The Sirens Song - Ain't nothing new under the sun.
THE TWELFTH BOOK OF HOMER’S ODYSSEYS
He shows from Hell his safe retreat
To th’ isle Ææa, Circe’s seat;
And how he ’scap’d the Sirens’ calls,
With th’ erring rocks, and waters’ falls,
That Scylla and Charybdis break;
The Sun’ s stol’ n herds; and his sad wreak
Both of Ulysses’ ship and men,
His own head ’scaping scarce the pain.
The rocks that err’d,
The Sirens’ call.
The Sun’s stol’n herd.
The soldiers’ fall.
“Our ship now past the straits of th’ ocean flood,
She plow’d the broad sea’s billows, and made good
The isle Ææa, where the palace stands
Of th’ early riser with the rosy hands,
Active Aurora, where she loves to dance,
And where the Sun doth his prime beams advance.
When here arriv’d, we drew her up to land,
And trod ourselves the re-saluted sand,
Found on the shore fit resting for the night,
Slept, and expected the celestial light.
Soon as the white-and-red-mix’d finger’d Dame
Had gilt the mountains with her saffron flame,
I sent my men to Circe’s house before,
To fetch deceas’d Elpenor to the shore.
Straight swell’d the high banks with fell’d heaps of trees,
And, full of tears, we did due exsequies
To our dead friend. Whose corse consum’d with fire,
And honour’d arms, whose sepulchre entire,
And over that a column rais’d, his oar,
Curiously carv’d, to his desire before,
Upon the top of all his tomb we fix’d.
Of all rites fit his funeral pile was mix’d.
Nor was our safe ascent from Hell conceal’d
From Circe’s knowledge; nor so soon reveal’d
But she was with us, with her bread and food,
And ruddy wine, brought by her sacred brood
Of woods and fountains. In the midst she stood,
And thus saluted us; ‘Unhappy men,
That have, inform’d with all your senses, been
In Pluto’s dismal mansion! You shall die
Twice now, where others, that Mortality
In her fair arms holds, shall but once decease.
But eat and drink out all conceit of these,
And this day dedicate to food and wine,
The following night to sleep. When next shall shine
The cheerful morning, you shall prove the seas.
Your way, and ev’ry act ye must address,
My knowledge of their order shall design,
Lest with your own bad counsels ye incline
Events as bad against ye, and sustain,
By sea and shore, the woful ends that reign
In wilful actions.’ Thus did she advise
And, for the time, our fortunes were so wise
To follow wise directions. All that day
We sat and feasted. When his lower way
The Sun had entered, and the Even the high,
My friends slept on their gables; she and I
(Led by her fair hand to place apart,
By her well-sorted) did to sleep convert
Our timid pow’rs; when all things Fate let fall
In our affair she ask’d; I told her all.
To which she answer’d: ‘These things thus took end.
And now to those that I inform attend,
Which you rememb’ring, God himself shall be
The blesséd author of your memory.
First to the Sirens ye shall come, that taint
The minds of all men whom they can acquaint
With their attractions. Whosoever shall,
For want of knowledge mov’d, but hear the call
Of any Siren, he will so despise
Both wife and children, for their sorceries,
That never home turns his affection’s stream,
Nor they take joy in him, nor he in them.
The Sirens will so soften with their song
(Shrill, and in sensual appetite so strong)
His loose affections, that he gives them head.
And then observe: They sit amidst a mead,
And round about it runs a hedge or wall
Of dead men’s bones, their wither’d skins and all
Hung all along upon it; and these men
Were such as they had fawn’d into their fen,
And then their skins hung on their hedge of bones.
