Part 5 out of 9
What angry gods to these dark regions led
Thee, yet alive, companion of the deed?
But sheathe thy poniard, while my tongue relates
Heaven's steadfast purpose, and thy future fates.'
"While yet he spoke, the prophet I obey'd,
And in the scabbard plunged the glittering blade:
Eager he quaff'd the gore, and then express'd
Dark things to come, the counsels of his breast.
"Weary of light, Ulysses here explores
A prosperous voyage to his native shores;
But know--by me unerring Fates disclose
New trains of dangers, and new scenes of woes.
I see, I see, thy bark by Neptune toss'd,
For injured Cyclops, and his eyeball lost!
Yet to thy woes the gods decree an end,
If Heaven thou please: and how to please attend
Where on Trinacrian rocks the ocean roars,
Graze numerous herds along the verdant shores;
Though hunger press, yet fly the dangerous prey,
The herds are sacred to the god of day,
Who all surveys with his extensive eye,
Above, below, on earth, and in the sky!
Rob not the god; and so propitious gales
Attend thy voyage, and impel thy sails:
But, if his herds ye seize, beneath the waves
I see thy friends o'erwhelm'd in liquid graves!
The direful wreck Ulysses scarce survives!
Ulysses at his country scarce arrives!
Strangers thy guides! nor there thy labours end;
New foes arise; domestic ills attend!
There foul adulterers to thy bride resort,
And lordly gluttons riot in thy court.
But vengeance hastes amain! These eyes behold
The deathful scene, princes on princes roll'd!
That done, a people far from sea explore,
Who ne'er knew salt, or heard the billows roar,
Or saw gay vessel stem the watery plain,
A painted wonder flying on the main!
Bear on thy back an oar: with strange amaze
A shepherd meeting thee, the oar surveys,
And names a van: there fix it on the plain,
To calm the god that holds the watery reign;
A threefold offering to his altar bring,
A bull, a ram, a boar; and hail the ocean king.
But home return'd, to each ethereal power
Slay the due victim in the genial hour:
So peaceful shalt thou end thy blissful days,
And steal thyself from life by slow decays:
Unknown to pain, in age resign thy breath,
When late stern Neptune points the shaft with death:
To the dark grave retiring as to rest,
Thy people blessing, by thy people bless'd!
"Unerring truths, O man, my lips relate;
This is thy life to come, and this is fate.'
"To whom unmoved: 'If this the gods prepare,
What Heaven ordains the wise with courage bear.
But say, why yonder on the lonely strands,
Unmindful of her son, Anticlea stands?
Why to the ground she bends her downcast eye?
Why is she silent, while her son is nigh?
The latent cause, O sacred seer, reveal!'
"'Nor this (replies the seer) will I conceal.
Know, to the spectres that thy beverage taste,
The scenes of life recur, and actions past:
They, seal'd with truth, return the sure reply;
The rest, repell'd, a train oblivious fly.'
"The phantom-prophet ceased, and sunk from sight,
To the black palace of eternal night.
"Still in the dark abodes of death I stood,
When near Anticlea moved, and drank the blood.
Straight all the mother in her soul awakes,
And, owning her Ulysses, thus she speaks;
'Comest thou, my son, alive, to realms beneath,
The dolesome realms of darkness and of death!
Comest thou alive from pure, ethereal day?
Dire is the region, dismal is the way!
Here lakes profound, there floods oppose their waves,
There the wide sea with all his billows raves!
Or (since to dust proud Troy submits her towers)
Comest thou a wanderer from the Phrygian shores?
Or say, since honour call'd thee to the field,
Hast thou thy Ithaca, thy bride, beheld?'
"'Source of my life,' I cried, 'from earth I fly
To seek Tiresias in the nether sky,
To learn my doom; for, toss'd from woe to woe,
In every land Ulysses finds a foe:
Nor have these eyes beheld my native shores,
Since in the dust proud Troy submits her towers.
"'But, when thy soul from her sweet mansion fled,
Say, what distemper gave thee to the dead?
Has life's fair lamp declined by slow decays,
Or swift expired it in a sudden blaze?
Say, if my sire, good old Laertes, lives?
If yet Telemachus, my son, survives?
Say, by his rule is my dominion awed,
Or crush'd by traitors with an iron rod?
Say, if my spouse maintains her royal trust;
Though tempted, chaste, and obstinately just?
Or if no more her absent lord she wails,
But the false woman o'er the wife prevails?'
"Thus I, and thus the parent-shade returns:
'Thee, ever thee, thy faithful consort mourns:
Whether the night descends or day prevails,
Thee she by night, and thee by day bewails.
Thee in Telemachus thy realm obeys;
In sacred groves celestial rites he pays,
And shares the banquet in superior state,
Graced with such honours as become the great
Thy sire in solitude foments his care:
The court is joyless, for thou art not there!
No costly carpets raise his hoary head,
No rich embroidery shines to grace his bed;
Even when keen winter freezes in the skies,
Rank'd with his slaves, on earth the monarch lies:
Deep are his sighs, his visage pale, his dress
The garb of woe and habit of distress.
And when the autumn takes his annual round,
The leafy honours scattering on the ground,
Regardless of his years, abroad he lies,
His bed the leaves, his canopy the skies.
Thus cares on cares his painful days consume,
And bow his age with sorrow to the tomb!
"'For thee, my son, I wept my life away;
For thee through hell's eternal dungeons stray:
Nor came my fate by lingering pains and slow,
Nor bent the silver-shafted queen her bow;
No dire disease bereaved me of my breath;
Thou, thou, my son, wert my disease and death;
Unkindly with my love my son conspired,
For thee I lived, for absent thee expired.'
"Thrice in my arms I strove her shade to bind,
Thrice through my arms she slipp'd like empty wind,
Or dreams, the vain illusions of the mind.
Wild with despair, I shed a copious tide
Of flowing tears, and thus with sighs replied:
"'Fliest thou, loved shade, while I thus fondly mourn!
Turn to my arms, to my embraces turn!
Is it, ye powers that smile at human harms!
Too great a bliss to weep within her arms?
Or has hell's queen an empty image sent,
That wretched I might e'en my joys lament?'
"'O son of woe,' the pensive shade rejoin'd;
'O most inured to grief of all mankind!
"'Tis not the queen of hell who thee deceives;
All, all are such, when life the body leaves:
No more the substance of the man remains,
Nor bounds the blood along the purple veins:
These the funereal flames in atoms bear,
To wander with the wind in empty air:
While the impassive soul reluctant flies,
Like a vain dream, to these infernal skies.
But from the dark dominions speed the way,
And climb the steep ascent to upper day:
To thy chaste bride the wondrous story tell,
The woes, the horrors, and the laws of hell.'
"Thus while she spoke, in swarms hell's empress brings
Daughters and wives of heroes and of kings;
Thick and more thick they gather round the blood,
Ghost thronged on ghost (a dire assembly) stood!
Dauntless my sword I seize: the airy crew,
Swift as it flash'd along the gloom, withdrew;
Then shade to shade in mutual forms succeeds,
Her race recounts, and their illustrious deeds.
"Tyro began, whom great Salmoneus bred;
The royal partner of famed Cretheus' bed.
For fair Enipeus, as from fruitful urns
He pours his watery store, the virgin burns;
Smooth flows the gentle stream with wanton pride,
And in soft mazes rolls a silver tide.
As on his banks the maid enamour'd roves,
The monarch of the deep beholds and loves;
In her Enipeus' form and borrow'd charms
The amorous god descends into her arms:
Around, a spacious arch of waves he throws,
And high in air the liquid mountain rose;
Thus in surrounding floods conceal'd, he proves
The pleasing transport, and completes his loves.
Then, softly sighing, he the fair address'd,
And as he spoke her tender hand he press'd.
'Hail, happy nymph! no vulgar births are owed
To the prolific raptures of a god:
Lo! when nine times the moon renews her horn,
Two brother heroes shall from thee be born;
Thy early care the future worthies claim,
To point them to the arduous paths of fame;
But in thy breast the important truth conceal,
Nor dare the secret of a god reveal:
For know, thou Neptune view'st! and at my nod
Earth trembles, and the waves confess their god.'
"He added not, but mounting spurn'd the plain,
Then plunged into the chambers of the main,
"Now in the time's full process forth she brings
Jove's dread vicegerents in two future kings;
O'er proud Iolcos Pelias stretch'd his reign,
And godlike Neleus ruled the Pylian plain:
Then, fruitful, to her Cretheus' royal bed
She gallant Pheres and famed Aeson bred;
From the same fountain Amythaon rose,
Pleased with the din of scar; and noble shout of foes.
"There moved Antiope, with haughty charms,
Who bless'd the almighty Thunderer in her arms:
Hence sprung Amphion, hence brave Zethus came,
Founders of Thebes, and men of mighty name;
Though bold in open field, they yet surround
The town with walls, and mound inject on mound;
Here ramparts stood, there towers rose high in air,
And here through seven wide portals rush'd the war.
"There with soft step the fair Alcmena trod,
Who bore Alcides to the thundering god:
And Megara, who charm'd the son of Jove,
And soften'd his stern soul to tender love.
"Sullen and sour, with discontented mien,
Jocasta frown'd, the incestuous Theban queen;
With her own son she join'd in nuptial bands,
Though father's blood imbrued his murderous hands
The gods and men the dire offence detest,
The gods with all their furies rend his breast;
In lofty Thebes he wore the imperial crown,
A pompous wretch! accursed upon a throne.
The wife self-murder'd from a beam depends,
And her foul soul to blackest hell descends;
Thence to her son the choicest plagues she brings,
And the fiends haunt him with a thousand stings.
"And now the beauteous Chloris I descry,
A lovely shade, Amphion's youngest joy!
