Part 6 out of 9
For Jove unfold our hospitable door,
'Tis Jove that sends the stranger and the poor,
Little, alas! is all the good I can
A man oppress'd, dependent, yet a man:
Accept such treatment as a swain affords,
Slave to the insolence of youthful lords!
Far hence is by unequal gods removed
That man of bounties, loving and beloved!
To whom whate'er his slave enjoys is owed,
And more, had Fate allow'd, had been bestow'd:
But Fate condemn'd him to a foreign shore;
Much have I sorrow'd, but my Master more.
Now cold he lies, to death's embrace resign'd:
Ah, perish Helen! perish all her kind!
For whose cursed cause, in Agamemnon's name,
He trod so fatally the paths of fame."
His vest succinct then girding round his waist,
Forth rush'd the swain with hospitable haste.
Straight to the lodgments of his herd he run,
Where the fat porkers slept beneath the sun;
Of two, his cutlass launch'd the spouting blood;
These quarter'd, singed, and fix'd on forks of wood,
All hasty on the hissing coals he threw;
And smoking, back the tasteful viands drew.
Broachers and all then an the board display'd
The ready meal, before Ulysses laid
With flour imbrown'd; next mingled wine yet new,
And luscious as the bees' nectareous dew:
Then sate, companion of the friendly feast,
With open look; and thus bespoke his guest:
"Take with free welcome what our hands prepare,
Such food as falls to simple servants' share;
The best our lords consume; those thoughtless peers,
Rich without bounty, guilty without fears;
Yet sure the gods their impious acts detest,
And honour justice and the righteous breast.
Pirates and conquerors of harden'd mind,
The foes of peace, and scourges of mankind,
To whom offending men are made a prey
When Jove in vengeance gives a land away;
E'en these, when of their ill-got spoils possess'd,
Find sure tormentors in the guilty breast:
Some voice of God close whispering from within,
'Wretch! this is villainy, and this is sin.'
But these, no doubt, some oracle explore,
That tells, the great Ulysses is no more.
Hence springs their confidence, and from our sighs
Their rapine strengthens, and their riots rise:
Constant as Jove the night and day bestows,
Bleeds a whole hecatomb, a vintage flows.
None match'd this hero's wealth, of all who reign
O'er the fair islands of the neighbouring main.
Nor all the monarchs whose far-dreaded sway
The wide-extended continents obey:
First, on the main land, of Ulysses' breed
Twelve herds, twelve flocks, on ocean's margin feed;
As many stalls for shaggy goats are rear'd;
As many lodgments for the tusky herd;
Two foreign keepers guard: and here are seen
Twelve herds of goats that graze our utmost green;
To native pastors is their charge assign'd,
And mine the care to feed the bristly kind;
Each day the fattest bleeds of either herd,
All to the suitors' wasteful board preferr'd."
Thus he, benevolent: his unknown guest
With hunger keen devours the savoury feast;
While schemes of vengeance ripen in his breast.
Silent and thoughtful while the board he eyed,
Eumaeus pours on high the purple tide;
The king with smiling looks his joy express'd,
And thus the kind inviting host address'd:
"Say now, what man is he, the man deplored,
So rich, so potent, whom you style your lord?
Late with such affluence and possessions bless'd,
And now in honour's glorious bed at rest.
Whoever was the warrior, he must be
To fame no stranger, nor perhaps to me:
Who (so the gods and so the Fates ordain'd)
Have wander'd many a sea, and many a land."
"Small is the faith the prince and queen ascribe
(Replied Eumaeus) to the wandering tribe.
For needy strangers still to flattery fly,
And want too oft betrays the tongue to lie.
Each vagrant traveller, that touches here,
Deludes with fallacies the royal ear,
To dear remembrance makes his image rise,
And calls the springing sorrows from her eyes.
Such thou mayst be. But he whose name you crave
Moulders in earth, or welters on the wave,
Or food for fish or dogs his relics lie,
Or torn by birds are scatter'd through the sky.
So perish'd he: and left (for ever lost)
Much woe to all, but sure to me the most.
So mild a master never shall I find;
Less dear the parents whom I left behind,
Less soft my mother, less my father kind.
Not with such transport would my eyes run o'er,
Again to hail them in their native shore,
As loved Ulysses once more to embrace,
Restored and breathing in his natal place.
That name for ever dread, yet ever dear,
E'en in his absence I pronounce with fear:
In my respect, he bears a prince's part;
But lives a very brother in my heart."
Thus spoke the faithful swain, and thus rejoin'd
The master of his grief, the man of patient mind:
"Ulysses, friend! shall view his old abodes
(Distrustful as thou art), nor doubt the gods.
Nor speak I rashly, but with faith averr'd,
And what I speak attesting Heaven has heard.
If so, a cloak and vesture be my meed:
Till his return no title shall I plead,
Though certain be my news, and great my need.
Whom want itself can force untruths to tell,
My soul detests him as the gates of hell.
"Thou first be witness, hospitable Jove!
And every god inspiring social love!
And witness every household power that waits,
Guard of these fires, and angel of these gates!
Ere the next moon increase or this decay,
His ancient realms Ulysses shall survey,
In blood and dust each proud oppressor mourn,
And the lost glories of his house return."
"Nor shall that meed be thine, nor ever more
Shall loved Ulysses hail this happy shore.
(Replied Eumaeus): to the present hour
Now turn thy thought, and joys within our power.
From sad reflection let my soul repose;
The name of him awakes a thousand woes.
But guard him, gods! and to these arms restore!
Not his true consort can desire him more;
Not old Laertes, broken with despair:
Not young Telemachus, his blooming heir.
Alas, Telemachus! my sorrows flow
Afresh for thee, my second cause of woe!
Like some fair plant set by a heavenly hand,
He grew, he flourish'd, and he bless'd the land;
In all the youth his father's image shined,
Bright in his person, brighter in his mind.
What man, or god, deceived his better sense,
Far on the swelling seas to wander hence?
To distant Pylos hapless is he gone,
To seek his father's fate and find his own!
For traitors wait his way, with dire design
To end at once the great Arcesian line.
But let us leave him to their wills above;
The fates of men are in the hand of Jove.
And now, my venerable guest! declare
Your name, your parents, and your native air:
Sincere from whence begun, your course relate,
And to what ship I owe the friendly freight?"
Thus he: and thus (with prompt invention bold)
The cautious chief his ready story told.
"On dark reserve what better can prevail,
Or from the fluent tongue produce the tale,
Than when two friends, alone, in peaceful place
Confer, and wines and cates the table grace;
But most, the kind inviter's cheerful face?
Thus might we sit, with social goblets crown'd,
Till the whole circle of the year goes round:
Not the whole circle of the year would close
My long narration of a life of woes.
But such was Heaven's high will! Know then, I came
From sacred Crete, and from a sire of fame:
Castor Hylacides (that name he bore),
Beloved and honour'd in his native shore;
Bless'd in his riches, in his children more.
Sprung of a handmaid, from a bought embrace,
I shared his kindness with his lawful race:
But when that fate, which all must undergo,
From earth removed him to the shades below,
The large domain his greedy sons divide,
And each was portion'd as the lots decide.
Little, alas! was left my wretched share,
Except a house, a covert from the air:
But what by niggard fortune was denied,
A willing widow's copious wealth supplied.
My valour was my plea, a gallant mind,
That, true to honour, never lagg'd behind
(The sex is ever to a soldier kind).
Now wasting years my former strength confound,
And added woes have bow'd me to the ground;
Yet by the stubble you may guess the grain,
And mark the ruins of no vulgar man.
Me, Pallas gave to lead the martial storm,
And the fair ranks of battle to deform;
Me, Mars inspired to turn the foe to flight,
And tempt the secret ambush of the night.
Let ghastly Death in all his forms appear,
I saw him not, it was not mine to fear.
Before the rest I raised my ready steel,
The first I met, he yielded, or he fell.
But works of peace my soul disdain'd to bear,
The rural labour, or domestic care.
To raise the mast, the missile dart to wing,
And send swift arrows from the bounding string,
Were arts the gods made grateful to my mind;
Those gods, who turn (to various ends design'd)
The various thoughts and talents of mankind.
Before the Grecians touch'd the Trojan plain,
Nine times commander or by land or main,
In foreign fields I spread my glory far,
Great in the praise, rich in the spoils of war;
Thence charged with riches, as increased in fame,
To Crete return'd, an honourable name.
But when great Jove that direful war decreed,
Which roused all Greece, and made the mighty bleed;
Our states myself and Idomen employ
To lead their fleets, and carry death to Troy.
Nine years we warr'd; the tenth saw Ilion fall;
Homeward we sail'd, but heaven dispersed us all.
One only month my wife enjoy'd my stay;
So will'd the god who gives and takes away.
Nine ships I mann'd, equipp'd with ready stores,
Intent to voyage to the Aegyptian shores;
In feast and sacrifice my chosen train
Six days consum'd; the seventh we plough'd the main.
Crete's ample fields diminish to our eye;
Before the Boreal blast the vessels fly;
Safe through the level seas we sweep our way;
The steersman governs, and the ships obey.
The fifth fair morn we stem the Aegyptian tide,
And tilting o'er the bay the vessels ride:
To anchor there my fellows I command,
And spies commission to explore the land.
But, sway'd by lust of gain, and headlong will,
The coasts they ravage, and the natives kill.
The spreading clamour to their city flies,
And horse and foot in mingled tumult rise.
The reddening dawn reveals the circling fields,
Horrid with bristly spears, and glancing shields.
Jove thunder'd on their side. Our guilty head
We turn'd to flight; the gathering vengeance spread
On all parts round, and heaps on heaps lie dead.
