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Sri Aurobindo

Collected Poems

SABCL - Volume 5

V. Ilion


An Epic in Quantitative Hexameters

Book I. The Book of the Herald

Book II. The Book of the Statesman

Book III. The Book of the Assembly

Book IV. The Book of Partings

Book V. The Book of Achilles

Book VI. The Book of the Chieftains

Book VII. The Book of the Woman

Book VIII. The Book of the Gods

Book IX


Book One. The Book of the Herald

Dawn in her journey eternal compelling the labour of mortals,

Dawn the beginner of things with the night for their rest or their ending,

Pallid and bright-lipped arrived from the mists and the chill of the Euxine.

Earth in the dawn-fire delivered from starry and shadowy vastness

Woke to the wonder of life and its passion and sorrow and beauty,

All on her bosom sustaining, the patient compassionate Mother.

Out of the formless vision of Night with its look on things hidden

Given to the gaze of the azure she lay in her garment of greenness,

Wearing light on her brow. In the dawn-ray lofty and voiceless

Ida climbed with her god-haunted peaks into diamond lustres,

Ida first of the hills with the ranges silent beyond her

Watching the dawn in their giant companies, as since the ages

First began they had watched her, upbearing Time on their summits.

Troas cold on her plain awaited the boon of the sunshine.

There, like a hope through an emerald dream sole-pacing for ever,

Stealing to wideness beyond, crept Simois lame in his currents,

Guiding his argent thread mid the green of the reeds and the grasses.

Headlong, impatient of Space and its boundaries, Time and its slowness,

Xanthus clamoured aloud as he ran to the far-surging waters,

Joining his call to the many-voiced roar of the mighty Aegean,

Answering Ocean’s limitless cry like a whelp to its parent.

Forests looked up through their rifts, the ravines grew aware of their shadows.

Closer now gliding glimmered the golden feet of the goddess.

Over the hills and the headlands spreading her garment of splendour,

Fateful she came with her eyes impartial looking on all things,

Bringer to man of the day of his fortune and day of his downfall.

Full of her luminous errand, careless of eve and its weeping,

Fateful she paused unconcerned above Ilion’s mysteried greatness,

Domes like shimmering tongues of the crystal flames of the morning,

Opalesque rhythm-line of tower-tops, notes of the lyre of the sun-god.

High over all that a nation had built and its love and its laughter,

Lighting the last time highway and homestead, market and temple,

Looking on men who must die and women destined to sorrow,

Looking on beauty fire must lay low and the sickle of slaughter,

Fateful she lifted the doom-scroll red with the script of the Immortals,

Deep in the invisible air that folds in the race and its morrows

Fixed it, and passed on smiling the smile of the griefless and deathless,–

Dealers of death though death they know not, who in the morning

Scatter the seed of the event for the reaping ready at nightfall.

Over the brooding of plains and the agelong trance of the summits

Out of the sun and its spaces she came, pausing tranquil and fatal,

And, at a distance followed by the golden herds of the sun-god,

Carried the burden of Light and its riddle and danger to Hellas.

Even as fleets on a chariot divine through the gold streets of ether,

Swiftly when Life fleets, invisibly changing the arc of the soul-drift,

And, with the choice that has chanced or the fate man has called and now suffers

Weighted, the moment travels driving the past towards the future,

Only its face and its feet are seen, not the burden it carries.

Weight of the event and its surface we bear, but the meaning is hidden.

Earth sees not; life’s clamour deafens the ear of the spirit:

Man knows not; least knows the messenger chosen for the summons.

Only he listens to the voice of his thoughts, his heart’s ignorant whisper,

Whistle of winds in the tree-tops of Time and the rustle of Nature.

Now too the messenger hastened driving the car of the errand:

Even while dawn was a gleam in the east, he had cried to his coursers.

Half yet awake in light’s turrets started the scouts of the morning

Hearing the jar of the wheels and the throb of the hooves’ exultation,

Hooves of the horses of Greece as they galloped to Phrygian Troya.

Proudly they trampled through Xanthus thwarting the foam of his anger,

Whinnying high as in scorn crossed Simois’ tangled currents,

Xanthus’ reed-girdled twin, the gentle and sluggard river.

One and unarmed in the car was the driver; grey was he, shrunken,

Worn with his decades. To Pergama cinctured with strength Cyclopean

Old and alone he arrived, insignificant, feeblest of mortals,

Carrying Fate in his helpless hands and the doom of an empire.

Ilion, couchant, saw him arrive from the sea and the darkness.

Heard mid the faint slow stirrings of life in the sleep of the city,

Rapid there neared a running of feet, and the cry of the summons

Beat round the doors that guarded the domes of the splendour of Priam.

“Wardens charged with the night, ye who stand in Laomedon’s gateway,

Waken the Ilian kings. Talthybius, herald of Argos,

Parleying stands at the portals of Troy in the grey of the dawning.”

High and insistent the call. In the dimness and hush of his chamber

Charioted far in his dreams amid visions of glory and terror,

Scenes of a vivider world,– though blurred and deformed in the brain-cells,

Vague and inconsequent, there full of colour and beauty and greatness,–

Suddenly drawn by the pull of the conscious thread of the earth-bond

And of the needs of Time and the travail assigned in the transience

Warned by his body, Deiphobus, reached in that splendid remoteness,

Touched through the nerve-ways of life that branch to the brain of the dreamer,

Heard the terrestrial call and slumber startled receded

Sliding like dew from the mane of a lion. Reluctant he travelled

Back from the light of the fields beyond death, from the wonderful kingdoms

Where he had wandered a soul among souls in the countries beyond us,

Free from the toil and incertitude, free from the struggle and danger:

Now, compelled, he returned from the respite given to the time-born,

Called to the strife and the wounds of the earth and the burden of daylight.

He from the carven couch upreared his giant stature.

Haste-spurred he laved his eyes and regained earth’s memories, haste-spurred

Donning apparel and armour strode through the town of his fathers,

Watched by her gods on his way to his fate, towards Pergama’s portals.

Nine long years had passed and the tenth now was wearily ending,

Years of the wrath of the gods, and the leaguer still threatened the ramparts

Since through a tranquil morn the ships came past Tenedos sailing

And the first Argive fell slain as he leaped on the Phrygian beaches;

Still the assailants attacked, still fought back the stubborn defenders.

When the reward is withheld and endlessly lengthens the labour,

Weary of fruitless toil grows the transient heart of the mortal.

Weary of battle the invaders warring hearthless and homeless

Prayed to the gods for release and return to the land of their fathers:

Weary of battle the Phrygians beset in their beautiful city

Prayed to the gods for an end of the danger and mortal encounter.

Long had the high-beached ships forgotten their measureless ocean.

Greece seemed old and strange to her children camped on the beaches,

Old like a life long past one remembers hardly believing

But as a dream that has happened, but as the tale of another.

Time with his tardy touch and Nature changing our substance

Slowly had dimmed the faces loved and the scenes once cherished:

Yet was the dream still dear to them longing for wife and for children,

Longing for hearth and glebe in the far-off valleys of Hellas.

Always like waves that swallow the shingles, lapsing, returning,

Tide of the battle, race of the onset relentlessly thundered

Over the Phrygian corn-fields. Trojan wrestled with Argive,

Caria, Lycia, Thrace and the war-lord mighty Achaia

Joined in the clasp of the fight. Death, panic and wounds and disaster,

Glory of conquest and glory of fall, and the empty hearth-side,

Weeping and fortitude, terror and hope and the pang of remembrance,

Anguish of hearts, the lives of the warriors, the strength of the nations

Thrown were like weights into Destiny’s scales, but the balance wavered

Pressed by invisible hands. For not only the mortal fighters,

Heroes half divine whose names are like stars in remoteness,

Triumphed and failed and were winds or were weeds on the dance of the surges,

But from the peaks of Olympus and shimmering summits of Ida

Gleaming and clanging the gods of the antique ages descended.

Hidden from human knowledge the brilliant shapes of Immortals

Mingled unseen in the mellay, or sometimes, marvellous, maskless,

Forms of undying beauty and power that made tremble the heart-strings

Parting their deathless secrecy crossed through the borders of vision,

Plain as of old to the demigods out of their glory emerging,

Heard by mortal ears and seen by the eyeballs that perish.

Mighty they came from their spaces of freedom and sorrowless splendour.

Sea-vast, trailing the azure hem of his clamorous waters,

Blue-lidded, maned with the Night, Poseidon smote for the future,

Earth-shaker who with his trident releases the coils of the Dragon,

Freeing the forces unborn that are locked in the caverns of Nature.

Calm and unmoved, upholding the Word that is Fate and the order

Fixed in the sight of a Will foreknowing and silent and changeless,

Hera sent by Zeus and Athene lifting his aegis

Guarded the hidden decree. But for Ilion, loud as the surges,

Ares impetuous called to the fire in men’s hearts, and his passion

Woke in the shadowy depths the forms of the Titan and demon;

Dumb and coerced by the grip of the gods in the abyss of the being,

Formidable, veiled they sit in the grey subconscient darkness

Watching the sleep of the snake-haired Erinnys. Miracled, haloed,

Seer and magician and prophet who beholds what the thought cannot witness,

Lifting the godhead within us to more than a human endeavour,

Slayer and saviour, thinker and mystic, leaped from his sun-peaks

Guarding in Ilion the wall of his mysteries Delphic Apollo.

Heaven’s strengths divided swayed in the whirl of the Earth-force.

All that is born and destroyed is reborn in the sweep of the ages;

Life like a decimal ever recurring repeats the old figure;

Goal seems there none for the ball that is chased throughout Time by the Fate-teams;

Evil once ended renews and no issue comes out of living:

Only an Eye unseen can distinguish the thread of its workings.

Such seemed the rule of the pastime of Fate on the plains of the Troad;

All went backwards and forwards tossed in the swing of the death-game.

Vain was the toil of the heroes, the blood of the mighty was squandered,

Spray as of surf on the cliffs when it moans unappeased, unrequited

Age after fruitless age. Day hunted the steps of the nightfall;

Joy succeeded to grief; defeat only greatened the vanquished,

Victory offered an empty delight without guerdon or profit.

End there was none of the effort and end there was none of the failure.

Triumph and agony changing hands in a desperate measure

Faced and turned as a man and a maiden trampling the grasses

Face and turn and they laugh in their joy of the dance and each other.

These were gods and they trampled lives. But though Time is immortal,

Mortal his works are and ways and the anguish ends like the rapture.

Artists of Nature content with their work in the plan of the transience,

Beautiful, deathless, august, the Olympians turned from the carnage,

Leaving the battle already decided, leaving the heroes

Slain in their minds, Troy burned, Greece left to her glory and downfall.

Into their heavens they rose up mighty like eagles ascending

Fanning the world with their wings. As the great to their luminous mansions

Turn from the cry and the strife, forgetting the wounded and fallen,

Calm they repose from their toil and incline to the joy of the banquet,

Watching the feet of the wine-bearers rosily placed on the marble,

Filling their hearts with ease, so they to their sorrowless ether

Passed from the wounded earth and its air that is ploughed with men’s anguish;

Calm they reposed and their hearts inclined to the joy and the silence.

Lifted was the burden laid on our wills by their starry presence:

Man was restored to his smallness, the world to its inconscient labour.

Life felt a respite from height, the winds breathed freer delivered;

Light was released from their blaze and the earth was released from their greatness.

But their immortal content from the struggle titanic departed.

Vacant the noise of the battle roared like the sea on the shingles;

Wearily hunted the spears their quarry; strength was disheartened;

Silence increased with the march of the months on the tents of the leaguer.

But not alone on the Achaians the steps of the moments fell heavy;

Slowly the shadow deepened on Ilion mighty and scornful:

Dragging her days went by; in the rear of the hearts of her people

Something that knew what they dared not know and the mind would not utter,

Something that smote at her soul of defiance and beauty and laughter,

Darkened the hours. For Doom in her sombre and giant uprising

Neared, assailing the skies: the sense of her lived in all pastimes;

Time was pursued by unease and a terror woke in the midnight:

Even the ramparts felt her, stones that the gods had erected.

Now no longer she dallied and played, but bounded and hastened,

Seeing before her the end and, imagining massacre calmly,

Laughed and admired the flames and rejoiced in the cry of the captives.

Under her, dead to the watching immortals, Deiphobus hastened

Clanging in arms through the streets of the beautiful insolent city,

Brilliant, a gleaming husk but empty and left by the daemon.

Even as a star long extinguished whose light still travels the spaces,

Seen in its form by men, but itself goes phantom-like fleeting

Void and null and dark through the uncaring infinite vastness,

So now he seemed to the sight that sees all things from the Real.

Timeless its vision of Time creates the hour by things coming.

Borne on a force from the past and no more by a power for the future

Mighty and bright was his body, but shadowy the shape of his spirit

Only an eidolon seemed of the being that had lived in him, fleeting

Vague like a phantom seen by the dim Acherontian waters.

But to the guardian towers that watched over Pergama’s gateway

Out of the waking city Deiphobus swiftly arriving

Called, and swinging back the huge gates slowly, reluctant,

Flung Troy wide to the entering Argive. Ilion’s portals

Parted admitting her destiny, then with a sullen and iron

Cry they closed. Mute, staring, grey like a wolf descended

Old Talthybius, propping his steps on the staff of his errand;

Feeble his body, but fierce still his glance with the fire within him;

Speechless and brooding he gazed on the hated and coveted city.

Suddenly, seeking heaven with her buildings hewn as for Titans,

Marvellous, rhythmic, a child of the gods with marble for raiment,

Smiting the vision with harmony, splendid and mighty and golden,

Ilion stood up around him entrenched in her giant defences.

Strength was uplifted on strength and grandeur supported by grandeur;

Beauty lay in her lap. Remote, hieratic and changeless,

Filled with her deeds and her dreams her gods looked out on the Argive,

Helpless and dumb with his hate as he gazed on her, they too like mortals

Knowing their centuries past, not knowing the morrow before them.

Dire were his eyes upon Troya the beautiful, his face like a doom-mask:

All Greece gazed in them, hated, admired, grew afraid, grew relentless.

But to the Greek Deiphobus cried and he turned from his passion

Fixing his ominous eyes with the god in them straight on the Trojan:

“Messenger, voice of Achaia, wherefore confronting the daybreak

Comest thou driving thy car from the sleep of the tents that besiege us?

Fateful, I deem, was the thought that, conceived in the silence of midnight,

Raised up thy aged limbs from the couch of their rest in the stillness,–

Thoughts of a mortal but forged by the Will that uses our members

And of its promptings our speech and our acts are the tools and the image.

Oft from the veil and the shadow they leap out like stars in their brightness,

Lights that we think our own, yet they are but tokens and counters,

Signs of the Forces that flow through us serving a Power that is secret.

What in the dawning bringst thou to Troya the mighty and dateless

Now in the ending of Time, when the gods are weary of struggle?

Sends Agamemnon challenge or courtesy, Greek, to the Trojans?”

High like the northwind answered the voice of the doom from Achaia:

“Trojan Deiphobus, daybreak, silence of night and the evening

Sink and arise and even the strong sun rests from his splendour.

Not for the servant is rest nor Time is his, only his death-pyre.

I have not come from the monarch of men or the armoured assembly

Held on the wind-swept marge of the thunder and laughter of ocean.

One in his singleness greater than kings and multitudes sends me.

I am a voice out of Phthia, I am the will of the Hellene.

Peace in my right I bring to you, death in my left hand. Trojan,

Proudly receive them, honour the gifts of the mighty Achilles.

Death accept, if Ate deceives you and Doom is your lover,

Peace if your fate can turn and the god in you chooses to hearken.

Full is my heart and my lips are impatient of speech undelivered.

It was not made for the streets or the market, nor to be uttered

Meanly to common ears, but where counsel and majesty harbour

Far from the crowd in the halls of the great and to wisdom and foresight

Secrecy whispers, there I will speak among Ilion’s princes.”

“Envoy,” answered the Laomedontian, “voice of Achilles,

Vain is the offer of peace that sets out with a threat for its prelude.

Yet will we hear thee. Arise who are fleetest of foot in the gateway,–

Thou, Thrasymachus, haste. Let the domes of the mansion of Ilus

Wake to the bruit of the Hellene challenge. Summon Aeneas.”

Even as the word sank back into stillness, doffing his mantle

Started to run at the bidding a swift-footed youth of the Trojans

First in the race and the battle, Thrasymachus son of Aretes.

He in the dawn disappeared into swiftness. Deiphobus slowly,

Measuring Fate with his thoughts in the troubled vasts of his spirit,

Back through the stir of the city returned to the house of his fathers,

Taming his mighty stride to the pace infirm of the Argive.

But with the god in his feet Thrasymachus rapidly running

Came to the halls in the youth of the wonderful city by Ilus

Built for the joy of the eye; for he rested from war and, triumphant,

Reigned adored by the prostrate nations. Now when all ended,

Last of its mortal possessors to walk in its flowering gardens,

Great Anchises lay in that luminous house of the ancients

Soothing his restful age, the far-warring victor Anchises,

High Bucoleon’s son and the father of Rome by a goddess;

Lonely and vagrant once in his boyhood divine upon Ida

White Aphrodite ensnared him and she loosed her ambrosial girdle

Seeking a mortal’s love. On the threshold Thrasymachus halted

Looking for servant or guard, but felt only a loneness of slumber

Drawing the soul’s sight within away from its life and things human;

Soundless, unheeding, the vacant corridors fled into darkness.

He to the shades of the house and the dreams of the echoing rafters

Trusted his high-voiced call, and from chambers still dim in their twilight

Strong Aeneas armoured and mantled, leonine striding,

Came, Anchises’ son; for the dawn had not found him reposing,

But in the night he had left his couch and the clasp of Creüsa,

Rising from sleep at the call of his spirit that turned to the waters

Prompted by Fate and his mother who guided him, white Aphrodite.

Still with the impulse of speed Thrasymachus greeted Aeneas:

“Hero Aeneas, swift be thy stride to the Ilian hill-top.

Dardanid, haste! for the gods are at work; they have risen with the morning,

Each from his starry couch, and they labour. Doom, we can see it,

Glows on their anvils of destiny, clang we can hear of their hammers.

Something they forge there sitting unknown in the silence eternal,

Whether of evil or good it is they who shall choose who are masters

Calm, unopposed; they are gods and they work out their iron caprices.

Troy is their stage and Argos their background; we are their puppets.

Always our voices are prompted to speech for an end that we know not,

Always we think that we drive, but are driven. Action and impulse,

Yearning and thought are their engines, our will is their shadow and helper.

Now too, deeming he comes with a purpose framed by a mortal,

Shaft of their will they have shot from the bow of the Grecian leaguer,

Lashing themselves at his steeds, Talthybius sent by Achilles.”

“Busy the gods are always, Thrasymachus son of Aretes,

Weaving Fate on their looms, and yesterday, now and tomorrow

Are but the stands they have made with Space and Time for their timber,

Frame but the dance of their shuttle. What eye unamazed by their workings

Ever can pierce where they dwell and uncover their far-stretching purpose?

Silent they toil, they are hid in the clouds, they are wrapped with the midnight.

Yet to Apollo, I pray, the Archer friendly to mortals,

Yet to the rider on Fate I abase myself, wielder of thunder,

Evil and doom to avert from my fatherland. All night Morpheus,

He who with shadowy hands heaps error and truth upon mortals,

Stood at my pillow with images. Dreaming I erred like a phantom

Helpless in Ilion’s streets with the fire and the foeman around me.

Red was the smoke as it mounted triumphant the house-top of Priam,

Clang of the arms of the Greeks was in Troya, and thwarting the clangour

Voices were crying and calling me over the violent Ocean

Borne by the winds of the West from a land where Hesperus harbours.”

Brooding they ceased, for their thoughts grew heavy upon them and voiceless.

Then, in a farewell brief and unthought and unconscious of meaning,

Parting they turned to their tasks and their lives now close but soon severed:

Destined to perish even before his perishing nation,

Back to his watch at the gate sped Thrasymachus rapidly running;

Large of pace and swift, but with eyes absorbed and unseeing,

Driven like a car of the gods by the whip of his thoughts through the highways,

Turned to his mighty future the hero born of a goddess.

One was he chosen to ascend into greatness through fall and disaster,

Loser of his world by the will of a heaven that seemed ruthless and adverse,

Founder of a newer and greater world by daring adventure.

Now, from the citadel’s rise with the townships crowding below it

High towards a pondering of domes and the mystic Palladium climbing,

Fronted with the morning ray and joined by the winds of the ocean,

Fate-weighed up Troy’s slope strode musing strong Aeneas.

Under him silent the slumbering roofs of the city of Ilus

Dreamed in the light of the dawn; above watched the citadel, sleepless

Lonely and strong like a goddess white-limbed and bright on a hill-top,

Looking far out at the sea and the foe and the prowling of danger.

Over the brow he mounted and saw the palace of Priam,

Home of the gods of the earth, Laomedon’s marvellous vision

Held in the thought that accustomed his will to unearthly achievement

And in the blaze of his spirit compelling heaven with its greatness,

Dreamed by the harp of Apollo, a melody caught into marble.

Out of his mind it arose like an epic canto by canto;

Each of its halls was a strophe, its chambers lines of an epode,

Victor chant of Ilion’s destiny. Absent he entered,

Voiceless with thought, the brilliant megaron crowded with paintings,

Paved with a splendour of marble, and saw Deiphobus seated,

Son of the ancient house by the opulent hearth of his fathers,

And at his side like a shadow the grey and ominous Argive.

Happy of light like a lustrous star when it welcomes the morning,

Brilliant, beautiful, glamoured with gold and a fillet of gem-fire,

Paris, plucked from the song and the lyre by the Grecian challenge,

Came with the joy in his face and his eyes that Fate could not alter.

Ever a child of the dawn at play near a turn of the sun-roads,

Facing destiny’s look with the careless laugh of a comrade,

He with his vision of delight and beauty brightening the earth-field

Passed through its peril and grief on his way to the ambiguous Shadow.

Last from her chamber of sleep where she lay in the Ilian mansion

Far in the heart of the house with the deep-bosomed daughters of Priam,

Noble and tall and erect in a nimbus of youth and of glory,

Claiming the world and life as a fief of her strength and her courage,

Dawned through a doorway that opened to distant murmurs and laughter,

Capturing the eye like a smile or a sunbeam, Penthesilea.

She from the threshold cried to the herald, crossing the marble,

Regal and fleet, with her voice that was mighty and dire in its sweetness:

“What with such speed has impelled from the wind-haunted beaches of Troas,

Herald, thy car while1 the sun yet hesitates under the mountains?

Comest thou humbler to Troy, Talthybius, now than thou camest

Once when the streams of my East sang low to my ear, not this Ocean

Loud, and I roamed in my mountains uncalled by the voice of Apollo?

Bringest thou dulcet-eyed peace or, sweeter to Penthesilea,

Challenge of war when the spears fall thick on the shields of the fighters,

Lightly the wheels leap onward chanting the anthem of Ares,

Death is at work in his fields and the heart is enamoured of danger?

What says Odysseus, the baffled Ithacan? what Agamemnon?

Are they then weary of war who were rapid and bold and triumphant,

Now that their gods are reluctant, now victory darts not from heaven

Down from the clouds above Ida directing the luminous legions

Armed by Fate, now Pallas forgets, now Poseidon slumbers?

Bronze were their throats to the battle like bugles blaring in chorus;

Mercy they knew not, but shouted and ravened and ran to the slaughter

Eager as hounds when they chase, till a woman met them and stayed them,

Loud my war-shout rang by Scamander. Herald of Argos,

What say the vaunters of Greece to the virgin Penthesilea?”

High was the Argive’s answer confronting the mighty in Troya.

“Princes of Pergama, whelps of the lion who roar for the mellay,

Suffer my speech! It shall ring like a spear on the hearts of the mighty.

Blame not the herald; his voice is an impulse, an echo, a channel

Now for the timbrels of peace and now for the drums of the battle.

And I have come from no cautious strength, from no half-hearted speaker,

But from the Phthian. All know him! Proud is his soul as his fortunes,

Swift as his sword and his spear are the speech and the wrath from his bosom.

I am his envoy, herald am I of the conquering Argives.

Has not one heard in the night when the breezes whisper and shudder,

Dire, the voice of a lion unsatisfied, gnawed by his hunger,

Seeking his prey from the gods? For he prowls through the glens of the mountains,

Errs a dangerous gleam in the woodlands, fatal and silent.

So for a while he endures, for a while he seeks and he suffers

Patient yet in his terrible grace as assured of his banquet;

But he has lacked too long and he lifts his head and to heaven

Roars in his wonder incensed, impatiently. Startled the valleys

Shrink from the dreadful alarum, the cattle gallop to shelter.

Arming the herdsmen cry to each other for comfort and courage.”

So Talthybius spoke, as a harper voicing his prelude

Touches his strings to a varied music, seeks for a concord;

Long his strain he prepares. But one broke in on the speaker,–

Sweet was his voice like a harp’s though heard in the front of the onset,–

One of the sons of Fate by the people loved whom he ruined,

Leader in counsel and battle, the Priamid, he in his beauty

Carelessly walking who scattered the seeds of Titanic disaster.

“Surely thou dreamedst at night and awaking thy dreams have not left thee!

Hast thou not woven thy words to intimidate children in Argos

Sitting alarmed in the shadows who listen pale to their nurses?

Greek, thou art standing in Ilion now and thou speak’st to2 princes.

Use not thy words but thy king’s. If friendship their honey-breathed burden,

Friendship we clasp from Achilles, but challenge outpace with our challenge

Meeting the foe ere he moves in his will to the clash of encounter.

Such is the way of the Trojans since Phryx by the Hellespont halting

Seated Troy on her hill with Ocean3 for comrade and sister.”

Shaking in wrath his filleted head Talthybius answered:

“Princes, ye speak their words who drive you! Thus said Achilles:

Rise,4 Talthybius, meet in her spaces the car of the morning;

Challenge her coursers divine as they bound through the plains of the Troad.

Hasten, let not the day wear gold ere thou stand in her ramparts

Herald charged with my will to a haughty and obstinate nation,

Speak in the palace of Priam the word of the Phthian Achilles.

Freely and not as his vassal who leads, Agamemnon, the Argive,

But as a ruler in Hellas I send thee, king of my nations.

Long I lingered5 apart from the mellay of gods in the Troad,

Long has my listless spear leaned back on the peace of my tent-side,

Deaf to the talk of the trumpets, the whine of the chariots speeding;

Sole with my heart I have lived, unheeding the Hellene murmur,

Chid when it roared for the hunt the lion-pack of the war-god,

Day after day I walked at dawn and in blush of the sunset,

Far by the call of the seas and alone with the gods and my dreaming,

Leaned to the unsatisfied chant of my heart and the rhythms of Ocean,

Sung to by hopes that were sweet-lipped and vain. Polyxena’s6 brothers

Still are the brood of the Titan Laomedon slain in his greatness,

Engines of God unable to bear all the might that they harbour.

Awe they have chid from their hearts, nor our common humanity binds them,

Stay have they none in the gods who approve, giving calmness to mortals:

But like the Titans of old they have hugged to them grandeur and ruin.

Seek then the race self-doomed and the7 leaders blinded by heaven –

Not in the agora swept by the winds of debate and the shoutings

Lion-voiced, huge of the people! In Troya’s high-crested mansion

Speak out my word to the hero Deiphobus, head of the mellay,

Paris the racer of doom and the stubborn strength of Aeneas.

Herald of Greece, when thy feet shall stand8 on the gold and the marble,

Rise in the Ilian megaron, curb not the cry of the challenge.

Thus shalt thou say to them stroking9 the ground with the staff of defiance,

Fronting the tempests of war, the insensate, the gamblers with ruin10.

‘Princes of Troy, I have sat in your halls, I have slept in your chambers;

Not in the battle alone, as a warrior glad of his foemen,

Glad of11 the strength that mates with his own, in peace we encountered.

Marvelling I sat in the halls of my enemies, close to the bosoms

Scarred by the dints of my sword and the eyes I had seen through the battle,

Ate rejoicing the food of the East at the tables of Priam,

Served by the delicatest hands in the world, by Hecuba’s daughter,

Or with our souls reconciled in some careless and rapturous midnight

Drank of the sweetness of Phrygian wine, admired12 your bodies

Shaped by the gods indeed and my spirit revolted from hatred;

Softening it yearned in its strings to the beauty and joy of its foemen,

Yearned from the death that o’ertakes and the flame that cries and desires

Even at the end to save and even on the verge to deliver

Troy and her wonderful works and her sons and her deep-bosomed daughters.

Warned by the gods who reveal to the heart what the mind cannot hearken

Deaf with its thoughts, I offered you friendship, I offered you bridal,

Hellas for comrade, Achilles for brother, the world for enjoyment

Won by my spear. And one heard my call and one turned to my seeking.

Why is it then that the war-cry sinks not to rest by the Xanthus?

We are not voices from Argolis, Lacedaemonian tricksters,

Splendid and subtle and false; we are speakers of truth, we are Hellenes,

Men of the northland faithful in friendship and noble in anger,

Strong like our fathers of old. But you answered my truth with evasion

Hoping to seize what I will not yield and you flattered your people.

Long have I waited for wisdom to dawn on your violent natures.

Lonely I paced o’er the sands by the thousand-throated waters

Praying to Pallas the wise that the doom might turn13 from your mansions

Buildings delightful, gracious as rhythms, lyrics in marble,

Works of the transient gods; – and I yearned for the end of the war-din

Hoping that Death might relent to the beautiful sons of the Trojans.

Far from the cry of the spears, from the speed and the laughter of axles,

Heavy upon me like iron the intolerable yoke of inaction

Weighed like a load on a runner. The war-cry rose by Scamander;

Xanthus was crossed on a bridge of the fallen, not by Achilles.

Often I stretched out my hand to the spear, for the Trojan beaches

Rang with the voice of Deiphobus shouting and slaying the Argives;

Often my heart like an anxious mother for Greece and her children

Leaped, for the air was full of the leonine roar of Aeneas.

Always the evening fell or the gods protected the Argives.

Then by the moat of the ships, on the hither plain of the Xanthus

New was the voice that climbed through the din and sailed on the breezes,

High, insistent, clear, and it shouted an unknown war-cry

Threatening doom to the peoples. A woman had come in to aid you

Regal and insolent, fair as the morning and fell as the northwind,

Freed from the distaff who grasps at the sword and spurns14 at subjection

Breaking the rule of the gods. She is turbulent, swift in the battle.

Clanging her voice of the swan as a summons to death and disaster,

Fleet-footed, happy and pitiless, laughing she runs to the slaughter;

Strong with the gait that allures she leaps from her car to the slaying,

Dabbles in blood smooth hands like lilies. Europe astonished

Reels from her shock to the Ocean. She is the panic and mellay,

War is her paean, the chariots thunder of Penthesilea.

Doom was her coming, it seems, to the men of the West and their legions;

Ajax sleeps for ever,15 Meriones lies on the beaches,

One by one they are falling before you, the great in Achaia.

Ever the wounded are borne like the stream of the ants when they forage,

Past my ships, and they hush their moans as they near and in silence

Gaze at the legions inactive accusing the fame of Achilles.

Still have I borne with you, waited a little, looked for a summons,

Longing for bridal torches, not flame on the Ilian housetops,

Blood in the chambers of sweetness, the golden amorous city

Swallowed by doom. Not broken I turned from the wrestle Titanic,

Hopeless, weary of toil in the ebb of my glorious spirit,

But from my stress of compassion for doom of the kindred nations,

But for her sake whom my soul desires, for the daughter of Priam.

And for Polyxena’s sake I will speak to you yet as your lover

Once ere the Fury, abrupt from Erebus, deaf to your crying,

Mad with the joy of the massacre, seizes on wealth and on women

Calling to Fire as it strides and Ilion sinks into ashes.

Yield; for your doom is impatient. No longer your helpers hasten,

Legions swift to your call; the yoke of your pride and your splendour

Lies not now on the nations of earth as when Fortune desired you,

Strength was your slave and Troya the lioness hungrily roaring

Threatened the western world from her ramparts built by Apollo.

Gladly released from the thraldom they hated, the insolent shackles

Curbing their manhood the peoples arise and they pray for your ruin;

Piled are their altars with gifts; their blessings help the Achaians.

Memnon came, but he sleeps, and the faces swart of his nation

Darken no more like a cloud over thunder and surge of the onset.

Wearily Lycia fights; far fled are the Carian levies.

Thrace retreats to her plains preferring the whistle of storm-winds

Or on the banks of the Strymon to wheel in her Orphean measure,

Not in the revel of swords and fronting the spears of the Hellenes.

Princes of Pergama, open your gates to our Peace who would enter

Life in her gracious clasp and forgetfulness, grave of earth’s passions,

Healer of wounds and the past. In a comity equal, Hellenic,

Asia join with Greece, our16 world from the frozen rivers

Trod by the hooves of the Scythian to farthest undulant Ganges.

Tyndarid Helen yield,17 the desirable cause of your danger,

Back to Greece that is empty long of her smile and her movements.

Broider with18 riches her coming, pomp of her slaves and the wagons19

Endlessly groaning with gold that arrive with the ransom of nations.

So shall the Fury be pacified, she who exultant from Sparta

Breathed in the sails of the Trojan ravisher helping his oarsmen.

So shall the gods be appeased and the thoughts of their wrath shall be cancelled,

Justice contented trace back her steps and for brands of the burning

Torches delightful shall break into Troy with20 the swords of the bridal.

I like a bridegroom will seize on your city and clasp and defend her

Safe from the envy of Argos, from Lacedaemonian hatred,

Safe from the hunger of Crete and the Locrian’s violent rapine.

But if you turn from my voice and you hearken only to Ares

Crying for battle within you deluded by Hera and Pallas,

Swiftly fierce21 death’s surges shall close over Troy and her ramparts

Built by the gods shall be stubble and earth to the tread of the Hellene.

For to my tents I return not, I swear it by Zeus and Apollo,

Master of Truth who sits within Delphi fathomless brooding

Sole in the caverns of Nature and hearkens her underground murmur,

Giving my oath to his keeping mute and stern who forgets not.

Not from the panting of Ares’ toil to repose, from the wrestle

Locked of hope and death in the ruthless clasp of the mellay

Leaving again the Trojan ramparts unmounted, leaving

Greece unavenged, the Aegean a lake and Europe a province.

Choosing from Hellas exile, from Peleus and Deidamia,

Choosing the field for my chamber of sleep and the battle for hearthside

I shall go warring on till Asia enslaved to my footsteps

Feels the tread of the God in my sandal pressed on her bosom.

Rest shall I then when the borders of Greece are fringed with the Ganges;

Thus shall the past pay its Titan ransom22 and, Fate her balance

Changing, a continent ravished suffer the fortune of Helen.

This I have sworn allying my will to Zeus and Ananke.’”

So was it spoken, the Phthian challenge. Silent the heroes

Looked back amazed on their past and into the night of their future.

Silent their hearts felt a grasp from gods and had hints of the heavens.

Hush was awhile in the room as if Fate were trying her balance

Poised on the thoughts of her mortals. At length with a magical23 laughter

Sweet as the jangling of bells upon anklets leaping in measure

Answered high24 to the gods the virgin Penthesilea.

“Long I had heard in my distant realms of the fame of Achilles,

Ignorant still while I played with the ball and ran in the dances

Thinking not ever to war; but I dreamed of the shock of the hero.

So might a poet inland who imagines the rumour of Ocean

Yearn with his lust for its25 giant upheaval, its26 dance as of hill-tops,

Toss of the yellow mane and the tawny march and the voices

Lionlike claiming earth as a prey for the clamorous waters.

So have I longed as I came for the cry and the speed of Achilles.

But he has lurked in his ships, he has sulked like a boy that is angry.

Glad am I now of his soul that arises hungry for battle,

Glad, whether victor I live or defeated travel to the27 shadows.

Once shall my spear have rung on the shield of the Phthian Achilles.

Peace I desire not. I came to a haughty and resolute nation,

Honour and fame they cherish, not life by the gift of a foeman.

Sons of the ancient house on whom Ilion looks as on Titans,

Chiefs whom the world admires, do you fear then the shock of the Phthian?

Gods, it is said, have decided your doom. Are you less in your greatness?

Are you not gods to reverse their decrees or unshaken to suffer?

Memnon is dead and the Carians leave you? Lycia lingers?

But from the streams of my East I have come to you, Penthesilea.”

“Virgin of Asia,” answered Talthybius, “doom of a nation

Brought thee to Troy and her haters Olympian shielded thy coming,

Vainly who feedest men’s hearts with a hope that the gods have rejected.

Doom in thy sweet voice utters her counsels robed like a woman.”

