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And bitter face. To speak he made essay,
So shall thy tedious toils a respite find,
And thy lost friends return to human-kind.
Lest to thee naked secret fraud be meant,
Or magic bind thee cold and impotent.
360 We press to hear what sadly he relates.
Thus while he spoke, the sovereign plant he drew, We went, Ulysses! (Such was thy command!) Where on the all-bearing earth unmark'd it grew, Through the lone thicket and the desert land. And show'd ils nature and its wondrous power : A palace in a woody vale we found
Black was the root, but milky white the flower;
But all is easy to the ethereal kind.
Shot to Olympus from the woodland shade.
The lofty gates the goddess wide display'd:
She leads before, and to the feast invites ;
Radiant with starry studs, a silver seat
330 O king, beloved of Jove, thy servant spare, Hence to thy fellows! (dreadful she began) And ah, thyself the rash attempt forbear!
Go, be a beast!-I heard, and yet was man.
Then sudden wbirling, like a waving flame,
Struck with unusual fear, she trembling cries,
320 She faints, she falls; she lifts her weeping eyes. I answer'd stern. Inglorious then remain,
What art thou ? say! from whence, from whom Here feast and loiter, and desert thy train. Alone, unfriended, will I tempt my way;
O more than human! tell thy race, thy name. The laws of fate compel, and I obey.
Amazing strength, these poisons to sustain! This said, and scornful turning from the shore Not mortal thou, nor imortal is thy brain.
320 My haughty step, I stalk'd the valley o'er.
Or art thou he? the man to come (foretold Till now approaching nigh the magic bower, By Hermes powerful with the wand of gold ?) Where dwelt the enchantress skill'd in herbs of The man from Troy, who wander'd occan round; power;
The man for wisdom's various arts renown'd, A form divine forth issuing from the wood
Ulysses? Oh! thy threatening fury cease, (Immortal Hermes with the golden rod) 330 Shcath thy bright sword, and join our hands in peace! In human semblance. On his bloomy face
Let mutual joys our mutual trust combine, Youth smiled celestial, with each opening grace. And love, and love-born confidence, be thine. He seized my hand, and gracious thus began :
And how, dread Circe! (furious I rejoin) Ah, whither roam'st thou, much-enduring man? Can love, and love-born confidence be mine? O blind to fate! what led thy steps to rove
Beneath thy charms when my companions groan, The horrid mazes of this mugic grove?
Transform'd to beasts, with accents not their own ? Each friend you seek in yon enclosure lies,
O thou of fraudful heart, shall I be led All lost their form, and habitants of sties.
To share thy feast-rites, or ascend thy bed, Think'st thou by wit to model their escape ? That, all unarm'd, thy vengeance may have vent, Sooner shalt thou, a stranger to thy shape, 340 And magic bind me, cold and impoient ? Fall prone their equal : first thy danger know, Celestial as thou art, yet stand denied ; Then take the antidote the gods bestow.
Or swear that oath by which the gods are tried, The plant I give, through all the direful bower Swear, in thy soul no latent frauds remain, Shall guard thee, and avert the evil hour.
Swear by the vow which never can be vain. 410 Now hear her wicked arts.
The goddess swore: then seized my hand, and led The bowl shall sparkle, and the banquet rise; To the sweet transports of the genial bed. Take this, nor from the faithless feast abstain, Ministrant to the queen, with busy care For temper'd drugs and poison shall be vain. Four faithful handmaids the soft rites prepare; Soon as she strikes her wand, and gives the word, Nymphs sprung from fountains, or from shady woods, Draw forth and brandish thy retiilgent sword, 350 Or the fair offspring of the sacred floods. And menace death; those menaces shall move One o'er the couches painted carpels threw, Her alter'd mind to blandishment and love. Whose purple lustre glow'd against the view: Nor shun the blessing proffer'd to thy arms, White linen lay beneath. Another placed Ascend her bed, and taste celestial charms : The silver stands, with golden flaskets graced: 420
Before thy eyes
With dulcet beverage this the beaker crown'd, Rush to their mothers with unruly joy,
So round me press’d, exulting at my sight,
(These tender words on every side I hear) A vest and tunic o'er me next she threw,
What other joy can equal thy return ? Fresh from the bath, and dropping balmy dew; 430 Not that loved country for whose sight we mourn, Then led and placed me on the sovereign seat, The soil that nursed us, and that gave us breath: With carpets spread; a footstool at my feet. But ah! relate our lost companions' death. 500 The golden ewer a nymph obsequious brings, I answer'd cheerfully. Haste, your galley moor Replenish'd from the cool translucent springs, And bring our treasures and our arms ashore : With copious water the bright vase supplies Those in yon hollow caverns let us lay; A silver laver of capacious size.
