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Octav Bibere

Silence is only an asylum for the cries that came too late!

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Patrick White

White Void For The Moment, Quiescent as Paper and Canvas

White void for the moment, quiescent as paper and canvas,
a little white square in the middle of my heart
as a psychologist once said, startled and wide-eyed,
and there's no one there, as if I were the simplest
of impossibilities. Could be. But who would be there
to know what it might make a difference to, or care?
Some purposes fulfill themselves or maybe
the quality of peace goes white in the winter
as it does in the dove, so as not to attract
undue attention to itself in a snow storm of poems.

Or maybe, sooner or later, even reality
comes to realize its suprasensual ground of being
is misconceptualized from a word or a name
that has the creative power of one of the shapeshifting lords
of the dead metaphors that get brought back to life
with no idea of where they've been in the meantime.

All of genesis in the first word, the to logos,
the whole table of contents of the imagination, now and to come,
the alpha and omega like the short and long vowels
of the sacred syllables of picture music,
apple bloom playing the dead branches of its leafless violins,
and the grammar of a living medium of animal images
and the shamans who entered into their visionary agony
painted on the blackboards of our native skull caves
where we worshipped bears dressed in the hides of humans.

The happy beginnings quit and the hard-line endings go on forever.
I'm back here at Long Bay, like the long story
of a lifemask that's been passing itself off as me for light years
sitting alone around a daylily of fire
giving a private lapdance to the wind,
scattering stars and leaves and smoke around
all over the place, as if it were looking for something it lost
in a panic to retrieve it from the passage of the mindstream
like time unravelling the seams of all things
unstitching the constellations like the wavelengths
of the enfeebled threads that kept our wounds together
long enough to heal into the crude ores
of terraformed scar tissue that might smoulder
like a starmap of brown stars over the course of time,
even when it's been mined out like the open pits of the moon,
no light bulbs in the sockets of an empty skull
but never shines the way its eyes used to
when you could look through them
like reflecting telescopes into the sidereal splendours of the soul.
Before it discovered the unbearable solitude
in the nightfall of pain, and the white apparition
that comes like the silence of a nurse in soft shoes
to sow its mouth shut to keep the others
from waking up on the night ward from their dreams
to discover like a wild rose at the end of summer
that everything is terminal, our departures and arrivals,
our exits and entrances alike. That there's a holy war of one
deep in the heart, win, lose, or draw, day and night
that goes on without respite that even for survival
the crazy wisdom of a compassionate warrior will not fight,
our human divinity not something to be won,
but a birthright, a square of light like a faceless stamp
on a loveletter that melts like a snowflake
as soon as it alights like a star on the furnace of the heart
and the ghosts of our tears return like rivers
to the oceanic awareness of the bays
we sit beside listening to the spiritual white noise
of the cosmic events, in bliss and sorrow,
we once lived through like the mirages and muses
of a tomorrow that came too late to celebrate our absence.

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For The Buds That Bloom

for the buds that bloom
thank you
for the flowers that show the
biggest petals and the sweetest scent
thank you
for those that keep on holding the dew
thank you
and for those who enjoy even the slightest moment
of my appreciation and praise
all for the glory of God
even for the slightest moment
and then wilt and die
in an instant
like the click of the hand
or the ticking of the clock for a second or two
thank you

i have learned a lot. i have opened. i have kept the answers. i am ready
for the next question that God may ask of me.
even for the shortest moment of my life.
thank you.

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What Shall I Do For the Land that Bred Me

What shall I do for the land that bred me,
Her homes and fields that folded and fed me?—
Be under her banner and live for her honour:
Under her banner I’ll live for her honour.
CHORUS. Under her banner live for her honour.

Not the pleasure, the pay, the plunder,
But country and flag, the flag I am under—
There is the shilling that finds me willing
To follow a banner and fight for honour.
CH. We follow her banner, we fight for her honour.

Call me England’s fame’s fond lover,
Her fame to keep, her fame to recover.
Spend me or end me what God shall send me,
But under her banner I live for her honour.
CH. Under her banner we march for her honour.

Where is the field I must play the man on?
O welcome there their steel or cannon.
Immortal beauty is death with duty,
If under her banner I fall for her honour.
CH. Under her banner we fall for her honour.

