades
bore Patroclus and covered him with the locks of their hair which they
cut off and threw upon his body. Last came Achilles with his head
bowed for sorrow, so noble a comrade was he taking to the house of
Hades.
When they came to the place of which Achilles had told them they
laid the body down and built up the wood. Achilles then bethought
him of another matter. He went a space away from the pyre, and cut off
the yellow lock which he had let grow for the river Spercheius. He
looked all sorrowfully out upon the dark sea, and said, "Spercheius,
in vain did my father Peleus vow to you that when I returned home to
my loved native land I should cut off this lock and offer you a holy
hecatomb; fifty she-goats was I to sacrifice to you there at your
springs, where is your grove and your altar fragrant with
burnt-offerings. Thus did my father vow, but you have not fulfilled
his prayer; now, therefore, that I shall see my home no more, I give
this lock as a keepsake to the hero Patroclus."
As he spoke he placed the lock in the hands of his dear comrade, and
all who stood by were filled with yearning and lamentation. The sun
would have gone down upon their mourning had not Achilles presently
said to Agamemnon, "Son of Atreus, for it is to you that the people
will give ear, there is a time to mourn and a time to cease from
mourning; bid the people now leave the pyre and set about getting
their dinners: we, to whom the dead is dearest, will see to what is
wanted here, and let the other princes also stay by me."
When King Agamemnon heard this he dismissed the people to their
ships, but those who were about the dead heaped up wood and built a
pyre a hundred feet this way and that; then they laid the dead all
sorrowfully upon the top of it. They flayed and dressed many fat sheep
and oxen before the pyre, and Achilles took fat from all of them and
wrapped the body therein from head to foot, heaping the flayed
carcases all round it. Against the bier he leaned two-handled jars
of honey and unguents; four proud horses did he then cast upon the
pyre, groaning the while he did so. The dead hero had had
house-dogs; two of them did Achilles slay and threw upon the pyre;
he also put twelve brave sons of noble Trojans to the sword and laid
them with the rest, for he was full of bitterness and fury. Then he
committed all to the resistless and devouring might of the fire; he
groaned aloud and callid on his dead comrade by name. "Fare well,"
he cried, "Patroclus, even in the house of Hades; I am now doing all
that I have promised you. Twelve brave sons of noble Trojans shall the
flames consume along with yourself, but dogs, not fire, shall devour
the flesh of Hector son of Priam."
Thus did he vaunt, but the dogs came not about the body of Hector,
for Jove's daughter Venus kept them off him night and day, and
anointed him with ambrosial oil of roses that his flesh might not be
torn when Achilles was dragging him about. Phoebus Apollo moreover
sent a dark cloud from heaven to earth, which gave shade to the
whole place where Hector lay, that the heat of the sun might not parch
his body.
Now the pyre about dead Patroclus would not kindle. Achilles
therefore bethought him of another matter; he went apart and prayed to
the two winds Boreas and Zephyrus vowing them goodly offerings. He
made them many drink-offerings from the golden cup and besought them
to come and help him that the wood might make haste to kindle and
the dead bodies be consumed. Fleet Iris heard him praying and
started off to fetch the winds. They were holding high feast in the
house of boisterous Zephyrus when Iris came running up to the stone
threshold of the house and stood there, but as soon as they set eyes
on her they all came towards her and each of them called her to him,
but Iris would not sit down. "I cannot stay," she said, "I must go
back to the streams of Oceanus and the land of the Ethiopians who
are offering hecatombs to the immortals, and I would have my share;
but Achilles prays that Boreas and shrill Zephyrus will come to him,
and he vows them goodly offerings; he would have you blow upon the
pyre of Patroclus for whom all the Achaeans are lamenting."
With this she left them, and the two winds rose with a cry that rent
the air and swept the clouds before them. They blew on and on until
they came to the sea, and the waves rose high beneath them, but when
they reached Troy they fell upon the pyre till the mighty flames
roared under the blast that they blew. All night long did they blow
hard and beat upon the fire, and all night long did Achilles grasp his
double cup, drawing wine from a mixing-bowl of gold, and calling
upon the spirit of dead Patroclus as he poured it upon the ground
until the earth was drenched. As a father mourns when he is burning
the bones of his bridegroom son whose death has wrung the hearts of
his parents, even so did Achilles mourn while burning the body of
his comrade, pacing round the bier with piteous groaning and
lamentation.
At length as the Morning Star was beginning to herald the light
which saffron-mantled Dawn was soon to suffuse over the sea, the
flames fell and the fire began to die. The winds then went home beyond
the Thracian sea, which roared and boiled as they swept over it. The
son of Peleus now turned away from the pyre and lay down, overcome
with toil, till he fell into a sweet slumber. Presently they who
were about the son of Atreus drew near in a body, and roused him
with the noise and tramp of their coming. He sat upright and said,
"Son of Atreus, and all other princes of the Achaeans, first pour
red wine everywhere upon the fire and quench it; let us then gather
the bones of Patroclus son of Menoetius, singling them out with
care; they are easily found, for they lie in the middle of the pyre,
while all else, both men and horses, has been thrown in a heap and
burned at the outer edge. We will lay the bones in a golden urn, in
two layers of fat, against the time when I shall myself go down into
the house of Hades. As for the barrow, labour not to raise a great one
now, but such as is reasonable. Afterwards, let those Achaeans who may
be left at the ships when I am gone, build it both broad and high."
Thus he spoke and they obeyed the word of the son of Peleus. First
they poured red wine upon the thick layer of ashes and quenched the
fire. With many tears they singled out the whitened bones of their
loved comrade and laid them within a golden urn in two layers of
fat: they then covered the urn with a linen cloth and took it inside
the tent. They marked off the circle where the barrow should be,
made a foundation for it about the pyre, and forthwith heaped up the
