The Fall of Troy

Page: 97

  But now when many had perished in the dust,
  Then did the Argive might prevail at last
  By stern decree of Pallas; for she came
  Into the heart of battle, hot to help
  The Greeks to lay waste Priam's glorious town.
  Then Aphrodite, who lamented sore
  For Paris slain, snatched suddenly away
  Renowned Aeneas from the deadly strife,
  And poured thick mist about him. Fate forbade
  That hero any longer to contend
  With Argive foes without the high-built wall.
  Yea, and his mother sorely feared the wrath
  Of Pallas passing-wise, whose heart was keen
  To help the Danaans now—yea, feared lest she
  Might slay him even beyond his doom, who spared
  Not Ares' self, a mightier far than he.

  No more the Trojans now abode the edge
  Of fight, but all disheartened backward drew.
  For like fierce ravening beasts the Argive men
  Leapt on them, mad with murderous rage of war.
  Choked with their slain the river-channels were,
  Heaped was the field; in red dust thousands fell,
  Horses and men; and chariots overturned
  Were strewn there: blood was streaming all around
  Like rain, for deadly Doom raged through the fray.

  Men stabbed with swords, and men impaled on spears
  Lay all confusedly, like scattered beams,
  When on the strand of the low-thundering sea
  Men from great girders of a tall ship's hull
  Strike out the bolts and clamps, and scatter wide
  Long planks and timbers, till the whole broad beach
  Is paved with beams o'erplashed by darkling surge;
  So lay in dust and blood those slaughtered men,
  Rapture and pain of fight forgotten now.

  A remnant from the pitiless strife escaped
  Entered their stronghold, scarce eluding doom.
  Children and wives from their limbs blood-besprent
  Received their arms bedabbled with foul gore;
  And baths for all were heated. Leeches ran
  Through all the town in hot haste to the homes
  Of wounded men to minister to their hurts.
  Here wives and daughters moaned round men come back
  From war, there cried on many who came not
  Here, men stung to the soul by bitter pangs
  Groaned upon beds of pain; there, toil-spent men
  Turned them to supper. Whinnied the swift steeds
  And neighed o'er mangers heaped. By tent and ship
  Far off the Greeks did even as they of Troy.

  When o'er the streams of Ocean Dawn drove up
  Her splendour-flashing steeds, and earth's tribes waked,
  Then the strong Argives' battle-eager sons
  Marched against Priam's city lofty-towered,
  Save some that mid the tents by wounded men
  Tarried, lest haply raiders on the ships
  Might fall, to help the Trojans, while these fought
  The foe from towers, while rose the flame of war.

  Before the Scaean gate fought Capaneus' son
  And godlike Diomedes. High above
  Deiphobus battle-staunch and strong Polites
  With many comrades, stoutly held them back
  With arrows and huge stones. Clanged evermore
  The smitten helms and shields that fenced strong men
  From bitter doom and unrelenting fate,

  Before the Gate Idaean Achilles' son
  Set in array the fight: around him toiled
  His host of battle-cunning Myrmidons.
  Helenus and Agenor gallant-souled,
  Down-hailing darts, against them held the wall,
  Aye cheering on their men. No spurring these
  Needed to fight hard for their country's walls.