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Thus laden, o'er the threshold as he stepp d,
Fierce on the villain from each side they leapd,
Back by the hair the trembling dastard drew,
And down reluctant on the pavement threw.
Active and pleased the zealous swains fulfil
At every point their master's rigid will;
First, fast behind, his hands and feet they bound
Then straiten'd cords involved his body round;
So drawn aloft, athwart the column tied,
The howling felon swung from side to side.
Eumæus scoffing then with keen disdain:
There pass thy pleasing night, oh gentle swain!
On that soft pillow, from that envied height,
First may'st thou see the springing dawn of light;
So timely rise, when morning streaks the east,
To drive thy victims to the suitors' feast.
This said, they left him, tortured as he lay, Secured the door and hasty strode away:
He spoke at once their fiery lances flew :
Great Demoptolemus, Ulysses slew;
Euryades received the prince's dart;
The goatherd's quiver'd in Pisander's heart:
205 Fierce Elatus by thine, Eumæus, falls;
Their fall in thunder echoes round the walls.
The rest retreat; the victors now advance,
Each from the dead resumes his bloody lance.
Again the foe discharge the steely shower;
210 Again made frustrate by the virgin-power.
Some turn'd by Pallas, on the threshold fall,
Some wound the gate, some ring against the wall;
Some weak, or ponderous with the brazen head,
Drop harmless on the pavement, sounding dead.
Then bold Amphimedon his javelin cast;
Thy hand Telemachus it lightly razed;
And from Ctesippus' arm the spear elanced
On good Eumæus' shield and shoulder glanced:
Not lessen'd of their force (so light the wound)
Each sung along, and dropp'd upon the ground.
Fate doom'd thee next, Eurymadus, to bear
Thy death, ennobled by Ulysses' spear.
Each, breathing death, resumed his dangerous post
Near great Ulysses; four against an host.
When lo! descending to her hero's aid,
Jove's daughter Pallas, War's triumphant maid:
In Mentor's friendly form she join'd his side:
Ulysses saw, and thus with transport cried:
Come, ever welcome, and thy succour lend;
Oh every sacred name in one! my friend!
Early we loved, and long our loves have grown :
Whate'er through life's whole series I have done,
Or good, or grateful, now to mind recall,
And, aiding this one hour, repay it all.
Thus he; but pleasing hopes his bosom warm
Of Pallas latent in the friendly form.
The adverse host the phantom-warrior eyed,
And first, loud threatening Agelaüs cried:
Mentor, beware, nor let that tongue persuade
Thy frantic arm to lend Ulysses aid;
Our force successful shall our threat make good,
And with the sire and sons commix thy blood.
By the bold son Amphimedon was slain,
And Polybus renown'd the faithful swain.
235 Fast by Leocritus expiring lay,
The prince's javelin tore it's bloody way
Through all his bowels: down he tumbles prone,
His batter'd front and brains besmear the stone.
Now Pallas shines confess'd! aloft she spreads
The arm of vengeance o'er their guilty heads;
The dreadful ægis blazes in their eye:
Amazed they see, they tremble and they fly:
Confused, distracted, through the rooms they fling:
Like oxen madden'd by the breeze's sting,
245 When sultry days, and long, succeed the gentle spring.
Not half so keen fierce vultures of the chace
Stoop from the mountains on the feather'd race,
When, the wide field extended snares beset,
What hopest thou here? Thee first the sword shall slay,
Then lop thy whole posterity away;
Far hence thy banish'd consort shall we send ;
With his, thy forfeit lands and treasures blend ;
Thus, and thus only, shalt thou join thy friend.
His barbarous insult even the goddess fires,
Who thus the warrior to revenge inspires:
Art thou Ulysses? where then shall we find
The patient body and the constant mind?
That courage, once the Trojans' daily dread,
Known nine long years, and felt by heroes dead?
And where that conduct, which revenged the lust
Of Priam's race, and laid proud Troy in dust?
If this, when Helen was the cause. were done;
What for thy country now, thy queen, thy son?
Rise then in combat, at my side attend;
Observe what vigour gratitude can lend,
And foes how weak, opposed against a friend!
She spoke; but willing longer to survey
The sire and son's great acts, withheld the day;
By farther toils decreed the brave to try,
And level poised the wings of victory;
Then with a change of form eludes their sight,
Perch'd like a swallow on a rafter's height,
And unperceived enjoys the rising fight.
