The Fall of Troy

Page: 13

  Then Ares' heart was thrilled with grief and rage
  For his child slain. Straight from Olympus down
  He darted, swift and bright as thunderbolt
  Terribly flashing from the mighty hand Of
  Zeus, far leaping o'er the trackless sea,
  Or flaming o'er the land, while shuddereth
  All wide Olympus as it passeth by.
  So through the quivering air with heart aflame
  Swooped Ares armour-clad, soon as he heard
  The dread doom of his daughter. For the Gales,
  The North-wind's fleet-winged daughters, bare to him,
  As through the wide halls of the sky he strode,
  The tidings of the maiden's woeful end.
  Soon as he heard it, like a tempest-blast
  Down to the ridges of Ida leapt he: quaked
  Under his feet the long glens and ravines
  Deep-scored, all Ida's torrent-beds, and all
  Far-stretching foot-hills. Now had Ares brought
  A day of mourning on the Myrmidons,
  But Zeus himself from far Olympus sent
  Mid shattering thunders terror of levin-bolts
  Which thick and fast leapt through the welkin down
  Before his feet, blazing with fearful flames.
  And Ares saw, and knew the stormy threat
  Of the mighty-thundering Father, and he stayed
  His eager feet, now on the very brink
  Of battle's turmoil. As when some huge crag
  Thrust from a beetling cliff-brow by the winds
  And torrent rains, or lightning-lance of Zeus,
  Leaps like a wild beast, and the mountain-glens
  Fling back their crashing echoes as it rolls
  In mad speed on, as with resistless swoop
  Of bound on bound it rushes down, until
  It cometh to the levels of the plain,
  And there perforce its stormy flight is stayed;

  So Ares, battle-eager Son of Zeus,
  Was stayed, how loth soe'er; for all the Gods
  To the Ruler of the Blessed needs must yield,
  Seeing he sits high-throned above them all,
  Clothed in his might unspeakable. Yet still
  Many a wild thought surged through Ares' soul,
  Urging him now to dread the terrible threat
  Of Cronos' wrathful Son, and to return
  Heavenward, and now to reck not of his Sire,
  But with Achilles' blood to stain those hands,
  The battle-tireless. At the last his heart
  Remembered how that many and many a son
  Of Zeus himself in many a war had died,
  Nor in their fall had Zeus availed them aught.
  Therefore he turned him from the Argives—else,
  Down smitten by the blasting thunderbolt,
  With Titans in the nether gloom he had lain,
  Who dared defy the eternal will of Zeus.

  Then did the warrior sons of Argos strip
  With eager haste from corpses strown all round
  The blood-stained spoils. But ever Peleus' son
  Gazed, wild with all regret, still gazed on her,
  The strong, the beautiful, laid in the dust;
  And all his heart was wrung, was broken down
  With sorrowing love, deep, strong as he had known
  When that beloved friend Patroclus died.

  Loud jeered Thersites, mocking to his face:
  "Thou sorry-souled Achilles! art not shamed
  To let some evil Power beguile thine heart
  To pity of a pitiful Amazon
  Whose furious spirit purposed naught but ill
  To us and ours? Ha, woman-mad art thou,
  And thy soul lusts for this thing, as she were
  Some lady wise in household ways, with gifts
  And pure intent for honoured wedlock wooed!
  Good had it been had her spear reached thine heart,
  The heart that sighs for woman-creatures still!
  Thou carest not, unmanly-souled, not thou,
  For valour's glorious path, when once thine eye
  Lights on a woman! Sorry wretch, where now
  Is all thy goodly prowess? where thy wit?
  And where the might that should beseem a king
  All-stainless? Dost not know what misery
  This self-same woman-madness wrought for Troy?
  Nothing there is to men more ruinous
  Than lust for woman's beauty; it maketh fools
  Of wise men. But the toil of war attains
  Renown. To him that is a hero indeed
  Glory of victory and the War-god's works
  Are sweet. 'Tis but the battle-blencher craves
  The beauty and the bed of such as she!"