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Lady Gaga

'Born this Way' is about being yourself, and loving who you are and being proud.

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Born This Way

(geoffrey williams and simon stirling)
Some people know what they wanna be
Some people see what they wanna see
Everyday needs some kind of dream
But the complexities of life escape to an ideal scene, yeah
People try to tell you how to live your life
Let the blind lead the blind
Well, thats all right
So make up your mind
The fool or the wise
There are things in this life
Which you cant compromise
Break away
And take the time to know your mind
And leave it all behind you
And say
Thats the way I am
Yeah - I was born this way
Cant you see it in my eyes
Yeah, heah, heah
Oh, I was born this way
Cant you feel it in your heart
Yeah, heah, heah, oh
Its not always easy to disagree
Dont make excuses for what you see
Theres one thing in life
I have no doubt
Youre on the way up
On the way out, baby, oh
Some people see whats gonna be
But they hide in a corner
From reality
Sometimes youre up
And sometimes youre down
You cant spend your whole life
Just fooling around
Break away
And take the time to break the ties
And leave it all behind you and say
Thats the way I am
Yeah - I was born this way
Cant you see it in my eyes
Yeah, heah, heah
Oh, I was born this way
Cant you feel it in your heart and say
Yeah, heah, heah, oh
In this world
Theres a love thats unspoken
Letting go
Reaching out
Then its time to search your heart
And stop, its you
Learn to love yourself
Respect yourself
Say - thats the way I am
Say, I was born this way
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah - I was born this way
Cant you see it in my eyes?
Yeah, heah, heah
Oh, I was born this way
Cant you feel it in your hearts and say
Yeah, heah, heah, oh
The fool or the wise
So open your eyes
And say yeah, heah, heah
Yeah - say it loud and clear
And say yeah, heah, heah
I was born this way, oh, oh, oh
Say yeah, heah, heah
I was born this way
Born this way
So say, so say, yeah
I said yeah

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Be Who You Are As You Are And Do

I am glad I actually had the opportunity,
To live in other environments.
And living in other states,
To stretch my own limited way of looking at life.

I am happy I can sleep soundly at night,
And not have expectations of wishes on my mind.
Or dream to do things I know I can do.
I have pursued and done them!

I have been told I could not do what I have done.
And to the young ones I say,
If you have talents and gifts you can do as you wish,
Where you are.

And you will come to know those who oppose,
Your every move with motivation they will attempt to end.
And don't be surprise if they are your family and so called friends.
That's just how it is when people try to send others away to excell.

My advice to anyone facing this dilemma?
Tell those in opposition to go to hell.
And be who you are as you are and do!
People can not stand those,
Who sing to their own tunes and dance.

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Who You Are And Who I Am

who you are
depends on your choices day by day

moment by moment
and so too

as to who i am
depends on what i take and what i spit out
from my mouth

it is this responsibility of choosing
i make and unmake myself
i love and unlove
i assemble and disassemble
the parts of me until
i find myself whole again

you too, and then we,
we take the responsibility of taking the risks
of a commitment

something that we can say
this is worth living
and this is worth dying for

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You 'Feelin' Me?

For the record!
I AM a writer.
It is much more than liking it!
I AM it!

I AM this creative being.
I was born this way.
You know how some folks,
Can't make up their minds from time to time?
I don't understand that.
I don't have that problem.
The problem I'm confronted with,
Are those who believe I seek their approval...
Or acceptance.
Or 'tolerance' for my behavior.
And it has taken me years to convince them...
Even 'if' they did not exist,
I'd still be doing 'this'!

Or finding time to compose, act or direct.
Sing or dance or just sit to reflect.
Or write my opinions to submit in response...
To some nonsense I've read in a local newspaper,
Feeding BS to dead heads.
To inject their community hostilities.
That 'game is played all over the place!
This 'business' about fitting 'in' to please...
Has never comforted me personally,
Or my needs, desires or wishes I dream.
I'm not focused into who did what to who...
And got mad as hell!
I thought eyes were meant to roll,
Until my mother said to me...
'Boy, you better stop rolling your eyes at me.
Before I pop 'em right out of your head!
AND look at me when I'm talking to you.'

My mom had a way of getting my sisters and I
To listen to her!
It was quite a different intimidation than my father's.
He would just fix his eyes on me and not move them,
At all.
Not even blink for minutes.
Or say a word.
He was 'extremely' convincing.

For the record!
I AM a writer.
It is much more than liking it!
I AM it!
I AM this creative being.
I was born this way.
My identity is intact!
And I thank God for that.
Because the 'normalcy' of 'your' world...
Leaves much to be questioned and debated,
For the reality of it that is 'suppose' to reflect truth.
Very little of that is expressed!
You 'feelin' me?

I AM a process of evolution.
A creative aspect of life.
Just like all of nature should be.
I am about growth and change.
And none of that I am asking for
From anyone's pocket to spare.
Or decide I qualify to be who I AM.
I don't play that!
It is not a condition of my mission.

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Pass This Way

We shall not pass this way again
Spoke the old man to his friend
For many lives, we have known
And many children, we've seen grown.
As you walk a path but one time
And though it seems the same
Every road has a different meaning
And every teardrop, a different pain.
We have sinned and saw sin
We have hated and we we had friends
But now we shall all be judged,
For when we hated, should we have loved.
Should we had fought, when we fled
Should we had watched when we had sinned
Should we had cried when we bleed,
I don't know, for we shall not come again.
When we go through life, this one time
We should do the best that we could
Live a life, and be its pride,
And be ready for judgement, when we die.
You pass this way but one time
You live a life but one time
You can help a soul but one time,
And one time, is all that is asked.
So when you pass this way again
Never be in a hurry when you walk by
Be you a woman or be you a man,
It never ever hurts, to only but try.

Randy L. McClave

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Perfect Lie/ You Are Loved The Way You Are

Stand in front of the mirror
Either boys or girls, some got depression
Try to find yourself underneath the reflection
Dissect each point, seek for perfection
Dreaming of perfection, adore some corrections

Never know the word of satisfy
Already beautiful but admire to modify
Don't you know who really you are?
You are loved by the way you are

Most of us rather see what appeared outside
always forgot to evaluate what lies inside
Most of us deceived by the open eyesight
always fooled because blinded heart-sight

Perfection makes everyone affected
Perfect one is what you wanted
Perfect lie is what you invented
Perfect word only a word that human created
A real you, that what you have neglected

Don't feel down,
if u are blessed as jasmine flower
Why must you envy of that sunflower
I know, it is big, sweet yellow, catchy for eyes to look
But, don't you know sunflower adore the way you look?
Hypnotize fragrance by cute in white, posses its own hook
So unfair to compare the different beauty you both look

Jasmine, u never be sunflower even u dressed in yellow
The fake pigment will fade away soon
Sunflower, perfumed never make u placed in jasmine row
The artificial scent will gone before noon

No need to hear anyone to drag you down
Yet thou be like a rose, beauty guarded by thorns
Thankful to have what u have now
You always loved by who you are now
It is always good to be yourself
Better than lost yourself in your own lie

In fantasy, to taste perfection, perfect lie u got
In reality, perfection is only belong to God are always loved the way you are

*Note: U are beautiful, no matter what people say...
This is for everyone that think they are not good enough
in many aspects not limited to beauty perception

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How Do We Speak In Riddles?

how do we speak in riddles?
are we the modern versions of the sphinx
and where can oedipus stand and destroy
us at the crossroads?
come oedipus, slay us with your
and incestuous destiny.
we are supposed not to look straight in the eye
we degenerate and shrink when we do so
we delineate a bit
not for any dramatics but it is simply the reason
why we are born this way,
writing in crooked lines
and burying some meanings on the sand
for the waves to caress and recover
with great patience and love,
we speak and we do not explain
they will say they will understand
and each shall make a stand that
though different each is right to a certain extent,
this is the life of
mystery a prism of colors contrasting
conceding condescending yet
true, well, maybe different when
filtered, light, shadows, images,
meanings, submeanings,

then extract, abstract, and what you find
ultimately from what is written above is
simply this:


these are what we poets mean.

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Mind Grinder

I'll take a side order of paranoia,
This morning.
I'll take some hash browns...
Fresh hashed from the fields.
Spread that toast with more tension
And pour me another cup of grief!

'Is the mind grinder in? '
We need to have more cocktails
Of poison passed.
Is the mind grinder in?
He's got more sessions...
Those last confessions were bought.
They believe him...
And his twisted way of making it alright.'

Do I need another dose of 'I told you so? '
Even though I feel full of substituted truth
Many seem to be craving with diets of coke!
And that's the joke!
Toking up in puffs of smoke.

'Weed please.
Rolled fine! '

The mind grinder can crank this whine into sorrow.
Making fear too high a price to pay to allow simple peace.
The mind grinder can crank up cruel pictures of life...
Insuring the future will be deep in doom and torment!
Do I need another dose of 'I told you so? '

Do you need another way to be told
How to forget who you are?
Do you need another way to plant fear in your soul.
What has happened to that bold stance for justice?

I'll take a side order of paranoia this morning!
I heard it was the rage.
I'll take a side order of paranoia this morning!
Why should I be the one left not crazed?

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The Way You Are

The Way You Are

Sometimes you ignore me
Sometimes you roll your eyes
Sometimes you don't notice me
And just give me a deep sigh

Sometimes you make me cry
Sometimes you make me weep
Sometimes when I pass by
I just give you the creeps

Sometimes you boss me around
Sometimes you tell me what to do
Sometimes I go round and round
Just to please and satisfy you


Most of the time you make me happy
Most of the time you give me smiles
Most of the time you make me feel uneasy
I can hear my heart beat through miles

Most of the time you raise me up
Most of the time you encourage me
Most of the time you fill me up
Fill me up with overflowing glee

Most of the time you hold me tight
Most of the time you lift me up so high
Most of the time you teach me what's right
You make me fly way into the sky

Most of the time you are my support
Most of the time you are my light
Most of the time you give me comfort
You help me with all your might

Sometimes you make me hate you
Most of the time I just hide it inside
Sometimes you make me want to kill you
But most of the time, I just want you by my side

Most of the time...
Most of the time...

That's just the way it is
That's just the way you are

But I love the way it is...

And I certainly love...

The way you are

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Original You Are

People can judge your outer form
but that is not who you really are
you are unique, not in the norm.
Children are taught to be the same
well God didn't make us that way.
So celebrate who you are today
be proud you are original and
special no matter what they say.

