Homer, translated by Alexander Pope
Part 4 out of 9
"But, herald, to the palace swift repair,
And the soft lyre to grace our pastimes bear."
Swift at the word, obedient to the king,
The herald flies the tuneful lyre to bring.
Up rose nine seniors, chosen to survey
The future games, the judges of the day
With instant care they mark a spacious round
And level for the dance the allotted ground:
The herald bears the lyre: intent to play,
The bard advancing meditates the lay.
Skill'd in the dance, tall youths, a blooming band,
Graceful before the heavenly minstrel stand:
Light bounding from the earth, at once they rise,
Their feet half-viewless quiver in the skies:
Ulysses gazed, astonish'd to survey
The glancing splendours as their sandals play.
Meantime the bard, alternate to the strings,
The loves of Mars and Cytherea sings:
How the stern god, enamour'd with her charms
Clasp'd the gay panting goddess in his arms,
By bribes seduced; and how the sun, whose eye
Views the broad heavens, disclosed the lawless joy.
Stung to the soul, indignant through the skies
To his black forge vindictive Vulcan flies:
Arrived, his sinewy arms incessant place
The eternal anvil on the massy base.
A wondrous net he labours, to betray
The wanton lovers, as entwined they lay,
Indissolubly strong; Then instant bears
To his immortal dome the finish'd snares:
Above, below, around, with art dispread,
The sure inclosure folds the genial bed:
Whose texture even the search of gods deceives,
Thin as the filmy threads the spider weaves,
Then, as withdrawing from the starry bowers,
He feigns a journey to the Lemnian shores,
His favourite isle: observant Mars descries
His wish'd recees, and to the goddess flies;
He glows, he burns, the fair-hair'd queen of love
Descends, smooth gliding from the courts of Jove,
Gay blooming in full charms: her hand he press'd
With eager joy, and with a sigh address'd:
"Come, my beloved! and taste the soft delights:
Come, to repose the genial bed invites:
Thy absent spouse, neglectful of thy charms,
Prefers his barbarous Sintians to thy arms!"
Then, nothing loth, the enamour'd fair he led,
And sunk transported on the conscious bed.
Down rush'd the toils, inwrapping as they lay
The careless lovers in their wanton play:
In vain they strive; the entangling snares deny
(Inextricably firm) the power to fly.
Warn'd by the god who sheds the golden day,
Stern Vulcan homeward treads the starry way:
Arrived, he sees, he grieves, with rage he burns:
Full horribly he roars, his voice all heaven returns.
"O Jove (he cried) O all ye powers above,
See the lewd dalliance of the queen of love!
Me, awkward me, she scorns; and yields her charms
To that fair lecher, the strong god of arms.
If I am lame, that stain my natal hour
By fate imposed; such me my parent bore.
Why was I born? See how the wanton lies!
Oh sight tormenting to a husband's eyes!
But yet, I trust, this once e'en Mars would fly
His fair-one's arms--he thinks her, once, too nigh.
But there remain, ye guilty, in my power,
Till Jove refunds his shameless daughter's dower.
Too dear I prized a fair enchanting face:
Beauty unchaste is beauty in disgrace."
Meanwhile the gods the dome of Vulcan throng;
Apollo comes, and Neptune comes along;
With these gay Hermes trod the starry plain;
But modesty withheld the goddess train.
All heaven beholds, imprison'd as they lie,
And unextinguish'd laughter shakes the sky.
Then mutual, thus they spoke: "Behold on wrong
Swift vengeance waits; and art subdues the strong!
Dwells there a god on all the Olympian brow
More swift than Mars, and more than Vulcan slow?
Yet Vulcan conquers, and the god of arms
Must pay the penalty for lawless charms."
Thus serious they; but he who gilds the skies,
The gay Apollo, thus to Hermes cries:
"Wouldst thou enchain'd like Mars, O Hermes, lie
And bear the shame like Mars to share the joy?"
"O envied shame! (the smiling youth rejoin'd;)
And thrice the chains, and thrice more firmly bind;
Gaze all ye gods, and every goddess gaze,
Yet eager would I bless the sweet disgrace."
Loud laugh the rest, e'en Neptune laughs aloud,
Yet sues importunate to loose the god.
"And free, (he cries) O Vulcan! free from shame
Thy captives; I ensure the penal claim."
"Will Neptune (Vulcan then) the faithless trust?
He suffers who gives surety for the unjust:
But say, if that lewd scandal of the sky,
To liberty restored, perfidious fly:
Say, wilt thou bear the mulct?" He instant cries,
"The mulct I bear, if Mars perfidious flies."
To whom appeased: "No more I urge delay;
When Neptune sues, my part is to obey."
Then to the snares his force the god applies;
They burst; and Mars to Thrace indignant flies:
To the soft Cyprian shores the goddess moves,
To visit Paphos and her blooming groves,
Where to the Power an hundred altars rise,
And breathing odours scent the balmy skies;
Concealed she bathes in consecrated bowers,
The Graces unguents shed, ambrosial showers,
Unguents that charm the gods! she last assumes
Her wondrous robes; and full the goddess blooms.
Thus sung the bard: Ulysses hears with joy,
And loud applauses read the vaulted sky.
Then to the sports his sons the king commands,
Each blooming youth before the monarch stands,
In dance unmatch'd! A wondrous ball is brought
(The work of Polypus, divinely wrought);
This youth with strength enermous bids it fly,
And bending backward whirls it to the sky;
His brother, springing with an active bound,
At distance intercepts it from the ground.
The ball dismissed, in dance they skim the strand,
Turn and return, and scarce imprint the sand.
The assembly gazes with astonished eyes,
And sends in shouts applauses to the skies.
Then thus Ulysses: "Happy king, whose name
The brightest shines in all the rolls of fame!
In subjects happy with surprise I gaze;
Thy praise was just; their skill transcends thy praise."
Pleas'd with his people's fame, the monarch hears,
And thus benevolent accosts the peers:
"Since wisdom's sacred guidance he pursues,
Give to the stranger-guest a stranger's dues:
Twelve princes in our realm dominion share,
O'er whom supreme, imperial power I bear;
Bring gold, a pledge of love: a talent bring,
A vest, a robe, and imitate your king.
Be swift to give: that he this night may share
The social feast of joy, with joy sincere.
And thou, Euryalus, redeem thy wrong;
A generous heart repairs a slanderous tongue."
The assenting peers, obedient to the king,
In haste their heralds send the gifts to bring.
Then thus Euryalus: "O prince, whose sway
Rules this bless'd realm, repentant I obey;
Be his this sword, whose blade of brass displays
A ruddy gleam; whose hilt a silver blaze;
Whose ivory sheath, inwrought with curious pride,-
Adds graceful terror to the wearer's side."
He said, and to his hand the sword consign'd:
"And if (he cried) my words affect thy mind,
Far from thy mind those words, ye whirlwinds, bear,
And scatter them, ye storms, in empty air!
Crown, O ye heavens, with joy his peaceful hours,
And grant him to his spouse, and native shores."
"And blest be thou, my friend, (Ulysses cries,)
Crown him with every joy, ye favouring skies
To thy calm hours continued peace afford,
And never, never mayst thou want this sword,"
He said, and o'er his shoulder flung the blade.
Now o'er the earth ascends the evening shade:
The precious gifts the illustrious heralds bear,
And to the court the embodied peers repair.
Before the queen Alcinous' sons unfold
The vests, the robes. and heaps of shining gold;
Then to the radiant thrones they move in state:
Aloft, the king in pomp imperial sate.
Thence to the queen: "O partner of our reign,
O sole beloved! command thy menial train
A polish'd chest and stately robes to bear,
And healing waters for the bath prepare;
That, bathed, our guest may bid his sorrows cease,
Hear the sweet song, and taste the feast in peace.
A bowl that flames with gold, of wondrous frame,
Ourself we give, memorial of our name;
To raise in offerings to almighty Jove,
And every god that treads the courts above."
Instant the queen, observant of the king,
Commands her train a spacious vase to bring,
The spacious vase with ample streams suffice,
Heap the high wood, and bid the flames arise.
The flames climb round it with a fierce embrace,
The fuming waters bubble o'er the blaze.
Herself the chest prepares; in order roll'd
The robes, the vests are ranged, and heaps of gold
And adding a rich dress inwrought with art,
A gift expressive of her bounteous heart.
Thus spoke to Ithacus: "To guard with bands
Insolvable these gifts, thy care demands;
Lest, in thy slumbers on the watery main,
The hand of rapine make our bounty vain."
Then bending with full force around he roll'd
A labyrinth of bands in fold on fold,
Closed with Circaean art. A train attends
Around the bath: the bath the king ascends
(Untasted joy, since that disastrous hour,
He sail'd ill-fated from Calypso's bower);
Where, happy as the gods that range the sky,
He feasted every sense with every joy.
He bathes; the damsels with officious toil,
Shed sweets, shed unguents, in a shower of oil;
Then o'er his limbs a gorgeous robe he spreads,
And to the feast magnificently treads.
Full where the dome its shining valves expands,
Nausicaa blooming as a goddess stands;
With wondering eyes the hero she survey'd,
And graceful thus began the royal maid:
"Hail, godlike stranger! and when heaven restores
To thy fond wish thy long-expected shores,
This ever grateful in remembrance bear:
To me thou owest, to me, the vital air."
"O royal maid! (Ulysses straight returns)
Whose worth the splendours of thy race adorns,
So may dread Jove (whose arm in vengeance forms
The writhen bolt, and blackens heaven with storms),
Restore me safe, through weary wanderings toss'd,
To my dear country's ever-pleasing coast,
As while the spirit in this bosom glows,
To thee, my goddess, I address my vows;
My life, thy gift I boast!" He said, and sate
Fast by Alcinous on a throne of state.
Now each partakes the feast, the wine prepares,
Portions the food, and each his portion shares.
