The Fall of Troy
Page: 117Then, when he saw that burg beloved destroyed,
Xanthus, scarce drawing breath from bloody war,
Mourned with his Nymphs for ruin fallen on Troy,
Mourned for the city of Priam blotted out.
As when hail lashes a field of ripened wheat,
And beats it small, and smites off all the ears
With merciless scourge, and levelled with the ground
Are stalks, and on the earth is all the grain
Woefully wasted, and the harvest's lord
Is stricken with deadly grief; so Xanthus' soul
Was utterly whelmed in grief for Ilium made
A desolation; grief undying was his,
Immortal though he was. Mourned Simois
And long-ridged Ida: all who on Ida dwelt
Wailed from afar the ruin of Priam's town.
But with loud laughter of glee the Argives sought
Their galleys, chanting the triumphant might
Of victory, chanting now the Blessed Gods,
Now their own valour, and Epeius' work
Ever renowned. Their song soared up to heaven,
Like multitudinous cries of daws, when breaks
A day of sunny calm and windless air
After a ruining storm: from their glad hearts
So rose the joyful clamour, till the Gods
Heard and rejoiced in heaven, all who had helped
With willing hands the war-fain Argive men.
But chafed those others which had aided Troy,
Beholding Priam's city wrapped in flame,
Yet powerless for her help to override
Fate; for not Cronos' Son can stay the hand
Of Destiny, whose might transcendeth all
The Immortals, and Zeus sanctioneth all her deeds.
The Argives on the flaming altar-wood
Laid many thighs of oxen, and made haste
To spill sweet wine on their burnt offerings,
Thanking the Gods for that great work achieved.
And loudly at the feast they sang the praise
Of all the mailed men whom the Horse of Tree
Had ambushed. Far-famed Sinon they extolled
For that dire torment he endured of foes;
Yea, song and honour-guerdons without end
All rendered him: and that resolved soul
Glad-hearted joyed for the Argives victory,
And for his own misfeaturing sorrowed not.
For to the wise and prudent man renown
Is better far than gold, than goodlihead,
Than all good things men have or hope to win.
So, feasting by the ships all void of fear,
Cried one to another ever and anon:
"We have touched the goal of this long war, have won
Glory, have smitten our foes and their great town!
Now grant, O Zeus, to our prayers safe home-return!"
But not to all the Sire vouchsafed return.
Then rose a cunning harper in their midst.
And sang the song of triumph and of peace
Re-won, and with glad hearts untouched by care
They heard; for no more fear of war had they,
But of sweet toil of law-abiding days
And blissful, fleeting hours henceforth they dreamed.
All the War's Story in their eager ears
He sang—how leagued peoples gathering met
At hallowed Aulis—how the invincible strength
Of Peleus' son smote fenced cities twelve
In sea-raids, how he marched o'er leagues on leagues
Of land, and spoiled eleven—all he wrought
In fight with Telephus and Eetion—
How he slew giant Cycnus—all the toil
Of war that through Achilles' wrath befell
The Achaeans—how he dragged dead Hector round
His own Troy's wall, and how he slew in fight
Penthesileia and Tithonus' son:—
How Aias laid low Glaucus, lord of spears,
Then sang he how the child of Aeacus' son
Struck down Eurypylus, and how the shafts
Of Philoctetes dealt to Paris death.
Then the song named all heroes who passed in
To ambush in the Horse of Guile, and hymned
The fall of god-descended Priam's burg;
The feast he sang last, and peace after war;
Then many another, as they listed, sang.