Answered the virgin disdainfully, wroth at the words of the Argive:

“Hast thou not ended the errand they gave thee, envoy of Hellas?

Not, do I think, as our counsellor cam’st thou elected from Argos,

Nor as a lover to Troy hast thou hastened with amorous footing

Hurting thy heart with her frowardness. Hatred and rapine sent thee,

Greed of the Ilian gold and lust of the Phrygian women.

Voice of Achaian aggression! Doom am I truly; let Gnossus

Witness it, Salamis speak of my fatal arrival and Argos

Silent remember her wounds.” But the Argive answered the virgin:

“Hearken then to the words of the Hellene, Penthesilea.

‘Virgin to whom earth’s strongest are corn in the sweep of thy sickle,

Lioness vain of thy bruit thou28 besiegest the paths of the battle!

Art thou not satiate yet? hast thou drunk then so little of slaughter?

Death has ascended thy car; he has chosen thy hand for his harvest.

But I have heard of thy pride and disdain, how thou scornest the Argives

And of thy fate thou complainest that ever averse to thy wishes

Cloisters the Phthian and matches with weaklings Penthesilea.

‘Not of the Ithacan boar nor the wild-cat littered in Locris

Nor of the sleek-coat Argive wild-bulls sates me the hunting;’

So hast thou said, ‘I would bury my spear in the lion of Hellas.’

Blind and infatuate, art thou not beautiful, bright as the lightning?

Were not thy limbs made cunningly by linking29 sweetness to sweetness?

Is not thy laughter an arrow surprising hearts imprudent?

Charm is the seal of the gods upon woman. Distaff and girdle,

Work of the jar at the well and the hush of our innermost chambers;

These were appointed thee, but thou hast scorned them, O Titaness grasping

Rather the shield and the spear. Thou, obeying thy turbulent nature,

Tramplest o’er laws that are old to the pleasure thy heart has demanded.

Rather bow to the ancient Gods who are seated and constant.

But for thyself thou passest and what hast thou gained for the aeons

Mingled with men in their works and depriving the age of thy beauty?

Fair art thou, woman, but fair with a bitter and opposite sweetness

Clanging in war and when30 thou matchest thy voice with the shout of assemblies.

Not to this end was thy sweetness made and the joy of thy members,

Not to this rhythm Heaven tuned its pipe in thy throat of enchantment

Armoured like men to go warring forth and with hardness and fierceness

Mix in the strife and the hate while the varied meaning of Nature

Perishes hurt in its heart and life is emptied of music.

Long have I marked in your world a madness. Monarchs descending

Court the imperious mob of their slaves and their suppliant gesture

Shameless and venal offends the majestic tradition of ages:

Princes plead in the agora; spurred by the tongue of a coward,

Heroes march to an impious war at a priestly bidding.

Gold is sought by the great with the chaffering heart of the trader.

Asia fails and the Gods are abandoning Ida for Hellas.

Why must thou come here to perish, O noble and exquisite virgin,

Here in a cause not thine, in a quarrel remote from thy beauty,

Leaving a land that is lovely and far to be slain among strangers?

Girl, to thy rivers go back and thy hills where the grapes are aspirant.

Trust not a fate that indulges; for all things, Penthesilea,

Break with excess and he is the wisest who walks by a measure.

Yet, if thou wilt, thou shalt meet me today in the shock of the battle;

There will I give thee the fame thou desirest; captive in Hellas,

Men shall point to thee always, smiling and whispering, saying,

«This is the woman who fought with the Greeks, overthrowing their heroes;

This is the slayer of Ajax, this is the slave of Achilles.»”

Then with her musical laughter the fearless Penthesilea:

“Well do I hope that Achilles enslaved shall taste of that glory

Or on the Phrygian fields lie slain by the spear of a woman.”

But to the herald Achaian the Priamid, leader of Troya:

“Rest in the halls of thy foes and ease thy fatigue and thy winters.

Herald, abide till the people have heard and reply to Achilles.

Not as the kings of the West are Ilion’s princes and archons,

Monarchs of men who drive their nations dumb to the battle.

Not in the palace of Priam and not in the halls of the mighty

Whispered councils prevail and the few dispose of the millions;

But with their nation consulting, feeling the hearts of the commons

Ilion’s princes march to the war or give peace to their foemen.

Lightning departs from her kings and the thunder returns from her people

Met in the ancient assembly where Ilus founded his columns

And since her famous centuries, names that the ages remember

Leading her, Troya proclaims her decrees to obedient nations.”

Ceasing he cried to the thralls of his house and they tended the Argive.

Brought to a chamber of rest in the luminous peace of the mansion,

Grey he sat and endured the food and the wine of his foemen,–

Chiding his spirit that murmured within him and gazed undelighted,

Vexed with the endless pomps of Laomedon. Far from those glories

Memory winged it back to a sward half-forgotten, a village

Nestling in leaves and low hills watching it crowned with the sunset.

So for his hour he abode in earth’s palace of lordliest beauty,

But in its caverns his heart was weary and, hurt by the splendours,

Longed for Greece and the smoke-darkened roof of a cottage in Argos,

Eyes of a woman faded and children crowding the hearthside.

Joyless he rose and eastward expected the sunrise on Ida.

Book Two The Book of the Statesman

Now from his cycle sleepless and vast round the dance of the earth-globe

Gold Hyperion rose in the wake of the dawn like the eyeball

Flaming of God revealed by his uplifted luminous eyelid.

Troy he beheld and he viewed the transient labour of mortals.

All her marble beauty and pomp were laid bare to the heavens.

Sunlight streamed into Ilion waking the voice of her gardens,

Amorous seized on her ways, lived glad in her plains and her pastures,

Kissed her leaves into brightness of green. As a lover the last time

Yearns to the beauty desired that again shall not wake to his kisses,

So over Ilion doomed leaned the yearning immense of the sunrise.

She like a wordless marble memory dreaming for ever

Lifted the gaze of her perishable immortality sunwards.

All her human past aspired in the clearness eternal,

Temples of Phryx and Dardanus touched with the gold of the morning,

Columns triumphant of Ilus, domes of their greatness enamoured,

Stones that intended to live; and her citadel climbed up to heaven

White like the soul of the Titan Laomedon claiming his kingdoms,

Watched with alarm by the gods as he came. Her bosom maternal

Thrilled to the steps of her sons and a murmur began in her high-roads.

Life renewed its ways which death and sleep cannot alter,

Life that pursuing her boundless march to a goal which we know not,

Ever her own law obeys, not our hopes, who are slaves of her heart-beats.

Then as now men walked in the round which the gods have decreed them

Eagerly turning their eyes to the lure and the tool and the labour.

Chained is their gaze to the span in front, to the gulfs they are blinded

Meant for their steps. The seller opened his shop and the craftsman

Bent o’er his instruments handling the work he never would finish,

Busy as if their lives were for ever, today in its evening

Sure of tomorrow. The hammers clanged and the voice of the markets

Waking desired its daily rumour. Nor only the craftsman,

Only the hopes of the earth, but the hearts of her votaries kneeling

Came to her marble shrines and upraised to our helpers eternal

Missioned the prayer and the hymn or silent, subtly adoring

Ventured upwards in incense. Loud too the clash of the cymbals

Filled all the temples of Troy with the cry of our souls to the azure.

Prayers breathed in vain and a cry that fell back with Fate for its answer

Children laughed in her doorways; joyous they played, by their mothers

Smiled on still, but their tender bosoms31 unknowing awaited

Grecian spearpoints sharpened by Fate for their unripe bosoms,

Tasks of the slave in Greece. Like bees round their honey-filled dwellings

Murmuring swarmed to the well-heads the large-eyed daughters of Troya,

Deep-bosomed, limbed like the gods,– glad faces of old that were sentient

Rapturous flowers of the soul, bright bodies that lived under darkness

Heavily32 massed of their locks like day under night made resplendent,

Daughters divine of the earth in the ages when heaven was our father.

They round Troy’s well-heads flowerlike satisfied morn with their beauty

Or in the river baring their knees to the embrace of the coolness

Dipped their white feet in the clutch of his streams, in the haste of Scamander,

Lingering this last time with laughter and talk of the day and the morrow

Leaned to the hurrying flood. All his swiftnesses raced down to meet them

Crowding his channel with dancing billows and turbulent murmurs.

Xanthus primaeval met these waves of our life in its passing

Even as of old he had played with Troy’s ancient fair generations

Mingling his deathless voice with the laughter and joy of their ages,

Laughter of dawns that are dead and a joy that the earth has rejected.

Still his whispering trees remembered their bygone voices.

Hast thou forgotten, O river of Troy? Still, still we can hear them

Now, if we listen long in our souls, the bygone voices.

Earth in her fibres remembers, the breezes are stored with our echoes.

Over the stone-hewn steps for their limpid orient waters

Joyous they leaned and they knew not yet of the wells of Mycenae,

Drew not yet from Eurotas the jar for an alien master,

Mixed not Pineus33 yet with their tears. From the clasp of the current

Now in their groups they arose and dispersed through the streets and the byways,

Turned from the freedom of earth to the works and the joy of the hearthside,

Lightly, they rose and returned through the lanes of the wind-haunted city

Swaying with rhythmical steps while the anklets jangled and murmured.

Silent temples saw them passing; you too, O houses,

Built with such hopes by mortal man for his transient lodging;

Fragrant the gardens strewed on dark tresses their white-smiling jasmines

Dropped like a silent boon of purity soft from the branches:

Flowers by the wayside were budding, cries flew winged round the tree-tops.

Bright was the glory of life in Ilion city of Priam.

Thrice to the city the doom-blast published its solemn alarum,

Blast of the trumpets that call to assembly clamoured through Troya

Thrice and were still. From garden and highway, from palace and temple

Turned like a steed to the trumpet, rejoicing in war and ambition,

Gathered alert to the call the democracy hated of heaven.

First in their ranks upbearing their age as Atlas his heavens,

Eagle-crested, with hoary hair like the snow upon Ida,

Ilion’s senators paced, Antenor and wide-browed Anchises,

Athamas famous for ships and the war of the waters, Tryas

Still whose name was remembered by Oxus the orient river,

Astyoches and Ucalegon, dateless Pallachus, Aetor,

Aspetus who of the secrets divine knew all and was silent,

Ascanus, Iliones, Alcesiphron, Orus, Aretes.

Next from the citadel came with the voice of the heralds before him

Priam and Priam’s sons, Aeneas leonine striding,

Followed34 by the heart of a nation adoring her Penthesilea.

All that was noble in Troy attended the regal procession

Marching in front and behind and the tramp of their feet was a rhythm

Tuned to the arrogant fortunes of Ilion ruled by incarnate

Demigods, Ilus and Phryx and Dardanus, Tros of the conquests,

Tros and far-ruling Laomedon who to his grandiose35 labour

Drew down the sons of the skies and was served by the ageless immortals.

Into the agora vast and aspirant besieged by its columns

Bathed and anointed they came like gods in their beauty and grandeur.

Last like the roar of the winds came trampling the surge of the people.

Clamorous led by a force obscure to its ultimate fatal

Session of wrath the violent mighty democracy hastened;

Thousands of ardent lives with the heart yet unslain in their bosoms

Lifted to heaven the voice of man and his far-spreading rumour.

Singing the young men with banners marched in their joyous processions,

Trod in martial measure or dancing with lyrical paces

Chanted the glory of Troy and the wonderful deeds of their fathers.

Into the columned assembly where Ilus had gathered his people,

Thousands on thousands the tramp and the murmur poured; in their armoured

Glittering tribes they were ranked, an untameable high-hearted nation

Waiting the voice of its chiefs. Some gazed on the greatness of Priam

Ancient, remote from their days, the last of the gods who were passing,

Left like a soul uncompanioned in worlds where his strength shall not conquer:

Sole like a column gigantic alone on a desolate hill-side

Older than mortals he seemed and mightier. Many in anger

Aimed their hostile looks where calm though by heaven abandoned,

Left to his soul and his lucid mind and its thoughts unavailing,

Head of36 the age-chilled few whom the might of their hearts had not blinded,

Famous Antenor was seated, the fallen unpopular statesman,

Wisest of speakers in Troy but rejected, stoned and dishonoured.

Silent, aloof from the people he sat, a heart full of ruins.

Low was the rumour that swelled like the hum of the bees in a meadow

When with the thirst of the honey they swarm on the thyme and the linden,

Hundreds humming and flitting till all that place is a murmur.

Then from his seat like a tower arising Priam the monarch

Slowly erect in his vast tranquillity silenced the people:

Lonely, august he stood like one whom death has forgotten,

Reared like a column of might and of silence over the assembly.

So Olympus rises alone with his snows into heaven.

Crowned were his heights by the locks that slept37 like the mass of the snow-swathe

Clothing his giant shoulders; his eyes of deep meditation,

Eyes that beheld now the end and accepted it like the beginning

Gazed on the throng of the people as on a pomp that is painted:

Slowly he spoke like one who is far from the scenes where he sojourns.

“Leader of Ilion, hero Deiphobus, thou who hast summoned

Troy in her people, arise; say wherefore thou callest us. Evil

Speak thou or good, thou canst speak that only: Necessity fashions

All that the unseen eye has beheld. Speak then to the Trojans;

Say on this dawn of her making what issue of death or of triumph

Fate in his38 suddenness puts to the unseeing, what summons to perish

Send39 to this nation men who revolt and gods who are hostile.”

Rising Deiphobus spoke, in stature less than his father,

Less in his build, yet the mightiest man and tallest whom coursers

Bore or his feet to the fight since Ajax fell by the Xanthus.

“People of Ilion, long have you fought with the gods and the Argives

Slaying and slain, but the years persist and the struggle is endless.

Fainting your helpers cease from the battle, the nations forsake you.

Asia weary of strenuous greatness, ease-enamoured

Suffers the foot of the Greek to tread on the beaches of Troas.

Yet have we striven for Troy and for Asia, men who desert us.

Not for ourselves alone have we fought, for our life of a moment!

Once if the Greeks were triumphant, once if their nations were marshalled

Under some far-seeing chief, Odysseus, Peleus, Achilles,

Not on the banks of Scamander and skirts of the azure Aegean

Fainting would cease the audacious emprise, the Titanic endeavour;

Tigris would flee from their tread and Indus be drunk by their coursers.

Now in these days when each sun goes marvelling down that Troy stands yet

Suffering, smiting, alive, though doomed to all eyes that behold her,

Flinging back Death from her walls and bronze to the shock and the clamour,

Driven by a thought that has risen in the dawn from the tents on the beaches

Grey Talthybius’ chariot waits in the Ilian portals,

Far voice40 of the Hellene demigod challenges timeless Troya.

Thus has he said to us: ‘Know you not Doom when she walks in your heavens?

Feelst thou not then thy set, O sun who illuminedst Nature?

Stripped of helpers you stand alone against Doom and Achilles41,

Left by the earth that served you, by heaven that helped you rejected:

Death insists at your gates and the flame and the sword are impatient.

None can escape the wheel of the gods and its vast revolutions!

Fate demands the joy and pride of the earth for the Argive,

Asia’s wealth for the lust of the young barbarian nations.

City divine, whose fame overroofed like heaven the nations42,

Sink eclipsed in the circle vast of my radiance; Troya,

Joined to my northern realms deliver the East to the Hellene;

Ilion, to Hellas be yoked; wide Asia, fringe thou Peneus.

Lay down golden Helen, a sacrifice lovely and priceless

Cast by your weakness and fall on immense Necessity’s altar;

Yield to the grasp of my43 longing Polyxena, Hecuba’s deep-bosomed daughter,

Her whom my heart desires. Accept from me44 peace and her healing

Joy of mornings secure and death repulsed from your hearthsides.

Yield these45 and live, else I leap on you, Fate in front, Hades behind me.

Bound to the gods by an oath I return not again from the battle

Till from high Ida my shadow extends to the Mede and Euphrates.

Let not your victories deceive you, steps that defeat has imagined;

Hear not the voice of your heroes; their fame is a trumpet in Hades:

Only they conquer while yet my horses champ free in their stables.

Earth cannot long resist the man whom Heaven has chosen;

Gods with him walk; his chariot is led; his arm is assisted.’

High rings the Hellene challenge, earth waits for the Ilian answer.

Always man’s Fate hangs poised on the flitting breath of a moment;

Called by some word, by some gesture it leaps, then ’tis graven, ’tis granite.

Speak! by what gesture high shall the stern gods recognise Troya?

Sons of the ancients, race of the gods, inviolate city,

Firmer my spear shall I grasp or cast from my hand and for ever?

Search in your hearts if your fathers still dwell in them, children of Teucer.”

So Deiphobus spoke and the nation heard him in silence,

Awed by the shadow vast of doom, indignant with Fortune.

Calm from his seat Antenor arose as a wrestler arises,

Tamer of beasts in the cage of the lions, eyeing the monsters

Brilliant, tawny of mane, and he knows if his courage waver,

Falter his eye or his nerve be surprised by the gods that are hostile,

Death will leap on him there in the crowded helpless arena.

Fearless Antenor arose, and a murmur swelled in the meeting

Cruel and threatening, hoarse like the voice of the sea upon boulders;

Hisses thrilled through the roar and one man cried to another,

“Lo, he will speak of peace who has swallowed the gold of Achaia!

Surely the people of Troy are eunuchs who suffer Antenor

Rising unharmed in the agora. Are there not stones in the city?

Surely the steel grows dear in the land when a traitor can flourish.”

Calm like a god or a summit Antenor stood in the uproar.

But as he gazed on his soul came memory dimming the vision;

For he beheld his past and the agora crowded and cheering,

Passionate, full of delight while Antenor spoke to the people,

Troy that he loved and his fatherland proud of her eloquent statesman.

Tears to his eyes came thick and he gripped at the staff he was holding.

Mounting his eyes met fully the tumult, mournful and thrilling,

Conquering men’s hearts with a note of doom in its sorrowful sweetness.

“People of Ilion, blood of my blood, O race of Antenor,

Once will I speak though you slay me; for who would shrink from destruction

Knowing that soon of his city and nation, his house and his dear ones

All that remains will be a couch of trampled ashes? Athene,

Slain today may I join the victorious souls of our fathers,

Not for the anguish be kept and the irremediable weeping.

Loud yet will46 I speak the word that the gods have breathed in my spirit,

Strive this last time to save the death-destined. Who are these clamour

‘Hear him not, the gold47 of the Greeks bought his words and his throat is accursed48?’

Troy whom my counsels made great, hast thou heard this roar of their frenzy

Tearing thy ancient bosom? Is it thy voice heaven-abandoned, my mother?

O my country, O my creatress, earth of my longings!

Earth where our fathers lie in their sacred ashes undying,

Memoried temples shelter the shrines of our gods and the altars

Pure where we worshipped, the beautiful children smile on us passing,

Women divine and the men of our nation! O land where our childhood

Played at a mother’s feet mid the trees and the hills of our country,

Hoping our manhood toiled and our youth had its seekings for godhead; –

Thou for our age keepst repose mid the love and the honour of kinsmen,

Silent our relics shall lie with the city guarding our ashes!

Earth who hast fostered our parents, earth who hast given us49 our offspring,

Soil that created our race where fed from the bosom of Nature

Happy our children shall dwell50 in the storied homes of their fathers,

Souls that our souls have stamped, sweet forms of ourselves when we perish!

Once even then have they seen thee in their hearts, or dreamed of thee ever

Who from thy spirit revolt and only thy name make an idol

Hating thy faithful sons and the cult of thy ancient ideal!

Wake, O my mother divine, remember thy gods and thy wisdom,

Silence the tongues that degrade thee, prophets profane of thy godhead.

Madmen, to think that a man who has offered his life for his country

Served her with words and deeds and adored with victories and triumphs

Ever could think of enslaving her breast to the heel of a foeman!

Surely Antenor’s halls are empty, he begs from the stranger

Leading his sons and his children’s sons by the hand in the market,

Showing his rags since his need is so bitter of gold from the Argives!

You who demand a reply when Laocoon lessens Antenor,

Hush then your feeble roar and your ear to the past and the distance

Turn. You fields that are famous for ever, reply for me calling,

Fields of the mighty mown by my sword’s edge, Chersonese conquered,

Thrace and her snows where we fought on the frozen streams and were victors

Then when they were unborn who are now your delight and your leaders.

Answer return, you columns of Ilus, here where my counsels

Made Troy mightier guiding her safe through the shocks of her foemen.

Gold! I have heaped it up high, I am rich with the spoils of your haters.

It was your fathers dead who gave me that wealth as my guerdon,

Now my reproach, your fathers who saw not the Greeks round their ramparts:

They were not cooped by an upstart race in the walls of Apollo,

Saw not Hector slain and Troilus dragged by his coursers.

Far51 over wrathful Jaxartes they rode; the shaken Achaian

Prostrate adored their52 strength who now shouts at your portals and conquers53

Then when Antenor guided Troy, this old man, this traitor,

Not Laocoon, nay, not even Paris nor Hector.

But I have changed, I have grown a niggard of blood and of treasure,

Selfish, chilled as old men seem to the young and the headstrong,

Counselling safety and ease, not the ardour of noble decisions.

Come to my house and behold, my house that was filled once with voices.

Sons whom the high gods envied me crowded the halls that are silent.

Where are they now? They are dead, their voices are silent in Hades,

Fallen slaying the foe in a war between sin and the Furies.

Silent they went to the battle to die unmourned for their country,

Die as they knew in vain. Do I keep now the last ones remaining,

Sparing their blood that my house may endure? Is there any in Troya

Speeds to the front of the mellay outstripping the sons of Antenor?

Let him arise and speak and proclaim it and bid me be silent.

Heavy is this war that you love on my heart and I hold you as madmen

Doomed by the gods, abandoned by Pallas, by Hera afflicted.

Who would not hate to behold his work undone by the foolish?

Who would not weep if he saw Laocoon ruining Troya,

Paris doomed in his beauty, Aeneas slain by his valour?

Still you need to be taught that the high gods see and remember,

Dream that they care not if justice be done on the earth or oppression!

Happy to live, aspire while you violate man and the immortals!

Vainly the sands of Time have been strewn with the ruins of empires,

Signs that the gods have54 left, but in vain. For they look for a nation,

One that can conquer itself having conquered the world, but they find none.

None has been able to hold all the gods in his bosom unstaggered.

All have grown drunken with force and have gone down to Hell and to Ate.

‘All have been thrust from their heights,’ say the fools; ‘we shall live and for ever.

We are the people at last, the children, the favourites; all things

Only to us are permitted.’ They too descend to the silence,

Death receives their hopes and the void their stirrings of action.

“Eviller fate there is none than life too long among mortals.

I have conversed with the great who have gone, I have fought in their war-cars;

Tros I have seen, Laomedon’s hand has lain55 on my temples.

Now I behold Laocoon, now our leader56 is Paris.

First when Phryx by the Hellespont reared to the cry of the Ocean

Hewing her stones as vast as his thoughts his high-seated fortress,

Planned he a lair for a beast of prey, for a pantheress dire-souled

Crouched in the hills for her bound or self-gathered against the avenger?

Dardanaus57 shepherded Asia’s coasts and her sapphire-girt islands.

Mild was his rule like the blessing of rain upon fields in the summer.

Gladly the harried coasts reposed confessing the Phrygian,

Caria, Lycia’s kings and the Paphlagon, strength of the Mysian;

Minos’ Crete recovered the sceptre of old Rhadamanthus.

Ilus and Tros had strength in the fight like a far-striding Titan’s:

Troy triumphant following the urge of their souls to the vastness

[Helmeted, crowned like a queen of the gods with the fates for her coursers]58

Rode through the driving sleet of the spears to Indus and Oxus.

Then twice over she conquered the vanquished, with peace as in battle;

There where discord had clashed, sweet Peace sat girded with plenty,

There where tyranny counted her blows came the hands of a father.

Neither was59 Teucer a soul like your chiefs60 who refounded this nation.

Such was the antique and noble tradition of Troy in her founders,

Builders of power that endured; but it perishes lost to their offspring,

Trampled, scorned by an arrogant age, by a violent nation.

Strong Anchises trod it down trampling victorious onwards,

Stern as his sword and hard as the silent bronze of his armour.

More than another I praise the man who is mighty and steadfast,

Even as Ida the mountain I praise, a refuge for lions;

But in the council I laud him not, he who a god for his kindred

Lives for the rest without bowels of pity or fellowship, lone-souled,

Scorning the world that he rules, who untamed by the weight of an empire

Holds allies as subjects, subjects as slaves and drives to the battle,

Careless more of their wills than the coursers61 yoked to his war-car.

Therefore they fought while they feared, but gladly abandon us falling.

Yet had they gathered to Teucer in the evil days of our nation.

Where are they now? Do they gather then to the dreaded Anchises?

Or has Aeneas helped with his counsels hateful to wisdom?

Hateful is this, abhorred of the gods, imagined by Ate

When against subjects murmuring discord and faction appointed

Scatter unblest gold, the heart of a people is poisoned,

Virtue pursued and baseness triumphs tongued like a harlot,

Brother against brother arrayed that the rule may endure of a stranger.

Yes, but it lasts! For its hour. The high gods watch in their silence,

Mute they endure for a while that the doom may be swifter and greater.

Hast thou then lasted, O Troy? Lo, the Greeks at thy gates and Achilles.

Dream, when Virtue departs, that Wisdom will linger, her sister!

Wisdom has turned from your hearts; shall Fortune dwell with the foolish?

Fatal oracles came to you great-tongued, vaunting of empires

Stretched from the risen sun to his rest in the occident waters,

Dreams of a city throned on the hills with her foot on the nations.

Meanwhile the sword was prepared for our breasts and the flame for our housetops.

Wake, awake, O my people! the fire-brand mounts up your doorsteps;

Gods who deceived to slay, press swords on your children’s bosoms.

See, O ye blind, ere death in pale countries open your eyelids!

Hear, O ye deaf, the sounds in your ears and the voices of evening!

Young men who vaunt in your strength! when the voice of this aged Antenor

Governed your fathers’ youth, all the Orient was joined to our banners.

Macedon leaned to the East and her princes yearned to the victor,

Scythians worshipped in Ilion’s shrines, the Phoenician trader

Bartered her tokens, Babylon’s wise men paused at our thresholds;

Fair-haired sons of the snows came rapt towards golden Troya

Drawn by the song and the glory. Strymon sang hymns unto Ida,

Hoarse Chaleidice62, dim Chersonesus married their waters

Under the o’erarching yoke of Troy twixt the term-posts of Ocean.

Meanwhile far through the world your fortunes led by my counsels

Followed their lure like women snared by a magical tempter:

High was their chant as they paced and it came from continents distant.

Turn now and hear! what voice approaches? what glitter of armies?

Loud upon Trojan beaches the tread and the murmur of Hellas!

Hark! ’tis the Achaian’s paean rings o’er the Pergaman waters!

So wake the dreams of Aeneas; reaped is Laocoon’s harvest.

Speakers whose counsels persuaded our strength from the labour before us63,

Artisans new of your destiny fashioned this far-spreading downfall,

Counsellors blind who scattered your strength to the hooves of the Scythian,

Barren victories, trophies of skin-clad Illyrian pastors.

Who but the fool and improvident, who but the dreamer and madman

Leaves for the far and ungrasped earth’s close and provident labour?

Children of earth, our mother gives tokens, she lays down her sign-posts,

Step by step to advance on her bosom, to grow by her seasons,

Order our works by her patience and limit our thought by her spaces.

But you had chiefs who were demigods, souls of an earth-scorning stature,

Minds that saw vaster than life and strengths that God’s hour could not limit!

These men seized upon Troy as the tool of their giant visions,

Dreaming of Africa’s suns and bright Hesperian orchards,

Carthage our mart and our feet on the sunset hills of the Latins.

Ilion’s hinds in the dream ploughed Libya, sowed Italy’s cornfields,

Troy stretched to Gades; even the gods and the Fates had grown Trojan.

So are the natures of men uplifted by Heaven in its satire.

Scorning the bit of the gods, despisers of justice and measure,

Zeus is denied and adored some shadow huge of their natures

Losing the shape of man in a dream that is splendid and monstrous.

Titans, vaunting they stride and the world resounds with their footsteps;

Titans, clanging they fall and the world is full of their ruin.

Children, you dreamed with them, heard the roar of the Atlantic breakers

Welcome your keels and the Isles of the Blest grew your wonderful gardens;

Lulled in the dream, you saw not the black-drifting march of the storm-rack,

Heard not the galloping wolves of the doom and the howl of their hunger.

Greece in her peril united her jarring clans; you suffered

Patient, preparing the north, the wisdom and silence of Peleus,

Atreus’ craft and the Argives gathered to King Agamemnon.

But there were prophecies, Pythian oracles, mutterings from Delphi.

How shall they prosper who haste after auguries, oracles, whispers,

Dreams that walk in the night and voices obscure of the silence?

Touches are these from the gods that bewilder the brain to its ruin.

One sole oracle helps, still armoured in courage and prudence

Patient and heedful to toil at the work that is near in the daylight.

Leave to the night its phantoms, leave to the future its curtain!

Only today Heaven gave to mortal man for his labour.

If thou hadst bowed not thy mane, O Troy, to the child and the dreamer,

Hadst thou been faithful to64 Wisdom the counsellor seated and ancient,

Then would the hour not have dawned when Paris lingered in Sparta

Led by the goddess fatal and beautiful, white Aphrodite.

Man, shun the impulses dire that spring armed from thy nature’s abysms!

Dread the dark65 rose of the gods, flee the honey that tempts from its petals!

Therefore the black deed was done and the hearth that welcomed was sullied.

Sin-called the Fury uplifted her tresses of gloom o’er the nations

Maddening the earth with the scream of her blood-thirst, bowelless, stone-eyed,

Claiming her victims from God and bestriding the hate and the clamour.

Yet midst the stroke and the wail when men’s eyes were blind with the blood-mist,

Still had the high gods mercy remembering66 Teucer and Ilus.

Sped by the hand of the Thunderer67 Discord flaming from Ida

Glared from the ships in her wrath68 through the camp of the victor Achaians,–

Love to the69 discord added her flowerlike lips of Briseis;

Faltering lids of Polyxena conquered the strength of Pelides.

Vainly those helpers high70 have opened the gates of salvation!

Vainly the winds of their mercy have breathed71 on our fevered existence!

Man his passion72 prefers to the voice that guides from the immortals.73

These too74 were here whom Hera had chosen to ruin this nation:

Charioteers cracking the whips of their speed on the paths of destruction,

Demigods they! they have come down from Heaven glad to that labour;

Filled is75 the world with the fame of their wheels as they race down to Hades.

O that alone they could reach it! O that pity could soften

Harsh Necessity’s dealings, sparing our innocent children,

Saving the Trojan women and aged from bonds and the sword-edge!

These had not sinned whom you slay in your madness! Ruthless, O mortals,

Must you be then to yourselves, when the gods even faltering with pity

Turn from the grief that must come and the agony vast and the weeping?

Say not the road of escape sinks too low for your arrogant treading.

Pride is not for our clay; the earth, not heaven was our mother

And we are even as the ant in our toil and the beast in our dying;

Only who cling to the hands of the gods can rise up from the earth-mire.

Children, lie prone to their scourge, that your hearts may revive in their sunshine.

This is our lot! when the anger of heaven has passed then the mortal

Raises his head; soon he heals his heart and forgets he has suffered.

Yet if resurgence from weakness and shame were withheld from the creature,

Every fall without morrow, who then would counsel submission?

But since the height of mortal fortune ascending must stumble,

Fallen, again ascend, since death like birth is our portion,

Ripening, mowed, to be sown again like corn by the farmer,

Let us be patient still with the gods and be clay for their handling76.

Dream77 not defeat I welcome. Think not to Hellas submitting

Death of proud hope I would seal. Not this have I counselled, O nation,

But to be even as your high-crested forefathers, greatest of mortals.

Troya of old enringed by the hooves of Cimmerian armies

Flamed to the heavens from her plains and her smoke-blackened citadel sheltered

Hardly78 the joyless rest of her sons and the wreck of her greatness.

Courage and wisdom survived in that fall and a stern-eyed prudence

Helped her to live; disguised from her mightiness Troy crouched weeping79.

Teucer descended whose genius worked at this kingdom and nation,

Patient, scrupulous, wise, like a craftsman carefully toiling

Over a helmet or over a breastplate, testing it always,

Toiled in the eye of the Masters of all and had heed of its labour.

So in the end they would not release him like souls that are common;

They out of Ida sent into Ilion Pallas Athene;

Secret she came and he went with her into the luminous silence.

Teucer’s children after their sire completed his labour.

Now too, O people, front adversity self-gathered, silent.

Veil thyself, leonine mighty Ilion, hiding thy greatness!

Be as thy father Teucer; be as a cavern for lions;

Be as a Fate that crouches! Wordless and stern for your vengeance

Self-gathered work in the night and secrecy shrouding your bosoms.

Let not the dire heavens know of it; let not the foe seize a whisper!

Ripen the hour of your stroke, while your words drip sweeter than honey.

Sure am I, friends, you will turn from death at my voice, you will hear me!

Some day yet I shall gaze on the ruins of haughty Mycenae.

Is this not better than Ilion cast to the sword of her haters,

Is this not happier than Troya captured and wretchedly burning,

Time to await in his stride when the southern and northern Achaians

Gazing with dull distaste now over their severing isthmus

Hate-filled shall move to the shock by the spur of the gods in them driven,

Pelops march upon Attica, Thebes descend on the Spartan?

Then shall the hour now kept in heaven for us ripen to dawning,

Then shall Victory cry to our banners over the Ocean

Calling our sons with her voice immortal. Children of Ilus,

Then shall Troy rise in her strength and stride over Greece up to Gades.”

So Antenor spoke and the mind of the hostile assembly

Moved and swayed with his words like the waters ruled by Poseidon.

Even as the billows rebellious lashed by the whips of the tempest

Curvet and rear their crests like the hooded wrath of a serpent,

Green-eyed under their cowls sublime,– unwilling they journey

Foam-bannered, hoarse-voiced, shepherded, forced by the wind, to the margin

Meant for their rest, and can turn not at all, though they rage, on their driver,–

Last with a sullen applause and consenting lapse into thunder,

Where they were led all the while they sink down huge and astonished,

So in their souls that withstood and obeyed and hated the yielding,

Lashed by his censure, indignant, the Trojans moved towards his purpose:

Sometimes a roar arose, then only, weakened, rarer,

Angry murmurs swelled between sullen stretches of silence;

Last, a reluctant applause broke dull from the throats of the commons.

Silent raged in their hearts Laocoon’s following daunted;

Troubled the faction of Paris turned to the face of their leader.

He as yet rose not; careless he sat in his beauty and smiling,

Gazing with brilliant eyes at the sculptured pillars of Ilus.

Doubtful, swayed by Antenor, waited in silence the nation.

Book Three. The Book of the Assembly

But as the nation beset betwixt doom and a shameful surrender

Waited mute for a voice that could lead and a heart to encourage,

Up in the silence deep Laocoon rose up, far-heard,–

Heard by the gods in their calm and heard by men in their passion –

Cloud-haired, clad in mystic red, flamboyant, sombre,

Priam’s son Laocoon, fate-darkened seer of Apollo.

As when the soul of the Ocean arises rapt in the dawning

And mid the rocks and the foam uplifting the voice of its musings

Opens the chant of its turbulent harmonies, so rose the far-borne

Voice of Laocoon soaring mid columns of Ilion’s glories,

Claiming the earth and the heavens for the field of its confident rumour.

“Trojans, deny your hearts to the easeful flutings of Hades!

Live, O nation!” he thundered forth and Troy’s hearts80 and her pillars

Sent back their fierce response. Restored to her leonine spirits

Ilion rose in her agora filling the heavens with shoutings,

Bearing a name to the throne of Zeus in her mortal defiance.

As when a sullen calm of the heavens discourages living,

Nature and man feel the pain of the lightnings repressed in their bosoms,

Dangerous and dull is the air, then suddenly strong from the anguish

Zeus of the thunders starts into glories releasing his storm-voice,

Earth exults in the kiss of the rain and the life-giving laughters,

So from the silence broke forth the thunder of Troya arising;

Fiercely she turned from prudence and wisdom and turned back to greatness,

Casting her voice to the heavens from the depths of her fathomless spirit.

Raised by those clamours, triumphant once more in81 this scene of his greatness,

Tool of the gods, but he deemed of his strength as a leader in Nature,

Took for his own a voice that was given and dreamed that he fashioned

Fate that fashions us all, Laocoon stood mid the shouting

Leaned on the calm of an ancient pillar. In eyes self-consuming

Kindled the flame of the prophet that blinds at once and illumines;

Quivering thought-besieged lips and shaken locks of the lion,

Lifted his gaze the storm-led enthusiast. Then as the shouting

Tired of itself at last disappeared in the bosom of silence,

Once more he started erect and his voice o’er the hearts of his hearers

Swept like Ocean’s impatient cry when it calls from its surges,

Ocean loud with a thought sublime in its measureless marching.

