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.
Arrivst 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.
My sword bright-studded in the sheath again.
The noble prophet then, approaching, drank
The blood, and, satisfied, addressd me thus.
Renownd Ulysses! but a God will make
That voyage difficult; for, as I judge,
Thou wilt not pass by Neptune unperceivd,
Whose anger follows thee, for that thou hast
Deprived his son Cyclops of his eye.
At length, however, after numrous woes
Endurd, thou mayst attain thy native isle,
If thy own appetite thou wilt controul
And theirs who follow thee, what time thy bark
Well-built, shall at Thrinacias 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 unharmd, though after numrous 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 promisd spousal gifts
Ceaseless solicit her to wed; yet well
Shalt thou avenge all their injurious deeds.
That once performd, and evry suitor slain
Either by stratagem, or face to face,
In thy own palace, bearing, as thou gost,
A shapely oar, journey, till thou hast found
A people who the sea know not, nor eat
Food salted; they trim galley crimson prowd
Have neer beheld, nor yet smooth-shaven oar,
With which the vessel wingd scuds oer the waves.
Well thou shalt know them; this shall be the sign
When thou shalt meet a travler, 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.
Tiresias! thou, I doubt not, hast reveald
The ordinance of heavn. But tell me, Seer!
And truly. I behold my mothers 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 hers?
The course is easy. Learn it, taught by me.
What shade soeer, by leave of thee obtaind,
Shall taste the blood, that shade will tell thee truth;
The rest, prohibited, will all retire.
Had his prophetic mind reveald, again
He enterd Plutos gates; but I unmoved
Still waited till my mothers shade approachd;
She drank the blood, then knew me, and in words
Wingd with affection, plaintive, thus began.
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 wandring in thy voyage home
From Ilium, with thy ship and crew arrived,
Ithaca and thy consort yet unseen?
My mother! me necessity constraind
To Plutos dwelling, anxious to consult
Theban Tiresias; for I have not yet
Approachd Achaia, nor have touchd the shore
Of Ithaca, but suffring ceaseless woe
Have roamd, since first in Agamemnons train
I went to combat with the sons of Troy.
But speak, my mother, and the truth alone;
What stroke of fate slew thee? Fellst 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 gaind,
No hope subsisting more of my return?
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