He is an actor with brandishing sword in his hand,
Luckily his words are not sharp and pointed,
For he knows nothing but gimmicks to perform,
Day in and day out he shouts to himself.
The Man With The Child In His Eyes
(hes here! hes here!
Hes here! hes here!)
I hear him, before I go to sleep
And focus on the day thats been.
I realise hes there,
When I turn the light off and turn over.
Nobody knows about my man.
They think hes lost on some horizon.
And suddenly I find myself
Listening to a man Ive never known before,
Telling me about the sea,
All his love, til eternity.
Ooh, hes here again,
The man with the child in his eyes.
Ooh, hes here again,
The man with the child in his eyes.
Hes very understanding,
And hes so aware of all my situations.
And when I stay up late,
Hes always waiting, but I feel him hesitate.
Oh, Im so worried about my love.
They say, no, no, it wont last forever.
And here I am again, my girl,
Wondering what on earth Im doing here.
Maybe he doesnt love me.
I just took a trip on my love for him.
Ooh, hes here again,
The man with the child in his eyes.
Ooh, hes here again,
The man with the child in his eyes.
Pancakes and With Baked Salmon
I do have this 'thing'
For my own homemade pancakes.
And with baked salmon!
What a treat to eat.
You are not going to get any that I make!
But here is the recipe.
You can do it just like me.
First beat an egg in a mixing bowl,
Add a tablespoon of baking powder.
A third teaspoon of salt
A full teaspoon of sugar.
And about a third cup of vegetable oil.
Beat that all together.
Now you want to add the flour.
About a cup...maybe more...
If you're serving more than two people.
I choose to use evaporated milk.
At least a cup.
Whip all this stuff up.
Heat that frying pan or griddle.
Medium to hot.
Add some olive oil if you got it.
Vegetable oil will do.
With a slice of butter added too!
OH! I almost forgot the salmon!
I use salmon steaks.
Preheat the oven 350 degrees.
After rinsing the salmon...
Rub with apple vinegar.
Salt and pepper if you please.
Lay on tin foil since this is what I use.
Add butter and a bit of oil!
Enclosed that salmon within the foil.
Baked twenty minutes.
That's all it takes!
Use syrup on the pancakes.
Perhaps a little Vadalia Onion Dressing,
On the salmon.
And if you don't like this...
You definitely will love,
My brown sugar/mustard roasted chicken.
But I'm not sharing that right now!
Ask, Seek, Knock
I sank in my quicksand life of confusion,
Had knowledge and learning, had a degree,
Engulfed in theology and false religion
But I did not have spiritual eyes that see.
So much learning will never fill the space
In the human heart that's reserved for God
For only His Truth and His loving Grace
Had set me free from the limbo I had.
Moses said 'His Words are not just idle words'
For 'They are spirit and they are life'
The beginning of Wisdom and Truth accord
An active living sword, sharper than a knife.
'Ask and you shall receive' This I have done.
'Seek and you will find, ' and Truth had set me free,
'Knock and it will opened unto you, ' change had begun,
This seeker found in Christ full victory!
From Darkness to Light
From Emptiness to Fullness
From Brokenness to Wholeness
From Cursed to Blessedness
What more can I ask, what more left to seek?
Christ had turned my mourning into dancing!
Peace, Joy, Freedom, from the Lamb so meek
Each day His work in me goes on transforming.
Like a good movie I had seen, I have to tell you
For if I fail, the rocks and the trees will shout
What God did for me, He can also do for you
As you ask, seek, knock, for Him with no doubt.
'The Lord is near to all who call on Him,
to all who call on Him in truth.'
Psalm 145: 18
Copyright Cynthia Buhain-Baello
- quotes about sheep
- quotes about victory
- quotes about science-fiction
- quotes about film
- quotes about television
- quotes about receiving
- quotes about wisdom
- quotes about Thanksgiving
Ch 01 Manner Of Kings Story 06
It is narrated that one of the kings of Persia had stretched forth
his tyrannical hand to the possessions of his subjects and had begun
to oppress them so violently that in consequence of his fraudulent
extortions they dispersed in the world and chose exile on account of
the affliction entailed by his violence. When the population had
diminished, the prosperity of the country suffered, the treasury
remained empty and on every side enemies committed violence.
Who desires succour in the day of calamity,
Say to him: 'Be generous in times of prosperity.'
The slave with a ring in his ear, if not cherished will depart.
Be kind because then a stranger will become thy slave.
One day the Shahnamah was read in his assembly, the subject being
the ruin of the dominion of Zohak and the reign of Feridun. The vezier
asked the king how it came to pass that Feridun, who possessed neither
treasure nor land nor a retinue, established himself upon the
throne. He replied: 'As thou hast heard, the population
enthusiastically gathered around him and supported him so that he
attained royalty.' The vezier said: 'As the gathering around of the
population is the cause of royalty, then why dispersest thou the
population? Perhaps thou hast no desire for royalty?'
It is best to cherish the army as thy life
Because a sultan reigns by means of his troops.
The king asked: 'What is the reason for the gathering around of
the troops and the population?' He replied: 'A padshah must practise
justice that they may gather around him and clemency that they may
dwell in safety under the shadow of his government; but thou
possessest neither of these qualities.'
A tyrannic man cannot be a sultan
As a wolf cannot be a shepherd.
A padshah who establishes oppression
Destroys the basis of the wall of his own reign.
The king, displeased with the advice of his censorious vezier,
sent him to prison. Shortly afterwards the sons of the king's uncle
rose in rebellion, desirous of recovering the kingdom of their father.
The population, which had been reduced to the last extremity by the
king's oppression and scattered, now assembled around them and
supported them, till he lost control of the government and they took
possession of it.
A padshah who allows his subjects to be oppressed
Will in his day of calamity become a violent foe.
Be at peace with subjects and sit safe from attacks of foes
Because his subjects are the army of a just shahanshah.
- quotes about population
- quotes about violence
- quotes about treasury
- quotes about army
- quotes about slavery
- quotes about independence
- quotes about authority
- quotes about walls
The Land of Promise: a Fable
A pilgrim folk, o'er leagues of pathless sand
Long journeying patiently from far away,
Lured by the promise of a fairer land,
Reach'd ere the close of one eventful day
The craggy shore of a capacious stream:
And lo! the Promised Land before them lay
All in a golden sunset, whose last gleam
Reveal'd between the rovers and their rest
No barrier save that river's bridgeless breast.
Each sufferer, sick and footsore from the waste,
Hail'd with reviving hope the blissful sight.
About the river-beach they pitch'd in haste
Their evening tents, and roam'd in dreams all night
The Land of Promise. At the dawn, however,
The signal trumpet sounded, summoning
The tribe to council. For that rock-bound river
Was broad, and deep, and rapid. The first thing
On which their pilgrim parliament decided
Was to preserve intact, to a community
Whose best opinions might be much divided,
The necessary strength of social unity.
And so it ruled that they should all agree
To recognize as final the authority
Of whatsoever plan might chance to be
Adopted by the vote of the majority.
Scarce was this salutary rule laid down,
Ere one brisk leader of the emigration
(Whose dauntless spirit was to all well known)
Sprang forward with a shout of exultation;
And, from the shoulder of the stony shore
Pointing where every gaze instinctive turn'd,
"Brothers," he cried, "procrastinate no more!
The Promised Land, long arduously earn'd,
Before us lies. Why linger, then, the brave?
What need of projects and of plans? To me
Nature hard muscles and a man's heart gave,
Nor need I more to grasp the good I see.
Forward! Who follows? Fate befriends the bold!"
Without a pause he plunged into the wave
That 'twixt the wanderers and their wishes roll'd;
And, after him, to glory or the grave,
The younger pilgrims rush'd.
A cry arose,
"Rash fools, restrain this mad enthusiasm!
Behold with what enthusiastic blows
The battering current grinds its granite chasm!
What to its pitiless waves can you oppose?
Your numbers? They outnumber you. Your will?
The water's will is wilder than your own.
Your energy? More energetic still
Is the tremendous drift that drags you down.
Rest in the rear when ruin's in the van,
Reflect, return, renounce. … Alas, too late!"
He who said this was an old grey-hair'd man.
His voice was answer'd by resentful cries,
"Pedant, and craven-hearted renegate,
Preach not to us thy croaking homilies!
Farewell to those who fear, and those who wait!
Progress is prudence!"
Save the river's roar,
The elders of the tribe (with prescient faces,
Gazing aghast, and listening) heard no more;
But saw, still saw, in the fierce stream's embraces,
Here a wild arm, and there a whirling head,
And then — the heaving of the funeral pall
By the grim, bleak, implacable river spread
Over the grave of an ideal.
Were husht with horror. In the silence said
That-old grey-headed watcher of the tide,
"Friends, let us mourn for the untimely dead;
Whom impulse fair, with precept false allied
And inexperience, to their doom hath led.
They err'd in seeking, but they sought, the truth;
And we shall miss the force their fervor caught
From full hearts glowing with the fire of youth.
That generous warmth, alas, no longer ours,
We must replace by clear, if frigid, thought,
And toil that trains for triumph temperate powers.
Yon ravenous and remorseless element
Us from nor promised rest doth still divide.
Let us, O friends, some dexterous dyke invent
To curb the current or divert the tide.
A faithless and a formidable foe
We have to deal with. No concessions vile,
No haste incautious! Grudge not labor slow.
Complete the plan ere you begin the pile.
These words evoked but faint applause.
A few men to the speaker's side drew near,
And grasp'd his hand, after a thoughtful pause,
In silence; scorning by a single cheer
To recognize the Passions as allies
Of Reason's coldly calculated cause.
Small was their number, but they seem'd the wise.
Meanwhile, from out the masses in the rear
A man stepp'd forward. His broad back was bow'd,
His form misshapen, like a wither'd oak
With strong limbs warp'd and naked. To the crowd,
Whence he had issued, bitterly he spoke:
"Surely enough of perils and privations,
Of trust betray'd, and labor lost, enough,
And hopes deferr'd, whose fraudulent invitations
Lengthen the road they never leave less rough!
Dupe us no more. Foot-wearied fools we are,
Worn out with unrewarded agitations
In running after rest. Still, near or far,
The land we seek our cheated search belies.
Because it was a miserable land
We left our own; yet nought but miseries
We found elsewhere, a miserable band!
And miserably here beneath our eyes
Have we seen perishing the brave, the bold,
The young, the beautiful, who sought in vain
That better land. The selfish and the old,
Who, to augment our wretchedness, remain,
Now on our faint and weaken'd faith have laid
A heavier burden. What have we to gain
By laboring longer? And what right have they
To disregard the rule themselves have made?
Let them make good their promise. To obey
'Tis now their turn, and ours to be obey'd,
For we are the majority. Whate'er
The yet unpeopled Land of Promise be,
One thing, at least, is certain: everywhere
The wretchedest are the most numerous. We
Are both: nor need we any further fare
To find a refuge from the ills we flee.
After life, death; and after labor, sleep:
They do but live to toil who toil to live.
One gift, whose promise earth is bound to keep,
This soil, tho' niggard, to the spade will give
As soon as any other, and as cheap;
Life's goal, a grave."
He turn'd upon his heel,
Follow'd by many. The remaining few
Began to build. In accents low and grave
"What, without us, would be the commonweal?
Mere common woe," they murmur'd. "Let us save,
In spite of its own self, society."
And slow they rear'd, with unimpetuous zeal,
Rock-shoulder'd ramparts, fencing flood-gates high,
And sluices deep.
"Astray is all your skill,
Nor ever will the work you do succeed!"
A meagre mocking voice exclaim'd one day.
It was a little, thin, dry, crooked man,
Who had from the assembly stolen away
When first the feud 'twixt young and old began,
And now, as furtively, return'd. "I know
That river. It is mischievous and mad:
But there's some good in it, if you knew how
To make the best of what is not all bad.
Your dyke anon the rising flood will break,
And deluge all." They answer'd, "Other dykes
If needed, other sluices, we will make:
The stream rolls where it must, not where it likes."
"'Twill roll where you will like its rolling less.
You do not understand its nature. Hark!
No longer strive to oppose it, or repress.
I know a better system: follow it."
"What is thy system?" "I will build a bark" —
"And shipwreck all! These plunging whirlpools split
Our stoutest planks to splinters. Noë's ark
With such a cataract would in vain have vied.
It is a foe to vanquish, if we can,
And not a friend to whom we can confide
Aught that we love."
The little crooked man
With a low laugh to this reply replied
"Ay, 'tis a foe whom, for that very reason,
You should conciliate till his forces blind
(By craft beguiled to salutary treason)
Subvert his stupid power. I have divined
The river's secret. If you try my plan,
I guarantee success — on one condition,
Make me your leader." "Impudent charlatan,"
(They laugh'd, at that presumptuous proposition,)
"We know you for a rogue in deed and word.
Make you our leader? Things are not yet there.
We'll make you nothing but one gift — a cord:
Take it, and go and hang yourself elsewhere!"
Those honest and most honorable men
In saying this said only what was true.
The man was all they said of him. But then
The man was also something more (and knew
That he was something more) which miss'd their ken,
For he was clever. Smiling, he withdrew.
Meanwhile, the dyke went forward painfully;
For, as its bulwarks broaden'd day by days
The stream's resentful waters rose more high;
And their uprisings sometimes wash'd away
The best contrivances opposed to them.
One morn the foil'd foundation-makers spied
A vessel throng'd with folk from stern to stem;
Slant was her course athwart the strenuous tide,
And sloping, tugg'd by tumid sails, she went.
Safe to the wisht-for shore the strong winds blew,
Safe to the wisht-for shore the turbulent
But trusted waters their subduer drew;
And with a shout, as on its pleasant strand
They lightly leapt, her captain and his crew
Proclaim'd their conquest of the Promised Land.
The little crooked man his word had kept.
Long in the science of deception school'd,
The subtle student proved the sage adept.
That formidable river he had fool'd
As easily as if it were mankind:
Making its strength his own, and profiting
By forces it had been his luck to find
Contending with each other to be king
While he enslaved them slily — wave and wind.
But when at last they reach'd, and overran,
The Eldorado of their lifelong dream,
Unfit for their good-fortune proved the clan
Of covetous adventurers that stream
(In turn betraying its betrayers) led
To their destruction. Vagabonds they were,
Who loved not labor and who lack'd not bread:
Each to the other grudged his lawless share
Of promised plunder, till the land was red
With its invaders' blood. Their leader sly
(True to his principles) employ'd his skill
To govern by dividing them. Thereby
He ruled and ruin'd them with ease; until
At last the sick survivors of the strife,
Taught by experience, recognized the source
Of all the shameful troubles of his life
In that shrewd trick of setting up one force
To set another down, and playing class
Forever against class. Their chief found out
That what he thought could never come to pass
He had himself contrived to bring about —
A populace united: and its mass
The populace uniting against him,
It flung him, head and heels, into the river;
Where he was lost, not knowing how to swim,
Though he knew how to sail.
Vain each endeavor!
They who, to reach the Promised Land, relied
On fervid impulse, passionately perish'd
At the first plunge. The wretches who denied
Its pitying promise, cheerless, and uncherish'd
Even by the lost tradition of it, died.
Some labor'd for it, and their labor lost,
Though long and patiently they labor'd. They
Perchance were those who merited it most;
But then, their way was a mistaken way,
And they persisted in it. The vile host
Of rogues and vagabonds on whom a wit
Not theirs, to serve its own ambitious schemes,
Conferr'd the Land of Promise, were unfit
(Even when it blest them with its brightest beams)
To find their promised happiness in it.
The Land of Promise rests the Land of Dreams.
IT HATH been seen and yet it shall be seen
That out of tender mouths God’s praise hath been
Made perfect, and with wood and simple string
He hath played music sweet as shawm-playing
To please himself with softness of all sound;
And no small thing but hath been sometime found
Full sweet of use, and no such humbleness
But God hath bruised withal the sentences
And evidence of wise men witnessing;
No leaf that is so soft a hidden thing
It never shall get sight of the great sun;
The strength of ten has been the strength of one,
And lowliness has waxed imperious.
There was in Rome a man Theophilus
Of right great blood and gracious ways, that had
All noble fashions to make people glad
And a soft life of pleasurable days;
He was a goodly man for one to praise,
Flawless and whole upward from foot to head;
His arms were a red hawk that alway fed
On a small bird with feathers gnawed upon,
Beaten and plucked about the bosom-bone
Whereby a small round fleck like fire there was:
They called it in their tongue lampadias;
This was the banner of the lordly man.
In many straits of sea and reaches wan
Full of quick wind, and many a shaken firth,
It had seen fighting days of either earth,
Westward or east of waters Gaditane
(This was the place of sea-rocks under Spain
Called after the great praise of Hercules)
And north beyond the washing Pontic seas,
Far windy Russian places fabulous,
And salt fierce tides of storm-swoln Bosphorus.
Now as this lord came straying in Rome town
He saw a little lattice open down
And after it a press of maidens’ heads
That sat upon their cold small quiet beds
Talking, and played upon short-stringèd lutes;
And other some ground perfume out of roots
Gathered by marvellous moons in Asia;
Saffron and aloes and wild cassia,
Coloured all through and smelling of the sun;
And over all these was a certain one
Clothed softly, with sweet herbs about her hair
And bosom flowerful; her face more fair
Than sudden-singing April in soft lands:
Eyed like a gracious bird, and in both hands
She held a psalter painted green and red.
This Theophile laughed at the heart, and said;
Now God so help me hither and St. Paul,
As by the new time of their festival
I have good will to take this maid to wife.
And herewith fell to fancies of her life
And soft half-thoughts that ended suddenly.
This is man’s guise to please himself, when he
Shall not see one thing of his pleasant things,
Nor with outwatch of many travailings
Come to be eased of the least pain he hath
For all his love and all his foolish wrath
And all the heavy manner of his mind.
Thus is he like a fisher fallen blind
That casts his nets across the boat awry
To strike the sea, but lo, he striketh dry
And plucks them back all broken for his pain
And bites his beard and casts across again
And reaching wrong slips over in the sea.
So hath this man a strangled neck for fee,
For all his cost he chuckles in his throat.
This Theophile that little hereof wote
Laid wait to hear of her what she might be:
Men told him she had name of Dorothy,
And was a lady of a worthy house.
Thereat this knight grew inly glorious
That he should have a love so fair of place.
She was a maiden of most quiet face,
Tender of speech, and had no hardihood
But was nigh feeble of her fearful blood;
Her mercy in her was so marvellous
From her least years, that seeing her school-fellows
That read beside her stricken with a rod,
She would cry sore and say some word to God
That he would ease her fellow of his pain.
There is no touch of sun or fallen rain
That ever fell on a more gracious thing.
In middle Rome there was in stone-working
The church of Venus painted royally.
The chapels of it were some two or three,
In each of them her tabernacle was
And a wide window of six feet in glass
Coloured with all her works in red and gold.
The altars had bright cloths and cups to hold
The wine of Venus for the services,
Made out of honey and crushed wood-berries
That shed sweet yellow through the thick wet red,
That on high days was borne upon the head
Of Venus’ priest for any man to drink;
So that in drinking he should fall to think
On some fair face, and in the thought thereof
Worship, and such should triumph in his love.
For this soft wine that did such grace and good
Was new trans-shaped and mixed with Love’s own blood,
That in the fighting Trojan time was bled;
For which came such a woe to Diomed
That he was stifled after in hard sea.
And some said that this wine-shedding should be
Made of the falling of Adonis’ blood,
That curled upon the thorns and broken wood
And round the gold silk shoes on Venus’ feet;
The taste thereof was as hot honey sweet
And in the mouth ran soft and riotous.