Each man felt his heart like foam in the rushing of waters.

“Ilion is vanquished then! she abases her grandiose spirit

Mortal found in the end to the gods and the Greeks and Antenor,

And when a barbarous chieftain’s menace and insolent mercy

Bring here their pride to insult the columned spirit of Ilus,

Trojans have sat and feared! For a man has arisen and spoken,

One whom the gods in their anger have hired. Since the Argive prevailed not,

Armed, with his strength and his numbers, in Troya they sought for her slayer,

Gathered their wiles in a voice and they chose a man famous and honoured,

Summoned Ate to aid and corrupted the heart of Antenor.

Flute of the breath of the Hell-witch, always he scatters among you

Doubt, affliction and weakness chilling the hearts of the fighters,

Always his voice with its cadenced and subtle possession for evil

Breaks the constant will and maims the impulse heroic.

Therefore while yet her heroes fight and her arms are unconquered,

Troy in your hearts is defeated! The souls of your Fathers have heard you

Dallying, shamefast, with vileness, lured by the call of dishonour.

Such is the power Zeus gave to the wingèd words of a mortal!

Foiled in his will, disowned by the years that stride on for ever,

Yet in the frenzy cold of his greed and his fallen ambition

Doom from heaven he calls down on his countrymen, Trojan abuses

Troy, his country, extolling her enemies, blessing her slayers.

Such are the gods Antenor has made in his heart’s own image

That if one evil man have not way for his greed and his longing

Cities are doomed and kings must be slain and a nation must perish!

But from the mind of the free and the brave I will answer thy bodings,

Gold-hungry raven of Troy who croakst from thy nest at her princes.

Only one doom irreparable treads down the soul of a nation,

Only one downfall endures; ’tis the ruin of greatness and virtue,

Mourning when Freedom departs from the life and the heart of a people,

Into her room comes creeping the mind of the slave and it poisons

Manhood and joy and the voice to lying is trained and subjection

Easy feels to the neck of man who is next to the godheads.

Not of the fire am I terrified, not of the sword and its slaying;

Vileness of men appals me, baseness I fear and its voices.

What can man suffer direr or worse than enslaved from a victor

Boons to accept, to take safety and ease from the foe and the stranger,

Fallen from the virtue stern that heaven permits to a mortal?

Death is not keener than this nor the slaughter of friends and our dear ones.

Out and alas! earth’s greatest are earth and they fail in the testing,

Conquered by sorrow and doubt, fate’s hammerers, fires of her furnace.

God in their souls they renounce and submit to their clay and its promptings.

Else could the heart of Troya82 have recoiled from the loom of the shadow

Cast by Achilles’ spear or shrunk at the sound of his car-wheels?

Now he has graven an oath austere in his spirit unpliant

Victor at last to constrain in his stride the walls of Apollo

Burning Troy ere he sleeps. ’Tis the vow of a high-crested nature;

Shall it break ramparted Troy? Yea, the soul of a man too is mighty

More than the stones83 and the mortar! Troy had a soul once, O Trojans,

Firm as her god-built ramparts. When in the hour of his passion84,

When85 Sarpedon fell and Zeus averted his visage,

Xanthus red to the sea ran sobbing with bodies of Trojans,

When in the day of the silence of heaven the far-glancing helmet

Ceased from the ways of the fight, and panic slew with Achilles

Hosts who were left unshepherded pale at the fall of their greatest,

Godlike Troy lived on. Do we speak mid a city’s ruins?

Lo! she confronts her heavens as when Tros and Laomedon ruled her.

All now is changed, these mutter and sigh to you, all now is ended;

Strength has renounced you, Fate has finished the thread of her spinning.

Hector is dead, he walks in the shadows; Troilus fights not;

Resting his curls on the asphodel he has forgotten his country;

Strong Sarpedon lies in Bellerophon’s city sleeping:

Memnon is slain and the blood of Rhesus has dried on the Troad:

All of the giant Asius sums in a handful of ashes.

Grievous86 are these things; our hearts still keep all the pain of them treasured,

Hard though they grow by use and iron caskets of sorrow.

Hear yet87, O fainters in wisdom snared by your pathos,

Know this iron world we live in where Hell casts its shadow.

Blood and grief are the ransom of men for the joys of their transience,

For we are mortals bound in our strength and beset in our labour.

This is our human destiny; every moment of living

Toil and loss have gained in the constant siege of our bodies.

Men must sow earth with their lives88 and their tears that their country may prosper;

Earth who bore and devours us that life may be born from our remnants

Then shall the Sacrifice reap89 its fruits when the war-shout is silent,

Nor shall the blood be in vain that our mother has felt on her bosom

Nor shall the seed of the mighty fail when90 Death is the sower.

Still from the loins of the mother eternal are heroes engendered,

Still Deiphobus shouts in the war-front trampling the Argives,

Strong Aeneas’ far-borne voice is heard from our ramparts,

Paris’ hands are swift and his feet in the chases of Ares.

Lo, when deserted we fight91 by Asia’s soon-wearied peoples,

Men ingrate who enjoyed the protection and loathed the protector,

Heaven has sent us replacing a continent Penthesilea!

Low has the heart of Achaia sunk since it shook at her war-cry.

Ajax has bit at the dust; it is all he shall have of the Troad;

Tall Meriones lies and measures his portion of booty.

Who is the fighter in Ilion thrills not rejoicing to hearken

Even her name on unwarlike lips, much more in the mellay

Shout of the daughter of battles, armipotent Penthesilea?

If there were none but these only, if hosts came not surging behind them,

Young men burning-eyed to outdare all the deeds of their elders,

Each in his beauty a Troilus, each in his valour a Hector,

Yet were the measures poised in the equal balance of Ares.

Who then compels you, O people unconquered, to sink down abjuring

All that was Troy? For O, if she yield, let her use not for ever92

One of her titles! shame not the shade93 of Teucer and Ilus,

Soil not Tros! Are you awed by the strength of the swift-foot Achilles?

Is it a sweeter lure in the cadenced voice of Antenor?

Or are you weary of Time and the endless roar of the battle?

Wearier still are the Greeks! their eyes look out o’er the waters

Nor with the flight of their spears is the wing of their hopes towards Troya.

Dull are their hearts; they sink from the war-cry and turn from the spear-stroke

Sullenly dragging backwards, desiring the paths of the Ocean,

Dreaming of hearths that are far and the children growing to manhood

Who are small infant faces still in the thoughts of their fathers.

Therefore these call you to yield lest they wake and behold in the dawn-light

All Poseidon whitening lean to the west in his waters

Thick with the sails of the Greeks departing beaten to Hellas.

Who is it calls? Antenor the statesman, Antenor the patriot,

Thus who loves his country and worships the soil of his fathers!

Which of you loves like him Troya? which of the children of heroes

Yearns for the touch of a yoke on his neck and desires the aggressor?

If there be any so made by the gods in the nation of Ilus,

Leaving this city which freemen have founded, freemen have dwelt in,

Far on the beach let him make his couch in the tents of Achilles,

Not in this mighty Ilion, not with the94 lioness fighting,

Guarding the lair of her young and roaring back at her hunters.

We who are souls descended from Ilus and seeds of his making,

Other-hearted shall march from our gates to answer Achilles.

What! shall this ancient Ilion welcome the day of the conquered?

She who was head of the world, shall she live in the guard of the Hellene

Cherished as slave-girls are, who are taken in war, by their captors?

Europe shall walk in our streets with the pride and the gait of the victor?

Greeks shall enter our homes and prey on our mothers and daughters?

This Antenor desires and this Ucalegon favours.

Traitors! whether ’tis cowardice drives or the sceptic of virtue,

Cold-blooded age, or gold insatiably tempts from its coffers

Pleading for safety from foreign hands and the sack and the plunder.

Leave them, my brothers! spare the baffled hypocrites! Failure

Sharpest shall torture their hearts when they know that still you are Trojans.

Silence, O reason of man! for a voice from the gods has been uttered!

Dardanus95, hearken the sound divine that comes to you mounting

Out of the solemn ravines from the mystic seat on the tripod!

Phoebus, the master of Truth, has promised the earth to our peoples.

Children of Zeus, rejoice! for the Olympian brows have nodded

Regal over the world. In earth’s rhythm of shadow and sunlight

Storm is the dance of the locks of the God assenting to greatness,

Zeus who with secret compulsion orders the ways of our nature;

Veiled in events he lives and working disguised in the mortal

Builds our strength by pain, and an empire is born out of ruins.

Then if the tempest be loud and the thunderbolt leaping incessant

Shatters the roof, if the lintels flame at last and each cornice

Shrieks with pain96 of the blast, if the very pillars totter,

Keep yet your faith in Zeus, hold fast to the word of Apollo.

Not by a little pain and not by a temperate labour

Trained is the nation chosen by Zeus for a dateless dominion.

Long must it labour rolled in the wrath97 of the fathomless surges,

Often neighbour with death and ere Ares grow firm to its banners

Feel on the pride of its Capitol tread of the triumphing victor,

Hear the barbarian knock at its gates or the neighbouring foeman

Glad of the transient smile of his fortune suffer insulting; –

They, the nation eternal, brook their taunts who must perish!

Heaviest toils they must bear; they must wrestle with Fate and her Titans,

And when some leader returns from the battle sole of his thousands

Crushed by the hammers of God, yet never despair of their country.

Dread not the ruin, fear not the storm-blast, yield not, O Trojans.

Zeus shall rebuild! Death ends not our days, the fire shall not triumph.

Death? I have faced it. Fire? I have watched it climb in my vision

Over the timeless domes and over the roof-tops of Priam,

But I have looked beyond and have seen the smile of Apollo.

After her glorious centuries, after her world-wide triumphs,

If, near her ramparts outnumbered she fights, by the nations forsaken,

Lonely again on her hill, by her streams, and her meadows and beaches,

Once where she revelled, shake to the tramp of her countless invaders,

Testings are these from the god. For Fate severe like a mother

Teaches our wills by disaster and strikes down the props that would weaken,

Fate and the Thought on high that is wiser than yearnings of mortals.

Troy has arisen before, but from ashes, not shame, not surrender!

(Souls that are true to themselves are immortal; the soulless for ever

Lingers helpless in Hades a shade among shades disappointed.)

Now is the god in my bosom mighty compelling me, Trojans,

Now I release what my spirit has kept and it saw in its vision;

Nor will be silent for gibe of the cynic or sneer of the traitor.

Troy shall triumph! Hear, O ye peoples, the word of Apollo –

Hear it and tremble, O Greece, in thy youth and the dawn of thy future;

Rather forget while thou canst, but the gods in their hour shall remind thee.

Tremble, nations98 of Asia, false to the greatness within you.

Troy shall surge back on your realms with the sword and the yoke of the victor.

Troy shall triumph! Though nations conspire and the gods99 lead her foemen,

Fate that is born of the spirit is greater than they and will shield her.

Foemen shall help her with war, her defeats shall be victory’s moulders.

Walls that restrain shall be rent; she shall rise out of sessions unsettled,

Oceans shall be her walls at the end and the desert her limit;

Indus shall send to her envoys; her eyes shall look northward from Thule.

She shall enring all the coasts with her strength like the kingly Poseidon,

She shall o’ervault all the lands with her rule like the limitless azure.”

Ceasing from speech Laocoon, girt with the shouts of a nation,

Lapsed on his seat like one seized and abandoned and weakened; nor ended

Only in iron applause, but throughout with a stormy approval

Ares broke from the hearts of his people in ominous thunder.

Savage and dire was the sound like a wild beast’s tracked out and hunted,

Wounded, yet trusting to tear out the entrails live of its hunters,

Savage and cruel and threatening doom to the foe and opponent.

Yet when the shouting sank at last, Ucalegon rose up

Trembling with age and with wrath and in accents hurried and piping

Faltered a senile fierceness forth on the maddened assembly.

“Ah, it is even so far that you dare, O you children of Priam,

Favourites vile of a people sent mad by the gods, and thou risest,

Dark Laocoon, prating of heroes and spurning for100 cowards,

Smiting for traitors the aged and wise who were grey when they spawned thee!

Imp of destruction, mane of mischief! Ah, spur us with courage,

Thou who hast never prevailed against even the feeblest Achaian.

Rather twice hast thou raced in the rout to the ramparts for shelter,

Leading the panic, and shrieked as thou ranst to the foeman101 for mercy

Who were a mile behind thee, O matchless and wonderful racer.

Safely counsel to others the pride and the firmness of heroes,

Thou who wilt102 not die in the battle! For even swiftest Achilles

Could not o’ertake thee, I ween, nor wind-footed Penthesilea.

Mask of a prophet, heart of a coward, tongue of a trickster,

Timeless Ilion thou alone ruinest, helped by the Furies.

I, Ucalegon, first will rend off the mask from thee, traitor.

For I believe thee suborned by the cynic wiles of Odysseus

And thou conspirest to sack this Troy with the greed of the Cretan.”

Hasting unstayed he pursued like a brook that scolds amid pebbles,

Voicing angers shrill; for the people astonished were silent;

Long he pursued not; a shouting broke from that stupor of fury,

Men sprang pale to their feet and hurled out menaces lethal;

All that assembly swayed like a forest swept by the storm-wind.

Obstinate, straining his age-dimmed eyes, Ucalegon, trembling

Worse yet with anger, clamoured feebly back at the people,

Whelmed in their roar. Unheard was his voice like a swimmer in surges

Lost, yet he spoke. But the anger grew in the throats of the people

Lion-voiced, hurting the heart with sound and daunting the nature,

Till from some stalwart hand a javelin whistling and vibrant

Missing the silvered head of the senator rang disappointed

Out on the distant wall of a house by the side of the market.

Not even then would the old man hush or yield to the tempest.

Wagging his hoary beard and shifting his aged eyeballs,

Tossing his hands he stood; but Antenor seized him and Aetor,

Dragged him down on his seat though he strove, and chid him and silenced.

“Cease, O friend; for the gods have won. It were easier piping

High with thy aged treble to alter the rage of the Ocean

Than to o’erbear this people stirred by Laocoon. Leave now

Effort unhelpful, wrap thy days in a mantle of silence;

Give to the gods their will and dry-eyed wait for the ending.”

So now the old men ceased from their strife with the gods and with Troya;

Cowed by the storm of the people’s wrath they desisted from hoping.

But though the roar long swelled, like the sea when the winds have subsided,

One man yet rose up unafraid and beckoned for silence,

Not of the aged, but ripe in his look and ruddy of visage,

Stalwart and bluff and short-limbed, Halamus son of Antenor.

Forward he stood from the press and the people fell silent and listened,

For he was ever first in the mellay and loved by the fighters.

He with a smile began: “Come, friends, debate is soon ended

If there is right but of lungs and you argue with javelins. Wisdom,

Rather pray for her aid in this dangerous hour of your fortunes.

Not to scalp103 Laocoon, too much praising his swiftness,

Trojans, I rise; for some are born brave with the spear in the war-car,

Others bold with the tongue, nor equal gifts unto all men

Zeus has decreed who guides his world in a round that is devious

Carried this way and that like a ship that is tossed on the waters.

Why should we rail then at one who is lame by the force of Cronion?

Not by his will is he lame; he would race, if he could, with the swiftest

Yet is the halt man no runner, nor, friends, must you rise up and slay me,

If I should say of this priest, he is neither Sarpedon nor Hector.

Then, if my father whom once you honoured, ancient Antenor,

Hugs to him Argive gold which I see not, his son, in his mansion,

Me too accusest thou, prophet Laocoon? Friends, you have watched me

Sometimes fight; did you see with my house’s allies how I gambolled,

Changed, when with sportive spear I was tickling the ribs of my Argives,

Nudges of friendly counsel inviting to entry in Troya?

Men, these are visions of lackbrains; men, these are myths of the market.

Let us have done with them, brothers and friends; hate only the Hellene.

Prophet, I bow to the oracles. Wise are the gods in their silence,

Wise when they speak; but their speech is other than ours and their wisdom

Hard for a mortal mind to hold and not madden or wander;

But for myself I see only the truth as a soldier who battles

Judging the strength of his foes and the chances of iron encounter.

Few are our armies, many the Greeks, and we waste in the combat

Bound to our numbers,– they by the Ocean hemmed from their kinsmen,

We by our fortunes, waves of the gods that are harder to master,

They like a rock that is chipped, but we like a mist that disperses.

Then if Achilles, bound by an oath, bring peace to us, healing,

Bring to us respite, help, though bought at a price, yet full-measured,

Strengths of the North at our side and safety assured from the Achaian

For he is true though a Greek, will you shun this mighty advantage?

Peace at the least104 we shall have, though gold we lose and much glory;

Peace we will use for our strength to breathe in, our wounds to recover,

Teaching Time to prepare for happier wars in the future.

Pause ere you fling from you life; you are mortals, not gods in your glory.

Not for submission to new ally or to ancient foeman

Peace these desire; for who would exchange wide death for subjection?

Who would submit to a yoke? Or who shall rule Trojans in Troya?

Swords are there still at our sides, there are warriors’ hearts in our bosoms.

Peace your senators welcome, not servitude, breathing they ask for.

But if for war you pronounce, if a noble death you have chosen,

That I approve. What fitter end for this warlike nation,

Knowing that empires at last must sink and perish all cities,

Than to preserve to the end posterity’s praise and its greatness

Ceasing in clangour of arms and a city’s flames for our death-pyre?

Choose then with open eyes what the dread gods offer to Troya.

Hope not now Hector is dead and Sarpedon, Asia inconstant,

We but a handful, Troy can prevail over Greece and Achilles.

Play not with dreams in this hour, but sternly, like men and not children,

Choose with a noble and serious greatness fates fit for Troya.

Stark we will fight till buried we fall under Ilion’s ruins,

Or, unappeased, we will curb our strength for the hope of the future.”

Not without praise of his friends and assent of the thoughtfuller Trojans,

Halamus spoke and ceased. But now in the Ilian forum

Bright, of the sun-god a ray, and even before he had spoken

Sending the joy of his brilliance into the hearts of his hearers,

Paris arose. Not applauded his rising, but each man towards him

Eagerly turned as if feeling that all before which was spoken

Were but a prelude and this was the note he has waited for always.

Sweet was his voice like a harp’s, when it chants of war, and its cadence

Softened with touches of music thoughts that were hard to be suffered,

Sweet like a string that is lightly struck, but it penetrates wholly.

“Calm with the greatness you hold from your sires by the right of your nature

I too would have you decide before Heaven in the strength of your spirits

Not to the past and its memories moored like the thoughts of Antenor

Hating the vivid march of the present, nor towards the future

Panting through dreams like my brother Laocoon vexed by Apollo.

Dead is the past; the void has possessed it; its drama is ended,

Finished its music. The future is dim and remote from our knowledge,

Silent it lies on the knees of the gods in their105 luminous stillness.

But to our gaze God’s light is a darkness, His plan is a chaos.

Who shall foretell the event of a battle, the fall of a footstep?

Oracles, visions and prophecies voice but the dreams of the mortal,

And ’tis our spirit within is the Pythoness tortured in Delphi.

Heavenly voices to us are a silence, those colours a whiteness.

Neither the thought of the statesman prevails nor the dream of the prophet,

Whether one cry ‘Thus devise and thy heart shall be given its wanting’,

Vainly the other ‘The heavens have spoken; hear then their message’.

Who can point out the way of the gods and the path of their travel,

Who shall impose on them bounds and an orbit? The winds have their treading,–

They can be followed and seized, not the gods when they move towards their purpose.

They are not bound by our deeds and our thinkings. Sin exalted

Seizes secure on the thrones of the world for her glorious portion,

Down to the bottomless pit the good man is thrust in his virtue.

Leave to the gods their godhead and, mortal, turn to thy labour;

Take what thou canst from the hour that is thine and be fearless in spirit;

This is the greatness of man and the joy of his stay in the sunlight.

Now whether over the waste of Poseidon the ships of the Argives

Empty and sad shall return or sacred Ilion perish,

Priam be slain and for ever cease this imperial nation,

These things the gods are strong to conceal from the hopings of mortals.

Neither Antenor knows nor Laocoon. Only of one thing

Man can be sure, the will in his heart and his strength in his purpose:

This too is Fate and this too the gods, nor the meanest in Heaven.

Paris keeps what he seized from Time and Fate106 while unconquered107

Life speeds warm through his veins and his heart is assured of the sunlight.

After ’tis cold, none heeds, none hinders. Not for the dead man

Earth and her wars and her cares, her joys and her gracious concessions,

Whether for ever he sleeps in the chambers of Nature unmindful

Or into wideness wakes like a dreamer called from his visions.

Ilion in flames I choose, not fallen from the heights of her spirit.

Great and free has she lived since they raised her twixt billow and mountain,

Great let her end; let her offer her freedom to fire, not the Hellene.

She was not founded by mortals; gods erected her ramparts,

Lifted her piles to the sky, a seat not for slaves but the mighty.

All men marvelled at Troy; by her deeds and her spirit they knew her

Even from afar as the lion is known by his roar and his preying.

Sole she lived royal and fell, erect in her leonine nature.

So, O her children, still let her live unquelled in her purpose

Either to stand with her108 feet on the world oppressing the nations

Or in her109 ashes to lie and her110 name be forgotten for ever.

Justly your voices approve me, armipotent children of Ilus;

Straight from Zeus is our race and the Thunderer lives in our nature.

Long I have suffered this111 taunt that Paris was Ilion’s ruin

Born on a night of the gods and of Ate, clothed in a body.

Scornful I strode on my path112 secure of the light in my bosom,

Turned from the muttering voices of envy, their hates who are fallen,

Voices of hate that cling round the wheels of the triumphing victor;

Now if I speak, ’tis the strength in me answers, not to belittle,

That excusing which most I rejoice in and glory for ever,

Tyndaris’ rape whom I seized by the will of divine Aphrodite.

Mortal this error that Greece would have slumbered apart in her mountains,

Sunk, by the trumpets of Fate unaroused and the morning within her,

Only were Paris unborn and the world had not gazed upon Helen.

Fools, who say that a spark was the cause of this giant destruction!

War would have stridden on Troy though Helen were still in her Sparta

Tending an Argive loom, not the glorious prize of the Trojans,

Greece would have banded her nations though Paris had drunk not Eurotas,

Coast against coast I set not, nor Ilion opposite Argos.

Phryx accuse who upreared Troy’s domes by the azure Aegean,

Curse Poseidon who fringed with Greece the blue of his waters:

Then was this war first decreed and then Agamemnon was fashioned;

Armed he strode forth in the secret Thought that is womb of the future.

Fate and Necessity guided these113 vessels, captained their armies.

When they stood mailed at her gates, when they cried in the might of their union,

‘Troy, renounce thy alliances, draw back humbly from Hellas’,

Should she have hearkened persuading her strength to a shameful compliance,

Ilion queen of the world114 whose voice was the breath of the storm-gods?

Should she have drawn back her foot as it strode towards the hills of the Latins?

Thrace left bare to her foes, recoiled from Illyrian conquests?

If all this without battle were possible, people of Priam,

Blame then Paris, say then that Helen was cause of the struggle.

But I have sullied the hearth and unsealed the gaze of the Furies,115

Heaven I have armed with my sin, I have trampled the gift and the guest-rule,116

So was Troy doomed who righteous had triumphed, locked with the Argive.

Fools or hypocrites! Meanest falsehood is this among mortals,

Veils of purity weaving, names misplacing ideal

When our desires we disguise and paint the lusts of our nature.

Men, ye are men in your pride and your strength, be not sophists and tonguesters.

Lie not! say117 not that nations live by righteousness, justice

Shields them, gods out of heaven look down118 on the crimes of the mighty!

Known have men what screened itself119 mouthing these semblances. Crouching

Dire like a beast in the green of the thicket120, selfishness silent

Crunches the bones of its prey while the priest and the statesman are glozing.

So are the nations soothed and deceived by the clerics of virtue,

Taught to reconcile fear of the gods with their lusts and their passions,

So with a lie on their lips they march to the rapine and slaughter.

Truly the vanquished were guilty! Else would their cities have perished,

Shrieked their ravished virgins, their peasants been hewn in the vineyards?

Truly the victors were tools of the gods and their glorious servants!

Else would the war-cars have ground triumphant their bones whom they hated?

Servants of God are they verily, even as the ape and the tiger.

Does not the wild beast too triumph enjoying the flesh of his captives?

Tell us then what was the sin of the antelope, wherefore they doomed her

Wroth at her many crimes? Come, justify God to his creatures!

Not to her sins was she offered, not to the Furies or justice,

But to the strength of the lion the high gods offered a victim,

Force that is God in the lion’s breast with the forest for altar.

What, in the cities stormed and sacked by Achilles in Troas

Was there no just man slain? Was Brises then a transgressor?

Hearts that were pierced in his walls were they sinners tracked by the Furies?

No, they were pious and just and their altars burned for Apollo,

Reverent flamed up to Pallas who slew them aiding the Argives.

Or if the crime of Paris they shared and his doom has embraced them,

Whom had the island cities offended, stormed by the Locrian,

Wave-kissed homes of peace but given to the sack and the spoiler?

Was then King Atreus just and the house accursed121 of Pelops,

Tantalus’ race, whose deeds men shuddering hear and are silent?

Look! they endure, their pillars are firm, they are regnant and triumph.

Or are Thyestean banquets sweet to the gods in their savour?

Only a woman’s heart is pursued in their wrath by the Furies!

No, when the wrestlers meet and embrace in the mighty arena,

Not at their sins and their virtues the high gods look in that trial;

Which is the strongest, which is the subtlest, this they consider.

Nay, there is none in the world to befriend save ourselves and our courage;

Prowess alone in the battle is virtue, skill in the fighting

Only helps, the gods aid only the strong and the valiant.

Put forth your lives in the blow, you shall beat back the banded aggressors.

Neither believe that for justice denied your subjects have left you

Nor that for justice trampled Pallas and Hera abandon.

Two are the angels of God whom men worship, strength and enjoyment.

Into this life which the sunlight bounds and the greenness has cradled,

Armed with strength we have come; as our strength is, so is our joyance.

What but for joyance is birth and what but for joyance is living?

But on this earth that is narrow, this stage that is crowded, increasing

One on another we press. There is hunger for lands and for oxen,

Horses and armour and gold required;122 possession allures us

Adding always as field to field some fortunate farmer.

Hearts too and minds are our prey; we seize on men’s souls and their bodies,

Slaves to our works and desires that our hearts may bask golden in leisure.

One on another we prey and one by another are mighty.

This is the world and we have not made it; if it is evil,

Blame first the gods; but for us, we must live by its laws or we perish.

Power is divine; divinest of all is power over mortals.

Power then the conqueror seeks and power the imperial nation,

Even as luminous, passionless, wonderful, high over all things

Sit in their calmness the gods and oppressing our grief-tortured nations

Stamp their wills on the world. Nor less in our death-besieged natures

Gods are and altitudes. Earth resists, but my soul in me widens

Helped by the toil behind and the agelong effort of Nature.

Even in the worm is a god and it writhes for a form and an outlet.

Workings immortal obscurely struggling, hints of a godhead

Labour to form in this clay a divinity. Hera widens,

Pallas aspires in me, Phoebus in flames goes battling and singing,

Ares and Artemis chase through the fields of my soul in their hunting,

Last in some hour of the Fates a Birth stands released and triumphant;

Poured by its deeds over earth it rejoices fulfilled in its splendour.

Conscious dimly of births unfinished hid in our being

Rest we cannot; a world cries in us for space and for fullness.

Fighting we strive by the spur of the gods who are in us and o’er us,

Stamping our image on man123 and events to be Zeus or be Ares.

Love and the need of mastery, joy and the longing for greatness

Rage like a fire unquenchable burning the world and creating,

Nor till humanity dies will they sink in the ashes of Nature.

All is injustice of love or all is injustice of battle.

Man over woman, woman o’er man, over lover and foeman

Wrestling we strive to expand in our souls, to be wide, to be joyous.124

If thou wouldst only be just, then wherefore at all shouldst thou conquer?

Not to be just, but to rule, though with kindness and high-seated mercy,

Taking the world for our own and our will from our slaves and our subjects,

Smiting the proud and sparing the suppliant, Trojans, is conquest.

Justice was base of thy government? Vainly, O statesman, thou liest.

If thou wert just, thou wouldst free thy slaves and be equal with all men.

Such were a dream of some sage at night when he muses in fancy,

Imaging freely a flawless world where none were afflicted,

No man inferior, all could sublimely equal and brothers

Live in a peace divine like the gods in their luminous regions.

This, O Antenor, were justice known but in words to us mortals.

But for the justice thou vauntest enslaving men to thy purpose,

Setting an iron yoke, nor regarding their need and their nature,

Then to say ‘I am just; I slay not save by procedure,

Rob not save by law’ is an outrage to Zeus and his creatures.

Terms are these feigned by the intellect making a pact with our yearnings,

Lures of the sophist within us draping our passions with virtue.

When thou art weak, thou art just, when thy subjects are strong and remember.

Therefore, O Trojans, be firm in your will and, though all men abandon,

Bow not your heads to reproach nor your hearts to the sin of repentance;

For you have done what the gods desired in your breasts and are blameless.

Proudly enjoy the earth that they gave you, enthroning their natures,

Fight with the Greeks and the world and trample down the rebellious,

What you have lost recover, nor yield to the hurricane passing.

You cannot utterly die while the Power lives untired in your bosoms;

When ’tis withdrawn, not a moment of life can be added by virtue.

Faint not for helpers fled! Though your yoke had been mild as a father’s

They would have gone as swiftly. Strength men desire in their masters;

All men worship success and in failure and weakness abandon.

Not for his justice they clung to Teucer, but for their safety,

Seeing in Troy a head and by barbarous foemen afflicted.

Faint not, O Trojans, cease not from battle, persist in your labour!

Conquer the Greeks, your allies shall be yours and fresh nations your subjects.

One care only lodge in your hearts, how to fight, how to conquer.

Peace has smiled out of Phthia; a hand comes outstretched from the Hellene.

Who would not join with the godlike? who would not grasp at Achilles?

There is a price for his gifts, it is such as Achilles should ask for,

Never this nation concede.125 O Antenor’s golden phrases

Glorifying rest to the tired and confuting patience and courage,

Garbed with a subtlety lax and the hopes that palliate surrender!

Charmed men applaud the skilful purpose, the dexterous speaker,

This they forget that a Force decides, not the wiles of the statesman.126

‘Now let us yield,’ do you say, ‘we will rise when our masters are weakened’?

Nay, then our master’s master shall find us an easy possession!

Easily nations bow to a yoke when their virtue relaxes;

Hard is the breaking fetters once worn, for the virtue has perished.

Hope you when custom has shaped men into the mould of a vileness,

Hugging their chains when the weak feel easier trampled than rising

Or though they groan, yet have heart nor strength for the anguish of effort,

Then to cast down whom, armed and strong, you prevailed not127 opposing?

Easy is lapse into uttermost hell, not easy salvation.

Or have you dreamed that Achilles will save, this128 son of the gods and the Ocean?

Naught129 else can be with the strong and the bold130 save foeman131 or master.

Know you so little the mood of the pursuer132? Think you the lion

Only will lick his prey, that his jaws will refrain from the banquet?

Rest from thy bodings, Antenor! Not all the valour of Troya

Perished with Hector, nor with Polydamas vision has left her;

Troy is not eager to slay her soul in133 a pyre of dishonour.

Still she has children left who remember the mood of their mother.

Helen none shall take from me living, gold not a drachma

Travels from coffers of Priam to Greece. Let another and older

Pay down his wealth if he will and his daughters serve Menelaus.

Rather from Ilion I will go forth with my brothers and kinsmen;

Troy I will leave and her shame and live with my heart and my honour

Refuged with lions in134 Ida or build in the highlands a city

Or in an isle of the seas or by dark-driven Pontic waters.

Dear are the halls of our childhood, dear are the fields of our fathers,

Yet to the soul that is free no spot on the earth is an exile.

Rather wherever sunlight is bright, flowers bloom and the rivers

Flow in their lucid streams to the Ocean, there is our country.

So will I live in my soul’s wide freedom, never in Troya

Shorn of my will and disgraced in my strength and the mock of my rivals.

First had you yielded, shame at least had not stained your surrender.

Strength indulges the weak! But what Hector has fallen refusing,

Men! what through ten loud years we denied with the spear for our answer,

That what Trojan will ever renounce, though his city should perish?

Once having fought we will fight to the end nor that end shall be evil.

Clamour the Argive spears in135 our walls? Are the ladders erected?

Far on the plain is their flight, on the farther side of the Xanthus.

Where are the deities hostile? Vainly the eyes of the tremblers

See them stalking vast in the ranks of the Greeks and the shoutings

Dire of Poseidon they hear and are blind with the aegis of Pallas.

Who then sustained so long this Troy, if the gods are against her?

Even the hills could not stand save upheld by their concert immortal.

Now not with Tydeus’ son, not now with Odysseus and Ajax

Trample the gods in the sound of their chariot-wheels, victory leading:

Argos falls red in her heaps to their scythes; they shelter the Trojans;

Victory unleashed follows and fawns upon Penthesilea.

Ponder no more, O Ilion, city of ancient Priam!

Rise, O beloved of the gods, and go forth in thy strength to the battle.

Not by the dreams of Laocoon strung to the faith that is febrile,

Nor with the tremblings vain and the haunted thoughts of Antenor,

But with a noble and serious strength and an obstinate valour

Suffer the shock of your foes, O nation chosen by Heaven;

Proudly determine on victory, live by disaster unshaken.

Either Fate receive like men, nay, like gods, nay, like Trojans.”

So like an army that streams and that marches, speeding and pausing,

Drawing in horn and wing or widened for scouting and forage,

Bridging the floods, avoiding the mountains, threading the valleys,

Fast with their flashing panoply clad in gold and in iron

Moved the array of his thoughts; and throughout delight and approval

Followed their march, in triumph led but like prisoners willing,

Glad and unbound to a land they desire. Triumphant he ended,

Lord of opinion, though by the aged frowned on and censured,

But to this voice of their thoughts the young men vibrated wholly.

Loud like a storm on the ocean mounted the roar of the people.

“Cease from debate,” men cried, “arise, O thou warlike Aeneas!

Speak for this nation, launch like a spear at the tents of the Hellene,

Ilion’s voice of war!” Then up mid a limitless shouting

Stern and armed from his seat like a war-god helmèd Aeneas

Rose by King Priam approved in this last of Ilion’s sessions,

Holding the staff of the senate’s authority. “Silence, O commons,

Hear and assent or refuse as your right is, masters of Troya,

Ancient and sovereign people, act that your kings have determined

Sitting in council high, their reply to the strength of Achilles.

‘Son of the Aeacids, vain is thy offer; the pride of thy challenge

Rather we choose; it is nearer to Dardanus, King of the Hellenes.

Neither shall Helen be led back, the Tyndarid, weeping to Argos

Nor down the paths of peace revisit her fathers’ Eurotas.

Death and the fire may prevail o’er us, never our wills shall surrender

Lowering Priam’s heights and darkening Ilion’s splendours.

Not of such sires were we born but of kings and of gods, O Larissan.

Not with her gold Troy traffics for safety,136 but with her spear-points.

Stand with thy oath in the war-front, Achilles; call on thy helpers

Armed to descend from the calm of Olympian heights to thy succour

Hedging thy fame from defeat; for we all desire thee in battle,

Mighty to end thee or tame at last by the floods of the Xanthus.’”

So Aeneas resonant spoke, stern, fronted like Ares,

And with a voice that conquered the earth and invaded the heavens

Loud they approved their doom and fulfilled their impulse immortal.

Last Deiphobus rose in their meeting, head of their mellay:

“Proudly and well have you answered, O nation beloved of Apollo;

Fearless of death they must walk who would live and be mighty for ever.

Now, for the sun is hastening up the empyrean azure,

Hasten we also. Tasting of food round the call of your captains

Meet in your armèd companies, chariots and hoplites and archers,

Strong be your hearts, let your courage be stern like the sun when it blazes;

Fierce will the shock be today ere he sink blood-red in the waters.”

They with a voice as of Oceans meeting rose from their session,–

Filling the streets with her tread Troy strode from her Ilian forum.

Book Four. The Book of Partings

Eagerly, spurred by Ares swift in their souls to the war-cry,

All now pressed to their homes for the food of their strength in the battle;

Ilion turned her thoughts in a proud expectancy seaward

Waiting to hear the sounds that she loved and the cry of the mellay.

