He forced his way through fumes and flakes of fire
To bring to her dark end the world's desire,
Helen, his wife, adulterously famed,
Through whom he stood, as in a bright light, shamed
To nations and generations without end.
Not even oblivion would prove his friend.
He shook with outrage at the old deceit
Till yesterday's disgrace became today's:
He was the victim of the poets' lays,
He was the butt of jests all men repeat....
And he would track her to Troy's last retreat,
Slaying her as the priest at the altar slays
The ewe, with neck drawn back, before his god.
With sword swept from its sheath, in resolute hand,
Alone, with her the sacrifice he planned, —
Resolute, down the burning ways he trod...
She would cry for mercy — which he would deny:
Unswervingly the crimson blade he'd ply;
She would plead old love and the old, bright bridal joy,
Would every former blandishment employ:
In spite of her sweet voice, he would destroy,
Utterly, soul from body, Helen of Troy!...
But, when he found her there, no halting word
Begging for pity, bade him stay his sword...
She lay before him like a broken thing,
A toy that sleepy children cast aside....
One white breast gleamed, and glowed her sloping side:
Through her rent robe the old beauty peeped again.
That had brought battle to two worlds of men....
She was not weeping, and she said no word...
He swept his vengeful sword back in its sheath
While love rejoiced in victory over death...
Only the far-off falling roofs were heard...
She opened her shut eyes and gazed at him,
Staring in wide fear, and that famous face
Rose on him like the young, still moon at dawn
Attended by night's final, fading star:
Warm memories were near, and hate was far;
Gone was his anger, and his hatred gone.
This was the woman that his soul had wed...
He did not care what they would say in song;
He laid his hand upon her forlorn head....
With simple, broken words that lovers say
He raised her up; he led his wife away!
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