The bard a herald guides; the gazing throng
Pay low obeisance as he moves along:
Beneath a sculptur'd arch he sits enthroned,
The peers encircling form an awful round.
Then, from the chine, Ulysses carves with art
Delicious food, an honorary part:
"This, let the master of the lyre receive,
A pledge of love! 'tis all a wretch can give.
Lives there a man beneath the spacious skies
Who sacred honours to the bard denies?
The Muse the bard inspires, exalts his mind;
The muse indulgent loves the harmonious kind."
The herald to his hand the charge conveys,
Not fond of flattery, nor unpleased with praise.
When now the rage of hunger was allay'd,
Thus to the lyrist wise Ulysses said:
"O more than man! thy soul the muse inspires,
Or Phoebus animates with all his fires;
For who, by Phoebus uninform'd, could know
The woe of Greece, and sing so well the woe?
Just to the tale, as present at the fray,
Or taught the labours of the dreadful day:
The song recalls past horrors to my eyes,
And bids proud Ilion from her ashes rise.
Once more harmonious strike the sounding string,
The Epaean fabric, framed by Pallas, sing:
How stern Ulysses, furious to destroy,
With latent heroes sack'd imperial Troy.
If faithful thou record the tale of Fame,
The god himself inspires thy breast with flame
And mine shall be the task henceforth to raise
In every land thy monument of praise."
Full of the god he raised his lofty strain:
How the Greeks rush'd tumultuous to the main;
How blazing tents illumined half the skies,
While from the shores the winged navy flies;
How e'en in Ilion's walls, in deathful bands,
Came the stern Greeks by Troy's assisting hands:
All Troy up-heaved the steed; of differing mind,
Various the Trojans counsell'd: part consign'd
The monster to the sword, part sentence gave
To plunge it headlong in the whelming wave;
The unwise award to lodge it in the towers,
An offering sacred to the immortal powers:
The unwise prevail, they lodge it in the walls,
And by the gods' decree proud Ilion falls:
Destruction enters in the treacherous wood,
And vengeful slaughter, fierce for human blood.
He sung the Greeks stern-issuing from the steed,
How Ilion burns, how all her fathers bleed;
How to thy dome, Deiphobus! ascends
The Spartan king; how Ithacus attends
(Horrid as Mars); and how with dire alarms
He fights--subdues, for Pallas strings his arms
Thus while he sung, Ulysses' griefs renew,
Tears bathe his cheeks, and tears the ground bedew
As some fond matron views in mortal fight
Her husband falling in his country's right;
Frantic through clashing swords she runs, she flies,
As ghastly pale he groans, and faints and dies;
Close to his breast she grovels on the ground,
And bathes with floods of tears the gaping wound;
She cries, she shrieks: the fierce insulting foe
Relentless mocks her violence of woe:
To chains condemn'd, as wildly she deplores;
A widow, and a slave on foreign shores.
So from the sluices of Ulysses' eyes
Fast fell the tears, and sighs succeeded sighs:
Conceal'd he grieved: the king observed alone
The silent tear, and heard the secret groan;
Then to the bard aloud: "O cease to sing,
Dumb be thy voice, and mute the tuneful string;
To every note his tears responsive flow,
And his great heart heaves with tumultuous woe;
Thy lay too deeply moves: then cease the lay,
And o'er the banquet every heart be gay:
This social right demands: for him the sails,
Floating in air, invite the impelling gales:
His are the gifts of love: the wise and good
Receive the stranger as a brother's blood.
"But, friend, discover faithful what I crave;
Artful concealment ill becomes the brave:
Say what thy birth, and what the name you bore,
Imposed by parents in the natal hour?
(For from the natal hour distinctive names,
One common right, the great and lowly claims:)
Say from what city, from what regions toss'd,
And what inhabitants those regions boast?
So shalt thou instant reach the realm assign'd,
In wondrous ships, self-moved, instinct with mind;
No helm secures their course, no pilot guides;
Like man intelligent, they plough the tides,
Conscious of every coast, and every bay,
That lies beneath the sun's all-seeing ray;
Though clouds and darkness veil the encumber'd sky,
Fearless through darkness and through clouds they fly;
Though tempests rage, though rolls the swelling main,
The seas may roll, the tempests rage in vain;
E'en the stern god that o'er the waves presides,
Safe as they pass, and safe repass the tides,
With fury burns; while careless they convey
Promiscuous every guest to every bay,
These ears have heard my royal sire disclose
A dreadful story, big with future woes;
How Neptune raged, and how, by his command,
Firm rooted in a surge a ship should stand
A monument of wrath; how mound on mound
Should bury these proud towers beneath the ground.
But this the gods may frustrate or fulfil,
As suits the purpose of the Eternal Will.
But say through what waste regions hast thou stray'd
What customs noted, and what coasts survey'd;
Possess'd by wild barbarians fierce in arms,
Or men whose bosom tender pity warms?
Say why the fate of Troy awaked thy cares,
Why heaved thy bosom, and why flowed thy tears?
Just are the ways of Heaven: from Heaven proceed
The woes of man; Heaven doom'd the Greeks to bleed,
A theme of future song! Say, then, if slain
Some dear-loved brother press'd the Phrygian plain?
Or bled some friend, who bore a brother's part,
And claim'd by merit, not by blood, the heart?"
THE ADVENTURES OF THE CICONS, LOTOPHAGI AND CYCLOPS
Ulysses begins the relation of his adventures: how, after the
destruction of Troy, he with his companions made an incursion on
the Cicons, by whom they were repulsed; and, meeting with a storm,
were driven to the coast of the Lotophagi. From there they sailed
to the land of the Cyclops, whose manners and situation are
particularly characterised. The giant Polyphemus and his cave
described; the usage Ulysses and his companions met with there;
and, lastly, the method and artifice by which he escaped.
Then thus Ulysses: "Thou whom first in sway,
As first in virtue, these thy realms obey;
How sweet the products of a peaceful reign!
The heaven-taught poet and enchanting strain;
The well-filled palace, the perpetual feast,
A land rejoicing, and a people bless'd!
How goodly seems it ever to employ
Man's social days in union and in joy;
The plenteous hoard high-heap'd with cates divine,
And o'er the foaming bowl the laughing wine!
"Amid these joys, why seels thy mind to know
The unhappy series of a wanderer's woe?
Rememberance sad, whose image to review,
Alas, I must open all my wounds anew!
And oh, what first, what last shall I relate,
Of woes unnumbered sent by Heaven and Fate?
"Know first the man (though now a wretch distress'd)
Who hopes thee, monarch, for his future guest.
Behold Ulysses! no ignoble name,
Earth sounds my wisdom and high heaven my fame.
"My native soil is Ithaca the fair,
Where high Neritus waves his woods in air;
Dulichium, Same and Zaccynthus crown'd
With shady mountains spread their isles around.
(These to the north and night's dark regions run,
Those to Aurora and the rising sun).
Low lies our isle, yet bless'd in fruitful stores;
Strong are her sons, though rocky are her shores;
And none, ah none no lovely to my sight,
Of all the lands that heaven o'erspreads with light.
In vain Calypso long constrained my stay,
With sweet, reluctant, amorous delay;
With all her charms as vainly Circe strove,
And added magic to secure my love.
In pomps or joys, the palace or the grot,
My country's image never was forgot;
My absent parents rose before my sight,
And distant lay contentment and delight.
"Hear, then, the woes which mighty Jove ordain'd
To wait my passage from the Trojan land.
The winds from Ilion to the Cicons' shore,
Beneath cold Ismarus our vessels bore.
We boldly landed on the hostile place,
And sack'd the city, and destroy'd the race,
Their wives made captive, their possessions shared,
And every soldier found a like reward
I then advised to fly; not so the rest,
Who stay'd to revel, and prolong the feast:
The fatted sheep and sable bulls they slay,
And bowls flow round, and riot wastes the day.
Meantime the Cicons, to their holds retired,
Call on the Cicons, with new fury fired;
With early morn the gather'd country swarms,
And all the continent is bright with arms;
Thick as the budding leaves or rising flowers
O'erspread the land, when spring descends in showers:
All expert soldiers, skill'd on foot to dare,
Or from the bounding courser urge the war.
Now fortune changes (so the Fates ordain);
Our hour was come to taste our share of pain.
Close at the ships the bloody fight began,
Wounded they wound, and man expires on man.
Long as the morning sun increasing bright
O'er heaven's pure azure spreads the glowing light,
Promiscuous death the form of war confounds,
Each adverse battle gored with equal wounds;
But when his evening wheels o'erhung the main,
Then conquest crown'd the fierce Ciconian train.
Six brave companions from each ship we lost,
The rest escape in haste, and quit the coast,
With sails outspread we fly the unequal strife,
Sad for their loss, but joyful of our life.
Yet as we fled, our fellows' rites we paid,
And thrice we call'd on each unhappy shade,
"Meanwhile the god, whose hand the thunder forms,
Drives clouds on clouds, and blackens heaven with storms:
Wide o'er the waste the rage of Boreas sweeps,
And night rush'd headlong on the shaded deeps.
Now here, now there, the giddy ships are borne,
And all the rattling shrouds in fragments torn.
We furl'd the sail, we plied the labouring oar,
Took down our masts, and row'd our ships to shore.
Two tedious days and two long nights we lay,
O'erwatch'd and batter'd in the naked bay.
But the third morning when Aurora brings,
We rear the masts, we spread the canvas wings;
Refresh'd and careless on the deck reclined,
We sit, and trust the pilot and the wind.
Then to my native country had I sail'd:
But, the cape doubled, adverse winds prevail'd.
Strong was the tide, which by the northern blast
Impell'd, our vessels on Cythera cast,
Nine days our fleet the uncertain tempest bore
Far in wide ocean, and from sight of shore:
The tenth we touch'd, by various errors toss'd,
The land of Lotus and the flowery coast.
