The Fall of Troy
How Memnon, Son of the Dawn, for Troy's sake fell in the
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #18b
When o'er the crests of the far-echoing hills The splendour of the tireless-racing sun Poured o'er the land, still in their tents rejoiced Achaea's stalwart sons, and still acclaimed Achilles the resistless. But in Troy Still mourned her people, still from all her towers Seaward they strained their gaze; for one great fear Gripped all their hearts -- to see that terrible man At one bound overleap their high-built wall, 10 Then smite with the sword all people therewithin, And burn with fire fanes, palaces, and homes. And old Thymoetes spake to the anguished ones: "Friends, I have lost hope: mine heart seeth not Or help, or bulwark from the storm of war, Now that the aweless Hector, who was once Troy's mighty champion, is in dust laid low. Not all his might availed to escape the Fates, But overborne he was by Achilles' hands, The hands that would, I verily deem, bear down 20 A God, if he defied him to the fight, Even as he overthrew this warrior-queen Penthesileia battle-revelling, From whom all other Argives shrank in fear. Ah, she was marvellous! When at the first I looked on her, meseemed a Blessed One From heaven had come down hitherward to bring Light to our darkness -- ah, vain hope, vain dream! Go to, let us take counsel, what to do Were best for us. Or shall we still maintain 30 A hopeless fight against these ruthless foes, Or shall we straightway flee a city doomed? Ay, doomed! -- for never more may we withstand Argives in fighting field, when in the front Of battle pitiless Achilles storms." Then spake Laomedon's son, the ancient king: "Nay, friend, and all ye other sons of Troy, And ye our strong war-helpers, flinch we not Faint-hearted from defence of fatherland! Yet let us go not forth the city-gates 40 To battle with yon foe. Nay, from our towers And from our ramparts let us make defence, Till our new champion come, the stormy heart Of Memnon. Lo, he cometh, leading on Hosts numberless, Aethiopia's swarthy sons. By this, I trow, he is nigh unto our gates; For long ago, in sore distress of soul, I sent him urgent summons. Yea, and he Promised me, gladly promised me, to come To Troy, and make all end of all our woes. 50 And now, I trust, he is nigh. Let us endure A little longer then; for better far It is like brave men in the fight to die Than flee, and live in shame mid alien fo1k." So spake the old king; but Polydamas, The prudent-hearted, thought not good to war Thus endlessly, and spake his patriot rede: "If Memnon have beyond all shadow of doubt Pledged him to thrust dire ruin far from us, Then do I gainsay not that we await 60 The coming of that godlike man within Our walls -- yet, ah, mine heart misgives me, lest, Though he with all his warriors come, he come But to his death, and unto thousands more, Our people, nought but misery come thereof; For terribly against us leaps the storm Of the Achaeans' might. But now, go to, Let us not flee afar from this our Troy To wander to some alien land, and there, In the exile's pitiful helplessness, endure 70 All flouts and outrage; nor in our own land Abide we till the storm of Argive war O'erwhelm us. Nay, even now, late though it be, Better it were for us to render back Unto the Danaans Helen and her wealth, Even all that glory of women brought with her From Sparta, and add other treasure -- yea, Repay it twofold, so to save our Troy And our own souls, while yet the spoiler's hand Is laid not on our substance, and while yet 80 Troy hath not sunk in gulfs of ravening flame. I pray you, take to heart my counsel! None Shall, well I wot, be given to Trojan men Better than this. Ah, would that long ago Hector had hearkened to my pleading, when I fain had kept him in the ancient home!" So spake Polydamas the noble and strong, And all the listening Trojans in their hearts Approved; yet none dared utter openly The word, for all with trembling held in awe 90 Their prince and Helen, though for her sole sake Daily they died. But on that noble man Turned Paris, and reviled him to his face: "Thou dastard battle-blencher Polydamas! Not in thy craven bosom beats a heart That bides the fight, but only fear and panic. Yet dost thou vaunt thee -- quotha! -- still our best In counsel! -- no man's soul is base as thine! Go to, thyself shrink shivering from the strife! Cower, coward, in thine halls! But all the rest, 100 We men, will still go armour-girt, until We wrest from this our truceless war a peace That shall not shame us! 