I then explored my thought, what course to prove
(And sure the thought was dictated by Jove):
Oh, had he left me to that happier doom,
And saved a life of miseries to come!
The radiant helmet from my brows unlaced,
And low on earth my shield and javelin cast,
I meet the monarch with a suppliant's face,
Approach his chariot, and his knees embrace,
He heard, he saved, he placed me at his side;
My state he pitied, and my tears he dried,
Restrain'd the rage the vengeful foe express'd,
And turn'd the deadly weapons from my breast.
Pious! to guard the hospitable rite,
And fearing Jove, whom mercy's works delight.
"In Aegypt thus with peace and plenty bless'd,
I lived (and happy still have lived) a guest.
On seven bright years successive blessings wait;
The next changed all the colour of my fate.
A false Phoenician, of insiduous mind,
Versed in vile arts, and foe to humankind,
With semblance fair invites me to his home;
I seized the proffer (ever fond to roam):
Domestic in his faithless roof I stay'd,
Till the swift sun his annual circle made.
To Libya then he mediates the way;
With guileful art a stranger to betray,
And sell to bondage in a foreign land:
Much doubting, yet compell'd I quit the strand,
Through the mid seas the nimble pinnace sails,
Aloof from Crete, before the northern gales:
But when remote her chalky cliffs we lost,
And far from ken of any other coast,
When all was wild expanse of sea and air,
Then doom'd high Jove due vengeance to prepare.
He hung a night of horrors o'er their head
(The shaded ocean blacken'd as it spread):
He launch'd the fiery bolt: from pole to pole
Broad burst the lightnings, deep the thunders roll;
In giddy rounds the whirling ship is toss'd,
An all in clouds of smothering sulphur lost.
As from a hanging rock's tremendous height,
The sable crows with intercepted flight
Drop endlong; scarr'd, and black with sulphurous hue,
So from the deck are hurl'd the ghastly crew.
Such end the wicked found! but Jove's intent
Was yet to save the oppress'd and innocent.
Placed on the mast (the last resource of life)
With winds and waves I held unequal strife:
For nine long days the billows tilting o'er,
The tenth soft wafts me to Thesprotia's shore.
The monarch's son a shipwreck'd wretch relieved,
The sire with hospitable rites received,
And in his palace like a brother placed,
With gifts of price and gorgeous garments graced
While here I sojourn'd, oft I heard the fame
How late Ulysses to the country came.
How loved, how honour'd in this court he stay'd,
And here his whole collected treasure laid;
I saw myself the vast unnumber'd store
Of steel elaborate, and refulgent ore,
And brass high heap'd amidst the regal dome;
Immense supplies for ages yet to come!
Meantime he voyaged to explore the will
Of Jove, on high Dodona's holy hill,
What means might best his safe return avail,
To come in pomp, or bear a secret sail?
Full oft has Phidon, whilst he pour'd the wine,
Attesting solemn all the powers divine,
That soon Ulysses would return, declared
The sailors waiting, and the ships prepared.
But first the king dismiss'd me from his shores,
For fair Dulichium crown'd with fruitful stores;
To good Acastus' friendly care consign'd:
But other counsels pleased the sailors' mind:
New frauds were plotted by the faithless train,
And misery demands me once again.
Soon as remote from shore they plough the wave,
With ready hands they rush to seize their slave;
Then with these tatter'd rags they wrapp'd me round
(Stripp'd of my own), and to the vessel bound.
At eve, at Ithaca's delightful land
The ship arriv'd: forth issuing on the sand,
They sought repast; while to the unhappy kind,
The pitying gods themselves my chains unbind.
Soft I descended, to the sea applied
My naked breast, and shot along the tide.
Soon pass'd beyond their sight, I left the flood,
And took the spreading shelter of the wood.
Their prize escaped the faithless pirates mourn'd;
But deem'd inquiry vain, and to their ships return'd.
Screen'd by protecting gods from hostile eyes,
They led me to a good man and a wise,
To live beneath thy hospitable care,
And wait the woes Heaven dooms me yet to bear."
"Unhappy guest! whose sorrows touch my mind!
(Thus good Eumaeus with a sigh rejoin'd,)
For real sufferings since I grieve sincere,
Check not with fallacies the springing tear:
Nor turn the passion into groundless joy
For him whom Heaven has destined to destroy.
Oh! had he perish'd on some well-fought day,
Or in his friend's embraces died away!
That grateful Greece with streaming eyes might raise
Historic marbles to record his praise;
His praise, eternal on the faithful stone,
Had with transmissive honours graced his son.
Now, snatch'd by harpies to the dreary coast,
Sunk is the hero, and his glory lost!
While pensive in this solitary den,
Far from gay cities and the ways of men,
I linger life; nor to the court repair,
But when my constant queen commands my care;
Or when, to taste her hospitable board,
Some guest arrives, with rumours of her lord;
And these indulge their want, and those their woe,
And here the tears and there the goblets flow.
By many such have I been warn'd; but chief
By one Aetolian robb'd of all belief,
Whose hap it was to this our roof to roam,
For murder banish'd from his native home.
He swore, Ulysses on the coast of Crete
Stay'd but a season to refit his fleet;
A few revolving months should waft him o'er,
Fraught with bold warriors, and a boundless store
O thou! whom age has taught to understand,
And Heaven has guided with a favouring hand!
On god or mortal to obtrude a lie
Forbear, and dread to flatter as to die.
Nor for such ends my house and heart are free,
But dear respect to Jove, and charity."
"And why, O swain of unbelieving mind!
(Thus quick replied the wisest of mankind)
Doubt you my oath? yet more my faith to try,
A solemn compact let us ratify,
And witness every power that rules the sky!
If here Ulysses from his labours rest,
Be then my prize a tunic and a vest;
And where my hopes invite me, straight transport
In safety to Dulichium's friendly court.
But if he greets not thy desiring eye,
Hurl me from yon dread precipice on high:
The due reward of fraud and perjury."
"Doubtless, O guest! great laud and praise were mine
(Replied the swain, for spotless faith divine),
If after social rites and gifts bestow'd,
I stain'd my hospitable hearth with blood.
How would the gods my righteous toils succeed,
And bless the hand that made a stranger bleed?
No more--the approaching hours of silent night
First claim refection, then to rest invite;
Beneath our humble cottage let us haste,
And here, unenvied, rural dainties taste."
Thus communed these; while to their lowly dome
The full-fed swine return'd with evening home;
Compell'd, reluctant, to their several sties,
With din obstreperous, and ungrateful cries.
Then to the slaves: "Now from the herd the best
Select in honour of our foreign guest:
With him let us the genial banquet share,
For great and many are the griefs we bear;
While those who from our labours heap their board
Blaspheme their feeder, and forget their lord."
Thus speaking, with despatchful hand he took
A weighty axe, and cleft the solid oak;
This on the earth he piled; a boar full fed,
Of five years' age, before the pile was led:
The swain, whom acts of piety delight,
Observant of the gods, begins the rite;
First shears the forehead of the bristly boar,
And suppliant stands, invoking every power
To speed Ulysses to his native shore.
A knotty stake then aiming at his head,
Down dropped he groaning, and the spirit fled.
The scorching flames climb round on every side;
Then the singed members they with skill divide;
On these, in rolls of fat involved with art,
The choicest morsels lay from every part.
Some in the flames bestrew'd with flour they threw;
Some cut in fragments from the forks they drew:
These while on several tables they dispose.
A priest himself the blameless rustic rose;
Expert the destined victim to dispart
In seven just portions, pure of hand and heart.
One sacred to the nymphs apart they lay:
Another to the winged sons of May;
The rural tribe in common share the rest,
The king the chine, the honour of the feast,
Who sate delighted at his servant's board;
The faithful servant joy'd his unknown lord.
"Oh be thou dear (Ulysses cried) to Jove,
As well thou claim'st a grateful stranger's love!"
"Be then thy thanks (the bounteous swain replied)
Enjoyment of the good the gods provide.
From God's own hand descend our joys and woes;
These he decrees, and he but suffers those:
All power is his, and whatsoe'er he wills,
The will itself, omnipotent, fulfils."
This said, the first-fruits to the gods he gave;
Then pour'd of offer'd wine the sable wave:
In great Ulysses' hand he placed the bowl,
He sate, and sweet refection cheer'd his soul.
The bread from canisters Mesaulius gave
(Eumaeus' proper treasure bought this slave,
And led from Taphos, to attend his board,
A servant added to his absent lord);
His task it was the wheaten loaves to lay,
And from the banquet take the bowls away.
And now the rage of hunger was repress'd,
And each betakes him to his couch to rest.
Now came the night, and darkness cover'd o'er
The face of things; the winds began to roar;
The driving storm the watery west-wind pours,
And Jove descends in deluges of showers.
Studious of rest and warmth, Ulysses lies,
Foreseeing from the first the storm would rise
In mere necessity of coat and cloak,
With artful preface to his host he spoke:
"Hear me, my friends! who this good banquet grace;
'Tis sweet to play the fool in time and place,
And wine can of their wits the wise beguile,
Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile,
The grave in merry measures frisk about,
And many a long-repented word bring out.
Since to be talkative I now commence,
Let wit cast off the sullen yoke of sense.
Once I was strong (would Heaven restore those days!)
And with my betters claim'd a share of praise.
Ulysses, Menelaus, led forth a band,
And join'd me with them ('twas their own command);
A deathful ambush for the foe to lay,
Beneath Troy walls by night we took our way:
There, clad in arms, along the marshes spread,
We made the osier-fringed bank our bed.
Full soon the inclemency of heaven I feel,
Nor had these shoulders covering, but of steel.