This was the holiness of Venus’ house.
It was their worship, that in August days
Twelve maidens should go through those Roman ways
Naked, and having gold across their brows
And their hair twisted in short golden rows,
To minister to Venus in this wise:
And twelve men chosen in their companies
To match these maidens by the altar-stair,
All in one habit, crowned upon the hair.
Among these men was chosen Theophile.
This knight went out and prayed a little while,
Holding queen Venus by her hands and knees;
I will give thee twelve royal images
Cut in glad gold, with marvels of wrought stone
For thy sweet priests to lean and pray upon,
Jasper and hyacinth and chrysopras,
And the strange Asian thalamite that was
Hidden twelve ages under heavy sea
Among the little sleepy pearls, to be
A shrine lit over with soft candle-flame
Burning all night red as hot brows of shame,
So thou wilt be my lady without sin.
Goddess that art all gold outside and in,
Help me to serve thee in thy holy way.
Thou knowest, Love, that in my bearing day
There shone a laughter in the singing stars
Round the gold-ceilèd bride-bed wherein Mars
Touched thee and had thee in your kissing wise.
Now therefore, sweet, kiss thou my maiden’s eyes
That they may open graciously towards me;
And this new fashion of thy shrine shall be
As soft with gold as thine own happy head.
The goddess, that was painted with face red
Between two long green tumbled sides of sea,
Stooped her neck sideways, and spake pleasantly:
Thou shalt have grace as thou art thrall of mine.
And with this came a savour of shed wine
And plucked-out petals from a rose’s head:
And softly with slow laughs of lip she said,
Thou shalt have favour all thy days of me.
Then came Theophilus to Dorothy,
Saying: O sweet, if one should strive or speak
Against God’s ways, he gets a beaten cheek
For all his wage and shame above all men.
Therefore I have no will to turn again
When God saith “go,” lest a worse thing fall out.
Then she, misdoubting lest he went about
To catch her wits, made answer somewhat thus:
I have no will, my lord Theophilus,
To speak against this worthy word of yours;
Knowing how God’s will in all speech endures,
That save by grace there may no thing be said.
Then Theophile waxed light from foot to head,
And softly fell upon this answering.
It is well seen you are a chosen thing
To do God service in his gracious way.
I will that you make haste and holiday
To go next year upon the Venus stair,
Covered none else, but crowned upon your hair,
And do the service that a maiden doth.
She said: but I that am Christ’s maid were loth
To do this thing that hath such bitter name.
Thereat his brows were beaten with sore shame
And he came off and said no other word.
Then his eyes chanced upon his banner-bird,
And he fell fingering at the staff of it
And laughed for wrath and stared between his feet,
And out of a chafed heart he spake as thus:
Lo how she japes at me Theophilus,
Feigning herself a fool and hard to love;
Yet in good time for all she boasteth of
She shall be like a little beaten bird.
And while his mouth was open in that word
He came upon the house Janiculum,
Where some went busily, and other some
Talked in the gate called the gate glorious.
The emperor, which was one Gabalus,
Sat over all and drank chill wine alone.
To whom is come Theophilus anon,
And said as thus: Beau sire, Dieu vous aide.
And afterward sat under him, and said
All this thing through as ye have wholly heard.
This Gabalus laughed thickly in his beard.
Yea, this is righteousness and maiden rule.
Truly, he said, a maid is but a fool.
And japed at them as one full villainous,
In a lewd wise, this heathen Gabalus,
And sent his men to bind her as he bade.
Thus have they taken Dorothy the maid,
And haled her forth as men hale pick-purses:
A little need God knows they had of this,
To hale her by her maiden gentle hair.
Thus went she lowly, making a soft prayer,
As one who stays the sweet wine in his mouth,
Murmuring with eased lips, and is most loth
To have done wholly with the sweet of it.
Christ king, fair Christ, that knowest all men’s wit
And all the feeble fashion of my ways,
O perfect God, that from all yesterdays
Abidest whole with morrows perfected,
I pray thee by thy mother’s holy head
Thou help me to do right, that I not slip:
I have no speech nor strength upon my lip,
Except thou help me who art wise and sweet.
Do this too for those nails that clove thy feet,
Let me die maiden after many pains.
Though I be least among thy handmaidens,
Doubtless I shall take death more sweetly thus.
Now have they brought her to King Gabalus,
Who laughed in all his throat some breathing-whiles:
By God, he said, if one should leap two miles,
He were not pained about the sides so much.
This were a soft thing for a man to touch.
Shall one so chafe that hath such little bones?
And shook his throat with thick and chuckled moans
For laughter that she had such holiness.
What aileth thee, wilt thou do services?
It were good fare to fare as Venus doth.
Then said this lady with her maiden mouth,
Shamefaced, and something paler in the cheek:
Now, sir, albeit my wit and will to speak
Give me no grace in sight of worthy men,
For all my shame yet know I this again,
I may not speak, nor after downlying
Rise up to take delight in lute-playing,
Nor sing nor sleep, nor sit and fold my hands,
But my soul in some measure understands
God’s grace laid like a garment over me.
For this fair God that out of strong sharp sea
Lifted the shapely and green-coloured land,
And hath the weight of heaven in his hand
As one might hold a bird, and under him
The heavy golden planets beam by beam
Building the feasting-chambers of his house,
And the large world he holdeth with his brows
And with the light of them astonisheth
All place and time and face of life and death
And motion of the north wind and the south,
And is the sound within his angel’s mouth
Of singing words and words of thanksgiving,
And is the colour of the latter spring
And heat upon the summer and the sun,
And is beginning of all things begun
And gathers in him all things to their end,
And with the fingers of his hand doth bend
The stretched-out sides of heaven like a sail,
And with his breath he maketh the red pale
And fills with blood faint faces of men dead,
And with the sound between his lips are fed
Iron and fire and the white body of snow,
And blossom of all trees in places low,
And small bright herbs about the little hills,
And fruit pricked softly with birds’ tender bills,
And flight of foam about green fields of sea,
And fourfold strength of the great winds that be
Moved always outward from beneath his feet,
And growth of grass and growth of sheavèd wheat
And all green flower of goodly-growing lands;
And all these things he gathers with his hands
And covers all their beauty with his wings;
The same, even God that governs all these things,
Hath set my feet to be upon his ways.
Now therefore for no painfulness of days
I shall put off this service bound on me.
Also, fair sir, ye know this certainly,
How God was in his flesh full chaste and meek
And gave his face to shame, and either cheek
Gave up to smiting of men tyrannous.
And here with a great voice this Gabalus
Cried out and said: By God’s blood and his bones,
This were good game betwixen night and nones
For one to sit and hearken to such saws:
I were as lief fall in some big beast’s jaws
As hear these women’s jaw-teeth chattering;
By God a woman is the harder thing,
One may not put a hook into her mouth.
Now by St. Luke I am so sore adrouth
For all these saws I must needs drink again.
But I pray God deliver all us men
From all such noise of women and their heat.
That is a noble scripture, well I weet,
That likens women to an empty can;
When God said that he was a full wise man.
I trow no man may blame him as for that.
And herewithal he drank a draught, and spat,
And said: Now shall I make an end hereof.
Come near all men and hearken for God’s love,
And ye shall hear a jest or twain, God wot.
And spake as thus with mouth full thick and hot;
But thou do this thou shalt be shortly slain.
Lo, sir, she said, this death and all his pain
I take in penance of my bitter sins.
Yea now, quoth Gabalus, this game begins.
Lo, without sin one shall not live a span.
Lo, this is she that would not look on man
Between her fingers folded in thwart wise.
See how her shame hath smitten in her eyes
That was so clean she had not heard of shame.
Certes, he said, by Gabalus my name,
This two years back I was not so well pleased.
This were good mirth for sick men to be eased
And rise up whole and laugh at hearing of.
I pray thee show us something of thy love,
Since thou wast maid thy gown is waxen wide.
Yea, maid I am, she said, and somewhat sighed,
As one who thought upon the low fair house
Where she sat working, with soft bended brows
Watching her threads, among the school-maidens.
And she thought well now God had brought her thence
She should not come to sew her gold again.
Then cried King Gabalus upon his men
To have her forth and draw her with steel gins.
And as a man hag-ridden beats and grins
And bends his body sidelong in his bed,
So wagged he with his body and knave’s head,
Gaping at her, and blowing with his breath.
And in good time he gat an evil death
Out of his lewdness with his cursèd wives:
His bones were hewn asunder as with knives
For his misliving, certes it is said.
But all the evil wrought upon this maid,
It were full hard for one to handle it.
For her soft blood was shed upon her feet,
And all her body’s colour bruised and faint.
But she, as one abiding God’s great saint,
Spake not nor wept for all this travail hard.
Wherefore the king commanded afterward
To slay her presently in all men’s sight.
And it was now an hour upon the night
And winter-time, and a few stars began.
The weather was yet feeble and all wan
For beating of a weighty wind and snow.
And she came walking in soft wise and slow,
And many men with faces piteous.
Then came this heavy cursing Gabalus,
That swore full hard into his drunken beard;
And faintly after without any word
Came Theophile some paces off the king.
And in the middle of this wayfaring
Full tenderly beholding her he said:
There is no word of comfort with men dead
Nor any face and colour of things sweet;
But always with lean cheeks and lifted feet
These dead men lie all aching to the blood
With bitter cold, their brows withouten hood
Beating for chill, their bodies swathed full thin:
Alas, what hire shall any have herein
To give his life and get such bitterness?
Also the soul going forth bodiless
Is hurt with naked cold, and no man saith
If there be house or covering for death
To hide the soul that is discomforted.
Then she beholding him a little said:
Alas, fair lord, ye have no wit of this;
For on one side death is full poor of bliss
And as ye say full sharp of bone and lean:
But on the other side is good and green
And hath soft flower of tender-coloured hair
Grown on his head, and a red mouth as fair
As may be kissed with lips; thereto his face
Is as God’s face, and in a perfect place
Full of all sun and colour of straight boughs
And waterheads about a painted house
That hath a mile of flowers either way
Outward from it, and blossom-grass of May
Thickening on many a side for length of heat,
Hath God set death upon a noble seat
Covered with green and flowered in the fold,
In likeness of a great king grown full old
And gentle with new temperance of blood;
And on his brows a purfled purple hood,
They may not carry any golden thing;
And plays some tune with subtle fingering
On a small cithern, full of tears and sleep
And heavy pleasure that is quick to weep
And sorrow with the honey in her mouth;
And for this might of music that he doth
Are all souls drawn toward him with great love
And weep for sweetness of the noise thereof
And bow to him with worship of their knees;
And all the field is thick with companies
Of fair-clothed men that play on shawms and lutes
And gather honey of the yellow fruits
Between the branches waxen soft and wide:
And all this peace endures in either side
Of the green land, and God beholdeth all.
And this is girdled with a round fair wall
Made of red stone and cool with heavy leaves
Grown out against it, and green blossom cleaves
To the green chinks, and lesser wall-weed sweet,
Kissing the crannies that are split with heat,
And branches where the summer draws to head.
And Theophile burnt in the cheek, and said:
Yea, could one see it, this were marvellous.
I pray you, at your coming to this house,
Give me some leaf of all those tree-branches;
Seeing how so sharp and white our weather is,
There is no green nor gracious red to see.
Yea, sir, she said, that shall I certainly.
And from her long sweet throat without a fleck
Undid the gold, and through her stretched-out neck
The cold axe clove, and smote away her head:
Out of her throat the tender blood full red
Fell suddenly through all her long soft hair.
And with good speed for hardness of the air
Each man departed to his house again.
Lo, as fair colour in the face of men
At seed-time of their blood, or in such wise
As a thing seen increaseth in men’s eyes,
Caught first far off by sickly fits of sight—
So a word said, if one shall hear aright,
Abides against the season of its growth.
This Theophile went slowly as one doth
That is not sure for sickness of his feet;
And counting the white stonework of the street,
Tears fell out of his eyes for wrath and love,
Making him weep more for the shame thereof
Than for true pain: so went he half a mile.
And women mocked him, saying: Theophile,
Lo, she is dead; what shall a woman have
That loveth such an one? so Christ me save,
I were as lief to love a man new-hung.
Surely this man has bitten on his tongue,
This makes him sad and writhled in his face.
And when they came upon the paven place
That was called sometime the place amorous
There came a child before Theophilus
Bearing a basket, and said suddenly:
Fair sir, this is my mistress Dorothy
That sends you gifts; and with this he was gone.
In all this earth there is not such an one
For colour and straight stature made so fair.
The tender growing gold of his pure hair
Was as wheat growing, and his mouth as flame.
God called him Holy after his own name;
With gold cloth like fire burning he was clad.
But for the fair green basket that he had,
It was filled up with heavy white and red;
Great roses stained still where the first rose bled,
Burning at heart for shame their heart withholds:
And the sad colour of strong marigolds
That have the sun to kiss their lips for love;
The flower that Venus’ hair is woven of,
The colour of fair apples in the sun,
Late peaches gathered when the heat was done
And the slain air got breath; and after these
The fair faint-headed poppies drunk with ease,
And heaviness of hollow lilies red.
Then cried they all that saw these things, and said
It was God’s doing, and was marvellous.
And in brief while this knight Theophilus
Is waxen full of faith, and witnesseth
Before the king of God and love and death,
For which the king bade hang him presently.
A gallows of a goodly piece of tree
This Gabalus hath made to hang him on.
Forth of this world lo Theophile is gone
With a wried neck, God give us better fare
Than his that hath a twisted throat to wear;
But truly for his love God hath him brought
There where his heavy body grieves him nought
Nor all the people plucking at his feet;
But in his face his lady’s face is sweet,
And through his lips her kissing lips are gone:
God send him peace, and joy of such an one.
This is the story of St. Dorothy.
I will you of your mercy pray for me
Because I wrote these sayings for your grace,
That I may one day see her in the face.
There once was a sailor from York,
Who never would eat with a fork,
Then he changed his whole life
When he slipped with a knife
Now his eyes are as sharp as a hawk.
Mr Political Man
He will show his good side
With a friendly hand shake
He will talk around problems
And tell you what's at stake
Mr Political Man
You'll never see his bad side
Well dressed and ready to go
The way he stands and speaks
Is just a part of his show
Mr Political Man
His words are carefully spoken
And promises he quickly makes
The trick is too win with words
But many promises he breaks
Mr Political Man
When words just fail
Sometimes words are not enough and they fail
to express the deep feelings that prevail.
My soul in the quietness and solitude
welled up in deep love and gratitude.
No one has ever loved me like You do
or gave their life that I might have life too.
For You bore my sins and You paid the price
and wiped out my debts with Your sacrifice.
A thousand thanksgivings could never express
the depth of my love and my thankfulness.
So I knelt before Your cross and I sighed
I could not find the words so I just cried.
Silence: The art of conversation
Silence is the ultimate of speaking
sometimes words are not enough
to emphasize our agony or ecstasy
but silence makes it in all its means
sometimes silence makes love
it sometimes cause to loose a love
silence controls anger; makes peace
happiness is the outcome of peace
silence creates the feel of solitude
solitary persons thinks a lot
thinking makes the man gracious
gracious world is the hope of tomorrow
silence keep the rhythem of speaking
modulate its waves and tempo
if we sounds it with competence
it will become a fabulous song!
Wouldn't it be nice,
If others did what we liked.
With a taking of advice,
To do what it was.
We chose and approved.
No one then would be offended.
And everyone would live as we wished.
No one would have a need to defend,
A life like this,
In an unquestioned bliss.
But realities as they are,
Have many in conflict.
Those with certain beliefs,
Refuse to comprehend.
Why their perceptions are not adopted.
And those who express they accept alternatives,
Are the ones despised.
Because their lives lived like this,
Has delivered a happiness!
And for many that happiness for them does not exist.
Wouldn't it be nice,
If others did what we liked.
With a taking of advice,
To do what it was.
We chose and approved.
With a doing done we too.
Would not find the time to debate and argue.
Wouldn't it be nice,
If others did what we liked.
And isn't it wonderful.
To know we can be ignored.
To then share in the receiving.
Others exchange from their adventures explored.
Flowery words may tickle the ears; even delight the person who hears.
Flowery words are not what I choose, if you desire to just be amused.
For I am truly not a poet my friend, and poetry is not my ultimate end.
Poetry is simply my chosen venue, this to share God’s Truth with you.
The words of men who went before, these are the words I underscore.
They may not be the poet’s choice, but they echo that important voice,
That one who spoke words of Life, The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Words echoed today for you and I, and this long after our Savior died.
Words of Truth are what I impart, hoping to comfort or change a heart.
Changing souls one heart at a time, for this is Christ’s humble design.
His words are not meant to enthrall, but be a hope and comfort for all.
The words not meant to entertain, but address the issue of sin’s stain.
I will continue to write as I’m moved, for friend I have nothing to prove.
And friend you have nothing to lose, as it is His Truth that you choose.
His words of Truth are tried and true, the words that I share with you.
My friend, the end of each poem, for me, is one page closer to home.
It is simply a poem at the start, but then The Spirit moves in my heart,
And The Spirit’s words fill my pen, with The Savior’s hope for all men.
As I echo all these men of the past, it is a Hope that will eternally last.
When I enter my heavenly abode, a place above I’ll forever call Home.
Watch where you walk 'cause the sidewalks talk
And you can't keep a secret from the ground beneath you
Step very lightly on the earth below
Or before you know it everyone will know
Streets were paved with a thousand eyes
And try as you may you can't disguise
There's only two things that you can't hide from
That's you and the ground you're walking on
Watch where you walk, 'cause the sidewalks talk
You better watch what you do, what you do
'cause the sidewalk talk can get carried away
You better watch what you say, what you say
Think when you speak 'cause you gotta 'long the street
They can read what you say so you gotta stay away
From words that sting, words are not true
And the things you say make a fool of you
Little white lies make the sidewalk cry
And you can betray with the things you say
Words won't last when you say 'em too fast
And you've been mislead by the things you've said
When you're living on the street
Life can be full of misery
Find a place to call your own
Make your heart into a home
You can do it, uh huh
(repeat 3 times)
You can do it
After every word there's a place that heard
Every time your shoe hits the avenue
And when you've gone they'll sing a song
Of the stories you told when you felt so bold
You better think twice when you cross the ice
Everything you do comes back to you
When you're shedding a tear sidewalks will hear
When your laughter's true they'll run with you
You can do it, uh huh
(repeat 3 times)
You can do it
(repeat 3 times)
(repeat 3 times)
Let me tell ya 'bout sidewalk talk
Watch out for sidewalk talk
Let me tell ya 'bout
Let me tell ya 'bout
Let me tell ya 'bout
Let me tell ya 'bout sidewalk talk
I love you from bottom of my heart
I may try to be cleaver and look very smart
But never dreamt of hurting you slight
Missed you always when you went out of sight
I have my own world realize and to live in
You may flew in with tremendous force to win
You may wish to join and pin high hopes
Though it may be dangerous to walk on ropes
You may make endless plea and build the castles
Murmur in mind and continue to make sound like whistles
All thoughts to remain in dream ad come true
Remain to be faithful till end without any clue
Neither any one can make me feel sorry
Nor it can cause extra burden or worry
I am totally to my self and remain secluded
All happiness are there with me and included
I shall come to you like high speed wind
You may not be able to judge or find
I shall remain invisible to make any imprint
You may not have slight idea or any hint
I would love to make you endless wait
From down to dusk alert and straight
You may loose patience and start to hate
It will be then out of hand to realize it late
Sometimes I fail judge your move
You remain spectator and don’t try to remove
I make outcry at your inaction and apathy
You simply laugh it out and show only sympathy
Why should I think you are so unique?
