from "THE AENEID" - VTHE SLEEP OF PALINURUS
Virgil (P. Vergilius Maro)trans. William Morris
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cui uix attollens Palinurus lumina fatur:
‘mene salis placidi uultum fluctusque quietos
ignorare iubes? mene huic confidere monstro?
Aenean credam (quid enim?) fallacibus auris
et caeli totiens deceptus fraude sereni?'
talia dicta dabat, clauumque adfixus et haerens
nusquam amittebat oculosque sub astra tenebat.
ecce deus ramum Lethaeo rore madentem
uique soporatum Stygia super utraque quassat
tempora, cunctantique natantia lumina soluit.
uix primos inopina quies laxauerat artus,
et super incumbens cum puppis parte reuulsa
cumque gubernaclo liquidas proiecit in undas
praecipitem ac socios nequiquam saepe uocantem;
ipse uolans tenuis se sustulit ales ad auras.
currit iter tutum non setius aequore classis
promissisque patris Neptuni interrita fertur.
iamque adeo scopulos Sirenum aduecta subibat,
difficilis quondam multorumque ossibus albos
(tum rauca adsiduo longe sale saxa sonabant),
cum pater amisso fluitantem errare magistro
sensit, et ipse ratem nocturnis rexit in undis
multa gemens casuque animum concussus amici:
‘o minium caelo et pelago confise sereno,
nudus in ignota, Palinure, lacebis harena.'

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But Palinure with scarce-raised eyes e'en such an answer gave:
'To gentle countenance of sea and quiet of the wave
Deem’st thou me dull? would'st have me trow in such a monster's
truth?
And shall I mine Aeneas trust to lying breeze forsooth,
I, fool of peaceful heaven and sea so many times of old?'

So saying to the helm he clung, nor ever left his hold,
And all the while the stars above his eyen toward them drew.
But lo, the God brought forth a bough wet with Lethean dew,
And sleepy with the might of Styx, and shook it therewithal
Over his brow, and loosed his lids delaying still to fall:
But scarce in first of stealthy sleep his limbs all loosened lay,
When, weighing on him, did he tear a space of stern away,
And rolled him, helm and wrack and all, into the flowing wave
Headlong, and crying oft in vain for fellowship to save:
Then Sleep himself amid thin air flew, borne upon the wing.

No less the ship-host sails the sea, its safe way following
Untroubled 'neath the plighted word of Father Neptune's mouth.
So to the Sirens' rocks they draw, a dangerous pass forsooth
In yore agone, now white with bones of many a perished man.
Thence ever roared the salt sea now as on the rocks it ran;
And there the Father felt the ship fare wild and fitfully,
Her helmsman lost; so he himself steered o'er the night-tide sea,
Sore weeping; for his fellow’s end his inmost heart did touch:
'O Palinure, that trowed the sky and soft seas overmuch,
Now naked on an unknown shore thy resting-place shall be!'

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

Publ. Penguin Books




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