The Fall of Troy

Page: 107

  One heart was steadfast, and one soul clear-eyed,
  Cassandra. Never her words were unfulfilled;
  Yet was their utter truth, by Fate's decree,
  Ever as idle wind in the hearers' ears,
  That no bar to Troy's ruin might be set.
  She saw those evil portents all through Troy
  Conspiring to one end; loud rang her cry,
  As roars a lioness that mid the brakes
  A hunter has stabbed or shot, whereat her heart
  Maddens, and down the long hills rolls her roar,
  And her might waxes tenfold; so with heart
  Aflame with prophecy came she forth her bower.
  Over her snowy shoulders tossed her hair
  Streaming far down, and wildly blazed her eyes.
  Her neck writhed, like a sapling in the wind
  Shaken, as moaned and shrieked that noble maid:
  "O wretches! into the Land of Darkness now
  We are passing; for all round us full of fire
  And blood and dismal moan the city is.
  Everywhere portents of calamity
  Gods show: destruction yawns before your feet.
  Fools! ye know not your doom: still ye rejoice
  With one consent in madness, who to Troy
  Have brought the Argive Horse where ruin lurks!
  Oh, ye believe not me, though ne'er so loud
  I cry! The Erinyes and the ruthless Fates,
  For Helen's spousals madly wroth, through Troy
  Dart on wild wings. And ye, ye are banqueting there
  In your last feast, on meats befouled with gore,
  When now your feet are on the Path of Ghosts!"

  Then cried a scoffing voice an ominous word:
  "Why doth a raving tongue of evil speech,
  Daughter of Priam, make thy lips to cry
  Words empty as wind? No maiden modesty
  With purity veils thee: thou art compassed round
  With ruinous madness; therefore all men scorn
  Thee, babbler! Hence, thine evil bodings speak
  To the Argives and thyself! For thee doth wait
  Anguish and shame yet bitterer than befell
  Presumptuous Laocoon. Shame it were
  In folly to destroy the Immortals' gift."

  So scoffed a Trojan: others in like sort
  Cried shame on her, and said she spake but lies,
  Saying that ruin and Fate's heavy stroke
  Were hard at hand. They knew not their own doom,
  And mocked, and thrust her back from that huge Horse
  For fain she was to smite its beams apart,
  Or burn with ravening fire. She snatched a brand
  Of blazing pine-wood from the hearth and ran
  In fury: in the other hand she bare
  A two-edged halberd: on that Horse of Doom
  She rushed, to cause the Trojans to behold
  With their own eyes the ambush hidden there.
  But straightway from her hands they plucked and flung
  Afar the fire and steel, and careless turned
  To the feast; for darkened o'er them their last night.
  Within the horse the Argives joyed to hear
  The uproar of Troy's feasters setting at naught
  Cassandra, but they marvelled that she knew
  So well the Achaeans' purpose and device.

  As mid the hills a furious pantheress,
  Which from the steading hounds and shepherd-folk
  Drive with fierce rush, with savage heart turns back
  Even in departing, galled albeit by darts:
  So from the great Horse fled she, anguish-racked
  For Troy, for all the ruin she foreknew.