The Iliad of Homer
Page: 224Though still determined, to my ships confined;
Patroclus gone, I stay but half behind.
Oh! be his guard thy providential care,
Confirm his heart, and string his arm to war:
Press'd by his single force let Hector see
His fame in arms not owing all to me.
But when the fleets are saved from foes and fire,
Let him with conquest and renown retire;
Preserve his arms, preserve his social train,
And safe return him to these eyes again!"
Great Jove consents to half the chief's request,
But heaven's eternal doom denies the rest;
To free the fleet was granted to his prayer;
His safe return, the winds dispersed in air.
Back to his tent the stern Achilles flies,
And waits the combat with impatient eyes.
Meanwhile the troops beneath Patroclus' care,
Invade the Trojans, and commence the war.
As wasps, provoked by children in their play,
Pour from their mansions by the broad highway,
In swarms the guiltless traveller engage,
Whet all their stings, and call forth all their rage:
All rise in arms, and, with a general cry,
Assert their waxen domes, and buzzing progeny.
Thus from the tents the fervent legion swarms,
So loud their clamours, and so keen their arms:
Their rising rage Patroclus' breath inspires,
Who thus inflames them with heroic fires:
"O warriors, partners of Achilles' praise!
Be mindful of your deeds in ancient days;[pg 296]
Your godlike master let your acts proclaim,
And add new glories to his mighty name.
Think your Achilles sees you fight: be brave,
And humble the proud monarch whom you save."
Joyful they heard, and kindling as he spoke,
Flew to the fleet, involved in fire and smoke.
From shore to shore the doubling shouts resound,
The hollow ships return a deeper sound.
The war stood still, and all around them gazed,
When great Achilles' shining armour blazed:
At once they see, they tremble, and they fly.
Then first thy spear, divine Patroclus! flew,
Where the war raged, and where the tumult grew.
Close to the stern of that famed ship which bore
Unbless'd Protesilaus to Ilion's shore,
The great Paeonian, bold Pyrechmes stood;
(Who led his bands from Axius' winding flood;)
His shoulder-blade receives the fatal wound;
The groaning warrior pants upon the ground.
His troops, that see their country's glory slain,
Fly diverse, scatter'd o'er the distant plain.
Patroclus' arm forbids the spreading fires,
And from the half-burn'd ship proud Troy retires;
Clear'd from the smoke the joyful navy lies;
In heaps on heaps the foe tumultuous flies;
Triumphant Greece her rescued decks ascends,
And loud acclaim the starry region rends.
So when thick clouds enwrap the mountain's head,
O'er heaven's expanse like one black ceiling spread;
Sudden the Thunderer, with a flashing ray,
Bursts through the darkness, and lets down the day:
The hills shine out, the rocks in prospect rise,
And streams, and vales, and forests, strike the eyes;
The smiling scene wide opens to the sight,