Helen of Troy
Book 2. The Spell Of Aphrodite
The coming of Aphrodite, and how she told Helen that she must depart in company with
Paris, but promised withal that Helen, having fallen into a deep sleep, should awake
forgetful of her old life, and ignorant of her shame, and blameless of those evil deeds that
the Goddess thrust upon her.
Now in the upper chamber o'er the gate
Lay Menelaus on his carven bed,
And swift and sudden as the stroke of Fate
A deep sleep fell upon his weary head.
But the soft-winged God with wand of lead
Came not near Helen; wistful did she lie,
Till dark should change to grey, and grey to red,
And golden throned Morn sweep o'er the sky.
Slow pass'd the heavy night: like one who fears
The step of murder, she lies quivering,
If any cry of the night bird she hears;
And strains her eyes to mark some dreadful thing,
If but the curtains of the window swing,
Stirr'd by the breath of night, and still she wept
As she were not the daughter of a king,
And no strong king, her lord, beside her slept.
Now in that hour, the folk who watch the night,
Shepherds and fishermen, and they that ply
Strange arts and seek their spells in the star-light,
Beheld a marvel in the sea and sky,
For all the waves of all the seas that sigh
Between the straits of Helle and the Nile,
Flush'd with a flame of silver suddenly,
From soft Cythera to the Cyprian isle.
And Hesperus, the kindest star of heaven,
That bringeth all things good, wax'd pale, and straight
There fell a flash of white malignant levin
Among the gleaming waters desolate;
The lights of sea and sky did mix and mate
And change to rosy flame, and thence did fly