Sail by them therefore, thy companions
Beforehand causing to stop ev’ry ear
With sweet soft wax, so close that none may hear
A note of all their charmings. Yet may you,
If you affect it, open ear allow
To try their motion; but presume not so
To trust your judgment, when your senses go
So loose about you, but give strait command
To all your men, to bind you foot and hand
Sure to the mast, that you may safe approve
How strong in instigation to their love
Their rapting tunes are. If so much they move,
That, spite of all your reason, your will stands
To be enfranchis’d both of feet and hands,
Charge all your men before to slight your charge,
And rest so far from fearing to enlarge
That much more sure they bind you. When your friends
Have outsail’d these, the danger that transcends
Rests not in any counsel to prevent,
Unless your own mind finds the tract and bent
Of that way that avoids it. I can say
That in your course there lies a twofold way,
The right of which your own, taught, present wit,
And grace divine, must prompt. In gen’ral yet
Let this inform you: Near these Sirens’ shore
Move two steep rocks, at whose feet lie and roar
The black sea’s cruel billows; the bless’d Gods
Call them the Rovers. Their abhorr’d abodes
No bird can pass; no not the doves, whose fear
Sire Jove so loves that they are said to bear
Ambrosia to him, can their ravine ’scape,
But one of them falls ever to the rape
Of those sly rocks; yet Jove another still
Adds to the rest, that so may ever fill
The sacred number. Never ship could shun
The nimble peril wing’d there, but did run
With all her bulk, and bodies of her men,
To utter ruin. For the seas retain
Not only their outrageous æsture there,
But fierce assistants of particular fear,
And supernatural mischief, they exspire,
And those are whirlwinds of devouring fire
Whisking about still. Th’ Argive ship alone,
Which bore the care of all men, got her gone,
Come from Areta. Yet perhaps ev’n she
Had wrack’d at those rocks, if the Deity,
That lies by Jove’s side, had not lent her hand
To their transmission; since the man, that mann’d
In chief that voyage, she in chief did love.
Of these two spiteful rocks, the one doth shove
Against the height of heav’n her pointed brow.
A black cloud binds it round, and never show
Lends to the sharp point; not the clear blue sky
Lets ever view it, not the summer’s eye,
Nor fervent autumn’s. None that death could end
Could ever scale it, or, if up, descend,
Though twenty hands and feet he had for hold,
A polish’d ice-like glibness doth enfold
The rock so round, whose midst a gloomy cell
Shrouds so far westward that it sees to hell.
From this keep you as far, as from his bow
An able young man can his shaft bestow.
For here the whuling Scylla shrouds her face,
That breathes a voice at all parts no more base
Than are a newly-kitten’d kitling’s cries,
Herself a monster yet of boundless size,
Whose sight would nothing please a mortal’s eyes,
No nor the eyes of any God, if he
(Whom nought should fright) fell foul on her, and she
Her full shape show’d. Twelve foul feet bear about
Her ugly bulk. Six huge long necks look out
Of her rank shoulders; ev’ry neck doth let
A ghastly head out; ev’ry head three set,
Thick thrust together, of abhorréd teeth,
And ev’ry tooth stuck with a sable death.
She lurks in midst of all her den, and streaks
From out a ghastly whirlpool all her necks;
Where, gloting round her rock, to fish she falls;
And up rush dolphins, dogfish; somewhiles whales
If got within her when her rapine feeds;
For ever-groaning Amphitrite breeds
About her whirlpool an unmeasur’d store.
No sea-man ever boasted touch of shore
That there touch’d with his ship, but still she fed
Of him and his; a man for ev’ry head
Spoiling his ship of. You shall then descry
The other humbler rock, that moves so nigh
Your dart may mete the distance. It receives
A huge wild fig-tree, curl’d with ample leaves,
Beneath whose shades divine Charybdis sits,
Supping the black deeps. Thrice a day her pits
She drinking all dry, and thrice a day again
All up she belches, baneful to sustain.
When she is drinking, dare not near her draught,
For not the force of Neptune, if once caught,
Can force your freedom. Therefore, in your strife
To ’scape Charybdis, labour all for life
To row near Scylla, for she will but have
For her six heads six men; and better save
The rest, than all make off’rings to the wave.’
This need she told me of my loss, when I
Desir’d to know, if that Necessity,
When I had ’scap’d Charybdis’ outrages,
My pow’rs might not revenge, though not redress?
