Achilles Over The Trench

A poem by Alfred Tennyson

ILIAD, XVIII. 2O2.


So saying, light-foot Iris pass’d away.
Then rose Achilles dear to Zeus; and round
The warrior’s puissant shoulders Pallas flung
Her fringed ægis, and around his head
The glorious goddess wreath’d a golden cloud,
And from it lighted an all-shining flame.
As when a smoke from a city goes to heaven
Far off from out an island girt by foes,
All day the men contend in grievous war
From their own city, but with set of sun
Their fires flame thickly, and aloft the glare
Flies streaming, if perchance the neighbours round
May see, and sail to help them in the war;
So from his head the splendour went to heaven.
From wall to dyke he stept, he stood, nor join’d
The Achæans—honouring his wise mother’s word—
There standing, shouted, and Pallas far away
Call’d; and a boundless panic shook the foe.
For like the clear voice when a trumpet shrills,
Blown by the fierce beleaguerers of a town,
So rang the clear voice of Æakidês;
And when the brazen cry of Æakidês
Was heard among the Trojans, all their hearts
Were troubled, and the full-maned horses whirl’d
The chariots backward, knowing griefs at hand;
And sheer-astounded were the charioteers
To see the dread, unweariable fire
That always o’er the great Peleion’s head
Burn’d, for the bright-eyed goddess made it burn.
Thrice from the dyke he sent his mighty shout,
Thrice backward reel’d the Trojans and allies;
And there and then twelve of their noblest died
Among their spears and chariots.

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