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How skill'd he was in each obliging art;
The mildest manners, and the gentlest heart :
He was, alas! but fate decreed his end,
In death a hero, as in life a friend !”
So parts the chief; from rank to rank he flew,
And round on all sides sent his piercing view.
As the bold bird, endued with sharpest eye
Of all that wings the mid aërial sky,
The sacred eagle, from his walks above
Looks down, and sees the distant thicket move ;
Then stoops, and sousing on the quivering hare,
Snatches his life amid the clouds of air.
Not with less quickness, his exerted sight
Pass'd this and that way, through the ranks of fight :
Till on the left the chief he sought, he found,
Cheering his men, and spreading deaths around:
To him the king: “Beloved of Jove! draw near, For sadder tidings never touch'd thy ear; Thy eyes have witness'd what a fatál turn! How Ilion triumphs, and the Achaians mourn. This is not all : Patroclus, on the shore Now pale and dead, shall succor Greece no more. Fly to the fleet, this instant fly, and tell The sad Achilles, how his loved-one fell : He too may haste the naked corse to gain : The arms are Hector's, who despoil'd the slain.”
The youthful warrior heard with silent woe, From his fair eyes the tears began to flow : Big with the mighty grief, he strove to say What sorrow dictates, but no word found way. To brave Laodocus his arms he flung, Who, near him wheeling, drove his steeds along; Then ran the mournful message to impart, With tearful eyes, and with dejected heart.
Swift fled the youth : nor Menelaus stands (Though sore distress'd) to aid the Pylian bands; But bids bold Thrasymede those troops sustain; Himself returns to his Patroclus slain. “Gone is Antilochus (the hero said); But hope not, warriors, for Achilles' aid : Though fierce his rage, unbounded be his woe, Unarmd, he fights not with the Trojan foe. 'Tis in our hands alone our hopes remain, 'Tis our own vigor must the dead regain, And save ourselves, while with impetuous hate Troy pours along, and this way rolls our fate."
66'Tis well (said Ajax), be it then thy care,
With Merion's aid, the weighty corse to rear;
Myself, and my bold brother will sustain
The shock of Hector and his charging train :
Nor fear we armies, fighting side by side ;
What Troy can dare, we have already tried,
Have tried it, and have stood.” The hero said.
High from the ground the warriors heave the dead.
A general clamor rises at the sight:
Loud shout the Trojans, and renew the fight.
Not fiercer rush along the gloomy wood,
With rage insatiate, and with thirst of blood,
Voracious hounds, that many a length before
Their furious hunters, drive the wounded boar;
But if the savage turns his glaring eye,
They howl aloof, and round the forest fly.
Thus on retreating Greece the Trojans pour,
Wave their thick falchions, and their javelins shower :
But Ajax turning, to their fears they yield,
All pale they tremble and forsake the field.
While thus aloft the hero's corse they bear,
Behind them rages all the storm of war :
Confusion, tumult, horror, o'er the throng
Of men, steeds, chariots, urged the rout along:
Less fierce the winds with rising flames conspire
To whelm some city under waves of fire ;
Now sink in gloomy clouds the proud abodes,
Now crack the blazing temples of the gods ;
The rumbling torrent through the ruin
And sheets of smoke mount heavy to the poles.
The heroes sweat beneath their honor'd load:
As when two mules, along the rugged road,
From the steep mountain
with exerted strength Drag some vast beam, or mast's unwieldy length; Inly they groan, big drops of sweat distil, The enormous timber lumbering down the hill: So these-Behind, the bulk of Ajax stands, And breaks the torrent of the rushing bands. Thus when a river swell'd with sudden rains Spreads his broad waters o'er the level plains, Some interposing hill the stream divides, And breaks its force, and turns the winding tides. Still close they follow, close the rear engage; Æneas storms, and Hector foams with rage : While Greece a heavy, thick retreat maintains, Wedged in one body, like a flight of cranes, That shriek incessant, while the falcon, hung High on poised pinions, threats their callow young.
So from the Trojan chiefs the Grecians fly,
Such the wild terror, and the mingled cry:
Within, without the trench, and all the way,
Strow'd in bright heaps, their arms and armor lay ;
Such horror Jove impress'd! yet still proceeds
The work of death, and still the battle bleeds.
