Part 7 out of 9
To whirl the disk, or aim the missile dart.
Now did the hour of sweet repast arrive,
And from the field the victim flocks they drive:
Medon the herald (one who pleased them best,
And honour'd with a portion of their feast),
To bid the banquet, interrupts their play:
Swift to the hall they haste; aside they lay
Their garments, and succinct the victims slay.
Then sheep, and goats, and bristly porkers bled,
And the proud steer was o'er the marble spread.
While thus the copious banquet they provide,
Along the road, conversing side by side,
Proceed Ulysses and the faithful swain;
When thus Eumaeus, generous and humane:
"To town, observant of our lord's behest,
Now let us speed; my friend no more my guest!
Yet like myself I wish thee here preferr'd,
Guard of the flock, or keeper of the herd,
But much to raise my master's wrath I fear;
The wrath of princes ever is severe.
Then heed his will, and be our journey made
While the broad beams of Phoebus are display'd,
Or ere brown evening spreads her chilly shade."
"Just thy advice (the prudent chief rejoin'd),
And such as suits the dictate of my mind.
Lead on: but help me to some staff to stay
My feeble step, since rugged is the way."
Across his shoulders then the scrip he flung,
Wide-patch'd, and fasten'd by a twisted thong.
A staff Eumaeus gave. Along the way
Cheerly they fare: behind, the keepers stay:
These with their watchful dogs (a constant guard)
Supply his absence, and attend the herd.
And now his city strikes the monarch's eyes,
Alas! how changed! a man of miseries;
Propp'd on a staff, a beggar old and bare
In rags dishonest fluttering with the air!
Now pass'd the rugged road, they journey down
The cavern'd way descending to the town,
Where, from the rock, with liquid drops distils
A limpid fount; that spread in parting rills
Its current thence to serve the city brings;
An useful work, adorn'd by ancient kings.
Neritus, Ithacus, Polyctor, there,
In sculptured stone immortalized their care,
In marble urns received it from above,
And shaded with a green surrounding grove;
Where silver alders, in high arches twined,
Drink the cool stream, and tremble to the wind.
Beneath, sequester'd to the nymphs, is seen
A mossy altar, deep embower'd in green;
Where constant vows by travellers are paid,
And holy horrors solemnize the shade.
Here with his goats (not vow'd to sacred fame,
But pamper'd luxury) Melanthias came:
Two grooms attend him. With an envious look
He eyed the stranger, and imperious spoke:
"The good old proverb how this pair fulfil!
One rogue is usher to another still.
Heaven with a secret principle endued
Mankind, to seek their own similitude.
Where goes the swineherd with that ill-look'd guest?
That giant-glutton, dreadful at a feast!
Full many a post have those broad shoulders worn,
From every great man's gate repulsed with scorn:
To no brave prize aspired the worthless swain,
'Twas but for scraps he ask'd, and ask'd in vain.
To beg, than work, he better understands,
Or we perhaps might take him off thy hands.
For any office could the slave be good,
To cleanse the fold, or help the kids to food.
If any labour those big joints could learn,
Some whey, to wash his bowels, he might earn.
To cringe, to whine, his idle hands to spread,
Is all, by which that graceless maw is fed.
Yet hear me! if thy impudence but dare
Approach yon wall, I prophesy thy fare:
Dearly, full dearly, shalt thou buy thy bread
With many a footstool thundering at thy head."
He thus: nor insolent of word alone,
Spurn'd with his rustic heel his king unknown;
Spurn'd, but not moved: he like a pillar stood,
Nor stirr'd an inch, contemptuous, from the road:
Doubtful, or with his staff to strike him dead,
Or greet the pavement with his worthless head.
Short was that doubt; to quell his rage inured,
The hero stood self-conquer'd, and endured.
But hateful of the wretch, Eumaeus heaved
His hands obtesting, and this prayer conceived:
"Daughters of Jove! who from the ethereal bowers
Descend to swell the springs, and feed the flowers!
Nymphs of this fountain! to whose sacred names
Our rural victims mount in blazing flames!
To whom Ulysses' piety preferr'd
The yearly firstlings of his flock and herd;
Succeed my wish, your votary restore:
Oh, be some god his convoy to our shore!
Due pains shall punish then this slave's offence,
And humble all his airs of insolence,
Who, proudly stalking, leaves the herds at large,
Commences courtier, and neglects his charge."
"What mutters he? (Melanthius sharp rejoins;)
This crafty miscreant, big with dark designs?
The day shall come--nay, 'tis already near--
When, slave! to sell thee at a price too dear
Must be my care; and hence transport thee o'er,
A load and scandal to this happy shore.
Oh! that as surely great Apollo's dart,
Or some brave suitor's sword, might pierce the heart
Of the proud son; as that we stand this hour
In lasting safety from the father's power!"
So spoke the wretch, but, shunning farther fray,
Turn'd his proud step, and left them on their way.
Straight to the feastful palace he repair'd,
Familiar enter'd, and the banquet shared;
Beneath Eurymachus, his patron lord,
He took his place, and plenty heap'd the board.
Meantime they heard, soft circling in the sky
Sweet airs ascend, and heavenly minstrelsy
(For Phemius to the lyre attuned the strain):
Ulysses hearken'd, then address'd the swain:
"Well may this palace admiration claim,
Great and respondent to the master's fame!
Stage above stage the imperial structure stands,
Holds the chief honours, and the town commands:
High walls and battlements the courts inclose,
And the strong gates defy a host of foes.
Far other cares its dwellers now employ;
The throng'd assembly and the feast of joy:
I see the smokes of sacrifice aspire,
And hear (what graces every feast) the lyre."
Then thus Eumaeus: "Judge we which were best;
Amidst yon revellers a sudden guest
Choose you to mingle, while behind I stay?
Or I first entering introduce the way?
Wait for a space without, but wait not long;
This is the house of violence and wrong:
Some rude insult thy reverend age may bear;
For like their lawless lords the servants are."
"Just is, O friend! thy caution, and address'd
(Replied the chief, to no unheedful breast:)
The wrongs and injuries of base mankind
Fresh to my sense, and always in my mind.
The bravely-patient to no fortune yields:
On rolling oceans, and in fighting fields,
Storms have I pass'd, and many a stern debate;
And now in humbler scene submit to fate.
What cannot want? The best she will expose,
And I am learn'd in all her train of woes;
She fills with navies, hosts, and loud alarms,
The sea, the land, and shakes the world with arms!"
Thus, near the gates conferring as they drew,
Argus, the dog, his ancient master knew:
He not unconscious of the voice and tread,
Lifts to the sound his ear, and rears his head;
Bred by Ulysses, nourish'd at his board,
But, ah! not fated long to please his lord;
To him, his swiftness and his strength were vain;
The voice of glory call'd him o'er the main.
Till then in every sylvan chase renown'd,
With Argus, Argus, rung the woods around;
With him the youth pursued the goat or fawn,
Or traced the mazy leveret o'er the lawn.
Now left to man's ingratitude he lay,
Unhoused, neglected in the public way;
And where on heaps the rich manure was spread,
Obscene with reptiles, took his sordid bed.
He knew his lord; he knew, and strove to meet;
In vain he strove to crawl and kiss his feet;
Yet (all he could) his tail, his tears, his eyes,
Salute his master, and confess his joys.
Soft pity touch'd the mighty master's soul;
Adown his cheek a tear unbidden stole,
Stole unperceived: he turn'd his head and dried
The drop humane: then thus impassion'd cried:
"What noble beast in this abandon'd state
Lies here all helpless at Ulysses' gate?
His bulk and beauty speak no vulgar praise:
If, as he seems, he was in better days,
Some care his age deserves; or was he prized
For worthless beauty? therefore now despised;
Such dogs and men there are, mere things of state;
And always cherish'd by their friends, the great."
"Not Argus so, (Eumaeus thus rejoin'd,)
But served a master of a nobler kind,
Who, never, never shall behold him more!
Long, long since perish'd on a distant shore!
Oh had you seen him, vigorous, bold, and young,
Swift as a stag, and as a lion strong:
Him no fell savage on the plain withstood,
None 'scaped him bosom'd in the gloomy wood;
His eye how piercing, and his scent how true,
To wind the vapour on the tainted dew!
Such, when Ulysses left his natal coast:
Now years unnerve him, and his lord is lost!
The women keep the generous creature bare,
A sleek and idle race is all their care:
The master gone, the servants what restrains?
Or dwells humanity where riot reigns?
Jove fix'd it certain, that whatever day
Makes man a slave, takes half his worth away."
This said, the honest herdsman strode before;
The musing monarch pauses at the door:
The dog, whom Fate had granted to behold
His lord, when twenty tedious years had roll'd,
Takes a last look, and having seen him, dies;
So closed for ever faithful Argus' eyes!
And now Telemachus, the first of all,
Observed Eumaeus entering in the hall;
Distant he saw, across the shady dome;
Then gave a sign, and beckon'd him to come:
There stood an empty seat, where late was placed,
In order due, the steward of the feast,
(Who now was busied carving round the board,)
Eumaeus took, and placed it near his lord.
Before him instant was the banquet spread,
And the bright basket piled with loaves of bread.
Next came Ulysses lowly at the door,
A figure despicable, old, and poor.
In squalid vests, with many a gaping rent,
Propp'd or a staff, and trembling as he went.
Then, resting on the threshold of the gate,
Against a cypress pillar lean'd his weight
Smooth'd by the workman to a polish'd plane);
The thoughtful son beheld, and call'd his swain
"These viands, and this bread, Eumaeus! bear,
And let yon mendicant our plenty share:
And let him circle round the suitors' board,
And try the bounty of each gracious lord.