Sharp blew the north; snow whitening all the fields
Froze with the blast, and gathering glazed our shields.
There all but I, well fenced with cloak and vest,
Lay cover'd by their ample shields at rest.
Fool that I was! I left behind my own,
The skill of weather and of winds unknown,
And trusted to my coat and shield alone!
When now was wasted more than half the night,
And the stars faded at approaching light,
Sudden I jogg'd Ulysses, who was laid
Fast by my side, and shivering thus I said:
"'Here longer in this field I cannot lie;
The winter pinches, and with cold I die,
And die ashamed (O wisest of mankind),
The only fool who left his cloak behind.'
"He thought and answer'd: hardly waking yet,
Sprung in his mind a momentary wit
(That wit, which or in council or in fight,
Still met the emergence, and determined right).
'Hush thee (he cried, soft whispering in my ear),
Speak not a word, lest any Greek may hear'--
And then (supporting on his arm his head),
'Hear me, companions! (thus aloud he said:)
Methinks too distant from the fleet we lie:
E'en now a vision stood before my eye,
And sure the warning vision was from high:
Let from among us some swift courier rise,
Haste to the general, and demand supplies.'
"Up started Thoas straight, Andraemon's son,
Nimbly he rose, and cast his garment down!
Instant, the racer vanish'd off the ground;
That instant in his cloak I wrapp'd me round:
And safe I slept, till brightly-dawning shone
The morn conspicuous on her golden throne.
"Oh were my strength as then, as then my age!
Some friend would fence me from the winter's rage.
Yet, tatter'd as I look, I challenged then
The honours and the offices of men:
Some master, or some servant would allow
A cloak and vest--but I am nothing now!"
"Well hast thou spoke (rejoin'd the attentive swain):
Thy lips let fall no idle word or vain!
Nor garment shalt thou want, nor aught beside,
Meet for the wandering suppliant to provide.
But in the morning take thy clothes again,
For here one vest suffices every swain:
No change of garments to our hinds is known;
But when return'd, the good Ulysses' son
With better hand shall grace with fit attires
His guest, and send thee where thy soul desires."
The honest herdsman rose, as this he said,
And drew before the hearth the stranger's bed;
The fleecy spoils of sheep, a goat's rough hide
He spreads; and adds a mantle thick and wide;
With store to heap above him, and below,
And guard each quarter as the tempests blow.
There lay the king, and all the rest supine;
All, but the careful master of the swine:
Forth hasted he to tend his bristly care;
Well arm'd, and fenced against nocturnal air:
His weighty falchion o'er his shoulder tied:
His shaggy cloak a mountain goat supplied:
With his broad spear the dread of dogs and men,
He seeks his lodging in the rocky den.
There to the tusky herd he bends his way,
Where, screen'd from Boreas, high o'erarch'd they lay.
THE RETURN OF TELEMACHUS.
The goddess Minerva commands Telemachus in a vision to return to
Ithaca. Pisistratus and he take leave of Menelaus, and arrive at
Pylos, where they part: and Telemachus sets sail, after having
received on board Theoclymenus the soothsayer. The scene then
changes to the cottage of Eumaeus, who entertains Ulysses with a
recital of his adventures. In the meantime Telemachus arrives on
the coast, and sending the vessel to the town, proceeds by himself
to the lodge of Eumaeus.
Now had Minerva reach'd those ample plains,
Famed for the dance, where Menelaus reigns:
Anxious she flies to great Ulysses' heir,
His instant voyage challenged all her care.
Beneath the royal portico display'd,
With Nestor's son Telemachus was laid:
In sleep profound the son of Nestor lies;
Not thine, Ulysses! Care unseal'd his eyes:
Restless he grieved, with various fears oppress'd,
And all thy fortunes roll'd within his breast.
When, "O Telemachus! (the goddess said)
Too long in vain, too widely hast thou stray'd,
Thus leaving careless thy paternal right
The robbers' prize, the prey to lawless might.
On fond pursuits neglectful while you roam,
E'en now the hand of rapine sacks the dome.
Hence to Atrides; and his leave implore
To launch thy vessel for thy natal shore;
Fly, whilst thy mother virtuous yet withstands
Her kindred's wishes, and her sire's commands;
Through both, Eurymachus pursues the dame,
And with the noblest gifts asserts his claim.
Hence, therefore, while thy stores thy own remain;
Thou know'st the practice of the female train,
Lost in the children of the present spouse,
They slight the pledges of their former vows;
Their love is always with the lover past;
Still the succeeding flame expels the last.
Let o'er thy house some chosen maid preside,
Till Heaven decrees to bless thee in a bride.
But now thy more attentive ears incline,
Observe the warnings of a power divine;
For thee their snares the suitor lords shall lay
In Samos' sands, or straits of Ithaca;
To seize thy life shall lurk the murderous band,
Ere yet thy footsteps press thy native land.
No!--sooner far their riot and their lust
All-covering earth shall bury deep in dust!
Then distant from the scatter'd islands steer,
Nor let the night retard thy full career;
Thy heavenly guardian shall instruct the gales
To smooth thy passage and supply thy sails:
And when at Ithaca thy labour ends,
Send to the town the vessel with thy friends;
But seek thou first the master of the swine
(For still to thee his loyal thoughts incline);
There pass the night: while he his course pursues
To bring Penelope the wish'd-for news,
That thou, safe sailing from the Pylian strand,
Art come to bless her in thy native land."
Thus spoke the goddess, and resumed her flight
To the pure regions of eternal light,
Meanwhile Pisistratus he gently shakes,
And with these words the slumbering youth awakes:
"Rise, son of Nestor; for the road prepare,
And join the harness'd coursers to the car."
"What cause (he cried) can justify our flight
To tempt the dangers of forbidding night?
Here wait we rather, till approaching day
Shall prompt our speed, and point the ready way.
Nor think of flight before the Spartan king
Shall bid farewell, and bounteous presents bring;
Gifts, which to distant ages safely stored,
The sacred act of friendship shall record."
Thus he. But when the dawn bestreak'd the east,
The king from Helen rose, and sought his guest.
As soon as his approach the hero knew,
The splendid mantle round him first he threw,
Then o'er his ample shoulders whirl'd the cloak,
Respectful met the monarch, and bespoke:
"Hail, great Atrides, favour'd of high Jove!
Let not thy friends in vain for licence move.
Swift let us measure back the watery way,
Nor check our speed, impatient of delay."
"If with desire so strong thy bosom glows,
Ill (said the king) should I thy wish oppose;
For oft in others freely I reprove
The ill-timed efforts of officious love;
Who love too much, hate in the like extreme,
And both the golden mean alike condemn.
Alike he thwarts the hospitable end,
Who drives the free, or stays the hasty friend:
True friendship's laws are by this rule express'd,
Welcome the coming, speed the parting guest.
Yet, stay, my friends, and in your chariot take
The noblest presents that our love can make;
Meantime commit we to our women's care
Some choice domestic viands to prepare;
The traveller, rising from the banquet gay,
Eludes the labours of the tedious way,
Then if a wider course shall rather please,
Through spacious Argos and the realms of Greece,
Atrides in his chariot shall attend;
Himself thy convoy to each royal friend.
No prince will let Ulysses' heir remove
Without some pledge, some monument of love:
These will the caldron, these the tripod give;
From those the well-pair'd mules we shall receive,
Or bowl emboss'd whose golden figures live."
To whom the youth, for prudence famed, replied:
"O monarch, care of heaven! thy people's pride!
No friend in Ithaca my place supplies,
No powerful hands are there, no watchful eyes:
My stores exposed and fenceless house demand
The speediest succour from my guardian hand;
Lest, in a search too anxious and too vain,
Of one lost joy, I lose what yet remain."
His purpose when the generous warrior heard,
He charged the household cates to be prepared.
Now with the dawn, from his adjoining home,
Was Boethoedes Eteoneus come;
Swift at the word he forms the rising blaze,
And o'er the coals the smoking fragments lays.
Meantime the king, his son, and Helen went
Where the rich wardrobe breathed a costly scent;
The king selected from the glittering rows
A bowl; the prince a silver beaker chose.
The beauteous queen revolved with careful eyes
Her various textures of unnumber'd dyes,
And chose the largest; with no vulgar art
Her own fair hands embroider'd every part;
Beneath the rest it lay divinely bright,
Like radiant Hesper o'er the gems of night,
Then with each gift they hasten'd to their guest,
And thus the king Ulysses' heir address'd:
"Since fix'd are thy resolves, may thundering Jove
With happiest omens thy desires approve!
This silver bowl, whose costly margins shine
Enchased with old, this valued gift be thine;
To me this present, of Vulcanian frame,
From Sidon's hospitable monarch came;
To thee we now consign the precious load,
The pride of kings, and labour of a god."
Then gave the cup, while Megapenthe brought
The silver vase with living sculpture wrought.
The beauteous queen, advancing next, display'd
The shining veil, and thus endearing said:
"Accept, dear youth, this monument of love,
Long since, in better days, by Helen wove:
Safe in thy mother's care the vesture lay,
To deck thy bride and grace thy nuptial day.
Meantime may'st thou with happiest speed regain
Thy stately palace, and thy wide domain."
She said, and gave the veil; with grateful look
The prince the variegated present took.
And now, when through the royal dome they pass'd,
High on a throne the king each stranger placed.
A golden ewer the attendant damsel brings,
Replete with water from the crystal springs;
With copious streams the shining vase supplies
A silver layer of capacious size.
They wash. The tables in fair order spread,
The glittering canisters are crown'd with bread;
Viands of various kinds allure the taste,
Of choicest sort and savour; rich repast!
