The Fall of Troy

Page: 17

  Indignantly he spake, and Paris found
  No word to answer him, for conscience woke
  Remembrance of all woes he had brought on Troy,
  And should bring; for his passion-fevered heart
  Would rather hail quick death than severance
  From Helen the divinely fair, although
  For her sake was it that the sons of Troy
  Even then were gazing from their towers to see
  The Argives and Achilles drawing nigh.

  But no long time thereafter came to them
  Memnon the warrior-king, and brought with him
  A countless host of swarthy Aethiops.
  From all the streets of Troy the Trojans flocked
  Glad-eyed to gaze on him, as seafarers,
  With ruining tempest utterly forspent,
  See through wide-parting clouds the radiance
  Of the eternal-wheeling Northern Wain;
  So joyed the Troyfolk as they thronged around,
  And more than all Laomedon's son, for now
  Leapt in his heart a hope, that yet the ships
  Might by those Aethiop men be burned with fire;
  So giantlike their king was, and themselves
  So huge a host, and so athirst for fight.
  Therefore with all observance welcomed he
  The strong son of the Lady of the Dawn
  With goodly gifts and with abundant cheer.
  So at the banquet King and Hero sat
  And talked, this telling of the Danaan chiefs,
  And all the woes himself had suffered, that
  Telling of that strange immortality
  By the Dawn-goddess given to his sire,
  Telling of the unending flow and ebb
  Of the Sea-mother, of the sacred flood
  Of Ocean fathomless-rolling, of the bounds
  Of Earth that wearieth never of her travail,
  Of where the Sun-steeds leap from orient waves,
  Telling withal of all his wayfaring
  From Ocean's verge to Priam's wall, and spurs
  Of Ida. Yea, he told how his strong hands
  Smote the great army of the Solymi
  Who barred his way, whose deed presumptuous brought
  Upon their own heads crushing ruin and woe.
  So told he all that marvellous tale, and told
  Of countless tribes and nations seen of him.
  And Priam heard, and ever glowed his heart
  Within him; and the old lips answering spake:
  "Memnon, the Gods are good, who have vouchsafed
  To me to look upon thine host, and thee
  Here in mine halls. O that their grace would so
  Crown this their boon, that I might see my foes
  All thrust to one destruction by thy spears.
  That well may be, for marvellous-like art thou
  To some invincible Deathless One, yea, more
  Than any earthly hero. Wherefore thou,
  I trust, shalt hurl wild havoc through their host.
  But now, I pray thee, for this day do thou
  Cheer at my feast thine heart, and with the morn
  Shalt thou go forth to battle worthy of thee."

  Then in his hands a chalice deep and wide
  He raised, and Memnon in all love he pledged
  In that huge golden cup, a gift of Gods;
  For this the cunning God-smith brought to Zeus,
  His masterpiece, what time the Mighty in Power
  To Hephaestus gave for bride the Cyprian Queen;
  And Zeus on Dardanus his godlike son
  Bestowed it, he on Erichthonius;
  Erichthonius to Tros the great of heart
  Gave it, and he with all his treasure-store
  Bequeathed it unto Ilus, and he gave
  That wonder to Laomedon, and he
  To Priam, who had thought to leave the same
  To his own son. Fate ordered otherwise.
  And Memnon clasped his hands about that cup
  So peerless-beautiful, and all his heart