Damastor's son, bold Agelaüs, leads
The guilty war Eurynomus succeeds;
With these, Pisander, great Polyctor's son.
Sage Polybus, and stern Amphimedon,
With Demoptolemus: these six survive;
The best of all, the shafts had left alive.
Amidst the carnage, desperate as they stand,
Thus Agelaüs roused the lagging band:
The hour is come, when yon fierce man no more
With bleeding princes shall bestrew the floor.
Lo! Mentor leaves him with an empty boast;
The four remain, but four against an host.
Let each at once discharge the deadly dart,
One sure of six shall reach Ulysses heart:
The rest must perish their great leader slain:
Thus shall one stroke the glory lost regain.
Then all at once their mingled lances threw,
And thirsty all of one man's blood they flew ;
In vain! Minerva turn'd them with her breath,
And scatter'd short or wide the points of death!
With deaden'd sound one on the threshold falls,
One strikes the gates, one rings against the walls:
The storm past innocent. The godlike man
Now loftier trod, and dreadful thus began:
Tis now (brave friends) our turn, at once to throw
(So speed them heaven) our javelins at the foe,
That impious race to all their past misdeeds
Would add our blood, injustice still proceeds.
With conscious dread they shun the quivering net: 340
250 No help, no flight; but wounded every way,
Headlong they drop; the fowlers seize the prey
On all sides thus they double wound on wound,
In prostrate heaps the wretches beat the ground,
Unmanly shrieks precede each dying groan,
255 And a red deluge floats the reeking stone.
Leiodes first before the victor falls:
The wretched augur thus for mercy calls:
O gracious hear, nor let thy suppliant bleed:
Still undishonour'd, or by word or deed,
260 Thy house, for me, remains, by me repress'd
Full oft we check 'd the injustice of the rest:
Averse they heard me when I counsell'd well,
Their hearts were harden'd, and they justly fell.
Oh, spare an augur's consecrated head,
265 Nor add the blameless to the guilty dead.
Thus speaking, from the ground the sword he took
Which Agelaüs' dying hand forsook:
Full through his neck the weighty falchion sped:
275 Along the pavement roll'd the muttering head.
Phemius alone, the hand of vengeance spared,
Phemius the sweet, the heaven-instructed bard.
Beside the gate the reverend minstrel stands;
The lyre now silent trembling in his hands;
280 Dubious to supplicate the chief, or fly
To Jove's inviolable altar nigh.
Where oft Laërtes holy vows had paid,
And oft Ulysses smoking victims laid.
Self-taught I sing: by Heaven and Heaven alone
The genuine seeds of poesy are sown:
And what the gods bestow) the lofty lay,
To gods alone and godlike worth we pay.
Save then the poet. and thyself reward;
"Tis thine to merit, mine is to record.
That here I sung, was force, and not desire:
This hand reluctant touch'd the warbling wire
And let thy son attest, nor sordid pay,
Nor servile flattery stain'd the moral lay.
The moving words Telemachus attends
His sire approaches, and the bard defends.
Oh mix not, father, with those impious dead
The man divine; forbear that sacred head;
Medon, the herald, too, our arms may spare,
Medon, who made my infancy his care;
If yet he breathes, permit thy son to give
Thus much to gratitude, and hid him live.
The offending females to that task we doom,
To wash, to scent, and purify the room.
385 These (every table cleansed, and every throne
And all the melancholy labour done)
Drive to yon court, without the palace wall,
There the revenging sword shall smite them all;
So with the suitors let them mix in dust,
390 Stretch'd in a long oblivion of their lust.
He said: the lamentable train appear,
Each vents a groan, and drops a tender tear:
Each heaved her mournful burden, and beneath
The porch deposed the ghastly heap of death.
39. The chief severe, compelling each to move,
Urged the dire task imperious from above:
With thirsty sponge they rub the tables o'er
(The swains unite their toil); the walls, the floor
Wash'd with the effusive wave, are purged of gore, 490
400 Once more the palace set in fair array,
Beneath a table, trembling with dismay,
Couch'd close to earth, unhappy Medon lay,
Wrapp'd in a new slain ox's ample hide;
Swift at the word he cast his screen aside,
Sprung to the prince embraced his knees with tears, 405
And thus with grateful voice address'd his ears:
O prince! oh friend! lo here thy Medon stands:
Ah stop the hero's unresisted hands,
Incensed too justly by that impious brood,
Whose guilty glories now are set in blood.
To whom Ulysses with a pleasing eye:
Be bold, on friendship and my son rely:
Live, an example for the world to read,
How much more safe the good than evil deed:
Thou, with the heaven-taught bard, in peace resort
From blood and carnage to yon open court:
Me other work requires-With timorous awe
From the dire scene the exempted two withdraw
Scarce sure of life, look round, and trembling move
To the bright altars of Protector Jove.
To the base court the females take their way;
There compass'd close between the dome and wall
(Their life's last scene) they trembling wait their fail.
Then thus the prince: To these shall we afford
A fate so pure, as by the martial sword?
To these, the nightly prostitutes to shame,
And base revilers of our house and name?
Thus speaking, on the circling wall he strung
A ship's tough cable, from a column hung;
Near the high top he strain'd it strongly round,
Whence no contending foot could reach the ground.
Their heads above connected in a row,
They beat the air with quivering feet below;
Thus on some tree hung struggling in the snare,
415 The doves or thrushes flap their wings in air.
Soon fled the soul impure, and left behind
The empty corse to waver with the wind.
Then forth they led Melanthius, and began
Their bloody work; they lopp'd away the man,
Morsel for dogs! then trimm'd with brazen shears
The wretch, and shorten'd of his nose and ears;
His hands and feet last felt the cruel steel:
He roar'd, and torments gave his soul to hell.
They wash, and to Ulysses take their way,
So ends the bloody business of the day.
Meanwhile Ulysses search'd the dome, to find
If yet there live of all the offending kind.
Not one! complete the bloody tale he found,
All steep'd in blood, all gasping on the ground.
So, when by hollow shores the fisher-train
Sweep with their arching nets the hoary main
And scarce the meshy toils the copious drought contain,
All naked of their element, and bare,
The fishes pant, and gasp in thinner air;
Wide o'er the sands are spread the stiffening prey,
Till the warm sun exhales their soul away.
And now the king commands his son to call
Old Euryclea to the deathful hall:
The son observant not a moment stays;
The aged governess with speed obeys;
The sounding portals instant they display;
The matron moves, the prince directs the way
On heaps of death the stern Ulysses stood,
All black with dust, and cover'd thick with blood.
So the grim lion from the slaughter comes,
Dreadful he glares, and terribly he foams,
His breast with marks of carnage painted o'er,
His jaws all dropping with the bull's black gore.
Soon as her eyes the welcome object met,
The guilty fall'n, the mighty deed complete;
A scream of joy her feeble voice essay'd:
The hero check'd her and composedly said-
Woman, experienced as thou art, control
Indecent joy, and feast thy secret soul.
To insult the dead, is cruel and unjust;
Fate and their crime have sunk them to the dust.
Nor heeded these the censure of mankind,
The good and bad were equal in their mind.
Justly the price of worthlessness they paid,
And each now wails an unlamented shade.
But thou sincere! O Euryclea, say,
What maids dishonour us, and what obey?
Then she: In these thy kingly walls remain
(My son) full fifty of the handmaid train,
Taught by my care, to cull the fleece or weave,
And servitude with pleasing tasks deceive;
Of these, twice six pursue their wicked way,
Nor me, nor chaste Penelope obey;
Nor fits it that Telemachus command
(Young as he is) his mother's female band.
Hence to the upper chambers let me fly,
Where slumbers soft now close the royal eye:
There wake her with the news-the matron cried.
Not so (Ulysses more sedate replied.)
Bring first the crew who wrought these guilty deeds.
In haste the matron parts: the king proceeds:
Now to dispose the dead, the care remains
To you, my son, and you, my faithful swains:
To Euryclea then address'd the king:
Bring hither fire, and hither sulphur bring,,
To purge the palace: then the queen attend,
And let her with her matron-train descend;
The matron-train, with all the virgin-band,
Assemble here to learn their lord's command.
Then Euryclea: Joyful I obey,
But cast those mean dishonest rags away;
Permit me first the royal robes to bring:
435 Ill suits this garb the shoulders of a king.
Bring sulphur straight and fire, (the monarch cries),
She hears, and at the word obedient flies.
With fire and sulphur, cure of noxious fumes,
He purged the walls, and blood-polluted rooms.
