The Odyssey: Book 12 Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


After we were clear of the river Oceanus and had got out intoA
the open sea we went on till we reached the Aeaean island where thereB
is dawn and sunrise as in other places We then drew our ship on toA
the sands and got out of her on to the shore where we went to sleepC
and waited till day should breakD
Then when the child of morning rosy fingered Dawn appeared IE
sent some men to Circe's house to fetch the body of Elpenor We cutF
firewood from a wood where the headland jutted out into the sea andG
after we had wept over him and lamented him we performed his funeralH
rites When his body and armour had been burned to ashes we raisedI
a cairn set a stone over it and at the top of the cairn we fixed theJ
oar that he had been used to row withK
While we were doing all this Circe who knew that we had gotL
back from the house of Hades dressed herself and came to us as fastM
as she could and her maid servants came with her bringing us breadN
meat and wine Then she stood in the midst of us and said 'YouO
have done a bold thing in going down alive to the house of HadesP
and you will have died twice to other people's once now thenQ
stay here for the rest of the day feast your fill and go on withK
your voyage at daybreak tomorrow morning In the meantime I willR
tell Ulysses about your course and will explain everything to himS
so as to prevent your suffering from misadventure either by land orT
sea 'U
We agreed to do as she had said and feasted through the livelongD
day to the going down of the sun but when the sun had set and it cameV
on dark the men laid themselves down to sleep by the stern cablesW
of the ship Then Circe took me by the hand and bade me be seated awayX
from the others while she reclined by my side and asked me allY
about our adventuresZ
'So far so good ' said she when I had ended my story 'and now payX
attention to what I am about to tell you heaven itself indeedA2
will recall it to your recollection First you will come to the SirensB2
who enchant all who come near them If any one unwarily draws in tooA
close and hears the singing of the Sirens his wife and childrenC2
will never welcome him home again for they sit in a green field andG
warble him to death with the sweetness of their song There is a greatD2
heap of dead men's bones lying all around with the flesh stillR
rotting off them Therefore pass these Sirens by and stop yourT
men's ears with wax that none of them may hear but if you like youA
can listen yourself for you may get the men to bind you as youA
stand upright on a cross piece half way up the mast and they mustE2
lash the rope's ends to the mast itself that you may have theJ
pleasure of listening If you beg and pray the men to unloose youA
then they must bind you fasterF2
'When your crew have taken you past these Sirens I cannot give youA
coherent directions as to which of two courses you are to take I willR
lay the two alternatives before you and you must consider them forT
yourself On the one hand there are some overhanging rocks againstG2
which the deep blue waves of Amphitrite beat with terrific fury theJ
blessed gods call these rocks the Wanderers Here not even a birdH2
may pass no not even the timid doves that bring ambrosia to FatherF2
Jove but the sheer rock always carries off one of them and FatherF2
Jove has to send another to make up their number no ship that everF2
yet came to these rocks has got away again but the waves andG
whirlwinds of fire are freighted with wreckage and with the bodiesP
of dead men The only vessel that ever sailed and got through was theJ
famous Argo on her way from the house of Aetes and she too would haveI2
gone against these great rocks only that Juno piloted her past themJ2
for the love she bore to JasonC2
'Of these two rocks the one reaches heaven and its peak is lostK2
in a dark cloud This never leaves it so that the top is neverF2
clear not even in summer and early autumn No man though he had twentyL2
hands and twenty feet could get a foothold on it and climb it forT
it runs sheer up as smooth as though it had been polished In theJ
middle of it there is a large cavern looking West and turnedM2
towards Erebus you must take your ship this way but the cave is soN2
high up that not even the stoutest archer could send an arrow into itO2
Inside it Scylla sits and yelps with a voice that you might take to beL2
that of a young hound but in truth she is a dreadful monster and noN2
one not even a god could face her without being terror struck SheL2
has twelve mis shapen feet and six necks of the most prodigiousP2
length and at the end of each neck she has a frightful head withK
three rows of teeth in each all set very close together so that theyX
would crunch any one to death in a moment and she sits deep withinQ2
her shady cell thrusting out her heads and peering all round the rockD
fishing for dolphins or dogfish or any larger monster that she canR2
catch of the thousands with which Amphitrite teems No ship everF2
yet got past her without losing some men for she shoots out all herF2
heads at once and carries off a man in each mouthS2
'You will find the other rocks lie lower but they are so closeT2
together that there is not more than a bowshot between them AJ
large fig tree in full leaf grows upon it and under it lies theJ
sucking whirlpool of Charybdis Three times in the day does sheL2
vomit forth her waters and three times she sucks them down again seeL2
that you be not there when she is sucking for if you are NeptuneU2
himself could not save you you must hug the Scylla side and driveV2
ship by as fast as you can for you had better lose six men thanR2
your whole crew 'U
'Is there no way ' said I 'of escaping Charybdis and at theJ
same time keeping Scylla off when she is trying to harm my men 'U