'Tis with travail and toil Of strenuous war that brave men win renown; But flight? -- weak women choose it, and young babes! Thy spirit is like to theirs. No whit I trust Thee in the day of battle -- thee, the man Who maketh faint the hearts of all the host!" So fiercely he reviled: Polydamas Wrathfully answered; for he shrank not, he, 110 From answering to his face. A caitiff hound, A reptile fool, is he who fawns on men Before their faces, while his heart is black With malice, and, when they be gone, his tongue Backbites them. Openly Polydamas Flung back upon the prince his taunt and scoff: "O thou of living men most mischievous! Thy valour -- quotha! -- brings us misery! Thine heart endures, and will endure, that strife Should have no limit, save in utter ruin 120 Of fatherland and people for thy sake! Ne'er may such wantwit valour craze my soul! Be mine to cherish wise discretion aye, A warder that shall keep mine house in peace." Indignantly he spake, and Paris found No word to answer him, for conscience woke Remembrance of all woes he had brought on Troy, And should bring; for his passion-fevered heart Would rather hail quick death than severance From Helen the divinely fair, although 130 For her sake was it that the sons of Troy Even then were gazing from their towers to see The Argives and Achilles drawing nigh. But no long time thereafter came to them Memnon the warrior-king, and brought with him A countless host of swarthy Aethiops. From all the streets of Troy the Trojans flocked Glad-eyed to gaze on him, as seafarers, With ruining tempest utterly forspent, See through wide-parting clouds the radiance 140 Of the eternal-wheeling Northern Wain; So joyed the Troyfolk as they thronged around, And more than all Laomedon's son, for now Leapt in his heart a hope, that yet the ships Might by those Aethiop men be burned with fire; So giantlike their king was, and themselves So huge a host, and so athirst for fight. Therefore with all observance welcomed he The strong son of the Lady of the Dawn With goodly gifts and with abundant cheer. 150 So at the banquet King and Hero sat And talked, this telling of the Danaan chiefs, And all the woes himself had suffered, that Telling of that strange immortality By the Dawn-goddess given to his sire, Telling of the unending flow and ebb Of the Sea-mother, of the sacred flood Of Ocean fathomless-rolling, of the bounds Of Earth that wearieth never of her travail, Of where the Sun-steeds leap from orient waves, 160 Telling withal of all his wayfaring From Ocean's verge to Priam's wall, and spurs Of Ida. Yea, he told how his strong hands Smote the great army of the Solymi Who barred his way, whose deed presumptuous brought Upon their own heads crushing ruin and woe. So told he all that marvellous tale, and told Of countless tribes and nations seen of him. And Priam heard, and ever glowed his heart Within him; and the old lips answering spake: 170 "Memnon, the Gods are good, who have vouchsafed To me to look upon thine host, and thee Here in mine halls. O that their grace would so Crown this their boon, that I might see my foes All thrust to one destruction by thy spears. That well may be, for marvellous-like art thou To some invincible Deathless One, yea, more Than any earthly hero. Wherefore thou, I trust, shalt hurl wild havoc through their host. But now, I pray thee, for this day do thou 180 Cheer at my feast thine heart, and with the morn Shalt thou go forth to battle worthy of thee." Then in his hands a chalice deep and wide He raised, and Memnon in all love he pledged In that huge golden cup, a gift of Gods; For this the cunning God-smith brought to Zeus, His masterpiece, what time the Mighty in Power To Hephaestus gave for bride the Cyprian Queen; And Zeus on Dardanus his godlike son Bestowed it, he on Erichthonius; 190 Erichthonius to Tros the great of heart Gave it, and he with all his treasure-store Bequeathed it unto Ilus, and he gave That wonder to Laomedon, and he To Priam, who had thought to leave the same To his own son. Fate ordered otherwise. And Memnon clasped his hands about that cup So peerless-beautiful, and all his heart Marvelled; and thus he spake unto the King: "Beseems not with great swelling words to vaunt 200 Amidst the feast, and lavish promises, But rather quietly to eat in hall, And to devise deeds worthy. Whether I Be brave and strong, or whether I be not, Battle, wherein a man's true might is seen, Shall prove to thee. Now would I rest, nor drink The long night through. The battle-eager spirit By measureless wine and lack of sleep is dulled." Marvelled at him the old King, and he said: "As seems