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The Fall of Troy

Page: 15

  Far off across the plain the while uprose
  Smoke from the pyres whereon the Argives laid
  The many heroes overthrown and slain
  By Trojan hands what time the sword devoured;
  And multitudinous lamentation wailed
  Over the perished. But above the rest
  Mourned they o'er brave Podarces, who in fight
  Was no less mighty than his hero-brother
  Protesilaus, he who long ago
  Fell, slain of Hector: so Podarces now,
  Struck down by Penthesileia's spear, hath cast
  Over all Argive hearts the pall of grief.
  Wherefore apart from him they laid in clay
  The common throng of slain; but over him
  Toiling they heaped an earth-mound far-descried
  In memory of a warrior aweless-souled.
  And in a several pit withal they thrust
  The niddering Thersites' wretched corse.
  Then to the ships, acclaiming Aeacus' son,
  Returned they all. But when the radiant day
  Had plunged beneath the Ocean-stream, and night,
  The holy, overspread the face of earth,
  Then in the rich king Agamemnon's tent
  Feasted the might of Peleus' son, and there
  Sat at the feast those other mighty ones
  All through the dark, till rose the dawn divine.

BOOK II

How Memnon, Son of the Dawn, for Troy's sake fell in the Battle.

  When o'er the crests of the far-echoing hills
  The splendour of the tireless-racing sun
  Poured o'er the land, still in their tents rejoiced
  Achaea's stalwart sons, and still acclaimed
  Achilles the resistless. But in Troy
  Still mourned her people, still from all her towers
  Seaward they strained their gaze; for one great fear
  Gripped all their hearts—to see that terrible man
  At one bound overleap their high-built wall,
  Then smite with the sword all people therewithin,
  And burn with fire fanes, palaces, and homes.
  And old Thymoetes spake to the anguished ones:
  "Friends, I have lost hope: mine heart seeth not
  Or help, or bulwark from the storm of war,
  Now that the aweless Hector, who was once
  Troy's mighty champion, is in dust laid low.
  Not all his might availed to escape the Fates,
  But overborne he was by Achilles' hands,
  The hands that would, I verily deem, bear down
  A God, if he defied him to the fight,
  Even as he overthrew this warrior-queen
  Penthesileia battle-revelling,
  From whom all other Argives shrank in fear.
  Ah, she was marvellous! When at the first
  I looked on her, meseemed a Blessed One
  From heaven had come down hitherward to bring
  Light to our darkness—ah, vain hope, vain dream!
  Go to, let us take counsel, what to do
  Were best for us. Or shall we still maintain
  A hopeless fight against these ruthless foes,
  Or shall we straightway flee a city doomed?
  Ay, doomed!—for never more may we withstand
  Argives in fighting field, when in the front
  Of battle pitiless Achilles storms."

  Then spake Laomedon's son, the ancient king:
  "Nay, friend, and all ye other sons of Troy,
  And ye our strong war-helpers, flinch we not
  Faint-hearted from defence of fatherland!
  Yet let us go not forth the city-gates
  To battle with yon foe. Nay, from our towers
  And from our ramparts let us make defence,
  Till our new champion come, the stormy heart
  Of Memnon. Lo, he cometh, leading on
  Hosts numberless, Aethiopia's swarthy sons.
  By this, I trow, he is nigh unto our gates;
  For long ago, in sore distress of soul,
  I sent him urgent summons. Yea, and he
  Promised me, gladly promised me, to come
  To Troy, and make all end of all our woes.
  And now, I trust, he is nigh. Let us endure
  A little longer then; for better far
  It is like brave men in the fight to die
  Than flee, and live in shame mid alien folk."


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