Book IX

While elsewhere thus the war proceeds,
Saturnian Juno swiftly speeds
Her Iris from above
To valiant Turnus: Turnus then
Was sitting in a hallowed glen,
His sire Pilumnus’ grove:
And thus the child of Thaumas speaks,
Heaven’s beauty flushing in her cheeks:
‘Turnus, what never god would dare
To promise to his suppliant’s prayer,
Lo here, the lapse of time has brought
E’en to your hands, unasked, unsought.
Æneas camp and fleet forsakes
And journey to Evander takes,
Nor thus content, his way has found
To far Cortona’s utmost bound,
The Lydian people calls to arms,
And musters all the rustic swarms.
Why longer wait? the moment flies:
Call horse and car: the camp surprise.’
E’en as she spoke, her wings she spread,
And skyward on her rainbow fled.
The ardent youth the goddess knew:
His hands to heaven he rears,
And thus pursues her, as from view
Aloft she disappears:
‘Fair Iris, glory of the sky,
Who sent thee hither from on high?
What means this sudden light?
I see the heavens dispart in twain,
And round the pole the starry train
Is swimming in my sight.
Enough: I follow this thy sight.
Whoe’er thou art, O power divine!’
So speaking, to the wave he hied,
Scooped in his palms the brimming tide,
In suppliance to the immortal bows,
And burdens heaven with uttered vows.

And now the host is on the plain,
With steeds, and gold, and broidered grain:
Messapus the front rank arrays:
The hinder Tyrrheus’ sons obeys:
The midmost are by Turnus led:
So rising in serene repose
Great Ganges rears his seven-fold head:
So Nile from off the champion flows
And sinks into his bed.
Troy’s sons look forth, and see revealed
Black dust-clouds moving o’er the field:
And first from off the fronting mole
Aloud Caicus calls:
‘What murky clouds are these that roll?
Fetch weapons, man the walls!
See there, the foe!’ And one and all
Pour through the gates and fill the wall.
For such Æneas’ last command,
What time he stood to go,
Should chance meanwhile surprise his band,
To wage no conflict hand to hand,
But safe behind the rampart stand,
And thence direct the blow.
So now, though shame and scornful rage,
Quick blending, prompt them to engage,
They act his bidding, close the gate,
And armed, in sheltering towers await
The coming of the foe.
Turnus with twice ten chosen horse
Outstrips his column’s tardy course,
And nears them unforeseen:
A Thracian steed he rides, white-flecked,
With auburn crest his helm is decked,
Itself of golden sheen.
And ‘Gallants, who with me will dare
The first assault?’ he cries: ‘look there!’
Then sends his javelin through the air
(This the first drop of war’s red rain),
And tower-like bears him o’er the plain.
Clamorous and eager to attack,
His comrades follow at his back;
The Teucrian hearts, they deem, are slack,
Their valour laid asleep:
They dare not trust the level space
Or fight as men do, face to face,
But still the encampment keep.
So round and round the camp he wheels
Enraged, and for an entrance feels:
Like wolf, who, ranging round the fold,
Whines at the gate, in rain and cold,
At midnight’s season still:
Safe ’neath their dams the lambkins bleat:
He rages in infuriate heat
At those he cannot kill,
With hunger’s gathered flame unslaked
And bloodless jaws to dryness baked.
Thus while he wall and camp surveys,
The fire of wrath begins to blaze,
Grief burns in every vein:
What way may access best be found
To dash the Trojans from their mound
And fling them on the plain?
The fleet that lay upon their flank,
Deep shored within the river-bank,
He first assails, and calls aloud
For torches to the exulting crowd,
And with a flaming pine-tree brand,
Himself on flame, supplies his hand.
Then, then, by Turnus’ presence spurred,
They ply the work, and at the word
Each waves a torch on fire:
The hearths are stripped, and pitchy glare
And soot and vapour through the air
In flaky wreaths aspire.

What God, ye Muses, stayed the fire,
And saved the barks from fate so dire?
Declare: the tale long since was told,
But fame is green, though faith be old,
When first Æneas on the height
Of Ida built his ships for flight,
The Berecyntine queen, ’tis said,
Her suit before the Thunderer pled:
‘My son, thy mother’s prayer accord,
Throned by her help Olympus’ lord.
On Ida’s summit once was mine,
Loved through long years, a grove of pine,
Where worshippers their homage paid,
With pitch-trees dark and maple shade:
These to the Dardan chief I gave
When ships he sought to cross the wave;
I gave, and in the gift was glad:
But now their future makes me sad.
Release me from my fears: concede
The object of a parent’s need:
Grant that their texture ne’er may fail
From voyage long or stormy gale:
Such vantage let my favourites reap
From birth on our Idæan steep.’
Her son, the Mighty One, replies,
Who rolls the orbits of the skies:
‘O mother! wherefore strive in vain
The course of destiny to strain?
Shall vessels made by mortal hand
The immortals’ privilege command?
Shall man ride safe in danger’s hour?
Claimed ever God so vast a power?
Nay rather, when, their service o’er,
They reach at length the Ausonian shore,
What ships, escaping wind and wave,
In Latium land the Dardan brave,
Shall change their mortal shape for ours
And swim the main as sea-god powers,
As Galatè and Doto sweep
O’er the broad surface of the deep.’
He said, and called to seal his

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