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The Fall of Troy (book 7 - 14)   


The birds of night. Above that God-built burg
A mist palled every star; and yet no cloud
Was in the flashing heavens. By Phoebus' fane
Withered the bays that erst were lush and green.
Wolves and foul-feeding jackals came and howled
Within the gates. Ay, other signs untold
Appeared, portending woe to Dardanus' sons
And Troy: yet no fear touched the Trojans' hearts
Who saw all through the town those portents dire:
Fate crazed them all, that midst their revelling
Slain by their foes they might fill up their doom.

One heart was steadfast, and one soul clear-eyed,
Cassandra. Never her words were unfulfilled;
Yet was their utter truth, by Fate's decree,
Ever as idle wind in the hearers' ears,
That no bar to Troy's ruin might be set.
She saw those evil portents all through Troy
Conspiring to one end; loud rang her cry,
As roars a lioness that mid the brakes
A hunter has stabbed or shot, whereat her heart
Maddens, and down the long hills rolls her roar,
And her might waxes tenfold; so with heart
Aflame with prophecy came she forth her bower.
Over her snowy shoulders tossed her hair
Streaming far down, and wildly blazed her eyes.
Her neck writhed, like a sapling in the wind
Shaken, as moaned and shrieked that noble maid:
"O wretches! into the Land of Darkness now
We are passing; for all round us full of fire
And blood and dismal moan the city is.
Everywhere portents of calamity
Gods show: destruction yawns before your feet.
Fools! ye know not your doom: still ye rejoice
With one consent in madness, who to Troy
Have brought the Argive Horse where ruin lurks!
Oh, ye believe not me, though ne'er so loud
I cry! The Erinyes and the ruthless Fates,
For Helen's spousals madly wroth, through Troy
Dart on wild wings. And ye, ye are banqueting there
In your last feast, on meats befouled with gore,
When now your feet are on the Path of Ghosts!"

Then cried a scoffing voice an ominous word:
"Why doth a raving tongue of evil speech,
Daughter of Priam, make thy lips to cry
Words empty as wind? No maiden modesty
With purity veils thee: thou art compassed round
With ruinous madness; therefore all men scorn
Thee, babbler! Hence, thine evil bodings speak
To the Argives and thyself! For thee doth wait
Anguish and shame yet bitterer than befell
Presumptuous Laocoon. Shame it were
In folly to destroy the Immortals' gift."

So scoffed a Trojan: others in like sort
Cried shame on her, and said she spake but lies,
Saying that ruin and Fate's heavy stroke
Were hard at hand. They knew not their own doom,
And mocked, and thrust her back from that huge Horse
For fain she was to smite its beams apart,
Or burn with ravening fire. She snatched a brand
Of blazing pine-wood from the hearth and ran
In fury: in the other hand she bare

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