written quotes

Lost quotations

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"Lament, ye birds the battle's fallen star..." | 25-Mar-05

"Lament, ye birds the battle's fallen star
Yet though sweet nightingales forbear to sing,
Vultures only, floating on afar
Sweep o'er the sepulchre on shadowy wings
Of him that fed you full with spoils of war.
While through the smitten shields his axe would ring."

Possibly by a poet called Laing or Lang.

3 comments have been made on this quote. Click here to read them and then add your own!

Do you know this poem? Do you have any clues to help us find it?


It certainly is by the Scottish poet Andrew Lang (1844 - 1912). This part of the poem appears on the opening page of Alan Quatermain (is that the right spelling?), at least in one edition I know of. It was probably used there because it fits the actions of the Zulu hero of the story. I have often thought that it could equally describe Achilles or Hector (both the battle's fallen stars), so it may be from a poem about the characters in Homer's Iliad, but that's a guess. At least now you know it is certainly by Lang. Sorry I can't help any further.
Bernard Wild

Further to my previous comment. I have discovered that Andrew Lang was a classics scholar, which adds further weight to my suggestion that the poem is about Achilles or Hector. He also published the following works which may (or may not!) help:

Helen of Troy (1882 George Bell)
Lost Leaders (1889 Kegan Paul)
Homer and The Epic (1893)
Homer and His Age (1906)
Tales of Troy and Greece (1907 Longman, 1962 Faber).

By the way, he did translate the Iliad, but it was a prose not a verse translation.
Bernard Wild

It is quoted along with a foreign transcript by A Lang
in the intro sheet of a book
'Allan Quartermain', being an account of his adventures Further Adventues and Discoveries in company with Sir Henry Curtis Bart. Commander John Good R.N. and one Umslopogass
written by H Rider Haggard
Printed by George G Harrap & Co Ltd
First printed in 1925
my copy printed March 1949

----- Colin Minter


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