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The Man Who Raised Charlestown

They were hanging men in Buckland who would not cheer King George –
The parson from his pulpit and the blacksmith from his forge;
They were hanging men and brothers, and the stoutest heart was down,
When a quiet man from Buckland rode at dusk to raise Charlestown.

Not a young man in his glory filled with patriotic fire,
Not an orator or soldier, or a known man in his shire;
He was just the Unexpected – one of Danger's Volunteers,
At a time for which he'd waited, all unheard of, many years.

And Charlestown met in council, the quiet man to hear –
The town was large and wealthy, but the folks were filled with fear,
The fear of death and plunder; and none to lead had they,
And Self fought Patriotism as will always be the way.

The man turned to the people, and he spoke in anger then.
And crooked his finger here and there to those he marked as men.
And many gathered round him to see what they could do –
For men know men in danger, as they know the cowards too.

He chose his men and captains, and sent them here and there,
The arms and ammunition were gathered in the square;
While peaceful folk were praying or croaking, every one,
He was working with his blacksmiths at the carriage of a gun.

While the Council sat on Sunday, and the church bells rang their peal,
The quiet man was mending a broken waggon wheel;
While they passed their resolutions on his doings (and the likes),
From a pile his men brought to him he was choosing poles for pikes.

(They were hanging men in Buckland who would not cheer King George –
They were making pikes in Charlestown at every blacksmith's forge:
While the Council sat in session and the same old song they sang,
They heard the horsemen gallop out, and the blacksmiths' hammers clang.)

And a thrill went through the city ere the drums began to roll,
And the coward found his courage, and the drunkard found his soul.
So a thrill went through the city that would go through all the land,
For the quiet man from Buckland held men's hearts in his right hand.

And he caught a Charlestown poet (there are many tell the tale),
And he took him by the collar when he'd filled him up with ale;
"Now, then, write a song for Charlestown that shall lift her on her way,
For she's marching out to Buckland and to Death at break o' day."

And he set the silenced women tearing sheet and shift and shirt
To make bandages and roll them for the men that would get hurt.
And he called out his musicians and he told them what to play:
"For I want my men excited when they march at break o' day."

And he set the women cooking – with a wood-and-water crew –
"For I want no empty stomachs for the work we have to do."
Then he said to his new soldiers: "Eat your fill while yet you may;
'Tis a heavy road to Buckland that we'll march at break o' day."

And a shout went through the city when the drums began to roll
(And the coward was a brave man and the beggar had a soul),
And the drunken Charlestown poet cared no more if he should hang,
For his song of "Charlestown's Coming" was the song the soldiers sang.

And they cursed the King of England, and they shouted in their glee,
And they swore to drive the British and their friends into the sea;
But when they'd quite finished swearing, said their leader "Let us pray,
For we march to Death and Freedom, and it's nearly dawn of day."

There were marching feet at daybreak, and close upon their heels
Came the scuffling tread of horses and the heavy crunch of wheels;
So they took the road to Buckland, with their scout out to take heed,
And a quiet man of fifty on a grey horse in the lead.

There was silence in the city, there was silence as of night –
Women in the ghostly daylight, kneeling, praying, deathly white,
As their mothers knelt before them, as their daughters knelt since then,
And as ours shall, in the future, kneel and pray for fighting men.

For their men had gone to battle, as our sons and grandsons too
Must go out, for Life and Freedom, as all nations have to do.
And the Charlestown women waited for the sounds that came too soon –
Though they listened, almost breathless, till the early afternoon.

Then they heard the tones of danger for their husbands, sweethearts, sons,
And they stopped their ears in terror, crying, "Oh, my God! The guns!"
Then they strained their ears to listen through the church-bells' startled chime –
Far along the road to Buckland, Charlestown's guns were marking time.

"They advance!" "They halt!" "Retreating!" "They come back!" The guns are done!"
But the calmer spirits, listening, said: "Our guns are going on."
And the friend and foe in Buckland felt two different kinds of thrills
When they heard the Charlestown cannon talking on the Buckland hills.

And the quiet man of Buckland sent a message in that day,
And he gave the British soldiers just two hours to march away.
And they hang men there no longer, there is peace on land and wave;
On the sunny hills of Buckland there is many a quiet grave.

There is peace upon the land, and there is friendship on the waves –
On the sunny hills of Buckland there are rows of quiet graves.
And an ancient man in Buckland may be seen in sunny hours,
Pottering round about his garden, and his kitchen stuff and flowers.