Bold let him ask, encouraged thus by me:
How ill, alas! do want and shame agree!"
His lord's command the faithful servant bears:
The seeming beggar answers with his prayers:
"Bless'd be Telemachus! in every deed
Inspire him. Jove! in every wish succeed!"
This said, the portion from his son convey'd
With smiles receiving on his scrip he laid.
Long has the minstrel swept the sounding wire,
He fed, and ceased when silence held the lyre.
Soon as the suitors from the banquet rose,
Minerva prompts the man of mighty woes
To tempt their bounties with a suppliant's art,
And learn the generous from the ignoble heart
(Not but his soul, resentful as humane,
Dooms to full vengeance all the offending train);
With speaking eyes, and voice of plaintive sound,
Humble he moves, imploring all around.
The proud feel pity, and relief bestow,
With such an image touch'd of human woe;
Inquiring all, their wonder they confess,
And eye the man, majestic in distress.
While thus they gaze and question with their eyes,
The bold Melanthius to their thought replies:
"My lords! this stranger of gigantic port
The good Eumaeus usher'd to your court.
Full well I mark'd the features of his face,
Though all unknown his clime, or noble race."
"And is this present, swineherd! of thy band?
Bring'st thou these vagrants to infest the land?
(Returns Antinous with retorted eye)
Objects uncouth, to check the genial joy.
Enough of these our court already grace;
Of giant stomach, and of famish'd face.
Such guests Eumaeus to his country brings,
To share our feast, and lead the life of kings."
To whom the hospitable swain rejoins:
"Thy passion, prince, belies thy knowing mind.
Who calls, from distant nations to his own,
The poor, distinguish'd by their wants alone?
Round the wide world are sought those men divine
Who public structures raise, or who design;
Those to whose eyes the gods their ways reveal,
Or bless with salutary arts to heal;
But chief to poets such respect belongs,
By rival nations courted for their songs;
These states invite, and mighty kings admire,
Wide as the sun displays his vital fire.
It is not so with want! how few that feed
A wretch unhappy, merely for his need!
Unjust to me, and all that serve the state,
To love Ulysses is to raise thy hate.
For me, suffice the approbation won
Of my great mistress, and her godlike son."
To him Telemachus: "No more incense
The man by nature prone to insolence:
Injurious minds just answers but provoke"--
Then turning to Antinous, thus he spoke:
"Thanks to thy care! whose absolute command
Thus drives the stranger from our court and land.
Heaven bless its owner with a better mind!
From envy free, to charity inclined.
This both Penelope and I afford:
Then, prince! be bounteous of Ulysses' board.
To give another's is thy hand so slow?
So much more sweet to spoil than to bestow?"
"Whence, great Telemachus! this lofty strain?
(Antinous cries with insolent disdain):
Portions like mine if every suitor gave,
Our walls this twelvemonth should not see the slave."
He spoke, and lifting high above the board
His ponderous footstool, shook it at his lord.
The rest with equal hand conferr'd the bread:
He fill'd his scrip, and to the threshold sped;
But first before Antinous stopp'd, and said:
"Bestow, my friend! thou dost not seem the worst
Of all the Greeks, but prince-like and the first;
Then, as in dignity, be first in worth,
And I shall praise thee through the boundless earth.
Once I enjoy'd in luxury of state
Whate'er gives man the envied name of great;
Wealth, servants, friends, were mine in better days
And hospitality was then my praise;
In every sorrowing soul I pour'd delight,
And poverty stood smiling in my sight.
But Jove, all-governing, whose only will
Determines fate, and mingles good with ill,
Sent me (to punish my pursuit of gain)
With roving pirates o'er the Egyptian main
By Egypt's silver flood our ships we moor;
Our spies commission'd straight the coast explore;
But impotent of mind, the lawless will
The country ravage, and the natives kill.
The spreading clamour to their city flies,
And horse and foot in mingled tumults rise:
The reddening dawn reveals the hostile fields,
Horrid with bristly spears, and gleaming 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 lay dead.
Some few the foe in servitude detain;
Death ill exchanged for bondage and for pain!
Unhappy me a Cyprian took aboard,
And gave to Dmetor, Cyprus' haughty lord:
Hither, to 'scape his chains, my course I steer,
Still cursed by Fortune, and insulted here!"
To whom Antinous thus his rage express'd:
"What god has plagued us with this gourmand guest?
Unless at distance, wretch! thou keep behind,
Another isle, than Cyprus more unkind,
Another Egypt shalt thou quickly find.
From all thou begg'st, a bold audacious slave;
Nor all can give so much as thou canst crave.
Nor wonder I, at such profusion shown;
Shameless they give, who give what's not their own."
The chief, retiring: "Souls, like that in thee,
Ill suits such forms of grace and dignity.
Nor will that hand to utmost need afford
The smallest portion of a wasteful board,
Whose luxury whole patrimonies sweeps,
Yet starving want, amidst the riot, weeps."
The haughty suitor with resentment burns,
And, sourly smiling, this reply returns:
"Take that, ere yet thou quit this princely throng;
And dumb for ever be thy slanderous tongue!"
He said, and high the whirling tripod flung.
His shoulder-blade received the ungentle shock;
He stood, and moved not, like a marble rock;
But shook his thoughtful head, nor more complain'd,
Sedate of soul, his character sustain'd,
And inly form'd revenge; then back withdrew:
Before his feet the well fill'd scrip he threw,
And thus with semblance mild address'd the crew:
"May what I speak your princely minds approve,
Ye peers and rivals in this noble love!
Not for the hurt I grieve, but for the cause.
If, when the sword our country's quarrel draws,
Or if, defending what is justly dear,
From Mars impartial some broad wound we bear,
The generous motive dignifies the scar.
But for mere want, how hard to suffer wrong!
Want brings enough of other ills along!
Yet, if injustice never be secure,
If fiends revenge, and gods assert the poor,
Death shall lay low the proud aggressor's head,
And make the dust Antinous' bridal bed."
"Peace, wretch! and eat thy bread without offence
(The suitor cried), or force shall drag thee hence,
Scourge through the public street, and cast thee there,
A mangled carcase for the hounds to tear."
His furious deed the general anger moved,
All, even the worst, condemn'd; and some reproved.
"Was ever chief for wars like these renown'd?
Ill fits the stranger and the poor to wound.
Unbless'd thy hand! if in this low disguise
Wander, perhaps, some inmate of the skies;
They (curious oft of mortal actions) deign
In forms like these to round the earth and main,
Just and unjust recording in their mind,
And with sure eyes inspecting all mankind."
Telemachus, absorb'd in thought severe,
Nourish'd deep anguish, though he shed no tear;
But the dark brow of silent sorrow shook:
While thus his mother to her virgins spoke:
"On him and his may the bright god of day
That base, inhospitable blow repay!"
The nurse replies: "If Jove receives my prayer,
Not one survives to breathe to-morrow's air."
"All, all are foes, and mischief is their end;
Antinous most to gloomy death a friend
(Replies the queen): the stranger begg'd their grace,
And melting pity soften'd every face;
From every other hand redress he found,
But fell Antinous answer'd with a wound."
Amidst her maids thus spoke the prudent queen,
Then bade Eumaeus call the pilgrim in.
"Much of the experienced man I long to hear,
If or his certain eye, or listening ear,
Have learn'd the fortunes of my wandering lord?"
Thus she, and good Eumaeus took the word:
"A private audience if thy grace impart,
The stranger's words may ease the royal heart.
His sacred eloquence in balm distils,
And the soothed heart with secret pleasure fills.
Three days have spent their beams, three nights have run
Their silent journey, since his tale begun,
Unfinish'd yet; and yet I thirst to hear!
As when some heaven-taught poet charms the ear
(Suspending sorrow with celestial strain
Breathed from the gods to soften human pain)
Time steals away with unregarded wing,
And the soul hears him, though he cease to sing
"Ulysses late he saw, on Cretan ground
(His fathers guest), for Minos' birth renown'd.
He now but waits the wind to waft him o'er,
With boundless treasure, from Thesprotia's shore."
To this the queen: "The wanderer let me hear,
While yon luxurious race indulge their cheer,
Devour the grazing ox, and browsing goat,
And turn my generous vintage down their throat.
For where's an arm, like thine, Ulysses! strong,
To curb wild riot, and to punish wrong?"
She spoke. Telemachus then sneezed aloud;
Constrain'd, his nostril echoed through the crowd.
The smiling queen the happy omen bless'd:
"So may these impious fall, by Fate oppress'd!"
Then to Eumaeus: "Bring the stranger, fly!
And if my questions meet a true reply,
Graced with a decent robe he shall retire,
A gift in season which his wants require."
Thus spoke Penelope. Eumaeus flies
In duteous haste, and to Ulysses cries:
"The queen invites thee, venerable guest!
A secret instinct moves her troubled breast,
Of her long absent lord from thee to gain
Some light, and soothe her soul's eternal pain.
If true, if faithful thou, her grateful mind
Of decent robes a present has design'd:
So finding favour in the royal eye,
Thy other wants her subjects shall supply."
"Fair truth alone (the patient man replied)
My words shall dictate, and my lips shall guide.
To him, to me, one common lot was given,
In equal woes, alas! involved by Heaven.
Much of his fates I know; but check'd by fear
I stand; the hand of violence is here:
Here boundless wrongs the starry skies invade,
And injured suppliants seek in vain for aid.
Let for a space the pensive queen attend,
Nor claim my story till the sun descend;
Then in such robes as suppliants may require,
Composed and cheerful by the genial fire,
When loud uproar and lawless riot cease,
Shall her pleased ear receive my words in peace."