earth. When they had thus raised a mound they were going away, but
Achilles stayed the people and made them sit in assembly. He brought
prizes from the ships-cauldrons, tripods, horses and mules, noble
oxen, women with fair girdles, and swart iron.
The first prize he offered was for the chariot races- a woman
skilled in all useful arts, and a three-legged cauldron that had
ears for handles, and would hold twenty-two measures. This was for the
man who came in first. For the second there was a six-year old mare,
unbroken, and in foal to a he-ass; the third was to have a goodly
cauldron that had never yet been on the fire; it was still bright as
when it left the maker, and would hold four measures. The fourth prize
was two talents of gold, and the fifth a two-handled urn as yet
unsoiled by smoke. Then he stood up and spoke among the Argives
saying-
"Son of Atreus, and all other Achaeans, these are the prizes that
lie waiting the winners of the chariot races. At any other time I
should carry off the first prize and take it to my own tent; you
know how far my steeds excel all others- for they are immortal;
Neptune gave them to my father Peleus, who in his turn gave them to
myself; but I shall hold aloof, I and my steeds that have lost their
brave and kind driver, who many a time has washed them in clear
water and anointed their manes with oil. See how they stand weeping
here, with their manes trailing on the ground in the extremity of
their sorrow. But do you others set yourselves in order throughout the
host, whosoever has confidence in his horses and in the strength of
his chariot."
Thus spoke the son of Peleus and the drivers of chariots bestirred
themselves. First among them all uprose Eumelus, king of men, son of
Admetus, a man excellent in horsemanship. Next to him rose mighty
Diomed son of Tydeus; he yoked the Trojan horses which he had taken
from Aeneas, when Apollo bore him out of the fight. Next to him,
yellow-haired Menelaus son of Atreus rose and yoked his fleet
horses, Agamemnon's mare Aethe, and his own horse Podargus. The mare
had been given to Agamemnon by echepolus son of Anchises, that he
might not have to follow him to Ilius, but might stay at home and take
his ease; for Jove had endowed him with great wealth and he lived in
spacious Sicyon. This mare, all eager for the race, did Menelaus put
under the yoke.
Fourth in order Antilochus, son to noble Nestor son of Neleus,
made ready his horses. These were bred in Pylos, and his father came
up to him to give him good advice of which, however, he stood in but
little need. "Antilochus," said Nestor, "you are young, but Jove and
Neptune have loved you well, and have made you an excellent
horseman. I need not therefore say much by way of instruction. You are
skilful at wheeling your horses round the post, but the horses
themselves are very slow, and it is this that will, I fear, mar your
chances. The other drivers know less than you do, but their horses are
fleeter; therefore, my dear son, see if you cannot hit upon some
artifice whereby you may insure that the prize shall not slip
through your fingers. The woodman does more by skill than by brute
force; by skill the pilot guides his storm-tossed barque over the sea,
and so by skill one driver can beat another. If a man go wide in
rounding this way and that, whereas a man who knows what he is doing
may have worse horses, but he will keep them well in hand when he sees
the doubling-post; he knows the precise moment at which to pull the
rein, and keeps his eye well on the man in front of him. I will give
you this certain token which cannot escape your notice. There is a
stump of a dead tree-oak or pine as it may be- some six feet above the
ground, and not yet rotted away by rain; it stands at the fork of
the road; it has two white stones set one on each side, and there is a
clear course all round it. It may have been a monument to some one
long since dead, or it may have been used as a doubling-post in days
gone by; now, however, it has been fixed on by Achilles as the mark
round which the chariots shall turn; hug it as close as you can, but
as you stand in your chariot lean over a little to the left; urge on
your right-hand horse with voice and lash, and give him a loose
rein, but let the left-hand horse keep so close in, that the nave of
your wheel shall almost graze the post; but mind the stone, or you
will wound your horses and break your chariot in pieces, which would
be sport for others but confusion for yourself. Therefore, my dear
son, mind well what you are about, for if you can be first to round
the post there is no chance of any one giving you the goby later,
not even though you had Adrestus's horse Arion behind you horse
which is of divine race- or those of Laomedon, which are the noblest
in this country."
When Nestor had made an end of counselling his son he sat down in
his place, and fifth in order Meriones got ready his horses. They then
all mounted their chariots and cast lots.- Achilles shook the
helmet, and the lot of Antilochus son of Nestor fell out first; next
came that of King Eumelus, and after his, those of Menelaus son of
Atreus and of Meriones. The last place fell to the lot of Diomed son
of Tydeus, who was the best man of them all. They took their places in
line; Achilles showed them the doubling-post round which they were
to turn, some way off upon the plain; here he stationed his father's
follower Phoenix as umpire, to note the running, and report truly.
At the same instant they all of them lashed their horses, struck
them with the reins, and shouted at them with all their might. They
flew full speed over the plain away from the ships, the dust rose from
under them as it were a cloud or whirlwind, and their manes were all
flying in the wind. At one moment the chariots seemed to touch the
ground, and then again they bounded into the air; the drivers stood
erect, and their hearts beat fast and furious in their lust of
victory. Each kept calling on his horses, and the horses scoured the
plain amid the clouds of dust that they raised.
It was when they were doing the last part of the course on their way
back towards the sea that their pace was strained to the utmost and it
was seen what each could do. The horses of the descendant of Pheres
now took the lead, and close behind them came the Trojan stallions
of Diomed. They seemed as if about to mount Eumelus's chariot, and
he could feel their warm breath on his back and on his broad
shoulders, for their heads were close to him as they flew over the
course. Diomed would have now passed him, or there would have been a
