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To mark the fortunes of the doubtful day.
Troy fled, she heard, before the Grecian sword;
She heard, and trembled for her absent lord :
Distracted with surprise, she seem'd to fly,
Fear on her cheek, and sorrow in her eye.
The nurse attended with her infant boy,
The young Astyanax, the hope of Troy.”
Héctor this heard, return’d without delay ;
Swift through the town he trod his former way,
Through streets of palaces, and walks of state;
And met the mourner at the Scæan gate.
With haste to meei him sprung the joyful fair.
His blameless wife, Aëtion's wealthy heir
(Cilician Thebè great Aëtion sway'd,
And Hippoplacus' wide extended shade):
The nurse stood near, in whose embraces press'd,
His only hope hung smiling at her breast,
Whom each soft charm and early grace adorn,
Fair as the new-born star that glides the morn.
To this loved infant Hector gave the name
Scamandrius, from Scamander's honor'd stream
Astyanax the Trojans call’d the boy,
From his great father, the defence of Troy.
Silent the warrior smiled, and pleased resign'd
To tender passions all his mighty mind;
His beauteous princess cast a mournful look,
Hung on his hand, and then dejected spoke;
Her bosom labor'd with a boding sigh,
And the big tear stood trembling in her eye.
“ Too daring prince ! ah, whither dost thou run ? Ah, too forgetful of thy wife and son ! And think'st thou not how wretched we shall be A widow I, a helpless orphan he ? For sure such courage length of life denies, And thou must fall, thy virtue's sacrifice. Greece in her single heroes strove in vain ; Now hosts oppose thee, and thou must be slain. O grant me, gods, ere Hector meets his doom, All I can ask of heaven, an early tomb ! So shall my days in one sad tenor run, And end with sorrows as they first begun. No parent now remains my griefs to share, No father's aid, no mother's tender care. The fierce Achilles wrapt our walls in fire, Laid Thebè waste, and slew my warlike sire ! His fate compassion in the victor bred ; Stern as he was, he yet revered the dead,
His radiant arms preserved from hostile spoil,
And laid him decent on the funeral pile ;
Then raised a mountain where his bones were burn'd
The mountain-nymphs the rural tomb adorn'd,
Jove's sylvan daughters bade their elms bestow
A barren shade, and in his honor grow.
By the same arm my seven brave brothers fell;
In one sad day beheld the gates of hell;
While the fat herds and snowy flocks they fed,
Amid their fields the hapless heroes bled!
My mother lived to wear the victor's bands,
The queen of Hippoplacia's sylvan lands:
Redeem'd too late, she scarce beheld again
Her pleasing empire and her native plain,
When ah! oppress'd by life-consuming woe,
She fell a victim to Diana's bow.
“Yet while my Hector still survives, I see
My father, mother, brethren, all, in thee:
Alas ! my parents, brothers, kindred, all
Once more will perish, if my Hector fall,
Thy wife, thy infant, in thy danger share:
Oh, prove a husband's and a father's care !
That quarter most the skilful Greeks annoy,
wild fig-trees join the wall of Troy ;
Thou, from this tower defend the important post;
There Agamemnon points his dreadful host,
That pass Tydides, Ajax, strive to gain,
And there the vengeful Spartan fires his train.
'Thrice our bold foes the fierce attack have given
Or led by hopes, or dictated from heaven.
Let others in the field their arms employ,
But stay my Hector here, and guard his Troy.”
The chief replied : “ That post shall be my care,
Not that alone, but all the works of war.
How would the sons of Troy, in arms renown’d,
And Troy's proud dames, whose garments sweep the ground
Attaint the lustre of my former name,
Should Hector basely quit the field of fame ?
My early youth was bred to martial pains,
My soul impels me to the embattled plains !
Let me be foremost to defend the throne,
And guard my father's glories, and my own.
“Yet come it will, the day decreed by fates ! (How my heart trembles while my tongue relates !) The day when thou, imperial Troy! must bend, And see thy warriors fall, thy glories end. And yet no dire presage so wounds my mind,
My mother's death, the ruin of my kind
Not Priam's hoary hairs defiled with gore,
Not all my brothers gasping on the shore;
As thine, Andromache! Thy griefs I dread:
I see thce trembling, weeping, captive led !
