The Fall of Troy

Page: 71

  Made answer golden-haired Achilles' son:
  "Ancient, our battle-prowess mighty Fate
  And the o'ermastering War-god shall decide."

  But, as he spake, he had fain on that same day
  Forth of the gates have rushed in his sire's arms;
  But night, which bringeth men release from toil,
  Rose from the ocean veiled in sable pall.

  With honour as of mighty Achilles' self
  Him mid the ships the glad Greeks hailed, who had won
  Courage from that his eager rush to war.
  With princely presents did they honour him,
  With priceless gifts, whereby is wealth increased;
  For some gave gold and silver, handmaids some,
  Brass without weight gave these, and iron those;
  Others in deep jars brought the ruddy wine:
  Yea, fleetfoot steeds they gave, and battle-gear,
  And raiment woven fair by women's hands.
  Glowed Neoptolemus' heart for joy of these.
  A feast they made for him amidst the tents,
  And there extolled Achilles' godlike son
  With praise as of the immortal Heavenly Ones;
  And joyful-voiced Agamemnon spake to him:
  "Thou verily art the brave-souled Aeacid's son,
  His very image thou in stalwart might,
  In beauty, stature, courage, and in soul.
  Mine heart burns in me seeing thee. I trust
  Thine hands and spear shall smite yon hosts of foes,
  Shall smite the city of Priam world-renowned—
  So like thy sire thou art! Methinks I see
  Himself beside the ships, as when his shout
  Of wrath for dead Patroclus shook the ranks
  Of Troy. But he is with the Immortal Ones,
  Yet, bending from that heaven, sends thee to-day
  To save the Argives on destruction's brink."

  Answered Achilles' battle-eager son:
  "Would I might meet him living yet, O King,
  That so himself might see the son of his love
  Not shaming his great father's name. I trust
  So shall it be, if the Gods grant me life."

  So spake he in wisdom and in modesty;
  And all there marvelled at the godlike man.
  But when with meat and wine their hearts were filled,
  Then rose Achilles' battle-eager son,
  And from the feast passed forth unto the tent
  That was his sire's. Much armour of heroes slain
  Lay there; and here and there were captive maids
  Arraying that tent widowed of its lord,
  As though its king lived. When that son beheld
  Those Trojan arms and handmaid-thralls, he groaned,
  By passionate longing for his father seized.
  As when through dense oak-groves and tangled glens
  Comes to the shadowed cave a lion's whelp
  Whose grim sire by the hunters hath been slain,
  And looketh all around that empty den,
  And seeth heaps of bones of steeds and kine
  Slain theretofore, and grieveth for his sire;
  Even so the heart of brave Peleides' son
  With grief was numbed. The handmaids marvelling gazed;
  And fair Briseis' self, when she beheld
  Achilles' son, was now right glad at heart,
  And sorrowed now with memories of the dead.
  Her soul was wildered all, as though indeed
  There stood the aweless Aeacid living yet.

  Meanwhile exultant Trojans camped aloof
  Extolled Eurypylus the fierce and strong,
  As erst they had praised Hector, when he smote
  Their foes, defending Troy and all her wealth.
  But when sweet sleep stole over mortal men,
  Then sons of Troy and battle-biding Greeks
  All slumber-heavy slept unsentinelled.