Whilst Eteoneus portions out the shares
Atrides' son the purple draught prepares,
And now (each sated with the genial feast,
And the short rage of thirst and hunger ceased)
Ulysses' son, with his illustrious friend,
The horses join, the polish'd car ascend,
Along the court the fiery steeds rebound,
And the wide portal echoes to the sound.
The king precedes; a bowl with fragrant wine
(Libation destined to the powers divine)
His right hand held: before the steed he stands,
Then, mix'd with prayers, he utters these commands:
"Farewell, and prosper, youths! let Nestor know
What grateful thoughts still in this bosom glow,
For all the proofs of his paternal care,
Through the long dangers of the ten years' war."
"Ah! doubt not our report (the prince rejoin'd)
Of all the virtues of thy generous mind.
And oh! return'd might we Ulysses meet!
To him thy presents show, thy words repeat:
How will each speech his grateful wonder raise!
How will each gift indulge us in thy praise!"
Scarce ended thus the prince, when on the right
Advanced the bird of Jove: auspicious sight!
A milk-white fowl his clinching talons bore,
With care domestic pampered at the floor.
Peasants in vain with threatening cries pursue,
In solemn speed the bird majestic flew
Full dexter to the car; the prosperous sight
Fill'd every breast with wonder and delight.
But Nestor's son the cheerful silence broke,
And in these words the Spartan chief bespoke:
"Say if to us the gods these omens send,
Or fates peculiar to thyself portend?"
Whilst yet the monarch paused, with doubts oppress'd
The beauteous queen relieved his labouring breast:
"Hear me (she cried), to whom the gods have given
To read this sign, and mystic sense of heaven,
As thus the plumy sovereign of the air
Left on the mountain's brow his callow care,
And wander'd through the wide ethereal way
To pour his wrath on yon luxurious prey;
So shall thy godlike father, toss'd in vain
Through all the dangers of the boundless main,
Arrive (or if perchance already come)
From slaughter'd gluttons to release the dome."
"Oh! if this promised bliss by thundering Jove
(The prince replied) stand fix'd in fate above;
To thee, as to some god, I'll temples raise.
And crown thy altars with the costly blaze."
He said; and bending o'er his chariot, flung
Athwart the fiery steeds the smarting thong;
The bounding shafts upon the harness play,
Till night descending intercepts the way.
To Diocles at Pherae they repair,
Whose boasted sire was sacred Alpheus' heir;
With him all night the youthful stranger stay'd,
Nor found the hospitable rites unpaid,
But soon as morning from her orient bed
Had tinged the mountains with her earliest red,
They join'd the steeds, and on the chariot sprung,
The brazen portals in their passage rung.
To Pylos soon they came; when thus begun
To Nestor's heir Ulysses' godlike son:
"Let not Pisistratus in vain be press'd,
Nor unconsenting hear his friend's request;
His friend by long hereditary claim,
In toils his equal, and in years the same.
No farther from our vessel, I implore,
The courses drive; but lash them to the shore.
Too long thy father would his friend detain;
I dread his proffer'd kindness urged in vain."
The hero paused, and ponder'd this request,
While love and duty warr'd within his breast.
At length resolved, he turn'd his ready hand,
And lash'd his panting coursers to the strand.
There, while within the poop with care he stored
The regal presents of the Spartan lord,
"With speed begone (said he); call every mate,
Ere yet to Nestor I the tale relate:
'Tis true, the fervour of his generous heart
Brooks no repulse, nor couldst thou soon depart:
Himself will seek thee here, nor wilt thou find,
In words alone, the Pylian monarch kind.
But when, arrived, he thy return shall know
How will his breast with honest fury glow!"
This said, the sounding strokes his horses fire,
And soon he reached the palace of his sire.
"Now (cried Telemachus) with speedy care
Hoist every sail, and every oar prepare."
Swift as the word his willing mates obey,
And seize their seats, impatient for the sea.
Meantime the prince with sacrifice adores
Minerva, and her guardian aid implores;
When lo! a wretch ran breathless to the shore,
New from his crime; and reeking yet with gore.
A seer he was, from great Melampus sprung,
Melampus, who in Pylos flourish'd long,
Till, urged by wrongs, a foreign realm he chose,
Far from the hateful cause of all his woes.
Neleus his treasures one long year detains,
As long he groan'd in Philacus' chains:
Meantime, what anguish and what rage combined
For lovely Pero rack'd his labouring mind!
Yet 'scaped he death; and vengeful of his wrong
To Pylos drove the lowing herds along:
Then (Neleus vanquish'd, and consign'd the fair
To Bias' arms) he so sought a foreign air;
Argos the rich for his retreat he chose,
There form'd his empire; there his palace rose.
From him Antiphates and Mantius came:
The first begot Oicleus great in fame,
And he Amphiaraus, immortal name!
The people's saviour, and divinely wise,
Beloved by Jove, and him who gilds the skies;
Yet short his date of life! by female pride he dies.
From Mantius Clitus, whom Aurora's love
Snatch'd for his beauty to the thrones above;
And Polyphides, on whom Phoebus shone
With fullest rays, Amphiaraus now gone;
In Hyperesia's groves he made abode,
And taught mankind the counsels of the god.
From him sprung Theoclymenus, who found
(The sacred wine yet foaming on the ground)
Telemachus: whom, as to Heaven he press'd
His ardent vows, the stranger thus address'd:
"O thou! that dost thy happy course prepare
With pure libations and with solemn prayer:
By that dread power to whom thy vows are paid;
By all the lives of these; thy own dear head,
Declare sincerely to no foe's demand
Thy name, thy lineage, and paternal land."
"Prepare, then (said Telemachus), to know
A tale from falsehood free, not free from woe.
From Ithaca, of royal birth I came,
And great Ulysses (ever honour'd name!)
Once was my sire, though now, for ever lost,
In Stygian gloom he glides a pensive ghost!
Whose fate inquiring through the world we rove;
The last, the wretched proof of filial love."
The stranger then: "Nor shall I aught conceal,
But the dire secret of my fate reveal.
Of my own tribe an Argive wretch I slew;
Whose powerful friends the luckless deed pursue
With unrelenting rage, and force from home
The blood-stain'd exile, ever doom'd to roam.
But bear, oh bear me o'er yon azure flood;
Receive the suppliant! spare my destined blood!"
"Stranger (replied the prince) securely rest
Affianced in our faith; henceforth our guest."
Thus affable, Ulysses' godlike heir
Takes from the stranger's hand the glittering spear:
He climbs the ship, ascends the stern with haste
And by his side the guest accepted placed.
The chief his order gives: the obedient band,
With due observance wait the chief's command:
With speed the mast they rear, with speed unbind
The spacious sheet, and stretch it to the wind.
Minerva calls; the ready gales obey
With rapid speed to whirl them o'er the sea.
Crunus they pass'd, next Chalcis roll'd away,
With thickening darkness closed the doubtful day;
The silver Phaea's glittering rills they lost,
And skimm'd along by Elis' sacred coast.
Then cautious through the rocky reaches wind,
And turning sudden, shun the death design'd.
Meantime, the king, Eumaeus, and the rest,
Sate in the cottage, at their rural feast:
The banquet pass'd, and satiate every man,
To try his host, Ulysses thus began:
"Yet one night more, my friends, indulge your guest;
The last I purpose in your walls to rest:
To-morrow for myself I must provide,
And only ask your counsel, and a guide;
Patient to roam the street, by hunger led,
And bless the friendly hand that gives me bread.
There in Ulysses' roof I may relate
Ulysses' wanderings to his royal mate;
Or, mingling with the suitors' haughty train,
Not undeserving some support obtain.
Hermes to me his various gifts imparts.
Patron of industry and manual arts:
Few can with me in dexterous works contend,
The pyre to build, the stubborn oak to rend;
To turn the tasteful viand o'er the flame;
Or foam the goblet with a purple stream.
Such are the tasks of men of mean estate,
Whom fortune dooms to serve the rich and great."
"Alas! (Eumaeus with a sigh rejoin'd).
How sprung a thought so monstrous in thy mind?
If on that godless race thou would'st attend,
Fate owes thee sure a miserable end!
Their wrongs and blasphemies ascend the sky,
And pull descending vengeance from on high.
Not such, my friend, the servants of their feast:
A blooming train in rich embroidery dress'd,
With earth's whole tribute the bright table bends,
And smiling round celestial youth attends.
Stay, then: no eye askance beholds thee here;
Sweet is thy converse to each social ear;
Well pleased, and pleasing, in our cottage rest,
Till good Telemachus accepts his guest
With genial gifts, and change of fair attires,
And safe conveys thee where thy soul desires."
To him the man of woes; "O gracious Jove!
Reward this stranger's hospitable love!
Who knows the son of sorrow to relieve,
Cheers the sad heart, nor lets affliction grieve.
Of all the ills unhappy mortals know,
A life of wanderings is the greatest woe;
On all their weary ways wait care and pain,
And pine and penury, a meagre train.
To such a man since harbour you afford,
Relate the farther fortunes of your lord;
What cares his mother's tender breast engage,
And sire forsaken on the verge of age;
Beneath the sun prolong they yet their breath,
Or range the house of darkness and of death?"
To whom the swain: "Attend what you enquire;
Laertes lives, the miserable sire,
Lives, but implores of every power to lay
The burden down, and wishes for the day.
Torn from his offspring in the eve of life,
Torn from the embraces of his tender wife,
Sole, and all comfortless, he wastes away
Old age, untimely posting ere his day.
She too, sad mother! for Ulysses lost
Pined out her bloom, and vanish'd to a ghost;
(So dire a fate, ye righteous gods! avert
From every friendly, every feeling heart!)
While yet she was, though clouded o'er with grief.
