The Fall of Troy

Page: 19

  Then in the grapple of war on either side
  Closed the long lines, Trojan and Danaan;
  But chief in prowess still the Aethiops were.
  Crashed they together as when surges meet
  On the wild sea, when, in a day of storm,
  From every quarter winds to battle rush.
  Foe hurled at foe the ashen spear, and slew:
  Screams and death-groans went up like roaring fire.
  As when down-thundering torrents shout and rave
  On-pouring seaward, when the madding rains
  Stream from God's cisterns, when the huddling clouds
  Are hurled against each other ceaselessly,
  And leaps their fiery breath in flashes forth;
  So 'neath the fighters' trampling feet the earth
  Thundered, and leapt the terrible battle-yell
  Through frenzied air, for mad the war-cries were.

  For firstfruits of death's harvest Peleus' son
  Slew Thalius and Mentes nobly born,
  Men of renown, and many a head beside
  Dashed he to dust. As in its furious swoop
  A whirlwind shakes dark chasms underground,
  And earth's foundations crumble and melt away
  Around the deep roots of the shuddering world,
  So the ranks crumbled in swift doom to the dust
  Before the spear and fury of Peleus's son.

  But on the other side the hero child
  Of the Dawn-goddess slew the Argive men,
  Like to a baleful Doom which bringeth down
  On men a grim and ghastly pestilence.
  First slew he Pheron; for the bitter spear
  Plunged through his breast, and down on him he hurled
  Goodly Ereuthus, battle-revellers both,
  Dwellers in Thryus by Alpheus' streams,
  Which followed Nestor to the god-built burg
  Of Ilium. But when he had laid these low,
  Against the son of Neleus pressed he on
  Eager to slay. Godlike Antilochus
  Strode forth to meet him, sped the long spear's flight,
  Yet missed him, for a little he swerved, but slew
  His Aethiop comrade, son of Pyrrhasus.
  Wroth for his fall, against Antilochus
  He leapt, as leaps a lion mad of mood
  Upon a boar, the beast that flincheth not
  From fight with man or brute, whose charge is a flash
  Of lightning; so was his swift leap. His foe
  Antilochus caught a huge stone from the ground,
  Hurled, smote him; but unshaken abode his strength,
  For the strong helm-crest fenced his head from death;
  But rang the morion round his brows. His heart
  Kindled with terrible fury at the blow
  More than before against Antilochus.
  Like seething cauldron boiled his maddened might.
  He stabbed, for all his cunning of fence, the son
  Of Nestor above the breast; the crashing spear
  Plunged to the heart, the spot of speediest death.

  Then upon all the Danaans at his fall
  Came grief; but anguish-stricken was the heart
  Of Nestor most of all, to see his child
  Slain in his sight; for no more bitter pang
  Smiteth the heart of man than when a son
  Perishes, and his father sees him die.
  Therefore, albeit unused to melting mood,
  His soul was torn with agony for the son
  By black death slain. A wild cry hastily
  To Thrasymedes did he send afar:
  "Hither to me, Thrasymedes war-renowned!
  Help me to thrust back from thy brother's corse,
  Yea, from mine hapless son, his murderer,
  That so ourselves may render to our dead
  All dues of mourning. If thou flinch for fear,
  No son of mine art thou, nor of the line
  Of Periclymenus, who dared withstand
  Hercules' self. Come, to the battle-toil!
  For grim necessity oftentimes inspires
  The very coward with courage of despair."