The Fall of Troy
Page: 18Marvelled; and thus he spake unto the King:
"Beseems not with great swelling words to vaunt
Amidst the feast, and lavish promises,
But rather quietly to eat in hall,
And to devise deeds worthy. Whether I
Be brave and strong, or whether I be not,
Battle, wherein a man's true might is seen,
Shall prove to thee. Now would I rest, nor drink
The long night through. The battle-eager spirit
By measureless wine and lack of sleep is dulled."
Marvelled at him the old King, and he said:
"As seems thee good touching the banquet, do
After thy pleasure. I, when thou art loth,
Will not constrain thee. Yea, unmeet it is
To hold back him who fain would leave the board,
Or hurry from one's halls who fain would stay.
So is the good old law with all true men."
Then rose that champion from the board, and passed
Thence to his sleep—his last! And with him went
All others from the banquet to their rest:
And gentle sleep slid down upon them soon.
But in the halls of Zeus, the Lightning-lord,
Feasted the gods the while, and Cronos' son,
All-father, of his deep foreknowledge spake
Amidst them of the issue of the strife:
"Be it known unto you all, to-morn shall bring
By yonder war affliction swift and sore;
For many mighty horses shall ye see
In either host beside their chariots slain,
And many heroes perishing. Therefore ye
Remember these my words, howe'er ye grieve
For dear ones. Let none clasp my knees in prayer,
Since even to us relentless are the fates."
So warned he them, which knew before, that all
Should from the battle stand aside, howe'er
Heart-wrung; that none, petitioning for a son
Or dear one, should to Olympus vainly come.
So, at that warning of the Thunderer,
The Son of Cronos, all they steeled their hearts
To bear, and spake no word against their king;
For in exceeding awe they stood of him.
Yet to their several mansions and their rest
With sore hearts went they. O'er their deathless eyes
The blessing-bringer Sleep his light veils spread.
When o'er precipitous crests of mountain-walls
Leapt up broad heaven the bright morning-star
Who rouseth to their toils from slumber sweet
The binders of the sheaf, then his last sleep
Unclasped the warrior-son of her who brings
Light to the world, the Child of Mists of Night.
Now swelled his mighty heart with eagerness
To battle with the foe forthright. And Dawn
With most reluctant feet began to climb
Heaven's broad highway. Then did the Trojans gird
Their battle-harness on; then armed themselves
The Aethiop men, and all the mingled tribes
Of those war-helpers that from many lands
To Priam's aid were gathered. Forth the gates
Swiftly they rushed, like darkly lowering clouds
Which Cronos' Son, when storm is rolling up,
Herdeth together through the welkin wide.
Swiftly the whole plain filled. Onward they streamed
Like harvest-ravaging locusts drifting on
In fashion of heavy-brooding rain-clouds o'er
Wide plains of earth, an irresistible host
Bringing wan famine on the sons of men;
So in their might and multitude they went.
The city streets were all too strait for them
Marching: upsoared the dust from underfoot.
From far the Argives gazed, and marvelling saw
Their onrush, but with speed arrayed their limbs
In brass, and in the might of Peleus' son
Put their glad trust. Amidst them rode he on
Like to a giant Titan, glorying
In steeds and chariot, while his armour flashed
Splendour around in sudden lightning-gleams.
It was as when the sun from utmost bounds
Of earth-encompassing ocean comes, and brings
Light to the world, and flings his splendour wide
Through heaven, and earth and air laugh all around.
So glorious, mid the Argives Peleus' son
Rode onward. Mid the Trojans rode the while
Memnon the hero, even such to see
As Ares furious-hearted. Onward swept
The eager host arrayed about their lord.