With gifts unnumber'd Neleus sought her arms,
Nor paid too dearly for unequall'd charms;
Great in Orchomenos, in Pylos great,
He sway'd the sceptre with imperial state.
Three gallant sons the joyful monarch told,
Sage Nestor, Periclimenus the bold,
And Chromius last; but of the softer race,
One nymph alone, a myracle of grace.
Kings on their thrones for lovely Pero burn;
The sire denies, and kings rejected mourn.
To him alone the beauteous prize he yields,
Whose arm should ravish from Phylacian fields
The herds of Iphyclus, detain'd in wrong;
Wild, furious herds, unconquerably strong!
This dares a seer, but nought the seer prevails,
In beauty's cause illustriously he fails;
Twelve moons the foe the captive youth detains
In painful dungeons, and coercive chains;
The foe at last from durance where he lay,
His heart revering, give him back to day;
Won by prophetic knowledge, to fulfil
The steadfast purpose of the Almighty will.
"With graceful port advancing now I spied,
Leda the fair, the godlike Tyndar's bride:
Hence Pollux sprung, who wields the furious sway
The deathful gauntlet, matchless in the fray;
And Castor, glorious on the embattled plain,
Curbs the proud steeds, reluctant to the rein:
By turns they visit this ethereal sky,
And live alternate, and alternate die:
In hell beneath, on earth, in heaven above,
Reign the twin-gods, the favourite sons of Jove.
"There Ephimedia trod the gloomy plain,
Who charm'd the monarch of the boundless main:
Hence Ephialtes, hence stern Otus sprung,
More fierce than giants, more than giants strong;
The earth o'erburden'd groan'd beneath their weight,
None but Orion e'er surpassed their height:
The wondrous youths had scarce nine winters told,
When high in air, tremendous to behold,
Nine ells aloft they rear'd their towering head,
And full nine cubits broad their shoulders spread.
Proud of their strength, and more than mortal size,
The gods they challenge, and affect the skies:
Heaved on Olympus tottering Ossa stood;
On Ossa, Pelion nods with all his wood.
Such were they youths I had they to manhood grown
Almighty Jove had trembled on his throne,
But ere the harvest of the beard began
To bristle on the chin, and promise man,
His shafts Apollo aim'd; at once they sound,
And stretch the giant monsters o'er the ground.
"There mournful Phaedra with sad Procris moves,
Both beauteous shades, both hapless in their loves;
And near them walk'd with solemn pace and slow,
Sad Adriadne, partner of their woe:
The royal Minos Ariadne bred,
She Theseus loved, from Crete with Theseus fled:
Swift to the Dian isle the hero flies,
And towards his Athens bears the lovely prize;
There Bacchus with fierce rage Diana fires,
The goddess aims her shaft, the nymph expires.
"There Clymene and Mera I behold,
There Eriphyle weeps, who loosely sold
Her lord, her honour, for the lust of gold.
But should I all recount, the night would fail,
Unequal to the melancholy tale:
And all-composing rest my nature craves,
Here in the court, or yonder on the waves;
In you I trust, and in the heavenly powers,
To land Ulysses on his native shores."
He ceased; but left so charming on their ear
His voice, that listening still they seem'd to hear,
Till, rising up, Arete silence broke,
Stretch'd out her snowy hand, and thus she spoke:
"What wondrous man heaven sends us in our guest;
Through all his woes the hero shines confess'd;
His comely port, his ample frame express
A manly air, majestic in distress.
He, as my guest, is my peculiar care:
You share the pleasure, then in bounty share
To worth in misery a reverence pay,
And with a generous hand reward his stay;
For since kind heaven with wealth our realm has bless'd,
Give it to heaven by aiding the distress'd."
Then sage Echeneus, whose grave reverend brow
The hand of time had silvered o'er with snow,
Mature in wisdom rose: "Your words (he cries)
Demand obedience, for your words are wise.
But let our king direct the glorious way
To generous acts; our part is to obey."
"While life informs these limbs (the king replied),
Well to deserve, be all my cares employed:
But here this night the royal guest detain,
Till the sun flames along the ethereal plain.
Be it my task to send with ample stores
The stranger from our hospitable shores:
Tread you my steps! 'Tis mine to lead the race,
The first in glory, as the first in place."
To whom the prince: "This night with joy I stay
O monarch great in virtue as in sway!
If thou the circling year my stay control,
To raise a bounty noble as thy soul;
The circling year I wait, with ampler stores
And fitter pomp to hail my native shores:
Then by my realms due homage would be paid;
For wealthy kings are loyally obeyed!"
"O king! for such thou art, and sure thy blood
Through veins (he cried) of royal fathers flow'd:
Unlike those vagrants who on falsehood live,
Skill'd in smooth tales, and artful to deceive;
Thy better soul abhors the liar's part,
Wise is thy voice, and noble is thy heart.
Thy words like music every breast control,
Steal through the ear, and win upon the soul;
soft, as some song divine, thy story flows,
Nor better could the Muse record thy woes.
"But say, upon the dark and dismal coast,
Saw'st thou the worthies of the Grecian host?
The godlike leaders who, in battle slain,
Fell before Troy, and nobly press'd the plain?
And lo! a length of night behind remains,
The evening stars still mount the ethereal plains.
Thy tale with raptures I could hear thee tell,
Thy woes on earth, the wondrous scenes in hell,
Till in the vault of heaven the stars decay.
And the sky reddens with the rising day."
"O worthy of the power the gods assign'd
(Ulysses thus replies), a king in mind:
Since yet the early hour of night allows
Time for discourse, and time for soft repose,
If scenes of misery can entertain,
Woes I unfold, of woes a dismal train.
Prepare to heir of murder and of blood;
Of godlike heroes who uninjured stood
Amidst a war of spears in foreign lands,
Yet bled at home, and bled by female hands.
"Now summon'd Proserpine to hell's black hall
The heroine shades: they vanish'd at her call.
When lo! advanced the forms of heroes slain
By stern AEgysthus, a majestic train:
And, high above the rest Atrides press'd the plain.
He quaff'd the gore; and straight his soldier knew,
And from his eyes pour'd down the tender dew:
His arms he stretch'd; his arms the touch deceive,
Nor in the fond embrace, embraces give:
His substance vanish'd, and his strength decay'd,
Now all Atrides is an empty shade.
"Moved at the sight, I for a apace resign'd
To soft affliction all my manly mind;
At last with tears: 'O what relentless doom,
Imperial phantom, bow'd thee to the tomb?
Say while the sea, and while the tempest raves,
Has Fate oppress'd thee in the roaring waves,
Or nobly seized thee in the dire alarms
Of war and slaughter, and the clash of arms?'
"The ghost returns: 'O chief of human kind
For active courage and a patient mind;
Nor while the sea, nor while the tempest raves
Has Fate oppress'd me on the roaring waves!
Nor nobly seized me in the dire alarms
Of war and slaughter, and the clash of arms
Stabb'd by a murderous hand Atrides died,
A foul adulterer, and a faithless bride;
E'en in my mirth, and at the friendly feast,
O'er the full bowl, the traitor stabb'd his guest;
Thus by the gory arm of slaughter falls
The stately ox, and bleeds within the stalls.
But not with me the direful murder ends,
These, these expired! their crime, they were my friends:
Thick as the boars, which some luxurious lord
Kills for the feast, to crown the nuptial board.
When war has tbunder'd with its loudest storms,
Death thou hast seen in all her ghastly forms:
In duel met her on the listed ground,
When hand to hand they wound return for wound;
But never have the eyes astonish'd view'd
So vile a deed, so dire a scene of blood.
E'en in the flow of joy, when now the bowl
Glows in our veins, and opens every soul,
We groan, we faint; with blood the doom is dyed.
And o'er the pavement floats the dreadful tide--
Her breast all gore, with lamentable cries,
The bleeding innocent Cassandra dies!
Then though pale death froze cold in every vein,
My sword I strive to wield, but strive in vain;
Nor did my traitress wife these eyelids close,
Or decently in death my limbs compose.
O woman, woman, when to ill thy mind
Is bent, all hell contains no fouler fiend:
And such was mine! who basely plunged her sword
Through the fond bosom where she reign'd adored!
Alas! I hoped the toils of war o'ercome,
To meet soft quiet and repose at home;
Delusive hope! O wife, thy deeds disgrace
The perjured sex, and blacken all the race;
And should posterity one virtuous find,
Name Clytemnestra, they will curse the kind.'
"Oh injured shade (I cried) what mighty woes
To thy imperial race from woman rose!
By woman here thou tread'st this monrnful strand,
And Greece by woman lies a desert land.'
"'Warn'd by my ills beware, (the shade replies,)
Nor trust the sex that is so rarely wise;
When earnest to explore thy secret breast,
Unfold some trifle, but conceal the rest.
But in thy consort cease to fear a foe,
For thee she feels sincerity of woe;
When Troy first bled beneath the Grecian arms,
She shone unrivall'd with a blaze of charms;
Thy infant son her fragrant bosom press'd,
Hung at her knee, or wanton'd at her breast;
But now the years a numerous train have ran;
The blooming boy is ripen'd into man;
Thy eyes shall see him burn with noble fire,
The sire shall bless his son, the son his sire;
But my Orestes never met these eyes,
Without one look the murder'd father dies;
Then from a wretched friend this wisdom learn,
E'en to thy queen disguised, unknown, return;
For since of womankind so few are just,
Think all are false, nor e'en the faithful trust.
"'But, say, resides my son in royal port,
In rich Orchomenos, or Sparta's court?
Or say in Pyle? for yet he views the light,
Nor glides a phantom through the realms of night.'
"Then I: 'Thy suit is vain, nor can I say
If yet he breathes in realms of cheerful day;
Or pale or wan beholds these nether skies;
Truth I revere; for wisdom never lies.'