In Argive looms our battles to design,
And woes, of which so large a part was thine !
To bear the victor's hard commands, or bring
The weight of waters from Hyperia's spring,
There while you groan beneath the load of life,
They cry, 'Behold the mighty Hector's wife !!
Some haughty Greek, who lives thy tears to see,
Imbitters all thy woes, by naming me.
The thoughts of glory past, and present shame,
A thousand griefs shall waken at the name !
May I lie cold before that dreadful day,
Press'd with load of monumental clay!
Thy Hector, wrapt in everlasting sleep,
Shall neither hear thee sigh, nor see thee weep.”
Thus having spoke, the illustrious chief of Troy
Stretch'd his fond arms to clasp the lovely boy.
The babe clung crying to his nurse's breast,
Scared at the dazzling helm, and nodding crest.
With secret pleasure each fond parent smiled,
And Hector hasted to relieve his child,
The glittering terrors from his brows unbound,
And placed the beaming helmet on the ground;
Then kiss'd the child, and, lifting high in air,
Thus to the gods preferr'd a father's prayer:
“O thou! whose glory fills the ethereal throne, And all ye deathless powers ! protect my son ! Grant him, like me, to purchase just renown, To guard the Trojans, to defend the crown, Against his country's foes the war to wage, And rise the Hector of the future age ! So when triumphant from successful toils Of heroes slain he bears the reeking spoils, Whole hosts may hail him with deserved accclaim, And say, 'This chief transcends his father's fame :' While pleased amidst the general shouts of Troy, His mother's conscious heart o'erflows with joy.”
He spoke, and fondly gazing on her charms, Restored the pleasing burden to her arms; Soft on her fragrant breast the babe she laid, Hush'd to repose, and with a smile survey'd. The troubled pleasure soon chastised by fear, She mingled with a smile a tender tear.
The soften'd chief with kind compassion view'd,
And dried the falling drops, and thus pursued:
“ Andromache ! my soul's far better part,
Why with untimely sorrows heaves thy heart?
No hostile hand can antedate my doom,
Till fate condemns me to the silent tomb.
Fixed is the term to all the race of earth ;
And such the hard condition of our birth :
No force can then resist, no flight can save,
All sink alike, the fearful and the brave.
No more—but hasten to thy tasks at home
There guide the spindle, and direct the loom:
Me glory summons to the martial scene,
The field of combat is the sphere for men.
Where horoes war, the foremost place I claim,
The first in danger as the first in fame."
Thus having said, the glorious chief resumes
His towery helmet, black with shading plumes.
His princess parts with a prophetic sigh,
Unwilling parts, and oft reverts her eye
That stream’d at every look; then, moving slow,
Sought her own palace, and indulged her woe.
There, while her tears deplored the godlike man,
Through all her train the soft infection ran;
The pious maids their mingled sorrows shed,
And mourn the living Hector, as the dead.
But now, no longer deaf to honor's call,
Forth issues Paris
from the palace wall. In brazen arms that cast a gleamy ray, Swift through the town the warrior bends his way. The wanton courser thus with reins unbound * Breaks from his stall, and beats the trembling ground; Pamper'd and proud, he seeks the wonted tides, And laves, in height of blood his shining sides; His head now freed, he tosses to the skies; His mane dishevellid o'er his shoulders flies; He snuffs the females in the distant plain, And springs, exulting, to his fields again. With equal triumph, sprightly, bold, and gay, In arms refulgent as the god of day, The son of Priam, glorying in his might, Rush'd forth with Hector to the fields of fight.
And now, the warriors passing on the way, The graceful Paris first excused his stay. To whom the noble Hector thus replied : “O chief! in blood, and now in arms, allied ! Thy power in war with justice none contest; Known is thy courage, and thy strength confess'd. What pity sloth should seize a soul so brave, Or godlike Paris live a woman's slave ! My heart weeps blood at what the Trojans say, And hopes thy deeds shall wipe the stain away. Haste then, in all their glorious labors share, For much they suffer, for thy sake, in war. These ills shall cease, whene'er by Jove's decree We crown the bowl to heaven and liberty: While the proud foe his frustrate triumphs mourns, And Greece indignant through her seas returns.”