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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

By 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

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

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

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

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

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,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.