Page images
PDF
EPUB

"Alas! for this," the prudent man replies,
"Against Ulysses shall thy anger rise?
Loved and adored, oh goddess, as thou art,
Forgive the weakness of a human heart.
Though well I see thy graces far above
The dear, though mortal object of my love,
Of youth eternal well the difference know,
And the short date of fading charms below;
Yet every day while absent thus I roam,
I languish to return and die at home.
Whate'er the gods shall destine me to bear
In the black ocean, or the watery war,
'Tis mine to master with a constant mind;
Inured to perils, to the worst resign'd,
By seas, by wars, so many dangers run;
Still I can suffer: their high will be done!"

275

280

285

290

296

Thus while he spoke, the beamy sun descends, And rising night her friendly shade extends. To the close grot the lonely pair remove, And slept delighted with the gifts of love. When rosy morning call'd them from their rest, Ulysses robed him in the cloak and vest. The nymph's fair head a veil transparent graced, Her swelling loins a radiant zone embraced With flowers of gold: an under robe, unbound, In snowy waves flow'd glittering on the ground. Forth issuing thus, she gave him first to wield A weighty axe, with truest temper steel'd, And double edged; the handle smooth and plain, Wrought of the clouded olive's easy grain; And next, a wedge to drive with sweepy sway: Then to the neighbouring forest led the way. On the lone island's utmost verge there stood Of poplars, pines, and firs, a lofty wood, Whose leafless summits to the skies aspire, Scorch'd by the sun, or sear'd by heavenly fire: (Already dried.) These pointing out to view, The nymph just show'd him, and with tears with

drew. HOM.-III.-B

300

305

310

Now toils the hero: trees on trees o'erthrown
Fall crackling round him, and the forests groan:
Sudden, full twenty on the plain are strow'd,
And lopp'd and lighten'd of their branchy load.
At equal angles these disposed to join,

315

He smoothed and squared them by the rule and line. (The wimbles for the work Calypso found:)

With those he pierced them, and with clinchers bound.

Long and capacious as a shipwright forms

325

Some bark's broad bottom to out ride the storms,
So large he built the raft: then ribb'd it strong 321
From space to space, and nail'd the planks along;
These form'd the sides: the deck he fashion'd last;
Then o'er the vessel raised the taper mast,
With crossing sail yards dancing in the wind;
And to the helm the guiding rudder join'd:
(With yielding osiers fenced, to break the force
Of surging waves, and steer the steady course.)
Thy loom, Calypso, for the future sails
Supplied the cloth, capacious of the gales.
With stays and cordage last he rigg'd the ship,
And, roll❜d on levers, launched her in the deep.
Four days were pass'd, and now the work

complete,

330

Shone the fifth morn, when from her sacred seat 334
The nymph dismiss'd him, (odorous garments given,)
And bathed in fragrant oils that breathed of heaven:
Then fill'd two goatskins with her hands divine,
With water one, and one with sable wine:
Of every kind, provisions heaved aboard;

And the full decks with copious viands stored. 340
The goddess, last, a gentle breeze supplies,
To curl old ocean, and to warm the skies.

And, now, rejoicing in the prosperous gales,
With beating heart Ulysses spreads his sails:
Placed at the helm he sat, and mark'd the skies,
Nor closed in sleep his ever-watchful eyes.

346

350

355

There view'd the Pleiads, and the Northern Team,
And great Orion's more refulgent beam,
To which, around the axle of the sky,
The Bear, revolving, points his golden eye:
Who shines exalted on the ethereal plain,
Nor bathes his blazing forehead in the main.
Far on the left those radiant fires to keep
The nymph directed, as he sail'd the deep.
Full seventeen nights he cut the foamy way:
The distant land appear'd the following day:
Then swell'd to sight Phæacia's dusky coast,
And woody mountains, half in vapours lost ;
That lay before him indistinct and vast,
Like a broad shield amid the watery waste.
But him, thus voyaging the deeps below,
From far, on Solyme's aerial brow,
The king of ocean saw, and, seeing, burn'd;
(From Ethiopia's happy climes return'd ;)
The raging monarch shook his azure head,
And thus in secret to his soul he said:

360

365

"Heavens! how uncertain are the powers on high!