Swift to the queen returns the gentle swain:
"And say (she cries), does fear or shame detain
The cautious stranger? With the begging kind
Shame suits but ill." Eumaeus thus rejoin'd:
"He only asks a more propitious hour,
And shuns (who would not?) wicked men in power;
At evening mild (meet season to confer)
By turns to question, and by turns to hear."
"Whoe'er this guest (the prudent queen replies)
His every step and every thought is wise.
For men like these on earth he shall not find
In all the miscreant race of human kind."
Thus she. Eumaeus all her words attends,
And, parting, to the suitor powers descends;
There seeks Telemachus, and thus apart
In whispers breathes the fondness of his heart:
"The time, my lord, invites me to repair
Hence to the lodge; my charge demands my care.
These sons of murder thirst thy life to take;
O guard it, guard it, for thy servant's sake!"
"Thanks to my friend (he cries): but now the hour
Of night draws on, go seek the rural bower:
But first refresh: and at the dawn of day
Hither a victim to the gods convey.
Our life to Heaven's immortal powers we trust,
Safe in their care, for Heaven protects the just."
Observant of his voice, Eumaeus sate
And fed recumbent on a chair of state.
Then instant rose, and as he moved along,
'Twas riot all amid the suitor throng,
They feast, they dance, and raise the mirthful song
Till now, declining towards the close of day,
The sun obliquely shot his dewy ray.
THE FIGHT OF ULYSSES AND IRUS.
The beggar Irus insults Ulysses; the suitors promote the quarrel,
in which Irus is worsted, and miserably handled. Penelope
descends, and receives the presents of the suitors. The dialogue
of Ulysses with Eurymachus.
While fix'd in thought the pensive hero sate,
A mendicant approach'd the royal gate;
A surly vagrant of the giant kind,
The stain of manhood, of a coward mind:
From feast to feast, insatiate to devour,
He flew, attendant on the genial hour.
Him on his mother's knees, when babe he lay,
She named Arnaeus on his natal day:
But Irus his associates call'd the boy,
Practised the common messenger to fly;
Irus, a name expressive of the employ.
From his own roof, with meditated blows,
He strove to drive the man of mighty woes:
"Hence, dotard! hence, and timely speed thy way,
Lest dragg'd in vengeance thou repent thy stay;
See how with nods assent yon princely train!
But honouring age, in mercy I refrain:
In peace away! lest, if persuasions fail,
This arm with blows more eloquent prevail."
To whom, with stern regard: "O insolence,
Indecently to rail without offence!
What bounty gives without a rival share;
I ask, what harms not thee, to breathe this air:
Alike on alms we both precarious live:
And canst thou envy when the great relieve?
Know, from the bounteous heavens all riches flow,
And what man gives, the gods by man bestow;
Proud as thou art, henceforth no more be proud,
Lest I imprint my vengeance in thy blood;
Old as I am, should once my fury burn,
How would'st thou fly, nor e'en in thought return!"
"Mere woman-glutton! (thus the churl replied;)
A tongue so flippant, with a throat so wide!
Why cease I gods! to dash those teeth away,
Like some wild boar's, that, greedy of his prey,
Uproots the bearded corn? Rise, try the fight,
Gird well thy loins, approach, and feel my might:
Sure of defeat, before the peers engage:
Unequal fight, when youth contends with age!"
Thus in a wordy war their tongues display
More fierce intents, preluding to the fray;
Antinous hears, and in a jovial vein,
Thus with loud laughter to the suitor train:
"This happy day in mirth, my friends, employ,
And lo! the gods conspire to crown our joy;
See ready for the fight, and hand to hand,
Yon surly mendicants contentious stand:
Why urge we not to blows!" Well pleased they spring
Swift from their seats, and thickening form a ring.
To whom Antinous: "Lo! enrich'd with blood,
A kid's well-fatted entrails (tasteful food)
On glowing embers lie; on him bestow
The choicest portion who subdues his foe;
Grant him unrivall'd in these walls to stay,
The sole attendant on the genial day."
The lords applaud: Ulysses then with art,
And fears well-feign'd, disguised his dauntless heart.
"Worn as I am with age, decay'd with woe;
Say, is it baseness to decline the foe?
Hard conflict! when calamity and age
With vigorous youth, unknown to cares, engage!
Yet, fearful of disgrace, to try the day
Imperious hunger bids, and I obey;
But swear, impartial arbiters of right,
Swear to stand neutral, while we cope in fight."
The peers assent: when straight his sacred head
Telemachus upraised, and sternly said:
"Stranger, if prompted to chastise the wrong
Of this bold insolent, confide, be strong!
The injurious Greek that dares attempt a blow,
That instant makes Telemachus his foe;
And these my friends shall guard the sacred ties
Of hospitality, for they are wise."
Then, girding his strong loins, the king prepares
To close in combat, and his body bares;
Broad spread his shoulders, and his nervous thighs
By just degrees, like well-turn'd columns, rise
Ample his chest, his arms are round and long,
And each strong joint Minerva knits more strong
(Attendant on her chief): the suitor-crowd
With wonder gaze, and gazing speak aloud:
"Irus! alas! shall Irus be no more?
Black fate impends, and this the avenging hour!
Gods! how his nerves a matchless strength proclaim,
Swell o'er his well-strong limbs, and brace his frame!"
Then pale with fears, and sickening at the sight;
They dragg'd the unwilling Irus to the fight;
From his blank visage fled the coward blood,
And his flesh trembled as aghast he stood.
"O that such baseness should disgrace the light?
O hide it, death, in everlasting night!
(Exclaims Antinous;) can a vigorous foe
Meanly decline to combat age and woe?
But hear me wretch! if recreant in the fray
That huge bulk yield this ill-contested day,
Instant thou sail'st, to Eschetus resign'd;
A tyrant, fiercest of the tyrant kind,
Who casts thy mangled ears and nose a prey
To hungry dogs, and lops the man away."
While with indignant scorn he sternly spoke,
In every joint the trembling Irus shook.
Now front to front each frowning champion stands,
And poises high in air his adverse hands.
The chief yet doubts, or to the shades below
To fell the giant at one vengeful blow,
Or save his life, and soon his life to save
The king resolves, for mercy sways the brave
That instant Irus his huge arm extends,
Full on his shoulder the rude weight descends;
The sage Ulysses, fearful to disclose
The hero latent in the man of woes,
Check'd half his might; yet rising to the stroke,
His jawbone dash'd, the crashing jawbone broke:
Down dropp'd he stupid from the stunning wound;
His feet extended quivering, beat the ground;
His mouth and nostrils spout a purple flood;
His teeth, all shatter'd, rush inmix'd with blood.
The peers transported, as outstretch'd he lies,
With bursts of laughter rend the vaulted skies;
Then dragg'd along, all bleeding from the wound,
His length of carcase trailing prints the ground:
Raised on his feet, again he reels, he falls,
Till propp'd, reclining on the palace walls:
Then to his hand a staff the victor gave,
And thus with just reproach address'd the slave:
"There terrible, affright with dogs, and reign
A dreaded tyrant o'er the bestial train!
But mercy to the poor and stranger show,
Lest Heaven in vengeance send some mightier woe."
Scornful he spoke, and o'er his shoulder flung
The broad-patch'd scrip in tatters hung
Ill join'd, and knotted to a twisted thong.
Then, turning short, disdain'd a further stay;
But to the palace measured back the way.
There, as he rested gathering in a ring,
The peers with smiles address'd their unknown king:
"Stranger, may Jove and all the aerial powers
With every blessing crown thy happy hours!
Our freedom to thy prowess'd arm we owe
From bold intrusion of thy coward foe:
Instant the flying sail the slave shall wing
To Eschetus, the monster of a king."
While pleased he hears, Antinous bears the food,
A kid's well-fatted entrails, rich with blood;
The bread from canisters of shining mould
Amphinomus; and wines that laugh in gold:
"And oh! (he mildly cries) may Heaven display
A beam of glory o'er thy future day!
Alas, the brave too oft is doom'd to bear
The gripes of poverty and stings of care."
To whom with thought mature the king replies:
"The tongue speaks wisely, when the soul is wise:
Such was thy father! in imperial state,
Great without vice, that oft attends the great;
Nor from the sire art thou, the son, declin'd;
Then hear my words, and grace them in thy mind!
Of all that breathes, or grovelling creeps on earth,
Most man in vain! calamitous by birth:
To-day, with power elate, in strength he blooms;
The haughty creature on that power presumes:
Anon from Heaven a sad reverse he feels:
Untaught to bear, 'gainst Heaven the wretch rebels.
For man is changeful, as his bliss or woe!
Too high when prosperous, when distress'd too low.
There was a day, when with the scornful great
I swell'd in pomp and arrogance of state;
Proud of the power that to high birth belongs ;
And used that power to justify my wrongs.
Then let not man be proud; but firm of mind,
Bear the best humbly; and the worst resign'd ;
Be dumb when Heaven afflicts! unlike yon train
Of haughty spoilers, insolently vain;
Who make their queen and all her wealth a prey:
But vengeance and Ulysses wing their way.
O may'st thou, favour'd by some guardian power,
Far, far be distant in that deathful hour!
For sure I am, if stern Ulysses breathe,
These lawless riots end in blood and death."
Then to the gods the rosy juice he pours,
And the drain'd goblet to the chief restores.
Stung to the soul, o'ercast with holy dread,
He shook the graceful honours of his head;
His boding mind the future woe forestalls,
In vain! by great Telemachus he falls,
For Pallas seals his doom: all sad he turns
To join the peers; resumes his throne, and mourns.
