The Fall of Troy
Page: 15Far 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.
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
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."