We climb'd the beach, and springs of water found,
Then spread our hasty banquet on the ground.
Three men were sent, deputed from the crew
(A herald one) the dubious coast to view,
And learn what habitants possess'd the place.
They went, and found a hospitable race:
Not prone to ill, nor strange to foreign guest,
They eat, they drink, and nature gives the feast
The trees around them all their food produce:
Lotus the name: divine, nectareous juice!
(Thence call'd Lo'ophagi); which whose tastes,
Insatiate riots in the sweet repasts,
Nor other home, nor other care intends,
But quits his house, his country, and his friends.
The three we sent, from off the enchanting ground
We dragg'd reluctant, and by force we bound.
The rest in haste forsook the pleasing shore,
Or, the charm tasted, had return'd no more.
Now placed in order on their banks, they sweep
The sea's smooth face, and cleave the hoary deep:
With heavy hearts we labour through the tide,
To coasts unknown, and oceans yet untried.
"The land of Cyclops first, a savage kind,
Nor tamed by manners, nor by laws confined:
Untaught to plant, to turn the glebe, and sow,
They all their products to free nature owe:
The soil, untill'd, a ready harvest yields,
With wheat and barley wave the golden fields;
Spontaneous wines from weighty clusters pour,
And Jove descends in each prolific shower,
By these no statues and no rights are known,
No council held, no monarch fills the throne;
But high on hills, or airy cliffs, they dwell,
Or deep in caves whose entrance leads to hell.
Each rules his race, his neighbour not his care,
Heedless of others, to his own severe.
"Opposed to the Cyclopean coast, there lay
An isle, whose hill their subject fields survey;
Its name Lachaea, crown'd with many a grove,
Where savage goats through pathless thickets rove:
No needy mortals here, with hunger bold,
Or wretched hunters through the wintry cold
Pursue their flight; but leave them safe to bound
From hill to hill, o'er all the desert ground.
Nor knows the soil to feed the fleecy care,
Or feels the labours of the crooked share;
But uninhabited, untill'd, unsown,
It lies, and breeds the bleating goat alone.
For there no vessel with vermilion prore,
Or bark of traffic, glides from shore to shore;
The rugged race of savages, unskill'd
The seas to traverse, or the ships to build,
Gaze on the coast, nor cultivate the soil,
Unlearn'd in all the industrious art of toil,
Yet here all produces and all plants abound,
Sprung from the fruitful genius of the ground;
Fields waving high with heavy crops are seen,
And vines that flourish in eternal green,
Refreshing meads along the murmuring main,
And fountains streaming down the fruitful plain.
"A port there is, inclosed on either side,
Where ships may rest, unanchor'd and untied;
Till the glad mariners incline to sail,
And the sea whitens with the rising gale,
High at the head, from out the cavern'd rock,
In living rills a gushing fountain broke:
Around it, and above, for ever green,
The busy alders form'd a shady scene;
Hither some favouring god, beyond our thought,
Through all surrounding shade our navy brought;
For gloomy night descended on the main,
Nor glimmer'd Phoebe in the ethereal plain:
But all unseen the clouded island lay,
And all unseen the surge and rolling sea,
Till safe we anchor'd in the shelter'd bay:
Our sails we gather'd, cast our cables o'er,
And slept secure along the sandy shore.
Soon as again the rosy morning shone,
Reveal'd the landscape and the scene unknown,
With wonder seized, we view the pleasing ground,
And walk delighted, and expatiate round.
Roused by the woodland nymphs at early dawn,
The mountain goats came bounding o'er the lawn:
In haste our fellows to the ships repair,
For arms and weapons of the sylvan war;
Straight in three squadrons all our crew we part,
And bend the bow, or wing the missile dart;
The bounteous gods afford a copious prey,
And nine fat goats each vessel bears away:
The royal bark had ten. Our ships complete
We thus supplied (for twelve were all the fleet).
"Here, till the setting sun roll'd down the light,
We sat indulging in the genial rite:
Nor wines were wanting; those from ample jars
We drain'd, the prize of our Ciconian wars.
The land of Cyclops lay in prospect near:
The voice of goats and bleating flocks we hear,
And from their mountains rising smokes appear.
Now sunk the sun, and darkness cover'd o'er
The face of things: along the sea-beat shore
Satiate we slept: but, when the sacred dawn
Arising glitter'd o'er the dewy lawn,
I call'd my fellows, and these words address'd
'My dear associates, here indulge your rest;
While, with my single ship, adventurous, I
Go forth, the manners of you men to try;
Whether a race unjust, of barbarous might,
Rude and unconscious of a stranger's right;
Or such who harbour pity in their breast,
Revere the gods, and succour the distress'd,'
"This said, I climb'd my vessel's lofty side;
My train obey'd me, and the ship untied.
In order seated on their banks, they sweep
Neptune's smooth face, and cleave the yielding deep.
When to the nearest verge of land we drew,
Fast by the sea a lonely cave we view,
High, and with darkening laurels covered o'er;
Were sheep and goats lay slumbering round the shore
Near this, a fence of marble from the rock,
Brown with o'eraching pine and spreading oak.
A giant shepherd here his flock maintains
Far from the rest, and solitary reigns,
In shelter thick of horrid shade reclined;
And gloomy mischiefs labour in his mind.
A form enormous! far unlike the race
Of human birth, in stature, or in face;
As some lone mountain's monstrous growth he stood,
Crown'd with rough thickets, and a nodding wood.
I left my vessel at the point of land,
And close to guard it, gave our crew command:
With only twelve, the boldest and the best,
I seek the adventure, and forsake the rest.
Then took a goatskin fill'd with precious wine,
The gift of Maron of Evantheus' line
(The priest of Phoebus at the Ismarian shrine).
In sacred shade his honour'd mansion stood
Amidst Apollo's consecrated wood;
Him, and his house, Heaven moved my mind to save,
And costly presents in return he gave;
Seven golden talents to perfection wrought,
A silver bowl that held a copious draught,
And twelve large vessels of unmingled wine,
Mellifluous, undecaying, and divine!
Which now, some ages from his race conceal'd,
The hoary sire in gratitude reveal'd.
Such was the wine: to quench whose fervent steam
Scarce twenty measures from the living stream
To cool one cup sufficed: the goblet crown'd
Breathed aromatic fragrances around.
Of this an ample vase we heaved aboard,
And brought another with provisions stored.
My soul foreboded I should find the bower
Of some fell monster, fierce with barbarous power;
Some rustic wretch, who lived in Heaven's despite,
Contemning laws, and trampling on the right.
The cave we found, but vacant all within
(His flock the giant tended on the green):
But round the grot we gaze; and all we view,
In order ranged our admiration drew:
The bending shelves with loads of cheeses press'd,
The folded flocks each separate from the rest
(The larger here, and there the lesser lambs,
The new-fallen young here bleating for their dams:
The kid distinguish'd from the lambkin lies);
The cavern echoes with responsive cries.
Capacious chargers all around were laid.
Full pails, and vessels of the milking trade.
With fresh provisions hence our fleet to store
My friends advise me, and to quit the shore.
Or drive a flock of sheep and goats away,
Consult our safety, and put off to sea.
Their wholesome counsel rashly I declined,
Curious to view the man of monstrous kind,
And try what social rites a savage lends:
Dire rites, alas! and fatal to my friends
"Then first a fire we kindle, and prepare
For his return with sacrifice and prayer;
The loaden shelves afford us full repast;
We sit expecting. Lo! he comes at last,
Near half a forest on his back he bore,
And cast the ponderous burden at the door.
It thunder'd as it fell. We trembled then,
And sought the deep recesses of the den.
New driven before him through the arching rock,
Came tumbling, heaps on heaps, the unnumber'd flock.
Big-udder'd ewes, and goats of female kind
(The males were penn'd in outward courts behind);
Then, heaved on high, a rock's enormous weight
To the cave's mouth he roll'd, and closed the gate
(Scarce twenty four-wheel'd cars, compact and strong,
The massy load could bear, or roll along).
He next betakes him to his evening cares,
And, sitting down, to milk his flocks prepares;
Of half their udders eases first the dams,
Then to the mother's teat submits the lambs;
Half the white stream to hardening cheese be press'd,
And high in wicker-baskets heap'd: the rest,
Reserved in bowls, supplied his nightly feast.
His labour done, he fired the pile, that gave
A sudden blaze, and lighted all the cave.
We stand discover'd by the rising fires;
Askance the giant glares, and thus inquires:
"'What are ye, guests? on what adventure, say,
Thus far ye wander through the watery way?
Pirates perhaps, who seek through seas unknown
The lives of others, and expose your own?'
"His voice like thunder through the cavern sounds;
My bold companions thrilling fear confounds,
Appall'd at sight of more than mortal man!
At length, with heart recover'd, I began:
"'From Troy's famed fields, sad wanderers o'er the main,
Behold the relics of the Grecian train:
Through various seas, by various perils toss'd,
And forced by storms, unwilling on your coast;
Far from our destined course and native land,
Such was our fate, and such high Jove's command!
Nor what we are befits us to disclaim,
Atrides' friends (in arms a mighty name),
Who taught proud Troy and all her sons to bow;
Victors of late, but humble suppliants now!
Low at thy knee thy succour we implore;
Respect us, human, and relieve us, poor.
At least, some hospitable gift bestow;
'Tis what the happy to the unhappy owe;
'Tis what the gods require: those gods revere;
The poor and stranger are their constant care;
To Jove their cause, and their revenge belongs,
He wanders with them, and he feels their wrongs."
"'Fools that ye are (the savage thus replies,
His inward fury blazing at his eyes),
Or strangers, distant far from our abodes,
To bid me reverence or regard the gods.
Know then, we Cyclops are a race above
Those air-bred people, and their goat-nursed Jove;
And learn, our power proceeds with thee and thine,
Not as he wills, but as ourselves incline.
But answer, the good ship that brought ye o'er,
Where lies she anchor'd? near or off the shore?'
"Thus he. His meditated fraud I find
(Versed in the turns of various human-kind):
And, cautious thus: 'Against a dreadful rock,
Fast by your shore the gallant vessel broke.
Scarce with these few I 'scaped; of all my train,
Whom angry Neptune, whelm'd beneath the main,
The scattered wreck the winds blew back again.'
"He answer'd with his deed: his bloody hand
Snatch'd two, unhappy! of my martial band;
And dash'd like dogs against the stony floor:
The pavement swims with brains and mingled gore.
Torn limb from limb, he spreads his horrid feast,
And fierce devours it like a mountain beast:
He sucks the marrow, and the blood he drains,
Nor entrails, flesh, nor solid bone remains.
We see the death from which we cannot move,
And humbled groan beneath the hand of Jove.
His ample maw with human carnage fill'd,
A milky deluge next the giant swill'd;
Then stretch'd in length o'er half the cavern'd rock,
Lay senseless, and supine, amidst the flock.
To seize the time, and with a sudden wound
To fix the slumbering monster to the ground,
My soul impels me! and in act I stand
To draw the sword; but wisdom held my hand.
A deed so rash had finished all our fate,
No mortal forces from the lofty gate
Could roll the rock. In hopeless grief we lay,
And sigh, expecting the return of day.
Now did the rosy-fingered morn arise,
And shed her sacred light along the skies;
He wakes, he lights the fire, he milks the dams,
And to the mother's teats submits the lambs.
The task thus finish'd of his morning hours,
Two more he snatches, murders, and devours.
Then pleased, and whistling, drives his flock before,
Removes the rocky mountain from the door,
And shuts again: with equal ease disposed,
As a light quiver's lid is oped and closed.
His giant voice the echoing region fills:
His flocks, obedient, spread o'er all the hills.
"Thus left behind, even in the last despair
I thought, devised, and Pallas heard my prayer.
Revenge, and doubt, and caution, work'd my breast;
But this of many counsels seem'd the best:
The monster's club within the cave I spied,
A tree of stateliest growth, and yet undried,
Green from the wood: of height and bulk so vast,
The largest ship might claim it for a mast.
This shorten'd of its top, I gave my train
A fathom's length, to shape it and to plane;
The narrower end I sharpen'd to a spire,
Whose point we harden'd with the force of fire,
And hid it in the dust that strew'd the cave,
Then to my few companions, bold and brave,
Proposed, who first the venturous deed should try,
In the broad orbit of his monstrous eye
To plunge the brand and twirl the pointed wood,
When slumber next should tame the man of blood.
Just as I wished, the lots were cast on four:
Myself the fifth. We stand and wait the hour.
He comes with evening: all his fleecy flock
Before him march, and pour into the rock:
Not one, or male or female, stayed behind
(So fortune chanced, or so some god designed);
Then heaving high the stone's unwieldy weight,
He roll'd it on the cave and closed the gate.
First down he sits, to milk the woolly dams,
And then permits their udder to the lambs.
Next seized two wretches more, and headlong cast,
Brain'd on the rock; his second dire repast.
I then approach'd him reeking with their gore,
And held the brimming goblet foaming o'er;
'Cyclop! since human flesh has been thy feast,
Now drain this goblet, potent to digest;
Know hence what treasures in our ship we lost,
And what rich liquors other climates boast.
We to thy shore the precious freight shall bear,
If home thou send us and vouchsafe to spare.
But oh! thus furious, thirsting thus for gore,
The sons of men shall ne'er approach thy shore,
And never shalt thou taste this nectar more,'
"He heard, he took, and pouring down his throat,
Delighted, swill'd the large luxurious draught,
'More! give me more (he cried): the boon be thine,
Whoe'er thou art that bear'st celestial wine!
Declare thy name: not mortal is this juice,
Such as the unbless'd Cyclopaean climes produce
(Though sure our vine the largest cluster yields,
And Jove's scorn'd thunder serves to drench our fields);
But this descended from the bless'd abodes,
A rill of nectar, streaming from the gods.'
"He said, and greedy grasped the heady bowl,
Thrice drained, and poured the deluge on his soul.
His sense lay covered with the dozy fume;
While thus my fraudful speech I reassume.
'Thy promised boon, O Cyclop! now I claim,
And plead my title; Noman is my name.
By that distinguish'd from my tender years,
'Tis what my parents call me, and my peers.
"The giant then: 'Our promis'd grace receive,
The hospitable boon we mean to give:
When all thy wretched crew have felt my power,
Noman shall be the last I will devour.'
"He said: then nodding with the fumes of wine
Droop'd his huge head, and snoring lay supine.
His neck obliquely o'er his shoulders hung,
Press'd with the weight of sleep that tames the strong:
There belch'd the mingled streams of wine and blood,
And human flesh, his indigested food.
Sudden I stir the embers, and inspire
With animating breath the seeds of fire:
Each drooping spirit with bold words repair,
And urged my train the dreadful deed to dare.
The stake now glow'd beneath the burning bed
(Green as it was) and sparkled fiery red,
Then forth the vengeful instrument I bring;
With beating hearts my fellows form a ring.
Urged my some present god, they swift let fall
The pointed torment on his visual ball.
Myself above them from a rising ground
Guide the sharp stake, and twirl it round and round.
As when a shipwright stands his workmen o'er,
Who ply the wimble, some huge beam to bore;
Urged on all hands, it nimbly spins about,
The grain deep-piercing till it scoops it out:
In his broad eye he whirls the fiery wood;
From the pierced pupil spouts the boiling blood;
Singed are his brows; the scorching lids grow black;
The jelly bubbles, and the fibres crack.
And as when armourers temper in the ford
The keen-edged pole-axe, or the shining sword,
The red-hot metal hisses in the lake,
Thus in his eye-ball hiss'd the plunging stake.
He sends a dreadful groan, the rocks around
Through all their inmost winding caves resound.
Scared we recoiled. Forth with frantic hand,
He tore and dash'd on earth and gory brand;
Then calls the Cyclops, all that round him dwell,
With voice like thunder, and a direful yell.
From all their dens the one-eyed race repair,
From rifted rocks, and mountains bleak in air.
All haste assembled, at his well-known roar,
Inquire the cause, and crowd the cavern door.
"'What hurts thee, Polypheme? what strange affright
Thus breaks our slumbers, and disturbs the night?
Does any mortal, in the unguarded hour
Of sleep, oppress thee, or by fraud or power?
Or thieves insidious thy fair flock surprise?'
Thus they; the Cyclop from his den replies:
"'Friends, Noman kills me; Noman in the hour
Of sleep, oppresses me with fraudful power.'
'If no man hurt thee, but the hand divine
Inflict disease, it fits thee to resign:
To Jove or to thy father Neptune pray.'
The brethren cried, and instant strode away.
"Joy touch'd my secret soul and conscious heart,
Pleased with the effect of conduct and of art.
Meantime the Cyclop, raging with his wound,
Spreads his wide arms, and searches round and round:
At last, the stone removing from the gate,
With hands extended in the midst he sate;
And search'd each passing sheep, and fell it o'er,
Secure to seize us ere we reach'd the door
(Such as his shallow wit he deem'd was mine);
But secret I revolved the deep design:
'Twas for our lives my labouring bosom wrought;
Each scheme I turn'd, and sharpen'd every thought;
This way and that I cast to save my friends,
Till one resolve my varying counsel ends.
"Strong were the rams, with native purple fair,
Well fed, and largest of the fleecy care,
These, three and three, with osier bands we tied
(The twining bands the Cyclop's bed supplied);
The midmost bore a man, the outward two
Secured each side: so bound we all the crew,
One ram remain'd, the leader of the flock:
In his deep fleece my grasping hands I lock,
And fast beneath, in wooly curls inwove,
There cling implicit, and confide in Jove.
When rosy morning glimmer'd o'er the dales,
He drove to pasture all the lusty males:
The ewes still folded, with distended thighs
Unmilk'd lay bleating in distressful cries.
But heedless of those cares, with anguish stung,
He felt their fleeces as they pass'd along
(Fool that he was.) and let them safely go,
All unsuspecting of their freight below.
"The master ram at last approach'd the gate,
Charged with his wool, and with Ulysses' fate.
Him while he pass'd, the monster blind bespoke:
'What makes my ram the lag of all the flock?
First thou wert wont to crop the flowery mead,
First to the field and river's bank to lead,
And first with stately step at evening hour
Thy fleecy fellows usher to their bower.
Now far the last, with pensive pace and slow
Thou movest, as conscious of thy master's woe!
Seest thou these lids that now unfold in vain?
(The deed of Noman and his wicked train!)
Oh! did'st thou feel for thy afflicted lord,
And would but Fate the power of speech afford.
Soon might'st thou tell me, where in secret here
The dastard lurks, all trembling with his fear:
Swung round and round, and dash'd from rock to rock,
His battered brains should on the pavement smoke
No ease, no pleasure my sad heart receives,
While such a monster as vile Noman lives.'
"The giant spoke, and through the hollow rock
Dismiss'd the ram, the father of the flock.
No sooner freed, and through the inclosure pass'd,
First I release myself, my fellows last:
Fat sheep and goats in throngs we drive before,
And reach our vessel on the winding shore.
With joy the sailors view their friends return'd,
And hail us living whom as dead they mourn'd
Big tears of transport stand in every eye:
I check their fondness, and command to fly.
Aboard in haste they heave the wealthy sheep,
And snatch their oars, and rush into the deep.
"Now off at sea, and from the shallows clear,
As far as human voice could reach the ear,
With taunts the distant giant I accost:
'Hear me, O Cyclop! hear, ungracious host!
'Twas on no coward, no ignoble slave,
Thou meditatest thy meal in yonder cave;
But one, the vengeance fated from above
Doom'd to inflict; the instrument of Jove.
