The Fall of Troy

Page: 113

  Then hearkened they, and as a God did all
  Look on him. Forth the city hasted he
  Whither his feet should bear him, while the foe
  Made havoc still of goodly-builded Troy.

  Then also Menelaus in Helen's bower
  Found, heavy with wine, ill-starred Deiphobus,
  And slew him with the sword: but she had fled
  And hidden her in the palace. O'er the blood
  Of that slain man exulted he, and cried:
  "Dog! I, even I have dealt thee unwelcome death
  This day! No dawn divine shall meet thee again
  Alive in Troy—ay, though thou vaunt thyself
  Spouse of the child of Zeus the thunder-voiced!
  Black death hath trapped thee slain in my wife's bower!
  Would I had met Alexander too in fight
  Ere this, and plucked his heart out! So my grief
  Had been a lighter load. But he hath paid
  Already justice' debt, hath passed beneath
  Death's cold dark shadow. Ha, small joy to thee
  My wife was doomed to bring! Ay, wicked men
  Never elude pure Themis: night and day
  Her eyes are on them, and the wide world through
  Above the tribes of men she floats in air,
  Holpen of Zeus, for punishment of sin."

  On passed he, dealing merciless death to foes,
  For maddened was his soul with jealousy.
  Against the Trojans was his bold heart full
  Of thoughts of vengeance, which were now fulfilled
  By the dread Goddess Justice, for that theirs
  Was that first outrage touching Helen, theirs
  That profanation of the oaths, and theirs
  That trampling on the blood of sacrifice
  When their presumptuous souls forgat the Gods.
  Therefore the Vengeance-friends brought woes on them
  Thereafter, and some died in fighting field,
  Some now in Troy by board and bridal bower.

  Menelaus mid the inner chambers found
  At last his wife, there cowering from the wrath
  Of her bold-hearted lord. He glared on her,
  Hungering to slay her in his jealous rage.
  But winsome Aphrodite curbed him, struck
  Out of his hand the sword, his onrush reined,
  Jealousy's dark cloud swept she away, and stirred
  Love's deep sweet well-springs in his heart and eyes.
  Swept o'er him strange amazement: powerless all
  Was he to lift the sword against her neck,
  Seeing her splendour of beauty. Like a stock
  Of dead wood in a mountain forest, which
  No swiftly-rushing blasts of north-winds shake,
  Nor fury of south-winds ever, so he stood,
  So dazed abode long time. All his great strength
  Was broken, as he looked upon his wife.
  And suddenly had he forgotten all
  Yea, all her sins against her spousal-troth;
  For Aphrodite made all fade away,
  She who subdueth all immortal hearts
  And mortal. Yet even so he lifted up
  From earth his sword, and made as he would rush
  Upon his wife but other was his intent,
  Even as he sprang: he did but feign, to cheat
  Achaean eyes. Then did his brother stay
  His fury, and spake with pacifying words,
  Fearing lest all they had toiled for should be lost:
  "Forbear wrath, Menelaus, now: 'twere shame
  To slay thy wedded wife, for whose sake we
  Have suffered much affliction, while we sought
  Vengeance on Priam. Not, as thou dost deem,
  Was Helen's the sin, but his who set at naught
  The Guest-lord, and thine hospitable board;
  So with death-pangs hath God requited him."

  Then hearkened Menelaus to his rede.
  But the Gods, palled in dark clouds, mourned for Troy,
  A ruined glory save fair-tressed Tritonis
  And Hera: their hearts triumphed, when they saw
  The burg of god-descended Priam destroyed.
  Yet not the wise heart Trito-born herself
  Was wholly tearless; for within her fane
  Outraged Cassandra was of Oileus son
  Lust-maddened. But grim vengeance upon him
  Ere long the Goddess wreaked, repaying insult
  With mortal sufferance. Yea, she would not look
  Upon the infamy, but clad herself
  With shame and wrath as with a cloak: she turned
  Her stern eyes to the temple-roof, and groaned
  The holy image, and the hallowed floor
  Quaked mightily. Yet did he not forbear
  His mad sin, for his soul was lust-distraught.