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These Are the Songs that Came from My Head

These are the songs that came from my head,
They came out when I came from bed,
A fairy told me a story or two in my dream,
It had all shorts of scenes but some where rather gleam;
Of mountains and forests and lonesome skies,
Of all shorts of opportunities and failures and tries,
That came as they wend like others go by,
But don't ask any questions, yes don't ask me why.
In the woods of the darkest forest I dwell,
Because a fairy put on me an unknown spell,
And no one can resolve that old some riddle,
Unless he could play the truest of fiddle;
These are the songs that came from my head,
But no one can hear them or where they will led,
Because here I am now wandering just around,
Trying to find a way out but I am all spellbound.
Butterflies and insects of all other shorts,
Are meeting with fairies and judges of higher courts;
They want me to be rescued and see me safely home,
Before night's again here with its supernatural gloam.

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Small Two Bedroom Starter

( harry shannon, mitch johnson)
The house stood empty on a corner
Waiting for a brand new owner
A soldier off to war who had to leave his bride alone
She couldnt buy too many nice things
On a gi bill and daydreams
But she tried until they told her
He was never coming home
Chorus:
Small two bedroom starter
Needs a little fixing
A great big yard for kids and pets to play
This one wont last too long
Its close to schools and churches
Owner leaving town
You better hurry down today
Bought by the high school teacher
Sold it to a baptist preacher
Who couldnt pay his taxes
Cause his flock had gone astray
So the banker fenced the yard in
Planted trees and half a garden
The man from dallas kept it up
Till he moved away
Repeat chorus
You and I we built the playroom
For the baby that came too soon
Spent money that we didnt have
Trying to make this place our own
Lord it makes me feel like dying
After all these years of trying
Honey well just bought this house
That we cant seem to make a home
Repeat chorus
Small two bedroom starter
Waiting for a brand new owner

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Australia's Forgotten Flag

Oh! the Cross of deepest blue,
With the bright stars shining through,
That was raised, my sons, for you,
On a skirt of purest whiteness long ago,
Long ago,
Long ago,
On the field of far Eureka long ago.

Oh! the girl that sewed the silk,
Blue as skies and white as milk,
(Jeanie Scotland – of that ilk)
In the hut there by Eureka long ago –
Years agone –
Auld Lang Syne –
With her young dead digger sweetheart on Eureka long ago.

Oh! the prayer the diggers said,
With the Southern Cross o'erhead!
It is whispered by the dead –
In the graveyard by Eureka whispered still –
Whispered still,
Murmured still,
By the shades that haunt Eureka murmured still.

Oh! the brother and the mate,
In the bonds of love and hate,
Ah! the help that came too late,
When the diggers marched from Creswick to the dawn,
Years agone!
Long years gone,
Oh! the midnight march from Creswick to Eureka and the dawn!

Few, and taken by surprise,
Oh! the mist that hid the skies –
And the steel in diggers' eyes –
Sunday morning in September long ago;
And they grapple and they strike –
With the pick-handle and pike –
Twenty minutes freed Australia at Eureka long ago.

For the leader won his crown,
Though the flag was trampled down,
For it rose in Melbourne town,
Oh, it rose in Melbourne city that same year,
With a clear
Ringing cheer
Oh! it floated high in Melbourne that same year.

When the London strikers starved,
While old England's roast was carved,
And our loaf with them was halved,
Then they bore our flag through London wreathed in flowers,
Wreathed in flowers,
Wreathed in flowers,
In the dreary streets of London, brightest spot in those dark hours.

They have stained it mongrel red,
And the stars are dull and dead,
With a northern cross instead,
Oh. the bloodstain like a red star long ago,
Long ago –
Long ago –
Oh! the red star that was bloodstain on the goldfields long ago.

We're divided – we are curst,
By the paltriest and worst,
Parties striving to be first.
But the shots from far Eureka echo yet,
Echo yet, –
Echo yet.
And they rattle round my window in the wet.

Flag and banner of my dreams!
The time is not as it seems,
And the tide of freedom streams
With the spirit of the people over all.
We shall raise the bright flag yet,
Ne'er to falter or forget,
And 'twill go through many battles ne'er to fall.

