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Then thus Ulysses: “Thou whom first in sway,
As first in virtue, these thy realms obey;
How sweet the products of a peaceful reign!
The heaven-taught poet and enchanting strain;
The well-filled palace, the perpetual feast,
A land rejoicing, and a people bless’d!
How goodly seems it ever to employ
Man’s social days in union and in joy;
The plenteous hoard high-heap’d with cates divine,
And o’er the foaming bowl the laughing wine!
“Amid these joys, why seels thy mind to know
The unhappy series of a wanderer’s woe?
Rememberance sad, whose image to review,
Alas, I must open all my wounds anew!
And oh, what first, what last shall I relate,
Of woes unnumbered sent by Heaven and Fate?
“Know first the man (though now a wretch distress’d)
Who hopes thee, monarch, for his future guest.
Behold Ulysses! no ignoble name,
Earth sounds my wisdom and high heaven my fame.
“My native soil is Ithaca the fair,
Where high Neritus waves his woods in air;
Dulichium, Same and Zaccynthus crown’d
With shady mountains spread their isles around.
(These to the north and night’s dark regions run,
Those to Aurora and the rising sun).
Low lies our isle, yet bless’d in fruitful stores;
Strong are her sons, though rocky are her shores;
And none, ah none no lovely to my sight,
Of all the lands that heaven o’erspreads with light.
In vain Calypso long constrained my stay,
With sweet, reluctant, amorous delay;
With all her charms as vainly Circe strove,
And added magic to secure my love.
In pomps or joys, the palace or the grot,
My country’s image never was forgot;
My absent parents rose before my sight,
And distant lay contentment and delight.
“Hear, then, the woes which mighty Jove ordain’d
To wait my passage from the Trojan land.
The winds from Ilion to the Cicons’ shore,
Beneath cold Ismarus our vessels bore.
We boldly landed on the hostile place,
And sack’d the city, and destroy’d the race,
Their wives made captive, their possessions shared,
And every soldier found a like reward
I then advised to fly; not so the rest,
Who stay’d to revel, and prolong the feast:
The fatted sheep and sable bulls they slay,
And bowls flow round, and riot wastes the day.
Meantime the Cicons, to their holds retired,
Call on the Cicons, with new fury fired;
With early morn the gather’d country swarms,
And all the continent is bright with arms;
Thick as the budding leaves or rising flowers
O’erspread the land, when spring descends in showers:
All expert soldiers, skill’d on foot to dare,
Or from the bounding courser urge the war.
Now fortune changes (so the Fates ordain);
Our hour was come to taste our share of pain.
Close at the ships the bloody fight began,
Wounded they wound, and man expires on man.
Long as the morning sun increasing bright
O’er heaven’s pure azure spreads the glowing light,
Promiscuous death the form of war confounds,
Each adverse battle gored with equal wounds;
But when his evening wheels o’erhung the main,
Then conquest crown’d the fierce Ciconian train.
Six brave companions from each ship we lost,
The rest escape in haste, and quit the coast,
With sails outspread we fly the unequal strife,
Sad for their loss, but joyful of our life.
Yet as we fled, our fellows’ rites we paid,
And thrice we call’d on each unhappy shade,
“Meanwhile the god, whose hand the thunder forms,
Drives clouds on clouds, and blackens heaven with storms:
Wide o’er the waste the rage of Boreas sweeps,
And night rush’d headlong on the shaded deeps.
Now here, now there, the giddy ships are borne,
And all the rattling shrouds in fragments torn.
We furl’d the sail, we plied the labouring oar,
Took down our masts, and row’d our ships to shore.
Two tedious days and two long nights we lay,
O’erwatch’d and batter’d in the naked bay.
But the third morning when Aurora brings,
We rear the masts, we spread the canvas wings;
Refresh’d and careless on the deck reclined,
We sit, and trust the pilot and the wind.
Then to my native country had I sail’d:
But, the cape doubled, adverse winds prevail’d.
Strong was the tide, which by the northern blast
Impell’d, our vessels on Cythera cast,
Nine days our fleet the uncertain tempest bore
Far in wide ocean, and from sight of shore:
The tenth we touch’d, by various errors toss’d,
The land of Lotus and the flowery coast.
