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from leftward, with a deafening thunder-peal,
cleaving the blackness of the vaulted sky,
a meteor-star in trailing splendor ran,
exceeding bright. We watched it glide sublime
o'er tower and town, until its radiant beam
in forest-mantled Ida died away;
but left a furrow on its track in air,
a glittering, Iong line, while far and wide
the sulphurous fume and exhalation flowed.
My father strove not now; but lifted him
in prayer to all the gods, in holy awe
of that auspicious star, and thus exclaimed:
“Tarry no moment more! Behold, I come!
Whithersoe'er ye lead, my steps obey.
Gods of my fathers, O, preserve our name!
Preserve my son, and his! This augury
is yours; and Troy on your sole strength relies.
I yield, dear son; I journey at thy side.”
He spoke; and higher o'er the blazing walls
leaped the loud fire, while ever nearer drew
the rolling surges of tumultuous flame.
“Haste, father, on these bending shoulders climb!
This back is ready, and the burden light;
one peril smites us both, whate'er befall;
one rescue both shall find. Close at my side
let young Iulus run, while, not too nigh,
my wife Creusa heeds what way we go.
Ye servants of our house, give ear, I pray,
to my command. Outside the city's gates
lies a low mound and long since ruined fane
to Ceres vowed; a cypress, ancient shade
o'erhangs it, which our fathers' pious care
protected year by year; by various paths
be that our meeting-place. But in thy hands
bring, sire, our household gods, and sanctifies:
for me to touch, who come this very hour
from battle and the fresh blood of the slain,
were but abomination, till what time
in living waters I shall make me clean.”
So saying, I bowed my neck and shoulders broad,
o'erspread me with a lion's tawny skin,
and lifted up my load. Close at my side
little Iulus twined his hand in mine
and followed, with unequal step, his sire.
My wife at distance came. We hastened on,
creeping through shadows; I, who once had viewed
undaunted every instrument of war
and all the gathered Greeks in grim array,
now shook at every gust, and heard all sounds
with fevered trepidation, fearing both
for him I bore and him who clasped my hand.
Now near the gates I drew, and deemed our flight
safely at end, when suddenly I heard
the sounding tread of many warriors
that seemed hard-by, while through the murky night
my father peered, and shouted, “O my son,
away, away! for surely all our foes
are here upon us, and my eyes behold
the glance of glittering shields and flash of arms.”
O, then some evil-working, nameless god
clouded my senses quite: for while I sped
along our pathless way, and left behind
all paths and regions known—O wretched me!—
Creusa on some dark disaster fell;
she stopped, or wandered, or sank down undone,—
I never knew what way,—and nevermore
I looked on her alive. Yet knew I not
my loss, nor backward turned a look or thought,
till by that hallowed hill to Ceres vowed
we gathered all,— and she alone came not,
while husband, friends, and son made search in vain.
What god, what man, did not my grief accuse
in frenzied word? In all the ruined land
what worse woe had I seen? Entrusting then
my sire, my son, and all the Teucrian gods
to the deep shadows of a slanting vale
where my allies kept guard, I tried me back
to that doomed town, re-girt in glittering arms.
Resolved was I all hazards to renew,
all Troy to re-explore, and once again
offer my life to perils without end.
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