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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 201

Hush'd are her mountains, and her forests nod.
There on a fir, whose spiry branches rise
To join its summit to the neighbouring skies;
Dark in embowering shade, conceal'd from sight,
Sat Sleep, in likeness of the bird of night.
(Chalcis his name by those of heavenly birth,
But call'd Cymindis by the race of earth.)
[pg 261]
To Ida's top successful Juno flies;
Great Jove surveys her with desiring eyes:
The god, whose lightning sets the heavens on fire,
Through all his bosom feels the fierce desire;
Fierce as when first by stealth he seized her charms,
Mix'd with her soul, and melted in her arms:
Fix'd on her eyes he fed his eager look,
Then press'd her hand, and thus with transport spoke:
"Why comes my goddess from the ethereal sky,
And not her steeds and flaming chariot nigh?"
Then she—"I haste to those remote abodes
Where the great parents of the deathless gods,
The reverend Ocean and gray Tethys, reign,
On the last limits of the land and main.
I visit these, to whose indulgent cares
I owe the nursing of my tender years:
For strife, I hear, has made that union cease
Which held so long that ancient pair in peace.
The steeds, prepared my chariot to convey
O'er earth and seas, and through the aerial way,
Wait under Ide: of thy superior power
To ask consent, I leave the Olympian bower;
Nor seek, unknown to thee, the sacred cells
Deep under seas, where hoary Ocean dwells."
"For that (said Jove) suffice another day!
But eager love denies the least delay.
Let softer cares the present hour employ,
And be these moments sacred all to joy.
Ne'er did my soul so strong a passion prove,
Or for an earthly, or a heavenly love:
Not when I press'd Ixion's matchless dame,
Whence rose Pirithous like the gods in fame:
Not when fair Danae felt the shower of gold
Stream into life, whence Perseus brave and bold.
Not thus I burn'd for either Theban dame:
(Bacchus from this, from that Alcides came:)
Nor Phoenix' daughter, beautiful and young,
Whence godlike Rhadamanth and Minos sprung.236
Not thus I burn'd for fair Latona's face,
Nor comelier Ceres' more majestic grace.
Not thus even for thyself I felt desire,
As now my veins receive the pleasing fire."
He spoke; the goddess with the charming eyes
[pg 262]
Glows with celestial red, and thus replies:
"Is this a scene for love? On Ida's height,
Exposed to mortal and immortal sight!
Our joys profaned by each familiar eye;
The sport of heaven, and fable of the sky:
How shall I e'er review the blest abodes,
Or mix among the senate of the gods?
Shall I not think, that, with disorder'd charms,
All heaven beholds me recent from thy arms?
With skill divine has Vulcan form'd thy bower,
Sacred to love and to the genial hour;
If such thy will, to that recess retire,
In secret there indulge thy soft desire."
She ceased; and, smiling with superior love,
Thus answer'd mild the cloud-compelling Jove:
"Nor god nor mortal shall our joys behold,
Shaded with clouds, and circumfused in gold;
Not even the sun, who darts through heaven his rays,
And whose broad eye the extended earth surveys."
Gazing he spoke, and, kindling at the view,
His eager arms around the goddess threw.
Glad Earth perceives, and from her bosom pours
Unbidden herbs and voluntary flowers:
Thick new-born violets a soft carpet spread,
And clustering lotos swell'd the rising bed,
And sudden hyacinths the turf bestrow,237
And flamy crocus made the mountain glow
There golden clouds conceal the heavenly pair,
Steep'd in soft joys and circumfused with air;
Celestial dews, descending o'er the ground,
Perfume the mount, and breathe ambrosia round:
At length, with love and sleep's soft power oppress'd,
The panting thunderer nods, and sinks to rest.
Now to the navy borne on silent wings,
To Neptune's ear soft Sleep his message brings;
Beside him sudden, unperceived, he stood,
And thus with gentle words address'd the god:
"Now, Neptune! now, the important hour employ,
To check a while the haughty hopes of Troy:
While Jove yet rests, while yet my vapours shed
The golden vision round his sacred head;
For Juno's love, and Somnus' pleasing ties,
Have closed those awful and eternal eyes."
Thus having said, the power of slumber flew,
On human lids to drop the balmy dew.
Neptune, with zeal increased, renews his care,
[pg 263]
And towering in the foremost ranks of war,
Indignant thus—"Oh once of martial fame!
O Greeks! if yet ye can deserve the name!
This half-recover'd day shall Troy obtain?
Shall Hector thunder at your ships again?
Lo! still he vaunts, and threats the fleet with fires,
While stern Achilles in his wrath retires.
One hero's loss too tamely you deplore,
Be still yourselves, and ye shall need no more.
Oh yet, if glory any bosom warms,
Brace on your firmest helms, and stand to arms:
His strongest spear each valiant Grecian wield,
Each valiant Grecian seize his broadest shield;
Let to the weak the lighter arms belong,
The ponderous targe be wielded by the strong.
Thus arm'd, not Hector shall our presence stay;
Myself, ye Greeks! myself will lead the way."

Illustration: GREEK SHIELD.
GREEK SHIELD.
The troops assent; their martial arms they change:
The busy chiefs their banded legions range.
The kings, though wounded, and oppress'd with pain,
With helpful hands themselves assist the train.
The strong and cumbrous arms the valiant wield,
The weaker warrior takes a lighter shield.
Thus sheath'd in shining brass, in bright array
The legions march, and Neptune leads the way:
His brandish'd falchion flames before their eyes,
Like lightning flashing through the frighted skies.
Clad in his might, the earth-shaking power appears;
Pale mortals tremble, and confess their fears.
Troy's great defender stands alone unawed,
Arms his proud host, and dares oppose a god:
And lo! the god, and wondrous man, appear:
The sea's stern ruler there, and Hector here.

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