The Fall of Troy

Page: 81

  So when they all stood mailed in battle-gear,
  Forth of the gates they poured all eager-souled
  For war. Against the chariots of the Greeks
  Their chariots charged; their ranks of footmen pressed
  To meet the footmen of the foe. The earth
  Rang to the tramp of onset; pealed the cheer
  From man to man; swift closed the fronts of war.
  Loud clashed their arms all round; from either side
  War-cries were mingled in one awful roar
  Swift-winged full many a dart and arrow flew
  From host to host; loud clanged the smitten shields
  'Neath thrusting spears, 'neath javelin-point and sword:
  Men hewed with battle-axes lightening down;
  Crimson the armour ran with blood of men.
  And all this while Troy's wives and daughters watched
  From high walls that grim battle of the strong.
  All trembled as they prayed for husbands, sons,
  And brothers: white-haired sires amidst them sat,
  And gazed, while anguished fear for sons devoured
  Their hearts. But Helen in her bower abode
  Amidst her maids, there held by utter shame.

  So without pause before the wall they fought,
  While Death exulted o'er them; deadly Strife
  Shrieked out a long wild cry from host to host.
  With blood of slain men dust became red mire:
  Here, there, fast fell the warriors mid the fray.

  Then slew Deiphobus the charioteer
  Of Nestor, Hippasus' son: from that high car
  Down fell he 'midst the dead; fear seized his lord
  Lest, while his hands were cumbered with the reins,
  He too by Priam's strong son might be slain.
  Melanthius marked his plight: swiftly he sprang
  Upon the car; he urged the horses on,
  Shaking the reins, goading them with his spear,
  Seeing the scourge was lost. But Priam's son
  Left these, and plunged amid a throng of foes.
  There upon many he brought the day of doom;
  For like a ruining tempest on he stormed
  Through reeling ranks. His mighty hand struck down
  Foes numberless: the plain was heaped with dead.

  As when a woodman on the long-ridged hills
  Plunges amid the forest-depths, and hews
  With might and main, and fells sap-laden trees
  To make him store of charcoal from the heaps
  Of billets overturfed and set afire:
  The trunks on all sides fallen strew the slopes,
  While o'er his work the man exulteth; so
  Before Deiphobus' swift death-dealing hands
  In heaps the Achaeans each on other fell.
  The charging lines of Troy swept over some;
  Some fled to Xanthus' stream: Deiphobus chased
  Into the flood yet more, and slew and slew.
  As when on fish-abounding Hellespont's strand
  The fishermen hard-straining drag a net
  Forth of the depths to land; but, while it trails
  Yet through the sea, one leaps amid the waves
  Grasping in hand a sinuous-headed spear
  To deal the sword-fish death, and here and there,
  Fast as he meets them, slays them, and with blood
  The waves are reddened; so were Xanthus' streams
  Impurpled by his hands, and choked with dead.

  Yet not without sore loss the Trojans fought;
  For all this while Peleides' fierce-heart son
  Of other ranks made havoc. Thetis gazed
  Rejoicing in her son's son, with a joy
  As great as was her grief for Achilles slain.
  For a great host beneath his spear were hurled
  Down to the dust, steeds, warriors slaughter-blent.
  And still he chased, and still he slew: he smote
  Amides war-renowned, who on his steed
  Bore down on him, but of his horsemanship
  Small profit won. The bright spear pierced him through
  From navel unto spine, and all his bowels
  Gushed out, and deadly Doom laid hold on him
  Even as he fell beside his horse's feet.
  Ascanius and Oenops next he slew;
  Under the fifth rib of the one he drave
  His spear, the other stabbed he 'neath the throat
  Where a wound bringeth surest doom to man.
  Whomso he met besides he slew—the names
  What man could tell of all that by the hands
  Of Neoptolemus died? Never his limbs
  Waxed weary. As some brawny labourer,
  With strong hands toiling in a fruitful field
  The livelong day, rains down to earth the fruit
  Of olives, swiftly beating with his pole,
  And with the downfall covers all the ground,
  So fast fell 'neath his hands the thronging foe.