Thy barbarous breach of hospitable bands,
The god, the god revenges by my hands.'
"These words the Cyclop's burning rage provoke;
From the tall hill he rends a pointed rock;
High o'er the billows flew the massy load,
And near the ship came thundering on the flood.
It almost brush'd the helm, and fell before:
The whole sea shook, and refluent beat the shore,
The strong concussion on the heaving tide
Roll'd back the vessel to the island's side:
Again I shoved her off: our fate to fly,
Each nerve we stretch, and every oar we ply.
Just 'scaped impending death, when now again
We twice as far had furrow'd back the main,
Once more I raise my voice; my friends, afraid,
With mild entreaties my design dissuade:
'What boots the godless giant to provoke,
Whose arm may sink us at a single stroke?
Already when the dreadful rock he threw,
Old Ocean shook, and back his surges flew.
The sounding voice directs his aim again;
The rock o'erwhelms us, and we 'scaped in vain.'
"But I, of mind elate, and scorning fear,
Thus with new taunts insult the monster's ear:
'Cyclop! if any, pitying thy disgrace.
Ask, who disfigured thus that eyeless face?
Say 'twas Ulysses: 'twas his deed declare,
Laertes' son, of Ithaca the fair;
Ulysses, far in fighting fields renown'd,
Before whose arm Troy tumbled to the ground.'
"The astonished savage with a roar replies:
'Oh heavens! oh faith of ancient prophecies!
This, Telemus Eurymedes foretold
(The mighty seer who on these hills grew old;
Skill'd the dark fates of mortals to declare,
And learn'd in all wing'd omens of the air);
Long since he menaced, such was Fate's command;
And named Ulysses as the destined hand.
I deem'd some godlike giant to behold,
Or lofty hero, haughty, brave, and bold;
Not this weak pigmy wretch, of mean design,
Who, not by strength subdued me, but by wine.
But come, accept our gifts, and join to pray
Great Neptune's blessing on the watery way;
For his I am, and I the lineage own;
The immortal father no less boasts the son.
His power can heal me, and relight my eye;
And only his, of all the gods on high.'
"'Oh! could this arm (I thus aloud rejoin'd)
From that vast bulk dislodge thy bloody mind,
And send thee howling to the realms of night!
As sure as Neptune cannot give thee sight.'
"Thus I; while raging he repeats his cries,
With hands uplifted to the starry skies?
'Hear me, O Neptune; thou whose arms are hurl'd
From shore to shore, and gird the solid world;
If thine I am, nor thou my birth disown,
And if the unhappy Cyclop be thy son,
Let not Ulysses breathe his native air,
Laertes' son, of Ithaca the fair.
If to review his country be his fate,
Be it through toils and sufferings long and late;
His lost companions let him first deplore;
Some vessel, not his own, transport him o'er;
And when at home from foreign sufferings freed,
More near and deep, domestic woes succeed!'
With imprecations thus he fill'd the air,
And angry Neptune heard the unrighteous prayer,
A larger rock then heaving from the plain,
He whirl'd it round: it sung across the main;
It fell, and brush'd the stern: the billows roar,
Shake at the weight, and refluent beat the shore.
With all our force we kept aloof to sea,
And gain'd the island where our vessels lay.
Our sight the whole collected navy cheer'd.
Who, waiting long, by turns had hoped and fear'd.
There disembarking on the green sea side,
We land our cattle, and the spoil divide;
Of these due shares to every sailor fall;
The master ram was voted mine by all;
And him (the guardian of Ulysses' fate)
With pious mind to heaven I consecrate.
But the great god, whose thunder rends the skies,
Averse, beholds the smoking sacrifice;
And sees me wandering still from coast to coast,
And all my vessels, all my people, lost!
While thoughtless we indulge the genial rite,
As plenteous cates and flowing bowls invite;
Till evening Phoebus roll'd away the light;
Stretch'd on the shore in careless ease we rest,
Till ruddy morning purpled o'er the east;
Then from their anchors all our ships unbind,
And mount the decks, and call the willing wind.
Now, ranged in order on our banks we sweep.
With hasty strokes the hoarse-resounding deep;
Blind to the future, pensive with our fears,
Glad for the living, for the dead in tears."
ADVENTURES WITH AEOLUS, THE LAESTRYGONS, AND CIRCE.
Ulysses arrives at the island of AEolus, who gives him prosperous
winds, and incloses the adverse ones in a bag, which his
companions untying, they are driven back again and rejected.
Then they sail to the Laestrygons, where they lose eleven ships,
and, with only one remaining, proceed to the island of Circe.
Eurylochus is sent first with some companions, all which, except
Eurylochus, are transformed into swine. Ulysses then undertakes
the adventure, and, by the help of Mercury, who gives him the herb
Moly, overcomes the enchantress, and procures the restoration of
his men. After a year's stay with her, he prepares, at her
instigation, for his voyage to the infernal shades.
"AT length we reach'd AEolias's sea-girt shore,
Where great Hippotades the sceptre bore,
A floating isle! high-raised by toil divine,
Strong walls of brass the rocky coast confine.
Six blooming youths, in private grandeur bred,
And six fair daughters, graced the royal bed;
These sons their sisters wed, and all remain
Their parents' pride, and pleasure of their reign.
All day they feast, all day the bowls flow round,
And joy and music through the isle resound;
At night each pair on splendid carpets lay,
And crown'd with love the pleasures of the day.
This happy port affords our wandering fleet
A month's reception, and a safe retreat.
Full oft the monarch urged me to relate
The fall of Ilion, and the Grecian fate;
Full oft I told: at length for parting moved;
The king with mighty gifts my suit approved.
The adverse winds in leathern bags he braced,
Compress'd their force, and lock'd each struggling blast.
For him the mighty sire of gods assign'd
The tempest's lood, the tyrant of the wind;
His word alone the listening storms obey,
To smooth the deep, or swell the foamy sea.
These in my hollow ship the monarch hung,
Securely fetter'd by a silver thong:
But Zephyrus exempt, with friendly gales
He charged to fill, and guide the swelling sails:
Rare gift! but O, what gift to fools avails!
"Nine prosperous days we plied the labouring oar;
The tenth presents our welcome native shore:
The hills display the beacon's friendly light,
And rising mountains gain upon our sight.
Then first my eyes, by watchful toils oppress'd,
Complied to take the balmy gifts of rest:
Then first my hands did from the rudder part
(So much the love of home possess'd my heart):
When lo! on board a fond debate arose;
What rare device those vessels might inclose?
What sum, what prize from AEolus I brought?
Whilst to his neighbour each express'd his thought:
"'Say, whence ye gods, contending nations strive
Who most shall please, who most our hero give?
Long have his coffers groan'd with Trojan spoils:
Whilst we, the wretched partners of his toils,
Reproach'd by want, our fruitless labours mourn,
And only rich in barren fame return.
Now AEolus, ye see, augments his store:
But come, my friends, these mystic gifts explore,'
They said: and (oh cursed fate!) the thongs unbound!
The gushing tempest sweeps the ocean round;
Snatch'd in the whirl, the hurried navy flew,
The ocean widen'd and the shores withdrew.
Roused from my fatal sleep I long debate
If still to live, or desperate plunge to fate;
Thus doubting, prostrate on the deck I lay,
Till all the coward thoughts of death gave way.
"Meanwhile our vessels plough the liquid plain,
And soon the known AEolian coast regain;
Our groan the rocks remurmur'd to the main.
We leap'd on shore, and with a scanty feast
Our thirst and hunger hastily repress'd;
That done, two chosen heralds straight attend
Our second progress to my royal friend;
And him amidst his jovial sons we found;
The banquet steaming, and the goblets crown'd;
There humbly stoop'd with conscious shame and awe,
Nor nearer than the gate presumed to draw.
But soon his sons their well-known guest descried,
And starting from their couches loudly cried:
'Ulysses here! what demon could'st thou meet
To thwart thy passage, and repel thy fleet?
Wast thou not furnish'd by our choicest care
For Greece, for home and all thy soul held dear?'
Thus they, In silence long my fate I mourn'd;
At length these words with accents low return'd:
`Me, lock'd in sleep, my faithless crew bereft
Of all the blessing of your godlike gift!
But grant, oh grant, our loss we may retrieve;
A favour you, and you alone can give.'
"Thus I with art to move their pity tried,
And touch'd the youths; but their stern sire replied:
'Vile wretch, begone! this instant I command
Thy fleet accursed to leave our hallow'd land.
His baneful suit pollutes these bless'd abodes,
Whose fate proclaims him hateful to the gods.'
"Thus fierce he said: we sighing went our way,
And with desponding hearts put off to sea.
The sailors spent with toils their folly mourn,
But mourn in vain; no prospect of return
Six days and nights a doubtful course we steer,
The next proud Lamos' stately towers appear,
And Laestrygonia's gates arise distinct in air.
The shepherd, quitting here at night the plain,
Calls, to succeed his cares, the watchful swain;
But he that scorns the chains of sleep to wear,
And adds the herdsman's to the shepherd's care,
So near the pastures, and so short the way,
His double toils may claim a double pay,
And join the labours of the night and day.
"Within a long recess a bay there lies,
Edged round with cliffs high pointing to the skies;
The jutting shores that swell on either side
Contract its mouth, and break the rushing tide.
Our eager sailors seize the fair retreat,
And bound within the port their crowded fleet:
For here retired the sinking billows sleep,
And smiling calmness silver'd o'er the deep.
I only in the bay refused to moor,
And fix'd without, my halsers to the shore.
"From thence we climb'd a point, whose airy brow
Commands the prospect of the plains below;
No tracks of beasts, or signs of men, we found,
But smoky volumes rolling from the ground.
Two with our herald thither we command,
With speed to learn what men possess'd the land.