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Shoestring as a Necktie and I hurried for the interview

Jumped into the doubledecker
And go to the Lunatic Asylum
For the Security Officer interview,
An old Man seated beside me, smiled
And he's very familiar.
'Hey! Young boy you must be working to a space project
I can trace from your face if I am not mistaken?
Where were all these night stars
Hide in daytime? '
Both of us got down at the same bus stop!
He proceeded to the outpatient ward
And I stood in front of the office.

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Hope For The Trees....

every color has its destiny of
fading, like the sound of ducks at night getting fainter
until what we hear is the perfection of sound
its reigning silence
and so do all the colors
dying,
either surrendering to total darkness
or
too much light
the same things amount to
and end

that afternoon what burns into red
in a rejoicing
comes into the perfection
of utter
darkness

the lights of the small houses
redeem what was lost
in the same manner that the fireflies
arrive
assuring hope for the trees
that the stars
are coming....

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Who will care for the people?

Who will care for the people; lost, confused and can’t find their home
Who will care for the people; raped, striped and left without anything of their own
Who will care for the people; who once had land, cattle and a harvest to reap?
Who will care for the people; who now possess despair and fear that denies them sleep?
Who will care for the people; that served only kindness but were fed a platter of pain?
Who will care for the people; who have been inflicted with cruelty again and again?
Who will care for the people; who for generations were treated unfairly?
Who will care for the people; that are the reflection of me?
They maybe many but I will mention the one that is familiar
This can be none other than the honourable Mr. Hamilton Ratshefola

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Christmas Is For The Wealthy

You've heard it said often by others before
That Christmas is for the wealthy that and nothing more
No parties for those who are in dire poverty
Their Christmas Day dinner perhaps bread and tea.

With Christmas is only for the wealthy many would not agree
But that's their opinion and that's fine with me
They say we are God's children and Jesus God's son
On a cross on Calvary died for everyone

But if hundreds of thousands of people every year of hunger do die
That God loves everyone must be based on a lie
And it does seem a very sad thing for to say
That thousands die of hunger on Christmas Day.

Despite what the religious people may say
Christmas is for the wealthy I see it that way
In the top restaurants they socialize and dine
And the best of food wash down with expensive wine.

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Purpose For the Delivery

Evaluating the messenger,
Does not diminish the content of the message.
Nor do judgements given,
Dissect its power.
Options of free will,
Have never stopped the foolish.
Lessons learned too late...
Are what they are!
Lessons learned,
Too late.
Satiating a taste,
For diminishing appetites.

Those believing it is never too late...
Only have to stop their wishes,
For yesterdays reminisced.
To look outside to find that time...
Has not ceased to stop,
For those choosing to block it from moving forward.

It is doing so without one thought about them at all!
And the messenger could care less,
Who addresses what or when.
Or if ever discussed to comprehend.
To gather any attention then.
That is not the purpose for the delivery!
Nor a concern to debate with them!
Just like time...
Coming,
To Go!
With a flow that does not slow,
To await those chasing it!

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Thank You for the Memory

My body tingles as I lay there still feeling your body wrapped around mine
I close my eyes and notice that there is nothing I can do but dream
For you have left me here with nothing but a memory
A memory of what we had what we were
A memory of nothing more at this time nothing to have to look forward to
My heart aches as I open my eyes and turn to see nothing but an empty bed
The scent of you makes me wonder what could have been
It makes me wonder what went so wrong
We had something that could never be replaced and not it has vanished right before my eyes
You think that the memory will be nothing more than a picture
They say “A memory will last a life time”
I say “A memory will only last a life time as long as you can keep it alive inside of your heart”
There is one thing that should be said
Thank You for the memory that will last me a lifetime of joy

~*Tosha*~

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A Message For The Mourning Beloved...

every morning
i write

but not for you
today

every morning is
a sacrifice

an offering for
the goddess of
truth

every morning is
an exercise of honesty

the night may still
be on that stage of
denial


i may write for you
soon

i do not wish you
to read for now

it will be
incredible
nothing is
worth believing

for the meantime that
the words are
still constructed

what you see actually
is not what you get

there is a ripe fruit
for the season &
it will be for your personal
picking

tomorrow is the best
place for you
to fathom the depths of
my suffering

you lay in bed crying
and you wipe your tears

the thoughts will come
like sunshine on the window

then you will have a hint
of me

and you follow it
like a bird
flying away to a
faraway hill

towards a cave
where darkness is a little bit
mixed

with light and shadows and
creeping sounds of
bats
& glowing worms

then you shall understand
what everything in me is all about

you see
you can only understand the past
when you have arrived
at the room of the
future

when what you remember of me is only the wind
what what i am to you is no longer a star.

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Thank You For The Promises

Thank you for the promises we make
I know I cant complain
I think I did all right
No failures are in sight
Only now and then
Id like to reminisce
Do you remember when
Even if were angels we cant ask
To wander through the past
The future is our goal
The night is black as coal
If I could pay the price
Id like to love you once
Id love to love you twice
Thanks
We cannot say enough
The road is sometimes rough
But we can get along
The going will get tough
But we wont be afraid
Of the promises we made
Thank you for the promises you keep
When I am fast asleep
To be where we belong
Is all that I can ask
We can do it in the shade
As long as I have you
And the promises we made
Thank you for the promises we break
If you made a clean mistake
Well thats what loves about
No need to stand and shout
The truth is in your eyes
The answer lies within
No need to criticize
Thanks
For the promises at hand
The abuse that we must stand
Is often heaven sent
They may not pay the rent
You never can be sure
When promises get bent
Thank you for the promises that live
This is all that I can give
Forever in my mind
To leave the past behind
And seal it with a kiss
Forever in my soul
I will remember this

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two selves: the black and white horses of Plato

what you remember
is that time when you look at yourself in the mirror
inside a room you lock the door
you hear voices you suspect there is a demented spirit
with you, ah, the usual
closing of the eyes, to start with, it is like you are in a position
to start the race, like a gazelle hurdling a forest, you hear a bang
it is a gun, you see smoke to the sky,
you hear people cheering, there are no colors, just darkness
it is twilight and then
you open your eyes, this is not real, there is no crowd
there are no cheers, you only hear voices
and now when you are fully awake
you see a face,
and you feel so much pity for it
how you have harmed it
caused it pain that it does not deserve
there is a wall between two people
you do not penetrate it, each wants to leave each other
but there is no segregation, there are no departures here,
no sound of planes or trains, no horns no bells
it is just the plain silence of pity
enveloping the room locking the room
your face still wanting to escape
those bars
in the mirror.

you repeat, 'What a pity! '
you only have sympathy for the self
that you have never completely
become

this is the reality, you are not
and never shall be the perfect you.

pockmarked, scarred, twisted
gutted, ashed...

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Waiting For The Day

It was only for a fight
That I asked you to come in
But you brought me tumbling down
And the walls came caving in
Wont you help me dry my tears
Help me roll away the years
Then perhaps I will forgive you
And the hurt will disappear
But in a fit of blind arrogance
You stood up and walked away
If youd given me half a chance
Ill be waiting for the day
For the day that you come back to me
Come on back to me
You come back to me
So forget the long goodbye
You never really tried
Threw the keys down on the table
Youve got your sense of pride
Then you had to tell the world
Your story must be heard
Slammed the door behind you
Without a single word
But in a fit of blind arrogance
You stood up and walked away
The day that you come back to me
Come on back to me
You come back to me
Come back to me
You come back to me
No I never had a single thought in my head
No I never had a single thought
Oh for the day that you come back to me
Come on back to me
You come back to me
Come on back to me
You could be my life long friend
You could be the light of dawn
You could keep me close at hand
You could keep me safe and warm
I will be your fantasy
If you come and stay with me
I will try to give you all
Waiting for the night to fall
You could be the light of day
You could be my life long friend
You could keep me close at hand
Waiting for the day to end
I will be your fantasy
If you come and stay with me
I will try to give my all
Waiting for the night to fall

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Thank You For The Drink

As you percolated through the sieves
With an impassive watchfulness -
A sentry intoxicated by distress
For a comrade's fluttering sense
I waved my wrist noncommittally
And dragged my panacea wistfully
Dispensing your endeavors futilely
For you, and the rest of my everybody
Is my artillery, my only affinity left
And I will not tarnish you with my disease
I shall keep you unstained and purged
From my awry and foible soliloquy

