Book II

Each eye was fixed, each lip compressed,
When thus began the heroic guest:
‘Too cruel, lady, is the pain
You bid me thus revive again;
How lofty Ilium’s throne august
Was laid by Greece in piteous dust,
The woes I saw with these sad eyne,
The deeds whereof large part was mine:
What Argive, when the tale were told,
What Myrmidon of sternest mould,
What foe from Ithaca could hear,
And grudge the tribute of a tear?
Now dews precipitate the night,
And setting stars to rest invite:
Yet, if so keen your zeal to know
In brief the tale of Troy’s last woe,
Though memory shrinks with backward start,
And sends a shudder to my heart,
I take the word.

Worn down by wars,
Long beating ’gainst Fate’s dungeon-bars,
As year kept chasing year,
The Danaan chiefs, with cunning given
By Pallas, mountain-high to heaven
A giant horse uprear,
And with compacted beams of pine
The texture of its ribs entwine.
A vow for their return they feign:
So runs the tale, and spreads amain.
There in the monster’s cavernous side
Huge frames of chosen chiefs they hide,
And steel-clad soldiery finds room
Within that death-producing womb.

An isle there lies in Ilium’s sight,
And Tenedos its name,
While Priam’s fortune yet was bright,
Known for its wealth to fame:
Now all has dwindled to a bay,
Where ships in treacherous shelter stay.
Thither they sail, and hide their host
Along its desolated coast.
We thought them to Mycenæ flown,
And rescued Troy forgets to groan.
Wide stand the gates: what joy to go
The Dorian camp to see,
The land disburthened of the foe,
The shore from vessels free!
There pitched Thessalia’s squadron, there
Achilles’ tent was set:
There, drawn on land, their natives were,
And there the battle met.
Some on Minerva’s offering gaze,
And view its bulk with strange amaze:
And first Thymœtes loudly calls
To drag the steed within our walls,
Or by suggestion from the foe,
Or Troy’s ill fate had willed it so.
But Capys and the wiser kind
Surmised the snare that lurked behind:
To drown it in the whelming tide,
Or set the fire-brand to its side,
Their sentence is: or else to bore
Its caverns, and their depths explore.
In wild confusion sways the crowd:
Each takes his side and all are loud.

Girt with a throng of Ilium’s sons,
Down from the tower Laocoon runs,
And, ‘Wretched countrymen,’ he cries,
‘What monstrous madness blinds your eyes?
Think you your enemies removed?
Come presents without wrong
From Danaans? have you thus approved
Ulysses, known so long?
Perchance—who knows?—the bulk we see
Conceals a Grecian enemy,
Or ’tis a pile to o’erlook the town,
And pour from high invaders down,
Or fraud lurks somewhere to destroy:
Mistrust, mistrust it, men of Troy!
Whate’er it be, a Greek I fear,
Though presents in his hand he bear.’
He spoke, and with his arm’s full force
Straight at the belly of the horse
His mighty spear he cast:
Quivering it stood: the sharp rebound
Shook the huge monster: and a sound
Through all its caverns passed.
And then, had fate our weal designed
Nor given us a perverted mind,
Then had he moved us to deface
The Greeks’ accursed lurking-place,
And Troy had been abiding still,
And Priam’s tower yet crowned the hill.
Now Dardan swains before the king
With clamorous demonstration bring,
His hands fast bound, a youth unknown,
Across their casual pathway thrown
By cunning purpose of his own,
If so his simulated speech
For Greece the walls of Troy might breach,
Nerved by strong courage to defy
The worst, and gain his end or die.
The curious Trojans round him flock,
With rival zeal a foe to mock.
Now listen while my tongue declares
The tale you ask of Danaan snares,
And gather from a single charge
Their catalogue of crimes at large.
There as he stands, confused, unarmed,
Like helpless innocence alarmed,
His wistful eyes on all sides throws,
And sees that all around are foes.
‘What land,’ he cries, ‘what sea is left,
To hold a wretch of country reft,
Driven out from Greece while savage Troy
Demands my blood with clamorous joy?’
That anguish put our rage to flight,
And stayed each hand in act to smite:
We bid him name and race declare,
And say why Troy her prize should spare.
Then by degrees he laid aside
His fear, and presently replied:

‘Truth, gracious king, is all I speak,
And first I own my nation Greek:
No; Sinon may be Fortune’s slave;
She shall not make him liar or knave.
If haply to your ears e’er came
Belidan Palamedes’ name,
Borne by the tearful voice of Fame,
Whom erst, by false impeachment sped,
Maligned because for peace he pled,
Greece gave to death, now mourns him dead,—
His kinsman I, while yet a boy,
Sent by a needy sire to Troy.
While he yet stood in kingly state,
’Mid brother kings in council great,
I too had power: but when he died,
By false Ulysses’ spite belied
(The tale is known), from that proud height
I sank to wretchedness and night,
And brooded in my dolorous gloom
On that my guiltless kinsman’s doom
Not all in silence; no, I swore,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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