440 Again the matron springs with eager pace,
455 Euryclea awakens Penelope with the news of Ulys ses's return and the death of the suitors. Penelope scarce credits her; but supposes some god has punished them, and descends from her apartment in doubt. At the first interview of Ulysses and Penelope, she is quite unsatisfied. Minerva restores him to the beauty of his youth; but the queen continues incredulous, till by some circumstances she is convinced, and falls into all the transports of passion and tenderness. They recount to each other all that has passed during their long separation. The next morning Ulysses, arming himself and his friends, goes from the city to visit his father.
The transports of her faithful heart supply
A sudden youth, and give her wings to fly.
And sleeps my child? the reverend matron cries:
Ulysses lives! arise, my child, arise!
At length appears the long-expected hour!
Ulysses comes! the suitors are no more!
No more they view the golden light of day!
Arise, and bless thee with the glad survey!
Touch'd at her words, the mournful queen rejoin'd,
Ah! whither wanders thy distemper'd mind?
The righteous powers, who tread the starry skies,
The weak enlighten, and confound the wise,
And human thought, with unresisted sway,
Depress or raise, enlarge or take away:
Truth, by their high decree, thy voice forsakes,
And folly with the tongue of wisdom speaks,
Unkind, the fond illusion to impose!
Was it to flatter or deride my woes?
Never did I a sleep so sweet enjoy,
Since my dear lord left Ithaca for Troy.
Why must I wake to grieve, and curse thy shore,
O Troy?-may never tongue pronounce thee more!
Begone! another might have felt our rage,
But age is sacred, and we spare thy age.
To whom with warmth: My soul a lie disdains:
Ulysses lives, thy own Ulysses reigns:
That stranger, patient of the suitors' wrongs,
And the rude license of ungovern'd tongues,
He, he is thine. Thy son his latent guest
Long knew, but lock'd the secret in his breast;
With well-concerted art to end his woes,
And burst at once in vengeance on the foes.
While yet she spoke, the queen in transport sprung
Swift from the couch, and round the matron hung;
Fast from her eye descends the rolling tear.
Say, once more say, is my Ulysses here?
How could that numerous and outrageons band
By one be slain, though by a hero's hand?
I saw it not, she cried, but heard alone, When death was busy, a loud dying groan; The damsel-train turn'd pale at every wound Immured we sate, and catch'd each passing sound; When death had seized her prey, thy son attends, And at his nod the damsel-train descends: There terrible in arms Ulysses stood, And the dead suitors almost swam in blood: Thy heart had leap'd the hero to survey, Stern as the surly lion o'er his prey, Glorious in gore, now with sulphureous fires The dome he purges, now the flame aspires: Heap'd lie the dead without the palace wallsHaste, daughter, haste, thy own Ulysses calls! Thy every wish the bounteous gods bestow; Enjoy the present good, and former woe. Ulysses lives, bis vanquish'd foes to see; He lives to thy Telemachus and thee!
Ah, no! with sighs Penelope rejoin'd, Excess of joy disturbs thy wandering mind; How blest this happy hour, should he appear, Dear to us all, to me supremely dear!
Ah, no! some, god the suitors' deaths decreed,
Some god descends, and by his hand they bleed;
Blind to contemn the stranger's righteous cause,
And violate all hospitable laws!
The good they hated, and the powers defied;
But Heaven is just, and by a god they died.
For never must Ulysses view this shore;
Never! the loved Ulysses is no more!
Why thus in silence? why with winning charms
Thus slow to fly with rapture to his arms?
Stubborn the breast that with no transport glows,
When twice ten years are pass'd of mighty woes;
15 To softness lost, to spousal love unknown,
The gods have form'd that rigid heart of stone
O my Telemachus! the queen rejoin'd,
Distracting fears confound my labouring mind;
Powerless to speak, I scarce uplift my eyes,
20 Nor dare to question; doubts on doubts arise.
Oh deign he, if Ulysses, to remove
These boding thoughts, and what he is, to prove!
Pleased with her virtuous fears, the king replies,
Indulge, my son, the cautions of the wise;"
25 Time shall the truth to sure remembrance bring: This garb of poverty belies the king;
No more. This day our deepest care requires, Cautious to act what thought mature inspires. If one man's blood, though mean, distain our hands, 30 The homicide retreats to foreign lands; By us, in heaps the illustrious peerage falls, The important deed our whole attention calls Be that thy care, Telemachus replies; The world conspires to speak Ulysses wise; 35 For wisdom all is thine! lo, I obey, And dauntless follow where you lead the way; Nor shalt thou in the day of danger find Thy coward son degenerate lag behind.
