The lofty fig-tree seized, and clung around;
So to the beam the bat tenacious clings,
And pendent round it clasps his leather wings.
High in the air the tree its boughs display’d,
And o’er the dungeon cast a dreadful shade;
All unsustain’d between the wave and sky,
Beneath my feet the whirling billows fly.
What time the judge forsakes the noisy bar
To take repast, and stills the wordy war,
Charybdis, rumbling from her inmost caves,
The mast refunded on her refluent waves.
Swift from the tree, the floating mass to gain,
Sudden I dropp’d amidst the flashing main;
Once more undaunted on the ruin rode,
And oar’d with labouring arms along the flood.
Unseen I pass’d by Scylla’s dire abodes.
So Jove decreed (dread sire of men and gods).
Then nine long days I plow’d the calmer seas,
Heaved by the surge, and wafted by the breeze.
Weary and wet the Ogygian shores I gain,
When the tenth sun descended to the main.
There, in Calypso’s ever-fragrant bowers,
Refresh’d I lay, and joy beguiled the hours.
“My following fates to thee, O king, are known,
And the bright partner of thy royal throne.
Enough: in misery can words avail?
And what so tedious as a twice-told tale?”
The arrival of Ulysses in Ithaca.
Ulysses takes his leave of Alcinous and Arete, and embarks in the evening. Next morning the ship arrives at Ithaca; where the sailors, as Ulysses is yet sleeping, lay him on the shore with all his treasures. On their return, Neptune changes their ship into a rock. In the meantime Ulysses, awaking, knows not his native Ithaca, by reason of a mist which Pallas had cast around him. He breaks into loud lamentations; till the goddess appearing to him in the form of a shepherd, discovers the country to him, and points out the particular places. He then tells a feigned story of his adventures, upon which she manifests herself, and they consult together of the measures to be taken to destroy the suitors. To conceal his return, and disguise his person the more effectually, she changes him into the figure of an old beggar.
He ceased; but left so pleasing on their ear
His voice, that listening still they seem’d to hear.
A pause of silence hush’d the shady rooms:
The grateful conference then the king resumes:
“Whatever toils the great Ulysses pass’d,
Beneath this happy roof they end at last;
No longer now from shore to shore to roam,
Smooth seas and gentle winds invite him home.
But hear me, princes! whom these walls inclose,
For whom my chanter sings: and goblet flows
With wine unmix’d (an honour due to age,
To cheer the grave, and warm the poet’s rage);
Though labour’d gold and many a dazzling vest
Lie heap’d already for our godlike guest;
Without new treasures let him not remove,
Large, and expressive of the public love:
Each peer a tripod, each a vase bestow,
A general tribute, which the state shall owe.”