Why your words are not serious and comic?
Why at all you should remain as mystery?
Do you want it to turn into tragic history?
You may come at will and go
I should be prepared it to forgo
I shall ever stand fast till the last
You should be the one to be first and fast
Can you not reciprocate in same manner?
If you do a favor then I will be little gainer
It has something to do with trust
I think you have the right way and must
Love may blossom the way we choose
It may serve us as force for our future use
It has to have all importance to be shown
Time has come for relations to be interwoven
We may come to realize at point
It may be known as durable joint
Relation after all isn’t things to forget
We can’t allow it fail or simply let
When Abraham was weak and old
he forced his slave to swear an oath,
while grasping of his member hold:
“Make sure that Isaac plights his troth
to someone from my ancient clan;
from Canaanites don’t choose a damsel;
in Canaan I believe each man
to be a mamzer, girl a mamzelle.”
Everybody knows a mamzer
is repulsive to the Jews,
a cockroach rather than Greg Samsa,
but mamzelle is a word I choose
instead of mademoiselle, for rhyming;
a lot of members of my tribe
like them a lot when they’re good-timing,
though outlawed by the Bible scribe.
The slave asked God to make it clear,
by giving him a secret sign:
“The first young girl who will appear
and bring me water, not cool wine,
should be for Isaac lifelong mate.”
She came, of Bethuel the daughter,
and didn’t cause the slave to wait
until she brought him ice-cold water.
A prompt response, what he’d been urgin’,
occurred at once, and what is more
she was what he had asked for, virgin,
a miracle, I’d say, encore.
Some water for the camels, too,
she brought, precisely as he’d bid,
although she clearly never knew
it was God’s will, because He hid,
as later He would hide when Ruth
by Boaz was allowed to glean.
His hidden will reveals the truth
like daylight coming through a screen,
a scrim that only may be lifted
by those who’re spiritually gifted.
I ought to mention here a point.
Though Canaanite, the slaveman thought
that Abraham might yet appoint
him as his heir, and therefore sought
to lie with that young girl, he knew
he ought to bring back to his lord
for Isaac as a virgin. Clue
for this interpretation find
in language that describes him as
a man, a word that should remind
us that we’ve just learned no man has
yet had Rebekkah, front, behind.
We learn that she was quite intacta,
from Midrash cited here by Rashi,
who states importantly the factor
that no one ever touched her tushy!
His eagerness in fact implies
that he intends to be the plow
within her furrow, and belies
his wish to honor now the vow,
for when the lady gives him water
he thinks that he will have her like
Rebekkah’s brother’s younger daughter,
whom Jacob took when sent by Ike.
Quite ready for the dating game,
Rebekkah told the man her name:
in all the land there was none cuter,
a major catch for any suitor.
She said: “Please let me introduce
my brother; he is running loose
around my father’s great estate.”
The slave declared: “That would be great! ”
The “White Man, ” Laban, whom he’d meet
turned out to be a dreadful cheat,
in Jacob’s tale a major player
as father of both Rachel, Leah.
He gave to Jacob first the latter,
confusing with patristic patter
the fugitive who had a hunger
for Rachel, though she was the younger,
and made quite Jacob then upmixed her
with Rachel—what a shameful trickster!
“It is not done in our great land
to give the younger first in hand, ”
he said, so Jacob had to slave
a week of years before he gave
him Rachel, his more lovely daughter,
the one for whom he drew some water,
as did the slave whom we have mentioned
above, perhaps more well-intentioned,
but maybe not, as I have said,
for when the slaveman bent his head
for water, just as camels stoop,
it seems his aim was soon to shtup
Rebekkah––intention that was so absurd
I’ve used a vulgar Yiddish word.
Laban said: “Mi casa es
su casa, ” and he showed largesse
not only to the slave then but
his camels, giving them a hut
in which he generously provided
the fodder that they craved, while he abided
inside his house, I think a mansion,
undergoing great expansion,
a hovel being gentrified,
as none have commentarified
in medieval Bible versions,
foreshadowing my city’s Persians,
who, like the kinsfolk of Rebekkah
expand their houses, triple decker,
because they must impress their neighbors,
as Laban wished, imposing labors
on Jacob wishing to be swived,
to prove they truly have arrived.
Don’t think that only Persians do this—
big’s great for them, and huge is bliss;
all nouveaux riches look for a variance,
the Persians learned this from Hungarians.
Before the food, the slaveman said:
“I must, before I go to bed,
explain the mission that my master
has given me.” He thought disaster
would come as soon as he explained
how Abraham had been most pained
that girls who in his land were rooted
to Isaac weren’t exactly suited,
because, revealed with décolleté,
they caused the horny men to play,
and gaze with longing at midriffs,
and dream of mounting them like cliffs,
while greatly turned on by short dresses
revealing thighs and pubic tresses;
about such features men all raved,
especially when these girls have shaved—
though pubic hair makes some men blush,
they stare much more when there’s no bush.
Daughters of the sons of Ham,
anathema to Abraham,
were not what he for Isaac wished.
The ishah with whom he’d be ished,
I mean the woman who would turn
him into man and make him burn
with reproductive fire, must
be someone who had earned his trust
by coming from between the rivers.
What he demanded God delivers.
The slave displayed the gifts he bore,
huge rubies Valor Women wore
to please the husbands they adore
in olden times and days of yore,
and pearls as large as egg of duck,
believed to bring their bearers luck,
especially when in a charm
with God’s name keeping them from harm,
and bracelets which Jews used to whore
with Moabites at Baal-peor,
and precious nose rings used to make
a Golden Calf, a Moses fake,
replacing him—his crown of thorns,
less splendid than his famous horns,
acquired when he came so late
Jews said to Aaron: “We won’t wait, ”
as they so often say today
whey they for a messiah pray.
The slaveman showed them all his treasures
without security-type measures,
and they replied, to his surprise,
“Please take Rebekkah, she’s your prize! ”
But first they asked her, “Will you go
away to marry? ” She did not say “No! ”
but answered simply with a “Yes! ”
The man with whom she went, I guess,
could see from this most cryptic word
that he was not the man preferred
by her, for he was just a slave.
To Isaac she was going, brave,
a woman destined just like Ruth
to leave her land and find the truth
in Israel, to which God had sworn
His chosen people would be borne
on eagles’ wings—if all the planes
were cancelled, and there were no trains.
Waiting with suspense and joy
close to Be’er Laha’i-roi,
the place where Hagar once had met
an angel––God did not forget
her and the son then in her womb;
for both of them He found some room.
Descendants who from Isaac stem
would end up in Jerusalem,
while those of Hagar, not Rebekkah,
would face much farther east, to Mecca––
now in Be’er-laha’i-roi,
this thirty-seven-year old boy
called Isaac, lost in meditations,
stood quite resigned, without impatience,
just like a Buddha of Amida’s
familiar to enlightened readers,
and watched until he saw afar
a woman moving like a star
that shone most brightly in the heaven.
It was exactly half past seven,
the time for minhah, rabbis say,
when men must take off time to pray,
as Isaac did. Though he’d been saddened
by Sarah’s death, he now was gladdened
and took Rebekkah to his tent
where she repaired in clothes the rent
that he had torn when Sarah died,
for now Rebekkah was his bride,
reminding him, the garments’ wearer,
by all things that she did, of Sarah.
Dark and comely without pallor
was Isaac’s wife, a girl of valor,
mother both of Jacob, Esau,
brothers two upon a seesaw,
a pair of twins born to Rebekkah,
her womb prepared for double-decker,
a matriarch who loved and chose
son Jacob, most religiose,
not Esau, man who loved to hunt,
his father’s favorite, strange to say––
so blind he never saw him stray
among the Hittite women till
Rebekkah said: “They make me ill.”
Inside her womb she had a two-for
one, the older one a Jew-for-
Jesus, causing great distress,
the Vatican his main address––
synonymous the name of Edom
with Rome the way we read him,
though Christians say with ancient fury
that Esau’s ancestor of Jewry,
while Jacob, not left in the lurch,
is ancestor of all their church.
Brothers both would exeunt,
one for tents and one to hunt,
and leave each other on a stage
where at their sibling they could rage,
without the limelight competition
that bothers stars with great ambition.
In all the Bible there’s no figure
who than this matriarch is bigger.
A postscript comes now to this poem,
foreshadowed clearly in the proem,
if, as I would now propose,
you read it once again most close.
When aged, Abraham would find
a time for tying knots, to bind
his son to someone who was suited
to God’s plan, which was clearly bruited
at the Covenant of Pieces,
and made quite sure he’d look for nieces
for Isaac, since he was no whorer
before his marriage to Keturah,
and stayed away from women younger,
till old age would restore his hunger,
when he foreshadowed Jesse’s son
who in old age, though weary, wan,
would lie with Abishag, the norm
for old kings when they are not warm,
and search for concubines or harlots,
some Bible heroines like starlets.
While David lay within her arms,
he put aside not only psalms
but also thoughts about his sons,
enchanted by her breasts and buns,
till Nathan and some leaders came,
with Bathsheba, his former flame,
to make sure Solomon would rule.
But Adonijah was uncool,
and though he tried to seize the crown
his sense of timing let him down,
and he was killed like Absalom
and Amnon when his plot would bomb.
While Abraham had made quite clear
that Isaac was to him more dear
than Hagar’s son called Ishmael,
and was the designated male
to follow him, King David failed.
While seeking women’s warmth he ailed,
which really is a poor excuse
for old men trying to be loose,
as wine and women for their health
is bad, and harmful to their wealth.
How lucky David still had faith in
Bathsheba and the prophet Nathan,
for if he hadn’t, Abishag
might well have taken all his swag.
The contrast that’s comparative
explains to us each narrative.
I’m not sure which was written first,
though both by me are hereby versed.
For answers you must try to collar
not rabbi, priest, but bible scholar,
which I attempt, when I have time,
to be, while all the rest I rhyme,
unless, of course, I’m in my clinic—
the one place where I’m not a cynic.
The Iliad: Book 11
And now as Dawn rose from her couch beside Tithonus, harbinger of
light alike to mortals and immortals, Jove sent fierce Discord with
the ensign of war in her hands to the ships of the Achaeans. She
took her stand by the huge black hull of Ulysses' ship which was
middlemost of all, so that her voice might carry farthest on either
side, on the one hand towards the tents of Ajax son of Telamon, and on
the other towards those of Achilles- for these two heroes,
well-assured of their own strength, had valorously drawn up their
ships at the two ends of the line. There she took her stand, and
raised a cry both loud and shrill that filled the Achaeans with
courage, giving them heart to fight resolutely and with all their
might, so that they had rather stay there and do battle than go home
in their ships.
The son of Atreus shouted aloud and bade the Argives gird themselves
for battle while he put on his armour. First he girded his goodly
greaves about his legs, making them fast with ankle clasps of
silver; and about his chest he set the breastplate which Cinyras had
once given him as a guest-gift. It had been noised abroad as far as
Cyprus that the Achaeans were about to sail for Troy, and therefore he
gave it to the king. It had ten courses of dark cyanus, twelve of
gold, and ten of tin. There were serpents of cyanus that reared
themselves up towards the neck, three upon either side, like the
rainbows which the son of Saturn has set in heaven as a sign to mortal
men. About his shoulders he threw his sword, studded with bosses of
gold; and the scabbard was of silver with a chain of gold wherewith to
hang it. He took moreover the richly-dight shield that covered his
body when he was in battle- fair to see, with ten circles of bronze
running all round see, wit it. On the body of the shield there were
twenty bosses of white tin, with another of dark cyanus in the middle:
this last was made to show a Gorgon's head, fierce and grim, with Rout
and Panic on either side. The band for the arm to go through was of
silver, on which there was a writhing snake of cyanus with three heads
that sprang from a single neck, and went in and out among one another.
On his head Agamemnon set a helmet, with a peak before and behind, and
four plumes of horse-hair that nodded menacingly above it; then he
grasped two redoubtable bronze-shod spears, and the gleam of his
armour shot from him as a flame into the firmament, while Juno and
Minerva thundered in honour of the king of rich Mycene.
Every man now left his horses in charge of his charioteer to hold
them in readiness by the trench, while he went into battle on foot
clad in full armour, and a mighty uproar rose on high into the
dawning. The chiefs were armed and at the trench before the horses got
there, but these came up presently. The son of Saturn sent a portent
of evil sound about their host, and the dew fell red with blood, for
he was about to send many a brave man hurrying down to Hades.
The Trojans, on the other side upon the rising slope of the plain,
were gathered round great Hector, noble Polydamas, Aeneas who was
honoured by the Trojans like an immortal, and the three sons of
Antenor, Polybus, Agenor, and young Acamas beauteous as a god.
Hector's round shield showed in the front rank, and as some baneful
star that shines for a moment through a rent in the clouds and is
again hidden beneath them; even so was Hector now seen in the front
ranks and now again in the hindermost, and his bronze armour gleamed
like the lightning of aegis-bearing Jove.
And now as a band of reapers mow swathes of wheat or barley upon a
rich man's land, and the sheaves fall thick before them, even so did
the Trojans and Achaeans fall upon one another; they were in no mood
for yielding but fought like wolves, and neither side got the better
of the other. Discord was glad as she beheld them, for she was the
only god that went among them; the others were not there, but stayed
quietly each in his own home among the dells and valleys of Olympus.
All of them blamed the son of Saturn for wanting to Live victory to
the Trojans, but father Jove heeded them not: he held aloof from
all, and sat apart in his all-glorious majesty, looking down upon
the city of the Trojans, the ships of the Achaeans, the gleam of
bronze, and alike upon the slayers and on the slain.
Now so long as the day waxed and it was still morning, their darts
rained thick on one another and the people perished, but as the hour
drew nigh when a woodman working in some mountain forest will get
his midday meal- for he has felled till his hands are weary; he is
tired out, and must now have food- then the Danaans with a cry that
rang through all their ranks, broke the battalions of the enemy.
Agamemnon led them on, and slew first Bienor, a leader of his
people, and afterwards his comrade and charioteer Oileus, who sprang
from his chariot and was coming full towards him; but Agamemnon struck
him on the forehead with his spear; his bronze visor was of no avail
against the weapon, which pierced both bronze and bone, so that his
brains were battered in and he was killed in full fight.
Agamemnon stripped their shirts from off them and left them with
their breasts all bare to lie where they had fallen. He then went on
to kill Isus and Antiphus two sons of Priam, the one a bastard, the
other born in wedlock; they were in the same chariot- the bastard
driving, while noble Antiphus fought beside him. Achilles had once
taken both of them prisoners in the glades of Ida, and had bound
them with fresh withes as they were shepherding, but he had taken a
ransom for them; now, however, Agamemnon son of Atreus smote Isus in
the chest above the nipple with his spear, while he struck Antiphus
hard by the ear and threw him from his chariot. Forthwith he
stripped their goodly armour from off them and recognized them, for he
had already seen them at ships when Achilles brought them in from Ida.
As a lion fastens on the fawns of a hind and crushes them in his great
jaws, robbing them of their tender life while he on his way back to
his lair- the hind can do nothing for them even though she be close
by, for she is in an agony of fear, and flies through the thick
forest, sweating, and at her utmost speed before the mighty monster-
so, no man of the Trojans could help Isus and Antiphus, for they
were themselves flying panic before the Argives.
Then King Agamemnon took the two sons of Antimachus, Pisander and
brave Hippolochus. It was Antimachus who had been foremost in
preventing Helen's being restored to Menelaus, for he was largely
bribed by Alexandrus; and now Agamemnon took his two sons, both in the
same chariot, trying to bring their horses to a stand- for they had
lost hold of the reins and the horses were mad with fear. The son of
Atreus sprang upon them like a lion, and the pair besought him from
their chariot. "Take us alive," they cried, "son of Atreus, and you
shall receive a great ransom for us. Our father Antimachus has great
store of gold, bronze, and wrought iron, and from this he will satisfy
you with a very large ransom should he hear of our being alive at
the ships of the Achaeans."
With such piteous words and tears did they beseech the king, but
they heard no pitiful answer in return. "If," said Agamemnon, "you are
sons of Antimachus, who once at a council of Trojans proposed that
Menelaus and Ulysses, who had come to you as envoys, should be
killed and not suffered to return, you shall now pay for the foul
iniquity of your father."
As he spoke he felled Pisander from his chariot to the earth,
smiting him on the chest with his spear, so that he lay face uppermost
upon the ground. Hippolochus fled, but him too did Agamemnon smite; he
cut off his hands and his head- which he sent rolling in among the
crowd as though it were a ball. There he let them both lie, and
wherever the ranks were thickest thither he flew, while the other
Achaeans followed. Foot soldiers drove the foot soldiers of the foe in
rout before them, and slew them; horsemen did the like by horsemen,
and the thundering tramp of the horses raised a cloud of dust frim off
the plain. King Agamemnon followed after, ever slaying them and
cheering on the Achaeans. As when some mighty forest is all ablaze-
the eddying gusts whirl fire in all directions till the thickets
shrivel and are consumed before the blast of the flame- even so fell
the heads of the flying Trojans before Agamemnon son of Atreus, and
many a noble pair of steeds drew an empty chariot along the highways
of war, for lack of drivers who were lying on the plain, more useful
now to vultures than to their wives.
Jove drew Hector away from the darts and dust, with the carnage
and din of battle; but the son of Atreus sped onwards, calling out
lustily to the Danaans. They flew on by the tomb of old Ilus, son of
Dardanus, in the middle of the plain, and past the place of the wild
fig-tree making always for the city- the son of Atreus still shouting,
and with hands all bedrabbled in gore; but when they had reached the
Scaean gates and the oak tree, there they halted and waited for the
others to come up. Meanwhile the Trojans kept on flying over the
middle of the plain like a herd cows maddened with fright when a
lion has attacked them in the dead of night- he springs on one of
them, seizes her neck in the grip of his strong teeth and then laps up
her blood and gorges himself upon her entrails- even so did King
Agamemnon son of Atreus pursue the foe, ever slaughtering the hindmost
as they fled pell-mell before him. Many a man was flung headlong
from his chariot by the hand of the son of Atreus, for he wielded
his spear with fury.
But when he was just about to reach the high wall and the city,
the father of gods and men came down from heaven and took his seat,
thunderbolt in hand, upon the crest of many-fountained Ida. He then
told Iris of the golden wings to carry a message for him. "Go," said
he, "fleet Iris, and speak thus to Hector- say that so long as he
sees Agamemnon heading his men and making havoc of the Trojan ranks,
he is to keep aloof and bid the others bear the brunt of the battle,
but when Agamemnon is wounded either by spear or arrow, and takes to
his chariot, then will I vouchsafe him strength to slay till he
reach the ships and night falls at the going down of the sun."
Iris hearkened and obeyed. Down she went to strong Ilius from the
crests of Ida, and found Hector son of Priam standing by his chariot
and horses. Then she said, "Hector son of Priam, peer of gods in
counsel, father Jove has sent me to bear you this message- so long
as you see Agamemnon heading his men and making havoc of the Trojan
ranks, you are to keep aloof and bid the others bear the brunt of
the battle, but when Agamemnon is wounded either by spear or arrow,
and takes to his chariot, then will Jove vouchsafe you strength to
slay till you reach the ships, and till night falls at the going
down of the sun."
When she had thus spoken Iris left him, and Hector sprang full armed
from his chariot to the ground, brandishing his spear as he went about
everywhere among the host, cheering his men on to fight, and
stirring the dread strife of battle. The Trojans then wheeled round,
and again met the Achaeans, while the Argives on their part
strengthened their battalions. The battle was now in array and they
stood face to face with one another, Agamemnon ever pressing forward
in his eagerness to be ahead of all others.