"Thus in a tide of tears our sorrows flow,
And add new horror to the realms of woe;
Till side by side along the dreary coast
Advanced Achilles' and Patroclus' ghost,
A friendly pair! near these the Pylian stray'd,
And towering Ajax, an illustrious shade!
War was his joy, and pleased with loud alarms,
None but Pelides brighter shone in arms.
"Through the thick gloom his friend Achilles knew,
And as he speaks the tears descend in dew.
"'Comest thou alive to view the Stygian bounds,
Where the wan spectres walk eternal rounds;
Nor fear'st the dark and dismal waste to tread,
Throng'd with pale ghosts, familiar with the dead?'
"To whom with sighs: 'I pass these dreadful gates
To seek the Theban, and consult the Fates;
For still, distress'd, I rove from coast to coast,
Lost to my friends, and to my country lost.
But sure the eye of Time beholds no name
So bless'd as thine in all the rolls of fame;
Alive we hail'd thee with our guardian gods,
And dead thou rulest a king in these abodes.'
"'Talk not of ruling in this dolorous gloom,
Nor think vain words (he cried) can ease my doom.
Rather I'd choose laboriously to bear
A weight of woes, and breathe the vital air,
A slave to some poor hind that toils for bread,
Than reign the sceptred monarch of the dead.
But say, if in my steps my son proceeds,
And emulates his godlike father's deeds?
If at the clash of arms, and shout of foes,
Swells his bold heart, his bosom nobly glows?
Say if my sire, the reverend Peleus, reigns,
Great in his Phthia, and his throne maintains;
Or, weak and old, my youthful arm demands,
To fix the sceptre steadfast in his hands?
O might the lamp of life rekindled burn,
And death release me from the silent urn!
This arm, that thunder'd o'er the Phrygian plain,
And swell'd the ground with mountains of the slain,
Should vindicate my injured father's fame,
Crush the proud rebel, and assert his claim.'
"'Illustrious shade (I cried), of Peleus' fates
No circumstance the voice of Fame relates:
But hear with pleased attention the renown,
The wars and wisdom of thy gallant son.
With me from Scyros to the field of fame
Radiant in arms the blooming hero came.
When Greece assembled all her hundred states,
To ripen counsels, and decide debates,
Heavens! how he charm'd us with a flow of sense,
And won the heart with manly eloquence!
He first was seen of all the peers to rise,
The third in wisdom, where they all were wise!
But when, to try the fortune of the day,
Host moved toward host in terrible array,
Before the van, impatient for the fight,
With martial port he strode, and stern delight:
Heaps strew'd on heaps beneath his falchion groan'd,
And monuments of dead deform'd the ground.
The time would fail should I in order tell
What foes were vanquish'd, and what numbers fell:
How, lost through love, Eurypylus was slain,
And round him bled his bold Cetaean train.
To Troy no hero came of nobler line,
Or if of nobler, Memnon, it was thine.
"When Ilion in the horse received her doom,
And unseen armies ambush'd in its womb,
Greece gave her latent warriors to my care,
'Twas mine on Troy to pour the imprison'd war:
Then when the boldest bosom beat with fear,
When the stern eyes of heroes dropp'd a tear,
Fierce in his look his ardent valour glow'd,
Flush'd in his cheek, or sallied in his blood;
Indignant in the dark recess he stands,
Pants for the battle, and the war demands:
His voice breathed death, and with a martial air
He grasp'd his sword, and shook his glittering spear.
And when the gods our arms with conquest crown'd,
When Troy's proud bulwarks smoked upon the ground,
Greece, to reward her soldier's gallant toils,
Heap'd high his navy with unnumber'd spoils.
"Thus great in glory, from the din of war
Safe he return'd, without one hostile scar;
Though spears in iron tempests rain'd around,
Yet innocent they play'd, and guiltless of a wound.'
"While yet I spoke, the shade with transport glow'd,
Rose in his majesty, and nobler trod;
With haughty stalk he sought the distant glades
Of warrior kings, and join'd the illustrious shades.
"Now without number ghost by ghost arose,
All wailing with unutterable woes.
Alone, apart, in discontented mood,
A gloomy shade the sullen Ajax stood;
For ever sad, with proud disdain he pined,
And the lost arms for ever stung his mind;
Though to the contest Thetis gave the laws,
And Pallas, by the Trojans, judged the cause.
O why was I victorious in the strife?
O dear bought honour with so brave a life!
With him the strength of war, the soldier's pride,
Our second hope to great Achilles, died!
Touch'd at the sight from tears I scarce refrain,
And tender sorrow thrills in every vein;
Pensive and sad I stand, at length accost
With accents mild the inexorable ghost:
'Still burns thy rage? and can brave souls resent
E'en after death? Relent, great shade, relent!
Perish those arms which by the gods' decree
Accursed our army with the loss of thee!
With thee we fall; Greece wept thy hapless fates,
And shook astonish'd through her hundred states;
Not more, when great Achilles press'd the ground,
And breathed his manly spirit through the wound.
O deem thy fall not owed to man's decree,
Jove hated Greece, and punish'd Greece in thee!
Turn then; oh peaceful turn, thy wrath control,
And calm the raging tempest of thy soul.'
"While yet I speak, the shade disdains to stay,
In silence turns, and sullen stalks away.
"Touch'd at his sour retreat, through deepest night,
Through hell's black bounds I had pursued his flight,
And forced the stubborn spectre to reply;
But wondrous visions drew my curious eye.
High on a throne, tremendous to behold,
Stern Minos waves a mace of burnish'd gold;
Around ten thousand thousand spectres stand
Through the wide dome of Dis, a trembling band
Still as they plead, the fatal lots he rolls,
Absolves the just, and dooms the guilty souls.
"The huge Orion, of portentous size,
Swift through the gloom a giant-hunter flies:
A ponderous mace of brass with direful sway
Aloft he whirls, to crush the savage prey!
Stern beasts in trains that by his truncheon fell,
Now grisly forms, shoot o'er the lawns of hell.
"There Tityus large and long, in fetters bound,
O'erspreads nine acres of infernal ground;
Two ravenous vultures, furious for their food,
Scream o'er the fiend, and riot in his blood,
Incessant gore the liver in his breast,
The immortal liver grows, and gives the immortal feast.
For as o'er Panope's enamell'd plains
Latona journey'd to the Pythian fanes,
With haughty love the audacious monster strove
To force the goddess, and to rival Jove.
"There Tantalus along the Stygian bounds
Pours out deep groans (with groans all hell resounds);
E'en in the circling floods refreshment craves,
And pines with thirst amidst a sea of waves;
When to the water he his lip applies,
Back from his lip the treacherous water flies.
Above, beneath, around his hapless head,
Trees of all kinds delicious fruitage spread;
There figs, sky-dyed, a purple hue disclose,
Green looks the olive, the pomegranate glows.
There dangling pears exalting scents unfold.
And yellow apples ripen into gold;
The fruit he strives to seize; but blasts arise,
Toss it on high, and whirl it to the skies.
"I turn'd my eye, and as I turn'd survey'd
A mournful vision! the Sisyphian shade;
With many a weary step, and many a groan,
Up the high hill he heaves a huge round stone;
The huge round stone, resulting with a bound,
Thunders impetuous down, and smokes along the ground.
Again the restless orb his toil renews,
Dust mounts in clouds, and sweat descends in dews.
"Now I the strength of Hercules behold,
A towering spectre of gigantic mould,
A shadowy form! for high in heaven's abodes
Himself resides, a god among the gods;
There in the bright assemblies of the skies.
He nectar quaffs, and Hebe crowns his joys.
Here hovering ghosts, like fowl, his shade surround,
And clang their pinions with terrific sound;
Gloomy as night he stands, in act to throw
The aerial arrow from the twanging bow.
Around his breast a wondrous zone is roll'd,
Where woodland monsters grin in fretted gold;
There sullen lions sternly seem to roar,
The bear to growl to foam the tusky boar;
There war and havoc and destruction stood,
And vengeful murder red with human blood.
Thus terribly adorned the figures shine,
Inimitably wrought with skill divine.
The mighty good advanced with awful look,
And, turning his grim visage, sternly spoke:
"'O exercise in grief! by arts refined;
O taught to bear the wrongs of base mankind!
Such, such was I! Still toss'd from care to care,
While in your world I drew the vital air!
E'en I, who from the Lord of Thunders rose,
Bore toils and dangers, and a weight of woes;
To a base monarch still a slave confined,
(The hardest bondage to a generous mind!)
Down to these worlds I trod the dismal way,
And dragg'd the three-mouth'd dog to upper day
E'en hell I conquer'd, through the friendly aid
Of Maia's offspring, and the martial maid.
"Thus he, nor deign'd for our reply to stay,
But, turning, stalk'd with giant-strides away.
"Curious to view the kings of ancient days,
The mighty dead that live in endless praise,
Resolved I stand; and haply had survey'd
The godlike Theseus, and Pirithous' shade;
But swarms of spectres rose from deepest hell,
With bloodless visage, and with hideous yell.
They scream, they shriek; and groans and dismal sounds
Stun my scared ears, and pierce hell's utmost bounds.
No more my heart the dismal din sustains,
And my cold blood hangs shivering in my veins;
Lest Gorgon, rising from the infernal lakes,
With horrors arm'd, and curls of hissing snakes,
Should fix me stiffen'd at the monstrous sight,
A stony image, in eternal night!
Straight from the direful coast to purer air
I speed my flight, and to my mates repair.
My mates ascend the ship; they strike their oars;
The mountains lessen, and retreat the shores;
Swift o'er the waves we fly; the freshening gales
Sing through the shrouds, and stretch the swelling sails."
THE SIRENE, SCYLLA, AND CHARYBDIS.
