Now parting from the stream, Ulysses found
A mossy bank with pliant rushes crown’d;
The bank he press’d, and gently kiss’d the ground;
Where on the flowery herb as soft he lay,
Thus to his soul the sage began to say:
“What will ye next ordain, ye powers on high!
And yet, ah yet, what fates are we to try?
Here by the stream, if I the night out-wear,
Thus spent already, how shall nature bear
The dews descending, and nocturnal air;
Or chilly vapours breathing from the flood
When morning rises?—If I take the wood,
And in thick shelter of innumerous boughs
Enjoy the comfort gentle sleep allows;
Though fenced from cold, and though my toil be pass’d,
What savage beasts may wander in the waste?
Perhaps I yet may fall a bloody prey
To prowling bears, or lions in the way.”
Thus long debating in himself he stood:
At length he took the passage to the wood,
Whose shady horrors on a rising brow
Waved high, and frown’d upon the stream below.
There grew two olives, closest of the grove,
With roots entwined, the branches interwove;
Alike their leaves, but not alike they smiled
With sister-fruits; one fertile, one was wild.
Nor here the sun’s meridian rays had power,
Nor wind sharp-piercing, nor the rushing shower;
The verdant arch so close its texture kept:
Beneath this covert great Ulysses crept.
Of gather’d leaves an ample bed he made
(Thick strewn by tempest through the bowery shade);
Where three at least might winter’s cold defy,
Though Boreas raged along the inclement sky.
This store with joy the patient hero found,
And, sunk amidst them, heap’d the leaves around.
As some poor peasant, fated to reside
Remote from neighbours in a forest wide,
Studious to save what human wants require,
In embers heap’d, preserves the seeds of fire:
Hid in dry foliage thus Ulysses lies,
Till Pallas pour’d soft slumbers on his eyes;
And golden dreams (the gift of sweet repose)
Lull’d all his cares, and banish’d all his woes.
Pallas appearing in a dream in to Nausicaa (the daughter of Alcinous, king of Phaeacia, commands her to descend to the river, and wash the robes of state, in preparation for her nuptials. Nausicaa goes with her handmaidens to the river; where, while the garments are spread on the bank, they divert themselves in sports. Their voices awaken Ulysses, who, addressing himself to the princess, is by her relieved and clothed, and receives directions in what manner to apply to the king and queen of the island.