Now to their citadel Priam’s sons returned with their father,

Now from the gates Talthybius issued grey in his chariot;

But in the halls of Anchises Aeneas not doffing his breastpiece

Hastily ate of the corn of his country, cakes of the millet

Doubled with wild-deer’s flesh, from the quiet hands of Creüsa.

She, as he ate, with her calm eyes watching him smiled on her husband:

“Ever thou hastest to battle, O warrior, ever thou fightest

Far in the front of the ranks and thou seekest out Locrian Ajax,

Turnest thy ear to the roar for the dangerous shout of Tydides;

There, once heard, leaving all thou drivest, O stark in thy courage.

Yet am I blest among women who tremble not, left in thy mansion,

Quiet at old Anchises’ feet when I see thee in vision

Sole with the shafts hissing round thee and say to my quivering spirit,

‘Now he is striking at Ajax, now he has met Diomedes.’

Such are the mighty twain who are ever near to protect thee,

Phoebus, the Thunderer’s son, and thy mother, gold Aphrodite;

Such are the fates that demand thee, O destined head of the future.

But though my thoughts for their own are not troubled, always, Aeneas,

Sore is my heart with pity for other Ilian women

Who in this battle are losing their children and well-loved husbands,

Brothers too dear, for the eyes that are wet, for the hearts that are silent.

Will not this war then end that thunders for ever round Troya?”

But to Creüsa the hero answered, the son of Anchises:

“Surely the gods protect, yet is Death too always mighty.

Most in his shadowy envy he strikes at the brave and the lovely,

Grudging works to abridge their days and to widow the sunlight;

Most, disappointed, he rages against the belovèd of Heaven;

Striking their lives through their hearts he mows down their loves and their pleasures.

Truly thou say’st137, thou need’st138 not to fear for my life in the battle;

Ever for thine I fear lest he find thee out in his anger,

Missing my head in the fight, when he comes here crossed in his godhead.

Yet shall Phoebus protect and my mother, gold Aphrodite.”

But to Aeneas answered the tranquil lips of Creüsa:

“So may it be that I go before thee, seeing, Aeneas,

Over my dying eyes thy lips bend down for the parting.

Blissfullest end is this for a woman here mid earth’s sorrows;

Afterwards there we hope that the hands shall join which were parted.”

So she spoke, not knowing the gods: but Aeneas departing

Clasped his father’s knees, the ancient mighty Anchises:

“Bless me, my father; I go to the battle. Strong with thy blessing

Even today may I hurl down Ajax, slay Diomedes,

And on the morrow gaze on the empty beaches of Troas.”

Troubled and joyless, nought replying to warlike Aeneas

Long Anchises sat unmoving, silent, sombre,

Gazing into his soul with eyes that were closed to the sunlight.

“Prosper, Aeneas,” slowly he answered him, “son of a goddess,

Prosper, Aeneas; and if for Troy some doom is preparing,

Suffer always the will of the gods with a piety constant.

Only they will what Necessity fashions, impelled139 by the Silence.

Labour and war she has given to man as the law of his transience.

Work;140 she shall give thee the crown of thy deeds or their ending appointed,

Whether glorious thou pass or in silent shadows forgotten.

But what thy mother commands perform ever, loading thy vessels.

Who can know what the gods have hid with the mist of our hopings?”

So141 from the house of his fathers Aeneas rapidly striding

Came to the city echoing now with the wheels of the chariots,

Clanging with arms and astream with the warlike tramp of her thousands.

Fast through the press he strode and men turning knew Aeneas,

Greatened in heart and went on with loftier thoughts towards battle.

He through the noise and the crowd to Antenor’s high-built mansion

Striding came, and he turned to its courts and the bronze of its threshold

Trod which had suffered the feet of so many princes departed.

But as he crossed its brazen square from the hall there came running,

Leaping up light to his feet and laughing with sudden pleasure,

Eurus the youngest son of Polydamas. Clasping the fatal

War-hardened hand with a palm that was smooth as a maiden’s or infant’s,

“Well art thou come, Aeneas,” he said, “and good fortune has sent thee!

Now I shall go to the field; thou wilt speak with my grandsire Antenor,

And he shall hear thee though chid by his heart reluctant. Rejoicing

I shall go forth in thy car or warring by Penthesilea,

Famous, give to her grasp the spear that shall smite down Achilles.”

Smiling answered Aeneas, “Surely will, Eurus, thy prowess

Carry thee far to the front; thou shalt fight with Epeus and slay him.

Who shall say that this hand was not chosen to pierce Menelaus?

But for a while with the bulls142 should it rather strive, O hero,

Till in the play and the wrestle its softness grow hard143 for the smiting.”

Eagerly Eurus answered, “But they have told me, Aeneas,

This is the last of our fights for today will Penthesilea

Meet Achilles in battle and slay him ending the Argives.

Then shall I never have mixed in this war that is famous for ever.

What shall I say when my hairs are white like the aged Antenor’s?

Men will ask, ‘And what were thy deeds in the warfare Titanic?

Whom didst thou slay of the Argives, son of Polydamas, venging

Bravely thy father?’ Then must I say, ‘I lurked in the city.

I was too young and only ascending the Ilian ramparts

Saw the return or the flight, but never the deed and the triumph’?

Friend, if thou144 take me not forth, I shall die of grief ere the sunset.”

Plucking the hand of Aeneas he drew him into the mansion

Vast; and over the floor of the spacious hall they hastened

Laughing, the gracious child and the mighty hero and statesman,

Flower of a present stock and the burdened star of the future.

Meanwhile girt by his sons and the sons of his sons in his chamber

Cried145 to the remnants left of his blood the aged Antenor:

“Hearken you who are sprung from my loins and children, their offspring!

None shall again go forth to the fight who is kin to Antenor.

Weighed with my curse he shall go and the spear-points athirst of the Argives

Meet him wroth; he shall die in his sin and his name be forgotten.

Oft have I sent forth my blood to be spilled in vain in the battle

Fighting for Troy and her greatness earned by my toil and my fathers’.

Now all the debt has been paid; she rejects us driven by the immortals.

Much do we owe to the mother who bore us, much to our country;

But at the last our life is ours and the gods’ and the future’s.

Gather the gold of my house and our kin, O ye sons of Antenor.

Warned by a voice in my soul I will go forth tonight from this city,

Fleeing the doom and bearing my treasures; the ships shall receive them

Gathered, new-keeled by my care and the gods’, in the narrow Propontis.

Over God’s waters guided, treading the rage of Poseidon,

Bellying out with their sails let them cleave to the untravelled distance

Ocean’s crests and resign to their fates the doomed and the evil.”

So Antenor spoke and his children heard him in silence;

Awed by his voice and the dread of his curse they obeyed, though in sorrow.

Halamus only replied to his father: “Dire are the white hairs

Reverend, loved, of a father, dreadful his curse to his children.

Yet in my heart there is one who cries, ’tis the voice of my country,

She for whose sake I would be in Tartarus tortured for ever.

Pardon me then if thou wilt; if the gods can, then let them pardon.

For I will sleep in the dust of Troy embracing her ashes,

There where Polydamas sleeps and the many comrades I cherished.

So let me go to the darkness remembered or wholly forgotten,

Yet having fought for my country, true in my fall to my nation.”

Then in his aged wrath to Halamus answered Antenor:

“Go then and perish doomed with the doomed and the hated of heaven;

Nor shall the gods forgive thee dying nor shall thy father.”

Out from the chamber Halamus strode with grief in his bosom

Wrestling with wrath and he went to his doom nor looked back at his dear ones.

Crossing the hall the son of Antenor and son of Anchises

Met in the paths of their fates where they knotted and crossed for the parting,

One with the curse of the gods and his sire fast wending to Hades,

Fortunate, blessed the other; yet equal their minds were and virtues.

Cypris’ son to the Antenorid: “Thee I have sought and thy brothers,

Bough of Antenor; sore is our need today of thy counsels,

Endless our want of their arms that are strong and their hearts that recoil not

Meeting myriads stark with the spear in unequal battle.”

Halamus answered him: “I will go forth to the palace of Priam,

There where Troy yet lives and far from the halls of my fathers;

There will I speak, not here. For my kin they repose in the mansion

Sitting unarmed in their halls while their brothers fall in the battle.”

Eurus eagerly answered the hero: “Me rather, therefore,

Take to the fight with you; I will make war on the Greeks for my uncles;

One for all I will fill their place in the shock with the foemen.”

But from his chamber-door Antenor heard and rebuked him:

“Scamp of my heart, thou torment! into146 thy chamber and rest there,

Bound with cords lest thou cease, thou flutter-brain, scourged into quiet;

So shall thy lust of the fight be healed and our mansion grow tranquil.”

Chid by the old man Eurus slunk from the hall discontented,

Yet with a dubious smile like a moonbeam lighting his beauty.

But to Antenor the Dardanid born from the white Aphrodite:

“Late the Antenorids learn to flinch from the spears of the Argives,

Even this boy of their blood has Polydamas’ heart and his valour.

Nor should a life that was honoured and noble be stained in its ending.

Nay, then, the mood of a child would shame a grey-headed wisdom,

If for the fault of the people virtue and Troy were forgotten.

For, though the people hear us not, yet are we bound to our nation:

Over the people the gods are; over a man is his country;

This is the deity first adored by the hearths of the noble.

For by our nation’s will we are ruled in the home and the battle

And for our nation’s weal we offer our lives and our children’s.

Not by their own wills led nor their passions men rise to their manhood,

Selfishly seeking their good, but the gods’ and the State’s and the fathers’.”

Wroth Antenor replied to the warlike son of Anchises:

“Great is the soul in thee housed and stern is thy will, O Aeneas;

Onward it moves undismayed to its goal though a city be ruined.

They too guide thee who deepest see of the unageing147 immortals,

One with her heart and one in his spirit, Cypris and Phoebus.

Yet might a man not knowing this think as he watched thee, Aeneas,

‘Spurring Priam’s race to its fall he endangers this city,

Hoping to build a throne out of ruins sole in the Troad.’

I too have gods who warn me and lead, Athene and Hera.

Not as the ways of other mortals are theirs who are guided,

They whose eyes are the gods and they walk by a light that is secret.”

Coldly Aeneas made answer, stirred into wrath by the taunting:

“High wert thou always, nurtured in wisdom, ancient Antenor.

Walk then favoured and led, yet watch lest passion and evil

Feign auguster names and mimic the gait of the deathless.”

And with a smile on his lips but wrath in his bosom answered,

Wisest of men but with wisdom of mortals, aged Antenor:

“Led or misled we are mortals and walk by a light that is given;

Most they err who deem themselves most from error excluded.

Nor shalt thou hear in this battle the shout of the men of my lineage

Holding the Greeks as once and driving back Fate from their country.

His alone will be heard for a space while the stern gods are patient

Even now who went forth a victim self-offered to Hades,

Last whom their wills have plucked from the fated house of Antenor.”

They now with wrath in their bosoms sundered for ever and parted.

Forth from the hall148 of Antenor Aeneas rapidly striding

Passed149 once more through the city hurrying now with its car-wheels,

Filled with a mightier rumour of war and the march of its thousands,

Till at Troy’s upward curve he found the Antenorid crestward

Mounting the steep incline that climbed to the palace of Priam

White in her proud and armèd citadel. Silent, ascending

Hardly their feet had attempted the hill when behind them they hearkened

Sweet-tongued a call and the patter and hurry of light-running sandals;

Turning they beheld with a flush on his cheeks and a light on his lashes

Challenging mutely and pleading the boyish beauty of Eurus.

“Racer to mischief,” said Halamus, “couldst thou not sit in thy chamber?

Surely cords and the rod await thee, Eurus, returning.”

Answered with laughter the child, “I have broken through ranks of the fighters,

Dived under chariot-wheels to arrive here and I return not.

I too for counsel of battle have come to the palace of Priam.”

Burdened with thought they mounted slowly the road of their fathers,

Breasting the Ilian hill where Laomedon’s mansion was tented150,

They from the crest down gazing saw their country’s house-tops

Under their feet and heard the murmur of Troya below them.

But in the palace of Priam coming and going of house-thralls

Filled all the corridors; smoke from the kitchens curled in its plenty

Rich with savour and breathed from the labouring lungs of Hephaestus.

Far in the halls and the chambers voices travelled and clustered,

Anklets jangling ran and sang back from doorway to doorway,

Mocking with music of speed and its laughters the haste of the happy,

Sound came of arms, there was tread of the great, there were murmurs of women,–

Voices glad of the doomed in Laomedon’s marvellous mansion.

Six were the halls of its splendour, a hundred and one were its chambers

Lifted high151 upon columns that soared like the thoughts of its dwellers,

Thoughts that transcended the earth though they sank down at last into ashes.

So had Apollo dreamed to his lyre; and its tops were a grandeur

Domed, as if seeking to roof men’s lives with a hint of the heavens;

Marble his columns rose and with marble his roofs were appointed,

Conquered wealth of the world in its largeness suffered, supporting

Purities of marble, glories of gold. Nor only of matter

Blazed there the brutal pomps, but images mystic or mighty

Crowded ceiling and wall, a work that the gods even admire

Hardly believing that forms like these were imagined by mortals

Here upon earth where sight is a blur and the soul lives encumbered.

Scrolls that remembered in gems the thoughts austere of the ancients

Bordered the lines of the stone and the forms of serpent and Naiad

Ran in relief on those walls of pride in the palace of Priam

Mingled with Dryads who tempted and fled and Satyrs who followed,

Sports of the nymphs in the sea and the woods and their meetings with mortals,

Sessions and battles of Trojan demigods, deaths that were famous,

Wars and loves of men and the deeds of the golden immortals.

Pillars sculptured with gods and with giants soared from152 bases

Lion-carved or were seated on bulls and bore into grandeur

Amply those halls where they soared, or in153 lordliness slenderly fashioned,

Dressed in flowers and reeds like virgins standing on Ida,

Guarded the screens of stone and divided alcove and chamber.

Ivory carved and broidered robes and the riches of Indus

Cherished in sandalwood triumphed and teemed in the palace of Priam;

Doors that were carven and fragrant sheltered the joys of its princes.

Here in a chamber of luminous privacy Paris was arming.

Near him moved Helen, a whiteness divine and intent on her labour

Fastened his cuirass, bound the greaves and settled the hauberk,

Thrilling his limbs with her touch that was heaven to the yearning of mortals,

She with her hands of delight caressing the senseless metal

Pressed her lips to his brilliant armour; she bowed down, she whispered:

“Cuirass, allowed by the gods, protect the beauty of Paris:

Keep for me that for which country was lost and my child and my brothers.”

Yearning she bent to his feet, to the sandal-strings of her lover;

Then as she gazed up, changed grew her mood; for the Daemon within her

Rose that had banded Greece and was burning Troy into ashes.

Slowly a smile that was perfect and perilous over her beauty

Dawned like the sunlight on Paradise; strangely she looked on her lover.

So might a goddess have gazed as she played with the love of a mortal

Passing an hour on the earth ere she rose up white to Olympus.

“So art thou winner, Paris, yet and thy spirit ascendant

Leads this Troy where thou wilt, O thou mighty one veiled in thy beauty

First in the dance and the revel, first in the joy of the mellay;

Who would not leave for thy sake and repent it not country and homestead?

Winning thou reignest still over Troy, over Fate, over Helen.

Always so canst thou win? Has Death no claim on thy beauty,

Fate no scourge for thy sins? How the years have passed by in a glory,

Years of this heaven of the gods, O ravisher, since from my hearthstone

Seizing thou borest me compelled to thy ships and my joy on the waters.

Troy is enringed with the spears, her children fall and her glories,

Mighty souls of heroes have gone down prone to the darkness;

Thou and I abide! the mothers wail for our pleasure.

Wilt thou then keep me for ever, O son of Priam, in Troya?

Fate was my mother, they say, and Zeus for this hour begot me.

Art thou a god too, O hero, disguised in this robe of the mortal,

Brilliant, careless of death and of sin as if sure of thy rapture?

What then if Fate today were to lay her hand154 on thee, Paris?”

Calmly he looked on the face of which Greece was enamoured, the body

For whose desire great Troy was a sacrifice, tranquil regarded

Lovely and dire on the lips he loved that smile of a goddess,

Saw the daughter of Zeus in the woman, yet was not shaken.

“Temptress of Argos,” he answered, “thou snare for the world to be seized in,

Thou then hop’st to escape! But the gods could not take thee, O Helen,

How then thy will that to mine is a captive, or how, though with battle,

He who has lost thee, unhappy, the Spartan, bright Menelaus?

All things yield to a man and Zeus is himself his accomplice

When like a god he wills without remorse or longing.

Thou on this earth art mine since I claimed thee beheld, not speaking,

But with thy lids that fell thou veiledst thy heart of compliance.

Then in whatever beyond I shall know how to take thee, O Helen,

Even as here upon earth I knew, in heaven as in Sparta;

I on Elysian fields will enjoy thee as now in the Troad.”

Silent a moment she lingered like one who is lured by a music

Rapturous, heard by himself alone and his lover in heaven,

Then in her beauty compelling she rose up divine among women.

“Yes, it is good,” she cried, “what the gods do and actions of mortals:

Good is the155 play of the world; it is good, the joy and the torture.

Praised be the hour of the gods when I wedded bright Menelaus!

Praised, more praised the keels that severed the seas towards Helen

Churning the senseless waves that knew not the bliss of their burden!

Praised to the end the hour when I passed through the doors of my husband

Laughing with joy in my heart for the arms that bore and enchained me!

Never can Death undo what life has done for us, Paris.

Nor, whatever156 betide, can the hour be unlived of our rapture.

This too is good that nations should meet in the shock of the battle,

Heroes be slain and a theme be made for the songs of the poets,

Songs that shall thrill with the name of Helen, the beauty of Paris.

Well is this also that empires should fall for the eyes of a woman,

Well that for Helen Hector ended, Memnon was slaughtered,

Strong Sarpedon fell and Troilus ceased in his boyhood.

Troy for Helen burning, her glory, her empire, her riches,

This is the sign of the gods and the type of things that are mortal.

Thou who art kin to the masters of heaven, unconstrained like thy kindred

High on this ancient stage of the Troad with gods for spectators,

Play till the end thy part, O thou wondrous and beautiful actor:

Fight and slay the Greeks, my countrymen; victor returning

Take for reward of the play, thy delight of Argive Helen.

Force from my bosom a hint of the joy denied to the death-claimed,

Rob in the kiss of my lips a pang from the raptures of heaven.”

Clasping him wholly her arms of desire were a girdle of madness,

Cestus divine of the dread Aphrodite. He with her kisses

Flushed like the gods with unearthly wine and rejoiced in his ruin.

Thus while they conversed now in this hour that was near to their parting

Last upon earth, a fleet-footed slave-girl came to the chamber:

“Paris, thy father and mother desire thee; there in the strangers’

Outer hall Aeneas and Halamus wait for thy coming.”

So with the Argive he wended to Priam’s ample chamber

Far in Laomedon’s house where Troy looked upwards to Ida.

Priam and Hecuba there, the ancient grey-haired rulers

Waiting him sat in their chairs of ivory calm in their greatness;

Hid in her robes at their feet lay Cassandra crouched from her visions.

“Since, O my father,” said Paris, “thy thoughts have been with me, thy blessing

Surely shall help me today in my strife with the strength of Achilles.

Surely the gods shall obey in the end the might of our spirits,

[Pallas and Hera, flame-sandalled Artemis, Zeus and Apollo.]157

Ever serve the immortal brightnesses man when he stands up

Firm with his will uplifted a steadfast flame towards the heavens,

Ares works in his heart and Hephaestus burns in his labour.”

Priam replied to his son: “Forewilled by the gods, Alexander,

All things happen on earth and yet we must strive who are mortals.

Knowing all vain, yet we strive; for our nature seizing us always

Drives like the flock that is herded and urged towards shambles or pasture.

So have the gods158 fashioned these tools of their action and pleasure;

Failure and grief are their engines no less than the might of the victor;

They in the blow descend and resist in the sobs of the smitten.

Such are their goads that I too must walk in the paths that are common,

Even I who know must send for thee, moved by Cassandra.

Speak, O my child, since Apollo has willed it, once, and be silent.”

But in her raiment hidden Cassandra answered her father:

“No, for my heart has changed since I cried for him, vexed by Apollo.

Why should I speak? For who will believe me in Troy? who believed me

Ever in Troy or the world? Event and disaster approve me

Only, my comrades, not men in their thoughts, not my brothers and kinsmen.

All by their hopes are gladly deceived and grow wroth with the warner,

Half-blind prophets of hope entertained by the gods in the mortal!

Wiser blind, if nothing they saw or only the darkness.

I too once hoped when Apollo pursued me with love in his temple,

Round me already there gleamed the ray of the vision prophetic,

Thrill of that rapture I felt and the joy of the god in his seeing,

Nor did I know that the knowledge of mortals is bound unto blindness.

Either only they walk mid the coloured dreams of the senses

Treading the greenness of earth and deeming the touch of things real,

Or if they see, by the curse of the gods their sight into falsehood

Easily turns and leads them more stumbling astray than the sightless.

So are we either blind in a darkness or dazzled by seeing.

Thus have the gods protected their purpose and baffled the sages;

Over the face of the Truth their shield of gold is extended.

But I deemed otherwise, urged by the Dreadful One, he who sits always

Veiled in us fighting the gods whom he uses. I cried to Apollo:

‘Give me thy vision sheer, not such as thou giv’st to thy prophets,

Troubled though luminous; clear be the vision and ruthless to error,

Far-darting god who art veiled by the sun and by death thou art shielded.

Then I shall know that thou lovest.’ He gave, alarmed and reluctant,

Driven by Fate and his heart; but I mocked him, I broke from my promise;

Courage fatal helping my heart to its ruin with laughter.

Always now I remember his face that grew tranquil and ruthless,

Hear the voice divine and implacable: ‘Since thou deceivest

Even the gods and thou hast not feared to lie to Apollo,

Speak shalt thou henceforth only truth, but none shall believe thee:

Scorned in thy words, rejected yet more for their bitter fulfilment,

Scourged by the gods thou must speak though thy sick heart yearns to be silent.

For in this play thou hast dared to play with the masters of heaven,

Girl, it is thou who hast lost; thy voice is mine and thy bosom.’

Since then all I foreknow; therefore anguish is mine for my portion:

Since then all whom I love must perish slain by my loving.

Even of that I denied him, violent force shall bereave me

Grasped mid the flames of my city and shouts of her merciless victors.”

But to Cassandra answered gently the voice of her brother:

“Sister of mine, afflicted and seized by the dreadful Apollo,

All whose eyes can pierce that curtain, gaze into dimness;

This they have glimpsed and that they imagine deceived by their natures

Seeing the forms in their hearts of dreadful things and of joyous;

As in the darkness our eyes are deceived by shadows uncertain,

Such is their sight who rend the veil that the dire gods have woven.

Busy our hearts are weaving thoughts and images always;

After their kind they see what here we call truth. So thy nature

Tender and loving, plagued by this war and its fear159 for thy loved ones,

Sees calamity everywhere; when the event like the vision

Seems, as in every war the beloved must fall and the cherished,

Then the heart cries, ‘It has happened as all shall happen I mourn for.’

All that was bright it misses and only seizes on sorrow.

Dear, on the brightness look and if thou must prophesy, tell us

Rather of great Pelides slain by my spear in the onset.”

But with a voice of grief the sister answered her brother:

“Yes, he shall fall and his slayer too shall perish160 and Troy with his slayer.”

But in his spirit rejoicing Paris answered Cassandra:

“Let but this word come true; for the rest, the gods shall avert it.

Look once more, O Cassandra, and comfort the heart of thy mother,

See, O seer, my safe return with the spoils of Achilles.”

And with a voice of grief the sister answered her brother:

“Thou shalt return for thy hour while Troy yet stands in the sunshine.”

But in his spirit exultant Paris seizing the omen,

“Hearst thou, my father, my mother? She who still prophesied evil

Now perceives of our night this dawning. Yet is it grievous,

Since through a heart that we love must be pierced the heart of Achilles,

Fate, with this evil satisfied, turn in the end from Troya.

Bless me, my father, and thou, O Hecuba, mother long patient,

Still forgive that thy children have fallen for Helen and Paris.”

Tenderly yearning his mother drew him towards her and murmured:

“All for thy hyacinth curls was forgiven even from childhood

And for thy sunlit looks, O wonder of charm, O Paris.

Paris, my son, though Troy must fall, thy mother forgives thee,

Blessing the gods who have lent thee to me for a while in their sunshine.

Theirs are fate and result, but ours is the joy of our children;

Even the griefs are dear that come from their hands while they love us.

Fight and slay Achilles, the murderer dire of thy brothers;

Venging Hector return, my son, to the clasp of thy mother.”

But in his calm august to Paris Priam the monarch:

“Victor so mightst thou come, so gladden the heart of thy mother.”

Then to the aged father of Paris Helen the Argive

Bright and immortal and sad like a star that grows near to the dawning

And on its pale companions looks who now fade from its vision:

“Me too pardon and love, my parents, even Helen,

Cause of all bane and all death; but I came from the gods for this ruin

Born as a torch for the burning of empires, cursed with this beauty.

Nor have I known a father’s embrace, a mother’s caresses,

But to the distant gods I was born and nursed as an alien

Here by earth from fear, not affection, compelled by the thunders.

Two are her monstrous births, from the Furies and from the immortals;

Either touching mortality suffers and bears not the contact.

I have been both, a monster of doom and a portent of beauty.”

Slowly Priam the monarch answered to Argive Helen:

“That which thou art the gods have made thee; thou couldst not be other:

That which thou didst, the gods have done; thou couldst not prevent them.

Who here shall blame or whom shall he pardon? Should not my people

Rail at me murmuring, ‘Priam has lost what his fathers had gathered;

Cursed is this king by heaven and cursed who are born as his subjects’?

Masked the high gods act; the doer is hid by his working.

Each of us bears his punishment, fruit of a seed that’s forgotten;

Each of us curses his neighbour protecting his heart with illusions:

Therefore like children we blame each other and hate and are angry.

Take, my child, the joy of the sunshine won by thy beauty.

I who lodge on this earth as an alien bound by the body,

Wearing my sorrow even as I wear the imperial purple,

Praise yet the gods for my days that have seen thee at last in my ending.

Fitly Troy may cease having gazed on thy beauty, O Helen.”

He became silent, he ceased from words. But Paris and Helen

Lightly went forth and161 gladly; pursuing their footsteps the mother,

Mother once of Troilus, mother once of Hector,

Stood at the door with her death in her eyes, nor returned from her yearning,

But as one after a vanishing sunbeam gazes in prison,

Gazed down the corridors after him, long who had passed from her vision.

Then in the silent chamber Cassandra seized by Apollo

Staggered erect and tossing her snow-white arms of affliction

Cried to the heavens in her pain; for the fierce god tortured her bosom:

“Woe is me, woe for the guile and the bitter gift of Apollo!

Woe, thrice woe, for my birth in Troy and the lineage of Teucer!

So do you deal, O gods, with those who have served you and laboured,

Those who have borne for your sake the evil burden of greatness.

Blessed is he who holds mattock in hand or who bends o’er the furrow

Taking no thought for the good of mankind, with no yearnings for knowledge.

Woe unto me for my wisdom which none shall value nor hearken!

Woe unto thee, O King, for thy strength which shall not deliver!

Better the eye that is sealed, more blest is the spirit that’s feeble.

Vainly your hopes with iron Necessity struggle, O mortals.

Virtue shall lie in her pangs, for the gods have need of her torture;

Sin shall be scourged, though her deeds were compelled by the gods in their anger.

None shall avail in the end, the coward shall die and the hero.

Troy shall fall in her sin and her virtues shall not protect her;

Argos shall grow by her crimes till the gods shall destroy her for ever.

Now have I fruit of thy love, O Loxias, dreadful Apollo.

Woe is me, woe for the flame that approaches the house of my fathers!

Woe is me, woe for the hand of Ajax laid on my tresses!

Woe, thrice woe to him who shall ravish and him who shall cherish!

Woe for the ships that shall bound too swift o’er the azure Aegean!

Woe for thy splendid shambles of hell, O Argive Mycenae!

Woe for the evil spouse and house162 accursed163 of Atreus!”

So with her voice of the swan she clanged out doom on the peoples,

Over the palace of Priam and over the armèd nation

Marching resolved to the war in the pride of its centuries conquered,

Centuries slain by a single day of the anger of heaven.

Dim to the thoughts like a vision of Hades the luminous chamber

Grew; in his ivory chair King Priam sat like a shadow

Throned mid the ghosts of departed kings and forgotten empires.

But in his valiance careless and blithe the Priamid hastened

Seeking the pillared megaron wide where Deiphobus armoured

Waited his coming forth with the warlike chiefs of the Trojans.

Now as he passed by the halls of the women, the chambers that harboured

Daughters and wives of King Priam and wives of his sons and their playmates,

Niches of joy that were peopled with murmurs and sweet-tongued laughters,

Troubled like trees with their birds in a morning of sun and of shadow

Where in some garden of kings one walks with his heart in the sunshine,

Out from her door where she stood for him waiting Polyxena started,

Seized his hand and looked in his face and spoke to her brother.

Then not even the brilliant strength of Paris availed him;

Joyless he turned his face from her eyes of beauty and sorrow.

“So is it164 come, the hour that I feared, and thou goest, O Paris,

Armed with the strength of Fate to strike at my heart in the battle;

For he is doomed and thou and I, a victim to Hades.

This thou preferrest and neither thy father could move nor thy mother

Burning with Troy in their palace, nor could thy country persuade thee,

Nor dost thou care for thy sister’s happiness pierced by thy arrows.

Will she remember it all, my sister Helen, in Argos

Passing tranquil days with her husband, bright Menelaus,

Holding her child on her knees? But we shall lie joyless in Hades.”

Paris replied: “O my sister165 Polyxena, blame me not wholly.

We by the gods are ensnared; for the pitiless white Aphrodite

Doing her will with us both compels this. Helpless our hearts are

And when she drives perforce must love, for death or for gladness:

Weighed in unequal scales she deals them to one or another.

Happy who holding his love can go down into bottomless Hades.”

But to her brother replied in her anguish the daughter of Priam:

“Evilly deal with thy166 days the immortals happy in heaven;

Yes, I accuse the gods and I curse them who heed not our sorrow.

This they have done with me, forcing my heart to the love of a foeman,

One whose terrible hands have been stained with the blood of my brothers,

This now they do, they have taken the two whom I love beyond heaven,

Brother and husband, and drive to the fight to be slain by each other.

Nay, go thou forth; for thou canst not help it, nor I, nor can Helen.

Since I must die as a pageant to satisfy Zeus and his daughter,

Since now my heart must be borne as a victim bleeding to please them,

So let it be, let me deck myself and be bright for the altar.”

Into her chamber she turned with her great eyes blind, unregarding;

He for a moment stood, then passed to the megaron slowly;

Dim was the light in his eyes and clouded his glorious beauty.

Meanwhile armed in the palace of Priam Penthesilea.

Near her her captains silent and mighty stood, from the Orient

Distant clouds of war, Surabdas and iron Surenas,

Pharatus planned like the hills, Somaranes, Valarus, Tauron,

High-crested Sumalus, Arithon, Sambas167 and Artavoruxes.

There too the princes of Phrygian Troya gathered for counsel

And with them Eurus came, Polydamas’ son, who most dearly

Loved was of all the Trojan boys by the glorious virgin.

She from her arming stayed to caress his curls and to chide him:

“Eurus, forgotten of grace, dost thou gad like a stray in the city

Eager to mix with the armoured men and the chariots gliding?

High on the roofs wouldst thou watch the swaying speck that is battle?

Better to aim with the dart or seek with thy kind the palaestra;

So wilt thou sooner be part of this greatness rather than straining

Yearn from afar to the distance that veils the deeds of the mighty.”

But with an anxious lure in his smile on her Eurus answered:

“Not that remoteness to see have I come to the palace of Priam

Leaving the house of my fathers, but for the spear and the breast-piece.

Hast thou not promised me, long I shall fight in thy car with Achilles?”

Doubtful he eyed her, a lion’s cub at play in his beauty,

And mid the heroes who heard him laughter arose for a moment,

Yet with a sympathy stirred; they remembered the days of their childhood,

Thinking168 of Troy still mighty, life in its rose-touched dawning

When they had longed for the clash of the fight and the burden of armour.

Glad, with the pride of the lioness watching her cub in the desert,–

Couchant she lies with her paws before her and joys in his gambols,

Over the prey as he frisks and is careless,– answered the virgin:

“Younger than thou in my nation have mounted the steed and the war-car.

Eurus, arm; from under my shield thou shalt gaze at the Phthian,

Reaching my shafts for the cast from the rim of my car in the battle

Handle perhaps the spear that shall smite down the Phthian Achilles.

What sayst thou, Halamus? Were not such prowess a perfect beginning

Worthy Polydamas’ son and the warlike house of Antenor?”

Halamus started and smiting his hand on the grief of his bosom

Sombre replied and threatened with Fate the high-hearted virgin.

“Virgin armipotent, wherefore mockst thou thy friend, though unwitting?

Nay,– for the world will know at the end and my death cannot hide it,–

Slain by a father’s curse we fight who are kin to Antenor.

Take not the boy in thy car, lest the Furies, Penthesilea,

Aim through the shield and the shielder to wreak the curse of the grandsire.

They will not turn nor repent for thy strength nor his delicate beauty.”

Swiftly to Halamus answered the high-crested strength169 of the virgin:

“Curses leave lightly the lips when the soul of a man is in anger

Even as blessings easily crowd round the head that is cherished.

Yet have I never seen that a curse has sharpened a spear-point;

Never Death has drawn170 back from the doomed by the power of a blessing.

Valour and skill and chance are Fate and the gods and the Furies.

Give me the boy; a hero shall come back formed from the onset.”

“Do as thou wilt,” replied Halamus, “Fate shall guard or shall end him.”

Then to the boy delighted and smiling-eyed and exultant

Cried with her voice like the call of heaven’s bugles Penthesilea:171

“Go, find the spear, gird the sword, don the cuirass, child of the mighty.

Armed when thou standest172 on the plain of the Xanthus, field of thy fathers,

See that thou fight on this day like the comrade of Penthesilea.

Bud of a hero, gaze unalarmed in the eyes of Achilles.”

Light as a hound released he ran to the hall of the armour

Where were the shields of the mighty, the arms of the mansion of Teucer;

There from the house-thralls he wrung the greaves and the cuirass and helmet

Troilus wore, the wonderful boy who, ere ripened his prowess,

Conquered the Greeks and drove to the ships and fought with Achilles.

These on his boyish limbs he donned and ran back exulting

Bearing spears and a sword and rejoiced in the clank on his armour.

Meanwhile Deiphobus, head of the mellay, moved by Aeneas

Opened the doors of their warlike debate to the strength of the virgin:

“Well do I hope that our courage outwearying every opponent

Triumph shall lift to her ancient seat on the Pergaman turrets;

Clouds from Zeus come and pass; his sunshine eternal survives them.

Yet we are few in the fight and armoured nations besiege us.

Surging on Troy today a numberless foe well-captained

Hardly pushed back in shock after shock with the Myrmidon numbers

Swelled returns; they fight with a hope that broken refashion

Helpful skies and a man now leads them who conquers and slaughters,

One of the sons of the gods and armed by the gods for the struggle.

We unhelped save by Ares stern and the mystic Apollo

And but as mortals striving with stubborn mortal courage,

Hated and scorned and alone in the world by the nations rejected,

Fight with the gods and mankind and Achilles and numbers against us,

Keeping our country from death in this bitter hour of her fortunes.

Therefore have prudence and hardihood severed contending our counsels

Whether far out to fight on the seaward plain with the Argives

Or behind Xanthus the river impetuous friendly to Troya.

This my brother approves and the son of Antenor advises.

Prudent masters of war who prepare by defence their aggression.

But for myself from rashness I seek a more far-seeing wisdom,

Not behind vain defences choosing a tardy destruction,

Rather as Zeus with his spear of the lightning and chariot of tempest

Scatters and chases the heavy mass of the clouds through the heavens,

So would I hunt the Greeks through the plains to their lair by the Ocean,

Straight at the throat of my foeman so would I leap in the battle.

Swiftly to smite at the foe is prudence for armies outnumbered.”

Then to the Dardanid answered the high-crested Penthesilea:

“There where I find my foe I will fight him, whether by Xanthus

Or at the fosse of the ships where they crouch behind bulwarks for shelter,

Or if they dare by Scamander the higher marching on Troya.”

Sternly approved her the Trojan, “So should they fight who would triumph

Meeting the foe ere he moves173 in his will to the clash of encounter.”

