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.
Our bark into the sacred Deep, we set
Our mast and sails, and stowd secure on board
The ram and ewe, then, weeping, and with hearts
Sad and disconsolate, embarkd 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 cleard) untoiling sat,
While managed gales sped swift the bark along.
All day, with sails distended, eer the Deep
She flew, and when the sun, at length, declined,
And twilight dim had shadowd all the ways,
Approachd the bourn of Oceans vast profound.
The city, there, of the Cimmerians stands
With clouds and darkness veild, 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 westring wheels,
But sad night canopies the woeful race.
We haled the bark aground, and, landing there
The ram and sable ewe, journeyd beside
The Deep, till we arrived where Circe bade.
Here, Perimedes son Eurylochus
Held fast the destined sacrifice, while I
Scoopd with my sword the soil, opning a trench
Ell- broad on evry side, then pourd 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 vowd to slay,
(Returnd 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 vowd a sable ram, largest and best
Of all my flocks. When thus I had implored
With vows and prayr, the nations of the dead,
Piercing the victims next, I turnd them both
To bleed into the trench; then swarming came
From Erebus the shades of the deceased,
Brides, youths unwedded, seniors long with woe
Oppressd, and tender girls yet new to grief.
Came also many a warrior by the spear
In battle pierced, with armour gore-distaind,
And all the multitude around the foss
Stalkd 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 prayr
Illustrious Pluto and dread Proserpine.
Then down I sat, and with drawn faulchion chased
The ghosts, nor sufferd them to approach the blood,
Till with Tiresias I should first confer.
Elpenor; for no burial honours yet
Had he received, but we had left his corse
In Circes palace, tombless, undeplored,
Ourselves by pressure urged of other cares.
Touchd with compassion seeing him, I wept,
And in wingd accents brief him thus bespake.
Of darkness? Hast thou, though on foot, so far
Outstrippd my speed, who in my bark arrived?
Laertes noble son, for wiles renownd!
Foold by some dæmon and the intemprate bowl,
I perishd in the house of Circe; there
The deep-descending steps heedless I missd,
And fell precipitated from the roof.
With neck-bone broken from the vertebræ
Outstretchd 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 returnd,
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 soeer I left) burn me, and raise
A kind memorial of me on the coast,
Heapd 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 rowd,
While yet I lived a mariner of thine.
Poor youth! I will perform thy whole desire.
With outstretchd faulchion, I, guarding the blood,
And my companions 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 touchd, I wept,
Yet even her, (although it paind my
|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.|