Bulfinch's Mythology The Age of Fable

Page: 144

It was now discovered that Troy could not be taken but by the arrows of Hercules. They were in possession of Philoctetes, the friend who had been with Hercules at the last, and lighted his funeral pyre. Philoctetes had joined the Grecian expedition against Troy, but had accidentally wounded his foot with one of the poisoned arrows, and the smell from his wound proved so offensive that his companions carried him to the Isle of Lemnos and left him there. Diomedes was now sent to induce him to rejoin the army. He succeeded. Philoctetes was cured of his wound by Machaon, and Paris was the first victim of the fatal arrows. In his distress Paris bethought him of one whom in his prosperity he had forgotten. This was the nymph OEnone, whom he had married when a youth, and had abandoned for the fatal beauty Helen. OEnone, remembering the wrongs she had suffered, refused to heal the wound, and Paris went back to Troy and died. OEnone quickly repented, and hastened after him with remedies, but came too late, and in her grief hung herself.

Tennyson has chosen OEnone as the subject of a short poem; but he has omitted the concluding part of the story, the return of Paris wounded, her cruelty and subsequent repentance.

  "—— Hither came at noon
  Mournful OENONE, wandering forlorn
  Of Paris, once her playmate on the hills.
  Her cheek had lost the rose, and round her neck
  Floated her hair, or seemed to float in rest.
  She, leaning on a fragment twined with vine,
  Sang to the stillness, till the mountain-shade
  Sloped downward to her seat from the upper cliff.
  . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  "'O Mother Ida, many-fountain'd Ida,
  Dear Mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
  I waited underneath the dawning hills,
  Aloft the mountain lawn was dewy-dark,
  And dewy-dark aloft the mountain pine:
  Beautiful Paris, evil-hearted Paris,
  Leading a jet-black goat, white-horned, white-hooved,
  Come up from reedy Simois, all alone.

  "'O Mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
  Far off the torrent called me from the cliff:
  Far up the solitary morning smote
  The streaks of virgin snow. With downdropt eyes
  I sat alone: white-breasted like a star
  Fronting the dawn he moved; a leopard-skin
  Drooped from his shoulder, but his sunny hair
  Clustered about his temples like a God's,
  And his cheek brightened as the foambow brightens
  When the wind blows the foam, and all my heart
  Went forth to embrace him coming, ere he came.

  "'Dear Mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
  He smiled, and opening out his milk-white palm
  Disclosed a fruit of pure Hesperian gold,
  That smelt ambrosially, and while I looked
  And listened, the full-flowing river of speech
  Came down upon my heart.

  "My own OENONE,
  Beautiful-browed OENONE, my own soul,
  Behold this fruit, whose gleaming rind ingraven
  'For the most fair,' would seem award it thine
  As lovelier than whatever Oread haunt
  The knolls of Ida, loveliest in all grace
  Of movement, and the charm of married brows."

  "'Dear Mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
  He prest the blossom of his lips to mine,
  And added, "This was cast upon the board,
  When all the full-faced presence of the gods
  Hanged in the halls of Peleus; whereupon
  Rose feud, with question unto whom 'twas due;
  But light-foot Iris brought it yester-eve
  Delivering, that to me, by common voice
  Elected umpire, Her comes to-day,
  Pallas and Aphrodite, claiming each
  This meed of fairest. Thou within the cave
  Beyond yon whispering tuft of oldest pine,
  May'st well behold them unbeheld, unheard
  Hear all, and see thy Paris judge of gods."'"