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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

By 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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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,

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

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

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

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,

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.

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

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.”