The Fall of Troy
Page: 69So 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.