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San Simeon Hill Zebras

Drifters, if they could be.
Sometimes, when they think
no one is watching,
they near the barbed wire.

Hooves and hooves and hooves.
A silent choir, a mass
of muscle-held cellmates.

Their heads are full of high grass
and long shadows. They dream
of lowland lions grifting gazelle.

Behold the moiré bolting
of the chain-gang jumpsuits
—dust and dust and dust—
safe in their target-striped caps!

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When Theres No One Around

This is a song that nobody knows
I couldnt begin to describe how it goes
But it makes me cry or laugh right out loud
Its a song that I sing when theres no one around
This is the man that nobody sees
He wears my old clothes and he looks just like me
Just one of the boys who gets lost in the crowd
Hes the man that I am when theres no one around
Its four in the morning
Im lyin in bed
A tape of my failures
Playin inside my head
Its heartaches and hard knocks
And things I dont know
I listen and I wonder
Where will it go
This is a glimpse of the child thats within
Hes so immature but hes still my best friend
If he could learn how to fly hed never touch down
Hes the kid that I am when theres no one around
This is the dance I do every day
I let my feet go and get carried away
I let my soul lead and follow the sound
Its the dance that I do when theres no one around
Its four in the morning
Im lyin in bed
A tape of my failures
Playin inside my head
Its heartaches and hard knocks
And things I dont know
I listen and I wonder
Where will it go
Thi is a song that nobody knows
I still cant begin to describe how it goes
But it makes me cry our laugh right out loud
Its a song that I sing when theres no one around
Its a song that I sing when theres no one around

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A Dialogue Between Thyrsis And Dorinda

When Death, shall snatch us from these Kids,
And shut up our divided Lids,
Tell me Thyrsis, prethee do,
Whither thou and I must go.

To the Elizium: (Dorinda) oh where i'st?

A Chast Soul, can never mis't.

I know no way, but one, our home
Is our Elizium?

Cast thine Eye to yonder Skie,
There the milky way doth lye;
'Tis a sure but rugged way,
That leads to Everlasting day.

There Birds may nest, but how can I,
That have no wings and cannot fly.

Do not sigh (fair Nimph) for fire
Hath no wings, yet doth aspire
Till it hit, against the pole,
Heaven's the Center of the Soul.

But in Elizium how do they
Pass Eternity away.

Ho, ther's, neither hope nor fear
Ther's no Wolf, no Fox, no Bear.
No need of Dog to fetch our stray,
Our Lightfoot we may give away;
And there most sweetly thine Ear
May feast with Musick of the Sphear.
How I my future state
By silent thinking, Antidate:
I preethe let us spend, our time come,
In talking of Elizium.

Then I'le go on: There, sheep are full
Of softest grass, and softest wooll;
There, birds sing Consorts, garlands grow,
Cold winds do whisper,springs do flow.
There, alwayes is, a rising Sun,
And day is ever, but begun.
Shepheards there, bear equal sway,
And every Nimph's a Queen of May.

Ah me, ah me.

Dorinda, why do'st Cry?

I'm sick, I'm sick, and fain would dye:
Convinc't me now, that this is true,
By bidding, with mee, all adieu
I cannot live, without thee, I
Will for thee,much more with thee dye.

Then let us give Corellia charge o'th Sheep,
And thou and I'le pick poppies and them steep
In wine, and drink on't even till we weep,
So shall we smoothly pass away in sleep.

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One fine Day: perhaps for J T Ellison

The sea lies millpond calm and still, obedient to the Goddess’ will.
She has decreed it must be so and thus the ocean far below.
Represses its own urgent needs and to the Goddess’ will accedes.
Its gleaming surface satin smooth. It has no choice to tell the truth
The mistress of both sea and sky.Sees no good reason to say why.
She chose serenity tonight; she rules the sea and has the right
to give instructions to sea which must obey immediately.
Sometimes she lets the breakers roar as they approach the rocky shore.
The daily tides which ebb and flow, she will allow to come and go.
Although there is no urgency she knows of their necessity
The high tide will sweep clean the beach and leave behind its furthest reach.
A tide line marked by oddities which have been carried on the seas
From here and there and everywhere. Jetsam which can be foul or fair. Beachcombers will explore to see what treasures they can take for free.
Though they prefer the aftermath of some fierce storm that shows the wrath of the ocean in angry mood. Because they have long understood.
The treasures which they hope to find, an angry sea will leave behind.
A tranquil night produces less of valuables that will impress.
The early birds who comb the beach above the high tides which can reach much further when theres been a storm and far exceed their usual norm.
Tomorrow morning they will find the sea has not left much behind.
But they will still search carefully because they think that there might be
some treasure they have missed before. When they have searched the sandy shore
Beach combers are a hopeful breed, they know one day they will succeed.
Grow rich beyond their wildest dreams their heads are full of madcap schemes
of what they’ll do as wealthy men but keep on searching until then.
It has been known before today that some beachcombers came away
with golden doubloons by the score which they discovered on the shore.
I do not claim this can’t be true. I think such finds are rare and few.
I have researched the evidence and find that most is sheer nonsense.
But local legends long endure although no one can say for sure.
That any treasure ship was wrecked along this coast but I suspect.
That it makes little difference, dreamers aren’t known for common sense.


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A Secret Gratitude

She cleaned house, and then lay down long
On the long stair.

On one of those cold white wings
That the strange fowl provide for us like one hillside of the sea,
That cautery of snow that blinds us,
Pitiless light,
One winter afternoon
Fair near the place where she sank down with one wing broken,
Three friends and I were caught
Stalk still in the light.

Five of the lights. Why should they care for our eyes?
Five deer stood there.
They looked back, a good minute.
They knew us, all right:
Four chemical accidents of horror pausing
Between one suicide or another
On the passing wing
Of an angel that cared no more for our biology, our pity, and our pain
Than we care.

Why should any mere multitude of the angels care
To lay one blind white plume down
On this outermost limit of something that is probably no more
Than an aphid,
An aphid which is one of the angels whose wings toss the black pears
Of tears down on the secret shores
Of the seas in the corner
Of a poet’s closed eye.
Why should five deer
Gaze back at us?
They gazed back at us.
Afraid, and yet they stood there,
More alive than we four, in their terror,
In their good time.

We had a dog.
We could have got other dogs.
Two or three dogs could have taken turns running and dragging down
Those fleet lights, whose tails must look as mysterious as the
Stars in Los Angeles.
We are men.
It doesn’t even satisfy us
To kill one another.
We are a smear of obscenity
On the lake whose only peace
Is a hole where the moon
Abandoned us, that poor
Girl who can’t leave us alone.

If I were the moon I would shrink into a sand grain
In the corner of the poet’s eye,
While there’s still room.

We are men.
We are capable of anything.
We could have killed every one of those deer.
The very moon of lovers tore herself with the agony of a wounded tigress
Out of our side.
We can kill anything.
We can kill our own bodies.
Those deer on the hillside have no idea what in hell
We are except murderers.
They know that much, and don’t think
They don’t.
Man’s heart is the rotten yolk of a blacksnake egg
Corroding, as it is just born, in a pile of dead
Horse dung.
I have no use for the human creature.
He subtly extracts pain awake in his own kind.
I am born one, out of an accidental hump of chemistry.
I have no use.

We didn’t set dogs on the deer,
Even though we know,
As well as you know,
We could have got away with it,
Who cares?

Boissevain, who was he?
Was he human? I doubt it,
From what I know
Of men.

Who was he,
Hobbling with his dry eyes
Along in the rain?

I think he must have fallen down like the plumes of new snow,
I think he must have fallen into the grass, I think he
Must surely have grown around
Her wings, gathering and being gathered,
Leaf, string, anything she could use
To build her still home of songs
Within sound of water.

By God, come to that, I would have married her too,
If I’d got the chance, and she’d let me.
Think of that. Being alive with a girl
Who could turn into a laurel tree
Whenever she felt like it.
Think of that.

Outside my window just now
I can hear a small waterfall rippling antiphonally down over
The stones of my poem.

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The Metamorphosis Of Plants

THOU art confused, my beloved, at, seeing the thousandfold union

Shown in this flowery troop, over the garden dispers'd;
any a name dost thou hear assign'd; one after another

Falls on thy list'ning ear, with a barbarian sound.
None resembleth another, yet all their forms have a likeness;

Therefore, a mystical law is by the chorus proclaim'd;
Yes, a sacred enigma! Oh, dearest friend, could I only

Happily teach thee the word, which may the mystery solve!
Closely observe how the plant, by little and little progressing,

Step by step guided on, changeth to blossom and fruit!
First from the seed it unravels itself, as soon as the silent

Fruit-bearing womb of the earth kindly allows Its escape,
And to the charms of the light, the holy, the ever-in-motion,

Trusteth the delicate leaves, feebly beginning to shoot.
Simply slumber'd the force in the seed; a germ of the future,

Peacefully lock'd in itself, 'neath the integument lay,
Leaf and root, and bud, still void of colour, and shapeless;

Thus doth the kernel, while dry, cover that motionless life.
Upward then strives it to swell, in gentle moisture confiding,

And, from the night where it dwelt, straightway ascendeth to light.
Yet still simple remaineth its figure, when first it appeareth;

And 'tis a token like this, points out the child 'mid the plants.
Soon a shoot, succeeding it, riseth on high, and reneweth,

Piling-up node upon node, ever the primitive form;
Yet not ever alike: for the following leaf, as thou seest,

Ever produceth itself, fashioned in manifold ways.
Longer, more indented, in points and in parts more divided,

Which. all-deform'd until now, slept in the organ below,
So at length it attaineth the noble and destined perfection,

Which, in full many a tribe, fills thee with wondering awe.
Many ribb'd and tooth'd, on a surface juicy and swelling,

Free and unending the shoot seemeth in fullness to be;
Yet here Nature restraineth, with powerful hands, the formation,

And to a perfecter end, guideth with softness its growth,
Less abundantly yielding the sap, contracting the vessels,

So that the figure ere long gentler effects doth disclose.
Soon and in silence is check'd the growth of the vigorous branches,

And the rib of the stalk fuller becometh in form.
Leafless, however, and quick the tenderer stem then up-springeth,

And a miraculous sight doth the observer enchant.
Ranged in a circle, in numbers that now are small, and now countless,

Gather the smaller-sized leaves, close by the side of their like.
Round the axis compress'd the sheltering calyx unfoldeth,

And, as the perfectest type, brilliant-hued coronals forms.
Thus doth Nature bloom, in glory still nobler and fuller,