Then instant to the bath (the monarch cries) Bid the gay youth and sprightly virgins rise, Thence all descend in pomp and proud array, And bid the dome resound the mirthful lay; While the sweet lyrist airs of rapture sings, And forms the dance responsive to the strings. 45 That hence the eluded passengers may say, Lo! the queen weds! we hear the spousal lay! The suitors' death, unknown, 'till we remove Far from the court, and act inspired by Jove. Thus spoke the king; the observant train obey, 50 At once they bathe, and dress in proud array: The lyrist strikes the string; gay youths advance, And fair-zoned damsels form the sprightly dance The voice, attuned to instrumental sounds, Ascends the roof, the vaulted roof rebounds: 55 Not unobserved: the Greeks eluded say,
Lo! the queen weds, we hear the spousal lay! Inconstant! to admit the bridal hour. Thus they-but nobly chaste she weds no more. Meanwhile the wearied king the bath ascends! 60 With faithful cares Eurynomě attends, O'er every limb a shower of fragrance sheds; Then, drest in pomp, magnificent he treads. The warrior-goddess gives his frame to shine With majesty enlarged, and grace divine. Back from his brows in wavy ringlets fly His thick large locks of hyacinthine dye. As by some artist to whom Vulcan gives His heavenly skill, a breathing image lives; By Pallas taught, he frames the wonderous mould And the pale silver glows with fusile gold: So Pallas his heroic form improves With bloom divine, and like a god he moves! More high he treads, and issuing forth in state, Radiant before his gazing consort sate.
What words (the matron cries) have reach'd my ears? Doubt we his presence, when he now appears? Then hear conviction: Ere the fatal day That forced Ulysses o'er the watry way, A boar, fierce rushing in the sylvan war, Plough'd half his thigh; I saw, I saw the scar, And wild with transport had reveal'd the wound; But ere I spoke, he rose, and check'd the sound. Then, daughter, haste away! and if a lie Flow from this tongue, then let thy servant die! To whom with dubions joy the queen replies, Wise is thy soul, but errors seize the wise; The works of gods what mortal can survey?
Who knows their motives, who shall trace their way?
But learn we instant how the suitors trod
The paths of death, by man, or by a god.
Thus speaks the queen, and no reply attends,
But with alternate joy and fear descends;
At every step debates her lord to prove;
Or, rushing to his arms, confess her love!
Then gliding through the marble valves, in state
Opposed, before the shining sire she sate.
75 And, oh my queen! he cries; what power above
Has steeld that heart, averse to spousal love?
Canst thou, Penelope, when Heaven restores
Thy lost Ulysses to his native shores,
Canst thou, oh cruel! unconcern'd survey
80 Thy lost Ulysses, on this signal day?
Haste, Euryclea, and dispatchful spread
For me, and me alone, the imperial bed;
My weary nature craves the balm of rest;
But Heaven with adamant has arm'd her breast.
Ah no! she cries, a tender heart I bear,
A foe to pride; no adamant is there;
And now, even now it melts! for sure I see
Once more Ulysses my beloved in thee!
Fix'd in my soul, as when he sail'd to Troy,
90 His image dwells: then haste the bed of joy!
Haste, from the bridal bower the bed translate,
Framed by his hand, and be it drest in state!
Thus speaks the queen, still dubious, with disguise;
Touch'd at her words, the king with warmth replies.
Alas for this! what mortal strength can move
The enormous burden, who but heaven above?
It mocks the weak attempts of human hands;
190 When thou must learn what I must speak with tears?
Heaven, by the Theban ghost, thy spouse decrees,
Torn from thy arms, to sail a length of seas;
From realm to realm, a nation to explore,
Who ne'er knew salt, or heard the billows roar,
But the whole earth must move if Heaven commands.
Then hear sure evidence, while we display
Words seal'd with sacred truth, and truth obey:
This hand the wonder framed; an olive spread
Full in the court it's ever-verdant head.
Vast as some mighty column's bulk, on high
The huge trunk rose, and heaved into the sky;
Around the tree I raised a nuptial bower,
And roof'd defensive of the storm and shower;
The spacious valve, with art inwrought, conjoins;
And the fair dome with polish'd marble shines.
