Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE CYCLOPS; A SATYRIC DRAMA. - Posthumous Poems
THE CYCLOPS; A SATYRIC DRAMA. - Percy Bysshe Shelley, Posthumous Poems 
Posthumous Poems (London: John and Henry L. Hunt, 1824).
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A SATYRIC DRAMA.
TRANSLATED FROM THE GREEK OF EURIPIDES.
Chorus of Satyrs.
- O, Bacchus, what a world of toil, both now
- And ere these limbs were overworn with age,
- Have I endured for thee! First, when thou fled’st
- The mountain-nymphs who nurst thee, driven afar
- By the strange madness Juno sent upon thee;
- Then in the battle of the sons of Earth,
- When I stood foot by foot close to thy side,
- No unpropitious fellow combatant,
- And driving through his shield my winged spear,
- Slew vast Enceladus. Consider now,
- Is it a dream of which I speak to thee?
- By Jove it is not, for you have the trophies!
- And now I suffer more than all before.
- For when I heard that Juno had devised
- A tedious voyage for you, I put to sea
- With all my children quaint in search of you,
- And I myself stood on the beaked prow
- And fixed the naked mast, and all my boys
- Leaning upon their oars, with splash and strain
- Made white with foam the green and purple sea,—
- And so we sought you, king. We were sailing
- Near Malea, when an eastern wind arose,
- And drove us to this wild Ætnean rock;
- The one-eyed children of the Ocean God,
- The man-destroying Cyclopses inhabit,
- On this wild shore, their solitary caves,
- And one of these, named Polypheme, has caught us
- To be his slaves; and so, for all delight
- Of Bacchic sports, sweet dance and melody,
- We keep this lawless giant’s wandering flocks.
- My sons indeed, on far declivities,
- Young things themselves, tend on the youngling sheep,
- But I remain to fill the water casks,
- Or sweeping the hard floor, or ministering
- Some impious and abominable meal
- To the fell Cyclops. I am wearied of it!
- And now I must scrape up the littered floor
- With this great iron rake, so to receive
- My absent master and his evening sheep
- In a cave neat and clean. Even now I see
- My children tending the flocks hitherward.
- Ha! what is this? are your Sicinnian measures
- Even now the same, as when with dance and song
- You brought young Bacchus to Athæa’s halls?
- * * * * *
chorus of satyrs.
- Where has he of race divine
- Wandered in the winding rocks?
- Here the air is calm and fine
- For the father of the flocks;—
- Here the grass is soft and sweet,
- And the river-eddies meet
- In the trough beside the cave,
- Bright as in their fountain wave.—
- Neither here, nor on the dew
- Of the lawny uplands feeding?
- Oh, you come!—a stone at you
- Will I throw to mend your breeding;—
- Get along, you horned thing,
- Wild, seditious, rambling!
- An Iacchic melody
- To the golden Aphrodite
- Will I lift, as erst did I
- Seeking her and her delight
- With the Mænads, whose white feet
- To the music glance and fleet.
- Bacchus, O beloved, where,
- Shaking wide thy yellow hair,
- Wanderest thou alone, afar?
- To the one-eyed Cyclops, we,
- Who by right thy servants are,
- Minister in misery,
- In these wretched goat-skins clad,
- Far from thy delights and thee.
- Be silent, sons; command the slaves to drive
- The gathered flocks into the rock-roofed cave.
- Go! But what needs this serious haste, O father?
- I see a Greek ship’s boat upon the coast,
- And thence the rowers with some general
- Approaching to this cave. About their necks
- Hang empty vessels, as they wanted food,
- And water-flasks.—O, miserable strangers!
- Whence come they, that they know not what and who
- My master is, approaching in ill hour
- The inhospitable roof of Polypheme,
- And the Cyclopian jaw-bone, man-destroying?
- Be silent, Satyrs, while I ask and hear
- Whence coming, they arrive the Ætnean hill.
- Friends, can you show me some clear water spring,
- The remedy of our thirst? Will any one
- Furnish with food seamen in want of it?
- Ha! what is this? We seem to be arrived
- At the blithe court of Bacchus. I observe
- This sportive band of Satyrs near the caves.
- First let me greet the elder.—Hail!
- Hail thou,
- O, Stranger! tell thy country and thy race.
- The Ithacan Ulysses and the king:
- Of Cephalonia.
- Oh! I know the man,
- Wordy and shrewd, the son of Sisyphus.
