And round him, groaning heavily, they laid
Silver most fair and precious ivory,
And jars of oil, and whatsoe'er beside
They have who heap up goodly and glorious wealth.
Then thrust they in the strength of ravening flame,
And from the sea there breathed a wind, sent forth
By Thetis, to consume the giant frame
Of Aias. All the night and all the morn
Burned 'neath the urgent stress of that great wind
Beside the ships that giant form, as when
Enceladus by Zeus' levin was consumed
Beneath Thrinacia, when from all the isle
Smoke of his burning rose -- or like as when
Hercules, trapped by Nessus' deadly guile,
Gave to devouring fire his living limbs,
What time he dared that awful deed, when groaned
All Oeta as he burned alive, and passed
His soul into the air, leaving the man
Far-famous, to be numbered with the Gods,
When earth closed o'er his toil-tried mortal part.
So huge amid the flames, all-armour clad,
Lay Aias, all the joy of fight forgot,
While a great multitude watching thronged the sands.
Glad were the Trojans, but the Achaeans grieved.
But when that goodly frame by ravening fire
Was all consumed, they quenched the pyre with wine;
They gathered up the bones, and reverently
Laid in a golden casket. Hard beside
Rhoeteium's headland heaped they up a mound
Measureless-high. Then scattered they amidst
The long ships, heavy-hearted for the man
Whom they had honoured even as Achilles.
Then black night, bearing unto all men sleep,
Upfloated: so they brake bread, and lay down
Waiting the Child of the Mist. Short was sleep,
Broken by fitful staring through the dark,
Haunted by dread lest in the night the foe
Should fall on them, now Telamon's son was dead.
How came for the helping of Troy Eurypylus, Hercules' grandson.
Rose Dawn from Ocean and Tithonus' bed,
And climbed the steeps of heaven, scattering round
Flushed flakes of splendour; laughed all earth and air.
Then turned unto their labours, each to each,
Mortals, frail creatures daily dying. Then
Streamed to a folkmote all the Achaean men
At Menelaus' summons. When the host
Were gathered all, then in their midst he spake:
"Hearken my words, ye god-descended kings:
Mine heart within my breast is burdened sore
For men which perish, men that for my sake
Came to the bitter war, whose home-return
Parents and home shall welcome nevermore;
For Fate hath cut off thousands in their prime.
Oh that the heavy hand of death had fallen
On me, ere hitherward I gathered these!
But now hath God laid on me cureless pain