She answer’d: ‘O unhappy! art thou yet
Enflam’d with war, and thirst to drink thy sweat?
Not to the Gods give up both arms and will?
She deathless is, and that immortal ill
Grave, harsh, outrageous, not to be subdued,
That men must suffer till they be renew’d.
Nor lives there any virtue that can fly
The vicious outrage of their cruelty.
Shouldst thou put arms on, and approach the rock,
I fear six more must expiate the shock.
Six heads six men ask still. Hoise sail, and fly,
And, in thy flight, aloud on Cratis cry
(Great Scylla’s mother, who expos’d to light
The bane of men) and she will do such right
To thy observance, that she down will tread
Her daughter’s rage, nor let her show a head.
From thenceforth then, for ever past her care,
Thou shalt ascend the isle triangular,
Where many oxen of the Sun are fed,
And fatted flocks. Of oxen fifty head
In ev’ry herd feed, and their herds are seven;
And of his fat flocks is their number even.
Increase they yield not, for they never die.
There ev’ry shepherdess a Deity.
Fair Phaëthusa, and Lampetié,
The lovely Nymphs are that their guardians be,
Who to the daylight’s lofty-going Flame
Had gracious birthright from the heav’nly Dame,
Still young Neæra; who (brought forth and bred)
Far off dismiss’d them, to see duly fed
Their father’s herds and flocks in Sicily.
These herds and flocks if to the Deity
Ye leave, as sacred things, untouch’d, and on
Go with all fit care of your home, alone,
(Though through some suff’rance) you yet safe shall land
In wishéd Ithaca. But if impious hand
You lay on those herds to their hurts, I then
Presage sure ruin to thy ship and men.
If thou escap’st thyself, extending home
Thy long’d-for landing, thou shalt loaded come
With store of losses, most exceeding late,
And not consorted with a savéd mate.’
This said, the golden-thron’d Aurora rose,
She her way went, and I did mine dispose
Up to my ship, weigh’d anchor, and away.
When rev’rend Circe help’d us to convey
Our vessel safe, by making well inclin’d
A seaman’s true companion, a forewind,
With which she fill’d our sails; when, fitting all
Our arms close by us, I did sadly fall
To grave relation what concern’d in fate
My friends to know, and told them that the state
Of our affairs’ success, which Circe had
Presag’d to me alone, must yet be made
To one nor only two known, but to all;
That, since their lives and deaths were left to fall
In their elections, they might life elect,
And give what would preserve it fit effect.
I first inform’d them, that we were to fly
The heav’nly-singing Sirens’ harmony,
And flow’r-adorned meadow; and that I
Had charge to hear their song, but fetter’d fast
In bands, unfavour’d, to th’ erected mast,
From whence, if I should pray, or use command,
To be enlarg’d, they should with much more band
Contain my strugglings. This I simply told
To each particular, nor would withhold
What most enjoin’d mine own affection’s stay,
That theirs the rather might be taught t’ obey.
In mean time flew our ships, and straight we fetch’d
The Siren’s isle; a spleenless wind so stretch’d
Her wings to waft us, and so urg’d our keel.
But having reach’d this isle, we could not feel
The least gasp of it, it was stricken dead,
And all the sea in prostrate slumber spread,
The Sirens’ devil charm’d all. Up then flew
My friends to work, struck sail, together drew,
And under hatches stow’d them, sat, and plied
The polish’d oars, and did in curls divide
The white-head waters. My part then came on:
A mighty waxen cake I set upon,
Chopp’d it in fragments with my sword, and wrought
With strong hand ev’ry piece, till all were soft.
The great pow’r of the sun, in such a beam
As then flew burning from his diadem,
To liquefaction help’d us. Orderly
I stopp’d their ears; and they as fair did ply
My feet and hands with cords, and to the mast
With other halsers made me soundly fast.
Then took they seat, and forth our passage strook,
The foamy sea beneath their labour shook.
Row’d on, in reach of an erected voice,
The Sirens soon took note, without our noise,
Tun’d those sweet accents that made charms so strong,
And these learn’d numbers made the Sirens’ song:
_‘Come here, thou worthy of a world of praise,
That dost so high the Grecian glory raise,
Ulysses! stay thy ship, and that song hear
That none pass’d ever but it bent his ear,
But left him ravish’d, and instructed more
By us, than any ever heard before.
For we know all things whatsoever were
In wide Troy labour’d; whatsoever there
The Grecians and the Trojans both sustain’d
By those high issues that the Gods ordain’d.
And whatsoever all the earth can show
T’ inform a knowledge of desert, we know.’_
This they gave accent in the sweetest strain
That ever open’d an enamour’d vein.
When my constrain’d heart needs would have mine ear
Yet more delighted, force way forth, and hear.
To which end I commanded with all sign
Stern looks could make (for not a joint of mine
Had pow’r to stir) my friends to rise, and give
My limbs free way. They freely striv’d to drive
Their ship still on. When, far from will to loose,
Eurylochus and Perimedes rose
To wrap me surer, and oppress’d me more
With many a halser than had use before.
When, rowing on without the reach of sound,
My friends unstopp’d their ears, and me unbound,
And that isle quite we quitted. But again
Fresh fears employ’d us. I beheld a main
Of mighty billows, and a smoke ascend,
A horrid murmur hearing. Ev’ry friend
Astonish’d sat; from ev’ry hand his Oar
Fell quite forsaken; with the dismal roar
Were all things there made echoes; stone-still stood
Our ship itself, because the ghastly flood
Took all men’s motions from her in their own.
I through the ship went, labouring up and down
My friends’ recover’d spirits. One by one
I gave good words, and said: That well were known
These ills to them before, I told them all,
And that these could not prove more capital
Than those the Cyclops block’d us up in, yet
My virtue, wit, and heav’n-help’d counsels set
Their freedoms open. I could not believe
But they remember’d it, and wish’d them give
My equal care and means now equal trust.
The strength they had for stirring up they must
Rouse and extend, to try if Jove had laid
His pow’rs in theirs up, and would add his aid
To ’scape ev’n that death. In particular then,
I told our pilot, that past other men
He most must bear firm spirits, since he sway’d
The continent that all our spirits convey’d,
In his whole guide of her. He saw there boil
The fiery whirlpools that to all our spoil
Inclos’d a rock, without which he must steer,
Or all our ruins stood concluded there.
All heard me and obey’d, and little knew
That, shunning that rock, six of them should rue
The wrack another hid. For I conceal’d
The heavy wounds, that never would be heal’d,
To be by Scylla open’d; for their fear
Would then have robb’d all of all care to steer,
Or stir an oar, and made them hide beneath,
When they and all had died an idle death.
But then ev’n I forgot to shun the harm
Circe forewarn’d; who will’d I should not arm,
Nor show myself to Scylla, lest in vain
I ventur’d life. Yet could not I contain,
But arm’d at all parts, and two lances took,
Up to the foredeck went, and thence did look
That rocky Scylla would have first appear’d
And taken my life with the friends I fear’d.
From thence yet no place could afford her sight,
Though through the dark rock mine eye threw her light,
And ransack’d all ways. I then took a strait
That gave myself, and some few more, receit
’Twixt Scylla and Charybdis; whence we saw
How horridly Charybdis’ throat did draw
The brackish sea up, which when all aboard
She spit again out, never caldron sod
With so much fervour, fed with all the store
That could enrage it; all the rock did roar
With troubled waters; round about the tops
Of all the steep crags flew the foamy drops.
But when her draught the sea and earth dissunder’d,
The troubled bottoms turn’d up, and she thunder’d,
Far under shore the swart sands naked lay.
Whose whole stern sight the startled blood did fray
From all our faces. And while we on her
Our eyes bestow’d thus to our ruin’s fear,
Six friends had Scylla snatch’d out of our keel,
In whom most loss did force and virtue feel.
