The Fall of Troy

Page: 82

  Elsewhere did Agamemnon, Tydeus' son,
  And other chieftains of the Danaans toil
  With fury in the fight. Yet never quailed
  The mighty men of Troy: with heart and soul
  They also fought, and ever stayed from flight
  Such as gave back. Yet many heeded not
  Their chiefs, but fled, cowed by the Achaeans' might.

  Now at the last Achilles' strong son marked
  How fast beside Scamander's outfall Greeks
  Were perishing. Those Troyward-fleeing foes
  Whom he had followed slaying, left he now,
  And bade Automedon thither drive, where hosts
  Were falling of the Achaeans. Straightway he
  Hearkened, and scourged the steeds immortal on
  To that wild fray: bearing their lord they flew
  Swiftly o'er battle-highways paved with death.

  As Ares chariot-borne to murderous war
  Fares forth, and round his onrush quakes the ground,
  While on the God's breast clash celestial arms
  Outflashing fire, so charged Achilles' son
  Against Deiphobus. Clouds of dust upsoared
  About his horses' feet. Automedon marked
  The Trojan chief, and knew him. To his lord
  Straightway he named that hero war-renowned:
  "My king, this is Deiphobus' array—
  The man who from thy father fled in fear.
  Some God or fiend with courage fills him now."

  Naught answered Neoptolemus, save to bid
  Drive on the steeds yet faster, that with speed
  He might avert grim death from perishing friends.
  But when to each other now full nigh they drew,
  Deiphobus, despite his battle-lust,
  Stayed, as a ravening fire stays when it meets
  Water. He marvelled, seeing Achilles' steeds
  And that gigantic son, huge as his sire;
  And his heart wavered, choosing now to flee,
  And now to face that hero, man to man
  As when a mountain boar from his young brood
  Chases the jackals—then a lion leaps
  From hidden ambush into view: the boar
  Halts in his furious onset, loth to advance,
  Loth to retreat, while foam his jaws about
  His whetted tusks; so halted Priam's son
  Car-steeds and car, perplexed, while quivered his hands
  About the lance. Shouted Achilles' son:
  "Ho, Priam's son, why thus so mad to smite
  Those weaker Argives, who have feared thy wrath
  And fled thine onset? So thou deem'st thyself
  Far mightiest! If thine heart be brave indeed,
  Of my spear now make trial in the strife."

  On rushed he, as a lion against a stag,
  Borne by the steeds and chariot of his sire.
  And now full soon his lance had slain his foe,
  Him and his charioteer—but Phoebus poured
  A dense cloud round him from the viewless heights
  Of heaven, and snatched him from the deadly fray,
  And set him down in Troy, amid the rout
  Of fleeing Trojans: so did Peleus' son
  Stab but the empty air; and loud he cried:
  "Dog, thou hast 'scaped my wrath! No might of thine
  Saved thee, though ne'er so fain! Some God hath cast
  Night's veil o'er thee, and snatched thee from thy death."

  Then Cronos' Son dispersed that dense dark cloud:
  Mist-like it thinned and vanished into air:
  Straightway the plain and all the land were seen.
  Then far away about the Scaean Gate
  He saw the Trojans: seeming like his sire,
  He sped against them; they at his coming quailed.
  As shipmen tremble when a wild wave bears
  Down on their bark, wind-heaved until it swings
  Broad, mountain-high above them, when the sea
  Is mad with tempest; so, as on he came,
  Terror clad all those Trojans as a cloak,
  The while he shouted, cheering on his men:
  "Hear, friends!—fill full your hearts with dauntless strength,
  The strength that well beseemeth mighty men
  Who thirst to win them glorious victory,
  To win renown from battle's tumult! Come,
  Brave hearts, now strive we even beyond our strength
  Till we smite Troy's proud city, till we win
  Our hearts' desire! Foul shame it were to abide
  Long deedless here and strengthless, womanlike!
  Ere I be called war-blencher, let me die!"