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The Argive Women
by [?]

The Argive Women[2]


* * * * *


The women’s house in the House of Paris in Troy.

TIME.–The Tenth year of the War.

* * * * *

Helen’s women are lying alone in the twilight

hour. Chthonoe presently rises and throws a

little incense upon the altar flame. Then she

begins to speak to the Image of Aphrodite in

a low and tired voice.


Goddess of burning and little rest,
By the hand swaying on thy breast,
By glancing eye and slow sweet smile
Tell me what long look or what guile
Of thine it was that like a spear
Pierced her heart, who caged me here
In this close house, to be with her
Mistress at once and prisoner!
Far from earth and her pleasant ways
I lie, whose nights are as my days
In this dim house, where on the wall
I watch the shadows rise and fall
And know not what is reckt or done
By men and horses out in the sun,
Nor heed their traffic, nor their cheer
As forth they go or back, but hear
The fountain plash into the pond,
The brooding doves, and sighs of fond
Lovers whose lips yearn as they sever
For longer joy, joy such as never
Hath man but in the mind. But what
Men do without, that I know not
Who see them but as shadows thrown
Upon a screen. I see them blown
Like clouds of flies about the plain
Where the winds sweep them and make vain
Their panoplies. They hem the verge
Of this high wall to guard us–urge
Galloping horses into war
And meet in shock of battle, far
Below us and our dreams: withal
Ten years have past us in this thrall
Since Helen came with eyes agleam
To Troy, and trod the ways of dream.


Men came about us, crying, “The Greeks!
Ships out at sea with high-held peaks
Like questing birds!” But I lay still
Kissing, nor turned.


So I, until
The herald broke into my sleep,
Crying Agamemnon on the deep
With ships from high Mykenai. Then
I minded he was King of Men–
But not of women in the arms
They loved.


I heard their shrill alarms
Faint and far off, like an old fame.
Below this guarded house men came–
Chariots and horses clasht; they cried
King Agamemnon in his pride,
Or Hector, or young Diomede;
But I was kissing, could not heed
Aught save the eyes that held mine bound.
Anon a hush–anon the sound
Of hooves resistless, pounding–a cry,
“Achilles! Save yourselves!” But I–
Clinging I lay, and sighed in sign
That love must weary at last, even mine–
Even mine, Sweetheart!


Who watcht when flared
Lord Hector like a meteor, dared
The high stockade and fired the ships?
I watcht his lips who had had my lips.