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Who, as he whilom watched the Libyan stars,
Had fallen, plunging from his lofty seat
Into the billowy deep. Aeneas now
Discerned his sad face through the blinding gloom,
And hailed him thus : “0 Palinurus, tell
What god was he who ravished thee away
From me and mine, beneath the o'crwhelming wave?
Speak on! for he who ne'er had spoke untrue,
Apollo's self, did mock my listening mind,
And chanted me a faithful oracle
That thou shouldst ride the seas unharmed, and touch
Ausonian shores. Is this the pledge divine?”
Then he, “0 chieftain of Anchises' race,
Apollo's tripod told thee not untrue.
No god did thrust me down beneath the wave,
For that strong rudder unto which I clung,
My charge and duty, and my ship's sole guide,
Wrenched from its place, dropped with me as I fell.
Not for myself—by the rude seas I swear—
Did I have terror, but lest thy good ship,
Stripped of her gear, and her poor pilot lost,
Should fail and founder in that rising flood.
Three wintry nights across the boundless main
The south wind buffeted and bore me on;
At the fourth daybreak, lifted from the surge,
I looked at last on Italy, and swam
With weary stroke on stroke unto the land.
Safe was I then. Alas! but as I climbed
With garments wet and heavy, my clenched hand
Grasping the steep rock, came a cruel horde
Upon me with drawn blades, accounting me—
So blind they were!—a wrecker's prize and spoil.
Now are the waves my tomb; and wandering winds
Toss me along the coast. 0, I implore,
By heaven's sweet light, by yonder upper air,
By thy lost father, by lulus dear,
Thy rising hope and joy, that from these woes,
Unconquered chieftain, thou wilt set me free!
Give me a grave where Velia's haven lies,
For thou hast power! Or if some path there be,
If thy celestial mother guide thee here
(For not, I ween, without the grace of gods
Wilt cross yon rivers vast, you Stygian pool)
Reach me a hand! and bear with thee along!
Until (least gift!) death bring me peace and calm.”
Such words he spoke: the priestess thus replied:
“Why, Palinurus, these unblest desires?
Wouldst thou, unsepulchred, behold the wave
Of Styx, stern river of th' Eumenides?
Wouldst thou, unbidden, tread its fearful strand?
Hope not by prayer to change the laws of Heaven!
But heed my words, and in thy memory
Cherish and keep, to cheer this evil time.
Lo, far and wide, led on by signs from Heaven,
Thy countrymen from many a templed town
Shall consecrate thy dust, and build thy tomb,
A tomb with annual feasts and votive flowers,
To Palinurus a perpetual fame!”
Thus was his anguish stayed, from his sad heart
Grief ebbed awhile, and even to this day,
Our land is glad such noble name to wear.
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