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the Cyclops in vast cavern forging steel,
naked Pyracmon and gigantic-limbed
Brontes and Steropes; beneath their blows
a lightning-shaft, half-shaped, half-burnished lay,
such as the Thunderer is wont to fling
in numbers from the sky, but formless still.
Three strands of whirling storm they wove with three
of bursting cloud, and three did interfuse
of ruddy-gleaming fires and winged winds;
then fearful lightnings on the skilful forge
they welded with loud horror, and with flames
that bear swift wrath from Jove. Elsewhere a crew
toiled at the chariot and winged wheel
wherewith the war-god wakens from repose
heroes and peopled cities. Others wrought
the awful Aegis, herald of dismay,
by angry Pallas worn; they burnished bright
the golden serpent-scales and wreathing snakes,
till from the corselet of the goddess glared
the Gorgon's severed head and rolling eyes.
“Cyclops of Aetna,” Vulcan cried, “have done!
Leave ev'ry task unfinished, and receive
my new command! Good armor must be forged
for warrior brave. For this I need to use
your utmost sinew and your swiftest hand,
with all your master skill. No lingering now!”
Swift the command, and swiftly they divide
to each his portion, and united urge
the common task. Forth fow the molten streams
of brass and gold, and, melted in fierce fiame,
the deeply-wounding steel like liquid flows.
A mighty shield took shape, its single orb
sufficient to withstand the gathered shock
of all the Latin arms; for seven times
they welded ring with ring. Some deftly ply
the windy bellows, which receive and give
the roaring blasts; some plunge in cooling pond
the hissing metal, while the smithy floor
groans with the anvil's weight, as side by side
they lift their giant arms in numbered blows
and roll with gripe of tongs the ponderous bars.
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