When looking to my ship, and lending eye
To see my friends’ estates, their heels turn’d high,
And hands cast up, I might discern, and hear
Their calls to me for help, when now they were
To try me in their last extremities.
And as an angler med’cine for surprise
Of little fish sits pouring from the rocks,
From out the crook’d horn of a fold-bred ox,
And then with his long angle hoists them high
Up to the air, then slightly hurls them by,
When helpless sprawling on the land they lie;
So eas’ly Scylla to her rock had rapt
My woeful friends, and so unhelp’d entrapt
Struggling they lay beneath her violent rape,
Who in their tortures, desp’rate of escape,
Shriek’d as she tore, and up their hands to me
Still threw for sweet life. I did never see,
In all my suff’rance ransacking the seas,
A spectacle so full of miseries.
Thus having fled these rocks (these cruel dames
Scylla, Charybdis) where the King of flames
Hath off’rings burn’d to him, our ship put in
The island that from all the earth doth win
The epithet _Faultless,_ where the broad-of-head
And famous oxen for the Sun are fed,
With many fat flocks of that high-gone God.
Set in my ship, mine ear reach’d where we rode
The bellowing of oxen, and the bleat
Of fleecy sheep, that in my memory’s seat
Put up the forms that late had been imprest
By dread Ææn Circe, and the best
Of souls and prophets, the blind Theban seer,
The wise Tiresias, who was grave decreer
Of my return’s whole means; of which this one
In chief he urg’d—that I should always shun
The island of the man-delighting Sun.
When, sad at heart for our late loss, I pray’d
My friends to hear fit counsel (though dismay’d
With all ill fortunes) which was giv’n to me
By Circe’s and Tiresias’ prophecy,—
That I should fly the isle where was ador’d
The Comfort of the world, for ills abhorr’d
Were ambush’d for us there; and therefore will’d
They should put off and leave the isle. This kill’d
Their tender spirits; when Eurylochus
A speech that vex’d me utter’d, answ’ring thus:
‘Cruel Ulysses! Since thy nerves abound
In strength, the more spent, and no toils confound
Thy able limbs, as all beat out of steel,
Thou ablest us too, as unapt to feel
The teeth of Labour, and the spoil of Sleep,
And therefore still wet waste us in the deep,
Nor let us land to eat, but madly now
In night put forth, and leave firm land to strew
The sea with errors. All the rabid flight
Of winds that ruin ships are bred in night.
Who is it that can keep off cruel Death,
If suddenly should rush out th’ angry breath
Of Notus, or the eager-spirited West,
That cuff ships dead, and do the Gods their best?
Serve black Night still with shore, meat, sleep, and ease,
And offer to the Morning for the seas.’
This all the rest approv’d, and then knew I
That past all doubt the Devil did apply
His slaught’rous works. Nor would they be withheld;
I was but one, nor yielded but compell’d.
But all that might contain them I assay’d,
A sacred oath on all their pow’rs I laid,
That if with herds or any richest-flocks
We chanc’d t’ encounter, neither sheep nor ox
We once should touch, nor (for that constant ill
That follows folly) scorn advice and kill,
But quiet sit us down and take such food
As the immortal Circe had bestow’d.
They swore all this in all severest sort;
And then we anchor’d in the winding port
Near a fresh river, where the long’d-for shore
They all flew out to, took in victuals store,
And, being full, thought of their friends, and wept
Their loss by Scylla, weeping till they slept.
In night’s third part, when stars began to stoop,
The Cloud-assembler put a tempest up.
A boist’rous spirit he gave it, drave out all
His flocks of clouds, and let such darkness fall
That Earth and Seas, for fear, to hide were driv’n,
For with his clouds he thrust out Night from heav’n.
At morn we drew our ships into a cave,
In which the Nymphs that Phœbus’ cattle drave
Fair dancing-rooms had, and their seats of state.