Her pleasing converse minister'd relief:
With Climene, her youngest daughter, bred,
One roof contain'd us, and one table fed.
But when the softly-stealing pace of time
Crept on from childhood into youthful prime,
To Samos' isle she sent the wedded fair;
Me to the fields; to tend the rural care;
Array'd in garments her own hands had wove,
Nor less the darling object of her love.
Her hapless death my brighter days o'ercast,
Yet Providence deserts me not at last;
My present labours food and drink procure,
And more, the pleasure to relieve the poor.
Small is the comfort from the queen to hear
Unwelcome news, or vex the royal ear;
Blank and discountenanced the servants stand,
Nor dare to question where the proud command;
No profit springs beneath usurping powers;
Want feeds not there where luxury devours,
Nor harbours charity where riot reigns:
Proud are the lords, and wretched are the swains."
The suffering chief at this began to melt;
And, "O Eumaeus! thou (he cries) hast felt
The spite of fortune too! her cruel hand
Snatch'd thee an infant from thy native land!
Snatch'd from thy parents' arms, thy parents' eyes,
To early wants! a man of miseries!
The whole sad story, from its first, declare:
Sunk the fair city by the rage of war,
Where once thy parents dwelt? or did they keep,
In humbler life, the lowing herds and sheep?
So left perhaps to tend the fleecy train,
Rude pirates seized, and shipp'd thee o'er the main?
Doom'd a fair prize to grace some prince's board,
The worthy purchase of a foreign lord."
"If then my fortunes can delight my friend,
A story fruitful of events attend:
Another's sorrow may thy ears enjoy,
And wine the lengthen'd intervals employ.
Long nights the now declining year bestows;
A part we consecrate to soft repose,
A part in pleasing talk we entertain;
For too much rest itself becomes a pain.
Let those, whom sleep invites, the call obey,
Their cares resuming with the dawning day:
Here let us feast, and to the feast be join'd
Discourse, the sweeter banquet of the mind;
Review the series of our lives, and taste
The melancholy joy of evils pass'd:
For he who much has suffer'd, much will know,
And pleased remembrance builds delight on woe.
"Above Ortygia lies an isle of fame,
Far hence remote, and Syria is the name
(There curious eyes inscribed with wonder trace
The sun's diurnal, and his annual race);
Not large, but fruitful; stored with grass to keep
The bellowing oxen and the bleating sheep;
Her sloping hills the mantling vines adorn,
And her rich valleys wave with golden corn.
No want, no famine, the glad natives know,
Nor sink by sickness to the shades below;
But when a length of years unnerves the strong,
Apollo comes, and Cynthia comes along.
They bend the silver bow with tender skill,
And, void of pain, the silent arrows kill.
Two equal tribes this fertile land divide,
Where two fair cities rise with equal pride.
But both in constant peace one prince obey,
And Ctesius there, my father, holds the sway.
Freighted, it seems, with toys of every sort,
A ship of Sidon anchor'd in our port;
What time it chanced the palace entertain'd,
Skill'd in rich works, a woman of their land:
This nymph, where anchor'd the Phoenician train,
To wash her robes descending to the main,
A smooth tongued sailor won her to his mind
(For love deceives the best of womankind).
A sudden trust from sudden liking grew;
She told her name, her race, and all she knew,
'I too (she cried) from glorious Sidon came,
My father Arybas, of wealthy fame:
But, snatch'd by pirates from my native place,
The Taphians sold me to this man's embrace.'
"'Haste then (the false designing youth replied),
Haste to thy country; love shall be thy guide;
Haste to thy father's house, thy father's breast,
For still he lives, and lives with riches blest.'
"'Swear first (she cried), ye sailors! to restore
A wretch in safety to her native shore.'
Swift as she ask'd, the ready sailors swore.
She then proceeds: 'Now let our compact made
Be nor by signal nor by word betray'd,
Nor near me any of your crew descried,
By road frequented, or by fountain side.
Be silence still our guard. The monarch's spies
(For watchful age is ready to surmise)
Are still at hand; and this, revealed, must be
Death to yourselves, eternal chains to me.
Your vessel loaded, and your traffic pass'd,
Despatch a wary messenger with haste;
Then gold and costly treasures will I bring,
And more, the infant offspring of the king.
Him, child-like wandering forth, I'll lead away
(A noble prize!) and to your ship convey.'
"Thus spoke the dame, and homeward took the road.
A year they traffic, and their vessel load.
Their stores complete, and ready now to weigh,
A spy was sent their summons to convey:
An artist to my father's palace came,
With gold and amber chains, elaborate frame:
Each female eye the glittering links employ;
They turn, review, and cheapen every toy.
He took the occasion, as they stood intent,
Gave her the sign, and to his vessel went.
She straight pursued, and seized my willing arm;
I follow'd, smiling, innocent of harm.
Three golden goblets in the porch she found
(The guests not enter'd, but the table crown'd);
Hid in her fraudful bosom these she bore:
Now set the sun, and darken'd all the shore.
Arriving then, where tilting on the tides
Prepared to launch the freighted vessel rides,
Aboard they heave us, mount their decks, and sweep
With level oar along the glassy deep.
Six calmy days and six smooth nights we sail,
And constant Jove supplied the gentle gale.
The seventh, the fraudful wretch (no cause descried),
Touch'd by Diana's vengeful arrow, died.
Down dropp'd the caitiff-corse, a worthless load,
Down to the deep; there roll'd, the future food
Of fierce sea-wolves, and monsters of the flood.
An helpless infant I remain'd behind;
Thence borne to Ithaca by wave and wind;
Sold to Laertes by divine command,
And now adopted to a foreign land."
To him the king: "Reciting thus thy cares,
My secret soul in all thy sorrow shares;
But one choice blessing (such is Jove's high will)
Has sweeten'd all thy bitter draught of ill:
Torn from thy country to no hapless end,
The gods have, in a master, given a friend.
Whatever frugal nature needs is thine
(For she needs little), daily bread and wine.
While I, so many wanderings past, and woes,
Live but on what thy poverty bestows."
So passed in pleasing dialogue away
The night; then down to short repose they lay;
Till radiant rose the messenger of day.
While in the port of Ithaca, the band
Of young Telemachus approach'd the land;
Their sails they loosed, they lash'd the mast aside,
And cast their anchors, and the cables tied:
Then on the breezy shore, descending, join
In grateful banquet o'er the rosy wine.
When thus the prince: "Now each his course pursue;
I to the fields, and to the city you.
Long absent hence, I dedicate this day
My swains to visit, and the works survey.
Expect me with the morn, to pay the skies
Our debt of safe return in feast and sacrifice."
Then Theoclymenus: "But who shall lend,
Meantime, protection to thy stranger friend?
Straight to the queen and palace shall I fly,
Or yet more distant, to some lord apply?"
The prince return'd: "Renown'd in days of yore
Has stood our father's hospitable door;
No other roof a stranger should receive,
No other hands than ours the welcome give.
But in my absence riot fills the place,
Nor bears the modest queen a stranger's face;
From noiseful revel far remote she flies,
But rarely seen, or seen with weeping eyes.
No--let Eurymachus receive my guest,
Of nature courteous, and by far the best;
He woos the queen with more respectful flame,
And emulates her former husband's fame,
With what success, 'tis Jove's alone to know,
And the hoped nuptials turn to joy or woe."
Thus speaking, on the right up-soar'd in air
The hawk, Apollo's swift-wing'd messenger:
His dreadful pounces tore a trembling dove;
The clotted feathers, scatter'd from above,
Between the hero and the vessel pour
Thick plumage mingled with a sanguine shower.
The observing augur took the prince aside,
Seized by the hand, and thus prophetic cried:
"Yon bird, that dexter cuts the aerial road,
Rose ominous, nor flies without a god:
No race but thine shall Ithaca obey,
To thine, for ages, Heaven decrees the sway."
"Succeed the omens, gods! (the youth rejoin'd:)
Soon shall my bounties speak a grateful mind,
And soon each envied happiness attend
The man who calls Telemachus his friend."
Then to Peiraeus: "Thou whom time has proved
A faithful servant, by thy prince beloved!
Till we returning shall our guest demand,
Accept this charge with honour, at our hand."
To this Peiraeus: "Joyful I obey,
Well pleased the hospitable rites to pay.
The presence of thy guest shall best reward
(If long thy stay) the absence of my lord."
With that, their anchors he commands to weigh,
Mount the tall bark, and launch into the sea.
All with obedient haste forsake the shores,
And, placed in order, spread their equal oars.
Then from the deck the prince his sandals takes;
Poised in his hand the pointed javelin shakes.
They part; while, lessening from the hero's view
Swilt to the town the well-row'd galley flew:
The hero trod the margin of the main,
And reach'd the mansion of his faithful swain.
THE DISCOVERY OF ULYSSES TO TELEMACHUS.
Telemachus arriving at the lodge of Eumaeus, sends him to carry
Penelope the news of his return. Minerva appearing to Ulysses,
commands him to discover himself to his son. The princes, who had
lain in ambush to intercept Telemachus in his way, their project
being defeated, return to Ithaca.
Soon as the morning blush'd along the plains,
Ulysses, and the monarch of the swains,
Awake the sleeping fires, their meals prepare,
And forth to pasture send the bristly care.
The prince's near approach the dogs descry,
And fawning round his feet confess their joy.
Their gentle blandishment the king survey'd,
Heard his resounding step, and instant said:
"Some well-known friend, Eumaeus, bends this way;
His steps I hear; the dogs familiar play."
While yet he spoke, the prince advancing drew
Nigh to the lodge, and now appear'd in view.