thee good touching the banquet, do 210 After thy pleasure. I, when thou art loth, Will not constrain thee. Yea, unmeet it is To hold back him who fain would leave the board, Or hurry from one's halls who fain would stay. So is the good old law with all true men." Then rose that champion from the board, and passed Thence to his sleep -- his last! And with him went All others from the banquet to their rest: And gentle sleep slid down upon them soon. But in the halls of Zeus, the Lightning-lord, 220 Feasted the gods the while, and Cronos' son, All-father, of his deep foreknowledge spake Amidst them of the issue of the strife: "Be it known unto you all, to-morn shall bring By yonder war affliction swift and sore; For many mighty horses shall ye see In either host beside their chariots slain, And many heroes perishing. Therefore ye Remember these my words, howe'er ye grieve For dear ones. Let none clasp my knees in prayer, 230 Since even to us relentless are the fates." So warned he them, which knew before, that all Should from the battle stand aside, howe'er Heart-wrung; that none, petitioning for a son Or dear one, should to Olympus vainly come. So, at that warning of the Thunderer, The Son of Cronos, all they steeled their hearts To bear, and spake no word against their king; For in exceeding awe they stood of him. Yet to their several mansions and their rest 240 With sore hearts went they. O'er their deathless eyes The blessing-bringer Sleep his light veils spread. When o'er precipitous crests of mountain-walls Leapt up broad heaven the bright morning-star Who rouseth to their toils from slumber sweet The binders of the sheaf, then his last sleep Unclasped the warrior-son of her who brings Light to the world, the Child of Mists of Night. Now swelled his mighty heart with eagerness To battle with the foe forthright. And Dawn 250 With most reluctant feet began to climb Heaven's broad highway. Then did the Trojans gird Their battle-harness on; then armed themselves The Aethiop men, and all the mingled tribes Of those war-helpers that from many lands To Priam's aid were gathered. Forth the gates Swiftly they rushed, like darkly lowering clouds Which Cronos' Son, when storm is rolling up, Herdeth together through the welkin wide. Swiftly the whole plain filled. Onward they streamed 260 Like harvest-ravaging locusts drifting on In fashion of heavy-brooding rain-clouds o'er Wide plains of earth, an irresistible host Bringing wan famine on the sons of men; So in their might and multitude they went. The city streets were all too strait for them Marching: upsoared the dust from underfoot. From far the Argives gazed, and marvelling saw Their onrush, but with speed arrayed their limbs In brass, and in the might of Peleus' son 270 Put their glad trust. Amidst them rode he on Like to a giant Titan, glorying In steeds and chariot, while his armour flashed Splendour around in sudden lightning-gleams. It was as when the sun from utmost bounds Of earth-encompassing ocean comes, and brings Light to the world, and flings his splendour wide Through heaven, and earth and air laugh all around. So glorious, mid the Argives Peleus' son Rode onward. Mid the Trojans rode the while 280 Memnon the hero, even such to see As Ares furious-hearted. Onward swept The eager host arrayed about their lord. Then in the grapple of war on either side Closed the long lines, Trojan and Danaan; But chief in prowess still the Aethiops were. Crashed they together as when surges meet On the wild sea, when, in a day of storm, From every quarter winds to battle rush. Foe hurled at foe the ashen spear, and slew: 290 Screams and death-groans went up like roaring fire. As when down-thundering torrents shout and rave On-pouring seaward, when the madding rains Stream from God's cisterns, when the huddling clouds Are hurled against each other ceaselessly, And leaps their fiery breath in flashes forth; So 'neath the fighters' trampling feet the earth Thundered, and leapt the terrible battle-yell Through frenzied air, for mad the war-cries were. For firstfruits of death's harvest Peleus' son 300 Slew Thalius and Mentes nobly born, Men of renown, and many a head beside Dashed he to dust. As in its furious swoop A whirlwind shakes dark chasms underground, And earth's foundations crumble and melt away Around the deep roots of the shuddering world, So the ranks crumbled in swift doom to the dust Before the spear and fury of Peleus's son. But on the other side the hero child Of the Dawn-goddess slew the Argive men, 310 Like to a baleful Doom which bringeth down On men a grim and ghastly