How on the barbarous Laestrigonian coast,
By savage hands his fleet and friends lie lost;
How scarce himself survived: he paints the bower,
The spells of Circe, and her magic power;
His dreadful journey to the realms beneath,
To seek Tiresias in the vales of death;
How in the doleful mansions lie survey’d
His royal mother, pale Anticlea’s shade;
And friends in battle slain, heroic ghosts!
Then how, unharm’d, he pass’d the Syren-coasts,
The justling rocks where fierce Charybdis raves,
And howling Scylla whirls her thunderous waves,
The cave of death! How his companions slay
The oxen sacred to the god of day.
Till Jove in wrath the rattling tempest guides,
And whelms the offenders in the roaring tides:
How struggling through the surge lie reach’d the shores
Of fair Ogygia and Calypso’s bowers;
Where the bay blooming nymph constrain’d his stay,
With sweet, reluctant, amorous delay;
And promised, vainly promised, to bestow
Immortal life, exempt from age and woe:
How saved from storms Phaeacia’s coast he trod,
By great Alcinous honour’d as a god,
Who gave him last his country to behold,
With change of raiment, brass, and heaps of gold
He ended, sinking into sleep, and shares
A sweet forgetfulness of all his cares.
Soon as soft slumber eased the toils of day,
Minerva rushes through the aerial way,
And bids Aurora with her golden wheels
Flame from the ocean o’er the eastern hills;
Uprose Ulysses from the genial bed,
And thus with thought mature the monarch said:
“My queen, my consort! through a length of years
We drank the cup of sorrow mix’d with tears;
Thou, for thy lord; while me the immortal powers
Detain’d reluctant from my native shores.
Now, bless’d again by Heaven, the queen display,
And rule our palace with an equal sway.
Be it my care, by loans, or martial toils,
To throng my empty folds with gifts or spoils.
But now I haste to bless Laertes’ eyes
With sight of his Ulysses ere he dies;
The good old man, to wasting woes a prey,
Weeps a sad life in solitude away.
But hear, though wise! This morning shall unfold
The deathful scene, on heroes heroes roll’d.
Thou with thy maids within the palace stay,
From all the scene of tumult far away!”
He spoke, and sheathed in arms incessant flies
To wake his son, and bid his friends arise.
“To arms!” aloud he cries; his friends obey,
With glittering arms their manly limbs array,
And pass the city gate; Ulysses leads the way.
Now flames the rosy dawn, but Pallas shrouds
The latent warriors in a veil of clouds.