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THE man, for wisdom's various arts renown'd,
Long exercis'd in woes, oh Muse! resound.
Who, when his arms had wrought the destin'd fall
Of sacred Troy, and raz'd her heaven-built wall,
Wandering from clime to clime, observant stray'd, 5
Their manners noted, and their states survey'd.
On stormy seas unnumber'd toils he bore,
Safe with his friends to gain his natal shore:
Vain toils! their impious folly dar'do prey
On herds devoted to the god of day;
The god vindictive doom'd them never more
* (Ah, men unbless'd!) to touch that natal shore.
Oh, snatch some portion of these acts from fafe,
Celestial Muse! and to our world relate.
Now at their native realms the Greeks arriv'd; 15
All who the wars of ten long years surviv'd,
And 'scap'd the perils of the gulfy main.
Ulysses, sole of all the victor train,
An exile from his dear paternal coast,
Deplor'd his absent queen, and empire lost.
Calypso in her caves constrain'd his stay,
With sweet, reluctant, amorous delay:
In vain-for now the circling years disclose
The day predestin'd to reward his woes.
At length his Ithaca is given by fate,
Where yet new labours his arrival wait;
At length their rage the hostile powers restrain,
All but the ruthless monarch of the main.
But now the god, remote,
In Æthiopia grac'd the genial feast
a heavenly guest,
(A race divided, whom with sloping rays
The rising and descending sun surveys);
There on the world's extremest verge, rever'd
With hecatombs and prayer in pomp preferr'd,
Distant he lay: while in the bright abodes
Of high Olympus, Jove conven'd the gods:
Th' assembly thus the sire supreme addrest,
Ægysthus' fate revolving in his breast,
Whom young Orestes to the dreary coast.
Of Pluto sent, a blood-polluted ghost.
Perverse mankind! whose wills, created free, Charge all their woes on absolute decree; All to the dooming gods their guilt translate, And follies are miscall'd the crimes of fate. When to his lust Egysthus gave the rein, Did fate, or we, th' adulterous act constrain? Did fate, or we, when great Atrides dy'd, Urge the bold traitor to the regicide? Hermes I sent, while yet his soul remain'd Sincere from royal blood, and faith profan'd; To warn the wretch, that young Orestes, grown To manly years, should re-assert the throne. Yet, impotent of mind, and uncontroul'd He plung'd into the gulf, which heaven foretold. Here paus'd the god; and pensive thus replies, 55 Minerva, graceful with her azure eyes.
O thou! from whom the whole creation springs,
The source of power on earth deriv'd to kings!
His death was equal to the direful deed;
So may the man of blood be doom'd to bleed!
But grief and rage alternate wound my breast
For brave Ulysses, still by fate opprest.
Amidst an isle, around whose rocky shore
The forests murmur, and the surges roar,
The blameless hero from his wish'd-for home
A goddess guards in her enchanted dome:
(Atlas her sire, to whose far-piercing eye
The wonders of the deep expanded lie;
Th' eternal columns which on earth he rears
End in the starry vault, and prop the spheres.)
By his fair daughter is the chief confin'd,
Who soothes to dear delight his anxious mind:
Successless all her soft caresses prove,
To banish from his breast his country's love;
To see the smoke from his lov'd palace rise,
While the dear isle in distant prospect lies,
With what contentment could he close his eyes!
And will Omnipotence neglect to save
The suffering virtue of the wise and brave?
Must he, whose altars on the Phrygian shore
With frequent rites, and pure, avow'd thy power,
Be doom'd the worst of human ills to prove,
Unbless'd, abandon'd to the wrath of Jove?
Daughter! what words have pass'd thy lips un-
(Reply'd the Thunderer to the martial maid):
Deem not unjustly by my doom opprest,
Of human race the wisest and the best.
Neptune, by prayer repentant rarely won,
Afflicts the chief, t' avenge his giant-son,
Whose visual orb Ulysses robb'd of light;
Great Polypheme, of more than mortal might!
Him young Thoösa bore (the bright increase
Of Phorcys, dreaded in the sounds and seas):
Whom Neptune ey'd with bloom of beauty blest,
And in his cave the yielding nymph comprest.
For this, the god constrains the Greek to roam,
A hopeless exile from his native home,
From death alone exempt-but cease to mourn;
Let all combine t' achieve his wish'd return:
Neptune aton'd, his wrath shall now refrain,
Or thwart the synod of the gods in vain.
Father and king ador'd! Minerva cry'd,
Since all who in th' Olympian bower reside
Now make the wandering Greek their public care,
Let Hermes to th' Atlantic isle* repair;
Bid him, arriv'd in bright Calypso's court,
The sanction of th' assembled powers report:
That wise Ulysses to his native land
Must speed, obedient to their high command.
Meantime Telemachus, the blooming heir
Of sea-girt Ithaca, demands my care:
"Tis mine, to form his green, unpractis'd years,
In sage debates; surrounded with his peers,
To save the state; and timely to restrain
The bold intrusion of the suitor-train:
Who crowd his palace, and with lawless power
His herds and flocks in feastful rites devour.
To distant Sparta, and the spacious waste
Of sandy Pyle, the royal youth shall haste.
There, warm with filial love, the cause inquire
That from his realm retards his godlike sire:
Delivering early to the voice of fame
The promise of a great, immortal name.
She said: the sandals of celestial mould, Fledg'd with ambrosial plumes, and rich with gold,
Surround her feet: with these sublime she sails
Th' aerial space, and mounts the winged gales:
O'er earth and ocean wide prepar'd to soar,
Her dreaded arm a beamy javelin bore,
Ponderous and vast; which, when her fury burns,
Proud tyrants humbles, and whole hosts o'erturns.
From high Olympus prone her flight she bends,
And in the realm of Ithaca descends.
Her lineaments divine, the grave disguise
Of Mentes' form conceal'd from human eyes
(Mentes, the monarch of the Taphian land):
A glittering spear wav'd awful in her hand.
There in the portal plac'd, the heaven-born maid
Enormous riot and misrule survey'd.
On hides of beeves, before the palace gate
(Sad spoils of luxury), the suitors sate.
With rival art, and ardour in their mien,
At chess they vie, to captivate the queen;
Divining of their loves. Attending nigh,
A menial train the flowing bowl supply:
Others, apart, the spacious hall prepare,
And form the costly feast with busy care.
There young Telemachus, his bloomy face
Glowing celestial sweet, with godlike grace
Amid the circle shines: but hope and fear
(Painful vicissitude!) his bosom tear.
Now, imag'd in his mind, he sees restor'd
In peace and joy the people's rightful lord;
The proud oppressors fly the vengeful sword.
While his fond soul these fancied triumphs swell'd,
The stranger-guest, the royal youth beheld:
Griev'd that a visitant so long should wait
Unmark'd, unhonour'd, at a monarch's gate;
Instant be flew with hospitable haste,
And the new friend with courteous air embrac'd. 160
Stranger! whoe'er thou art, securely rest,
Affianc'd in my faith, a friendly guest:
Approach the dome, the social banquet share,
And then the purpose of thy soul declare.
Thus affable and mild, the prince precedés,
And to the dome th' unknown celestial leads.
The spear receiving from her hand, he plac'd
Against a column, fair with sculpture grac'd;
Where seemly rang'd in peaceful order stood
Ulysses' arms, now long disus'd to blood.
He led the goddess to the sovereign seat,
Her feet supported with a stool of state
(A purple carpet spread the pavement wide);
Then drew his seat, familiar, to her side;
Far from the suitor-train, a brutal crowd,
With insolence, and wine, elate and loud:
Where the free guest, unnoted, might relate,
If haply conscious, of his father's fate.
The golden ewer a maid obsequious brings,
Replenish'd from the cool, translucent springs;
With copious water the bright vase supplies
A silver laver of capacious size:
They wash. The tables in fair order spread,
They heap the glittering canisters with bread:
Viands of various kinds allure the taste,
Of choicest sort and savour, rich repast!
Delicious wines th' attending herald brought;
The gold gave lustre to the purple draught.
Lur'd with the vapour of the fragrant feast,
In rush'd the suitors with voracious haste:
Marshall'd in order due, to each a sewer
Presents, to bathe his hands, a radiant ewer.