The Fall of Troy

Page: 66

  Loud-wailing spake she; but her son replied:
  "Be of good cheer, my mother; put from thee
  Evil foreboding. No man is in war
  Beyond his destiny slain. If my weird be
  To die in my country's cause, then let me die
  When I have done deeds worthy of my sire."

  Then to his side old Lycomedes came,
  And to his battle-eager grandson spake:
  "O valiant-hearted son, so like thy sire,
  I know thee strong and valorous; yet, O yet
  For thee I fear the bitter war; I fear
  The terrible sea-surge. Shipmen evermore
  Hang on destruction's brink. Beware, my child,
  Perils of waters when thou sailest back
  From Troy or other shores, such as beset
  Full oftentimes the voyagers that ride
  The long sea-ridges, when the sun hath left
  The Archer-star, and meets the misty Goat,
  When the wild blasts drive on the lowering storm,
  Or when Orion to the darkling west
  Slopes, into Ocean's river sinking slow.
  Beware the time of equal days and nights,
  When blasts that o'er the sea's abysses rush,
  None knoweth whence in fury of battle clash.
  Beware the Pleiads' setting, when the sea
  Maddens beneath their power nor these alone,
  But other stars, terrors of hapless men,
  As o'er the wide sea-gulf they set or rise."

  Then kissed he him, nor sought to stay the feet
  Of him who panted for the clamour of war,
  Who smiled for pleasure and for eagerness
  To haste to the ship. Yet were his hurrying feet
  Stayed by his mother's pleading and her tears
  Still in those halls awhile. As some swift horse
  Is reined in by his rider, when he strains
  Unto the race-course, and he neighs, and champs
  The curbing bit, dashing his chest with foam,
  And his feet eager for the course are still
  Never, his restless hooves are clattering aye;
  His mane is a stormy cloud, he tosses high
  His head with snortings, and his lord is glad;
  So reined his mother back the glorious son
  Of battle-stay Achilles, so his feet
  Were restless, so the mother's loving pride
  Joyed in her son, despite her heart-sick pain.

  A thousand times he kissed her, then at last
  Left her alone with her own grief and moan
  There in her father's halls. As o'er her nest
  A swallow in her anguish cries aloud
  For her lost nestlings which, mid piteous shrieks,
  A fearful serpent hath devoured, and wrung
  The loving mother's heart; and now above
  That empty cradle spreads her wings, and now
  Flies round its porchway fashioned cunningly
  Lamenting piteously her little ones:
  So for her child Deidameia mourned.
  Now on her son's bed did she cast herself,
  Crying aloud, against his door-post now
  She leaned, and wept: now laid she in her lap
  Those childhood's toys yet treasured in her bower,
  Wherein his babe-heart joyed long years agone.
  She saw a dart there left behind of him,
  And kissed it o'er and o'er yea, whatso else
  Her weeping eyes beheld that was her son's.