Showing, in order arranged, member on member uprear'd.
Wonderment fresh dost thou feel, as soon as the stem rears the flower

Over the scaffolding frail of the alternating leaves.
But this glory is only the new creation's foreteller,

Yes, the leaf with its hues feeleth the hand all divine,
And on a sudden contracteth itself; the tenderest figures

Twofold as yet, hasten on, destined to blend into one.
Lovingly now the beauteous pairs are standing together,

Gather'd in countless array, there where the altar is raised.
Hymen hovereth o'er them, and scents delicious and mighty

Stream forth their fragrance so sweet, all things enliv'ning around.
Presently, parcell'd out, unnumber'd germs are seen swelling,

Sweetly conceald in the womb, where is made perfect the fruit.
Here doth Nature close the ring of her forces eternal;

Yet doth a new one, at once, cling to the one gone before,
So that the chain be prolonged for ever through all generations,

And that the whole may have life, e'en as enjoy'd by each part.
Now, my beloved one, turn thy gaze on the many-hued thousands

Which, confusing no more, gladden the mind as they wave.
Every plant unto thee proclaimeth the laws everlasting,

Every flowered speaks louder and louder to thee;
But if thou here canst decipher the mystic words of the goddess,

Everywhere will they be seen, e'en though the features are changed.
Creeping insects may linger, the eager butterfly hasten,--

Plastic and forming, may man change e'en the figure decreed!
Oh, then, bethink thee, as well, how out of the germ of acquaintance,

Kindly intercourse sprang, slowly unfolding its leaves;
Soon how friendship with might unveil'd itself in our bosoms,

And how Amor, at length, brought forth blossom and fruit
Think of the manifold ways wherein Nature hath lent to our feelings,

Silently giving them birth, either the first or the last!
Yes, and rejoice in the present day! For love that is holy

Seeketh the noblest of fruits,--that where the thoughts are the same,
Where the opinions agree,--that the pair may, in rapt contemplation,

Lovingly blend into one,--find the more excellent world.

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Patrick White

The Singularity

You were the singularity at the bottom of the blackhole
where all the light and life and love and money went.
You were an abyss that just couldn't stand being empty.
You wanted to be a fat void in the midst of plenty.
You took your own body as the Standard Model of the Universe.
You were a death-maze that tried to make a living selling breadcrumbs.
You used to tell me
I could run from the blessing
but I could never escape the curse
of being an optimist for whom
things kept turning out for the worst.
You always did try to make an original point of the obvious
but your clarity was invariably cruel and cunning.
So I gave up arguing with you
and learned to grow orchids
that slept with secrets
in the shadow of that outhouse on the moon
you kept up like a diary of your changing moods.

Being the stupid one
I thought love had substance and content
the way thought and feeling had flesh and blood.
You thought it was a wardrobe of auroral attitudes
you could put on or take off as you wish
like smoke in a mirror
or a whisper of lingerie.

Sex with you was always a good day
and we had a lot of them
and that's how I ended up staying for six years.
That and the compassion I felt
for the tears of rage you would shed
like rain on the lava of a wounded volcano
that would pop up on the west coast without warning
and bury both of us like Pompey and Herculaneum
trying to grow geraniums on its harassed slopes
like the hippies who grew pot
on Mt. Saint Helen's
who aren't selling anymore.

I always thought you gave your love to someone
and that's what made it a gift
but you bestowed yours upon me
as if it were a right
I should be grateful to receive.
I was abolished from diplomatic lip-service
in the court of the mad queen
time and again
for things I didn't mean
even in my native language
that were just too insane to believe.
But the body endures.
The mind copes.
And despair and ashes to me
given the tragic optimist I am
are full of high hopes
like spiritual loveletters
in earthbound envelopes.

And just as I did then
when at least I taught you
what not to look for in a man
I hope you've found the simulacrum
of the real life you were looking for
and it's healed that crack in the mirror
that used to scar you like a black sail
on an empty horizon
waiting for cosmic news of the weather
that kept running you aground
like a widow on a beach
everytime the tide came in like providence
and left you just out of reach of yourself
like a wedding bouquet
the bride tossed away over her shoulder
without looking back.

As for me
things have gotten worse for the better over the years.
Swimming through quicksand.
Swimming through stone.
Impersonal revelations of intimate stars.
Sometimes the moon shows me
the fossils of the ancient oracles
she's pressed between the pages
of her darkest shales
like deep wounds
gashed in the matrix of space and time
that were the distant ancestors of us
who have survived the truth of their prophecies
like scars without a myth of origin.

I still end where I begin
like the black grammar of a white magician
answering for myself before my own inquisition
for heresies that were holy enough
to be condemned to the fire as proof
of their volatility.

Your blood was a watercolour.
Mine was an oil.
And red was the colour of pain.
I shook things off me
like water off the fur of a dog
that's just come ashore
on the far side of the river.
You ran in the rain
like a crazy ribbon
from the gifts you were given to give
and didn't know how to survive.
But wanting to live
isn't the same thing
as trying to stay alive
though they're the two ends
of the same telescope.
When despair becomes
the orthodoxy of the age
and sinks like a heavyweight
who threw the fight like Atlantis
when it lost its sea-legs
the only true protest is hope
and the abandoned courage of a bubble
expanding like the universe
to break the surface
in a rapture of aquatic freedom
and disappear into the new medium
of an evolving atmosphere with wings.

And sometimes it's hard
to remember the way things turned out
as if the certainties were brief weathervanes
of the good days that never came
and the doubts went on forever
looking for scapegoats they could blame
like the leftover smoke
of an extinguished candleflame.
And though I might be slow
I know I've been thorough over the years
in wishing you love and life
and laughter among friends.
So I've never summoned you by name
like a ghost to a seance of strangers
who think they know you better than I do
and make way too much of too many little things
that don't matter anymore.

I haven't swept the stars off my stairs in years.
And there are loveletters
piled up in the mailbox
that say I'm in arrears
and when the windows cry
as they sometimes still do
looking out over the vastness
of the view from here
at the solitary figures fading
into the landscape of their homelessness
I try to cheer them up
like a reflecting telescope
by getting them to look at the bright side of things
by exchanging their lenses for mirrors
the way love does
new lamps for old
when everything that's beautiful and lucid
disappears under a veil of rain
like old eyes looking out at the world
through the new tears of a stranger's pain
like a faithful death-wish that's come true again.

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Victor Hugo

Louis XVII (King Louis XVII)

Capet, éveille-toi


En ces temps-là, du ciel les portes d'or s'ouvrirent;
Du Saint des Saints ému les feux se découvrirent :
Tous les cieux un moment brillèrent dévoilés;
Et les élus voyaient, lumineuses phalanges,
Venir une jeune âme entre de jeunes anges
Sous les portiques étoilés.
C'était un bel enfant qui fuyait de la terre;—
Son oeil bleu du malheur portait le signe austère;
Ses blonds cheveux flottaient sur ses traits pâlissants;
Et les vierges du ciel, avec des chants de fête,
Aux palmes du Martyre unissaient sur sa tête
La couronne des Innocents.

On entendit des voix qui disaient dans la nue :
—' Jeune ange, Dieu sourit à ta gloire ingénue;
Viens, rentre dans ses bras pour ne plus en sortir;
Et vous, qui du Très-Haut racontez les louanges,
Séraphins, prophètes, archanges,
Courbez-vous, c'est un Roi; chantez, c'est un Martyr! '

—' Où donc ai-je régné, demandait la jeune ombre ?
Je suis un prisonnier, je ne suis point un roi.
Hier je m'endormis au fond d'une tour sombre.
Où donc ai-je régné ? Seigneur, dites-le-moi.
Hélas! mon père est mort d'une mort bien amère;
Ses bourreaux, ô mon Dieu, m'ont abreuvé de fiel;
Je suis un orphelin; je viens chercher ma mère,
Qu'en mes rêves j'ai vue au ciel. '

Les anges répondaient:—' Ton Sauveur te réclame.
Ton Dieu d'un monde impie a rappelé ton âme.
Fuis la terre insensée où l'on brise la Croix,
Où jusque dans la mort descend le Régicide,
Où le Meurtre, d 'horreurs avide,
Fouille dans les tombeaux pour y chercher des rois! '

—' Quoi! de ma lente vie ai-je achevé le reste ?
Disait-il; tous mes maux, les ai-je enfin soufferts ?
Est-il vrai qu'un geôlier, de ce rêve céleste,
Ne viendra pas demain m'éveiller dans mes fers ?
Captif, de mes tourments cherchant la fin prochaine,
J'ai prié; Dieu veut-il enfin me secourir ?
Oh! n'est-ce pas un songe ? a-t-il brisé ma chaine ?
Ai-je eu le bonheur de mourir ?

' Car vous ne savez point quelle était ma misère !
Chaque jour dans ma vie amenait des malheurs ;
Et lorsque je pleurais, je n'avais pas ma mère
Pour chanter à mes cris, pour sourire à mes pleurs.
D'un châtiment sans fin languissante victime,
De ma tige arraché comme un tendre arbrisseau,
J'étais proscrit bien jeune, et j'ignorais quel crime
J'avais commis dans mon berceau.

' Et pourtant, écoutez: bien loin dans ma mémoire,
J'ai d'heureux souvenirs avant ces temps d'effroi;
J'entendais en dormant des bruits confus de gloire,
Et des peuples joyeux veillaient autour de moi.
Un jour tout disparut dans un sombre mystère;
Je vis fuir l'avenir à mes destins promis;
Je n'étais qu'un enfant, faible et seul sur la terre,
Hélas! et j'eus des ennemis!

' Ils m'ont jeté vivant sous des murs funéraires;
Mes yeux voués aux pleurs n'ont plus vu le soleil;
Mais vous que je retrouve, anges du ciel, mes frères,
Vous m'avez visité souvent dans mon sommeil.
Mes jours se sont flétris dans leurs mains meurtrières,
Seigneur, mais les méchants sont toujours malheureux;
Oh! ne soyez pas sourd comme eux à mes prières,
Car je viens vous prier pour eux. '

Et les anges chantaient: -' L'arche à toi se dévoile,
Suis-nous; sur ton beau front nous mettrons une étoile.
Prends les ailes d'azur des chérubins vermeils;
Tu viendras avec nous bercer l'enfant qui pleure,
Ou, dans leur brûlante demeure,
D'un souffle lumineux rajeunir les soleils! '


Soudain le choeur cessa, les élus écoutèrent;
Il baissa son regard par les larmes terni;
Au fond des cieux muets les mondes s'arrêtèrent,
Et l'éternelle voix parla dans l'infini :
' O roi! je t'ai gardé loin des grandeurs humaines.
Tu t'es réfugié du trône dans les chaînes.
Va, mon fils, bénis tes revers.
Tu n'as point su des rois l'esclavage suprême,
Ton front du moins n'est pas meurtri du diadème,
Si tes bras sont meurtris de fers.

