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Helen Redeemed and Other Poems

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PROEM Sing of the end of Troy, and of that floodOf passion by the bloodOf heroes consecrate, by poet's craftHallowed, if that thin waftOf godhead blown upon thee stretch thy songTo span such store of strongAnd splendid vision of immortal themesLate harvested in dreams,Albeit long years laid up in tilth. Most meetThou sing that slim and sweetFair woman for whose bosom and delightParis, as well he might,Wrought all the woe, and held her to his costAnd Troy's, and won and lostPerforce; for who could look on her or feelHer near and not dare stealOne hour of her, or hope to hold in barsSuch wonder of the starsUndimmed? As soon expect to cage the roseOf dawn which comes and goesFitful, or leash the shadows of the hills,Or music of upland rillsAs Helen's beauty and not tarnish itWith thy poor market wit,Adept to hue the wanton in the wild,Defile the undefiled!Yet by the oath thou swearedst, standing highWhere piled rocks testifyThe holy dust, and from Therapnai's holdOver the rippling woldDidst look upon Amyklai's, where sunriseFirst dawned in Helen's eyes,Take up thy tale, good poet, strain thine artTo sing her rendered heart,Given last to him who loved her first, nor swervedFrom loving, but was nervedTo see through years of robbery and shameHer spirit, a clear flame,Eloquent of her birthright. Tell his peace,And hers who at last found easeIn white-arm'd Heré, holy husbanderOf purer fire than e'erTo wife gave Kypris. Helen, and Thee singIn whom her beauties ring,Fair body of fair mind fair acolyte,Star of my day and night!

18th September 1912.

FIRST STAVE THE DEATH OF ACHILLES Where Simoeis and Xanthos, holy streams,Flow brimming on the level, and chance gleamsBetray far Ida through a rended cloudAnd hint the awful home of Zeus, whose shroudThe thunder is—'twixt Ida and the mainBehold gray Ilios, Priam's fee, the plainAbout her like a carpet; from whose heightThe watchman, ten years watching, every nightCounteth the beacon fires and sees no lessTheir number as the years wax and duressOf hunger thins the townsmen day by day—More than the Greeks kill plague and famine slay.Here in their wind-swept city, ten long yearsBeset and in this tenth in blood and tearsAnd havocry to fall, old Priam's sonsGuard still their gods, their wives and little ones,Guard Helen still, for whose fair womanhoodThe sin was done, woe wrought, and all the bloodOf Danaan and Dardan in their prideShed; nor yet so the end, for Heré criedShrill on the heights more vengeance on wrong done,And Greek or Trojan paid it. Late or soonBy sword or bitter arrow they went hence,Each with their goodliest paying one man's offence.Goodliest in Troy fell Hector; back to GreekThen swung the doomstroke, and to Dis the bleakMust pass great Hector's slayer. Zeus on high,Hidden from men, held up the scales; the skyTold Thetis that her son must go the wayHe sent Queen Hecuba's—himself must pay,Himself though young, splendid Achilles' self,The price of manslaying, with blood for pelf....