The old, old cause shall stir the strife,
A stranger bed, a foreign wife.
Yet still despond not, but proceed
Along the path where Fate may lead.
The first faint gleam that gilds your skies
Shall from a Grecian city rise.
Shrills forth the priestess from her shrine,
And wraps her truth in mystery round,
While all the cave returns the sound;
Still the fierce power her hard mouth wrings,
And deep and deeper plants his stings.
Soon as the frenzy-fit was oer,
And foamed the savage lips no more,
The chief begins: No cloud can rise
Unlooked for to Æneas eyes:
My prescient soul has all forecast,
And seen the future as the past.
One boon I crave: since here, tis said,
The path leads downward to the dead,
Where Acherons brimming waters spread,
There let me go, and see the face
Of him, the father of my love;
Thyself the dubious journey trace,
And the dread gates remove.
Him through the fire these shoulders bore,
And from the heart of battle tore:
He shared my travel, braved with me
The menaces of every sea,
The oceans roar, the tempests rage,
With feeble strength transcending age.
Nay, twas his voice that bade me seek
Thy presence, and thine aid bespeak.
O pity son and father both,
Blest maid! for nought to thee is hard,
Nor vainly sworn was Dians oath
That placed thee here, these shades to guard.
If Orpheus back to light and life
Could summon his departed wife,
Albeit he owned no other spell
Than the soft breathings of his shell;
If Pollux ransomed from the tomb
His brothers shade, and halved his doom,
And trod and trod again the way
Why talk of Theseus? why
Of great Alcides? I, as they,
Descend from Jove most high.
The priestess took the word, and said:
Inheritor of blood divine,
Preserver of Anchises line,
The journey down to the abyss
Is prosperous and light:
The palace-gates of gloomy Dis
Stand open day and night:
But upward to retrace the way
And pass into the light of day,
There comes the stress of labour; this
May task a heros might.
A few, whom Heaven has marked for love,
Or glowing worth has throned above,
Themselves of seed divine conceived,
The desperate venture have achieved.
Besides, the interval of ground
Is clothed with thickest wood,
And broad Cocytus winds around
Its dark and sinuous flood.
But still should passionate desire
Stir in your soul so fierce a fire,
Twice oer the Stygian pool to swim,
Twice look on Tartarus horrors dim,
If nought will quench your madmans thirst,
Then learn what duties claim you first.
Deep in a mass of leafy growth,
Its stem and foliage golden both,
A precious bough there lurks unseen,
Held sacred to the infernal queen:
Around it bends the whole dark grove,
And hides from view the treasure-trove.
Yet none may reach the shades without
The passport of that golden sprout:
For so has Proserpine decreed
That this should be her beautys meed.
One plucked, another fills its room,
And burgeons with like precious bloom.
Go, then, the shrinking treasure track,
And pluck it with your hand:
Itself will follow, nothing slack,
Should fate the deed command:
If not, no weapon man can wield
Will make its dull reluctance yield.
Then, too, your comrades breathless clay
(Alas! you know not) taints the day
And poisons all your fleet,
While on our threshold still you stay
And Heavens response entreat.
Him to his parent earth return
Observant, and his bones inurn.
Lead to the shrine black cattle: they
Will cleanse whateer would else pollute:
Thus shall you Acherons banks survey,
Where never living soul finds way.
She ended, and was mute.
Æneas turns him from the cave,
And ponders oer his woe:
Still by his side Achates moves,
Companion to the chief he loves,
As musingly and slow.
Much talked they on their onward way,
Debating whose the senseless clay
That claims a comrades tomb;
When on the naked shore, behold,
They see Misenus, dead and cold,
Destroyed by ruthless doom;
The son of Æolus, than who
None eer more skilled the trumpet blew,
To animate the warrior crew
And martial fire relume.
Once Hectors comrade, in the fray
He mingled, proud the spear to sway
Or bid the clarion sound:
When Hector neath the conqueror died,
He joined him to Æneas side,
Nor worse allegiance found.
Now, as he sounds along the waves
His shell, and Heaven to conflict braves,
Tis said that Triton heard his boast,
And mid the billows on the coast
Sunk low his drowning head.
So all the train with cries of grief
Assailed the skies, Æneas chief:
Then, as the Sibyl bade, they ply
Their mournful task, and heap on high
With timber rising to the sky
The altar of the dead.
The silvan prowlers leafy lair:
The pitch-tree falls beneath the stroke;
The sharp axe rings upon the oak:
Through beechen core the wedge goes deep:
The ash comes rolling down the steep,
Æneas stirs his comrades zeal,
And foremost wields the workmans steel.
In moody silence he
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