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And common turf, lie naked on the plain,
Or doom'd to welter in the whelming main.
Should he return, that troop so blithe and bold,
With purple robes inwrought, and stiff with gold,
Precipitant in fear would wing their flight,
And curse their cumbrous pride's unwieldy weight.
But, ah, I dream—the appointed hour is fled,
And hope, too long with vain delusion fed,
Deaf to the rumour of fallacious fame,
Gives to the roll of death his glorious name!
With venial freedom let me now demand
Thy name, thy lineage, and paternal land :
Sincere, from whence began thy course, recite,
And to what ship I owe the friendly freight.
Now first to me this visit dost thou deign,
Or number'd in my father's social train?
All who deserved his choice, he made his own,
And curious much to know, he far was known.'
My birth I boast (the blue-eyed virgin cries)
From great Anchialus, renown'd and wise:
Mentes my name; I rule the Taphian race,
Whose bounds the deep circumfluent waves em-
A duteous people, and industrious isle, [brace:
To naval arts inured, and stormy toil.
Freighted with iron from my native land,
I steer my voyage to the Brutian strand;
To gain by commerce, for the labour'd mass,
A just proportion of refulgent brass.
Far from your capital, my ship resides
At Reithrus, and secure at anchor rides ;
Where waving groves on weary
Supremely tall, and shade the deeps below.
Thence to revisit your imperial dome,
An old hereditary guest I come :
Your father's friend. Laertes can relate Our faith unspotted, and its early date; Who, press'd with heart-corroding grief and years, To the gay court a rural shed prefers, Where, sole of all his train, a matron sage Supports with homely food his drooping age; With feeble steps from marshaling his vines Returning sad, when toilsome day declines. With friendly speed, induced by erring fame, To hail Ulysses' safe return I came: But still the frown of some celestial power With envious joy retards the blissful hour. Let not your soul be sunk in sad despair ; He lives, he breathes this heavenly vital air, Among a savage race, whose shelfy bounds With ceaseless roar the foaming deep surrounds. The thoughts which roll within my ravish'd breast, To me, no seer, the’ inspiring gods suggest; Nor skill'd, nor studious, with prophetic eye To judge the winged omens of the sky, Yet hear this certain speech, nor deem it vain ; Though adamantine bonds the chief restrain, The dire restraint his wisdom will defeat, And soon restore him to his regal seat. But, generous youth! sincere and free declare, Are you, of manly growth, his royal heir? For sure Ulysses in your look appears, The same his features, if the same his years. Such was that face, on which I dwelt with joy Ere Greece assembled stemm’d the tides to Troy; But parting then for that detested shore, Our eyes, unhappy! never greeted more.'
* To prove a genuine birth (the prince replies) On female truth assenting faith relies :
Thus manifest of right, I build my claim
Sure-founded on a fair maternal fame,
Ulysses' son: but happier he whom Fate [great!
Hath placed beneath the storms which toss the
Happier the son whose hoary sire is bless'd
With humble affluence, and domestic rest!
Happier than I, to future empire born,
But doom'd a father's wretched fate to mourn !'
To whom, with aspect mild, the guest divine-
• O true descendant of a sceptred line!
The gods, a glorious fate, from anguish free,
To chaste Penelope's increase decree.
But say, yon jovial troop so gaily dress’d,
Is this a bridal or a friendly feast?
Or from their deed I rightlier may divine,
Unseemly flown with insolence and wine,
Unwelcome revellers, whose lawless joy
Pains the sage ear, and hurts the sober eye ?
Magnificence of old (the prince replied) Beneath our roof with virtue could reside; Unblamed abundance crown'd the royal board, What time this dome revered her prudent lord; Who now, so Heaven decrees, is doom'd to mourn, Bitter constraint! erroneous and forlorn. Better the chief, on Ilion's hostile plain, Had fallen surrounded with his warlike train; Or safe return’d, the race of glory pass’d, New to his friend's embrace, had breathed his last! Then grateful Greece with streaming eyes would Historic marbles, to record his praise; [raise His praise, eternal on the faithful stone, Had with transmissive honour graced his son. Now, snatch'd by harpies to the dreary coast, Sunk is the hero, and his glory lost:
Vanish'd at once! unheard of, and unknown!
And I his heir in misery alone.
Nor for a dear lost father only flow
The filial tears, but woe succeeds to woe:
Totempt the spouseless queen with amorous wiles,
Resort the nobles from the neighbouring isles;
From Samos, circled with the' Ionian main,
Dulichium, and Zacynthus' silvan reign :
E'en with presumptuous hope her bed to’ ascend,
The lords of Ithaca their right pretend.
She seems attentive to their pleaded vows,
Her heart detesting what her ear allows.
They, vain expectants of the bridal hour,
My stores in riotous expense devour,
In feast and dance the mirthful months employ,
And meditate my doom, to crown their joy.'
With tender pity touch'd, the goddess cried : - Soon
may kind Heaven a sure relief provide, Soon may your sire discharge the vengeance due, And all your wrongs the proud oppressors
Oh! in that portal should the chief appear,
Each hand tremendous with a brazen spear,
In radiant panoply his limbs incased
(For so of old my father's court he graced,
When social mirth unbent his serious soul,
O'er the full banquet, and the sprightly bowl):
He then from Ephyra, the fair domain
Of Ilus, sprung from Jason's royal strain,
Measured a length of seas, a toilsome length, in
For voyaging to learn the direful art
To taint with deadly drugs the barbed dart;
Observant of the gods, and sternly just,
Ilus refused to’impart the baneful trust:
With friendlier zeal my father's soul was fired,
The drugs he knew, and gave the boon desired.
Appear’d he now with such heroic port,
As then conspicuous at the Taphian court,
Soon should yon boasters cease their haughty
Or each atone his guilty love with life. (strife,
But of his wish'd return the care resign ;
Be future vengeance to the powers divine.
My sentence hear: with stern distaste avow'd,
To their own districts drive the suitor crowd :
When next the morning warms the purple east,
Convoke the peerage, and the gods attest;
The sorrows of your inmost soul relate;
And form sure plans to save the sinking state,
Should second love a pleasing fame inspire,
And the chaste queen connubial rites require;
Dismiss'd with honour, let her hence repair
To great Icarius, whose paternal care
Will guide her passion, and reward her choice
With wealthy dower, and bridal gifts of price.
Then let this dictate of my love prevail :
Instant, to foreign realms prepare to sail,
To learn your father's fortunes : fame may prove,
Or omen'd voice (the messenger of Jove),
Propitious to the search. Direct your toil
Through the wide ocean first to sandy Pyle;
Of Nestor, hoary sage, his doom demand:
Then speed your voyage to the Spartan strand;
Atrides to the’ Achaian coast
Arrived the last of all the victor host.
If yet Ulysses views the light, forbear,
Till the feet hours restore the circling year :
But if his soul hath wing'd the destined flight,
Inhabitant of deep disastrous night;