The Fall of Troy

Page: 114

  Here, there, on all sides crumbled flaming homes
  In ruin down: scorched dust with smoke was blent:
  Trembled the streets to the awful thunderous crash.
  Here burned Aeneas' palace, yonder flamed
  Antimachus' halls: one furnace was the height
  Of fair-built Pergamus; flames were roaring round
  Apollo's temple, round Athena's fane,
  And round the Hearth-lord's altar: flames licked up
  Fair chambers of the sons' sons of a king;
  And all the city sank down into hell.

  Of Trojans some by Argos' sons were slain,
  Some by their own roofs crashing down in fire,
  Giving at once in death and tomb to them:
  Some in their own throats plunged the steel, when foes
  And fire were in the porch together seen:
  Some slew their wives and children, and flung themselves
  Dead on them, when despair had done its work
  Of horror. One, who deemed the foe afar,
  Caught up a vase, and, fain to quench the flame,
  Hasted for water. Leapt unmarked on him
  An Argive, and his spirit, heavy with wine,
  Was thrust forth from the body by the spear.
  Clashed the void vase above him, as he fell
  Backward within the house. As through his hall
  Another fled, the burning roof-beam crashed
  Down on his head, and swift death came with it.
  And many women, as in frenzied flight
  They rushed forth, suddenly remembered babes
  Left in their beds beneath those burning roofs:
  With wild feet sped they back—the house fell in
  Upon them, and they perished, mother and child.
  Horses and dogs in panic through the town
  Fled from the flames, trampling beneath their feet
  The dead, and dashing into living men
  To their sore hurt. Shrieks rang through all the town.
  In through his blazing porchway rushed a man
  To rescue wife and child. Through smoke and flame
  Blindly he groped, and perished while he cried
  Their names, and pitiless doom slew those within.

  The fire-glow upward mounted to the sky,
  The red glare o'er the firmament spread its wings,
  And all the tribes of folk that dwelt around
  Beheld it, far as Ida's mountain-crests,
  And sea-girt Tenedos, and Thracian Samos.
  And men that voyaged on the deep sea cried:
  "The Argives have achieved their mighty task
  After long toil for star-eyed Helen's sake.
  All Troy, the once queen-city, burns in fire:
  For all their prayers, no God defends them now;
  For strong Fate oversees all works of men,
  And the renownless and obscure to fame
  She raises, and brings low the exalted ones.
  Oft out of good is evil brought, and good
  From evil, mid the travail and change of life."

  So spake they, who from far beheld the glare
  Of Troy's great burning. Compassed were her folk
  With wailing misery: through her streets the foe
  Exulted, as when madding blasts turmoil
  The boundless sea, what time the Altar ascends
  To heaven's star-pavement, turned to the misty south
  Overagainst Arcturus tempest-breathed,
  And with its rising leap the wild winds forth,
  And ships full many are whelmed 'neath ravening seas;
  Wild as those stormy winds Achaea's sons
  Ravaged steep Ilium while she burned in flame.
  As when a mountain clothed with shaggy woods
  Burns swiftly in a fire-blast winged with winds,
  And from her tall peaks goeth up a roar,
  And all the forest-children this way and that
  Rush through the wood, tormented by the flame;
  So were the Trojans perishing: there was none
  To save, of all the Gods. Round these were staked
  The nets of Fate, which no man can escape.