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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 220

Their pain soft arts of pharmacy can ease,
Thy breast alone no lenitives appease.
May never rage like thine my soul enslave,
O great in vain! unprofitably brave!
Thy country slighted in her last distress,
What friend, what man, from thee shall hope redress?
No—men unborn, and ages yet behind,
Shall curse that fierce, that unforgiving mind.
"O man unpitying! if of man thy race;
But sure thou spring'st not from a soft embrace,
Nor ever amorous hero caused thy birth,
Nor ever tender goddess brought thee forth:
Some rugged rock's hard entrails gave thee form,
And raging seas produced thee in a storm,
A soul well suiting that tempestuous kind,
So rough thy manners, so untamed thy mind.
[pg 290]
"If some dire oracle thy breast alarm,
If aught from Jove, or Thetis, stop thy arm,
Some beam of comfort yet on Greece may shine,
If I but lead the Myrmidonian line:
Clad in thy dreadful arms if I appear,
Proud Troy shall tremble, and desert the war;
Without thy person Greece shall win the day,
And thy mere image chase her foes away.
Press'd by fresh forces, her o'erlabour'd train
Shall quit the ships, and Greece respire again."
Thus, blind to fate! with supplicating breath,
Thou begg'st his arms, and in his arms thy death.
Unfortunately good! a boding sigh
Thy friend return'd; and with it, this reply:
"Patroclus! thy Achilles knows no fears;
Nor words from Jove nor oracles he hears;
Nor aught a mother's caution can suggest;
The tyrant's pride lies rooted in my breast.
My wrongs, my wrongs, my constant thought engage,
Those, my sole oracles, inspire my rage:
I made him tyrant: gave him power to wrong
Even my: I felt it; and shall feel it long.
The maid, my black-eyed maid, he forced away,
Due to the toils of many a well-fought day;
Due to my conquest of her father's reign;
Due to the votes of all the Grecian train.
From me he forced her; me, the bold and brave,
Disgraced, dishonour'd, like the meanest slave.
But bear we this—the wrongs I grieve are past;
'Tis time our fury should relent at last:
I fix'd its date; the day I wish'd appears:
How Hector to my ships his battle bears,
The flames my eyes, the shouts invade my ears.
Go then, Patroclus! court fair honour's charms
In Troy's famed fields, and in Achilles' arms:
Lead forth my martial Myrmidons to fight,
Go save the fleets, and conquer in my right.
See the thin relics of their baffled band
At the last edge of yon deserted land!
Behold all Ilion on their ships descends;
How the cloud blackens, how the storm impends!
It was not thus, when, at my sight amazed,
Troy saw and trembled, as this helmet blazed:
Had not the injurious king our friendship lost,
Yon ample trench had buried half her host.
No camps, no bulwarks now the Trojans fear,
Those are not dreadful, no Achilles there;
No longer flames the lance of Tydeus' son;

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