The Iliad of Homer
Page: 278While fast behind them runs the blaze of fire;
Driven from the land before the smoky cloud,
The clustering legions rush into the flood:
So, plunged in Xanthus by Achilles' force,
Roars the resounding surge with men and horse.
His bloody lance the hero casts aside,
(Which spreading tamarisks on the margin hide,)
Then, like a god, the rapid billows braves,
Arm'd with his sword, high brandish'd o'er the waves:
Now down he plunges, now he whirls it round,
Deep groan'd the waters with the dying sound;
Repeated wounds the reddening river dyed,
And the warm purple circled on the tide.
Swift through the foamy flood the Trojans fly,
And close in rocks or winding caverns lie:
So the huge dolphin tempesting the main,
In shoals before him fly the scaly train,
Confusedly heap'd they seek their inmost caves,
Or pant and heave beneath the floating waves.
Now, tired with slaughter, from the Trojan band
Twelve chosen youths he drags alive to land;
With their rich belts their captive arms restrains
(Late their proud ornaments, but now their chains).
These his attendants to the ships convey'd,
Sad victims destined to Patroclus' shade;
Then, as once more he plunged amid the flood,
The young Lycaon in his passage stood;
But late made captive in his father's land
(As from a sycamore, his sounding steel
Lopp'd the green arms to spoke a chariot wheel)
To Lemnos' isle he sold the royal slave,
Where Jason's son the price demanded gave;
But kind Eetion, touching on the shore,
The ransom'd prince to fair Arisbe bore.
Ten days were past, since in his father's reign
He felt the sweets of liberty again;
The next, that god whom men in vain withstand
Gives the same youth to the same conquering hand
Now never to return! and doom'd to go
A sadder journey to the shades below.
His well-known face when great Achilles eyed,
(The helm and visor he had cast aside
With wild affright, and dropp'd upon the field
His useless lance and unavailing shield,)
As trembling, panting, from the stream he fled,
And knock'd his faltering knees, the hero said.
"Ye mighty gods! what wonders strike my view![pg 376]
Is it in vain our conquering arms subdue?
Sure I shall see yon heaps of Trojans kill'd
Rise from the shades, and brave me on the field;
As now the captive, whom so late I bound
And sold to Lemnos, stalks on Trojan ground!
Not him the sea's unmeasured deeps detain,
That bar such numbers from their native plain;
Lo! he returns. Try, then, my flying spear!
Try, if the grave can hold the wanderer;
If earth, at length this active prince can seize,
Earth, whose strong grasp has held down Hercules."
Thus while he spoke, the Trojan pale with fears
Approach'd, and sought his knees with suppliant tears
Loth as he was to yield his youthful breath,
And his soul shivering at the approach of death.
Achilles raised the spear, prepared to wound;