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Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 4/The death of Œnone

THE DEATH OF ŒNONE

 

I.

Now many a rolling month was gone,
And years were past away,
And Paris he dwelt in merry Troy town,
He and his lady gay.

The lady Œnone sate in her bower,
Nursing her sorrow and teen;
Ivy and briony twined her round
And vine-leaves nodded between.

All pale and wan was that lone lady,
And thrice she deeply sighed:
’Tis long, ’tis long for a knight to be
Away from his own true bride.

But here yestreen came the wild woman,[1]
That redeth things to come
And up the mountain-side she ran,
And away from her Trojan home.

She spake me words so keen, so keen,
And shriek’d one deadly shriek:
And now I know the town below
Will fall by hand of Greek.

And they will slay my traitor lord,
Their hands in his blood they will wet;
Now, by my fay,” said the lone lady,
“I’ll save my shepherd yet.”

Death of Oenone (1).png

With that she clapt her lily-white hands,
Her lily-white hands clapt she,
And to her came running her sweet young son,
The boy was fair to see.

All men might tell that scann’d him well
He came of a royal race,—
By the eyes below his forehead of snow,
And the light of his god-like face.

Twice seven summers on Ida hill,
And all with his lone lone mother;
And all with the goats and painted pards,
For a sister and a brother.

Now hie thee, hie thee, my winsome lad,
And tell your traitor sire,
The Greek will take Troy town so gay,
And burn it in the fire.

The wild woman she redd it to me,
In sooth as I you say:
And yet there are days but two and three
And the Greek will have his way.

“But tell him the wild wood twinkles green,
And waves the tall fir-tree;
And the hills might keep a shepherd, I ween,
That have long kept thee and me, my son,
That have long kept thee and me.”

 

II.

Lady Helen she look’d from a window down.
Her face shone clear as the light:
Now who comes walking thro’ merry Troy town,
A boy full fair to sight.

All men may see by his bearing free
He comes of a royal race,—
By the eyes below his forehead of snow,
And the charm of his god-like face.”

O lady, I come from Ida hill,
In sooth as I you say;
And I would speak with Lord Paris:
Fair lady, say me not nay.”

Lo, I will bring thee to Lord Paris,
For thou art a comely lad;
And take this mantle thy shoulder upon,
I doubt it will make him glad.”


She gave him a mantle so bright, so bright,
Her hands wove long ago:
“Pardy,” she said, “he will love the lad
That I have engirded so.”

Lord Paris lay in a chamber dark,
Apart from his Grecian wife:
He saw the very comeliest lad
He had seen in all his life.

He raised him up from his couch of gold,
He spoke the boy full fair;
Ay me, and spied the mantle bright
That girt his shoulder there.

“Some trifle,” quoth he, “she wove long syne
For her Grecian husband true;
And this young lad that wears it now,
He shall it dearly rue.”

With that he rushed upon the lad,
He aimed a deadly blow:
The straight young limbs on the floor lay dead,
And life’s blood ran therefro.

Then up and spake the Lady Helen,
“Lord Paris, now what have you done?
The mantle I wove long syne for you,
And this was your sweet young son.”

 

III.

They told his lone mother on Ida hill,
At the setting of the sun:
Never a sigh nor a shriek she utter’d,—
Of mother’s tears there was none.

She looked with no word out over the sea,
Then when the day was done,—
“O gods! come never more help from me
To the slayer of my young son!”

Death of Oenone (2).png

They buried the boy by salt-sea shore,
Waves came soothing his sleep;
Lord Paris at eventide wander’d forth,
And laid him down there to weep.

Lame Philoctetès bent his bow—
Full well might he see him there lie—
Said, “Greet now brave Hector, Lord Paris, below,
For this hour thou shalt die.”

He smote him right into the traitor heel,
Smote him there as he lay:
Now bear me to Ida,” said Lord Paris,
“With all the speed ye may.

The lady Œnone hath cunning and skill,
Never leech so mighty as she;
And if to save me she but will,
This arrow is harmless to me.”

But the gods had heard her bitter prayer,
Then when the day was done:
And good came never more forth from her
To the slayer of her young son.

She look’d on him dying—the shepherd she knew—
And then she look’d on him dead:
A false false-hearted man he was,
But he was fair,” she said.

When the stars began to look out from heaven,
A corpse by his side she lay:
And down Scamander two silent ghosts
Slode into the evening gray.

H. M. M.

 

  1. Cassandra.