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The Fall of Troy

Page: 58

  At first the Argives bore the ranks of Troy
  Backward a little; but they rallied, charged,
  Leapt on the foe, and drenched the field with blood.
  Like a black hurricane rushed Eurypylus
  Cheering his men on, hewing Argives down
  Awelessly: measureless might was lent to him
  By Zeus, for a grace to glorious Hercules.
  Nireus, a man in beauty like the Gods,
  His spear long-shafted stabbed beneath the ribs,
  Down on the plain he fell, forth streamed the blood
  Drenching his splendid arms, drenching the form
  Glorious of mould, and his thick-clustering hair.
  There mid the slain in dust and blood he lay,
  Like a young lusty olive-sapling, which
  A river rushing down in roaring flood,
  Tearing its banks away, and cleaving wide
  A chasm-channel, hath disrooted; low
  It lieth heavy-blossomed; so lay then
  The goodly form, the grace of loveliness
  Of Nireus on earth's breast. But o'er the slain
  Loud rang the taunting of Eurypylus:
  "Lie there in dust! Thy beauty marvellous
  Naught hath availed thee! I have plucked thee away
  From life, to which thou wast so fain to cling.
  Rash fool, who didst defy a mightier man
  Unknowing! Beauty is no match for strength!"

  He spake, and leapt upon the slain to strip
  His goodly arms: but now against him came
  Machaon wroth for Nireus, by his side
  Doom-overtaken. With his spear he drave
  At his right shoulder: strong albeit he was,
  He touched him, and blood spurted from the gash.
  Yet, ere he might leap back from grapple of death,
  Even as a lion or fierce mountain-boar
  Maddens mid thronging huntsmen, furious-fain
  To rend the man whose hand first wounded him;
  So fierce Eurypylus on Machaon rushed.
  The long lance shot out swiftly, and pierced him through
  On the right haunch; yet would he not give back,
  Nor flinch from the onset, fast though flowed the blood.
  In haste he snatched a huge stone from the ground,
  And dashed it on the head of Telephus' son;
  But his helm warded him from death or harm
  Then waxed Eurypylus more hotly wroth
  With that strong warrior, and in fury of soul
  Clear through Machaon's breast he drave his spear,
  And through the midriff passed the gory point.
  He fell, as falls beneath a lion's jaws
  A bull, and round him clashed his glancing arms.
  Swiftly Eurypylus plucked the lance of death
  Out of the wound, and vaunting cried aloud:
  "Wretch, wisdom was not bound up in thine heart,
  That thou, a weakling, didst come forth to fight
  A mightier. Therefore art thou in the toils
  Of Doom. Much profit shall be thine, when kites
  Devour the flesh of thee in battle slain!
  Ha, dost thou hope still to return, to 'scape
  Mine hands? A leech art thou, and soothing salves
  Thou knowest, and by these didst haply hope
  To flee the evil day! Not thine own sire,
  On the wind's wings descending from Olympus,
  Should save thy life, not though between thy lips
  He should pour nectar and ambrosia!"


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