Transported from his seat Eumaeus sprung,
Dropp'd the full bowl, and round his bosom hung;
Kissing his cheek, his hand, while from his eye
The tears rain'd copious in a shower of joy,
As some fond sire who ten long winters grieves,
From foreign climes an only son receives
(Child of his age), with strong paternal joy,
Forward he springs, and clasps the favourite boy:
So round the youth his arms Eumaeus spread,
As if the grave had given him from the dead.
"And is it thou? my ever-dear delight!
Oh, art thou come to bless my longing sight?
Never, I never hoped to view this day,
When o'er the waves you plough'd the desperate way.
Enter, my child! Beyond my hopes restored,
Oh give these eyes to feast upon their lord.
Enter, oh seldom seen! for lawless powers
Too much detain thee from these sylvan bowers,"
The prince replied: "Eumaeus, I obey;
To seek thee, friend, I hither took my way.
But say, if in the court the queen reside
Severely chaste, or if commenced a bride?"
Thus he; and thus the monarch of the swains:
"Severely chaste Penelope remains;
But, lost to every joy, she wastes the day
In tedious cares, and weeps the night away."
He ended, and (receiving as they pass
The javelin pointed with a star of brass),
They reach'd the dome; the dome with marble shined.
His seat Ulysses to the prince resign'd.
"Not so (exclaims the prince with decent grace)
For me, this house shall find an humbler place:
To usurp the honours due to silver hairs
And reverend strangers modest youth forbears."
Instant the swain the spoils of beasts supplies,
And bids the rural throne with osiers rise.
There sate the prince: the feast Eumaeus spread,
And heap'd the shining canisters with bread.
Thick o'er the board the plenteous viands lay,
The frugal remnants of the former day.
Then in a bowl he tempers generous wines,
Around whose verge a mimic ivy twines.
And now, the rage of thirst and hunger fled,
Thus young Ulysses to Eumaeus said:
"Whence, father, from what shore this stranger, say?
What vessel bore him o'er the watery way?
To human step our land impervious lies,
And round the coast circumfluent oceans rise."
The swain returns: "A tale of sorrows hear:
In spacious Crete he drew his natal air;
Long doom'd to wander o'er the land and main,
For Heaven has wove his thread of life with pain.
Half breathless 'scaping to the land he flew
From Thesprot mariners, a murderous crew.
To thee, my son, the suppliant I resign;
I gave him my protection, grant him thine."
"Hard task (he cries) thy virtue gives thy friend,
Willing to aid, unable to defend.
Can strangers safely in the court reside,
'Midst the swell'd insolence of lust and pride?
E'en I unsafe: the queen in doubt to wed,
Or pay due honours to the nuptial bed.
Perhaps she weds regardless of her fame,
Deaf to the mighty Ulyssean name.
However, stranger! from our grace receive
Such honours as befit a prince to give;
Sandals, a sword and robes, respect to prove,
And safe to sail with ornaments of love.
Till then, thy guest amid the rural train,
Far from the court, from danger far, detain.
'Tis mine with food the hungry to supply,
And clothe the naked from the inclement sky.
Here dwell in safety from the suitors' wrongs,
And the rude insults of ungovern'd tongues.
For should'st thou suffer, powerless to relieve,
I must behold it, and can only grieve.
The brave, encompass'd by an hostile train,
O'erpower'd by numbers, is but brave in vain."
To whom, while anger in his bosom glows,
With warmth replies the man of mighty woes:
"Since audience mild is deign'd, permit my tongue
At once to pity and resent thy wrong.
My heart weeps blood to see a soul so brave
Live to base insolence or power a slave,
But tell me, dost thou, prince, dost thou behold,
And hear their midnight revels uncontroll'd?
Say, do thy subjects in bold faction rise,
Or priests in fabled oracles advise?
Or are thy brothers, who should aid thy power,
Turn'd mean deserters in the needful hour?
Oh that I were from great Ulysses sprung,
Or that these wither'd nerves like thine were strung,
Or, heavens! might he return! (and soon appear
He shall, I trust; a hero scorns despair:)
Might he return, I yield my life a prey
To my worst foe, if that avenging day
Be not their last: but should I lose my life,
Oppress'd by numbers in the glorious strife,
I chose the nobler part, and yield my breath,
Rather than bear dishonor, worse than death;
Than see the hand of violence invade
The reverend stranger and the spotless maid;
Than see the wealth of kings consumed in waste,
The drunkard's revel, and the gluttons' feast."
Thus he, with anger flashing from his eye;
Sincere the youthful hero made reply:
"Nor leagued in factious arms my subjects rise,
Nor priests in fabled oracles advise;
Nor are my brothers, who should aid my power,
Turn'd mean deserters in the needful hour.
Ah me! I boast no brother; heaven's dread King
Gives from our stock an only branch to spring:
Alone Laertes reign'd Arcesius' heir,
Alone Ulysses drew the vital air,
And I alone the bed connubial graced,
An unbless'd offspring of a sire unbless'd!
Each neighbouring realm, conducive to our woe,
Sends forth her peers, and every peer a foe:
The court proud Samos and Dulichium fills,
And lofty Zacinth crown'd with shady hills.
E'en Ithaca and all her lords invade
The imperial sceptre, and the regal bed:
The queen, averse to love, yet awed by power,
Seems half to yield, yet flies the bridal hour:
Meantime their licence uncontroll'd I bear;
E'en now they envy me the vital air:
But Heaven will sure revenge, and gods there are.
"But go Eumaeus! to the queen impart
Our safe return, and ease a mother's heart.
Yet secret go; for numerous are my foes,
And here at least I may in peace repose."
To whom the swain: "I hear and I obey:
But old Laertes weeps his life away,
And deems thee lost: shall I speed employ
To bless his age: a messenger of joy?
The mournful hour that tore his son away
Sent the sad sire in solitude to stray;
Yet busied with his slaves, to ease his woe,
He dress'd the vine, and bade the garden blow,
Nor food nor wine refused; but since the day
That you to Pylos plough'd the watery way,
Nor wine nor food he tastes; but, sunk in woes,
Wild springs the vine, no more the garden blows,
Shut from the walks of men, to pleasure lost,
Pensive and pale he wanders half a ghost."
"Wretched old man! (with tears the prince returns)
Yet cease to go--what man so blest but mourns?
Were every wish indulged by favouring skies,
This hour should give Ulysses to my eyes.
But to the queen with speed dispatchful bear,
Our safe return, and back with speed repair;
And let some handmaid of her train resort
To good Laertes in his rural court."
While yet he spoke, impatient of delay,
He braced his sandals on, and strode away:
Then from the heavens the martial goddess flies
Through the wild fields of air, and cleaves the skies:
In form, a virgin in soft beauty's bloom,
Skill'd in the illustrious labours of the loom.
Alone to Ithaca she stood display'd,
But unapparent as a viewless shade
Escaped Telemachus (the powers above,
Seen or unseen, o'er earth at pleasure move):
The dogs intelligent confess'd the tread
Of power divine, and howling, trembling, fled.
The goddess, beckoning, waves her deathless hands:
Dauntless the king before the goddess stands:
"Then why (she said), O favour'd of the skies!
Why to thy godlike son this long disguise?
Stand forth reveal'd; with him thy cares employ
Against thy foes; be valiant and destroy!
Lo! I descend in that avenging hour,
To combat by thy side, thy guardian power."
She said, and o'er him waves her wand of gold
Imperial robes his manly limbs infold;
At once with grace divine his frame improves;
At once with majesty enlarged he moves:
Youth flush'd his reddening cheek, and from his brows
A length of hair in sable ringlets flows;
His blackening chin receives a deeper shade;
Then from his eyes upsprung the warrior-maid.
The hero reascends: the prince o'erawed
Scarce lifts his eyes, and bows as to a god,
Then with surprise (surprise chastised by fears):
"How art thou changed! (he cried)--a god appears!
Far other vests thy limbs majestic grace,
Far other glories lighten from thy face!
If heaven be thy abode, with pious care,
Lo! I the ready sacrifice prepare:
Lo! gifts of labour'd gold adorn thy shrine,
To win thy grace: O save us, power divine!"
"Few are my days (Ulysses made reply),
Nor I, alas! descendant of the sky.
I am thy father. O my son! my son!
That father, for whose sake thy days have run
One scene of woe! to endless cares consign'd,
And outraged by the wrongs of base mankind."
Then, rushing to his arms, he kiss'd his boy
With the strong raptures of a parent's joy.
Tears bathe his cheek, and tears the ground bedew:
He strain'd him close, as to his breast he grew.
"Ah me! (exclaims the prince with fond desire)
Thou art not--no, thou canst not be my sire.
Heaven such illusion only can impose,
By the false joy to aggravate my woes.
Who but a god can change the general doom,
And give to wither'd age a youthful bloom!
Late, worn with years, in weeds obscene you trod;
Now, clothed in majesty, you move a god!"
"Forbear (he cried,) for Heaven reserve that name;
Give to thy father but a father's claim;
Other Ulysses shalt thou never see,
I am Ulysses, I, my son, am he.
Twice ten sad years o'er earth and ocean toss'd,
'Tis given at length to view my native coast.
Pallas, unconquer'd maid, my frame surrounds
With grace divine: her power admits no bounds;
She o'er my limbs old age and wrinkles shed;
Now strong as youth, magnificent I tread.
The gods with ease frail man depress or raise,
Exalt the lowly, or the proud debase."
He spoke and sate. The prince with transport flew,
Hung round his neck, while tears his cheek bedew;
Nor less the father pour'd a social flood;
They wept abundant, and they wept aloud.
