The Fall of Troy

Page: 78

  With groans and tears so pleaded Ganymede.
  Then Zeus himself with one vast pall of cloud
  Veiled all the city of Priam world-renowned;
  And all the murderous fight was drowned in mist,
  And like a vanished phantom was the wall
  In vapours heavy-hung no eye could pierce;
  And all around crashed thunders, lightnings flamed
  From heaven. The Danaans heard Zeus' clarion peal
  Awe-struck; and Neleus' son cried unto them:
  "Far-famous lords of Argives, all our strength
  Palsied shall be, while Zeus protecteth thus
  Our foes. A great tide of calamity
  On us is rolling; haste we then to the ships;
  Cease we awhile from bitter toil of strife,
  Lest the fire of his wrath consume us all.
  Submit we to his portents; needs must all
  Obey him ever, who is mightier far
  Than all strong Gods, all weakling sons of men.
  On the presumptuous Titans once in wrath
  He poured down fire from heaven: then burned all earth
  Beneath, and Ocean's world-engirdling flood
  Boiled from its depths, yea, to its utmost bounds:
  Far-flowing mighty rivers were dried up:
  Perished all broods of life-sustaining earth,
  All fosterlings of the boundless sea, and all
  Dwellers in rivers: smoke and ashes veiled
  The air: earth fainted in the fervent heat.
  Therefore this day I dread the might of Zeus.
  Now, pass we to the ships, since for to-day
  He helpeth Troy. To us too shall he grant
  Glory hereafter; for the dawn on men,
  Though whiles it frown, anon shall smile. Not yet,
  But soon, shall Fate lead us to smite yon town,
  If true indeed was Calchas' prophecy
  Spoken aforetime to the assembled Greeks,
  That in the tenth year Priam's burg should fall."

  Then left they that far-famous town, and turned
  From war, in awe of Zeus's threatenings,
  Hearkening to one with ancient wisdom wise.
  Yet they forgat not friends in battle slain,
  But bare them from the field and buried them.
  These the mist hid not, but the town alone
  And its unscaleable wall, around which fell
  Trojans and Argives many in battle slain.
  So came they to the ships, and put from them
  Their battle-gear, and strode into the waves
  Of Hellespont fair-flowing, and washed away
  All stain of dust and sweat and clotted gore.

  The sun drave down his never-wearying steeds
  Into the dark west: night streamed o'er the earth,
  Bidding men cease from toil. The Argives then
  Acclaimed Achilles' valiant son with praise
  High as his father's. Mid triumphant mirth
  He feasted in kings' tents: no battle-toil
  Had wearied him; for Thetis from his limbs
  Had charmed all ache of travail, making him
  As one whom labour had no power to tire.
  When his strong heart was satisfied with meat,
  He passed to his father's tent, and over him
  Sleep's dews were poured. The Greeks slept in the plain
  Before the ships, by ever-changing guards
  Watched; for they dreaded lest the host of Troy,
  Or of her staunch allies, should kindle flame
  Upon the ships, and from them all cut off
  Their home-return. In Priam's burg the while
  By gate and wall men watched and slept in turn,
  Adread to hear the Argives' onset-shout.