pestilence. First slew he Pheron; for the bitter spear Plunged through his breast, and down on him he hurled Goodly Ereuthus, battle-revellers both, Dwellers in Thryus by Alpheus' streams, Which followed Nestor to the god-built burg Of Ilium. But when he had laid these low, Against the son of Neleus pressed he on Eager to slay. Godlike Antilochus 320 Strode forth to meet him, sped the long spear's flight, Yet missed him, for a little he swerved, but slew His Aethiop comrade, son of Pyrrhasus. Wroth for his fall, against Antilochus He leapt, as leaps a lion mad of mood Upon a boar, the beast that flincheth not From fight with man or brute, whose charge is a flash Of lightning; so was his swift leap. His foe Antilochus caught a huge stone from the ground, Hurled, smote him; but unshaken abode his strength, 330 For the strong helm-crest fenced his head from death; But rang the morion round his brows. His heart Kindled with terrible fury at the blow More than before against Antilochus. Like seething cauldron boiled his maddened might. He stabbed, for all his cunning of fence, the son Of Nestor above the breast; the crashing spear Plunged to the heart, the spot of speediest death. Then upon all the Danaans at his fall Came grief; but anguish-stricken was the heart 340 Of Nestor most of all, to see his child Slain in his sight; for no more bitter pang Smiteth the heart of man than when a son Perishes, and his father sees him die. Therefore, albeit unused to melting mood, His soul was torn with agony for the son By black death slain. A wild cry hastily To Thrasymedes did he send afar: "Hither to me, Thrasymedes war-renowned! Help me to thrust back from thy brother's corse, 350 Yea, from mine hapless son, his murderer, That so ourselves may render to our dead All dues of mourning. If thou flinch for fear, No son of mine art thou, nor of the line Of Periclymenus, who dared withstand Hercules' self. Come, to the battle-toil! For grim necessity oftentimes inspires The very coward with courage of despair." Then at his cry that brother's heart was stung With bitter grief. Swift for his help drew nigh 360 Phereus, on whom for his great prince's fall Came anguish. Charged these warriors twain to face Strong Memnon in the gory strife. As when Two hunters 'mid a forest's mountain-folds, Eager to take the prey, rush on to meet A wild boar or a bear, with hearts afire To slay him, but in furious mood he leaps On them, and holds at bay the might of men; So swelled the heart of Memnon. Nigh drew they, Yet vainly essayed to slay him, as they hurled 370 The long spears, but the lances glanced aside Far from his flesh: the Dawn-queen turned them thence. Yet fell their spears not vainly to the ground: The lance of fiery-hearted Phereus, winged With eager speed, dealt death to Meges' son, Polymnius: Laomedon was slain By the wrath of Nestor's son for a brother dead, The dear one Memnon slew in battle-rout, And whom the slayer's war-unwearied hands Now stripped of his all-brazen battle-gear, 380 Nought recking, he, of Thrasymedes' might, Nor of stout Phereus, who were unto him But weaklings. A great lion seemed he there Standing above a hart, as jackals they, That, howso hungry, dare not come too nigh. But hard thereby the father gazed thereon In agony, and cried the rescue-cry To other his war-comrades for their aid Against the foe. Himself too burned to fight From his war-car; for yearning for the dead 390 Goaded him to the fray beyond his strength. Ay, and himself had been on his dear son Laid, numbered with the dead, had not the voice Of Memnon stayed him even in act to rush Upon him, for he reverenced in his heart The white hairs of an age-mate of his sire: "Ancient," he cried, "it were my shame to fight. With one so much mine elder: I am not Blind unto honour. Verily I weened That this was some young warrior, when I saw 400 Thee facing thus the foe. My bold heart hoped For contest worthy of mine hand and spear. Nay, draw thou back afar from battle-toil And bitter death. Go, lest, how loth soe'er, I smite thee of sore need. Nay, fall not thou Beside thy son, against a mightier man Fighting, lest men with folly thee should charge, For folly it is that braves o'ermastering might." He spake, and answered him that warrior old: "Nay, Memnon, vain was that last word of thine. 