Tell me now ye Muses that dwell in the mansions of Olympus, who,
whether of the Trojans or of their allies, was first to face
Agamemnon? It was Iphidamas son of Antenor, a man both brave and of
great stature, who was brought up in fertile Thrace the mother of
sheep. Cisses, his mother's father, brought him up in his own house
when he was a child- Cisses, father to fair Theano. When he reached
manhood, Cisses would have kept him there, and was for giving him
his daughter in marriage, but as soon as he had married he set out
to fight the Achaeans with twelve ships that followed him: these he
had left at Percote and had come on by land to Ilius. He it was that
naw met Agamemnon son of Atreus. When they were close up with one
another, the son of Atreus missed his aim, and Iphidamas hit him on
the girdle below the cuirass and then flung himself upon him, trusting
to his strength of arm; the girdle, however, was not pierced, nor
nearly so, for the point of the spear struck against the silver and
was turned aside as though it had been lead: King Agamemnon caught
it from his hand, and drew it towards him with the fury of a lion;
he then drew his sword, and killed Iphidamas by striking him on the
neck. So there the poor fellow lay, sleeping a sleep as it were of
bronze, killed in the defence of his fellow-citizens, far from his
wedded wife, of whom he had had no joy though he had given much for
her: he had given a hundred-head of cattle down, and had promised
later on to give a thousand sheep and goats mixed, from the
countless flocks of which he was possessed. Agamemnon son of Atreus
then despoiled him, and carried off his armour into the host of the
When noble Coon, Antenor's eldest son, saw this, sore indeed were
his eyes at the sight of his fallen brother. Unseen by Agamemnon he
got beside him, spear in hand, and wounded him in the middle of his
arm below the elbow, the point of the spear going right through the
arm. Agamemnon was convulsed with pain, but still not even for this
did he leave off struggling and fighting, but grasped his spear that
flew as fleet as the wind, and sprang upon Coon who was trying to drag
off the body of his brother- his father's son- by the foot, and was
crying for help to all the bravest of his comrades; but Agamemnon
struck him with a bronze-shod spear and killed him as he was
dragging the dead body through the press of men under cover of his
shield: he then cut off his head, standing over the body of Iphidamas.
Thus did the sons of Antenor meet their fate at the hands of the son
of Atreus, and go down into the house of Hades.
As long as the blood still welled warm from his wound Agamemnon went
about attacking the ranks of the enemy with spear and sword and with
great handfuls of stone, but when the blood had ceased to flow and the
wound grew dry, the pain became great. As the sharp pangs which the
Eilithuiae, goddesses of childbirth, daughters of Juno and
dispensers of cruel pain, send upon a woman when she is in labour-
even so sharp were the pangs of the son of Atreus. He sprang on to his
chariot, and bade his charioteer drive to the ships, for he was in
great agony. With a loud clear voice he shouted to the Danaans, "My
friends, princes and counsellors of the Argives, defend the ships
yourselves, for Jove has not suffered me to fight the whole day
through against the Trojans."
With this the charioteer turned his horses towards the ships, and
they flew forward nothing loth. Their chests were white with foam
and their bellies with dust, as they drew the wounded king out of
When Hector saw Agamemnon quit the field, he shouted to the
Trojans and Lycians saying, "Trojans, Lycians, and Dardanian warriors,
be men, my friends, and acquit yourselves in battle bravely; their
best man has left them, and Jove has vouchsafed me a great triumph;
charge the foe with your chariots that. you may win still greater
With these words he put heart and soul into them all, and as a
huntsman hounds his dogs on against a lion or wild boar, even so did
Hector, peer of Mars, hound the proud Trojans on against the Achaeans.
Full of hope he plunged in among the foremost, and fell on the fight
like some fierce tempest that swoops down upon the sea, and lashes its
deep blue waters into fury.
What, then is the full tale of those whom Hector son of Priam killed
in the hour of triumph which Jove then vouchsafed him? First Asaeus,
Autonous, and Opites; Dolops son of Clytius, Opheltius and Agelaus;
Aesymnus, Orus and Hipponous steadfast in battle; these chieftains
of the Achaeans did Hector slay, and then he fell upon the rank and
file. As when the west wind hustles the clouds of the white south
and beats them down with the fierceness of its fury- the waves of
the sea roll high, and the spray is flung aloft in the rage of the
wandering wind- even so thick were the heads of them that fell by
the hand of Hector.
All had then been lost and no help for it, and the Achaeans would
have fled pell-mell to their ships, had not Ulysses cried out to
Diomed, "Son of Tydeus, what has happened to us that we thus forget
our prowess? Come, my good fellow, stand by my side and help me, we
shall be shamed for ever if Hector takes the ships."
And Diomed answered, "Come what may, I will stand firm; but we shall
have scant joy of it, for Jove is minded to give victory to the
Trojans rather than to us."
With these words he struck Thymbraeus from his chariot to the
ground, smiting him in the left breast with his spear, while Ulysses
killed Molion who was his squire. These they let lie, now that they
had stopped their fighting; the two heroes then went on playing
havoc with the foe, like two wild boars that turn in fury and rend the
hounds that hunt them. Thus did they turn upon the Trojans and slay
them, and the Achaeans were thankful to have breathing time in their
flight from Hector.
They then took two princes with their chariot, the two sons of
Merops of Percote, who excelled all others in the arts of
divination. He had forbidden his sons to go to the war, but they would
not obey him, for fate lured them to their fall. Diomed son of
Tydeus slew them both and stripped them of their armour, while Ulysses
killed Hippodamus and Hypeirochus.
And now the son of Saturn as he looked down from Ida ordained that
neither side should have the advantage, and they kept on killing one
another. The son of Tydeus speared Agastrophus son of Paeon in the
hip-joint with his spear. His chariot was not at hand for him to fly
with, so blindly confident had he been. His squire was in charge of it
at some distance and he was fighting on foot among the foremost
until he lost his life. Hector soon marked the havoc Diomed and
Ulysses were making, and bore down upon them with a loud cry, followed
by the Trojan ranks; brave Diomed was dismayed when he saw them, and
said to Ulysses who was beside him, "Great Hector is bearing down upon
us and we shall be undone; let us stand firm and wait his onset."
He poised his spear as he spoke and hurled it, nor did he miss his
mark. He had aimed at Hector's head near the top of his helmet, but
bronze was turned by bronze, and Hector was untouched, for the spear
was stayed by the visored helm made with three plates of metal,
which Phoebus Apollo had given him. Hector sprang back with a great
bound under cover of the ranks; he fell on his knees and propped
himself with his brawny hand leaning on the ground, for darkness had
fallen on his eyes. The son of Tydeus having thrown his spear dashed
in among the foremost fighters, to the place where he had seen it
strike the ground; meanwhile Hector recovered himself and springing
back into his chariot mingled with the crowd, by which means he
saved his life. But Diomed made at him with his spear and said,
"Dog, you have again got away though death was close on your heels.
Phoebus Apollo, to whom I ween you pray ere you go into battle, has
again saved you, nevertheless I will meet you and make and end of
you hereafter, if there is any god who will stand by me too and be
my helper. For the present I must pursue those I can lay hands on."
As he spoke he began stripping the spoils from the son of Paeon, but
Alexandrus husband of lovely Helen aimed an arrow at him, leaning
against a pillar of the monument which men had raised to Ilus son of
Dardanus, a ruler in days of old. Diomed had taken the cuirass from
off the breast of Agastrophus, his heavy helmet also, and the shield
from off his shoulders, when Paris drew his bow and let fly an arrow
that sped not from his hand in vain, but pierced the flat of
Diomed's right foot, going right through it and fixing itself in the
ground. Thereon Paris with a hearty laugh sprang forward from his
hiding-place, and taunted him saying, "You are wounded- my arrow has
not been shot in vain; would that it had hit you in the belly and
killed you, for thus the Trojans, who fear you as goats fear a lion,
would have had a truce from evil."
Diomed all undaunted answered, "Archer, you who without your bow are
nothing, slanderer and seducer, if you were to be tried in single
combat fighting in full armour, your bow and your arrows would serve
you in little stead. Vain is your boast in that you have scratched the
sole of my foot. I care no more than if a girl or some silly boy had
hit me. A worthless coward can inflict but a light wound; when I wound
a man though I but graze his skin it is another matter, for my
weapon will lay him low. His wife will tear her cheeks for grief and
his children will be fatherless: there will he rot, reddening the
earth with his blood, and vultures, not women, will gather round him."
Thus he spoke, but Ulysses came up and stood over him. Under this
cover he sat down to draw the arrow from his foot, and sharp was the
pain he suffered as he did so. Then he sprang on to his chariot and
bade the charioteer drive him to the ships, for he was sick at heart.
Ulysses was now alone; not one of the Argives stood by him, for they
were all panic-stricken. "Alas," said he to himself in his dismay,
"what will become of me? It is ill if I turn and fly before these
odds, but it will be worse if I am left alone and taken prisoner,
for the son of Saturn has struck the rest of the Danaans with panic.
But why talk to myself in this way? Well do I know that though cowards
quit the field, a hero, whether he wound or be wounded, must stand
firm and hold his own."
While he was thus in two minds, the ranks of the Trojans advanced
and hemmed him in, and bitterly did they come to me it. As hounds
and lusty youths set upon a wild boar that sallies from his lair
whetting his white tusks- they attack him from every side and can hear
the gnashing of his jaws, but for all his fierceness they still hold
their ground- even so furiously did the Trojans attack Ulysses.
First he sprang spear in hand upon Deiopites and wounded him on the
shoulder with a downward blow; then he killed Thoon and Ennomus. After
these he struck Chersidamas in the loins under his shield as he had
just sprung down from his chariot; so he fell in the dust and clutched
the earth in the hollow of his hand. These he let lie, and went on
to wound Charops son of Hippasus own brother to noble Socus. Socus,
hero that he was, made all speed to help him, and when he was close to
Ulysses he said, "Far-famed Ulysses, insatiable of craft and toil,
this day you shall either boast of having killed both the sons of
Hippasus and stripped them of their armour, or you shall fall before
With these words he struck the shield of Ulysses. The spear went
through the shield and passed on through his richly wrought cuirass,
tearing the flesh from his side, but Pallas Minerva did not suffer
it to pierce the entrails of the hero. Ulysses knew that his hour
was not yet come, but he gave ground and said to Socus, "Wretch, you
shall now surely die. You have stayed me from fighting further with
the Trojans, but you shall now fall by my spear, yielding glory to
myself, and your soul to Hades of the noble steeds."
Socus had turned in flight, but as he did so, the spear struck him
in the back midway between the shoulders, and went right through his
chest. He fell heavily to the ground and Ulysses vaunted over him
saying, "O Socus, son of Hippasus tamer of horses, death has been
too quick for you and you have not escaped him: poor wretch, not
even in death shall your father and mother close your eyes, but the
ravening vultures shall enshroud you with the flapping of their dark
wings and devour you. Whereas even though I fall the Achaeans will
give me my due rites of burial."
So saying he drew Socus's heavy spear out of his flesh and from
his shield, and the blood welled forth when the spear was withdrawn so
that he was much dismayed. When the Trojans saw that Ulysses was
bleeding they raised a great shout and came on in a body towards
him; he therefore gave ground, and called his comrades to come and
help him. Thrice did he cry as loudly as man can cry, and thrice did
brave Menelaus hear him; he turned, therefore, to Ajax who was close
beside him and said, "Ajax, noble son of Telamon, captain of your
people, the cry of Ulysses rings in my ears, as though the Trojans had
cut him off and were worsting him while he is single-handed. Let us
make our way through the throng; it will be well that we defend him; I
fear he may come to harm for all his valour if he be left without
support, and the Danaans would miss him sorely."
He led the way and mighty Ajax went with him. The Trojans had
gathered round Ulysses like ravenous mountain jackals round the
carcase of some homed stag that has been hit with an arrow- the stag
has fled at full speed so long as his blood was warm and his
strength has lasted, but when the arrow has overcome him, the savage
jackals devour him in the shady glades of the forest. Then heaven
sends a fierce lion thither, whereon the jackals fly in terror and the
lion robs them of their prey- even so did Trojans many and brave
gather round crafty Ulysses, but the hero stood at bay and kept them
off with his spear. Ajax then came up with his shield before him
like a wall, and stood hard by, whereon the Trojans fled in all
directions. Menelaus took Ulysses by the hand, and led him out of
the press while his squire brought up his chariot, but Ajax rushed
furiously on the Trojans and killed Doryclus, a bastard son of
Priam; then he wounded Pandocus, Lysandrus, Pyrasus, and Pylartes;
as some swollen torrent comes rushing in full flood from the mountains
on to the plain, big with the rain of heaven- many a dry oak and
many a pine does it engulf, and much mud does it bring down and cast
into the sea- even so did brave Ajax chase the foe furiously over
the plain, slaying both men and horses.
Hector did not yet know what Ajax was doing, for he was fighting
on the extreme left of the battle by the banks of the river Scamander,
where the carnage was thickest and the war-cry loudest round Nestor
and brave Idomeneus. Among these Hector was making great slaughter
with his spear and furious driving, and was destroying the ranks
that were opposed to him; still the Achaeans would have given no
ground, had not Alexandrus husband of lovely Helen stayed the
prowess of Machaon shepherd of his people, by wounding him in the
right shoulder with a triple-barbed arrow. The Achaeans were in
great fear that as the fight had turned against them the Trojans might
take him prisoner, and Idomeneus said to Nestor, "Nestor son of
Neleus, honour to the Achaean name, mount your chariot at once; take
Machaon with you and drive your horses to the ships as fast as you
can. A physician is worth more than several other men put together,
for he can cut out arrows and spread healing herbs."
Nestor knight of Gerene did as Idomeneus had counselled; he at
once mounted his chariot, and Machaon son of the famed physician
Aesculapius went with him. He lashed his horses and they flew onward
nothing loth towards the ships, as though of their own free will.
Then Cebriones seeing the Trojans in confusion said to Hector from
his place beside him, "Hector, here are we two fighting on the extreme
wing of the battle, while the other Trojans are in pell-mell rout,
they and their horses. Ajax son of Telamon is driving them before him;
I know him by the breadth of his shield: let us turn our chariot and
horses thither, where horse and foot are fighting most desperately,
and where the cry of battle is loudest."
With this he lashed his goodly steeds, and when they felt the whip
they drew the chariot full speed among the Achaeans and Trojans,
over the bodies and shields of those that had fallen: the axle was
bespattered with blood, and the rail round the car was covered with
splashes both from the horses' hoofs and from the tyres of the wheels.
Hector tore his way through and flung himself into the thick of the
fight, and his presence threw the Danaans into confusion, for his
spear was not long idle; nevertheless though he went among the ranks
with sword and spear, and throwing great stones, he avoided Ajax son
of Telamon, for Jove would have been angry with him if he had fought a
better man than himself.
Then father Jove from his high throne struck fear into the heart
of Ajax, so that he stood there dazed and threw his shield behind him-
looking fearfully at the throng of his foes as though he were some
wild beast, and turning hither and thither but crouching slowly
backwards. As peasants with their hounds chase a lion from their
stockyard, and watch by night to prevent his carrying off the pick
of their herd- he makes his greedy spring, but in vain, for the
darts from many a strong hand fall thick around him, with burning
brands that scare him for all his fury, and when morning comes he
slinks foiled and angry away- even so did Ajax, sorely against his
will, retreat angrily before the Trojans, fearing for the ships of the
Achaeans. Or as some lazy ass that has had many a cudgel broken
about his back, when he into a field begins eating the corn- boys beat
him but he is too many for them, and though they lay about with
their sticks they cannot hurt him; still when he has had his fill they
at last drive him from the field- even so did the Trojans and their
allies pursue great Ajax, ever smiting the middle of his shield with
their darts. Now and again he would turn and show fight, keeping
back the battalions of the Trojans, and then he would again retreat;
but he prevented any of them from making his way to the ships.
Single-handed he stood midway between the Trojans and Achaeans: the
spears that sped from their hands stuck some of them in his mighty
shield, while many, though thirsting for his blood, fell to the ground
ere they could reach him to the wounding of his fair flesh.
Now when Eurypylus the brave son of Euaemon saw that Ajax was
being overpowered by the rain of arrows, he went up to him and
hurled his spear. He struck Apisaon son of Phausius in the liver below
the midriff, and laid him low. Eurypylus sprang upon him, and stripped
the armour from his shoulders; but when Alexandrus saw him, he aimed
an arrow at him which struck him in the right thigh; the arrow
broke, but the point that was left in the wound dragged on the
thigh; he drew back, therefore, under cover of his comrades to save
his life, shouting as he did so to the Danaans, "My friends, princes
and counsellors of the Argives, rally to the defence of Ajax who is
being overpowered, and I doubt whether he will come out of the fight
alive. Hither, then, to the rescue of great Ajax son of Telamon."
Even so did he cry when he was wounded; thereon the others came
near, and gathered round him, holding their shields upwards from their
shoulders so as to give him cover. Ajax then made towards them, and
turned round to stand at bay as soon as he had reached his men.
Thus then did they fight as it were a flaming fire. Meanwhile the
mares of Neleus, all in a lather with sweat, were bearing Nestor out
of the fight, and with him Machaon shepherd of his people. Achilles
saw and took note, for he was standing on the stern of his ship
watching the hard stress and struggle of the fight. He called from the
ship to his comrade Patroclus, who heard him in the tent and came
out looking like Mars himself- here indeed was the beginning of the
ill that presently befell him. "Why," said he, "Achilles do you call
me? what do you what do you want with me?" And Achilles answered,
"Noble son of Menoetius, man after my own heart, I take it that I
shall now have the Achaeans praying at my knees, for they are in great
straits; go, Patroclus, and ask Nestor who is that he is bearing
away wounded from the field; from his back I should say it was Machaon
son of Aesculapius, but I could not see his face for the horses went
by me at full speed."
Patroclus did as his dear comrade had bidden him, and set off
running by the ships and tents of the Achaeans.
When Nestor and Machaon had reached the tents of the son of
Neleus, they dismounted, and an esquire, Eurymedon, took the horses
from the chariot. The pair then stood in the breeze by the seaside
to dry the sweat from their shirts, and when they had so done they
came inside and took their seats. Fair Hecamede, whom Nestor had had
awarded to him from Tenedos when Achilles took it, mixed them a
mess; she was daughter of wise Arsinous, and the Achaeans had given
her to Nestor because he excelled all of them in counsel. First she
set for them a fair and well-made table that had feet of cyanus; on it
there was a vessel of bronze and an onion to give relish to the drink,
with honey and cakes of barley-meal. There was also a cup of rare
workmanship which the old man had brought with him from home,
studded with bosses of gold; it had four handles, on each of which
there were two golden doves feeding, and it had two feet to stand
on. Any one else would hardly have been able to lift it from the table
when it was full, but Nestor could do so quite easily. In this the
woman, as fair as a goddess, mixed them a mess with Pramnian wine; she
grated goat's milk cheese into it with a bronze grater, threw in a
handful of white barley-meal, and having thus prepared the mess she
bade them drink it. When they had done so and had thus quenched
their thirst, they fell talking with one another, and at this moment
Patroclus appeared at the door.
When the old man saw him he sprang from his seat, seized his hand,
led him into the tent, and bade him take his place among them; but
Patroclus stood where he was and said, "Noble sir, I may not stay, you
cannot persuade me to come in; he that sent me is not one to be
trifled with, and he bade me ask who the wounded man was whom you were
bearing away from the field. I can now see for myself that he is
Machaon shepherd of his people. I must go back and tell Achilles. You,
sir, know what a terrible man he is, and how ready to blame even where
no blame should lie."