Meanwhile Minerva with instinctive fires
Thy soul, Penelope, from Heaven inspires;
With flattering hopes the suitors to betray,
And seem to meet, yet fly, the bridal day:
Thy husband's wonder, and thy son's to raise;
And crown the mother and the wife with praise.
Then, while the streaming sorrow dims her eyes,
Thus, with a transient smile, the matron cries:
"Eurynome! to go where riot reigns
I feel an impulse, though my soul disdains;
To my loved son the snares of death to show,
And in the traitor friend, unmask the foe;
Who, smooth of tongue, in purpose insincere,
Hides fraud in smiles, while death is ambush'd there."
"Go, warn thy son, nor be the warning vain
(Replied the sagest of the royal train);
But bathed, anointed, and adorn'd, descend;
Powerful of charms, bid every grace attend;
The tide of flowing tears awhile suppress;
Tears but indulge the sorrow, not repress.
Some joy remains: to thee a son is given,
Such as, in fondness, parents ask of Heaven."
"Ah me! forbear!" returns the queen, "forbear,
Oh! talk not, talk not of vain beauty's care;
No more I bathe, since he no longer sees
Those charms, for whom alone I wish to please.
The day that bore Ulysses from this coast
Blasted the little bloom these cheeks could boast.
But instant bid Autonoe descend,
Instant Hippodame our steps attend;
Ill suits it female virtue, to be seen
Alone, indecent, in the walks of men."
Then while Eurynome the mandate bears,
From heaven Minerva shoots with guardian cares;
O'er all her senses, as the couch she press'd,
She pours, a pleasing, deep and death-like rest,
With every beauty every feature arms,
Bids her cheeks glow, and lights up all her charms;
In her love-darting eyes awakes the fires
(Immortal gifts! to kindle soft desires);
From limb to limb an air majestic sheds,
And the pure ivory o'er her bosom spreads.
Such Venus shines, when with a measured bound
She smoothly gliding swims the harmonious round,
When with the Graces in the dance she moves,
And fires the gazing gods with ardent loves.
Then to the skies her flight Minerva bends,
And to the queen the damsel train descends;
Waked at their steps, her flowing eyes unclose;
The tears she wipes, and thus renews her woes:
"Howe'er 'tis well that sleep awhile can free,
With soft forgetfulness a wretch like me;
Oh! were it given to yield this transient breath,
Send, O Diana! send the sleep of death!
Why must I waste a tedious life in tears,
Nor bury in the silent grave my cares?
O my Ulysses! ever honour'd name!
For thee I mourn till death dissolves my frame."
Thus wailing, slow and sadly she descends,
On either band a damsel train attends:
Full where the dome its shining valves expands,
Radiant before the gazing peers she stands;
A veil translucent o'er her brow display'd,
Her beauty seems, and only seems, to shade:
Sudden she lightens in their dazzled eyes,
And sudden flames in every bosom rise;
They send their eager souls with every look.
Till silence thus the imperial matron broke:
"O why! my son, why now no more appears
That warmth of soul that urged thy younger years?
Thy riper days no growing worth impart,
A man in stature, still a boy in heart!
Thy well-knit frame unprofitably strong,
Speaks thee a hero, from a hero sprung:
But the just gods in vain those gifts bestow,
O wise alone in form, and grave in show!
Heavens! could a stranger feel oppression's hand
Beneath thy roof, and couldst thou tamely stand!
If thou the stranger's righteous cause decline
His is the sufferance, but the shame is thine."
To whom, with filial awe, the prince returns:
"That generous soul with just resentment burns;
Yet, taught by time, my heart has learn'd to glow
For others' good, and melt at others' woe;
But, impotent those riots to repel,
I bear their outrage, though my soul rebel;
Helpless amid the snares of death I tread,
And numbers leagued in impious union dread;
But now no crime is theirs: this wrong proceeds
From Irus, and the guilty Irus bleeds.
Oh would to Jove! or her whose arms display
The shield of Jove, or him who rules the day!
That yon proud suitors, who licentious tread
These courts, within these courts like Irus bled:
Whose loose head tottering, as with wine oppress'd,
Obliquely drops, and nodding knocks his breast;
Powerless to move, his staggering feet deny
The coward wretch the privilege to fly."
Then to the queen Eurymachus replies:
"O justly loved, and not more fair than wise!
Should Greece through all her hundred states survey
Thy finish'd charms, all Greece would own thy sway
In rival crowds contest the glorious prize.
Dispeopling realms to gaze upon thy eyes:
O woman! loveliest of the lovely kind,
In body perfect, and complete in mind."
"Ah me! (returns the queen) when from this shore
Ulysses sail'd, then beauty was no more!
The gods decreed these eyes no more should keep
Their wonted grace, but only serve to weep.
Should he return, whate'er my beauties prove,
My virtues last; my brightest charm is love.
Now, grief, thou all art mine! the gods o'ercast
My soul with woes, that long, ah long must last!
Too faithfully my heart retains the day
That sadly tore my royal lord away:
He grasp'd my hand, and, 'O, my spouse! I leave
Thy arms (he cried), perhaps to find a grave:
Fame speaks the Trojans bold; they boast the skill
To give the feather'd arrow wings to kill,
To dart the spear, and guide the rushing car
With dreadful inroad through the walks of war.
My sentence is gone forth, and 'tis decreed
Perhaps by righteous Heaven that I must bleed!
My father, mother, all I trust to three;
To them, to them, transfer the love of me:
But, when my son grows man, the royal sway
Resign, and happy be thy bridal day!'
Such were his words; and Hymen now prepares
To light his torch, and give me up to cares;
The afflictive hand of wrathful Jove to bear:
A wretch the most complete that breathes the air!
Fall'n e'en below the rights to woman due!
Careless to please, with insolence ye woo!
The generous lovers, studious to succeed,
Bid their whole herds and flocks in banquets bleed;
By precious gifts the vow sincere display:
You, only you, make her ye love your prey."
Well-pleased Ulysses hears his queen deceive
The suitor-train, and raise a thirst to give:
False hopes she kindles, but those hopes betray,
And promise, yet elude, the bridal day.
While yet she speaks, the gay Antinous cries:
"Offspring of kings, and more than woman wise!
'Tis right; 'tis man's prerogative to give,
And custom bids thee without shame receive;
Yet never, never, from thy dome we move,
Till Hymen lights the torch of spousal love."
The peers despatch'd their heralds to convey
The gifts of love; with speed they take the way.
A robe Antinous gives of shining dyes,
The varying hues in gay confusion rise
Rich from the artist's hand! Twelve clasps of gold
Close to the lessening waist the vest infold!
Down from the swelling loins the vest unbound
Floats in bright waves redundant o'er the ground,
A bracelet rich with gold, with amber gay,
That shot effulgence like the solar ray,
Eurymachus presents: and ear-rings bright,
With triple stars, that casts a trembling light.
Pisander bears a necklace wrought with art:
And every peer, expressive of his heart,
A gift bestows: this done, the queen ascends,
And slow behind her damsel train attends.
Then to the dance they form the vocal strain,
Till Hesperus leads forth the starry train;
And now he raises, as the daylight fades,
His golden circlet in the deepening shades:
Three vases heap'd with copious fires display
O'er all the palace a fictitious day;
From space to space the torch wide-beaming burns,
And sprightly damsels trim the rays by turns.
To whom the king: "Ill suits your sex to stay
Alone with men! ye modest maids, away!
Go, with the queen; the spindle guide; or cull
(The partners of her cares) the silver wool;
Be it my task the torches to supply
E'en till the morning lamp adorns the sky;
E'en till the morning, with unwearied care,
Sleepless I watch; for I have learn'd to bear."
Scornful they heard: Melantho, fair and young,
(Melantho, from the loins of Dolius sprung,
Who with the queen her years an infant led,
With the soft fondness of a daughter bred,)
Chiefly derides: regardless of the cares
Her queen endures, polluted joys she shares
Nocturnal with Eurymachus: with eyes
That speak disdain, the wanton thus replies:
"Oh! whither wanders thy distemper'd brain,
Thou bold intruder on a princely train?
Hence, to the vagrants' rendezvous repair;
Or shun in some black forge the midnight air.
Proceeds this boldness from a turn of soul,
Or flows licentious from the copious bowl?
Is it that vanquish'd Irus swells thy mind?
A foe may meet thee of a braver kind,
Who, shortening with a storm of blows thy stay,
Shall send thee howling all in blood away!"
To whom with frowns: "O impudent in wrong!
Thy lord shall curb that insolence of tongue;
Know, to Telemachus I tell the offence;
The scourge, the scourge shall lash thee into sense."
With conscious shame they hear the stern rebuke,
Nor longer durst sustain the sovereign look.
Then to the servile task the monarch turns
His royal hands: each torch refulgent burns
With added day: meanwhile in museful mood,
Absorb'd in thought, on vengeance fix'd he stood.
And now the martial maid, by deeper wrongs
To rouse Ulysses, points the suitors' tongues:
Scornful of age, to taunt the virtuous man,
Thoughtless and gay, Eurymachus began:
"Hear me (he cries), confederates and friends!
Some god, no doubt, this stranger kindly sends;
The shining baldness of his head survey,
It aids our torchlight, and reflects the ray."
Then to the king that levell'd haughty Troy:
"Say, if large hire can tempt thee to employ
Those hands in work; to tend the rural trade,
To dress the walk, and form the embowering shade.
So food and raiment constant will I give:
But idly thus thy soul prefers to live,
And starve by strolling, not by work to thrive."
