<<<
>>>

The Fall of Troy

Page: 122

  Answered the Sire with heart-assuaging words:
  "Child, not for the Argives' sake withstand I thee;
  But all mine armoury which the Cyclops' might
  To win my favour wrought with tireless hands,
  To thy desire I give. O strong heart, hurl
  A ruining storm thyself on the Argive fleet."

  Then down before the aweless Maid he cast
  Swift lightning, thunder, and deadly thunderbolt;
  And her heart leapt, and gladdened was her soul.
  She donned the stormy Aegis flashing far,
  Adamantine, massy, a marvel to the Gods,
  Whereon was wrought Medusa's ghastly head,
  Fearful: strong serpents breathing forth the blast
  Of ravening fire were on the face thereof.
  Crashed on the Queen's breast all the Aegis-links,
  As after lightning crashes the firmament.
  Then grasped she her father's weapons, which no God
  Save Zeus can lift, and wide Olympus shook.
  Then swept she clouds and mist together on high;
  Night over earth was poured, haze o'er the sea.
  Zeus watched, and was right glad as broad heaven's floor
  Rocked 'neath the Goddess's feet, and crashed the sky,
  As though invincible Zeus rushed forth to war.
  Then sped she Iris unto Acolus,
  From heaven far-flying over misty seas,
  To bid him send forth all his buffering winds
  O'er iron-bound Caphereus' cliffs to sweep
  Ceaselessly, and with ruin of madding blasts
  To upheave the sea. And Iris heard, and swift
  She darted, through cloud-billows plunging down—
  Thou hadst said: "Lo, in the sky dark water and fire!"
  And to Aeolia came she, isle of caves,
  Of echoing dungeons of mad-raging winds
  With rugged ribs of mountain overarched,
  Whereby the mansion stands of Aeolus
  Hippotas' son. Him found she therewithin
  With wife and twelve sons; and she told to him
  Athena's purpose toward the homeward-bound
  Achaeans. He denied her not, but passed
  Forth of his halls, and in resistless hands
  Upswung his trident, smiting the mountain-side
  Within whose chasm-cell the wild winds dwelt
  Tempestuously shrieking. Ever pealed
  Weird roarings of their voices round its vaults.
  Cleft by his might was the hill-side; forth they poured.
  He bade them on their wings bear blackest storm
  To upheave the sea, and shroud Caphereus' heights.
  Swiftly upsprang they, ere their king's command
  Was fully spoken. Mightily moaned the sea
  As they rushed o'er it; waves like mountain-cliffs
  From all sides were uprolled. The Achaeans' hearts
  Were terror-palsied, as the uptowering surge
  Now swung the ships up high through palling mist,
  Now hurled them rolled as down a precipice
  To dark abysses. Up through yawning deeps
  Some power resistless belched the boiling sand
  From the sea's floor. Tossed in despair, fear-dazed,
  Men could not grasp the oar, nor reef the sail
  About the yard-arm, howsoever fain,
  Ere the winds rent it, could not with the sheets
  Trim the torn canvas, buffeted so were they
  By ruining blasts. The helmsman had no power
  To guide the rudder with his practised hands,
  For those ill winds hurled all confusedly.
  No hope of life was left them: blackest night,
  Fury of tempest, wrath of deathless Gods,
  Raged round them. Still Poseidon heaved and swung
  The merciless sea, to work the heart's desire
  Of his brother's glorious child; and she on high
  Stormed with her lightnings, ruthless in her rage.
  Thundered from heaven Zeus, in purpose fixed
  To glorify his daughter. All the isles
  And mainlands round were lashed by leaping seas
  Nigh to Euboea, where the Power divine
  Scourged most with unrelenting stroke on stroke
  The Argives. Groan and shriek of perishing men
  Rang through the ships; started great beams and snapped
  With ominous sound, for ever ship on ship
  With shivering timbers crashed. With hopeless toil
  Men strained with oars to thrust back hulls that reeled
  Down on their own, but with the shattered planks
  Were hurled into the abyss, to perish there
  By pitiless doom; for beams of foundering ships
  From this, from that side battered out their lives,
  And crushed were all their bodies wretchedly.
  Some in the ships fell down, and like dead men
  Lay there; some, in the grip of destiny,
  Clinging to oars smooth-shaven, tried to swim;
  Some upon planks were tossing. Roared the surge
  From fathomless depths: it seemed as though sea, sky,
  And land were blended all confusedly.


<<<
>>>