But with his careless laughter the brilliant Priamid Paris:

“Joy of the battle, joy of the tempest, joy of the gamble

Mated are in thy blood, O virgin, daughter of Ares,

Thou like the deathless wouldst have us combat, us who are human?

Come, let the gods do their will with us, Ares let lead and his daughter!

Always the blood is wiser and knows what is hid from the thinker.

Life and treasure and fame to cast on the wings of a moment,

Fiercer joy than this the gods have not given to mortals.”

Highly to Paris answered the174 virgin armipotent Penthesilea,

“Paris and Halamus, shafts of the war-god, fear not for Troya.

Not as a vaunt do I speak it, you gods who stern-thoughted watch us,

But in my vision of strength and the soul that is seated within me,

Not while I live and war, shall the host of the Myrmidon fighters

Forcing the currents, lave as once they were wont, in Scamander

Vaunting their victor car-wheels red with the blood of the vanquished.

Then when I lie by some war-god slain on the fields of the Troad,

Fight again if you will behind high-banked fast-flowing Xanthus.”

Halamus answered her, “Never so by my will would I battle

Flinging Troy as a stake on the doubtful diceboard of Ares.

But you have willed it and so let it be; yet hearken my counsel.

Massed in the fight let us aim the storm of our spears at one greatness,

Mighty Pelides’ head who gives victory still to the Argives.

Easy the Greeks to destroy if175 Achilles once slain on the Troad,

But if the Peleid lives the fire shall yet finish with Troya.

Join then Orestes’ speed to the stubborn might of Aeneas,

Paris’ fatal shafts and the missiles of Penthesilea.

Others meanwhile a puissant screen of our bravest and strongest

Fighting shall hold back Pylos and Argolis, Crete and the Locrian.

Thou, Deiphobus, front the bronze-clad stern Diomedes,

I with Polydamas’ spear will dare to restrain and discourage

Ajax’ feet though they yearn for pursuit and are hungry for swiftness;

Knot of retreat behind let some strong experienced captain

Stand with our younger levies guarding the fords of the Xanthus,

Fortify the wavering line and dawn as fresh strength on the wearied.

Then if the fierce gods prevail we shall perish not driven like cattle

Over the plains, but draw back sternly and slowly to Troya.”

Answered the Priamid, “Wise is thy counsel, branch of Antenor.

Chaff are the southern Achaians, only the hardihood Hellene,

Only the savage speed of the Locrian rescues their legions.

Marshal we so the176 field. Stand, Halamus, covering Xanthus,

Helping our need when the foe press hard on the Ilian fighters.

Paris, my brother, thou with our masses aid the Eoan.

I with Aeneas’ single spear am enough for the Argive.”

“Gladlier,” Halamus cried, “would I fight in the front with the Locrian!

This too let be as you will; for one is the glory and service

Fighting in front or guarding behind the fate of our country.”

So in their thoughts they ordered battle. Meanwhile Eurus

Gleaming returned and the room grew glad with the light of his armour.

Glad were its conscious walls of that vision of boyhood and valour;

Gods of the household sighed and smiled at his courage and beauty,

They who had seen so many pass over their floors and return not

Hasting to battle, the fair and mighty177, the curled and the grizzled,

All of them treading one path like the conscious masks of one pageant

Winding past through the glare of a light to the shadows178 beyond them.

But on her captains proudly smiling Penthesilea

Seized him and cried aloud, her wild and warlike nature

Moved by the mother’s heart that the woman loses not ever.

“Who then shall fear for the fate of Troy when such are her children?

Verily, Eurus, yearning has seized me to meet thee in battle

Rather than Locrian Ajax, rather than Phthian Achilles.

There acquiring a deathless fame I would make thee my captive,

Greedy and glad who feel as a lioness eyeing her booty.

Nay, I can never leave thee behind, my delicate Trojan,

But, when this war ends, will bear thee away to the hills of my country

And, as a robber might, with my captive glad and unwilling

Bring thee a perfect gift to my sisters Ditis and Anna.

Eurus, there in my land thou shalt look on such hills as thy vision

Gazed not on yet, with their craggy tops besieging Cronion,

Sheeted in virgin white and chilling his feet with their vastness.

Thou shalt rejoice in our wooded peaks and our fruit-bearing valleys,

Lakes of Elysium dreaming and wide and rivers of wonder.

All day long thou shalt glide between mystic woodlands in silence

Broken only by call of the birds and the plashing of waters.

There shalt thou see, O Eurus, the childhood of Penthesilea,

There179 shalt repose in my father’s house and walk in the gardens

Green where I played at the ball with my sisters Ditis and Anna.”

Musing she ceased, but if any god had touched her with prescience

Bidding her think for the last time now of the haunts of her childhood

Gazing180 in her soul with a parting love at the thought of her sisters

And of the lovely and distant land where she played through her summers,

Brief was the touch; for she changed at once and only of triumph

Dreamed and only yearned in her heart for the shock of Achilles.

So they passed from the halls of Priam fated and lofty,

Halls where the air seemed sobbing yet with the cry of Cassandra;

Clad in their brilliant armour, bright in their beauty and courage,

Sons of the passing demigods, they to their latest battle

Down the ancestral hill of the Pergamans, moved to the gateway

Loud with an endless march, with a tireless gliding to meet them

All Troy streamed from her streets and her palaces armed for the combat;

Then to the voice of Deiphobus clanging high o’er the rumour

Wide the portals swung that shall close on blood-red181 evening,

Slow, foreboding, reluctant, and through the yawn of the gateway

Drove with a cry her steeds the virgin Penthesilea

Calling aloud, “O steeds of my east, we drive to Achilles.”

Blithe in the car behind her Eurus scouted around him

Scared with his eyes lest Antenor his grandsire should rise in the gateway,

Hardly believing his fate that led him safe through the portals.

After her trampled and crashed the ranks of her orient fighters.

Paris next with his hosts came brilliant, gold on his armour,

Gold on his helm; a mighty bow hung slack on his shoulder,

Propped o’er his arm a spear, as he drove his car through the gateway.

Next Deiphobus drove and the hero strong Aeneas,

Leading their numbers on. Behind them Dus and Polites,

Helenus, Priam’s son, Thrasymachus, grizzled Aretes,

Came like the tempest his father, Aiamos182, son of the Northwind –

Orus old in the battle183 and Eumachus, kin to Aeneas,

Who was Creüsa’s brother and richest of men in the Troad

After Antenor only and Priam, Ilion’s monarch.

Halamus drove and Corecbus184 led on his Lycian levies.

Who were the last to speed out of Troya of all those legions

Doomed to the sword? for never again from the ancient city

Foot would march or chariots crash in their pride to the Xanthus.

Aetor the old and Tryas the conqueror known by the Oxus,

They in the portals met and their ancient eyes on each other

Looked amazed, admiring on age the harness of battle.

They in the turreted head of the gateway talked185 and conversed.

“Twenty years have passed, O Tryas, chief of the Trojans,

Since in the battle thy car was seen and the arm of thy prowess

Age has wronged. Why now to the crowded ways of the battle

Move once more thy body infirm and thy eyes that are faded?”

And to Antenor’s brother the Teucrian, “Thou too, O Aetor,

Old and weary hast sat in thy halls and desisted from battle.

Now in Troy’s portals I meet thee driving forth to the mellay.”

Aetor answered, “Which then is better, to wretchedly perish

Crushed by the stones of my falling house or slain like a victim

Dragged through the blood of my kin on the sacred hearth of my fathers,

Or in the battle to cease mid the war-shouting hymn186 of chariots187

Knowing that Troy yet stands in her pride though doomed in her morrows?

So have the young men willed and the old like thee who age not,

Old are thy limbs, but thy heart still188 young and hot for the war-din.”

Tryas replied: “To perish is better for man or for nation

Nobly in battle, nor end disgraced by disease or subjection.

So have I come here to offer this shoulder Laomedon leaned on,

Arms that have fought by the Oxus and conquered the Orient’s heroes

Famous in Priam’s wars, and a heart that is faithful to Troya.

These I will offer to death on his splendid altar of battle,

Tribute from Ilion. If she must fall, I shall see not her ending.”

Aetor replied to Tryas: “Then let us perish together,

Joined by the love of our race who in life were divided in counsel.

All things embrace in death and the strife and the hatred are ended.”

Silent together they drove for the last time through Ilion’s portals

Out with the rest to the fight towards the sea and the spears of the Argives.

Only once from their speed189 they gazed back silent on Troya

Lifting her marble pride in the golden joy of the morning.

So through the ripening morn the army, crossing Scamander,

Filling the heavens with the dust and the war-cry, marched on the Argives.

Far in front Troy’s plain spread wide to the echoing Ocean.

Book Five. The Book of Achilles

Meanwhile grey from the Trojan gates Talthybius journeyed,

Spurred by the secret thought of the Fates who change not nor falter.

Simois sighed round his wheels and Xanthus roared at his passing,

Troas’ god like a lion wroth and afraid; to meet him

Whistling the ocean breezes came and Ida regarded.

So with his haste in his190 wheels the herald oceanward driving

Came through the gold of the morn o’er the trampled green of the pastures

Back to the ships and the roar of the sea and the iron-hooped leaguer.

Wide to the left his circle he wrote where the tents of Achilles

Trooped like a flock of the sea-fowl pensive and still on the margin.

He past the outposts rapidly coursed to the fosse191 of the Argives.

In with a quavering cry to the encampment over the causeway

Bridging the moat of the ships Talthybius drove in his chariot

Out of the wide plains azure-roofed and the silence of Nature

Passing in to the murmur of men and the thick of the leaguer.

There to a thrall of the Hellene he cast his reins and with labour

Down from the high seat climbed of the war-car framed for the mighty.

Then betwixt tent-doors endless, vistaed streets of the canvas,

Slowly the old man toiled with his eager heart, and to meet him

Sauntering forth from his tent at the sound of the driving car-wheels

Strong Automedon came who was charioteer of Achilles.

“Grey Talthybius, whence art thou coming? From Troya the ancient?

Or from a distant tent was thy speed and the King Agamemnon?

What in their armoured assembly counsel the Kings192 of the Argives?”

“Not from the host but from Troy, Automedon, come I with tidings,

Nor have I mixed with the Greeks in their cohorts ranked by the Ocean,

Nor have I stood in their tents who are kings in sceptred Achaia,

But from Achilles sent to Achilles I bring back the message.

Tell me, then, what does Pelides,– whether his strength he reposes

Soothed by the lyre or hearing the chanted deeds of the mighty,

Or does he walk as he loves by the shore of the far-sounding waters?”

And to the Argive herald grey Automedon answered:

“Now from the meal he rests and Briseis lyres to him singing

One of the Ilian chants of old in the tongue of the Trojans.”

“Early then he has eaten, Automedon, early reposes?”

“Early the meat was broached on the spits, Talthybius, early

High on the sands or under the tents we have eaten and rested.

None knows the hour of the hunt red, fierce nor the prey he shall leap on,

All are like straining hounds; for Achilles shares not his counsels,

But on the ships, in the tents the talk has run like Peneus;

These upon Troy to be loosed and the hard-fighting wolf-brood of Priam,

These hope starkly with Argos embraced, to have done with the Spartan,

Ending his brilliance in blood, to193 sport on the sands of the margent

Playing at bowls with the heads of the Cretan and crafty Odysseus.

Welcome were either or both; we shall move in the dances of Ares,

Quicken heart-beats dulled and limbs that are numb with reposing.

War we desire and no longer this ease by the drone of the waters.”

So as they spoke, they beheld far-off the tent of Achilles,

Splendid and spacious even as the hall of a high-crested chieftain,

Lofty, held by a hundred stakes to the Phrygian meadow.

Hung were its sides with memories bronze and trophies of armour,

Sword and spear and helmet and cuirass of fallen heroes

Slain by the hand of mighty194 Achilles warring with Troya.

Teemed in its canvas rooms the plundered riches of Troas,

Craftsman’s work and the wood well-carved and the ivory painted,

Work of bronze and work of gold and the dreams of the artist.

And in those tents of his pride, in the dreadful guard of the Hellene,

Nobler195 boys and daughters of high-born Phrygians captive,

Borne from the joyless ruins that now were the sites of their childhood,

Served in the land of their sires the will of the Phthian Achilles.

There on a couch reclined in his beauty mighty and golden,

Loved by the Fates and doomed by them, spear of their will against Troya,

Peleus’ hero son by the foam-white child of the waters

Dreaming reposed and his death-giving hand hung lax o’er the couch-side.

Near him dark-eyed Briseis, the fatal and beautiful captive,

Sung196 to the Grecian victor chants of the land of her fathers,

Sang the chant of Ilus, the tale of the glories of Troya.

Trojan boys and maidens sat near the singer and listened

Heart-delighted if with some tears; for easy are mortal

Hearts to be bent by Fate and soon we consent to our fortunes.

But in the doorway Automedon stood with the shadowy Argive

And at the ominous coming the voice of the singer faltered,

Faltering hushed like a thought melodious ceasing in heaven.

But from his couch the Peleid sprang to action, rejoicing197,

Gladly delivered from patience long and he cried to the herald:

“Long hast thou lingered in Ilion, envoy, mute in the chambers

Golden of Priam old; while around thee darkened the counsels

Wavering blindly and fiercely of minds that revolt from compulsion,

Natures at war with the gods and their fortunes. Fain would I fathom

Whatever198 the thoughts of Deiphobus locked in that nature of iron

Now that he stands confronting his fate in the town of his fathers.

Peace dwells not in thy aspect. Sowst thou a seed then of ruin

Cast from the inflexible heart and the faltering tongue of Aeneas

Or with the golden laugh of the tameless bright Alexander?”

Grey Talthybius answered: “Surely their doom has embraced them

Wrapping her locks round their ears and their eyes, lest they see and escape her,

Kissing their tongue with her fatal lips and dictating its answers.

Dire is the hope of their chiefs and fierce is the will of their commons.

‘Son of the Aeacids, spurned is thy offer. The pride of thy challenge

Rather we choose; it is nearer to Dardanus, King of the Hellenes.

Neither shall Helen captive be dragged to the feet of her husband,

Nor down the paths of peace revisit her fathers’ Eurotas.

Death and the fire may prevail on us, never our wills shall surrender

Lowering Priam’s heights and darkening Ilion’s splendours;

Not of such sires were we born, but of kings and of gods. Larissan,

Not with her gold Troy purchases safety but with her spear-point.

Stand with thy oath in the war-front, Achilles, call on thy helpers

Armed to descend from the calm of Olympian heights to thy succour,

Hedging thy fame from defeat; for we all desire thee in battle,

Mighty to end thee or tame at last by the floods of the Xanthus.’

So they reply; they are true to their death, they are constant for ruin.

Humbler answer hope not, O hero, from Penthesilea;

Insolent, warlike, regal and swift as herself is her message:

‘Sea of renown and of valour that fillest the world with thy rumour,

Speed of the battle incarnate, mortal image of Ares!

Terror and tawny delight like a lion one hunts or is hunted!

Dread of the world and my target, swift-footed glorious hero!

Thus have I imaged thee, son of Peleus, dreaming in countries

Far from thy knowledge, in mountains that never have rung to thy war-cry.

O, I have longed for thee, warrior! Therefore today by thy message

So was I seized with delight that my heart was hurt with its rapture,

Knowing today I shall gaze with my eyes on that which I imaged

Only in air of the mind or met in the paths of my dreaming.

Thus have I praised thee first with my speech; with my spear I would answer.

Yet for thy haughty scorn who deeming of me as some Hellene

Or as a woman weak of these plains fit but for the distaff,

Promisest capture in war and fame as thy slave-girl in Phthia,–

Surely I think that death today will reply to that promise,–

Now I will give thee my answer and warn thee ere we encounter.

Know me queen of a race that never was conquered in battle!

Know me armed with a spear that never has missed in the combat!

There where my car-wheels run, good fruit gets the husbandman after.

This thou knowest. Ajax has told thee, thy friend, in his dying.

Has not Meriones’ spirit come in thy dreams then to warn thee?

Didst thou not number the Argives over199 ere I came to the battle?

Number them now and measure the warrior Penthesilea.

Such am I then whom thy dreams have seen meek-browed in Larissa,

And in the battle behind me thunder the heroes Eoan,

Ranks whose feeblest can match with the vaunted chiefs of the Argives.

Never yet from the shock have they fled; if they turn from the foeman,

Always ’tis to return like death recircling on mortals.

Yet being such, having such for my armies, this do I promise:

I on the left of the Trojans war with my bright-armed numbers,

Thou on the Argive right come forth, Achilles, and meet me!

If thou canst drive us with rout into Troy, I will own thee for master,

Do thy utmost will and make thee more glorious than gods are,

Serving thy couch in Phthia and drawing the jar from thy rivers.

Nay, if thou hast that strength, then hunt me, O hunter, and seize me,

If ’tis thy hope indeed that the sun can turn back from the Orient,

But if thou canst not, death of myself or thyself thou shalt capture.”

Musing heard and was silent a while200 the strength of Achilles,

Musing of Fate and the wills of men and the purpose of Heaven,

Then from his thoughts he broke and turned in his soul towards battle.

“Well did I know what reply would come winged from the princes of Troya.

Prone are the hearts of heroes to wrath and to god-given blindness

When from their will they are thrust and harried by Fate and disaster:

Fierceness then is the armour of strength against grief and its yieldings.

So have the gods made man for their purpose, cunningly fashioned.

Once had defiance waked from my depths a Fury far-striding201

Flaming for justice and vengeance, nor had it, satisfied, rested,

Sunk to its lair till the insulter died torn or was kneeling for pardon.

Fierce was my heart in my youth and exulted in triumph and slaughter.

Now as I grow in my spirit like to my kin the immortals,

Joy more I find in saving and cherishing than in the carnage.

Greater it seems to my mind to be king over men than their slayer,

Nobler to build and to govern than what the ages have laboured

Putting their godhead forth to create or the high gods have fashioned,

That to destroy in our wrath of a moment. Ripened, more widely

Opens my heart to the valour of man and the beauty of woman,

Works of the world and delight; the cup of my victory sweetens

Not with the joys of hate, but the human pride of the triumph.

Yet was the battle decreed for the means supreme of the mortal

Placed in a world where all things strive from the worm to the Titan.

So will I seize by the onset what peace from my soul would sequester,

So will I woo with the sword and with love the delight of my foeman,

Troy and Polyxena, beauty of Paris and glory of Priam.

This was the ancient wrestling, this was the spirit of warfare

Fit for the demigods. Soon in the city of gold and of marble,

There where Ilus sat and Tros, where Laomedon triumphed,

Peleus’ house shall reign, the Hellene sit where the Trojan

Thought himself deathless. Arise, Automedon! Out to the people!

Send forth the cry through the ships and the tents of the Myrmidon nation.

Let not a man be found then lingering when o’er the causeway

Thunder my chariot-wheels, nor let any give back in the battle,

Good if he wills from me, till through the conquered gates of the foeman

Storming we herd in their remnants and press into Troy as with evening

Helios rushing sinks to the sea. But thou, Briseis,

Put by thy lyre, O girl; it shall gladden my heart in my triumph

Victor returned from Troy to listen pleased to thy singing,

Bearing a captive bound to my car-wheels Penthesilea,

Bearing my valour’s reward, Polyxena, daughter of Priam,

Won in despite of her city and brothers and spears of her kindred.

So by force it is best to take one’s will and be mighty.”

Joyful, Automedon ran through the drowsy camp of the Hellenes

Changing the hum of the tents as he raced into shoutings of battle;

For with the giant din of a nation triumphant arising

Hellas sprang from her irksome ease and mounted her war-car;

Donning her armour bright she rejoiced in the trumpet202 of battle.

But to the herald grey the Peleid turned and the old man

Shuddered under his gaze and shrank from the voice of the hero:

“Thou to the tents of thy kings, Talthybius, herald of Argos!

Stand in the Argive assembly, voice of the strength of Achilles.

Care not at all though the greatest and fiercest be wroth with thy message.

Deem not thyself, old man, as a body and flesh that is mortal,

Rather as living speech from the iron breast of the Hellene.

Thus shalt thou chide the vanquished203 chiefs who have fled204 from a woman

Thus shalt thou speak my will to the brittle and fugitive legions: –

‘Now Achilles turns towards Troya and fast-flowing Xanthus,

Now he leaps at the iron zone, the impregnable city.

Two were the Forms of the Gods that o’erhung the sails of Pelides

When with a doubtful word in his soul he came wind-helped from Hellas

Cleaving the Aegean deep towards the pine-crested vision of Ida.

Two are the Fates that stride with the hero counting his exploits.

Over all earthly things the soul that is fearless is master,

Only on death he can reckon not whether it comes in the midnight

Treading the couch of Kings in their pride or speeds in the spear-shaft.

Now will I weigh down that double beam of the Olympian balance

Claiming one of the equal Fates that stand robed for the fighter,

For to my last dire wrestle I go with the Archer of heaven,

And ere the morning gleam have awakened the eagles on Ida,

Troy shall lie prone205 or earth206 shall be empty of Phthian Achilles.

But for whatever Fate I accept from the ageless Immortals,

Whether cold Hades dim or Indus waits for my coming

Pouring down vast to the sea with the noise of his numberless waters,

I with Zeus am enough. Your mortal aid I desire not,

Rushing to Troy like the eagle of Zeus when he flies towards the thunders,–

Winged with might, the bird of the spaces, upbuoying his pinions.

Nor shall my spirit look back for the surge of your Danaan fighters,

Tramp of the Argive multitudes helping my lonely courage,

Neither the transient swell of the cry Achaian behind me

Seek, nor the far-spreading207 voice of Atrides guiding his legions.

Need has he none for a leader who himself is the soul of his action.

Zeus and his Fate and his spear are enough for the Phthian Achilles.

Rest, O wearied hosts; my arm shall win for you Troya,

Quelled when the stern Eoans break and Penthesilea

Lies like a flower in the dust at my feet. Yet if Ares desire you,

Come then and meet him once more mid the cry and the trampling! Assemble

Round the accustomed chiefs, round the old victorious wrestlers

Wearied strengths Deiphobus leaves you or sternest Aeneas.

But when my arm and my Fate have vanquished their gods and Apollo,

Brilliant with blood when we stand amid Ilion’s marble splendours,

Then let none seat deaf flame on the glory of Phrygia’s marbles

Or with his barbarous rapine shatter the chambers of sweetness

Slaying the work of the gods and the beauty the ages have lived for.

For he shall moan in the night remote from the earth and her greenness,

Spurred like a steed to its goal by my spear dug deep in his bosom;

Fast he shall fleet to the waters of wailing, the pleasureless pastures.

Touch not the city Apollo built, where Poseidon has laboured.

Seized and dishelmed and disgirdled of Apollonian ramparts,

Empty of wide-rolling wheels and the tramp of a turbulent people

Troy with her marble domes shall live for our nations in beauty

Hushed mid the trees and the corn and the pictured halls of the ancients,

Watching her image of dreams in the gliding waves of Scamander,

Sacred and still, a city of memory spared by the Grecians.’208

So shalt thou warn the arrogant hearts of Achaia’s chieftains

Lest upon Greece an evil should fall and her princes should perish.

Herald, beware how thou soften my speech in the ears of thy nation

Sparing their pride and their hearts but dooming their lives to the death-stroke.

Even thy time-touched snows shall not shield thy days from my sword-edge.”

Wroth grew the209 old man’s heart, but he feared Achilles and slowly

Over the margin grey on the shore of the far-sounding Ocean

Silent paced to the tents of the Greeks and the Argive assembly.

There on the sands while the scream of the tide as it dragged at the pebbles

Strove in vain with their droning roar, awaiting their chieftains

Each in his tribe and his people far down the margin Aegean,

Argolis’ sons and Epirote spears and the isles and the southron,

Locris’ swarms and Messene’s pikes and the strength of the Theban,

Hosts bright-armed, bright-eyed, bright-haired, time-hardened to Ares,

Stretched in harsh and brilliant lines with a glitter of spear-points

Far as the eye could toil. All Europe helmeted, armoured

Swarmed upon Asia’s coasts disgorged from their210 ships in their hundreds.

There in the wide-winged tent of the council that peered o’er the margin,

High where the grass and the meadow-bloom failed on the sand-rifted sward-edge,

Pouring his argent voice Epeus spoke to the princes,

Rapid in battle and speech; and even as boy211 in a courtyard

Tosses his ball in the air and changes his hands for the seizing,

So he played with his counsel212 and thought and rejoiced in his swiftness.

But now a nearing Fate he felt and his impulse was silenced.

Stilled were his thoughts by the message that speeds twixt our minds in their shadows

Dumb, unthought, unphrased, to us dark, but the caverns of Nature

Hear its cry when God’s moment changing our fate comes visored

Silently into our lives and the spirit too knows, for it watches.

Quiet he fell and all men turned to the face of the herald.

Mute and alone through the ranks of the seated and silent princes

Old Talthybius paced, nor paused till he stood at the midmost

Fronting that council of Kings and nearest to Locrian Ajax

And where Sthenelus sat and where sat the great Diomedes,

Chiefs of the South, but their love was small for the Kings of the Spartans.

There like one close to a refuge he lifted his high-chanting accents.

High was his voice like the wind’s when it whistles shrill o’er a forest

Sole of all sounds at night, for the kite is at rest and the tiger

Sleeps from the hunt returned in the deepest hush of the jungle.

“Hearken, O Kings of the world, to the lonely will of the Phthian!

One is the roar of the lion heard by the jungle’s hundreds,

One is the voice of the great and the many shall hear it inclining.

Lo, he has shaken his mane for the last great leap upon Troya

And when the eagle’s scream shall arise in the dawn over Ida,

Troy shall have fallen or earth shall be empty of Phthian Achilles.

But by whatever Fate he is claimed that waits for the mortal,

Whether the fast-closed hands above have kept for his morrows

Chill of the joyless shades or earth and her wooings of sunlight

Still shall detain his days with the doubtful meed of our virtues,

He and Zeus shall provide, not mortals. Chaff are men’s armies

Threshed by the flails of Fate; ’tis the soul of the hero that conquers.

Not on the tramp of the multitudes, not in213 the cry of the legions

Founds the strong man his strength but the god that he carries within him.

Zeus and his Fate and his spear are enough for the Phthian Achilles.

Prudence of men shall curb no more his god-given impulse.

He has no need of thy voice, O Atreus214, guiding the legions,

He is the leader, he215 is the soul of magnificent emprise.

Rest, O ye sons of the Greeks,216 the Phthian shall conquer for Hellas!

Rest! expose not your hearts to the war-cry of Penthesilea.

Yet if the strength in you thirsts for the war-din, if Ares is hungry,

Meet him stark in the mellay surging217 Deiphobus’ coursers,

Guiding Aeneas’ spear; recover the souls of your fathers.

Bronze must his heart be who looks in the eyes of the implacable war-god!

But when his Fate has conquered their gods and slaughtered their heroes,

And in this marble Ilion bowed218 to the tread of her foemen

Watched by the ancient domes you stand by the timeless turrets,

Then let no chieftain crowned219 for offering220 lift against Troya,

Counselled of Ate, torch of the burning, hand of the plunder

Groping for gold but finding death in her opulent chambers.

For he shall moan in the night regretting the earth and her greenness,

Spurred by the spear in his arrogant breast like a steed to the gorges:

Fast he shall fleet to the flowerless meadows, the sorrowful pastures.

Touch not the city Apollo built, where Poseidon laboured221,

Slay not the work of the gods and the glory the ages have lived for.

Mute of the voice of her children, void of the roll of her war-cars

Timeless Troy leave solitary dreaming by ancient Scamander

Sacred and still, a city of memory spared by the Grecians.”222

So Talthybius spoke and anger silenced the Argives.

Mute was the warlike assembly, silent Achaia’s princes.

Wrath and counsel strove in the hush for the voice of the speakers.

Book Six. The Book of The Chieftains

But from their midst uprearing a brow that no crown could ennoble,223

Male and kingly of front like a lion conscious of puissance

Rose a form august, the monarch great Agamemnon.

Wroth he rose yet throwing a rein on the voice of his passion,

Governing the beast and the demon within by the god who is mighty.

Happily224 for thy225 life and my fame that thou comst226 with the aegis of heaven

Shadowing thy hoary brows, thou herald of pride and of insult.

Well is it too for his days who sent thee that other and nobler

Heaven made my heart than his who insults and a voice of the immortals227

Cries to my soul forbidding its passions. O hardness of virtue

Thus to be seized and controlled as in fetters by Zeus and Athene.

Free is the peasant to smite in the pastures the mouth that has wronged him,

Chained in his soul is Atrides. Bound by their debt to the fathers,

Curbed by the god in them painfully move the lives of the noble,

Forced to obey the eye that watches within in their bosoms.

Ever since Zeus Cronion turned in our will towards the waters,

Scourged by the heavens in my dearest, wronged by men and their clamours

Griefs untold I have borne in Argos and Aulis and Troas,

Yoked to the228 sacred toil of the Greeks for their children and country,

Bound by the gods to a task that is heavy, a load that is bitter.

Seeing the faces229 of foes in the mask of a friend230 I was silent.

Hateful I hold him who sworn to a cause that is holy and common

Broods upon private wrongs or serving his231 lonely ambition

Studies to reap his gain from the labour and woe of his fellows.

Mire is the man who hears not the gods when they cry to his bosom.

Grief and wrath I coerced nor carried my heart to its record,

All that has hurt its chords and wounded the wings of my spirit.

Nobler must kings be than natures of earth on whom Zeus lays no burden.

Other is Peleus’ son than the race of his Aeacid fathers,

Nor like his sire of the wise-still heart deep-sighted232 and patient

Bearing the awful ruin233 of the gods, but hastes to his longings;

Dire is234 his wrath and pursued by the band of his giant ambitions.

Measure and virtue forsake him as Ate grows in his bosom.

Yet not for tyrant wrong nor to serve as a sword for our passions

Zeus created our strength, but that earth might have help from her children.

Not of our moulding its gifts to our soul nor were formed by our labour.

When did we make them, and where235 were they forged, in what workshop or furnace?236

Found in what aeon of Time, that pride should bewilder the mortal?

Bowed to our will are the folk and our prowess dreadful and godlike?

Shadows are these of the gods which the deep heavens cast on our spirits.

Transient we made not ourselves, but at birth from the first we were fashioned

Valiant or fearful and as was our birth by the gods and their thinkings

Formed, so already enacted and fixed by their wills are our fortunes.

What were the strength of Atrides and what were the craft of Odysseus

Save for their triumphing gods? They would fail and be helpless as infants.

Stronger a woman, wiser a child were, favoured by Heaven.

Ceased not Sarpedon slain who was son of Zeus and unconquered?

Not to Achilles he fell, but Fate and the gods were his slayers.

Kings, to the arrogant shaft that was launched, the unbearable insult

Armoured wisdoms oppose, let not Ate seize on your passions.

Be not as common souls, O you who are Greece and her fortunes,

Nor of your spirits of wrath take counsel but of Athene.

Merit the burden laid by Zeus, his demand from your natures

Suffer, O hearts of his seed, O souls who are chosen and mighty,

All forgetting but Greece and her good; resolve what is noble.

I will not speak nor advise, for ’tis known we are rivals and foemen.”

Calmed by his words and his will he sat down mighty and kinglike;

But Menelaus arose, the Spartan, the husband of Helen,

Atreus’ younger son from a lesser womb, in his brilliance

Dwarfed by the other’s port, yet tall was he, gracile and splendid,

As if a panther might hunt by a lion’s side in the forest.

Smiting his thigh with his firm-clenched hand he spoke mid the Argives:

“Woe to me, shameless, born to my country a cause of affliction,

Since for my sake all wrongs must be borne and all shames be encountered;

And for my sake you have spun through the years down the grooves of disaster

Bearing the shocks of the Trojans and ravaged by Zeus and by Hector,

Slaughtered by Rhesus and Memnon, Sarpedon and Penthesilea;

Or by the Archer pierced, the hostile dreadful Apollo,

Evilly end the days of the Greeks remote from their kindred –

Slain on an alien soil by Asian Xanthus and Ida.

Doomed to the pyre we have toiled for a woman ungracious who left us

Passing serenely my portals to joy in the chambers of Troya.

Here let it cease, O my brother! how much wilt thou bear for this graceless

Child of thy sire, cause still of thy griefs and never of blessing?

Easily Zeus afflicts who trouble their hearts for a woman;

But in our ships that sailed close-fraught with this dolorous Ate

Worse was the bane they bore which King Peleus begot on white Thetis.

Evil ever was sown by the embrace of the gods with a mortal!

Alien a portent is born and a breaker of men and their labours,

One who afflicts with his light or his force mortality’s weakness

Stripping for falsehoods their verities, shaking the walls they erected.

Hostile all things the scourge divine overbears or, if helpful237,

Neither without him his fellows can prosper nor will his spirit

Fit in the frame of things earthly but shatters their rhythm and order

Rending the measures just that the wise have decreed for our growing.

So have our mortal plannings broken in238 this fateful Achilles

And with our blood and our anguish Heaven has fostered his greatness.

It is enough; let the dire gods choose between Greece and their offspring.

Even as he bids us, aloof let our hosts twixt the ships and the Xanthus

Stand from the shock and the cry where Hellene meets with Eoan,

Troy and Phthia locked, Achilles and Penthesilea,

Nor any more than watchers care who line an arena;

Calm like the impartial gods they approve239 the bravest and swiftest.

So240 let him fight! The fates shall preserve him he vaunts of or gather,

Even as death shall gather us all for memory’s clusters,

All in their day who were great or were little, heroes or cowards.

So shall he slay or be slain, a boon to mankind and his country.

Since if he mow down this flower of bale, this sickle by Hades

Whirled if he break – for the high gods ride on the hiss of his spear-shaft,–

Ours is the gain who shall break rejoicing through obdurate portals

Praising Pallas alone and Hera daughter of Heaven.

But if he sink in this last of his fights, as they say it is fated,–

Nor do I deem that the man has been born in Asia or Hellas

Who in the dreadful field can prevail against Penthesilea,–

If to their tents the Myrmidons fleeing cumber the meadows

Slain by a girl in her speed and leaving the corpse of their leader,

Ours is the gain, we are rid of a shame and a hate and a danger.

True is it, Troy shall exultant live on in the shadow of Ida,

Yet shall our hearts be light because earth is void of Achilles.

And for the rest of the infinite loss, what we hoped, what we suffered,

Let it all go, let the salt floods swallow it, fate and oblivion

Bury it out in the night; let us sail o’er the waves to our country

Leaving Helen in Troy since the gods are the friends of transgressors.”

So Menelaus in anger and grief miscounselled the Argives.

Great Idomeneus next, the haughty king of the Cretans,

Raised his brow of pride in the lofty Argive assembly.

Tall like a pine that stands up on the slope of Thessalian mountains

Overpeering a cascade’s edge and is seen from the valleys,

Such he seemed to their eyes who remembered Greece and her waters,

Heard in their souls the torrent’s leap and the wind on the hill-top241:

“Long242 have I marvelled at heart243 to behold in this levy of heroes

Armies so many, chieftains so warlike suffer in silence

Pride of a single man when he thunders and lightens in Troas.

Doubtless the nations that follow his cry are many and valiant,

Doubtless the winds of the north have made him a runner and spearman.

Shall not then force be the king? is not strength the seal of the godhead?

This my soul replies, ‘Agamemnon the Atreid only

Choosing for leader and king I have come to the toil and the warfare.

Wisdom and greatness he owns and the wealth and renown of his fathers

But for this whelp of the northlands, nursling of rocks and the sea-cliff,

Who with his bleak and rough-hewn Myrmidons hastes to the carnage,

Leader of wolves to their prey, not the king of a humanised nation.

Not to such head of the cold-drifting mist and the gloom-vigilled Chaos,

Crude to our culture and light and void of our noble fulfilments

Minos shall bend his knee nor Crete, a barbarian’s vassal,

Stain her old glories.’ Oh, but he boasts of a goddess for mother

Born in the senseless seas mid the erring wastes of the Ocean!244

Gods we adore enough in the heavens, and if from us Hades

Claim one more of this breed, we can bear that excess to her245 glories,

Not upon earth these new-born deities huge-passioned, sateless

Who with their mouth as of Orcus and stride of the ruinous Ocean

Sole would be seen mid her sons and devour all life’s joy and its greatness.

Millions must empty their lives that a few men246 may o’ershadow the nations,

Numberless homes must weep but their247 hunger of glory is sated!

Troy shall descend to the shadow; gods and men have condemned her,

Weary, hating her fame. Her dreams, her grandeur, her beauty,

All her greatness and deeds that now end in miserable ashes,

Ceasing shall fade and be as a tale that was forged by the poets.

Only a name shall go down from her past and the woe of her ending

Naked to hatred and rapine and punished with rape and with slaughter.