To whom incensed: "Should we, O prince, engage
In rival tasks beneath the burning rage
Of summer suns; were both constrain'd to wield
Foodless the scythe along the burden'd field;
Or should we labour while the ploughshare wounds,
With steers of equal strength, the allotted grounds,
Beneath my labours, how thy wondering eyes
Might see the sable field at once arise!
Should Jove dire war unloose, with spear and shield,
And nodding helm, I tread the ensanguined field,
Fierce in the van: then wouldst thou, wouldst thou,--say,--
Misname me glutton, in that glorious day?
No, thy ill-judging thoughts the brave disgrace
'Tis thou injurious art, not I am base.
Proud to seem brave among a coward train!
But now, thou art not valorous, but vain.
God! should the stern Ulysses rise in might,
These gates would seem too narrow for thy flight."
While yet he speaks, Eurymachus replies,
With indignation flashing from his eyes:
"Slave, I with justice might deserve the wrong,
Should I not punish that opprobrious tongue.
Irreverent to the great, and uncontroll'd,
Art thou from wine, or innate folly, bold?
Perhaps these outrages from Irus flow,
A worthless triumph o'er a worthless foe!"
He said, and with full force a footstool threw;
Whirl'd from his arm, with erring rage it flew:
Ulysses, cautious of the vengeful foe,
Stoops to the ground, and disappoints the blow.
Not so a youth, who deals the goblet round,
Full on his shoulder it inflicts a wound;
Dash'd from his hand the sounding goblet flies,
He shrieks, he reels, he falls, and breathless lies.
Then wild uproar and clamour mount the sky,
Till mutual thus the peers indignant cry:
"Oh had this stranger sunk to realms beneath,
To the black realms of darkness and of death,
Ere yet he trod these shores! to strife he draws
Peer against peer; and what the weighty cause?
A vagabond! for him the great destroy,
In vile ignoble jars, the feast of joy."
To whom the stern Telemachus uprose;
"Gods! what wild folly from the goblet flows!
Whence this unguarded openness of soul,
But from the license of the copious bowl?
Or Heaven delusion sends: but hence away!
Force I forbear, and without force obey."
Silent, abash'd, they hear the stern rebuke,
Till thus Amphinomus the silence broke:
"True are his words, and he whom truth offends,
Not with Telemachus, but truth contends;
Let not the hand of violence invade
The reverend stranger, or the spotless maid;
Retire we hence, but crown with rosy wine
The flowing goblet to the powers divine!
Guard he his guest beneath whose roof he stands:
This justice, this the social rite demands."
The peers assent: the goblet Mulius crown'd
With purple juice, and bore in order round:
Each peer successive his libation pours
To the blest gods who fill'd the ethereal bowers:
Then swill'd with wine, with noise the crowds obey,
And rushing forth, tumultuous reel away.
THE DISCOVERY OF ULYSSES TO EURYCLEA.
Ulysses and his son remove the weapons out of the armoury.
Ulysses, in conversation with Penelope, gives a fictitious account
of his adventures; then assures her he had formerly entertained
her husband in Crete; and describes exactly his person and dress;
affirms to have heard of him in Phaeacia and Thesprotia, and that
his return is certain, and within a month. He then goes to bathe,
and is attended by Euryclea, who discovers him to be Ulysses by
the scar upon his leg, which he formerly received in hunting the
wild boar on Parnassus. The poet inserts a digression relating
that accident, with all its particulars.
Consulting secret with the blue-eyed maid,
Still in the dome divine Ulysses stay'd:
Revenge mature for act inflamed his breast;
And thus the son the fervent sire address'd:
"Instant convey those steely stores of war
To distant rooms, disposed with secret care:
The cause demanded by the suitor-train,
To soothe their fears, a specious reason feign:
Say, since Ulysses left his natal coast,
Obscene with smoke, their beamy lustre lost,
His arms deform the roof they wont adorn:
From the glad walls inglorious lumber torn.
Suggest, that Jove the peaceful thought inspired,
Lest they, by sight of swords to fury fired,
Dishonest wounds, or violence of soul,
Defame the bridal feast and friendly bowl."
The prince, obedient to the sage command,
To Euryclea thus: "The female band
In their apartments keep; secure the doors;
These swarthy arms among the covert stores
Are seemlier hid; my thoughtless youth they blame,
Imbrown'd with vapour of the smouldering flame."
"In happier hour (pleased Euryclea cries),
Tutour'd by early woes, grow early wise;
Inspect with sharpen'd sight, and frugal care,
Your patrimonial wealth, a prudent heir.
But who the lighted taper will provide
(The female train retired) your toils to guide?"
"Without infringing hospitable right,
This guest (he cried) shall bear the guiding light:
I cheer no lazy vagrants with repast;
They share the meal that earn it ere they taste."
He said: from female ken she straight secures
The purposed deed, and guards the bolted doors:
Auxiliar to his son, Ulysses bears
The plumy-crested helms and pointed spears,
With shields indented deep in glorious wars.
Minerva viewless on her charge attends,
And with her golden lamp his toil befriends.
Not such the sickly beams, which unsincere
Gild the gross vapour of this nether sphere!
A present deity the prince confess'd,
And wrapp'd with ecstasy the sire address'd:
"What miracle thus dazzles with surprise!
Distinct in rows the radiant columns rise;
The walls, where'er my wondering sight I turn,
And roofs, amidst a blaze of glory burn!
Some visitant of pure ethereal race
With his bright presence deigns the dome to grace."
"Be calm (replies the sire); to none impart,
But oft revolve the vision in thy heart:
Celestials, mantled in excess of light,
Can visit unapproach'd by mortal sight.
Seek thou repose: whilst here I sole remain,
To explore the conduct of the female train:
The pensive queen, perchance, desires to know
The series of my toils, to soothe her woe."
With tapers flaming day his train attends,
His bright alcove the obsequious youth ascends:
Soft slumberous shades his drooping eyelids close,
Till on her eastern throne Aurora glows.
Whilst, forming plans of death, Ulysses stay'd,
In counsel secret with the martial maid,
Attendant nymphs in beauteous order wait
The queen, descending from her bower of state.
Her cheeks the warmer blush of Venus wear,
Chasten'd with coy Diana's pensive air.
An ivory seat with silver ringlets graced,
By famed Icmalius wrought, the menials placed:
With ivory silver'd thick the footstool shone,
O'er which the panther's various hide was thrown.
The sovereign seat with graceful air she press'd;
To different tasks their toil the nymphs address'd:
The golden goblets some, and some restored
From stains of luxury the polish'd board:
These to remove the expiring embers came,
While those with unctuous fir foment the flame.
'Twas then Melantho with imperious mien
Renew'd the attack, incontinent of spleen:
"Avaunt (she cried), offensive to my sight!
Deem not in ambush here to lurk by night,
Into the woman-state asquint to pry;
A day-devourer, and an evening spy!
Vagrant, begone! before this blazing brand
Shall urge"--and waved it hissing in her hand.
The insulted hero rolls his wrathful eyes
And "Why so turbulent of soul? (he cries;)
Can these lean shrivell'd limbs, unnerved with age,
These poor but honest rags, enkindle rage?
In crowds, we wear the badge of hungry fate:
And beg, degraded from superior state!
Constrain'd a rent-charge on the rich I live;
Reduced to crave the good I once could give:
A palace, wealth, and slaves, I late possess'd,
And all that makes the great be call'd the bless'd:
My gate, an emblem of my open soul,
Embraced the poor, and dealt a bounteous dole.
Scorn not the sad reverse, injurious maid!
'Tis Jove's high will, and be his will obey'd!
Nor think thyself exempt: that rosy prime
Must share the general doom of withering time:
To some new channel soon the changeful tide
Of royal grace the offended queen may guide;
And her loved lord unplume thy towering pride.
Or, were he dead, 'tis wisdom to beware:
Sweet blooms the prince beneath Apollo's care;
Your deeds with quick impartial eye surveys,
Potent to punish what he cannot praise."
Her keen reproach had reach'd the sovereign's ear:
"Loquacious insolent! (she cries,) forbear;
To thee the purpose of my soul I told;
Venial discourse, unblamed, with him to hold;
The storied labours of my wandering lord,
To soothe my grief he haply may record:
Yet him, my guest, thy venom'd rage hath stung;
Thy head shall pay the forfeit of thy tongue!
But thou on whom my palace cares depend,
Eurynome, regard the stranger-friend:
A seat, soft spread with furry spoils, prepare;
Due-distant for us both to speak, and hear."
The menial fair obeys with duteous haste:
A seat adorn'd with furry spoils she placed:
Due-distant for discourse the hero sate;
When thus the sovereign from her chair of state:
"Reveal, obsequious to my first demand,
Thy name, thy lineage, and thy natal land."
He thus: "O queen! whose far-resounding fame
Is bounded only by the starry frame,
Consummate pattern of imperial sway,
Whose pious rule a warlike race obey!
In wavy gold thy summer vales are dress'd;
Thy autumns bind with copious fruit oppress'd:
With flocks and herds each grassy plain is stored;
And fish of every fin thy seas afford:
Their affluent joys the grateful realms confess;
And bless the power that still delights to bless,
Gracious permit this prayer, imperial dame!
Forbear to know my lineage, or my name:
Urge not this breast to heave, these eyes to weep;
In sweet oblivion let my sorrows sleep!
My woes awaked, will violate your ear,
And to this gay censorious train appear
A whiny vapour melting in a tear."
"Their gifts the gods resumed (the queen rejoin'd),
Exterior grace, and energy of mind,
When the dear partner of my nuptial joy,
Auxiliar troops combined, to conquer Troy.
My lord's protecting hand alone would raise
My drooping verdure, and extend my praise!
