The Iliad of Homer

Page: 298

Her chief, her hero, and almost her god!
O fatal change! become in one sad day
A senseless corse! inanimated clay!"
But not as yet the fatal news had spread
To fair Andromache, of Hector dead;
As yet no messenger had told his fate,
Not e'en his stay without the Scaean gate.
Far in the close recesses of the dome,
Pensive she plied the melancholy loom;
A growing work employ'd her secret hours,
Confusedly gay with intermingled flowers.
Her fair-haired handmaids heat the brazen urn,
The bath preparing for her lord's return
In vain; alas! her lord returns no more;
Unbathed he lies, and bleeds along the shore!
Now from the walls the clamours reach her ear,
And all her members shake with sudden fear:
Forth from her ivory hand the shuttle falls,
And thus, astonish'd, to her maids she calls:

Illustration: THE BATH.

"Ah follow me! (she cried) what plaintive noise
Invades my ear? 'Tis sure my mother's voice.
My faltering knees their trembling frame desert,
A pulse unusual flutters at my heart;
Some strange disaster, some reverse of fate
(Ye gods avert it!) threats the Trojan state.
Far be the omen which my thoughts suggest!
[pg 403]
But much I fear my Hector's dauntless breast
Confronts Achilles; chased along the plain,
Shut from our walls! I fear, I fear him slain!
Safe in the crowd he ever scorn'd to wait,
And sought for glory in the jaws of fate:
Perhaps that noble heat has cost his breath,
Now quench'd for ever in the arms of death."
She spoke: and furious, with distracted pace,
Fears in her heart, and anguish in her face,
Flies through the dome (the maids her steps pursue),
And mounts the walls, and sends around her view.
Too soon her eyes the killing object found,
The godlike Hector dragg'd along the ground.
A sudden darkness shades her swimming eyes:
She faints, she falls; her breath, her colour flies.
Her hair's fair ornaments, the braids that bound,
The net that held them, and the wreath that crown'd,
The veil and diadem flew far away
(The gift of Venus on her bridal day).
Around a train of weeping sisters stands,
To raise her sinking with assistant hands.
Scarce from the verge of death recall'd, again
She faints, or but recovers to complain.


"O wretched husband of a wretched wife!
Born with one fate, to one unhappy life!
For sure one star its baneful beam display'd
On Priam's roof, and Hippoplacia's shade.
From different parents, different climes we came.
At different periods, yet our fate the same!
Why was my birth to great Aetion owed,
And why was all that tender care bestow'd?
[pg 404]
Would I had never been!—O thou, the ghost
Of my dead husband! miserably lost!
Thou to the dismal realms for ever gone!
And I abandon'd, desolate, alone!
An only child, once comfort of my pains,
Sad product now of hapless love, remains!
No more to smile upon his sire; no friend