Book 11

Ulysses relates to Alcinoüs his voyage to the infernal regions, his conference there with the prophet Tiresias concerning his return to Ithaca, and gives him an account of the heroes, heroines, and others whom he saw there.

   Arriving on the shore, and launching, first,
Our bark into the sacred Deep, we set
Our mast and sails, and stow’d secure on board
The ram and ewe, then, weeping, and with hearts
Sad and disconsolate, embark’d ourselves.
And now, melodious Circe, nymph divine,
Sent after us a canvas-stretching breeze,
Pleasant companion of our course, and we
(The decks and benches clear’d) untoiling sat,
While managed gales sped swift the bark along.
All day, with sails distended, e’er the Deep
She flew, and when the sun, at length, declined,
And twilight dim had shadow’d all the ways,
Approach’d the bourn of Ocean’s vast profound.
The city, there, of the Cimmerians stands
With clouds and darkness veil’d, on whom the sun
Deigns not to look with his beam-darting eye,
Or when he climbs the starry arch, or when
Earthward he slopes again his west’ring wheels,
But sad night canopies the woeful race.
We haled the bark aground, and, landing there
The ram and sable ewe, journey’d beside
The Deep, till we arrived where Circe bade.
Here, Perimedes’ son Eurylochus
Held fast the destined sacrifice, while I
Scoop’d with my sword the soil, op’ning a trench
Ell- broad on ev’ry side, then pour’d around
Libation consecrate to all the dead,
First, milk with honey mixt, then luscious wine,
Then water, sprinkling, last, meal over all,
This done, adoring the unreal forms
And shadows of the dead, I vow’d to slay,
(Return’d to Ithaca) in my own abode,
An heifer barren yet, fairest and best
Of all my herds, and to enrich the pile
With delicacies, such as please the shades.
But, in peculiar, to the Theban seer
I vow’d a sable ram, largest and best
Of all my flocks. When thus I had implored
With vows and pray’r, the nations of the dead,
Piercing the victims next, I turn’d them both
To bleed into the trench; then swarming came
From Erebus the shades of the deceased,
Brides, youths unwedded, seniors long with woe
Oppress’d, and tender girls yet new to grief.
Came also many a warrior by the spear
In battle pierced, with armour gore-distain’d,
And all the multitude around the foss
Stalk’d shrieking dreadful; me pale horror seized.
I next, importunate, my people urged,
Flaying the victims which myself had slain,
To burn them, and to supplicate in pray’r
Illustrious Pluto and dread Proserpine.
Then down I sat, and with drawn faulchion chased
The ghosts, nor suffer’d them to approach the blood,
Till with Tiresias I should first confer.

   The spirit, first, of my companion came,
Elpenor; for no burial honours yet
Had he received, but we had left his corse
In Circe’s palace, tombless, undeplored,
Ourselves by pressure urged of other cares.
Touch’d with compassion seeing him, I wept,
And in wing’d accents brief him thus bespake.

   Elpenor! how cam’st thou into the realms
Of darkness? Hast thou, though on foot, so far
Outstripp’d my speed, who in my bark arrived?

   So I, to whom with tears he thus replied.
Laertes’ noble son, for wiles renown’d!
Fool’d by some dæmon and the intemp’rate bowl,
I perish’d in the house of Circe; there
The deep-descending steps heedless I miss’d,
And fell precipitated from the roof.
With neck-bone broken from the vertebræ
Outstretch’d I lay; my spirit sought the shades.
But now, by those whom thou hast left at home,
By thy Penelope, and by thy fire,
The gentle nourisher of thy infant growth,
And by thy only son Telemachus
I make my suit to thee. For, sure, I know
That from the house of Pluto safe return’d,
Thou shalt ere long thy gallant vessel moor
At the Ææan isle. Ah! there arrived
Remember me. Leave me not undeplored
Nor uninhumed, lest, for my sake, the Gods
In vengeance visit thee; but with my arms
(What arms soe’er I left) burn me, and raise
A kind memorial of me on the coast,
Heap’d high with earth; that an unhappy man
May yet enjoy an unforgotten name.
Thus do at my request, and on my hill
Funereal, plant the oar with which I row’d,
While yet I lived a mariner of thine.

   He spake, to whom thus answer I return’d.
Poor youth! I will perform thy whole desire.

   Thus we, there sitting, doleful converse held,
With outstretch’d faulchion, I, guarding the blood,
And my companion’s shadowy semblance sad
Meantime discoursing me on various themes.
The soul of my departed mother, next,
Of Anticleia came, daughter of brave
Autolycus; whom, when I sought the shores
Of Ilium, I had living left at home.
Seeing her, with compassion touch’d, I wept,
Yet even her, (although it pain’d my

  By PanEris using Melati.

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