Then Euryclea: “Joyful I obey,
But cast those mean dishonest rags away;
Permit me first the royal robes to bring:
Ill suits this garb the shoulders of a king.”
“Bring sulphur straight, and fire” (the monarch cries).
She hears, and at the word obedient flies.
With fire and sulphur, cure of noxious fumes,
He purged the walls, and blood-polluted rooms.
Again the matron springs with eager pace,
And spreads her lord’s return from place to place.
They hear, rush forth, and instant round him stand,
A gazing throng, a torch in every hand.
They saw, they knew him, and with fond embrace
Each humbly kiss’d his knee, or hand, or face;
He knows them all, in all such truth appears,
E’en he indulges the sweet joy of tears.
Euryclea awakens Penelope with the news of Ulysses’ return, and the death of the suitors. Penelope scarcely credits her; but supposes some god has punished them, and descends from her department in doubt. At the first interview of Ulysses and Penelope, she is quite unsatisfied. Minerva restores him to the beauty of his youth; but the queen continues incredulous, till by some circumstances she is convinced, and falls into all the transports of passion and tenderness. They recount to each other all that has passed during their long separation. The next morning Ulysses, arming himself and his friends, goes from the city to visit his father.
Then to the queen, as in repose she lay,
The nurse with eager rapture speeds her way:
The transports of her faithful heart supply
A sudden youth, and give her wings to fly.
“And sleeps my child? (the reverend matron cries)
Ulysses lives! arise, my child, arise!
At length appears the long-expected hour!
Ulysses comes! the suitors are no more!
No more they view the golden light of day!
Arise, and bless thee with the glad survey?”
Touch’d at her words, the mournful queen rejoin’d:
“Ah! whither wanders thy distemper’d mind?
The righteous powers, who tread the starry skies,
The weak enlighten, and confound the wise,
And human thought, with unresisted sway,
Depress or raise, enlarge or take away:
Truth, by their high decree, thy voice forsakes,
And folly with the tongue of wisdom speaks.
Unkind, the fond illusion to impose!
Was it to flatter or deride my woes?
Never did I sleep so sweet enjoy,
Since my dear lord left Ithaca for Troy.
Why must I wake to grieve, and curse thy shore,
O Troy?—may never tongue pronounce thee more!
Begone! another might have felt our rage,
But age is sacred, and we spare thy age.”
To whom with warmth: “My soul a lie disdains;
Ulysses lives, thy own Ulysses reigns:
That stranger, patient of the suitors’ wrongs,
And the rude license of ungovern’d tongues!
He, he is thine! Thy son his latent guest
Long knew, but lock’d the secret in his breast:
With well concerted art to end his woes,
And burst at once in vengeance on the foes.”