So fret not for my erratic smiles
For I will soon succumb to your lulls
And wrought not your fist to rubble
Staring daggers at my tormenters
Because my demons are selfishly mine
And my lugubrious suppurations
Will soon decay like everything
Girdled by beauty - these ephemeral things
That slid from my fervent grip;
Haul not a defense for me
For the things that devoured my faith
Are the things that still hold it
Dislimned by the charades
Augmented with this blind harlequinade

With all the lost perchance I've seen
I have learned to subsist inside a bastion
Disembogued of the effluent phantasms
That cloyed the bountiful fingers
Flimsily holding the floodgates inside

This is not my decline to your exhuming
This is I shoving you away from the putrefaction
Skylarking inside the vaults of my shadows
Tis' I veiling a safeguard unto my cards
So when I can gamble once more
I will hold you in my hands
Without the dire need to shuffle

For now, I thank you for the beer,
The inebriation and the nights
Spinning over bottles and smokes
The concatenating links that groped
Hard to haul me out of this mire
And all that was thin to be seen
By the eyes of the treacherous world.

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A Poem For The Meeting Of The American Medical Association At New York, May 5, 1853

I HOLD a letter in my hand,-
A flattering letter, more's the pity,-
By some contriving junto planned,
And signed per order of Committee.
It touches every tenderest spot,-
My patriotic predilections,
My well-known -something- don't ask what,-
My poor old songs, my kind affections.

They make a feast on Thursday next,
And hope to make the feasters merry;
They own they're something more perplexed
For poets than for port and sherry.
They want the men of (word torn out);
Our friends will come with anxious faces,
(To see our blankets off, no doubt,
And trot us out and show our paces.)

They hint that papers by the score
Are rather musty kind of rations,
They don't exactly mean a bore,
But only trying to the patience;
That such as you know who I mean
Distinguished for their what d'ye call 'em
Should bring the dews of Hippocrene
To sprinkle on the faces solemn.

The same old story: that's the chaff
To catch the birds that sing the ditties;
Upon my soul, it makes me laugh
To read these letters from Committees!
They're all so loving and so fair,
All for your sake such kind compunction;
'T would save your carriage half its wear
To touch its wheels with such an unction!

Why, who am I, to lift me here
And beg such learned folk to listen,
To ask a smile, or coax a tear
Beneath these stoic lids to glisten?
As well might some arterial thread
Ask the whole frame to feel it gushing,
While throbbing fierce from heel to head
As well some hair-like nerve might strain
To set its special streamlet going,
While through the myriad-channelled brain
The burning flood of thought was flowing;
Or trembling fibre strive to keep
The springing haunches gathered shorter,
While the scourged racer, leap on leap,
Was stretching through the last hot quarter!

Ah me! you take the bud that came
Self-sown in your poor garden's borders,
And hand it to the stately dame
That florists breed for, all she orders.
She thanks you, it was kindly meant
(A pale affair, not worth the keeping,)
Good morning; and your bud is sent
To join the tea-leaves used for sweeping.

Not always so, kind hearts and true,
For such I know are round me beating;
Is not the bud I offer you,
Fresh gathered for the hour of meeting,
Pale though its outer leaves may be,
Rose-red in all its inner petals?
Where the warm life we cannot see
The life of love that gave it settles.

We meet from regions far away,
Like rills from distant mountains streaming;
The sun is on Francisco's bay,
O'er Chesapeake the lighthouse gleaming;
While summer girds the still bayou
In chains of bloom, her bridal token,
Monadnock sees the sky grow blue,
His crystal bracelet yet unbroken.

Yet Nature bears the selfsame heart
Beneath her russet-mantled bosom
As where, with burning lips apart,
She breathes and white magnolias blossom;
The selfsame founts her chalice fill
With showery sunlight running over,
On fiery plain and frozen hill,
On myrtle-beds and fields of clover.

I give you Home! its crossing lines
United in one golden suture,
And showing every day that shines
The present growing to the future,
A flag that bears a hundred stars
In one bright ring, with love for centre,
Fenced round with white and crimson bars
No prowling treason dares to enter!

O brothers, home may be a word
To make affection's living treasure,
The wave an angel might have stirred,
A stagnant pool of selfish pleasure;
HOME! It is where the day-star springs
And where the evening sun reposes,
Where'er the eagle spreads his wings,
From northern pines to southern roses!

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Homer

The Iliad: Book 17

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

poem by , translated by Samuel ButlerReport problemRelated quotes
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