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The fifth fair morn we stem the’Egyptian tide,
And tilting o'er the bay the vessels ride:
To anchor there my fellows I command,
And spies commission to explore the land.
But sway'd by lust of gain, and headlong will,
The coasts they ravage, and the natives kill.
The spreading clamour to their city flies,
And horse and foot in mingled tumult rise.
The reddening dawn reveals the circling fields
Horrid with bristly spears, and glancing shields.
Jove thunder'd on their side. Our guilty head
We turn'd to flight: the gathering vengeance
On all parts round, and heaps on heaps lie dead.
I then explored my thought, what course to prove?
(And sure the thought was dictated by Jove;
O had he left me to that happier doom,
And saved a life of miseries to come!)
The radiant helmet from my brows unlaced,
And low on earth my shield and javelin cast,
I meet the monarch with a suppliant's face,
Approach his chariot, and his knees embrace.
He heard, he saved, he placed me at his side:
My state he pitied, and my tears he dried,
Restrain'd the rage the vengeful foe express'd,
And turn’d the deadly weapons from my breast.
Pious! to guard the hospitable rite,
And fearing Jove, whom mercy's works delight.
In Egypt thus with peace and plenty bless'd I lived (and happy still had lived) a guest: On seven bright years successive blessings wait; The next changed all the colour of my fate. A false Phoenician, of insidious mind, Versed in vile arts, and foe to humankind,
With semblance fair invites me to his home;
I seized the proffer (ever fond to roam);
Domestic in his faithless roof I stay'd,
Till the swift sun his annual circle made.
To Libya then he meditates the way;
With guileful art a stranger to betray,
And sell to bondage in a foreign land:
Much doubting, yet compellid, I quit the strand.
Through the mid seas the nimble pinnace sails,
Aloof from Crete, before the northern gales:
But when remote her chalky cliffs we lost,
And far from ken of any other coast,
When all was wild expanse of sea and air,
Then doom'd high Jove due vengeance
prepare, He hung a night of horrors o'er their head (The shaded ocean blacken’d as it spread), He launch’d the fiery bolt; from pole to pole Broad burst the lightnings, deep the thunders roll; In giddy rounds the whirling ship is toss’d, And all in clouds the smothering sulphur lost. As from a hanging rock's tremendous height, The sable crows with intercepted flight [huę; Drop endlong; scared, and black with sulphurous So from the deck are hurl’d the ghastly crew. Such end the wicked found! But Jove's intent Was yet to save the’ oppress’d and innocent. Placed on the mast (the last recourse of life) With winds and waves I held unequal strife; For nine long days the billows tilting o'er, The tenth soft wafts me to Thresprotia's shore. The monarch's son a shipwreck'd wretch relieved, The sire with hospitable rites received, And in his palace like a brother placed, With gifts of price and gorgeous garments graced.
While here I sojourn'd, oft I heard the fame
How late Ulysses to the country came,
How loved, how honour'd in this court he stay'd,
And here his whole collected treasure laid;
I saw myself the vast unnumber'd store
Of steel elaborate, and refulgent ore,
And brass high leap'd amidst the regal dome;
Immense supplies for ages yet to come!
Meantime he voyaged to explore the will
Of Jove on high Dodona's holy hill,
What means might best his safe return avail,
To come in pomp, or bear a secret sail ?
Full oft has Phidon, whilst he pour'd the wine,
Attesting solemn all the powers divine,
That soon Ulysses would return, declared,
The sailors waiting, and the ships prepared.
But first the king dismiss'd me from his shores,
For fair Dulichium crown'd with fruitful stores;
To good Acastus’ friendly care consign'd:
But other counsels pleased the sailors' mind:
New frauds were plotted by the faithless train,
And misery demands me once again.
Soon as remote from shore they plough the wave,
With ready hand they rush to seize their slave;
Then with these tatter'd rags they wrapp'd me
(Stripp'd of my own) and to the vessel bound.
At eve, at Ithaca's delightful land
The ship arrived: forth issuing on the sand,
They sought repast; while to the' unhappy kind,
The pitying gods themselves my chains unbind.
Soft I descended, to the sea applied
My naked breast, and shot along the tide.
Soon pass'd beyond their sight, I left the flood,
And took the spreading shelter of the wood.
Their prize escaped, the faithless pirates mourn’d,
But deem'd inquiry vain, and to their ship return'd.
Screen’d by protecting gods from hostile eyes
They led me to a good man and a wise;
To live beneath thy hospitable care,
And wait the woes Heaven dooms me yet to bear.'
Unhappy guest! whose sorrows touch my
(Thus good Eumæus with a sigh rejoin'd)
For real sufferings since I grieve sincere,
Check not with fallacies the springing tear;
Nor turn the passion into groundless joy
For him, whom Heaven has destined to destroy.
Oh! had he perish'd on some well-fought day,
Or in his friends' embraces died away!
That grateful Greece with streaming eyes might
Historic marbles, to record his praise: [raise
His praise, eternal on the faithful stone,
Had with transmissive honours graced his son.
Now snatch'd by harpies to the dreary coast,
Sunk is the hero, and his glory lost!
While pensive in this solitary den,
Far from gay cities, and the ways of men,
I linger life; nor to the court repair,
But when the constant
Or when, to taste her hospitable board,
Some guest arrives, with rumours of her lord;
And these indulge their want, and those their woe,
And here the tears, and there the goblets flow.
By many such have I been warn’d; but chief
By one Ætolian robb’d of all belief,
Whose hap it was to this our roof to roam,
For murder banish'd from his native home:
He swore, Ulysses on the coast of Crete
Stay'd but a season to refit his feet;
A few revolving months should waft him o'er,
Fraught with bold warriors, and a boundless store.
O thou! whom age has taught to understand,
And Heaven has guided with a favouring hand;
On god or mortal to obtrude a lie
Forbear, and dread to flatter, as to die."
Not for such ends my house and heart are free,
But dear respect to Jove, and charity.'
· And why, O swain of unbelieving mind!
(Thus quick replied the wisest of mankind)
Doubt you my oath? yet more my faith to try,
A solemn compact let us ratify,
And witness every power that rules the sky!
If here Ulysses from his labours rest,
Be then my prize a tunic and a vest;
And, where my hopes invite me, straight transport
In safety to Dulichium's friendly court.
But if he greets not thy desiring eye,
Hurl me from yon dread precipice on high;
The due reward of fraud and perjury.'
* Doubtless, 0 guest! great laud and praise
were mine (Replied the swain) for spotless faith divine, If, after social rites and gifts bestow'd, I stain'd my hospitable hearth with blood: How would the gods my righteous toils succeed, And bless the hand that made a stranger bleed! No more-the' approaching hours of silent night First claim refection, then to rest invite;