Friedrich Schiller

10 November 1759 – 9 May 1805 / Marbach, Württemberg

Feast Of Victory

Priam's castle-walls had sunk,
Troy in dust and ashes lay,
And each Greek, with triumph drunk,
Richly laden with his prey,
Sat upon his ship's high prow,
On the Hellespontic strand,
Starting on his journey now,
Bound for Greece, his own fair land.
Raise the glad exulting shout!
Toward the land that gave them birth
Turn they now the ships about,
As they seek their native earth.

And in rows, all mournfully,
Sat the Trojan women there,--
Beat their breasts in agony,
Pallid, with dishevelled hair.
In the feast of joy so glad
Mingled they the song of woe,
Weeping o'er their fortunes sad,
In their country's overthrow.
"Land beloved, oh, fare thee well!
By our foreign masters led,
Far from home we're doomed to dwell,--
Ah, how happy are the dead!"

Soon the blood by Calchas spilt
On the altar heavenward smokes;
Pallas, by whom towns are built
And destroyed, the priest invokes;
Neptune, too, who all the earth
With his billowy girdle laves,--
Zeus, who gives to terror birth,
Who the dreaded Aegis waves.
Now the weary fight is done,
Ne'er again to be renewed;
Time's wide circuit now is run,
And the mighty town subdued!

Atreus' son, the army's head,
Told the people's numbers o'er,
Whom he, as their captain, led
To Scamander's vale of yore.
Sorrow's black and heavy clouds
Passed across the monarch's brow:
Of those vast and valiant crowds,
Oh, how few were left him now!
Joyful songs let each one raise,
Who will see his home again,
In whose veins the life-blood plays,
For, alas! not all remain!

"All who homeward wend their way,
Will not there find peace of mind;
On their household altars, they
Murder foul perchance may find.
Many fall by false friend's stroke,
Who in fight immortal proved:"--
So Ulysses warning spoke,
By Athene's spirit moved.
Happy he, whose faithful spouse
Guards his home with honor true!
Woman ofttimes breaks her vows,
Ever loves she what is new.

And Atrides glories there
In the prize he won in fight,
And around her body fair
Twines his arms with fond delight.
Evil works must punished be.
Vengeance follows after crime,
For Kronion's just decree
Rules the heavenly courts sublime.
Evil must in evil end;
Zeus will on the impious band
Woe for broken guest-rights send,
Weighing with impartial hand.

"It may well the glad befit,"
Cried Olleus' valiant son,
"To extol the Gods who sit
On Olympus' lofty throne!
Fortune all her gifts supplies,
Blindly, and no justice knows,
For Patroclus buried lies,
And Thersites homeward goes!
Since she blindly throws away
Each lot in her wheel contained,
Let him shout with joy to-day
Who the prize of life has gained."

"Ay, the wars the best devour!
Brother, we will think of thee,
In the fight a very tower,
When we join in revelry!
When the Grecian ships were fired,
By thine arm was safety brought;
Yet the man by craft inspired
Won the spoils thy valor sought.
Peace be to thine ashes blest!
Thou wert vanquished not in fight:
Anger 'tis destroys the best,--
Ajax fell by Ajax' might!"

Neoptolemus poured then,
To his sire renowned the wine--
"'Mongst the lots of earthly men,
Mighty father, prize I thine!
Of the goods that life supplies,
Greatest far of all is fame;
Though to dust the body flies,
Yet still lives a noble name.
Valiant one, thy glory's ray
Will immortal be in song;
For, though life may pass away,
To all time the dead belong!"

"Since the voice of minstrelsy
Speaks not of the vanquished man,
I will Hector's witness be,"--
Tydeus' noble son began:
"Fighting bravely in defence
Of his household-gods he fell.
Great the victor's glory thence,
He in purpose did excel!
Battling for his altars dear,
Sank that rock, no more to rise;
E'en the foemen will revere
One whose honored name ne'er dies."

Nestor, joyous reveller old,
Who three generations saw,
Now the leaf-crowned cup of gold
Gave to weeping Hecuba.
"Drain the goblet's draught so cool,
And forget each painful smart!
Bacchus' gifts are wonderful,--
Balsam for a broken heart.
Drain the goblet's draught so cool,
And forget each painful smart!
Bacchus' gifts are wonderful,--
Balsam for a broken heart.

"E'en to Niobe, whom Heaven
Loved in wrath to persecute,
Respite from her pangs was given,
Tasting of the corn's ripe fruit.
Whilst the thirsty lip we lave
In the foaming, living spring,
Buried deep in Lethe's wave
Lies all grief, all sorrowing!
Whilst the thirsty lip we lave
In the foaming, living spring,
Swallowed up in Lethe's wave
Is all grief, all sorrowing!"

And the Prophetess inspired
By her God, upstarted now,--
Toward the smoke of homesteads fired,
Looking from the lofty prow.
"Smoke is each thing here below;
Every worldly greatness dies,
As the vapory columns go,--
None are fixed but Deities!
Cares behind the horseman sit--
Round about the vessel play;
Lest the morrow hinder it,
Let us, therefore, live to-day."
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