The Fall of Troy (book 1 - 6)
From the beginning: all the toil of men
Do they endure; and therefore evermore
The spirit of the War-god thrills them through.
'They fall not short of men in anything:
Their labour-hardened frames make great their hearts
For all achievement: never faint their knees
Nor tremble. Rumour speaks their queen to be
A daughter of the mighty Lord of War.
Therefore no woman may compare with her
In prowess -- if she be a woman, not
A God come down in answer to our prayers.
Yea, of one blood be all the race of men,
Yet unto diverse labours still they turn;
And that for each is evermore the best
Whereto he bringeth skill of use and wont.
Therefore do ye from tumult of the fray
Hold you aloof, and in your women's bowers
Before the loom still pace ye to and fro;
And war shall be the business of our lords.
Lo, of fair issue is there hope: we see
The Achaeans falling fast: we see the might
Of our men waxing ever: fear is none
Of evil issue now: the pitiless foe
Beleaguer not the town: no desperate need
There is that women should go forth to war."
So cried she, and they hearkened to the words
Of her who had garnered wisdom from the years;
So from afar they watched the fight. But still
Penthesileia brake the ranks, and still
Before her quailed the Achaeans: still they found
Nor screen nor hiding-place from imminent death.
As bleating goats are by the blood-stained jaws
Of a grim panther torn, so slain were they.
In each man's heart all lust of battle died,
And fear alone lived. This way, that way fled
The panic-stricken: some to earth had flung
The armour from their shoulders; some in dust
Grovelled in terror 'neath their shields: the steeds
Fled through the rout unreined of charioteers.
In rapture of triumph charged the Amazons,
With groan and scream of agony died the Greeks.
Withered their manhood was in that sore strait;
Brief was the span of all whom that fierce maid
Mid the grim jaws of battle overtook.
As when with mighty roaring bursteth down
A storm upon the forest-trees, and some
Uprendeth by the roots, and on the earth
Dashes them down, the tail stems blossom-crowned,
And snappeth some athwart the trunk, and high
Whirls them through air, till all confused they lie
A ruin of splintered stems and shattered sprays;
So the great Danaan host lay, dashed to dust
By doom of Fate, by Penthesileia's spear.
But when the very ships were now at point
To be by hands of Trojans set aflame,
Then battle-bider Aias heard afar
The panic-cries, and spake to Aeacus' son:
"Achilles, all the air about mine ears
Is full of multitudinous eries, is full
Of thunder of battle rolling nearer aye.
Let us go forth then, ere the Trojans win
Unto the ships, and make great slaughter there