The Iliad of Homer
Page: 301Let the leagued squadrons to their posts retire."
He spoke: they hear him, and the word obey;
The rage of hunger and of thirst allay,
Then ease in sleep the labours of the day.
But great Pelides, stretch'd along the shore,
Where, dash'd on rocks, the broken billows roar,
Lies inly groaning; while on either hand
The martial Myrmidons confusedly stand.
Along the grass his languid members fall,
Tired with his chase around the Trojan wall;
Hush'd by the murmurs of the rolling deep,
At length he sinks in the soft arms of sleep.
When lo! the shade, before his closing eyes,
Of sad Patroclus rose, or seem'd to rise:
In the same robe he living wore, he came:
In stature, voice, and pleasing look, the same.
The form familiar hover'd o'er his head,
"And sleeps Achilles? (thus the phantom said:)
Living, I seem'd his dearest, tenderest care,
But now forgot, I wander in the air.
Let my pale corse the rites of burial know,
And give me entrance in the realms below:
Till then the spirit finds no resting-place,
But here and there the unbodied spectres chase
The vagrant dead around the dark abode,
Forbid to cross the irremeable flood.
Now give thy hand; for to the farther shore
When once we pass, the soul returns no more:
When once the last funereal flames ascend,
No more shall meet Achilles and his friend;
No more our thoughts to those we loved make known;
Or quit the dearest, to converse alone.
Me fate has sever'd from the sons of earth,
The fate fore-doom'd that waited from my birth:
Thee too it waits; before the Trojan wall
Even great and godlike thou art doom'd to fall.
Hear then; and as in fate and love we join,
Ah suffer that my bones may rest with thine!
Together have we lived; together bred,
One house received us, and one table fed;
That golden urn, thy goddess-mother gave,
May mix our ashes in one common grave."
"And is it thou? (he answers) To my sight283[pg 408]
Once more return'st thou from the realms of night?
O more than brother! Think each office paid,
Whate'er can rest a discontented shade;
But grant one last embrace, unhappy boy!
Afford at least that melancholy joy."
He said, and with his longing arms essay'd
In vain to grasp the visionary shade!
Like a thin smoke he sees the spirit fly,284
And hears a feeble, lamentable cry.
Confused he wakes; amazement breaks the bands
Of golden sleep, and starting from the sands,
Pensive he muses with uplifted hands:
"'Tis true, 'tis certain; man, though dead, retains
Part of himself; the immortal mind remains:
The form subsists without the body's aid,
Aerial semblance, and an empty shade!
This night my friend, so late in battle lost,
Stood at my side, a pensive, plaintive ghost:
Even now familiar, as in life, he came;
Alas! how different! yet how like the same!"
Thus while he spoke, each eye grew big with tears: