The Fall of Troy
Page: 17Indignantly he spake, and Paris found
No word to answer him, for conscience woke
Remembrance of all woes he had brought on Troy,
And should bring; for his passion-fevered heart
Would rather hail quick death than severance
From Helen the divinely fair, although
For her sake was it that the sons of Troy
Even then were gazing from their towers to see
The Argives and Achilles drawing nigh.
But no long time thereafter came to them
Memnon the warrior-king, and brought with him
A countless host of swarthy Aethiops.
From all the streets of Troy the Trojans flocked
Glad-eyed to gaze on him, as seafarers,
With ruining tempest utterly forspent,
See through wide-parting clouds the radiance
Of the eternal-wheeling Northern Wain;
So joyed the Troyfolk as they thronged around,
And more than all Laomedon's son, for now
Leapt in his heart a hope, that yet the ships
Might by those Aethiop men be burned with fire;
So giantlike their king was, and themselves
So huge a host, and so athirst for fight.
Therefore with all observance welcomed he
The strong son of the Lady of the Dawn
With goodly gifts and with abundant cheer.
So at the banquet King and Hero sat
And talked, this telling of the Danaan chiefs,
And all the woes himself had suffered, that
Telling of that strange immortality
By the Dawn-goddess given to his sire,
Telling of the unending flow and ebb
Of the Sea-mother, of the sacred flood
Of Ocean fathomless-rolling, of the bounds
Of Earth that wearieth never of her travail,
Of where the Sun-steeds leap from orient waves,
Telling withal of all his wayfaring
From Ocean's verge to Priam's wall, and spurs
Of Ida. Yea, he told how his strong hands
Smote the great army of the Solymi
Who barred his way, whose deed presumptuous brought
Upon their own heads crushing ruin and woe.
So told he all that marvellous tale, and told
Of countless tribes and nations seen of him.
And Priam heard, and ever glowed his heart
Within him; and the old lips answering spake:
"Memnon, the Gods are good, who have vouchsafed
To me to look upon thine host, and thee
Here in mine halls. O that their grace would so
Crown this their boon, that I might see my foes
All thrust to one destruction by thy spears.
That well may be, for marvellous-like art thou
To some invincible Deathless One, yea, more
Than any earthly hero. Wherefore thou,
I trust, shalt hurl wild havoc through their host.
But now, I pray thee, for this day do thou
Cheer at my feast thine heart, and with the morn
Shalt thou go forth to battle worthy of thee."
Then in his hands a chalice deep and wide
He raised, and Memnon in all love he pledged
In that huge golden cup, a gift of Gods;
For this the cunning God-smith brought to Zeus,
His masterpiece, what time the Mighty in Power
To Hephaestus gave for bride the Cyprian Queen;
And Zeus on Dardanus his godlike son
Bestowed it, he on Erichthonius;
Erichthonius to Tros the great of heart
Gave it, and he with all his treasure-store
Bequeathed it unto Ilus, and he gave
That wonder to Laomedon, and he
To Priam, who had thought to leave the same
To his own son. Fate ordered otherwise.
And Memnon clasped his hands about that cup
So peerless-beautiful, and all his heart