THE GRIEF OF ACHILLES, AND NEW ARMOR MADE HIM BY VULCAN.
The news of the death of Patroclus is brought to Achilles by Antilochus. Thetis, hearing his lamentations, comes with all her sea-nymphs to comfort him. The speeches of the mother and son on this occasion. Íris appears to Achilles by the command of Juno, and orders liim to show himself at the head of the intrenchments. The sight of him turns the fortunes of the day, and the body of Patrocius is carried off by the Greeks. The Trojans call a council, where Hector and Polydamas disagree in their opinions : but the advice of the former prevails, to remain encamped in the field. The grief of Achilles over the body of Patroclus.
Thetis goes to the palace of Vulcan to obtain new arms for her son. The description of the wonderful works of Vulcan : and, lastly, that noble one of the shield of Achilles.
The latter part of the nine-and-twentieth day, and the night ensuing, take up this book ; the scene is at Achilles' tent on the sea-shore, from whence it changes to the palace of Vulcan.
Thus like the rage of fire the combat burns,*
And now it rises, now it sinks by turns.
Meanwhile, where Hellespont's broad waters flow,
Stood Nestor's son, the messenger of woe :
There sat Achilles, shaded by his sails,
On hoisted yards extended to the gales ;
Pensive he sat ; for all that fate design'd
Rose in sad prospect to his boding mind.
Thus to his soul he said : “ Ah ! what constrains
The Greeks, late victors, now to quit the plains ?
Is this the day, which heaven so long ago
Ordain'd, to sink me with the weight of woe ?
(So Thetis warn'd ;) when by a Trojan hand
The bravest of the Myrmidonian band
Should lose the light ! Fulfilled is that decree ;
Fallen is the warrior, and Patroclus he !
In vain I charged him soon to quit the plain,
And warn'd to shun Hectorean force in vain !”
Thus while he thinks, Antilochus appears, And tells the melancholy tale with tears. * This is connected with the earlier part of last book, the regular narrative heing interrupted by the message of Antiochus and the lamentatiors of Achilles.
“ Sad tidings, son of Peleus ! thou must hear ;
And wretched I, the unwilling messenger!
Dead is Patroclus ! For his corse they fight;
His naked corse : his arms are Hector's right.”
A sudden horror shot through all the chief,
And wrapp'd his senses in the cloud of grief ;
Cast on the ground, with furious hands he spread
The scorching ashes o'er his graceful head ;
His purple garments, and his golden hairs,
Those he deforms with dust, and these he tears ;
On the hard soil his groaning breast he threw,
And roll’d and grovell’d, as to earth he grew.
The virgin captives, with disorder'd charms
(Won by his own, or by Patroclus' arms),
Rush'd 'from their tents with cries; and gathering round,
Beat their white breasts, and fainted on the ground :
While Nestor's son sustains a manlier part,
And mourns the warrior with a warrior's heart;
Hangs on his arms, amidst his frantic woe,
And oft prevents the meditated blow.
Far in the deep abysses of the main,
With hoary Nereus, and the watery train, *
The mother-goddess from her crystal throne
Heard his loud cries, and answer'd groan for groan
The circling Nereids with their mistress weep,
And all the sea-green sisters of the deep.
Thalia, Glaucè (every watery name),
Nesæa mild, and silver Spio came :
Cymothoë and Cymodocè were nigh,
And the blue languish of soft Alia's eye.
Their locks Actæa and Limnoria rear,
Then Proto, Doris, Panopè appear,
Thoä, Pherusa, Doto, Melita ;
Agavè gentle, and Amphithoë gay :
Next Callianira, Callianassa show
Their sister looks ; Dexamenè the slow,
And swift Dynamenè, now cut the tides:
læra now the verdant wave divides :
Nemertes with Apseudes lifts the head,
Bright Galatea quits her pearly bed ;
These Orythia, Clymenè, attend,
Mæra, Amphinome, the train extend;
And black Janira, and Janassa fair,
And Amatheïa with her amber hair.
All these, and all that deep in ocean held
Far in the deep. So Oceanus hears the lamentations of Prometheus, in the play of Æschylus, and comes from the depths of the sea to comfort him.