to split something -- especially with violent force
to cut through something
The cloven holms and pines are heap'd on high, And garlands on the hollow spaces lie.
Tyrrheus, the foster father of the beast, Then clench'd a hatchet in his horny fist, But held his hand from the descending stroke, And left his wedge within the cloven oak, To whet their courage and their rage provoke.
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The battle axe is a weapon used to cleave skulls or decapitate.
He scrambled back as the giant's spear cleaved the ground between his feet.
Down from the steep of heav'n Cyllenius flies, And cleaves with all his wings the yielding skies.
My sire, my son, our less and greater gods, All sail at once, and cleave the briny floods.
He cleaves the crowd, and, favor'd by the night, To Turnus' friendly court directs his flight.
Then rising, on his utmost stretch he stood, And aim'd from high: the full descending blow Cleaves the broad front and beardless cheeks in two.
Loud axes thro' the groaning groves resound; Oak, mountain ash, and poplar spread the ground; First fall from high; and some the trunks receive In loaden wains; with wedges some they cleave.
The broad ax enters with a crashing sound, And cleaves the chin with one continued wound; Warm blood, and mingled brains, besmear his arms around An iron sleep his stupid eyes oppress'd, And seal'd their heavy lids in endless rest.
Amata's breast the Fury thus invades, And fires with rage, amid the sylvan shades; Then, when she found her venom spread so far, The royal house embroil'd in civil war, Rais'd on her dusky wings, she cleaves the skies, And seeks the palace where young Turnus lies.
An ancient wood, fit for the work design'd, (The shady covert of the salvage kind,) The Trojans found: the sounding ax is plied; Firs, pines, and pitch trees, and the tow'ring pride Of forest ashes, feel the fatal stroke, And piercing wedges cleave the stubborn oak.
The town is fill'd with tumult and with tears, Till the loud clamors reach Evander's ears: Forgetful of his state, he runs along, With a disorder'd pace, and cleaves the throng; Falls on the corpse; and groaning there he lies, With silent grief, that speaks but at his eyes.
All these in order march, and marching sing The warlike actions of their sea-born king; Like a long team of snowy swans on high, Which clap their wings, and cleave the liquid sky, When, homeward from their wat'ry pastures borne, They sing, and Asia's lakes their notes return.
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As, when the dove her rocky hold forsakes, Rous'd in a fright, her sounding wings she shakes; The cavern rings with clatt'ring; out she flies, And leaves her callow care, and cleaves the skies: At first she flutters; but at length she springs To smoother flight, and shoots upon her wings: So Mnestheus in the Dolphin cuts the sea; And, flying with a force, that force assists his way.
He calls Cyllenius, and the god attends, By whom his menacing command he sends: "Go, mount the western winds, and cleave the sky; Then, with a swift descent, to Carthage fly: There find the Trojan chief, who wastes his days In slothful not and inglorious ease, Nor minds the future city, giv'n by fate.