As the bold eagle with fierce sorrow stung,
Or parent vulture, mourns her ravish'd young;
They cry, they scream, their unfledged brood a prey
To some rude churl, and borne by stealth away:
So they aloud: and tears in tides had run,
Their grief unfinish'd with the setting sun;
But checking the full torrent in its flow,
The prince thus interrupts the solemn woe.
"What ship transported thee, O father, say;
And what bless'd hands have oar'd thee on the way?"
"All, all (Ulysses instant made reply),
I tell thee all, my child, my only joy!
Phaeacians bore me to the port assign'd,
A nation ever to the stranger kind;
Wrapp'd in the embrace of sleep, the faithful train
O'er seas convey'd me to my native reign:
Embroider'd vestures, gold, and brass, are laid
Conceal'd in caverns in the sylvan shade.
Hither, intent the rival rout to slay,
And plan the scene of death, I bend my way;
So Pallas wills--but thou, my son, explain
The names and numbers of the audacious train;
'Tis mine to judge if better to employ
Assistant force, or singly to destroy."
"O'er earth (returns the prince) resounds thy name,
Thy well-tried wisdom, and thy martial fame,
Yet at thy words I start, in wonder lost;
Can we engage, not decades but an host?
Can we alone in furious battle stand,
Against that numerous and determined band?
Hear then their numbers; from Dulichium came
Twice twenty-six, all peers of mighty name.
Six are their menial train: twice twelve the boast
Of Samos; twenty from Zacynthus' coast:
And twelve our country's pride; to these belong
Medon and Phemius, skill'd in heavenly song.
Two sewers from day to day the revels wait,
Exact of taste, and serve the feast in state.
With such a foe the unequal fight to try,
Were by false courage unrevenged to die.
Then what assistant powers you boast relate,
Ere yet we mingle in the stern debate."
"Mark well my voice, (Ulysses straight replies:)
What need of aids, if favour'd by the skies?
If shielded to the dreadful fight we move,
By mighty Pallas, and by thundering Jove?"
"Sufficient they (Telemachus rejoin'd)
Against the banded powers of all mankind:
They, high enthroned above the rolling clouds,
Wither the strength of man, and awe the gods."
"Such aids expect (he cries,) when strong in might
We rise terrific to the task of fight.
But thou, when morn salutes the aerial plain,
The court revisit and the lawless train:
Me thither in disguise Eumaeus leads,
An aged mendicant in tatter'd weeds.
There, if base scorn insult my reverend age,
Bear it, my son! repress thy rising rage.
If outraged, cease that outrage to repel;
Bear it, my son! howe'er thy heart rebel.
Yet strive by prayer and counsel to restrain
Their lawless insults, though thou strive in vain:
For wicked ears are deaf to wisdom's call,
And vengeance strikes whom Heaven has doom'd to fall.
Once more attend: when she whose power inspires
The thinking mind, my soul to vengeance fires,
I give the sign: that instant, from beneath,
Aloft convey the instruments of death,
Armour and arms; and, if mistrust arise,
Thus veil the truth in plausible disguise:
"'These glittering weapons, ere he sail'd to Troy,
Ulysses view'd with stern heroic joy:
Then, beaming o'er the illumined wall they shone;
Now dust dishonours, all their lustre gone.
I bear them hence (so Jove my soul inspires),
From the pollution of the fuming fires;
Lest when the bowl inflames, in vengeful mood
Ye rush to arms, and stain the feast with blood:
Oft ready swords in luckless hour incite
The hand of wrath, and arm it for the fight.'
"Such be the plea, and by the plea deceive:
For Jove infatuates all, and all believe.
Yet leave for each of us a sword to wield,
A pointed javelin, and a fenceful shield.
But by my blood that in thy bosom glows,
By that regard a son his father owes;
The secret, that thy father lives, retain
Lock'd in thy bosom from the household train;
Hide it from all; e'en from Eumaeus hide,
From my dear father, and my dearer bride.
One care remains, to note the loyal few
Whose faith yet lasts among the menial crew;
And noting, ere we rise in vengeance, prove
Who love his prince; for sure you merit love."
To whom the youth: "To emulate, I aim,
The brave and wise, and my great father's fame.
But reconsider, since the wisest err,
Vengeance resolved, 'tis dangerous to defer.
What length of time must we consume in vain,
Too curious to explore the menial train!
While the proud foes, industrious to destroy
Thy wealth, in riot the delay enjoy.
Suffice it in this exigence alone
To mark the damsels that attend the throne:
Dispersed the youth reside; their faith to prove
Jove grants henceforth, if thou hast spoke from Jove."
While in debate they waste the hours away,
The associates of the prince repass'd the bay:
With speed they guide the vessel to the shores;
With speed debarking land the naval stores:
Then, faithful to their charge, to Clytius bear,
And trust the presents to his friendly care.
Swift to the queen a herald flies to impart
Her son's return, and ease a parent's heart:
Lest a sad prey to ever-musing cares,
Pale grief destroy what time awhile forbears.
The incautious herald with impatience burns,
And cries aloud, "Thy son, O queen, returns;"
Eumaeus sage approach'd the imperial throne,
And breathed his mandate to her ear alone,
Then measured back the way. The suitor band,
Stung to the soul, abash'd, confounded, stand;
And issuing from the dome, before the gate,
With clouded looks, a pale assembly sate.
At length Eurymachus: "Our hopes are vain;
Telemachus in triumph sails the main.
Haste, rear the mast, the swelling shroud display;
Haste, to our ambush'd friends the news convey!"
Scarce had he spake, when, turning to the strand,
Amphinomos survey'd the associate band;
Full to the bay within the winding shores
With gather'd sails they stood, and lifted oars.
"O friends!" he cried, elate with rising joy,
"See to the port secure the vessel fly!
Some god has told them, or themselves survey
The bark escaped; and measure back their way."
Swift at the word descending to the shores,
They moor the vessel and unlade the stores:
Then, moving from the strand, apart they sate,
And full and frequent form'd a dire debate.
"Lives then the boy? he lives (Antinous cries),
The care of gods and favourite of the skies.
All night we watch'd, till with her orient wheels
Aurora flamed above the eastern hills,
And from the lofty brow of rocks by day
Took in the ocean with a broad survey
Yet safe he sails; the powers celestial give
To shun the hidden snares of death, and live.
But die he shall, and thus condemn'd to bleed,
Be now the scene of instant death decreed.
Hope ye success? undaunted crush the foe.
Is he not wise? know this, and strike the blow.
Wait ye, till he to arms in council draws
The Greeks, averse too justly to our cause?
Strike, ere, the states convened, the foe betray
Our murderous ambush on the watery way.
Or choose ye vagrant from their rage to fly,
Outcasts of earth, to breathe an unknown sky?
The brave prevent misfortune; then be brave,
And bury future danger in his grave.
Returns he? ambush'd we'll his walk invade,
Or where he hides in solitude and shade;
And give the palace to the queen a dower,
Or him she blesses in the bridal hour.
But if submissive you resign the sway,
Slaves to a boy, go, flatter and obey.
Retire we instant to our native reign,
Nor be the wealth of kings consumed in vain;
Then wed whom choice approves: the queen be given
To some blest prince, the prince decreed by Heaven."
Abash'd, the suitor train his voice attends;
Till from his throne Amphinomus ascends,
Who o'er Dulichium stretch'd his spacious reign,
A land of plenty, bless'd with every grain:
Chief of the numbers who the queen address'd,
And though displeasing, yet displeasing least.
Soft were his words; his actions wisdom sway'd;
Graceful awhile he paused, then mildly said:
"O friends, forbear! and be the thought withstood:
'Tis horrible to shed imperial blood!
Consult we first the all-seeing powers above,
And the sure oracles of righteous Jove.
If they assent, e'en by this hand he dies;
If they forbid, I war not with the skies."
He said: the rival train his voice approved,
And rising instant to the palace moved.
Arrived, with wild tumultuous noise they sate,
Recumbent on the shining thrones of state.
The Medon, conscious of their dire debates,
The murderous counsel to the queen relates.
Touch'd at the dreadful story, she descends:
Her hasty steps a damsel train attends.
Full where the dome its shining valves expands,
Sudden before the rival powers she stands;
And, veiling, decent, with a modest shade
Her cheek, indignant to Antinous said:
"O void of faith! of all bad men the worst!
Renown'd for wisdom, by the abuse accursed!
Mistaking fame proclaims thy generous mind:
Thy deeds denote thee of the basest kind.
Wretch! to destroy a prince that friendship gives,
While in his guest his murderer he receives;
Nor dread superior Jove, to whom belong
The cause of suppliants, and revenge of wrong.
Hast thou forgot, ungrateful as thou art,
Who saved thy father with a friendly part?
Lawless he ravaged with his martial powers
The Taphian pirates on Thesprotia's shores;
Enraged, his life, his treasures they demand;
Ulysses saved him from the avenger's hand.
And would'st thou evil for his good repay?
His bed dishonour, and his house betray?
Afflict his queen, and with a murderous hand
Destroy his heir!--but cease, 'tis I command."
"Far hence those fears (Eurymachus replied,)
O prudent princess! bid thy soul confide.
Breathes there a man who dares that hero slay,
While I behold the golden light of day?
No: by the righteous powers of heaven I swear,
His blood in vengeance smokes upon my spear.
Ulysses, when my infant days I led,
With wine sufficed me, and with dainties fed:
My generous soul abhors the ungrateful part,
And my friend's son lives nearest to my heart.
Then fear no mortal arm; if Heaven destroy,
We must resign: for man is born to die."
Thus smooth he ended, yet his death conspired:
Then sorrowing, with sad step the queen retired,
With streaming eyes, all comfortless deplored,
Touch'd with the dear remembrance of her lord:
Nor ceased till Pallas bids her sorrows fly,
And in soft slumber seal'd her flowing eye.
