Muse, / tell me of this man of wit

tell me of this man of wil,
who roamed long years
after he had sacked
Troy's sacred streets.
All the rest
who had escaped death,
fleeing battle and the sea;
only Odysseus,
captive of a goddess,
desperate and home-sick,
thought but of his wife and palace;
but Calypso,
that nymph and spirit,
yearning in the furrowed rock-shelf,
and sought to be his mistress;
but years passed,
the time was ripe,
the gods decreed,
(although traitors plot
to betray him in his own court),
he was to return
to Ithaca;
and all the gods pitied him;
but Poseidon
steadfast to the last
god-like Odysseus

The sea-god visited
a distant folk,
who at the edge of earth
are divided into two parts,
(half watch the sun rise,
half, the sun set),
there the hecatomb
of slain sheep and oxen
await his revels:
and while he rejoiced
seated at the feast,
the rest of the gods
gathered in the palace of Olympian Zeus;
and the father of men and of gods spoke thus:
(for he remembered bright Egisthus,
slain of Agamemnon's child,
great Orestes:)

O you spirits,
how men hate the gods,
for they say evil comes of us,
when they themselves,
by their own wickedness,
court peril
beyond their fate;
so Egisthus, defiant,
sought Agamemnon's wife
and slew Agamemnon
returning to his own palace,
though we ourselves
sent bright Hermes,
slayer of Argos,
to warn him
lest Orestes,
attaining to man's estate,
demand his inheritance
and take vengeance:
we forbade him to strike the king,
we warned him to respect his wife;
but could Hermes
of gracious aspect,
subtle with kindly speech,
thus avert the foul work?

Then the grey-eyed Athene,
the goddess spoke:
O my father, Kronos begot,
first among the great,
his death at least was just,
so may all perish who en thus;
but my heart is rent
for the prudent Odysseus,
who exiled from his friends,
is kept too long distressed
in an island, sea swept,
in the sea midst,
a forest island,
haunt of a spirit,
child of Atlas,
crafty of thought,
who knows the sea depth,
who supports the high pillars
which cut sky from earth;
it is his child
who keeps Odysseus
lamenting with broken heart,
ceaseless to tempt him
with soft and tender speech,
that he forget Ithaca;
but Odysseus,
yearning to see but the smoke
drift above his own house,
prefers death;
your heart, is it not touched,
O Olympian?
did not Odysseus please you
when he made sacrifice
before the Grecian ships
in great Troy?
why are you angry, Zeus?

Then Zeus,
keeper of the clouds,
answering her, spoke:
O my child
what quaint words
have sped your lips,
for how could I forget.
the god-like Odysseus,
a spirit surpassing men,
first to make sacrifice
to the deathless
in the sky-space?
but Poseidon,
girder of earth,
though yet he spares his life,
nurtures unending hate;
he goads him from place to place
because of the Cyclops
blinded of Odysseus,
Polyphemus, half-god,
greatest of the Cyclops,
whom the nymph Thoosa,
child of Phorcys,
king of the waste sea, begot
when she lay with Poseidon
among the shallow rocks:
but come,
let us plot
to reinstate Odysseus,
and Poseidon must abandon his wrath;
for what can one god accomplish,
striving alone
to defy all the deathless?

Then the grey-eyed Athene,
the goddess, spoke:
O my father, Kronos begot,
first among the great,
if then it seems just
to the highest,
that Odysseus return
to his own house,
let us swiftly send
Hermes, slayer of Argos,
your attendant,
that he state
to the fair-haired nymph,
our irrevocable wish,
that Odysseus,
valiant of heart,
be sent back:
and I will depart to Ithaca,
to incite his son,
to put courage in his heart,
that he call to the market-place
the long-haired Greeks
and shut his gates
to the pretendants
who ceaselessly devour his flocks,
sheep and horned oxen
of gentle pace:
that he strive
for his father's sake
and gain favour
in men's thoughts,
I will send him to Sparta,
to Pylos' sandy waste.

She spoke
and about her feet
clasped bright sandals,
gold-wrought, imperishable,
which lift her above sea,
across the land stretch,
like the wind breath.
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