The Fall of Troy

Page: 110

  Nor seetheless were the Danaans in the fray:
  With beakers some were smitten, with tables some,
  Thrust in the eyes of some were burning brands
  Snatched from the hearth; some died transfixed with spits
  Yet left within the hot flesh of the swine
  Whereon the red breath of the Fire-god beat;
  Others struck down by bills and axes keen
  Gasped in their blood: from some men's hands were shorn
  The fingers, who, in wild hope to escape
  The imminent death, had clutched the blades of swords.
  And here in that dark tumult one had hurled
  A stone, and crushed the crown of a friend's head.
  Like wild beasts trapped and stabbed within a fold
  On a lone steading, frenziedly they fought,
  Mad with despair-enkindled rage, beneath
  That night of horror. Hot with battle-lust
  Here, there, the fighters rushed and hurried through
  The palace of Priam. Many an Argive fell
  Spear-slain; for whatso Trojan in his halls
  Might seize a sword, might lift a spear in hand,
  Slew foes—ay, heavy though he were with wine.

  Upflashed a glare unearthly through the town,
  For many an Argive bare in hand a torch
  To know in that dim battle friends from foes.

  Then Tydeus' son amid the war-storm met
  Spearman Coroebus, lordly Mygdon's son,
  And 'neath the left ribs pierced him with the lance
  Where run the life-ways of man's meat and drink;
  So met him black death borne upon the spear:
  Down in dark blood he fell mid hosts of slain.
  Ah fool! the bride he won not, Priam's child
  Cassandra, yea, his loveliest, for whose sake
  To Priam's burg but yesterday he came,
  And vaunted he would thrust the Argives back
  From Ilium. Never did the Gods fulfil
  His hope: the Fates hurled doom upon his head.
  With him the slayer laid Eurydamas low,
  Antenor's gallant son-in-law, who most
  For prudence was pre-eminent in Troy.
  Then met he Ilioneus the elder of days,
  And flashed his terrible sword forth. All the limbs
  Of that grey sire were palsied with his fear:
  He put forth trembling hands, with one he caught
  The swift avenging sword, with one he clasped
  The hero's knees. Despite his fury of war,
  A moment paused his wrath, or haply a God
  Held back the sword a space, that that old man
  Might speak to his fierce foe one word of prayer.
  Piteously cried he, terror-overwhelmed:
  "I kneel before thee, whosoe'er thou be
  Of mighty Argives. Oh compassionate
  My suppliant hands! Abate thy wrath! To slay
  The young and valiant is a glorious thing;
  But if thou smite an old man, small renown
  Waits on thy prowess. Therefore turn from me
  Thine hands against young men, if thou dost hope
  Ever to come to grey hairs such as mine."

  So spake he; but replied strong Tydeus' son:
  "Old man, I look to attain to honoured age;
  But while my Strength yet waxeth, will not I
  Spare any foe, but hurl to Hades all.
  The brave man makes an end of every foe."