370

375

Is then reversed the sentence of the sky,
In one man's favour; while a distant guest
I shared secure the Ethiopian feast?
Behold how near Phæacia's land he draws!
The land, affix'd by fate's eternal laws
To end his toils. Is then our anger vain!
No; if this sceptre yet commands the main."
He spoke, and high the forky trident hurl'd,
Rolls clouds on clouds, and stirs the watery world;
At once the face of earth and sea deforms,
Swells all the winds, and rouses all the storms.
Down rush'd the night: east, west, together roar;
And south and north roll mountains to the shore;
Then shook the hero, to despair resign'd,
38
And question'd thus his yet unconquer'd mind:
"Wretch that I am! what further fates attend
This life of toils, and what my destined end?

Too well, alas! the island goddess knew

385

On the black sea what perils should ensue.
New horrors now this destined head enclose;
Unfill'd is yet the measure of my woes;

391

395

With what a cloud the brows of heaven are crown'd!
What raging winds! what roaring waters round!
"Tis Jove himself the swelling tempests rears;
Death, present death, on every side appears.
Happy! thrice happy! who, in battle slain,
Press'd, in Atrides' cause, the Trojan plain!
Oh! had I died before that well-fought wall;
Had some distinguish'd day renown'd my fall;
(Such as was that when showers of javelins fled
From conquering Troy around Achilles dead ;)
All Greece had paid me solemn funerals then,
And spread my glory with the sons of men.
A shameful fate now hides my hapless head,
Unwept, unnoted, and for ever dead!"

400

410

A mighty wave rush'd o'er him as he spoke, The raft it cover'd, and the mast it broke; Swept from the deck, and from the rudder torn, 405 Far on the swelling surge the chief was borne; While by the howling tempest rent in twain Flew sail and sail yards rattling o'er the main. Long press'd, he heaved beneath the mighty wave, Clogg'd by the cumbrous vest Calypso gave: At length emerging, from his nostrils wide And gushing mouth effused the briny tide; Ev'n then not mindless of his last retreat, He seized the raft, and leap'd into his seat, Strong with the fear of death. The rolling flood 415 Now here, now there, impell'd the floating wood. As when a heap of gather'd thorns is cast Now to, now fro, before the autumnal blast; Together clung, it rolls around the field; So roll'd the float, and so its texture held:

420

And now the south, and now the north bear sway,
And now the east the foamy floods obey,
And now the west wind whirls it o'er the sea.

425

The wandering chief with toils on toils oppress'd, Leucothea saw, and pity touch'd her breast: (Herself a mortal once, of Cadmus' strain,

But now an azure sister of the main.)

Swift as a sea mew, springing from the flood,

All radiant on the raft the goddess stood:

Then thus address'd him: "Thou, whom Heaven decrees

430

435

To Neptune's wrath, stern tyrant of the seas!
(Unequal contest!) not his rage and power,
Great as he is, such virtue shall devour.
What I suggest, thy wisdom will perform;
Forsake thy float, and leave it to the storm :
Strip off thy garments; Neptune's fury brave
With naked strength, and plunge into the wave.
To reach Phæacia all thy nerves extend,
There fate decrees thy miseries shall end.
This heavenly scarf beneath thy bosom bind,
And live; give all thy terrors to the wind.
Soon as thy arms the happy shore shall gain,
Return the gift, and cast it in the main;
Observe my orders, and with heed obey,
Cast it far off, and turn thy eyes away."
With that, her hand the sacred veil bestows,
Then down the deeps she dived from whence she

rose;

A moment snatch'd the shining form away,
And all was cover'd with the curling sea.

Struck with amaze, yet still to doubt inclined,
He stands suspended, and explores his mind.
"What shall I do? unhappy me! who knows
But other gods intend me other woes?
Whoe'er thou art, I shall not blindly join
Thy pleaded reason, but consult with mine:
For scarce in ken appears that distant isle
Thy voice foretels me shall conclude my toil.
Thus then I judge: while yet the planks sustain
The wild waves' fury, here I fix'd remain ;

440

445

451

455

« PreviousContinue »