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I thus addressed them: “Warriors, vainly brave,
if ye indeed desire to follow one
who dares the uttermost brave men may do,
our evil plight ye see: the gods are fled
from every altar and protecting fire,
which were the kingdom's stay. Ye offer aid
unto your country's ashes. Let us fight
unto the death! To arms, my men, to arms!
The single hope and stay of desperate men
is their despair.” Thus did I rouse their souls.
Then like the ravening wolves, some night of cloud,
when cruel hunger in an empty maw
drives them forth furious, and their whelps behind
wait famine-throated; so through foemen's steel
we flew to surest death, and kept our way
straight through the midmost town . The wings of night
brooded above us in vast vault of shade.
But who the bloodshed of that night can tell?
What tongue its deaths shall number, or what eyes
find meed of tears to equal all its woe?
The ancient City fell, whose throne had stood
age after age. Along her streets were strewn
the unresisting dead; at household shrines
and by the temples of the gods they lay.
Yet not alone was Teucrian blood required:
oft out of vanquished hearts fresh valor flamed,
and the Greek victor fell. Anguish and woe
were everywhere; pale terrors ranged abroad,
and multitudinous death met every eye.
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