Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Greece
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Greece and Turkey in Europe: Vol. XIX.  1876–79.
 
Greece: Corfu, the Island
The House of Alcinoüs
Homer (fl. 850 B.C.)
 
(From The Odyssey, Book VII)
Translated by W. C. Bryant

THE BLUE-EYED Pallas, having spoken thus,
Departed o’er the barren deep. She left
The pleasant isle of Scheria, and repaired
To Marathon and to the spacious streets
Of Athens, entering there the massive halls        5
Where dwelt Erectheus, while Ulysses toward
The gorgeous palace of Alcinoüs turned
His steps, yet stopped and pondered ere he crossed
The threshold. For on every side beneath
The lofty roof of that magnanimous king        10
A glory shone as of the sun or moon.
There from the threshold, on each side, were walls
Of brass that led towards the inner rooms,
With blue steel cornices. The doors within
The massive building were of gold, and posts        15
Of silver on the brazen threshold stood,
And silver was the lintel, and above
Its architrave was gold; and on each side
Stood gold and silver mastiffs, the rare work
Of Vulcan’s practised skill, placed there to guard        20
The house of great Alcinoüs, and endowed
With deathless life, that knows no touch of age.
Along the walls within, on either side,
And from the threshold to the inner rooms,
Were firmly planted thrones on which were laid        25
Delicate mantles, woven by the hands
Of women. The Phæacian princes here
Were seated; here they ate and drank, and held
Perpetual banquet. Slender forms of boys
In gold upon the shapely altars stood,        30
With blazing torches in their hands to light
At eve the palace guests; while fifty maids
Waited within the halls, where some in querns
Ground small the yellow grain; some wove the web
Or twirled the spindle, sitting, with a quick        35
Light motion, like the aspen’s glancing leaves.
The well-wrought tissues glistened as with oil.
As far as the Phæacian race excel
In guiding their swift galleys o’er the deep,
So far the women in their woven work        40
Surpass all others. Pallas gives them skill
In handiwork and beautiful design.
Without the palace-court, and near the gate,
A spacious garden of four acres lay.
A hedge enclosed it round, and lofty trees        45
Flourished in generous growth within,—the pear
And the pomegranate, and the apple-tree
With its fair fruitage, and the luscious fig
And olive always green. The fruit they bear
Falls not, nor ever fails in winter time        50
Nor summer, but is yielded all the year.
The ever-blowing west-wind causes some
To swell and some to ripen; pear succeeds
To pear; to apple apple, grape to grape,
Fig ripens after fig. A fruitful field        55
Of vines was planted near; in part it lay
Open and basking in the sun, which dried
The soil, and here men gathered in the grapes,
And there they trod the wine-press. Farther on
Were grapes unripened yet, which just had cast        60
The flower, and others still which just began
To redden. At the garden’s furthest bound
Were beds of many plants that all the year
Bore flowers. There gushed two fountains: one of them
Ran wandering through the field; the other flowed        65
Beneath the threshold to the palace-court,
And all the people filled their vessels there.
Such were the blessings which the gracious gods
Bestowed on King Alcinoüs and his house.
 
 
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