Book Second -

Which shows what latent forces
May be in wooden horses.

All shut their mouths and opened wide their ears,
Blowing his nose and brushing off his tears
And feeling he was an important man,
Aeneas cleared his throat, and thus began:

Ah! Mrs. Dido, you can hardly know
How oft my tears like mountain torrents flow,
How oft I wail and shriek in piercing tones,
How oft cold chills run up and down my bones,
How oft in fear of what the skies portend,
My bristling locks in terror stand on end,
For, if you knew all this, you would not fail
To spare me the recital of this tale.
Besides, the stars are shining overhead,
And it is time the pious went to bed.
But if you want so very much to know
How came to Troy its final overthrow,
Although to think what trouble I was in
Still moves and frightens me, — I will begin.

The Greeks despaired, and well I think they might,
Of taking Troy in fair and open fight;
And so they had recourse to stratagem,
For which the wise Ulysses, one of them,
Was eminent, as well as for deceit,
Wit, eloquence, adventures, and conceit.
They built a horse, a mountain in its size;
If any modern sceptic this denies,
There is a proof which men but seldom see:
Just here all the authorities agree.
Within the horse's body laid away,
A chosen band of Argive heroes lay,
And filled completely, crowded side by side,
The caves and caverns hollowed out inside.
Their situation could not have been pleasant,
For, although men were tougher than at present,
The question had not yet been agitated,
How dwellings should be drained and ventilated.
Then all the other Greeks, to our delight,
Retired from Troy and soon were out of sight.
We liked to go where they had been before,
And view their camp on the deserted shore.
Some crowd around the horse, and with surprise
Behold its quite unprecedented size:
And one — whether for gain I cannot tell,
Or loving art not wisely but too well —
Proposed to move the horse from its position
And place it in the town on exhibition.
But, on the contrary, the good and wise
That we destroy the monster all advise,
But as to methods they do not agree;
Some wish to cast the horse into the sea;
Some, to explore each hollow and recess;
And while the zealous and devout express
For an auto de fe their predilection,
The scientific favor vivisection.

Since parties were so evenly divided,
The horse's fate remained long undecided.
At last Laocoon with earnest words addressed
The meeting, and his anxious fears expressed:
" What, fellow citizens! how can you be so green?
There may be something bad in this machine;
It may be infernal and contain a lot
Of dynamite, torpedoes, and what not.
Think you the Greeks, with no ends of their own,
Would give us gifts? Thus is Ulysses known?
There's something wrong; men seldom prove so kind
When they have nothing practical in mind. "
Laocoon had ceased and soon withdrew.
We all were still uncertain what to do;
But all our doubts at last were dissipated
By an event that none anticipated.
Laocoon had gone in bathing; — well,
What do you think I am about to tell?
That he was drowned? — I should not shudder so,
If that were all. He had the cramp? Oh no!
Two — think of it, now — (for they were twins)
Two horrid monster lobsters clutched his shins!
As clings the miser to his hoarded gold,
As clings self-love to boastful lies once told,
As clings the ship-wrecked to a floating plank,
So clung each lobster to a helpless shank.
He screams; we run — not to his aid — but all
To take the horse within the city wall;
For who can be so stupid, not to see
What must the meaning of this portent be?
Two lobsters by some god, 'twas clear, were sent
To inflict on him a cruel punishment,
Which proves he must have been a wicked man;
And so, it follows, we must take to Troy
The horse he madly urged us to destroy.
A string around the horse's neck we tie;
Each leg with wheels we thoughtfully supply;
To let it pass, our gates and turrets fall;
The fatal engine scales the battered wall;
All help; " the boys, too, sing a sacred song
Around the unmarried girls " ; it moves along.
Oh Ilium, dwelling of the gods! Oh Fate!
Four times it stuck in passing through the gate;
Four times the whole was on the point of breaking;
Four times those heroes got a thorough shaking.
But all in vain it was, and all in vain
Cassandra sang her melancholy strain.
Of seers and prophets she has proved the best,
The striking opposite of all the rest,
For, strange to tell, she never was deceived,
And, stranger still, she never was believed.

There was a sound of revelry by night —
In fact, you'll find what now I have to write
All written in Childe Harold, canto third,
To which the curious reader is referred.
But one important thing is there omitted
Which to insert I beg to be permitted.
Though witty, Byron's muse is sentimental,
Unsteady in the moral and the mental;
But mine is modelled, for the greater part,
On wholesome principles of classic art,
And does not try to make out heroes frantic
With patent griefs, despairs, and loves romantic.
Or show, in sonnets of the impassioned school,
That pretty girls have flirted with a fool.
But being sensible, my lady muse,
To notice well known facts will not refuse;
For instance, she'll not say that this digression
Is the effect of sudden inspiration,
But honestly and simply will confess
It was suggested by the painful stress
Of having nothing ready for the press.
I was about to tell, when I digressed,
Of something that Lord Byron has suppressed,
The revelry was more than just a ball;
That hardly had been revelry at all.
Our noble Trojans, hearty and robust,
Were very fond of going " on a bust " ;
That day some slight excess might be forgiven
Since from our town we thought the foe was driven.
Full many times we fill both plate and glass
And many times around the bottles pass,
Until, stretched here and there upon the floor,
By ten o'clock we all begin to snore.
The Greeks could have it all in their own way
For buried deep in wine and sleep we lay.
And I, as the most pious and robust,
Had had the largest share, it was but just;
But then, alas! old nature is so blind
To my prerogatives, and so unkind,
Nay, so unjust! — for which is justice true,
To give the same to all, or each his due?
But nature's undiscriminating laws
Hardheartedly unite effect and cause;
Lest ample cause its due effect should lack,
The nightmare came my reeling brain to rack.
I see dead Hector's ghost, unearthly sight,
Rise up before me to a towering height:
His feet are swollen; in his matted hair
The blood is clotted; all his wounds are bare;
Unwonted tears his bloodshot eye-balls dim;
'Tis Hector still, but oh! how changed from him
Who to the hostile galleys pushed the fight,
With Vulcan's flames and Vulcan's armor bright.
Upon this sight, in wonder and amaze
(As Mrs. Hemans would have said) I gaze;
At last I say, " O Hector, are you dumb?
Tell me at least from which place you have come.
You don't look happy; tell me what you seek;
Or have you come for nothing? speak, speak, speak. "
The vision grew more hideous as I spoke;
I could not bear it now, I screamed, I woke;
But scarcely was that apparition gone
When one, more horrible, I looked upon:
Men see in dreams the sweetest things they see,
Would that the saddest but a dream might be!

I was awakened by a dreadful noise;
Down every street there ran a stream of boys;
Teams rattled by, the air with yells resounded;
In fact 'twas clear the fire alarm had sounded.
I learned then that the Greeks of Troy were masters,
And I expected nothing but disasters
But e'en that knowledge could not make me stay;
I wished to join the crowd without delay;
For there are some that sooner would expire
Than not be in the way at every fire.
So furiously I rushed to meet my death
That I was very soon quite out of breath.
I had to stop: to me it then occurred
That fearful, needless dangers I incurred.
The brazen-coated Greeks were in the town,
And I had only on my dressing gown.
This midnight summons rang the war's alarms,
And it behooves the brave to die in arms.
Then happily I saw just at my feet
A murdered Greek outstretched there in the street.
I put his armor on, that this disguise
Might blunt the sharpness of Greek spears and eyes.
In war 'tis as in politics, you know,
Honor and fraud are all one in a foe.
Ashes of Troy and of my home! be ye
My witnesses: I swear, I did not flee
From any battle or from any strife
Except when there was danger of my life,
And, but for fate, I might have chanced to die.
Yes, none had e'er as large a share as I
Of that consummate valor in his heart
Of which discretion is the better part.

On every side the Greeks and fate prevailed;
To fight with them would little have availed.
But I encountered one on whom to wreak
The vengeance that my baffled rage did seek,
For I met Helen; was she not a Greek?
I had not had good luck when fighting men;
Here was a woman; I might try again.
Her murder would have been a culmination
Suiting the hero and the situation,
But suiting neither, may be, quite as well
As what instead now actually befell.
I know not how, the nightmare came once more,
No doubt for the same reason as before;
But this was less surprising than the other:
It was not Hector now, it was my mother.
" If Priam could be saved or Priam's land
They had been saved, " said she, " by your right hand.
Enough of them. But look out now, my son,
For your own father, wife, and little one.
To blame my lovely Helen were a shame;
It is the gods, the gods, you ought to blame.
Do what your mother bids, that all may say
I've brought you up in a right pious way. "
Thus spoke my goddess mother: as I heard
I hastened to obey her timely word.
And, under cover of the friendly night,
To save myself and family by flight.

