Two shadows racing on the grass,/ Silent and so near,/ Until his shadow falls on mine./ And I am rid of fear.

The Ballad of Hector in Hades by Edwin Muir – from a recentish edition of Selected Poems edited by Mick Imlah.

Yes, this is where I stood that day,
Beside this sunny mound.
The walls of Troy are far away,
And outward comes no sound.

I wait. On all the empty plain
A burnished stillness lies,
Save for the chariot’s tinkling hum,
And a few distant cries.

His helmet glitters near. The world
Slowly turns around,
With some new sleight compels my feet
From the fighting ground.

I run. If I turn back again
The earth must turn with me,
The mountains planted on the plain,
The sky clamped to the sea.

The grasses puff a little dust
Where my footsteps fall.
I cast a shadow as I pass
The little wayside wall.

The strip of grass on either hand
Sparkles in the light;
I only see that little space
To the left and to the right,

And in that space our shadows run,
His shadow there and mine,
The little flowers, the tiny mounds,
The grasses frail and fine.

But narrower still and narrower!
My course is shrunk and small,
Yet vast as in a deadly dream,
And faint the Trojan wall.
The sun up in the towering sky
Turns like a spinning ball.

The sky with all its clustered eyes
Grows still with watching me,
The flowers, the mounds, the flaunting weeds
Wheel slowly round to see.

Two shadows racing on the grass,
Silent and so near,
Until his shadow falls on mine.
And I am rid of fear.

The race is ended. Far away
I hang and do not care,
While round bright Troy Achilles whirls
A corpse with streaming hair.

And – for a hint of where the atmosphere Muir exploits comes from – here’s a famous simile of Homer’s from the chase scene in Iliad 22 (199-201):

And as in a dream a man can not pursue one who flees before him—the one can not flee, nor the other pursue—so Achilles could not overtake Hector in his fleetness, nor Hector escape.

ὡς δ᾿ ἐν ὀνείρῳ οὐ δύναται φεύγοντα διώκειν·
200οὔτ᾿ ἄρ᾿ ὁ τὸν δύναται ὑποφεύγειν οὔθ᾿ ὁ διώκειν·
ὣς ὁ τὸν οὐ δύνατο μάρψαι ποσίν, οὐδ᾿ ὃς ἀλύξαι.

Somehow Aristarchus wished to reject those lines.

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