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Inovking the muse

June 19, 2011

The trembling priest along the shore return'd,
  And in the anguish of a father mourn'd.
  Disconsolate, not daring to complain,
  Silent he wander'd by the sounding main;
  Till, safe at distance, to his god he prays,
  The god who darts around the world his rays.

  "O Smintheus! sprung from fair Latona's line,(47)
  Thou guardian power of Cilla the divine,(48)
  Thou source of light! whom Tenedos adores,
  And whose bright presence gilds thy Chrysa's shores.
  If e'er with wreaths I hung thy sacred fane,(49)
  Or fed the flames with fat of oxen slain;
  God of the silver bow! thy shafts employ,
  Avenge thy servant, and the Greeks destroy."

  Thus Chryses pray'd.--the favouring power attends,
  And from Olympus' lofty tops descends.
  Bent was his bow, the Grecian hearts to wound;(50)
  Fierce as he moved, his silver shafts resound.
  Breathing revenge, a sudden night he spread,
  And gloomy darkness roll'd about his head.
  The fleet in view, he twang'd his deadly bow,
  And hissing fly the feather'd fates below.
  On mules and dogs the infection first began;(51)
  And last, the vengeful arrows fix'd in man.
  For nine long nights, through all the dusky air,
  The pyres, thick-flaming, shot a dismal glare.
  But ere the tenth revolving day was run,
  Inspired by Juno, Thetis' godlike son
  Convened to council all the Grecian train;
  For much the goddess mourn'd her heroes slain.(52)
  The assembly seated, rising o'er the rest,
  Achilles thus the king of men address'd:

  "Why leave we not the fatal Trojan shore,
  And measure back the seas we cross'd before?
  The plague destroying whom the sword would spare,
  'Tis time to save the few remains of war.
  But let some prophet, or some sacred sage,
  Explore the cause of great Apollo's rage;
  Or learn the wasteful vengeance to remove
  By mystic dreams, for dreams descend from Jove.(53)
  If broken vows this heavy curse have laid,
  Let altars smoke, and hecatombs be paid.
  So Heaven, atoned, shall dying Greece restore,
  And Phoebus dart his burning shafts no more."
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