Now suddenly there went forth a report
Throughout the world of a most painful sort.
There is a kind of being whom in speed
No other form of evil can exceed;
He waxes strong through change and agitation,
And gets his living by exaggeration;
At first all smiles, politeness, deference,
Soon queries endless, boundless impudence.
He has wide-open ears and watchful eyes
As many as his quills, and garbles lies
As many as the questions that he plies.
As much the publisher he is, in sooth,
Of falsehood, as the herald of the truth.
This race men name the newspaper reporters,
But all immortals call them the distorters.
Hear how into their hands we heroes fall,
And from one slander learn to know them all,
The manner of my famous flight from Troy
With my dear father and my little boy,
Was not that which some laughter-loving scribe
Has taken cruel pleasure to describe.
I did not sling Anchises on my back
As if the old gentleman had been a pack;
I took my father with me in a hack,
Of which in Troy, of course, there was no lack.
Besides, who could have told that mean reporter
I ever was a packman or a porter?
Or who can say, if their lives are surveyed,
That heroes ever had an honest trade?
My little son Iulus was conveyed
In his own baby carriage by the maid.
How cruel to have made him run a race
With one who flees from foes at such a pace!
For, though my arms in battle are not strong,
For flight my legs are fortunately long.

My dear papa Anchises, I must own,
Was far too helpless to be left alone;
My piety and filial love prescribed
That with him in the carriage I should ride.
My wife would have to walk, — but never mind.
I told her she might keep some yards behind
But never let the hack get out of sight,
Else she would lose her way in such a night.
Indeed the terror of it was excessive;
The darkness and the silence were oppressive.
Darkness, I think, and silence too, is hateful:
They seem to me more ominous and fateful
Than even hostile armies in array
From which it's possible to run away,
You've chanced to hear that soldierly remark,
That every man's a coward in the dark;
Now of the brave this may or may not be,
But it is eminently true of me.
And here I wish to call the quick attention
Of the Society for the Prevention
Of Cruelty to Children to a fact
On which immediately it ought to act.
Some children have a native hate and dread
Of being sent up in the dark to bed;
They fear the silence and the darkness; why,
They nightly feel as on that night did I;
Yet no one thinks of what they have to bear,
While I am called a hero everywhere.
Our trip was almost done, when down the street
Was heard the distant sound of tramping feet.
Out of the window then I put my head,
And, peering out into the darkness, said:

" On, driver, faster! they are drawing near;
I see their flashing arms, their measured tread I hear.
They come! the Greek! the Greek! " I cannot say
What happened next; I fainted dead away;
Nor did full consciousness return to me
Till we had reached the margin of the sea.
But, Oh! when all were ready to set sail,
Escape the Greeks, and catch the favoring gale,
I missed my wife Creusa; everywhere
I looked for her, but no, she was not there.
Some accident had carried her away;
Or she got tired, or wandered from the way;
Or of our hack she may have lost the trace
When danger counselled us to mend our pace;
For the result, which still remains the same,
The hostile gods are very much to blame,
Some madness took possession of my brain
And I resolved to enter Troy again,
To run new dangers and to risk my life;
And all for what? why, just to find my wife!
I need not say such mental aberration
In one like me must be of brief duration;
And, when I found my former home on fire,
I saw the wisest plan was to retire:
My lost Creusa never would be found;
Ghosts and armed Greeks were stalking all around;
I dread the sight of one of either kind,
But then, on seeing hosts of both combined,
My voice stuck in my throat, I could not speak,
My hair stood upright, color left my cheek.
It had been suicide to stay; then, too,
What would my poor abandoned father do
Without my words to quiet his alarm
Or the protection of my valiant arm?
I hurried back as quickly as I could
To where my father and Iulus stood;
We all embarked, and bade our home farewell.

This is the story you would have me tell:
But in narrating it I must not fail
To point a moral and adorn the tale.
Had not my piety been quite so great,
On that dread night I should have met my fate;
If I had left my aged father's side
And in that hack refused with him to ride, —
If I had failed to see that my own life
Was far more needful to him than my wife, —
My warm blood would have dyed a Grecian sword.
Thus did my virtue prove its own reward.
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