The Odyssey Book 19

A New Blank Verse Translation

Hashing enmeshed mashing thoughts Odysseus ethereal,

Devising revising miserly, with Athena ethereal, he materializes

The bloody death, heady rush of the lust-and-bed-seeking boobs;

Fly fast, feathered words, to a fledging son, Telemachos.

“Son, entomb the tackle of war within an inner room;

Then with words and wile let the lust-longers’

Inquisitive questions find fitting cause.

‘Smoke — believe me — screens these paleo-pater, gossamer goods,

So lustrous before Odysseus’ flight to war;

Now made cantankerous by the blazes’ black belch.

Wait! What great badness Beelzebub bubbles into my heart!

What if drunk, some belligerence burst between you?

Wounding one another, and in blood you blight the feast,

Corrupt the courtship? For men are metal magnets.”

Father addresses son beloved son obeys father,

Out and apart Telemachos now calling says “dear mother,” to Eurakleia

“Do, please, indeed, guard, if you would, the women away from me,

While I might lay to rest father’s fine weapons.

They are strewn about the house unordered, you see, made nasty with smoke,

While father’s been away; I was at play (still a child),

But now they will be entombed, far from fires fumigation.”

Him, the beloved son you adored you answered him.

“Ai Goodness! its about time! Son, lets see such savvy undertaken,

Not just with dead weapons, but fighting for castle and coin.

I wonder who will light your way, in this obscured quest,

When you would permit not one woman come along?”

Answering her again mindful Telemachos again turned answering

“Forget not the bob-a-tail. Man cannot remain deedless

While sapping my stores, be he from near or far.”

So there, he spoke, and her penguin words were flightless.

Lock; stock; block the portal to the inner room like a rock

Quick spring to, Odysseus and illustrious son

Carry war gear, helmet and shield,

Sharpened blade and pointed steel into the belly of the house.

Shine aloft Athena celestial, gilded apparition, give forth illumination.

Telemachos addressed his father forthwith to his father he said

“O father, what absolute wonder in vision strikes my eyes?

How the round walls, the naves of the wooded roof

And our houses’ lofty supports all around seem

To glow, illuminating the room as if kindled to fire.

Verily some God is within? Those high wide sky-meisters.

To him you replied maverick Odysseus replied to him saying

“Hold your tongue, check your vagrant mind, and stop inquiring;

Such mystery-customs are of the Gods, those Olympus-rompers, not ours.

Enough, to bed with you. I’ll stay up around

To incite some revolt in the maids and in your mother.

She will put questions to me (lamenting), my ways somewhat revealing.

He spoke thus, and Telemachos parted from his domed home

Wishing for his room, luminous-warm with torches

There he was oft lulled to rest, when succulent sleep would own him.

Then and there he reposes and waits in breath and beat for Eoe, Dawn Divine.

Now

Hashing enmeshed mashing thoughts Odysseus ethereal,

Devising revising miserly, with Athena ethereal, he materializes

The bloody death, heady rush of lust-and-bed-seeking boobs;

Then

Out of her chambers, emerged Penelope, her wits about her,

Artimis-resembling or like gilded Aphrodite.

A chair for her majesty! So there she may sit, sidled by the fire’s warmth.

What a chair, ringed round about in silver and ivory. Once smithed

By Ikmalios. To cushion the feet, the chair sprouted

A broad ottoman. Softly made fleeces covered aloft.

It was there Penelope the queen sat, her wits about her.

Next, in flowed the women, white-armed; in flowed

Food and the tables for them, and for them — those haughty masters,

Wine awash and the cups containing, so they might glut their thirst.

And the women trashed fire’s ash, and in its rancid place,

A new heap replaced, mounting up fire’s food for luminous-warmth.

Then chided Melantho great Odysseus a second time.

“Stranger, do you yet reign royally through the night

Roving in the house leering viciously at the women?

Remove yourself, you fuddy-duddy, and suffer some service to the feast;

Or quick as a wink and fast as fire you’re out the door.”

To her a dark look loomed. Poly-multi-tri-duo-minded Odysseus said,

“Fork-tongued broad, why attack me? Are you in love with wrath?

Is it because I am the grimy man, and slimy, with slob-cloathes on the skin.

Is it because I beg house to house? Need compels more than you know.

So are such men as I, roving and homeless.

Did not always dwell in this hell, you know. Once, among men, I owned a home.

Fat and rich, I gave many times to vagrants,

Whatever their need, whenever they came.

