The Iliad of Homer
Page: 331Driven hence a slave before the victor's sword
Condemn'd to toil for some inhuman lord:
Or else some Greek whose father press'd the plain,
Or son, or brother, by great Hector slain,
In Hector's blood his vengeance shall enjoy,
For thy stern father never spared a foe:
Thence all these tears, and all this scene of woe!
Thence many evils his sad parents bore,
His parents many, but his consort more.
Why gav'st thou not to me thy dying hand?
And why received not I thy last command?
Some word thou would'st have spoke, which, sadly dear,
My soul might keep, or utter with a tear;
Which never, never could be lost in air,
Fix'd in my heart, and oft repeated there!"
Thus to her weeping maids she makes her moan,
Her weeping handmaids echo groan for groan.
The mournful mother next sustains her part:
"O thou, the best, the dearest to my heart!
Of all my race thou most by heaven approved,
And by the immortals even in death beloved!
While all my other sons in barbarous bands
Achilles bound, and sold to foreign lands,
This felt no chains, but went a glorious ghost,
Free, and a hero, to the Stygian coast.
Sentenced, 'tis true, by his inhuman doom,
Thy noble corse was dragg'd around the tomb;
(The tomb of him thy warlike arm had slain;)
Ungenerous insult, impotent and vain!
Yet glow'st thou fresh with every living grace;
No mark of pain, or violence of face:
Rosy and fair! as Phoebus' silver bow
Dismiss'd thee gently to the shades below."
Thus spoke the dame, and melted into tears.
Sad Helen next in pomp of grief appears;
Fast from the shining sluices of her eyes
Fall the round crystal drops, while thus she cries.
"Ah, dearest friend! in whom the gods had join'd298
Tne mildest manners with the bravest mind,
Now twice ten years (unhappy years) are o'er
Since Paris brought me to the Trojan shore,
(O had I perish'd, ere that form divine
Seduced this soft, this easy heart of mine!)
Yet was it ne'er my fate, from thee to find
A deed ungentle, or a word unkind.
When others cursed the authoress of their woe,
Thy pity check'd my sorrows in their flow.
If some proud brother eyed me with disdain,
Or scornful sister with her sweeping train,
Thy gentle accents soften'd all my pain.
For thee I mourn, and mourn myself in thee,
The wretched source of all this misery.
The fate I caused, for ever I bemoan;
Sad Helen has no friend, now thou art gone!
Through Troy's wide streets abandon'd shall I roam!
In Troy deserted, as abhorr'd at home!"
So spoke the fair, with sorrow-streaming eye.
Distressful beauty melts each stander-by.
On all around the infectious sorrow grows;
But Priam check'd the torrent as it rose:
"Perform, ye Trojans! what the rites require,
And fell the forests for a funeral pyre;
Twelve days, nor foes nor secret ambush dread;