Then rise and follow where I lead the way. I wash'd. The table in fair order spread,
Your fellows live: believe your eyes, and come They heap the glittering canisters with bread; To taste the joys of Circe's sacred dome. Viands of various kinds allure the taste,
With ready speed the joyful crew obey : Of choicest sort and savour, rich repast ! 440 Alone Eurylochus persuades their stay. Circe in vain invites the feast to share ;
Whither (he cried) ah whither will ye run ? Absent I ponder, and absorpt in care :
Seek ye to meet those evils ye should shun?
510 While scenes of woe rose anxious in my breast, Will you the terrors of the dome explore, The queen beheld me, and these words addrest : In swine to grovel, or in lions roar, Why sits Ulysses silent and apart,
Or, woff-like, howl away the midnight hour Some hoard of grief close harbour'd at his heart? In dreadful watch around the magic bower? Untouch'd before thee stand the cates divine, Remember Cyclops, and his bloody deed ; And unregarded laughs the rosy wine.
The leader's rashness made the soldiers bleed. Can yet a doubt or any dread remain,
I heard incensed, and first resolved to speed When sworn that oath which never can be vain ? 450 My flying falchion at the rebel's head.
I answer'd—Goddess ! human is my breast, Dear as he was, by ties of kindred bound, By justice sway'd, by tender pity press'd : This hand had stretch'd him breathless on the Ill fits it me, whose friends are sunk to beasts,
ground, To quaff thy bowls, or riot in thy feasts.
But all at once my interposing train
521 Me wouldst thou please ? for them thy cares employ, For mercy pleaded, nor could plead in vain. And them to me restore, and me to joy.
Leave here the man who dares his prince desert, With that she parted; in her potent hand Leave to repentance and his own sad heart, She bore the virtue of the magic wand.
To guard the ship. Seek we the sacred shades Then, hastening to the sties, set wide the door, Of Circe's palace, where Ulysses leads. Urged forth, and drove the bristly herd before; 460 This with one voice declared, the rising train Unwieldy, out they rush'd with general cry, Left the black vessel by the murmuring main. Enormous beasts dishonest to the eye.
Shame touch'd Eurylochus's alter'd breast, Now touch'd by counter-charms they change again, He fear'd my threats, and follow'd with the rest. 530 And stand majestic, and recall’d to men.
Meanwhile the goddess, with indulgent cares Those hairs of late that bristled every part, And social joys, the late transform'd repairs ; Fall off, miraculous effect of art!
The bath, the feast, their fainting soul renews; Till all the form in full proportion rise
Rich in refulgent robes, and dropping balmy dews : More young, more large, more grateful to my eyes. Brightening with joy, their eager eyes behold They saw, they knew me, and with eager pace Each other's face, and each his story told ; Clung to their master in a long embrace : 470 Then gushing tears the narrative confound, Sad, pleasing sight! with tears each eye ran o'er, And with their sobs the vaulted roof resound. And sobs of joy re-echoed through the bower: When hush'd their passion, thus the goddess cries : Even Circe wep, her adamantine heart
Ulysses, taught by labours to be wise,
510 Felt pity enter, and sustain'd her part.
Let this short memory of grief suffice.
She said. Obedient to her high command Exiles and wanderers now, where'er ye go
Too faithful memory renews your woe; My sad companions on the beach I found, The cause removed, habitual griefs remain, 550 Their wistful eyes in floods of sorrow drown'd. And the soul saddens by the use of pain. As from fresh pastures and the dewy field
Her kind entreaty moved the general breast; (When loaded cribs their evening banquet yield) Tired with long toil, we willing sunk to rest. The lowing herds return; around them throng We plied the banquet, and the bowl we crown'd, With leaps and bounds their late imprison d young, Till the full circle of the year came round.
But when the seasons, following in their train, These to the rest ; but to the seer must bleed
These solemn rows and holy offerings paid
560 Be next thy care the sable sheep to place And is the name of Ithaca forgot ?
Full o'er the pit, and hellward turn their face: Shall never the dear land in prospect rise,
But from the infernal rite thine eye withdraw,
620 Or the loved palace glitter in our eyes ?
And back to Ocean glance with reverend awe.
And sacred vows and mystic song applied
Shall drive the spectres from forbidden ground:
Let him, oraculous, the end, the way, Their tears flow round me, and my heart complies. The turns of all thy future fate, display,
Go then (she cried,) ah go! yet think not I, Thy pilgrimage to come, and remnant of thy day. Not Circe, but the Fates, your wish deny.
So speaking, from the ruddy orient shone Ah hope not yet to breathe thy native air!
The morn, conspicuous on her golden throne. Far other journey first demands thy care :
The goddess with a radiant tunic dress'd To tread the uncomfortable paths beneath, 580 My limbs, and o'er me cast a silken vest. And view the realms of darkness and of death. Long flowing robes, of purest white, array There seek the Theban bard, deprived of sight; | The nymph, that added lustre to the day: 650 Within, irradiate with prophetic light;
A riar wreath'd her head with many a fold; To whom Persephonè, entire and whole,
Her waist was circled with a zone of gold. Gave to retain the unseparated soul:
Forth issuing then, from place to place I flew; The rest are forms of empty ether made:
Rouse man by man, and animate my crew. Impassive semblance, and a flitting shade.
Rise, rise, my mates! 'tis Circe gives command: Struck at the word, my very heart was dead: Our journey calls us; haste, and quit the land. Pensive I sale; my tears bedew'd the bed;
All rise and follow, yet depart not all,
A youth there was, Elpenor was he named, Composed at length, the gushing tears suppress'd, Not much for sense, nor much for courage famed; And my toss'd limbs now wearied into rest, The youngest of our band, a vulgar soul, 661 How shall I tread (I cried) ah, Circe; say,
Born but to banquet, and to drain the bowl. The dark descent, and who shall guide the way? He, hot and careless, on a turret's height Can living eyes behold the realms below?
With sleep repair'd the long debauch of night : What bark to waft me, and what wind to blow? The sudden tumult stirr'd him where he lay,
Thy fated road (the magic power replied) And down he hasten'ū, but forgot the way; Divine Ulysses! asks no mortal guide.
Full headlong from the roof the sleeper fell, Rear but the mast, the spacious sail display, 600 And snapp'd the spinal joint and waked in hell. The northern winds shall wing thee on thy way. The rest crowd round me with an eager look, Soon shalt thou reach old Ocean's utmost ends, I met them with a sigh, and thus bespoke: 670 Where to the main the shelving shore descends; Already, friends! ye think your toils are o'er, The barren trees of Proserpine's black woods, Your hopes already touch your native shore : Poplars and willows trembling o'er the floods : Alas! far otherwise the nymph derlares, There fix thy vessel in the lonely bay,
Far other journey first demands our cares;
To seek Tiresias' awful shade below,
My sad companions heard in deep despair :
But tears in mortal miseries are vain. Trench the black earth a cubit long and wide: Sadly they fared along the sea-beat shore; To all the shades around libations pour,
Still heaved their hearts, and still their eyes ran And o'er the ingredients strew the hallow'd flour:
o'er. New wine and milk, with honey temper'd, bring, The ready victims at our bark we found, And living water from the crystal spring.
The sable ewe and ram, together bound. Then the wan shades and feeble ghosts implore, 620 For swift as thought the goddess had been there, With promised offerings on thy native shore; And thence had glided, viewless as the air : the stateliest of the isle,
The paths of gods what mortal can survey? And, heap'd with various wealth, a blazing pile : Who eyes their motion ? who shall trace their way!
A barren cow,
When lo ! appear'd along the dusky coasts,
Thin, airy shoals of visionary ghosts :
Fair pensive youths, and soft enamour'd maids :
And wither'd elders, pale and wrinkled shades; 50 Ulysses continues his narration. How he arrived at Ghastly with wounds the forms of warriors slain
the land of the Cimmerians, and what ceremonies he Stalk'd with majestic port, a martial train : perforined to invoke the dead. The manner of his These and a thousand more swarm'd o'er the ground, descent, and the apparition of the shades: his conver. And all the dire assembly shriek'd around. sation with Elpenor, and with Tiresias, who informs Astonish'd at the sight, aghast I stood, him in a prophetic manner of his fortunes to come and a cold fear ran shivering through my blood; He meets his mother Antielea, from whom he learns Straight I command the sacrifice to haste, the state of his family. He sees the shades of the ancient heroines, afterwards of the heroes, and con.
Straight the flay'd victims to the flames are cast, verses in particular with Agamemnon and Achilles. And mutter'd vows, and mystic song applied Ajax keeps at a sullen distance, and disdains to an. To grisly Pluto, and his gloomy bride.
60 swer him. He then beholds Tityus, Tantalus, Sysiphus, Now swift I waved my falchion o'er the blood; Hercules ; till he is deterred from further curiosity by Back started the pale throngs, and trembling stood. the apparition of horrid spectres, and the cries of the Round the black trench the gore untasted flows, wicked in torinents.
Till awful from the shades Tiresias rose.
There wandering through the gloom I first survey'd,
New to the realms of death, Elpenor's shade :
Sad at the sight I stand, deep fix'd in woe:
To glide in shades, and wander with the dead ? A freshning breeze the magic power* supplied, How could thy soul, by realms and seas disjoin'd, While the winged vessel flew along the tide ; Outfly the nimble sail, and leave the lagging wind? Our oars we shipp'd: all day the swelling sails The ghost replied: To hell my doom I owe, Full from the guiding pilot catch'd the gales. 10 Damous accurst, dire ministers of woe!
Now sunk the sun from his aërial height, My feet, through wine unfaithful to their weight, And o'er the shaded billows rush'd the night : Betray'd me tumbling from a towery height; When lo! we reach'd old Ocean's utmost bounds, Staggering I reel'd, and as I reel'd I fell,
80 Where rocks controul his waves with ever-during Lux'd the neck-joint--my soul descends to hell.
There in a lonely land, and gloomy cells, (mounds But lend me aid, I now conjure thee lend, The dusky nation of Cimmeria dwells ;
By the soft tie and sacred name of friend ! The sun ne'er views the uncomfortable seats, By thy fond consort ! by thy father's cares ! When radiant he advances, or retreats :
By loved Telemachus's blooming years ! Unhappy race ! whom endless night invades,
For well I know that soon the heavenly powers Clouds the dull air, and wraps them round in shades. Will give thee back to day, and Circe's shores ;
The ship we moor on these obscure abodes : 21 There pious on my cold remains attend, Disbark the sheep, an offering to the gods ; There call to mind thy poor departed friend ! And, bellward bending, o'er the beach descry
The tribute of a tear is all I crave, The doleful passage to the infernal sky.
And the possession of a peaceful grave.
90 The victims, vow'd to each Tartarean power
But if, unheard, in vain compassion plead,
Revere the gods, the gods avenge the dead !
The tomb with manly arms and trophies grace,
To show posterity Elpenor was. A cavern form'd, a cubit long and wide.
30 There high in air, memorial of my name, New wine, with honey.temper'd milk, we bring, Fix the smooth oar, and bid me live to fame. Then living waters from the crystal spring :
To whom with tears: These rites, oh mournful O'er these was strew'd the consecrated flour,
shade, And on the surface shone the holy store.
Due to thy ghost, shall to thy ghost be paid. Now the wan shades we hail, the infernal gods, Still as I spoke the phantom seem'd to moan, 100 To speed our course, and waft us o'er the floods : Tear follow'd tear, and groan succeeded groan. So shall a barren heifer from the stall
But, as my waving sword the blood surrounds, Beneath the knife upon your altars fall;
The shade withdrew, and mutter'd empty sounds. So in our palace, at our safe return,
There as the wondrous visions I survey'd, Rich with unnumber'd gifts the pile shall burn; 40 All pale ascends my royal mother's shade : So shall a ram, the largest of the breed,
A queen, to Troy she saw our legions pass ; Black as these regions, to Tiresias bleed.
Now a thin form is all Anticlea was ! Thus solemn rites and holy vows we paid Struck at the sight I melt with filial woe, To all the phantom nations of the dead.