He relates how, after his return from the shades, he was sent by
Circe on his voyage, by the coast of the Sirens, and by the strait
of Scylla and Charybdis: the manner in which he escaped those
dangers: how, being cast on the island Trinacria, his companions
destroyed the oxen of the Sun: the vengeance that followed; how
all perished by shipwreck except himself, who, swimming on the
mast of the ship, arrived on the island of Calypso. With which his
"Thus o'er the rolling surge the vessel flies,
Till from the waves the AEaean hills arise.
Here the gay Morn resides in radiant bowers,
Here keeps here revels with the dancing Hours;
Here Phoebus, rising in the ethereal way,
Through heaven's bright portals pours the beamy day.
At once we fix our halsers on the land.
At once descend, and press the desert sand:
There, worn and wasted, lose our cares in sleep,
To the hoarse murmurs of the rolling deep.
"Soon as the morn restored the day, we paid
Sepulchral honours to Elpenor's shade.
Now by the axe the rushing forest bends,
And the huge pile along the shore ascends.
Around we stand, a melancholy train,
And a loud groan re-echoes from the main.
Fierce o'er the pyre, by fanning breezes spread,
The hungry flames devour the silent dead.
A rising tomb, the silent dead to grace,
Fast by the roarings of the main we place;
The rising tomb a lofty column bore,
And high above it rose the tapering oar.
"Meantime the goddess our return survey'd
From the pale ghosts and hell's tremendous shade.
Swift she descends: a train of nymphs divine
Bear the rich viands and the generous wine:
In act to speak the power of magic stands,
And graceful thus accosts the listening bands;
"'O sons of woe? decreed by adverse fates
Alive to pass through hell's eternal gates!
All, soon or late, are doom'd that path to tread;
More wretched you! twice number'd with the dead!
This day adjourn your cares, exalt your souls,
Indulge the taste, and drain the sparkling bowls;
And when the morn unveils her saffron ray,
Spread your broad sails, and plough the liquid way:
Lo, I this night, your faithful guide, explain
Your woes by land, your dangers on the main.'
"The goddess spoke. In feasts we waste the day,
Till Phoebus downward plunged his burning ray;
Then sable night ascends, and balmy rest
Seals every eye, and calms the troubled breast.
Then curious she commands me to relate
The dreadful scenes of Pluto's dreary state.
She sat in silence while the tale I tell,
The wondrous visions and the laws of hell.
"Then thus: 'The lot of man the gods dispose;
These ills are past: now hear thy future woes
O prince attend; some favouring power be kind,
And print the important story on thy mind!
"'Next, where the Sirens dwells, you plough the seas;
Their song is death, and makes destruction please.
Unblest the man, whom music wins to stay
Nigh the cursed shore and listen to the lay.
No more that wretch shall view the joys of life
His blooming offspring, or his beauteous wife!
In verdant meads they sport; and wide around
Lie human bones that whiten all the ground:
The ground polluted floats with human gore,
And human carnage taints the dreadful shore
Fly swift the dangerous coast: let every ear
Be stopp'd against the song! 'tis death to hear!
Firm to the mast with chains thyself be bound,
Nor trust thy virtue to the enchanting sound.
If, mad with transport, freedom thou demand,
Be every fetter strain'd, and added band to band.
"'These seas o'erpass'd, be wise! but I refrain
To mark distinct thy voyage o'er the main:
New horrors rise! let prudence be thy guide,
And guard thy various passage through the tide.
"'High o'er the main two rocks exalt their brow,'
The boiling billows thundering roll below;
Through the vast waves the dreadful wonders move,
Hence named Erratic by the gods above.
No bird of air, no dove of swiftest wing,
That bears ambrosia to the ethereal king,
Shuns the dire rocks: in vain she cuts the skies;
The dire rocks meet, and crush her as she flies:
Not the fleet bark, when prosperous breezes play,
Ploughs o'er that roaring surge its desperate way;
O'erwhelm'd it sinks: while round a smoke expires,
And the waves flashing seem to burn with fires.
Scarce the famed Argo pass'd these raging floods,
The sacred Argo, fill'd with demigods!
E'en she had sunk, but Jove's imperial bride
Wing'd her fleet sail, and push'd her o'er the tide.
"'High in the air the rock its summit shrouds
In brooding tempests, and in rolling clouds;
Loud storms around, and mists eternal rise,
Beat its bleak brow, and intercept the skies.
When all the broad expansion, bright with day,
Glows with the autumnal or the summer ray,
The summer and the autumn glow in vain,
The sky for ever lowers, for ever clouds remain.
Impervious to the step of man it stands,
Though borne by twenty feet, though arm'd with twenty hands;
Smooth as the polish of the mirror rise
The slippery sides, and shoot into the skies.
Full in the centre of this rock display'd,
A yawning cavern casts a dreadful shade:
Nor the fleet arrow from the twanging bow,
Sent with full force, could reach the depth below.
Wide to the west the horrid gulf extends,
And the dire passage down to hell descends.
O fly the dreadful sight! expand thy sails,
Ply the strong oar, and catch the nimble gales;
Here Scylla bellows from the dire abodes,
Tremendous pest, abhorr'd by man and gods!
Hideous her voice, and with less terrors roar
The whelps of lions in the midnight hour.
Twelve feet, deform'd and foul, the fiend dispreads;
Six horrid necks she rears, and six terrific heads;
Her jaws grin dreadful with three rows of teeth;
Jaggy they stand, the gaping den of death;
Her parts obscene the raging billows hide;
Her bosom terribly o'erlooks the tide.
When stung with hunger she embroils the flood,
The sea-dog and the dolphin are her food;
She makes the huge leviathan her prey,
And all the monsters of the watery way;
The swiftest racer of the azure plain
Here fills her sails, and spreads her oars in vain;
Fell Scylla rises, in her fury roars,
At once six mouths expands, at once six men devours.
"'Close by, a rock of less enormous height
Breaks the wild waves, and forms a dangerous strait;
Full on its crown a fig's green branches rise,
And shoot a leafy forest to the skies;
Beneath, Charybdis holds her boisterous reign
'Midst roaring whirlpools, and absorbs the main;
Thrice in her gulfs the boiling seas subside,
Thrice in dire thunders she refunds the tide.
Oh, if thy vessel plough the direful waves,
When seas retreating roar within her caves,
Ye perish all! though he who rules the main
Lends his strong aid, his aid he lends in vain.
Ah, shun the horrid gulf! by Scylla fly.
'Tis better six to lose, than all to die.'
"I then: 'O nymph propitious to my prayer,
Goddess divine, my guardian power, declare,
Is the foul fiend from human vengeance freed?
Or, if I rise in arms, can Scylla bleed?'
"Then she: 'O worn by toils, O broke in fight,
Still are new toils and war thy dire delight?
Will martial flames for ever fire thy mind,
And never, never be to Heaven resign'd?
How vain thy efforts to avenge the wrong!
Deathless the pest! impenetrably strong!
Furious and fell, tremendous to behold!
E'en with a look she withers all the bold!
She mocks the weak attempts of human might;
Oh, fly her rage! thy conquest is thy flight.
If but to seize thy arms thou make delay,
Again thy fury vindicates her prey;
Her six mouths yawn, and six are snatch'd away.
From her foul wound Crataeis gave to air
This dreadful pest! To her direct thy prayer,
To curb the monster in her dire abodes,
And guard thee through the tumult of the floods.
Thence to Trinacria's shore you bend your way,
Where graze thy herds, illustrious source of day!
Seven herds, seven flocks enrich the sacred plains,
Each herd, each flock full fifty heads contains;
The wondrous kind a length of age survey,
By breed increase not, nor by death decay.
Two sister goddesses possess the plain,
The constant guardian of the woolly train;
Lampetie fair, and Phaethusa young,
From Phoebus and the bright Neaea sprung;
Here, watchful o'er the flocks, in shady bowers
And flowery meads, they waste the joyous hours.
Rob not the gods! and so propitious gales
Attend thy voyage, and impel thy sails;
But if thy impious hands the flocks destroy,
The gods, the gods avenge it, and ye die!
'Tis thine alone (thy friends and navy lost)
Through tedious toils to view thy native coast.'
She ceased: and now arose the morning ray;
Swift to her dome the goddess held her way.
Then to my mates I measured back the plain,
Climb'd the tall bark, and rush'd into the main;
Then, bending to the stroke, their oars they drew
To their broad breasts, and swift the galley flew.
Up sprung a brisker breeze; with freshening gales
The friendly goddess stretch'd the swelling sails;
We drop our oars; at ease the pilot guides;
The vessel light along the level glides.
When, rising sad and slow, with pensive look,
Thus to the melancholy train I spoke:
"'O friends, oh ever partners of my woes,
Attend while I what Heaven foredooms disclose.
Hear all! Fate hangs o'er all; on you it lies
To live or perish! to be safe, be wise!
"'In flowery meads the sportive Sirens play,
Touch the soft lyre, and tune the vocal lay;
Me, me alone, with fetters firmly bound,
The gods allow to hear the dangerous sound.
Hear and obey; if freedom I demand,
Be every fetter strain'd, be added band to band.'
"While yet I speak the winged galley flies,
And lo! the Siren shores like mists arise.
Sunk were at once the winds; the air above,
And waves below, at once forgot to move;
Some demon calm'd the air and smooth'd the deep,
Hush'd the loud winds, and charm'd the waves to sleep.
Now every sail we furl, each oar we ply;
Lash'd by the stroke, the frothy waters fly.
The ductile wax with busy hands I mould,
And cleft in fragments, and the fragments roll'd;
The aerial region now grew warm with day,
The wax dissolved beneath the burning ray;
Then every ear I barr'd against the strain,
And from access of frenzy lock'd the brain.
Now round the masts my mates the fetters roll'd,
And bound me limb by limb with fold on fold.
Then bending to the stroke, the active train
Plunge all at once their oars, and cleave the main.