'You dare devil ' replied the goddess you are always wanting toA
fight somebody or something you will not let yourself be beatenC2
even by the immortals For Scylla is not mortal moreover she isW2
savage extreme rude cruel and invincible There is no help forT
it your best chance will be to get by her as fast as ever you canR2
for if you dawdle about her rock while you are putting on your armourF2
she may catch you with a second cast of her six heads and snap upX2
another half dozen of your men so drive your ship past her at fullY2
speed and roar out lustily to Crataiis who is Scylla's dam badZ2
luck to her she will then stop her from making a second raid uponA3
'You will now come to the Thrinacian island and here you willR
see many herds of cattle and flocks of sheep belonging to the sun godB3
seven herds of cattle and seven flocks of sheep with fifty head inQ2
each flock They do not breed nor do they become fewer in number andG
they are tended by the goddesses Phaethusa and Lampetie who areC3
children of the sun god Hyperion by Neaera Their mother when sheL2
had borne them and had done suckling them sent them to theJ
Thrinacian island which was a long way off to live there and lookD
after their father's flocks and herds If you leave these flocksD3
unharmed and think of nothing but getting home you may yet afterF2
much hardship reach Ithaca but if you harm them then I forewarnE3
you of the destruction both of your ship and of your comrades andG
even though you may yourself escape you will return late in badZ2
plight after losing all your men 'U
Here she ended and dawn enthroned in gold began to show in heavenC2
whereon she returned inland I then went on board and told my men toA
loose the ship from her moorings so they at once got into her tookD
their places and began to smite the grey sea with their oarsF3
Presently the great and cunning goddess Circe befriended us with aJ
fair wind that blew dead aft and stayed steadily with us keeping ourF2
sails well filled so we did whatever wanted doing to the ship's gearG3
and let her go as wind and helmsman headed herF2
Then being much troubled in mind I said to my men 'My friendsH3
it is not right that one or two of us alone should know the propheciesP
that Circe has made me I will therefore tell you about them soN2
that whether we live or die we may do so with our eyes open First sheL2
said we were to keep clear of the Sirens who sit and sing mostI3
beautifully in a field of flowers but she said I might hear themJ2
myself so long as no one else did Therefore take me and bind me toA
the crosspiece half way up the mast bind me as I stand uprightJ3
with a bond so fast that I cannot possibly break away and lash theJ
rope's ends to the mast itself If I beg and pray you to set meL2
free then bind me more tightly still 'U
I had hardly finished telling everything to the men before weL2
reached the island of the two Sirens for the wind had been veryL2
favourable Then all of a sudden it fell dead calm there was not aJ
breath of wind nor a ripple upon the water so the men furled theJ
sails and stowed them then taking to their oars they whitened theJ
water with the foam they raised in rowing Meanwhile I look a largeK3
wheel of wax and cut it up small with my sword Then I kneaded the waxL3
in my strong hands till it became soft which it soon did betweenM3
the kneading and the rays of the sun god son of Hyperion Then IE
stopped the ears of all my men and they bound me hands and feet toA
the mast as I stood upright on the crosspiece but they went on rowingD
themselves When we had got within earshot of the land and the shipN3
was going at a good rate the Sirens saw that we were getting in shoreT
and began with their singingD
'Come here ' they sang 'renowned Ulysses honour to the AchaeanC2
name and listen to our two voices No one ever sailed past us withoutO3
staying to hear the enchanting sweetness of our song and he whoA
listens will go on his way not only charmed but wiser for we knowN2
all the ills that the gods laid upon the Argives and Trojans beforeT
Troy and can tell you everything that is going to happen over theJ
whole world 'U
They sang these words most musically and as I longed to hearP3
them further I made by frowning to my men that they should set meL2
free but they quickened their stroke and Eurylochus and PerimedesL3
bound me with still stronger bonds till we had got out of hearing ofQ3
the Sirens' voices Then my men took the wax from their ears andG
unbound meL2
Immediately after we had got past the island I saw a great waveR3
from which spray was rising and I heard a loud roaring sound The menQ
were so frightened that they loosed hold of their oars for theJ
whole sea resounded with the rushing of the waters but the shipN3
stayed where it was for the men had left off rowing I went roundS3
therefore and exhorted them man by man not to lose heartT3
'My friends ' said I 'this is not the first time that we have beenQ2
in danger and we are in nothing like so bad a case as when theJ
Cyclops shut us up in his cave nevertheless my courage and wiseL3
counsel saved us then and we shall live to look back on all this asL3
well Now therefore let us all do as I say trust in Jove and row onA3
with might and main As for you coxswain these are your ordersL3
attend to them for the ship is in your hands turn her head away fromU3
these steaming rapids and hug the rock or she will give you theJ
slip and be over yonder before you know where you are and you will beL2
the death of us 'U
So they did as I told them but I said nothing about the awfulH
monster Scylla for I knew the men would not on rowing if I did butF
would huddle together in the hold In one thing only did I disobeyX
Circe's strict instructions I put on my armour Then seizing twoA
strong spears I took my stand on the ship Is bows for it was thereB
that I expected first to see the monster of the rock who was to do myE