410 None would name fool the father who essayed, Battling with foes for his son's sake, to thrust The ruthless slayer back from that dear corpse, But ah that yet my strength were whole in me, That thou might'st know my spear! Now canst thou vaunt Proudly enow: a young man's heart is bold And light his wit. Uplifted is thy soul And vain thy speech. If in my strength of youth Thou hadst met me -- ha, thy friends had not rejoiced, For all thy might! But me the grievous weight 420 Of age bows down, like an old lion whom A cur may boldly drive back from the fold, For that he cannot, in his wrath's despite, Maintain his own cause, being toothless now, And strengthless, and his strong heart tamed by time. So well the springs of olden strength no more Now in my breast. Yet am I stronger still Than many men; my grey hairs yield to few That have within them all the strength of youth." So drew he back a little space, and left 430 Lying in dust his son, since now no more Lived in the once lithe limbs the olden strength, For the years' weight lay heavy on his head. Back leapt Thrasymedes likewise, spearman good, And battle-eager Phereus, and the rest Their comrades; for that slaughter-dealing man Pressed hard on them. As when from mountains high A shouting river with wide-echoing din Sweeps down its fathomless whirlpools through the gloom, When God with tumult of a mighty storm 440 Hath palled the sky in cloud from verge to verge, When thunders crash all round, when thick and fast Gleam lightnings from the huddling clouds, when fields Are flooded as the hissing rain descends, And all the air is filled with awful roar Of torrents pouring down the hill-ravines; So Memnon toward the shores of Hellespont Before him hurled the Argives, following hard Behind them, slaughtering ever. Many a man Fell in the dust, and left his life in blood 450 'Neath Aethiop hands. Stained was the earth with gore As Danaans died. Exulted Memnon's soul As on the ranks of foemen ever he rushed, And heaped with dead was all the plain of Troy. And still from fight refrained he not; he hoped To be a light of safety unto Troy And bane to Danaans. But all the while Stood baleful Doom beside him, and spurred on To strife, with flattering smile. To right, to left His stalwart helpers wrought in battle-toil, 460 Alcyoneus and Nychius, and the son Of Asius furious-souled; Meneclus' spear, Clydon and Alexippus, yea, a host Eager to chase the foe, men who in fight Quit them like men, exulting in their king. Then, as Meneclus on the Danaans charged, The son of Neleus slew him. Wroth for his friend, Whole throngs of foes fierce-hearted Memnon slew. As when a hunter midst the mountains drives Swift deer within the dark lines of his toils -- 470 The eager ring of beaters closing in Presses the huddled throng into the snares Of death: the dogs are wild with joy of the chase Ceaselessly giving tongue, the while his darts Leap winged with death on brocket and on hind; So Memnon slew and ever slew: his men Rejoiced, the while in panic stricken rout Before that glorious man the Argives fled. As when from a steep mountain's precipice-brow Leaps a huge crag, which all-resistless Zeus 480 By stroke of thunderbolt hath hurled from the crest; Crash oakwood copses, echo long ravines, Shudders the forest to its rattle and roar, And flocks therein and herds and wild things flee Scattering, as bounding, whirling, it descends With deadly pitiless onrush; so his foes Fled from the lightning-flash of Memnon's spear. Then to the side of Aeacus' mighty son Came Nestor. Anguished for his son he cried: "Achilles, thou great bulwark of the Greeks, 490 Slain is my child! The armour of my dead Hath Memnon, and I fear me lest his corse Be cast a prey to dogs. Haste to his help! True friend is he who still remembereth A friend though slain, and grieves for one no more." Achilles heard; his heart was thrilled with grief: He glanced across the rolling battle, saw Memnon, saw where in throngs the Argives fell Beneath his spear. Forthright he turned away From where the rifted ranks of Troy fell fast 500 Before his hands, and, thirsting for the fight, Wroth for Antilochus and the others slain, Came face to face with Memnon. In his hands That godlike hero caught up from the ground A stone, a boundary-mark 'twixt fields of wheat, And hurled. Down on the shield of Peleus' son It crashed. But he, the invincible, shrank not Before the huge rock-shard, but, thrusting out His long lance, rushed to close with him, afoot, For his steeds stayed behind the battle-rout. 510 On the right shoulder above the shield he smote And staggered him; but he, despite the wound, Fought on with heart unquailing. Swiftly he thrust And pricked with his strong spear Achilles' arm. Forth gushed the blood: rejoicing with vain joy To Aeacus' son with arrogant words he cried: "Now shalt thou in thy death fill up, I trow, Thy dark