dead heat, but Phoebus Apollo to spite him made him drop his whip.
Tears of anger fell from his eyes as he saw the mares going on
faster than ever, while his own horses lost ground through his
having no whip. Minerva saw the trick which Apollo had played the
son of Tydeus, so she brought him his whip and put spirit into his
horses; moreover she went after the son of Admetus in a rage and broke
his yoke for him; the mares went one to one side the course, and the
other to the other, and the pole was broken against the ground.
Eumelus was thrown from his chariot close to the wheel; his elbows,
mouth, and nostrils were all torn, and his forehead was bruised
above his eyebrows; his eyes filled with tears and he could find no
utterance. But the son of Tydeus turned his horses aside and shot
far ahead, for Minerva put fresh strength into them and covered Diomed
himself with glory.
Menelaus son of Atreus came next behind him, but Antilochus called
to his father's horses. "On with you both," he cried, "and do your
very utmost. I do not bid you try to beat the steeds of the son of
Tydeus, for Minerva has put running into them, and has covered
Diomed with glory; but you must overtake the horses of the son of
Atreus and not be left behind, or Aethe who is so fleet will taunt
you. Why, my good fellows, are you lagging? I tell you, and it shall
surely be- Nestor will keep neither of you, but will put both of you
to the sword, if we win any the worse a prize through your
carelessness, fly after them at your utmost speed; I will hit on a
plan for passing them in a narrow part of the way, and it shall not
fail me."
They feared the rebuke of their master, and for a short space went
quicker. Presently Antilochus saw a narrow place where the road had
sunk. The ground was broken, for the winter's rain had gathered and
had worn the road so that the whole place was deepened. Menelaus was
making towards it so as to get there first, for fear of a foul, but
Antilochus turned his horses out of the way, and followed him a little
on one side. The son of Atreus was afraid and shouted out,
"Antilochus, you are driving recklessly; rein in your horses; the road
is too narrow here, it will be wider soon, and you can pass me then;
if you foul my chariot you may bring both of us to a mischief."
But Antilochus plied his whip, and drove faster, as though he had
not heard him. They went side by side for about as far as a young
man can hurl a disc from his shoulder when he is trying his
strength, and then Menelaus's mares drew behind, for he left off
driving for fear the horses should foul one another and upset the
chariots; thus, while pressing on in quest of victory, they might both
come headlong to the ground. Menelaus then upbraided Antilochus and
said, "There is no greater trickster living than you are; go, and
bad luck go with you; the Achaeans say not well that you have
understanding, and come what may you shall not bear away the prize
without sworn protest on my part."
Then he called on his horses and said to them, "Keep your pace,
and slacken not; the limbs of the other horses will weary sooner
than yours, for they are neither of them young."
The horses feared the rebuke of their master, and went faster, so
that they were soon nearly up with the others.
Meanwhile the Achaeans from their seats were watching how the horses
went, as they scoured the plain amid clouds of their own dust.
Idomeneus captain of the Cretans was first to make out the running,
for he was not in the thick of the crowd, but stood on the most
commanding part of the ground. The driver was a long way off, but
Idomeneus could hear him shouting, and could see the foremost horse
quite plainly- a chestnut with a round white star, like the moon, on
its forehead. He stood up and said among the Argives, "My friends,
princes and counsellors of the Argives, can you see the running as
well as I can? There seems to be another pair in front now, and
another driver; those that led off at the start must have been
disabled out on the plain. I saw them at first making their way
round the doubling-post, but now, though I search the plain of Troy, I
cannot find them. Perhaps the reins fell from the driver's hand so
that he lost command of his horses at the doubling-post, and could not
turn it. I suppose he must have been thrown out there, and broken
his chariot, while his mares have left the course and gone off
wildly in a panic. Come up and see for yourselves, I cannot make out
for certain, but the driver seems an Aetolian by descent, ruler over
the Argives, brave Diomed the son of Tydeus."
Ajax the son of Oileus took him up rudely and said, "Idomeneus,
why should you be in such a hurry to tell us all about it, when the
mares are still so far out upon the plain? You are none of the
youngest, nor your eyes none of the sharpest, but you are always
laying down the law. You have no right to do so, for there are
better men here than you are. Eumelus's horses are in front now, as
they always have been, and he is on the chariot holding the reins."
The captain of the Cretans was angry, and answered, "Ajax you are an
excellent railer, but you have no judgement, and are wanting in much
else as well, for you have a vile temper. I will wager you a tripod or
cauldron, and Agamemnon son of Atreus shall decide whose horses are
first. You will then know to your cost."
Ajax son of Oileus was for making him an angry answer, and there
would have been yet further brawling between them, had not Achilles
risen in his place and said, "Cease your railing Ajax and Idomeneus;
it is not you would be scandalised if you saw any one else do the
like: sit down and keep your eyes on the horses; they are speeding
towards the winning-post and will be bere directly. You will then both
of you know whose horses are first, and whose come after."
As he was speaking, the son of Tydeus came driving in, plying his
whip lustily from his shoulder, and his horses stepping high as they
flew over the course. The sand and grit rained thick on the driver,
and the chariot inlaid with gold and tin ran close behind his fleet
horses. There was little trace of wheel-marks in the fine dust, and
the horses came flying in at their utmost speed. Diomed stayed them in
the middle of the crowd, and the sweat from their manes and chests
fell in streams on to the ground. Forthwith he sprang from his
goodly chariot, and leaned his whip against his horses' yoke; brave
Sthenelus now lost no time, but at once brought on the prize, and gave
the woman and the ear-handled cauldron to his comrades to take away.
Then he unyoked the horses.
Next after him came in Antilochus of the race of Neleus, who had