And Nestor answered, "Why should Achilles care to know how many of
the Achaeans may be wounded? He recks not of the dismay that reigns in
our host; our most valiant chieftains lie disabled, brave Diomed son
of Tydeus is wounded; so are Ulysses and Agamemnon; Eurypylus has been
hit with an arrow in the thigh, and I have just been bringing this man
from the field- he too wounded- with an arrow; nevertheless
Achilles, so valiant though he be, cares not and knows no ruth. Will
he wait till the ships, do what we may, are in a blaze, and we
perish one upon the other? As for me, I have no strength nor stay in
me any longer; would that I Were still young and strong as in the days
when there was a fight between us and the men of Elis about some
cattle-raiding. I then killed Itymoneus the valiant son of Hypeirochus
a dweller in Elis, as I was driving in the spoil; he was hit by a dart
thrown my hand while fighting in the front rank in defence of his
cows, so he fell and the country people around him were in great fear.
We drove off a vast quantity of booty from the plain, fifty herds of
cattle and as many flocks of sheep; fifty droves also of pigs, and
as many wide-spreading flocks of goats. Of horses moreover we seized a
hundred and fifty, all of them mares, and many had foals running
with them. All these did we drive by night to Pylus the city of
Neleus, taking them within the city; and the heart of Neleus was
glad in that I had taken so much, though it was the first time I had
ever been in the field. At daybreak the heralds went round crying that
all in Elis to whom there was a debt owing should come; and the
leading Pylians assembled to divide the spoils. There were many to
whom the Epeans owed chattels, for we men of Pylus were few and had
been oppressed with wrong; in former years Hercules had come, and
had laid his hand heavy upon us, so that all our best men had
perished. Neleus had had twelve sons, but I alone was left; the others
had all been killed. The Epeans presuming upon all this had looked
down upon us and had done us much evil. My father chose a herd of
cattle and a great flock of sheep- three hundred in all- and he took
their shepherds with him, for there was a great debt due to him in
Elis, to wit four horses, winners of prizes. They and their chariots
with them had gone to the games and were to run for a tripod, but King
Augeas took them, and sent back their driver grieving for the loss
of his horses. Neleus was angered by what he had both said and done,
and took great value in return, but he divided the rest, that no man
might have less than his full share.
"Thus did we order all things, and offer sacrifices to the gods
throughout the city; but three days afterwards the Epeans came in a
body, many in number, they and their chariots, in full array, and with
them the two Moliones in their armour, though they were still lads and
unused to fighting. Now there is a certain town, Thryoessa, perched
upon a rock on the river Alpheus, the border city Pylus; this they
would destroy, and pitched their camp about it, but when they had
crossed their whole plain, Minerva darted down by night from Olympus
and bade us set ourselves in array; and she found willing soldiers
in Pylos, for the men meant fighting. Neleus would not let me arm, and
hid my horses, for he said that as yet I could know nothing about war;
nevertheless Minerva so ordered the fight that, all on foot as I
was, I fought among our mounted forces and vied with the foremost of
them. There is a river Minyeius that falls into the sea near Arene,
and there they that were mounted (and I with them) waited till
morning, when the companies of foot soldiers came up with us in force.
Thence in full panoply and equipment we came towards noon to the
sacred waters of the Alpheus, and there we offered victims to almighty
Jove, with a bull to Alpheus, another to Neptune, and a herd-heifer to
Minerva. After this we took supper in our companies, and laid us
down to rest each in his armour by the river.
"The Epeans were beleaguering the city and were determined to take
it, but ere this might be there was a desperate fight in store for
them. When the sun's rays began to fall upon the earth we joined
battle, praying to Jove and to Minerva, and when the fight had
begun, I was the first to kill my man and take his horses- to wit
the warrior Mulius. He was son-in-law to Augeas, having married his
eldest daughter, golden-haired Agamede, who knew the virtues of
every herb which grows upon the face of the earth. I speared him as he
was coming towards me, and when he fell headlong in the dust, I sprang
upon his chariot and took my place in the front ranks. The Epeans fled
in all directions when they saw the captain of their horsemen (the
best man they had) laid low, and I swept down on them like a
whirlwind, taking fifty chariots- and in each of them two men bit
the dust, slain by my spear. I should have even killed the two
Moliones sons of Actor, unless their real father, Neptune lord of
the earthquake, had hidden them in a thick mist and borne them out
of the fight. Thereon Jove vouchsafed the Pylians a great victory, for
we chased them far over the plain, killing the men and bringing in
their armour, till we had brought our horses to Buprasium rich in
wheat and to the Olenian rock, with the hill that is called Alision,
at which point Minerva turned the people back. There I slew the last
man and left him; then the Achaeans drove their horses back from
Buprasium to Pylos and gave thanks to Jove among the gods, and among
mortal men to Nestor.
"Such was I among my peers, as surely as ever was, but Achilles is
for keeping all his valour for himself; bitterly will he rue it
hereafter when the host is being cut to pieces. My good friend, did
not Menoetius charge you thus, on the day when he sent you from Phthia
to Agamemnon? Ulysses and I were in the house, inside, and heard all
that he said to you; for we came to the fair house of Peleus while
beating up recruits throughout all Achaea, and when we got there we
found Menoetius and yourself, and Achilles with you. The old knight
Peleus was in the outer court, roasting the fat thigh-bones of a
heifer to Jove the lord of thunder; and he held a gold chalice in
his hand from which he poured drink-offerings of wine over the burning
sacrifice. You two were busy cutting up the heifer, and at that moment
we stood at the gates, whereon Achilles sprang to his feet, led us
by the hand into the house, placed us at table, and set before us such
hospitable entertainment as guests expect. When we had satisfied
ourselves with meat and drink, I said my say and urged both of you
to join us. You were ready enough to do so, and the two old men
charged you much and straitly. Old Peleus bade his son Achilles
fight ever among the foremost and outvie his peers, while Menoetius
the son of Actor spoke thus to you: 'My son,' said he, 'Achilles is of
nobler birth than you are, but you are older than he, though he is far
the better man of the two. Counsel him wisely, guide him in the
right way, and he will follow you to his own profit.' Thus did your
father charge you, but you have forgotten; nevertheless, even now, say
all this to Achilles if he will listen to you. Who knows but with
heaven's help you may talk him over, for it is good to take a friend's
advice. If, however, he is fearful about some oracle, or if his mother
has told him something from Jove, then let him send you, and let the
rest of the Myrmidons follow with you, if perchance you may bring
light and saving to the Danaans. And let him send you into battle clad
in his own armour, that the Trojans may mistake you for him and
leave off fighting; the sons of the Achaeans may thus have time to get
their breath, for they are hard pressed and there is little
breathing time in battle. You, who are fresh, might easily drive a
tired enemy back to his walls and away from the tents and ships."
With these words he moved the heart of Patroclus, who set off
running by the line of the ships to Achilles, descendant of Aeacus.
When he had got as far as the ships of Ulysses, where was their
place of assembly and court of justice, with their altars dedicated to
the gods, Eurypylus son of Euaemon met him, wounded in the thigh
with an arrow, and limping out of the fight. Sweat rained from his
head and shoulders, and black blood welled from his cruel wound, but
his mind did not wander. The son of Menoetius when he saw him had
compassion upon him and spoke piteously saying, "O unhappy princes and
counsellors of the Danaans, are you then doomed to feed the hounds
of Troy with your fat, far from your friends and your native land?
say, noble Eurypylus, will the Achaeans be able to hold great Hector
in check, or will they fall now before his spear?"
Wounded Eurypylus made answer, "Noble Patroclus, there is no hope
left for the Achaeans but they will perish at their ships. All they
that were princes among us are lying struck down and wounded at the
hands of the Trojans, who are waxing stronger and stronger. But save
me and take me to your ship; cut out the arrow from my thigh; wash the
black blood from off it with warm water, and lay upon it those
gracious herbs which, so they say, have been shown you by Achilles,
who was himself shown them by Chiron, most righteous of all the
centaurs. For of the physicians Podalirius and Machaon, I hear that
the one is lying wounded in his tent and is himself in need of
healing, while the other is fighting the Trojans upon the plain."
"Hero Eurypylus," replied the brave son of Menoetius, "how may these
things be? What can I do? I am on my way to bear a message to noble
Achilles from Nestor of Gerene, bulwark of the Achaeans, but even so I
will not be unmindful your distress."
With this he clasped him round the middle and led him into the tent,
and a servant, when he saw him, spread bullock-skins on the ground for
him to lie on. He laid him at full length and cut out the sharp
arrow from his thigh; he washed the black blood from the wound with
warm water; he then crushed a bitter herb, rubbing it between his
hands, and spread it upon the wound; this was a virtuous herb which
killed all pain; so the wound presently dried and the blood left off
A Reading Of Life--With The Persuader
Who murmurs, hither, hither: who
Where nought is audible so fills the ear?
Where nought is visible can make appear
A veil with eyes that waver through,
Like twilight's pledge of blessed night to come,
Or day most golden? All unseen and dumb,
She breathes, she moves, inviting flees,
Is lost, and leaves the thrilled desire
To clasp and strike a slackened lyre,
Till over smiles of hyacinth seas,
Flame in a crystal vessel sails
Beneath a dome of jewelled spray,
For land that drops the rosy day
On nights of throbbing nightingales.
Landward did the wonder flit,
Or heart's desire of her, all earth in it.
We saw the heavens fling down their rose;
On rapturous waves we saw her glide;
The pearly sea-shell half enclose;
The shoal of sea-nymphs flush the tide;
And we, afire to kiss her feet, no more
Behold than tracks along a startled shore,
With brightened edges of dark leaves that feign
An ambush hoped, as heartless night remain.
More closely, warmly: hither, hither! she,
The very she called forth by ripened blood
For its next breath of being, murmurs; she,
Allurement; she, fulfilment; she,
The stream within us urged to flood;
Man's cry, earth's answer, heaven's consent; O she,
Maid, woman and divinity;
Our over-earthly, inner-earthly mate
Unmated; she, our hunger and our fruit
Untasted; she our written fate
Unread; Life's flowering, Life's root:
Unread, divined; unseen, beheld;
The evanescent, ever-present she,
Great Nature's stern necessity
In radiance clothed, to softness quelled;
With a sword's edge of sweetness keen to take
Our breath for bliss, our hearts for fulness break.
The murmur hushes down, the veil is rent.
Man's cry, earth's answer, heaven's consent,
Her form is given to pardoned sight,
And lets our mortal eyes receive
The sovereign loveliness of celestial white;
Adored by them who solitarily pace,
In dusk of the underworld's perpetual eve,
The paths among the meadow asphodel,
Remembering. Never there her face
Is planetary; reddens to shore sea-shell
Around such whiteness the enamoured air
Of noon that clothes her, never there.
Daughter of light, the joyful light,
She stands unveiled to nuptial sight,
Sweet in her disregard of aid
Divine to conquer or persuade.
A fountain jets from moss; a flower
Bends gently where her sunset tresses shower.
By guerdon of her brilliance may be seen
With eyelids unabashed the passion's Queen.
Shorn of attendant Graces she can use
Her natural snares to make her will supreme.
A simple nymph it is, inclined to muse
Before the leader foot shall dip in stream:
One arm at curve along a rounded thigh;
Her firm new breasts each pointing its own way
A knee half bent to shade its fellow shy,
Where innocence, not nature, signals nay.
The bud of fresh virginity awaits
The wooer, and all roseate will she burst:
She touches on the hour of happy mates;
Still is she unaware she wakens thirst.
And while commanding blissful sight believe
It holds her as a body strained to breast,
Down on the underworld's perpetual eve
She plunges the possessor dispossessed;
And bids believe that image, heaving warm,
Is lost to float like torch-smoke after flame;
The phantom any breeze blows out of form;
A thirst's delusion, a defeated aim.
The rapture shed the torture weaves;
The direst blow on human heart she deals:
The pain to know the seen deceives;
Nought true but what insufferably feels.
And stabs of her delicious note,
That is as heavenly light to hearing, heard
Through shelter leaves, the laughter from her throat,
We answer as the midnight's morning's bird.
She laughs, she wakens gleeful cries;
In her delicious laughter part revealed;
Yet mother is she more of moans and sighs,
For longings unappeased and wounds unhealed.
Yet would she bless, it is her task to bless:
Yon folded couples, passing under shade,
Are her rich harvest; bidden caress, caress,
Consume the fruit in bloom; not disobeyed.
We dolorous complainers had a dream,
Wrought on the vacant air from inner fire,
We saw stand bare of her celestial beam
The glorious Goddess, and we dared desire.
Thereat are shown reproachful eyes, and lips
Of upward curl to meanings half obscure;
And glancing where a wood-nymph lightly skips
She nods: at once that creature wears her lure.
Blush of our being between birth and death:
Sob of our ripened blood for its next breath:
Her wily semblance nought of her denies;
Seems it the Goddess runs, the Goddess hies,
The generous Goddess yields. And she can arm
Her dwarfed and twisted with her secret charm;
Benevolent as Earth to feed her own.
Fully shall they be fed, if they beseech.
But scorn she has for them that walk alone;
Blanched men, starved women, whom no arts can pleach.
The men as chief of criminals she disdains,
And holds the reason in perceptive thought.
More pitiable, like rivers lacking rains,
Kissing cold stones, the women shrink for drought.
Those faceless discords, out of nature strayed,
Rank of the putrefaction ere decayed,
In impious singles bear the thorny wreaths:
Their lives are where harmonious Pleasure breathes
For couples crowned with flowers that burn in dew.
Comes there a tremor of night's forest horn
Across her garden from the insaner crew,
She darkens to malignity of scorn.
A shiver courses through her garden-grounds:
Grunt of the tusky boar, the baying hounds,
The hunter's shouts, are heard afar, and bring
Dead on her heart her crimsoned flower of Spring.
These, the irreverent of Life's design,
Division between natural and divine
Would cast; these vaunting barrenness for best,
In veins of gathered strength Life's tide arrest;
And these because the roses flood their cheeks,
Vow them in nature wise as when Love speaks.
With them is war; and well the Goddess knows
What undermines the race who mount the rose;
How the ripe moment, lodged in slumberous hours,
Enkindled by persuasion overpowers:
Why weak as are her frailer trailing weeds,
The strong when Beauty gleams o'er Nature's needs,
And timely guile unguarded finds them lie.
They who her sway withstand a sea defy,
At every point of juncture must be proof;
Nor look for mercy from the incessant surge
Her forces mixed of craft and passion urge
For the one whelming wave to spring aloof.
She, tenderness, is pitiless to them
Resisting in her godhead nature's truth.
No flower their face shall be, but writhen stem;
Their youth a frost, their age the dirge for youth.
These miserably disinclined,
The lamentably unembraced,
Insult the Pleasures Earth designed
To people and beflower the waste.
Wherefore the Pleasures pass them by:
For death they live, in life they die.
Her head the Goddess from them turns,
As from grey mounds of ashes in bronze urns.
She views her quivering couples unconsoled,
And of her beauty mirror they become,
Like orchard blossoms, apple, pear and plum,
Free of the cloud, beneath the flood of gold.
Crowned with wreaths that burn in dew,
Her couples whirl, sun-satiated,
Athirst for shade, they sigh, they wed,
They play the music made of two:
Oldest of earth, earth's youngest till earth's end:
Cunninger than the numbered strings,
For melodies, for harmonies,
For mastered discords, and the things
Not vocable, whose mysteries
Are inmost Love's, Life's reach of Life extend.
Is it an anguish overflowing shame
And the tongue's pudency confides to her,
With eyes of embers, breath of incense myrrh,
The woman's marrow in some dear youth's name,
Then is the Goddess tenderness
Maternal, and she has a sister's tones
Benign to soothe intemperate distress,
Divide despair from hope, and sighs from moans.
Her gentleness imparts exhaling ease
To those of her milk-bearer votaries
As warm of bosom-earth as she; of the source
Direct; erratic but in heart's excess;
Being mortal and ill-matched for Love's great force;
Like green leaves caught with flames by his impress.
And pray they under skies less overcast,
That swiftly may her star of eve descend,
Her lustrous morning star fly not too fast,
To lengthen blissful night will she befriend.
Unfailing her reply to woman's voice
In supplication instant. Is it man's,
She hears, approves his words, her garden scans,
And him: the flowers are various, he has choice.
Perchance his wound is deep; she listens long;
Enjoys what music fills the plaintive song;
And marks how he, who would be hawk at poise
Above the bird, his plaintive song enjoys.
She reads him when his humbled manhood weeps
To her invoked: distraction is implored.
A smile, and he is up on godlike leaps
Above, with his bright Goddess owned the adored.
His tales of her declare she condescends;
Can share his fires, not always goads and rends:
Moreover, quits a throne, and must enclose
A queenlier gem than woman's wayside rose.
She bends, he quickens; she breathes low, he springs
Enraptured; low she laughs, his woes disperse;
Aloud she laughs and sweeps his varied strings.
'Tis taught him how for touch of mournful verse
Rarely the music made of two ascends,
And Beauty's Queen some other way is won.
Or it may solve the riddle, that she lends
Herself to all, and yields herself to none,
Save heavenliest: though claims by men are raised
In hot assurance under shade of doubt:
And numerous are the images bepraised
As Beauty's Queen, should passion head the rout.
Be sure the ruddy hue is Love's: to woo
Love's Fountain we must mount the ruddy hue.
That is her garden's precept, seen where shines
Her blood-flower, and its unsought neighbour pines.
Daughter of light, the joyful light,
She bids her couples face full East,
Reflecting radiance, even when from her feast
Their outstretched arms brown deserts disunite,
The lion-haunted thickets hold apart.
In love the ruddy hue declares great heart;
High confidence in her whose aid is lent
To lovers lifting the tuned instrument,
Not one of rippled strings and funeral tone.
And doth the man pursue a tightened zone,
Then be it as the Laurel God he runs,
Confirmed to win, with countenance the Sun's.
Should pity bless the tremulous voice of woe
He lifts for pity, limp his offspring show.
For him requiring woman's arts to please
Infantile tastes with babe reluctances,
No race of giants! In the woman's veins
Persuasion ripely runs, through hers the pains.
Her choice of him, should kind occasion nod,
Aspiring blends the Titan with the God;
Yet unto dwarf and mortal, she, submiss
In her high Lady's mandate, yields the kiss;
And is it needed that Love's daintier brute
Be snared as hunter, she will tempt pursuit.
She is great Nature's ever intimate
In breast, and doth as ready handmaid wait,
Until perverted by her senseless male,
She plays the winding snake, the shrinking snail,
The flying deer, all tricks of evil fame,
Elusive to allure, since he grew tame.
Hence has the Goddess, Nature's earliest Power,
And greatest and most present, with her dower
Of the transcendent beauty, gained repute
For meditated guile. She laughs to hear
A charge her garden's labyrinths scarce confute,
Her garden's histories tell of to all near.
Let it be said, But less upon her guile
Doth she rely for her immortal smile.
Still let the rumour spread, and terror screens
To push her conquests by the simplest means.
While man abjures not lustihead, nor swerves
From earth's good labours, Beauty's Queen he serves.
Her spacious garden and her garden's grant
She offers in reward for handsome cheer:
Choice of the nymphs whose looks will slant
The secret down a dewy leer
Of corner eyelids into haze:
Many a fair Aphrosyne
Like flower-bell to honey-bee:
And here they flicker round the maze
Bewildering him in heart and head:
And here they wear the close demure,
With subtle peeps to reassure:
Others parade where love has bled,
And of its crimson weave their mesh:
Others to snap of fingers leap,
As bearing breast with love asleep.
