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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Ulysses and Nausicaa

By George Chapman (1559?–1634)

From the Translation of Homer’s Odyssey, Book Six

STRAIGHT rose the lovely Morn, that up did raise

Fair-veil’d Nausicaa, whose dream her praise

To admiration took; who no time spent

To give the rapture of her vision vent

To her loved parents, whom she found within.

Her mother set at fire, who had to spin

A rock, whose tincture with sea-purple shined;

Her maids about her. But she chanced to find

Her father going abroad, to council call’d

By his grave Senate; and to him exhaled

Her smother’d bosom was:—“Loved sire,” said she,

“Will you not now command a coach for me,

Stately and complete? fit for me to bear

To wash at flood the weeds I cannot wear

Before re-purified? Yourself it fits

To wear fair weeds, as every man that sits

In place of council. And five sons you have,

Two wed, three bachelors, that must be brave

In every day’s shift, that they may go dance;

For these three last with these things must advance

Their states in marriage; and who else but I,

Their sister, should their dancing rites supply?”

This general cause she shew’d, and would not name

Her mind of nuptials to her sire, for shame.

He understood her yet, and thus replied:—

“Daughter! nor these, nor any grace beside,

I either will deny thee, or defer,

Mules, nor a coach, of state and circular,

Fitting at all parts. Go; my servants shall

Serve thy desires, and thy command in all.”

The servants then commanded soon obey’d,

Fetch’d coach, and mules join’d in it. Then the Maid

Brought from the chamber her rich weeds, and laid

All up in coach; in which her mother placed

A maund of victuals, varied well in taste,

And other junkets. Wine she likewise fill’d

Within a goat-skin bottle, and distill’d

Sweet and moist oil into a golden cruse,

Both for her daughter’s and her handmaid’s use,

To soften their bright bodies, when they rose

Cleansed from their cold baths. Up to coach then goes

Th’ observed Maid; takes both the scourge and reins;

And to her side her handmaid straight attains.

Nor these alone, but other virgins, graced

The nuptial chariot. The whole bevy placed,

Nausicaa scourged to make the coach-mules run,

That neigh’d, and paced their usual speed, and soon

Both maids and weeds brought to the river-side,

Where baths for all the year their use supplied.

Whose waters were so pure they would not stain,

But still ran fair forth; and did more remain

Apt to purge stains, for that purged stain within,

Which by the water’s pure store was not seen.

These, here arrived, the mules uncoach’d, and drave

Up the gulfy river’s shore, that gave

Sweet grass to them. The maids from coach then took

Their clothes, and steep’d them in the sable brook;

Then put them into springs, and trod them clean

With cleanly feet; adventuring wagers then,

Who should have soonest and most cleanly done.

When having thoroughly cleansed, they spread them on

The flood’s shore, all in order. And then, where

The waves the pebbles wash’d, and ground was clear,

They bathed themselves, and all with glittering oil

Smooth’d their white skins; refreshing then their toil

With pleasant dinner, by the river’s side.

Yet still watch’d when the sun their clothes had dried.

Till which time, having dined, Nausicaa

With other virgins did at stool-ball play,

Their shoulder-reaching head-tires laying by.

Nausicaa, with the wrists of ivory,

The liking stroke strook, singing first a song,

As custom order’d, and amidst the throng

Made such a shew, and so past all was seen,

As when the chaste-born, arrow-loving Queen,

Along the mountains gliding, either over

Spartan Taygetus, whose tops far discover,

Or Eurymanthus, in the wild boar’s chace,

Or swift-hooved hart, and with her Jove’s fair race,

The field Nymphs, sporting; amongst whom, to see

How far Diana had priority

(Though all were fair) for fairness; yet of all,

(As both by head and forehead being more tall)

Latona triumph’d, since the dullest sight

Might easily judge whom her pains brought to light;

Nausicaa so, whom never husband tamed,

Above them all in all the beauties flamed.

But when they now made homewards, and array’d,

Ordering their weeds; disorder’d as they play’d,

Mules and coach ready, then Minerva thought

What means to wake Ulysses might be wrought,

That he might see this lovely-sighted maid,

Whom she intended should become his aid,

Bring him to town, and his return advance.

Her mean was this, though thought a stool-ball chance:

The queen now, for the upstroke, strook the ball

Quite wide off th’ other maids, and made it fall

Amidst the whirlpools. At which outshriek’d all,

And with the shriek did wise Ulysses wake;

Who, sitting up, was doubtful who should make

That sudden outcry, and in mind thus strived:—

“On what a people am I now arrived?

At civil hospitable men, that fear

The gods? or dwell injurious mortals here,

Unjust and churlish? Like the female cry

Of youth it sounds. What are they? Nymphs bred high

On tops of hills, or in the founts of floods,

In herby marshes, or in leavy woods?

Or are they high-spoke men I now am near?

I’ll prove and see.” With this the wary peer

Crept forth the thicket, and an olive bough

Broke with his broad hand; which he did bestow

In covert of his nakedness, and then

Put hasty head out. Look how from his den

A mountain lion looks, that, all embrued

With drops of trees, and weatherbeaten-hued,

Bold of his strength goes on, and in his eye

A burning furnace glows, all bent to prey

On sheep, or oxen, or the upland hart,

His belly charging him, and he must part

Stakes with the herdsman in his beasts’ attempt,

Even where from rape their strengths are most exempt:

So wet, so weather-beat, so stung with need,

Even to the home-fields of the country’s breed

Ulysses was to force forth his access,

Though merely naked; and his sight did press

The eyes of soft-haired virgins. Horrid was

His rough appearance to them; the hard pass

He had at sea stuck by him. All in flight

The virgins scattered, frighted with this sight,

About the prominent windings of the flood.

All but Nausicaa fled; but she fast stood:

Pallas had put a boldness in her breast,

And in her fair limbs tender fear comprest.

And still she stood him, as resolved to know

What man he was; or out of what should grow

His strange repair to them.