Written by Suzae Chevalier on March 12,2012

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Love Unabated

everyday inside your room you worship a face
like a god
you close your eyes and dream of that kiss
of that love
that makes you love the pillow that makes you
hug the warm embraces of the blanket on your bed

at noon you see the face you love and you wish you can hold
your hands to hold his lips and plunge in there like it is a pond of water
you dream on that broad daylight making love where others are too busy
making life to live
you refuse to see the stain of this error
wandering like a woman in the forest land beside the tiger
you do not have any sense of death at all
on this love prohibited by the rules
on this love that destroys your soul
on this love that leads to the perdition of who you are

time. leaves. dusts. faded sounds. pastel blue colors of the hours.
the rivers overflowed.

you are drowning in this crazy flow of love unabated.
it is wrong, the windows keep telling you as you stare on the ground floor.

and then you jumped. and they shall hear nothing.

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Take a look in the mirror and realize what you see..
Is it really you or someone you cannot be..
What you say in the mirror, is what the mirror tells..
Then why your own mirror, reflects some one else..

Every mirror has a story, it does tell a tale..
It reflects joy of success, and your tears when you fail..
The mirror never lies, it reflects what is true..
If you yourself dont know who you are, how can it reflect you..? ?

You may look perfect in the mirror, but take a look inside..
There are things unsaid, untold, now your eyes fail to hide..
Watch right through your soul, make sure it's not haunting..
Never realized who you are, your self-esteem still taunting..? ?

The mirror reflects a question mark, that is it really fair..? ?
You failed to live for others, for yourself only you care..
Look in the reflective gaze of glass, try finding your mistake..
Move close, Gaze into the lie and realize that it's fake...

Ask the mirror to reflect the facts, and to show the truth..
Wrongs you did in your life, right from childhood to youth..
Stop wishing for more, the mirrages will never be true..
It may be close to perfection, but it is just not you..

Make your soul your mirror, one that doesn't lie..
Make it pure and crystal clear, say a prayer up high..
Your heart reflects the person you are, so there's nothing to hide..
No mirror reflects you better then the one inside..

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That's Real

What's profound in a relationship
Is pure unadulterated honesty
You love the other person so much

That it hurts.

Or are you so unrelated to who you really are?
That you refuse to be true to the real situation?

But if so that's no consolation
Concerning one's obligation.
Your obligation is to self

Not anyone else.
As humans we were created
(PERFECT) ...what happen?

A woman became a raw toy
For that raw boy,

And meat became cheapen.
As people we see what was saw...
I mean seen,

So the perfect relationship becomes a dream.
You work at that dream...
Like there is no tommorrow...

Picking up and holding on to sorrow.
Crying on the inside with every step
Hoping to get some pep.

Loving who you are...
Makes a big, big sound
When you keep both feet on the ground.

Now that's profound.


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We're All Different, Not Disabled

If you class yourself as ‘'normal',
Why are you not aware,
That all of us are different,
So why the need to stare.

What does being ‘' normal'' mean?
Exactly how is it defined?
If you don't fit the stereotype,
Does it merit you being maligned?

We didn't ask to be this way,
But life's challenges we accept,
We work and laugh the same as you,
Truth is we're quite adept.

Some individuals are born this way,
Others by sheer chance,
By treating us all as equals,
Our lives you will enhance.

Try not to be judgemental,
There's more to life than wealth,
If we had the chance to choose,
We'd rather have good health.

We have our partners some have kids,
The mortgage and the stress,
Our lives are much the same as yours,
Same problems more or less.

We go out to our work each day,
We socialise and play,
Pay our dues the way you do
There is no other way.

When you're in our company,
This should hold no fear,
You can talk to us directly,
Some of us can hear.

When we try to integrate,
You will always get the clown,
Who'll look at you and comment?
‘' They should have that put down ''.

None of us are perfect,
All human beings have flaws,
So think about the damage,
Remarks like that can cause.

Some say we've got it easy,
We come out on top,
If you really think that,
With you we'd gladly swap.

We may be in a wheelchair,
Some can barely walk,
There are the blind and infirm,
Those who can't hear or talk.

Some have problems mentally,
But like us they want to survive,
If we take the time to help them,
They can be glad they are alive.

Disadvantages are prevalent,
They come in all shapes and sizes,
Both the mental and physical,
Appear in many guises.

This is true of life itself,
That's why we're all unique,
Just think if we were all the same,
We'd have our troubles to seek.

We all have problems of our own,
You know that to be true,
Regardless of your troubles,
We will not look down on you.

Try not to treat us differently,
We don't ask for any favours,
Being treated as an equal,
Is what everybody savours?

We just ask you to be considerate,
Try not be all seeing,
When you look at me I want you to see,
Just another human being.

If you want to get to know the facts,
Then get your questions tabled,
Like every living thing on earth,

‘' We're All Different, Not Disabled ''.

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You and Me. I laugh. (what you do to yourself)

You are you,
And I am me,
But you came to me,
And my friends,
You came into our arms,
when you were new,
Then you found THEM,
You left us for them,
You went to their side.
I look at you now and I laugh.
Not because your weird,
Or your dumb,
But because of your future.
I am me,
I know where i am in life.
I know my plan for the future,
I know I want to go to college,
And then graduate,
And be successful,
I know I have friends who really care and love me,
I work to get what I want,
I don't wait for it to be given to me,
Or wait to loose the chance of earning it,
Like you.
I don't go out and party all night,
I don't get laid whenever i want,
I don't blow off homework,
Or set it off till later,
I do it then and there,
I get it out of the way,
Then I go out and have fun with my friends,
Yet i do not drink,
I do not get high,
I keep my mind safe,
I save the memories I make,
I don't throw them away.
Like you.
So I do not laugh at your cloths,
I do not laugh at you,
I laugh at your future,
I laugh at your choices and thoughts,
I laugh at your ideas of having fun.
Wasting your mind,
Wasting your life,
Forgetting and loosing your memories,
Wasting your money,
Wasting your friendships,
wasting your time,
This is your fun,
This is your life.
Keeping my mind,
Keeping my life,
Remembering and keeping my memories,
Saving my money,
Cherishing my friendships,
Using my time for friendship family and love,
This is my fun,
This is my life.
I laugh at you.
Someday I will read about in the paper or see you on the news,
I will see a mug shot,
Or hear about your 'untimely' death,
See you on the street,
Steeling from a store,
Or dressed in gold and diamonds that you bought with money you didn't earn,
and I will laugh.
I will be the one with the baby on my hip,
The loving husband by my side,
The home of a modest family,
I good job,
And friends,
I will be the one who is truly happy,
I will be the successful one,
I will be the one who is truly rich,
I will be the one who is free,
Not running from the world,
Or trying to run ahead of it,
I will be the one with the sense of mind,
And modesty,
I will be the one who helps by doing what i can,
Not being who I can't.
I will be the one with a life,
I will be the one who is famous,
Not you.
You dont have to be in the news,
Or have lots of money,
Or know the 'right people',
to be famous,
You may have money,
And the press following you,
But I will be more rich then you,
I will have the life you don't have,
I will have a family who loves me for me,
I will have a job I love and that keeps me going,
I will have true friends who go through anything with me.
I will be rich.
So you come to me and my friends,
Looking for refuge,
Until you find THEM,
Then you leave and through your life away.
And as I pass the path you now walk,
I look and I think of what you're doing,
I think of who you are now,
I think of what you have become,
and I laugh.

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Patrick White

Mad or Enlightened

Mad or enlightened the same, the universe
is an embryo of darkness born in upon itself, everywhere
its own womb breaking into the pulse of stars within stars,
and everywhere, the shining before the light, the dark mirror
showing the light its own face for the first time,
how in an eventually that is always now
it would attain flowers and eyes along the way
and become the skin of the rain as it falls to earth in April.
If I change to fire, these letters burn, blow away as ash
on the tongue of the wind; if water, then the stars put themselves out
in their own weeping like candles drowning in tears.
Every step of the journey around ourselves
is another world, another garden to plant the seed-names
we’ve shaken from autumns in other realms
and carried around like sacred jewels
we forgot in the corners of our pockets and hearts. Believe it;
when I am all stars; you are all the listening darkness
I pour myself into like a drunkard into a bottomless glass
and you raise me to your lips and drink yourself up
until you’re blinded into clarity
by all the open cages of the light.
Why lie in your own coffin, night after starless night,
if you’re not empowered by your long obedience?
Better to open your eyes on the other side
of your horizontal door, better to come knocking from the outside,
deluded vertically, than suffer this poverty of blood within
the hushed precincts of your skyless realm,
the skull-bone basilicas of your private Vaticans and law libraries.
When it wakes up in the morning
there’s no book-dust in the eyes of the light.
Before you now, in your endless beginning, the dream
you thought you had rubbed from your eyes, you
waking up like a key inside the heart of the dream.
There’s nothing you can’t unlock, even
gardens on the moon or the ancient futures of past lives
death only pruned back with shears to bloom again
in the efflorescence of your eyes, early dawns in the new arraying.
Who you are flows into who you are, all one river of seeing,
dizzy and composed in its own running, all
your own eddies and currents, swamps and white-water,
auroral maids of the mist when you fall in separate drops,
weeping’s just a waterfall, and frenzied tides of being
when you crash ashore out of your own wholeness into buddhas and bums.
In the fire, everyone’s crazy with passion and intelligence,
everyone’s smashed on the wine of an unknown guest
trying to be remembered by his friends.
What visions abound in the orchards of the blessing,
What hearts are torn out and thrown upon the fire
like planets called home by the longing of the sun? We are the white shadows
of the someone else who is walking up ahead
like the moon on the path of its own reflection.
Catch up to yourself and drown in the luminosity of your own being.
Who needs a map to the road they’re walking
or sages pointing all along the way, grey as barnboard signs,
or luminaries at night
pointing to the darkness. The pivot of the worlds points to itself.
True north is not a direction. Haven’t you guessed by now; the stars
all circle you like stormbirds drawn to a lighthouse on the coast of heaven,
too in love with your light to heed your warning about
the deep dragon grief that opens the mouth of the wound
that killed it into life, a one-edged sword of light
in the hands of a holy assassin darker than the silence
of the sun at midnight. If you listen with your eyes,
you can hear in that mournful emptiness
God calling out to God, lover and beloved,
through the echoless valley, across the waveless sea,
yours the name on the prow of the ship that breaks through the veils of the storm,
and yours the name of the storm. You are the bird
that answers the green bough; the lightning in the rigging.
You are the sigh of the silence
and the mystic pen in the hand of the saying.
Whatever worlds you dress for, fields and flowers,
or stars and hourglass elsewhere zones, you are the body of being,
and yours the gowns and robes of creation you draw from the abyss
like clothes from a private closet, dignified in your scriptures,
intimate in your jewels. And everywhere you coyly let yourself fall
like earrings of rain, scarves of fire, fragrances of light,
and watch to see who of the many lovers that are you
bends down like the sky to pick them up at your feet
and return them to you like the first crescent of the moon
rising like an eyelid out of sleep
to greet itself reflected in your face.

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Patrick White

Late Spring Snow

Late spring snow on its way.
Dead ochres and colourless greys
that have never heard of the impressionists.
It's a landscape
it's a mindscape
but it behaves like a still life.
I've been staying up late
trying to paint my way
out of my life
until dawn every morning.
The windowpane a ripening phthalo blue.
It's compositionally deranged
to hear the birds singing
when you're totally exhausted.
Mentally physically spiritually emotionally financially
gone gone gone altogether gone beyond.
All my happy endings orphaned.
A sum of depletions.
I'm living this creative life
scribbling down the notes of the picture-music
that doesn't just run through my mind
but is my mind
colours and words
down on canvas and paper.
When I'm writing
when I'm painting
when I've wholly disappeared into what I'm doing
for a few holy hours of life
immensities open up like the multiverse
and I've got a window a wormhole
I can fly through
and out out out among the starfields
with the evanescence of smoke
or a bird
putting itself in the picture
as a finishing touch to the sky.
And I am free to explore the intensities
of my own creative peace
as I keep saying to myself
one eureka moment after another
turning into a mantra
no no I can't leave that.
I've got to bring that back and show them.
They'll be delighted with that.
They won't believe it.
You've got to write and paint with an open hand.
Let the brush hold you.
Let the pen.
Then you're the meaning
of what the words are trying to say
and it's o.k.
you don't have to look any further than that.
Sublimity slips into the mundanities of the world
by creative accident
and you stand down from bliss
and spend a reverential moment
in its presence
just looking at it
not knowing where it came from
or whose work it is.
And it's the wonder of that depth of ageless being
expressing itself as a gesture of time
that's kept me at it
for forty-eight excruciating years.
I get off this chain gang
where I've broken down more rocks than a junkie
or saxifrage in the rain
and the pain the labour
the enervating futilities
and terminal successes
of all those ambitions
that run counter to the flow of life like salmon
disappear from my bloodstream
like apparitions in the morning.
And I am more me
the less I grow aware of it.
When I consider the chronic agony of life
I sometimes think that God created the world
not because she was a hidden secret
that wanted to be known
but because she wanted to forget she was God
and lose every cosmos and atom of herself wholly in it.
Paint till dawn and you'll know what that means.
As the great Zen master sort of said
you can swallow the whole of the river you're painting
with a single gulp.
You can chug the well of the muses
with every drop.
And just when you think
you're working in a medium of illusions
that are playing you like a gravedigger
that likes to get to the bottom of things
they all begin to taste of life.
The mirages water the flowers
in this desert of stars
and everything blooms.
You're back in the garden again
before anybody knew anything but the names of things
to distinguish them from the angels
and life was too vital to need an explanation.
As you go to write
you can take all your dark energy
and intensifying it
by letting it empower you
bend space into a gravitational eye
that gives you a deep insight into
how even a blackhole can be creative.
How what's been left out of the shadows and lights
says as much as that which was included.
Who you are not
is just as much of an artist
as the one who signs the painting.
And don't think you can do things by half measures
one foot in the boat
and one foot on the shore.
Talent knows the tear
but genius knows what hurt
the feelings of the watershed that let it fall.
It's the same in art poetry love enlightenment life.
You've got to let a mask every now and again
wear your face just to play fair
and see how things look from the inside out.
You've got to let the fireflies
make up stories about the stars
that haven't got anything to do with shepherds.
You got to be free enough
to let the world be all kinds of things it isn't.
You can only hex yourself
by taking a voodoo doll out of the arms
of a sleeping child
like the new moon out of the arms of the old
because you deny the darkness within you
its return to innocence
and try to separate the roses from the thorns.
Living your life
as if you were always
applying yourself to the world
like the task of the business at hand
is as destructive
as trying to pry the petals of a flower open
with a crowbar
because you haven't got the time to wait.
Paradise is effortless.
It doesn't have a gate.
It doesn't have a custodian.
It doesn't maintain a teacher.
Adam was born knowing the names of things.
Not how to keep books
on the comings and goings
of the saints and the miscreants.
The first lie out of a tempter's mouth
is to ask Eve if she believes
she's worthy of the truth
as if it were something that could be acquired
without her.
There's more innocence
in running the risk of being left out
than there usually is among the deluded
who play it safe by dissing their doubt
to be included.
You've got to take your church your mosque
your zendo your synagogue off at the door
as if they were hats and shoes
when you enter a holy place
or you'll track the world in
like starmud at your heels
and desecrate it with religion.
And this is as true of Druidic birchgroves
in an abandoned Westport field
with the wild geese flying overhead
just as the stars are coming out
as it is of a poet climbing burning ladders
up to his beloved
as if every rung were the vertical threshold
of a mutable transformation
that estranges and illuminates her face like water
as it changes his eyes.
Don't add your feather of flame to the fire
like the flightplan of a faint-hearted phoenix
with ambulances standing by
in case things get out of hand
but light yourself up like a Buddhist monk in Vietnam
or a filial vegetable seller in the souks of Tunisia
who set the Middle East on fire
and consume yourself wholly
until there's nothing left of the geni but the lamp.
When you let the way come to the end of you
how can you say you're lost?
That's where your freedom begins.
When the object of your quest
can't find anyone to look for it
and there's no one there to know,
King Lear writes Shakespeare.
David sculpts Michelangelo.

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Patrick White

Someone Keeps Following Me

Someone keeps following me
like the shadow of who I was supposed to be.
The dark sibling of light
whose face got turned away from the sun.
He's the remnant of perfection that's left of me.
He's the one I was expected to achieve.
He's the one I'm supposed to believe.
I'm what happened to him along the way.
And the defeat goes on and on and on.
I want to say look you were there.
You saw what went down.
How natural everything seemed at the time.
How inevitability governed everything like hindsight.
But he just stands there staring
if I were the most inconceivable thing on his mind.
He's the son my mother should have had.
I'm the one she didn't deserve.
He's the blue flower.
And I'm the black dog.
He's the favourite of the rain.
And I'm the fire hydrant that wound up in the sewer
after putting out the fire.
He wanted to live a good life with laudable accomplishments.
He wanted to do well for himself
given where we were born
and he was groomed for it
by the very people who had made him poor.
He vowed to become one of them and thought
all shall be well all shall be well
all manner of thing shall be well
and he'd know the kind of self-respect
you just can't get on welfare.
I went slumming with anyone
who was passionate or dangerous.
I've always felt guilty because
I wasn't better than I am.
I think it was something
my mother kept saying in rage about me
when I was young.
And my tough old broom pod of a granny
always agreed.
I was so much more like my unforgivable father
than my brother and sisters were
I could smell the burning flesh
of some kind of mark being branded on my heart.
O.K. I said
I'm evil but I'm smart
and there's always poetry and art.
I'll be self-destructively creative
and give myself up to visions in the desert
before they drive me out in May
when they cleanse the temples of smoke and incense
and they're looking for a scapegoat
whose innocence is within question.
And that was the first great divide in the mindstream
between him and me
and after that we were two different shores
and one burning bridge.
And I was determined I wasn't going to be the shadow
that got left behind.
So here we are forty-eight years later
and he's asking me with those
eery condescendingly accusing eyes of his
if I think I'm as smart now as I used to be
before I started living my life like a river
instead of a highway
and as much as I love the stars
dropped out of astronomy
because everything felt starless and unshining.
You can make more money
asking stars how old they are
and where they're going spectrographically
than you can sharing the little light you've got to go by
through poetry and painting.
In art
things get worse
the better you get at them.
Abandon all hope ye who enter here.
You might still think of yourself
as an oscilloscope with a wavelength for a lifeline
but here you're off the radar.
And I lived like that for years.
Women black coffee cigarettes and books.
I wanted to guide people by example
and lead them away from me.
I embodied the estranged compassion of the damned
in everything I did
and kept myself at an appropriate distance
in the aerial and thematic perspectives
of all my works.
I can empathize deeply with people
but seldom to the point
where I let them become me.
I have a plutonium soul
and the afterlife of a nuclear winter.
I'm one of the heavier elements of life
and my intensities are as natural to me
as the stability of his carbon is to him.
And the way I express myself
is more of an exorcism than a seance.
I dispossess myself of all things human
so they won't be hurt by what's left.
And I endure.
And I've got the energy
of an angry rogue star in my genes
that refuses to pale in his sunlight by comparison.
He graces our Russian Mongol ancestry with gilded graves
and tears that run like chandeliers
down his ballroom cheeks.
I trace it in lightyears
and leave the rest to chance.
He preens his decency.
I revel in the bright vacancy
the dark abundance
of my reptilian clarity.
He sees things in a white mirror.
I see through them in a black.
He mourns the things I do.
But he doesn't know a damned thing about agony.
He thinks he's the one who's real.
And he resists me like temptation.
Not to feel might be the way to feel about Zen
but I indulge the passions of an unenlightened man
because I don't trust purity
to remember that it's just the fashion
of a passing moment
that buffs its own reflection in a doorknob
and passes judgment on the poor
with the stiff bliss of a happy slumlord.
His universe is Steady State.
Mine's a Big Bang
empowered by a dark energy
that keeps accelerating my fate
into the void ahead of me
so by the time any kind of insight arrives
it's always too late
to be news.
Right door.
Wrong address.
He's the cornerstone.
I'm the quicksand.
He's the habitable planet
and I'm the menacing asteroid.
He promotes evolution
and I've always got a rock in my hand
as big as the moon
to bring about a change in who rules
the windows and the mirrors
on the other side
of what they expect me to be in passing.
I'm the radical zero
who thinks it's foolish
to try to make something out of nothing
given it's already a given
and he's the commonsensical whole number
that takes account of things.
He says he's not perfect
to be arrogant about his humility
but that's only a shadow of what he lacks.
I try to carry my own weight
because I don't expect much
in the way of serious intelligent help
but he gets around
like a corpse on everybody's backs
as if he were the stranger who came to the rescue.
He's the crutch who leans on legs to hold him up
whenever he walks on water without oars.
I'm the bottom-feeder that he abhors.
But I can take a handful
of the muck and decay of my starmud
and turn it into waterlilies.
I can make my perishing into something beautiful.
I can use death like a spontaneously renewable resource
and make things live
through the transformative power of my art
that are totally blameless
whether they be light or dark.
He comes on like a lifeboat when he's talking to women
as if he were walking by the sea.
He doesn't know how to go swimming without an ark.
Women are attracted to me
like blood in the water
when they're out far enough
to be thrilled by sharks.
I'm the zoo on the outside of the cage
that blunts its teeth on the bars.
He's in it for the documentary footage
and a few convincing scars.
The sheep hunt tigers into extinction
and the goldfish are trawling
for grey nurses and great whites
to make sharkfin soup.
Even in hell
there's a sense of proportion
almost a moral aesthetic
that goes unspoken
until someone spots a jackass
trying to lead an eagle around on a leash.
The distastes of a demonic imagination are not petty.
The taboo of the maggot
is not the rule of the whale.
So get behind me my shadow my brother self.
Don't flash your lighthouse in my eyes
when the stars are out
as if I'm the one
that's a few magnitudes shy of shining.
It would do you a lot of good to be a little bit bad
but then you'd feel too close to me for comfort
and forget who you are to everyone else.
I've never needed anything more
than the dust at my heels
to show me the way down.
I jump
and sometimes
I'm descending into heaven
and sometimes I'm plunging toward hell.
But what can you say about a man
standing at the edge of the bottomless abyss
of his own draconian absence
waiting for the flightfeathers of stray angels
with spare parachutes
to fall out of the sky?
I know you look so far down at me
from that overview
you've exalted like a balcony
that got it's start in life as a pulpit
you suffer from vertigo.
But I could have told you little brother.
I wouldn't want to alarm or harm you in any way
but I could have looked you straight in the eye
like a bemused king cobra
flaring over your nest like an unpredictable eclipse
or an umbrella somebody opened in the house
and diverted the luck of their lifeline
from the original course of its flowing
into a starmap for dice
pitted with eyeless blackholes
like the sockets in ivory skulls
lost in this wilderness alone
where nothing reminds them of home.
Alea iacta.
The dice are thrown.
You may be a better threshold than I am
but I've been crossed by the Rubicon
and I could have told you little brother
without even so much
as the penumbral shadow of a lie
to fall into your milk like a dragon.
I could have dipped
my other wing into your cup
as an antidote to clarify what ails you.
And as you drank up
I could have told you little brother.
The first shall be last
and the last shall be first
and it's not a good idea when you're here
to antagonize the lowlife
with your insufferable highness
from your upper story balcony
as if you were always trying
to get something out of your eye
like me
who burns like a cinder
just to see if I can make God cry
to hear why
I would have told you little brother
even snakes can fly.

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The Odyssey: Book 10

Thence we went on to the Aeoli island where lives Aeolus son of
Hippotas, dear to the immortal gods. It is an island that floats (as
it were) upon the sea, iron bound with a wall that girds it. Now,
Aeolus has six daughters and six lusty sons, so he made the sons marry
the daughters, and they all live with their dear father and mother,
feasting and enjoying every conceivable kind of luxury. All day long
the atmosphere of the house is loaded with the savour of roasting
meats till it groans again, yard and all; but by night they sleep on
their well-made bedsteads, each with his own wife between the
blankets. These were the people among whom we had now come.
"Aeolus entertained me for a whole month asking me questions all the
time about Troy, the Argive fleet, and the return of the Achaeans. I
told him exactly how everything had happened, and when I said I must
go, and asked him to further me on my way, he made no sort of
difficulty, but set about doing so at once. Moreover, he flayed me a
prime ox-hide to hold the ways of the roaring winds, which he shut
up in the hide as in a sack- for Jove had made him captain over the
winds, and he could stir or still each one of them according to his
own pleasure. He put the sack in the ship and bound the mouth so
tightly with a silver thread that not even a breath of a side-wind
could blow from any quarter. The West wind which was fair for us did
he alone let blow as it chose; but it all came to nothing, for we were
lost through our own folly.
"Nine days and nine nights did we sail, and on the tenth day our
native land showed on the horizon. We got so close in that we could
see the stubble fires burning, and I, being then dead beat, fell
into a light sleep, for I had never let the rudder out of my own
hands, that we might get home the faster. On this the men fell to
talking among themselves, and said I was bringing back gold and silver
in the sack that Aeolus had given me. 'Bless my heart,' would one turn
to his neighbour, saying, 'how this man gets honoured and makes
friends to whatever city or country he may go. See what fine prizes he
is taking home from Troy, while we, who have travelled just as far
as he has, come back with hands as empty as we set out with- and now
Aeolus has given him ever so much more. Quick- let us see what it
all is, and how much gold and silver there is in the sack he gave
"Thus they talked and evil counsels prevailed. They loosed the sack,
whereupon the wind flew howling forth and raised a storm that
carried us weeping out to sea and away from our own country. Then I
awoke, and knew not whether to throw myself into the sea or to live on
and make the best of it; but I bore it, covered myself up, and lay
down in the ship, while the men lamented bitterly as the fierce
winds bore our fleet back to the Aeolian island.
"When we reached it we went ashore to take in water, and dined
hard by the ships. Immediately after dinner I took a herald and one of
my men and went straight to the house of Aeolus, where I found him
feasting with his wife and family; so we sat down as suppliants on the
threshold. They were astounded when they saw us and said, 'Ulysses,
what brings you here? What god has been ill-treating you? We took
great pains to further you on your way home to Ithaca, or wherever
it was that you wanted to go to.'
"Thus did they speak, but I answered sorrowfully, 'My men have
undone me; they, and cruel sleep, have ruined me. My friends, mend
me this mischief, for you can if you will.'
"I spoke as movingly as I could, but they said nothing, till their
father answered, 'Vilest of mankind, get you gone at once out of the
island; him whom heaven hates will I in no wise help. Be off, for
you come here as one abhorred of heaven. "And with these words he sent
me sorrowing from his door.
"Thence we sailed sadly on till the men were worn out with long
and fruitless rowing, for there was no longer any wind to help them.
Six days, night and day did we toil, and on the seventh day we reached
the rocky stronghold of Lamus- Telepylus, the city of the
Laestrygonians, where the shepherd who is driving in his sheep and
goats [to be milked] salutes him who is driving out his flock [to
feed] and this last answers the salute. In that country a man who
could do without sleep might earn double wages, one as a herdsman of
cattle, and another as a shepherd, for they work much the same by
night as they do by day.
"When we reached the harbour we found it land-locked under steep
cliffs, with a narrow entrance between two headlands. My captains took
all their ships inside, and made them fast close to one another, for
there was never so much as a breath of wind inside, but it was
always dead calm. I kept my own ship outside, and moored it to a
rock at the very end of the point; then I climbed a high rock to
reconnoitre, but could see no sign neither of man nor cattle, only
some smoke rising from the ground. So I sent two of my company with an
attendant to find out what sort of people the inhabitants were.
"The men when they got on shore followed a level road by which the
people draw their firewood from the mountains into the town, till
presently they met a young woman who had come outside to fetch
water, and who was daughter to a Laestrygonian named Antiphates. She
was going to the fountain Artacia from which the people bring in their
water, and when my men had come close up to her, they asked her who
the king of that country might be, and over what kind of people he
ruled; so she directed them to her father's house, but when they got
there they found his wife to be a giantess as huge as a mountain,
and they were horrified at the sight of her.
"She at once called her husband Antiphates from the place of
assembly, and forthwith he set about killing my men. He snatched up
one of them, and began to make his dinner off him then and there,
whereon the other two ran back to the ships as fast as ever they
could. But Antiphates raised a hue and cry after them, and thousands
of sturdy Laestrygonians sprang up from every quarter- ogres, not men.
They threw vast rocks at us from the cliffs as though they had been
mere stones, and I heard the horrid sound of the ships crunching up
against one another, and the death cries of my men, as the
Laestrygonians speared them like fishes and took them home to eat
them. While they were thus killing my men within the harbour I drew my
sword, cut the cable of my own ship, and told my men to row with alf
their might if they too would not fare like the rest; so they laid out
for their lives, and we were thankful enough when we got into open
water out of reach of the rocks they hurled at us. As for the others
there was not one of them left.
"Thence we sailed sadly on, glad to have escaped death, though we
had lost our comrades, and came to the Aeaean island, where Circe
lives a great and cunning goddess who is own sister to the magician
Aeetes- for they are both children of the sun by Perse, who is
daughter to Oceanus. We brought our ship into a safe harbour without a
word, for some god guided us thither, and having landed we there for
two days and two nights, worn out in body and mind. When the morning
of the third day came I took my spear and my sword, and went away from
the ship to reconnoitre, and see if I could discover signs of human
handiwork, or hear the sound of voices. Climbing to the top of a
high look-out I espied the smoke of Circe's house rising upwards
amid a dense forest of trees, and when I saw this I doubted whether,
having seen the smoke, I would not go on at once and find out more,
but in the end I deemed it best to go back to the ship, give the men
their dinners, and send some of them instead of going myself.
"When I had nearly got back to the ship some god took pity upon my
solitude, and sent a fine antlered stag right into the middle of my
path. He was coming down his pasture in the forest to drink of the
river, for the heat of the sun drove him, and as he passed I struck
him in the middle of the back; the bronze point of the spear went
clean through him, and he lay groaning in the dust until the life went
out of him. Then I set my foot upon him, drew my spear from the wound,
and laid it down; I also gathered rough grass and rushes and twisted
them into a fathom or so of good stout rope, with which I bound the
four feet of the noble creature together; having so done I hung him
round my neck and walked back to the ship leaning upon my spear, for
the stag was much too big for me to be able to carry him on my
shoulder, steadying him with one hand. As I threw him down in front of
the ship, I called the men and spoke cheeringly man by man to each
of them. 'Look here my friends,' said I, 'we are not going to die so
much before our time after all, and at any rate we will not starve
so long as we have got something to eat and drink on board.' On this
they uncovered their heads upon the sea shore and admired the stag,
for he was indeed a splendid fellow. Then, when they had feasted their
eyes upon him sufficiently, they washed their hands and began to
cook him for dinner.
"Thus through the livelong day to the going down of the sun we
stayed there eating and drinking our fill, but when the sun went
down and it came on dark, we camped upon the sea shore. When the child
of morning, fingered Dawn, appeared, I called a council and said,
'My friends, we are in very great difficulties; listen therefore to
me. We have no idea where the sun either sets or rises, so that we
do not even know East from West. I see no way out of it; nevertheless,
we must try and find one. We are certainly on an island, for I went as
high as I could this morning, and saw the sea reaching all round it to
the horizon; it lies low, but towards the middle I saw smoke rising
from out of a thick forest of trees.'
"Their hearts sank as they heard me, for they remembered how they
had been treated by the Laestrygonian Antiphates, and by the savage
ogre Polyphemus. They wept bitterly in their dismay, but there was
nothing to be got by crying, so I divided them into two companies
and set a captain over each; I gave one company to Eurylochus, while I
took command of the other myself. Then we cast lots in a helmet, and
the lot fell upon Eurylochus; so he set out with his twenty-two men,
and they wept, as also did we who were left behind.
"When they reached Circe's house they found it built of cut
stones, on a site that could be seen from far, in the middle of the
forest. There were wild mountain wolves and lions prowling all round
it- poor bewitched creatures whom she had tamed by her enchantments
and drugged into subjection. They did not attack my men, but wagged
their great tails, fawned upon them, and rubbed their noses lovingly
against them. As hounds crowd round their master when they see him
coming from dinner- for they know he will bring them something- even
so did these wolves and lions with their great claws fawn upon my men,
but the men were terribly frightened at seeing such strange creatures.
Presently they reached the gates of the goddess's house, and as they
stood there they could hear Circe within, singing most beautifully
as she worked at her loom, making a web so fine, so soft, and of
such dazzling colours as no one but a goddess could weave. On this
Polites, whom I valued and trusted more than any other of my men,
said, 'There is some one inside working at a loom and singing most
beautifully; the whole place resounds with it, let us call her and see
whether she is woman or goddess.'
"They called her and she came down, unfastened the door, and bade
them enter. They, thinking no evil, followed her, all except
Eurylochus, who suspected mischief and stayed outside. When she had
got them into her house, she set them upon benches and seats and mixed
them a mess with cheese, honey, meal, and Pramnian but she drugged
it with wicked poisons to make them forget their homes, and when
they had drunk she turned them into pigs by a stroke of her wand,
and shut them up in her pigsties. They were like pigs-head, hair,
and all, and they grunted just as pigs do; but their senses were the
same as before, and they remembered everything.
"Thus then were they shut up squealing, and Circe threw them some
acorns and beech masts such as pigs eat, but Eurylochus hurried back
to tell me about the sad fate of our comrades. He was so overcome with
dismay that though he tried to speak he could find no words to do
so; his eyes filled with tears and he could only sob and sigh, till at
last we forced his story out of him, and he told us what had
happened to the others.
"'We went,' said he, as you told us, through the forest, and in
the middle of it there was a fine house built with cut stones in a
place that could be seen from far. There we found a woman, or else she
was a goddess, working at her loom and singing sweetly; so the men
shouted to her and called her, whereon she at once came down, opened
the door, and invited us in. The others did not suspect any mischief
so they followed her into the house, but I stayed where I was, for I
thought there might be some treachery. From that moment I saw them
no more, for not one of them ever came out, though I sat a long time
watching for them.'
"Then I took my sword of bronze and slung it over my shoulders; I
also took my bow, and told Eurylochus to come back with me and show me
the way. But he laid hold of me with both his hands and spoke
piteously, saying, 'Sir, do not force me to go with you, but let me
stay here, for I know you will not bring one of them back with you,
nor even return alive yourself; let us rather see if we cannot
escape at any rate with the few that are left us, for we may still
save our lives.'
"'Stay where you are, then, 'answered I, 'eating and drinking at the
ship, but I must go, for I am most urgently bound to do so.'
"With this I left the ship and went up inland. When I got through
the charmed grove, and was near the great house of the enchantress
Circe, I met Mercury with his golden wand, disguised as a young man in
the hey-day of his youth and beauty with the down just coming upon his
face. He came up to me and took my hand within his own, saying, 'My
poor unhappy man, whither are you going over this mountain top,
alone and without knowing the way? Your men are shut up in Circe's
pigsties, like so many wild boars in their lairs. You surely do not
fancy that you can set them free? I can tell you that you will never