- I am the same, but do not rail upon me.—
- Whence sailing do you come to Sicily?
- From Ilion, and from the Trojan toils.
- How, touched you not at your paternal shore?
- The strength of tempests bore me here by force.
- The self-same accident occurred to me.
- Were you then driven here by stress of weather?
- Following the Pirates who had kidnapped Bacchus.
- What land is this, and who inhabit it?—
- Ætna, the loftiest peak in Sicily.
- And are there walls, and tower-surrounded towns?
- There are not;—These lone rocks are bare of men.
- And who possess the land? the race of beasts?
- Cyclops, who live in caverns, not in houses.
- Obeying whom? Or is the state popular?
- Shepherds: no one obeys any in aught.
- How live they? do they sow the corn of Ceres?
- On milk and cheese, and on the flesh of sheep.
- Have they the Bromian drink from the vine’s stream?
- Ah! no; they live in an ungracious land.
- And are they just to strangers?—hospitable?
- They think the sweetest thing a stranger brings
- Is his own flesh.
- What! do they eat man’s flesh?
- No one comes here who is not eaten up.
- The Cyclops now—Where is he? Not at home?
- Absent on Ætna, hunting with his dogs.
- Know’st thou what thou must do to aid us hence?
- I know not: we will help you all we can.
- Provide us food, of which we are in want.
- Here is not anything, as I said, but meat.
- But meat is a sweet remedy for hunger.
- Cow’s milk there is, and store of curdled cheese.
- Bring out:—I would see all before I bargain.
- But how much gold will you engage to give?
- I bring no gold, but Bacchic juice.
- O, joy!
- ’Tis long since these dry lips were wet with wine.
- Maron, the son of the God, gave it me.
- Whom I have nursed a baby in my arms.
- The son of Bacchus, for your clearer knowledge.
- Have you it now?—or is it in the ship?
- Old man, this skin contains it, which you see.
- Why this would hardly be a mouthful for me.
- Nay, twice as much as you can draw from thence.
- You speak of a fair fountain, sweet to me.
- Would you first taste of the unmingled wine?
- ’Tis just—tasting invites the purchaser.
- Here is the cup, together with the skin.
- Pour: that the draught may fillip my remembrance.
- Papaiapæx! what a sweet smell it has!
- By Jove, no! but I smell it.
- Taste, that you may not praise it in words only.
- Babai! Great Bacchus calls me forth to dance!
- Joy! joy!
- Did it flow sweetly down your throat?
- So that it tingled to my very nails.
- And in addition I will give you gold.
- Let gold alone! only unlock the cask.
- Bring out some cheeses now, or a young goat.
- That will I do, despising any master.
- Yes, let me drink one cup, and I will give
- All that the Cyclops feed upon their mountains.
- * * * * *
- Ye have taken Troy and laid your hands on Helen?
- And utterly destroyed the race of Priam.
- * * * * *
- The wanton wretch! she was bewitched to see
- The many-coloured anklets and the chain
- Of woven gold which girt the neck of Paris,
- And so she left that good man Menclaus.
- There should be no more women in the world
- But such as are reserved for me alone.—
- See, here are sheep, and here are goats, Ulysses,
- Here are unsparing cheeses of pressed milk;
- Take them; depart with what good speed ye may;
- First leaving my reward, the Bacchic dew
- Of joy-inspiring grapes.
- Ah me! Alas!
- What shall we do? the Cyclops is at hand!
- Old man, we perish! whither can we fly?
- Hide yourselves quick within that hollow rock.
- ’Twere perilous to fly into the net.
- The cavern has recesses numberless;
- Hide yourselves quick.
- That will I never do!
- The mighty Troy would be indeed disgraced
- If I should fly one man. How many times
- Have I withstood, with shield immoveable,
- Ten thousand Phrygians!—if I needs must die,
- Yet will I die with glory;—if I live,
- The praise which I have gained will yet remain.
- What, ho! assistance, comrades, haste assistance!
TheCyclops, Silenus, Ulysses; Chorus.
- What is this tumult? Bacchus is not here,
- Nor tympanies nor brazen castanets.
- How are my young lambs in the cavern? Milking
- Their dams or playing by their sides? And is
- The new cheese pressed into the bull-rush baskets?
- Speak! I’ll beat some of you till you rain tears—
- Look up, not downwards when I speak to you.