I urg’d my friends then, that, to shun their fate,
They would observe their oath, and take the food
Our ship afforded, nor attempt the blood
Of those fair herds and flocks, because they were
The dreadful God’s that all could see and hear.
They stood observant, and in that good mind
Had we been gone; but so adverse the wind
Stood to our passage, that we could not go.
For one whole month perpetually did blow
Impetuous Notus, not a breath’s repair
But his and Eurus’ rul’d in all the air.
As long yet as their ruddy wine and bread
Stood out amongst them, so long not a head
Of all those oxen fell in any strife
Amongst those students for the gut and life;
But when their victuals fail’d they fell to prey,
Necessity compell’d them then to stray
In rape of fish and fowl; whatever came
In reach of hand or hook, the belly’s flame
Afflicted to it. I then fell to pray’r,
And (making to a close retreat repair,
Free from both friends and winds) I wash’d my hands,
And all the Gods besought, that held commands
In liberal heav’n, to yield some mean to stay
Their desp’rate hunger, and set up the way
Of our return restrain’d. The Gods, instead
Of giving what I pray’d for—pow’r of deed—
A deedless sleep did on my lids distill,
For mean to work upon my friends their fill.
For whiles I slept, there wak’d no mean to curb
Their headstrong wants; which he that did disturb
My rule in chief at all times, and was chief
To all the rest in counsel to their grief,
Knew well, and of my present absence took
His fit advantage, and their iron strook
At highest heat. For, feeling their desire
In his own entrails, to allay the fire
That Famine blew in them, he thus gave way
To that affection: ‘Hear what I shall say,
Though words will staunch no hunger, ev’ry death
To us poor wretches that draw temporal breath
You know is hateful; but, all know, to die
The death of Famine is a misery
Past all death loathsome. Let us, therefore, take
The chief of this fair herd, and off’rings make
To all the Deathless that in broad heav’n live,
And in particular vow, if we arrive
In natural Ithaca, to straight erect
A temple to the Haughty-in-aspect,
Rich and magnificent, and all within
Deck it with relics many and divine.
If yet he stands incens’d, since we have slain
His high-brow’d herd, and, therefore, will sustain
Desire to wrack our ship, he is but one,
And all the other Gods that we atone
With our divine rites will their suffrage give
To our design’d return, and let us live.
If not, and all take part, I rather crave
To serve with one sole death the yawning wave,
Than in a desert island lie and sterve,
And with one pin’d life many deaths observe.’
All cried ‘He counsels nobly,’ and all speed
Made to their resolute driving; for the feed
Of those coal-black, fair, broad-brow’d, sun-lov’d beeves
Had place close by our ships. They took the lives
Of sence, most eminent; about their fall
Stood round, and to the States Celestial
Made solemn vows; but other rites their ship
Could not afford them, they did, therefore, strip
The curl’d-head oak of fresh young leaves, to make
Supply of service for their barley-cake.
And on the sacredly-enflam’d, for wine,
Pour’d purest water, all the parts divine
Spitting and roasting; all the rites beside
Orderly using. Then did light divide
My low and upper lids; when, my repair
Made near my ship, I met the delicate air
Their roast exhal’d; out instantly I cried,
And said: ‘O Jove, and all ye Deified,
Ye have oppress’d me with a cruel sleep,
While ye conferr’d on me a loss as deep
As Death descends to. To themselves alone
My rude men left ungovern’d, they have done
A deed so impious, I stand well assur’d,
That you will not forgive though ye procur’d.’
Then flew Lampetié with the ample robe
Up to her father with the golden globe,
Ambassadress t’ inform him that my men
Had slain his oxen. Heart-incensed then,
He cried: ‘Revenge me, Father, and the rest
Both ever-living and for ever blest!
Ulysses’ impious men have drawn the blood
Of those my oxen that it did me good
To look on, walking all my starry round,
And when I trod earth all with meadows crown’d.
Without your full amends I’ll leave heav’n quite,
Dis and the dead adorning with my light.’
