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The Lovers of Troy
By Joe DiCarlo
Copyright 1958, Joe DiCarlo
A poem about two lovers at the battle of Troy.
The fiery chariot of the east had crossed through many skies
The frost of winter had given way to many a blooming spring
For seasons like the restless waves had followed each in line
Through myriad ages of the past, aye, since the dawn of time
Till time stood still one summer's eve, still as the sultry air
And the briny sea swells shivered beneath the pallid glow
Of moon and stars. The sister fates now rested
From their weird and merciless task. For all things were in readiness.
Above the walls of Troy, night flickered with the tongues
Of flames that had been raised in thanks to all the gods
For relief that had been sought for ten long starving years
Had entered white and beautiful, through the unresisting gates of Troy.
The great horse had been wheeled through clouds of dust
In the heat of the noonday sun, to the heart of the Ilyrian city
A tribute of peace and of friendship, of sympathy from the Greeks.
And now the Trojans were feasting. Vibrant strains
Of revelry and dance floated over the Trojan walls
To the Greek soldiers, far from their native soil
Where many had ripened from young men into fierce hardened
And where many had left their bones, far from the hearts of loved ones.
Years of battle and hunger, of frost and scorching heat
Had dried and withered their hearts, till those organs
ceased to beat to the pulsing power of love.
Not one gentle thought remained to those who had survived
Their speech was as hard and as callous
As their sinewy, knotted arms. And all who
Had first gone to battle with no real hate in their hearts
For their foes in the city of Troy, now hated with the fierceness
Of hell. The many griefs that descended upon them
Like the plague to a crowded slum, they laid to the charge of their enemies.
The Trojans, who suffered more cruelly, than ever the Greeks had done.
Refuse there was in that city
In every alleyway and street. Disease gave birth to death
And death gave birth to disease.
An infernal nursery of waste. So cruel was the suffering
That demon spirits attacked the minds
Of mothers of children, till crazed they fed on the flesh
Of the young who had died.
Yet tonight the Trojans were celebrating
Emaciated men, so weak, that a touch to their lips
Of the wineskins could make them reel with a stupor of giddiness
And the women caroused with their men.
Onto this scene there descended,
When the moon had left the sky
The grim warrior sons of Greece
From the bowels of the horse of peace.
The most stalwart had been selected
The hearts most steeled with hate.
One thought was common between them
To make of this short bloody night
An end to all of their suff'ring.
The horse of crude planks had been fashioned
Of cedar ribs,
Had been reared thirty feet from the earth
Had been worked upon and planed
And smoothed to a silky perfection
By artisans more valued by the Grecian leaders
Than warriors themselves.
It shone majestic and silver
On that fateful night of old.
And two young lovers embraced
Close by the great wooden cartwheels
Upon which the great white horse rested.
Slowly, with silence and stealth
An opening appeared in the neck
An aperture of dark foreboding,
High above the two young lovers.
Youth had been tested as never,
It had since the dawn of time
Been tested to hope
In the face of death and was
Testing the power of youth
To love and have faith
In the clutches of reality.
And all that was beautiful
In the desperate city of Troy
All the divine gifts to humans
Were embraced in the arms of those lovers.
A figure appeared in the opening
A face glared down on the city
And eyes that were no longer human
That glowed like the eyes of the tiger
Spied the young lovers.
Suddenly the maiden
Tensed with a thrill of horror
For she saw the hate far above her
And just as a scream left her lips
A shaft left a Grecian bow
And plunged to the heart of the maiden.
One hand she had still in her lover's
And it tightened with the onslaught of death.
For the moment the soul of the maiden
Grasped with that delicate hand
At the soul of her lover.
Then was lost with the limpness of death.
Still another shaft followed on the path of the first
And it cleft the broad shoulders in twain
Of the young maiden's winsome young lover.
A cry of pain the youth uttered
And next he called her by name
Whom he had loved above all earthly creatures
And in spite of the woes of the city.
The two warm bodies collapsed,
And fell to the earth close together.
The name of the maiden will echo
Down through the ages forever
Calling all loved ones departed.
Now a rope tumbled down from the opening
And the warriors descended in silence.
The gates of Troy then were flung wide
And the enemies swarmed in like shadows
To begin their work of destruction
When actually it was all at an end.
They left in their wake bloody corpses
But they found no more hearts to destroy.
All else had been withered beforehand
In the parched, sieged city of Troy.
And only two hearts had escaped
By some miracle none can explain
The blight of despair.