Peers from the distant Samian shore resort:
Here with Dulichians join'd, besiege the court:
Zacynthus, green with ever-shady groves,
And Ithaca, presumptuous, boast their loves:
Obtruding on my choice a second lord,
They press the Hymenaean rite abhorr'd.
Misrule thus mingling with domestic cares,
I live regardless of my state affairs;
Receive no stranger-guest, no poor relieve;
But ever for my lord in secret grieve!--
This art, instinct by some celestial power,
I tried, elusive of the bridal hour:
"'Ye peers, (I cry,) who press to gain a heart,
Where dead Ulysses claims no future part;
Rebate your loves, each rival suit suspend,
Till this funeral web my labours end:
Cease, till to good Laertes I bequeath
A pall of state, the ornament of death.
For when to fate he bows, each Grecian dame
With just reproach were licensed to defame,
Should he, long honour'd in supreme command,
Want the last duties of a daughter's hand.'
The fiction pleased; their loves I long elude;
The night still ravell'd what the day renew'd:
Three years successful in my heart conceal'd,
My ineffectual fraud the fourth reveal'd:
Befriended by my own domestic spies,
The woof unwrought the suitor-train surprise.
From nuptial rites they now no more recede,
And fear forbids to falsify the brede.
My anxious parents urge a speedy choice,
And to their suffrage gain the filial voice.
For rule mature, Telemachus deplores
His dome dishonour'd, and exhausted stores--
But, stranger! as thy days seem full of fate,
Divide discourse, in turn thy birth relate:
Thy port asserts thee of distinguish'd race;
No poor unfather'd product of disgrace."
"Princess! (he cries,) renew'd by your command,
The dear remembrance of my native land
Of secret grief unseals the fruitful source;
Fond tears repeat their long-forgotten course!
So pays the wretch whom fate constrains to roam,
The dues of nature to his natal home!--
But inward on my soul let sorrow prey,
Your sovereign will my duty bids obey.
"Crete awes the circling waves, a fruitful soil!
And ninety cities crown the sea-born isle:
Mix'd with her genuine sons, adopted names
In various tongues avow their various claims:
Cydonians, dreadful with the bended yew,
And bold Pelasgi boast a native's due:
The Dorians, plumed amid the files of war,
Her foodful glebe with fierce Achaians share;
Cnossus, her capital of high command;
Where sceptred Minos with impartial hand
Divided right: each ninth revolving year,
By Jove received in council to confer.
His son Deucalion bore successive sway:
His son, who gave me first to view the day!
The royal bed an elder issue bless'd,
Idomeneus whom Ilion fields attest
Of matchless deeds: untrain'd to martial toil,
I lived inglorious in my native isle.
Studious of peace, and Aethon is my name.
'Twas then to Crete the great Ulysses came.
For elemental war, and wintry Jove,
From Malea's gusty cape his navy drove
To bright Lucina's fane; the shelfy coast
Where loud Amnisus in the deep is lost.
His vessel's moor'd (an incommodious port!)
The hero speeded to the Cnossian court:
Ardent the partner of his arms to find,
In leagues of long commutual friendship join'd.
Vain hope! ten suns had warm'd the western strand
Since my brave brother, with his Cretan band,
Had sail'd for Troy: but to the genial feast
My honour'd roof received the royal guest:
Beeves for his train the Cnossian peers assign,
A public treat, with jars of generous wine.
Twelve days while Boreas vex'd the aerial space,
My hospitable dome he deign'd to grace:
And when the north had ceased the stormy roar,
He wing'd his voyage to the Phrygian shore."
Thus the fam'd hero, perfected in wiles,
With fair similitude of truth beguiles
The queen's attentive ear: dissolved in woe,
From her bright eyes the tears unbounded flow,
As snows collected on the mountain freeze;
When milder regions breathe a vernal breeze,
The fleecy pile obeys the whispering gales,
Ends in a stream, and murmurs through the vales:
So, melting with the pleasing tale he told,
Down her fair cheek the copious torrent roll'd:
She to her present lord laments him lost,
And views that object which she wants the most,
Withering at heart to see the weeping fair,
His eyes look stern, and cast a gloomy stare;
Of horn the stiff relentless balls appear,
Or globes of iron fix'd in either sphere;
Firm wisdom interdicts the softening tear.
A speechless interval of grief ensues,
Till thus the queen the tender theme renews.
"Stranger! that e'er thy hospitable roof
Ulysses graced, confirm by faithful proof;
Delineate to my view my warlike lord,
His form, his habit, and his train record."
"'Tis hard (he cries,) to bring to sudden sight
Ideas that have wing'd their distant flight;
Rare on the mind those images are traced,
Whose footsteps twenty winters have defaced:
But what I can, receive.--In ample mode,
A robe of military purple flow'd
O'er all his frame: illustrious on his breast,
The double-clasping gold the king confess'd.
In the rich woof a hound, mosaic drawn,
Bore on full stretch, and seized a dappled fawn;
Deep in the neck his fangs indent their hold;
They pant and struggle in the moving gold.
Fine as a filmy web beneath it shone
A vest, that dazzled like a cloudless sun:
The female train who round him throng'd to gaze,
In silent wonder sigh'd unwilling praise.
A sabre, when the warrior press'd to part,
I gave, enamell'd with Vulcanian art:
A mantle purple-tinged, and radiant vest,
Dimension'd equal to his size, express'd
Affection grateful to my honour'd guest.
A favourite herald in his train I knew,
His visage solemn, sad of sable hue:
Short woolly curls o'erfleeced his bending head,
O'er which a promontory shoulder spread;
Eurybates; in whose large soul alone
Ulysses view'd an image of his own."
His speech the tempest of her grief restored;
In all he told she recognized her lord:
But when the storm was spent in plenteous showers,
A pause inspiriting her languish'd powers,
"O thou, (she cried,) whom first inclement Fate
Made welcome to my hospitable gate;
With all thy wants the name of poor shall end:
Henceforth live honour'd, my domestic friend!
The vest much envied on your native coast,
And regal robe with figured gold emboss'd,
In happier hours my artful hand employ'd,
When my loved lord this blissful bower enjoy'd:
The fall of Troy erroneous and forlorn
Doom'd to survive, and never to return!"
Then he, with pity toucb'd: "O royal dame!
Your ever-anxious mind, and beauteous frame,
From the devouring rage of grief reclaim.
I not the fondness of your soul reprove
For such a lord! who crown'd your virgin love
With the dear blessing of a fair increase;
Himself adorn'd with more than mortal grace:
Yet while I speak the mighty woe suspend;
Truth forms my tale; to pleasing truth attend.
The royal object of your dearest care
Breathes in no distant clime the vital air:
In rich Thesprotia, and the nearer bound
Of Thessaly, his name I heard renown'd:
Without retinue, to that friendly shore
Welcomed with gifts of price, a sumless store!
His sacrilegious train, who dared to prey
On herds devoted to the god of day,
Were doom'd by Jove, and Phoebus' just decree,
To perish in the rough Trinacrian sea.
To better fate the blameless chief ordain'd,
A floating fragment of the wreck regain'd,
And rode the storm; till, by the billows toss'd,
He landed on the fair Phaeacian coast.
That race who emulate the life of gods,
Receive him joyous to their bless'd abodes;
Large gifts confer, a ready sail command,
To speed his voyage to the Grecian strand.
But your wise lord (in whose capacious soul
High schemes of power in just succession roll)
His Ithaca refused from favouring Fate,
Till copious wealth might guard his regal state.
Phedon the fact affirm'd, whose sovereign sway
Thesprotian tribes, a duteous race, obey;
And bade the gods this added truth attest
(While pure libations crown'd the genial feast),
That anchor'd in his port the vessels stand,
To waft the hero to his natal land.
I for Dulichium urge the watery way,
But first the Ulyssean wealth survey:
So rich the value of a store so vast
Demands the pomp of centuries to waste!
The darling object of your royal love
Was journey'd thence to Dodonean Jove;
By the sure precept of the sylvan shrine,
To form the conduct of his great design;
Irresolute of soul, his state to shroud
In dark disguise, or come, a king avow'd!
Thus lives your lord; nor longer doom'd to roam;
Soon will he grace this dear paternal dome.
By Jove, the source of good, supreme in power!
By the bless'd genius of this friendly bower!
I ratify my speech, before the sun
His annual longitude of heaven shall run;
When the pale empress of yon starry train
In the next month renews her faded wane,
Ulysses will assert his rightful reign."
"What thanks! what boon! (replied the queen), are due,
When time shall prove the storied blessing true!
My lord's return should fate no more retard,
Envy shall sicken at thy vast reward.
But my prophetic fears, alas! presage
The wounds of Destiny's relentless rage.
I long must weep, nor will Ulysses come,
With royal gifts to send you honour'd home!--
Your other task, ye menial train forbear:
Now wash the stranger, and the bed prepare:
With splendid palls the downy fleece adorn:
Uprising early with the purple morn.
His sinews, shrunk with age, and stiff with toil,
In the warm bath foment with fragrant oil.
Then with Telemachus the social feast
Partaking free, my soul invited guest;
Whoe'er neglects to pay distinction due,
The breach of hospitable right may rue.
The vulgar of my sex I most exceed
In real fame, when most humane my deed;
And vainly to the praise of queen aspire,
If, stranger! I permit that mean attire
Beneath the feastful bower. A narrow space
Confines the circle of our destin'd race;
'Tis ours with good the scanty round to grace.
Those who to cruel wrong their state abuse,
Dreaded in life the mutter'd curse pursues;
By death disrobed of all their savage powers,
Then, licensed rage her hateful prey devours.