These are her laughters in the flesh.
Or would she fit a warrior mood,
She lights her seeming unsubdued,
And indicates the fortress-key.
Or is it heart for heart that craves,
She flecks along a run of waves
The one to promise deeper sea.
Bands of her limpid primitives,
Or patterned in the curious braid,
Are the blest man's; and whatsoever he gives,
For what he gives is he repaid.
Good is it if by him 'tis held
He wins the fairest ever welled
From Nature's founts: she whispers it: Even I
Not fairer! and forbids him to deny,
Else little is he lover. Those he clasps,
Intent as tempest, worshipful as prayer, -
And be they doves or be they asps, -
Must seem to him the sovereignty fair;
Else counts he soon among life's wholly tamed.
Him whom from utter savage she reclaimed,
Half savage must he stay, would he be crowned
The lover. Else, past ripeness, deathward bound,
He reasons; and the totterer Earth detests,
Love shuns, grim logic screws in grasp, is he.
Doth man divide divine Necessity
From Joy, between the Queen of Beauty's breasts
A sword is driven; for those most glorious twain
Present her; armed to bless and to constrain.
Of this he perishes; not she, the throned
On rocks that spout their springs to the sacred mounts.
A loftier Reason out of deeper founts
Earth's chosen Goddess bears: by none disowned
While red blood runs to swell the pulse, she boasts,
And Beauty, like her star, descends the sky;
Earth's answer, heaven's consent unto man's cry,
Uplifted by the innumerable hosts.
Quickened of Nature's eye and ear,
When the wild sap at high tide smites
Within us; or benignly clear
To vision; or as the iris lights
On fluctuant waters; she is ours
Till set of man: the dreamed, the seen;
Flushing the world with odorous flowers:
A soft compulsion on terrene
By heavenly: and the world is hers
While hunger after Beauty spurs.
So is it sung in any space
She fills, with laugh at shallow laws
Forbidding love's devised embrace,
The music Beauty from it draws.
Temora - Book III
Morning coming on, Fingal, after a speech to his people, devolved the command on Gaul, the son of Morni; it being the custom of the times, that the king should not engage, till the necessity of affairs required his superior valor and conduct. The king and Ossian retire to the hill of Cormul, which overlooked the field of battle. The bards sing the war-song. The general conflict is described. Gaul, the son of Morni, distinguishes himself; kills Tur-lathon, chief of Moruth, and other chiefs of lesser name. On the other hand, Foldath, who commanded the Irish army (for Cathmor, after the example of Fingal, kept himself from battle,) fights gallantly; kills Connal, chief of Dun-lora, and advances to engage Gaul himself. Gaul, in the mean time, being wounded in the hand, by a random arrow, is covered by Fillan the son of Fingal, who performs prodigies of valor. Night comes on. The horn of Fingal recalls his army. The bards meet them with a congratulatory song, in which the praises of Gaul and Fillan are particularly celebrated. The chiefs sit down at a feast; Fingal misses Connal. The episode of Connal and Duth-caron is introduced; which throws further light on the ancient history of Ireland. Carril is despatched to raise the tomb of Connal. The action of this book takes up the second day from the opening of the poem.
"Who is that at blue-streaming Lubar? Who, by the bending hill of roes? Tall he leans on an oak torn from high, by nightly winds. Who but Comhal's son, brightening in the last of his fields? His gray hair is on the breeze. He half unsheathes the sword of Luno. His eyes are turned to Moi-lena, to the dark moving of foes. Dost thou hear the voice of the king? it is like the bursting of a stream in the desert, when it comes, between its echoing rocks, to the blasted field of the sun!
Wide-skirted comes down the foe! Sons of woody Selma, arise! Be ye like the rocks of our land, in whose brown sides are the rolling of streams. A beam of joy comes on my soul. I see the foe mighty before me. It is when he is feeble, that the sighs of Fingal are heard: lest death should come without renown, and darkness dwell on his tomb. Who shall lead the war, against the host of Alnecma? It is only when danger grows, that my sword shalt shine. Such was the custom, heretofore, of Trenmor the ruler of winds! and thus descended to battle the blue-shielded Trathal!"
The chiefs bend towards the king. Each darkly seems to claim the war. They tell, by halves, their mighty deeds. They turn their eyes on Erin. But far before the rest the son of Morni stands. Silent he stands, for who had not heard of the battles of Gaul They rose within his soul. His hand, in secret, seized the sword. The sword which he brought from Strumon, when the strength of Morni failed. On his spear leans Fillan of Selma, in the wandering of his locks. Thrice he raises his eyes to Fingal: his voice thrice fails him as he speaks. My brother could not boast of battles: at once he strides away. Bent over a distant stream he stands: the tear hangs in his eye. He strikes, at times, the thistle's head, with his inverted spear. Nor is he unseen of Fingal. Sidelong he beholds his son. He beholds him with bursting joy; and turns, amid his crowded soul. In silence turns the king towards Mora of woods. He hides the big tear with his locks. At length his voice is heard.
"First of the sons of Morni! Thou rock that defiest the storm! Lead thou my battle for the race of low-laid Cormac. No boy's staff is thy spear: no harmless beam of light thy sword. Son of Morni of steeds, behold the foe! Destroy! Fillan, observe the chief! He is not calm in strife: nor burns he, heedless in battle. My son, observe the chief! He is strong as Lubar's stream, but never foams and roars. High on cloudy Mora, Fingal shall behold the war. Stand, Ossian, near thy father, by the falling stream. Raise the voice, O bards! Selma, move beneath the sound. It is my latter field. Clothe it over with light."
As the sudden rising of winds; or distant rolling of troubled seas, when some dark ghost in wrath heaves the billows over an isle: an isle the seat of mist on the deep, for many dark-brown years! So terrible is the sound of the host, wide moving over the field. Gaul is tall before them. The streams glitter within his strides. The bards raise the song by his side. He strikes his shield between. On the skirts of the blast the tuneful voices rise.
"On Crona," said the bards, "there bursts a stream by night. It swells in its own dark course, till morning's early beam. Then comes it white from the hill, with the rocks and their hundred groves. Far be my steps from Crona. Death is tumbling there. Be ye a stream from Mora, sons of cloudy Morven!
"Who rises, from his car, on Clutha? The hills are troubled before the king! The dark woods echo round, and lighten at his steel. See him amidst the foe, like Colgach's sportful ghost: when he scatters the clouds and rides the eddying winds! It is Morni of bounding steeds! Be like thy father, O Gaul!
"Selma is opened wide. Bards take the trembling harps. Ten youths bear the oak of the feast. A distant sunbeam marks the hill. The dusky waves of the blast fly over the fields of grass. Why art thou silent, O Selma? The king returns with all his fame. Did not the battle roar? yet peaceful is his brow! It roared, and Fingal overcame. Be like thy father, O Fillan!"
They move beneath the song. High wave their arms, as rushy fields beneath autumnal winds. On Mora stands the king in arms. Mist flies round his buckler abroad; as aloft it hung on a bough, on Cormul's mossy rock. In silence I stood by Fingal, and turned my eyes on Cromla's wood: lest I should behold the host, and rush amid my swelling soul. My foot is forward on the heath. I glittered, tall in steel: like the falling stream of Tromo, which nightly winds bind over with ice. The boy sees it on high gleaming to the early beam: towards it he turns his ear, wonders why it is so silent.
Nor bent over a stream is Cathmor, like a youth in a peaceful field. Wide he drew forward the war, a dark and troubled wave. But when he beheld Fingal on Mora, his generous pride arose. "Shall the chief of Atha fight, and no king in the field? Foldath, lead my people forth, thou art a beam of fire."
Forth issues Foldath of Moma, like a cloud, the robe of ghosts. He drew his sword, a flame from his side. He bade the battle move. The tribes, like ridgy waves, dark pour their strength around. Haughty is his stride before them. His red eye rolls in wrath. He calls Cormul, chief of Dun-ratho; and his words were heard.
"Cormul, thou beholdest that path. It winds green behind the foe. Place thy people there; lest Selma should escape from my sword. Bards of green-valleyed Erin, let no voice of yours arise. The sons of Morven must fall without song. They are the foes of Cairbar. Hereafter shall the traveller meet their dark, thick mist, on Lena, where it wanders with their ghosts, beside the reedy lake. Never shall they rise, without song, to the dwelling of winds."
Cormul darkened as he went. Behind him rushed his tribe. They sunk beyond the rock. Gaul spoke to Fillan of Selma; as his eye pursued the course of the dark-eyed chief of Dun-ratho. "Thou beholdest the steps of Cormul! Let thine arm be strong! When he is low, son of Fingal, remember Gaul in war. Here I fall forward into baffle, amid the ridge of shields!"
The sign of death ascends: the dreadful sound of Morni's shield. Gaul pours his voice between. Fingal rises on Mora. He saw them from wing to wing, bending at once in strife. Gleaming on his own dark hill, stood Cathmor, of streamy Atha. The kings were like two spirits of heaven, standing each on his gloomy cloud: when they pour abroad the winds, and lift the roaring seas. The blue tumbling of waves is before them, marked with the paths of whales. They themselves are calm and bright. The gale lifts slowly their locks of mist.
What beam of light hangs high in air? What beam but Morni's dreadful sword? Death is strewed on thy paths, O Gaul! Thou foldest them together in thy rage. Like a young oak falls Tur-lathon, with his branches round him. His high-bosomed spouse stretches her white arms, in dreams, to the returning chief, as she sleeps by gurgling Moruth, in her disordered locks. It is his ghost, Oichoma. The chief is lowly laid. Hearken not to the winds for Tur-lathon's echoing shield. It is pierced, by his streams. Its sound is passed away.
Not peaceful is the hand of Foldath. He winds his course in blood. Connal met him in fight. They mixed their clanging steel. Why should mine eyes behold them? Connal, thy locks are gray! Thou wert the friend of strangers, at the moss-covered rock of Dun-Ion. When the skies were rolled together: then thy feast was spread. The stranger heard the winds without; and rejoiced at thy burning oak. Why, son of Duth-caron, art thou laid in blood? the blasted tree bends above thee. Thy shield lies broken near. Thy blood mixes with the stream, thou breaker of the shields!
Ossian took the spear, in his wrath. But Gaul rushed forward on Foldath. The feeble pass by his side: his rage is turned on Moma's chief. Now they had raised their deathful spears: unseen an arrow came. it pierced the hand of Gaul. His steel fell sounding to earth. Young Fillan came, with Cormul's shield! lie stretched it large before the chief. Foldath sent his shouts abroad, and kindled all the field: as a blast that lifts the wide-winged flame over Lumon's echoing groves.
"Son of blue-eyed Clatho," said Gaul, "O Fillan! thou art a beam from heaven; that, coming on the troubled deep, binds up the tempest's wing. Cormul is fallen before thee. Early art thou in the fame of thy fathers. Rush not too far, my hero. I cannot lift the spear to aid. I stand harmless in battle: but my voice shall be poured abroad. The sons of Selma shall hear, and remember my former deeds."
His terrible voice rose on the wind. The host bends forward in fight. Often had they heard him at Strumon, when he called them to the chase of the hinds. He stands tall amid the war, as an oak in the skins of a storm, which now is clothed on high, in mist: then shows its broad waving head. The musing hunter lifts his eye, from his own rushy field!
My soul pursues thee, O Fillan! through the path of thy fame. Thou rollest the foe before thee. Now Foldath, perhaps, may fly: but night comes down with its clouds. Cathmor's horn is heard on high. The sons of Selma hear the voice of Fingal, from Mora's gathered mist. The bards pour their song, like den, on the returning war.
"Who comes from Strumon," they said, "amid her wandering locks? She is mournful in her steps, and lifts her blue eyes towards Erin. Why art thou sad, Evir-choma? Who is like thy chief in renown? He descended dreadful to battle; he returns, like a light from a cloud. He raised the sword in wrath: they shrunk before blue-shielded Gaul!
"Joy, like the rustling gale, comes on the soul of the king. He remembers the battles of old; the days wherein his fathers fought. The days of old return on Fingal's mind, as he beholds the renown of his sons. As the sun rejoices, from his cloud, over the tree his beams have raised, as it shades its lonely head on the heath; so joyful is the king over Fillan!
"As the rolling of thunder on hills when Lara's fields are still and dark, such are the steps of Selma, pleasant and dreadful to the ear. They return with their sound, like eagles to their dark-browed rock, after the prey is torn on the field, the dun sons of the bounding hind. Your fathers rejoice from their clouds, sons of streamy Selma!"
Such was the nightly voice of bards, on Mora of the hinds. A flame rose, from a hundred oaks, which winds had torn from Cormul's steep. The feast is spread in the midst; around sat the gleaming chiefs. Fingal is there in his strength. The eagle wing of his helmet sounds. The rustling blasts of the west unequal rush through night. Long looks the king in silence round; at length his words are heard.
"My soul feels a want in our joy. I behold a breach among my friends. The head of one tree is low. The squally wind pours in on Selma. Where is the chief of Dun-lora? Ought Connal to be forgot at the feast? When did he forget the stranger, in the midst of his echoing hall? Ye are silent in my presence! Connal is then no more! Joy meet thee, O warrior! like a stream of light. Swift be thy course to thy fathers, along the roaring winds. Ossian, thy soul is fire; kindle the memory of the king. Awake the, battles of Connal, when first he shone in war. The locks of Connal were gray. His days of youth were mixed with mine.. In one day Duth-caron first strung bows against the roes of Dun-lora."
"Many," I said, "are our paths to battle in green valleyed Erin. Often did our sails arise, over tho blue tumbling waves; when we came in other days, to aid the race of Cona. The strife roared once in Alnecma, at the foam-covered streams of Duth-ula. With Cormac descended to battle Duth-caron, from cloudy Selma. Nor descended Duth-caron alone; his son was by his side, the long-haired youth of Connal, lifting the first of his spears. Thou didst command them, O Fingal! to aid the king of Erin.
"Like the bursting strength of ocean, the sons of Bolga rushed to war. Colc-ulla was before them, the chief of blue stream Atha. The battle was mixed on the plain. Cormac shone in his own strife, bright as the forms of his fathers. But, far before the rest, Duth-caron hewed down the foe. Nor slept the arm of Connal by his father's side. Colc-ulla prevailed on the plain: like scattered mist fled the people of Cormac.
"Then rose the sword of Duth-caron, and the steel of broad-shielded Connal. They shaded their flying friends, like two rocks with their heads of pine. Night came down on Duth-ula; silent strode the chiefs over the field. A mountain-stream roared across the path, nor could Duth-caron bound over its course. 'Why stands my father?' said Connal, 'I hear the rushing foe.'
"'Fly, Connal,' he said. 'Thy father's strength begins to fail. I come wounded from battle. Here let me rest in night.' 'But thou shalt not remain alone,' said Connal's bursting sigh. 'My shield is an eagle's wing to cover the king of Dun-lora.' He bends dark above his father. The mighty Duth-caron dies!
"Day rose, and night returned. No lonely ban appeared, deep musing on the heath: and could Connal leave the tomb of his father, till lie should receive his fame? He bent the bow against the roes of Duth-ula. He spread the lonely feast. Seven nights he laid his head on the tomb, and saw his father in his dreams. lie saw him rolled, dark in a blast, like the vapor of reedy Lego. At length the steps of Colgan came, the bard of high Temora. Duth-caron received his fame and brightened, as he rose on the wind."
"Pleasant to the ear," said Fingal, "is the praise of the kings of men; when their bows are strong in battle; when they soften at the sight of the sad. Thus let my name be renowned, when the bards shall lighten my rising soul. Carril, son of Kinfena! take the bards, and raise a tomb. To-night let Connal dwell within his narrow house. Let not the soul of the valiant wander on the winds. Faint glimmers the moon at Moi-lena, through the broad-headed groves of the hill! Raise stones, beneath its beam, to all the fallen in war. Though no chiefs were they, yet their hands were strong in fight. They were my rock in danger: the mountain from which I spread my eagle wings. Thence am I renowned. Carril, forget not the low!"
Loud, at once, from the hundred bards, rose the song of the tomb. Carril strode before them; they are the murmur of streams behind his steps. Silence dwells in the vales of Moi-lena, where each, with its owl: dark rib, is winding between the hills. I heard the voice of the bards, lessening, as they moved along. I leaned forward from my shield, and felt the kindling of my soul. Half formed, the words of my song burst forth upon the wind. So hears a tree, on the vale, the voice of spring around. It pours its green leaves to the sun. it shakes its lonely head. The hum of the mountain bee is near it; the hunter sees it with joy, from the blasted heath.
Young Fillan at a distance stood. His helmet lay glittering on the ground. His dark hair is loose to the blast. A beam of light is Clatho's son! He heard the words of the king with joy. He leaned forward on his spear.
"My son," said car-borne Fingal, "I saw thy deeds, and my soul was glad." "The fame of our fathers," I said, "bursts from its gathering cloud. Thou art brave, son of Clatho! but headlong in the strife. So did not Fingal advance, though he never feared a foe. Let thy people be a ridge behind. They are thy strength in the field. Then shalt thou be long renowned, and behold the tombs of the old. The memory of the past returns, my deeds in other years: when first I descended from ocean on the green-valleyed isle."
We bend towards the voice of the king. The moon looks abroad from her cloud. The gray-skirted mist is near: the dwelling of the ghosts!
The Iliad: Book 3
When the companies were thus arrayed, each under its own captain,
the Trojans advanced as a flight of wild fowl or cranes that scream
overhead when rain and winter drive them over the flowing waters of
Oceanus to bring death and destruction on the Pygmies, and they
wrangle in the air as they fly; but the Achaeans marched silently,
in high heart, and minded to stand by one another.
As when the south wind spreads a curtain of mist upon the mountain
tops, bad for shepherds but better than night for thieves, and a man
can see no further than he can throw a stone, even so rose the dust
from under their feet as they made all speed over the plain.
When they were close up with one another, Alexandrus came forward as
champion on the Trojan side. On his shoulders he bore the skin of a
panther, his bow, and his sword, and he brandished two spears shod
with bronze as a challenge to the bravest of the Achaeans to meet
him in single fight. Menelaus saw him thus stride out before the
ranks, and was glad as a hungry lion that lights on the carcase of
some goat or horned stag, and devours it there and then, though dogs
and youths set upon him. Even thus was Menelaus glad when his eyes
caught sight of Alexandrus, for he deemed that now he should be
revenged. He sprang, therefore, from his chariot, clad in his suit
Alexandrus quailed as he saw Menelaus come forward, and shrank in
fear of his life under cover of his men. As one who starts back
affrighted, trembling and pale, when he comes suddenly upon a
serpent in some mountain glade, even so did Alexandrus plunge into the
throng of Trojan warriors, terror-stricken at the sight of the son
Then Hector upbraided him. "Paris," said he, "evil-hearted Paris,
fair to see, but woman-mad, and false of tongue, would that you had
never been born, or that you had died unwed. Better so, than live to
be disgraced and looked askance at. Will not the Achaeans mock at us
and say that we have sent one to champion us who is fair to see but
who has neither wit nor courage? Did you not, such as you are, get
your following together and sail beyond the seas? Did you not from
your a far country carry off a lovely woman wedded among a people of
warriors- to bring sorrow upon your father, your city, and your
whole country, but joy to your enemies, and hang-dog shamefacedness to
yourself? And now can you not dare face Menelaus and learn what manner
of man he is whose wife you have stolen? Where indeed would be your
lyre and your love-tricks, your comely locks and your fair favour,
when you were lying in the dust before him? The Trojans are a
weak-kneed people, or ere this you would have had a shirt of stones
for the wrongs you have done them."