Enfant, tu t'es courbé sous le poids de la vie;
Et la terre, pourtant, d'espérance et d'envie
Avait entouré ton berceau!
Viens, ton Seigneur lui-même eut ses douleurs divines,
Et mon Fils, comme toi, Roi couronné d'épines,
Porta le sceptre de roseau! '

King Louis XVII

The golden gates were opened wide that day,
All through the unveiled heaven there seemed to play
Out of the Holiest of Holy, light;
And the elect beheld, crowd immortal,
A young soul, led up by young angels bright,
Stand in the starry portal.

A fair child fleeing from the world's fierce hate,
In his blue eye the shade of sorrow sate,
His golden hair hung all dishevelled down
On wasted cheeks that told a mournful story,
And angels twined him with the innocent's crown,
The martyr's palm of glory.

The virgin souls that to the Lamb are near,
Called through the clouds with voices heavenly clear,
'God hath prepared a glory for thy brow;
Rest in his arms, and all ye hosts that sing
His praised ever on untired string,
Chant, for a mortal comes among ye now;
Do homage,—'tis a king!'

And the pale shadow saith to God in heaven:
'I am an orphan and no king at all;
I was a weary prisoner yestereven.
My father's murderers fed my soul with gall.
Not me, O Lord! the regal name beseems.
Last night I fell asleep in dungeon drear,
But then I saw my mother in my dreams.
Say, shall I find her here?'

The angels said: 'Thy Saviour bids thee come;
Out of an impure world he calls thee home,
From the mad earth, where horrid murder waves
Over the broken cross her impure wings,
And regicides go down among the graves,
Scenting the blood of kings.'

He cries: 'Then have I finished my long life?
Are all its evils over, all its strife,
And will no cruel jailer evermore
Wake me to pain, this blissful vision o'er?
Is it no dream that nothing else remains
Of all my torments but this answered cry,
And have I had, O God! amid my chains,
The happiness to die?

'For none can tell what cause I had to pine,
What pangs, what miseries, each day were mine;
And when I wept there was no mother near
To soothe my cries, and smile away my tear.
Poor victim of a punishment unending,
Torn like a sapling from its mother-earth,
So young, I could not tell what crime impending
had stained me from my birth.

'Yet far off in dim memory, it seems,
With all its horror mingled happy dreams;
Strange cries of glory rocked my sleeping head,
And a glad people watched beside my bed.
One day into mysterious darkness thrown,
I saw the promise of my future close;
I was a little child, left all alone,
Alas! and I had foes.

'They cast me living in a dreary tomb;
Never mine eyes saw sunlight pierce the gloom.
Only ye, brother angels, used to sweep
Down from your heaven, and visit me in sleep.
'Neath blood-red hands my young life withered there.
Dear Lord, the bad are miserable all;
Be not thou deaf, like them, unto my prayer,—
It is for them I call.'

The angels sang: 'See heaven's high arch unfold!
Come, we will crown thee with the stars above,
Will give thee cherub-wings of blue and gold,
And thou shalt learn our ministry of love,
Shalt rock the cradle where some mother's tears
Are dropping o'er her restless little one,
Or, with thy luminous breath, in distant spheres,
Shalt kindle some cold sun.'

Ceased the full choir, all heaven was hushed to hear;
Bowed the fair face, still wet with many a tear;
In depths of space the rolling worlds were stayed
Whilst the Eternal in the infinite said,—

'O king, I kept thee far from human state,
Who hadst a dungeon only for thy throne,
O son! rejoice and bless they bitter fate,—
The slavery of kings thou hast not known.
What if thy wasted arms are bleeding yet,
And wounded with the fetter's cruel trace.
No earthly diadem has ever set
A stain upon thy face.

'Child, life and hope were with thee at thy birth;
But life soon bowed thy tender form to earth,
And hope forsook thee in thy hour of need.
Come, for thy Saviour had his pains divine;
Come, for his brow was crowned with thorns like thine;
His sceptre was a reed.'

