From Idyl XXII. (Pictures From Theocritus - From Idyl I.)

A poem by William Lisle Bowles

When the famed Argo now secure had passed
The crushing rocks,[1] and that terrific strait
That guards the wintry Pontic, the tall ship
Reached wild Bebrycia's shores; bearing like gods
Her god-descended chiefs. They, from her sides,
With scaling steps descend, and on the shore,
Savage, and sad, and beat by ocean winds,
Strewed their rough beds, and on the casual fire
The vessels place. The brothers, by themselves,
CASTOR and red-haired POLLUX, wander far
Into the forest solitudes. A wood
Immense and dark, shagging the mountain side,
Before them rose; a cold and sparkling fount
Welled with perpetual lapse, beneath its feet,
Of purest water clear; scattering below,
Streams as of silver and of crystal rose,
Bright from the bottom: Pines, of stateliest height,
Poplar, and plane, and cypress, branching wide,
Were near, thick bordered by the scented flowers
That lured the honeyed bee, when spring declines,
Thick swarming o'er the meadows. There all day
A huge man sat, of savage, wild aspect;
His breast stood roundly forward, his broad back
Seemed as of iron, such as might befit
A vast Colossus sculptured. Full to view
The muscles of his brawny shoulders stood,
Like the round mountain-stones the torrent wave
Has polished; from his neck and back hung down
A lion's skin, held by its claws. Him first
The red-haired youth addressed: Hail, stranger, hail,
And say, what tribes unknown inhabit here!
Take to the seas thy Hail: I ask it not,
Who never saw before, or thee, or thine.
Courage! thou seest not men that are unjust
Or cruel.
Courage shall I learn from thee!
Thy heart is savage; thou art passion's slave.
Such as I am thou seest; but land of thine
I tread not.
Come, these hospitable gifts
Accept, and part in peace.
No: not from thee.
My gifts are yet in store.
Say, may we drink
Of this clear fount?
Ask, when wan thirst has parched
Thy lips.
What present shall I give to thee?
None. Stand before me as a man; lift high
Thy brandished arms, and try, weak pugilist,
Thy strength.
But say, with whom shall I contend?
Thou seest him here; nor in his art unskilled.
Then what shall be the prize of him who wins?
Or thou shalt be my slave, or I be thine.
The crested birds so fight.
Whether like birds
Or lions, for no other prize fight we!
He said: and sounded loud his hollow conch;
The gaunt Bebrycian brethren, at the sound,
With long lank hair, come flocking to the shade
Of that vast plain.
Then Castor hied, and called
The hero chiefs from the Magnesian[2] ship.

Reader Comments

Tell us what you think of 'From Idyl XXII. (Pictures From Theocritus - From Idyl I.)' by William Lisle Bowles

comments powered by Disqus