- See! I now gape at Jupiter himself,
- I stare upon Orion and the stars.
- Well, is the dinner fitly cooked and laid?
- All ready, if your throat is ready too.
- Are the bowls full of milk besides?
- O’er brimming;
- So you may drink a tunful if you will.
- Is it ewe’s milk or cow’s milk, or both mixed?—
- Both, either; only pray don’t swallow me.
- By no means.—
- * * *
- What is this crowd I see beside the stalls?
- Outlaws or thieves? for near my cavern-home,
- I see my young lambs coupled two by two
- With willow bands; mixed with my cheeses lie
- Their implements; and this old fellow here
- Has his bald head broken with stripes.
- Ah me!
- I have been beaten till I burn with fever.
- By whom? Who laid his first upon your head?
- Those men, because I would not suffer them
- To steal your goods.
- Did not the rascals know
- I am a God, sprung from the race of heaven?
- I told them so, but they bore off your things,
- And ate the cheese in spite of all I said,
- And carried out the lambs—and said, moreover,
- They’d pin you down with a three cubit collar,
- And pull your vitals out through your one eye,
- Torture your back with stripes, then binding you,
- Throw you as ballast into the ship’s hold,
- And then deliver you, a slave, to move
- Enormous rocks, or found a vestibule.
- In truth? Nay, haste, and place in order quickly
- The cooking knives, and heap upon the hearth,
- And kindle it, a great faggot of wood—
- As soon as they are slaughtered, they shall fill
- My belly, broiling warm from the live coals,
- Or boiled and seethed within the bubbling cauldron.
- I am quite sick of the wild mountain game,
- Of stags and lions I have gorged enough,
- And I grow hungry for the flesh of men.
- Nay, master, something new is very pleasant
- After one thing for ever, and of late
- Very few strangers have approached our cave.
- Hear, Cyclops, a plain tale on the other side.
- We, wanting to buy food, came from our ship
- Into the neighbourhood of your cave, and here
- This old Silenus gave us in exchange
- These lambs for wine, the which he took and drank,
- And all by mutual compact, without force.
- There is no word of truth in what he says,
- For slily he was selling all your store.
- I? May you perish, wretch—
- Cyclops, I swear by Neptune who begot thee,
- By mighty Triton and by Nereus old,
- Calypso and the glaucous ocean Nymphs,
- The sacred waves and all the race of fishes—
- Be these the witnesses, my dear sweet master,
- My darling little Cyclops, that I never
- Gave any of your stores to these false strangers:—
- If I speak false may those whom most I love,
- My children, perish wretchedly!
- There stop!
- I saw him giving these things to the strangers,
- If I speak false, then may my father perish,
- But do not thou wrong hospitality.
- You lie! I swear that he is juster far
- Than Rhadamanthus—I trust more in him.
- But let me ask, whence have ye sailed, O strangers?
- Who are you? And what city nourished ye?
- Our race is Ithacan—having destroyed
- The town of Troy, the tempests of the sea
- Have driven us on thy land, O Polypheme.
- What, have ye shared in the unenvied spoil
- Of the false Helen, near Scamander’s stream?
- The same, having endured a woful toil.
- O, basest expedition! sailed ye not
- From Greece to Phrygia for one woman’s sake?
- ’Twas the God’s work—no mortal was in fault.
- But, O great offspring of the ocean-king,
- We pray thee and admonish thee with freedom,
- That thou dost spare thy friends who visit thee,
- And place no impious food within thy jaws.
- For in the depths of Greece we have upreared
- Temples to thy great father, which are all
- His homes. The sacred bay of Tœnarus
- Remains inviolate, and each dim recess
- Scooped high on the Malean promontory,
- And aery Sunium’s silver-veined crag,
- Which divine Pallas keeps unprofaned ever,
- The Gerastian asylums, and whate’er
- Within wide Greece our enterprise has kept
- From Phrygian contumely; and in which
- You have a common care, for you inhabit
- The skirts of Grecian land, under the roots
- Of Ætna and its crags, spotted with fire.
- Turn then to converse under human laws,
- Receive us shipwrecked suppliants, and provide
- Food, clothes, and fire, and hospitable gifts;
- Nor fixing upon oxen-piercing spits
- Our limbs, so fill your belly and your jaws.
- Priam’s wide land has widowed Greece enough;
- And weapon-winged murder heaped together
- Enough of dead, and wives are husbandless,
- And ancient women and grey fathers wail
- Their childless age;—if you should roast the rest,
- And ’tis a bitter feast that you prepare,
- Where then would any turn? Yet be persuaded;
- Forego the lust of your jaw-bone; prefer
- Pious humanity to wicked will:
- Many have bought too dear their evil joys.
- Let me advise you, do not spare a morsel
- Of all his flesh. If you should eat his tongue
- You would become most eloquent, O Cyclops?
- Wealth, my good fellow, is the wise man’s God,
- All other things are a pretence and boast.
- What are my father’s ocean promontories,
- The sacred rocks whereon he dwells, to me?
- Stranger, I laugh to scorn Jove’s thunderbolt,
- I know not that his strength is more than mine.
- As to the rest I care not:—When he pours
- Rain from above, I have a close pavilion
- Under this rock, in which I lie supine,
- Feasting on a roast calf or some wild beast,
- And drinking pans of milk, and gloriously
- Emulating the thunder of high heaven.
- And when the Thracian wind pours down the snow,
- I wrap my body in the skins of beasts,
- Kindle a fire, and bid the snow whirl on.
- The earth, by force, whether it will or no,
- Bringing forth grass, fattens my flocks and herds,
- Which, to what other God but to myself
- And this great belly, first of deities,
- Should I be bound to sacrifice? I well know
- The wise man’s only Jupiter is this,
- To eat and drink during his little day,
- And give himself no care. And as for those
- Who complicate with laws the life of man,
- I freely give them tears for their reward.
- I will not cheat my soul of its delight,
- Or hesitate in dining upon you:—
- And that I may be quit of all demands,
- These are my hospitable gifts;—fierce fire
- And you ancestral cauldron, which o’er bubbling
- Shall finely cook your miserable flesh.
- Creep in!—
- * * * *
- Ay! ay! I have escaped the Trojan toils,
- I have escaped the sea, and now I fall
- Under the cruel grasp of one impious man.
- O Pallas, mistress, Goddess, sprung from Jove,
- Now, now, assist me! Mightier toils than Troy
- Are these;—I totter on the chasms of peril;—
- And thou who inhabitest the thrones
- Of the bright stars, look, hospitable Jove,
- Upon this outrage of thy deity,
- Otherwise be considered as no God!
- For your gaping gulph, and your gullet wide
- The ravine is ready on every side,
- The limbs of the strangers are cooked and done,
- There is boiled meat, and roast meat, and meat from the coal,
- You may chop it, and tear it, and gnash it for fun,
- An hairy goat’s-skin contains the whole.
- Let me but escape, and ferry me o’er
- The stream of your wrath to a safer shore.
- The Cyclops Ætnean is cruel and bold,
- He murders the strangers
- That sit on his hearth,
- And dreads no avengers
- To rise from the earth.
- He roasts the men before they are cold,
- He snatches them broiling from the coal,
- And from the cauldron pulls them whole,
- And minces their flesh and gnaws their bone
- With his cursed teeth, till all begone.
- Farewell, foul pavilion!
- Farewell, rites of dread!
- The Cyclops vermilion,
- With slaughter uncloying,
- Now feasts on the dead,
- In the flesh of strangers joying!
- O Jupiter! I saw within the cave
- Horrible things; deeds to be feigned in words,
- But not believed as being done.
- What sawest thou the impious Polypheme
- Feasting upon your loved companions now?
- Selecting two, the plumpest of the crowd,
- He grasped them in his hands.—
- Soon as we came into this craggy place,
- Kindling a fire, he cast on the broad hearth
- The knotty limbs of an enormous oak,
- Three waggon loads at least, and then he strewed
- Upon the ground, beside the red fire light,
- His couch of pine leaves; and he milked the cows,
- And pouring forth the white milk, filled a bowl
- Three cubits wide and four in depth, as much
- As would contain four amphoræ, and bound it
- With ivy wreaths; then placed upon the fire
- A brazen pot to boil, and made red hot
- The points of spits, not sharpened with the sickle,
- But with a fruit tree bough, and with the jaws
- Of axes for Ætnean slaughterings.
- And when this God-abandoned cook of hell
- Had made all ready, he seized two of us
- And killed them in a kind of measured manner;
- For he flung one against the brazen rivets
- Of the huge cauldron, and seized the other
- By the foot’s tendon, and knocked out his brains
- Upon the sharp edge of the craggy stone:
- Then peeled his flesh with a great cooking knife
- And put him down to roast. The other’s limbs
- He chopped into the cauldron to be boiled.
