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The Fall of Troy

Page: 4

  Then joyed Troy's folk, despite past agonies,
  As when, far-gazing from a height, the hinds
  Behold a rainbow spanning the wide sea,
  When they be yearning for the heaven-sent shower,
  When the parched fields be craving for the rain;
  Then the great sky at last is overgloomed,
  And men see that fair sign of coming wind
  And imminent rain, and seeing, they are glad,
  Who for their corn-fields' plight sore sighed before;
  Even so the sons of Troy when they beheld
  There in their land Penthesileia dread
  Afire for battle, were exceeding glad;
  For when the heart is thrilled with hope of good,
  All smart of evils past is wiped away:
  So, after all his sighing and his pain,
  Gladdened a little while was Priam's soul.
  As when a man who hath suffered many a pang
  From blinded eyes, sore longing to behold
  The light, and, if he may not, fain would die,
  Then at the last, by a cunning leech's skill,
  Or by a God's grace, sees the dawn-rose flush,
  Sees the mist rolled back from before his eyes,—
  Yea, though clear vision come not as of old,
  Yet, after all his anguish, joys to have
  Some small relief, albeit the stings of pain
  Prick sharply yet beneath his eyelids;—so
  Joyed the old king to see that terrible queen—
  The shadowy joy of one in anguish whelmed
  For slain sons. Into his halls he led the Maid,
  And with glad welcome honoured her, as one
  Who greets a daughter to her home returned
  From a far country in the twentieth year;
  And set a feast before her, sumptuous
  As battle-glorious kings, who have brought low
  Nations of foes, array in splendour of pomp,
  With hearts in pride of victory triumphing.
  And gifts he gave her costly and fair to see,
  And pledged him to give many more, so she
  Would save the Trojans from the imminent doom.
  And she such deeds she promised as no man
  Had hoped for, even to lay Achilles low,
  To smite the wide host of the Argive men,
  And cast the brands red-flaming on the ships.
  Ah fool!—but little knew she him, the lord
  Of ashen spears, how far Achilles' might
  In warrior-wasting strife o'erpassed her own!

  But when Andromache, the stately child
  Of king Eetion, heard the wild queen's vaunt,
  Low to her own soul bitterly murmured she:
  "Ah hapless! why with arrogant heart dost thou
  Speak such great swelling words? No strength is thine
  To grapple in fight with Peleus' aweless son.
  Nay, doom and swift death shall he deal to thee.
  Alas for thee! What madness thrills thy soul?
  Fate and the end of death stand hard by thee!
  Hector was mightier far to wield the spear
  Than thou, yet was for all his prowess slain,
  Slain for the bitter grief of Troy, whose folk
  The city through looked on him as a God.
  My glory and his noble parents' glory
  Was he while yet he lived—O that the earth
  Over my dead face had been mounded high,
  Or ever through his throat the breath of life
  Followed the cleaving spear! But now have I
  Looked—woe is me!—on grief unutterable,
  When round the city those fleet-footed steeds
  Haled him, steeds of Achilles, who had made
  Me widowed of mine hero-husband, made
  My portion bitterness through all my days."


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