passed Menelaus by a trick and not by the fleetness of his horses; but
even so Menelaus came in as close behind him as the wheel is to the
horse that draws both the chariot and its master. The end hairs of a
horse's tail touch the tyre of the wheel, and there is never much
space between wheel and horse when the chariot is going; Menelaus
was no further than this behind Antilochus, though at first he had
been a full disc's throw behind him. He had soon caught him up
again, for Agamemnon's mare Aethe kept pulling stronger and
stronger, so that if the course had been longer he would have passed
him, and there would not even have been a dead heat. Idomeneus's brave
squire Meriones was about a spear's cast behind Menelaus. His horses
were slowest of all, and he was the worst driver. Last of them all
came the son of Admetus, dragging his chariot and driving his horses
on in front. When Achilles saw him he was sorry, and stood up among
the Argives saying, "The best man is coming in last. Let us give him a
prize for it is reasonable. He shall have the second, but the first
must go to the son of Tydeus."
Thus did he speak and the others all of them applauded his saying,
and were for doing as he had said, but Nestor's son Antilochus stood
up and claimed his rights from the son of Peleus. "Achilles," said he,
"I shall take it much amiss if you do this thing; you would rob me
of my prize, because you think Eumelus's chariot and horses were
thrown out, and himself too, good man that he is. He should have
prayed duly to the immortals; he would not have come in fast if he had
done so. If you are sorry for him and so choose, you have much gold in
your tents, with bronze, sheep, cattle and horses. Take something from
this store if you would have the Achaeans speak well of you, and
give him a better prize even than that which you have now offered; but
I will not give up the mare, and he that will fight me for her, let
him come on."
Achilles smiled as he heard this, and was pleased with Antilochus,
who was one of his dearest comrades. So he said-
"Antilochus, if you would have me find Eumelus another prize, I will
give him the bronze breastplate with a rim of tin running all round it
which I took from Asteropaeus. It will be worth much money to him."
He bade his comrade Automedon bring the breastplate from his tent,
and he did so. Achilles then gave it over to Eumelus, who received
it gladly.
But Menelaus got up in a rage, furiously angry with Antilochus. An
attendant placed his staff in his hands and bade the Argives keep
silence: the hero then addressed them. "Antilochus," said he, "what is
this from you who have been so far blameless? You have made me cut a
poor figure and baulked my horses by flinging your own in front of
them, though yours are much worse than mine are; therefore, O
princes and counsellors of the Argives, judge between us and show no
favour, lest one of the Achaeans say, 'Menelaus has got the mare
through lying and corruption; his horses were far inferior to
Antilochus's, but he has greater weight and influence.' Nay, I will
determine the matter myself, and no man will blame me, for I shall
do what is just. Come here, Antilochus, and stand, as our custom is,
whip in hand before your chariot and horses; lay your hand on your
steeds, and swear by earth-encircling Neptune that you did not
purposely and guilefully get in the way of my horses."
And Antilochus answered, "Forgive me; I am much younger, King
Menelaus, than you are; you stand higher than I do and are the
better man of the two; you know how easily young men are betrayed into
indiscretion; their tempers are more hasty and they have less
judgement; make due allowances therefore, and bear with me; I will
of my own accord give up the mare that I have won, and if you claim
any further chattel from my own possessions, I would rather yield it
to you, at once, than fall from your good graces henceforth, and do
wrong in the sight of heaven."
The son of Nestor then took the mare and gave her over to
Menelaus, whose anger was thus appeased; as when dew falls upon a
field of ripening corn, and the lands are bristling with the
harvest- even so, O Menelaus, was your heart made glad within you.
He turned to Antilochus and said, "Now, Antilochus, angry though I
have been, I can give way to you of my own free will; you have never
been headstrong nor ill-disposed hitherto, but this time your youth
has got the better of your judgement; be careful how you outwit your
betters in future; no one else could have brought me round so
easily, but your good father, your brother, and yourself have all of
you had infinite trouble on my behalf; I therefore yield to your
entreaty, and will give up the mare to you, mine though it indeed
be; the people will thus see that I am neither harsh nor vindictive."
With this he gave the mare over to Antilochus's comrade Noemon,
and then took the cauldron. Meriones, who had come in fourth,
carried off the two talents of gold, and the fifth prize, the
two-handled urn, being unawarded, Achilles gave it to Nestor, going up
to him among the assembled Argives and saying, "Take this, my good old
friend, as an heirloom and memorial of the funeral of Patroclus- for
you shall see him no more among the Argives. I give you this prize
though you cannot win one; you can now neither wrestle nor fight,
and cannot enter for the javelin-match nor foot-races, for the hand of
age has been laid heavily upon you."
So saying he gave the urn over to Nestor, who received it gladly and
answered, "My son, all that you have said is true; there is no
strength now in my legs and feet, nor can I hit out with my hands from
either shoulder. Would that I were still young and strong as when
the Epeans were burying King Amarynceus in Buprasium, and his sons
offered prizes in his honour. There was then none that could vie
with me neither of the Epeans nor the Pylians themselves nor the
Aetolians. In boxing I overcame Clytomedes son of Enops, and in
wrestling, Ancaeus of Pleuron who had come forward against me.
Iphiclus was a good runner, but I beat him, and threw farther with
my spear than either Phyleus or Polydorus. In chariot-racing alone did
the two sons of Actor surpass me by crowding their horses in front
of me, for they were angry at the way victory had gone, and at the
greater part of the prizes remaining in the place in which they had
been offered. They were twins, and the one kept on holding the
reins, and holding the reins, while the other plied the whip. Such was
I then, but now I must leave these matters to younger men; I must
bow before the weight of years, but in those days I was eminent