We climb’d the beach, and springs of water found,
Then spread our hasty banquet on the ground.
Three men were sent, deputed from the crew
(A herald one) the dubious coast to view,
And learn what habitants possess’d the place.
They went, and found a hospitable race:
Not prone to ill, nor strange to foreign guest,
They eat, they drink, and nature gives the feast
The trees around them all their food produce:
Lotus the name: divine, nectareous juice!
(Thence call’d Lo’ophagi); which whose tastes,
Insatiate riots in the sweet repasts,
Nor other home, nor other care intends,
But quits his house, his country, and his friends.
The three we sent, from off the enchanting ground
We dragg’d reluctant, and by force we bound.
The rest in haste forsook the pleasing shore,
Or, the charm tasted, had return’d no more.
Now placed in order on their banks, they sweep
The sea’s smooth face, and cleave the hoary deep:
With heavy hearts we labour through the tide,
To coasts unknown, and oceans yet untried.
“The land of Cyclops first, a savage kind,
Nor tamed by manners, nor by laws confined:
Untaught to plant, to turn the glebe, and sow,
They all their products to free nature owe:
The soil, untill’d, a ready harvest yields,
With wheat and barley wave the golden fields;
Spontaneous wines from weighty clusters pour,
And Jove descends in each prolific shower,
By these no statues and no rights are known,
No council held, no monarch fills the throne;
But high on hills, or airy cliffs, they dwell,
Or deep in caves whose entrance leads to hell.
Each rules his race, his neighbour not his care,
Heedless of others, to his own severe.
“Opposed to the Cyclopean coast, there lay
An isle, whose hill their subject fields survey;
Its name Lachaea, crown’d with many a grove,
Where savage goats through pathless thickets rove:
No needy mortals here, with hunger bold,
Or wretched hunters through the wintry cold
Pursue their flight; but leave them safe to bound
From hill to hill, o’er all the desert ground.
Nor knows the soil to feed the fleecy care,
Or feels the labours of the crooked share;
But uninhabited, untill’d, unsown,
It lies, and breeds the bleating goat alone.
For there no vessel with vermilion prore,
Or bark of traffic, glides from shore to shore;
The rugged race of savages, unskill’d
The seas to traverse, or the ships to build,
Gaze on the coast, nor cultivate the soil,
Unlearn’d in all the industrious art of toil,
Yet here all produces and all plants abound,
Sprung from the fruitful genius of the ground;
Fields waving high with heavy crops are seen,
And vines that flourish in eternal green,
Refreshing meads along the murmuring main,
And fountains streaming down the fruitful plain.
“A port there is, inclosed on either side,
Where ships may rest, unanchor’d and untied;
Till the glad mariners incline to sail,
And the sea whitens with the rising gale,
High at the head, from out the cavern’d rock,
In living rills a gushing fountain broke:
Around it, and above, for ever green,
The busy alders form’d a shady scene;
Hither some favouring god, beyond our thought,
Through all surrounding shade our navy brought;
For gloomy night descended on the main,
Nor glimmer’d Phoebe in the ethereal plain:
But all unseen the clouded island lay,
And all unseen the surge and rolling sea,
Till safe we anchor’d in the shelter’d bay:
Our sails we gather’d, cast our cables o’er,
And slept secure along the sandy shore.
Soon as again the rosy morning shone,
Reveal’d the landscape and the scene unknown,
With wonder seized, we view the pleasing ground,
And walk delighted, and expatiate round.
Roused by the woodland nymphs at early dawn,
The mountain goats came bounding o’er the lawn:
In haste our fellows to the ships repair,
For arms and weapons of the sylvan war;
Straight in three squadrons all our crew we part,
And bend the bow, or wing the missile dart;
The bounteous gods afford a copious prey,
And nine fat goats each vessel bears away:
The royal bark had ten. Our ships complete
We thus supplied (for twelve were all the fleet).
“Here, till the setting sun roll’d down the light,
We sat indulging in the genial rite:
Nor wines were wanting; those from ample jars
We drain’d, the prize of our Ciconian wars.
The land of Cyclops lay in prospect near:
The voice of goats and bleating flocks we hear,
And from their mountains rising smokes appear.
Now sunk the sun, and darkness cover’d o’er
The face of things: along the sea-beat shore
Satiate we slept: but, when the sacred dawn
Arising glitter’d o’er the dewy lawn,
I call’d my fellows, and these words address’d
‘My dear associates, here indulge your rest;
While, with my single ship, adventurous, I
Go forth, the manners of you men to try;
Whether a race unjust, of barbarous might,
Rude and unconscious of a stranger’s right;
Or such who harbour pity in their breast,
Revere the gods, and succour the distress’d,’
“This said, I climb’d my vessel’s lofty side;
My train obey’d me, and the ship untied.
In order seated on their banks, they sweep
Neptune’s smooth face, and cleave the yielding deep.
When to the nearest verge of land we drew,
Fast by the sea a lonely cave we view,
High, and with darkening laurels covered o’er;
Were sheep and goats lay slumbering round the shore
Near this, a fence of marble from the rock,
Brown with o’eraching pine and spreading oak.
A giant shepherd here his flock maintains
Far from the rest, and solitary reigns,
In shelter thick of horrid shade reclined;
And gloomy mischiefs labour in his mind.
A form enormous! far unlike the race
Of human birth, in stature, or in face;
As some lone mountain’s monstrous growth he stood,
Crown’d with rough thickets, and a nodding wood.
I left my vessel at the point of land,
And close to guard it, gave our crew command:
With only twelve, the boldest and the best,
I seek the adventure, and forsake the rest.
Then took a goatskin fill’d with precious wine,
The gift of Maron of Evantheus’ line
(The priest of Phoebus at the Ismarian shrine).
In sacred shade his honour’d mansion stood
Amidst Apollo’s consecrated wood;
Him, and his house, Heaven moved my mind to save,
And costly presents in return he gave;
Seven golden talents to perfection wrought,
A silver bowl that held a copious draught,
And twelve large vessels of unmingled wine,
Mellifluous, undecaying, and divine!
Which now, some ages from his race conceal’d,
The hoary sire in gratitude reveal’d.
Such was the wine: to quench whose fervent steam
Scarce twenty measures from the living stream
To cool one cup sufficed: the goblet crown’d
Breathed aromatic fragrances around.
Of this an ample vase we heaved aboard,
And brought another with provisions stored.
My soul foreboded I should find the bower
Of some fell monster, fierce with barbarous power;
Some rustic wretch, who lived in Heaven’s despite,
Contemning laws, and trampling on the right.
The cave we found, but vacant all within
(His flock the giant tended on the green):
But round the grot we gaze; and all we view,
In order ranged our admiration drew:
The bending shelves with loads of cheeses press’d,
The folded flocks each separate from the rest
(The larger here, and there the lesser lambs,
The new-fallen young here bleating for their dams:
The kid distinguish’d from the lambkin lies);
The cavern echoes with responsive cries.
Capacious chargers all around were laid.
Full pails, and vessels of the milking trade.
With fresh provisions hence our fleet to store
My friends advise me, and to quit the shore.
Or drive a flock of sheep and goats away,
Consult our safety, and put off to sea.
Their wholesome counsel rashly I declined,
Curious to view the man of monstrous kind,
And try what social rites a savage lends:
Dire rites, alas! and fatal to my friends
“Then first a fire we kindle, and prepare
For his return with sacrifice and prayer;
The loaden shelves afford us full repast;
We sit expecting. Lo! he comes at last,
Near half a forest on his back he bore,
And cast the ponderous burden at the door.
It thunder’d as it fell. We trembled then,
And sought the deep recesses of the den.
New driven before him through the arching rock,
Came tumbling, heaps on heaps, the unnumber’d flock.
Big-udder’d ewes, and goats of female kind
(The males were penn’d in outward courts behind);
Then, heaved on high, a rock’s enormous weight
To the cave’s mouth he roll’d, and closed the gate
(Scarce twenty four-wheel’d cars, compact and strong,
The massy load could bear, or roll along).
He next betakes him to his evening cares,
And, sitting down, to milk his flocks prepares;
Of half their udders eases first the dams,
Then to the mother’s teat submits the lambs;
Half the white stream to hardening cheese be press’d,
And high in wicker-baskets heap’d: the rest,
Reserved in bowls, supplied his nightly feast.
His labour done, he fired the pile, that gave
A sudden blaze, and lighted all the cave.
We stand discover’d by the rising fires;
Askance the giant glares, and thus inquires:
“‘What are ye, guests? on what adventure, say,
Thus far ye wander through the watery way?
Pirates perhaps, who seek through seas unknown
The lives of others, and expose your own?’
“His voice like thunder through the cavern sounds;
My bold companions thrilling fear confounds,
Appall’d at sight of more than mortal man!
At length, with heart recover’d, I began:
“‘From Troy’s famed fields, sad wanderers o’er the main,
Behold the relics of the Grecian train:
Through various seas, by various perils toss’d,
And forced by storms, unwilling on your coast;
Far from our destined course and native land,
Such was our fate, and such high Jove’s command!
Nor what we are befits us to disclaim,
Atrides’ friends (in arms a mighty name),
Who taught proud Troy and all her sons to bow;
Victors of late, but humble suppliants now!
Low at thy knee thy succour we implore;
Respect us, human, and relieve us, poor.
At least, some hospitable gift bestow;
’Tis what the happy to the unhappy owe;
’Tis what the gods require: those gods revere;
The poor and stranger are their constant care;
To Jove their cause, and their revenge belongs,
He wanders with them, and he feels their wrongs.”
“‘Fools that ye are (the savage thus replies,
His inward fury blazing at his eyes),
Or strangers, distant far from our abodes,
To bid me reverence or regard the gods.
Know then, we Cyclops are a race above
Those air-bred people, and their goat-nursed Jove;
And learn, our power proceeds with thee and thine,
Not as he wills, but as ourselves incline.
But answer, the good ship that brought ye o’er,
Where lies she anchor’d? near or off the shore?’
“Thus he. His meditated fraud I find
(Versed in the turns of various human-kind):
And, cautious thus: ‘Against a dreadful rock,
Fast by your shore the gallant vessel broke.
Scarce with these few I ’scaped; of all my train,
Whom angry Neptune, whelm’d beneath the main,
The scattered wreck the winds blew back again.’
“He answer’d with his deed: his bloody hand
Snatch’d two, unhappy! of my martial band;
And dash’d like dogs against the stony floor:
The pavement swims with brains and mingled gore.
Torn limb from limb, he spreads his horrid feast,
And fierce devours it like a mountain beast:
He sucks the marrow, and the blood he drains,
Nor entrails, flesh, nor solid bone remains.
We see the death from which we cannot move,
And humbled groan beneath the hand of Jove.
His ample maw with human carnage fill’d,
A milky deluge next the giant swill’d;
Then stretch’d in length o’er half the cavern’d rock,
Lay senseless, and supine, amidst the flock.
To seize the time, and with a sudden wound
To fix the slumbering monster to the ground,
My soul impels me! and in act I stand
To draw the sword; but wisdom held my hand.
A deed so rash had finished all our fate,
No mortal forces from the lofty gate
Could roll the rock. In hopeless grief we lay,
And sigh, expecting the return of day.
Now did the rosy-fingered morn arise,
And shed her sacred light along the skies;
He wakes, he lights the fire, he milks the dams,
And to the mother’s teats submits the lambs.
The task thus finish’d of his morning hours,
Two more he snatches, murders, and devours.
Then pleased, and whistling, drives his flock before,
Removes the rocky mountain from the door,
And shuts again: with equal ease disposed,
As a light quiver’s lid is oped and closed.
His giant voice the echoing region fills:
His flocks, obedient, spread o’er all the hills.
“Thus left behind, even in the last despair
I thought, devised, and Pallas heard my prayer.
Revenge, and doubt, and caution, work’d my breast;
But this of many counsels seem’d the best:
The monster’s club within the cave I spied,
A tree of stateliest growth, and yet undried,
Green from the wood: of height and bulk so vast,
The largest ship might claim it for a mast.
This shorten’d of its top, I gave my train
A fathom’s length, to shape it and to plane;
The narrower end I sharpen’d to a spire,
Whose point we harden’d with the force of fire,
And hid it in the dust that strew’d the cave,
Then to my few companions, bold and brave,
Proposed, who first the venturous deed should try,
In the broad orbit of his monstrous eye
To plunge the brand and twirl the pointed wood,
When slumber next should tame the man of blood.
Just as I wished, the lots were cast on four:
Myself the fifth. We stand and wait the hour.
He comes with evening: all his fleecy flock
Before him march, and pour into the rock:
Not one, or male or female, stayed behind
(So fortune chanced, or so some god designed);
Then heaving high the stone’s unwieldy weight,
He roll’d it on the cave and closed the gate.
First down he sits, to milk the woolly dams,
And then permits their udder to the lambs.
Next seized two wretches more, and headlong cast,
Brain’d on the rock; his second dire repast.
I then approach’d him reeking with their gore,
And held the brimming goblet foaming o’er;
‘Cyclop! since human flesh has been thy feast,
Now drain this goblet, potent to digest;
Know hence what treasures in our ship we lost,
And what rich liquors other climates boast.
We to thy shore the precious freight shall bear,
If home thou send us and vouchsafe to spare.
But oh! thus furious, thirsting thus for gore,
The sons of men shall ne’er approach thy shore,
And never shalt thou taste this nectar more,’
“He heard, he took, and pouring down his throat,
Delighted, swill’d the large luxurious draught,
‘More! give me more (he cried): the boon be thine,
Whoe’er thou art that bear’st celestial wine!
Declare thy name: not mortal is this juice,
Such as the unbless’d Cyclopaean climes produce
(Though sure our vine the largest cluster yields,
And Jove’s scorn’d thunder serves to drench our fields);
But this descended from the bless’d abodes,
A rill of nectar, streaming from the gods.’
“He said, and greedy grasped the heady bowl,
Thrice drained, and poured the deluge on his soul.
His sense lay covered with the dozy fume;
While thus my fraudful speech I reassume.
‘Thy promised boon, O Cyclop! now I claim,
And plead my title; Noman is my name.
By that distinguish’d from my tender years,
’Tis what my parents call me, and my peers.
“The giant then: ‘Our promis’d grace receive,
The hospitable boon we mean to give:
When all thy wretched crew have felt my power,
Noman shall be the last I will devour.’
“He said: then nodding with the fumes of wine
Droop’d his huge head, and snoring lay supine.
His neck obliquely o’er his shoulders hung,
Press’d with the weight of sleep that tames the strong:
There belch’d the mingled streams of wine and blood,
And human flesh, his indigested food.
Sudden I stir the embers, and inspire
With animating breath the seeds of fire:
Each drooping spirit with bold words repair,
And urged my train the dreadful deed to dare.
The stake now glow’d beneath the burning bed
(Green as it was) and sparkled fiery red,
Then forth the vengeful instrument I bring;
With beating hearts my fellows form a ring.
Urged my some present god, they swift let fall
The pointed torment on his visual ball.
Myself above them from a rising ground
Guide the sharp stake, and twirl it round and round.
As when a shipwright stands his workmen o’er,
Who ply the wimble, some huge beam to bore;
Urged on all hands, it nimbly spins about,
The grain deep-piercing till it scoops it out:
In his broad eye he whirls the fiery wood;
From the pierced pupil spouts the boiling blood;
Singed are his brows; the scorching lids grow black;
The jelly bubbles, and the fibres crack.
And as when armourers temper in the ford
The keen-edged pole-axe, or the shining sword,
The red-hot metal hisses in the lake,
Thus in his eye-ball hiss’d the plunging stake.
He sends a dreadful groan, the rocks around
Through all their inmost winding caves resound.
Scared we recoiled. Forth with frantic hand,
He tore and dash’d on earth and gory brand;
Then calls the Cyclops, all that round him dwell,
With voice like thunder, and a direful yell.
From all their dens the one-eyed race repair,
From rifted rocks, and mountains bleak in air.
All haste assembled, at his well-known roar,
Inquire the cause, and crowd the cavern door.
“‘What hurts thee, Polypheme? what strange affright
Thus breaks our slumbers, and disturbs the night?
Does any mortal, in the unguarded hour
Of sleep, oppress thee, or by fraud or power?
Or thieves insidious thy fair flock surprise?’
Thus they; the Cyclop from his den replies:
“‘Friends, Noman kills me; Noman in the hour
Of sleep, oppresses me with fraudful power.’
‘If no man hurt thee, but the hand divine
Inflict disease, it fits thee to resign:
To Jove or to thy father Neptune pray.’
The brethren cried, and instant strode away.
“Joy touch’d my secret soul and conscious heart,
Pleased with the effect of conduct and of art.
Meantime the Cyclop, raging with his wound,
Spreads his wide arms, and searches round and round:
At last, the stone removing from the gate,
With hands extended in the midst he sate;
And search’d each passing sheep, and fell it o’er,
Secure to seize us ere we reach’d the door
(Such as his shallow wit he deem’d was mine);
But secret I revolved the deep design:
’Twas for our lives my labouring bosom wrought;
Each scheme I turn’d, and sharpen’d every thought;
This way and that I cast to save my friends,
Till one resolve my varying counsel ends.
“Strong were the rams, with native purple fair,
Well fed, and largest of the fleecy care,
These, three and three, with osier bands we tied
(The twining bands the Cyclop’s bed supplied);
The midmost bore a man, the outward two
Secured each side: so bound we all the crew,
One ram remain’d, the leader of the flock:
In his deep fleece my grasping hands I lock,
And fast beneath, in wooly curls inwove,
There cling implicit, and confide in Jove.
When rosy morning glimmer’d o’er the dales,
He drove to pasture all the lusty males:
The ewes still folded, with distended thighs
Unmilk’d lay bleating in distressful cries.
But heedless of those cares, with anguish stung,
He felt their fleeces as they pass’d along
(Fool that he was.) and let them safely go,
All unsuspecting of their freight below.
“The master ram at last approach’d the gate,
Charged with his wool, and with Ulysses’ fate.
Him while he pass’d, the monster blind bespoke:
‘What makes my ram the lag of all the flock?
First thou wert wont to crop the flowery mead,
First to the field and river’s bank to lead,
And first with stately step at evening hour
Thy fleecy fellows usher to their bower.
Now far the last, with pensive pace and slow
Thou movest, as conscious of thy master’s woe!
Seest thou these lids that now unfold in vain?
(The deed of Noman and his wicked train!)
Oh! did’st thou feel for thy afflicted lord,
And would but Fate the power of speech afford.
Soon might’st thou tell me, where in secret here
The dastard lurks, all trembling with his fear:
Swung round and round, and dash’d from rock to rock,
His battered brains should on the pavement smoke
No ease, no pleasure my sad heart receives,
While such a monster as vile Noman lives.’
“The giant spoke, and through the hollow rock
Dismiss’d the ram, the father of the flock.
No sooner freed, and through the inclosure pass’d,
First I release myself, my fellows last:
Fat sheep and goats in throngs we drive before,
And reach our vessel on the winding shore.
With joy the sailors view their friends return’d,
And hail us living whom as dead they mourn’d
Big tears of transport stand in every eye:
I check their fondness, and command to fly.
Aboard in haste they heave the wealthy sheep,
And snatch their oars, and rush into the deep.
“Now off at sea, and from the shallows clear,
As far as human voice could reach the ear,
With taunts the distant giant I accost:
‘Hear me, O Cyclop! hear, ungracious host!
’Twas on no coward, no ignoble slave,
Thou meditatest thy meal in yonder cave;
But one, the vengeance fated from above
Doom’d to inflict; the instrument of Jove.
Thy barbarous breach of hospitable bands,
The god, the god revenges by my hands.’