"While to the shore the rapid vessel flies,
Our swift approach the Siren choir descries;
Celestial music warbles from their tongue,
And thus the sweet deluders tune the song:
"'Oh stay, O pride of Greece! Ulysses, stay!
Oh cease thy course, and listen to our lay!
Blest is the man ordain'd our voice to hear,
The song instructs the soul, and charms the ear.
Approach! thy soul shall into raptures rise!
Approach! and learn new wisdom from the wise!
We know whate'er the kings of mighty name
Achieved at Ilion in the field of fame;
Whate'er beneath the sun's bright journey lies.
Oh stay, and learn new wisdom from the wise!'
"Thus the sweet charmers warbled o'er the main;
My soul takes wing to meet the heavenly strain;
I give the sign, and struggle to be free;
Swift row my mates, and shoot along the sea;
New chains they add, and rapid urge the way,
Till, dying off, the distant sounds decay;
Then scudding swiftly from the dangerous ground,
The deafen'd ear unlock'd, the chains unbound.
"Now all at once tremendous scenes unfold;
Thunder'd the deeps, the smoky billows roll'd!
Tumultuous waves embroil the bellowing flood,
All trembling, deafen'd, and aghast we stood!
No more the vessel plough'd the dreadful wave,
Fear seized the mighty, and unnerved the brave;
Each dropp'd his oar; but swift from man to man
With looks serene I turn'd, and thus began:
'O friends! O often tried in adverse storms!
With ills familiar in more dreadful forms!
Deep in the dire Cyclopean den you lay,
Yet safe return'd - Ulysses led the way.
Learn courage hence, and in my care confide;
Lo! still the same Ulysses is your guide.
Attend my words! your oars incessant ply;
Strain every nerve, and bid the vessel fly.
If from yon jostling rocks and wavy war
Jove safety grants, he grants it to your care.
And thou, whose guiding hand directs our way,
Pilot, attentive listen and obey!
Bear wide thy course, nor plough those angry waves
Where rolls yon smoke, yon tumbling ocean raves;
Steer by the higher rock; lest whirl'd around
We sink, beneath the circling eddy drown'd.'
While yet I speak, at once their oars they seize,
Stretch to the stroke, and brush the working seas.
Cautious the name of Scylla I suppress'd;
That dreadful sound had chill'd the boldest breast.
"Meantime, forgetful of the voice divine,
All dreadful bright my limbs in armour shine;
High on the deck I take my dangerous stand,
Two glittering javelins lighten in my hand;
Prepared to whirl the whizzing spear I stay,
Till the fell fiend arise to seize her prey.
Around the dungeon, studious to behold
The hideous pest, my labouring eyes I roll'd;
In vain! the dismal dungeon, dark as night,
Veils the dire monster, and confounds the sight.
"Now through the rocks, appall'd with deep dismay,
We bend our course, and stem the desperate way;
Dire Scylla there a scene of horror forms,
And here Charybdis fills the deep with storms.
When the tide rushes from her rumbling caves,
The rough rock roars, tumultuous boil the waves;
They toss, they foam, a wild confusion raise,
Like waters bubbling o'er the fiery blaze;
Eternal mists obscure the aerial plain,
And high above the rock she spouts the main;
When in her gulfs the rushing sea subsides,
She drains the ocean with the refluent tides;
The rock re-bellows with a thundering sound;
Deep, wondrous deep, below appears the ground.
"Struck with despair, with trembling hearts we view'd
The yawning dungeon, and the tumbling flood;
When lo! fierce Scylla stoop'd to seize her prey,
Stretch'd her dire jaws, and swept six men away.
Chiefs of renown! loud-echoing shrieks arise;
I turn, and view them quivering in the skies;
They call, and aid with outstretch'd arms implore;
In vain they call! those arms are stretch'd no more.
As from some rock that overhangs the flood
The silent fisher casts the insidious food,
With fraudful care he waits the finny prize,
And sudden lifts it quivering to the skies:
So the foul monster lifts her prey on high,
So pant the wretches struggling in the sky;
In the wide dungeon she devours her food,
And the flesh trembles while she churns the blood.
Worn as I am with griefs, with care decay'd,
Never, I never scene so dire survey'd!
My shivering blood, congeal'd, forgot to flow;
Aghast I stood, a monument of woe!
"Now from the rocks the rapid vessel flies,
And the hoarse din like distant thunder dies;
To Sol's bright isle our voyage we pursue,
And now the glittering mountains rise to view.
There, sacred to the radiant god of day,
Graze the fair herds, the flocks promiscuous stray:
Then suddenly was heard along the main
To low the ox, to blest the woolly train.
Straight to my anxious thoughts the sound convey'd
The words of Circe and the Theban shade;
Warn'd by their awful voice these shores to shun,
With cautious fears oppress'd I thus begun:
"'O friends! O ever exorcised in care!
Hear Heaven's commands, and reverence what ye hear!
To fly these shores the prescient Theban shade
And Circe warn! Oh be their voice obey'd
Some mighty woe relentless Heaven forebodes:
Fly these dire regions, and revere the gods!'
"While yet I spoke, a sudden sorrow ran
Through every breast, and spread from man to man,
Till wrathful thus Eurylochus began:
"'O cruel thou! some Fury sure has steel'd
That stubborn soul, by toil untaught to yield!
From sleep debarr'd, we sink from woes to woes:
And cruel' enviest thou a short repose?
Still must we restless rove, new seas explore,
The sun descending, and so near the shore?
And lo! the night begins her groomy reign,
And doubles all the terrors of the main:
Oft in the dead of night loud winds rise,
Lash the wild surge, and bluster in the skies.
Oh, should the fierce south-west his rage display,
And toss with rising storms the watery way,
Though gods descend from heaven's aerial plain
To lend us aid, the gods descend in vain.
Then while the night displays her awful shade,
Sweet time of slumber! be the night obey'
Haste ye to land! and when the morning ray
Sheds her bright beam, pursue the destined way.'
A sudden joy in every bosom rose:
So will'd some demon, minister of woes!
"To whom with grief: 'O swift to be undone!
Constrain'd I act what wisdom bids me shun.
But yonder herbs and yonder flocks forbear;
Attest the heavens, and call the gods to hear:
Content, an innocent repast display,
By Circe given, and fly the dangerous prey.'
'Thus I: and while to shore the vessel flies,
With hands uplifted they attest the skies:
Then, where a fountain's gurgling waters play,
They rush to land, and end in feasts the day:
They feed; they quaff; and now (their hunger fled)
Sigh for their friends devour'd, and mourn the dead;
Nor cease the tears' till each in slumber shares
A sweet forgetfulness of human cares.
Now far the night advanced her gloomy reign,
And setting stars roll'd down the azure plain:
When at the voice of Jove wild whirlwinds rise,
And clouds and double darkness veil the skies;
The moon, the stars, the bright ethereal host
Seem as extinct, and all their splendours lost:
The furious tempest roars with dreadful sound:
Air thunders, rolls the ocean, groans the ground.
All night it raged: when morning rose to land
We haul'd our bark, and moor'd it on the strand,
Where in a beauteous grotto's cool recess
Dance the green Nerolds of the neighbouring seas.
"There while the wild winds whistled o'er the main,
Thus careful I address'd the listening train:
"'O friends, be wise! nor dare the flocks destroy
Of these fair pastures: if ye touch, ye die.
Warn'd by the high command of Heaven, be awed:
Holy the flocks, and dreadful is the god!
That god who spreads the radiant beams of light,
And views wide earth and heaven's unmeasured height.'
"And now the moon had run her monthly round,
The south-east blustering with a dreadful sound:
Unhurt the beeves, untouch'd the woolly train,
Low through the grove, or touch the flowery plain:
Then fail'd our food: then fish we make our prey,
Or fowl that screaming haunt the watery way.
Till now from sea or flood no succour found,
Famine and meagre want besieged us round.
Pensive and pale from grove to grove I stray'd,
From the loud storms to find a sylvan shade;
There o'er my hands the living wave I pour;
And Heaven and Heaven's immortal thrones implore,
To calm the roarings of the stormy main,
And guide me peaceful to my realms again.
Then o'er m eyes the gods soft slumbers shed,
While thus Eurylochus arising said:
"'O friends, a thousand ways frail mortals lead
To the cold tomb, and dreadful all to tread;
But dreadful most, when by a slow decay
Pale hunger wastes the manly strength away.
Why cease ye then to implore the powers above,
And offer hecatombs to thundering Jove?
Why seize ye not yon beeves, and fleecy prey?
Arise unanimous; arise and slay!
And if the gods ordain a safe return,
To Phoebus shrines shall rise, and altars burn.
But should the powers that o'er mankind preside
Decree to plunge us in the whelming tide,
Better to rush at once to shades below
Than linger life away, and nourish woe.'
"Thus he: the beeves around securely stray,
When swift to ruin they invade the prey;
They seize, they kill! - but for the rite divine.
The barley fail'd, and for libations wine.
Swift from the oak they strip the shady pride;
And verdant leaves the flowery cake supplied.
"With prayer they now address the ethereal train,
Slay the selected beeves, and flay the slain;
The thighs, with fat involved, divide with art,
Strew'd o'er with morsels cut from every part.
Water, instead of wine, is brought in urns,
And pour'd profanely as the victim burns.
The thighs thus offer'd, and the entrails dress'd,
They roast the fragments, and prepare the feast.
"'Twas then soft slumber fled my troubled brain;
Back to the bark I speed along the main.
When lo! an odour from the feast exhales,
Spreads o'er the coast and scents the tainted gales;
A chilly fear congeal'd my vital blood,
And thus, obtesting Heaven, I mourn'd aloud;
"'O sire of men and gods, immortal Jove!
O all ye blissful powers that reign above!
Why were my cares beguiled in short repose?
O fatal slumber, paid with lasting woes!
A deed so dreadful all the gods alarms,
Vengeance is on the wing, and Heaven in arms!'