get back and will have to stay there with the rest of them. But
never mind, I will protect you and get you out of your difficulty.
Take this herb, which is one of great virtue, and keep it about you
when you go to Circe's house, it will be a talisman to you against
every kind of mischief.
"'And I will tell you of all the wicked witchcraft that Circe will
try to practise upon you. She will mix a mess for you to drink, and
she will drug the meal with which she makes it, but she will not be
able to charm you, for the virtue of the herb that I shall give you
will prevent her spells from working. I will tell you all about it.
When Circe strikes you with her wand, draw your sword and spring
upon her as though you were goings to kill her. She will then be
frightened and will desire you to go to bed with her; on this you must
not point blank refuse her, for you want her to set your companions
free, and to take good care also of yourself, but you make her swear
solemnly by all the blessed that she will plot no further mischief
against you, or else when she has got you naked she will unman you and
make you fit for nothing.'
"As he spoke he pulled the herb out of the ground an showed me
what it was like. The root was black, while the flower was as white as
milk; the gods call it Moly, and mortal men cannot uproot it, but
the gods can do whatever they like.
"Then Mercury went back to high Olympus passing over the wooded
island; but I fared onward to the house of Circe, and my heart was
clouded with care as I walked along. When I got to the gates I stood
there and called the goddess, and as soon as she heard me she came
down, opened the door, and asked me to come in; so I followed her-
much troubled in my mind. She set me on a richly decorated seat inlaid
with silver, there was a footstool also under my feet, and she mixed a
mess in a golden goblet for me to drink; but she drugged it, for she
meant me mischief. When she had given it me, and I had drunk it
without its charming me, she struck she, struck me with her wand.
'There now,' she cried, 'be off to the pigsty, and make your lair with
the rest of them.'
"But I rushed at her with my sword drawn as though I would kill her,
whereon she fell with a loud scream, clasped my knees, and spoke
piteously, saying, 'Who and whence are you? from what place and people
have you come? How can it be that my drugs have no power to charm you?
Never yet was any man able to stand so much as a taste of the herb I
gave you; you must be spell-proof; surely you can be none other than
the bold hero Ulysses, who Mercury always said would come here some
day with his ship while on his way home form Troy; so be it then;
sheathe your sword and let us go to bed, that we may make friends
and learn to trust each other.'
"And I answered, 'Circe, how can you expect me to be friendly with
you when you have just been turning all my men into pigs? And now that
you have got me here myself, you mean me mischief when you ask me to
go to bed with you, and will unman me and make me fit for nothing. I
shall certainly not consent to go to bed with you unless you will
first take your solemn oath to plot no further harm against me.'
"So she swore at once as I had told her, and when she had
completed her oath then I went to bed with her.
"Meanwhile her four servants, who are her housemaids, set about
their work. They are the children of the groves and fountains, and
of the holy waters that run down into the sea. One of them spread a
fair purple cloth over a seat, and laid a carpet underneath it.
Another brought tables of silver up to the seats, and set them with
baskets of gold. A third mixed some sweet wine with water in a
silver bowl and put golden cups upon the tables, while the fourth
she brought in water and set it to boil in a large cauldron over a
good fire which she had lighted. When the water in the cauldron was
boiling, she poured cold into it till it was just as I liked it, and
then she set me in a bath and began washing me from the cauldron about
the head and shoulders, to take the tire and stiffness out of my
limbs. As soon as she had done washing me and anointing me with oil,
she arrayed me in a good cloak and shirt and led me to a richly
decorated seat inlaid with silver; there was a footstool also under my
feet. A maid servant then brought me water in a beautiful golden
ewer and poured it into a silver basin for me to wash my hands, and
she drew a clean table beside me; an upper servant brought me bread
and offered me many things of what there was in the house, and then
Circe bade me eat, but I would not, and sat without heeding what was
before me, still moody and suspicious.
"When Circe saw me sitting there without eating, and in great grief,
she came to me and said, 'Ulysses, why do you sit like that as
though you were dumb, gnawing at your own heart, and refusing both
meat and drink? Is it that you are still suspicious? You ought not
to be, for I have already sworn solemnly that I will not hurt you.'
"And I said, 'Circe, no man with any sense of what is right can
think of either eating or drinking in your house until you have set
his friends free and let him see them. If you want me to eat and
drink, you must free my men and bring them to me that I may see them
with my own eyes.'
"When I had said this she went straight through the court with her
wand in her hand and opened the pigsty doors. My men came out like
so many prime hogs and stood looking at her, but she went about
among them and anointed each with a second drug, whereon the
bristles that the bad drug had given them fell off, and they became
men again, younger than they were before, and much taller and better
looking. They knew me at once, seized me each of them by the hand, and
wept for joy till the whole house was filled with the sound of their
hullabalooing, and Circe herself was so sorry for them that she came
up to me and said, 'Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, go back at once
to the sea where you have left your ship, and first draw it on to
the land. Then, hide all your ship's gear and property in some cave,
and come back here with your men.'
"I agreed to this, so I went back to the sea shore, and found the
men at the ship weeping and wailing most piteously. When they saw me
the silly blubbering fellows began frisking round me as calves break
out and gambol round their mothers, when they see them coming home
to be milked after they have been feeding all day, and the homestead
resounds with their lowing. They seemed as glad to see me as though
they had got back to their own rugged Ithaca, where they had been born
and bred. 'Sir,' said the affectionate creatures, 'we are as glad to
see you back as though we had got safe home to Ithaca; but tell us all
about the fate of our comrades.'
"I spoke comfortingly to them and said, 'We must draw our ship on to
the land, and hide the ship's gear with all our property in some cave;
then come with me all of you as fast as you can to Circe's house,
where you will find your comrades eating and drinking in the midst
of great abundance.'
"On this the men would have come with me at once, but Eurylochus
tried to hold them back and said, 'Alas, poor wretches that we are,
what will become of us? Rush not on your ruin by going to the house of
Circe, who will turn us all into pigs or wolves or lions, and we shall
have to keep guard over her house. Remember how the Cyclops treated us
when our comrades went inside his cave, and Ulysses with them. It
was all through his sheer folly that those men lost their lives.'
"When I heard him I was in two minds whether or no to draw the
keen blade that hung by my sturdy thigh and cut his head off in
spite of his being a near relation of my own; but the men interceded
for him and said, 'Sir, if it may so be, let this fellow stay here and
mind the ship, but take the rest of us with you to Circe's house.'
"On this we all went inland, and Eurylochus was not left behind
after all, but came on too, for he was frightened by the severe
reprimand that I had given him.
"Meanwhile Circe had been seeing that the men who had been left
behind were washed and anointed with olive oil; she had also given
them woollen cloaks and shirts, and when we came we found them all
comfortably at dinner in her house. As soon as the men saw each
other face to face and knew one another, they wept for joy and cried
aloud till the whole palace rang again. Thereon Circe came up to me
and said, 'Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, tell your men to leave off
crying; I know how much you have all of you suffered at sea, and how
ill you have fared among cruel savages on the mainland, but that is
over now, so stay here, and eat and drink till you are once more as
strong and hearty as you were when you left Ithaca; for at present you
are weakened both in body and mind; you keep all the time thinking
of the hardships- you have suffered during your travels, so that you
have no more cheerfulness left in you.'
"Thus did she speak and we assented. We stayed with Circe for a
whole twelvemonth feasting upon an untold quantity both of meat and
wine. But when the year had passed in the waning of moons and the long
days had come round, my men called me apart and said, 'Sir, it is time
you began to think about going home, if so be you are to be spared
to see your house and native country at all.'
"Thus did they speak and I assented. Thereon through the livelong
day to the going down of the sun we feasted our fill on meat and wine,
but when the sun went down and it came on dark the men laid themselves
down to sleep in the covered cloisters. I, however, after I had got
into bed with Circe, besought her by her knees, and the goddess
listened to what I had got to say. 'Circe,' said I, 'please to keep
the promise you made me about furthering me on my homeward voyage. I
want to get back and so do my men, they are always pestering me with
their complaints as soon as ever your back is turned.'
"And the goddess answered, 'Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, you shall
none of you stay here any longer if you do not want to, but there is
another journey which you have got to take before you can sail
homewards. You must go to the house of Hades and of dread Proserpine
to consult the ghost of the blind Theban prophet Teiresias whose
reason is still unshaken. To him alone has Proserpine left his
understanding even in death, but the other ghosts flit about
"I was dismayed when I heard this. I sat up in bed and wept, and
would gladly have lived no longer to see the light of the sun, but
presently when I was tired of weeping and tossing myself about, I
said, 'And who shall guide me upon this voyage- for the house of Hades
is a port that no ship can reach.'
"'You will want no guide,' she answered; 'raise you mast, set your
white sails, sit quite still, and the North Wind will blow you there
of itself. When your ship has traversed the waters of Oceanus, you
will reach the fertile shore of Proserpine's country with its groves
of tall poplars and willows that shed their fruit untimely; here beach
your ship upon the shore of Oceanus, and go straight on to the dark
abode of Hades. You will find it near the place where the rivers
Pyriphlegethon and Cocytus (which is a branch of the river Styx)
flow into Acheron, and you will see a rock near it, just where the two
roaring rivers run into one another.
"'When you have reached this spot, as I now tell you, dig a trench a
cubit or so in length, breadth, and depth, and pour into it as a
drink-offering to all the dead, first, honey mixed with milk, then
wine, and in the third place water-sprinkling white barley meal over
the whole. Moreover you must offer many prayers to the poor feeble
ghosts, and promise them that when you get back to Ithaca you will
sacrifice a barren heifer to them, the best you have, and will load
the pyre with good things. More particularly you must promise that
Teiresias shall have a black sheep all to himself, the finest in all
your flocks.
"'When you shall have thus besought the ghosts with your prayers,
offer them a ram and a black ewe, bending their heads towards
Erebus; but yourself turn away from them as though you would make
towards the river. On this, many dead men's ghosts will come to you,
and you must tell your men to skin the two sheep that you have just
killed, and offer them as a burnt sacrifice with prayers to Hades
and to Proserpine. Then draw your sword and sit there, so as to
prevent any other poor ghost from coming near the split blood before
Teiresias shall have answered your questions. The seer will
presently come to you, and will tell you about your voyage- what
stages you are to make, and how you are to sail the see so as to reach
your home.'
"It was day-break by the time she had done speaking, so she
dressed me in my shirt and cloak. As for herself she threw a beautiful
light gossamer fabric over her shoulders, fastening it with a golden
girdle round her waist, and she covered her head with a mantle. Then I
went about among the men everywhere all over the house, and spoke
kindly to each of them man by man: 'You must not lie sleeping here any
longer,' said I to them, 'we must be going, for Circe has told me
all about it.' And this they did as I bade them.
"Even so, however, I did not get them away without misadventure.
We had with us a certain youth named Elpenor, not very remarkable
for sense or courage, who had got drunk and was lying on the house-top
away from the rest of the men, to sleep off his liquor in the cool.
When he heard the noise of the men bustling about, he jumped up on a
sudden and forgot all about coming down by the main staircase, so he
tumbled right off the roof and broke his neck, and his soul went
down to the house of Hades.
"When I had got the men together I said to them, 'You think you
are about to start home again, but Circe has explained to me that
instead of this, we have got to go to the house of Hades and
Proserpine to consult the ghost of the Theban prophet Teiresias.'
"The men were broken-hearted as they heard me, and threw
themselves on the ground groaning and tearing their hair, but they did
not mend matters by crying. When we reached the sea shore, weeping and
lamenting our fate, Circe brought the ram and the ewe, and we made
them fast hard by the ship. She passed through the midst of us without
our knowing it, for who can see the comings and goings of a god, if
the god does not wish to be seen?

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The Odyssey: Book 19

Ulysses was left in the cloister, pondering on the means whereby
with Minerva's help he might be able to kill the suitors. Presently he
said to Telemachus, "Telemachus, we must get the armour together and
take it down inside. Make some excuse when the suitors ask you why you
have removed it. Say that you have taken it to be out of the way of
the smoke, inasmuch as it is no longer what it was when Ulysses went
away, but has become soiled and begrimed with soot. Add to this more
particularly that you are afraid Jove may set them on to quarrel
over their wine, and that they may do each other some harm which may
disgrace both banquet and wooing, for the sight of arms sometimes
tempts people to use them."
Telemachus approved of what his father had said, so he called
nurse Euryclea and said, "Nurse, shut the women up in their room,
while I take the armour that my father left behind him down into the
store room. No one looks after it now my father is gone, and it has
got all smirched with soot during my own boyhood. I want to take it
down where the smoke cannot reach it."
"I wish, child," answered Euryclea, "that you would take the
management of the house into your own hands altogether, and look after
all the property yourself. But who is to go with you and light you
to the store room? The maids would have so, but you would not let
"The stranger," said Telemachus, "shall show me a light; when people
eat my bread they must earn it, no matter where they come from."
Euryclea did as she was told, and bolted the women inside their
room. Then Ulysses and his son made all haste to take the helmets,
shields, and spears inside; and Minerva went before them with a gold
lamp in her hand that shed a soft and brilliant radiance, whereon
Telemachus said, "Father, my eyes behold a great marvel: the walls,
with the rafters, crossbeams, and the supports on which they rest
are all aglow as with a flaming fire. Surely there is some god here
who has come down from heaven."
"Hush," answered Ulysses, "hold your peace and ask no questions, for
this is the manner of the gods. Get you to your bed, and leave me here
to talk with your mother and the maids. Your mother in her grief
will ask me all sorts of questions."
On this Telemachus went by torch-light to the other side of the
inner court, to the room in which he always slept. There he lay in his
bed till morning, while Ulysses was left in the cloister pondering
on the means whereby with Minerva's help he might be able to kill
the suitors.
Then Penelope came down from her room looking like Venus or Diana,
and they set her a seat inlaid with scrolls of silver and ivory near
the fire in her accustomed place. It had been made by Icmalius and had
a footstool all in one piece with the seat itself; and it was
covered with a thick fleece: on this she now sat, and the maids came
from the women's room to join her. They set about removing the
tables at which the wicked suitors had been dining, and took away
the bread that was left, with the cups from which they had drunk. They
emptied the embers out of the braziers, and heaped much wood upon them
to give both light and heat; but Melantho began to rail at Ulysses a
second time and said, "Stranger, do you mean to plague us by hanging
about the house all night and spying upon the women? Be off, you
wretch, outside, and eat your supper there, or you shall be driven out
with a firebrand."
Ulysses scowled at her and answered, "My good woman, why should
you be so angry with me? Is it because I am not clean, and my
clothes are all in rags, and because I am obliged to go begging
about after the manner of tramps and beggars generall? I too was a
rich man once, and had a fine house of my own; in those days I gave to
many a tramp such as I now am, no matter who he might be nor what he
wanted. I had any number of servants, and all the other things which
people have who live well and are accounted wealthy, but it pleased
Jove to take all away from me; therefore, woman, beware lest you too
come to lose that pride and place in which you now wanton above your
fellows; have a care lest you get out of favour with your mistress,
and lest Ulysses should come home, for there is still a chance that he
may do so. Moreover, though he be dead as you think he is, yet by
Apollo's will he has left a son behind him, Telemachus, who will
note anything done amiss by the maids in the house, for he is now no
longer in his boyhood."
Penelope heard what he was saying and scolded the maid, "Impudent
baggage, said she, "I see how abominably you are behaving, and you
shall smart for it. You knew perfectly well, for I told you myself,
that I was going to see the stranger and ask him about my husband, for
whose sake I am in such continual sorrow."
Then she said to her head waiting woman Eurynome, "Bring a seat with
a fleece upon it, for the stranger to sit upon while he tells his
story, and listens to what I have to say. I wish to ask him some
Eurynome brought the seat at once and set a fleece upon it, and as
soon as Ulysses had sat down Penelope began by saying, "Stranger, I
shall first ask you who and whence are you? Tell me of your town and
"Madam;" answered Ulysses, "who on the face of the whole earth can
dare to chide with you? Your fame reaches the firmament of heaven
itself; you are like some blameless king, who upholds righteousness,
as the monarch over a great and valiant nation: the earth yields its
wheat and barley, the trees are loaded with fruit, the ewes bring
forth lambs, and the sea abounds with fish by reason of his virtues,
and his people do good deeds under him. Nevertheless, as I sit here in
your house, ask me some other question and do not seek to know my race
and family, or you will recall memories that will yet more increase my
sorrow. I am full of heaviness, but I ought not to sit weeping and
wailing in another person's house, nor is it well to be thus
grieving continually. I shall have one of the servants or even
yourself complaining of me, and saying that my eyes swim with tears
because I am heavy with wine."
Then Penelope answered, "Stranger, heaven robbed me of all beauty,
whether of face or figure, when the Argives set sail for Troy and my
dear husband with them. If he were to return and look after my affairs
I should be both more respected and should show a better presence to
the world. As it is, I am oppressed with care, and with the
afflictions which heaven has seen fit to heap upon me. The chiefs from
all our islands- Dulichium, Same, and Zacynthus, as also from Ithaca
itself, are wooing me against my will and are wasting my estate. I can
therefore show no attention to strangers, nor suppliants, nor to
people who say that they are skilled artisans, but am all the time
brokenhearted about Ulysses. They want me to marry again at once,
and I have to invent stratagems in order to deceive them. In the first
place heaven put it in my mind to set up a great tambour-frame in my
room, and to begin working upon an enormous piece of fine
needlework. Then I said to them, 'Sweethearts, Ulysses is indeed dead,
still, do not press me to marry again immediately; wait- for I would
not have my skill in needlework perish unrecorded- till I have
finished making a pall for the hero Laertes, to be ready against the
time when death shall take him. He is very rich, and the women of
the place will talk if he is laid out without a pall.' This was what I
said, and they assented; whereon I used to keep working at my great
web all day long, but at night I would unpick the stitches again by
torch light. I fooled them in this way for three years without their
finding it out, but as time wore on and I was now in my fourth year,
in the waning of moons, and many days had been accomplished, those
good-for-nothing hussies my maids betrayed me to the suitors, who
broke in upon me and caught me; they were very angry with me, so I was
forced to finish my work whether I would or no. And now I do not see
how I can find any further shift for getting out of this marriage.
My parents are putting great pressure upon me, and my son chafes at
the ravages the suitors are making upon his estate, for he is now
old enough to understand all about it and is perfectly able to look
after his own affairs, for heaven has blessed him with an excellent
disposition. Still, notwithstanding all this, tell me who you are
and where you come from- for you must have had father and mother of
some sort; you cannot be the son of an oak or of a rock."
Then Ulysses answered, "madam, wife of Ulysses, since you persist in
asking me about my family, I will answer, no matter what it costs
me: people must expect to be pained when they have been exiles as long
as I have, and suffered as much among as many peoples. Nevertheless,
as regards your question I will tell you all you ask. There is a
fair and fruitful island in mid-ocean called Crete; it is thickly
peopled and there are nine cities in it: the people speak many
different languages which overlap one another, for there are Achaeans,
brave Eteocretans, Dorians of three-fold race, and noble Pelasgi.
There is a great town there, Cnossus, where Minos reigned who every
nine years had a conference with Jove himself. Minos was father to
Deucalion, whose son I am, for Deucalion had two sons Idomeneus and
myself. Idomeneus sailed for Troy, and I, who am the younger, am
called Aethon; my brother, however, was at once the older and the more
valiant of the two; hence it was in Crete that I saw Ulysses and
showed him hospitality, for the winds took him there as he was on
his way to Troy, carrying him out of his course from cape Malea and
leaving him in Amnisus off the cave of Ilithuia, where the harbours
are difficult to enter and he could hardly find shelter from the winds
that were then xaging. As soon as he got there he went into the town
and asked for Idomeneus, claiming to be his old and valued friend, but
Idomeneus had already set sail for Troy some ten or twelve days
earlier, so I took him to my own house and showed him every kind of
hospitality, for I had abundance of everything. Moreover, I fed the
men who were with him with barley meal from the public store, and
got subscriptions of wine and oxen for them to sacrifice to their
heart's content. They stayed with me twelve days, for there was a gale
blowing from the North so strong that one could hardly keep one's feet
on land. I suppose some unfriendly god had raised it for them, but
on the thirteenth day the wind dropped, and they got away."
Many a plausible tale did Ulysses further tell her, and Penelope
wept as she listened, for her heart was melted. As the snow wastes
upon the mountain tops when the winds from South East and West have
breathed upon it and thawed it till the rivers run bank full with
water, even so did her cheeks overflow with tears for the husband
who was all the time sitting by her side. Ulysses felt for her and was
for her, but he kept his eyes as hard as or iron without letting
them so much as quiver, so cunningly did he restrain his tears.
Then, when she had relieved herself by weeping, she turned to him
again and said: "Now, stranger, I shall put you to the test and see
whether or no you really did entertain my husband and his men, as
you say you did. Tell me, then, how he was dressed, what kind of a man
he was to look at, and so also with his companions."
"Madam," answered Ulysses, "it is such a long time ago that I can
hardly say. Twenty years are come and gone since he left my home,
and went elsewhither; but I will tell you as well as I can
recollect. Ulysses wore a mantle of purple wool, double lined, and
it was fastened by a gold brooch with two catches for the pin. On
the face of this there was a device that showed a dog holding a
spotted fawn between his fore paws, and watching it as it lay
panting upon the ground. Every one marvelled at the way in which these
things had been done in gold, the dog looking at the fawn, and
strangling it, while the fawn was struggling convulsively to escape.
As for the shirt that he wore next his skin, it was so soft that it
fitted him like the skin of an onion, and glistened in the sunlight to
the admiration of all the women who beheld it. Furthermore I say,
and lay my saying to your heart, that I do not know whether Ulysses
wore these clothes when he left home, or whether one of his companions
had given them to him while he was on his voyage; or possibly some one
at whose house he was staying made him a present of them, for he was a
man of many friends and had few equals among the Achaeans. I myself
gave him a sword of bronze and a beautiful purple mantle, double
lined, with a shirt that went down to his feet, and I sent him on
board his ship with every mark of honour. He had a servant with him, a
little older than himself, and I can tell you what he was like; his
shoulders were hunched, he was dark, and he had thick curly hair.
His name was Eurybates, and Ulysses treated him with greater
familiarity than he did any of the others, as being the most
like-minded with himself."
Penelope was moved still more deeply as she heard the indisputable
proofs that Ulysses laid before her; and when she had again found
relief in tears she said to him, "Stranger, I was already disposed
to pity you, but henceforth you shall be honoured and made welcome
in my house. It was I who gave Ulysses the clothes you speak of. I
took them out of the store room and folded them up myself, and I
gave him also the gold brooch to wear as an ornament. Alas! I shall
never welcome him home again. It was by an ill fate that he ever set
out for that detested city whose very name I cannot bring myself
even to mention."
Then Ulysses answered, "Madam, wife of Ulysses, do not disfigure
yourself further by grieving thus bitterly for your loss, though I can
hardly blame you for doing so. A woman who has loved her husband and
borne him children, would naturally be grieved at losing him, even
though he were a worse man than Ulysses, who they say was like a
god. Still, cease your tears and listen to what I can tell I will hide
nothing from you, and can say with perfect truth that I have lately
heard of Ulysses as being alive and on his way home; he is among the
Thesprotians, and is bringing back much valuable treasure that he
has begged from one and another of them; but his ship and all his crew
were lost as they were leaving the Thrinacian island, for Jove and the
sun-god were angry with him because his men had slaughtered the
sun-god's cattle, and they were all drowned to a man. But Ulysses
stuck to the keel of the ship and was drifted on to the land of the
Phaecians, who are near of kin to the immortals, and who treated him
as though he had been a god, giving him many presents, and wishing
to escort him home safe and sound. In fact Ulysses would have been
here long ago, had he not thought better to go from land to land
gathering wealth; for there is no man living who is so wily as he
is; there is no one can compare with him. Pheidon king of the
Thesprotians told me all this, and he swore to me- making
drink-offerings in his house as he did so- that the ship was by the
water side and the crew found who would take Ulysses to his own
country. He sent me off first, for there happened to be a
Thesprotian ship sailing for the wheat-growing island of Dulichium,
but he showed me all treasure Ulysses had got together, and he had
enough lying in the house of king Pheidon to keep his family for ten
generations; but the king said Ulysses had gone to Dodona that he
might learn Jove's mind from the high oak tree, and know whether after
so long an absence he should return to Ithaca openly or in secret.
So you may know he is safe and will be here shortly; he is close at
hand and cannot remain away from home much longer; nevertheless I will
confirm my words with an oath, and call Jove who is the first and
mightiest of all gods to witness, as also that hearth of Ulysses to
which I have now come, that all I have spoken shall surely come to
pass. Ulysses will return in this self same year; with the end of this
moon and the beginning of the next he will be here."
"May it be even so," answered Penelope; "if your words come true you
shall have such gifts and such good will from me that all who see
you shall congratulate you; but I know very well how it will be.
Ulysses will not return, neither will you get your escort hence, for
so surely as that Ulysses ever was, there are now no longer any such
masters in the house as he was, to receive honourable strangers or
to further them on their way home. And now, you maids, wash his feet
for him, and make him a bed on a couch with rugs and blankets, that he
may be warm and quiet till morning. Then, at day break wash him and
anoint him again, that he may sit in the cloister and take his meals
with Telemachus. It shall be the worse for any one of these hateful
people who is uncivil to him; like it or not, he shall have no more to
do in this house. For how, sir, shall you be able to learn whether
or no I am superior to others of my sex both in goodness of heart
and understanding, if I let you dine in my cloisters squalid and ill
clad? Men live but for a little season; if they are hard, and deal
hardly, people wish them ill so long as they are alive, and speak
contemptuously of them when they are dead, but he that is righteous
and deals righteously, the people tell of his praise among all
lands, and many shall call him blessed."
Ulysses answered, "Madam, I have foresworn rugs and blankets from
the day that I left the snowy ranges of Crete to go on shipboard. I
will lie as I have lain on many a sleepless night hitherto. Night
after night have I passed in any rough sleeping place, and waited
for morning. Nor, again, do I like having my feet washed; I shall
not let any of the young hussies about your house touch my feet;
but, if you have any old and respectable woman who has gone through as
much trouble as I have, I will allow her to wash them."
To this Penelope said, "My dear sir, of all the guests who ever
yet came to my house there never was one who spoke in all things
with such admirable propriety as you do. There happens to be in the
house a most respectable old woman- the same who received my poor dear
husband in her arms the night he was born, and nursed him in
infancy. She is very feeble now, but she shall wash your feet."
"Come here," said she, "Euryclea, and wash your master's age-mate; I
suppose Ulysses' hands and feet are very much the same now as his are,
for trouble ages all of us dreadfully fast."
On these words the old woman covered her face with her hands; she
began to weep and made lamentation saying, "My dear child, I cannot
think whatever I am to do with you. I am certain no one was ever
more god-fearing than yourself, and yet Jove hates you. No one in
the whole world ever burned him more thigh bones, nor gave him finer
hecatombs when you prayed you might come to a green old age yourself
and see your son grow up to take after you; yet see how he has
prevented you alone from ever getting back to your own home. I have no
doubt the women in some foreign palace which Ulysses has got to are
gibing at him as all these sluts here have been gibing you. I do not
wonder at your not choosing to let them wash you after the manner in
which they have insulted you; I will wash your feet myself gladly
enough, as Penelope has said that I am to do so; I will wash them both
for Penelope's sake and for your own, for you have raised the most
lively feelings of compassion in my mind; and let me say this
moreover, which pray attend to; we have had all kinds of strangers
in distress come here before now, but I make bold to say that no one
ever yet came who was so like Ulysses in figure, voice, and feet as
you are."
"Those who have seen us both," answered Ulysses, "have always said
we were wonderfully like each other, and now you have noticed it too.
Then the old woman took the cauldron in which she was going to
wash his feet, and poured plenty of cold water into it, adding hot
till the bath was warm enough. Ulysses sat by the fire, but ere long
he turned away from the light, for it occurred to him that when the
old woman had hold of his leg she would recognize a certain scar which
it bore, whereon the whole truth would come out. And indeed as soon as
she began washing her master, she at once knew the scar as one that
had been given him by a wild boar when he was hunting on Mount
Parnassus with his excellent grandfather Autolycus- who was the most
accomplished thief and perjurer in the whole world- and with the
sons of Autolycus. Mercury himself had endowed him with this gift, for
he used to burn the thigh bones of goats and kids to him, so he took
pleasure in his companionship. It happened once that Autolycus had
gone to Ithaca and had found the child of his daughter just born. As
soon as he had done supper Euryclea set the infant upon his knees
and said, you must find a name for your grandson; you greatly wished
that you might have one."
'Son-in-law and daughter," replied Autolycus, "call the child
thus: I am highly displeased with a large number of people in one
place and another, both men and women; so name the child 'Ulysses,' or
the child of anger. When he grows up and comes to visit his mother's
family on Mount Parnassus, where my possessions lie, I will make him a
present and will send him on his way rejoicing."
Ulysses, therefore, went to Parnassus to get the presents from
Autolycus, who with his sons shook hands with him and gave him
welcome. His grandmother Amphithea threw her arms about him, and
kissed his head, and both his beautiful eyes, while Autolycus
desired his sons to get dinner ready, and they did as he told them.
They brought in a five year old bull, flayed it, made it ready and
divided it into joints; these they then cut carefully up into
smaller pieces and spitted them; they roasted them sufficiently and
served the portions round. Thus through the livelong day to the
going down of the sun they feasted, and every man had his full share
so that all were satisfied; but when the sun set and it came on
dark, they went to bed and enjoyed the boon of sleep.
When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, the sons of
Autolycus went out with their hounds hunting, and Ulysses went too.
They climbed the wooded slopes of Parnassus and soon reached its
breezy upland valleys; but as the sun was beginning to beat upon the
fields, fresh-risen from the slow still currents of Oceanus, they came
to a mountain dell. The dogs were in front searching for the tracks of
the beast they were chasing, and after them came the sons of
Autolycus, among whom was Ulysses, close behind the dogs, and he had a
long spear in his hand. Here was the lair of a huge boar among some
thick brushwood, so dense that the wind and rain could not get through
it, nor could the sun's rays pierce it, and the ground underneath
lay thick with fallen leaves. The boar heard the noise of the men's
feet, and the hounds baying on every side as the huntsmen came up to
him, so rushed from his lair, raised the bristles on his neck, and
stood at bay with fire flashing from his eyes. Ulysses was the first
to raise his spear and try to drive it into the brute, but the boar
was too quick for him, and charged him sideways, ripping him above the
knee with a gash that tore deep though it did not reach the bone. As
for the boar, Ulysses hit him on the right shoulder, and the point
of the spear went right through him, so that he fell groaning in the
dust until the life went out of him. The sons of Autolycus busied
themselves with the carcass of the boar, and bound Ulysses' wound;
then, after saying a spell to stop the bleeding, they went home as
fast as they could. But when Autolycus and his sons had thoroughly
healed Ulysses, they made him some splendid presents, and sent him
back to Ithaca with much mutual good will. When he got back, his
father and mother were rejoiced to see him, and asked him all about
it, and how he had hurt himself to get the scar; so he told them how
the boar had ripped him when he was out hunting with Autolycus and his
sons on Mount Parnassus.
As soon as Euryclea had got the scarred limb in her hands and had
well hold of it, she recognized it and dropped the foot at once. The
leg fell into the bath, which rang out and was overturned, so that all
the water was spilt on the ground; Euryclea's eyes between her joy and
her grief filled with tears, and she could not speak, but she caught
Ulysses by the beard and said, "My dear child, I am sure you must be
Ulysses himself, only I did not know you till I had actually touched
and handled you."
As she spoke she looked towards Penelope, as though wanting to
tell her that her dear husband was in the house, but Penelope was
unable to look in that direction and observe what was going on, for
Minerva had diverted her attention; so Ulysses caught Euryclea by
the throat with his right hand and with his left drew her close to
him, and said, "Nurse, do you wish to be the ruin of me, you who
nursed me at your own breast, now that after twenty years of wandering
I am at last come to my own home again? Since it has been borne in
upon you by heaven to recognize me, hold your tongue, and do not say a
word about it any one else in the house, for if you do I tell you- and
it shall surely be- that if heaven grants me to take the lives of
these suitors, I will not spare you, though you are my own nurse, when
I am killing the other women."
"My child," answered Euryclea, "what are you talking about? You know
very well that nothing can either bend or break me. I will hold my
tongue like a stone or a piece of iron; furthermore let me say, and
lay my saying to your heart, when heaven has delivered the suitors
into your hand, I will give you a list of the women in the house who
have been ill-behaved, and of those who are guiltless."
And Ulysses answered, "Nurse, you ought not to speak in that way;
I am well able to form my own opinion about one and all of them;
hold your tongue and leave everything to heaven."
As he said this Euryclea left the cloister to fetch some more water,
for the first had been all spilt; and when she had washed him and
anointed him with oil, Ulysses drew his seat nearer to the fire to
warm himself, and hid the scar under his rags. Then Penelope began
talking to him and said:
"Stranger, I should like to speak with you briefly about another
matter. It is indeed nearly bed time- for those, at least, who can
sleep in spite of sorrow. As for myself, heaven has given me a life of
such unmeasurable woe, that even by day when I am attending to my
duties and looking after the servants, I am still weeping and
lamenting during the whole time; then, when night comes, and we all of
us go to bed, I lie awake thinking, and my heart comes a prey to the
most incessant and cruel tortures. As the dun nightingale, daughter of
Pandareus, sings in the early spring from her seat in shadiest
covert hid, and with many a plaintive trill pours out the tale how
by mishap she killed her own child Itylus, son of king Zethus, even so
does my mind toss and turn in its uncertainty whether I ought to
stay with my son here, and safeguard my substance, my bondsmen, and
the greatness of my house, out of regard to public opinion and the
memory of my late husband, or whether it is not now time for me to
go with the best of these suitors who are wooing me and making me such
magnificent presents. As long as my son was still young, and unable to
understand, he would not hear of my leaving my husband's house, but
now that he is full grown he begs and prays me to do so, being
incensed at the way in which the suitors are eating up his property.
Listen, then, to a dream that I have had and interpret it for me if
you can. I have twenty geese about the house that eat mash out of a
trough, and of which I am exceedingly fond. I dreamed that a great
eagle came swooping down from a mountain, and dug his curved beak into
the neck of each of them till he had killed them all. Presently he
soared off into the sky, and left them lying dead about the yard;
whereon I wept in my room till all my maids gathered round me, so
piteously was I grieving because the eagle had killed my geese. Then
he came back again, and perching on a projecting rafter spoke to me
with human voice, and told me to leave off crying. 'Be of good
courage,' he said, 'daughter of Icarius; this is no dream, but a
vision of good omen that shall surely come to pass. The geese are
the suitors, and I am no longer an eagle, but your own husband, who am
come back to you, and who will bring these suitors to a disgraceful
end.' On this I woke, and when I looked out I saw my geese at the
trough eating their mash as usual."
"This dream, Madam," replied Ulysses, "can admit but of one
interpretation, for had not Ulysses himself told you how it shall be
fulfilled? The death of the suitors is portended, and not one single
one of them will escape."
And Penelope answered, "Stranger, dreams are very curious and
unaccountable things, and they do not by any means invariably come
true. There are two gates through which these unsubstantial fancies
proceed; the one is of horn, and the other ivory. Those that come
through the gate of ivory are fatuous, but those from the gate of horn
mean something to those that see them. I do not think, however, that
my own dream came through the gate of horn, though I and my son should
be most thankful if it proves to have done so. Furthermore I say-
and lay my saying to your heart- the coming dawn will usher in the
ill-omened day that is to sever me from the house of Ulysses, for I am
about to hold a tournament of axes. My husband used to set up twelve
axes in the court, one in front of the other, like the stays upon
which a ship is built; he would then go back from them and shoot an
arrow through the whole twelve. I shall make the suitors try to do the
same thing, and whichever of them can string the bow most easily,
and send his arrow through all the twelve axes, him will I follow, and
quit this house of my lawful husband, so goodly and so abounding in
wealth. But even so, I doubt not that I shall remember it in my
Then Ulysses answered, "Madam wife of Ulysses, you need not defer
your tournament, for Ulysses will return ere ever they can string
the bow, handle it how they will, and send their arrows through the
To this Penelope said, "As long, sir, as you will sit here and
talk to me, I can have no desire to go to bed. Still, people cannot do
permanently without sleep, and heaven has appointed us dwellers on
earth a time for all things. I will therefore go upstairs and
recline upon that couch which I have never ceased to flood with my
tears from the day Ulysses set out for the city with a hateful name."
She then went upstairs to her own room, not alone, but attended by
her maidens, and when there, she lamented her dear husband till
Minerva shed sweet sleep over her eyelids.

poem by , translated by Samuel ButlerReport problemRelated quotes
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