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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 253

Arms I have none, and can I fight unarm'd?
Unwilling as I am, of force I stay,
Till Thetis bring me at the dawn of day
Vulcanian arms: what other can I wield,
Except the mighty Telamonian shield?
That, in my friend's defence, has Ajax spread,
While his strong lance around him heaps the dead:
The gallant chief defends Menoetius' son,
And does what his Achilles should have done."
"Thy want of arms (said Iris) well we know;
But though unarm'd, yet clad in terrors, go!
Let but Achilles o'er yon trench appear,
Proud Troy shall tremble, and consent to fear;
Greece from one glance of that tremendous eye
Shall take new courage, and disdain to fly."
She spoke, and pass'd in air. The hero rose:
Her aegis Pallas o'er his shoulder throws;
Around his brows a golden cloud she spread;
A stream of glory flamed above his head.
As when from some beleaguer'd town arise
[pg 337]
The smokes, high curling to the shaded skies;
(Seen from some island, o'er the main afar,
When men distress'd hang out the sign of war;)
Soon as the sun in ocean hides his rays,
Thick on the hills the flaming beacons blaze;
With long-projected beams the seas are bright,
And heaven's high arch reflects the ruddy light:
So from Achilles' head the splendours rise,
Reflecting blaze on blaze against the skies.
Forth march'd the chief, and distant from the crowd,
High on the rampart raised his voice aloud;
With her own shout Minerva swells the sound;
Troy starts astonish'd, and the shores rebound.
As the loud trumpet's brazen mouth from far
With shrilling clangour sounds the alarm of war,
Struck from the walls, the echoes float on high,
And the round bulwarks and thick towers reply;
So high his brazen voice the hero rear'd:
Hosts dropp'd their arms, and trembled as they heard:
And back the chariots roll, and coursers bound,
And steeds and men lie mingled on the ground.
Aghast they see the living lightnings play,
And turn their eyeballs from the flashing ray.
Thrice from the trench his dreadful voice he raised,
And thrice they fled, confounded and amazed.
Twelve in the tumult wedged, untimely rush'd
On their own spears, by their own chariots crush'd:
While, shielded from the darts, the Greeks obtain
The long-contended carcase of the slain.
A lofty bier the breathless warrior bears:
Around, his sad companions melt in tears.
But chief Achilles, bending down his head,
Pours unavailing sorrows o'er the dead,
Whom late triumphant, with his steeds and car,
He sent refulgent to the field of war;
(Unhappy change!) now senseless, pale, he found,
Stretch'd forth, and gash'd with many a gaping wound.
Meantime, unwearied with his heavenly way,
In ocean's waves the unwilling light of day
Quench'd his red orb, at Juno's high command,
And from their labours eased the Achaian band.
The frighted Trojans (panting from the war,
Their steeds unharness'd from the weary car)
A sudden council call'd: each chief appear'd
In haste, and standing; for to sit they fear'd.

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