They went, and kept the wheel's smooth-beaten road
Which to the city drew the mountain wood;
When lo! they met, beside a crystal spring,
The daughter of Antiphates the king;
She to Artacia's silver streams came down;
(Artacia's streams alone supply the town);
The damsel they approach, and ask'd what race
The people were? who monarch of the place?
With joy the maid the unwary strangers heard
And show'd them where the royal dome appear'd.
They went; but as they entering saw the queen
Of size enormous, and terrific mien
(Not yielding to some bulky mountain's height),
A sudden horror struck their aching sight.
Swift at her call her husband scour'd away
To wreak his hunger on the destined prey;
One for his food the raging glutton slew,
But two rush'd out, and to the navy flew.
"Balk'd of his prey, the yelling monster flies,
And fills the city with his hideous cries;
A ghastly band of giants hear the roar,
And, pouring down the mountains, crowd the shore.
Fragments they rend from off the craggy brow
And dash the ruins on the ships below;
The crackling vessels burst; hoarse groans arise,
And mingled horrors echo to the skies;
The men like fish, they struck upon the flood,
And cramm'd their filthy throats with human food.
Whilst thus their fury rages at the bay,
My sword our cables cut, I call'd to weigh;
And charged my men, as they from fate would fly,
Each nerve to strain, each bending oar to ply.
The sailors catch the word, their oars they seize,
And sweep with equal strokes the smoky seas;
Clear of the rocks the impatient vessel flies;
Whilst in the port each wretch encumber'd dies.
With earnest haste my frighted sailors press,
While kindling transports glow'd at our success;
But the sad fate that did our friends destroy,
Cool'd every breast, and damp'd the rising joy.
"Now dropp'd our anchors in the Aeaean bay,
Where Circe dwelt, the daughter of the Day!
Her mother Perse, of old Ocean's strain,
Thus from the Lun descended, and the Main
(From the same lineage stern Aeaetes came,
The far-famed brother of the enchantress dame);
Goddess, the queen, to whom the powers belong
Of dreadful magic and commanding song.
Some god directing to this peaceful bay
Silent we came, and melancholy lay,
Spent and o'erwatch'd. Two days and nights roll'd on,
And now the third succeeding morning shone.
I climb'd a cliff, with spear and sword in hand,
Whose ridge o'erlook'd a shady length of land;
To learn if aught of mortal works appear,
Or cheerful voice of mortal strike the ear?
From the high point I mark'd, in distant view,
A stream of curling smoke ascending blue,
And spiry tops, the tufted trees above,
Of Circe's palace bosom'd in the grove.
"Thither to haste, the region to explore,
Was first my thought: but speeding back to shore
I deem'd it best to visit first my crew,
And send our spies the dubious coast to view.
As down the hill I solitary go,
Some power divine, who pities human woe,
Sent a tall stag, descending from the wood,
To cool his fervour in the crystal flood;
Luxuriant on the wave-worn bank he lay,
Stretch'd forth and panting in the sunny ray.
I launch'd my spear, and with a sudden wound
Transpierced his back, and fix'd him to the ground.
He falls, and mourns his fate with human cries:
Through the wide wound the vital spirit flies.
I drew, and casting on the river's side
The bloody spear, his gather'd feet I tied
With twining osiers which the bank supplied.
An ell in length the pliant wisp I weaved,
And the huge body on my shoulders heaved:
Then leaning on my spear with both my hands,
Upbore my load, and press'd the sinking sands
With weighty steps, till at the ship I threw
The welcome burden, and bespoke my crew:
"'Cheer up, my friends! it is not yet our fate
To glide with ghosts through Pluto's gloomy gate.
Food in the desert land, behold! is given!
Live, and enjoy the providence of heaven.'
"The joyful crew survey his mighty size,
And on the future banquet feast their eyes,
As huge in length extended lay the beast;
Then wash their hands, and hasten to the feast.
There, till the setting sun roll'd down the light,
They sate indulging in the genial rite.
When evening rose, and darkness cover'd o'er
The face of things, we slept along the shore.
But when the rosy morning warm'd the east,
My men I summon'd, and these words address'd:
"'Followers and friends, attend what I propose:
Ye sad companions of Ulysses' woes!
We know not here what land before us lies,
Or to what quarter now we turn our eyes,
Or where the sun shall set, or where shall rise.
Here let us think (if thinking be not vain)
If any counsel, any hope remain.
Alas! from yonder promontory's brow
I view'd the coast, a region flat and low;
An isle encircled with the boundless flood;
A length of thickets, and entangled wood.
Some smoke I saw amid the forest rise,
And all around it only seas and skies!'
"With broken hearts my sad companions stood,
Mindful of Cyclops and his human food,
And horrid Laestrygons, the men of blood.
Presaging tears apace began to rain;
But tears in mortal miseries are vain.
In equal parts I straight divide my band,
And name a chief each party to command;
I led the one, and of the other side
Appointed brave Eurylochus the guide.
Then in the brazen helm the lots we throw,
And fortune casts Eurylochus to go;
He march'd with twice eleven in his train;
Pensive they march, and pensive we remain.
"The palace in a woody vale they found,
High raised of stone; a shaded space around;
Where mountain wolves and brindled lions roam,
(By magic tamed,) familiar to the dome.
With gentle blandishment our men they meet,
And wag their tails, and fawning lick their feet.
As from some feast a man returning late,
His faithful dogs all meet him at the gate,
Rejoicing round, some morsel to receive,
(Such as the good man ever used to give,)
Domestic thus the grisly beasts drew near;
They gaze with wonder not unmix'd with fear.
Now on the threshold of the dome they stood,
And heard a voice resounding through the wood:
Placed at her loom within, the goddess sung;
The vaulted roofs and solid pavement rung.
O'er the fair web the rising figures shine,
Immortal labour! worthy hands divine.
Polites to the rest the question moved
(A gallant leader, and a man I loved):
"'What voice celestial, chanting to the loom
(Or nymph, or goddess), echoes from the room?
Say, shall we seek access?' With that they call;
And wide unfold the portals of the hall.
"The goddess, rising, asks her guests to stay,
Who blindly follow where she leads the way.
Eurylochus alone of all the band,
Suspecting fraud, more prudently remain'd.
On thrones around with downy coverings graced,
With semblance fair, the unhappy men she placed.
Milk newly press'd, the sacred flour of wheat,
And honey fresh, and Pramnian wines the treat:
But venom'd was the bread, and mix'd the bowl,
With drugs of force to darken all the soul:
Soon in the luscious feast themselves they lost,
And drank oblivion of their native coast.
Instant her circling wand the goddess waves,
To hogs transforms them, and the sty receives.
No more was seen the human form divine;
Head, face, and members, bristle into swine:
Still cursed with sense, their minds remain alone,
And their own voice affrights them when they groan.
Meanwhile the goddess in disdain bestows
The mast and acorn, brutal food! and strows
The fruits and cornel, as their feast, around;
Now prone and grovelling on unsavoury ground.
"Eurylochus, with pensive steps and slow.
Aghast returns; the messenger of woe,
And bitter fate. To speak he made essay,
In vain essay'd, nor would his tongue obey.
His swelling heart denied the words their way:
But speaking tears the want of words supply,
And the full soul bursts copious from his eye.
Affrighted, anxious for our fellows' fates,
We press to hear what sadly he relates:
"We went, Ulysses! (such was thy command)
Through the lone thicket and the desert land.
A palace in a woody vale we found
Brown with dark forests, and with shades around.
A voice celestial echoed through the dome,
Or nymph or goddess, chanting to the loom.
Access we sought, nor was access denied:
Radiant she came: the portals open'd wide:
The goddess mild invites the guests to stay:
They blindly follow where she leads the way.
I only wait behind of all the train:
I waited long, and eyed the doors in vain:
The rest are vanish'd, none repass'd the gate,
And not a man appears to tell their fate.'
"I heard, and instant o'er my shoulder flung
The belt in which my weighty falchion hung
(A beamy blade): then seized the bended bow,
And bade him guide the way, resolved to go.
He, prostrate falling, with both hands embraced
My knees, and weeping thus his suit address'd:
"'O king, beloved of Jove, thy servant spare,
And ah, thyself the rash attempt forbear!
Never, alas! thou never shalt return,
Or see the wretched for whose loss we mourn.
With what remains from certain ruin fly,
And save the few not fated yet to die.'
"I answer'd stern: 'Inglorious then remain,
Here feast and loiter, and desert thy train.
Alone, unfriended, will I tempt my way;
The laws of fate compel, and I obey.'
This said, and scornful turning from the shore
My haughty step, I stalk'd the valley o'er.
Till now approaching nigh the magic bower,
Where dwelt the enchantress skill'd in herbs of power,
A form divine forth issued from the wood
(Immortal Hermes with the golden rod)
In human semblance. On his bloomy face
Youth smiled celestial, with each opening grace.
He seized my hand, and gracious thus began:
'Ah whither roam'st thou, much-enduring man?
O blind to fate! what led thy steps to rove
The horrid mazes of this magic grove?
Each friend you seek in yon enclosure lies,
All lost their form, and habitants of sties.
Think'st thou by wit to model their escape?
Sooner shalt thou, a stranger to thy shape,
Fall prone their equal: first thy danger know,
Then take the antidote the gods bestow.
The plant I give through all the direful bower
Shall guard thee, and avert the evil hour.
Now hear her wicked arts: Before thy eyes
The bowl shall sparkle, and the banquet rise;
Take this, nor from the faithless feast abstain,
For temper'd drugs and poison shall be vain.
Soon as she strikes her wand, and gives the word,
Draw forth and brandish thy refulgent sword,
And menace death: those menaces shall move
Her alter'd mind to blandishment and love.
Nor shun the blessing proffer'd to thy arms,
Ascend her bed, and taste celestial charms;
So shall thy tedious toils a respite find,
And thy lost friends return to human kind.
But swear her first by those dread oaths that tie
The powers below, the blessed in the sky;
Lest to thee naked secret fraud be meant,
Or magic bind thee cold and impotent.
