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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 218

Thou wouldst have thought, so furious was their fire,
No force could tame them, and no toil could tire;
As if new vigour from new fights they won,
And the long battle was but then begun.
Greece, yet unconquer'd, kept alive the war,
Secure of death, confiding in despair:
Troy in proud hopes already view'd the main
Bright with the blaze, and red with heroes slain:
Like strength is felt from hope, and from despair,
And each contends, as his were all the war.
"Twas thou, bold Hector! whose resistless hand
First seized a ship on that contested strand;
[pg 286]Illustration: <strong><a href=AJAX DEFENDING THE GREEK SHIPS." title= "AJAX DEFENDING THE GREEK SHIPS." />
AJAX DEFENDING THE GREEK SHIPS.
"Haste, bring the flames! that toil of ten long years
Is finished; and the day desired appears!
This happy day with acclamations greet,
Bright with destruction of yon hostile fleet.
The coward-counsels of a timorous throng
Of reverend dotards check'd our glory long:
Too long Jove lull'd us with lethargic charms,
But now in peals of thunder calls to arms:
In this great day he crowns our full desires,
Wakes all our force, and seconds all our fires."
He spoke—the warriors at his fierce command
Pour a new deluge on the Grecian band.
Even Ajax paused, (so thick the javelins fly,)
Stepp'd back, and doubted or to live or die.
Yet, where the oars are placed, he stands to wait
What chief approaching dares attempt his fate:
[pg 287]
Even to the last his naval charge defends,
Now shakes his spear, now lifts, and now protends;
Even yet, the Greeks with piercing shouts inspires,
Amidst attacks, and deaths, and darts, and fires.
"O friends! O heroes! names for ever dear,
Once sons of Mars, and thunderbolts of war!
Ah! yet be mindful of your old renown,
Your great forefathers' virtues and your own.
What aids expect you in this utmost strait?
What bulwarks rising between you and fate?
No aids, no bulwarks your retreat attend,
No friends to help, no city to defend.
This spot is all you have, to lose or keep;
There stand the Trojans, and here rolls the deep.
'Tis hostile ground you tread; your native lands
Far, far from hence: your fates are in your hands."
Raging he spoke; nor further wastes his breath,
But turns his javelin to the work of death.
Whate'er bold Trojan arm'd his daring hands,

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