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Trail: Circe


Odyssey, Book X, Alexander Pope’s translatzion:

This said, and scornful turning from the shore
My haughty step, I stalk’d the valley o’er.
Till now approaching nigh the magic bower,
Where dwelt the enchantress skill’d in herbs of power,
A form divine forth issued from the wood
(Immortal Hermes with the golden rod)
In human semblance. On his bloomy face
Youth smiled celestial, with each opening grace.
He seized my hand, and gracious thus began:
‘Ah whither roam’st thou, much-enduring man?
O blind to fate! what led thy steps to rove
The horrid mazes of this magic grove?
Each friend you seek in yon enclosure lies,
All lost their form, and habitants of sties.
Think’st thou by wit to model their escape?
Sooner shalt thou, a stranger to thy shape,
Fall prone their equal: first thy danger know,
Then take the antidote the gods bestow.
The plant I give through all the direful bower
Shall guard thee, and avert the evil hour.
Now hear her wicked arts: Before thy eyes
The bowl shall sparkle, and the banquet rise;
Take this, nor from the faithless feast abstain,
For temper’d drugs and poison shall be vain.
Soon as she strikes her wand, and gives the word,
Draw forth and brandish thy refulgent sword,
And menace death: those menaces shall move
Her alter’d mind to blandishment and love.
Nor shun the blessing proffer’d to thy arms,
Ascend her bed, and taste celestial charms;
So shall thy tedious toils a respite find,
And thy lost friends return to human kind.
But swear her first by those dread oaths that tie
The powers below, the blessed in the sky;
Lest to thee naked secret fraud be meant,
Or magic bind thee cold and impotent.
“Thus while he spoke, the sovereign plant he drew
Where on the all-bearing earth unmark’d it grew,
And show’d its nature and its wondrous power:
Black was the root, but milky white the flower;
Moly the name, to mortals hard to find,
But all is easy to the ethereal kind.
This Hermes gave, then, gliding off the glade,
Shot to Olympus from the woodland shade.
While, full of thought, revolving fates to come,
I speed my passage to the enchanted dome.
Arrived, before the lofty gates I stay’d;
The lofty gates the goddess wide display’d;
She leads before, and to the feast invites;
I follow sadly to the magic rites.
Radiant with starry studs, a silver seat
Received my limbs: a footstool eased my feet,
She mix’d the potion, fraudulent of soul;
The poison mantled in the golden bowl.
I took, and quaff’d it, confident in heaven.
Then waved the wand, and then the word was given.
‘Hence to thy fellows! (dreadful she began:)
Go, be a beast!’--I heard, and yet was man.