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The Odyssey: Book 4

They reached the low lying city of Lacedaemon them where they
drove straight to the of abode Menelaus [and found him in his own
house, feasting with his many clansmen in honour of the wedding of his
son, and also of his daughter, whom he was marrying to the son of that
valiant warrior Achilles. He had given his consent and promised her to
him while he was still at Troy, and now the gods were bringing the
marriage about; so he was sending her with chariots and horses to
the city of the Myrmidons over whom Achilles' son was reigning. For
his only son he had found a bride from Sparta, daughter of Alector.
This son, Megapenthes, was born to him of a bondwoman, for heaven
vouchsafed Helen no more children after she had borne Hermione, who
was fair as golden Venus herself.
So the neighbours and kinsmen of Menelaus were feasting and making
merry in his house. There was a bard also to sing to them and play his
lyre, while two tumblers went about performing in the midst of them
when the man struck up with his tune.]
Telemachus and the son of Nestor stayed their horses at the gate,
whereon Eteoneus servant to Menelaus came out, and as soon as he saw
them ran hurrying back into the house to tell his Master. He went
close up to him and said, "Menelaus, there are some strangers come
here, two men, who look like sons of Jove. What are we to do? Shall we
take their horses out, or tell them to find friends elsewhere as
they best can?"
Menelaus was very angry and said, "Eteoneus, son of Boethous, you
never used to be a fool, but now you talk like a simpleton. Take their
horses out, of course, and show the strangers in that they may have
supper; you and I have stayed often enough at other people's houses
before we got back here, where heaven grant that we may rest in
peace henceforward."
So Eteoneus bustled back and bade other servants come with him. They
took their sweating hands from under the yoke, made them fast to the
mangers, and gave them a feed of oats and barley mixed. Then they
leaned the chariot against the end wall of the courtyard, and led
the way into the house. Telemachus and Pisistratus were astonished
when they saw it, for its splendour was as that of the sun and moon;
then, when they had admired everything to their heart's content,
they went into the bath room and washed themselves.
When the servants had washed them and anointed them with oil, they
brought them woollen cloaks and shirts, and the two took their seats
by the side of Menelaus. A maidservant brought them water in a
beautiful golden ewer, and poured it into a silver basin for them to
wash their hands; and she drew a clean table beside them. An upper
servant brought them bread, and offered them many good things of
what there was in the house, while the carver fetched them plates of
all manner of meats and set cups of gold by their side.
Menelaus then greeted them saying, "Fall to, and welcome; when you
have done supper I shall ask who you are, for the lineage of such
men as you cannot have been lost. You must be descended from a line of
sceptre-bearing kings, for poor people do not have such sons as you
On this he handed them a piece of fat roast loin, which had been set
near him as being a prime part, and they laid their hands on the
good things that were before them; as soon as they had had enough to
eat and drink, Telemachus said to the son of Nestor, with his head
so close that no one might hear, "Look, Pisistratus, man after my
own heart, see the gleam of bronze and gold- of amber, ivory, and
silver. Everything is so splendid that it is like seeing the palace of
Olympian Jove. I am lost in admiration."
Menelaus overheard him and said, "No one, my sons, can hold his
own with Jove, for his house and everything about him is immortal; but
among mortal men- well, there may be another who has as much wealth as
I have, or there may not; but at all events I have travelled much
and have undergone much hardship, for it was nearly eight years before
I could get home with my fleet. I went to Cyprus, Phoenicia and the
Egyptians; I went also to the Ethiopians, the Sidonians, and the
Erembians, and to Libya where the lambs have horns as soon as they are
born, and the sheep lamb down three times a year. Every one in that
country, whether master or man, has plenty of cheese, meat, and good
milk, for the ewes yield all the year round. But while I was
travelling and getting great riches among these people, my brother was
secretly and shockingly murdered through the perfidy of his wicked
wife, so that I have no pleasure in being lord of all this wealth.
Whoever your parents may be they must have told you about all this,
and of my heavy loss in the ruin of a stately mansion fully and
magnificently furnished. Would that I had only a third of what I now
have so that I had stayed at home, and all those were living who
perished on the plain of Troy, far from Argos. I of grieve, as I sit
here in my house, for one and all of them. At times I cry aloud for
sorrow, but presently I leave off again, for crying is cold comfort
and one soon tires of it. Yet grieve for these as I may, I do so for
one man more than for them all. I cannot even think of him without
loathing both food and sleep, so miserable does he make me, for no one
of all the Achaeans worked so hard or risked so much as he did. He
took nothing by it, and has left a legacy of sorrow to myself, for
he has been gone a long time, and we know not whether he is alive or
dead. His old father, his long-suffering wife Penelope, and his son
Telemachus, whom he left behind him an infant in arms, are plunged
in grief on his account."
Thus spoke Menelaus, and the heart of Telemachus yearned as he
bethought him of his father. Tears fell from his eyes as he heard
him thus mentioned, so that he held his cloak before his face with
both hands. When Menelaus saw this he doubted whether to let him
choose his own time for speaking, or to ask him at once and find
what it was all about.
While he was thus in two minds Helen came down from her high vaulted
and perfumed room, looking as lovely as Diana herself. Adraste brought
her a seat, Alcippe a soft woollen rug while Phylo fetched her the
silver work-box which Alcandra wife of Polybus had given her.
Polybus lived in Egyptian Thebes, which is the richest city in the
whole world; he gave Menelaus two baths, both of pure silver, two
tripods, and ten talents of gold; besides all this, his wife gave
Helen some beautiful presents, to wit, a golden distaff, and a
silver work-box that ran on wheels, with a gold band round the top
of it. Phylo now placed this by her side, full of fine spun yarn,
and a distaff charged with violet coloured wool was laid upon the
top of it. Then Helen took her seat, put her feet upon the
footstool, and began to question her husband.
"Do we know, Menelaus," said she, "the names of these strangers
who have come to visit us? Shall I guess right or wrong?-but I
cannot help saying what I think. Never yet have I seen either man or
woman so like somebody else (indeed when I look at him I hardly know
what to think) as this young man is like Telemachus, whom Ulysses left
as a baby behind him, when you Achaeans went to Troy with battle in
your hearts, on account of my most shameless self."
"My dear wife," replied Menelaus, "I see the likeness just as you
do. His hands and feet are just like Ulysses'; so is his hair, with
the shape of his head and the expression of his eyes. Moreover, when I
was talking about Ulysses, and saying how much he had suffered on my
account, tears fell from his eyes, and he hid his face in his mantle."
Then Pisistratus said, "Menelaus, son of Atreus, you are right in
thinking that this young man is Telemachus, but he is very modest, and
is ashamed to come here and begin opening up discourse with one
whose conversation is so divinely interesting as your own. My
father, Nestor, sent me to escort him hither, for he wanted to know
whether you could give him any counsel or suggestion. A son has always
trouble at home when his father has gone away leaving him without
supporters; and this is how Telemachus is now placed, for his father
is absent, and there is no one among his own people to stand by him."
"Bless my heart," replied Menelaus, "then I am receiving a visit
from the son of a very dear friend, who suffered much hardship for
my sake. I had always hoped to entertain him with most marked
distinction when heaven had granted us a safe return from beyond the
seas. I should have founded a city for him in Argos, and built him a
house. I should have made him leave Ithaca with his goods, his son,
and all his people, and should have sacked for them some one of the
neighbouring cities that are subject to me. We should thus have seen
one another continually, and nothing but death could have
interrupted so close and happy an intercourse. I suppose, however,
that heaven grudged us such great good fortune, for it has prevented
the poor fellow from ever getting home at all."
Thus did he speak, and his words set them all a weeping. Helen wept,
Telemachus wept, and so did Menelaus, nor could Pisistratus keep his
eyes from filling, when he remembered his dear brother Antilochus whom
the son of bright Dawn had killed. Thereon he said to Menelaus,
"Sir, my father Nestor, when we used to talk about you at home, told
me you were a person of rare and excellent understanding. If, then, it
be possible, do as I would urge you. I am not fond of crying while I
am getting my supper. Morning will come in due course, and in the
forenoon I care not how much I cry for those that are dead and gone.
This is all we can do for the poor things. We can only shave our heads
for them and wring the tears from our cheeks. I had a brother who died
at Troy; he was by no means the worst man there; you are sure to
have known him- his name was Antilochus; I never set eyes upon him
myself, but they say that he was singularly fleet of foot and in fight
"Your discretion, my friend," answered Menelaus, "is beyond your
years. It is plain you take after your father. One can soon see when a
man is son to one whom heaven has blessed both as regards wife and
offspring- and it has blessed Nestor from first to last all his
days, giving him a green old age in his own house, with sons about him
who are both we disposed and valiant. We will put an end therefore
to all this weeping, and attend to our supper again. Let water be
poured over our hands. Telemachus and I can talk with one another
fully in the morning."
On this Asphalion, one of the servants, poured water over their
hands and they laid their hands on the good things that were before
Then Jove's daughter Helen bethought her of another matter. She
drugged the wine with an herb that banishes all care, sorrow, and
ill humour. Whoever drinks wine thus drugged cannot shed a single tear
all the rest of the day, not even though his father and mother both of
them drop down dead, or he sees a brother or a son hewn in pieces
before his very eyes. This drug, of such sovereign power and virtue,
had been given to Helen by Polydamna wife of Thon, a woman of Egypt,
where there grow all sorts of herbs, some good to put into the
mixing-bowl and others poisonous. Moreover, every one in the whole
country is a skilled physician, for they are of the race of Paeeon.
When Helen had put this drug in the bowl, and had told the servants to
serve the wine round, she said:
"Menelaus, son of Atreus, and you my good friends, sons of
honourable men (which is as Jove wills, for he is the giver both of
good and evil, and can do what he chooses), feast here as you will,
and listen while I tell you a tale in season. I cannot indeed name
every single one of the exploits of Ulysses, but I can say what he did
when he was before Troy, and you Achaeans were in all sorts of
difficulties. He covered himself with wounds and bruises, dressed
himself all in rags, and entered the enemy's city looking like a
menial or a beggar. and quite different from what he did when he was
among his own people. In this disguise he entered the city of Troy,
and no one said anything to him. I alone recognized him and began to
question him, but he was too cunning for me. When, however, I had
washed and anointed him and had given him clothes, and after I had
sworn a solemn oath not to betray him to the Trojans till he had got
safely back to his own camp and to the ships, he told me all that
the Achaeans meant to do. He killed many Trojans and got much
information before he reached the Argive camp, for all which things
the Trojan women made lamentation, but for my own part I was glad, for
my heart was beginning to oam after my home, and I was unhappy about
wrong that Venus had done me in taking me over there, away from my
country, my girl, and my lawful wedded husband, who is indeed by no
means deficient either in person or understanding."
Then Menelaus said, "All that you have been saying, my dear wife, is
true. I have travelled much, and have had much to do with heroes,
but I have never seen such another man as Ulysses. What endurance too,
and what courage he displayed within the wooden horse, wherein all the
bravest of the Argives were lying in wait to bring death and
destruction upon the Trojans. At that moment you came up to us; some
god who wished well to the Trojans must have set you on to it and
you had Deiphobus with you. Three times did you go all round our
hiding place and pat it; you called our chiefs each by his own name,
and mimicked all our wives -Diomed, Ulysses, and I from our seats
inside heard what a noise you made. Diomed and I could not make up our
minds whether to spring out then and there, or to answer you from
inside, but Ulysses held us all in check, so we sat quite still, all
except Anticlus, who was beginning to answer you, when Ulysses clapped
his two brawny hands over his mouth, and kept them there. It was
this that saved us all, for he muzzled Anticlus till Minerva took
you away again."
"How sad," exclaimed Telemachus, "that all this was of no avail to
save him, nor yet his own iron courage. But now, sir, be pleased to
send us all to bed, that we may lie down and enjoy the blessed boon of
On this Helen told the maid servants to set beds in the room that
was in the gatehouse, and to make them with good red rugs, and
spread coverlets on the top of them with woollen cloaks for the guests
to wear. So the maids went out, carrying a torch, and made the beds,
to which a man-servant presently conducted the strangers. Thus,
then, did Telemachus and Pisistratus sleep there in the forecourt,
while the son of Atreus lay in an inner room with lovely Helen by
his side.
When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, Menelaus
rose and dressed himself. He bound his sandals on to his comely
feet, girded his sword about his shoulders, and left his room
looking like an immortal god. Then, taking a seat near Telemachus he
"And what, Telemachus, has led you to take this long sea voyage to
Lacedaemon? Are you on public or private business? Tell me all about
"I have come, sir replied Telemachus, "to see if you can tell me
anything about my father. I am being eaten out of house and home; my
fair estate is being wasted, and my house is full of miscreants who
keep killing great numbers of my sheep and oxen, on the pretence of
paying their addresses to my mother. Therefore, I am suppliant at your
knees if haply you may tell me about my father's melancholy end,
whether you saw it with your own eyes, or heard it from some other
traveller; for he was a man born to trouble. Do not soften things
out of any pity for myself, but tell me in all plainness exactly
what you saw. If my brave father Ulysses ever did you loyal service
either by word or deed, when you Achaeans were harassed by the
Trojans, bear it in mind now as in my favour and tell me truly all."
Menelaus on hearing this was very much shocked. "So," he
exclaimed, "these cowards would usurp a brave man's bed? A hind
might as well lay her new born young in the lair of a lion, and then
go off to feed in the forest or in some grassy dell: the lion when
he comes back to his lair will make short work with the pair of
them- and so will Ulysses with these suitors. By father Jove, Minerva,
and Apollo, if Ulysses is still the man that he was when he wrestled
with Philomeleides in Lesbos, and threw him so heavily that all the
Achaeans cheered him- if he is still such and were to come near
these suitors, they would have a short shrift and a sorry wedding.
As regards your questions, however, I will not prevaricate nor deceive
you, but will tell you without concealment all that the old man of the
sea told me.
"I was trying to come on here, but the gods detained me in Egypt,
for my hecatombs had not given them full satisfaction, and the gods
are very strict about having their dues. Now off Egypt, about as far
as a ship can sail in a day with a good stiff breeze behind her, there
is an island called Pharos- it has a good harbour from which vessels
can get out into open sea when they have taken in water- and the
gods becalmed me twenty days without so much as a breath of fair
wind to help me forward. We should have run clean out of provisions
and my men would have starved, if a goddess had not taken pity upon me
and saved me in the person of Idothea, daughter to Proteus, the old
man of the sea, for she had taken a great fancy to me.
"She came to me one day when I was by myself, as I often was, for
the men used to go with their barbed hooks, all over the island in the
hope of catching a fish or two to save them from the pangs of
hunger. 'Stranger,' said she, 'it seems to me that you like starving
in this way- at any rate it does not greatly trouble you, for you
stick here day after day, without even trying to get away though
your men are dying by inches.'
"'Let me tell you,' said I, 'whichever of the goddesses you may
happen to be, that I am not staying here of my own accord, but must
have offended the gods that live in heaven. Tell me, therefore, for
the gods know everything. which of the immortals it is that is
hindering me in this way, and tell me also how I may sail the sea so
as to reach my home.'
"'Stranger,' replied she, 'I will make it all quite clear to you.
There is an old immortal who lives under the sea hereabouts and
whose name is Proteus. He is an Egyptian, and people say he is my
father; he is Neptune's head man and knows every inch of ground all
over the bottom of the sea. If you can snare him and hold him tight,
he will tell you about your voyage, what courses you are to take,
and how you are to sail the sea so as to reach your home. He will also
tell you, if you so will, all that has been going on at your house
both good and bad, while you have been away on your long and dangerous
"'Can you show me,' said I, 'some stratagem by means of which I
may catch this old god without his suspecting it and finding me out?
For a god is not easily caught- not by a mortal man.'
"'Stranger,' said she, 'I will make it all quite clear to you. About
the time when the sun shall have reached mid heaven, the old man of
the sea comes up from under the waves, heralded by the West wind
that furs the water over his head. As soon as he has come up he lies
down, and goes to sleep in a great sea cave, where the seals-
Halosydne's chickens as they call them- come up also from the grey
sea, and go to sleep in shoals all round him; and a very strong and
fish-like smell do they bring with them. Early to-morrow morning I
will take you to this place and will lay you in ambush. Pick out,
therefore, the three best men you have in your fleet, and I will
tell you all the tricks that the old man will play you.
"'First he will look over all his seals, and count them; then,
when he has seen them and tallied them on his five fingers, he will go
to sleep among them, as a shepherd among his sheep. The moment you see
that he is asleep seize him; put forth all your strength and hold
him fast, for he will do his very utmost to get away from you. He will
turn himself into every kind of creature that goes upon the earth, and
will become also both fire and water; but you must hold him fast and
grip him tighter and tighter, till he begins to talk to you and
comes back to what he was when you saw him go to sleep; then you may
slacken your hold and let him go; and you can ask him which of the
gods it is that is angry with you, and what you must do to reach
your home over the seas.'
"Having so said she dived under the waves, whereon I turned back
to the place where my ships were ranged upon the shore; and my heart
was clouded with care as I went along. When I reached my ship we got
supper ready, for night was falling, and camped down upon the beach.