I had 10,000 maids, and many sheep.

By them I lived well and could have been called wealthy.

But Kronos’ son Zeus, sacked it all — Why? — Don’t ask me.

Now listen up, woman, lest what beauties you excel in today

Tomorrow could be hung out to dry.

Your mistress might love wrath too and get strict with you,

Or Odysseus might come, for hope persists even in his lot, being what it is.

Though if he’s dead and rotting, he won’t be able to come home.

But, wait a sec, by Apollo’s grace! The child, Telemachos! Nobody’s

Arrogance, especially that of the maids, he will not let slip. He’s no kid — not anymore.

Thus he spake, and thus listened Penelope, her wits about her.

With a rebuking word she confronted her attendant.

“Bitch — rash and willful in all ways — you escaped not my senses

Nor your over-stepping deed, and now you must live it down.

You knew — from my very lips! — you knew my plan

That I would question the stranger in my halls concerning

Tell-tale signs of my husband — spring of all my troubles.”

Then, with grace, she lifted her voice to a maid, Euronome.

“Fetch, please, a stool, Euronome. Deck it with a fleece.

So that, off his feet, my stranger might say a word and listen too.

I desire to ask him questions.”

So she spoke. Instantly brought and set down was

A chair, fashioned with skill, and atop it thrown a fleece.

There, after much suffering, sat Odysseus like a god.

Her wits ever about her, Penelope began the exchange.

“Stranger, the first question is mine to ask.

From men you stem, but of what sort? Which is your city? Which your parents?”

And you spoke strategic-minded Odysseus to her in answer.

“O good woman, no creature death-constricted on this unbounded earth

can resent you, for a fame like yours spans the broad heavens.

Like an illustrious king, to whom belongs the duty of governance

Over a city of god-fearing and valiant men.

The blush earth engenders wheat and barely;

The trees are birth-heavy with fruit;

The sheep yield lambs, the sea bears fresh wide fish;

Even the people flourish under this king.

But, please, put your questions to matters of another sort in this house.

Do not ask about my generation or fatherland.

You might fill my spirit with distresses

As I remember; many grievous things are in me; and not I (indeed no one)

Aught to grace a home unknown bewailing and beweeping

Because endless greif’s no virtue.

Somebody may call me out, among the maids, or you yourself,

And say my heart is filled full with wine, not tears.”

In turn, thus spoke multi-tasking Penelope to him.

“Stranger, the gods have all destroyed my virtue, beauty and body

for when towards grievous Illium Argive men took their leave

with them went my husband, Odysseus.

Such a man, if he would return and earn his keep beside me

Word of my wide fame would be better and more beautiful.

Trouble besets me as it is; evil demons invoke so many things against me.

The aristocrats of the islands,

From Dolichios, Same and wooded Dzakunthos,

Even the men from shining Ithaca itself, have established themselves under my roof.

They woo me. Since I am an unwilling woman, they turn to pilfering my home

And therefore cannot pay due hospitality to strangers, suppliants,

servants, or to men of professional skills.

Yearning after Odysseus, the loved, I’ve pawned my heart for lamentation.

Wedding bells hold the prize in these men’s eyes; but I weave wiles.

I began a veiled mantel, inspired in me by some demon.

So I stood the stolid loom beneath the roof’s dome to weave it,

Fine-threaded and wide encompassing. Soon I addressed the company

‘O boys, my suitors, since Odysseus divine died long before now,

wait, endure and oppress your eagerness after me, until this veiled mantel

might see its last thread wound, lest my woman’s work fail at producing

Laertes’ martial pall. So when his

Loathsom lot befalls him, Death the tide of woe,

Nobody of the common Argive women utter a reproach of me,

As if, when owning much, he is underdressed when undertaken.’

Their over-weaning hearts! I won them with these words.

By day the great pall ever increased

By night, the threads, I unbound them by torches set alight.

Thus three years parted; but, after four — the seasons billowing forwards,

The months dying, and many days were coming to a close —

Only then, by my maids, the careless whores,

The men came approaching me reproaching.

So I wrapped it up, against my will, and under duress.

Marriage cannot be escaped now. My parents demand my going;

The child wilts, his house torn down around him,

Aware of everything, for he is manly, very capable now

Of protecting his house, and Zeus bestowed that grace about him.

But things being what they are, tell me your generation, where you are from.

You are sprung from no oak nor rock.

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Braus

Educator, Founder, Engineer. Interested in Evidence Based Education and Solving BIG Problems.