- And I, with the tears raining from my eyes,
- Stood near the Cyclops, ministering to him;
- The rest, in the recesses of the cave,
- Clung to the rock like bats, bloodless with fear.
- When he was filled with my companions flesh,
- He threw himself upon the ground and sent
- A loathsome exhalation from his maw.
- Then a divine thought came to me. I filled
- The cup of Maron, and I offered him
- To taste, and said:—“Child of the Ocean God,
- Behold what drink the vines of Greece produce,
- The exultation and the joy of Bacchus.”
- He, satiated with his unnatural food,
- Received it, and at one draught drank it off,
- And taking my hand, praised me:—“Thou hast given
- A sweet draught after a sweet meal, dear guest.”
- And I perceiving that it pleased him, filled
- Another cup, well knowing that the wine
- Would wound him soon and take a sure revenge.
- And the charm fascinated him, and I
- Plied him cup after cup, until the drink
- Had warmed his entrails, and he sang aloud
- In concert with my wailing fellow-seamen
- A hideous discord—and the cavern rung.
- I have stolen out, so that if you will
- You may achieve my safety and your own.
- But say, do you desire, or not, to fly
- This uncompanionable man, and dwell
- As was your wont among the Grecian Nymphs
- Within the fanes of your beloved God?
- Your father there within agrees to it,
- But he is weak and overcome with wine,
- And caught as if with bird-lime by the cup,
- He claps his wings and crows in doting joy.
- You who are young escape with me, and find
- Bacchus your ancient friend; unsuited he
- To this rude Cyclops.
- Oh my dearest friend,
- That I could see that day, and leave for ever
- The impious Cyclops.
- * * * *
- Listen then what a punishment I have
- For this fell monster, how secure a flight
- From your hard servitude.
- Oh sweeter far
- Than is the music of an Asian lyre
- Would be the news of Polypheme destroyed.
- Delighted with the Bacchic drink he goes
- To call his brother Cyclops—who inhabit
- A village upon Ætna not far off.
- I understand, catching him when alone
- You think by some measure to dispatch him,
- Or thrust him from the precipice.
- O no;
- Nothing of that kind; my device is subtle.
- How then? I heard of old that thou wert wise.
- I will dissuade him from this plan, by saying
- It were unwise to give the Cyclopses
- This precious drink, which if enjoyed alone
- Would make life sweeter for a longer time.
- When vanquished by the Bacchic power, he sleeps,
- There is a trunk of olive wood within,
- Whose point having made sharp with this good sword
- I will conceal in fire, and when I see
- It is alight, will fix it, burning yet,
- Within the socket of the Cyclops’ eye
- And melt it out with fire—as when a man
- Turns by its handle a great auger round,
- Fitting the frame work of a ship with beams,
- So will I, in the Cyclops’ fiery eye
- Turn round the brand and dry the pupil up.
- Joy! I am mad with joy at your device.
- And then with you, my friends, and the old man,
- We’ll load the hollow depth of our black ship,
- And row with double strokes from this dread shore.
- May I, as in libations to a God,
- Share in the blinding him with the red brand?
- I would have some communion in his death.
- Doubtless: the brand is a great brand to hold.
- Oh! I would lift an hundred waggon loads,
- If like a wasp’s nest I could scoop the eye out
- Of the detested Cyclops.
- Silence now!
- Ye know the close device—and when I call,
- Look ye obey the masters of the craft.
- I will not save myself and leave behind
- My comrades in the cave: I might escape
- Having got clear from that obscure recess,
- But ’twere unjust to leave in jeopardy
- The dear companions who sailed here with me.
- Come! who is first, that with his hand
- Will urge down the burning brand
- Through the lids, and quench and pierce
- The Cyclops’ eye so fiery fierce?
- Song within.
- Listen! listen! he is coming,
- A most hideous discord humming,
- Drunken, museless, awkward, yelling,
- Far along his rocky dwelling;
- Let us with some comic spell
- Teach the yet unteachable.
- By all means he must be blinded,
- If my council be but minded.
- Happy those made odorous
- With the dew which sweet grapes weep,
- To the village hastening thus,
- Seek the vines that soothe to sleep,
- Having first embraced thy friend,
- There in luxury without end,
- With the strings of yellow hair,
- Of thy voluptuous leman fair,
- Shalt sit playing on a bed!—
- Speak what door is opened?