The Cloud-herd answer’d: ‘Son! Thou shalt be ours,
And light those mortals in that mine of flow’rs!
My red-hot flash shall graze but on their ship,
And eat it, burning, in the boiling deep.’
This by Calypso I was told, and she
Inform’d it from the verger Mercury.
Come to our ship, I chid and told by name
Each man how impiously he was to blame.
But chiding got no peace, and beeves were slain!
When straight the Gods forewent their following pain
With dire ostents. The hides the flesh had lost
Crept all before them. As the flesh did roast,
It bellow’d like the ox itself alive.
And yet my soldiers did their dead beeves drive
Through all these prodigies in daily feasts.
Six days they banqueted and slew fresh beasts;
And when the sev’nth day Jove reduc’d the wind
That all the month rag’d, and so in did bind
Our ship and us, was turn’d and calm’d, and we
Launch’d, put up masts, sails hoised, and to sea.
The island left so far that land nowhere
But only sea and sky had pow’r t’ appear,
Jove fix’d a cloud above our ship, so black
That all the sea it darken’d. Yet from wrack
She ran a good free time, till from the West
Came Zephyr ruffling forth, and put his breast
Out in a singing tempest, so most vast
It burst the gables that made sure our mast.
Our masts came tumbling down, our cattle down
Rush’d to the pump, and by our pilot’s crown
The main-mast pass’d his fall, pash’d all his skull,
And all this wrack but one flaw made at full.
Off from the stern the sternsman diving fell,
And from his sinews flew his soul to hell.
Together all this time Jove’s thunder chid,
And through and through the ship his lightning glid,
Till it embrac’d her round; her bulk was fill’d
With nasty sulphur, and her men were kill’d,
Tumbled to sea, like sea-mews swum about,
And there the date of their return was out.
I toss’d from side to side still, till all-broke
Her ribs were with the storm, and she did choke
With let-in surges; for the mast torn down
Tore her up piecemeal, and for me to drown
Left little undissolv’d. But to the mast
There was a leather thong left, which I cast
About it and the keel, and so sat tost
With baneful weather, till the West had lost
His stormy tyranny. And then arose
The South, that bred me more abhorréd woes;
For back again his blasts expell’d me quite
On ravenous Charybdis. All that night
I totter’d up and down, till Light and I
At Scylla’s rock encounter’d, and the nigh
Dreadful Charybdis. As I drave on these,
I saw Charybdis supping up the seas,
And had gone up together, if the tree
That bore the wild figs had not rescued me;
To which I leap’d, and left my keel, and high
Chamb’ring upon it did as close imply
My breast about it as a reremouse could;
Yet might my feet on no stub fasten hold
To ease my hands, the roots were crept so low
Beneath the earth, and so aloft did grow
The far-spread arms that, though good height I gat,
I could not reach them. To the main bole flat
I, therefore, still must cling; till up again
She belch’d my mast, and after that amain
My keel came tumbling. So at length it chanc’d
To me, as to a judge that long advanc’d
To judge a sort of hot young fellows’ jars,
At length time frees him from their civil wars,
When glad he riseth and to dinner goes;
So time, at length, releas’d with joys my woes,
And from Charybdis’ mouth appear’d my keel.
To which, my hand now loos’d and now my heel,
I altogether with a huge noise dropp’d,
Just in her midst fell, where the mast was propp’d,
And there row’d off with owers of my hands.
God and man’s Father would not from her sands
Let Scylla see me, for I then had died
That bitter death that my poor friends supplied.
Nine days at sea I hover’d; the tenth night
In th’ isle Ogygia, where, about the bright
And right renown’d Calypso, I was cast
By pow’r of Deity; where I lived embrac’d
With love and feasts. But why should I relate
Those kind occurrents? I should iterate
What I in part to your chaste queen and you
So late imparted. And, for me to grow
A talker-over of my tale again,
Were past my free contentment to sustain.”
FINIS DUODECIMI LIBRI HOM. ODYSS.