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First on the main land, of Ulysses' breed Twelve herds, twelve flocks, on ocean's margin
feed; As many stalls for shaggy goats are rear’d; As many lodgments for the tusky herd; Those foreign keepers guard: and here are seen Twelve herds of goats that grace our utmost green; To native pastors is their charge assign’d; And mine the care to feed the bristly kind: Each day the fattest bleeds of either herd, All to the suitors' wasteful board preferr’d.'
Thus he, benevolent: his unknown guest With hunger keen devours the savoury feast; While schemes of vengeance ripen in his breast. Silent and thoughtful while the board he eyed, Eumæus pours on high the purple tide; The king with smiling looks his joy express'd, And thus the kind inviting host address'd
Say now, what man is he, the man deplored, So rich, so potent, whom you style your lord? Late with such affluence and possessions bless'd, And now in honour's glorious bed at rest. Whoever was the warrior, he must be To fame no stranger, nor perhaps to me; Who (so the gods, and so the fates ordain’d) Have wander'd many a sea, and many a land.'
• Small is the faith the prince and queen ascribe (Replied Eumæus) to the wandering tribe: For needy strangers still to flattery fly, And want too oft betrays the tongue to lie. Each vagrant traveller that touches here, Deludes with fallacies the royal ear, To dear remembrance makes his image rise, And calls the springing sorrows from her eyes,
Such thou mayst be. But he whose name you crave
Moulders in earth, or welters on the wave,
Or food for fish, or dogs, his relics lie,
Or torn by birds are scatter'd through the sky.
So perish'd he: and left (for ever lost)
Much woe to all, but sure to me the most.
So mild a master never shall I find:
Less dear the parents whom 1 left behind,
Less soft my mother, less my father kind.
Not with such transport would my eyes run o'er,
Again to hail them in their native shore.
As loved Ulysses once more to embrace,
Restored and breathing in his natal place.
That name, for ever dread, yet ever dear,
E’en in his absence I pronounce with fear:
In my respect, he bears a prince's part;
heart.' Thus spoke the faithful swain, and thus rejoin'd The master of his grief, the man of patient mind
Ulysses, friend! shall view his old abodes, Distrustful as thou art, nor doubt the gods. Nor speak I rashly, but with faith averr'd, And what I speak attesting Heaven has heard. If so, a cloak and vesture be my meed; Till his return no title shall I plead, Though certain be my news, and great my need. Whom want itself can force untruths to tell, My soul detests him as the gates of hell.
* Thou first be witness, hospitable Jove! And every god inspiring social love! And witness every household
that waits Guard of these fires, and angel of these gates! Ere the next moon increase, or this decay, His ancient realms. Ulysses shall survey,
In blood and dust each proud oppressor mourn, And the lost glories of his house return.'
· Nor shall that meed be thine, nor ever more Shall loved Ulysses hail this happy shore (Replied Eumæus): to the present hour Now turn thy thought and joys within our power. From sad reflection let
The name of him awakes a thousand woes.
But guard him, gods! and to these arms restore!
Not his true consort can desire him more;
Not old Laertes, broken with despair;
Not young Telemachus, his blooming heir.
Alas, Telemachus! my sorrows flow
Afresh for thee, my second cause of woe!
Like some fair plant set by a heavenly hand,
He grew, he flourish’d, and he bless'd the lànd;
In all the youth his father's image shined,
Bright in his person, brighter in his mind.
What man, or god, deceived his better sense,
Far on the swelling seas to wander hence?
To distant Pylos hapless is he gone,
To seek his father's fate, and find his own!
For traitors wait his way, with dire design
To end at once the great Arcesian line.
But let us leave him to their wills above;
The fates of men are in the hand of Jove.
And now, my venerable guest, declare
Your name, your parents, and your native air:
Sincere, from whence begun your course relate,
And to what ship I owe the friendly freight.'
Thus he: and thus, with prompt invention bold, The cautious chief his ready story told
· On dark reserve what better can prevail, Or from the fluent tongue produce the tale,
Than when two friends, alone, in peaceful place
Confer, and wines and cates the table grace;
But most the kind inviter's cheerful face?
Thus might we sit, with social goblets crown'd,
Till the whole circle of the year goes round;
Not the whole circle of the year would close
My long narration of a life of woes. [came
But such was Heaven's high will! Know then, I
From sacred Crete, and from a sire of fame,
Castor Hylacides (that name he bore)
Beloved and honour'd in his native shore;
Bless'd in his riches, in his children more.
Sprung of a handmaid, from a bought embrace,
I shared his kindness with his lawful race:
But when that fate, which all must undergo,
From earth removed him to the shades below,
The large domain his greedy sons divide,
And each was portion'd as the lots decide.
Little, alas! was left my wretched share,
Except a house, a covert from the air:
But what by niggard fortune was denied,
A willing widow's copious wealth supplied.
My valour was my plea, a gallant mind
That, true to honour, never lagg’d behind;
(The sex is ever to a soldier kind).
Now wasting years my former strength confound,
And added woes have bow'd me to the ground;
Yet by the stubble you may guess the grain,
And mark the ruins of no vulgar man.
Me, Pallas gave to lead the martial storm,
And the fair ranks of battle to deform:
Me, Mars inspired to turn the foe to flight,
And tempt the secret ambush of the night.
Let ghastly death in all his forms appear,
I saw him not; it was not mine to fear.
Before the rest I raised my ready steel;
The first I met, he yielded, or he fell.
But works of peace my soul disdain'd to bear,
The rural labour, or domestic care.
To raise the mast, the missile dart to wing,
And send swift arrows from the bounding string,
Were arts the gods made grateful to my mind;
Those gods who turn (to various ends design’d)
The various thoughts and talents of mankind.
Before the Grecians touch'd the Trojan plạin,
Nine times commander or by land or main,
In foreign fields I spread my glory far,
Great in the praise, rich in the spoils of war:
Thence charged with riches, as increased in fame,
To Crete return’d, an honourable name.
But when great Jove that direful war decreed,
Which roused all Greece, and made the mighty
Our states myself and Idomen employ [bleed,
To lead their feets, and carry death to Troy.
Nine years we warr’d: the tenth saw Ilion fall;
Homeward we sail'd, but Heaven dispersed us all.
One only month my wife enjoy'd my stay;
So will’d the god who gives and takes away.
Nine ships I mann'd, equipp'd with ready stores,
Intent to voyage to the’Egyptian shores;
In feast and sacrifice
chosen train [main. Six days consumed; the seventh we plough'd the Crete’s ample fields diminish to our eye; Before the Boreal blast the vessels fly: Safe through the level seas we sweep our way; The steerman governs, and the ships obey,