"When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, I took the
three men on whose prowess of all kinds I could most rely, and went
along by the sea-side, praying heartily to heaven. Meanwhile the
goddess fetched me up four seal skins from the bottom of the sea,
all of them just skinned, for she meant playing a trick upon her
father. Then she dug four pits for us to lie in, and sat down to
wait till we should come up. When we were close to her, she made us
lie down in the pits one after the other, and threw a seal skin over
each of us. Our ambuscade would have been intolerable, for the
stench of the fishy seals was most distressing- who would go to bed
with a sea monster if he could help it?-but here, too, the goddess
helped us, and thought of something that gave us great relief, for she
put some ambrosia under each man's nostrils, which was so fragrant
that it killed the smell of the seals.
"We waited the whole morning and made the best of it, watching the
seals come up in hundreds to bask upon the sea shore, till at noon the
old man of the sea came up too, and when he had found his fat seals he
went over them and counted them. We were among the first he counted,
and he never suspected any guile, but laid himself down to sleep as
soon as he had done counting. Then we rushed upon him with a shout and
seized him; on which he began at once with his old tricks, and changed
himself first into a lion with a great mane; then all of a sudden he
became a dragon, a leopard, a wild boar; the next moment he was
running water, and then again directly he was a tree, but we stuck
to him and never lost hold, till at last the cunning old creature
became distressed, and said, Which of the gods was it, Son of
Atreus, that hatched this plot with you for snaring me and seizing
me against my will? What do you want?'
"'You know that yourself, old man,' I answered, 'you will gain
nothing by trying to put me off. It is because I have been kept so
long in this island, and see no sign of my being able to get away. I
am losing all heart; tell me, then, for you gods know everything,
which of the immortals it is that is hindering me, and tell me also
how I may sail the sea so as to reach my home?'
"Then,' he said, 'if you would finish your voyage and get home
quickly, you must offer sacrifices to Jove and to the rest of the gods
before embarking; for it is decreed that you shall not get back to
your friends, and to your own house, till you have returned to the
heaven fed stream of Egypt, and offered holy hecatombs to the immortal
gods that reign in heaven. When you have done this they will let you
finish your voyage.'
"I was broken hearted when I heard that I must go back all that long
and terrible voyage to Egypt; nevertheless, I answered, 'I will do
all, old man, that you have laid upon me; but now tell me, and tell me
true, whether all the Achaeans whom Nestor and I left behind us when
we set sail from Troy have got home safely, or whether any one of them
came to a bad end either on board his own ship or among his friends
when the days of his fighting were done.'
"'Son of Atreus,' he answered, 'why ask me? You had better not
know what I can tell you, for your eyes will surely fill when you have
heard my story. Many of those about whom you ask are dead and gone,
but many still remain, and only two of the chief men among the
Achaeans perished during their return home. As for what happened on
the field of battle- you were there yourself. A third Achaean leader
is still at sea, alive, but hindered from returning. Ajax was wrecked,
for Neptune drove him on to the great rocks of Gyrae; nevertheless, he
let him get safe out of the water, and in spite of all Minerva's
hatred he would have escaped death, if he had not ruined himself by
boasting. He said the gods could not drown him even though they had
tried to do so, and when Neptune heard this large talk, he seized
his trident in his two brawny hands, and split the rock of Gyrae in
two pieces. The base remained where it was, but the part on which Ajax
was sitting fell headlong into the sea and carried Ajax with it; so he
drank salt water and was drowned.
"'Your brother and his ships escaped, for Juno protected him, but
when he was just about to reach the high promontory of Malea, he was
caught by a heavy gale which carried him out to sea again sorely
against his will, and drove him to the foreland where Thyestes used to
dwell, but where Aegisthus was then living. By and by, however, it
seemed as though he was to return safely after all, for the gods
backed the wind into its old quarter and they reached home; whereon
Agamemnon kissed his native soil, and shed tears of joy at finding
himself in his own country.
"'Now there was a watchman whom Aegisthus kept always on the
watch, and to whom he had promised two talents of gold. This man had
been looking out for a whole year to make sure that Agamemnon did
not give him the slip and prepare war; when, therefore, this man saw
Agamemnon go by, he went and told Aegisthus who at once began to lay a
plot for him. He picked twenty of his bravest warriors and placed them
in ambuscade on one side the cloister, while on the opposite side he
prepared a banquet. Then he sent his chariots and horsemen to
Agamemnon, and invited him to the feast, but he meant foul play. He
got him there, all unsuspicious of the doom that was awaiting him, and
killed him when the banquet was over as though he were butchering an
ox in the shambles; not one of Agamemnon's followers was left alive,
nor yet one of Aegisthus', but they were all killed there in the
"Thus spoke Proteus, and I was broken hearted as I heard him. I
sat down upon the sands and wept; I felt as though I could no longer
bear to live nor look upon the light of the sun. Presently, when I had
had my fill of weeping and writhing upon the ground, the old man of
the sea said, 'Son of Atreus, do not waste any more time in crying
so bitterly; it can do no manner of good; find your way home as fast
as ever you can, for Aegisthus be still alive, and even though Orestes
has beforehand with you in kilting him, you may yet come in for his
"On this I took comfort in spite of all my sorrow, and said, 'I
know, then, about these two; tell me, therefore, about the third man
of whom you spoke; is he still alive, but at sea, and unable to get
home? or is he dead? Tell me, no matter how much it may grieve me.'
"'The third man,' he answered, 'is Ulysses who dwells in Ithaca. I
can see him in an island sorrowing bitterly in the house of the
nymph Calypso, who is keeping him prisoner, and he cannot reach his
home for he has no ships nor sailors to take him over the sea. As
for your own end, Menelaus, you shall not die in Argos, but the gods
will take you to the Elysian plain, which is at the ends of the world.
There fair-haired Rhadamanthus reigns, and men lead an easier life
than any where else in the world, for in Elysium there falls not rain,
nor hail, nor snow, but Oceanus breathes ever with a West wind that
sings softly from the sea, and gives fresh life to all men. This
will happen to you because you have married Helen, and are Jove's
"As he spoke he dived under the waves, whereon I turned back to
the ships with my companions, and my heart was clouded with care as
I went along. When we reached the ships we got supper ready, for night
was falling, and camped down upon the beach. When the child of
morning, rosy-fingered Dawn appeared, we drew our ships into the
water, and put our masts and sails within them; then we went on
board ourselves, took our seats on the benches, and smote the grey sea
with our oars. I again stationed my ships in the heaven-fed stream
of Egypt, and offered hecatombs that were full and sufficient. When
I had thus appeased heaven's anger, I raised a barrow to the memory of
Agamemnon that his name might live for ever, after which I had a quick
passage home, for the gods sent me a fair wind.
"And now for yourself- stay here some ten or twelve days longer, and
I will then speed you on your way. I will make you a noble present
of a chariot and three horses. I will also give you a beautiful
chalice that so long as you live you may think of me whenever you make
a drink-offering to the immortal gods."
"Son of Atreus," replied Telemachus, "do not press me to stay
longer; I should be contented to remain with you for another twelve
months; I find your conversation so delightful that I should never
once wish myself at home with my parents; but my crew whom I have left
at Pylos are already impatient, and you are detaining me from them. As
for any present you may be disposed to make me, I had rather that it
should he a piece of plate. I will take no horses back with me to
Ithaca, but will leave them to adorn your own stables, for you have
much flat ground in your kingdom where lotus thrives, as also
meadowsweet and wheat and barley, and oats with their white and
spreading ears; whereas in Ithaca we have neither open fields nor
racecourses, and the country is more fit for goats than horses, and
I like it the better for that. None of our islands have much level
ground, suitable for horses, and Ithaca least of all."
Menelaus smiled and took Telemachus's hand within his own. "What you
say," said he, "shows that you come of good family. I both can, and
will, make this exchange for you, by giving you the finest and most
precious piece of plate in all my house. It is a mixing-bowl by
Vulcan's own hand, of pure silver, except the rim, which is inlaid
with gold. Phaedimus, king of the Sidonians, gave it me in the
course of a visit which I paid him when I returned thither on my
homeward journey. I will make you a present of it."
Thus did they converse [and guests kept coming to the king's
house. They brought sheep and wine, while their wives had put up bread
for them to take with them; so they were busy cooking their dinners in
the courts].
Meanwhile the suitors were throwing discs or aiming with spears at a
mark on the levelled ground in front of Ulysses' house, and were
behaving with all their old insolence. Antinous and Eurymachus, who
were their ringleaders and much the foremost among them all, were
sitting together when Noemon son of Phronius came up and said to
"Have we any idea, Antinous, on what day Telemachus returns from
Pylos? He has a ship of mine, and I want it, to cross over to Elis:
I have twelve brood mares there with yearling mule foals by their side
not yet broken in, and I want to bring one of them over here and break
They were astounded when they heard this, for they had made sure
that Telemachus had not gone to the city of Neleus. They thought he
was only away somewhere on the farms, and was with the sheep, or
with the swineherd; so Antinous said, "When did he go? Tell me
truly, and what young men did he take with him? Were they freemen or
his own bondsmen- for he might manage that too? Tell me also, did
you let him have the ship of your own free will because he asked
you, or did he take it without yourleave?"
"I lent it him," answered Noemon, "what else could I do when a man
of his position said he was in a difficulty, and asked me to oblige
him? I could not possibly refuse. As for those who went with him
they were the best young men we have, and I saw Mentor go on board
as captain- or some god who was exactly like him. I cannot
understand it, for I saw Mentor here myself yesterday morning, and yet
he was then setting out for Pylos."
Noemon then went back to his father's house, but Antinous and
Eurymachus were very angry. They told the others to leave off playing,
and to come and sit down along with themselves. When they came,
Antinous son of Eupeithes spoke in anger. His heart was black with
rage, and his eyes flashed fire as he said:
"Good heavens, this voyage of Telemachus is a very serious matter;
we had made sure that it would come to nothing, but the young fellow
has got away in spite of us, and with a picked crew too. He will be
giving us trouble presently; may Jove take him before he is full
grown. Find me a ship, therefore, with a crew of twenty men, and I
will lie in wait for him in the straits between Ithaca and Samos; he
will then rue the day that he set out to try and get news of his
Thus did he speak, and the others applauded his saying; they then
all of them went inside the buildings.
It was not long ere Penelope came to know what the suitors were
plotting; for a man servant, Medon, overheard them from outside the
outer court as they were laying their schemes within, and went to tell
his mistress. As he crossed the threshold of her room Penelope said:
"Medon, what have the suitors sent you here for? Is it to tell the
maids to leave their master's business and cook dinner for them? I
wish they may neither woo nor dine henceforward, neither here nor
anywhere else, but let this be the very last time, for the waste you
all make of my son's estate. Did not your fathers tell you when you
were children how good Ulysses had been to them- never doing
anything high-handed, nor speaking harshly to anybody? Kings may say
things sometimes, and they may take a fancy to one man and dislike
another, but Ulysses never did an unjust thing by anybody- which shows
what bad hearts you have, and that there is no such thing as gratitude
left in this world."
Then Medon said, "I wish, Madam, that this were all; but they are
plotting something much more dreadful now- may heaven frustrate
their design. They are going to try and murder Telemachus as he is
coming home from Pylos and Lacedaemon, where he has been to get news
of his father."
Then Penelope's heart sank within her, and for a long time she was
speechless; her eyes filled with tears, and she could find no
utterance. At last, however, she said, "Why did my son leave me?
What business had he to go sailing off in ships that make long voyages
over the ocean like sea-horses? Does he want to die without leaving
any one behind him to keep up his name?"
"I do not know," answered Medon, "whether some god set him on to it,
or whether he went on his own impulse to see if he could find out if
his father was dead, or alive and on his way home."
Then he went downstairs again, leaving Penelope in an agony of
grief. There were plenty of seats in the house, but she. had no
heart for sitting on any one of them; she could only fling herself
on the floor of her own room and cry; whereon all the maids in the
house, both old and young, gathered round her and began to cry too,
till at last in a transport of sorrow she exclaimed,
"My dears, heaven has been pleased to try me with more affliction
than any other woman of my age and country. First I lost my brave
and lion-hearted husband, who had every good quality under heaven, and
whose name was great over all Hellas and middle Argos, and now my
darling son is at the mercy of the winds and waves, without my
having heard one word about his leaving home. You hussies, there was
not one of you would so much as think of giving me a call out of my
bed, though you all of you very well knew when he was starting. If I
had known he meant taking this voyage, he would have had to give it
up, no matter how much he was bent upon it, or leave me a corpse
behind him- one or other. Now, however, go some of you and call old
Dolius, who was given me by my father on my marriage, and who is my
gardener. Bid him go at once and tell everything to Laertes, who may
be able to hit on some plan for enlisting public sympathy on our side,
as against those who are trying to exterminate his own race and that
of Ulysses."
Then the dear old nurse Euryclea said, "You may kill me, Madam, or
let me live on in your house, whichever you please, but I will tell
you the real truth. I knew all about it, and gave him everything he
wanted in the way of bread and wine, but he made me take my solemn
oath that I would not tell you anything for some ten or twelve days,
unless you asked or happened to hear of his having gone, for he did
not want you to spoil your beauty by crying. And now, Madam, wash your
face, change your dress, and go upstairs with your maids to offer
prayers to Minerva, daughter of Aegis-bearing Jove, for she can save
him even though he be in the jaws of death. Do not trouble Laertes: he
has trouble enough already. Besides, I cannot think that the gods hate
die race of the race of the son of Arceisius so much, but there will
be a son left to come up after him, and inherit both the house and the
fair fields that lie far all round it."
With these words she made her mistress leave off crying, and dried
the tears from her eyes. Penelope washed her face, changed her
dress, and went upstairs with her maids. She then put some bruised
barley into a basket and began praying to Minerva.
"Hear me," she cried, "Daughter of Aegis-bearing Jove,
unweariable. If ever Ulysses while he was here burned you fat thigh
bones of sheep or heifer, bear it in mind now as in my favour, and
save my darling son from the villainy of the suitors."
She cried aloud as she spoke, and the goddess heard her prayer;
meanwhile the suitors were clamorous throughout the covered
cloister, and one of them said:
"The queen is preparing for her marriage with one or other of us.
Little does she dream that her son has now been doomed to die."
This was what they said, but they did not know what was going to
happen. Then Antinous said, "Comrades, let there be no loud talking,
lest some of it get carried inside. Let us be up and do that in
silence, about which we are all of a mind."
He then chose twenty men, and they went down to their. ship and to
the sea side; they drew the vessel into the water and got her mast and
sails inside her; they bound the oars to the thole-pins with twisted
thongs of leather, all in due course, and spread the white sails
aloft, while their fine servants brought them their armour. Then
they made the ship fast a little way out, came on shore again, got
their suppers, and waited till night should fall.
But Penelope lay in her own room upstairs unable to eat or drink,
and wondering whether her brave son would escape, or be overpowered by
the wicked suitors. Like a lioness caught in the toils with huntsmen
hemming her in on every side she thought and thought till she sank
into a slumber, and lay on her bed bereft of thought and motion.
Then Minerva bethought her of another matter, and made a vision in
the likeness of Penelope's sister Iphthime daughter of Icarius who had
married Eumelus and lived in Pherae. She told the vision to go to
the house of Ulysses, and to make Penelope leave off crying, so it
came into her room by the hole through which the thong went for
pulling the door to, and hovered over her head, saying,
"You are asleep, Penelope: the gods who live at ease will not suffer
you to weep and be so sad. Your son has done them no wrong, so he will
yet come back to you."
Penelope, who was sleeping sweetly at the gates of dreamland,
answered, "Sister, why have you come here? You do not come very often,
but I suppose that is because you live such a long way off. Am I,
then, to leave off crying and refrain from all the sad thoughts that
torture me? I, who have lost my brave and lion-hearted husband, who
had every good quality under heaven, and whose name was great over all
Hellas and middle Argos; and now my darling son has gone off on
board of a ship- a foolish fellow who has never been used to
roughing it, nor to going about among gatherings of men. I am even
more anxious about him than about my husband; I am all in a tremble
when I think of him, lest something should happen to him, either
from the people among whom he has gone, or by sea, for he has many
enemies who are plotting against him, and are bent on killing him
before he can return home."
Then the vision said, "Take heart, and be not so much dismayed.
There is one gone with him whom many a man would be glad enough to
have stand by his side, I mean Minerva; it is she who has compassion
upon you, and who has sent me to bear you this message."
"Then," said Penelope, "if you are a god or have been sent here by
divine commission, tell me also about that other unhappy one- is he
still alive, or is he already dead and in the house of Hades?"
And the vision said, "I shall not tell you for certain whether he is
alive or dead, and there is no use in idle conversation."
Then it vanished through the thong-hole of the door and was
dissipated into thin air; but Penelope rose from her sleep refreshed
and comforted, so vivid had been her dream.
Meantime the suitors went on board and sailed their ways over the
sea, intent on murdering Telemachus. Now there is a rocky islet called
Asteris, of no great size, in mid channel between Ithaca and Samos,
and there is a harbour on either side of it where a ship can lie. Here
then the Achaeans placed themselves in ambush.