doom, overmastered by mine hands. Thou shalt not from this fray escape alive! Fool, wherefore hast thou ruthlessly destroyed 520 Trojans, and vaunted thee the mightiest man Of men, a deathless Nereid's son? Ha, now Thy doom hath found thee! Of birth divine am I, The Dawn-queen's mighty son, nurtured afar By lily-slender Hesperid Maids, beside The Ocean-river. Therefore not from thee Nor from grim battle shrink I, knowing well How far my goddess-mother doth transcend A Nereid, whose child thou vauntest thee. To Gods and men my mother bringeth light; 530 On her depends the issue of all things, Works great and glorious in Olympus wrought Whereof comes blessing unto men. But thine -- She sits in barren crypts of brine: she dwells Glorying mid dumb sea-monsters and mid fish, Deedless, unseen! Nothing I reck of her, Nor rank her with the immortal Heavenly Ones." In stern rebuke spake Aeacus' aweless son: "Memnon, how wast thou so distraught of wit That thou shouldst face me, and to fight defy 540 Me, who in might, in blood, in stature far Surpass thee? From supremest Zeus I trace My glorious birth; and from the strong Sea-god Nereus, begetter of the Maids of the Sea, The Nereids, honoured of the Olympian Gods. And chiefest of them all is Thetis, wise With wisdom world-renowned; for in her bowers She sheltered Dionysus, chased by might Of murderous Lycurgus from the earth. Yea, and the cunning God-smith welcomed she 550 Within her mansion, when from heaven he fell. Ay, and the Lightning-lord she once released From bonds. The all-seeing Dwellers in the Sky Remember all these things, and reverence My mother Thetis in divine Olympus. Ay, that she is a Goddess shalt thou know When to thine heart the brazen spear shall pierce Sped by my might. Patroclus' death I avenged On Hector, and Antilochus on thee Will I avenge. No weakling's friend thou hast slain! 560 But why like witless children stand we here Babbling our parents' fame and our own deeds? Now is the hour when prowess shall decide." Then from the sheath he flashed his long keen sword, And Memnon his; and swiftly in fiery fight Closed they, and rained the never-ceasing blows Upon the bucklers which with craft divine Hephaestus' self had fashioned. Once and again Clashed they together, and their cloudy crests Touched, mingling all their tossing storm of hair. 570 And Zeus, for that he loved them both, inspired With prowess each, and mightier than their wont He made them, made them tireless, nothing like To men, but Gods: and gloated o'er the twain The Queen of Strife. In eager fury these Thrust swiftly out the spear, with fell intent To reach the throat 'twixt buckler-rim and helm, Thrust many a time and oft, and now would aim The point beneath the shield, above the greave, Now close beneath the corslet curious-wrought 580 That lapped the stalwart frame: hard, fast they lunged, And on their shoulders clashed the arms divine. Roared to the very heavens the battle-shout Of warring men, of Trojans, Aethiops, And Argives mighty-hearted, while the dust Rolled up from 'neath their feet, tossed to the sky In stress of battle-travail great and strong. As when a mist enshrouds the hills, what time Roll up the rain-clouds, and the torrent-beds Roar as they fill with rushing floods, and howls 590 Each gorge with fearful voices; shepherds quake To see the waters' downrush and the mist, Screen dear to wolves and all the wild fierce things Nursed in the wide arms of the forest; so Around the fighters' feet the choking dust Hung, hiding the fair splendour of the sun And darkening all the heaven. Sore distressed With dust and deadly conflict were the folk. Then with a sudden hand some Blessed One Swept the dust-pall aside; and the Gods saw 600 The deadly Fates hurling the charging lines Together, in the unending wrestle locked Of that grim conflict, saw where never ceased Ares from hideous slaughter, saw the earth Crimsoned all round with rushing streams of blood, Saw where dark Havoc gloated o'er the scene, Saw the wide plain with corpses heaped, even all Bounded 'twixt Simois and Xanthus, where They sweep from Ida down to Hellespont. But when long lengthened out the conflict was 610 Of those two champions, and the might of both In that strong tug and strain was equal-matched, Then, gazing from Olympus' far-off heights, The Gods joyed, some in the invincible son Of Peleus, others in the goodly child Of old Tithonus and the Queen of Dawn. Thundered the heavens on high from east to west, And roared the sea from verge to verge, and rocked The dark earth 'neath the heroes' feet, and quaked Proud Nereus' daughters all round Thetis thronged 620 In grievous fear for mighty Achilles' sake; And trembled for her son the Child of the Mist As in her chariot through the sky she rode. Marvelled the Daughters of the Sun, who stood Near her, around that wondrous splendour-ring Traced for the race-course of the tireless sun By Zeus, the limit of all Nature's life And death, the dally round that maketh up The eternal circuit of the rolling years. And now amongst the Blessed bitter feud 630 Had broken out; but by behest of Zeus The twin Fates suddenly stood beside these twain, One dark -- her shadow fell on Memnon's heart; One bright -- her radiance haloed Peleus' son. And with a great cry the Immortals saw, And filled with sorrow they of the one part were, They of the other with triumphant joy. Still in the midst of blood-stained battle-rout Those heroes fought, unknowing of the Fates Now drawn so nigh, but each at other hurled 640 His whole heart's courage, all his bodily might. Thou hadst said that in the strife of that dread day Huge tireless Giants or strong Titans warred, So fiercely blazed the wildfire of their strife, Now, when they clashed with swords, now when they leapt Hurling huge stones. Nor either would give back Before the hail of blows, nor quailed. They stood Like storm-tormented headlands steadfast, clothed With might past words, unearthly; for the twain Alike could boast their lineage of high Zeus. 650 Therefore 'twixt these Enyo lengthened out The even-balanced strife, while ever they In that grim wrestle strained their uttermost, They and their dauntless comrades, round their kings With ceaseless fury toiling, till their spears Stood shivered all in shields of warriors slain, And of the fighters woundless none remained; But from all limbs streamed down into the dust The blood and sweat of that unresting strain Of fight, and earth was hidden with the dead, 660 As heaven is hidden with clouds when meets the sun The Goat-star, and the shipman dreads the deep. As charged the lines, the snorting chariot-steeds Trampled the dead, as on the myriad leaves Ye trample in the woods at entering-in Of winter, when the autumn-tide is past. Still mid the corpses and the blood fought on Those glorious sons of Gods, nor ever ceased From wrath of fight. But Eris now inclined The fatal scales of battle, which no more 670 Were equal-poised. Beneath the breast-bone then Of godlike Memnon plunged Achilles' sword; Clear through his body all the dark-blue blade Leapt: suddenly snapped the silver cord of life. Down in a pool of blood he fell, and clashed His massy armour, and earth rang again. Then turned to flight his comrades panic-struck, And of his arms the Myrmidons stripped the dead, While fled the Trojans, and Achilles chased, As whirlwind swift and mighty to destroy. 680 Then groaned the Dawn, and palled herself in clouds, And earth was darkened. At their mother's hest All the light Breathings of the Dawn took hands, And slid down one 1ong stream of sighing wind To Priam's plain, and floated round the dead, And softly, swiftly caught they up, and bare Through silver mists the Dawn-queen's son, with hearts Sore aching for their brother's fall, while moaned Around them all the air. As on they passed, Fell many blood-gouts from those pierced limbs 690 Down to the earth, and these were made a sign To generations yet to be. The Gods Gathered them up from many lands, and made Thereof a far-resounding river, named Of all that dwell beneath long Ida's flanks Paphlagoneion. As its waters flow 'Twixt fertile acres, once a year they turn To blood, when comes the woeful day whereon Died Memnon. Thence a sick and choking reek Steams: thou wouldst say that from a wound unhealed 700 Corrupting humours breathed an evil stench. Ay, so the Gods ordained: but now flew on Bearing Dawn's mighty son the rushing winds Skimming earth's face and palled about with night. Nor were his Aethiopian comrades left To wander of their King forlorn: a God Suddenly winged those eager souls with speed Such as should soon be theirs for ever, changed To flying fowl, the children of the air. Wailing their King in the winds' track they sped. 710 As when a hunter mid the forest-brakes Is by a boar or grim-jawed lion slain, And now his sorrowing friends take up the corse, And bear it heavy-hearted; and the hounds Follow low-whimpering, pining for their lord In that disastrous hunting lost; so they Left far behind that stricken field of blood, And fast they followed after those swift winds With multitudinous moaning, veiled in mist Unearthly. Trojans over all the plain 720 And Danaans