The Fall of Troy

Page: 116

  Still riseth up in sight of toil-worn men
  Their bright troop in the skies; but she alone
  Hides viewless ever, since the hallowed town
  Of her son Dardanus in ruin fell,
  When Zeus most high from heaven could help her not,
  Because to Fate the might of Zeus must bow;
  And by the Immortals' purpose all these things
  Had come to pass, or by Fate's ordinance.

  Still on Troy's folk the Argives wreaked their wrath,
  And battle's issues Strife Incarnate held.


How the conquerors sailed from Troy unto judgment of tempest and shipwreck.

  Then rose from Ocean Dawn the golden-throned
  Up to the heavens; night into Chaos sank.
  And now the Argives spoiled fair-fenced Troy,
  And took her boundless treasures for a prey.
  Like river-torrents seemed they, that sweep down,
  By rain, floods swelled, in thunder from the hills,
  And seaward hurl tall trees and whatsoe'er
  Grows on the mountains, mingled with the wreck
  Of shattered cliff and crag; so the long lines
  Of Danaans who had wasted Troy with fire
  Seemed, streaming with her plunder to the ships.
  Troy's daughters therewithal in scattered bands
  They haled down seaward—virgins yet unwed,
  And new-made brides, and matrons silver-haired,
  And mothers from whose bosoms foes had torn
  Babes for the last time closing lips on breasts.

  Amidst of these Menelaus led his wife
  Forth of the burning city, having wrought
  A mighty triumph—joy and shame were his.
  Cassandra heavenly-fair was haled the prize
  Of Agamemnon: to Achilles' son
  Andromache had fallen: Hecuba
  Odysseus dragged unto his ship. The tears
  Poured from her eyes as water from a spring;
  Trembled her limbs, fear-frenzied was her heart;
  Rent were her hoary tresses and besprent
  With ashes of the hearth, cast by her hands
  When she saw Priam slain and Troy aflame.
  And aye she deeply groaned for thraldom's day
  That trapped her vainly loth. Each hero led
  A wailing Trojan woman to his ship.
  Here, there, uprose from these the wild lament,
  The woeful-mingling cries of mother and babe.
  As when with white-tusked swine the herdmen drive
  Their younglings from the hill-pens to the plain
  As winter closeth in, and evermore
  Each answereth each with mingled plaintive cries;
  So moaned Troy's daughters by their foes enslaved,
  Handmaid and queen made one in thraldom's lot.

  But Helen raised no lamentation: shame
  Sat on her dark-blue eyes, and cast its flush
  Over her lovely cheeks. Her heart beat hard
  With sore misgiving, lest, as to the ships
  She passed, the Achaeans might mishandle her.
  Therefore with fluttering soul she trembled sore;
  And, her head darkly mantled in her veil,
  Close-following trod she in her husband's steps,
  With cheek shame-crimsoned, like the Queen of Love,
  What time the Heaven-abiders saw her clasped
  In Ares' arms, shaming in sight of all
  The marriage-bed, trapped in the myriad-meshed
  Toils of Hephaestus: tangled there she lay
  In agony of shame, while thronged around
  The Blessed, and there stood Hephaestus' self:
  For fearful it is for wives to be beheld
  By husbands' eyes doing the deed of shame.
  Lovely as she in form and roseate blush
  Passed Helen mid the Trojan captives on
  To the Argive ships. But the folk all around
  Marvelled to see the glory of loveliness
  Of that all-flawless woman. No man dared
  Or secretly or openly to cast
  Reproach on her. As on a Goddess all
  Gazed on her with adoring wistful eyes.
  As when to wanderers on a stormy sea,
  After long time and passion of prayer, the sight
  Of fatherland is given; from deadly deeps
  Escaped, they stretch hands to her joyful-souled;
  So joyed the Danaans all, no man of them
  Remembered any more war's travail and pain.
  Such thoughts Cytherea stirred in them, for grace
  To Helen starry-eyed, and Zeus her sire.