Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
 
The Grief of Achilles for the Slaying of Patroclus, Menoetius’ Son (from Iliad XVIII)
By George Chapman (1559?–1634)
 
THEY fought still like the rage of fire. And now Antilochus
Came to Æacides, whose mind was much solicitous
For that which, as he fear’d, was fall’n. He found him near the fleet
With upright sail-yards, uttering this to his heroic conceit:
‘Ay me, why see the Greeks themselves, thus beaten from the field,        5
And routed headlong to their fleet? O let not heaven yield
Effect to what my sad soul fears, that, as I was foretold,
The strongest Myrmidon next me, when I should still behold
The sun’s fair light, must part with it. Past doubt Menoetius’ son
Is he on whom that fate is wrought. O wretch, to leave undone        10
What I commanded; that, the fleet once freed of hostile fire,
Not meeting Hector, instantly he should his powers retire.’
  As thus his troubled mind discoursed, Antilochus appear’d,
And told with tears the sad news thus: ‘My lord, that must be heard
Which would to heaven I might not tell; Menoetius’ son lies dead,        15
And for his naked corse (his arms already forfeited,
And worn by Hector) the debate is now most vehement.’
  This said, grief darken’d all his powers. With both his hands he rent
The black mould from the forced earth, and pour’d it on his head,
Smear’d all his lovely face; his weeds, divinely fashioned,        20
All filed and mangled; and himself he threw upon the shore,
Lay, as laid out for funeral, then tumbled round, and tore
His gracious curls. His ecstasy he did so far extend,
That all the ladies won by him and his now slaughter’d friend,
Afflicted strangely for his plight, came shrieking from the tents,        25
And fell about him, beat their breasts, their tender lineaments
Dissolved with sorrow. And with them wept Nestor’s warlike son,
Fell by him, holding his fair hands, in fear he would have done
His person violence; his heart, extremely straiten’d, burn’d,
Beat, swell’d, and sigh’d as it would burst. So terribly he mourn’d,        30
That Thetis, sitting in the deeps of her old father’s seas,
Heard, and lamented.
 
 
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