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The Fall of Troy

Page: 69

  So did he shout a prophecy unfulfilled,
  Nor heard Doom's chariot-wheels fast rolling near
  Bearing swift death at Neoptolemus' hands,
  Nor saw death gleaming from his glittering spear.
  Ay, and that hero paused not now from fight,
  But from the ramparts smote the Trojans aye.
  From that death leaping from above they quailed
  In tumult round Eurypylus: deadly fear
  Gripped all their hearts. As little children cower
  About a father's knees when thunder of Zeus
  Crashes from cloud to cloud, when all the air
  Shudders and groans, so did the sons of Troy,
  With those Ceteians round their great king, cower
  Ever as prince Neoptolemus hurled; for death
  Rode upon all he cast, and bare his wrath
  Straight rushing down upon the heads of foes.
  Now in their hearts those wildered Trojans said
  That once more they beheld Achilles' self
  Gigantic in his armour. Yet they hid
  That horror in their breasts, lest panic fear
  Should pass from them to the Ceteian host
  And king Eurypylus; so on every side
  They wavered 'twixt the stress of their hard strait
  And that blood-curdling dread, 'twixt shame and fear.
  As when men treading a precipitous path
  Look up, and see adown the mountain-slope
  A torrent rushing on them, thundering down
  The rocks, and dare not meet its clamorous flood,
  But hurry shuddering on, with death in sight
  Holding as naught the perils of the path;
  So stayed the Trojans, spite of their desire
  [To flee the imminent death that waited them]
  Beneath the wall. Godlike Eurypylus
  Aye cheered them on to fight. He trusted still
  That this new mighty foe would weary at last
  With toil of slaughter; but he wearied not.

  That desperate battle-travail Pallas saw,
  And left the halls of Heaven incense-sweet,
  And flew o'er mountain-crests: her hurrying feet
  Touched not the earth, borne by the air divine
  In form of cloud-wreaths, swifter than the wind.
  She came to Troy, she stayed her feet upon
  Sigeum's windy ness, she looked forth thence
  Over the ringing battle of dauntless men,
  And gave the Achaeans glory. Achilles' son
  Beyond the rest was filled with valour and strength
  Which win renown for men in whom they meet.
  Peerless was he in both: the blood of Zeus
  Gave strength; to his father's valour was he heir;
  So by those towers he smote down many a foe.
  And as a fisher on the darkling sea,
  To lure the fish to their destruction, takes
  Within his boat the strength of fire; his breath
  Kindles it to a flame, till round the boat
  Glareth its splendour, and from the black sea
  Dart up the fish all eager to behold
  The radiance—for the last time; for the barbs
  Of his three-pointed spear, as up they leap,
  Slay them; his heart rejoices o'er the prey.
  So that war-king Achilles' glorious son
  Slew hosts of onward-rushing foes around
  That wall of stone. Well fought the Achaeans all,
  Here, there, adown the ramparts: rang again
  The wide strand and the ships: the battered walls
  Groaned ever. Men with weary ache of toil
  Fainted on either side; sinews and might
  Of strong men were unstrung. But o'er the son
  Of battle-stay Achilles weariness
  Crept not: his battle-eager spirit aye
  Was tireless; never touched by palsying fear
  He fought on, as with the triumphant strength
  Of an ever-flowing river: though it roll
  'Twixt blazing forests, though the madding blast
  Roll stormy seas of flame, it feareth not,
  For at its brink faint grows the fervent heat,
  The strong flood turns its might to impotence;
  So weariness nor fear could bow the knees
  Of Hero Achilles' gallant-hearted son,
  Still as he fought, still cheered his comrades on.
  Of myriad shafts sped at him none might touch
  His flesh, but even as snowflakes on a rock
  Fell vainly ever: wholly screened was he
  By broad shield and strong helmet, gifts of a God.
  In these exulting did the Aeacid's son
  Stride all along the wall, with ringing shouts
  Cheering the dauntless Argives to the fray,
  Being their mightiest far, bearing a soul
  Insatiate of the awful onset-cry,
  Burning with one strong purpose, to avenge
  His father's death: the Myrmidons in their king
  Exulted. Roared the battle round the wall.


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