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Short poem

George Chapman (1559?-1634)

The Sixth Book Of Homer's Iliads



          474                                                            To this great Hector said:
          475"Be well assur'd, wife, all these things in my kind cares are weigh'd,
          476But what a shame and fear it is to think how Troy would scorn
          477(Both in her husbands, and her wives, whom long-train'd gowns adorn)
          478That I should cowardly fly off! The spirit I first did breathe
          479Did never teach me that; much less, since the contempt of death
          480Was settled in me, and my mind knew what a worthy was,
          481Whose office is to lead in fight, and give no danger pass
          482Without improvement. In this fire must Hector's trial shine;
          483Here must his country, father, friends, be, in him, made divine.
          484And such a stormy day shall come (in mind and soul I know)
          485When sacred Troy shall shed her towers, for tears of overthrow;
          486When Priam, all his birth and power, shall in those tears be drown'd.
          487But neither Troy's posterity so much my soul doth wound,
          488Priam, nor Hecuba herself, nor all my brothers' woes
          489(Who, though so many, and so good, must all be food for foes,)
          490As thy sad state; when some rude Greek shall lead thee weeping hence,
          491These free days clouded, and a night of captive violence
          492Loading thy temples, out of which thine eyes must never see,
          493But spin the Greek wives' webs of task, and their fetch-water be
          494To Argos, from Messe{"i}des, or clear Hyperia's spring;
          495Which howsoever thou abhorr'st, Fate's such a shrewish thing
          496She will be mistress; whose cursed hands, when they shall crush out cries
          497From thy oppressions (being beheld by other enemies)
          498Thus they will nourish thy extremes: 'This dame was Hector's wife,
          499A man that, at the wars of Troy, did breathe the worthiest life
          500Of all their army.' This again will rub thy fruitful wounds,
          501To miss the man that to thy bands could give such narrow bounds.
          502But that day shall not wound mine eyes; the solid heap of night
          503Shall interpose, and stop mine ears against thy plaints and plight."

          504    This said, he reach'd to take his son; who, of his arms afraid,
          505And then the horse-hair plume, with which he was so overlaid,
          506Nodded so horribly, he cling'd back to his nurse, and cried.
          507Laughter affected his great sire, who doff'd, and laid aside
          508His fearful helm, that on the earth cast round about it light;
          509Then took and kiss'd his loving son, and (balancing his weight
          510In dancing him) those loving vows to living Jove he us'd,
          511And all the other bench of Gods: "O you that have infus'd
          512Soul to this infant, now set down this blessing on his star:
          513Let his renown be clear as mine; equal his strength in war;
          514And make his reign so strong in Troy, that years to come may yield
          515His facts this fame, when, rich in spoils, he leaves the conquer'd field
          516Sown with his slaughters: 'These high deeds exceed his father's worth.'
          517And let this echo'd praise supply the comforts to come forth
          518Of his kind mother with my life." This said, th' heroic sire
          519Gave him his mother; whose fair eyes fresh streams of love's salt fire
          520Billow'd on her soft cheeks, to hear the last of Hector's speech,
          521In which his vows compris'd the sum of all he did beseech
          522In her wish'd comfort. So she took into her odorous breast
          523Her husband's gift; who mov'd to see her heart so much oppress'd,
          524He dried her tears and thus desir'd: "Afflict me not, dear wife,
          525With these vain griefs. He doth not live, that can disjoin my life
          526And this firm bosom, but my fate; and Fate whose wings can fly?
          527Noble, ignoble, Fate controls. Once born, the best must die.
          528Go home, and set thy housewifery on these extremes of thought;
          529And drive war from them with thy maids; keep them from doing nought.
          530These will be nothing; leave the cares of war to men, and me,
          531In whom, of all the Ilion race, they take their highest degree."

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: George Chapman. The Iliads of Homer. 1611. STC 13634. Facs. edn. New York: Da Capo Press, 1969. English Experience 115. PA 4025 A2C5 1611A ROBA
First publication date: 1598
RPO poem editor: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 2RP.1.214.
Recent editing: 2:2002/5/17

Other poems by George Chapman