Never again must her marble248 pride high-crowned249 on her hill-top

Look forth dominion and menace over the crested Aegean

Shadowing250 Achaia. Fire shall abolish the fame of her ramparts,

Earth her foundations forget. Shall she stand then affronting251 the azure?

Dire in our path like a lioness once again must we meet her,

Leap and roar of her led by the spear of Achilles, not Hector!

Asia by Peleus guided252 shall stride on us after Antenor?

Though one should plan in the night of his thoughts where no eye can pursue him,

Instincts of men discover their foe and like hounds in the darkness

Bay at a danger hid. No silence of servitude trembling

Trains to bondage sons of the race of whom Aeolus father

Storm-voiced was and free, nor like other groupings of mortals

Moulded we were by Zeus, but supremely were sifted and fashioned;

Other are Danaus’ sons and other the lofty Achaians:

Chainless like Nature’s tribes in their many-voiced colonies founded

They their god-given impulse shall keep and their natures of freedom.

Only themselves shall rule them, only their equal spirits

Bowed to the voice of a law that is just, obeying their leaders

Awed by the gods. So with order and balance and harmony noble

Life shall move golden, free in its steps and just in its measure,

Glad of a manhood complete, by excess and defect untormented.

Freedom is life to the Argive’s253 soul, to Aeolia’s peoples.

Dulled by a yoke our nations would perish, or live but as shadows,

Changed into phantoms of men with the name of a Greek for a byword.

Not like the East and her sons is our race, they who bow to a mortal.

Gods there may be in this flesh that suffers and dies; Achaia

Knows them not. Need if he feels of a world to endure and adore him,

Hearts let him seek that are friends with the dust, overpowered by their heavens,

Here in these Asian vastnesses, here where the heats and the perfumes

Sicken the soul and the sense and a soil of indolent plenty

Breeds like the corn in its multitudes natures accustomed to thraldom.

Here let the northern Achilles seek for his slaves and adorers,

Not in the sea-ringed isles and not in the mountains Achaian.

Ten long years of the shock and the war-cry twixt rampart and ocean

Hurting our hearts we have toiled; shall they reap not their ease in the vengeance?

Troas is strewn254 with the lives of our friends and with ashes remembered;

Shall not Meriones slain be reckoned in blood and in treasure?

Cretan Idomeneus girt with the strength of his iron retainers

Slaying and burning will stride through the city of music and pleasure,

Babes of her blood borne high on the spears at the head of my column,

Wives of her princes dragged through her streets in its pomp to their passion,

Gold of Troy stream richly past in the gaze of Achilles.

Then let him threaten my days, then let him rally255 the might of his trumpets256,

Yet shall a Cretan spear make search in his heart for his godhead.

Limbs of this god can be pierced; not alone shall I fleet down to Hades.”

After him rose from the throne257 the Locrian swift-footed Ajax.

“Kings of the Greeks, throw a veil o’er258 your griefs, lay a curb on your anger.

Moved man’s tongue in its wrath looses speech that is hard to be pardoned,

Afterwards stilled we regret, we forgive. If all were resented,

None could live on this earth that is thick with our stumblings. Always

This is the burden of man that he acts from his heart and his passions,

Stung by the goad259 of the gods he hacks260 at the ties that are dearest.

Lust was the guide they sent us, wrath was a whip for his coursers,

Madness they made the heart’s comrade, repentance they gave for its scourger.

This too our hearts demand that we bear with our friend when he chides us.

Insult forgive from the noble embittered soul of Achilles!

When with the scorn and the wrath of a lover our depths are tormented,

Who shall forbid the cry and who shall measure the anguish?

Sharper the pain that looses the taunt than theirs who endure it.

Rage has wept in my blood as I lived through the flight o’er the pastures,

Shame coils a snake in my back when thought whispers of Penthesilea.

Bright shine his morns if he mows down this hell-bitch armed by the Furies!

But for this shaft of his pity it came from a lesser Pelides,

Not from the slayer of Hector, not from the doom of Sarpedon,

Memnon’s mighty o’erthrower, the blood-stained splendid Achilles.

These are the Trojan snares and the fateful smile of a woman!

This thing the soul of a man shall not bear that blood of his labour

Vainly has brought him victory leaving life to the hated;

This is a wound to our race that a Greek should whisper of mercy.

Who can pardon a foe though a god should descend to persuade him?

Justice is first of the gods, but for Pity ’twas spawned by a mortal,

Pity that only disturbs God’s measures and false and unrighteous

Holds man back from the joy he might win and troubles his bosom.

Troy has a debt to our hearts; she shall pay it all down to the obol,

Blood of the fall and anguish of flight when the heroes are slaughtered,

Days without joy while we labour and see not the eyes of our parents,

Toil of the war-cry, nights that drag past upon alien beaches,

Helen ravished, Paris triumphant, endless the items

Crowd on a wrath in the memory, kept as in bronze the credit

Stretches out long and blood-stained and savage. Most for the terror

Graved in the hearts of our fathers that still by our youth is remembered,

Hellas waiting and crouching, dreading the spear of the Trojan,

Flattering, sending gifts and pale in her mortal anguish,

Agony long of a race at the mercy of iron invaders,

This shall261 pay most, the city of pride, the insolent nation,

Pay with her temples charred and her golden mansions in ruins,

Pay with the shrieks of her ravished virgins, the groans of the aged

Burned in their burning homes for our holiday. Music and dancing

Shall be in Troy of another sort than she loved in her greatness,

Merry with conquered gold and insulting the world with her flutings.

All that she boasted of, statue and picture, all shall be shattered;

Out of our shame she chiselled them, rich with our blood they were coloured.

This not the gods from Olympus crowding, this not Achilles,

This not your will, O ye Greeks, shall deny to the Locrian Ajax.

Even though Pallas divine with her aegis counselling mercy

Cumbered my path I would push her aside to leap on my victims.

Learn shall all men on that day how a warrior deals with his foemen.”

Darting flames from his eyes the barbarian sate and there rose up

Frowning Tydeus’s262 son, the Tirynthian, strong Diomedes.

“Ajax Oileus, thy words are foam on the lips of a madman.

Cretan Idomeneus, silence the vaunt that thy strength can fulfil not.

Strong art thou, fearless in battle, but not by thy spear-point, O hero,

Hector fell, nor Sarpedon, nor Troilus leading the war-cry.

These were Achilles’ deeds which a god might have done out of heaven.

Him we upbraid who saved, nor would any now who revile him

Still have a living tongue for ingratitude but for the hero.

Much to the man forgive who has saved his race and his country:

Him shall the termless centuries praise when we are forgotten.

Curb then your speech, crush down in your hearts the grief and the choler;

Has not Atrides curbed who is greatest of all in our nations

Wrath in the heart and the words that are winged for our bale from our bosoms?

For as a load to be borne were these passions given to mortals.

Honour Achilles, conquer Troy by his god-given valour.

Now of our discords and griefs debate not for joy of our foemen!

First over Priam’s corpse stand victors in Ilion’s ramparts;

Discord then let arise or concord solder our nations.”

Rugged words and few as fit for the soul that he harboured

Great Tydides spoke and ceased; and there rose up impatient

Tall mid263 the spears of the north the hero king Prothoënor,

Prince in Cadmeian Thebes who with Leitus led on his thousands:

“Loudly thou vauntest thy freedom Ionian Minos recalling:

Lord of thy southern isles who gildst with thy tribute264 Mycenae!

We have not bowed our neck to Pelops’ line or at265 Argos’

Iron heel have not crouched nor clasped like thy time-wearied nations,

Python-befriended, gripped in the coils of an iron protection,

Bondage soothed by a name and destruction masked as a helper.

We are the young and lofty and free-souled sons of the Northland.

Nobly Peleus, the Aeacid, seer of a vaster Achaia,

Pride and266 his strength and his deeds renouncing for joy of that vision,

Yielded his hoary right to the sapling stock of Atrides.

Noble, we gave to that nobleness freely our grandiose approval.

Not as a foe then, O King, who angered sharpens his arrows,

Fits his wrath and hate to the bow and aims at the heart-strings

But from the Truth that is seated within me compelling my accents,

Taught by my fathers stern not to lie nor to hide what I harbour,

Truth the goddess I speak, nor constrain the voice in my bosom.

Monarch, I own thee first of the Greeks save in valour and counsel,

Brave but less than Achilles, wise but not as Odysseus,

First still in greatness and calm and majesty. Yet, Agamemnon,

Love of thy house and thy tribe disfigures the king in thy nature;

Thou thy brother preferrest, thy friends and thy nation267 unjustly,

Even as a common man whose heart is untaught by Athene,

Beastlike favours his brood forgetting the law of the noble.

Therefore Ajax grew wroth and Teucer sailing abandoned

Over the angry seas this stern fierce268 toil of the nations;

Therefore Achilles has turned in his soul and gazed towards the Orient.

Yet are we fixed in our truth like hills in heaven, Atrides;

Greece and her safety and good in our269 passions strive to remember.

Nor270 of this stamp was thy brother’s speech; such words Lacedaemon

Hearing may praise in her kings; we speak not in Thebes what is shameful.

Shamefuller thoughts have never escaped from lips that were high-born.

We will not send forth earth’s greatest to die in a friendless battle,

Nor will forsake the daughter of Zeus and white glory of Hellas,

Helen the golden-haired Tyndarid, left for the joy of our foemen,

Chained to Paris’ delight, earth’s goddess the slave of the Phrygian,

Though Menelaus the Spartan abandon his wife to the Trojans

And from the field where he lavished the unvalued blood of his people

Flee to a hearth dishonoured. Not the Atreid’s sullied grandeurs,

Greece to defend we have toiled through the summers and lingering autumns

Blind with our blood; for our country we bleed, repelling her foemen.

Dear is that loss to our veins and still that expense we would lavish,

Claiming its price from the heavens, though thou sail with thy brother and cohorts.

Weakling, flee! take thy southern ships, take thy Spartan levies,

Still will the Greeks fight on in the Troad helped by thy absence.

For though the beaches vast grow empty, the tents can be numbered

Standing friendless and few on the huge and hostile champaign,

Always a few will be left whom the threatenings of Fate cannot conquer,

Always earth has sons271 whose courage waits not on fortune;

Hellas’ heart will be firm confronting the threat of the victor,

Sthenelus war and Tydides, Odysseus and Locrian Ajax,

Thebes’ unconquered sons and the hero chiefs of the northland.

Stern and persistent as Time or the seas and as deaf to affliction

We will clash on in the fight unsatisfied, fain of the war-cry,

Helped by the gods and our cause through the dawns and the blood-haunted evenings,

Rising in armour with morn and outstaying the red of the sunset,

Till in her ashes Troy forgets that she lusted for empire

Or in our own the honour and valour of Greece are extinguished.”

So Prothoënor spoke nor pleased with his words Agamemnon;

But to the northern kings they were summer rain on the visage.

Last Laertes’ son, the Ithacan, war-wise Odysseus,

Rose up wide-acclaimed; like an oak was he stunted in stature,

Broad-shouldered, firm-necked, lone and sufficient, as on some island

Regnant one peak whose genial streams flow down to the valley,

Dark272 on its slopes are the olives, the storms butt in vain at its shoulders,–

Such he stood and pressed the earth with his feet like one vanquished,

Striving, but held to his will. So Atlas might seem were he mortal,

Atlas whose vastness free from impatience suffers the heavens,

Suffering spares the earth, the thought-haunted motionless Titan,

Bearer of worlds. In those jarring tribes no man was his hater;

For as the Master of all guides humanity, so this Odysseus

Dealt with men and helped and guided them, careful and selfless,

Crafty, tender and wise,– like the Master who bends o’er his creatures,

Suffers their sins and their errors and guides them screening his273 guidance;

Each through his nature He leads and the world by the lure of His wisdom.

“Princes of Argolis, chiefs of the Locrians, spears of the northland,

Warriors vowed to a sacred hate and a vengeance that’s holy,

Sateless still is that hate, that vengeance cries for its victims,

Still is the altar unladen, the priest yet waits with the death-knife.

Who while the rites are unfinished, the gods274 unsatisfied, impious

Turns in his heart to the feuds of the275 house and his strife with his equals?

None will approve the evil that fell from the younger Atrides;

But it was anger and sorrow that spoke, it was not Menelaus.

Who would return from Troy and arrive with his war-wasted legions

Back to his home in populous city or orcharded island;

There from his ships disembarked look round upon eyes that grow joyless

Seeking a father or husband slain, a brother heart-treasured,

Mothers in tears for their children, and when he is asked, ‘O our chieftain,

What dost thou bring back in place of our dead to fill hearts that are empty?’

Who then will say, ‘I bring back my shame and the shame of my nation;

Troy yet stands confronting her skies and Helen in Troya?’

Nor276 for such foil will I go back to Ithaca or to Laertes,

Rather far would I sail in my ships past southern Cythera,

Turning away in silence from waters where on some headland

Gazing south o’er the waves my father waits for my coming,

Leaving Sicily’s shores and on through the pillars of Gades.

Far I would sail whence sound of me never should come to Achaia

Out into tossing worlds and weltering reaches of tempest

Dwarfing the swell of the wide-wayed Aegean,– oceans unbounded

Either by cliff or by sandy margin, only the heavens

Ever receding before my keel as it ploughs on for ever

Frail and alone in a world of waves. Even there would I venture

Seeking some island unknown, not return with shame to my fathers.

Well might they wonder how souls like theirs begot us for their offspring.

Fighters277 war-afflicted, princes278 banded by heaven,

Wounds and defeat you have borne; bear too their errors who lead you.

Mortals are kings and have hearts; our leaders too have their passions.

Then if they err, yet still obey lest anarchy fostered,

Discord and deaf rebellion that speed like a poison through kingdoms,

Break all this army in pieces while Ate mocking at mortals

Trails to a shameful end this noble279 essay of the nations.

Who among men has not thoughts that he holds for the wisest, though foolish?

Who, though feeble and nought, esteems not his strength o’er his fellow’s?

Therefore the wisest and strongest choose out a king and a leader,

Not as a perfect arbiter armed with impossible virtues

Far o’er our heads and our ken like a god high-judging his creatures,

But as a man among men who is valiant, wise and far-seeing,

One of ourselves and the knot of our wills and the sword of our action.

Him they advise and obey and cover his errors with silence.

Not Agamemnon the Atreid, Greeks, we obey in this mortal;

Greece we obey; for she walks in his gait and commands by his gestures.

Evil he works then who loosens this living knot of Achaia,

Falling apart from his nation; who, wed to a solitary virtue,

Deeming he does but right, renounces the yoke of his fellows,–

Errs more than hearts of the mire that in blindness and weakness go stumbling.

Man when he spurns his kind, when he equals himself with the deathless,

Even in his virtues sins and, erring, calls up Ate:

For among men we were born, not as wild beasts sole in a fastness.

Oft with a name are misled the passionate hearts of the noble;

Chasing highly some image of good they trample its substance.

Evil is worked, not justice, when into the mould of our thinkings

God we would force and enchain to the throb of our hearts the immortals,–

Justice and Virtue, her sister; for where is justice mid creatures

Perfectly? Even the gods are betrayed by our clay to a semblance.

Evil not good he sows who lifted high280 o’er281 his fellows

Dreams by his light or his force to compel this deity earth-born,

Evil though his wisdom exceeded the gathered light of the millions,

Evil though his single fate were vaster than Troy and Achaia.

Less is our gain from gods upon earth than from men in our image;

Just is the slow and common march, not a lonely swiftness

Far from our human reach that is vowed to impossible strivings.

Better the stumbling leader of men than inimitable paces.

If he be Peleus’ son and his name the Phthian Achilles,

Worse is the bane: lo, the Ilian battlefield red282 with his errors!

Yet, O ye Greeks, if the heart returns that was loved, though it wandered,

Though with some pride it return and reproaching the friends that it fled from,

Be not less fond than heart-satisfied parents who yearn o’er that coming,

Smile at its pride and accept the wanderer. Happier music

Never has beat on my grief-vexed ears than the steps of Achilles

Turning back to this Greece and the cry of his strength in its rising.

Zeus is awake in this man who his dreadful and world-slaying283 puissance

Gave in an hour of portentous birth to the single Achilles.

Taken today are Ilion’s towers, a dead man is Priam.

Cross not the hero’s will in his hour, Agamemnon Atrides,

Cross not the man whom the gods have chosen to work out their purpose

Then when he rises; his hour is his, though thine be all morrows.

First in the chambers of Paris’ delight let us stable our horses,

Afterwards bale that is best shall be done persuading Achilles;

Doubt not the gods’ decisions, awful, immutable, ruthless.

Flame shall lick Troy’s towers and the limbs of her old men and infants.

O not today, not284 now remember the faults of the hero!

Follow him rather bravely and blindly as children their leader,

Guide your fate through the war-surge loud in the wake of his exploits,

Rise, O ye kings of the Greeks! leave debate for the voices of battle.

Peal forth the war-shout, pour forth the spear-sleet, surge towards Troya.

Ilion falls today; we shall turn in our ships to our children.”

So Odysseus spoke and the Achaians heard him applauding;

Ever the pack by the voice of the mighty is seized and attracted!

Then from his seat Agamemnon arising his staff to the herald

Gave and around him arose the Kings of the west and its leaders.

Loud their assembly broke with a stern and martial rumour.

Book Seven. The Book of the Woman

So to the voice of their best they were bowed and obeyed undebating;

Men whose hearts were burning yet with implacable passion

Felt Odysseus’ strength and rose up clay to his counsels.

King Agamemnon rose at his word, the wide-ruling monarch,

Rose at his word the Cretan and Locrian, Thebes and Epirus,

Nestor rose, the time-tired hoary chief of the Pylians.

Round Agamemnon the Atreid Europe surged in her chieftains

Forth from their tent on the shores of the Troad, splendid in armour,

Into the golden blaze of the sun and the race of the sea-winds.

Fierce and clear like a flame to the death-gods bright on its altar

Shone in their eyes the lust of blood and of earth and of pillage;

For in their hearts those fires replaced the passions of discord,

Forging a brittle peace by a common hatred and yearning.

Joyous they were of mood; for their hopes were already in Troya

Sating with massacre, plunder and rape and the groans of their foemen

Death and Hell in our mortal bosoms seated and shrouded;

There they have altars and seats in mankind in this fair-builded temple

Made for purer gods; but we turn from tender285 luminous temptings,

Vainly the divine whispers seek us; the heights are rejected.104

Man to his earth drawn always prefers the murmurs of her286 promptings,

Man, devouring, devoured who is slayer and slain through the ages

Since by the beast he soars held and exceeds not that pedestal’s measure.

They now followed close on the steps of the mighty Atrides,

Glued like the forest pack to the war-scarred coat of its leader,

Glued as the pack when wolves follow their prey like Doom that can turn not.

Perfect forms and beautiful faces crowded the tent-door,

Brilliant eyes and fierce of souls that remembered the forest,

Wild beasts touched by thought and savages lusting for beauty,

Dire and fierce and formidable chieftains followed Atrides,

Merciless kings of merciless men and the founders of Europe,

Sackers of Troy and sires of the Parthenon, Athens and Caesar.

Here they had come to destroy the ancient perishing cultures;

For, it is said, from the savage we rose and were born to a wild beast.

So when the Eye supreme perceives that we rise up too swiftly,

Drawn towards height but fullness contemning, called by the azure,

Life when we fail in, poor in our base and forgetting our mother,

Back we are hurled to our roots; we recover our sap from the savage.

So were these sent by Zeus to destroy the old that was grandiose,

Such were those frames of old as the sons of Heaven might have chosen

Who in the dawn of eternity wedded the daughters of Nature,

Cultures touched by the morning star, vast, bold and poetic,

Titans’ works and joys, but thrust down from their puissance and pleasure

Fainting now fell from the paces of Time or were left by his ages.

So were these born from Zeus to found the new that should flower

Lucid and slender and perfectly little as fit for this mortal

Ever who sinks back fatigued from immortality’s stature;

Man, repelled by the gulfs within him and shrinking from vastness,

Form of the earth accepts and is glad of the lap of his mother.

Safe through the infinite seas could his soul self-piloted voyage

Chasing the dawns and the wondrous horizons, eternity’s secrets

Drawn from her luminous gulfs! But he journeys rudderless, helmless,

Driven and led by the breath of God who meets him with tempest,

Hurls at him Night. The earth is safer, warmer its sunbeams;

Death and limits are known; so he clings to them hating the summons.

So might one dwell who has come to take joy in a fair-lighted prison;

Amorous grown of its marble walls and its noble adornments,

Lost to mightier cares and the spaces boundlessly calling,

Lust of the infinite skies he forgets and the kiss of the storm-winds,

So might one live who inured to his days of the field and the farm-yard

Shrinks from the grandiose mountain-tops; shut up in lanes and in hedges

Only his furrows he leads and only orders his gardens,

Only his fleeces weaves and drinks of the yield of his vine-rows:

Lost to his ear is the song of the waterfall, wind in the forests.

Now to our earth we are bent and we study the skies for its image.

That was Greece and its shining, that now is France and its keenness,

That still is Europe though by the Christ-touch troubled and tortured,

Seized by the East but clasping her chains and resisting our freedom.

Then was all founded, on Phrygia’s coasts, round Ilion’s ramparts,

Then by the spear of Achilles, then in the Trojan death-cry;

Bearers mute of a future world were those armoured Achaians.

So they arrived from Zeus, an army led by the death-god.

So one can see them still who has sight from the gods in the trance-sleep

Out from the tent emerging on Phrygia’s coasts in their armour;

Those of the early seed Pelasgian slighter in stature,

Dark-haired, hyacinth-curled from the isles of the sea and the southron

Soft-eyed men with pitiless hearts; bright-haired the Achaians

Hordes of the Arctic Dawn who had fled from the ice and the death-blasts287;

Children of conquerors lured to the coasts and the breezes and olives,

Noons of Mediterranean suns and the kiss of the south-wind

Mingled their brilliant force with the plastic warmth of the Hamite.

There they shall rule and their children long till Fate and the Dorian

Break down Hellene doors and trample stern through the passes.

Mixed in a glittering rout on the Ocean beaches one sees them,

Perfect and beautiful figures and fronts, not as now are we mortals

Marred and crushed by our burden long of thought and of labour;

Perfect were these as our race bright-imaged was first by the Thinker

Seen who in golden lustres shapes all the glories we tarnish,

Rich from the moulds of gods and unmarred in their splendour and swiftness

Many and mighty they came o’er288 the beaches loud of the Aegean,

Roots of an infant world and the morning stars of this Europe,

Great Agamemnon’s kingly port and the bright Menelaus,

Tall Idomeneus, Nestor, Odysseus Atlas-shouldered,

Helmeted Ajax, his chin of the beast and his eyes of the dreamer.

Over the sands they dispersed to their armies ranked by the Ocean.

But from the Argive front Acirrous loosed by Tydides

Parted as hastens a shaft from the string and he sped on intently

Swift where the beaches were bare or threading the gaps of the nations;

Crossing Thebes and Epirus he passed through the Lemnian archers,

Ancient Gnossus’ hosts and Meriones’ leaderless legions.

Heedless of cry and of laughter and calling289 over the sea-sands

Swiftly he laboured, wind in his hair and the sea to him crying,

Straight he ran to the Myrmidon hosts and the tents of Achilles.

There he beheld at his tent-door the Phthian gleaming in armour,

Glittering-helmed with the sun that climbed now the cusp of Cronion,

Nobly tall, excelling humanity, planned like Apollo.

Proud at his side like a pillar upreared of snow or of marble,

Golden-haired, hard and white was the boy Neoptolemus, fire-eyed.

New were his feet to the Trojan sands from the ships and from Scyros:

Led to this latest of all his father’s fights in the Troad

He for his earliest battle waited, the son of Achilles.

So in her mood had Fate brought them together, the son and the father,

Even as our souls travelling different paths have met in the ages

Each for its work and they cling for an hour to the names of affection,

Then Time’s long waves bear them apart for new forms we shall know not,

So these two long severed had met in the shadow of parting.

Often he smote his hand on the thigh-piece for sound of the armour,

Bent his ear to the plains or restless moved like a war-horse

Curbed by his master’s will, when he stands new-saddled for battle

Hearing the voice of the trumpets afar and pawing the meadows.

Over the sands Acirrous came to them running and toiling,

Known from far-off for he ran unhelmeted. High on the hero

Sunlike smiled the golden Achilles and into the tent-space

Seized by the hand and brought him and seated. “War-shaft of Troezen,

Whence was thy speed, Acirrous? Com’st thou, O friend, to my tent-side

Spurred by thy eager will or the trusted stern Diomedes?

Or from the Greeks like the voice still loud290 from a heart that is hollow?

What say the banded princes of Greece to the single Achilles?

Bringst291 thou flattery pale or an empty and futureless menace?”

But to the strength of Pelides the hero Acirrous answered:

“Response none send292 the Greeks to thy high-voiced message and challenge;

Only their shout at thy side will reply when thou leapst into Troya.

So have their chieftains willed and the wisdom calm of Odysseus.”

But with a haughty scorn made answer the high-crested Hellene:

“Wise is Odysseus, wise are the hearts of Achaia’s chieftains.

Ilion’s chiefs are enough for their strength and life is too brittle

Hurrying Fate to advance on the spear of the Phthian Achilles.”

“Not from the Greeks have I sped to thy tents, their friendship or quarrel

Urged not my feet; but Tiryn’s293 chieftain strong Diomedes

Sent me claiming a word long old that first by his war-car

Young Neoptolemus come from island Scyros should enter

Far-crashing into the fight that has lacked this shoot of Achilles,

Pressing in front with his father’s strength in the playground of Ares,

Shouting his father’s cry as he clashed to his earliest battle.

So let Achilles’ son twin-carred fight close by Tydides,

Seal of the ancient friendship new-sworn twixt your sires in their boyhood

Then when they learned the spear to guide and strove in the wrestle.”

So he spoke recalling other times and regretted

And to the Argive’s word consented the strength of Pelides.

He on the shoulder white of his son with a gesture of parting

Laid his fateful hand and spoke from his prescient spirit:

“Pyrrhus, go. No mightier guide couldst thou hope into battle

Opening the foemen’s ranks than the hero stern Diomedes.

Noble that rugged heart, thy father’s friend and his father’s.

Journey through all wide Greece, seek her prytanies, schools and palaestras,

Traverse Ocean’s rocks and the cities that dream on his margin,

Phocian dales, Aetolia’s cliffs and Arcady’s pastures,

Never a second man wilt thou find, but alone Diomedes.

Pyrrhus, follow his counsels always losing thy father,

If in this battle I fall and Fate has denied to me Troya.

Pyrrhus, be like thy father in virtue, thou canst not excel him;

Noble be in peace, invincible, brave in the battle,

Stern and calm to thy foe, to the suppliant merciful. Mortal

Favour and wrath as thou walkst heed never, son of Achilles.

Always thy will and the right impose on thy friend and thy foeman.

Count not life nor death, defeat nor triumph, Pyrrhus.

Only thy soul regard and the gods in thy joy or thy labour.”

Pyrrhus heard and erect with a stride that was rigid and stately

Forth with Acirrous went from his sire to the joy of the battle.

Little he heeded the word of death that the god in our bosom

Spoke from the lips of Achilles, but deemed at sunset returning,

Slaying Halamus, Paris or dangerous mighty Aeneas,

Proudly to lay at his father’s feet the spoils of the foeman.

But in his lair alone the godlike doomed Pelides

Turned to the door of his tent and was striding forth to the battle,

When from her inner chamber Briseis parting the curtain,–

Long had she stood there spying and waiting her lonely occasion,–

Came and caught and held his hand like a creeper detaining

Vainly a moment the deathward stride of the kings of the forest.

“Tarry awhile, Achilles; not yet have the war-horns clamoured.

Nor have the scouts streamed yet from Xanthus fierily running.

Lose a moment for her who has only thee under heaven.

Nay, had war sounded, thou yet wouldst squander that moment, Achilles,

Hearkening a woman’s fears and the voice of a dream in the midnight.

Art thou not gentle, even as terrible, lion of Hellas?

Others have whispered the deeds of thy wrath; we have heard, but not seen it;

Marvelling much at their pallor and awe we have listened and wondered.

Never with thrall or slave-girl or captive saw I thee angered,

Hero, nor any humble heart ever trembled to near thee.

Pardoning rather our many faults and our failures in service

Lightly thou layest294 thy yoke on us, kind as the clasp of a lover

Sparing the weak as thou breakest the mighty, O godlike Achilles.

Only thy equals have felt all the dread of the death-god within thee;

We have presumed and played295 with the strength at which nations have trembled.

Lo, thou hast leaned thy mane to the clutch of the boys and the maidens.”

But to Briseis white-armed made answer smiling Achilles:

“Something surely296 thou needst, for thou flatterest long, O Briseis.

Tell me, O woman, thy fear or thy dream that my touch may dispel it,

White-armed net of bliss slipped down from the gold Aphrodite.”

And to Achilles answered the captive white Briseis:

“Long have they vexed my soul in the tents of the Greeks, O Achilles,

Telling of Thetis thy mother who bore thee in caves of the Ocean

Clasped by a mortal and of her fear from the threats of the Ancients,

Weavers of doom who play with our hopes and smile at our passions

Painting Time with the red of our hearts on the web they have woven,

How on the Ocean’s bosom she hid thee in vine-tangled Scyros

Clothed like a girl among girls with the daughters of King Lycomedes,–

Art thou not fairer than woman’s beauty, yet great as Apollo?–

Fearing Paris’ shafts and the anger of Delian Phoebus.

Now in the night has a vision three times besieged me from heaven.

Over the sea in my dream an argent bow was extended;

Nearing I saw a terror august over moonlit waters,

Cloud and a fear and a face that was young and lovely and hostile.

Then three times I heard arise in the grandiose silence,–

Still was the sky and still was the land and still were the waters,–

Echoing a mighty voice, ‘Take back, O King, what thou gavest;

Strength, take thy strong man, sea, take thy wave, till the warfare eternal

Need him again to thunder through Asia’s plains to the Ganges.’

That fell silent, but nearer the beautiful Terror approached me,

Clang I heard of the argent bow and I gazed on Apollo.

Shrilly I cried, for ’twas297 thee that the shaft of the heavens had yearned for,

Thee that it sought like a wild thing in anger straight at its quarry,

Quivering into thy heel. I awoke and found myself trembling,

Held thee safe in my arms, yet hardly believed that thou livest.

Lo, in the night came this dream; on the morn thou arisest for battle.”

But to Briseis white-armed made answer the golden Achilles:

“This was a dream indeed, O princess, daughter of Brises!

Will it restrain Achilles from fight, the lion from preying?

Come, thou hast heard of my prowess and knowest what man is Achilles.

Deemst thou so near my end? or does Polyxena vex thee,

Jealousy shaping thy dreams to frighten me back from her capture?”

Passionate, vexed Briseis, smiting his arm with her fingers,

Yet with a smile half-pleased made answer to mighty Achilles:

“Thinkst thou I fear thee at all? I am brave and will chide thee and threaten.

See that thou recklessly throw not, Achilles, thy life into battle

Hurting this body, my world, nor venture sole midst thy foemen,

Leaving thy shielders behind as oft thou art wont in thy war-rage

Lured by thy tempting gods who seek their advantage to slay thee,

Fighting divinely, careless of all but thy spear and thy foeman.

Cover thy limbs with thy shield, speed slowly restraining thy coursers.

Dost thou not know all the terrible void and cold desolation

Once again my life must become if I lose thee, Achilles?

Twice then thus wilt thou smite me, O hero, a desolate woman?

I will not stay behind on an earth that is empty and kingless.

Into the grave I will leap, through the fire I will burn, I will follow

Down into Hades’ depths or wherever thy footsteps go clanging,

Hunting thee always,– didst thou not seize me here for thy pleasure?–

Stronger there by my love as thou than I here, O Achilles.

Thou shalt not dally alone with Polyxena safe in the shadows.”

But to Briseis answered the hero, mighty Pelides,

Holding her delicate hands like gathered flowers in his bosom,

Pressing her passionate mouth like a rose that trembles with beauty:

“There then follow me even as I would have drawn thee, O woman,

Voice that chimes with my soul and hands that are eager for service,

Beautiful spoil beloved of my foemen, perfect Briseis.

But for the dreams that come to us mortals sleeping or waking,

Shadows are these from our souls and who shall discern what they figure?

Fears from the heart speak voiced like Zeus, take shape as Apollo.

But were they truer than Delphi’s cavern voice or Dodona’s

Moan that seems wind in his oaks immemorable, how should they alter

Fate that the stern gods have planned from the first when the earth was unfashioned,

Shapeless the gyre of the sun? For dream or for oracle adverse

Why should man swerve from the path of his feet? The gods have invented

Only one way for a man through the world, O my slave-girl Briseis,

Valiant to be and noble and truthful and just to the humble.

Only one way for a woman, to love and serve and be faithful.

This observe, thy task in thy destiny noble or fallen;

Time and result are the gods’; with these things be not thou troubled.”

So he spoke and kissed her lips and released her and parted.

Out from the tent he strode and into his chariot leaping

Seized the reins and shouted his cry and drove with a far-borne

Sound of wheels mid the clamour of hooves and neigh298 of the war-steeds

Swift through the line of the tents and forth from the heart of the leaguer.

Over the causeway Troyward thundered the wheels of Achilles.

After him crashing loud with a fierce and resonant rumour

Chieftains impetuous prone to the mellay and swift at the war-cry

Came, who long held from the lust of the spear and the joy of the war-din

Rushed over earth like hawks released through the air; a shouting

Limitless rolled behind, for nations followed each war-cry.

Lords renowned of the northern hills and the plains and the coast-lands,

Many a Dorian, many a Phthian, many a Hellene,

Names now lost to the ear though then reputed immortal!

Night has swallowed them, Zeus has devoured the light of his children;

Drawn are they back to his bosom vast whence they came in their fierceness

Thinking to conquer the earth and dominate Time and his ages.

Nor on their left less thick came numerous even as the sea-sands

Forth from the line of the leaguer that skirted the far-sounding waters,

Ranked behind Tydeus’ son and the Spartan, bright Menelaus,

Ithaca’s chief and Epeus, Idomeneus lord of the Cretans,

Acamos299, Nestor, Neleus’ son, and the brave Ephialtus,

Prothous, Meges, Leitus the bold and the king Prothoënor,

Wise Alceste’s son and the Lemnian, stern Philoctetes,

These and unnumbered warlike captains marching the Argives.

Last in his spacious car drove shaping the tread of his armies,

Even as a shepherd who follows his flock to the green of the pastures,

Atreus’ far-famed son, the monarch great Agamemnon.

They on the plain moved out and gazing far over the pastures

Saw behind Xanthus rolling with dust like a cloud full of thunder,

Ominous, steadily nearing, shouting their war-cry the Trojans.

Book Eight. The Book of the Gods

So on the earth the seed that was sown of the centuries ripened;

Europe and Asia, met on their borders, clashed in the Troad.

All over earth men wept and bled and laboured, world-wide

Sowing Fate with their deeds and had other fruit than they hoped for.

Out of desires and their passionate griefs and fleeting enjoyments

Weaving a tapestry fit for the gods to admire, who in silence

Joy, by the cloud and the sunbeam veiled, and men know not their movers.

They in the glens of Olympus, they by the waters of Ida

Or in their temples worshipped in vain or with heart-strings of mortals

Sated their vast desire and enjoying the world and each other

Sported free and unscourged; for the earth was their prey and their playground.

But from his luminous deep domain, from his estate of azure

Zeus looked forth; he beheld the earth in its flowering greenness

Spread like an emerald dream that the eyes have enthroned in the sunlight,

Heard the symphonies old of the ocean recalling the ages

Lost and dead from its marches salt and unharvested furrows,

Felt in the pregnant hour the unborn hearts of the future.

Troubled kingdoms of men he beheld, the hind in the furrow,

Lords of the glebe and the serf subdued to the yoke of his fortunes,

Slave-girls tending the fire and herdsmen driving the cattle,

Artisans labouring long for a little hire in men’s cities,

Labour long and the meagre reward for a toil that is priceless.

Kings in their seats august or marching swift with their armies

Founded ruthlessly brittle empires. Merchant and toiler

Patiently heaped up our transient wealth like the ants in their hillock.

And to preserve it all, to protect this dust that must perish,

Hurting the eternal soul and maiming heaven for some metal

Judges condemned their brothers to chains and to death and to torment,

Criminals scourgers of crime,– for so are these ant-heaps founded,–

Punishing sin by a worse affront to our crucified natures.

All the uncertainty, all the mistaking, all the delusion

Naked were to his gaze; in the moonlit orchards there wandered

Lovers dreaming of love that endures – till the moment of treason;

Helped by the anxious joy of their kindred supported their anguish

Women with travail racked for the child who shall rack them with sorrow.

