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BOOK XXI I I.

ARGUMENT.

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 apartment in doubt-At the first interview of Ulysses and Penelope, she is quite unsatisfied-Minerva restores hiin 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!

6 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 !" 10

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, 15 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?

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Never did I a sleep so sweet enjoy
Since my dear lord left Ithaca for Troy.
Why must I wake to grieve, and curse thy shore,
Oh Troy? may never tongue pronounce thee more !
Begone! another might have felt our rage, 25
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, 30
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. 34

While yet she spoke, the queen in transport sprung Swift from the couch, and round the matron hung; Fast from her eye descends the rolling tear. “Say, once more say, is my Ulysses here? How could that numerous and outrageous band By one be slain, though by a hero's hand ?” 40

" I saw it not,” she cries, “but heard alone, When death was busy, a loud dying groan; The damsel train turn'd pale at every wound, Immured we sat, and catch'd each passing sound; When death had seized his prey, thy son attends, 45 And at his nod the damsel train descends : There terrible in arms Ulysses stood, And the dead suitors almost swam in blood : Thy heart had leap'd the hero to survey, Stern as the surly lion o'er his prey,

50 Glorious in gore, now with sulphureous fires The dome he purges, now the flame aspires : Heap'd lie the dead without the palace walls : Haste, daughter, haste, thy own Ulysses calls ! Thy every wish the bounteous gods bestow; 55 Enjoy the present good, and former wo. Ulysses lives, his vanquish'd foes to see ; He lives to thy Telemachus and thee !"

“Ah, no!" with sighs Penelope rejoin'd,

“Excess of joy disturbs thy wandering mind; 60
How bless'd this happy hour, should he appear,
Dear to us all, to me supremely dear!
Ah, no! some god the suitors' deaths decreed,
Some god descends, and by his hand they bleed;
Blind ! to contemn the stranger's righteous cause, 65
And violate all hospitable laws !
The good they hated, and the powers defied;
But Heaven is just, and by a god they died.
For never must Ulysses view this shore;
Never! the loved Ulysses is no more !"

70 “What words," the matron cries, “have reach'd Doubt we his presence, when he now appears? Then hear conviction: ere the fatal day That forced Ulysses o'er the watery way, A boar, fierce rushing in the sylvan war,

75 Plough'd half his thigh; I saw, I saw the scar, And wild with transport had reveal'd the wound; But ere I spoke, he rose, and check'd the sound. Then, daughter, haste away! and if a lie Flow from this tongue, then let thy servant die!" 80

To whom with dubious joy the queen replies : “ Wise is thy soul, but errors seize the wise ; The works of gods what mortal can survey ! Who knows their motives, who shall trace their

my ears?

way?

85

90

But learn we instant how the suitors trod
The paths of death, by man, or by a god.”

Thus speaks the queen, and no reply attends,
But with alternate joy and fear descends;
At every step debates her lord to prove ;
Or, rushing to his arms, confess her love!
Then gliding through the marble valves, in state
Opposed, before the shining sire she sat.
The monarch, by a column high enthroned,
His eye withdrew, and fix'd it on the ground;
Curious to hear his queen the silence break;
Amazed she sat, and impotent to speak;

95

O'er all the man her eyes she rolls in vain,
Now hopes, now fears, now knows, then doubts

again.
At length Telemachus: “Oh, who can find
A woman like Penelope unkind ?

100 Why thus in silence ? why with winning charms Thus slow to fly with rapture to his arms ? Stubborn the breast that with no transport glows, When twice ten years are pass'd of mighty woes; To softness lost, to spousal love unknown,

105 The gods have form'd that rigid heart of stone !"

“Oh my Telemachus !" the queen rejoin'd, “ Distracting fears confound my labouring mind; Powerless to speak, I scarce uplift my eyes, Nor dare to question; doubts on doubts arise. 110 Oh deign he, if Ulysses, to remove These boding thoughts, and what he is, to prove !"

Pleased with her virtuous fears, the king replies, “ Indulge, my son, the cautions of the wise; 114 Time shall the truth to sure remembrance bring: This garb of poverty belies the king ; No more. This day our deepest care requires, Cautious to act what thought mature inspires. If one man's blood, though mean, distain our hands, The homicide retreats to foreign lands;

120 By us, in heaps the illustrious peerage falls, The important deed our whole attention calls."

“ Be that thy care,” Telemachus replies ; “ The world conspires to speak Ulysses wise ; For wisdom all is thine! lo, I obey,

125 And dauntless follow where you lead the way; Nor shalt thou in the day of danger find Thy coward son degenerate lag behind."

" Then instant to the bath," the monarch cries, “ Bid the gay youth and sprightly virgins rise, 130 Thence all descend in pomp and proud array, And bid the dome resound the mirthful lay; While the sweet lyrist airs of rapture sings, And forms the dance responsive to the strings.

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That hence the eluded passengers may say,

135
Lo! the queen weds! we hear the spousal lay!
The suitors' death, unknown, till we remove
Far from the court, and act inspired by Jove."

Thus spoke the king; the observant train obey,
At once they bathe, and dress in proud array: 140
The lyrist strikes the string ; gay youths advance,
And fair-zoned damsels form the sprightly dance,
The voice, attuned to instrumental sounds,
Ascends the roof, the vaulted roof rebounds;
Not unobserved : the Greeks eluded say,

145
“ Lo! the queen weds, we hear the spousal lay!
Inconstant! to admit the bridal hour."
Thus they ; but nobly chaste she weds no more.

Meanwhile the wearied king the bath ascends!
With faithful cares Eurynome attends,

150
O’er every limb a shower of fragrance sheds;
Then, dress’d in pomp, magnificent he treads.
The warrior goddess gives his frame to shine
With majesty enlarged, and grace divine.
Back from his brows in wavy ringlets fly 155
His thick large locks of hyacinthine die.
As by some artist to whom Vulcan gives
His heavenly skill, a breathing image lives :
By Pallas taught, he frames the wondrous mould,
And the pale silver glows with fusile gold : 160
So Pallas his heroic form improves
With bloom divine, and like a god he moves !
More high he treads, and issuing forth in state,
Radiant before his gazing consort sat.
“And, oh my queen!” he cries, “what power above
Has steeld that heart, averse to spousal love! 166
Canst thou, Penelope, when Heaven restores
Thy lost Ulysses to his native shores,
Canst thou, oh cruel! unconcern'd

survey Thy lost Ulysses, on this signal day ?

170 Haste, Euryclea, and despatchful spread For me, and me alone, the imperial bed ;

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