"Meantime Lampetie mounts the aerial way,
And kindles into rage the god of day;
"'Vengeance, ye powers (he cries), and then whose hand
Aims the red bolt, and hurls the writhen brand!
Slain are those herds which I with pride survey,
When through the ports of heaven I pour the day,
Or deep in ocean plunge the burning ray.
Vengeance, ye gods! or I the skies forego,
And bear the lamp of heaven to shades below.'
"To whom the thundering Power: 'O source of day
Whose radiant lamp adorns the azure way,
Still may thy beams through heaven's bright portal rise,
The joy of earth, the glory of the skies:
Lo! my red arm I bare, my thunders guide,
To dash the offenders in the whelming tide.'
"To fair Calypso, from the bright abodes,
Hermes convey'd these counsels of the gods.
"Meantime from man to man my tongue exclaims,
My wrath is kindled, and my soul in flames.
In vain! I view perform'd the direful deed,
Beeves, slain in heaps, along the ocean bleed.
"Now heaven gave signs of wrath: along the ground
Crept the raw hides, and with a bellowing sound
Roar'd the dead limbs; the burning entrails groan'd.
Six guilty days my wretched mates employ
In impious feasting, and unhallowed joy;
The seventh arose, and now the sire of gods
Rein'd the rough storms; and calm'd the tossing floods:
With speed the bark we climb; the spacious sails.
Loosed from the yards invite the impelling gales.
Past sight of shore, along the surge we bound,
And all above is sky, and ocean all around;
When lo! a murky cloud the thunderer forms
Full o'er our heads, and blackens heaven with storms.
Night dwells o'er all the deep: and now outflies
The gloomy west, and whistles in the skies.
The mountain-billows roar! the furious blast
Howls o'er the shroud, and rends it from the mast:
The mast gives way, and, crackling as it bends,
Tears up the deck; then all at once descends:
The pilot by the tumbling ruin slain,
Dash'd from the helm, falls headlong in the main.
Then Jove in anger bids his thunders roll,
And forky lightnings flash from pole to pole:
Fierce at our heads his deadly bolt he aims,
Red with uncommon wrath, and wrapp'd in flames:
Full on the bark it fell; now high, now low,
Toss'd and retoss'd, it reel'd beneath the blow;
At once into the main the crew it shook:
Sulphurous odours rose, and smouldering smoke.
Like fowl that haunt the floods, they sink, they rise,
Now lost, now seen, with shrieks and dreadful cries;
And strive to gain the bark, but Jove denies.
Firm at the helm I stand, when fierce the main
Rush'd with dire noise, and dash'd the sides in twain;
Again impetuous drove the furious blast,
Snapp'd the strong helm, and bore to sea the mast.
Firm to the mast with cords the helm I bind,
And ride aloft, to Providence resign'd,
Through tumbling billows and a war of wind.
"Now sunk the west, and now a southern breeze,
More dreadful than the tempest lash'd the seas;
For on the rocks it bore where Scylla raves,
And dire Charybdis rolls her thundering waves.
All night I drove; and at the dawn of day,
Fast by the rocks beheld the desperate way;
Just when the sea within her gulfs subsides,
And in the roaring whirlpools rush the tides,
Swift from the float I vaulted with a bound,
The lofty fig-tree seized, and clung around;
So to the beam the bat tenacious clings,
And pendent round it clasps his leather wings.
High in the air the tree its boughs display'd,
And o'er the dungeon cast a dreadful shade;
All unsustain'd between the wave and sky,
Beneath my feet the whirling billows fly.
What time the judge forsakes the noisy bar
To take repast, and stills the wordy war,
Charybdis, rumbling from her inmost caves,
The mast refunded on her refluent waves.
Swift from the tree, the floating mass to gain,
Sudden I dropp'd amidst the flashing main;
Once more undaunted on the ruin rode,
And oar'd with labouring arms along the flood.
Unseen I pass'd by Scylla's dire abodes.
So Jove decreed (dread sire of men and gods).
Then nine long days I plow'd the calmer seas,
Heaved by the surge, and wafted by the breeze.
Weary and wet the Ogygian shores I gain,
When the tenth sun descended to the main.
There, in Calypso's ever-fragrant bowers,
Refresh'd I lay, and joy beguiled the hours.
"My following fates to thee, O king, are known,
And the bright partner of thy royal throne.
Enough: in misery can words avail?
And what so tedious as a twice-told tale?"
THE ARRIVAL OF ULYSSES IN ITHACA.
Ulysses takes his leave of Alcinous and Arete, and embarks in the
evening. Next morning the ship arrives at Ithaca; where the
sailors, as Ulysses is yet sleeping, lay him on the shore with all
his treasures. On their return, Neptune changes their ship into a
rock. In the meantime Ulysses, awaking, knows not his native
Ithaca, by reason of a mist which Pallas had cast around him. He
breaks into loud lamentations; till the goddess appearing to him
in the form of a shepherd, discovers the country to him, and
points out the particular places. He then tells a feigned story of
his adventures, upon which she manifests herself, and they consult
together of the measures to be taken to destroy the suitors. To
conceal his return, and disguise his person the more effectually,
she changes him into the figure of an old beggar.
He ceased; but left so pleasing on their ear
His voice, that listening still they seem'd to hear.
A pause of silence hush'd the shady rooms:
The grateful conference then the king resumes:
"Whatever toils the great Ulysses pass'd,
Beneath this happy roof they end at last;
No longer now from shore to shore to roam,
Smooth seas and gentle winds invite him home.
But hear me, princes! whom these walls inclose,
For whom my chanter sings: and goblet flows
With wine unmix'd (an honour due to age,
To cheer the grave, and warm the poet's rage);
Though labour'd gold and many a dazzling vest
Lie heap'd already for our godlike guest;
Without new treasures let him not remove,
Large, and expressive of the public love:
Each peer a tripod, each a vase bestow,
A general tribute, which the state shall owe."
This sentence pleased: then all their steps address'd
To separate mansions, and retired to rest.
Now did the rosy-finger'd morn arise,
And shed her sacred light along the skies.
Down to the haven and the ships in haste
They bore the treasures, and in safety placed.
The king himself the vases ranged with care;
Then bade his followers to the feast prepare.
A victim ox beneath the sacred hand
Of great Alcinous falls, and stains the sand.
To Jove the Eternal (power above all powers!
Who wings the winds, and darkens heaven with showers)
The flames ascend: till evening they prolong
The rites, more sacred made by heavenly song;
For in the midst, with public honours graced,
Thy lyre divine, Demodocus! was placed.
All, but Ulysses, heard with fix'd delight;
He sate, and eyed the sun, and wish'd the night;
Slow seem'd the sun to move, the hours to roll,
His native home deep-imaged in his soul.
As the tired ploughman, spent with stubborn toil,
Whose oxen long have torn the furrow'd soil,
Sees with delight the sun's declining ray,
When home with feeble knees he bends his way
To late repast (the day's hard labour done);
So to Ulysses welcome set the sun;
Then instant to Alcinous and the rest
(The Scherian states) he turn'd, and thus address'd:
"O thou, the first in merit and command!
And you the peers and princes of the land!
May every joy be yours! nor this the least,
When due libation shall have crown'd the feast,
Safe to my home to send your happy guest.
Complete are now the bounties you have given,
Be all those bounties but confirm'd by Heaven!
So may I find, when all my wanderings cease,
My consort blameless, and my friends in peace.
On you be every bliss; and every day,
In home-felt joys, delighted roll away;
Yourselves, your wives, your long-descending race,
May every god enrich with every grace!
Sure fix'd on virtue may your nation stand,
And public evil never touch the land!"
His words well weigh'd, the general voice approved
Benign, and instant his dismission moved,
The monarch to Pontonus gave the sign.
To fill the goblet high with rosy wine;
"Great Jove the Father first (he cried) implore;'
Then send the stranger to his native shore."
The luscious wine the obedient herald brought;
Around the mansion flow'd the purple draught;
Each from his seat to each immortal pours,
Whom glory circles in the Olympian bowers
Ulysses sole with air majestic stands,
The bowl presenting to Arete's hands;
Then thus: "O queen, farewell! be still possess'd
Of dear remembrance, blessing still and bless'd!
Till age and death shall gently call thee hence,
(Sure fate of every mortal excellence!)
Farewell! and joys successive ever spring
To thee, to thine, the people, and the king!"
Thus he: then parting prints the sandy shore
To the fair port: a herald march'd before,
Sent by Alcinous; of Arete's train
Three chosen maids attend him to the main;
This does a tunic and white vest convey,
A various casket that, of rich inlay,
And bread and wine the third. The cheerful mates
Safe in the hollow poop dispose the cates;
Upon the deck soft painted robes they spread
With linen cover'd, for the hero's bed.
He climbed the lofty stern; then gently press'd
The swelling couch, and lay composed to rest.
Now placed in order, the Phaeacian train
Their cables loose, and launch into the main;
At once they bend, and strike their equal oars,
And leave the sinking hills and lessening shores.
While on the deck the chief in silence lies,
And pleasing slumbers steal upon his eyes.
As fiery coursers in the rapid race
Urged by fierce drivers through the dusty space,
Toss their high heads, and scour along the plain,
So mounts the bounding vessel o'er the main.
Back to the stern the parted billows flow,
And the black ocean foams and roars below.
Thus with spread sails the winged galley flies;
Less swift an eagle cuts the liquid skies;
Divine Ulysses was her sacred load,
A man, in wisdom equal to a god!
Much danger, long and mighty toils he bore,
In storms by sea, and combats on the shore;
All which soft sleep now banish'd from his breast,
Wrapp'd in a pleasing, deep, and death-like rest.
But when the morning-star with early ray
Flamed in the front of heaven, and promised day;
Like distant clouds the mariner descries
Fair Ithaca's emerging hills arise.
