Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Nor ceased till Pallas bid her sorrows fly,
And in soft slumber seal'd her flowing eye.

And now Eumæus, at the evening hour, 470
Came late returning to his sylvan bower.
Ulysses and his son had dress'd with art
A yearling boar, and gave the gods their part,
Holy repast! That instant from the skies
The martial goddess to Ulysses flies:

475 She waves her golden wand, and reassumes From every feature every grace that blooms; At once his vestures change ; at once she sheds Age o'er his limbs, that tremble as he treads : Lest to the queen the swain with transport fly, 480 Unable to contain the unruly joy. When near he drew, the prince breaks forth : “Pro

claim What tiding, friends? what speaks the voice of fame? Say, if the suitors measure back the main, Or still in ambush thirst for blood in vain ?" 485

“Whether,” he cries, “they measure back the flood, Or still in ambush thirst in vain for blood, Escaped my care: where lawless suitors sway, Thy mandate borne, my soul disdain'd to stay. But from the Hermæan height I cast a view, 490 Where to the port a bark high-bounding flew; Her freight a shining band : with martial air Each poised his shield, and each advanced his spear: And, if aright these searching eyes survey, The eluded suitors stem the watery way."

495 The prince, well pleased to disappoint their wiles, Steals on his sire a glance, and secret smiles. And now, a short repast prepared, they fed Till the keen rage of craving hunger fled : Then to repose withdrawn, art they lay,

500 And in soft sleep forgot the cares of day.

BOOK X VII.

ARGUMENT.

TELEMACHUS, returning to the city, relates to Penelope the

sum of his travels, Ulysses is conducted by Eumæus to the palace, where his old dog Argus acknowledges his master, after an absence of twenty years, and dies with joy-Eumæus returns into the country, and Ulysses remains among the suitors, whose behaviour is described.

Soon as Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
Sprinkled with roseate light the dewy lawn,
In haste the prince arose, prepared to part;
His hand impatient grasps the pointed dart;
Fair on his feet the polish'd sandals shine,
And thus he greets the master of the swine:

“ My friend, adieu! let this short stay suffice;
I haste to meet my mother's longing eyes,
And end her tears, her sorrows, and her sighs.
But thou, attentive, what we order heed :

10
This hapless stranger to the city lead :
By public bounty let him there be fed,
And bless the hand that stretches forth the bread.
To wipe the tears from all afflicted eyes,
My will may covet, but my power denies.

15 If this raise anger in the stranger's thought, The pain of anger punishes the fault: The very truth I undisguised declare; For what so easy as to be sincere ?"

To this Ulysses : “ What the prince requires 20 Of swift removal, seconds my desires. To want like mine the peopléd town can yield More hopes of comfort than the lonely field :

25

Nor fits my age to till the labour'd lands,
Or stoop to tasks a rural lord demands.
Adieu! but since this ragged garb can bear
So ill the inclemencies of morning air,
A few hours space permit me here to stay ;
My steps Eumæus shall to town convey,
With riper beams when

Phæbus warms the day.” 30
Thus he: nor aught Telemachus replied,
But left the mansion with a lofty stride :
Schemes of revenge his pondering breast elate,
Revolving deep the suitors' sudden fate.
Arriving now before the imperial hall,

35 He props his spear against the pillar'd wall; Then like a lion o'er the threshold bounds; The marble pavement with his step resounds : His eye first glanced where Euryclea spreads With furry spoils of beasts the splendid beds : 40 She saw, she wept, she ran with eager pace, And reach'd her master with a long embrace. All crowded round the family appears With wild entrancement, and ecstatic tears. Swift from above descends the royal fair,

45 (Her beauteous cheeks the blush of Venus wear, Chasten'd with coy Diana's pensive air,) Hangs o'er her son, in his embraces dies; Rains kisses on his neck, his face, his eyes : Few words she spoke, though much she had to say; And scarce those few, for tears, could force their way.

51 “ Light of my eyes! he comes! unhoped for joy! Has heaven from Pylos brought my lovely boy ? So snatch'd from all our cares! Tell, hast thou

known Thy father's fate, and tell me all thy own." 55

« Oh dearest! most revered of woman kind! Cease with those tears to melt a manly mind," Replied the prince; “nor be our fates deplored, From death and treason to thy arms restored.

Go bathe, and, robed in white, ascend the towers; 60
With all thy handmaids thank the immortal powers;
To every god vow hecatombs to bleed,
And call Jove's vengeance on their guilty deed.
While to the assembled council I repair;
A stranger sent by Heaven attends me there; 66
My new accepted guest I haste to find,
Now to Peiræus' honour'd charge consign'd."

The matron heard, nor was his word in vain. She bathed; and robed in white, with all her train, To every god vow'd hecatombs to bleed,

70 And callid Jove's vengeance on the guilty deed. Arm'd with his lance, the prince then pass'd the

gate ; Two dogs behind, a faithful guard, await ; Pallas his form with grace divine improves : The gazing crowd admires him as he moves : 75 Him, gathering round, the haughty suitors greet With semblance fair, but inward deep deceit. Their false addresses generous he denied, Pass'd on, and sat by faithful Mentor's side; With Antiphus, and Halitherses sage:

80 (His father's counsellors, revered for age.) Of his own fortunes, and Ulysses' fame, Much ask'd the seniors; till Peiræus came. The stranger guest pursued him close behind; Whom when Telemachus beheld, he join'd. 85 He (when Peiræus ask'd for slaves to bring The gifts and treasures of the Spartan king) Thus thoughtful answer'd : “ Those we shall not

move, Dark and unconscious of the will of Jove : We know not yet the full event of all:

90 Stabb'd in his palace if your prince must fall, Us, and our house, if treason must o'erthrow, Better a friend possess them than a foe; If death to these, and vengeance Heaven decree, Riches are welcome then, not else, to me. 95

Till then, retain the gifts.” The hero said,
And in his hand the willing stranger led.
Then disarray'd, the shining bath they sought,
With unguents smooth, of polish'd marble wrought;
Obedient handnaids with assistant toil

100
Supply the limpid wave, and fragrant oil :
Then o'er their limbs refulgent robes they threw
And fresh from bathing to their seats withdrew.
The golden ewer a nymph attendant brings,
Replenish'd from the pure translucent springs; 105
With copious streams that golden ewer supplies
A silver laver of capacious size.
They wash: the table, in fair order spread,
Is piled with viands and the strength of bread.
Full opposite, before the folding gate,

110 The pensive mother sits in humble state ; Lowly she sat, and with dejected view The feecy threads her ivory fingers drew. The prince and stranger shared the genial feast, Till now the rage of thirst and hunger ceased. 115

When thus the queen: “My son! my only friend ! Say, to my mournful couch shall I ascend? (The couch deserted now a length of years ; The couch for ever water'd with my tears ;) Say, wilt thou not, (ere yet the suitor crew 120 Return, and riot shakes our walls anew,) Say, wilt thou not the least account afford ? The least glad tidings of my absent lord ?”

To her the youth: “ We reach'd the Pylian plains, Where Nestor, shepherd of his people, reigns. 125 All arts of tenderness to him are known, Kind to Ulysses' race as to his own; No father with a fonder grasp of joy Strains to his bosom his long absent boy. But all unknown, if yet Ulysses breathe, 130 Or glide a spectre in the realms beneath; For farther search, his rapid steeds transport My lengthen'd journey to the Spartan court,

HOM.-11.-S

« ПредишнаНапред »