The Fall of Troy (book 7 - 14)
The wife forsaken. Evil-boding fowl
Shrieked o'er his head, or darted past to left,
Still as he went. Now, as he looked at them,
His heart sank; now hope whispered, "Haply vain
Their bodings are!" but on their wings were borne
Visions of doom that blended with his pain.
Into Oenone's presence thus he came.
Amazed her thronging handmaids looked on him
As at the Nymph's feet that pale suppliant fell
Faint with the anguish of his wound, whose pangs
Stabbed him through brain and heart, yea, quivered through
His very bones, for that fierce venom crawled
Through all his inwards with corrupting fangs;
And his life fainted in him agony-thrilled.
As one with sickness and tormenting thirst
Consumed, lies parched, with heart quick-shuddering,
With liver seething as in flame, the soul,
Scarce conscious, fluttering at his burning lips,
Longing for life, for water longing sore;
So was his breast one fire of torturing pain.
Then in exceeding feebleness he spake:
"O reverenced wife, turn not from me in hate
For that I left thee widowed long ago!
Not of my will I did it: the strong Fates
Dragged me to Helen -- oh that I had died
Ere I embraced her -- in thine arms had died!
All, by the Gods I pray, the Lords of Heaven,
By all the memories of our wedded love,
Be merciful! Banish my bitter pain:
Lay on my deadly wound those healing salves
Which only can, by Fate's decree, remove
This torment, if thou wilt. Thine heart must speak
My sentence, to be saved from death or no.
Pity me -- oh, make haste to pity me!
This venom's might is swiftly bringing death!
Heal me, while life yet lingers in my limbs!
Remember not those pangs of jealousy,
Nor leave me by a cruel doom to die
Low fallen at thy feet! This should offend
The Prayers, the Daughters of the Thunderer Zeus,
Whose anger followeth unrelenting pride
With vengeance, and the Erinnys executes
Their wrath. My queen, I sinned, in folly sinned;
Yet from death save me -- oh, make haste to save!"
So prayed he; but her darkly-brooding heart
Was steeled, and her words mocked his agony:
"Thou comest unto me! -- thou, who didst leave
Erewhile a wailing wife in a desolate home! --
Didst leave her for thy Tyndarid darling! Go,
Lie laughing in her arms for bliss! She is better
Than thy true wife -- is, rumour saith, immortal!
Make haste to kneel to her but not to me!
Weep not to me, nor whimper pitiful prayers!
Oh that mine heart beat with a tigress' strength,
That I might tear thy flesh and lap thy blood
For all the pain thy folly brought on me!
Vile wretch! where now is Love's Queen glory-crowned?
Hath Zeus forgotten his daughter's paramour?
Have them for thy deliverers! Get thee hence
Far from my dwelling, curse of Gods and men!
Yea, for through thee, thou miscreant, sorrow came
On deathless Gods, for sons and sons' sons slain.
Hence from my threshold! -- to thine Helen go!