The Fall of Troy
Page: 4Then joyed Troy's folk, despite past agonies,
As when, far-gazing from a height, the hinds
Behold a rainbow spanning the wide sea,
When they be yearning for the heaven-sent shower,
When the parched fields be craving for the rain;
Then the great sky at last is overgloomed,
And men see that fair sign of coming wind
And imminent rain, and seeing, they are glad,
Who for their corn-fields' plight sore sighed before;
Even so the sons of Troy when they beheld
There in their land Penthesileia dread
Afire for battle, were exceeding glad;
For when the heart is thrilled with hope of good,
All smart of evils past is wiped away:
So, after all his sighing and his pain,
Gladdened a little while was Priam's soul.
As when a man who hath suffered many a pang
From blinded eyes, sore longing to behold
The light, and, if he may not, fain would die,
Then at the last, by a cunning leech's skill,
Or by a God's grace, sees the dawn-rose flush,
Sees the mist rolled back from before his eyes,—
Yea, though clear vision come not as of old,
Yet, after all his anguish, joys to have
Some small relief, albeit the stings of pain
Prick sharply yet beneath his eyelids;—so
Joyed the old king to see that terrible queen—
The shadowy joy of one in anguish whelmed
For slain sons. Into his halls he led the Maid,
And with glad welcome honoured her, as one
Who greets a daughter to her home returned
From a far country in the twentieth year;
And set a feast before her, sumptuous
As battle-glorious kings, who have brought low
Nations of foes, array in splendour of pomp,
With hearts in pride of victory triumphing.
And gifts he gave her costly and fair to see,
And pledged him to give many more, so she
Would save the Trojans from the imminent doom.
And she such deeds she promised as no man
Had hoped for, even to lay Achilles low,
To smite the wide host of the Argive men,
And cast the brands red-flaming on the ships.
Ah fool!—but little knew she him, the lord
Of ashen spears, how far Achilles' might
In warrior-wasting strife o'erpassed her own!
But when Andromache, the stately child
Of king Eetion, heard the wild queen's vaunt,
Low to her own soul bitterly murmured she:
"Ah hapless! why with arrogant heart dost thou
Speak such great swelling words? No strength is thine
To grapple in fight with Peleus' aweless son.
Nay, doom and swift death shall he deal to thee.
Alas for thee! What madness thrills thy soul?
Fate and the end of death stand hard by thee!
Hector was mightier far to wield the spear
Than thou, yet was for all his prowess slain,
Slain for the bitter grief of Troy, whose folk
The city through looked on him as a God.
My glory and his noble parents' glory
Was he while yet he lived—O that the earth
Over my dead face had been mounded high,
Or ever through his throat the breath of life
Followed the cleaving spear! But now have I
Looked—woe is me!—on grief unutterable,
When round the city those fleet-footed steeds
Haled him, steeds of Achilles, who had made
Me widowed of mine hero-husband, made
My portion bitterness through all my days."