And Alexandrus answered, "Hector, your rebuke is just. You are
hard as the axe which a shipwright wields at his work, and cleaves the
timber to his liking. As the axe in his hand, so keen is the edge of
your scorn. Still, taunt me not with the gifts that golden Venus has
given me; they are precious; let not a man disdain them, for the
gods give them where they are minded, and none can have them for the
asking. If you would have me do battle with Menelaus, bid the
Trojans and Achaeans take their seats, while he and I fight in their
midst for Helen and all her wealth. Let him who shall be victorious
and prove to be the better man take the woman and all she has, to bear
them to his home, but let the rest swear to a solemn covenant of peace
whereby you Trojans shall stay here in Troy, while the others go
home to Argos and the land of the Achaeans."
When Hector heard this he was glad, and went about among the
Trojan ranks holding his spear by the middle to keep them back, and
they all sat down at his bidding: but the Achaeans still aimed at
him with stones and arrows, till Agamemnon shouted to them saying,
"Hold, Argives, shoot not, sons of the Achaeans; Hector desires to
They ceased taking aim and were still, whereon Hector spoke. "Hear
from my mouth," said he, "Trojans and Achaeans, the saying of
Alexandrus, through whom this quarrel has come about. He bids the
Trojans and Achaeans lay their armour upon the ground, while he and
Menelaus fight in the midst of you for Helen and all her wealth. Let
him who shall be victorious and prove to be the better man take the
woman and all she has, to bear them to his own home, but let the
rest swear to a solemn covenant of peace."
Thus he spoke, and they all held their peace, till Menelaus of the
loud battle-cry addressed them. "And now," he said, "hear me too,
for it is I who am the most aggrieved. I deem that the parting of
Achaeans and Trojans is at hand, as well it may be, seeing how much
have suffered for my quarrel with Alexandrus and the wrong he did
me. Let him who shall die, die, and let the others fight no more.
Bring, then, two lambs, a white ram and a black ewe, for Earth and
Sun, and we will bring a third for Jove. Moreover, you shall bid Priam
come, that he may swear to the covenant himself; for his sons are
high-handed and ill to trust, and the oaths of Jove must not be
transgressed or taken in vain. Young men's minds are light as air, but
when an old man comes he looks before and after, deeming that which
shall be fairest upon both sides."
The Trojans and Achaeans were glad when they heard this, for they
thought that they should now have rest. They backed their chariots
toward the ranks, got out of them, and put off their armour, laying it
down upon the ground; and the hosts were near to one another with a
little space between them. Hector sent two messengers to the city to
bring the lambs and to bid Priam come, while Agamemnon told Talthybius
to fetch the other lamb from the ships, and he did as Agamemnon had
Meanwhile Iris went to Helen in the form of her sister-in-law,
wife of the son of Antenor, for Helicaon, son of Antenor, had
married Laodice, the fairest of Priam's daughters. She found her in
her own room, working at a great web of purple linen, on which she was
embroidering the battles between Trojans and Achaeans, that Mars had
made them fight for her sake. Iris then came close up to her and said,
"Come hither, child, and see the strange doings of the Trojans and
Achaeans till now they have been warring upon the plain, mad with lust
of battle, but now they have left off fighting, and are leaning upon
their shields, sitting still with their spears planted beside them.
Alexandrus and Menelaus are going to fight about yourself, and you are
to the the wife of him who is the victor."
Thus spoke the goddess, and Helen's heart yearned after her former
husband, her city, and her parents. She threw a white mantle over
her head, and hurried from her room, weeping as she went, not alone,
but attended by two of her handmaids, Aethrae, daughter of Pittheus,
and Clymene. And straightway they were at the Scaean gates.
The two sages, Ucalegon and Antenor, elders of the people, were
seated by the Scaean gates, with Priam, Panthous, Thymoetes, Lampus,
Clytius, and Hiketaon of the race of Mars. These were too old to
fight, but they were fluent orators, and sat on the tower like cicales
that chirrup delicately from the boughs of some high tree in a wood.
When they saw Helen coming towards the tower, they said softly to
one another, "Small wonder that Trojans and Achaeans should endure
so much and so long, for the sake of a woman so marvellously and
divinely lovely. Still, fair though she be, let them take her and
go, or she will breed sorrow for us and for our children after us."
But Priam bade her draw nigh. "My child," said he, "take your seat
in front of me that you may see your former husband, your kinsmen
and your friends. I lay no blame upon you, it is the gods, not you who
are to blame. It is they that have brought about this terrible war
with the Achaeans. Tell me, then, who is yonder huge hero so great and
goodly? I have seen men taller by a head, but none so comely and so
royal. Surely he must be a king."
"Sir," answered Helen, "father of my husband, dear and reverend in
my eyes, would that I had chosen death rather than to have come here
with your son, far from my bridal chamber, my friends, my darling
daughter, and all the companions of my girlhood. But it was not to be,
and my lot is one of tears and sorrow. As for your question, the
hero of whom you ask is Agamemnon, son of Atreus, a good king and a
brave soldier, brother-in-law as surely as that he lives, to my
abhorred and miserable self."
The old man marvelled at him and said, "Happy son of Atreus, child
of good fortune. I see that the Achaeans are subject to you in great
multitudes. When I was in Phrygia I saw much horsemen, the people of
Otreus and of Mygdon, who were camping upon the banks of the river
Sangarius; I was their ally, and with them when the Amazons, peers
of men, came up against them, but even they were not so many as the
The old man next looked upon Ulysses; "Tell me," he said, "who is
that other, shorter by a head than Agamemnon, but broader across the
chest and shoulders? His armour is laid upon the ground, and he stalks
in front of the ranks as it were some great woolly ram ordering his
And Helen answered, "He is Ulysses, a man of great craft, son of
Laertes. He was born in rugged Ithaca, and excels in all manner of
stratagems and subtle cunning."
On this Antenor said, "Madam, you have spoken truly. Ulysses once
came here as envoy about yourself, and Menelaus with him. I received
them in my own house, and therefore know both of them by sight and
conversation. When they stood up in presence of the assembled Trojans,
Menelaus was the broader shouldered, but when both were seated Ulysses
had the more royal presence. After a time they delivered their
message, and the speech of Menelaus ran trippingly on the tongue; he
did not say much, for he was a man of few words, but he spoke very
clearly and to the point, though he was the younger man of the two;
Ulysses, on the other hand, when he rose to speak, was at first silent
and kept his eyes fixed upon the ground. There was no play nor
graceful movement of his sceptre; he kept it straight and stiff like a
man unpractised in oratory- one might have taken him for a mere
churl or simpleton; but when he raised his voice, and the words came
driving from his deep chest like winter snow before the wind, then
there was none to touch him, and no man thought further of what he
Priam then caught sight of Ajax and asked, "Who is that great and
goodly warrior whose head and broad shoulders tower above the rest
of the Argives?"
"That," answered Helen, "is huge Ajax, bulwark of the Achaeans,
and on the other side of him, among the Cretans, stands Idomeneus
looking like a god, and with the captains of the Cretans round him.
Often did Menelaus receive him as a guest in our house when he came
visiting us from Crete. I see, moreover, many other Achaeans whose
names I could tell you, but there are two whom I can nowhere find,
Castor, breaker of horses, and Pollux the mighty boxer; they are
children of my mother, and own brothers to myself. Either they have
not left Lacedaemon, or else, though they have brought their ships,
they will not show themselves in battle for the shame and disgrace
that I have brought upon them."
She knew not that both these heroes were already lying under the
earth in their own land of Lacedaemon.
Meanwhile the heralds were bringing the holy oath-offerings
through the city- two lambs and a goatskin of wine, the gift of earth;
and Idaeus brought the mixing bowl and the cups of gold. He went up to
Priam and said, "Son of Laomedon, the princes of the Trojans and
Achaeans bid you come down on to the plain and swear to a solemn
covenant. Alexandrus and Menelaus are to fight for Helen in single
combat, that she and all her wealth may go with him who is the victor.
We are to swear to a solemn covenant of peace whereby we others
shall dwell here in Troy, while the Achaeans return to Argos and the
land of the Achaeans."
The old man trembled as he heard, but bade his followers yoke the
horses, and they made all haste to do so. He mounted the chariot,
gathered the reins in his hand, and Antenor took his seat beside
him; they then drove through the Scaean gates on to the plain. When
they reached the ranks of the Trojans and Achaeans they left the
chariot, and with measured pace advanced into the space between the
Agamemnon and Ulysses both rose to meet them. The attendants brought
on the oath-offerings and mixed the wine in the mixing-bowls; they
poured water over the hands of the chieftains, and the son of Atreus
drew the dagger that hung by his sword, and cut wool from the lambs'
heads; this the men-servants gave about among the Trojan and Achaean
princes, and the son of Atreus lifted up his hands in prayer.
"Father Jove," he cried, "that rulest in Ida, most glorious in
power, and thou oh Sun, that seest and givest ear to all things, Earth
and Rivers, and ye who in the realms below chastise the soul of him
that has broken his oath, witness these rites and guard them, that
they be not vain. If Alexandrus kills Menelaus, let him keep Helen and
all her wealth, while we sail home with our ships; but if Menelaus
kills Alexandrus, let the Trojans give back Helen and all that she
has; let them moreover pay such fine to the Achaeans as shall be
agreed upon, in testimony among those that shall be born hereafter.
Aid if Priam and his sons refuse such fine when Alexandrus has fallen,
then will I stay here and fight on till I have got satisfaction."
As he spoke he drew his knife across the throats of the victims, and
laid them down gasping and dying upon the ground, for the knife had
reft them of their strength. Then they poured wine from the
mixing-bowl into the cups, and prayed to the everlasting gods, saying,
Trojans and Achaeans among one another, "Jove, most great and
glorious, and ye other everlasting gods, grant that the brains of them
who shall first sin against their oaths- of them and their children-
may be shed upon the ground even as this wine, and let their wives
become the slaves of strangers."
Thus they prayed, but not as yet would Jove grant them their prayer.
Then Priam, descendant of Dardanus, spoke, saying, "Hear me, Trojans
and Achaeans, I will now go back to the wind-beaten city of Ilius: I
dare not with my own eyes witness this fight between my son and
Menelaus, for Jove and the other immortals alone know which shall
On this he laid the two lambs on his chariot and took his seat. He
gathered the reins in his hand, and Antenor sat beside him; the two
then went back to Ilius. Hector and Ulysses measured the ground, and
cast lots from a helmet of bronze to see which should take aim
first. Meanwhile the two hosts lifted up their hands and prayed
saying, "Father Jove, that rulest from Ida, most glorious in power,
grant that he who first brought about this war between us may die, and
enter the house of Hades, while we others remain at peace and abide by
Great Hector now turned his head aside while he shook the helmet,
and the lot of Paris flew out first. The others took their several
stations, each by his horses and the place where his arms were
lying, while Alexandrus, husband of lovely Helen, put on his goodly
armour. First he greaved his legs with greaves of good make and fitted
with ancle-clasps of silver; after this he donned the cuirass of his
brother Lycaon, and fitted it to his own body; he hung his
silver-studded sword of bronze about his shoulders, and then his
mighty shield. On his comely head he set his helmet, well-wrought,
with a crest of horse-hair that nodded menacingly above it, and he
grasped a redoubtable spear that suited his hands. In like fashion
Menelaus also put on his armour.
When they had thus armed, each amid his own people, they strode
fierce of aspect into the open space, and both Trojans and Achaeans
were struck with awe as they beheld them. They stood near one
another on the measured ground, brandishing their spears, and each
furious against the other. Alexandrus aimed first, and struck the
round shield of the son of Atreus, but the spear did not pierce it,
for the shield turned its point. Menelaus next took aim, praying to
Father Jove as he did so. "King Jove," he said, "grant me revenge on
Alexandrus who has wronged me; subdue him under my hand that in ages
yet to come a man may shrink from doing ill deeds in the house of
He poised his spear as he spoke, and hurled it at the shield of
Alexandrus. Through shield and cuirass it went, and tore the shirt
by his flank, but Alexandrus swerved aside, and thus saved his life.
Then the son of Atreus drew his sword, and drove at the projecting
part of his helmet, but the sword fell shivered in three or four
pieces from his hand, and he cried, looking towards Heaven, "Father
Jove, of all gods thou art the most despiteful; I made sure of my
revenge, but the sword has broken in my hand, my spear has been hurled
in vain, and I have not killed him."
With this he flew at Alexandrus, caught him by the horsehair plume
of his helmet, and began dragging him towards the Achaeans. The
strap of the helmet that went under his chin was choking him, and
Menelaus would have dragged him off to his own great glory had not
Jove's daughter Venus been quick to mark and to break the strap of
oxhide, so that the empty helmet came away in his hand. This he
flung to his comrades among the Achaeans, and was again springing upon
Alexandrus to run him through with a spear, but Venus snatched him
up in a moment (as a god can do), hid him under a cloud of darkness,
and conveyed him to his own bedchamber.
Then she went to call Helen, and found her on a high tower with
the Trojan women crowding round her. She took the form of an old woman
who used to dress wool for her when she was still in Lacedaemon, and
of whom she was very fond. Thus disguised she plucked her by
perfumed robe and said, "Come hither; Alexandrus says you are to go to
the house; he is on his bed in his own room, radiant with beauty and
dressed in gorgeous apparel. No one would think he had just come
from fighting, but rather that he was going to a dance, or had done
dancing and was sitting down."
With these words she moved the heart of Helen to anger. When she
marked the beautiful neck of the goddess, her lovely bosom, and
sparkling eyes, she marvelled at her and said, "Goddess, why do you
thus beguile me? Are you going to send me afield still further to some
man whom you have taken up in Phrygia or fair Meonia? Menelaus has
just vanquished Alexandrus, and is to take my hateful self back with
him. You are come here to betray me. Go sit with Alexandrus
yourself; henceforth be goddess no longer; never let your feet carry
you back to Olympus; worry about him and look after him till he make
you his wife, or, for the matter of that, his slave- but me? I shall
not go; I can garnish his bed no longer; I should be a by-word among
all the women of Troy. Besides, I have trouble on my mind."
Venus was very angry, and said, "Bold hussy, do not provoke me; if
you do, I shall leave you to your fate and hate you as much as I
have loved you. I will stir up fierce hatred between Trojans and
Achaeans, and you shall come to a bad end."
At this Helen was frightened. She wrapped her mantle about her and
went in silence, following the goddess and unnoticed by the Trojan
When they came to the house of Alexandrus the maid-servants set
about their work, but Helen went into her own room, and the
laughter-loving goddess took a seat and set it for her facing
Alexandrus. On this Helen, daughter of aegis-bearing Jove, sat down,
and with eyes askance began to upbraid her husband.
"So you are come from the fight," said she; "would that you had
fallen rather by the hand of that brave man who was my husband. You
used to brag that you were a better man with hands and spear than
Menelaus. go, but I then, an challenge him again- but I should
advise you not to do so, for if you are foolish enough to meet him
in single combat, you will soon all by his spear."
And Paris answered, "Wife, do not vex me with your reproaches.
This time, with the help of Minerva, Menelaus has vanquished me;
another time I may myself be victor, for I too have gods that will
stand by me. Come, let us lie down together and make friends. Never
yet was I so passionately enamoured of you as at this moment- not even
when I first carried you off from Lacedaemon and sailed away with you-
not even when I had converse with you upon the couch of love in the
island of Cranae was I so enthralled by desire of you as now." On this
he led her towards the bed, and his wife went with him.
Thus they laid themselves on the bed together; but the son of Atreus
strode among the throng, looking everywhere for Alexandrus, and no
man, neither of the Trojans nor of the allies, could find him. If they
had seen him they were in no mind to hide him, for they all of them
hated him as they did death itself. Then Agamemnon, king of men,
spoke, saying, "Hear me, Trojans, Dardanians, and allies. The
victory has been with Menelaus; therefore give back Helen with all her
wealth, and pay such fine as shall be agreed upon, in testimony
among them that shall be born hereafter."
Thus spoke the son of Atreus, and the Achaeans shouted in applause.
Admetus: To my friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson
He who could beard the lion in his lair,
To bind him for a girl, and tame the boar,
And drive these beasts before his chariot,
Might wed Alcestis. For her low brows' sake,
Her hairs' soft undulations of warm gold,
Her eyes' clear color and pure virgin mouth,
Though many would draw bow or shiver spear,
Yet none dared meet the intolerable eye,
Or lipless tusk, of lion or of boar.
This heard Admetus, King of Thessaly,
Whose broad, fat pastures spread their ample fields
Down to the sheer edge of Amphrysus' stream,
Who laughed, disdainful, at the father's pride,
That set such value on one milk-faced child.
One morning, as he rode alone and passed
Through the green twilight of Thessalian woods,
Between two pendulous branches interlocked,
As through an open casement, he descried
A goddess, as he deemed, — in truth a maid.
On a low bank she fondled tenderly
A favorite hound, her floral face inclined
Above the glossy, graceful animal,
That pressed his snout against her cheek and gazed
Wistfully, with his keen, sagacious eyes.
One arm with lax embrace the neck enwreathed,
With polished roundness near the sleek, gray skin.
Admetus, fixed with wonder, dared not pass,
Intrusive on her holy innocence
And sacred girlhood, but his fretful steed
Snuffed the large air, and champed and pawed the ground;
And hearing this, the maiden raised her head.
No let or hindrance then might stop the king,
Once having looked upon those supreme eyes.
The drooping boughs disparting, forth he sped,
And then drew in his steed, to ask the path,
Like a lost traveller in an alien land.
Although each river-cloven vale, with streams
Arrowy glancing to the blue Ægean,
Each hallowed mountain, the abode of gods,
Pelion and Ossa fringed with haunted groves,
The height, spring-crowned, of dedicate Olympus,
And pleasant sun-fed vineyards, were to him
Familiar as his own face in the stream,
Nathless he paused and asked the maid what path
Might lead him from the forest. She replied,
But still he tarried, and with sportsman's praise
Admired the hound and stooped to stroke its head,
And asked her if she hunted. Nay, not she:
Her father Pelias hunted in these woods,
Where there was royal game. He knew her now, —
Alcestis, — and her left her with due thanks:
No goddess, but a mortal, to be won
By such a simple feat as driving boars
And lions to his chariot. What was that
To him who saw the boar of Calydon,
The sacred boar of Artemis, at bay
In the broad stagnant marsh, and sent his darts
In its tough, quivering flank, and saw its death,
Stung by sure arrows of Arcadian nymph?
To river-pastures of his flocks and herds
Admetus rode, where sweet-breathed cattle grazed,
Heifers and goats and kids, and foolish sheep
Dotted cool, spacious meadows with bent heads,
And necks' soft wool broken in yellow flakes,
Nibbling sharp-toothed the rich, thick-growing blades.
One herdsmen kept the innumerable droves —
A boy yet, young as immortality —
In listless posture on a vine-grown rock.
Around him huddled kids and sheep that left
The mother's udder for his nighest grass,
Which sprouted with fresh verdure where he sat.
And yet dull neighboring rustics never guessed
A god had been among them till he went,
Although with him they acted as he willed,
Renouncing shepherds' silly pranks and quips,
Because his very presence made them grave.
Amphryssius, after their translucent stream,
They called him, but Admetus knew his name, —
Hyperion, god of sun and song and silver speech,
Condemned to serve a mortal for his sin
To Zeus in sending violent darts of death,
And raising hand irreverent, against
The one-eyed forgers of the thunderbolt.
