Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
 
Hermes in Calypso’s Island (from Odyssey V)
By George Chapman (1559?–1634)
 
  THUS charged he; nor Argicides denied,
But to his feet his fair wing’d shoes he tied,
Ambrosian, golden; that in his command
Put either sea, or the unmeasured land,
With pace as speedy as a puft of wind.        5
Then up his rod went, with which he declined 1
The eyes of any waker, when he pleased,
And any sleeper, when he wish’d, diseased. 2
  This took, he stoop’d Pieria, and thence
Glid through the air, and Neptune’s confluence        10
Kiss’d as he flew, and check’d the waves as light
As any sea-mew in her fishing flight
Her thick wings sousing in the savoury seas;
Like her, he pass’d a world of wilderness;
But when the far-off isle he touch’d, he went        15
Up from the blue sea to the continent,
And reach’d the ample cavern of the Queen,
Whom he within found; without seldom seen.
A sun-like fire upon the hearth did flame;
The matter precious, and divine the frame;        20
Of cedar cleft and incense was the pile,
That breathed an odour round about the isle.
Herself was seated in an inner room,
Whom sweetly sing he heard, and at her loom,
About a curious web, whose yarn she threw        25
In with a golden shittle. A grove grew
In endless spring about her cavern round,
With odorous cypress, pines, and poplars crown’d,
Where hawks, sea-owls, and long-tongued bittours bred,
And other birds their shady pinions spread;        30
All fowls maritimal; none roosted there,
But those whose labours in the waters were.
A vine did all the hollow cave embrace,
Still green, yet still ripe bunches gave it grace.
Four fountains, one against another, pour’d        35
Their silver streams; and meadows all enflower’d
With sweet balm-gentle, and blue violets hid,
That deck’d the soft breasts of each fragrant mead.
Should any one, though he immortal were,
Arrive and see the sacred objects there,        40
He would admire them, and be over-joy’d;
And so stood Hermes’ ravish’d powers employ’d.
  But having all admir’d, he enter’d on
The ample cave, nor could be seen unknown
Of great Calypso (for all Deities are        45
Prompt in each other’s knowledge, though so far
Sever’d in dwellings) but he could not see
Ulysses there within; without was he
Set sad ashore, where ’twas his use to view
Th’ unquiet sea, sigh’d, wept, and empty drew        50
His heart of comfort.
 
Note 1. made droop. [back]
Note 2. made uneasy. [back]
 
 
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