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The Fall of Troy

Page: 109

  But when the whole host reached the walls of Troy,
  Into the city of Priam, breathing rage
  Of fight, with reckless battle-lust they poured;
  And all that fortress found they full of war
  And slaughter, palaces, temples, horribly
  Blazing on all sides; glowed their hearts with joy.
  In deadly mood then charged they on the foe.
  Ares and fell Enyo maddened there:
  Blood ran in torrents, drenched was all the earth,
  As Trojans and their alien helpers died.
  Here were men lying quelled by bitter death
  All up and down the city in their blood;
  Others on them were falling, gasping forth
  Their life's strength; others, clutching in their hands
  Their bowels that looked through hideous gashes forth,
  Wandered in wretched plight around their homes:
  Others, whose feet, while yet asleep they lay,
  Had been hewn off, with groans unutterable
  Crawled mid the corpses. Some, who had rushed to fight,
  Lay now in dust, with hands and heads hewn off.
  Some were there, through whose backs, even as they fled,
  The spear had passed, clear through to the breast, and some
  Whose waists the lance had pierced, impaling them
  Where sharpest stings the anguish-laden steel.
  And all about the city dolorous howls
  Of dogs uprose, and miserable moans
  Of strong men stricken to death; and every home
  With awful cries was echoing. Rang the shrieks
  Of women, like to screams of cranes, which see
  An eagle stooping on them from the sky,
  Which have no courage to resist, but scream
  Long terror-shrieks in dread of Zeus's bird;
  So here, so there the Trojan women wailed,
  Some starting from their sleep, some to the ground
  Leaping: they thought not in that agony
  Of robe and zone; in naught but tunics clad
  Distraught they wandered: others found nor veil
  Nor cloak to cast about them, but, as came
  Onward their foes, they stood with beating hearts
  Trembling, as lettered by despair, essaying,
  All-hapless, with their hands alone to hide
  Their nakedness. And some in frenzy of woe:
  Their tresses tore, and beat their breasts, and screamed.
  Others against that stormy torrent of foes
  Recklessly rushed, insensible of fear,
  Through mad desire to aid the perishing,
  Husbands or children; for despair had given
  High courage. Shrieks had startled from their sleep
  Soft little babes whose hearts had never known
  Trouble—and there one with another lay
  Gasping their lives out! Some there were whose dreams
  Changed to a sudden vision of doom. All round
  The fell Fates gloated horribly o'er the slain.
  And even as swine be slaughtered in the court
  Of a rich king who makes his folk a feast,
  So without number were they slain. The wine
  Left in the mixing-bowls was blent with blood
  Gruesomely. No man bare a sword unstained
  With murder of defenceless folk of Troy,
  Though he were but a weakling in fair fight.
  And as by wolves or jackals sheep are torn,
  What time the furnace-breath of midnoon-heat
  Darts down, and all the flock beneath the shade
  Are crowded, and the shepherd is not there,
  But to the homestead bears afar their milk;
  And the fierce brutes leap on them, tear their throats,
  Gorge to the full their ravenous maws, and then
  Lap the dark blood, and linger still to slay
  All in mere lust of slaughter, and provide
  An evil banquet for that shepherd-lord;
  So through the city of Priam Danaans slew
  One after other in that last fight of all.
  No Trojan there was woundless, all men's limbs
  With blood in torrents spilt were darkly dashed.


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