among heroes. And now, sir, go on with the funeral contests in
honour of your comrade: gladly do I accept this urn, and my heart
rejoices that you do not forget me but are ever mindful of my goodwill
towards you, and of the respect due to me from the Achaeans. For all
which may the grace of heaven be vouchsafed you in great abundance."
Thereon the son of Peleus, when he had listened to all the thanks of
Nestor, went about among the concourse of the Achaeans, and
presently offered prizes for skill in the painful art of boxing. He
brought out a strong mule, and made it fast in the middle of the
crowd- a she-mule never yet broken, but six years old- when it is
hardest of all to break them: this was for the victor, and for the
vanquished he offered a double cup. Then he stood up and said among
the Argives, "Son of Atreus, and all other Achaeans, I invite our
two champion boxers to lay about them lustily and compete for these
prizes. He to whom Apollo vouchsafes the greater endurance, and whom
the Achaeans acknowledge as victor, shall take the mule back with
him to his own tent, while he that is vanquished shall have the double
cup."
As he spoke there stood up a champion both brave and great
stature, a skilful boxer, Epeus, son of Panopeus. He laid his hand
on the mule and said, "Let the man who is to have the cup come hither,
for none but myself will take the mule. I am the best boxer of all
here present, and none can beat me. Is it not enough that I should
fall short of you in actual fighting? Still, no man can be good at
everything. I tell you plainly, and it shall come true; if any man
will box with me I will bruise his body and break his bones; therefore
let his friends stay here in a body and be at hand to take him away
when I have done with him."
They all held their peace, and no man rose save Euryalus son of
Mecisteus, who was son of Talaus. Mecisteus went once to Thebes
after the fall of Oedipus, to attend his funeral, and he beat all
the people of Cadmus. The son of Tydeus was Euryalus's second,
cheering him on and hoping heartily that he would win. First he put
a waistband round him and then he gave him some well-cut thongs of
ox-hide; the two men being now girt went into the middle of the
ring, and immediately fell to; heavily indeed did they punish one
another and lay about them with their brawny fists. One could hear the
horrid crashing of their jaws, and they sweated from every pore of
their skin. Presently Epeus came on and gave Euryalus a blow on the
jaw as he was looking round; Euryalus could not keep his legs; they
gave way under him in a moment and he sprang up with a bound, as a
fish leaps into the air near some shore that is all bestrewn with
sea-wrack, when Boreas furs the top of the waves, and then falls
back into deep water. But noble Epeus caught hold of him and raised
him up; his comrades also came round him and led him from the ring,
unsteady in his gait, his head hanging on one side, and spitting great
clots of gore. They set him down in a swoon and then went to fetch the
double cup.
The son of Peleus now brought out the prizes for the third contest
and showed them to the Argives. These were for the painful art of
wrestling. For the winner there was a great tripod ready for setting
upon the fire, and the Achaeans valued it among themselves at twelve
oxen. For the loser he brought out a woman skilled in all manner of
arts, and they valued her at four oxen. He rose and said among the
Argives, "Stand forward, you who will essay this contest."
Forthwith uprose great Ajax the son of Telamon, and crafty
Ulysses, full of wiles rose also. The two girded themselves and went
into the middle of the ring. They gripped each other in their strong
hands like the rafters which some master-builder frames for the roof
of a high house to keep the wind out. Their backbones cracked as
they tugged at one another with their mighty arms- and sweat rained
from them in torrents. Many a bloody weal sprang up on their sides and
shoulders, but they kept on striving with might and main for victory
and to win the tripod. Ulysses could not throw Ajax, nor Ajax him;
Ulysses was too strong for him; but when the Achaeans began to tire of
watching them, Ajax said to ulysses, "Ulysses, noble son of Laertes,
you shall either lift me, or I you, and let Jove settle it between
us."
He lifted him from the ground as he spoke, but Ulysses did not
forget his cunning. He hit Ajax in the hollow at back of his knee,
so that he could not keep his feet, but fell on his back with
Ulysses lying upon his chest, and all who saw it marvelled. Then
Ulysses in turn lifted Ajax and stirred him a little from the ground
but could not lift him right off it, his knee sank under him, and
the two fell side by side on the ground and were all begrimed with
dust. They now sprang towards one another and were for wrestling yet a
third time, but Achilles rose and stayed them. "Put not each other
further," said he, "to such cruel suffering; the victory is with
both alike, take each of you an equal prize, and let the other
Achaeans now compete."
Thus did he speak and they did even as he had said, and put on their
shirts again after wiping the dust from off their bodies.
The son of Peleus then offered prizes for speed in running- a
mixing-bowl beautifully wrought, of pure silver. It would hold six
measures, and far exceeded all others in the whole world for beauty;
it was the work of cunning artificers in Sidon, and had been brought
into port by Phoenicians from beyond the sea, who had made a present
of it to Thoas. Eueneus son of jason had given it to Patroclus in
ransom of Priam's son Lycaon, and Achilles now offered it as a prize
in honour of his comrade to him who should be the swiftest runner. For
the second prize he offered a large ox, well fattened, while for the
last there was to be half a talent of gold. He then rose and said
among the Argives, "Stand forward, you who will essay this contest."
Forthwith uprose fleet Ajax son of Oileus, with cunning Ulysses, and
Nestor's son Antilochus, the fastest runner among all the youth of his
time. They stood side by side and Achilles showed them the goal. The
course was set out for them from the starting-post, and the son of
Oileus took the lead at once, with Ulysses as close behind him as
the shuttle is to a woman's bosom when she throws the woof across
the warp and holds it close up to her; even so close behind him was
Ulysses- treading in his footprints before the dust could settle
there, and Ajax could feel his breath on the back of his head as he
ran swiftly on. The Achaeans all shouted applause as they saw him
