Pours out the sacrificial wine,
And on his mighty father calls,
The shade whom Pluto disenthralls.
Each from his store, the Trojans gay
Present their gifts, their victims slay,
Set on and heat the brimming brass,
Then stretch them careless on the grass:
Strow neath the spits a fiery bed,
And roast the flesh on embers red.
The ninth fair morn in lustre clear
Is driving oer the sky:
Acestes name and rumour wide
Have summoned all the country-side:
They crowd the coast through breadth and length,
To see the feats of Trojan strength,
And some their own to try.
There in the midst the gifts are seen,
Rich tripods, meet for sacrifice,
And garlands of luxuriant green,
And sprays of palm, the conquerors prize,
With arms, and purple robes of state,
And gold and silver, talent-weight:
And from a mound the trump proclaims
The festal onset of the games.
Four ships, the flower of all the fleet:
With stroke of oarsmen swift and strong
Brave Mnestheus speeds his Shark along
Mnestheus, one day Ausonias grace,
The founder of the Memmian race.
Chimæra moves in Gyas charge,
Huge bulk, a city scarce so large,
With Dardan rowers in triple bank,
The tiers ascending rank oer rank:
Sergestus, whence the Sergian name,
Commands the Centaurs mighty frame;
While Scylla is Cloanthus care,
Cluentius his Italian heir.
Far in the sea a rock there lies,
And fronts the spray-beat coast:
High oer its top the billows rise
And whelm it deep, what time the skies
In wintry storms are lost:
When wind and wave are laid to sleep,
It stands above the moveless deep,
A level, on whose ample breast
The basking sea-birds love to rest
Thereon an oak with leafy bole
Æneas plants, to form a goal,
That helmsmans eye the spot may mark,
And prompt his hand to turn the bark.
Each takes the place his lot assigns:
Proud on the stern each captain shines
With gold and purple dye:
The crews are wreathed with poplar green,
Their naked shoulders oil makes sheen:
And now on rowing bench they sit,
Bend to the oar their arms close knit,
And straining watch the sign to start;
While generous trembling thrills each heart
And thirst for victory.
Then, at the trumpets piercing sound,
All from their barriers onward bound:
Upsoars to heaven the oarsmans shout:
The upturned billows froth and spout.
In level lines they plough the deep:
All ocean yawns, as on they sweep,
And three-toothed beak and plashing oar
Tear from its base the marble floor.
Less swift in heady two-horse race
The chariots scour the field apace,
When from their base they dash:
Less eager oer the tossing manes
The charioteer flings out the reins,
And bends him oer the lash.
With plaudits loud and clamorous zeal
Echoes the woodland round:
The pent shores roll the thunder-peal,
The stricken hills rebound.
Mid hurry and tumultuous shout
First Gyas issues from the rout,
And holds the foremost place:
Cloanthus next: his oarsmen row
More featly: but his bark is slow,
And checks him in the race.
Behind, at equal distance, strain
Centaur and Shark the lead to gain:
And now the Shark darts forth, and now
The Centaur has advanced her bow:
And now the twain move side by side,
Their long keels trailing through the tide.
The goal was in their reach:
When Gyas, conqueror of the way,
His helmsman thus, Mentes gray,
Plies with upbraiding speech:
Why to the right so blindly push?
Here, take a narrower sweep:
Hug close the shore, nor fear its crush:
The cliffs left hand our oars should brush:
Let others hold the deep.
So Gyas: but Mentes fears
The hidden rocks, and seaward steers.
What? swerving still? he shouts once more:
The shore, Mentes! seek the shore!
And backward as he turns his eyes,
O death!Cloanthus he descries
Close following, nearer and more near,
And all but springing on his rear.
Twixt Gyas and the rocky shoal
The rival deftly glides,
Shoots to the forefront, turns the goal,
And gains the safer tides.
Grief flashed to flame in Gyas soul:
Tears from his eyes were seen to roll:
All reckless of his own true pride
And his imperilled crew,
He seized the dilatory guide
And from the vessel threw:
Himself assumes the helm, and cheers
His merry men, and shoreward steers.
But old Mentes, when the main
Gave him at length to light again,
Landward with feeble motion swims,
His wet clothes clinging to his limbs,
Ascends the rock, and sits on high
There on the summit, safe and dry.
To see him fall the Trojans laughed:
They laughed to see him float,
And laugh, as now the briny draught
He sputters from his throat.
A dawning hope, a new-born zeal,
Chimæra to outstrip:
The choice of way Sergestus gets,
And toward the rock his helm he sets:
Not first by all his length of bark,
First but by part; a part the Shark
Just covers with her tip.
But Mnestheus, pacing through and through
His vessel, cheers the eager crew:
Now, now, my men, now ply your oar,
Who fought at Hectors side of yore,
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|