And down my cheek the pious sorrows flow : Then died the sheep: a purple torrent flow'd, Yet as I shook my falchion o'er the blood, 110 And all the caverns smoked with streaming blood. Regardless of her son the parent stood.
When lo ! the mighty Theban I behold; • Circe.
To guide his steps he bore a staff of gold:
Awful he trod! majestic was his look!
They, seal'd with truth, return the sure reply ; And from his holy lips these accents broke: The rest, repell’d, a train oblivious fly.
Why, mortal, wanderest thou from cheerful day, The phantom-prophet ceased, and sunk from eight To tread the downward melancholy way? To the black palace of eternal night. What angry gods to these dark regions led
Still in the dark abodes of death I stood, Thee yet alive, companion of the dead?
When near Anticlea moved, and drank the blood But sheath thy poniard, while my tongue relates 120 Straight all the mother in her soul awakes, Heaven's steadfast purpose, and thy future fates. And, owning her Ulysses, thus she speaks.
While yet he spoke, the prophet I obey'd, Comest thou, my son, alive, to realms beneath, 190 And in the scabbard plunged the glittering blade. The dolesome realms of darkness and of death? Eager he quaff'd the gore, and then express'd Comest thou alive from pure, ethereal day? Dark things to come, the counsels of his breast : Dire is the region, dismal is the way; Weary of light, Ulysses here explores,
Here lakes profound, there floods oppose their A prosperous voyage to his native shores ;
waves, But know-by me unerring Fates disclose
There the wide sea with all his billows raves ! New trains of dangers, and new scenes of woes; Or (since to dust proud Troy submits her towers) I see, I see, thy bark by Neptune toss'd, 130 Comest thou a wanderer from the Phrygian shores? For injured Cyclops, and his eye-ball lost ! Or say, since honour call’d thee to the field, Yet to thy woes the god decree an end,
Hast thou thy Ithaca, thy bride, beheld ?
Though hunger press, yet fly the dangerous prey, In every land Ulysses finds a foe:
Nor have these eyes beheld my native shores,
Since in the dust proud Troy submits her towers. Above, below, on earth, and in the sky!
But, when thy soul from her sweet mansion Rob not the god; and so propitious gales 140 fled, Attend thy voyage, and impel thy sails :
Say, what distemper gave thee to the dead ? But, if his herds ye seize, beneath the waves Has life's fair lamp declined by slow decays, I see thy friends o'erwhelm'd in liquid graves ! Or swift expired it in a sudden blaze ? The direful wreck Ulysses scarce survives ! Say, if my sire, good old Laërtes, lives? 210 Ulysses at his country scarce arrives !
If yet Telemachus, my son, survives? Strangers thy guides! nor there thy labours end, Say, by his rule is my dominion awed, New foes arise, domestic ills attend !
Or crush'd by traitors with an iron rod ? There foul adulterers to thy bride resort,
Say, if my spouse maintains her royal trust;
Though tempted, chaste, and obstinately just ?
Thus I, and thus the parent shade returns :
Whether the night descends or day prevails,
Thee she by night, and thee by day bewails.
In sacred groves celestial rites he pays,
And shares the banquet in superior state,
160 Thy sire in solitude foments his care :
No rich embroidery shines to grace his bed ;
Rank'd with his slaves on earth the monarch lies : Unknown to pain, in age resign thy breath: Deep are his sighs, his visage pale, his dress When late stern Neptune points the shaft with death : The garb of woe and babit of distress. To the dark grave retiring as to rest,
And when the autumn takes his annual round, Thy people blessing, by thy people bless'd! The leafy honours scattering on the ground;
Unerring truths, oh man my lips relate; 170 Regardless of his years, abroad be lies,
His bed the leaves, his canopy the skies.
For thee, my son, I wept my life away; 240 Unmindful of her son, Anticlea stands ?
For thee through hell's eternal dungeons stray. Why to the ground she bends her downcast eye ? Nor came my fate by lingering pains and slow, Why is she silent while her son is nigh?
Nor bent the silver-shafted queen her bow; The latent cause, oh sacred seer, reveal !
No dire disease bereaved me of my breath ; Nor this, replies the seer, will I conceal. Thou, thou, my son, wert my disease and death, Know, to the spectres, that thy beverage taste, 180 Unkindly with my love my son conspired, The scenes of life recur, and actions past :
For thee I lived, for absent thee expired.