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: Ithaca
The Return of Ulysses
Homer (fl. 850 B.C.)
 
(From The Odyssey, Book XIII)
Translated by W. C. Bryant

A PORT there is in Ithaca, the haunt
Of Phorcys, Ancient of the Sea. Steep shores
Stretch inward toward each other, and roll back
The mighty surges which the hoarse winds hurl
Against them from the ocean, while within        5
Ships ride without their hawsers when they once
Have passed the haven’s mouth. An olive-tree
With spreading branches at the farther end
Of that fair haven stands, and overbrows
A pleasant shady grotto of the nymphs        10
Called Naiads. Cups and jars of stone are ranged
Within, and bees lay up their honey there.
There from their spindles wrought of stone the nymphs
Weave their sea-purple robes, which all behold
With wonder; there are ever-flowing springs.        15
Two are the entrances: one toward the north
By which men enter; but a holier one
Looks toward the south, nor ever mortal foot
May enter there. By that way pass the gods.
  They touched the land, for well they knew the spot.        20
The galley, urged so strongly by the arms
Of those who plied the oar, ran up the beach
Quite half her length. And then the crew came forth
From the good ship, and first they lifted out
Ulysses with the linen and rich folds        25
Of tapestry, and laid him on the sands
In a deep slumber. Then they also took
The presents from the hold, which, as he left
Their isle, the princes of Phæacia gave
By counsel of wise Pallas. These they piled        30
Close to the olive-tree, without the way,
That none, in passing, ere Ulysses woke,
Might do their owner wrong. Then homeward sailed
The crew.
*        *        *        *        *
Then from the haven up the rugged path        35
Ulysses went among the woody heights.
He sought the spot where Pallas bade him meet
The noble swineherd, who of all that served
The great Ulysses chiefly had in charge
To bring the day’s supplies. He found him there        40
Seated beneath the portico, before
His airy lodge, that might be seen from far,
Well built and spacious, standing by itself.
Eumæus, while his lord was far away,
Had built it, though not bidden by the queen        45
Nor old Laertes, with the stones he drew
From quarries thither. Round it he had set
A hedge of thorns, encircling these with stakes
Close set and many, cloven from the heart
Of oak. Within that circuit he had made        50
Twelve sties, beside each other, for the swine
To lie in. Fifty wallowed in each sty,
All females; there they littered. But the males
Were fewer, and were kept without; and these
The suitor train made fewer every day,        55
Feeding upon them, for Eumæus sent
Always the best of all his fatling herd.
These numbered twice nine score. Beside them slept
Four mastiffs, which the master swineherd fed,
Savage as wolves. Eumæus to his feet        60
Was fitting sandals, which he carved and shaped
From a stained ox-hide, while the other hinds
Were gone on different errands,—three to drive
The herds of swine,—a fourth was sent to take
A fatling to the city, that the crew        65
Of arrogant suitors, having offered him
In sacrifice, might feast upon his flesh.
  The loud-mouthed dogs that saw Ulysses come
Ran toward him, fiercely baying. He sat down
At once, through caution, letting fall his staff        70
Upon the ground, and would have suffered there
Unseemly harm, within his own domain,
But then the swineherd, following with quick steps,
Rushed through the vestibule, and dropped the hide.
He chid the dogs and, pelting them with stones,        75
Drave them asunder, and addressed the king:—
  “O aged man, the mastiffs of the lodge
Had almost torn thee, and thou wouldst have cast
Bitter reproach upon me. Other griefs
And miseries the gods have made my lot.        80
Here sorrowfully sitting I lament
A godlike master, and for others tend
His fatling swine; while, haply hungering
For bread, he wanders among alien men
In other kingdoms, if indeed he lives        85
And looks upon the sun. But follow me,
And come into the house, that there, refreshed
With food and wine, old man, thou mayst declare
Whence thou dost come and what thou hast endured.”
 
 
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