- Ha! ha! ha! I’m full of wine,
- Heavy with the joy divine,
- With the young feast oversated,
- Like a merchant’s vessel freighted
- To the waters edge, my crop
- Is laden to the gullet’s top.
- The fresh meadow grass of spring
- Tempts me forth thus wandering
- To my brothers on the mountains,
- Who shall share the wine’s sweet fountains.
- Bring the cask, O stranger, bring!
- One with eyes the fairest
- Cometh from his dwelling;
- Some one loves thee, rarest,
- Bright beyond my telling.
- In thy grace thou shinest
- Like some nymph divinest,
- In her caverns dewy:—
- All delights pursue thee,
- Soon pied flowers, sweet-breathing,
- Shall thy head be wreathing.
- Listen, O Cyclops, for I am well skilled
- In Bacchus, whom I gave thee of to drink.
- What sort of God is Bacchus then accounted?
- The greatest among men for joy of life.
- I gulpt him down with very great delight.
- This is a God who never injures men.
- How does the God like living in a skin?
- He is content wherever he is put.
- Gods should not have their body in a skin.
- If he gives joy, what is his skin to you?
- I hate the skin, but love the wine within.
- Stay here, now drink, and make your spirit glad.
- Should I not share this liquor with my brothers?
- Keep it yourself, and be more honoured so.
- I were more useful, giving to my friends.
- But village mirth breeds contests, broils, and blows.
- When I am drunk none shall lay hands on me.—
- A drunken man is better within doors.
- He is a fool, who drinking, loves not mirth.
- But he is wise, who drunk, remains at home.
- Whall shall I do, Silenus? Shall I stay?
- Stay—for what need have you of pot companions?
- Indeed this place is closely carpeted
- With flowers and grass.
- And in the sun-warm noon
- ’Tis sweet to drink. Lie down beside me now,
- Placing your mighty sides upon the ground.
- What do you put the cup behind me for?
- That no one here may touch it.
- Thievish one!
- You want to drink;—here place it in the midst.
- And thou, O stranger, tell how art thou called?
- My name is Nobody. What favour now
- Shall I receive to praise you at your hands?
- I’ll feast on you the last of your companions.
- You grant your guest a fair reward, O Cyclops.
- Ha! what is this? Stealing the wine, you rogue!
- It was this stranger kissing me because
- I looked so beautiful.
- You shall repent
- For kissing the coy wine that loves you not.
- By Jupiter! you said that I am fair.
- Pour out, and only give me the cup full.
- How is it mixed? let me observe.
- Not till I see you wear
- That coronal, and taste the cup to you.
- But the wine is sweet.
- Aye, you will roar if you are caught in drinking.
- See now, my lip is clean and all my beard.
- Now put your elbow right and drink again.
- As you see me drink— * * * *
- Ye Gods, what a delicious gulp!
- Guest, take it;—you pour out the wine for me.
- The wine is well accustomed to my hand.
- Silence is a hard task to him who drinks.
- Take it and drink it off; leave not a dreg.
- O, that the drinker died with his own draught!
- Papai! the wine must be a sapient plant.
- If you drink much after a mighty feast,
- Moistening your thirsty maw, you will sleep well;
- If you leave aught, Bacchus will dry you up.
- Ho! ho! I can scarce rise. What pure delight!
- The heavens and earth appear to whirl about
- Confusedly. I see the throne of Jove
- And the clear congregation of the Gods.
- Now if the Graces tempted me to kiss
- I would not, for the loveliest of them all
- I would not leave this Ganymede.
- I am the Ganymede of Jupiter.
- By Jove you are; I bore you off from Dardanus.
- Come boys of Bacchus, children of high race,
- This man within is folded up in sleep,
- And soon will vomit flesh from his fell maw;
- The brand under the shed thrusts out its smoke,
- No preparation needs, but to burn out
- The monster’s eye;—but bear yourselves like men.
- We will have courage like the adamant rock,
- All things are ready for you here; go in,
- Before our father shall perceive the noise.
- Vulcan, Ætnean king! burn out with fire
- The shining eye of this thy neighbouring monster!
- And thou, O Sleep, nursling of gloomy night,
- Descend unmixed on this God-hated beast,
- And suffer not Ulysses and his comrades,
- Returning from their famous Trojan toils,
- To perish by this man, who cares not either
- For God or mortal; or I needs must think
- That Chance is a supreme divinity,
- And things divine are subject to her power.