Far from the town a spacious port appears,
Sacred to Phorcys' power, whose name it bears;
Two craggy rocks projecting to the main,
The roaring wind's tempestuous rage restrain;
Within the waves in softer murmurs glide,
And ships secure without their halsers ride.
High at the head a branching olive grows,
And crowns the pointed cliffs with shady boughs.
Beneath, a gloomy grotto's cool recess
Delights the Nereids of the neighbouring seas,
Where bowls and urns were form'd of living stone,
And massy beams in native marble shone,
On which the labours of the nymphs were roll'd,
Their webs divine of purple mix'd with gold.
Within the cave the clustering bees attend
Their waxen works, or from the roof depend.
Perpetual waters o'er the pavement glide;
Two marble doors unfold on either side;
Sacred the south, by which the gods descend;
But mortals enter at the northern end.
Thither they bent, and haul'd their ship to land
(The crooked keel divides the yellow sand).
Ulysses sleeping on his couch they bore,
And gently placed him on the rocky shore.
His treasures next, Alcinous' gifts, they laid
In the wild olive's unfrequented shade,
Secure from theft; then launch'd the bark again,
Resumed their oars, and measured back the main,
Nor yet forgot old Ocean's dread supreme,
The vengeance vow'd for eyeless Polypheme.
Before the throne of mighty Jove lie stood,
And sought the secret counsels of the god.
"Shall then no more, O sire of gods! be mine
The rights and honours of a power divine?
Scorn'd e'en by man, and (oh severe disgrace!)
By soft Phaeacians, my degenerate race!
Against yon destined head in vain I swore,
And menaced vengeance, ere he reach'd his shore;
To reach his natal shore was thy decree;
Mild I obey'd, for who shall war with thee?
Behold him landed, careless and asleep,
From all the eluded dangers of the deep;
Lo where he lies, amidst a shining store
Of brass, rich garments, and refulgent ore;
And bears triumphant to his native isle
A prize more worth than Ilion's noble spoil."
To whom the Father of the immortal powers,
Who swells the clouds, and gladdens earth with showers,
"Can mighty Neptune thus of man complain?
Neptune, tremendous o'er the boundless main!
Revered and awful e'en in heaven's abodes,
Ancient and great! a god above the gods!
If that low race offend thy power divine
(Weak, daring creatures!) is not vengeance thine?
Go, then, the guilty at thy will chastise."
He said. The shaker of the earth replies:
"This then, I doom: to fix the gallant ship,
A mark of vengeance on the sable deep;
To warn the thoughtless, self-confiding train,
No more unlicensed thus to brave the main.
Full in their port a Shady hill shall rise,
If such thy will."--" We will it (Jove replies).
E'en when with transport blackening all the strand,
The swarming people hail their ship to land,
Fix her for ever, a memorial stone:
Still let her seem to sail, and seem alone.
The trembling crowds shall see the sudden shade
Of whelming mountains overhang their head!"
With that the god whose earthquakes rock the ground
Fierce to Phaeacia cross'd the vast profound.
Swift as a swallow sweeps the liquid way,
The winged pinnace shot along the sea.
The god arrests her with a sudden stroke,
And roots her down an everlasting rock.
Aghast the Scherians stand in deep surprise;
All press to speak, all question with their eyes.
What hands unseen the rapid bark restrain!
And yet it swims, or seems to swim, the main!
Thus they, unconscious of the deed divine;
Till great Alcinous, rising, own'd the sign.
"Behold the long predestined day I (he cries;)
O certain faith of ancient prophecies
These ears have heard my royal sire disclose
A dreadful story, big with future woes;
How, moved with wrath, that careless we convey
Promiscuous every guest to every bay,
Stern Neptune raged; and how by his command
Firm rooted in the surge a ship should stand
(A monument of wrath); and mound on mound
Should hide our walls, or whelm beneath the ground.
"The Fates have follow'd as declared the seer.
Be humbled, nations! and your monarch hear.
No more unlicensed brave the deeps, no more
With every stranger pass from shore to shore;
On angry Neptune now for mercy call;
To his high name let twelve black oxen fall.
So may the god reverse his purposed will,
Nor o'er our city hang the dreadful hill."
The monarch spoke: they trembled and obey'd,
Forth on the sands the victim oxen led;
The gathered tribes before the altars stand,
And chiefs and rulers, a majestic band.
The king of ocean all the tribes implore;
The blazing altars redden all the shore.
Meanwhile Ulysses in his country lay,
Released from sleep, and round him might survey
The solitary shore and rolling sea.
Yet had his mind through tedious absence lost
The dear resemblance of his native coast;
Besides, Minerva, to secure her care,
Diffused around a veil of thickened air;
For so the gods ordain'd to keep unseen
His royal person from his friends and queen;
Till the proud suitors for their crimes afford
An ample vengeance to their injured lord.
Now all the land another prospect bore,
Another port appear'd, another shore.
And long-continued ways, and winding floods,
And unknown mountains, crown'd with unknown woods
Pensive and slow, with sudden grief oppress'd,
The king arose, and beat his careful breast,
Cast a long look o'er all the coast and main,
And sought, around, his native realm in vain;
Then with erected eyes stood fix'd in woe,
And as he spoke, the tears began to flow.
"Ye gods (he cried), upon what barren coast,
In what new region, is Ulysses toss'd?
Possess'd by wild barbarians, fierce in arms?
Or men whose bosom tender pity warms?
Where shall this treasure now in safely be?
And whither, whither its sad owner fiy?
Ah, why did I Alcinous' grace implore?
Ah, why forsake Phaeacia's happy shore?
Some juster prince perhaps had entertain'd,
And safe restored me to my native land.
Is this the promised, long-expected coast,
And this the faith Phaeacia's rulers boast?
O righteous gods! of all the great, how few
Are just to Heaven, and to their promise true!
But he, the power to whose all-seeing eyes
The deeds of men appear without disguise,
'Tis his alone to avenge the wrongs I bear;
For still the oppress'd are his peculiar care.
To count these presents, and from thence to prove,
Their faith is mine; the rest belongs to Jove."
Then on the sands he ranged his wealthy store,
The gold, the vests, the tripods number'd o'er:
All these he found, but still in error lost,
Disconsolate he wanders on the coast,
Sighs for his country, and laments again
To the deaf rocks, and hoarse-resounding main.
When lo! the guardian goddess of the wise,
Celestial Pallas, stood before his eyes;
In show a youthful swain, of form divine,
Who seem'd descended from some princely line.
A graceful robe her slender body dress'd;
Around her shoulders flew the waving vest;
Her decent hand a shining javelin bore,
And painted sandals on her feet she wore.
To whom the king: "Whoe'er of human race
Thou art, that wanderest in this desert place,
With joy to thee, as to some god I bend,
To thee my treasures and myself commend.
O tell a wretch in exile doom'd to stray,
What air I breathe, what country I survey?
The fruitful continent's extremest bound,
Or some fair isle which Neptune's arms surround?
"From what far clime (said she) remote from fame
Arrivest thou here, a stranger to our name?
Thou seest an island, not to those unknown
Whose hills are brighten'd by the rising sun,
Nor those that placed beneath his utmost reign
Behold him sinking in the western main.
The rugged soil allows no level space
For flying chariots, or the rapid race;
Yet, not ungrateful to the peasant's pain,
Suffices fulness to the swelling grain;
The loaded trees their various fruits produce,
And clustering grapes afford a generous juice;
Woods crown our mountains, and in every grove
The bounding goats and frisking heifers rove;
Soft rains and kindly dews refresh the field,
And rising springs eternal verdure yield.
E'en to those shores is Ithaca renown'd,
Where Troy's majestic ruins strew the ground."
At this, the chief with transport was possess'd;
His panting heart exulted in his breast;
Yet, well dissembling his untimely joys,
And veiling truth in plausible disguise,
Thus, with an air sincere, in fiction bold,
His ready tale the inventive hero told:
"Oft have I heard in Crete this island's name;
For 'twas from Crete, my native soil, I came,
Self-banished thence. I sail'd before the wind,
And left my children and my friends behind.
From fierce Idomeneus' revenge I flew,
Whose son, the swift Orsilochus, I slew
(With brutal force he seized my Trojan prey,
Due to the toils of many a bloody day).
Unseen I 'scaped, and favour'd by the night,
In a Phoenician vessel took my flight,
For Pyle or Elis bound; but tempests toss'd
And raging billows drove us on your coast.
In dead of night an unknown port we gain'd;
Spent with fatigue, and slept secure on land.
But ere the rosy morn renew'd the day,
While in the embrace of pleasing sleep I lay,
Sudden, invited by auspicious gales,
They land my goods, and hoist their flying sails.
Abandon'd here, my fortune I deplore
A hapless exile on a foreign shore,"
Thus while he spoke, the blue-eyed maid began
With pleasing smiles to view the godlike man;
Then changed her form: and now, divinely bright,
Jove's heavenly daughter stood confess'd to sight;
Like a fair virgin in her beauty's bloom,
Skill'd in the illustrious labours of the loom.
"O still the same Ulysses! (she rejoin'd,)
In useful craft successfully refined!
Artful in speech, in action, and in mind!
Sufficed it not, that, thy long labours pass'd,
Secure thou seest thy native shore at last?
But this to me? who, like thyself, excel
In arts of counsel and dissembling well;
To me? whose wit exceeds the powers divine,
No less than mortals are surpass'd by thine.
Know'st thou not me; who made thy life my care,
Through ten years' wandering, and through ten years' war;
Who taught thee arts, Alcinous to persuade,
To raise his wonder, and engage his aid;
And now appear, thy treasures to protect,
Conceal thy person, thy designs direct,
And tell what more thou must from Fate expect;
Domestic woes far heavier to be borne!
The pride of fools, and slaves' insulting scorn?
