The Fall of Troy

Page: 121

  With anguished heart: so went they aboard the ships.
  But Calchas would not with that eager host
  Launch forth; yea, he had fain withheld therefrom
  All the Achaeans, for his prophet-soul
  Foreboded dread destruction looming o'er
  The Argives by the Rocks Capherean.
  But naught they heeded him; malignant
  Fate Deluded men's souls: only Amphilochus
  The wise in prophet-lore, the gallant son
  Of princely Amphiaraus, stayed with him.
  Fated were these twain, far from their own land,
  To reach Pamphylian and Cilician burgs;
  And this the Gods thereafter brought to pass.

  But now the Achaeans cast the hawsers loose
  From shore: in haste they heaved the anchor-stones.
  Roared Hellespont beneath swift-flashing oars;
  Crashed the prows through the sea. About the bows
  Much armour of slain foes was lying heaped:
  Along the bulwarks victory-trophies hung
  Countless. With garlands wreathed they all the ships,
  Their heads, the spears, the shields wherewith they had fought
  Against their foes. The chiefs stood on the prows,
  And poured into the dark sea once and again
  Wine to the Gods, to grant them safe return.
  But with the winds their prayers mixed; far away
  Vainly they floated blent with cloud and air.

  With anguished hearts the captive maids looked back
  On Ilium, and with sobs and moans they wailed,
  Striving to hide their grief from Argive eyes.
  Clasping their knees some sat; in misery some
  Veiled with their hands their faces; others nursed
  Young children in their arms: those innocents
  Not yet bewailed their day of bondage, nor
  Their country's ruin; all their thoughts were set
  On comfort of the breast, for the babe's heart
  Hath none affinity with sorrow. All
  Sat with unbraided hair and pitiful breasts
  Scored with their fingers. On their cheeks there lay
  Stains of dried tears, and streamed thereover now
  Fresh tears full fast, as still they gazed aback
  On the lost hapless home, wherefrom yet rose
  The flames, and o'er it writhed the rolling smoke.
  Now on Cassandra marvelling they gazed,
  Calling to mind her prophecy of doom;
  But at their tears she laughed in bitter scorn,
  In anguish for the ruin of her land.

  Such Trojans as had scaped from pitiless war
  Gathered to render now the burial-dues
  Unto their city's slain. Antenor led
  To that sad work: one pyre for all they raised.

  But laughed with triumphing hearts the Argive men,
  As now with oars they swept o'er dark sea-ways,
  Now hastily hoised the sails high o'er the ships,
  And fleeted fast astern Dardania-land,
  And Hero Achilles' tomb. But now their hearts,
  How blithe soe'er, remembered comrades slain,
  And sorely grieved, and wistfully they looked
  Back to the alien's land; it seemed to them
  Aye sliding farther from their ships. Full soon
  By Tenedos' beaches slipt they: now they ran
  By Chrysa, Sminthian Phoebus' holy place,
  And hallowed Cilla. Far away were glimpsed
  The windy heights of Lesbos. Rounded now
  Was Lecton's foreland, where is the last peak
  Of Ida. In the sails loud hummed the wind,
  Crashed round the prows the dark surge: the long waves
  Showed shadowy hollows, far the white wake gleamed.

  Now had the Argives all to the hallowed soil
  Of Hellas won, by perils of the deep
  Unscathed, but for Athena Daughter of Zeus
  The Thunderer, and her indignation's wrath.
  When nigh Euboea's windy heights they drew,
  She rose, in anger unappeasable
  Against the Locrian king, devising doom
  Crushing and pitiless, and drew nigh to Zeus
  Lord of the Gods, and spake to him apart
  In wrath that in her breast would not be pent:
  "Zeus, Father, unendurable of Gods
  Is men's presumption! They reck not of thee,
  Of none of the Blessed reck they, forasmuch
  As vengeance followeth after sin no more;
  And ofttimes more afflicted are good men
  Than evil, and their misery hath no end.
  Therefore no man regardeth justice: shame
  Lives not with men! And I, I will not dwell
  Hereafter in Olympus, not be named
  Thy daughter, if I may not be avenged
  On the Achaeans' reckless sin! Behold,
  Within my very temple Oileus' son
  Hath wrought iniquity, hath pitied not
  Cassandra stretching unregarded hands
  Once and again to me; nor did he dread
  My might, nor reverenced in his wicked heart
  The Immortal, but a deed intolerable
  He did. Therefore let not thy spirit divine
  Begrudge mine heart's desire, that so all men
  May quake before the manifest wrath of Gods."