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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 190

As on some ample barn's well harden'd floor,
(The winds collected at each open door,)
While the broad fan with force is whirl'd around,
Light leaps the golden grain, resulting from the ground:
So from the steel that guards Atrides' heart,
Repell'd to distance flies the bounding dart.
Atrides, watchful of the unwary foe,
Pierced with his lance the hand that grasp'd the bow.
And nailed it to the yew: the wounded hand
Trail'd the long lance that mark'd with blood the sand:
But good Agenor gently from the wound
The spear solicits, and the bandage bound;
A sling's soft wool, snatch'd from a soldier's side,
At once the tent and ligature supplied.
Behold! Pisander, urged by fate's decree,
Springs through the ranks to fall, and fall by thee,
Great Menelaus! to enchance thy fame:
High-towering in the front, the warrior came.
First the sharp lance was by Atrides thrown;
The lance far distant by the winds was blown.
Nor pierced Pisander through Atrides' shield:
Pisander's spear fell shiver'd on the field.
Not so discouraged, to the future blind,
Vain dreams of conquest swell his haughty mind;
Dauntless he rushes where the Spartan lord
Like lightning brandish'd his far beaming sword.
His left arm high opposed the shining shield:
His right beneath, the cover'd pole-axe held;
(An olive's cloudy grain the handle made,
Distinct with studs, and brazen was the blade;)
This on the helm discharged a noble blow;
The plume dropp'd nodding to the plain below,
Shorn from the crest. Atrides waved his steel:
Deep through his front the weighty falchion fell;
The crashing bones before its force gave way;
In dust and blood the groaning hero lay:
Forced from their ghastly orbs, and spouting gore,
The clotted eye-balls tumble on the shore.
And fierce Atrides spurn'd him as he bled,
Tore off his arms, and, loud-exulting, said:
"Thus, Trojans, thus, at length be taught to fear;
O race perfidious, who delight in war!
Already noble deeds ye have perform'd;
A princess raped transcends a navy storm'd:
In such bold feats your impious might approve,
Without th' assistance, or the fear of Jove.
[pg 247]
The violated rites, the ravish'd dame;
Our heroes slaughter'd and our ships on flame,
Crimes heap'd on crimes, shall bend your glory down,
And whelm in ruins yon flagitious town.
O thou, great father! lord of earth and skies,
Above the thought of man, supremely wise!
If from thy hand the fates of mortals flow,
From whence this favour to an impious foe?
A godless crew, abandon'd and unjust,
Still breathing rapine, violence, and lust?
The best of things, beyond their measure, cloy;
Sleep's balmy blessing, love's endearing joy;
The feast, the dance; whate'er mankind desire,
Even the sweet charms of sacred numbers tire.
But Troy for ever reaps a dire delight
In thirst of slaughter, and in lust of fight."
This said, he seized (while yet the carcase heaved)
The bloody armour, which his train received:
Then sudden mix'd among the warring crew,
And the bold son of Pylaemenes slew.

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