But thou be silent, nor reveal thy state;
Yield to the force of unresisted Fate,
And bear unmoved the wrongs of base mankind,
The last, and hardest, conquest of the mind."
"Goddess of wisdom! (Ithacus replies,)
He who discerns thee must be truly wise,
So seldom view'd and ever in disguise!
When the bold Argives led their warring powers,
Against proud Ilion's well-defended towers,
Ulysses was thy care, celestial maid!
Graced with thy sight, and favoured with thy aid.
But when the Trojan piles in ashes lay,
And bound for Greece we plough'd the watery way;
Our fleet dispersed, and driven from coast to coast,
Thy sacred presence from that hour I lost;
Till I beheld thy radiant form once more,
And heard thy counsels on Phaeacia's shore.
But, by the almighty author of thy race,
Tell me, oh tell, is this my native place?
For much I fear, long tracts of land and sea
Divide this coast from distant Ithaca;
The sweet delusion kindly you impose,
To soothe my hopes, and mitigate my woes."
Thus he. The blue-eyed goddess thus replies;
"How prone to doubt, how cautious are the wise!
Who, versed in fortune, fear the flattering show,
And taste not half the bliss the gods bestow.
The more shall Pallas aid thy just desires,
And guard the wisdom which herself inspires.
Others long absent from their native place,
Straight seek their home, and fly with eager pace
To their wives' arms, and children's dear embrace.
Not thus Ulysses; he decrees to prove
His subjects' faith, and queen's suspected love;
Who mourn'd her lord twice ten revolving years,
And wastes the days in grief, the nights in tears.
But Pallas knew (thy friends and navy lost)
Once more 'twas given thee to behold thy coast;
Yet how could I with adverse Fate engage,
And mighty Neptune's unrelenting rage?
Now lift thy longing eyes, while I restore
The pleasing prospect of thy native shore.
Bebold the port of Phorcys! fenced around
With rocky mountains, and with olives crown'd,
Behold the gloomy grot! whose cool recess
Delights the Nereids of the neighbouring seas;
Whose now-neglected altars in thy reign
Blush'd with the blood of sheep and oxen slain,
Behold! where Neritus the clouds divides,
And shakes the waving forests on his sides."
So spake the goddess; and the prospect clear'd,
The mists dispersed, and all the coast appeared.
The king with joy confess'd his place of birth,
And on his knees salutes his mother earth;
Then, with his suppliant hands upheld in air,
Thus to the sea-green sisters sends his prayer;
"All hail! ye virgin daughters of the main!
Ye streams, beyond my hopes, beheld again!
To you once more your own Ulysses bows;
Attend his transports, and receive his vows!
If Jove prolong my days, and Pallas crown
The growing virtues of my youthful son,
To you shall rites divine be ever paid,
And grateful offerings on your altars laid."
Thus then Minerva: "From that anxious breast
Dismiss those cares, and leave to heaven the rest.
Our task be now thy treasured stores to save,
Deep in the close recesses of the cave;
Then future means consult." She spoke, and trod
The shady grot, that brighten'd with the god.
The closest caverns of the grot she sought;
The gold, the brass, the robes, Ulysses brought;
These in the secret gloom the chief disposed;
The entrance with a rock the goddess closed.
Now, seated in the olive's sacred shade,
Confer the hero and the martial maid.
The goddess of the azure eyes began:
"Son of Laertes! much-experienced man!
The suitor-train thy earliest care demand,
Of that luxurious race to rid the land;
Three years thy house their lawless rule has seen,
And proud addresses to the matchless queen.
But she thy absence mourns from day to day,
And inly bleeds, and silent wastes away;
Elusive of the bridal hour, she gives
Fond hopes to all, and all with hopes deceives."
To this Ulysses: "O celestial maid!
Praised be thy counsel, and thy timely aid;
Else had I seen my native walls in vain,
Like great Atrides, just restored and slain.
Vouchsafe the means of vengeance to debate,
And plan with all thy arts the scene of fate.
Then, then be present, and my soul inspire,
As when we wrapp'd Troy's heaven-built walls in fire.
Though leagued against me hundred heroes stand.
Hundreds shall fall, if Pallas aid my hand."
She answer'd: "In the dreadful day of fight
Know, I am with thee, strong in all my might.
If thou but equal to thyself be found,
What gasping numbers then shall press the ground!
What human victims stain the feastful floor!
How wide the pavements float with guilty gore!
It fits thee now to wear a dark disguise,
And secret walk unknown to mortal eyes.
For this, my hand shall wither every grace,
And every elegance of form and face;
O'er thy smooth skin a bark of wrinkles spread,
Turn hoar the auburn honours of thy head;
Disfigure every limb with coarse attire,
And in thy eyes extinguish all the fire;
Add all the wants and the decays of life;
Estrange thee from thy own; thy son, thy wife;
From the loathed object every sight shall turn,
And the blind suitors their destruction scorn.
"Go first the master of thy herds to find,
True to his charge, a loyal swain and kind;
For thee he sighs; and to the loyal heir
And chaste Penelope extends his care.
At the Coracian rock he now resides,
Where Arethusa's sable water glides;
The sable water and the copious mast
Swell the fat herd; luxuriant, large repast!
With him rest peaceful in the rural cell,
And all you ask his faithful tongue shall tell.
Me into other realms my cares convey,
To Sparta, still with female beauty gay;
For know, to Sparta thy loved offspring came,
To learn thy fortunes from the voice of Fame."
At this the father, with a father's care:
"Must he too suffer? he, O goddess! bear
Of wanderings and of woes a wretched share?
Through the wild ocean plough the dangerous way,
And leave his fortunes and his house a prey?
Why would'st not thou, O all-enlighten'd mind!
Inform him certain, and protect him, kind?"
To whom Minerva: "Be thy soul at rest;
And know, whatever heaven ordains is best.
To fame I sent him, to acquire renown;
To other regions is his virtue known;
Secure he sits, near great Atrides placed;
With friendships strengthen'd, and with honours graced,
But lo! an ambush waits his passage o'er;
Fierce foes insidious intercept the shore;
In vain; far sooner all the murderous brood
This injured land shall fatten with their blood."
She spake, then touch'd him with her powerful wand:
The skin shrunk up, and wither'd at her hand;
A swift old age o'er all his members spread;
A sudden frost was sprinkled on his head;
Nor longer in the heavy eye-ball shined
The glance divine, forth-beaming from the mind.
His robe, which spots indelible besmear,
In rags dishonest flutters with the air:
A stag's torn hide is lapp'd around his reins;
A rugged staff his trembling hand sustains;
And at his side a wretched scrip was hung,
Wide-patch'd, and knotted to a twisted thong.
So looked the chief, so moved: to mortal eyes
Object uncouth! a man of miseries!
While Pallas, cleaving the wild fields of air,
To Sparta flies, Telemachus her care.
THE CONVERSATION WITH EUMAEUS.
Ulysses arrives in disguise at the house of Eumaeus, where he is
received, entertained, and lodged with the utmost hospitality. The
several discourses of that faithful old servant, with the feigned
story told by Ulysses to conceal himself, and other conversations
on various subjects, take up this entire book.
But he, deep-musing, o'er the mountains stray'd
Through mazy thickets of the woodland shade,
And cavern'd ways, the shaggy coast along
With cliffs and nodding forests overhung.
Eumaeus at his sylvan lodge he sought,
A faithful servant, and without a fault.
Ulysses found him busied as he sate
Before the threshold of his rustic gate;
Around the mansion in a circle shone
A rural portico of rugged stone
(In absence of his lord with honest toil
His own industrious hands had raised the pile).
The wall was stone from neighbouring quarries borne,
Encircled with a fence of native thorn,
And strong with pales, by many a weary stroke
Of stubborn labour hewn from heart of oak:
Frequent and thick. Within the space were rear'd
Twelve ample cells, the lodgments of his herd.
Full fifty pregnant females each contain'd;
The males without (a smaller race) remain'd;
Doom'd to supply the suitors' wasteful feast,
A stock by daily luxury decreased;
Now scarce four hundred left. These to defend,
Four savage dogs, a watchful guard, attend.
Here sat Eumaeus, and his cares applied
To form strong buskins of well-season'd hide.
Of four assistants who his labour share,
Three now were absent on the rural care;
The fourth drove victims to a suitor train:
But he, of ancient faith, a simple swain,
Sigh'd, while he furnish'd the luxurious board,
And wearied Heaven with wishes for his lord.
Soon as Ulysses near the inclosure drew,
With open mouths the furious mastiffs flew:
Down sat the sage, and cautious to withstand,
Let fall the offensive truncheon from his hand.
Sudden, the master runs; aloud he calls;
And from his hasty hand the leather falls:
With showers of stones he drives then far away:
The scattering dogs around at distance bay.
"Unhappy stranger! (thus the faithful swain
Began with accent gracious and humane),
What sorrow had been mine, if at my gate
Thy reverend age had met a shameful fate!
Enough of woes already have I known;
Enough my master's sorrows and my own.
While here (ungrateful task!) his herds I feed,
Ordain'd for lawless rioters to bleed!
Perhaps, supported at another's board!
Far from his country roams my hapless lord;
Or sigh'd in exile forth his latest breath,
Now cover'd with the eternal shade of death!
"But enter this my homely roof, and see
Our woods not void of hospitality.
Then tell me whence thou art, and what the share
Of woes and wanderings thou wert born to bear."
He said, and, seconding the kind request,
With friendly step precedes his unknown guest.
A shaggy goat's soft hide beneath him spread,
And with fresh rushes heap'd an ample bed;
Jove touch'd the hero's tender soul, to find
So just reception from a heart so kind:
And "Oh, ye gods! with all your blessings grace
(He thus broke forth) this friend of human race!"
The swain replied: "It never was our guise
To slight the poor, or aught humane despise: