Book 23

Ulysses with some difficulty, convinces Penelope of his identity, who at length, overcome by force of evidence, receives him to her arms with transport. He entertains her with a recital of his adventures, and in his narration the principal events of the poem are recapitulated. In the morning, Ulysses, Telemachus, the herdsman and the swine-herd depart into the country.

   And now, with exultation loud the nurse
Again ascended, eager to apprize
The Queen of her Ulysses’ safe return;
Joy braced her knees, with nimbleness of youth
She stepp’d, and at her ear, her thus bespake.

   Arise, Penelope! dear daughter, see
With thy own eyes thy daily wish fulfill’d.
Ulysses is arrived; hath reach’d at last
His native home, and all those suitors proud
Hath slaughter’d, who his family distress’d,
His substance wasted, and controul’d his son.

   To whom Penelope discrete replied.
Dear nurse! the Gods have surely ta’en away
Thy judgment; they transform the wise to fools,
And fools conduct to wisdom, and have marr’d
Thy intellect, who wast discrete before.
Why wilt thou mock me, wretched as I am,
With tales extravagant? and why disturb
Those slumbers sweet that seal’d so fast mine eyes?
For such sweet slumbers have I never known
Since my Ulysses on his voyage sail’d
To that bad city never to be named.
Down instant to thy place again—begone—
For had another of my maidens dared
Disturb my sleep with tidings wild as these,
I had dismiss’d her down into the house
More roughly; but thine age excuses thee,

   To whom the venerable matron thus.
I mock thee not, my child; no—he is come—
Himself, Ulysses, even as I say,
That stranger, object of the scorn of all.
Telemachus well knew his sire arrived,
But prudently conceal’d the tidings, so
To insure the more the suitors’ punishment.

   So Euryclea she transported heard,
And springing from the bed, wrapp’d in her arms
The ancient woman shedding tears of joy,
And in wing’d accents ardent thus replied.

   Ah then, dear nurse inform me! tell me true!
Hath he indeed arriv’d as thou declar’st?
How dared he to assail alone that band
Of shameless ones, for ever swarming here?

   Then Euryclea, thus, matron belov’d.
I nothing saw or knew; but only heard
Groans of the wounded; in th’interior house
We trembling sat, and ev’ry door was fast.
Thus all remain’d till by his father sent,
Thy own son call’d me forth. Going, I found
Ulysses compass’d by the slaughter’d dead.
They cover’d wide the pavement, heaps on heaps.
It would have cheer’d thy heart to have beheld
Thy husband lion-like with crimson stains
Of slaughter and of dust all dappled o’er,
Heap’d in the portal, at this moment, lie
Their bodies, and he fumigates, meantime,
The house with sulphur and with flames of fire,
And hath, himself, sent me to bid thee down.
Follow me, then, that ye may give your hearts
To gladness, both, for ye have much endured;
But the event, so long your soul’s desire,
Is come; himself hath to his household Gods
Alive return’d, thee and his son he finds
Unharm’d and at your home, nor hath he left
Unpunish’d one of all his enemies.

   Her answer’d, then, Penelope discrete.
Ah dearest nurse! indulge not to excess
This dang’rous triumph. Thou art well apprized
How welcome his appearance here would prove
To all, but chief, to me, and to his son,
Fruit of our love. But these things are not so;
Some God, resentful of their evil deeds,
And of their biting contumely severe,
Hath slain those proud; for whether noble guest
Arrived or base, alike they scoff’d at all,
And for their wickedness have therefore died.
But my Ulysses distant far, I know,
From Greece hath perish’d, and returns no more.

   To whom thus Euryclea, nurse belov’d.
What word my daughter had escaped thy lips,
Who thus affirm’st thy husband, now within
And at his own hearth-side, for ever lost?
Canst thou be thus incredulous? Hear again—
I give thee yet proof past dispute, his scar
Imprinted by a wild-boar’s iv’ry tusk.
Laving him I remark’d it, and desired,
Myself, to tell thee, but he, ever-wise,
Compressing with both hands my lips, forbad.
Come, follow me. My life shall be the pledge.
If I deceive thee, kill me as thou wilt.


  By PanEris using Melati.

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