straining his utmost, and cheered him as he shot past them; but when
they were now nearing the end of the course Ulysses prayed inwardly to
Minerva. "Hear me," he cried, "and help my feet, O goddess." Thus
did he pray, and Pallas Minerva heard his prayer; she made his hands
and his feet feel light, and when the runners were at the point of
pouncing upon the prize, Ajax, through Minerva's spite slipped upon
some offal that was lying there from the cattle which Achilles had
slaughtered in honour of Patroclus, and his mouth and nostrils were
all filled with cow dung. Ulysses therefore carried off the
mixing-bowl, for he got before Ajax and came in first. But Ajax took
the ox and stood with his hand on one of its horns, spitting the
dung out of his mouth. Then he said to the Argives, "Alas, the goddess
has spoiled my running; she watches over Ulysses and stands by him
as though she were his own mother." Thus did he speak and they all
of them laughed heartily.
Antilochus carried off the last prize and smiled as he said to the
bystanders, "You all see, my friends, that now too the gods have shown
their respect for seniority. Ajax is somewhat older than I am, and
as for Ulysses, he belongs to an earlier generation, but he is hale in
spite of his years, and no man of the Achaeans can run against him
save only Achilles."
He said this to pay a compliment to the son of Peleus, and
Achilles answered, "Antilochus, you shall not have praised me to no
purpose; I shall give you an additional half talent of gold." He
then gave the half talent to Antilochus, who received it gladly.
Then the son of Peleus brought out the spear, helmet and shield that
had been borne by Sarpedon, and were taken from him by Patroclus. He
stood up and said among the Argives, "We bid two champions put on
their armour, take their keen blades, and make trial of one another in
the presence of the multitude; whichever of them can first wound the
flesh of the other, cut through his armour, and draw blood, to him
will I give this goodly Thracian sword inlaid with silver, which I
took from Asteropaeus, but the armour let both hold in partnership,
and I will give each of them a hearty meal in my own tent."
Forthwith uprose great Ajax the son of Telamon, as also mighty
Diomed son of Tydeus. When they had put on their armour each on his
own side of the ring, they both went into the middle eager to
engage, and with fire flashing from their eyes. The Achaeans marvelled
as they beheld them, and when the two were now close up with one
another, thrice did they spring forward and thrice try to strike
each other in close combat. Ajax pierced Diomed's round shield, but
did not draw blood, for the cuirass beneath the shield protected
him; thereon the son of Tydeus from over his huge shield kept aiming
continually at Ajax's neck with the point of his spear, and the
Achaeans alarmed for his safety bade them leave off fighting and
divide the prize between them. Achilles then gave the great sword to
the son of Tydeus, with its scabbard, and the leathern belt with which
to hang it.
Achilles next offered the massive iron quoit which mighty Eetion had
erewhile been used to hurl, until Achilles had slain him and carried
it off in his ships along with other spoils. He stood up and said
among the Argives, "Stand forward, you who would essay this contest.
He who wins it will have a store of iron that will last him five years
as they go rolling round, and if his fair fields lie far from a town
his shepherd or ploughman will not have to make a journey to buy iron,
for he will have a stock of it on his own premises."
Then uprose the two mighty men Polypoetes and Leonteus, with Ajax
son of Telamon and noble Epeus. They stood up one after the other
and Epeus took the quoit, whirled it, and flung it from him, which set
all the Achaeans laughing. After him threw Leonteus of the race of
Mars. Ajax son of Telamon threw third, and sent the quoit beyond any
mark that had been made yet, but when mighty Polypoetes took the quoit
he hurled it as though it had been a stockman's stick which he sends
flying about among his cattle when he is driving them, so far did
his throw out-distance those of the others. All who saw it roared
applause, and his comrades carried the prize for him and set it on
board his ship.
Achilles next offered a prize of iron for archery- ten
double-edged axes and ten with single eddies: he set up a ship's mast,
some way off upon the sands, and with a fine string tied a pigeon to
it by the foot; this was what they were to aim at. "Whoever," he said,
"can hit the pigeon shall have all the axes and take them away with
him; he who hits the string without hitting the bird will have taken a
worse aim and shall have the single-edged axes."
Then uprose King Teucer, and Meriones the stalwart squire of
Idomeneus rose also, They cast lots in a bronze helmet and the lot
of Teucer fell first. He let fly with his arrow forthwith, but he
did not promise hecatombs of firstling lambs to King Apollo, and
missed his bird, for Apollo foiled his aim; but he hit the string with
which the bird was tied, near its foot; the arrow cut the string clean
through so that it hung down towards the ground, while the bird flew
up into the sky, and the Achaeans shouted applause. Meriones, who
had his arrow ready while Teucer was aiming, snatched the bow out of
his hand, and at once promised that he would sacrifice a hecatomb of
firstling lambs to Apollo lord of the bow; then espying the pigeon
high up under the clouds, he hit her in the middle of the wing as
she was circling upwards; the arrow went clean through the wing and
fixed itself in the ground at Meriones' feet, but the bird perched
on the ship's mast hanging her head and with all her feathers
drooping; the life went out of her, and she fell heavily from the
mast. Meriones, therefore, took all ten double-edged axes, while
Teucer bore off the single-edged ones to his ships.
Then the son of Peleus brought in a spear and a cauldron that had
never been on the fire; it was worth an ox, and was chased with a
pattern of flowers; and those that throw the javelin stood up- to
wit the son of Atreus, king of men Agamemnon, and Meriones, stalwart
squire of Idomeneus. But Achilles spoke saying, "Son of Atreus, we
know how far you excel all others both in power and in throwing the
javelin; take the cauldron back with you to your ships, but if it so
please you, let us give the spear to Meriones; this at least is what I
should myself wish."
King Agamemnon assented. So he gave the bronze spear to Meriones,
and handed the goodly cauldron to Talthybius his esquire.