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Long Shadows Grow

Here I sit alone
with only ghosts from the past
to keep me company.
Memories of those
who I will never see again.
I sit and tell them
all my ills and woes;
it’s comforting in the silence
as the long shadows grow.
I tell them how my life has changed
since they went away
and that I hope to see them again
when it is my time to go.
They don’t answer me
like they used to do,
still it is comforting
as the hours pass on their way.
Just sitting here chatting
like I used to do
late into the evening tide
as the long shadows grow.

17 October 2009

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At Times You Are Full Of Love (Rondeau)

At times you are full of love and you treat me kind
and I easily follow your state of mind,
fall under your charming spell
and although I know you well,
broken things do me of your anger remind.

There are so many things that to you I want to tell,
the depths of your soul at times I want to find
and I hate it when you scream and yell;
at times you are full of love.

I love you too much to leave you behind
but at times on your teeth you do grind
and at times you treat my like hell,
yet at other times you are like a fragile shell
and my whole life to you I want to bind;
at times you are full of love.

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Just ‘Human

Of past ‘incomplete'
Sweet memory
Chained their ‘lives'
As they
Dreamt about
As they
Long' desired

Fire and fire
Ignited hidden
Love and glory
Long forgotten
In a ‘childhood' story
Emotional illness
Barbed wire

Fire and fire
Youthful wanted
The young 'grow'
But they
‘Soon' later
‘Old' ‘Lonely' ‘Sick'
Earning the human title

Fire and fire
Born to live
Born to die
Born for a purpose
Easily forgotten
But realisation
Could happen
Once in a while
But only when
They silence
Their earthly
As and when
In control
When and how
They consciously

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Some Heads Are Gonna Roll

You can look to the left and
Look to the right
But you will live in danger tonite
When the enemy comes he will
Never be heard
Hell blow your mind and not say a word
Blinding lights--flashing colors
Sleepless nights
If the man with the power
Cant keep it under control
Some heads are gonna roll
Some heads are gonna roll
The power-mad freaks who are
Ruling the earth
Will show how little they think youre worth
With animal lust theyll
Devour your life
And slice your word to bits like a knife
One last day burning hell fire
Youre blown away
If the man with the power
Cant keep it under control
Some heads are gonna roll
Some heads are gonna roll
Know what its like
When youre taken for granted
There goes your life
Its so underhanded
If the man with the power
Cant keep it under control
Some heads are gonna roll
Some heads are gonna roll

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Angels Have Fallen

Angels have fallen, fallen from heaven, where did they go
No one could save them no one forgave them their chance to know
When I hear them below I think how it is to be weary
Children are restless they know what can happen when men are vain
Talking in riddles won't keep them from knowing you've gone insane
They know a few will try to gain by trying to live like their teachers
Save me for now, save me forever
Hold me so close, I can't bear to go
There's darkness around me or is it within me
You're living forever, I'm dying so slow
Inside a window that leads to your conscience you'll see, you'll hear
People are talking maybe you know them, they know you're near
Masking themselves from fear and asking themselves who their friends are
Well you say that you've been here in this life and time
You say it's no good here, but you say that so fine
You reach for your winnings, an angelic excuse
Round them you act humble, still you never refuse
You better tell all your people to watch for a sign
Make them glad they are living in this life and time
The angels have fallen, they've all gone away
It's you that must find them by living each day

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One God Cares For You, The Other Is So Great He Could Careless

There are two kinds of Gods, one is always making creations, life, creatures, beings, consciousness, and going on without looking back, creating even more spectacular creations, universes, multiverses, ever greater complex life forms one more fantastic than the other.

