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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 267

Grief and revenge his furious heart inspire,
His glowing eyeballs roll with living fire;
He grinds his teeth, and furious with delay
O'erlooks the embattled host, and hopes the bloody day.
The silver cuishes first his thighs infold;
Then o'er his breast was braced the hollow gold;
The brazen sword a various baldric tied,
That, starr'd with gems, hung glittering at his side;
And, like the moon, the broad refulgent shield
Blazed with long rays, and gleam'd athwart the field.
So to night-wandering sailors, pale with fears,
Wide o'er the watery waste, a light appears,
Which on the far-seen mountain blazing high,
Streams from some lonely watch-tower to the sky:
With mournful eyes they gaze, and gaze again;
Loud howls the storm, and drives them o'er the main.
Next, his high head the helmet graced; behind
The sweepy crest hung floating in the wind:
Like the red star, that from his flaming hair
Shakes down diseases, pestilence, and war;
So stream'd the golden honours from his head,
Trembled the sparkling plumes, and the loose glories shed.
The chief beholds himself with wondering eyes;
His arms he poises, and his motions tries;
Buoy'd by some inward force, he seems to swim,
And feels a pinion lifting every limb.
And now he shakes his great paternal spear,
Ponderous and huge, which not a Greek could rear,
From Pelion's cloudy top an ash entire
Old Chiron fell'd, and shaped it for his sire;
A spear which stern Achilles only wields,
The death of heroes, and the dread of fields.
Automedon and Alcimus prepare
The immortal coursers, and the radiant car;
(The silver traces sweeping at their side;)
Their fiery mouths resplendent bridles tied;
The ivory-studded reins, return'd behind,
Waved o'er their backs, and to the chariot join'd.
The charioteer then whirl'd the lash around,
And swift ascended at one active bound.
All bright in heavenly arms, above his squire
Achilles mounts, and sets the field on fire;
Not brighter Phoebus in the ethereal way
Flames from his chariot, and restores the day.
High o'er the host, all terrible he stands,
And thunders to his steeds these dread commands:
[pg 359]
"Xanthus and Balius! of Podarges' strain,
(Unless ye boast that heavenly race in vain,)
Be swift, be mindful of the load ye bear,
And learn to make your master more your care:
Through falling squadrons bear my slaughtering sword,
Nor, as ye left Patroclus, leave your lord."
The generous Xanthus, as the words he said,
Seem'd sensible of woe, and droop'd his head:
Trembling he stood before the golden wain,
And bow'd to dust the honours of his mane.
When, strange to tell! (so Juno will'd) he broke
Eternal silence, and portentous spoke.
"Achilles! yes! this day at least we bear
Thy rage in safety through the files of war:
But come it will, the fatal time must come,
Not ours the fault, but God decrees thy doom.
Not through our crime, or slowness in the course,
Fell thy Patroclus, but by heavenly force;

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