I lopp'd the branchy head; aloft in twain
Sever'd the bole, and smooth'd the shining grain;
Then posts, capacious of the frame, I raise,
And bore it, regular, from space to space:
Athwart the frame, at equal distance lie
Thongs of tough hides, that boast a purple dye;
Then polishing the whole, the finish'd mould
With silver shone, with elephant, and gold.
But if o'erturn'd by rude, ungovern'd hands,
Or still inviolate the olive stands,
195 Nor saw gay vessel stem the surgy plain,
A painted wonder, flying on the main:
An oar my hand must bear; a shepherd eyes
The unknown instrument with strange surprise,
And calls a corn-van: this upon the plain
200 I fix, and hail the monarch of the main;
Then bathe his altars with the mingled gore
Of victims vow'd, a ram, a bull, a boar;
Thence swift re-sailing to my native shores,
Due victims slay to all the etherial powers.
205 Then Heaven decrees, in peace to end my days,
And steal myself from life by slow decays:
Unknown to pain, in age resign my breath,
When late stern Neptune points the shaft of death; 300
To the dark grave retiring as to rest;
210 My people blessing, by my people blest.
Such future scenes the all-righteous powers display
By their dread seer, and such my future day.
To whom thus firm of soul: If ripe for death,
And full of days, thou gently yield thy breath;
215 While Heaven a kind release from ills foreshows;
Triumph, thou happy victor of thy woes!
But Euryclea, with dispatchful care,
And sage Eurynomè, the couch prepare:
Instant they bid the blazing torch display
220 Around the dome an artificial day;
Then to repose her steps the matron bends,
And to the queen Eurynomè descends!
A torch she bears, to light with guiding fires
The royal pair; she guides them, and retires,
225 Then instant his fair spouse Ulysses led
'Tis thine, oh queen, to say, and now impart,
If fears remain, or doubts distract thy heart?
While yet he speaks, her powers of life decay,
She sickens, trembles, falls, and faints away.
At length recovering, to his arms she flew,
And strain'd him close, as to his breast she grew:
The tears pour'd down amain; and, Oh, she cries,
Let not against thy spouse thine anger rise!
O versed in every turn of human art,
Forgive the weakness of a woman's heart!
The righteous powers, that mortal lots dispose,
Decree us to sustain a length of woes,
And from the flower of life the bliss deny
To bloom together, fade away, and die.
O let me, let me not thine anger move,
That I forbore, thus, thus to speak my love;
Thus in fond kisses, while the transport warms,
Pour out my soul, and die within thy arms!
I dreaded fraud! Men, faithless men, betray
Our easy faith, and make the sex their prey:
Against the fondness of my heart I strove:
"Twas caution, ob, my lord! not want of love.
Like me had Helen fear'd, with wanton charms
Ere the fair mischief set two worlds in arms;
Ere Greece rose dreadful in the avenging day;
Thus had she fear'd, she had not gone astray.
But Heaven, averse to Greece, in wrath decreed
That she should wander, and that Greece should bleed:
Blind to the ills that from injustice flow,
She colour'd all our wretched lives with woe.
But why these sorrows when my lord arrives?
I yield, I yield! my own Ulysses lives!
The secrets of the bridal bed are known
To thee, to me, to Actoris alone
(My father's present in the spousal hour,
The sole attendant on our genial bower).
Since what no eye hath seen thy tongue reveal'd,
Hard and distrustful as I am, I yield.
Touch'd to the soul, the king with rapture hears,
Hangs round her neck, and speaks his joy in tears.
As, to the shipwreck'd mariner, the shores
Delightful rise, when angry Neptune roars;
Then, when the surge in thunder mounts the sky,
And gulf'd in crowds at once the sailors die;
If one more happy, while the tempest raves,
Outlives the tumult of conflicting waves,
All pale, with ooze deform'd, he views the strand,
And plunging forth with transport grasps the land:
The ravish'd queen with equal rapture glows,
To the chaste love-rites of the nuptial bed.
And now the blooming youths and sprightly fair
Cease the gay dance, and to their rest repair;
But in discourse the king and consort lay,
230 While the soft hours stole unperceived away;
Intent he hears Penelope disclose
A mournful story of domestic woes,
His servants' insults, his invaded bed,
How his whole flocks and herds exhausted bled,
His generous wines dishonour'd shed in vain,
And the wild riots of the suitor-train.
