The Iliad of Homer
Below, fair Ilion's glittering spires were seen;
The crowded ships and sable seas between.
There, from the crystal chambers of the main
Emerged, he sat, and mourn'd his Argives slain.
At Jove incensed, with grief and fury stung,
Prone down the rocky steep he rush'd along;
Fierce as he pass'd, the lofty mountains nod,
The forest shakes; earth trembled as he trod,
And felt the footsteps of the immortal god.
From realm to realm three ample strides he took,
And, at the fourth, the distant Ægae shook.
Far in the bay his shining palace stands,
Eternal frame! not raised by mortal hands:
This having reach'd, his brass-hoof'd steeds he reins,
Fleet as the winds, and deck'd with golden manes.
Refulgent arms his mighty limbs infold,
Immortal arms of adamant and gold.
He mounts the car, the golden scourge applies,
He sits superior, and the chariot flies:
His whirling wheels the glassy surface sweep;
The enormous monsters rolling o'er the deep
Gambol around him on the watery way,
And heavy whales in awkward measures play;
The sea subsiding spreads a level plain,
Exults, and owns the monarch of the main;
The parting waves before his coursers fly;
The wondering waters leave his axle dry.
Deep in the liquid regions lies a cave,
Between where Tenedos the surges lave,
And rocky Imbrus breaks the rolling wave:
There the great ruler of the azure round
Stopp'd his swift chariot, and his steeds unbound,
Fed with ambrosial herbage from his hand,
And link'd their fetlocks with a golden band,
Infrangible, immortal: there they stay:
The father of the floods pursues his way:
Where, like a tempest, darkening heaven around,
Or fiery deluge that devours the ground,[pg 232]
NEPTUNE RISING FROM THE SEA.
"'Tis yours, O warriors, all our hopes to raise:
Oh recollect your ancient worth and praise!
'Tis yours to save us, if you cease to fear;
Flight, more than shameful, is destructive here.
On other works though Troy with fury fall,
And pour her armies o'er our batter'd wall:
There Greece has strength: but this, this part o'erthrown,
Her strength were vain; I dread for you alone:
Here Hector rages like the force of fire,
Vaunts of his gods, and calls high Jove his sire:
If yet some heavenly power your breast excite,
Breathe in your hearts, and string your arms to fight,
Greece yet may live, her threaten'd fleet maintain:
And Hector's force, and Jove's own aid, be vain."
Then with his sceptre, that the deep controls,
He touch'd the chiefs, and steel'd their manly souls:
Strength, not their own, the touch divine imparts,[pg 233]
Prompts their light limbs, and swells their daring hearts.
Then, as a falcon from the rocky height,
Her quarry seen, impetuous at the sight,
Forth-springing instant, darts herself from high,
Shoots on the wing, and skims along the sky:
Such, and so swift, the power of ocean flew;
The wide horizon shut him from their view.
The inspiring god Oileus' active son
Perceived the first, and thus to Telamon:
"Some god, my friend, some god in human form
Favouring descends, and wills to stand the storm.
Not Calchas this, the venerable seer;
Short as he turned, I saw the power appear:
I mark'd his parting, and the steps he trod;
His own bright evidence reveals a god.
Even now some energy divine I share,
And seem to walk on wings, and tread in air!"
"With equal ardour (Telamon returns)
My soul is kindled, and my bosom burns;
New rising spirits all my force alarm,
Lift each impatient limb, and brace my arm.
This ready arm, unthinking, shakes the dart;
The blood pours back, and fortifies my heart:
Singly, methinks, yon towering chief I meet,
And stretch the dreadful Hector at my feet."
Full of the god that urged their burning breast,
The heroes thus their mutual warmth express'd.
Neptune meanwhile the routed Greeks inspired;
Who, breathless, pale, with length of labours tired,
Pant in the ships; while Troy to conquest calls,
And swarms victorious o'er their yielding walls:
Trembling before the impending storm they lie,
While tears of rage stand burning in their eye.
Greece sunk they thought, and this their fatal hour;
But breathe new courage as they feel the power.
Teucer and Leitus first his words excite;
Then stern Peneleus rises to the fight;
Thoas, Deipyrus, in arms renown'd,
And Merion next, the impulsive fury found;
Last Nestor's son the same bold ardour takes,
While thus the god the martial fire awakes:
"Oh lasting infamy, oh dire disgrace
To chiefs of vigorous youth, and manly race!
I trusted in the gods, and you, to see
Brave Greece victorious, and her navy free:
Ah, no—the glorious combat you disclaim,
And one black day clouds all her former fame.
Heavens! what a prodigy these eyes survey,
Unseen, unthought, till this amazing day!
Fly we at length from Troy's oft-conquer'd bands?[pg 234]
And falls our fleet by such inglorious hands?
A rout undisciplined, a straggling train,
Not born to glories of the dusty plain;
Like frighted fawns from hill to hill pursued,
A prey to every savage of the wood:
Shall these, so late who trembled at your name,
Invade your camps, involve your ships in flame?
A change so shameful, say, what cause has wrought?
The soldiers' baseness, or the general's fault?
Fools! will ye perish for your leader's vice;
The purchase infamy, and life the price?
'Tis not your cause, Achilles' injured fame: