Page images
PDF
EPUB

Menestheus from on high the storm beheld
Threatening the fort, and blackening in the field :
Around the walls he gazed, to view from far
What aid appear'd tavert th' approaching war,
And saw where Teucer with th’ Ajaces stood,
Of fight insatiate, prodigal of blood.
In vain he calls; the din of helms and shields
Rings to the skies, and echoes through the fields ;
The brazen hinges fly, the walls resound,
Heaven trembles, roarthe mountains, thunders all the ground.

Then thus to Thoös: “Hence with speed,” he said, 411
“And urge the bold Ajaces to our aid :
Their strength united, best may help to bear
The bloody labours of the doubtful war:
Hither the Lycian princes bend their course,
The best and bravest of the hostile force.
But if too fiercely there the foes contend,
Let Telamon, at least, our towers defend,
And Teucer haste with his unerring bow,
To share the danger, and repel the foe.”

420 Swift at the word the herald speeds along The lofty ramparts, through the martial throng, And finds the heroes bathed in sweat and gore, Opposed in combat on the dusty shore. “Ye valiant leaders of our warlike bands ! Your aid,” said Thoös, “ Peteus' son demands. Your strength, united, best may help to bear The bloody labours of the doubtful war: Thither the Lycian princes bend their course, The best and bravest of the hostile force.

430 But if too fiercely here the foes contend, At least let Telamon those towers defend, And Teucer haste with his unerring bow, To share the danger and repel the foe.”

Straight to the fort great Ajax turn'd his care, And thus bespoke his brothers of the war:

“Now, valiant Lycomede ! exert your might, And, brave Oileus, prove your force in fight:

450

To you I trust the fortune of the field,
Till by this arm the foe shall be repeld;
That done, expect me to complete the day.”—
Then, with his seven-fold shield he strode away.
With equal steps bold Teucer press’d the shore,
Whose fatal bow the strong Pandion bore.

High on the walls appear'd the Lycian powers,
Like some black tempest gathering round the towers ;
The Greeks, oppress'd, their utmost force unite,
Prepared to labour in th' unequal fight;
The war renews, mix'd shouts and groans arise ;
Tumultuous clamours mount, and thicken in the skies.
Fierce Ajax first th' advancing host invades,
And sends the brave Epicles to the shades,
Sarpedon's friend ; across the warrior's way,
Rent from the walls, a rocky fragment lay;
In modern ages, not the strongest swain
Could heave the unwieldy burden from the plain.
He poised, and swung it round; then, toss'd on high,
It few with force, and labour'd up the sky;
Full on the Lycian's helmet thundering down,
The pond'rous ruin crush'd his batter'd crown. 460
As skilful divers from some airy steep,
Headlong descend, and shoot into the deep,
So falls Epicles; then in groans expires,
And, murmuring, to the shades the soul retires.

While to the ramparts daring Glaucus drew,
From Teucer's hand a winged arrow flew;
The bearded shaft the destined passage found,
And on his naked arm inflicts a wound.
The chief, who fear'd some foe's insulting boast
Might stop the progress of his warlike host,

470 Conceald the wound, and, leaping from his height, Retired reluctant from th' unfinish'd fight.

Divine Sarpedon with regret beheld
Disabled Glaucus slowly quit the field;
His beating breast with generous ardour glows,
He springs to fight, and flies upon the foes.

480

Alcmäon first was doom'd his force to feel ;
Deep in his breast he plunged the pointed steel ;
Then, from the yawning wound with fury tore
The spear, pursued by gushing streams of gore;
Down sinks the warrior with a thundering sound,
His brazen armour rings against the ground.

Swift to the battlement the victor flies,
Tugs with full force, and every nerve applies ;
It shakes; the ponderous stones disjointed yield;
The rolling ruins smoke along the field.
A mighty breach appears, the walls lie bare;
And, like a deluge, rushes in the war.
At once bold Teucer draws the twanging bow,
And Ajax sends his javelin at the foe:

490
Fix'd in his belt the feather'd weapon stood,
And through his buckler drove the trembling wood;
But Jove was present in the dire debate,
To shield his offspring, and avert his fate.
The prince gave back, not meditating flight,
But urging vengeance and severer fight;
Then, raised with hope, and fired with glory's charms,
His fainting squadrons to new fury warms :

“Oh where, ye Lycians! is the strength you boast? Your former fame and ancient virtue lost !

500 The breach lies open, but your chief in vain Attempts alone the guarded pass to gain : Unite, and soon that hostile fleet shall fall; The force of powerful union conquers all.”

This just rebuke inflamed the Lycian crew, They join, they thicken, and th' assault renew; Unmoved th' embodied Greeks their fury dare, And fix'd support the weight of all the war; Nor could the Greeks repel the Lycian powers, Nor the bold Lycians force the Grecian towers.

510 As, on the confines of adjoining grounds, Two stubborn swains with blows dispute their bounds; They tug, they sweat; but neither gain nor yield One foot, one inch, of the contended field:

[ocr errors]

12*

Thus obstinate to death they fight, they fall,
Nor these can keep, nor those can win the wall.
Their manly breasts are pierced with many a wound,
Loud strokes are heard, and rattling arms resound;
The copious slaughter covers all the shore,
And the high ramparts drop with human gore. 520

As when two scales are charged with doubtful loads,
From side to side the trembling balance nods
(While some laborious matron, just and poor,
With nice exactness weighs her woolly store),
Till, poised aloft, the resting beam suspends
Each equal weight; nor this, nor that, descends :
So stood the war, till Hector's matchless might
With fates prevailing, turn’d the scale of fight.
Fierce as a whirlwind up the wall he flies,
And fires his host with loud-repeated cries:

530 “Advance, ye Trojans ! lend your valiant hands, Haste to the feet, and toss the blazing brands.”

They hear, they run ; and, gathering at his call,
Raise scaling engines, and ascend the wall:
Around the works a wood of glittering spears
Shoots up, and all the rising host appears.
A ponderous stone bold Hector heaved to throw,
Pointed above, and rough and gross below:
Not two strong men th' enormous weight could raise,
Such men as live in these degenerate days.

540
Yet this, as easy as a swain could bear
The snowy fleece, he toss'd, and shook in air:
For Jove upheld, and lighten'd of its load
The unwieldy rock, the labour of a god.
Thus arm’d, before the folded gates he came,
Of massy substance, and stupendous frame;
With iron bars and brazen hinges strong,
On lofty beams of solid timber hung:
Then, thundering through the planks with forceful sway,
Drives the sharp rock; the solid beams give way; 550
The folds are shatter'd; from the crackling door
Leap the resounding bars, the flying hinges roar.

Now, rushing in, the furious chief appears,
Gloomy as night! and shakes two shining spears:
A dreadful gleam from his bright armour came,
And from his eye-balls flash'd the living flame.
He moves a god, resistless in his course,
And seems a match for more than mortal force.
Then pouring after, through the gaping space,
A tide of Trojans flows, and fills the place ;

560 The Greeks behold, they tremble, and they fly; The shore is heap'd with dead, and tumult rends the sky,

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »