תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

BOOK XIII.

The argument.

THE ARRIVAL OF ULYSSES IN ITHACA. Ulysses takes his leave of Alcinoüs and Arete, and embarks in

the evening. Next mornivg the ship arrives at Ithaca ; where the sailors, as Ulysses is yet sleeping, lay him on the shore with all his treasures. On their return, Neptune changes their ship into a rock. In the mean time Ulysses, awaking, knows not bis native Ithaca, by reason of a mist which Pallas had cast round him. He breaks into loud lamentations; till the goddess appearing to him in the form of a shepherd, discovers the country to him, and points out the particular places. He then tells a feigned story of his adventures, upon which she manifests herself, and they consult together of the measures to be taken to destroy the suitors. To conceal his return, and disguise his person the more effectually, she changes him into the figure of an old beggar.

He ceased, but left so pleasing on their ear
His voice, that listening still they seem'd to hear.
A pause

of silence hush'd the shady rooms : The grateful conference then the king resumes:

• Whatever toils the great Ulysses pass'd, Beneath this happy roof they end at last; No longer now from shore to shore to roam, Smooth seas, and gentle winds, invite him home. But hear me, princes! whom these walls enclose, For whom my chanter sings, and goblet flows With wine unmix'd (an honour due to age, To cheer the grave, and warm the poet's rage): Though labour'd gold and many a dazzling vest Lie heap'd already for our godlike guest; Without new treasures let him not remove, Large, and expressive of the public love:

Each peer a tripod, each a vase bestow,
A general tribute, which the state shall owe.'
This sentence pleased: then all their steps ad-

dress'd
To separate mansions, and retired to rest.

Now did the rosy-finger'd morn arise, And shed her sacred light along the skies. Down to the haven and the ships in haste They bore the treasures, and in safety placed. The king himself the vases ranged with care: Then bade his followers to the feast repair. A victim ox beneath the sacred hand Of great Alcinoüs falls, and stains the sand. To Jove the eternal (power above all powers! Who wings the winds, and darkens heaven with

showers) The flames ascend: till evening they prolong The rites, more sacred made by heavenly song: For in the midst, with public honours graced, Thy lyre divine, Demodocus! was placed. Ali, but Ulysses, heard with fix'd delight: He sat, and eyed the sun, and wish'd the night; Slow seem'd the sun to move, the hours to roll, His native home deep imaged in his soul. As the tired ploughman spent with stubborn toil, Whose oxen long have torn the furrow'd soil, Sees with delight the sun's declining ray, When home, with feeble knees, he bends his way To late repast (the day's hard labour done); So to Ulysses welcome set the sun. Then instant, to Alcinoüs and the rest [dress’d (The Scherian states) he turn’d, and thus ad

• O thou, the first in merit and command ! And you the peers and princes of the land!

friends in peace.

May every joy be yours! nor this the least,
When due libation shall have crown'd the feast,
Safe to my home to send your happy guest.
Complete are now the bounties you have given,
Be all those bounties but confirm’d by Heaven!
So
may

I find, when all my wanderings cease, My consort blameless, and

my On you be every bliss; and every day, In home-felt joys delighted, roll away; Yourselves, your wives, your long descending May every god enrich with every grace! [race, Sure fix’d on virtue may your nation stand, And public evil never touch the land! [proved

His words well weigh'd, the general voice apBenign, and instant his dismission moved. The monarch to Pontonous gave the sign, To fill the goblet high with rosy wine: • Great Jove the father, first (he cried) implore; Then send the stranger to his native shore.'

The luscious wine the' obedient herald brought; Around the mansion flow'd the purple draught: Each from his seat to each immortal pours, Whom glory circles in the Olympian bowers. Ulysses sole with air majestic stands, The bowl presenting to Arete's hands; Then thus— O queen, farewell! be still possess'd Of dear remembrance, blessing still and bless'd! Till age and death shall gently call thee hence: (Sure fate of every mortal excellence!) Farewell! and joys successive ever spring To thee, to thine, the people, and the king !'

Thus he; then parting prints the sandy shore To the fair port: a herald march'd before, Sent by Alcinoüs: of Arete's train Three chosen maids attend him to the main ;

This does a tunic and white vest convey,
A various casket that, of rich inlay,
And bread and wine the third. The cheerful mates
Safe in the hollow poop dispose the cates :
Upon the deck, soft painted robes they spread,
With linen cover’d, for the hero's bed.
He climb'd the lofty stern; then gently press'd
The swelling couch, and lay composed to rest.

Now placed in order, the Phæacian train
Their cables loose, and launch into the main :
At once they bend, and strike their equal oars,
And leave the sinking hills, and lessening shores.
While on the deck the chief in silence lies,
And pleasing slumbers steal upon his eyes.
As fiery coursers in the rapid race,
Urged by fierce drivers through the dusty space,
Toss their high heads, and scour along the plain;
So mounts the bounding vessel o'er the main.
Back to the stern the parted billows flow,
And the black ocean foams and roars below.

Thus with spread sails the winged galley flies; Less swift an eagle cuts the liquid skies: Divine Ulysses was her sacred load, A man in wisdom equal to a god! Much danger, long and mighty toils he bore, In storms by sea, and combats on the shore; All which soft sleep now banish'd from his breast, Wrapp'd in a pleasing, deep, and deathlike rest.

But when the morning star with early ray Flamed in the front of heaven, and promised day; Like distant clouds the mariner descries, Fair Ithaca's emerging hills arise. Far from the town a spacious port appears, Sacred to Phorcys' power, whose name it bears:

Two craggy rocks projecting to the main,
The roaring wind's tempestuous rage restrain ;
Within the waves in softer murmurs glide,
And ships secure without their halsers ride.
High at the head a branching olive grows,
And crowns the pointed cliffs with shady boughs.
Beneath, a gloomy grotto's cool recess
Delights the Nereids of the neighbouring seas;
Where bowls and urns were form’d of living stone,
And massy

beams in native marble shone;
On which the labours of the nymphs were rolld,
Their webs divine of purple mix'd with gold.
Within the cave, the clustering bees attend
Their waxen works, or from the roof depend.
Perpetual waters o'er the pavement glide;
Two marble doors unfold on either side;
Sacred the south, by which the gods descend,
But mortals enter at the northern end.

Thither they bent, and haul'd their ship to land (The crooked keel divides the yellow sand); Ulysses sleeping on his couch they bore, And gently placed him on the rocky shore. His treasures next, Alcinoüs' gifts, they laid In the wild olive's unfrequented shade, Secure from theft: then launch'd the bark again, Resumed their oars, and measured back the main.

Nor yet forgot old Ocean's dread supreme The vengeance vow'd for eyeless Polypheme. Before the throne of mighty Jove he stood; And sought the secret counsels of the god.

Shall then no more, O sire of gods! be mine The rights and honours of a power divine? Scorn’d e'en by man, and (oh severe disgrace) By soft Phæacians, my degenerate race!

[ocr errors]
« הקודםהמשך »