The Fall of Troy

Page: 92

  So cried she: but for him far less she mourned
  Than for herself, remembering her own sin.
  Yea, and Troy's daughters but in semblance wailed
  For him: of other woes their hearts were full.
  Some thought on parents, some on husbands slain,
  These on their sons, on honoured kinsmen those.

  One only heart was pierced with grief unfeigned,
  Oenone. Not with them of Troy she wailed,
  But far away within that desolate home
  Moaning she lay on her lost husband's bed.
  As when the copses on high mountains stand
  White-veiled with frozen snow, which o'er the glens
  The west-wind blasts have strown, but now the sun
  And east-wind melt it fast, and the long heights
  With water-courses stream, and down the glades
  Slide, as they thaw, the heavy sheets, to swell
  The rushing waters of an ice-cold spring,
  So melted she in tears of anguished pain,
  And for her own, her husband, agonised,
  And cried to her heart with miserable moans:
  "Woe for my wickedness! O hateful life!
  I loved mine hapless husband—dreamed with him
  To pace to eld's bright threshold hand in hand,
  And heart in heart! The gods ordained not so.
  Oh had the black Fates snatched me from the earth
  Ere I from Paris turned away in hate!
  My living love hath left me!—yet will I
  Dare to die with him, for I loathe the light."

  So cried she, weeping, weeping piteously,
  Remembering him whom death had swallowed up,
  Wasting, as melteth wax before the flame
  Yet secretly, being fearful lest her sire
  Should mark it, or her handmaids till the night
  Rose from broad Ocean, flooding all the earth
  With darkness bringing men release from toil.
  Then, while her father and her maidens slept,
  She slid the bolts back of the outer doors,
  And rushed forth like a storm-blast. Fast she ran,
  As when a heifer 'mid the mountains speeds,
  Her heart with passion stung, to meet her mate,
  And madly races on with flying feet,
  And fears not, in her frenzy of desire,
  The herdman, as her wild rush bears her on,
  So she but find her mate amid the woods;
  So down the long tracks flew Oenone's feet;
  Seeking the awful pyre, to leap thereon.
  No weariness she knew: as upon wings
  Her feet flew faster ever, onward spurred
  By fell Fate, and the Cyprian Queen. She feared
  No shaggy beast that met her in the dark
  Who erst had feared them sorely—rugged rock
  And precipice of tangled mountain-slope,
  She trod them all unstumbling; torrent-beds
  She leapt. The white Moon-goddess from on high
  Looked on her, and remembered her own love,
  Princely Endymion, and she pitied her
  In that wild race, and, shining overhead
  In her full brightness, made the long tracks plain.

  Through mountain-gorges so she won to where
  Wailed other Nymphs round Alexander's corpse.
  Roared up about him a great wall of fire;
  For from the mountains far and near had come
  Shepherds, and heaped the death-bale broad and high
  For love's and sorrow's latest service done
  To one of old their comrade and their king.
  Sore weeping stood they round. She raised no wail,
  The broken-hearted, when she saw him there,
  But, in her mantle muffling up her face,
  Leapt on the pyre: loud wailed that multitude.
  There burned she, clasping Paris. All the Nymphs
  Marvelled, beholding her beside her lord
  Flung down, and heart to heart spake whispering:
  "Verily evil-hearted Paris was,
  Who left a leal true wife, and took for bride
  A wanton, to himself and Troy a curse.
  Ah fool, who recked not of the broken heart
  Of a most virtuous wife, who more than life
  Loved him who turned from her and loved her not!"

  So in their hearts the Nymphs spake: but they twain
  Burned on the pyre, never to hail again
  The dayspring. Wondering herdmen stood around,
  As once the thronging Argives marvelling saw
  Evadne clasping mid the fire her lord
  Capaneus, slain by Zeus' dread thunderbolt.
  But when the blast of the devouring fire
  Had made twain one, Oenone and Paris, now
  One little heap of ashes, then with wine
  Quenched they the embers, and they laid their bones
  In a wide golden vase, and round them piled
  The earth-mound; and they set two pillars there
  That each from other ever turn away;
  For the old jealousy in the marble lives.