"Thus while he spoke, the sovereign plant he drew
Where on the all-bearing earth unmark'd it grew,
And show'd its nature and its wondrous power:
Black was the root, but milky white the flower;
Moly the name, to mortals hard to find,
But all is easy to the ethereal kind.
This Hermes gave, then, gliding off the glade,
Shot to Olympus from the woodland shade.
While, full of thought, revolving fates to come,
I speed my passage to the enchanted dome.
Arrived, before the lofty gates I stay'd;
The lofty gates the goddess wide display'd;
She leads before, and to the feast invites;
I follow sadly to the magic rites.
Radiant with starry studs, a silver seat
Received my limbs: a footstool eased my feet,
She mix'd the potion, fraudulent of soul;
The poison mantled in the golden bowl.
I took, and quaff'd it, confident in heaven.
Then waved the wand, and then the word was given.
'Hence to thy fellows! (dreadful she began:)
Go, be a beast!'--I heard, and yet was man.
"Then, sudden whirling, like a waving flame,
My beamy falchion, I assault the dame.
Struck with unusual fear, she trembling cries,
She faints, she falls; she lifts her weeping eyes.
"'What art thou? say! from whence, from whom you came?
O more than human! tell thy race, thy name.
Amazing strength, these poisons to sustain!
Not mortal thou, nor mortal is thy brain.
Or art thou he, the man to come (foretold
By Hermes, powerful with the wand of gold),
The man from Troy, who wander'd ocean round;
The man for wisdom's various arts renown'd,
Ulysses? Oh! thy threatening fury cease;
Sheathe thy bright sword, and join our hands in peace!
Let mutual joys our mutual trust combine,
And love, and love-born confidence, be thine.'
"'And how, dread Circe! (furious I rejoin)
Can love, and love-born confidence, be mine,
Beneath thy charms when my companions groan,
Transform'd to beasts, with accents not their own?
O thou of fraudful heart, shall I be led
To share thy feast-rites, or ascend thy bed;
That, all unarm'd, thy vengeance may have vent,
And magic bind me, cold and impotent?
Celestial as thou art, yet stand denied;
Or swear that oath by which the gods are tied,
Swear, in thy soul no latent frauds remain,
Swear by the vow which never can be vain.'
"The goddess swore: then seized my hand, and led
To the sweet transports of the genial bed.
Ministrant to the queen, with busy care
Four faithful handmaids the soft rites prepare;
Nymphs sprung from fountains, or from shady woods,
Or the fair offspring of the sacred floods.
One o'er the couches painted carpets threw,
Whose purple lustre glow'd against the view:
White linen lay beneath. Another placed
The silver stands, with golden flaskets graced:
With dulcet beverage this the beaker crown'd,
Fair in the midst, with gilded cups around:
That in the tripod o'er the kindled pile
The water pours; the bubbling waters boil;
An ample vase receives the smoking wave;
And, in the bath prepared, my limbs I lave:
Reviving sweets repair the mind's decay,
And take the painful sense of toil away.
A vest and tunic o'er me next she threw,
Fresh from the bath, and dropping balmy dew;
Then led and placed me on the sovereign seat,
With carpets spread; a footstool at my feet.
The golden ewer a nymph obsequious brings,
Replenish'd from the cool translucent springs;
With copious water the bright vase supplies
A silver laver of capacious size.
I wash'd. The table in fair order spread,
They heap the glittering canisters with bread:
Viands of various kinds allure the taste,
Of choicest sort and savour, rich repast!
Circe in vain invites the feast to share;
Absent I ponder, and absorb'd in care;
While scenes of woe rose anxious in my breast,
The queen beheld me, and these words address'd:
"'Why sits Ulysses silent and apart,
Some hoard of grief close harbour'd at his heart
Untouch'd before thee stand the cates divine,
And unregarded laughs the rosy wine.
Can yet a doubt or any dread remain,
When sworn that oath which never can be vain?'
"I answered: 'Goddess! human is my breast,
By justice sway'd, by tender pity press'd:
Ill fits it me, whose friends are sunk to beasts,
To quaff thy bowls, or riot in thy feasts.
Me would'st thou please? for them thy cares employ,
And them to me restore, and me to joy.'
"With that she parted: in her potent hand
She bore the virtue of the magic wand.
Then, hastening to the sties, set wide the door,
Urged forth, and drove the bristly herd before;
Unwieldy, out they rush'd with general cry,
Enormous beasts, dishonest to the eye.
Now touch'd by counter-charms they change again,
And stand majestic, and recall'd to men.
Those hairs of late that bristled every part,
Fall off, miraculous effect of art!
Till all the form in full proportion rise,
More young, more large, more graceful to my eyes.
They saw, they knew me, and with eager pace
Clung to their master in a long embrace:
Sad, pleasing sight! with tears each eye ran o'er,
And sobs of joy re-echoed through the bower;
E'en Circe wept, her adamantine heart
Felt pity enter, and sustain'd her part.
"'Son of Laertes! (then the queen began)
Oh much-enduring, much experienced man!
Haste to thy vessel on the sea-beat shore,
Unload thy treasures, and the galley moor;
Then bring thy friends, secure from future harms,
And in our grottoes stow thy spoils and arms,'
"She said. Obedient to her high command
I quit the place, and hasten to the strand,
My sad companions on the beach I found,
Their wistful eyes in floods of sorrow drown'd.
"As from fresh pastures and the dewy field
(When loaded cribs their evening banquet yield)
The lowing herds return; around them throng
With leaps and bounds their late imprison'd young,
Rush to their mothers with unruly joy,
And echoing hills return the tender cry:
So round me press'd, exulting at my sight,
With cries and agonies of wild delight,
The weeping sailors; nor less fierce their joy
Than if return'd to Ithaca from Troy.
'Ah master! ever honour'd, ever dear!
(These tender words on every side I hear)
What other joy can equal thy return?
Not that loved country for whose sight we mourn,
The soil that nursed us, and that gave us breath:
But ah! relate our lost companions' death.'
"I answer'd cheerful: 'Haste, your galley moor,
And bring our treasures and our arms ashore:
Those in yon hollow caverns let us lay,
Then rise, and follow where I lead the way.
Your fellows live; believe your eyes, and come
To taste the joys of Circe's sacred dome.'
"With ready speed the joyful crew obey:
Alone Eurylochus persuades their stay.
"'Whither (he cried), ah whither will ye run?
Seek ye to meet those evils ye should shun?
Will you the terrors of the dome explore,
In swine to grovel, or in lions roar,
Or wolf-like howl away the midnight hour
In dreadful watch around the magic bower?
Remember Cyclops, and his bloody deed;
The leader's rashness made the soldiers bleed.'
"I heard incensed, and first resolved to speed
My flying falchion at the rebel's head.
Dear as he was, by ties of kindred bound,
This hand had stretch'd him breathless on the ground.
But all at once my interposing train
For mercy pleaded, nor could plead in vain.
'Leave here the man who dares his prince desert,
Leave to repentance and his own sad heart,
To guard the ship. Seek we the sacred shades
Of Circe's palace, where Ulysses leads.'
"This with one voice declared, the rising train
Left the black vessel by the murmuring main.
Shame touch'd Eurylochus' alter'd breast:
He fear'd my threats, and follow'd with the rest.
"Meanwhile the goddess, with indulgent cares
And social joys, the late transform'd repairs;
The bath, the feast, their fainting soul renews:
Rich in refulgent robes, and dropping balmy dews:
Brightening with joy, their eager eyes behold,
Each other's face, and each his story told;
Then gushing tears the narrative confound,
And with their sobs the vaulted roof resound.
When hush'd their passion, thus the goddess cries:
'Ulysses, taught by labours to be wise,
Let this short memory of grief suffice.
To me are known the various woes ye bore.
In storms by sea, in perils on the shore;
Forget whatever was in Fortune's power,
And share the pleasures of this genial hour.
Such be your mind as ere ye left your coast,
Or learn'd to sorrow for a country lost.
Exiles and wanderers now, where'er ye go,
Too faithful memory renews your woe:
The cause removed, habitual griefs remain,
And the soul saddens by the use of pain.'
"Her kind entreaty moved the general breast;
Tired with long toil, we willing sunk to rest.
We plied the banquet, and the bowl we crown'd,
Till the full circle of the year came round.
But when the seasons following in their train,
Brought back the months, the days, and hours again;
As from a lethargy at once they rise,
And urge their chief with animating cries:
"'Is this, Ulysses, our inglorious lot?
And is the name of Ithaca forgot?
Shall never the dear land in prospect rise,
Or the loved palace glitter in our eyes?
"Melting I heard; yet till the sun's decline
Prolong'd the feast, and quaff'd the rosy wine
But when the shades came on at evening hour,
And all lay slumbering in the dusky bower,
I came a suppliant to fair Circe's bed,
The tender moment seized, and thus I said:
'Be mindful, goddess! of thy promise made;
Must sad Ulysses ever be delay'd?
Around their lord my sad companions mourn,
Each breast beats homeward, anxious to return:
If but a moment parted from thy eyes,
Their tears flow round me, and my heart complies.'
"'Go then (she cried), ah go! yet think, not I,
Not Circe, but the Fates, your wish deny.
Ah, hope not yet to breathe thy native air!
Far other journey first demands thy care;
To tread the uncomfortable paths beneath,
And view the realms of darkness and of death.
There seek the Theban bard, deprived of sight;
Within, irradiate with prophetic light;
To whom Persephone, entire and whole,
Gave to retain the unseparated soul:
The rest are forms, of empty ether made;
Impassive semblance, and a flitting shade.'
"Struck at the word, my very heart was dead:
Pensive I sate: my tears bedew'd the bed:
To hate the light and life my soul begun,
And saw that all was grief beneath the sun:
Composed at length the gushing tears suppress'd,
And my toss'd limbs now wearied into rest.