marvelled, seeing that great host Vanishing with their King. All hearts stood still In dumb amazement. But the tireless winds Sighing set hero Memnon's giant corpse Down by the deep flow of Aesopus' stream, Where is a fair grove of the bright-haired Nymphs, The which round his long barrow afterward Aesopus' daughters planted, screening it With many and manifold trees: and long and loud Wailed those Immortals, chanting his renown, 730 The son of the Dawn-goddess splendour-throned. Now sank the sun: the Lady of the Morn Wailing her dear child from the heavens came down. Twelve maidens shining-tressed attended her, The warders of the high paths of the sun For ever circling, warders of the night And dawn, and each world-ordinance framed of Zeus, Around whose mansion's everlasting doors From east to west they dance, from west to east, Whirling the wheels of harvest-laden years, 740 While rolls the endless round of winter's cold, And flowery spring, and lovely summer-tide, And heavy-clustered autumn. These came down From heaven, for Memnon wailing wild and high; And mourned with these the Pleiads. Echoed round Far-stretching mountains, and Aesopus' stream. Ceaseless uprose the keen, and in their midst, Fallen on her son and clasping, wailed the Dawn; "Dead art thou, dear, dear child, and thou hast clad Thy mother with a pall of grief. Oh, I, 750 Now thou art slain, will not endure to light The Immortal Heavenly Ones! No, I will plunge Down to the dread depths of the underworld, Where thy lone spirit flitteth to and fro, And will to blind night leave earth, sky, and sea, Till Chaos and formless darkness brood o'er all, That Cronos' Son may also learn what means Anguish of heart. For not less worship-worthy Than Nereus' Child, by Zeus's ordinance, Am I, who look on all things, I, who bring 760 All to their consummation. Recklessly My light Zeus now despiseth! Therefore I Will pass into the darkness. Let him bring Up to Olympus Thetis from the sea To hold for him light forth to Gods and men! My sad soul loveth darkness more than day, Lest I pour light upon thy slayer's head" Thus as she cried, the tears ran down her face Immortal, like a river brimming aye: Drenched was the dark earth round the corse. The Night 770 Grieved in her daughter's anguish, and the heaven Drew over all his stars a veil of mist And cloud, of love unto the Lady of Light. Meanwhile within their walls the Trojan folk For Memnon sorrowed sore, with vain regret Yearning for that lost king and all his host. Nor greatly joyed the Argives, where they lay Camped in the open plain amidst the dead. There, mingled with Achilles' praise, uprose Wails for Antilochus: joy clasped hands with grief. 780 All night in groans and sighs most pitiful The Dawn-queen lay: a sea of darkness moaned Around her. Of the dayspring nought she recked: She loathed Olympus' spaces. At her side Fretted and whinnied still her fleetfoot steeds, Trampling the strange earth, gazing at their Queen Grief-stricken, yearning for the fiery course. Suddenly crashed the thunder of the wrath Of Zeus; rocked round her all the shuddering earth, And on immortal Eos trembling came. 790 Swiftly the dark-skinned Aethiops from her sight Buried their lord lamenting. As they wailed Unceasingly, the Dawn-queen lovely-eyed Changed them to birds sweeping through air around The barrow of the mighty dead. And these Still do the tribes of men "The Memnons" call; And still with wailing cries they dart and wheel Above their king's tomb, and they scatter dust Down on his grave, still shrill the battle-cry, In memory of Memnon, each to each. 800 But he in Hades' mansions, or perchance Amid the Blessed on the Elysian Plain, Laugheth. Divine Dawn comforteth her heart Beholding them: but theirs is toil of strife Unending, till the weary victors strike The vanquished dead, or one and all fill up The measure of their doom around his grave. So by command of Eos, Lady of Light, The swift birds dree their weird. But Dawn divine Now heavenward soared with the all-fostering Hours, 810 Who drew her to Zeus' threshold, sorely loth, Yet conquered by their gentle pleadings, such As salve the bitterest grief of broken hearts. Nor the Dawn-queen forgat her daily course, But quailed before the unbending threat of Zeus, Of whom are all things, even all comprised Within the encircling sweep of Ocean's stream, Earth and the palace-dome of burning stars. Before her went her Pleiad-harbingers, Then she herself flung wide the ethereal gates, 820 And, scattering spray of splendour, flashed there-through.
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