“These words the Cyclop’s burning rage provoke;
From the tall hill he rends a pointed rock;
High o’er the billows flew the massy load,
And near the ship came thundering on the flood.
It almost brush’d the helm, and fell before:
The whole sea shook, and refluent beat the shore,
The strong concussion on the heaving tide
Roll’d back the vessel to the island’s side:
Again I shoved her off: our fate to fly,
Each nerve we stretch, and every oar we ply.
Just ’scaped impending death, when now again
We twice as far had furrow’d back the main,
Once more I raise my voice; my friends, afraid,
With mild entreaties my design dissuade:
‘What boots the godless giant to provoke,
Whose arm may sink us at a single stroke?
Already when the dreadful rock he threw,
Old Ocean shook, and back his surges flew.
The sounding voice directs his aim again;
The rock o’erwhelms us, and we ’scaped in vain.’
“But I, of mind elate, and scorning fear,
Thus with new taunts insult the monster’s ear:
‘Cyclop! if any, pitying thy disgrace.
Ask, who disfigured thus that eyeless face?
Say ’twas Ulysses: ’twas his deed declare,
Laertes’ son, of Ithaca the fair;
Ulysses, far in fighting fields renown’d,
Before whose arm Troy tumbled to the ground.’
“The astonished savage with a roar replies:
‘Oh heavens! oh faith of ancient prophecies!
This, Telemus Eurymedes foretold
(The mighty seer who on these hills grew old;
Skill’d the dark fates of mortals to declare,
And learn’d in all wing’d omens of the air);
Long since he menaced, such was Fate’s command;
And named Ulysses as the destined hand.
I deem’d some godlike giant to behold,
Or lofty hero, haughty, brave, and bold;
Not this weak pigmy wretch, of mean design,
Who, not by strength subdued me, but by wine.
But come, accept our gifts, and join to pray
Great Neptune’s blessing on the watery way;
For his I am, and I the lineage own;
The immortal father no less boasts the son.
His power can heal me, and relight my eye;
And only his, of all the gods on high.’
“‘Oh! could this arm (I thus aloud rejoin’d)
From that vast bulk dislodge thy bloody mind,
And send thee howling to the realms of night!
As sure as Neptune cannot give thee sight.’
“Thus I; while raging he repeats his cries,
With hands uplifted to the starry skies?
‘Hear me, O Neptune; thou whose arms are hurl’d
From shore to shore, and gird the solid world;
If thine I am, nor thou my birth disown,
And if the unhappy Cyclop be thy son,
Let not Ulysses breathe his native air,
Laertes’ son, of Ithaca the fair.
If to review his country be his fate,
Be it through toils and sufferings long and late;
His lost companions let him first deplore;
Some vessel, not his own, transport him o’er;
And when at home from foreign sufferings freed,
More near and deep, domestic woes succeed!’
With imprecations thus he fill’d the air,
And angry Neptune heard the unrighteous prayer,
A larger rock then heaving from the plain,
He whirl’d it round: it sung across the main;
It fell, and brush’d the stern: the billows roar,
Shake at the weight, and refluent beat the shore.
With all our force we kept aloof to sea,
And gain’d the island where our vessels lay.
Our sight the whole collected navy cheer’d.
Who, waiting long, by turns had hoped and fear’d.
There disembarking on the green sea side,
We land our cattle, and the spoil divide;
Of these due shares to every sailor fall;
The master ram was voted mine by all;
And him (the guardian of Ulysses’ fate)
With pious mind to heaven I consecrate.
But the great god, whose thunder rends the skies,
Averse, beholds the smoking sacrifice;
And sees me wandering still from coast to coast,
And all my vessels, all my people, lost!
While thoughtless we indulge the genial rite,
As plenteous cates and flowing bowls invite;
Till evening Phoebus roll’d away the light;
Stretch’d on the shore in careless ease we rest,
Till ruddy morning purpled o’er the east;
Then from their anchors all our ships unbind,
And mount the decks, and call the willing wind.
Now, ranged in order on our banks we sweep.
With hasty strokes the hoarse-resounding deep;
Blind to the future, pensive with our fears,
Glad for the living, for the dead in tears.”