And now Eumaeus, at the evening hour,
Came late, returning to his sylvan bower.
Ulysses and his son had dress'd with art
A yearling boar, and gave the gods their part.
Holy repast! That instant from the skies
The martial goddess to Ulysses flies:
She waves her golden wand, and reassumes
From every feature every grace that blooms;
At once his vestures change; at once she sheds
Age o'er his limbs, that tremble as he treads:
Lest to the queen the swain with transport fly,
Unable to contain the unruly joy;
When near he drew, the prince breaks forth: "Proclaim
What tidings, friend? what speaks the voice of fame?
Say, if the suitors measure back the main,
Or still in ambush thirst for blood in vain?"
"Whether (he cries) they measure back the flood,
Or still in ambush thirst in vain for blood,
Escaped my care: where lawless suitors sway,
Thy mandate borne my soul disdain'd to stay.
But from the Hermaean height I cast a view,
Where to the port a bark high-bounding flew;
Her freight a shining band: with martial air
Each poised his shield, and each advanced his spear;
And, if aright these searching eyes survey,
The eluded suitors stem the watery way."
The prince, well pleased to disappoint their wiles,
Steals on his sire a glance, and secret smiles.
And now, a short repast prepared, they fed
Till the keen rage of craving hunger fled:
Then to repose withdrawn, apart they lay,
And in soft sleep forgot the cares of day.
Telemachus returning to the city, relates to Penelope the sum of
his travels. Ulysses is conducted by Eumaeus to the palace, where
his old dog Argus acknowledges his master, after an absence of
twenty years, and dies with joy. Eumaeus returns into the country,
and Ulysses remains among the suitors, whose behaviour is
Soon as Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
Sprinkled with roseate light the dewy lawn,
In haste the prince arose, prepared to part;
His hand impatient grasps the pointed dart;
Fair on his feet the polish'd sandals shine,
And thus he greets the master of the swine:
"My friend, adieu! let this short stay suffice;
I haste to meet my mother's longing eyes,
And end her tears, her sorrows and her sighs.
But thou, attentive, what we order heed:
This hapless stranger to the city lead:
By public bounty let him there be fed,
And bless the hand that stretches forth the bread.
To wipe the tears from all afflicted eyes,
My will may covet, but my power denies.
If this raise anger in the stranger's thought,
The pain of anger punishes the fault:
The very truth I undisguised declare;
For what so easy as to be sincere?"
To this Ulysses: "What the prince requires
Of swift removal, seconds my desires.
To want like mine the peopled town can yield
More hopes of comfort than the lonely field:
Nor fits my age to till the labour'd lands,
Or stoop to tasks a rural lord demands.
Adieu! but since this ragged garb can bear
So ill the inclemencies of morning air,
A few hours' space permit me here to stay:
My steps Eumaeus shall to town convey,
With riper beams when Phoebus warms the day."
Thus he: nor aught Telemachus replied,
But left the mansion with a lofty stride:
Schemes of revenge his pondering breast elate,
Revolving deep the suitors' sudden fate,
Arriving now before the imperial hall,
He props his spear against the pillar'd wall;
Then like a lion o'er the threshold bounds;
The marble pavement with his steps resounds:
His eye first glanced where Euryclea spreads
With furry spoils of beasts the splendid beds:
She saw, she wept, she ran with eager pace,
And reach'd her master with a long embrace.
All crowded round, the family appears
With wild entrancement, and ecstatic tears.
Swift from above descends the royal fair
(Her beauteous cheeks the blush of Venus wear,
Chasten'd with coy Diana's pensive air);
Hangs o'er her son, in his embraces dies;
Rains kisses on his neck, his face, his eyes:
Few words she spoke, though much she had to say;
And scarce those few, for tears, could force their way.
"Light of my eyes: he comes! unhoped-for joy!
Has Heaven from Pylos brought my lovely boy?
So snatch'd from all our cares!--Tell, hast thou known
Thy father's fate, and tell me all thy own."
"Oh dearest! most revered of womankind!
Cease with those tears to melt a manly mind
(Replied the prince); nor be our fates deplored,
From death and treason to thy arms restored.
Go bathe, and robed in white ascend the towers;
With all thy handmaids thank the immortal powers;
To every god vow hecatombs to bleed.
And call Jove's vengeance on their guilty deed.
While to the assembled council I repair:
A stranger sent by Heaven attends me there;
My new accepted guest I haste to find,
Now to Peiraeus' honour'd charge consign'd."
The matron heard, nor was his word in vain.
She bathed; and, robed in white, with all her train,
To every god vow'd hecatombs to bleed,
And call'd Jove's vengeance on the guilty deed,
Arm'd with his lance, the prince then pass'd the gate,
Two dogs behind, a faithful guard, await;
Pallas his form with grace divine improves:
The gazing crowd admires him as he moves.
Him, gathering round, the haughty suitors greet
With semblance fair, but inward deep deceit,
Their false addresses, generous, he denied.
Pass'd on, and sate by faithful Mentor's side;
With Antiphus, and Halitherses sage
(His father's counsellors, revered for age).
Of his own fortunes, and Ulysses' fame,
Much ask'd the seniors; till Peiraeus came.
The stranger-guest pursued him close behind;
Whom when Telemachus beheld, he join'd.
He (when Peiraeus ask'd for slaves to bring
The gifts and treasures of the Spartan king)
Thus thoughtful answer'd: "Those we shall not move,
Dark and unconscious of the will of Jove;
We know not yet the full event of all:
Stabb'd in his palace if your prince must fall,
Us, and our house, if treason must o'erthrow,
Better a friend possess them than a foe;
If death to these, and vengeance Heaven decree,
Riches are welcome then, not else, to me.
Till then retain the gifts."--The hero said,
And in his hand the willing stranger led.
Then disarray'd, the shining bath they sought
(With unguents smooth) of polish'd marble wrought:
Obedient handmaids with assistant toil
Supply the limpid wave, and fragrant oil:
Then o'er their limbs refulgent robes they threw,
And fresh from bathing to their seats withdrew.
The golden ewer a nymph attendant brings,
Replenish'd from the pure translucent springs;
With copious streams that golden ewer supplies
A silver layer of capacious size.
They wash: the table, in fair order spread,
Is piled with viands and the strength of bread.
Full opposite, before the folding gate,
The pensive mother sits in humble state;
Lowly she sate, and with dejected view
The fleecy threads her ivory fingers drew.
The prince and stranger shared the genial feast,
Till now the rage of thirst and hunger ceased.
When thus the queen: "My son! my only friend!
Say, to my mournful couch shall I ascend?
(The couch deserted now a length of years;
The couch for ever water'd with my tears;)
Say, wilt thou not (ere yet the suitor crew
Return, and riot shakes our walls anew),
Say, wilt thou not the least account afford?
The least glad tidings of my absent lord?"
To her the youth. "We reach'd the Pylian plains,
Where Nestor, shepherd of his people, reigns.
All arts of tenderness to him are known,
Kind to Ulysses' race as to his own;
No father with a fonder grasp of joy
Strains to his bosom his long-absent boy.
But all unknown, if yet Ulysses breathe,
Or glide a spectre in the realms beneath;
For farther search, his rapid steeds transport
My lengthen'd journey to the Spartan court.
There Argive Helen I beheld, whose charms
(So Heaven decreed) engaged the great in arms.
My cause of coming told, he thus rejoin'd;
And still his words live perfect in my mind:
"'Heavens! would a soft, inglorious, dastard train
An absent hero's nuptial joys profane
So with her young, amid the woodland shades,
A timorous hind the lion's court invades,
Leaves in that fatal lair her tender fawns,
And climbs the cliffs, or feeds along the lawns;
Meantime returning, with remorseless sway
The monarch savage rends the panting prey:
With equal fury, and with equal fame,
Shall great Ulysses reassert his claim.
O Jove! supreme! whom men and gods revere;
And thou whose lustre gilds the rolling sphere!
With power congenial join'd, propitious aid
The chief adopted by the martial maid!
Such to our wish the warrior soon restore,
As when, contending on the Lesbian shore,
His prowess Philomelides confess'd,
And loud acclaiming Greeks the victor bless'd:
Then soon the invaders of his bed, and throne,
Their love presumptuous shall by death atone.
Now what you question of my ancient friend,
With truth I answer; thou the truth attend.
Learn what I heard the sea-born seer relate,
Whose eye can pierce the dark recess of fate
Sole in an isle, imprison'd by the main,
The sad survivor of his numerous train,
Ulysses lies; detain'd by magic charms,
And press'd unwilling in Calypso's arms.
No sailors there, no vessels to convey,
No oars to cut the immeasurable way.'
This told Atrides, and he told no more.
Then safe I voyaged to my native shore."
He ceased; nor made the pensive queen reply,
But droop'd her head, and drew a secret sigh.
When Theoclymenus the seer began:
"O suffering consort of the suffering man!
What human knowledge could, those kings might tell,
But I the secrets of high heaven reveal.
Before the first of gods be this declared,
Before the board whose blessings we have shared;
Witness the genial rites, and witness all
This house holds sacred in her ample wall!
E'en now, this instant, great Ulysses, laid
At rest, or wandering in his country's shade,
Their guilty deeds, in hearing, and in view,
Secret revolves; and plans the vengeance due.
Of this sure auguries the gods bestow'd,
When first our vessel anchor'd in your road."
"Succeed those omens, Heaven! (the queen rejoin'd)
So shall our bounties speak a grateful mind;
And every envied happiness attend
The man who calls Penelope his friend."
Thus communed they: while in the marble court
(Scene of their insolence) the lords resort:
Athwart the spacious square each tries his art,