But he whose inborn worth his acts commend,
Of gentle soul, to human race a friend;
The wretched he relieves diffuse his fame,
And distant tongues extol the patron-name."
"Princess? (he cried) in vain your bounties flow
On me, confirm'd and obstinate in woe.
When my loved Crete received my final view,
And from my weeping eyes her cliffs withdrew;
These tatter'd weeds (my decent robes resign'd)
I chose, the livery of a woful mind!
Nor will my heart-corroding care abate
With splendid palls, and canopies of state:
Low-couch'd on earth, the gift of sleep I scorn,
And catch the glances of the waking morn.
The delicacy of your courtly train
To wash a wretched wanderer would disdain;
But if, in tract of long experience tried,
And sad similitude of woes allied,
Some wretch reluctant views aerial light,
To her mean hand assign the friendly rite."
Pleased with his wise reply, the queen rejoin'd:
"Such gentle manners, and so sage a mind,
In all who graced this hospitable bower
I ne'er discerned, before this social hour.
Such servant as your humble choice requires,
To light received the lord of my desires,
New from the birth; and with a mother's hand
His tender bloom to manly growth sustain'd:
Of matchless prudence, and a duteous mind;
Though now to life's extremest verge declined,
Of strength superior to the toil design'd-
Rise, Euryclea! with officious care
For the poor friend the cleansing bath prepare:
This debt his correspondent fortunes claim,
Too like Ulysses, and perhaps the same!
Thus old with woes my fancy paints him now!
For age untimely marks the careful brow."
Instant, obsequious to the mild command,
Sad Euryclea rose: with trembling hand
She veils the torrent of her tearful eyes;
And thus impasaion'd to herself replies:
"Son of my love, and monarch of my cares,
What pangs for thee this wretched bosom bears!
Are thus by Jove who constant beg his aid
With pious deed, and pure devotion, paid?
He never dared defraud the sacred fane
Of perfect hecatombs in order slain:
There oft implored his tutelary power,
Long to protract the sad sepulchral hour;
That, form'd for empire with paternal care,
His realm might recognize an equal heir.
O destined head! The pious vows are lost;
His God forgets him on a foreign coast!--
Perhaps, like thee, poor guest! in wanton pride
The rich insult him, and the young deride!
Conscious of worth reviled, thy generous mind
The friendly rite of purity declined;
My will concurring with my queen's command,
Accept the bath from this obsequious hand.
A strong emotion shakes my anguish'd breast:
In thy whole form Ulysses seems express'd;
Of all the wretched harboured on our coast,
None imaged e'er like thee my master lost."
Thus half-discover'd through the dark disguise,
With cool composure feign'd, the chief replies:
"You join your suffrage to the public vote;
The same you think have all beholders thought."
He said: replenish'd from the purest springs,
The laver straight with busy care she brings:
In the deep vase, that shone like burnish'd gold,
The boiling fluid temperates the cold.
Meantime revolving in his thoughtful mind
The scar, with which his manly knee was sign'd;
His face averting from the crackling blaze,
His shoulders intercept the unfriendly rays:
Thus cautious in the obscure he hoped to fly
The curious search of Euryclea's eye.
Cautious in vain! nor ceased the dame to find
This scar with which his manly knee was sign'd.
This on Parnassus (combating the boar)
With glancing rage the tusky savage tore.
Attended by his brave maternal race,
His grandsire sent him to the sylvan chase,
Autolycus the bold (a mighty name
For spotless faith and deeds of martial fame:
Hermes, his patron god, those gifts bestow'd,
Whose shrine with weanling lambs he wont to load).
His course to Ithaca this hero sped,
When the first product of Laertes' bed
Was now disclosed to birth: the banquet ends,
When Euryclea from the queen descends,
And to his fond embrace the babe commends:
"Receive (she cries) your royal daughter's son;
And name the blessing that your prayers have won."
Then thus the hoary chief: "My victor arms
Have awed the realms around with dire alarms:
A sure memorial of my dreaded fame
The boy shall bear; Ulysses be his name!
And when with filial love the youth shall come
To view his mother's soil, my Delphic dome
With gifts of price shall send him joyous home."
Lured with the promised boon, when youthful prime
Ended in man, his mother's natal clime
Ulysses sought; with fond affection dear
Amphitea's arms received the royal heir:
Her ancient lord an equal joy possess'd;
Instant he bade prepare the genial feast:
A steer to form the sumptuous banquet bled,
Whose stately growth five flowery summers fed:
His sons divide, and roast with artful care
The limbs; then all the tasteful viands share.
Nor ceased discourse (the banquet of the soul),
Till Phoebus wheeling to the western goal
Resign'd the skies, and night involved the pole.
Their drooping eyes the slumberous shade oppress'd,
Sated they rose, and all retired to rest.
Soon as the morn, new-robed in purple light,
Pierced with her golden shafts the rear of night,
Ulysses, and his brave maternal race,
The young Autolyci, essay the chase.
Parnassus, thick perplex'd with horrid shades,
With deep-mouth'd hounds the hunter-troop invades;
What time the sun, from ocean's peaceful stream,
Darts o'er the lawn his horizontal beam.
The pack impatient snuff the tainted gale;
The thorny wilds the woodmen fierce assail:
And, foremost of the train, his cornel spear
Ulysses waved, to rouse the savage war.
Deep in the rough recesses of the wood,
A lofty copse, the growth of ages, stood;
Nor winter's boreal blast, nor thunderous shower,
Nor solar ray, could pierce the shady bower.
With wither'd foliage strew'd, a heapy store!
The warm pavilion of a dreadful boar.
Roused by the hounds' and hunters' mingling cries,
The savage from his leafy shelter flies;
With fiery glare his sanguine eye-balls shine,
And bristles high impale his horrid chine.
Young lthacus advanced, defies the foe,
Poising his lifted lance in act to throw;
The savage renders vain the wound decreed,
And springs impetuous with opponent speed!
His tusks oblique he aim'd, the knee to gore;
Aslope they glanced, the sinewy fibres tore,
And bared the bone; Ulysses undismay'd,
Soon with redoubled force the wound repaid;
To the right shoulder-joint the spear applied,
His further flank with streaming purple dyed:
On earth he rushed with agonizing pain;
With joy and vast surprise, the applauding train
View'd his enormous bulk extended on the plain.
With bandage firm Ulysses' knee they bound;
Then, chanting mystic lays, the closing wound
Of sacred melody confess'd the force;
The tides of life regain'd their azure course.
Then back they led the youth with loud acclaim;
Autolycus, enamoured with his fame,
Confirm'd the cure; and from the Delphic dome
With added gifts return'd him glorious home.
He safe at Ithaca with joy received,
Relates the chase, and early praise achieved.
Deep o'er his knee inseam'd remain'd the scar;
Which noted token of the woodland war
When Euryclea found, the ablution ceased:
Down dropp'd the leg, from her slack hand released;
The mingled fluids from the base redound;
The vase reclining floats the floor around!
Smiles dew'd with tears the pleasing strife express'd
Of grief and joy, alternate in her breast.
Her fluttering words in melting murmurs died;
At length abrupt--"My son!--my king!"--she cried.
His neck with fond embrace infolding fast,
Full on the queen her raptured eye she cast
Ardent to speak the monarch safe restored:
But, studious to conceal her royal lord,
Minerva fix'd her mind on views remote,
And from the present bliss abstracts her thought.
His hand to Euryclea's mouth applied,
"Art thou foredoom'd my pest? (the hero cried:)
Thy milky founts my infant lips have drain'd;
And have the Fates thy babbling age ordain'd
To violate the life thy youth sustain'd?
An exile have I told, with weeping eyes,
Full twenty annual suns in distant skies;
At length return'd, some god inspires thy breast
To know thy king, and here I stand confess'd.
This heaven-discover'd truth to thee consign'd,
Reserve the treasure of thy inmost mind:
Else, if the gods my vengeful arm sustain,
And prostrate to my sword the suitor-train;
With their lewd mates, thy undistinguish'd age
Shall bleed a victim to vindictive rage."
Then thus rejoin'd the dame, devoid of fear:
"What words, my son, have passed thy lips severe?
Deep in my soul the trust shall lodge secured;
With ribs of steel, and marble heart, immured.
When Heaven, auspicious to thy right avow'd,
Shall prostrate to thy sword the suitor-crowd,
The deeds I'll blazon of the menial fair;
The lewd to death devote, the virtuous spare."
"Thy aid avails me not (the chief replied);
My own experience shall their doom decide:
A witness-judge precludes a long appeal:
Suffice it then thy monarch to conceal."
He said: obsequious, with redoubled pace,
She to the fount conveys the exhausted vase:
The bath renew'd, she ends the pleasing toil
With plenteous unction of ambrosial oil.
Adjusting to his limbs the tatter'd vest,
His former seat received the stranger guest;
Whom thus with pensive air the queen addressed:
"Though night, dissolving grief in grateful ease,
Your drooping eyes with soft impression seize;
Awhile, reluctant to her pleasing force,
Suspend the restful hour with sweet discourse.
The day (ne'er brighten'd with a beam of joy!)
My menials, and domestic cares employ;
And, unattended by sincere repose,
The night assists my ever-wakeful woes;
When nature's hush'd beneath her brooding shade,
My echoing griefs the starry vault invade.
As when the months are clad in flowery green,
Sad Philomel, in bowery shades unseen,
To vernal airs attunes her varied strains;
And Itylus sounds warbling o'er the plains;
Young Itylus, his parents' darling joy!
Whom chance misled the mother to destroy;
Now doom'd a wakeful bird to wail the beauteous boy.
So in nocturnal solitude forlorn,
A sad variety of woes I mourn!
