Heedless he heard them: but disdain’d reply;
The bow perusing with exactest eye.
Then, as some heavenly minstrel, taught to sing
High notes responsive to the trembling string,
To some new strain when he adapts the lyre,
Or the dumb lute refits with vocal wire,
Relaxes, strains, and draws them to and fro;
So the great master drew the mighty bow,
And drew with ease. One hand aloft display’d
The bending horns, and one the string essay’d.
From his essaying hand the string, let fly,
Twang’d short and sharp like the shrill swallow’s cry.
A general horror ran through all the race,
Sunk was each heart, and pale was every face,
Signs from above ensued: the unfolding sky
In lightning burst; Jove thunder’d from on high.
Fired at the call of heaven’s almighty Lord,
He snatch’d the shaft that glitter’d on the board
(Fast by, the rest lay sleeping in the sheath,
But soon to fly the messengers of death).
Now sitting as he was, the cord he drew,
Through every ringlet levelling his view:
Then notch’d the shaft, released, and gave it wing;
The whizzing arrow vanished from the string,
Sung on direct, and threaded every ring.
The solid gate its fury scarcely bounds;
Pierced through and through the solid gate resounds,
Then to the prince: “Nor have I wrought thee shame;
Nor err’d this hand unfaithful to its aim;
Nor prov’d the toil too hard; nor have I lost
That ancient vigour, once my pride and boast.
Ill I deserved these haughty peers’ disdain;
Now let them comfort their dejected train,
In sweet repast their present hour employ,
Nor wait till evening for the genial joy:
Then to the lute’s soft voice prolong the night;
Music, the banquet’s most refined delight.”
He said, then gave a nod; and at the word
Telemachus girds on his shining sword.
Fast by his father’s side he takes his stand:
The beamy javelin lightens in his hand.
The death of the suitors.
Ulysses begins the slaughter of the suitors by the death of Antinous. He declares himself, and lets fly his arrows at the rest. Telemachus assists and brings arms for his father, himself, Eumaeus, and Philaetius. Melanthius does the same for the wooers. Minerva encourages Ulysses in the shape of Mentor. The suitors are all slain, only Medon and Phemius are spared. Melanthius and the unfaithful servants are executed. The rest acknowledge their master with all demonstrations of joy.
Then fierce the hero o’er the threshold strode;
Stripp’d of his rags, he blazed out like a god.
Full in their face the lifted bow he bore,
And quiver’d deaths, a formidable store;
Before his feet the rattling shower he threw,
And thus, terrific, to the suitor-crew: