The Fall of Troy

Page: 117

  Then, when he saw that burg beloved destroyed,
  Xanthus, scarce drawing breath from bloody war,
  Mourned with his Nymphs for ruin fallen on Troy,
  Mourned for the city of Priam blotted out.
  As when hail lashes a field of ripened wheat,
  And beats it small, and smites off all the ears
  With merciless scourge, and levelled with the ground
  Are stalks, and on the earth is all the grain
  Woefully wasted, and the harvest's lord
  Is stricken with deadly grief; so Xanthus' soul
  Was utterly whelmed in grief for Ilium made
  A desolation; grief undying was his,
  Immortal though he was. Mourned Simois
  And long-ridged Ida: all who on Ida dwelt
  Wailed from afar the ruin of Priam's town.

  But with loud laughter of glee the Argives sought
  Their galleys, chanting the triumphant might
  Of victory, chanting now the Blessed Gods,
  Now their own valour, and Epeius' work
  Ever renowned. Their song soared up to heaven,
  Like multitudinous cries of daws, when breaks
  A day of sunny calm and windless air
  After a ruining storm: from their glad hearts
  So rose the joyful clamour, till the Gods
  Heard and rejoiced in heaven, all who had helped
  With willing hands the war-fain Argive men.
  But chafed those others which had aided Troy,
  Beholding Priam's city wrapped in flame,
  Yet powerless for her help to override
  Fate; for not Cronos' Son can stay the hand
  Of Destiny, whose might transcendeth all
  The Immortals, and Zeus sanctioneth all her deeds.

  The Argives on the flaming altar-wood
  Laid many thighs of oxen, and made haste
  To spill sweet wine on their burnt offerings,
  Thanking the Gods for that great work achieved.
  And loudly at the feast they sang the praise
  Of all the mailed men whom the Horse of Tree
  Had ambushed. Far-famed Sinon they extolled
  For that dire torment he endured of foes;
  Yea, song and honour-guerdons without end
  All rendered him: and that resolved soul
  Glad-hearted joyed for the Argives victory,
  And for his own misfeaturing sorrowed not.
  For to the wise and prudent man renown
  Is better far than gold, than goodlihead,
  Than all good things men have or hope to win.

  So, feasting by the ships all void of fear,
  Cried one to another ever and anon:
  "We have touched the goal of this long war, have won
  Glory, have smitten our foes and their great town!
  Now grant, O Zeus, to our prayers safe home-return!"
  But not to all the Sire vouchsafed return.

  Then rose a cunning harper in their midst.
  And sang the song of triumph and of peace
  Re-won, and with glad hearts untouched by care
  They heard; for no more fear of war had they,
  But of sweet toil of law-abiding days
  And blissful, fleeting hours henceforth they dreamed.
  All the War's Story in their eager ears
  He sang—how leagued peoples gathering met
  At hallowed Aulis—how the invincible strength
  Of Peleus' son smote fenced cities twelve
  In sea-raids, how he marched o'er leagues on leagues
  Of land, and spoiled eleven—all he wrought
  In fight with Telephus and Eetion—
  How he slew giant Cycnus—all the toil
  Of war that through Achilles' wrath befell
  The Achaeans—how he dragged dead Hector round
  His own Troy's wall, and how he slew in fight
  Penthesileia and Tithonus' son:—
  How Aias laid low Glaucus, lord of spears,
  Then sang he how the child of Aeacus' son
  Struck down Eurypylus, and how the shafts
  Of Philoctetes dealt to Paris death.
  Then the song named all heroes who passed in
  To ambush in the Horse of Guile, and hymned
  The fall of god-descended Priam's burg;
  The feast he sang last, and peace after war;
  Then many another, as they listed, sang.