For shepherd's crook he held the living rod
Of twisted serpents, later Hermes' wand.
Him sought the king, discovering soon hard by,
Idle, as one in nowise bound to time,
Watching the restless grasses blow and wave,
The sparkle of the sun upon the stream,
Regretting nothing, living with the hour:
For him, who had his light and song within,
Was naught that did not shine, and all things sang.
Admetus prayed for his celestial aid
To win Alcestis, which the god vouchsafed,
Granting with smiles, as grant all gods, who smite
With stern hand, sparing not for piteousness,
But give their gifts in gladness.
Thus the king
Led with loose rein the beasts as tame as kine,
And townsfolk thronged within the city streets,
As round a god; and mothers showed their babes,
And maidens loved the crowned intrepid youth,
And men would worship, though the very god
Who wrought the wonder dwelled unnoted nigh,
Divinely scornful of neglect or praise.
Then Pelias, seeing this would be his son,
As he had vowed, called for his wife and child.
With Anaxibia, Alcestis came,
A warm flush spreading o'er her eager face
In looking on the rider of the woods,
And knowing him her suitor and the king.
Admetus won Alcestis thus to wife,
And these with mated hearts and mutual love
Lived a life blameless, beautiful: the king
Ordaining justice in the gates; the queen,
With grateful offerings to the household gods,
Wise with the wisdom of the pure in heart.
One child she bore, — Eumelus, — and he throve.
Yet none the less because they sacrificed
The firstlings of their flocks and fruits and flowers,
Did trouble come; for sickness seized the king.
Alcestis watched with many-handed love,
But unavailing service, for he lay
With languid limbs, despite his ancient strength
Of sinew, and his skill with spear and sword.
His mother came, Clymene, and with her
His father, Pheres: his unconscious child
They brought him, while forlorn Alcestis sat
Discouraged, with the face of desolation.
The jealous gods would bind his mouth from speech,
And smite his vigorous frame with impotence;
And ruin with bitter ashes, worms, and dust,
The beauty of his crowned, exalted head.
He knew her presence, — soon he would not know,
Nor feel her hand in his lie warm and close,
Nor care if she were near him any more.
Exhausted with long vigils, thus the queen
Held hard and grievous thoughts, till heavy sleep
Possessed her weary senses, and she dreamed.
And even in her dream her trouble lived,
For she was praying in a barren field
To all the gods for help, when came across
The waste of air and land, from distant skies,
A spiritual voice divinely clear,
Whose unimaginable sweetness thrilled
Her aching heart with tremor of strange joy:
'Arise, Alcestis, cast away white fear.
A god dwells with you: seek, and you shall find.'
Then quiet satisfaction filled her soul
Almost akin to gladness, and she woke.
Weak as the dead, Admetus lay there still;
But she, superb with confidence, arose,
And passed beyond the mourners' curious eyes,
Seeking Amphryssius in the meadow-lands.
She found him with the godlike mien of one
Who, roused, awakens unto deeds divine:
'I come, Hyperion, with incessant tears,
To crave the life of my dear lord the king.
Pity me, for I see the future years
Widowed and laden with disastrous days.
And ye, the gods, will miss him when the fires
Upon your shrines, unfed, neglected die.
Who will pour large libations in your names,
And sacrifice with generous piety?
Silence and apathy will greet you there
Where once a splendid spirit offered praise.
Grant me this boon divine, and I will beat
With prayer at morning's gates, before they ope
Unto thy silver-hoofed and flame-eyed steeds.
Answer ere yet the irremeable stream
Be crossed: answer, O god, and save!'
With full throat salt with tears, and looked on him,
And with a sudden cry of awe fell prone,
For, lo! he was transmuted to a god;
The supreme aureole radiant round his brow,
Divine refulgence on his face, — his eyes
Awful with splendor, and his august head
With blinding brilliance crowned by vivid flame.
Then in a voice that charmed the listening air:
'Woman, arise! I have no influence
On Death, who is the servant of the Fates.
Howbeit for thy passion and thy prayer,
The grace of thy fair womanhood and youth,
Thus godlike will I intercede for thee,
And sue the insatiate sisters for this life.
Yet hope not blindly: loth are these to change
Their purpose; neither will they freely give,
But haggling lend or sell: perchance the price
Will countervail the boon. Consider this.
Now rise and look upon me.' And she rose,
But by her stood no godhead bathed in light,
But young Amphryssius, herdsman to the king,
Fleet as thought, the god
Fled from the glittering earth to blackest depths
Of Tartarus; and none might say he sped
On wings ambrosial, or with feet as swift
As scouring hail, or airy chariot
Borne by flame-breathing steeds ethereal;
But with a motion inconceivable
Departed and was there. Before the throne
Of Ades, first he hailed the long-sought queen,
Stolen with violent hands from grassy fields
And delicate airs of sunlit Sicily,
Pensive, gold-haired, but innocent-eyed no more
As when she laughing plucked the daffodils,
But grave as one fulfilling a strange doom.
And low at Ades' feet, wrapped in grim murk
And darkness thick, the three gray women sat,
Loose-robed and chapleted with wool and flowers,
Purple narcissi round their horrid hair.
Intent upon her task, the first one held
The slender thread that at a touch would snap;
The second weaving it with warp and woof
Into strange textures, some stained dark and foul,
Some sanguine-colored, and some black as night,
And rare ones white, or with a golden thread
Running throughout the web: the farthest hag
With glistening scissors cut her sisters' work.
To these Hyperion, but they never ceased,
Nor raised their eyes, till with soft, moderate tones,
But by their powerful persuasiveness
Commanding all to listen and obey,
He spoke, and all hell heard, and these three looked
And waited his request:
'I come, a god,
At a pure mortal queen's request, who sues
For life renewed unto her dying lord,
Admetus; and I also pray this prayer.'
'Then cease, for when hath Fate been moved by prayer?'
'But strength and upright heart should serve with you.'
'Nay, these may serve with all but Destiny.'
'I ask ye not forever to forbear,
But spare a while, — a moment unto us,
A lifetime unto men.' 'The Fates swerve not
For supplications, like the pliant gods.
Have they not willed a life's thread should be cut?
With them the will is changeless as the deed.
O men! ye have not learned in all the past,
Desires are barren and tears yield no fruit.
How long will ye besiege the thrones of gods
With lamentations? When lagged Death for all
Your timorous shirking? We work not like you,
Delaying and relenting, purposeless,
With unenduring issues; but our deeds,
Forever interchained and interlocked,
Complete each other and explain themselves.'
'Ye will a life: then why not any life?'
'What care we for the king? He is not worth
These many words; indeed, we love not speech.
We care not if he live, or lose such life
As men are greedy for, — filled full with hate,
Sins beneath scorn, and only lit by dreams,
Or one sane moment, or a useless hope, —
Lasting how long? — the space between the green
And fading yellow of the grass they tread.'
But he withdrawing not: 'Will any life
Suffice ye for Admetus?' 'Yea,' the crones
Three times repeated. 'We know no such names
As king or queen or slave: we want but life.
Begone, and vex us in our work no more.'
With broken blessings, inarticulate joy
And tears, Alcestis thanked Hyperion,
And worshipped. Then he gently: 'Who will die,
So that the king may live?' And she: 'You ask?
Nay, who will live when life clasps hands with shame,
And death with honor? Lo, you are a god;
You cannot know the highest joy of life, —
To leave it when 't is worthier to die.
His parents, kinsmen, courtiers, subjects, slaves, —
For love of him myself would die, were none
Found ready; but what Greek would stand to see
A woman glorified, and falter? Once,
And only once, the gods will do this thing
In all the ages: such a man themselves
Delight to honor, — holy, temperate, chaste,
With reverence for his dæmon and his god.'
Thus she triumphant to the very door
Of King Admetus' chamber. All there saw
Her ill-timed gladness with much wonderment.
But she: 'No longer mourn! The king is saved:
The Fates will spare him. Lift your voice in praise;
Sing pæans to Apollo; crown your brows
With laurel; offer thankful sacrifice!'
'O Queen, what mean these foolish words misplaced?
And what an hour is this to thank the Fates?'
'Thrice blessed be the gods! — for God himself
Has sued for me, — they are not stern and deaf.
Cry, and they answer: commune with your soul,
And they send counsel: weep with rainy grief,
And these will sweeten you your bitterest tears.
On one condition King Admetus lives,
And ye, on hearing, will lament no more,
Each emulous to save.' Then — for she spake
Assured, as having heard an oracle —
They asked: 'What deed of ours may serve the king?'
'The Fates accept another life for his,
And one of you may die.' Smiling, she ceased.
But silence answered her. 'What! do ye thrust
Your arrows in your hearts beneath your cloaks,
Dying like Greeks, too proud to own the pang?
This ask I not. In all the populous land
But one need suffer for immortal praise.
The generous Fates have sent no pestilence,
Famine, nor war: it is as though they gave
Freely, and only make the boon more rich
By such slight payment. Now a people mourns,
And ye may change the grief to jubilee,
Filling the cities with a pleasant sound.
But as for me, what faltering words can tell
My joy, in extreme sharpness kin to pain?
A monument you have within my heart,
Wreathed with kind love and dear remembrances;
And I will pray for you before I crave
Pardon and pity for myself from God.
Your name will he the highest in the land,
Oftenest, fondest on my grateful lips,
After the name of him you die to save.
What! silent still? Since when has virtue grown
Less beautiful than indolence and ease?
Is death more terrible, more hateworthy,
More bitter than dishonor? Will ye live
On shame? Chew and find sweet its poisoned fruits?
What sons will ye bring forth — mean-souled like you,
Or, like your parents, brave — to blush like girls,
And say, 'Our fathers were afraid to die!'
Ye will not dare to raise heroic eyes
Unto the eyes of aliens. In the streets
Will women and young children point at you
Scornfully, and the sun will find you shamed,
And night refuse to shield you. What a life
Is this ye spin and fashion for yourselves!
And what new tortures of suspense and doubt
Will death invent for such as are afraid!
Acastus, thou my brother, in the field
Foremost, who greeted me with sanguine hands
From ruddy battle with a conqueror's face, —
These honors wilt thou blot with infamy?
Nay, thou hast won no honors: a mere girl
Would do as much as thou at such a time,
In clamorous battle, 'midst tumultuous sounds,
Neighing of war-steeds, shouts of sharp command,
Snapping of shivered spears; for all are brave
When all men look to them expectantly;
But he is truly brave who faces death
Within his chamber, at a sudden call,
At night, when no man sees, — content to die
When life can serve no longer those he loves.'
Then thus Acastus: 'Sister, I fear not
Death, nor the empty darkness of the grave,
And hold my life but as a little thing,
Subject unto my people's call, and Fate.
But if 't is little, no greater is the king's;
And though my heart bleeds sorely, I recall
Astydamia, who thus would mourn for me.
We are not cowards, we youth of Thessaly,
And Thessaly — yea, all Greece — knoweth it;
Nor will we brook the name from even you,
Albeit a queen, and uttering these wild words
Through your unwonted sorrow.' Then she knew
That he stood firm, and turning from him, cried
To the king's parents: 'Are ye deaf with grief,
Pheres, Clymene? Ye can save your son,
Yet rather stand and weep with barren tears.
O, shame! to think that such gray, reverend hairs
Should cover such unvenerable heads!
What would ye lose?— a remnant of mere life,
A few slight raveled threads, and give him years
To fill with glory. Who, when he is gone,
Will call you gentlest names this side of heaven, —
Father and mother? Knew ye not this man
Ere he was royal, — a poor, helpless child,
Crownless and kingdomless? One birth alone
Sufficeth not, Clymene: once again
You must give life with travail and strong pain.
Has he not lived to outstrip your swift hopes?
What mother can refuse a second birth
To such a son? But ye denying him,
What after-offering may appease the gods?
What joy outweigh the grief of this one day?
What clamor drown the hours' myriad tongues,
Crying, 'Your son, your son? where is your son,
Unnatural mother, timid, foolish man?'
Then Pheres gravely: 'These are graceless words
From you our daughter. Life is always life,
And death comes soon enough to such as we.
We twain are old and weak, have served our time,
And made our sacrifices. Let the young
Arise now in their turn and save the king.'
'O gods! look on your creatures! do ye see?
And seeing, have ye patience? Smite them all,
Unsparing, with dishonorable death.
Vile slaves! a woman teaches you to die.
Intrepid, with exalted steadfast soul,
Scorn in my heart, and love unutterable,
I yield the Fates my life, and like a god
Command them to revere that sacred head.
Thus kiss I thrice the dear, blind, holy eyes,
And bid them see; and thrice I kiss this brow,
And thus unfasten I the pale, proud lips
With fruitful kissings, bringing love and life,
And without fear or any pang, I breathe
My soul in him.'
'Alcestis, I awake.
I hear, I hear — unspeak thy reckless words!
For, lo! thy life-blood tingles in my veins,
And streameth through my body like new wine.
Behold! thy spirit dedicate revives
My pulse, and through thy sacrifice I breathe.
Thy lips are bloodless: kiss me not again.
Ashen thy cheeks, faded thy flowerlike hands.
O woman! perfect in thy womanhood
And in thy wifehood, I adjure thee now
As mother, by the love thou bearest our child,
In this thy hour of passion and of love,
Of sacrifice and sorrow, to unsay
Thy words sublime!' 'I die that thou mayest live.'
'And deemest thou that I accept the boon,
Craven, like these my subjects? Lo, my queen,
Is life itself a lovely thing, — bare life?
And empty breath a thing desirable?
Or is it rather happiness and love
That make it precious to its inmost core?
When these are lost, are there not swords in Greece,
And flame and poison, deadly waves and plagues?
No man has ever lacked these things and gone
Unsatisfied. It is not these the gods refuse
(Nay, never clutch my sleeve and raise thy lip), —
Not these I seek; but I will stab myself,
Poison my life and burn my flesh, with words,
And save or follow thee. Lo! hearken now:
I bid the gods take back their loathsome gifts:
I spurn them, and I scorn them, and I hate.
Will they prove deaf to this as to my prayers?
With tongue reviling, blasphemous, I curse,
With mouth polluted from deliberate heart.
Dishonored be their names, scorned be their priests,
Ruined their altars, mocked their oracles!
It is Admetus, King of Thessaly,
Defaming thus: annihilate him, gods!
So that his queen, who worships you, may live.'
He paused as one expectant; but no bolt
From the insulted heavens answered him,
But awful silence followed. Then a hand,
A boyish hand, upon his shoulder fell,
And turning, he beheld his shepherd boy,
Not wrathful, but divinely pitiful,
Who spake in tender, thrilling tones: 'The gods
Cannot recall their gifts. Blaspheme them not:
Bow down and worship rather. Shall he curse
Who sees not, and who hears not, — neither knows
Nor understands? Nay, thou shalt bless and pray, —
Pray, for the pure heart, purged by prayer, divines
And seeth when the bolder eyes are blind.
Worship and wonder, — these befit a man
At every hour; and mayhap will the gods
Yet work a miracle for knees that bend
And hands that supplicate.'
Then all they knew
A sudden sense of awe, and bowed their heads
Beneath the stripling's gaze: Admetus fell,
Crushed by that gentle touch, and cried aloud:
'Pardon and pity! I am hard beset.'
There waited at the doorway of the king
One grim and ghastly, shadowy, horrible,
Bearing the likeness of a king himself,
Erect as one who serveth not, — upon
His head a crown, within his fleshless hands
A sceptre, — monstrous, winged, intolerable.
To him a stranger coming 'neath the trees,
Which slid down flakes of light, now on his hair,
Close-curled, now on his bared and brawny chest,
Now on his flexile, vine-like veinéd limbs,
With iron network of strong muscle thewed,
And godlike brows and proud mouth unrelaxed.
Firm was his step; no superfluity
Of indolent flesh impeded this man's strength.
Slender and supple every perfect limb,
Beautiful with the glory of a man.
No weapons bare he, neither shield: his hands
Folded upon his breast, his movements free
Of all incumbrance. When his mighty strides
Had brought him nigh the waiting one, he paused:
'Whose palace this? and who art thou, grim shade?'
'The palace of the King of Thessaly,
And my name is not strange unto thine ears;
For who hath told men that I wait for them,
The one sure thing on earth? Yet all they know,
Unasking and yet answered. I am Death,
The only secret that the gods reveal.
But who art thou who darest question me?'
'Alcides; and that thing I dare not do
Hath found no name. Whom here awaitest thou?'
'Alcestis, Queen of Thessaly, — a queen
Who wooed me as the bridegroom woos the bride,
For her life sacrificed will save her lord
Admetus, as the Fates decreed. I wait
Impatient, eager; and I enter soon,
With darkening wing, invisible, a god,
And kiss her lips, and kiss her throbbing heart,
And then the tenderest hands can do no more
Than close her eyes and wipe her cold, white brow,
Inurn her ashes and strew flowers above.'
'This woman is a god, a hero, Death.
In this her sacrifice I see a soul
Luminous, starry: earth can spare her not:
It is not rich enough in purity
To lose this paragon. Save her, O Death!
Thou surely art more gentle than the Fates,
Yet these have spared her lord, and never meant
That she should suffer, and that this their grace,
Beautiful, royal on one side, should turn
Sudden and show a fearful, fatal face.'
'Nay, have they not? O fond and foolish man,
Naught comes unlooked for, unforeseen by them.
Doubt when they favor thee, though thou mayest laugh
When they have scourged thee with an iron scourge.
Behold, their smile is deadlier than their sting,
And every boon of theirs is double-faced.
Yea, I am gentler unto ye than these:
I slay relentless, but when have I mocked
With poisoned gifts, and generous hands that smite
Under the flowers? for my name is Truth.
Were this fair queen more fair, more pure, more chaste,
I would not spare her for your wildest prayer
Nor her best virtue. Is the earth's mouth full?
Is the grave satisfied? Discrown me then,
For life is lord, and men may mock the gods
With immortality.' 'I sue no more,
But I command thee spare this woman's life,
Or wrestle with Alcides.' 'Wrestle with thee,
Thou puny boy!' And Death laughed loud, and swelled
To monstrous bulk, fierce-eyed, with outstretched wings,
And lightnings round his brow; but grave and firm,
Strong as a tower, Alcides waited him,
And these began to wrestle, and a cloud
Impenetrable fell, and all was dark.
'Farewell, Admetus and my little son,
Eumelus, — O these clinging baby hands!
Thy loss is bitter, for no chance, no fame,
No wealth of love, can ever compensate
For a dead mother. Thou, O king, fulfill
The double duty: love him with my love,
And make him bold to wrestle, shiver spears,
Noble and manly, Grecian to the bone;
And tell him that his mother spake with gods.
Farewell, farewell! Mine eyes are growing blind:
The darkness gathers. O my heart, my heart!'
No sound made answer save the cries of grief
From all the mourners, and the suppliance
Of strick'n Admetus: ' O have mercy, gods!
O gods, have mercy, mercy upon us!'
Then from the dying woman's couch again
Her voice was heard, but with strange sudden tones:
'Lo, I awake, — the light comes back to me.
What miracle is this?' And thunders shook
The air, and clouds of mighty darkness fell,
And the earth trembled, and weird, horrid sounds
Were heard of rushing wings and fleeing feet,
And groans; and all were silent, dumb with awe,
Saving the king, who paused not in his prayer:
'Have mercy, gods!' and then again, 'O gods,
Through the open casement poured
Bright floods of sunny light; the air was soft,
Clear, delicate as though a summer storm
Had passed away; and those there standing saw,
Afar upon the plain, Death fleeing thence,
And at the doorway, weary, well-nigh spent,
Alcides, flushed with victory.