Academic journal article Parnassus : Poetry in Review

Palinurus: Aeneid, Book VI, Lines 349-383

Academic journal article Parnassus : Poetry in Review

Palinurus: Aeneid, Book VI, Lines 349-383

Article excerpt

i

"Bound to hold course and hold fast

to the wheel, I refused to let go

when gale-force dislodged it-and went down

when the helm went down.

But by tempest

and tide I swear my fear for myself

was less than my fear for the ship: what hope

had she then, her tiller torn off

and her steersman gone overboard, at the mercy

of mountainous seas? For three nights

a south wind hurled me and burled me

through horizonless surge,

then the fourth day at dawn

there was Italy, barely glimpsed

as I rose on a wave.

Little by litde I was making headway,

slugging and struggling to land

in my waterlogged clothes, getting a grip

on razor-backed ridges,

when savage locals came at me

mad for the kill, and that much the madder

at the thought of me as rich pickings.

Now surf keeps me dandled and shore winds

roll me in closer and closer."

ii

"You, therefore,

You the unbeaten, untouched,

I implore

by the cheerful light of the sky

and its winds, by your father

and your hopes as a father yourself,

get me out of this place, put an end

to my woes. Either

scatter the handful of earth

on my corpse, which you easily can

once you make your way back

above, to the anchorage, or else-

and this I ask in the knowledge

that gods take cognizance of you,

prepared as you are for this vastness

of river and Stygian marsh-

reach out your hand to a friend

who is suffering, take me with you

to the other side of the waves

so that in death at the least

I will find a calm haven. …

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