The Fall of Troy

Page: 63

  Then spake the old man to that stricken one:
  "To all men Fate assigns one same sad lot,
  Bereavement: earth shall cover all alike,
  Albeit we tread not the same path of life,
  And none the path he chooseth; for on high
  Good things and bad lie on the knees of
  Gods Unnumbered, indistinguishably blent.
  These no Immortal seeth; they are veiled
  In mystic cloud-folds. Only Fate puts forth
  Her hands thereto, nor looks at what she takes,
  But casts them from Olympus down to earth.
  This way and that they are wafted, as it were
  By gusts of wind. The good man oft is whelmed
  In suffering: wealth undeserved is heaped
  On the vile person. Blind is each man's life;
  Therefore he never walketh surely; oft
  He stumbleth: ever devious is his path,
  Now sloping down to sorrow, mounting now
  To bliss. All-happy is no living man
  From the beginning to the end, but still
  The good and evil clash. Our life is short;
  Beseems not then in grief to live. Hope on,
  Still hope for better days: chain not to woe
  Thine heart. There is a saying among men
  That to the heavens unperishing mount the souls
  Of good men, and to nether darkness sink
  Souls of the wicked. Both to God and man
  Dear was thy brother, good to brother-men,
  And son of an Immortal. Sure am I
  That to the company of Gods shall he
  Ascend, by intercession of thy sire."

  Then raised he that reluctant mourner up
  With comfortable words. From that dark grave
  He drew him, backward gazing oft with groans.
  To the ships they came, where Greeks and Trojan men
  Had bitter travail of rekindled war.

  Eurypylus there, in dauntless spirit like
  The War-god, with mad-raging spear and hands
  Resistless, smote down hosts of foes: the earth
  Was clogged with dead men slain on either side.
  On strode he midst the corpses, awelessly
  He fought, with blood-bespattered hands and feet;
  Never a moment from grim strife he ceased.
  Peneleos the mighty-hearted came
  Against him in the pitiless fray: he fell
  Before Eurypylus' spear: yea, many more
  Fell round him. Ceased not those destroying hands,
  But wrathful on the Argives still he pressed,
  As when of old on Pholoe's long-ridged heights
  Upon the Centaurs terrible Hercules rushed
  Storming in might, and slew them, passing-swift
  And strong and battle-cunning though they were;
  So rushed he on, so smote he down the array,
  One after other, of the Danaan spears.
  Heaps upon heaps, here, there, in throngs they fell
  Strewn in the dust. As when a river in flood
  Comes thundering down, banks crumble on either side
  To drifting sand: on seaward rolls the surge
  Tossing wild crests, while cliffs on every hand
  Ring crashing echoes, as their brows break down
  Beneath long-leaping roaring waterfalls,
  And dikes are swept away; so fell in dust
  The war-famed Argives by Eurypylus slain,
  Such as he overtook in that red rout.
  Some few escaped, whom strength of fleeing feet
  Delivered. Yet in that sore strait they drew
  Peneleos from the shrieking tumult forth,
  And bare to the ships, though with swift feet themselves
  Were fleeing from ghastly death, from pitiless doom.
  Behind the rampart of the ships they fled
  In huddled rout: they had no heart to stand
  Before Eurypylus, for Hercules,
  To crown with glory his son's stalwart son,
  Thrilled them with panic. There behind their wall
  They cowered, as goats to leeward of a hill
  Shrink from the wild cold rushing of the wind
  That bringeth snow and heavy sleet and haft.
  No longing for the pasture tempteth them
  Over the brow to step, and face the blast,
  But huddling screened by rock-wall and ravine
  They abide the storm, and crop the scanty grass
  Under dim copses thronging, till the gusts
  Of that ill wind shall lull: so, by their towers
  Screened, did the trembling Danaans abide
  Telephus' mighty son. Yea, he had burnt
  The ships, and all that host had he destroyed,
  Had not Athena at the last inspired
  The Argive men with courage. Ceaselessly
  From the high rampart hurled they at the foe
  With bitter-biting darts, and slew them fast;
  And all the walls were splashed with reeking gore,
  And aye went up a moan of smitten men.