The Iliad of Homer
Page: 250The scorching ashes o'er his graceful head;
His purple garments, and his golden hairs,
Those he deforms with dust, and these he tears;
On the hard soil his groaning breast he threw,
And roll'd and grovell'd, as to earth he grew.
The virgin captives, with disorder'd charms,
(Won by his own, or by Patroclus' arms,)
Rush'd from their tents with cries; and gathering round,
Beat their white breasts, and fainted on the ground:
While Nestor's son sustains a manlier part,
And mourns the warrior with a warrior's heart;
Hangs on his arms, amidst his frantic woe,
And oft prevents the meditated blow.
Far in the deep abysses of the main,251
With hoary Nereus, and the watery train,
The mother-goddess from her crystal throne
Heard his loud cries, and answer'd groan for groan.
The circling Nereids with their mistress weep,
And all the sea-green sisters of the deep.
Nesaea mild, and silver Spio came:
Cymothoe and Cymodoce were nigh,
And the blue languish of soft Alia's eye.
Their locks Actaea and Limnoria rear,
Then Proto, Doris, Panope appear,
Thoa, Pherusa, Doto, Melita;
Agave gentle, and Amphithoe gay:
Next Callianira, Callianassa show
Their sister looks; Dexamene the slow,
And swift Dynamene, now cut the tides:
Iaera now the verdant wave divides:
Nemertes with Apseudes lifts the head,
Bright Galatea quits her pearly bed;
These Orythia, Clymene, attend,
Maera, Amphinome, the train extend;
And black Janira, and Janassa fair,
And Amatheia with her amber hair.
All these, and all that deep in ocean held
Their sacred seats, the glimmering grotto fill'd;[pg 333]
Each beat her ivory breast with silent woe,
Till Thetis' sorrows thus began to flow:
"Hear me, and judge, ye sisters of the main!
How just a cause has Thetis to complain!
How wretched, were I mortal, were my fate!
How more than wretched in the immortal state!
Sprung from my bed a godlike hero came,
The bravest far that ever bore the name;
Like some fair olive, by my careful hand
He grew, he flourish'd and adorn'd the land
He never, never must return again.
So short a space the light of heaven to view,
So short, alas! and fill'd with anguish too!
Hear how his sorrows echo through the shore!
I cannot ease them, but I must deplore;
I go at least to bear a tender part,
And mourn my loved-one with a mother's heart."
She said, and left the caverns of the main,
All bathed in tears; the melancholy train
Attend her way. Wide-opening part the tides,
While the long pomp the silver wave divides.
Approaching now, they touch'd the Trojan land;
Then, two by two, ascended up the strand.
The immortal mother, standing close beside
Her mournful offspring, to his sighs replied;
Along the coast their mingled clamours ran,
And thus the silver-footed dame began:
"Why mourns my son? thy late preferr'd request
The god has granted, and the Greeks distress'd:
Why mourns my son? thy anguish let me share,