Hopes that were confident, fates that sprang dire from the seed of a moment,

Yearning that claimed all time for its date and all life for its fuel,

All that we wonder at gazing back when the passion has fallen,

Labour blind and vain expense and sacrifice wasted,

These he beheld with a heart unshaken; to each side he studied

Seas of confused attempt and the strife and the din and the crying.

All things he pierced in us gazing down with his eyelids immortal,

Lids on which sleep dare not settle, the Father of men on his creatures;

Nor by the cloud and the mist was obscured which baffles our eyeballs,

But he distinguished our source and saw to the end of our labour.

He in the animal racked knew the god that is slowly delivered;

Therefore his heart rejoiced. Not alone the mind in its trouble

God beholds, but the spirit behind that has joy of the torture.

Might not our human gaze on the smoke of a furnace, the burning

Red, intolerable, anguish of ore that is fused in the hell-heat,

Shrink and yearn for coolness and peace and condemn all the labour?

Rather look to the purity coming, the steel in its beauty,

Rather rejoice with the master who stands in his gladness accepting

Heat of the glorious god and the fruitful pain of the iron.

Last the eternal gaze was fixed on Troy and the armies

Marching swift to the shock. It beheld the might of Achilles

Helmed and armed, knew all the craft in the brain of Odysseus,

Saw Deiphobus stern in his car and the fates of Aeneas,

Greece of her heroes empty, Troy enringed by her slayers,

Paris a setting star and the beauty of Penthesilea.

These things he saw delighted; the heart that contains all our ages

Blessed our toil and grew full of its fruits, as the Artist eternal

Watched his vehement drama staged twixt the sea and the mountains,

Phrased in the clamour and glitter of arms and closed by the firebrand,

Act itself out in the blood300 and in passions fierce on the Troad.

Yet as a father his children, who sits in the peace of his study

Hearing the noise of his brood and pleased with their play and their quarrels,

So he beheld our mortal race. Then, turned from the armies,

Into his mind he gazed where Time is reflected and, conscient,

Knew the iron knot of our human fates in their warfare.

Calm he arose and left our earth for his limitless kingdoms.

Far from this lower blue and high in the death-scorning spaces

Lifted above301 mortal mind where Time and Space are but figures

Lightly imagined by Thought divine in her luminous stillness,

Zeus has his palace high and there he has stabled his war-car.

Thence he descends to our mortal realms; where the heights of our mountains

Meet with the divine air, he touches and enters our regions.

Now he ascended back to his natural realms and their rapture,

There where all life is bliss and each feeling an ecstasy mastered.

Thence his eagle Thought with its flashing pinions extended

Winged through the world to the gods, and they came at the call, they ascended

Up from their play and their calm and their works through the infinite azure.

Some from our mortal domains in grove or by far-flowing river

Cool from the winds of the earth or quivering with perishable fragrance

Came, or our laughter they bore and the song of the sea in their paces.

Some from the heavens above us arrived, our vital dominions

Whence we draw breath; for there all things have life, the stone like the ilex,

Clay of those realms like the children of men and the brood of the giants.

There Enceladus groans oppressed and draws strength from his anguish

Under a living Aetna and flames that have joy of his entrails.

Fiercely he groans and rejoices expecting the end of his foemen

Hastened by every pang and counts long Time by his writhings.

There in the champaigns unending battle the gods and the giants,

There in eternal groves the lovers have pleasure for ever,

There are the faery climes and there are the wonderful pastures.

Some from a marvellous Paradise hundred-realmed in its musings

Million-ecstasied, climbed like flames that in silence aspire

Windless, erect in a motionless dream, yet ascending for ever.

All grew aware of the will divine and grew near302 to their303 Father.

Grandiose, calm in her gait, imperious, awing the regions,

Hera came in her pride, the spouse of Zeus and his sister.

As at her birth from the foam of the spaces white Aphrodite

Rose in the cloud of her golden hair like the moon in its halo.

Aegis-bearing Athene, shielded and helmeted, answered

Rushing the call and the heavens thrilled with the joy of her footsteps

Dumbly repeating her name, as insulted and trampled by beauty

Thrill might the soul of a lover and cry out the name of its tyrant.

Others there were as mighty; for Artemis, archeress ancient,

Came on her sandals lightning-tasselled. Up the vast incline

Shaking the world with the force of his advent thundered Poseidon;

Space grew full of his stride and his cry. Immortal Apollo

Shone and his silver clang was heard with alarm in our kingdoms.

Ares’ impetuous eyes looked forth from a cloud-drift of splendour;

Themis’ steps appeared and Ananke, the mystic Erinnys;

Nor was Hephaestus’ flaming strength from his father divided.

Even the ancient Dis to arrive dim-featured, eternal,

Seemed; but his rays are the shades and his voice is the call of the silence.

Into the courts divine they crowded, radiant, burning,

Perfect in utter grace and light. The joy of their spirits

Calls to eternal Time and the glories of Space are his answer:

Thence were these bright worlds born and persist by the throb of their heart-beats.

Not in the forms that mortals have seen when assisted they scatter

Mists of this earthly dust from their eyes in their moments of greatness

Shone those unaging Powers; nor as in our centuries radiant

Mortal-seeming bodies they wore when they mixed with our nations.

Then the long youth of the world had not faded still out of our natures,

Flowers and the sunlight were felt and the earth was glad like a mother.

Then for a human delight they were masked in this denser vesture

Earth desires for her bliss,– thin veils, for the god through them glimmered.

Quick were men’s days with the throng of the brilliant presences near them:

Gods from the wood and the valley, gods from the obvious wayside,

Gods on the secret hills leaped out from their light on the mortal.

Oft in the haunt and the grove they met with our kind and their touches

Seized and subjected our clay to the greatness of passions supernal,

Grasping the earthly virgin and forcing heaven on this death-dust.

Glorifying human beauty Apollo roamed in our regions

Clymene when he pursued or yearned in vain for Marpessa;

Glorifying earth with a human-seeming face of the beauty

Brought from her heavenly climes Aphrodite mixed with Anchises.

Glimpsed in the wilds were the Satyrs, seen in the woodlands the Graces,

Dryad and Naiad in river and forest, Oreads haunting

Glens and the mountain-glades where they played with the manes of our lions

Glimmered on death-claimed eyes; for the gods then were near us and clasped us,

Heaven leaned down in love with our clay and yearned to its transience.

But we have coarsened in heart and in mood; we have turned in our natures

Nearer our poorer kindred; leaned to the ant and the ferret.

Sight we have darkened with sense and power we have stifled with labour,

Likened in mood to the things we gaze at and are in our vestures:

Therefore we toil unhelped; we are left to our weakness and blindness.

Not in those veils now they rose to their skies, but like loose-fitting mantles

Dropped in the vestibules huge of their vigorous realms that besiege us

All that reminded of earth; then clothed with raiment of swiftness

Straight they went quivering up in a glory like fire or the storm-blast.

Even those natural vestures of puissance they leave when they enter

Mind’s more subtle fields and agree with its limitless regions

Peopled by creatures of bliss and forms more true than earth’s shadows,–

Mind that pure from this density, throned in her splendours immortal

Looks up at Light and suffers bliss from ineffable kingdoms

Where beyond Mind and its rays is the gleam of a glory supernal:

There our sun cannot shine and our moon has no place for her lustres,

There our lightnings flash not, nor fire of these spaces is suffered.

They with bodies impalpable here to our touch and our seeing,

But for a higher delight, to a brighter sense, with more sweetness

Palpable there and visible, thrilled with a lordlier joyance,

Came to the courts of Zeus and his heavens sang to their footsteps.

Harmonies flowed through the blissful coils of the kingdoms of rapture.

Then by his mighty equals surrounded the Thunderer regnant

Veiled his thought in sound that was heard in their souls as they listened.

Veiled are the high gods always lest there should dawn on the mortal

Light too great from the skies and men to their destiny clear-eyed

Walk unsustained like the gods; then Night and Dawn were defeated

And of their masks the deities robbed would be slaves to their subjects.

“Children of Immortality, gods who are joyous for ever,

Rapture is ours and eternity measures our lives by his aeons.

For we desireless toil who have joy in the fall as the triumph,

Knowledge eternal possessing we work for an end that is destined

Long already beyond by the Will of which Time is the courser.

Therefore death cannot alter our lives nor pain our enjoyment.

But in the world of mortals twilight is lord of its creatures.

Nothing they perfectly see, but all things seek and imagine,

Out of the clod who have come and would climb from their mire to our heavens

Blindly mistaking the throb of their mortal desires for our guidance304.

Yet are the heavenly seats not easy even for the chosen:

Rough and remote is that path; that ascent is too hard for the death-bound.

Hard are God’s terms and few can meet them of men who are mortal.

Mind resists; their breath is a clog; by their tools they are hampered.

How shall they win in their earth to our skies who are clay and a life-wind,

But that their hearts we invade? Our shocks on their lives come incessant,

Ease discourage and penetrate coarseness; sternness celestial

Forces their souls towards the skies and their bodies by anguish are sifted.

We in the mortal wake an immortal strength by our tortures

And by the flame of our lightnings choose out the vessels of godhead.

This is the nature of earth that to blows she responds and by scourgings

Travails excited; pain is the bed of her blossoms of pleasure.

Earth that was wakened by pain to life and by hunger to thinking

Left to her joys rests inert and content with her gains and her station.

But for the unbearable whips of the gods back soon to her matter

She would go glad and the goal would be missed and the aeons be wasted.

But for the god in their breasts unsatisfied, but for his spurrings

Soon would the hero turn beast and the sage reel back to the savage;

Man from his difficult heights would recoil and be mud in the earth-mud.

This by pain we prevent; we compel his feet to the journey.

But in their minds to impression made subject, by forms of things captured

Blind is the thought and presumptuous the hope and they swerve from our goading;

Blinded are human hearts by desire and fear and possession,

Darkened is knowledge on earth by hope the helper of mortals.

Now too from earth and her children voices of anger and weeping

Beat at our thrones; ’tis the grief and the wrath of fate-stricken creatures,

Mortals struggling with destiny, hearts that are slaves to their sorrow.

We unmoved by the cry will fulfil our unvarying purpose.

Troy shall fall at last and the ancient ages shall perish.

You who are lovers of Ilion turn from the moans of her people,

Chase from your hearts their prayers, blow back from your nostrils the incense.

Let not one nation resist by its glory the good of the ages.

Twilight thickens over man and he moves to his winter of darkness.

Troy that displaced with her force and her arms the luminous ancients,

Sinks in her turn by the ruder strength of the half-savage Achaians.

They to the Hellene shall yield and the Hellene fall by the Roman.

Rome too shall not endure, but by strengths ill-shaped shall be broken,

Nations formed in the ice and mist, confused and crude-hearted.

So shall the darker and ruder always prevail o’er the brilliant

Till in its turn to a ruder and darker it falls and is shattered.

So shall mankind make speed to destroy what ’twas mighty creating.

Ever since knowledge failed and the ancient ecstasy slackened,

Light has been helper to death and darkness increases the victor.

So shall it last till the fallen ages return to their greatness.

For if the twilight be helped not, night o’er the world cannot darken;

Night forbidden how shall a greater dawn be effected?

Gods of the light who know and resist that the doomed may have succour,

Always then shall desire and passion strive with Ananke?

Conquer the cry of your heart-strings that man too may conquer his sorrow

Stilled in his yearnings. Cease, O ye gods, from the joy of rebellion.

Open the eye of the soul, admit the voice of the Silence.”

So in the courts of Heaven august the Thunderer puissant

Spoke to his sons in their souls and they heard him, mighty in silence.305

Then to her brother divine the white-armed passionless Hera:

“Zeus, we remember, thy sons forget, Apollo and Ares.”

“Hera, queen of the heavens, they forget not, but choose to be mindless.

This is the greatness of gods that they know and can put back the knowledge;

Doing the work they have chosen they turn not for fruit nor for failure.

Griefless they walk to their goal and strain not their eyes towards the ending.

Light that they have they can lose with a smile, not as souls in the darkness

Clutch at every beam and mistake their one ray for all splendour.

All things are by Time and the Will eternal that moves us.

And for each birth its hour is set in the night or the dawning.

There is an hour for knowledge, an hour to forget and to labour.”

Great Cronion ceased and high in the heavenly silence

Rose in their midst the voice of the loud impetuous Ares

Sounding far in the luminous fields of his soul as with thunder.

“Father, we know and we have not forgotten. This is our godhead,

Still to strive and never to yield to the evil that conquers.

I will not dwell with the Greeks nor aid them save forced by Ananke

And because lives of the great and the blood of the strong are my portion.

This too thou knowest, our nature enjoys in mankind its fulfilment.

War is my nature and greatness and hardness, the necks of the vanquished;

Force is my soul and strength is my bosom; I shout in the battle

Breaking cities like toys and the nations are playthings of Ares:

Hither and thither I shove them and throw down or range on my table.

Constancy most I love, nobility, virtue and courage;

Fugitive hearts I abhor and the nature fickle as sea-foam.

Now if the ancient spirit of Titan battle is over,–

Tros fights no more on the earth, nor now Heracles tramples and struggles,

Bane of the hydra or slaying the Centaurs o’er Pelion driven,–

Now if the earth no more must be shaken by Titan horse-hooves,

Since to a pettier framework all things are fitted consenting,

Yet will I dwell not in Greece nor favour the nurslings of Pallas.

I will await the sons of my loins and the teats of the she-wolf,

Consuls browed like the cliffs and plebeians stern of the wolf-brood,

Senates of kings and armies of granite that grow by disaster;

Such be the nation august that is fit for the favour of Ares!

They shall fulfil me and honour my mother, imperial Hera.

Then with an iron march they shall move to their world-wide dominion,

Through the long centuries rule and at last because earth is impatient,

Slowly with haughtiness perish compelled by mortality’s transience

Leaving a Roman memory stamped on the ages of weakness.”

But to his son far-sounding the Father high of the Immortals:

“So let it be since such is the will in thee, mightiest Ares;

Thou shalt till sunset prevail, O war-god, fighting for Troya.”

So he decreed and the soul of the Warrior sternly consented.

He from his seats arose and down on the summits of Ida

Flaming through Space in his cloud in a headlong glory descended,

Prone like a thunderbolt flaming down from the hand of the Father.

Thence in his chariot drawn by living fire and by swiftness,

Thundered down to earth’s plains the mighty impetuous Ares.

Far where Deiphobus stern was labouring stark and outnumbered

Smiting the Achaian myriads back on the right of the carnage,

Over the hosts in his car he stood and darkened the Argives.

But in the courts divine the Thunderer spoke to his children:

“Ares resisting a present Fate for the hope of the future

Gods has gone forth from us. Choose thou thy paths, O my daughter,

More than thy brother assailed by the night that darkens o’er creatures.

Choose the silence in heaven or choose the struggle mid mortals,

Golden joy of the worlds, O thou roseate white Aphrodite.”

Then with her starry eyes and bosom of bliss from the Immortals

Glowing and rosy-limbed cried the wonderful white Aphrodite,

Drawing her fingers like flowers through the flowing gold of her tresses,

Calm, discontented, her perfect mouth a306 rose of resistance

Chidingly budded ’gainst Fate, a charm to their senses enamoured:

“Well do I know thou hast given my world to Hera and Pallas.

What though my temples shall stand in Paphos and island Cythera

And though the Greek be a priest for my thoughts and a lyre for my singing,

Beauty pursuing and light through the figures of grace and of rhythm,–

Forms shall he mould for men’s eyes that the earth has forgotten and mourns for,

Mould even the workings of Pallas to commune with Paphia’s sweetness,

Mould Hephaestus’ craft in the gaze of the gold Aphrodite,–

Only my form he pursues that I wear for a mortal enchantment,

He to whom now thou givest the world, the Ionian, the Hellene,

But for my might is unfit which Babylon worshipped and Sidon

Palely received from the past in images faint of the gladness

Once that was known by the children of men when the thrill of their members

Was but the immortal joy of the spirit overflowing in Nature307

Wine-cups of God’s desire; but their clay from my natural greatness

Falters betrayed to pain, their delight they have turned into ashes.

Nor to my peaks shall he rise and the perfect fruit of my promptings,

There where the senses swoon but the heart is delivered by rapture:

Never my touch can cling to his soul nor reply from his heart-strings.

Once could my godhead surprise all the stars with the seas of its rapture;

Once the world in its orbit danced to a marvellous rhythm.

Men in their limits, gods in their amplitudes answered my calling;

Life was moved by a chant of delight that sang308 from the spaces

Sung309 from the Soul of the Vast, His310 ecstasy311 clasping His312 creatures.

Sweetly agreed my fire with their soil and their hearts were as altars.

Pure were its crests; ’twas not dulled with earth, ’twas not lost in the hazes.

Then when the sons of earth and the daughters of heaven together

Met on lone mountain peaks or, linked on wild beach and green meadow,

Twining embraced. For I danced on Taygetus’ peaks and o’er Ida

Naked and loosing my golden hair like a nimbus of glory

O’er a deep-ecstasied earth that was drunk with my roses and whiteness.

There was no shrinking nor veil in our old Saturnian kingdoms,

Equal313 were heaven and earth, twin gods on the lap of Dione.

Now shall my waning greatness perish and pass out of Nature.

For though the Romans, my children, shall grasp at the strength of their mother,

They shall not hold the god, but lose in unsatisfied orgies

Yet what the earth has kept of my joy, my glory, my puissance,

Who shall but drink for a troubled hour in the dusk of the sunset

Dregs of my wine Pandemian missing the Uranian sweetness.

So shall the night descend on the greatness and rapture of living;

Creeds that refuse shall persuade the world to revolt from its mother.

Pallas’ adorers shall loathe me and Hera’s scorn me for lowness;

Beauty shall pass from men’s work and delight from their play and their labour;

Earth restored to the Cyclops shall shrink from the gold Aphrodite.

So shall I live diminished, owned but by beasts in the forest,

Birds of the air and the gods in their heavens, but disgraced in the mortal.”

Then to the discontented rosy-mouthed Aphrodite

Zeus replied, the Father divine: “O goddess Astarte,

What are these thoughts thou hast suffered to wing from thy rose-mouth immortal?

Bees that sting and delight are the words from thy lips, Cytherea.

Art thou not womb of the world and from thee are the throngings314 of creatures?

And didst thou cease the worlds too would cease and the aeons be ended.

Suffer my Greeks; accept who accept thee, O gold Dionaean.

They in the works of their craft and their dreams shall enthrone thee for ever,

Building thee temples in Paphos and Eryx and island Cythera,

Building the fane more enduring and bright of thy golden ideal.

Even if natures of men could renounce thee and God do without thee,

Rose of love and sea of delight, O my child Aphrodite

Still wouldst thou live in the worship they gave thee protected from fading,

Splendidly statured315 and shrined in men’s works and men’s thoughts, Cytherea.”

Pleased and blushing with bliss of her praise and the thought of her empire

Answered, as cries a harp in heaven, the gold Aphrodite:

“Father, I know and I spoke but to hear from another my praises.

I am the womb of the world and the cause of this teeming of creatures,

And if discouraged I ceased, God’s world would lose heart and perish316.

How will you do then without me your works of wisdom and greatness,

Hera, queen of heaven, and thou, O my sister Athene?

Yes, I shall reign and endure though the pride of my workings be conquered.

What though no second Helen find a second Paris,

Lost though the317 glories of form to the earth, though their confident gladness

Pass from a race misled and forgetting the sap that it sprang from,

They are eternal in man in the worship of beauty and rapture.

Ever while earth is embraced by the sun and hot with his kisses

And while a Will supernal works through the passions of Nature,

Me shall men seek with my light or their darkness, sweetly or crudely,

Cold on the ice of the north or warm with318 the heats of the southland,

Slowly enduring my touch or with violence rapidly burning.

I am the sweetness of living, I am the touch of the Master.

Love shall die bound to my stake like a victim adorned as for bridal,

Life shall be bathed in my flames and be purified gold or be ashes.

I, Aphrodite, shall move the world for ever and ever.

Yet now since most to me, Father of all, the ages arriving,

Hostile, rebuke my heart and turn from my joy and my sweetness,

I will resist and not yield, nor care what I do, so I conquer.

Often I curbed my mood for your sakes and was gracious and kindly,

Often I lay at Hera’s feet and obeyed her commandments

Tranquil and proud or o’ercome by a honeyed and ancient compulsion

Fawned on thy pureness and served thy behests, O my sister Pallas.

Deep was the love that united us, happy the wrestle and clasping;

Love divided, love united, love was our mover.319

But since you now overbear and would scourge me and chain and control me,

War I declare on you all, O my Father and brothers and sisters.

Henceforth I do my will as the joy in me prompts or the anger.

Ranging the earth with my beauty and passion and golden enjoyments

All whom I can, I will bind; I will drive at the bliss of my workings,

Whether men’s hearts are seized by the joy or seized by the torture.

Most will I320 plague your men, your worshippers and in my malice

Break up your works with confusion divine, O my mother and sister;

Then shall you fume and resist and be helpless and pine with my torments.

Yet will I never relent but always be sweet and malignant,

Cruel and tyrannous, hurtful and subtle, a charm and a torture.

Thou too, O father Zeus, shalt always be vexed with my doings;

Called in each moment to judge thou shalt chafe at our cry and our quarrels,

Often grope for thy thunderbolt, often frown magisterial

Joining in vain thy awful brows o’er thy turbulent children.

Yet in thy wrath recall my might and my wickedness, Father;

Hurt me not then too much lest the world and thyself too should suffer.

Save, O my Father, life and grace and the charm of the senses;

Love preserve lest the heart of the world grow dulled and forsaken.”

Smiling her smile immortal of love and of mirth and of malice

White Aphrodite arose in her loveliness armed for the conflict.

Golden and careless and joyous she went like a wild bird that winging

Flits from bough to bough and resumes its chant interrupted.

Love where her fair321 feet trod bloomed up like a flower from the spaces;

Mad round her touches billowed incessantly laughter and rapture.322

Rich as a summer fruit and fresh as Spring’s blossoms her body

Gleaming and blushing, veiled and bare and with ecstasy smiting

Burned out rosy and white through her happy ambrosial raiment,

Golden-tressed and a charm, her bosom a fragrance and peril.

So was she framed to the gaze as she came from the seats of the Mighty.

So embodied she visits the hearts of men and their dwellings

And in her breathing tenement laughs at the eyes that can see her.

Swift-footed down to the Troad she hastened thrilling the earth-gods.

There with ambrosial secrecy veiled, admiring the heroes

Strong and beautiful, might of the warring and glory of armour,

Over her son Aeneas she stood, his guard in the battle.

But in the courts divine the Thunderer spoke mid his children:

“Thou for a day and a night and another day and a nightfall,

White Aphrodite, prevail; o’er thee too the night is extended.

She has gone forth who made men like gods in their glory and gladness.

Now in the darkness coming all beauty must wane or be tarnished;

Joy shall fade and mighty Love grow fickle and fretful;

Even as a child that is scared in the night, he shall shake in his chambers.

Yet shall a portion be kept for these, Ares and white Aphrodite.

Thou whom already thy Pythoness bears not, torn by thy advent,

Caverned already who sittest in Delphi knowing thy future,

What wilt thou do with the veil and the night, O burning Apollo?”

Then from the orb of his glory unbearable save to immortals

Bright and austere replied the beautiful mystic Apollo:

“Zeus, I know that I fade; already the night is around me.

Dusk she extends her reign and obscures my lightnings with error.

Therefore my prophets mislead men’s hearts to the ruin appointed,

Therefore Cassandra cries in vain to her sire and her brothers.

All I endure I foresee and the strength in me waits for its coming;

All I foresee I approve; for I know what is willed, O Cronion.

Yet is the fierce strength wroth in my breast at the need of approval

And for the human race fierce pity works in my bosom;

Wroth is my splendid heart with the cowering knowledge of mortals,

Wroth are my burning eyes with the purblind vision of reason.

I will go forth from your seats and descend to the night among mortals

There to guard the flame and the mystery; vast in my moments

Rare and sublime to sound like a sea against Time and its limits,

Cry like a spirit in pain in the hearts of the priest and the poet,

Cry against limits set and disorder sanities bounded.

Jealous for truth to the end my might shall prevail and for ever

Shatter the moulds that men make to imprison their limitless spirits.

Dire, overpowering the brain I shall speak out my oracles splendid.

Then in their ages of barren light or lucidity fruitful

Whenso the clear gods think they have conquered earth and its mortals,

Hidden God from all eyes, they shall wake from their dream and recoiling

Still they shall find in their paths the fallen and darkened Apollo.”

So he spoke, repressing his dreadful might in his bosom,

And from their high seats passed, his soul august and resplendent

Drawn to the anguish of men and the fierce terrestrial labour.

Down he dropped with a roar of light invading the regions,

And in his fierce and burning spirit intense and uplifted

Sure of his luminous truth and careless for weakness of mortals

Flaming oppressed the earth with his dire intolerant beauty.

Over the summits descending that slept in the silence of heaven,

He through the spaces angrily drew towards the tramp and the shouting

Over the speeding of Xanthus and over the pastures of Troya.

Clang of his argent bow was the wrath restrained of the mighty,

Stern was his pace like Fate’s; so he came to the warfare of mortals

And behind Paris strong and inactive waited God’s moment

Knowing what should arrive, nor disturbed like men by their hopings.

But in the courts of Heaven Zeus to his brother immortal

Turned like a menaced king on his counsellor smiling augustly:

“Seest thou, Poseidon, this sign that great gods revolting have left us,

Follow their hearts and strive with Ananke? Yet though they struggle,

Thou and I will do our will with the world, O earth-shaker.”

Answered to Zeus the besieger of earth, the voice of the waters:

“This is our strength and our right, for we are the kings and the masters.

Too much pity has been and yielding of Heaven to mortals.

I will go down with my chariot drawn by my thunder-maned coursers

Into the battle and thrust down Troy with my hand to the silence,

Even though she cling round the snowy knees of our child Aphrodite

Or with Apollo’s sun take refuge from Night and her shadows.

I will not pity her pain, who am ruthless even as my surges.

Brother, thou knowest, O Zeus, that I am a king and a trader;

For on my paths I receive earth’s skill and her merchandise gather,

Traffic richly in pearls and bear the swift ships in323 my bosom.

Blue are my waves and they call men’s hearts to wealth and adventure.

Lured by324 the shifting surges they launch their delight and their treasures

Trusting the toil of years to the perilous moments of Ocean.

Huge man’s soul325 in its petty frame goes wrestling with Nature

Over her vasts and his fragile ships between my horizons

Buffeting death in his solitudes labour through swell and through storm-blast

Bound for each land with her sons and watched for by eyes in each haven.

I from Tyre up to Gades trace on my billows their trade-routes

And on my vast and spuming Atlantic suffer their rudders.

Carthage and Greece are my children, the marts of the world are my term-posts.

Who then deserves the earth if not he who enriches and fosters?

But thou hast favoured thy sons, O Zeus; O Hera, earth’s sceptres

Still were denied me and kept for strong Ares and brilliant Apollo.

Now all your will shall be done, so you give me the earth for my nations.

Gold shall make men like gods and bind their thoughts into oneness;

Peace I will build with gold and heaven with the pearls of my caverns.”

Smiling replied to his brother’s craft the mighty Cronion:

“Lord of the boundless seas, Poseidon, soul of the surges,

Well thou knowest that earth shall be seized as a booth for the trader.

Rome nor Greece nor France can drive back Carthage for ever.

Always each birth of the silence attaining the field and the movement

Takes from Time its reign; for it came for its throne and its godhead.

So too shall Mammon take and his sons their hour from the ages.

Yet is the flame and the dust last end of the silk and the iron,

And at their end the king and the prophet shall govern the nations.

Even as Troy, so shall Babylon flame up to heaven for the spoiler

Wailed by the merchant afar as he sees the red glow from the Ocean.”

Up from the seats of the Mighty the Earth-shaker rose; his raiment

Round him purple and dominant rippled326 and murmured and whispered,

Whispered of argosies sunk and the pearls and the Nereids playing,

Murmured of azure solitudes, sounded of storm and the death-wail.

Even as the march of his waters so was the pace of the sea-god

Flowing on endless through Time; with the glittering symbol327 of empire

Crowned were his fatal brows; in his grasp was the wrath of the trident,

Tripled forces328, life-shattering, brutal, imperial, sombre.

Resonant, surging, vast in the pomp of his clamorous greatness

Proud and victorious he came to his home in the far-spuming waters.

Even as a soul from the heights of thought plunges back into living,

So he plunged like a rock through the foam; for it falls from a mountain

Overpeering the waves in some silence of desolate waters

Left to the wind and the sea-gull where Ocean alone with the ages

Dreams of the calm of the skies or tosses its spray to the wind-gods,

Tosses for ever its foam in the solitude huge of its longings

Far from the homes and the noises of men. So the dark-browed Poseidon

Came to his coral halls and the sapphire stables of Nereus

Ever where champ their bits the harnessed steeds of the Ocean

Watched by foam-white girls in the caverns of still Amphitrite.

There was his chariot yoked by the Tritons, drawn by his coursers

Born of the fleeing sea-spray and shod with the north-wind who journey

Black like the front of the storm and clothed with their manes as with thunder.

This now rose from its depths to the upper tumults of Ocean

Bearing the awful brows and the mighty form of the sea-god

And from the roar of the surges fast o’er the giant margin

Came remembering the storm and the swiftness wide329 towards the Troad.

So among men he arrived to the clamorous labours of Ares,

Close by the stern Diomedes stood and frowned o’er the battle.

He for the Trojan slaughter chose for his mace and his sword-edge

Iron Tydeus’ son and the adamant heart of young Pyrrhus.

But in the courts divine the Father high of the immortals

Turned in his heart to the brilliant offspring born of his musings,

She who tranquil observes and judges her father and all things.

“What shall I say to the thought that is calm in thy breasts, O Athene?

Have I not given thee earth for thy portion, throned thee and armoured,

Darkened Cypris’ smile, dimmed Hera’s son and Latona’s?

Swift in thy silent ambition, proud in thy radiant sternness,

Girl, thou shalt rule with the Greek and the Saxon, the Frank and the Roman.

Worker and fighter and builder and thinker, light of the reason,

Men shall leave all temples to crowd in thy courts, O Athene.

Go then and do my will, prepare man’s tribes for their fullness.”

But with her high clear smile on him answered the mighty Athene,–

Wisely and soberly, tenderly smiled she chiding her father

Even as a mother might rail at her child when he hides and dissembles:

“Zeus, I see and I am not deceived by thy words in my spirit.

We but build forms for thy thought while thou smilest down high o’er our toiling;

Even as men are we tools for thee, who are thy children and dear ones.

All this life is thy sport and thou workst like a boy at his engines

Making a toil of the game and a play of the serious labour.

Then to that play thou callest us wearing a sombre visage,

This consulting, that to our wills confiding, O Ruler;

Choosing thy helpers, hastened by those whom thou lurest to oppose thee

Guile thou usest with gods as with mortals, scheming, deceiving,

And at the wrath and the love thou hast prompted laughest in secret.

So we too330 who are sisters and enemies, lovers and rivals,

Fondled and baffled in turn obey thy will and thy cunning,

I, thy girl of war, and the rosy-white Aphrodite.

Always we served but thy pleasure since our immortal beginnings,

Always each other we helped by our play and our wrestlings and quarrels.

This too I know that I pass preparing the paths of Apollo

And at the end as his sister and slave and bride I must sojourn

Rapt to his courts of mystic light and unbearable brilliance.

Was I not ever condemned since my birth from the toil of thy musings

Seized like a lyre in my body to sob and to laugh out his music,

Shake as a leaf in his fierceness and leap as a flame in his splendours?

So must I dwell overpowered and so must I labour subjected

Robbed of my loneliness pure and coerced in my radiant freedom,

Now whose clearness and pride are the sovereign joy of thy creatures.

Such the reward that thou keepst for my labour obedient always.

Yet I work and I do thy will, for ’tis mine, O my father.”

Proud of her ruthless lust of thought and action and battle,–

Swift-footed rose the daughter of Zeus from her sessions immortal:

Breasts of the morning unveiled in a purity awful and candid,

Head of the mighty Dawn, the goddess Pallas Athene!

Strong and rapacious she swooped on the world as her prey and her booty,

Down from the courts of the Mighty descending, darting on Ida.

Dire she descended, a god in her reason, a child in her longings,

Joy and woe to the world that is given to the whims of the child-god

Greedy for rule and play and the minds of men and their doings!

So with her aegis scattering light o’er the heads of the nations

Shining-eyed in her boyish beauty severe and attractive

Came to the fields of the Troad, came to the fateful warfare,

Veiled, the goddess calm and pure in her luminous raiment

Zoned with beauty and strength. Rejoicing, spurring the fighters

Close o’er Odysseus she stood and clear-eyed governed the battle.

Zeus to Hephaestus next, the Cyclopean toiler

Turned, Hephaestus the strong-souled, priest and king and a bond-slave,

Servant of men in their homes and their workshops, servant of Nature,

He who has built these worlds and kindles the fire for a mortal.

“Thou, my son, art obedient always. Wisdom is with thee,

Therefore thou know’st and obeyest. Submission is wisdom and knowledge;

He who is blind revolts and he who is limited struggles:

Strife is not for the infinite; wisdom observes to accomplish.

Troy and her sons and her works are thy food today, O Hephaestus.”

And to his father the Toiler answered, the silent Seer:

“Yes, I obey thee, my Father, and That which than thou is more mighty;

Even as thou obeyest by rule, so I by my labour.

Now must I heap the furnace, now must I toil at the smithy,

I who have flamed on the altar of sacrifice helping the sages.

I am the Cyclops, the lamester, who once was pure and a high-priest.

Holy the pomp of my flames ascendent331 from pyre and from altar

Robed men’s souls for their heavens and my smoke was a pillar to Nature.

Though I have burned in the sight of the sage and the heart of the hero,

Now is no nobler hymn for my ear than the clanging of metal,

Breath of human greed and the dolorous pant of the engines.

Still I repine not, but toil; for to toil was I332 yoked by my Maker.

I am your servant, O Gods, and his of whom you are servants.”

But to the Toiler Zeus replied, to the servant of creatures:

“What is the thought thou hast uttered betrayed by thy speech, O Hephaestus?

True is it earth shall grow as a smithy, the smoke of the furnace

Fill men’s eyes and their souls shall be stunned with the clang of the hammers,

Yet in the end there is rest on the peak of a labour accomplished.

Nor shall the might of the thinker be quelled by that iron oppression,

Nor shall the soul of the warrior despair in the darkness triumphant,

For when the night shall be deepest, dawn shall increase on the mountains

And in the heart of the worst the best shall be born by my wisdom.

Pallas thy sister shall guard man’s knowledge fighting the earth-smoke.

Thou too art mighty to live through the clamour even as Apollo.

Work then, endure; expect from the Silence an end and thy wages.”

So King Hephaestus arose and passed from the courts of his father;

Down upon earth he came with his lame omnipotent motion;

And with uneven steps absorbed and silent the Master

Worked employed mid the wheels of the cars as a smith in his smithy,

But it was death and bale that he forged, not the bronze and the iron.

Stark, like a fire obscured by its smoke, through the spear-casts he laboured

Helping Ajax’ war and the Theban and Phocian fighters.

Zeus to his grandiose helper next, who proved and unmoving,

Calm in her greatness waited the mighty command of her husband:

“Hera, sister and spouse, what my will is thou knowest, O consort.

One are our blood and our hearts, nor the thought for the words of the speaker

Waits, but each other we know and ourselves and the Vast and the heavens,

Life and all between and all beyond and the ages.

That which Space not knows nor Time, we have known, O my sister.

Therefore our souls are one soul and our minds become mirrors of oneness.

Go then and do my will, O thou mighty one, burning down Troya.”

Silent she rose from the seats of the Blissful, Hera majestic,

And with her flowing garment and mystical zone through the spaces

Haloed came like the moon on an evening of luminous silence

Down upon Ida descending, a snow-white swan on the greenness,

Down upon Ida the mystic haunted by footsteps immortal

Ever since out of the Ocean it rose and lived gazing towards heaven.

There on a peak of the mountains alone with the sea and the azure

Voiceless and mighty she paused333 like a thought on the summits of being

Clasped by all heaven; the winds at play in her gust-scattered raiment

Sported insulting her gracious strength with their turbulent sweetness,

Played with their mother and queen; but she stood absorbed and unheeding,

Mute, with her sandalled foot for a moment thrilling the grasses,

Dumbly adored by a soul in the mountains, a thought in the rivers,

Roared to loud by her lions. The voice of the cataracts falling

Entered her soul profound and it heard eternity’s rumour.