My mind, reflective, in a thorny maze
Devious from care to care incessant strays.
Now, wavering doubt succeeds to long despair;
Shall I my virgin nuptial vow revere;
And, joining to my son's my menial train,
Partake his counsels, and assist his reign?
Or, since, mature in manhood, he deplores
His dome dishonour'd, and exhausted stores;
Shall I, reluctant! to his will accord;
And from the peers select the noblest lord;
So by my choice avow'd, at length decide
These wasteful love-debates, a mourning bride!
A visionary thought I'll now relate;
Illustrate, if you know, the shadow'd fate:
"A team of twenty geese (a snow-white train!)
Fed near the limpid lake with golden grain,
Amuse my pensive hours. The bird of Jove
Fierce from his mountain-eyrie downward drove;
Each favourite fowl he pounced with deathful sway,
And back triumphant wing'd his airy way.
My pitying eyes effused a plenteous stream,
To view their death thus imaged in a dream;
With tender sympathy to soothe my soul,
A troop of matrons, fancy-form'd, condole.
But whilst with grief and rage my bosom burn'd,
Sudden the tyrant of the skies returned;
Perch'd on the battlements he thus began
(In form an eagle, but in voice a man):
`O queen! no vulgar vision of the sky
I come, prophetic of approaching joy;
View in this plumy form thy victor-lord;
The geese (a glutton race) by thee deplored,
Portend the suitors fated to my sword.'
This said, the pleasing feather'd omen ceased.
When from the downy bands of sleep released,
Fsat by the limpid lake my swan-like train
I found, insatiate of the golden grain."
"The vision self-explain'd (the chief replies)
Sincere reveals the sanction of the skies;
Ulysses speaks his own return decreed;
And by his sword the suitors sure to bleed."
"Hard is the task, and rare," (the queen rejoin'd,)
Impending destinies in dreams to find;
Immured within the silent bower of sleep,
Two portals firm the various phantoms keep;
Of ivory one; whence flit, to mock the brain,
Of winged lies a light fantastic train;
The gate opposed pellucid valves adorn,
And columns fair incased with polish'd horn;
Where images of truth for passage wait,
With visions manifest of future fate.
Not to this troop, I fear, that phantom soar'd,
Which spoke Ulysses to this realm restored;
Delusive semblance!-but my remnant life
Heaven shall determine in a gameful strife;
With that famed bow Ulysses taught to bend,
For me the rival archers shall contend.
As on the listed field he used to place
Six beams, opposed to six in equal space;
Elanced afar by his unerring art,
Sure through six circlets flew the whizzing dart.
So, when the sun restores the purple day,
Their strength and skill the suitors shall assay;
To him the spousal honour is decreed,
Who through the rings directs the feather'd reed.
Torn from these walls (where long the kinder powers
With joy and pomp have wing'd my youthful hours!)
On this poor breast no dawn of bliss shall beam;
The pleasure past supplies a copious theme
For many a dreary thought, and many a doleful dream!"
"Propose the sportive lot (the chief replies),
Nor dread to name yourself the bowyer's prize;
Ulysses will surprise the unfinish'd game,
Avow'd, and falsify the suitors' claim."
To whom with grace serene the queen rejoin'd:
"In all thy speech what pleasing force I find!
O'er my suspended woe thy words prevail;
I part reluctant from the pleasing tale,
But Heaven, that knows what all terrestrials need,
Repose to night, and toil to day decreed;
Grateful vicissitudes! yet me withdrawn,
Wakeful to weep and watch the tardy dawn
Establish'd use enjoins; to rest and joy
Estranged, since dear Ulysses sail'd to Troy!
Meantime instructed is the menial tribe
Your couch to fashion as yourself prescribe."
Thus affable, her bower the queen ascends;
The sovereign step a beauteous train attends;
There imaged to her soul Ulysses rose;
Down her pale cheek new-streaming sorrow flows;
Till soft oblivious shade Minerva spread,
And o'er her eyes ambrosial slumber shed.
While Ulysses lies in the vestibule of the palace, he is witness
to the disorders of the women. Minerva comforts him, and casts him
asleep. At his waking he desires a favourable sign from Jupiter,
which is granted. The feast of Apollo is celebrated by the people,
and the suitors banquet in the palace. Telemachus exerts his
authority amongst them; notwithstanding which, Ulysses is insulted
by Caesippus, and the rest continue in their excesses. Strange
prodigies are seen by Theoclymenus, the augur, who explains them
to the destruction of the wooers.
An ample hide devine Ulysses spread.
And form'd of fleecy skins his humble bed
(The remnants of the spoil the suitor-crowd
In festival devour'd, and victims vow'd).
Then o'er the chief, Eurynome the chaste
With duteous care a downy carpet cast:
With dire revenge his thoughtful bosom glows,
And, ruminating wrath, he scorns repose.
As thus pavilion'd in the porch he lay,
Scenes of lewd loves his wakeful eyes survey,
Whilst to nocturnal joys impure repair,
With wanton glee, the prostituted fair.
His heart with rage this new dishonour stung,
Wavering his thoughts in dubious balance hung:
Or instant should he quench the guilty flame
With their own blood, and intercept the shame:
Or to their lust indulge a last embrace,
And let the peers consummate the disgrace
Round his swoln heart the murmurous fury rolls,
As o'er her young the mother-mastiff growls,
And bays the stranger groom: so wrath compress'd,
Recoiling, mutter'd thunder in his breast.
"Poor suffering heart! (he cried,) support the pain
Of wounded honour, and thy rage restrain.
Not fiercer woes thy fortitude could foil,
When the brave partners of thy ten years' toil
Dire Polypheme devour'd; I then was freed
By patient prudence from the death decreed."
Thus anchor'd safe on reason's peaceful coast,
Tempests of wrath his soul no longer toss'd;
Restless his body rolls, to rage resign'd
As one who long with pale-eyed famine pined,
The savoury cates on glowing embers cast
Incessant turns, impatient for repast
Ulysses so, from side to side-devolved,
In self-debate the suitor's doom resolved
When in the form of mortal nymph array'd,
From heaven descends the Jove-born martial maid;
And'hovering o'er his head in view confess'd,
The goddess thus her favourite care address'd:
"O thou, of mortals most inured to woes!
Why roll those eyes unfriended of repose?
Beneath thy palace-roof forget thy care;
Bless'd in thy queen! bless'd in thy blooming heir!
Whom, to the gods when suppliant fathers bow
They name the standard of their dearest vow."
"Just is thy kind reproach (the chief rejoin'd),
Deeds full of fate distract my various mind,
In contemplatiou wrapp'd. This hostile crew
What single arm hath prowess to subdue?
Or if, by Jove's and thy auxiliar aid,
They're doom'd to bleed; O say, celestial maid!
Where shall Ulysses shun, or how sustain
Nations embattled to revenge the slain?"
"Oh impotence of faith! (Minerva cries,)
If man on frail unknowing man relies,
Doubt you the gods? Lo, Pallas' self descends,
Inspires thy counsels, and thy toils attends.
In me affianced, fortify thy breast,
Though myriads leagued thy rightful claim contest
My sure divinity shall bear the shield,
And edge thy sword to reap the glorious field.
Now, pay the debt to craving nature due,
Her faded powers with balmy rest renew."
She ceased, ambrosial slumbers seal his eyes;
Her care dissolves in visionary joys
The goddess, pleased, regains her natal skies.
Not so the queen; the downy bands of sleep
By grief relax'd she waked again to weep:
A gloomy pause ensued of dumb despair;
Then thus her fate invoked, with fervent prayer
"Diana! speed thy deathful ebon dart,
And cure the pangs of this convulsive heart.
Snatch me, ye whirlwinds! far from human race,
Toss'd through the void illimitable space
Or if dismounted from the rapid cloud,
Me with his whelming wave let Ocean shroud!
So, Pandarus, thy hopes, three orphan fair;
Were doom'd to wander through the devious air;
Thyself untimely, and thy consort died,
But four celestials both your cares supplied.
Venus in tender delicacy rears
With honey, milk, and wine their infant years;
Imperial Juno to their youth assigned
A form majestic, and sagacious mind;
With shapely growth Diana graced their bloom;
And Pallas taught the texture of the loom.
But whilst, to learn their lots in nuptial love,
Bright Cytherea sought the bower of Jove
(The God supreme, to whose eternal eye
The registers of fate expanded lie;
Wing'd Harpies snatch the unguarded charge away,
And to the Furies bore a grateful prey.
Be such my lot! Or thou, Diana, speed
Thy shaft, and send me joyful to the dead;
To seek my lord among the warrior train,
Ere second vows my bridal faith profane.
When woes the waking sense alone assail,
Whilst Night extends her soft oblivious veil,
Of other wretches' care the torture ends;
No truce the warfare of my heart suspends!
The night renews the day distracting theme,
And airy terrors sable every dream.
The last alone a kind illusion wrought,
And to my bed my loved Ulysses brought,
In manly bloom, and each majestic grace,
As when for Troy he left my fond embrace;
Such raptures in my beating bosom rise,
I deem it sure a vision of the skies."
Thus, whilst Aurora mounts her purple throne,
In audible laments she breathes her moan;
The sounds assault Ulysses' wakeful ear;
Misjudging of the cause, a sudden fear
Of his arrival known, the chief alarms;
He thinks the queen is rushing to his arms.
Upspringing from his couch, with active haste
The fleece and carpet in the dome he placed
(The hide, without, imbibed the morning air);
And thus the gods invoked with ardent prayer:
"Jove, and eternal thrones! with heaven to friend,
If the long series of my woes shall end;
Of human race now rising from repose,
Let one a blissful omen here disclose;