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The Heart

The heart does not know right or wrong.
It only knows how it feels.
It's oblivious to the demands of society.
For at the altar of love it kneels.

It suppliantly asks for what it needs
and responds on every day
with rushing beats or soothing calm
when love has come its way.

And so dear heart that beats in me
I act upon your will.
I defy anything or anyone
that tries to keep you still.

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John Gay

Songs from The Beggar’s Opera: Air XVI-“Over the Hills, and Far Away”

Mac. Were I laid on Greenland’s coast,
And in my arms embraced my lass,
Warm amidst eternal frost,
Too soon the half-year’s night would pass.
Polly. Were I sold on Indian soil,
Soon as the burning day was closed,
I could mock the sultry toil
When on my charmer’s breast reposed.
Mac. And I would love you all the day,
Polly. Every night would kiss and play,
Mac. If with me you’d fondly stray
Polly. Over the hills, and far away.

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The Love Sonnets Of Proteus. Part IV: Vita Nova: XCIV

A YEAR AGO
A year ago I too was proud of May,
I too delighted in the blackbird's song.
When the sun shone my soul made holiday.
When the rain fell I felt it as a wrong.
Then for me too the world was fresh and young.
Oh what a miracle each bluebell was!
How my heart leaped in union with my tongue,
When first I lit upon a stag's horn moss!
--A year ago! Alas, one Summer's fire,
One autumn's chill, one Winter's discontent,
And now one Spring of joy and hope deferred
Have brought me to this pass of undesire
That I behold May's veil of beauty rent
And stand unmoved by sun and flower and bird.

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William Shakespeare

Not marble nor the guilded monuments (Sonnet 55)

Not marble nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmear'd with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room,
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.

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William Shakespeare

Sonnet 55: Not marble, nor the gilded monuments

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme,
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmeared with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword, nor war's quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.

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Sonnet LXXXIX: The Trees of the Garden

Ye who have passed Death's haggard hills; and ye
Whom trees that knew your sires shall cease to know
And still stand silent:—is it all a show,—
A wisp that laughs upon the wall?—decree
Of some inexorable supremacy
Which ever, as man strains his blind surmise
From depth to ominous depth, looks past his eyes,
Sphinx-faced with unabashèd augury?
Nay, rather question the Earth's self. Invoke
The storm-felled forest-trees moss-grown to-day
Whose roots are hillocks where the children play;
Or ask the silver sapling 'neath what yoke
Those stars, his spray-crown's clustering gems, shall wage
Their journey still when his boughs shrink with age.