There is another sort of God, one that creates a universe but gives a ram about the beings he created. This God is there, this god stays with his creatures, with her beings as they struggle, as they strive, he gives them space and the ability to co-create with her. The other god, could care less, he has other better universes and forms of life to make.

in this universe in our life now, these two gods are fighting it out, in our life now we are fighting it out with them as well. Do you want the greatness of the narcissistic God of cold selfish greatness. What a price you pay for being like this god or worshipping this god. He just made you to prove to himself how great he is, or do you align your self up with the God that gives a tam about you, he made you because she wanted to share herself and all of creation with you,

What is your choice let me know and why, it says a lot about who you are.

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Life Goes On

A friend of mine just had a real bad time.
You see, his life was shattered and he lost his mind.
His girl ran off along with his best friend,
And through emotional stress he brought his life to an end.
It was such a tragedy,
But thats the way its got to be.
Life goes on.
Life goes on.
It happens evry day.
So appreciate what you got
Before its taken away.
Life will hit you
When youre unprepared,
So be grateful and take all
That you can while youre there.
Get that frown off your head,
cause youre a long time dead.
Life goes on and on and on.
Life goes on and on and on.
No use runnin round lookin scared,
Life could get you when youre unaware.
One day its gonna come, so you better accept it.
Life will hit you when you least expect it.
And one day when you are gone,
You know that life will still go on.
But no onell care if youve been good, bad, right or wrong.
Life will still go on.
My bank went broke and my well ran dry.
It was almost enough to contemplate suicide.
I turned on the gas, but I soon realized
I hadnt settled my bill so they cut off my supply.
No matter how I try, it seems Im too young to die.
Life goes on and on and on.
Life goes on and on and on.
Tornado, cyclone and hurricane
Can batter the houses with the thunder and rain.
Blizzards can blow; the waves hit the shore,
But the people recover and come back for more.
Somehow the people fight back, even the future looks black.
Life goes on and on and on.
Life goes on and on and on.

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Childlike Wildlife

Well I guess I'll treat her right
I guess I'll treat her right more this time
I'll try not to rely
Try not to rely on the perfect line
And I see no boundaries
Except for the ones I'm in
And I don't expect you to overcome them
For that's my job description
In a world of players and private eyes
Unless you realize this
There's a whole lot you could miss
Do you know which one I am
I am the cigarette smoking man
Once an hour I light the flower
And burn baby burn
When is it your turn
Lord tell me when the sun goes down
Cause I feel much better then anyway
Well I see much much better then anyway
Well I feel exposed
Although I feel at home
Dressed as a black plastic rose
All flowing head shoulders knees and toes
We dance, we dance, we play, we rant and rave
Oh this childlike wildlife is flooring me
Oh this childlike wildlife is flooring me
Early in the morning
Late in the evening
Evening, we kinda get delirious
Breaking from the seriousness
I try not to get disoriented
Having chewed too many up on my side
Is it any wonder how I miss your smile
Is it any wonder how I write
Pages layered upon pages
Which to no one else but me can be accounted for
For this moments sake
I do not become me
For path tunnels or straightaways
I do not watch as often as I should
So instead I sketch my life a comfortable creature
Slow and beautifully
Oh the smell and tastes of the past nights
Well they're still locked up in my gentle jaw
Not that I am wanting them to go
Just that they are
And I'm very much aware
The madness of slow motion as you move your legs to walk
I'm very

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A Little Turtle Called Muddle

There was a little turtle
and his name was Muddle
because at times he got confused
could not remember if he was
a tortoise or a turtle.

Had Muddle been brought up
in the wild
he would not have been confused,
but he was brought up in captivity
and now he was not sure what he was suppose to be.

Now Muddle lived a sheltered life.
He had no friends or playmates
to keep him company.
Then one day in his glass cage,
his owners put in someone new.
Now he had someone to talk to.

The newcomer stayed in his shell
afraid to come out. He felt safe in there,
thinking no one could see him
when he was
tucked inside his shell.

Muddle moved up to him
and nudged him with his shell.
“Have you gone to sleep in there? ”
Muddle asked as turtles do.
“Come on out,
no one is going to hurt you.”

The stranger poked his head out
and gave a look around.
“Who are you? ” he asked.
“My name is Muddle. What is your name? ”
“My name is Timmy
because I’m rather timid.”

After their introductions,
Muddle and Timmy
settled in for a long chat.
They talked to on another
between little snacks,
from sunrise to sunset.

Now Muddle had his company,
someone he always wanted,
and Timmy had a friend too.
They both lived together happily
and as they grew older
Muddle found he wasn’t Muddle at all.

As it turned out
Muddle was not Muddle,
But Marianne.
He was not a boy, but a little girl.
Now Marianne and Timmy
live together happily.

They are hoping for
the patter of little feet
in the not to distant future
as they start their family
and live happily ever after.

6 - 7 May 2008

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An American Poem

I was born in Boston in
1949. I never wanted
this fact to be known, in
fact I've spent the better
half of my adult life
trying to sweep my early
years under the carpet
and have a life that
was clearly just mine
and independent of
the historic fate of
my family. Can you
imagine what it was
like to be one of them,
to be built like them,
to talk like them
to have the benefits
of being born into such
a wealthy and powerful
American family. I went
to the best schools,
had all kinds of tutors
and trainers, traveled
widely, met the famous,
the controversial, and
the not-so-admirable
and I knew from
a very early age that
if there were ever any
possibility of escaping
the collective fate of this famous
Boston family I would
take that route and
I have. I hopped
on an Amtrak to New
York in the early
‘70s and I guess
you could say
my hidden years
began. I thought
Well I'll be a poet.
What could be more
foolish and obscure.
I became a lesbian.
Every woman in my
family looks like
a dyke but it's really
stepping off the flag
when you become one.
While holding this ignominious
pose I have seen and
I have learned and
I am beginning to think
there is no escaping
history. A woman I
am currently having
an affair with said
you know you look
like a Kennedy. I felt
the blood rising in my
cheeks. People have
always laughed at
my Boston accent
confusing "large" for
"lodge," "party"
for "potty." But
when this unsuspecting
woman invoked for
the first time my
family name
I knew the jig
was up. Yes, I am,
I am a Kennedy.
My attempts to remain
obscure have not served
me well. Starting as
a humble poet I
quickly climbed to the
top of my profession
assuming a position of
leadership and honor.
It is right that a
woman should call
me out now. Yes,
I am a Kennedy.
And I await
your orders.
You are the New Americans.
The homeless are wandering
the streets of our nation's
greatest city. Homeless
men with AIDS are among
them. Is that right?
That there are no homes
for the homeless, that
there is no free medical
help for these men. And women.
That they get the message
—as they are dying—
that this is not their home?
And how are your
teeth today? Can
you afford to fix them?
How high is your rent?
If art is the highest
and most honest form
of communication of
our times and the young
artist is no longer able
to move here to speak
to her time…Yes, I could,
but that was 15 years ago
and remember—as I must
I am a Kennedy.
Shouldn't we all be Kennedys?
This nation's greatest city
is home of the business-
man and home of the
rich artist. People with
beautiful teeth who are not
on the streets. What shall
we do about this dilemma?
Listen, I have been educated.
I have learned about Western
Civilization. Do you know
what the message of Western
Civilization is? I am alone.
Am I alone tonight?
I don't think so. Am I
the only one with bleeding gums
tonight. Am I the only
homosexual in this room
tonight. Am I the only
one whose friends have
died, are dying now.
And my art can't
be supported until it is
gigantic, bigger than
everyone else's, confirming
the audience's feeling that they are
alone. That they alone
are good, deserved
to buy the tickets
to see this Art.
Are working,
are healthy, should
survive, and are
normal. Are you
normal tonight? Everyone
here, are we all normal.
It is not normal for
me to be a Kennedy.
But I am no longer
ashamed, no longer
alone. I am not
alone tonight because
we are all Kennedys.
And I am your President.

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John Dryden

Heroic Stanzas

Consecrated to the Glorious Memory of His
Most Serene and Renowned Highness, Oliver,
Late Lord Protector of This Commonwealth, etc.
Written After the Celebration of his Funeral


And now 'tis time; for their officious haste,
Who would before have borne him to the sky,
Like eager Romans ere all rites were past
Did let too soon the sacred eagle fly.


Though our best notes are treason to his fame
Join'd with the loud applause of public voice;
Since Heav'n, what praise we offer to his name,
Hath render'd too authentic by its choice;


Though in his praise no arts can liberal be,
Since they whose Muses have the highest flown
Add not to his immortal memory,
But do an act of friendship to their own;


Yet 'tis our duty and our interest too
Such monuments as we can build to raise,
Lest all the world prevent what we should do
And claim a title in him by their praise.


How shall I then begin, or where conclude
To draw a fame so truly circular?
For in a round what order can be shew'd,
Where all the parts so equal perfect are?


His grandeur he deriv'd from Heav'n alone,
For he was great ere fortune made him so,
And wars like mists that rise against the sun
Made him but greater seem, not greater grown.


No borrow'd bays his temples did adorn,
But to our crown he did fresh jewels bring.
Nor was his virtue poison'd soon as born
With the too early thoughts of being king.


Fortune (that easy mistress of the young
But to her ancient servant coy and hard)
Him at that age her favorites rank'd among
When she her best-lov'd Pompey did discard.


He, private, mark'd the faults of others' sway,
And set as sea-marks for himself to shun,
Not like rash monarchs who their youth betray
By acts their age too late would wish undone.


And yet dominion was not his design;
We owe that blessing not to him but Heaven,
Which to fair acts unsought rewards did join,
Rewards that less to him than us were given.


Our former chiefs like sticklers of the war
First sought t'inflame the parties, then to poise,
The quarrel lov'd, but did the cause abhor,
And did not strike to hurt but make a noise.


War, our consumption, was their gainfull trade;
We inward bled whilst they prolong'd our pain;
He fought to end our fighting and assay'd
To stanch the blood by breathing of the vein.


Swift and resistless through the land he pass'd
Like that bold Greek who did the east subdue,
And made to battles such heroic haste
As if on wings of victory he flew.


