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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 233

[pg 308]
And in Patroclus' blood efface thy shame.
Perhaps Apollo shall thy arms succeed,
And heaven ordains him by thy lance to bleed."
So spoke the inspiring god; then took his flight,
And plunged amidst the tumult of the fight.
He bids Cebrion drive the rapid car;
The lash resounds, the coursers rush to war.
The god the Grecians' sinking souls depress'd,
And pour'd swift spirits through each Trojan breast.
Patroclus lights, impatient for the fight;
A spear his left, a stone employs his right:
With all his nerves he drives it at the foe.
Pointed above, and rough and gross below:
The falling ruin crush'd Cebrion's head,
The lawless offspring of king Priam's bed;
His front, brows, eyes, one undistinguish'd wound:
The bursting balls drop sightless to the ground.
The charioteer, while yet he held the rein,
Struck from the car, falls headlong on the plain.
To the dark shades the soul unwilling glides,
While the proud victor thus his fall derides.
"Good heaven! what active feats yon artist shows!
What skilful divers are our Phrygian foes!
Mark with what ease they sink into the sand!
Pity that all their practice is by land!"
Then rushing sudden on his prostrate prize,
To spoil the carcase fierce Patroclus flies:
Swift as a lion, terrible and bold,
That sweeps the field, depopulates the fold;
Pierced through the dauntless heart, then tumbles slain,
And from his fatal courage finds his bane.
At once bold Hector leaping from his car,
Defends the body, and provokes the war.
Thus for some slaughter'd hind, with equal rage,
Two lordly rulers of the wood engage;
Stung with fierce hunger, each the prey invades,
And echoing roars rebellow through the shades.
Stern Hector fastens on the warrior's head,
And by the foot Patroclus drags the dead:
While all around, confusion, rage, and fright,
Mix the contending hosts in mortal fight.
So pent by hills, the wild winds roar aloud
In the deep bosom of some gloomy wood;
Leaves, arms, and trees, aloft in air are blown,
The broad oaks crackle, and the Sylvans groan;
This way and that, the rattling thicket bends,
And the whole forest in one crash descends.
Not with less noise, with less tumultuous rage,
In dreadful shock the mingled hosts engage.
Darts shower'd on darts, now round the carcase ring;
[pg 309]
Now flights of arrows bounding from the string:
Stones follow stones; some clatter on the fields,
Some hard, and heavy, shake the sounding shields.
But where the rising whirlwind clouds the plains,
Sunk in soft dust the mighty chief remains,
And, stretch'd in death, forgets the guiding reins!
Now flaming from the zenith, Sol had driven
His fervid orb through half the vault of heaven;
While on each host with equal tempests fell
The showering darts, and numbers sank to hell.
But when his evening wheels o'erhung the main,
Glad conquest rested on the Grecian train.
Then from amidst the tumult and alarms,
They draw the conquer'd corse and radiant arms.
Then rash Patroclus with new fury glows,

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