Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE ARGONAUTS (ARGONATUICA): JASON'S SOWING AND REAPING, by APOLLONIUS RHODIUS



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE ARGONAUTS (ARGONATUICA): JASON'S SOWING AND REAPING, by            
First Line: With the third part of day's diminishing
Last Line: Resentment, heavy on his heart to sit.
Alternate Author Name(s): Apollonius Of Rhodes


WITH the third part of day's diminishing
Still to be run from dawn, what time their lull
The ploughmen swinked invoke
Loosing their beasts from yoke,
The tireless ploughman ploughed his fallow full,
All the four roods of it, and finishing
Released the bulls from plough; them to the plain
He scared, and then returned to ship again,
Seeing the furrows free of the Earthborn still;
And there his mates' assembly
Spoke cheerfully to him, while he went to fill
His helmet with stream-water, quenching thirst.
And now he flexed his knees to move more nimbly
Swelling his heart with strength; his rage he rehearsed,
As savage as the boar that whets its tusks
Against the hunters, and to earthward drips
The seething froth down from its raging lips.
But now the Earthborn rose within their husks
On all that ground, and the grim Martial field
Bristled with horrid growth of sturdy shield,
And spear-shafts held two-handed,
And lightnings through the air of glittering helms;
The glitter reached Olympus from below,
As when deep snow the whole earth overwhelms,
And then the clouds in the dark night are disbanded
By a blowing wind, and all the packed stars show
Shining in the dark together; so they shone
Arisen from earth. But Jason, yet recalling
The wit of wise Medea, lifted a stone
Round and huge from the plain, the quoit appalling
Of Ares, god of war,
And four men's strength could never have raised it clear
An inch from the ground; but Jason in his hand
Took it, and with a run he heaved it far
Into their midst -- himself crouched happily under
His shield unseen; and the Colchians all gave tongue,
As the sea roars when it breaks on the reefs in thunder.
But dumb surprise to see the quoit so flung
Came on AEetes, while like eager hounds
The Earthborn men were falling by leaps and bounds
Howling upon each other, and slew each other
On their own spears; down on the earth their mother
They fell, like pines or oaks that the winds break
In storms; and like a star that fiery
Shoots out of heaven, leaving a burning wake,
To men a portent in the darkened sky
Visible flashing, -- so fell AEson's son
On the Earthborn men. Bare sword from sheath he drew
Smiting pell-mell, mowing them many down,
Some sidelong belly-high to air still pushing
Half up, some shoulder high, some standing new
Upon their feet, some now to battle rushing.
And as a fight for a boundary is begun,
So that the farmer fears they'll waste his lands,
And gripping a bent sickle in his hands
New whetted, goes and cuts the green corn down;
He never waits for the timely rays of the sun
To come and turn it brown --
So now the Earthborn harvest Jason cuts.
The furrows fill with blood like fountain ruts
Running with water, and still the dead were dropping
Some on their faces, clods of turned earth bitten
In teeth, some on their backs, and others flopping,
Looking like sea beasts, down on arm or flank;
And many of them were smitten
With not a footstep out of the earth; repressed
As far as they had risen in air, they sank
To earth, and clammy-faced took up their rest.
And so sometimes new planted vineyard-shoots
Droop to the ground, when Zeus has sent a squall
Immeasurable that broke them from their roots,
The drudgery of all the garden's men,
And sullenness and killing sorrows hit
The nursery owner, for he nursed them all;
So to the king AEetes entered then
Resentment, heavy on his heart to sit.





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