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Now all accesses to the dome are fill’d; Eight boars, the choicest of the herd, are kill'd : Two beeves, twelve fatlings from the flock, they bring To crown the feast; so wills the bounteous king, The herald now arrives, and guides along The sacred master of celestial song: Dear to the Muse! who gave his days to flow With mighty blessings, mix’d with mighty woe: With clouds of darkness quench'd his visual ray, But gave him skill to raise the lofty lay. High on a radiant throne, sublime in state, Encircled by huge multitudes, he sat: With silver shone the throne; his lyre, well strung . To rapturous sounds, at hand Pontonous hung : Before his seat a polish'd table shines, And a full goblet foams with generous wines: His food a herald bore: and now they fed; And now the rage of craving hunger fled. Then fired by all the muse, aloud he sings The mighty deeds of demigods and kings: From that fierce wrath the noble song arose, That made Ulysses and Achilles foes: How o'er the feast they doom the fall of Troy; The stern debate Atrides hears with joy: For Heaven foretold the contest, when he trod The marble threshold of the Delphic god, Curious to learn the counsels of the sky, Ere yet he loosed the rage of war on Troy. Touch'd at the song, Ulysses straight resign'd To soft affliction all his manly mind: Before his eyes the purple vest he drew, Industrious to conceal the falling dew:
But when the music paused, he ceased to shed
The flowing tear, and raised his drooping head:
And lifting to the gods a goblet crown'd,
He pour'd a pure libation to the ground.
Transported with the song, the listening train
Again with loud applause demand the strain:
Again Ulysses veil'd his pensive head,
Again, unmann'd, a shower of sorrow shed:
Conceal’d he wept: 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 harmonious
Enough the feast has pleased, enough the power
Of heavenly song has crown'd the genial hour!
Incessant in the games your strength display,
Contest, ye brave, the honours of the day!
That pleased the admiring stranger may proclaim
In distant regions the Phaeacian fame:
None wield the gauntlet with so dire a sway,
Or swifter in the race devour the way;
None in the leap spring with so strong a bound,
Or firmer, in the wrestling, press the ground.’
Thus spoke the king: the attending peers obey;
In state they move; Alcinoùs leads the way:
His golden lyre Demodocus unstrung,
High on a column in the palace hung;
And guided by a herald's guardian cares,
Majestic to the lists of fame repairs.
Now swarms the populace; a countless throng, Youth and hoar age; and man drives man along; The games begin; ambitious of the prize, Acroneus, Thoön, and Eretmeus rise;
The prize Ocyalus and Prymneus claim,
Anchialus and Ponteus, chiefs of fame:
There Proreus, Nautes, Eratreus, appear,
And famed Amphialus, Polyneus' heir:
Euryalus, like Mars terrific, rose,
When clad in wrath he withers hosts of foes:
Naubolides with grace unequal’d shone
Or equal’d by Laodamas alone.
With these came forth Ambasineus the strong,
And three brave sons from great Alcinois sprung.
Ranged in a line the ready racers stand,
Start from the goal, and vanish o'er the strand;
Swift as on wings of wind upborne they fly,
And drifts of rising dust involve the sky:
Before the rest, what space the hinds allow
Between the mule and ox, from plough to plough,
Clytoneus sprung: he wing'd the rapid way,
And bore the unrival’d honours of the day.
With fierce embrace the brawny wrestlers join:
The conquest, great Euryalus, is thine.
Amphialus sprung forward with a bound,
Superior in the leap, a length of ground:
From Eratreus' strong arm the discus flies,
And sings with unmatch'd force along the skies.
And Laodam whirls high, with dreadful sway,
The gloves of death, victorious in the fray.
While thus the peerage in the games contends,
In act to speak, Laodamas ascends:
“O friends (he cries), the stranger seems well
To try the illustrious labours of the field:
I deem him brave; then grant the brave man's
Invite the hero to his share of fame.
Whatnervous arms he boasts! how firm his tread!
His limbs how turn’d l how broad his shoulders
By age unbroke!—but all consuming care
Destroys perhaps the strength that time would
Dire is the ocean, dread in all its forms |
Man must decay, when man contends with storms.'
“Well hast thou spoke (Euryalus replies),
Thine is the guest, invite him thou to rise.”
Swift at the word advancing from the crowd
He made obeisance, and thus spoke aloud—
‘Vouchsafes the reverend stranger to display
His manly worth, and share the glorious day?
Father, arise! for thee thy port proclaims
Expert to conquer in the solemn games.
To fame arise! for what more fame can yield
Than the swift race, or conflict of the field?
Steal from corroding care one transient day,
To glory give the space thou hast to stay;
Short is the time, and lo! elen now the gales
Call thee aboard, and stretch the swelling sails.’
To whom with sighs Ulysses gave reply:
“Ah why the ill suiting pastime must I try?
To gloomy care my thoughts alone are free;
Ill the gay sports with troubled hearts agree:
Sad from my natal hour my days have ran,
A much afflicted, much enduring man!
Who, suppliant to the king and peers, implores
A speedy voyage to his native shores.’
“Wide wanders, Laodam, thy erring tongue,
The sports of glory to the brave belong
(Retorts Euryalus), he boasts no claim
Among the great, unlike the sons of fame.
A wandering merchant he frequents the main,
Some mean seafarer in pursuit of gain;
Studious of freight, in naval trade well skill'd,
But dreads the athletic labours of the field.’
Incensed Ulysses with a frown replies:
“O forward to proclaim thy soul unwise!
With partial hands the gods their gifts dispense:
Some greatly think, some speak with manly sense;
Here Heaven an elegance of form denies,
But wisdom the defect of form supplies:
This man with energy of thought controls,
And steals with modest violence our souls;
He speaks reservedly, but he speaks with force,
Nor can one word be changed but for a worse;
In public more than mortal he appears,
And as he moves the gazing crowd reveres:
While others, beauteous as the etherial kind,
The nobler portion want, a knowing mind.
In outward show Heaven gives thee to excel,
But Heaven denies the praise of thinking well.
Ill bear the brave a rude ungovern'd tongue,
And, youth, my generous soul resents the wrong:
Skill'd in heroic exercise, I claim
A post of honour with the sons of fame:
Such was my boast while vigour crown'd my days,
Now care surrounds me, and my force decays;
Inured a melancholy part to bear,
In scenes of death, by tempest and by war.
Yet thus by woes impair'd, no more I wave
To prove the hero.—Slander stings the brave.”
Then, striding forward with a furious bound,
He wrench'd a rocky fragment from the ground,
By far more ponderous, and more huge by far,
Than what Phaeacia's sons discharged in air.