Forbad, relentless, to approach the blood,
Till with Tiresias I should first confer.
Then came the spirit of the Theban seer
Himself, his golden sceptre in his hand,
Who knew me, and, enquiring, thus began.

   Why, hapless Chief! leaving the cheerful day,
Arriv’st thou to behold the dead, and this
Unpleasant land? but, from the trench awhile
Receding, turn thy faulchion keen away,
That I may drink the blood, and tell thee truth.

   He spake; I thence receding, deep infix’d
My sword bright-studded in the sheath again.
The noble prophet then, approaching, drank
The blood, and, satisfied, address’d me thus.

   Thou seek’st a pleasant voyage home again,
Renown’d Ulysses! but a God will make
That voyage difficult; for, as I judge,
Thou wilt not pass by Neptune unperceiv’d,
Whose anger follows thee, for that thou hast
Deprived his son Cyclops of his eye.
At length, however, after num’rous woes
Endur’d, thou may’st attain thy native isle,
If thy own appetite thou wilt controul
And theirs who follow thee, what time thy bark
Well-built, shall at Thrinacia’s shore arrive,
Escaped from perils of the gloomy Deep.
There shall ye find grazing the flocks and herds
Of the all-seeing and all-hearing Sun,
Which, if attentive to thy safe return,
Thou leave unharm’d, though after num’rous woes,
Ye may at length arrive in Ithaca.
But if thou violate them, I denounce
Destruction on thy ship and all thy band,
And though thyself escape, late shalt thou reach
Thy home and hard-bested, in a strange bark,
All thy companions lost; trouble beside
Awaits thee there, for thou shalt find within
Proud suitors of thy noble wife, who waste
Thy substance, and with promis’d spousal gifts
Ceaseless solicit her to wed; yet well
Shalt thou avenge all their injurious deeds.
That once perform’d, and ev’ry suitor slain
Either by stratagem, or face to face,
In thy own palace, bearing, as thou go’st,
A shapely oar, journey, till thou hast found
A people who the sea know not, nor eat
Food salted; they trim galley crimson prow’d
Have ne’er beheld, nor yet smooth-shaven oar,
With which the vessel wing’d scuds o’er the waves.
Well thou shalt know them; this shall be the sign—
When thou shalt meet a trav’ler, who shall name
The oar on thy broad shoulder borne, a van,
There, deep infixing it within the soil,
Worship the King of Ocean with a bull,
A ram, and a lascivious boar, then seek
Thy home again, and sacrifice at home
An hecatomb to the Immortal Gods,
Adoring each duly, and in his course.
So shalt thou die in peace a gentle death,
Remote from Ocean; it shall find thee late,
In soft serenity of age, the Chief
Of a blest people.—I have told thee truth.

   He spake, to whom I answer thus return’d.
Tiresias! thou, I doubt not, hast reveal’d
The ordinance of heav’n. But tell me, Seer!
And truly. I behold my mother’s shade;
Silent she sits beside the blood, nor word
Nor even look vouchsafes to her own son.
How shall she learn, prophet, that I am her’s?

   So I, to whom Tiresias quick replied.
The course is easy. Learn it, taught by me.
What shade soe’er, by leave of thee obtain’d,
Shall taste the blood, that shade will tell thee truth;
The rest, prohibited, will all retire.

   When thus the spirit of the royal Seer
Had his prophetic mind reveal’d, again
He enter’d Pluto’s gates; but I unmoved
Still waited till my mother’s shade approach’d;
She drank the blood, then knew me, and in words
Wing’d with affection, plaintive, thus began.

   My son! how hast thou enter’d, still alive,
This darksome region? Difficult it is
For living man to view the realms of death.
Broad rivers roll, and awful floods between,
But chief, the Ocean, which to pass on foot,
Or without ship, impossible is found.
Hast thou, long wand’ring in thy voyage home
From Ilium, with thy ship and crew arrived,
Ithaca and thy consort yet unseen?

   She spake, to whom this answer I return’d.
My mother! me necessity constrain’d
To Pluto’s dwelling, anxious to consult
Theban Tiresias; for I have not yet
Approach’d Achaia, nor have touch’d the shore
Of Ithaca, but suff’ring ceaseless woe
Have roam’d, since first in Agamemnon’s train
I went to combat with the sons of Troy.
But speak, my mother, and the truth alone;
What stroke of fate slew thee? Fell’st thou a prey
To some slow malady? or by the shafts
Of gentle Dian suddenly subdued?
Speak to me also of my ancient Sire,
And of Telemachus, whom I left at home;
Possess I still unalienate and safe
My property, or hath some happier Chief
Admittance free into my fortunes gain’d,
No hope subsisting more of my return?

  By PanEris using Melati.

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