- Soon a crab the throat will seize
- Of him who feeds upon his guest,
- Fire will burn his lamp-like eyes
- In revenge of such a feast!
- A great oak stump now is lying
- In the ashes yet undying.
- Come, Maron, come!
- Raging let him fix the doom,
- Let him tear the eyelid up,
- Of the Cyclops—that his cup
- May be evil!
- O, I long to dance and revel
- With sweet Bromian, long desired,
- In loved ivy-wreathes attired;
- Leaving this abandoned home—
- Will the moment ever come?
- Be silent, ye wild things! Nay, hold your peace,
- And keep your lips quite close; dare not to breathe,
- Or spit, or e’en wink, lest ye wake the monster,
- Until his eye be tortured out with fire.
- Nay, we are silent, and we chaw the air.
- Come now, and lend a hand to the great stake
- Within—it is delightfully red hot.
- You then command who first should seize the stake
- To burn the Cyclops’ eye, that all may share
- In the great enterprise.
- We are too few,
- We cannot at this distance from the door
- Thrust fire into his eye.
- And we just now
- Have become lame; cannot move hand or foot.
- The same thing has occurred to us,—our ancles
- Are sprained with standing here, I know not how.
- What, sprained with standing still?
- And there is dust
- Or ashes in our eyes, I know not whence.
- Cowardly dogs! ye will not aid me then?
- With pitying my own back and my back bone,
- And with not wishing all my teeth knocked out,
- This cowardice comes of itself—but stay,
- I know a famous Orphic incantation
- To make the brand stick of its own accord
- Into the skull of this one-eyed son of Earth.
- Of old I knew ye thus by nature; now
- I know ye better.—I will use the aid
- Of my own comrades—yet though weak of hand
- Speak cheerfully, that so ye may awaken
- The courage of my friends with your blithe words.
- This I will do with peril of my life,
- And blind you with my exhortations, Cyclops.
- Hasten and thrust,
- And parch up to dust,
- The eye of the beast,
- Who feeds on his guest.
- Burn and blind
- The Ætnean hind!
- Scoop and draw,
- But beware lest he claw
- Your limbs near his maw.
- Ah me! my eye-sight is parched up to cinders.
- What a sweet pæan! sing me that again!
- Ah me! indeed, what woe has fallen upon me!
- But wretched nothings, think ye not to flee
- Out of this rock; I, standing at the outlet,
- Will bar the way and catch you as you pass.
- What are you roaring out, Cyclops?
- What, did you fall into the fire when drunk?
- ’Twas Nobody destroyed me.
- Why then no one
- Can be to blame.
- I say ’twas Nobody
- Who blinded me.
- Why then you are not blind.
- I wish you were as blind as I am.
- It cannot be that no one made you blind.
- You jeer me; where, I ask, is Nobody?
- No where, O Cyclops * * *
- It was that stranger ruined me:—the wretch
- First gave me wine and then burnt out my eyes,
- For wine is strong and hard to struggle with.
- Have they escaped, or are they yet within?
- They stand under the darkness of the rock
- And cling to it.
- At my right hand or left?
- Near the rock itself.
- You have them.
- Oh, misfortune on misfortune!
- I’ve cracked my skull.
- Now they escape you there.
- Not there, although you say so.
- They creep about you on your left.
- Ah! I am mocked! They jeer me in my ills.
- Not there! he is a little there beyond you.
- Detested wretch! where are you?
- Far from you
- I keep with care this body of Ulysses.
- What do you say? You proffer a new name.
- My father named me so; and I have taken
- A full revenge for your unnatural feast;
- I should have done ill to have burned down Troy
- And not revenged the murder of my comrades.
- Ai! ai! the ancient oracle is accomplished;
- It said that I should have my eyesight blinded
- By you coming from Troy, yet it foretold
- That you should pay the penalty for this
- By wandering long over the homeless sea.
- I bid thee weep—consider what I say,
- I go towards the shore to drive my ship
- To mine own land, o’er the Sicilian wave.
- Not so, if whelming you with this huge stone
- I can crush you and all your men together;
- I will descend upon the shore, though blind,
- Groping my way adown the steep ravine.
- And we, the shipmates of Ulysses now,
- Will serve our Bacchus all our happy lives.