'How shall I tread (I cried), ah, Circe! say,
The dark descent, and who shall guide the way?
Can living eyes behold the realms below?
What bark to waft me, and what wind to blow?'
"'Thy fated road (the magic power replied),
Divine Ulysses! ask no mortal guide.
Rear but the mast, the spacious sail display,
The northern winds shall wing thee on thy way.
Soon shalt thou reach old Ocean's utmost ends,
Where to the main the shelving shore descends;
The barren trees of Proserpine's black woods,
Poplars and willows trembling o'er the floods:
There fix thy vessel in the lonely bay,
And enter there the kingdoms void of day,
Where Phlegethon's loud torrents, rushing down,
Hiss in the flaming gulf of Acheron;
And where, slow rolling from the Stygian bed,
Cocytus' lamentable waters spread:
Where the dark rock o'erhangs the infernal lake,
And mingling streams eternal murmurs make.
First draw thy falchion, and on every side
Trench the black earth a cubit long and wide:
To all the shades around libations pour,
And o'er the ingredients strew the hallow'd flour:
New wine and milk, with honey temper'd bring,
And living water from the crystal spring.
Then the wan shades and feeble ghosts implore,
With promised offerings on thy native shore;
A barren cow, the stateliest of the isle,
And heap'd with various wealth, a blazing pile:
These to the rest; but to the seer must bleed
A sable ram, the pride of all thy breed.
These solemn vows and holy offerings paid
To all the phantom nations of the dead,
Be next thy care the sable sheep to place
Full o'er the pit, and hellward turn their face:
But from the infernal rite thine eye withdraw,
And back to Ocean glance with reverend awe.
Sudden shall skim along the dusky glades
Thin airy shoals, and visionary shades.
Then give command the sacrifice to haste,
Let the flay'd victims in the flame be cast,
And sacred vows and mystic song applied
To grisly Pluto and his gloomy bride.
Wide o'er the pool thy falchion waved around
Shall drive the spectres from unbidden ground:
The sacred draught shall all the dead forbear,
Till awful from the shades arise the seer.
Let him, oraculous, the end, the way,
The turns of all thy future fate display,
Thy pilgrimage to come, and remnant of thy day.'
"So speaking, from the ruddy orient shone
The morn, conspicuous on her golden throne.
The goddess with a radiant tunic dress'd
My limbs, and o'er me cast a silken vest.
Long flowing robes, of purest white, array
The nymph, that added lustre to the day:
A tiar wreath'd her head with many a fold;
Her waist was circled with a zone of gold.
Forth issuing then, from place to place I flew;
Rouse man by man, and animate my crew.
'Rise, rise, my mates! 'tis Circe gives command:
Our journey calls us; haste, and quit the land.'
All rise and follow, yet depart not all,
For Fate decreed one wretched man to fall.
"A youth there was, Elpenor was he named,
Not much for sense, nor much for courage famed:
The youngest of our band, a vulgar soul,
Born but to banquet, and to drain the bowl.
He, hot and careless, on a turret's height
With sleep repair'd the long debauch of night:
The sudden tumult stirred him where he lay,
And down he hasten'd, but forgot the way;
Full headlong from the roof the sleeper fell,
And snapp'd the spinal joint, and waked in hell.
"The rest crowd round me with an eager look;
I met them with a sigh, and thus bespoke:
'Already, friends! ye think your toils are o'er,
Your hopes already touch your native shore:
Alas! far otherwise the nymph declares,
Far other journey first demands our cares;
To tread the uncomfortable paths beneath,
The dreary realms of darkness and of death;
To seek Tiresias' awful shade below,
And thence our fortunes and our fates to know.'
"My sad companions heard in deep despair;
Frantic they tore their manly growth of hair;
To earth they fell: the tears began to rain;
But tears in mortal miseries are vain,
Sadly they fared along the sea-beat shore;
Still heaved their hearts, and still their eyes ran o'er.
The ready victims at our bark we found,
The sable ewe and ram together bound.
For swift as thought the goddess had been there,
And thence had glided, viewless as the air:
The paths of gods what mortal can survey?
Who eyes their motion? who shall trace their way?"
THE DESCENT INTO HELL.
Ulysses continues his narration. How he arrived at the land of the
Cimmerians, and what ceremonies he performed to invoke the dead.
The manner of his descent, and the apparition of the shades: his
conversation with Elpenor, and with Tiresias, who informs him in a
prophetic manner of his fortunes to come. He meets his mother
Anticles, from whom he learns the state of his family. He sees the
shades of the ancient heroines, afterwards of the heroes, and
converses in particular with Agamemnon and Achilles. Ajax keeps at
a sullen distance, and disdains to answer him. He then beholds
Tityus, Tantalus, Sisyphus, Hercules; till he is deterred from
further curiosity by the apparition of horrid spectres, and the
cries of the wicked in torments.
"Now to the shores we bend, a mournful train,
Climb the tall bark, and launch into the main;
At once the mast we rear, at once unbind
The spacious sheet, and stretch it to the wind;
Then pale and pensive stand, with cares oppress'd,
And solemn horror saddens every breast.
A freshening breeze the magic power supplied,
While the wing'd vessel flew along the tide;
Our oars we shipp'd; all day the swelling sails
Full from the guiding pilot catch'd the gales.
"Now sunk the sun from his aerial height,
And o'er the shaded billows rush'd the night;
When lo! we reach'd old Ocean's utmost bounds,
Where rocks control his waves with ever-during mounds.
"There in a lonely land, and gloomy cells,
The dusky nation of Cimmeria dwells;
The sun ne'er views the uncomfortable seats,
When radiant he advances, or retreats:
Unhappy race! whom endless night invades,
Clouds the dull air, and wraps them round in shades.
"The ship we moor on these obscure abodes;
Disbark the sheep, an offering to the gods;
And, hellward bending, o'er the beach descry
The doleful passage to the infernal sky.
The victims, vow'd to each Tartarian power,
Eurylochus and Perimedes bore.
"Here open'd hell, all hell I here implored,
And from the scabbard drew the shining sword:
And trenching the black earth on every side,
A cavern form'd, a cubit long and wide.
New wine, with honey-temper'd milk, we bring,
Then living waters from the crystal spring:
O'er these was strew'd the consecrated flour,
And on the surface shone the holy store.
"Now the wan shades we hail, the infernal gods,
To speed our course, and waft us o'er the floods:
So shall a barren heifer from the stall
Beneath the knife upon your altars fall;
So in our palace, at our safe return,
Rich with unnumber'd gifts the pile shall burn;
So shall a ram, the largest of the breed,
Black as these regions, to Tiresias bleed.
"Thus solemn rites and holy vows we paid
To all the phantom-nations of the dead;
Then died the sheep: a purple torrent flow'd,
And all the caverns smoked with streaming blood.
When lo! appear'd along the dusky coasts,
Thin, airy shoals of visionary ghosts:
Fair, pensive youths, and soft enamour'd maids;
And wither'd elders, pale and wrinkled shades;
Ghastly with wounds the forms of warriors slain
Stalk'd with majestic port, a martial train:
These and a thousand more swarm'd o'er the ground,
And all the dire assembly shriek'd around.
Astonish'd at the sight, aghast I stood,
And a cold fear ran shivering through my blood;
Straight I command the sacrifice to haste,
Straight the flay'd victims to the flames are cast,
And mutter'd vows, and mystic song applied
To grisly Pluto, and his gloomy bride.
"Now swift I waved my falchion o'er the blood;
Back started the pale throngs, and trembling stood,
Round the black trench the gore untasted flows,
Till awful from the shades Tiresias rose.
"There wandering through the gloom I first survey'd,
New to the realms of death, Elpenor's shade:
His cold remains all naked to the sky
On distant shores unwept, unburied lie.
Sad at the sight I stand, deep fix'd in woe,
And ere I spoke the tears began to flow.
"'O say what angry power Elpenor led
To glide in shades, and wander with the dead?
How could thy soul, by realms and seas disjoin'd,
Outfly the nimble sail, and leave the lagging wind?
"The ghost replied: 'To hell my doom I owe,
Demons accursed, dire ministers of woe!
My feet, through wine unfaithful to their weight,
Betray'd me tumbling from a towery height:
Staggering I reel'd, and as I reel'd I fell,
Lux'd the neck-joint--my soul descends to hell.
But lend me aid, I now conjure thee lend,
By the soft tie and sacred name of friend!
By thy fond consort! by thy father's cares!
By loved Telemachus' blooming years?
For well I know that soon the heavenly powers
Will give thee back to-day, and Circe's shores:
There pious on my cold remains attend,
There call to mind thy poor departed friend.
The tribute of a tear is all I crave,
And the possession of a peaceful grave.
But if, unheard, in vain compassion plead,
Revere the gods. the gods avenge the dead!
A tomb along the watery margin raise,
The tomb with manly arms and trophies grace,
To show posterity Elpenor was.
There high in air, memorial of my name,
Fix the smooth oar, and bid me live to fame.'
"To whom with tears: 'These rites, O mournful shade,
Due to thy ghost, shall to thy ghost be paid.'
"Still as I spoke the phantom seem'd to moan,
Tear follow'd tear, and groan succeeded groan.
But, as my waving sword the blood surrounds,
The shade withdrew, and mutter'd empty sounds.
"There as the wondrous visions I survey'd,
All pale ascends my royal mother's shade:
A queen, to Troy she saw our legions pass;
Now a thin form is all Anticlea was!
Struck at the sight I melt with filial woe,
And down my cheek the pious sorrows flow,
Yet as I shook my falchion o'er the blood,
Regardless of her son the parent stood.
"When lo! the mighty Theban I behold,
To guide his steps he bore a staff of gold;
Awful he trod; majestic was his look!
And from his holy lips these accents broke:
"'Why, mortal, wanderest thou from cheerful day,
To tread the downward, melancholy way?
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