The king alternate a dire tale relates,
Of wars, of triumphs, and disastrous fates;
All he unfolds; his listening spouse turns pale
240 With pleasing horror at the dreadful tale:
Sleepless devours each word; and hears how slain
Cicons on Cicons swell the ensanguined plain;
How to the land of Lote unblest he sails;
And images the rills and flowery vales!
245 How dash'd like dogs, his friends the Cyclops tore
(Not unrevenged), and quaff'd the spouting gore;
How the loud storms in prison bound, he sails
From friendly Eolus with prosperous gales;
Yet fate withstands! a sudden tempest roars,
250 And whirls him groaning from his native shores:
How on the barbarous Læstrigonian coast,
By savage hands his fleet and friends he lost;
How scarce himself survived: he paints the bower, 345
The spells of Circè, and her magic power;
His dreadful journey to the realms beneath,
To seek Tiresias in the vales of death;
How in the doleful mansions he survey'd
His royal mother, pale Anticlea's shade;
And friends in battle slain, heroic ghosts!
-Whose flaming steeds, emerging through the night,
Beam o'er the eastern hills with streaming light.
At length Ulysses with a sigh replies:
Yet Fate, yet cruel Fate repose denies;
A labour long, and hard, remains behind;
By heaven above, by hell beneath enjoin'd:
For, to Tiresias through the eternal gates
Of hell I trode, to learn my future fates.
But end we here-the night demands repose,
Be deck'd the couch! and peace awhile, my woes!
To whom the queen. Thy word we shall obey,
And deck the couch; far hence be woes away;
270 With sweet reluctant, amorous delay:
And promised, vainly promised, to bestow
Immortal life, exempt from age and woe:
260 Then how, unharm'd, he past the Siren-coasts,
The justling rocks where fierce Charybdis raves,
And howling Scylla whirls her thunderous waves,
The cave of death! How his companions slay
The oxen sacred to the god of day.
Till Jove in wrath the rattling tempest guides,
And whelms the offenders in the roaring tides:
How struggling through the surge he reach'd the shores
Of fair Ogygia, and Calypso's bowers;
Where the gay blooming nymph constrain'd his stay,
How saved from storms Phæacia's coast be tro
By great Alcinous honour'd as a god,
Who gave him last his country to behold,
With change of raiment, brass, and heaps of gold.
He ended, sinking into sleep, and shares
A sweet forgetfulness of all his cares.
Soon as soft slumber eased the toils of day,
Minerva rushes through the aërial way,
And bids Aurora with her golden wheels
Flame from the ocean o'er the eastern hills:
Uprose Ulysses from the genial bed,
And thus with thought mature the monarch said.
My queen, my consort! through a length of years
We drank the cup of sorrow mix'd with tears;
Thou, for thy lord: while me the immortal powers
Detain'd reluctant from my native shores.
Now, bless'd again by heaven, the queen display,
And rule our palace with an equal sway.
Be it my care, by loans, or martial toils,
The good old man, to wasting woes a prey, Weeps a sad life in solitude away.
But hear, though wise! This morning shall unfold
The deathful scene, on heroes heroes roll'd.
Thou with thy maids within the palace stay,
From all the scene of tumult far away!
He spoke, and sheath'd in arms incessant flies
To wake his son, and bid his friends arise.
To arms! aloud he cries: his friends obey,
With glittering arms their manly limbs array,
And pass the city-gate; Ulysses leads the way.
Now flames the rosy dawn, but Pallas shrouds
The latent warriors in a veil of clouds.
Yet still a master-ghost, the rest be awel, The rest adored him, towering as he trod; Still at his side is Nestor's son survey'd, And loved Patroclus still attends his shade. New as they were to that infernal shore, 370 The suitors stopp'd, and gazed the hero o'er. When, moving slow, the regal form they view'd Of great Atrides: him in pomp pursued And solemn sadness through the gloom of hell, The train of those who by Egysthus fell. O mighty chief! (Pelides thus began) Honour'd by Jove above the lot of man! King of a hundred kings! to whom resign'd The strongest, bravest, greatest of mankind, Comest thou the first, to view this dreary state? And was the noblest, the first mark of Fate, Condemn'd to pay the great arrear so soon, The lot, which all lament, and none can shun ! Oh better hadst thou sunk in Trojan ground, With all thy full blown honours cover'd round; Then grateful Greece with streaming eyes might raise Historic marbles to record thy praise:
Thy praise eternal on the faithful stone
Had with transmissive glories graced thy son.
But heavier fates were destined to attend :
What man is happy, till he knows his end?