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The Watchers

I heard the challenge 'Who goes there?'
Close kept but mine through midnight air
I answered and was recognized
And passed, and kindly thus advised;
'There's someone crawling though the grass
By the red ruin, or there was,
And them machine guns been a firin'
All the time the chaps was wirin',
So Sir if you're goin' out
You'll keep you 'ead well down no doubt.'

When will the stern fine 'Who goes there?'
Meet me again in midnight air?
And the gruff sentry's kindness, when
Will kindness have such power again?
It seems as, now I wake and brood,
And know my hour's decreptitude,
That on some dewy parapet
the sentry's spirit gazes yet,
Who will not speak with altered tone
When I am last am seem and known.

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The altar

What use is a church,
what use are religious people to me,
when the love of Christ,
I do not in them and in it see
and when they act like religious fanatics
as if they are here to be judge and jury
and have all the facts?

Even going so far in writing,
to dare me to act with destruction,
when it lies in my hands?

And I refrain from that kind of thing,
scared that somehow, some of their members,
are sincere followers of Jesus Christ,
whom I may also harm.

I take the Bible as the book, the only one
which spells out the gospel of my life,
gives explanations of the beyond
and shows the things to come
and every day in humility
I stand on my knees,
trying to make my heart
the altar of my own church.

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The Belt

The man in charge pulled out his belt
His mean eyes turned grey green
It pleasured him to whip her
But she would not say a thing
His angry insecurities
With silence she would mock
So he'd beat her even harder
In her mind she'd take a walk
He‘d say, 'This hurts me more than you'
She knew it wasn't true
'Be good and take your medicine'
And spank her black and blue
Yet she would never let him know
While he was raging mad
Contrary to what he believed
Reverse effect it had
It woke her sleeping spirit
On the edge of dying doom
As universes spun around
The ghostly darkened room
Her frozen heart became unthawed
And suddenly ALIVE!
She'd hold on for dear life
And not allow herself to cry
And when he was all finished
He would always be in shock
When she'd look at him and grimly say
'Is that all you have got? '


Written by Sara Fielder © 2012

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There Are Those Who Are the Exception

Do you honestly believe,
That saying things derogatory
About anyone...
Will suddenly be erased,
With a few apologies?
And a forgiveness done that is forgotten?

Let me introduce myself.
Since your approach to life,
Is a little different from mine.

How many things have you done,
That were 'unconsciously' intended?
None?
Me either.
In fact...
I doubt if that is possible.

So often,
Apologies are expected to be accepted!

That's why my approach to life,
Is to snap someone awake...
The moment my toes are stepped on.
And I do my best to inflict similar pain.

This 'turn-the-other-cheek-business'?
I'm just not into.
People know exactly what they do,
When they do it!
Under the influence of alcohol.
Or flying high on weed.

So often,
Apologies are expected to be accepted!
And there are those who are the exception.
They have feelings connected to emotions...
That are at stake.
And mistakes at their expense is not for-give-able!

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An Unorthodox bird soars in the gloomy fundamental sky

My intimate friend flies so high
And I watch,
Sitting on my rickety bench.
The thuggery henchmen of the prominent gangster in the World
Laid a net and my bird friend was caught.
Oh! What's all these unnecessary pinching
And the puzzling Worksheet?
Who does the filling in the blanks
As my poor friend never been to a school.
Questionnaire on the settee table and they all seated on the sofa.
Full name, Nick name, Father's & Mother's name and their ancestors, Age and date of birth; is it legitimate? , Have you been to any radical countries within last five years? , Pedigree and the Religion et cetera, Are you a member to any society those who boasts of freedom of expression?
'Hey! This is a forged Passport and it's already expired and the photo not shows a bird and it's a stray dog.'
At last they found underneath her tattered wings
Oh! This poor gangrene poet's scribbling.
' Learn my friend, When you're in Rome do as a Roman do
But please do not hit below the belt,
When the gossamer life smiles with you; smile with her
But when she cries do not cry and please leave her aside
Sing a song louder from your heart as a Mockingbird.'

*I dedicate this poem to Henry Valentine Miller for his semi-autobiographical novel 'Tropic of Capricorn'.

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All the Hills and Vales Along

All the hills and vales along
Earth is bursting into song,
And the singers are the chaps
Who are going to die perhaps.
O sing, marching men,
Till the valleys ring again.
Give your gladness to earth's keeping,
So be glad, when you are sleeping.

Cast away regret and rue,
Think what you are marching to.
Little live, great pass.
Jesus Christ and Barabbas
Were found the same day.
This died, that went his way.
So sing with joyful breath,
For why, you are going to death.
Teeming earth will surely store
All the gladness that you pour.

Earth that never doubts nor fears,
Earth that knows of death, not tears,
Earth that bore with joyful ease
Hemlock for Socrates,
Earth that blossomed and was glad
'Neath the cross that Christ had,
Shall rejoice and blossom too
When the bullet reaches you.
Wherefore, men marching
On the road to death, sing!
Pour your gladness on earth's head,
So be merry, so be dead.

From the hills and valleys earth
Shouts back the sound of mirth,
Tramp of feet and lilt of sing
Ringing all the road along.
All the music of their going,
Ringing swinging glad song-throwing,
Earth will echo still, when foot
Lies numb and voice mute.
On, marching men, on
To the gates of death with song.
Sow your gladness for earth's reaping,
So you may be glad, though sleeping.
Strew your gladness on earth's bed,
So be merry, so be dead.

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