The Second Race.
The Second Race
As in a dream Achilles chases Hector round and round
The walls of Troy; the one not gaining ground, the other
Not able to pull away. As in a dream.
The tortoise trundles onwards, slowly, so slowly; stops,
Draws into itself at the thud of their pounding feet. Achilles
Catches Hector, and the tortoise inches ahead.
The hero has his prize--blood for blood, inestimably
Gratifying vendetta--and forfeits this second race.
In his sturdy breast-plate the tortoise seems almost atone
With the fallen that lie round him. Like theirs, his silent purpose
Is private; as private as the wind, whistling over the high
Walls and towers, or the lazy, circling wings
And glutted, besmeared beaks, idly pecking.
Was that the winning-post? The tortoise trundles past.
Too late, Achilles lifts his head, as if waking
From a dream, and squints after him; at the little puff
Of dust he raises, at his private writing in the sand.
Achilles' breath comes hard: so this is it, fate's hand?