He fought secure of fortune as of fame,
Till by new maps the island might be shown,
Of conquests which he strew'd where'er he came
Thick as a galaxy with stars is sown.


His palms, though under weights they did not stand,
Still thriv'd; no winter could his laurels fade;
Heav'n in his portrait shew'd a workman's hand
And drew it perfect yet without a shade.


Peace was the prize of all his toils and care,
Which war had banish'd and did now restore;
Bologna's walls thus mounted in the air
To seat themselves more surely than before.


Her safety rescu'd Ireland to him owes,
And treacherous Scotland, to no int'rest true,
Yet bless'd that fate which did his arms dispose
Her land to civilize as to subdue.


Nor was he like those stars which only shine
When to pale mariners they storms portend;
He had his calmer influence, and his mien
Did love and majesty together blend.


'Tis true, his count'nance did imprint an awe,
And naturally all souls to his did bow,
As wands of divination downward draw
And points to beds where sov'reign gold doth grow.


When past all offerings to Feretrian Jove,
He Mars depos'd and arms to gowns made yield;
Successful councils did him soon approve
As fit for close intrigues as open field.


To suppliant Holland he vouchsaf'd a peace,
Our once bold rival in the British main,
Now tamely glad her unjust claim to cease
And buy our friendship with her idol, gain.


Fame of th' asserted sea through Europe blown
Made France and Spain ambitious of his love;
Each knew that side must conquer he would own,
And for him fiercely as for empire strove.


No sooner was the Frenchman's cause embrac'd
Than the light monsieur the grave don outweigh'd;
His fortune turn'd the scale where it was cast,
Though Indian mines were in the other laid.


When absent, yet we conquer'd in his right,
For though some meaner artist's skill were shown
In mingling colours, or in placing light,
Yet still the fair designment was his own.


For from all tempers he could service draw;
The worth of each with its alloy he knew,
And as the confidant of Nature saw
How she complexions did divide and brew.


Or he their single virtues did survey
By intuition in his own large breast,
Where all the rich ideas of them lay,
That were the rule and measure to the rest.


When such heroic virtue Heav'n sets out,
The stars like Commons sullenly obey,
Because it drains them when it comes about,
And therefore is a tax they seldom pay.


From this high spring our foreign conquests flow,
Which yet more glorious triumphs do portend,
Since their commencement to his arms they owe,
If springs as high as fountains may ascend.


He made us freemen of the continent
Whom Nature did like captives treat before,
To nobler preys the English lion sent,
And taught him first in Belgian walks to roar.


That old unquestion'd pirate of the land,
Proud Rome, with dread the fate of Dunkirk heard,
And trembling wish'd behind more Alps to stand,
Although an Alexander were here guard.


By his command we boldly cross'd the line
And bravely fought where southern stars arise,
We trac'd the far-fetch'd gold unto the mine
And that which brib'd our fathers made our prize.


Such was our prince; yet own'd a soul above
The highest acts it could produce to show:
Thus poor mechanic arts in public move
Whilst the deep secrets beyond practice go.


Nor di'd he when his ebbing fame went less,
But when fresh laurels courted him to live;
He seem'd but to prevent some new success,
As if above what triumphs earth could give.


His latest victories still thickest came,
As near the center motion does increase,
Till he, press'd down by his own weighty name,
Did, like the vestal, under spoils decrease.


But first the ocean as a tribute sent
That giant prince of all her watery herd,
And th' isle when her protecting genius went
Upon his obsequies loud sighs conferr'd.


No civil broils have since his death arose,
But faction now by habit does obey,
And wars have that respect for his repose,
As winds for halycons when they breed at sea.


His ashes in a peaceful urn shall rest;
His name a great example stands to show
How strangely high endeavours may be blest,
Where piety and valour jointly go.

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The Menologium. (Preface To The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles)

in midwinter, mighty prince,
eternal, almighty, on the eighth day,
Healer, called, heaven's ward;
so at the same time singing praises
countless folk begin the year,
for the awaited time comes to town,
the first month, famous January.
Five nights later the Lord's baptism,
and eternal God's epiphany comes;
the twelve-days' time to blessed men known,
by us in Britain called Twelfthnight.
Four weeks later February falls,
Sol-month brighter settles in town,
a month minus two days;
so February's way was reckoned by the wise,
One night more is Mary's mass,
the King's mother; for on that day Christ,
the child of the Ruler, she revealed in the temple.
After five nights winter was fared,
and after seventeen he suffered death:
the Saviour's man, great Matthew,
when spring has come to stay in town.
And to the folk after five nights
-- unless it is Leap Year, when it comes one night later --
by his cold clothes of frost and hail
wild March is known throughout the world,
Hlyda-month, blowing loud,
Eleven nights later, holy and noble,
Gregory shone in God's service,
honoured in Britain. So Benedict,
nine nights passing, sought the Preserver,
the resolute man celebrated in writings
by men under his rule. So the wise in reckoning
at that time count the equinox,
because, wielding power, God at the beginning
made on the same day sun and moon.
Four nights after the Father
sent the equinox, his archangel announced
the mighty salvation to great Mary,
that she the Shaper of all should bear
bring to birth the best of kings,
as it was widely told through the world;
that was a great destiny delivered to us.
So after seven nights the Saviour sends
the month of April, most often bringing
the mighty time of comfort to mankind,
the Lord's resurrection, when joy is rightly
celebrated everywhere, as that wise one sang:
'This is the day which the Lord hath made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.'
Nor may we hold that time by tally
of a length of days, nor the Lord's
ascension to heaven, for always it changes
within the rules known to the wise man,
old in winters; in the cycle
he can with craft find the holy days.
The martyrs' memory we must yet recount,
say in words, sing with wisdom,
that after nineteen nights and five
from Easter's blessed coming to us,
men begin to raise the relics,
holy treasures; that is a high day,
when Rogation is held. Quickly to men's homes,
six nights further in the fine gear,
in groves and flowers comes glorious, shining,
strongly to men as it must,
the fulness of May through many lands.
On the same day the noble disciples
Philip and James gave up their lives,
mighty warriors, for the maker's love.
After two nights was taken by God
to blessed Helen the noblest of beams,
on which lay suffering the Lord of angels
for love of man, the maker on a gallows
by the Father's leave. After the first week
minus one night, to men are brought
sun-bright days by summer to town,
warm weather. Woods and fields as soon
bloom and blossom; so beauty is called up
over middle-earth, as in his manner
each kind of creature declares the King's love,
the Almighty's. After eight nights
and days turning, the Lord took up
Augustine into the other light,
embraced the blessed man who in Britain
gladly inspired men's obedience
within the will of God as wise Gregory bade.
Nor have I heard before of a better man
anywhere bringing better teaching,
a more celebrated bishop over the sea;
by the king's seat in Kent he rests near the church
after six long days the month draws near,
earlier by us called Litha,
now called June, and the gem rises
in the heavens the highest in the year,
then sinks from his place and sets;
he will not for long travel late,
the fairest light over the fields.
After thirteen nights and ten the glorious thane
loved by the Lord, John the Baptist, was born,
whom we celebrate in midsummer.
And widely it is held throughout the world,
widely honoured as well it should be,
that holy day in the homes of men,
when Peter and Paul the apostles,
loyal servants, suffered in Rome
five nights on from midsummer's day
glorious martyrdom; miracles they worked,
many for men among the nations,
countless, manifest and clear through the Maker's Son.
Then after two nights, timely to us,
comes July, in which James
on the twenty-fourth night took up his life,
wise and truthful, teacher of the people,
Zebedee's son. Summer on the seventh night
brings the weed-month brightly to town;
everywhere August comes to the earth,
and Lammas-time. Later coming,
one week minus one day,
is high autumn, heavy with harvest;
then wealth is found that is fair on earth.
On the third day the glorious deacon
was martyred and went forth, mighty man,
Lawrence, who now has life
with the wonder-Father in reward for his works.
After five nights the fairest of virgins,
the wondrous woman, went to the God of hosts
for her son's mothering, to the victory-seat,
a home in heaven; the Saviour has so
repaid forever that perfect fostering.
Then on the tenth night in the turning of time,
Bartholomew here in Britain
is honoured far and wide for his fate.
So also after four nights,
the noble's death-day is known to men:
he who baptized the glorious Boy,
the worthy warrior of the Word,
of whom God said no greater man
was born on earth between man and woman.
And after three nights throughout the nations,
the month that is held by men as holy
fares to the people as it was foreseen,
as the old astronomers ere found,
September's way; and it was on the seventh day
that the best queens came to birth,
the Lord's mother. Then more days pass,
thirteen in number, and the blameless thane
clear-sighted in God's word sent up his spirit:
Matthew to his Maker
went in eternal joy. Then arrives
after three nights to the nations,
the day of equinox to the children of earth;
and here we count worthy, far and wide,
the archangel's time in the autumn,
Michael, known to the multitude,
five nights after the equinox-day.
Two nights later, the tenth month
comes to men with wise counsel,
October arrives among men with abundance:
Winterfylleth was the old word
among the island-dwellers, Angles and Saxons,
men and women. So the warriors' time comes
on the twenty-seventh, and the two noble ones
on the same day are celebrated:
we have heard how long ago
Simon and Jude, shining with glory,
did great deeds. For that their doom
was a blessed uplifting. Then arrives quickly,
after four nights, to the folk with plenty,
Blotmonath in town, and brings feasting to men:
November, a time of blessedness
like no other month, by the Lord's mercy.
The same day we celebrate the feast of All Saints,
who worked in the world the will of God.
Then winter's day opens wide
in six nights, seizes the sun,
ravages the harvest with rime and snow,
chains them with frost at the Lord's command;
the green meadows may not stay with us,
the fields' covering. And four nights later
it was that the mighty one, Martin, departed,
the stainless servant sought the Lord;
and on the twelfth night Clement was taken,
sunk in the grey sea, strong in victory,
called on by name by many in need.
On the seventh night after, dear to the Saviour,
noble Andrew arose into heaven,
gave his ghost into God's keeping,
eager depart in earthly death,
Then morning to men brings in the month
called December by the Redeemer's children,
the old Yule. So in eight nights and twelve
the Saviour himself, strong in purpose,
gave with difficulty an eternal kingdom to Thomas,
and to the bold man his blessing.
Then after four nights the Father of angels
sent his Son into creation's expanse
to comfort mankind. Now you can find
the holy days, that man shall hold
throughout Britain at the bidding
of the Saxon's king at the same time.

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