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The Iliad: Book VI (excerpt)

Alexander Pope 1688 (London) – 1744 (Twickenham)

He said, and pass'd with sad presaging heart
  To seek his spouse, his soul's far dearer part;
  At home he sought her, but he sought in vain:
  She, with one maid of all her menial train,
  Had thence retir'd; and, with her second joy,
  The young Astyanax, the hope of Troy,
  Pensive she stood on Ilion's tow'ry height,
  Beheld the war, and sicken'd at the sight;
  There her sad eyes in vain her lord explore,
  Or weep the wounds her bleeding country bore.

  But he, who found not whom his soul desir'd,
  Whose virtue charm'd him as her beauty fir'd,
  Stood in the gates, and ask'd what way she bent
  Her parting steps; if to the fane she went,
  Where late the mourning matrons made resort,
  Or sought her sisters in the Trojan court.
  "Not to the court" replied th' attendant train,
  "Nor, mixed with matrons, to Minerva's fane;
  To Ilion's steepy tow'r she bent her way,
  To mark the fortunes of the doubtful day.
  Troy fled, she heard, before the Grecian sword;
  She heard, and trembled for her absent lord.
  Distracted with surprise, she seem'd to fly,
  Fear on her cheek and sorrow in her eye.
  The nurse attended with her infant boy,
  The young Astyanax, the hope of Troy."

  Hector, this heard, return'd without delay;
  Swift through the town he trod his former way
  Through streets of palaces and walks of state,
  And met the mourner at the Scæan gate.
  With haste to meet him sprung the joyful fair,
  His blameless wife, E{"e}tion's wealthy heir
  (Cilician Thebè great E{"e}tion sway'd,
  And Hippoplacus' wide-extended shade);
  The nurse stood near, in whose embraces prest
  His only hope hung smiling at her breast,
  Whom each soft charm and early grace adorn,
  Fair as the new-born star that gilds the morn.
  To this lov'd infant Hector gave the name
  Scamandrius, from Scamander's honour'd stream;
  Astyanax the Trojans call'd the boy,
  From his great father, the defence of Troy.
  Silent the warrior smil'd, and pleas'd, resign'd
  To tender passions all his mighty mind:
  His beauteous princess cast a mournful look,
  Hung on his hand, and then dejected spoke;
  Her bosom labour'd with a boding sigh,
  And the big tear stood trembling in her eye.

  "Too daring prince! ah whither dost thou run?
  Ah, too forgetful of thy wife and son!
  And think'st thou not how wretched we shall be,
  A widow I, a helpless orphan he!
  For sure such courage length of life denies,
  And thou must fall, thy virtue's sacrifice.
  Greece in her single heroes strove in vain;
  Now hosts oppose thee, and thou must be slain!
  Oh, grant me, gods! e'er Hector meets his doom,
  All I can ask of heav'n, an early tomb!
  So shall my days in one sad tenor run,
  And end with sorrows as they first begun.
  No parent now remains, my griefs to share,
  No father's aid, no mother's tender care.
  The fierce Achilles wrapp'd our walls in fire,
  Laid Thebè waste, and slew my warlike sire!
  His fate compassion in the victor bred;
  Stern as he was, he yet rever'd the dead,
  His radiant arms preserv'd from hostile spoil,
  And laid him decent on the fun'ral pile;
  Then rais'd a mountain where his bones were burn'd:
  The mountain nymphs the rural tomb adorn'd;
  Jove's sylvan daughters bade their elms bestow
  A barren shade, and in his honour grow.

  "By the same arm my sev'n brave brothers fell;
  In one sad day beheld the gates of hell:
  While the fat herds and snowy flocks they fed,
  Amid their fields the hapless heroes bled!
  My mother liv'd to bear the victor's bands,
  The queen of Hippoplacia's sylvan lands;
  Redeem'd too late, she scarce beheld again
  Her pleasing empire and her native plain,
  When, ah! oppress'd by life-consuming woe,
  She fell a victim to Diana's bow.

  "Yet while my Hector still survives, I see
  My father, mother, brethren, all, in thee:
  Alas! my parents, brothers, kindred, all,
  Once more will perish if my Hector fall.
  Thy wife, thy infant, in thy danger share:
  Oh, prove a husband's and a father's care!
  That quarter most the skilful Greeks annoy,
  Where yon wild fig-trees join the wall of Troy:
  Thou from this tow'r defend th' important post
  There Agamemnon points his dreadful host,
  That pass Tydides, Ajax, strive to gain,
  And there the vengeful Spartan fires his train.
  Thrice our bold foes the fierce attack have giv'n,
  Or led by hopes, or dictated from heav'n.
  Let others in the field their arms employ,<
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) is regarded as one of the greatest English poets, and the foremost poet of the early eighteenth century. He is best known for his satirical and discursive poetry, including The Rape of the Lock, The Dunciad, and An Essay on Criticism, as well as for his translation of Homer. more…

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