The Fall of Troy
Page: 24Still in the midst of blood-stained battle-rout
Those heroes fought, unknowing of the Fates
Now drawn so nigh, but each at other hurled
His whole heart's courage, all his bodily might.
Thou hadst said that in the strife of that dread day
Huge tireless Giants or strong Titans warred,
So fiercely blazed the wildfire of their strife,
Now, when they clashed with swords, now when they leapt
Hurling huge stones. Nor either would give back
Before the hail of blows, nor quailed. They stood
Like storm-tormented headlands steadfast, clothed
With might past words, unearthly; for the twain
Alike could boast their lineage of high Zeus.
Therefore 'twixt these Enyo lengthened out
The even-balanced strife, while ever they
In that grim wrestle strained their uttermost,
They and their dauntless comrades, round their kings
With ceaseless fury toiling, till their spears
Stood shivered all in shields of warriors slain,
And of the fighters woundless none remained;
But from all limbs streamed down into the dust
The blood and sweat of that unresting strain
Of fight, and earth was hidden with the dead,
As heaven is hidden with clouds when meets the sun
The Goat-star, and the shipman dreads the deep.
As charged the lines, the snorting chariot-steeds
Trampled the dead, as on the myriad leaves
Ye trample in the woods at entering-in
Of winter, when the autumn-tide is past.
Still mid the corpses and the blood fought on
Those glorious sons of Gods, nor ever ceased
From wrath of fight. But Eris now inclined
The fatal scales of battle, which no more
Were equal-poised. Beneath the breast-bone then
Of godlike Memnon plunged Achilles' sword;
Clear through his body all the dark-blue blade
Leapt: suddenly snapped the silver cord of life.
Down in a pool of blood he fell, and clashed
His massy armour, and earth rang again.
Then turned to flight his comrades panic-struck,
And of his arms the Myrmidons stripped the dead,
While fled the Trojans, and Achilles chased,
As whirlwind swift and mighty to destroy.
Then groaned the Dawn, and palled herself in clouds,
And earth was darkened. At their mother's hest
All the light Breathings of the Dawn took hands,
And slid down one long stream of sighing wind
To Priam's plain, and floated round the dead,
And softly, swiftly caught they up, and bare
Through silver mists the Dawn-queen's son, with hearts
Sore aching for their brother's fall, while moaned
Around them all the air. As on they passed,
Fell many blood-gouts from those pierced limbs
Down to the earth, and these were made a sign
To generations yet to be. The Gods
Gathered them up from many lands, and made
Thereof a far-resounding river, named
Of all that dwell beneath long Ida's flanks
Paphlagoneion. As its waters flow
'Twixt fertile acres, once a year they turn
To blood, when comes the woeful day whereon
Died Memnon. Thence a sick and choking reek
Steams: thou wouldst say that from a wound unhealed
Corrupting humours breathed an evil stench.
Ay, so the Gods ordained: but now flew on
Bearing Dawn's mighty son the rushing winds
Skimming earth's face and palled about with night.