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The Fall of Troy

Page: 22

  Achilles heard; his heart was thrilled with grief:
  He glanced across the rolling battle, saw
  Memnon, saw where in throngs the Argives fell
  Beneath his spear. Forthright he turned away
  From where the rifted ranks of Troy fell fast
  Before his hands, and, thirsting for the fight,
  Wroth for Antilochus and the others slain,
  Came face to face with Memnon. In his hands
  That godlike hero caught up from the ground
  A stone, a boundary-mark 'twixt fields of wheat,
  And hurled. Down on the shield of Peleus' son
  It crashed. But he, the invincible, shrank not
  Before the huge rock-shard, but, thrusting out
  His long lance, rushed to close with him, afoot,
  For his steeds stayed behind the battle-rout.
  On the right shoulder above the shield he smote
  And staggered him; but he, despite the wound,
  Fought on with heart unquailing. Swiftly he thrust
  And pricked with his strong spear Achilles' arm.
  Forth gushed the blood: rejoicing with vain joy
  To Aeacus' son with arrogant words he cried:
  "Now shalt thou in thy death fill up, I trow,
  Thy dark doom, overmastered by mine hands.
  Thou shalt not from this fray escape alive!
  Fool, wherefore hast thou ruthlessly destroyed
  Trojans, and vaunted thee the mightiest man
  Of men, a deathless Nereid's son? Ha, now
  Thy doom hath found thee! Of birth divine am I,
  The Dawn-queen's mighty son, nurtured afar
  By lily-slender Hesperid Maids, beside
  The Ocean-river. Therefore not from thee
  Nor from grim battle shrink I, knowing well
  How far my goddess-mother doth transcend
  A Nereid, whose child thou vauntest thee.
  To Gods and men my mother bringeth light;
  On her depends the issue of all things,
  Works great and glorious in Olympus wrought
  Whereof comes blessing unto men. But thine—
  She sits in barren crypts of brine: she dwells
  Glorying mid dumb sea-monsters and mid fish,
  Deedless, unseen! Nothing I reck of her,
  Nor rank her with the immortal Heavenly Ones."

  In stern rebuke spake Aeacus' aweless son:
  "Memnon, how wast thou so distraught of wit
  That thou shouldst face me, and to fight defy
  Me, who in might, in blood, in stature far
  Surpass thee? From supremest Zeus I trace
  My glorious birth; and from the strong Sea-god
  Nereus, begetter of the Maids of the Sea,
  The Nereids, honoured of the Olympian Gods.
  And chiefest of them all is Thetis, wise
  With wisdom world-renowned; for in her bowers
  She sheltered Dionysus, chased by might
  Of murderous Lycurgus from the earth.
  Yea, and the cunning God-smith welcomed she
  Within her mansion, when from heaven he fell.
  Ay, and the Lightning-lord she once released
  From bonds. The all-seeing Dwellers in the Sky
  Remember all these things, and reverence
  My mother Thetis in divine Olympus.
  Ay, that she is a Goddess shalt thou know
  When to thine heart the brazen spear shall pierce
  Sped by my might. Patroclus' death I avenged
  On Hector, and Antilochus on thee
  Will I avenge. No weakling's friend thou hast slain!
  But why like witless children stand we here
  Babbling our parents' fame and our own deeds?
  Now is the hour when prowess shall decide."


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