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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 248

The sad Achilles, how his loved-one fell:
He too may haste the naked corse to gain:
The arms are Hector's, who despoil'd the slain."
The youthful warrior heard with silent woe,
From his fair eyes the tears began to flow:
Big with the mighty grief, he strove to say
[pg 329]
What sorrow dictates, but no word found way.
To brave Laodocus his arms he flung,
Who, near him wheeling, drove his steeds along;
Then ran the mournful message to impart,
With tearful eyes, and with dejected heart.
Swift fled the youth: nor Menelaus stands
(Though sore distress'd) to aid the Pylian bands;
But bids bold Thrasymede those troops sustain;
Himself returns to his Patroclus slain.
"Gone is Antilochus (the hero said);
But hope not, warriors, for Achilles' aid:
Though fierce his rage, unbounded be his woe,
Unarm'd, he fights not with the Trojan foe.
'Tis in our hands alone our hopes remain,
'Tis our own vigour must the dead regain,
And save ourselves, while with impetuous hate
Troy pours along, and this way rolls our fate."
"'Tis well (said Ajax), be it then thy care,
With Merion's aid, the weighty corse to rear;
Myself, and my bold brother will sustain
The shock of Hector and his charging train:
Nor fear we armies, fighting side by side;
What Troy can dare, we have already tried,
Have tried it, and have stood." The hero said.
High from the ground the warriors heave the dead.
A general clamour rises at the sight:
Loud shout the Trojans, and renew the fight.
Not fiercer rush along the gloomy wood,
With rage insatiate, and with thirst of blood,
Voracious hounds, that many a length before
Their furious hunters, drive the wounded boar;
But if the savage turns his glaring eye,
They howl aloof, and round the forest fly.
Thus on retreating Greece the Trojans pour,
Wave their thick falchions, and their javelins shower:
But Ajax turning, to their fears they yield,
All pale they tremble and forsake the field.
While thus aloft the hero's corse they bear,
Behind them rages all the storm of war:
Confusion, tumult, horror, o'er the throng
Of men, steeds, chariots, urged the rout along:
Less fierce the winds with rising flames conspire
To whelm some city under waves of fire;
Now sink in gloomy clouds the proud abodes,
Now crack the blazing temples of the gods;
The rumbling torrent through the ruin rolls,
And sheets of smoke mount heavy to the poles.
The heroes sweat beneath their honour'd load:
As when two mules, along the rugged road,
From the steep mountain with exerted strength
[pg 330]
Drag some vast beam, or mast's unwieldy length;
Inly they groan, big drops of sweat distil,
The enormous timber lumbering down the hill:
So these—Behind, the bulk of Ajax stands,
And breaks the torrent of the rushing bands.
Thus when a river swell'd with sudden rains
Spreads his broad waters o'er the level plains,
Some interposing hill the stream divides.
And breaks its force, and turns the winding tides.

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