O son of Peleus! greater than mankind!
(Thus Agamemnon's kingly shade rejoin'd)
Thrice happy thou, to press the martial plain
'Midst heaps of heroes in thy quarrel slain:
395 In clouds of smoke raised by the noble fray,
Great and terrific even in death you lay,
And aeluges of blood flow'd round you every way.
Nor ceased the strife till Jove himself opposed,
And all in tempests the dire evening closed.
Then to the fleet we bore thy honour'd load,
And decent on the funeral bed bestow'd:
Then unguents sweet and tepid streams we shed;
Tears flow'd from every eye, and o'er the dead
Each clipp'd the curling honours of his head.
Struck at the news, thy azure mother came;
The sea-green sisters waited on the dame:
A voice of loud lament through all the main
Was heard; and terror seized the Grecian train:
Back to their ships the frighted host had fled;
But Nestor spoke, they listen'd and obey'd
(From old experience Nestor's counsel springs,
And long vicissitudes of human things).
Forbear your flight: fair Thetis from the main
To mourn Achilles leads her azure train.'
Around thee stand the daughters of the deep,
Robe thee in heavenly vests, and round thee weep
Round thee, the Muses, with alternate strain,
In ever-consecrating verse, complain.
Each warlike Greek the moving music hears,
And iron-hearted heroes melt in tears.
Till seventeen nights and seventeen days return'd,
All that was mortal or immortal mourn'd.
To flames we gave thee, the succeeding day,
And fatted sheep, and sable oxen slay;
With oils and honey blaze the augmented fires,
And, like a god adorn'd, thy earthly part expires,
Unnumber'd warriors round the burning pile
Urge the fleet courser's or the racer's toil;
Thick clouds of dust o'er all the circlé rise,
And the mix'd clamour thunders in the skies.
Soon as absorpt in all embracing flame
Sunk what was mortal of thy mighty name,
We then collect thy snowy bones, and place
With wines and unguents in a golden vase
5 (The vase to Thetis Bacchus gave of old,
And Vulcan's art enrich'd the sculptured gold).
There, we thy relics, great Achilles! blend
With dear Patroclus, thy departed friend:
In the same urn a separate space contains
Thy next beloved, Antilochus' remains.
Now all the sons of warlike Greece surround
Thy destined tomb, and cast a mighty mound:
High on the shore the growing hill we raise,
That wide the extended Hellespont surveys:
The souls of the suitors are conducted by Mercury to the infernal shades. Ulysses in the country goes to the retirement of his father Laërtes; he finds him busied in his garden all alone: the manner of his discovery to him is beautifully described. They return together to his lodge, and the king is acknowledged by Dolius and the servants. The Ithacensians, led by Eupithes, the father of Antinous, rise against Ulysses, who gives them battle, in which Eupithes is killed by Laërtes: and the goddess Pallas makes a lasting peace between Ulysses and his subjects, which concludes the Odyssey.
CYLLENIUS now to Pluto's dreary reign
Conveys the dead, a lamentable train!
The golden wand, that causes sleep to fly,
Or in soft slumber seals the wakeful eye,
That drives the ghosts to realms of night or day;
Points out the long uncomfortable way.
Trembling the spectres glide, and plaintive vent
Thin, hollow screams, along the deep descent.
As in the cavern of some rifted den,
Where flock nocturnal bats, and birds obscene;
Cluster'd they hang, till at some sudden shock
They move, and murmurs run through all the rock
So cowering fled the sable heaps of ghosts,
And such a scream fill'd all the dismal coasts.
And now they reach'd the earth's remotest ends,
And now the gates where evening Sol descends,
And Leucas' rock, and Ocean's utmost streams,
And now pervade the dusky land of dreams,
And rest at last, where souls unbodied dwell
In ever-flowering meads of Asphodel.
The empty forms of men inhabit there,
Impassive semblance, images of air!
Nought else are all that shined on earth before;
Ajax and great Achilles are no more!
15 Where all from age to age, who pass the coast,
May point Achilles' tomb, and hail the mighty ghost
Thetis herself to all our peers proclaims
Heroie prizes and exequial games;
The gods assented; and around thee lay
20 Rich spoils and gifts that blazed against the day.
Oft have I seen with solemn funeral games
Heroes and kings committed to the flames;
But strength of youth, or valour of the brave,
With nobler contest ne'er renown'd a grave