Silent its gaze immense contained the wheeling of aeons.

Huge-winged through Time flew her thought and its grandiose vast revolutions

Turned and returned. So musing her timeless creative spirit,

Master of Time its instrument, grieflessly hastening forward

Parted with greatnesses dead and summoned new strengths from their stables;

Maned they came to her call and filled with their pacings the future.

Calm, with the vision satisfied, thrilled by the grandeurs within her,

Down in a billow of whiteness and gold and delicate raiment

Gliding the daughter of Heaven came to the earth that received her

Glad of the tread divine and bright with her more than with sunbeams.

King Agamemnon she found and smiling on Sparta’s levies

Mixed unseen with the far-glinting spears of the haughty334 Mycenae.

Then to the Mighty who tranquil abode and august in his regions

Zeus, while his gaze over many forms and high-seated godheads

Passed like a swift-fleeing eagle over the peaks and the glaciers

When to his eyrie he flies alone through the vastness and silence:

“Artemis, child of my loins and you, O legioned immortals,

All you have heard. Descend, O ye gods, to your sovereign stations,

Labour rejoicing whose task is joy and your bliss is creation;

Shrink from no act that Necessity asks from your luminous natures.

Thee I have given no part in the years that come, O my daughter,

Huntress swift of the worlds who with purity all things pursuest.

Yet not less is thy portion intended than theirs who o’erpass thee:

Helped are the souls that wait more than strengths soon fulfilled and exhausted.

Archeress, brilliance, wait thine hour from the speed of the ages.”

So they departed, Artemis leading lightning-tasselled.

Ancient Themis remained and awful Dis and Ananke.

Then mid these last of the gods who shall stand when all others have perished,

Zeus to the Silence obscure under iron brows of that goddess,–

Griefless, unveiled was her visage, dire and unmoved and eternal:

“Thou and I, O Dis, remain and our sister Ananke.

That which the joyous hearts of our children, radiant heaven-moths

Flitting mid flowers of sense for the honey of thought, have not captured,

That which Poseidon forgets mid the pomp and the roar of his waters,

We three keep in our hearts. By the Light that I watch for unsleeping,

By thy tremendous consent to the silence and darkness, O Hades,

By her delight renounced and the prayers and the worship of mortals

Making herself as an engine of God without bowels or vision,–

Yet in that engine are only heart-beats, yet is her riddle

Only Love that is veiled and pity that suffers and slaughters,

We three are free from ourselves, O Dis, and free from each other.

Do then, O King of the Night, observe then with Time for thy servant

Not my behest, but What she and thou and I are for ever.”

Mute the Darkness sat like a soul unmoved through the aeons,

Then came a voice from the silence of Dis, from the night there came wisdom.

“Yes, I have chosen and that which I chose I endure, O Cronion,–

Though to the courts of the gods I come as a threat and a shadow,

Even though none to their counsels call me, none to their pastime,

None companions me willingly; even thy daughter, my consort,

Trembling whom once from our sister Demeter I plucked like a blossom335

Torn from Sicilian336 fields, while Fate reluctant, consenting,

Bowed her head, lives but by her gasps of the sun and the azure;

Stretched are her hands to the light and she seeks for the clasp of her mother.

I, I am Night and her reign and that of which Night is a symbol.

All to me comes, even thou shalt come to me, brilliant Cronion.

All here exists by me whom all walk fearing and shunning;

He who shuns not, He am I and thou and Ananke.

All things I take to my bosom that Life may be swift in her voyage;

For out of death is Life and not by birth and her motions

And behind Night is light and not in the sun and his splendours.

Troy to the Night I will gather a wreath for my shadows, O grower.”

So in his arrogance dire the vast invincible Death-god

Triumphing passed out of heaven with Themis and silent Ananke.

Zeus alone in the spheres of his bliss, in his kingdom337 of brilliance

Sat divine and alarmed; for even the gods in their heavens

Scarce shall live who have gazed on the unveiled face of Ananke,

Heard the accents dire of the Darkness that waits for the ages.

Awful and dull grew his eyes and mighty and still grew his members,

Back from his nature he drew to the passionless peaks of the spirit,

Throned where it dwells for ever uplifted and silent and changeless

Far beyond living and death, beyond Nature and ending of Nature.

There for a while he dwelt veiled, protected from Dis and his greatness;

Then to the works of the world he returned and the joy of his musings.

Life and the blaze of the mighty soul that he was of God’s making

Dawned again in the heavenly eyes and the majestied semblance.

Comforted heaven he beheld, to the green of the earth was attracted.

But through this Space unreal, but through these worlds that are shadows

Went the awful Three. None saw them pass, none felt them.

Only in the heavens was a tread as of death, in the air was a winter,

Earth oppressed moaned long like a woman striving with anguish.

Ida saw them not, but her grim lions cowered in their caverns,

Ceased for a while on her slopes the eternal laughter of fountains.

Over the ancient ramparts of Dardanus’ high-roofed city

Darkening her victor domes and her gardens of life and its sweetness

Silent they came. Unseen and unheard was the dreadful arrival.

Troy and her gods dreamed secure in the moment flattered by sunlight.

Dim to the citadel high they arrived and their silence invaded

Pallas’ marble shrine where stern and white in her beauty,

Armed on her pedestal, trampling the prostrate image of darkness

Mighty Athene’s statue guarded imperial Troya.

Dim and vast they entered in. Then through all the great city

Huge a rushing sound was heard from her gardens and places

And in their musings her seers as they strove with night and with error

And in the fane of Apollo Laocoon torn by his visions

Heard aghast the voice of Troy’s deities fleeing from Troya,

Saw the flaming lords of her households drive in a death-rout

Forth from her ancient halls and their noble familiar sessions.

Ghosts of her splendid centuries wailed on the wings of the doom-blast.

Moaning the Dryads fled and his338 Naiads passed from Scamander

Leaving the world to deities dumb of the clod and the earth-smoke,

And from their tombs and their shrines the shadowy Ancestors faded.

Filled was the air with their troops and the sound of a vast lamentation.

Wailing they went, lamenting mortality’s ages of greatness,

Ruthless Ananke’s deeds and the mortal conquests of Hades.

Then in the fane Palladian the shuddering priests of Athene

Entered the darkened shrine and saw on the suffering marble

Shattered Athene’s mighty statue prostrate as conquered,

But on its pedestal rose o’er the unhurt image of darkness

Awful shapes, a Trinity dim and dire unto mortals.

Dumb they fell down on the earth and the life-breath was slain in their bosoms

And in the noon there was night. And Apollo passed out of Troya.

Book Nine339


Meanwhile340 moved by their unseen spirits, led by the immortal

Phalanxes, who of our hopes and our fears are the reins and the drivers,–

Minds they use as if steam and our bodies like power-driven engines,

Leading our lives towards the goal that the gods have prepared for our striving,–

Men upon earth fulfilled their harsh ephemeral labour.

But in the Troad the armies clashed on the plain of the Xanthus.

Swift from their ships the Argives marched,– more swiftly through Xanthus

Driving their chariots the Trojans came and Penthesilea

Led and Anchises’ son and Deiphobus the Priamid hero.

Now ere the armies met, ere their spears were nearer, Apollo

Sent a thought for his bale to the heart of Zethus the Hellene.

He to Achilles’ car drew close and cried to the hero:

“Didst thou not promise a boon to me, son of Peleus and Thetis,

Then when I guarded thy life-breath in Memnon’s battle from Hades?

Therefore I claim the proudest of boons, one worthy a Hellene.

Here in the front I will fight against dangerous Penthesilea.

Thou on our left make war with the beauty and cunning of Paris.”

But from his heart dismayed Achilles made answer to Zethus:

“What hast thou said, O Zethus, betrayed by some Power that is hostile?

Art thou then hired by the gods for the bale and the slaughter of Hellas?”

Zethus answered him, “Alone art thou mighty, Achilles, in Phthia?

Tyrant art thou of this fight and keepst for thee all of its glory –

We are but wheels of thy chariot, reins of thy courser, Achilles.

What though dire be thy lust, yet here thou canst gather not glory,

Only thy shame and the Greeks’, if a girl must be matched with Achilles!”

“Zethus, evil thy word and from death are the wings of its folly.

Even a god might hesitate fronting the formidable virgin.

Many the shafts that, borne in her chariot, thirst for the blood-draught.

Pages ride in her car behind and hand to her swiftly

Death in the rapid spears and she hurls them and drives and she stays not.

Forty wind-footed men of the mountains race with her chariot

Shielded and armed and bring back the spears from their hearts whom she slaughters.

So like the lightning she moves incessantly flashing and slaying,

Not like men’s warring her fight who battle for glory and plunder.

Never she pauses to pluck back her point nor to strip off the armour.

Only to slay she cares and only the legions to shatter.

Come thou not near to her wheels; preserve thy life for thy father.

Pity Arithoa’s heart who shall wait in vain for her children.”

Wroth at Pelides’ scorn made answer Zethus the Hellene,

“Give me my boon I have chosen and thou fight far from my battle

Lest it be said that Achilles was near and therefore she perished.

Cycnus and I [...........................]341 will strike down the terror of Argos.”

Moved the mighty Achilles answered him, “Zethus and Cycnus,

Granted your will; I am bound by my truth, as are you now by Hades.”

So he spoke and cried to his steeds, who the wings of the southwind

Racing outvied to the left where from Xanthus galloping swiftly

Came in a mass the Ilian chariots loud towards the Hellenes.

Phoces was with him and Echemus drove and Drus and Thretaon,

They were like rays of the sun, but nighest him, close to his shadow

Ascanus, Phrinix’ son, who fought ever near to his war-car.

And from the Trojan battle gleaming in arms like the sungod

Paris beheld that dangerous spear and he cried to the heroes:

“See now where death on the Trojans comes in the speed of that war-car.

Warriors, fight not [......................................................] Achilles

But where you see him guiding his spear or turning his coursers,

Menace his days and shield the Trojan life that he threatens.

Fighting together hide with your spear-rain his head from the heavens.

Zeus perhaps shall, blinded, forget to cover the hero.”

So as he spoke, the armies neared and they clashed in the mellay.

Who first shed the blood [.........] that fell in that combat

Thick with the fall of the mighty, last of the battles of Troya?

Helenus first, King Priam’s son, smote down in that battle

Phoces, Amarus’ son, who fought in the front of Pelides.

He by the point twixt his brows surprised left the spear he had lifted;

Down he clanged from his car with his armour sounding upon him.

Echemus wroth let drive at Helenus, grieved for his comrade.

Him he missed but Ahites slew who was Helenus’ henchman.

Helenus wroth in his turn at Echemus aimed and his spear-point

Bit through the shield and quivering paused,– by Ananke arrested.

Back avoiding death the Hellene shrank from the forefront.

Nor had Achilles mingled yet his strength with the fighters.

But like a falconer on a hillock lone in his war-car

Shouting his dreadful cry in the pause ere the shock he had lingered

Wheeling slowly his gaze for the choice of a prey or a victim

For with his host was his heart [....................................] behind Zethus

Herding in shepherded [......................................................]

Ill at ease was his heart [....................................] or lying

Slain on the Trojan [..........................................] Ares.

Forward [.............................................] towards the Trojans

[.............................................................................................] helmet.

Helenus [..........................................] his shield from the death-blow.

But o’er his [..................................................................] Apollo extended.

And from the left and the right the heroes of Ilion gathered.

Dyus and Polites came and Eumachus threatened Achilles.

Paris’ fatal shafts sang joyously now from the bowstring.

Fast from the Hellene [..................................................................]

Ares’ iron [.................................................................................]

Neighing [........................................................................] of the war-cries.


Nor could the Trojan fighters break through the walls342 of their foemen,

Nor could the mighty Pelides slay in his war-rage the Trojans.

Ever he fought surrounded or drew back compelled to his legions;

For to each spear of his strength full twenty hissed round his helmet,

Cried343 on his shield, attempted his cuirass or leaped at his coursers

Or at Automedon ran like living things in their blood-thirst.

Galled the deathless steeds high-neighing pawed in their anger;

Wrathful Achilles wheeled and threatened seeking a victim.

So might a fire on the high-piled altar of sacrifice blazing

Seek for its tongues an offering fit for the gods, but ’tis answered

Only by spitting rain that a dense cloud sends out of heaven.

Sibilant hiss the drops on the glowing wood and the altar.

Chill a darkness o’erhangs and its brief and envious spirits

Rail at the glorious flame, desiring an end of its brilliance.

Meanwhile behind by the ranks of the fighters sheltered from Hades

Paris loosed his lethal shafts at the head of the Hellene.

Then upon Helenus wrath from the gods who are noble descended,

Seized on the tongue of the prophet and spoke out344 their thoughts in his accents,

Thoughts by men rejected who follow the beast in their reason,

Only advantage seek, and honour and pride are forgotten:

“Paris, not thus shalt thou slay Achilles but only thy glory.

Dost345 thou not346 heed that the women should mock in the streets of our city

Thee and thy bow and thy numbers, hearing the347 shame of the Trojans?

Dost thou not fear the gods and their harms? Not so do they combat

Who have the awe of their deeds and follow the way of the mighty.”

Paris the Priamid answered his brother: “Helenus, wherefore

Care should I have for fame, or the gods and their punishments, heeding

Breath of men when they praise or condemn me? Victory I ask for,

Joy for my living heart, not a dream and a breath for my ashes.

Work I desire and the wish of my heart and the fruit of my labour.

Nay, let my fame be crushed into mire for the ages to spit at,

But let my country live and her foes be slain on her beaches.”

So he spoke and fitted another shaft to the bow-string,

Aimed and loosed the death at the greatness that heaven protected348.

Always they fought and were locked in a fierce unyielding combat.

But on the Hellene right stood the brothers stark in their courage

Waiting the Eoan horse-hooves that checked at the difficult crossing

Late arrived through field and through pasture. Zethus exultant

Watched their advent stern and encouraged the legions behind him:

“Now is the hour of your highest fame, O ye sons of the Hellenes.

These are the iron squadrons, these are the world-famed fighters.

Here is a swifter than Memnon, here is a greater than Hector.

Who would fight with the war-wearied Trojans, the Lycian remnants,

When there are men in the world like these? O Phthians, we conquer

Asia’s best today. And you, O my brothers, with courage

Reap all the good I have won for our lives this morn from Achilles.

Glad let our fame go before us to our mother Arithoa waiting

Lonely in Phthia, desiring death or the eyes of her children.

Soon will our sails pursue their herald Fame, with our glory

Bellying out and the winds. They shall bear o’er the murmurs of Ocean

Heaped up Ilion’s wealth and the golden bricks of King Priam

And for the halls of our fathers a famous and noble adornment

Bear349 the beautiful head of the virgin Penthesilea.”

So he cried and the Hellenes shouted, a savage rumour,

Proud of their victories past and incredulous grown of disaster.

Now from the Xanthus dripping-wheeled came the Eoan war-cars

Rolling thunder-voiced with the tramp of the runners behind them,

Dust like a flag and dire with the battle-cry, full on the Hellenes.

They to the mid-plain arrived where the might of the Hellene brothers

Waited their onset.350 Zethus first with his cry of the cascade

Hurrying-footed headlong that leaps far down to the valley:

“Curb, but curb thy advance, O Amazon Penthesilea!

These are not Gnossus’ ranks and these are not levies from Sparta.

Hellas’ spears await thee here and the Myrmidon fighters.”

High like the north-wind racing and whistling over the ice-fields,

Death at its side and snow for its breath in the pitiless winter:351

“Who art thou biddest to pause the horse-hooves of Penthesilea,

Hellene, thou in thy strength who standest forth from thy shielders?

Turn yet, save thy life; for I deem that thou art not Achilles.”

“Zethus the Hellene I am and Cycnus and Pindus, my brothers,

Stand at my either side, and thou passest not352 farther, Bellona.

Lioness, turn thou back, for thou canst not here be a hunter.”

“Zethus and Cycnus and Pindus, little you loved then your mother,

Who in this field that is wide must needs all three perish together

Piled on one altar of death by the spear-shafts of Penthesilea.

Empty for ever your halls shall be, childless the age of your father.”

High she rose to the spear-cast, poised like a thunderbolt lifted,

Forward swung to the blow and loosed it hissing and ruthless

Straight at the Hellene shield, and it tore through the bronze and groaning

Butted and pushed through the cuirass and split the breast of the hero.

Round in his car he spun, then putting his hands out before him,

Even as a diver who leaps from the shed of the bath to the current,

Launched out so headlong, struggled, sideward collapsed, then was quiet,

Dead on Trojan earth. But dismay and grief on his brothers

Yet alive now seized, then rage came blinding the eyeballs.

Blindly they hurled, yet attained, for Athene guided the spear-shafts;

Death like a forest beast yet played with the might of the virgin.

One on her shield and one on her cuirass rang, but rejected

Fell back like reeds that are thrown at a boulder by boys on the sea-shore.

She unmoved replied; her shafts in their angry succession

Hardly endured delay between. Like trees the brothers,

Felled, to each side sank prone. So lifeless these strong ones of Hellas

Lay in353 their couch of the hostile soil reunited in slumber

As in their childhood they lay in Hellas watched by their mother,

Three of them side by side and she dreamed for her darlings their future.

But on the ranks of the Hellenes fear and amazement descended,–

Messengers they from Zeus to discourage the pride and the blood-lust.

Back many yards their foremost recoiled in a god-given terror,

As from a snake a traveller scorned for a bough by the wayside,

But it arises puffing its hood and hisses its hatred.

Forward the henchmen ran and plucked back the spears from the corpses;

Onward the Eoan thousands rolled o’er the ground that was conquered

Trampling the fallen men into earth with the wheels of their war-cars.

But in her speed like the sea or the storm-wind Penthesilea

Drove towards the ranks of the foe and her spear-shafts hastened before her,

Messengers whistling shrilly to death; she354 came like a wolf-hound

Called by his master’s voice and silently fell on the quarry.

Hyrtamus fell, Admetus was wounded, Charmidas slaughtered;

Cirrhes died, though he faced not the blow while he hastened to shelter.

Itylus, bright and beautiful, went down to night and to Hades.

Back, ever back the Hellenes recoiled from the shock of the Virgin,

Slain by her prowess fierce, alarmed by the might of her helpers.

For at her right Surabdas threatened and iron Surenas,

And at her left hill-shouldered Pharatus slaughtered the Hellenes.

Then in the ranks of the Greeks a shouting arose and the leaders

Cried to their hosts and recalled their unstained fame and their valour

Never so lightly conquered before in the trial355 of Ares,

And of Achilles they spoke and King Peleus waiting in Phthia,

Listening for Troy overthrown356 not his hosts overcome by a woman.

And from the right and the left came heroes mighty to succour.

Chiefs of the Dolopes Ar and Aglauron came mid the foremost,

Hillus fair as a drifting moon but fierce as the winter;

Pryas came the Thessalian and Sebes whom Pharsalus honoured,

Victors in countless fights who had stood against Memnon and Hector.

But though their hands were mighty, though fierce their obdurate natures,

Mightier strengths they met and a sterner brood of the war-god.

Light from the hand of the Virgin the spear ran laughing at Sebes,

Crashed through his helmet and left him supine on the pastures of Troya;

Ar to Surabdas fell and the blood-spirting head of Aglauron

Dropped like a fruit from a branch by its weight to the discus of Sambus;

Iron Surenas’ mace-head shattered the beauty of Hillus;

Pryas by Pharatus slain lay still and had rest from the war-cry.

Back, ever back reeled the Hellene host with the Virgin pursuing.

Storm-shod the Amazon fought and she slew like a god unresisted.

None now dared to confront her burning eyes; the boldest

Shuddered back from her spear and the cry of her tore at the357 heart-strings.

Fear, the daughter of Zeus, had gripped at the hearts of the Hellenes.

So as the358 heroes yielded before her, Penthesilea

Lifted with victory cried to her henchman, Aurus of Ellae,

Who had the foot of the wind and its breath that scants not for running:

“Hasten, hasten, Aurus; race to the right where unwarring

Valarus leads his host; bid him close with the strength of the Hellenes.

Soon will they scatter like chaff on the threshing-floor blown to the beaches.

But when he sees their flight by Sumalus shepherded seaward,

Swift let him turn like the wind in its paths and follow me, pouring

Down, a victorious flood,359 on the Myrmidon left and Achilles.

Then shall no Hellene again dare embark in ships for the Troad.

Cursed shall its beaches be to their sons and their sons and forever.”

So she spoke and Aurus ran by the chariot360 protected.

Then had all Hellas perished indeed on the beaches of Troas,

But from the Argive’s361 right where she battled Pallas Athene

Saw and was wroth and she missioned her thought to Automedon speeding,

Splendid it came and found him out mid the hiss of the spear-shafts

Guiding, endangered, Achilles’ steeds in the thick of the battle.

Shaped like a woman clad in armour and fleeing from battle,

Helmed with the Hellene crest it knocked at the gate362 of his spirit,

Shaking his363 hero’s heart with the vision that came to his eyeballs;

Silent he stared aghast and turned his ear to the war-din.

“Dost thou not hear to our right, Achilles, these voices of Ares?

High is the sound of Eoan battle, a woman’s war-cry

Rings in my ears, but faint and sparse come the shouts of our nation.

Far behind is their call and nearer the ships and the beaches.”

Great Pelides heard and groaned in the caves of his spirit:

“It is the doom that I feared and the fatal madness of Zethus;

Slain are the men of my nations364 or routed by Penthesilea.

Drive, Automedon, drive, lest shame and defeat upon Hellas

Fasten their seal and her heroes flee from the strength of a woman.”

And to the steeds divine Automedon called and they hearkened,

Rose as if seeking their old accustomed paths in the heavens,

Then through the ranks that parted they galloped as gallops a365 dust-cloud

When the cyclone is abroad and the high trees snap by the wayside,

And from the press of the Hellenes into the plain of the Xanthus

Thundering, neighing came with the war-car borne like a dead leaf

Chased by the blast. Then Athene opened the eyes of Achilles,

Eyes that in all of us sleep, yet can see the near and the distant,

Eyes that the gods in their pity have sealed from the giant confusion,

Sealed from the bale and the grief. He saw like one high on a summit

Near him the Eoans holding the plain and out in the distance

Breaking the Hellene strengths. Like a dream in the night he regarded

High-crested Sumalus fight366, Somaranes swift in the onset,

Bull-shouldered Tauron’s blows and the hero Artavoruxes.

But in the centre fiercest the cry and the death and the fleeing.

There were his chieftains ever reforming vainly resistance,–

Even in defeat these were Hellenes and fit to be hosts of Achilles,–

But like a doom on them thundered the war-car of Penthesilea,

Pharatus smote and Surabdas and Sambus and iron Surenas,

Down the leaders fell and the armies reeled towards the Ocean.

Wroth he cried to his coursers and fiercely they heard and they hastened;

Swift like a wind o’er the grasses galloped the car of Achilles.

Echemus followed, Ascanus drove and Drus and Thretaon:

Phoces alone in the dust of the Troad lay there and moved not.

Yet brought not all of them help to their brothers oppressed in the combat;

For from the forefront forth on the knot of the swift-speeding war-cars

High an Eoan chariot came drawn fast by its coursers

Bearing a mighty chieftain, Valarus son of Supaures.

Fire-footed thundered past him the hooves of the heavenly coursers,

Nor to his challenging shout nor his spear the warlike Pelides

Answered at all, but made haste like a flood to the throng and the mellay.

But ’twixt367 the chariots behind and their leader the mighty Eoan

Drove his dark-maned steeds and stood like a cliff to their onset.

“Great is your haste, O ye Kings of the Greeks! Abide yet and converse.

Scatheless your leader has fled from me borne by the hooves of his coursers.

Ye, abide! For we meet from far lands on this soil of the Trojans.

All of us meet from afar, but not all shall return to their hearth-sides.

Valarus stays you, O Greeks, and this is the point of his greeting.”

So as he spoke he launched out his spear as a cloud hurls its storm-flash;

Nor from that fatal hand parted vainly the pitiless envoy,

But of its blood-thirst had right. Riven through and through with the death-stroke

Drus fell prone and tore with dying fingers the grasses.

Sobbing his soul fled out to the night and the chill and the silence.

They like leaves that are suddenly stayed by the fall of a wind-gust

Ceased from their headlong speed. And Echemus poising his spear-shaft:

“Sharp are thy greetings, chieftain Eoan. Message for message

Echemus son of Aëtes, one of the mighty in Hellas,

Thus returns. Let Ares judge ’twixt368 the Greek and the Eastern.”

Fast sped the spear but Valarus held forth his shield and rebutted,

Shouting, the deadly point that could pierce not his iron refusal.

“Echemus, shrill369 thy vaunt has reached me, but unfelt is thy spear-point.

Weak are men’s arms, it seems, in Hellas; a boy there Ares

Aims with reeds not spears at pastoral cheeses not iron.

Judge now my strength.” Two spears from him ran at the hearts of his foemen,

Crouching Thretaon heard the keen death over him whistle;

Ascanus hurt in the shoulder cried out and paused from his war-lust.

Echemus hurled now again and hurled with him stalwart Thretaon.

Strong Thretaon missed, but Echemus’ point at the helmet

Bit and fastened as fastens a hound on the ear of the wild boar

Wroth with the cry and the hunt, that gores the pack and his hunters.

Valarus frowning tugged at the heavy steel; yet his right hand

Smote at Echemus. Him he missed but valiant Thretaon

Sat back dead in his seat and the chariot wild with its coursers

Snorting and galloping bore his corpse o’er the plains to the Hellenes.

But while yet Valarus strove with the shaft, obscured and encumbered,

Ascanus sprang down swift from his car and armed with his sword-point

Clove the Eoan’s neck as the lightning springs at an oak-trunk

Seized in the stride of the storm and severs that might with its sharpness.

Slain the hero fell; his mighty limbs the spirit

Mightier released to the gods and it rose to the heavens of the noble.

Ascanus gathered the spear-shaft370; loud was his shout as exulting

Back he leaped to the car triumphant o’er death and its menace:

“Lie there, Valarus, King of the East, with imperial Troya.

Six rich feet of her soil she gives thee for couch of the nuptials.

Rest then! Talk not again on the way with the heroes of Hellas.”

So delivered they hastened glad to the ranks of their brothers.

After them rolled the Eoan war-cars, Arithon leading

Loud with the clamour of hooves and the far-rolling gust of the war-cry;

Wroth at their chieftain’s fall they moved to the help of their nation,

Now by the unearthly horses neared and the might of Achilles.

Then from the Hellenes who heard the noise and cry371 of their coming

Lifted eyes dismayed, but saw the familiar war-car,

Saw the heaven-born steeds and the helm unconquered in battle,

Cry was of other hopefulness. Loud as the outbursting thunder

Rises o’er lower sounds of the storm, o’er the din of the battle

Rose the Hellene shout and rose the name of Achilles.

[The rest of Book Nine is missing]


Later edition of this work: The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.- Set in 37 volumes.- Volume 2.- Collected Poems.- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2009.- 751 p.

1 though


2 facest her


3 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: with the Ocean


4 Haste


5 I have walked


6 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: For Polyxena’s


7 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: , the


8 be pressed


9 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: striking


10 downfall


11 Loving


12 admiring


13 for the doom to swerve


14 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: and she spurns


15 Here, as in some other lines, Ajax is spoken of as having been slain by Penthesilea. Elsewhere in the poem we come across a living Ajax. The discrepancy is explained by the fact that in the Trojan War there were two Ajaxes, the Great and the Small. The latter, called also the Locrian, figures as alive in Ilion.


16 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: one


17 resign


18 Frame in | Chase in | Equal with | Double with


19 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: waggons


20 and


21 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: the fierce


22 the Titan ransom be paid


23 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: musical


24 aloud


25 the


26 the


27 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: travel the


28 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: who


29 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: cunningly linking


30 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: war when


31 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: bodies


32 Nobly


33 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Peneus


34 Led


35 soul’s strong


36 Leading


37 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: swept


38 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: her


39 Cry


40 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Voice


41 This line and next two lines were absent in this edition and were taken from the edition of 2009 year


42 This line was absent in this edition and was taken from the edition of 2009 year


43 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: to my


44 I bring to you

2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: She shall leave with you


45 then


46 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: will


47 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: gold


48 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: accursèd


49 cherished


50 reign


51 Fast


52 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: your


53 gates as your victor


54 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: had


55 dwelt


56 greatest


57 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Dardanus


58 Brackets in the original


59 had


60 chiefs’


61 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: courser’s


62 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Chalcidice


63 This line is absent in the edition of 2009 year


64 If thou hadst kept faith with


65 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: dusk


66 recalling


67 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Just was the heart of their anger.


68 Hundred-eyed glared from the ships


Hundred-voiced glared from the ships


69 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: that


70 Vainly the gods who pity


71 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: breathe


72 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: passions


73 heavens


74 They still


75 Echoes

2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Deaf is


76 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: accepting their purpose


77 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Deem


78 Mutely


79 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: waiting


80 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: streets


81 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: on


82 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Troy


83 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: stone


84 (i) in the hour of his uplifting (ii) by the Fates (gods) (spears) overtaken


85 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Strong


86 Wretched | Miserable


87 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: me yet


88 hearts


89 gather


90 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: where


91 fought


92 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: not ever


93 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: shades


94 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: this


95 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Dardanans


96 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: with the pain


97 foam


98 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: O nations


99 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: and gods


100 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: as


101 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: foemen


102 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Thou wilt


103 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: exalt


104 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: at least


105 the


106 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: and from Fate


107 Paris the Priamid keeps what he seized from Time and Fate while


108 your


109 your


110 your


111 brooked their


112 way


113 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: those


114 ways | world ways


115 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: I have trampled the gift and the guest-rite,


116 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: and unsealed the gaze of the Furies,


117 prate


118 wroth

2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: down wroth


119 thing lies screened

2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: thing has screened itself


120 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: thickets


121 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: accursèd


122 desired


123 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: men


124 happy.


125 endure.


126 After this line come two verses which seem to have been rejected in the manuscript:

O let us give ourselves bound to the swallowing lust of the Ocean!

Surely ’twill bear up our sloth on its crests to a harbour of Triumph!


127 could hold not | were mastered


128 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Achilles, this


129 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Aught


130 mighty


131 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: pursuer


132 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: mighty


133 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: on


134 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: on


135 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: on


136 seeks out her foemen,


137 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: sayst


138 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: needst


139 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: compelled


140 Fight;


141 Then


142 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: ball


143 is trained


144 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: you


145 Spoke


146 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: in to


147 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: ageless


148 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: halls


149 Pressed


150 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: seated


151 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Lifted on high


152 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: soared up from


153 to


154 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: hands


155 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: this


156 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: whatsoever


157 Brackets in the original.


158 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: the high gods


159 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: fears


160 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: too perish


161 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: went and


162 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: and the house


163 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: accursèd


164 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: it is


165 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: O sister


166 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: my


167 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Sambus


168 Thought


169 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: might


170 drew


171 Cried with her voice like the call of heaven’s bugles waking the heroes,

   Blown by the lips of gold-haired Valkyries, Penthesilea:


172 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: standst


173 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: move


174 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Paris the


175 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: lay


176 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: this


177 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: and the mighty


178 darkness


179 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Thou


180 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Gaze


181 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: on a blood-red


182 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Adamas


183 fight


184 Arintheus


185 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: halted


186 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: war-cry and hymn


187 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: of the chariots


188 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: heart is still


189 , as they drove,


190 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: the


191 moat


192 chiefs


193 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: blood or to


194 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: of the mighty


195 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Noble


196 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Sang


197 In 2009 ed. instead the second part of this line and the next line: and he cried to the herald.


198 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: What were


199 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: once


200 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: awhile


201 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: far-striding fury


202 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: trumpets


203 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: cry to the vanquished


204 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: who fled


205 stoop low


206 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: the earth


207 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: far-speeding


208 nobles’.


209 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Wroth the


210 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: her


211 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: as a boy


212 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: with counsel


213 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: on


214 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Atrides


215 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: his


216 O Greeks in your tents,


217 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: urging


218 forced


219 garbed


220 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: the sacrifice


221 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: has laboured


222 Phthian


223 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2:

Then as from common hills great Pelion rises to heaven

So from the throng uprearing a brow that no crown could ennoble,


224 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Happy


225 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: thy


226 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: com’st


227 Ten lines alternative to six lines 4-9:

Wroth he rose with a reddened brow as reddens the forehead

Wide of the heavens with a glory of wrath on the eve of a (Alternative: some) tempest.

“Well is it, herald, that sacred thou comst with the aegis of heaven

Sheltering thy hoary brows; for thy age should not shield thee nor pardon.


Well is it, herald, that sacred thou comst and protected of heaven,

Bearing this stab to Achaia nor fearest insulting her princes.)

Shame to the ancient years and the Argive tongue that can utter

Words like these into Argive ears from the mouth of a Hellene.

Well is it too for the length of his days who sent thee, O envoy,

Voicing (Alternative: Voice of) his pride, the haughty (Alternative: insolent) chief of a barbarous nation,

One who imagines that sole upon earth he is brave and a fighter.

Well for his days that my strength is restrained by a voice that within me


228 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: this


229 eyes


230 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: of friends


231 lured by a


232 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: far-sighted


233 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: rein


234 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: in


235 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: them, where


236 of being?


237 This line was absent in this edition and was taken from the edition of 2009 year


238 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: on


239 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: gods, approve


240 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Sole


241 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: hill-tops


242 Oft


243 , O Greeks,


244 White and swift and foam-footed, vast Oceanus’ daughter!

In the edition of 2009 year this line is placed in main text before the line Gods we adore enough...


245 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: of his


246 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: a man


247 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: his


248 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: must marble


249 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: high-domed


250 Lessening | Stunting | Dwarfing


251 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: stand affronting


252 prompted


253 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Argive


254 sown


255 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: then rally


256 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: triumphs


257 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: throng


258 on


259 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: goads


260 hews


261 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: This she shall


262 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Tydeus’


263 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: from


264 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: with tribute


265 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: line, at


266 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: of


267 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: nations


268 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: fierce-locked


269 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: good our


270 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Not


271 souls are born


272 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Dusk


273 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: the


274 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: god


275 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: his


276 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Not


277 Chieftains


278 champions


279 lofty


280 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: lifted too high


281 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: for


282 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: strewn


283 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: dreadful world-slaying


284 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: nor


285 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: their


286 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: his nethermost


287 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: death-blast


288 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: over


289 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: laughter calling


290 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: loved


291 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Bringest


292 man rejects them.


293 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Tiryns’


294 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: layedst


295 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: and have played


296 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: sorely


297 it was


298 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: and the neigh


299 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Acamas


300 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: in blood


301 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: o’er


302 The original which seems scratched out in favour of “grew near” was “were drawn”.


303 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: the


304 In 2009 ed. this line is placed before the words How shall they win in their earth...


305 “Silence” was cancelled in the MS. but remained unsubstituted.


306 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: mouth like a


307 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: their bodies,


308 There is some uncertainty about this word in relation to the next line which now begins with “Sung” but originally did so with “Out”. Originally, “sprang” stood instead of “sang” in the first line.


309 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Sang


310 Its


311 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: rapture


312 Its


313 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Equals


314 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: thronging


315 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: statued


316 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: and would perish


317 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: their


318 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: in


319 the master.


320 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: I will


321 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: white


322 Alternatives to this line and the preceding:

Thrilled with her feet was the bosom of Space, for her amorous motion

Floated a flower on the wave of her bliss or swayed like the lightning.

In the edition of 2009 year these two lines are placed in main text after the line Mad round her touches...


323 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: on


324 on


325 mind


326 Originally the word here was: sounded.


327 shadow


328 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: force


329 straight


330 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: two


331 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: ascendant


332 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: I was


333 stood


334 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: of haughty


335 flower


336 Enna’s


337 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: kingdoms


338 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: her


339 No title for this book in the MS.


340 The text from this line till mark *** was absent in this edition and was taken from the edition of 2009 year


341 Here and below some words have been lost as a result of damage to the manuscript. – Ed. (Note from 2009 ed.)


342 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: wall


343 Rang


344 fashioned | framed


345 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Hast


346 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: no


347 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: this


348 This line is absent in the edition of 2009 year


349 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Severed


350 coming.


351 Alternative to this line and the preceding:

But like the northwind high and clear answered Penthesilea

In the edition of 2009 year this line is placed in the main text before the line High like the north-wind...


352 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: no


353 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: on


354 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: he


355 onsets


356 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: o’erthrown


357 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: their


358 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: their


359 All in a victor flood,


360 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: chariots


361 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Argives’


362 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: gates


363 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: the


364 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: nation


365 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: the


366 war,


367 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: twixt


368 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: twixt


369 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: surely


370 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: spear-shafts


371 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: and the cry