men so much harm but I could not make her out anywhere though IE
strained my eyes with looking the gloomy rock all over and overF2
Then we entered the Straits in great fear of mind for on the oneC2
hand was Scylla and on the other dread Charybdis kept sucking upX2
the salt water As she vomited it up it was like the water in aJ
cauldron when it is boiling over upon a great fire and the sprayX
reached the top of the rocks on either side When she began to suckD
again we could see the water all inside whirling round and round andG
it made a deafening sound as it broke against the rocks We couldV3
see the bottom of the whirlpool all black with sand and mud and theJ
men were at their wit's ends for fear While we were taken up withK
this and were expecting each moment to be our last Scylla pouncedW3
down suddenly upon us and snatched up my six best men I was lookingD
at once after both ship and men and in a moment I saw their hands andG
feet ever so high above me struggling in the air as Scylla wasL3
carrying them off and I heard them call out my name in one lastM
despairing cry As a fisherman seated spear in hand upon someU3
jutting rock throws bait into the water to deceive the poor littleH
fishes and spears them with the ox's horn with which his spear isL3
shod throwing them gasping on to the land as he catches them one byE
one even so did Scylla land these panting creatures on her rock andG
munch them up at the mouth of her den while they screamed andG
stretched out their hands to me in their mortal agony This was theJ
most sickening sight that I saw throughout all my voyagesL3
When we had passed the Wandering rocks with Scylla andG
terrible Charybdis we reached the noble island of the sun godB3
where were the goodly cattle and sheep belonging to the sunC2
Hyperion While still at sea in my ship I could bear the cattle lowingD
as they came home to the yards and the sheep bleating Then IE
remembered what the blind Theban prophet Teiresias had told me andG
how carefully Aeaean Circe had warned me to shun the island of theJ
blessed sun god So being much troubled I said to the men 'My menQ
I know you are hard pressed but listen while I tell you theJ
prophecy that Teiresias made me and how carefully Aeaean Circe warnedX3
me to shun the island of the blessed sun god for it was here sheL2
said that our worst danger would lie Head the ship thereforeT
away from the island 'U
The men were in despair at this and Eurylochus at once gave meL2
an insolent answer 'Ulysses ' said he 'you are cruel you are veryL2
strong yourself and never get worn out you seem to be made of ironY3
and now though your men are exhausted with toil and want of sleepC
you will not let them land and cook themselves a good supper upon thisL3
island but bid them put out to sea and go faring fruitlessly onA3
through the watches of the flying night It is by night that the windsL3
blow hardest and do so much damage how can we escape should one ofQ3
those sudden squalls spring up from South West or West which so oftenC2
wreck a vessel when our lords the gods are unpropitious NowZ3
therefore let us obey the of night and prepare our supper here hardA4
by the ship to morrow morning we will go on board again and put outO3
to sea 'U
Thus spoke Eurylochus and the men approved his words I saw thatB4
heaven meant us a mischief and said 'You force me to yield for youA
are many against one but at any rate each one of you must take hisL3
solemn oath that if he meet with a herd of cattle or a large flockD
of sheep he will not be so mad as to kill a single head of eitherF2
but will be satisfied with the food that Circe has given us 'U
They all swore as I bade them and when they had completed theirB
oath we made the ship fast in a harbour that was near a stream ofQ3
fresh water and the men went ashore and cooked their suppers As soonU2
as they had had enough to eat and drink they began talking aboutO3
their poor comrades whom Scylla had snatched up and eaten this setC4
them weeping and they went on crying till they fell off into a soundS3
In the third watch of the night when the stars had shifted theirB
places Jove raised a great gale of wind that flew a hurricane so thatB4
land and sea were covered with thick clouds and night sprang forthD4
out of the heavens When the child of morning rosy fingered DawnE4
appeared we brought the ship to land and drew her into a cave whereinQ2
the sea nymphs hold their courts and dances and I called the menQ
together in councilH
'My friends ' said I 'we have meat and drink in the ship let usL3
mind therefore and not touch the cattle or we shall suffer forT
it for these cattle and sheep belong to the mighty sun who seesL3
and gives ear to everything And again they promised that they wouldV3
For a whole month the wind blew steadily from the South andG
there was no other wind but only South and East As long as cornE3
and wine held out the men did not touch the cattle when they wereF2
hungry when however they had eaten all there was in the shipN3
they were forced to go further afield with hook and line catchingD
birds and taking whatever they could lay their hands on for theyX
were starving One day therefore I went up inland that I mightJ3
pray heaven to show me some means of getting away When I had gone farC3
enough to be clear of all my men and had found a place that wasL3
well sheltered from the wind I washed my hands and prayed to allY
the gods in Olympus till by and by they sent me off into a sweetF4
Meanwhile Eurylochus had been giving evil counsel to the menQ
'Listen to me ' said he 'my poor comrades All deaths are badZ2
enough but there is none so bad as famine Why should not we driveV2
in the best of these cows and offer them in sacrifice to theJ
immortal Rods If we ever get back to Ithaca we can build a fineG4
temple to the sun god and enrich it with every kind of ornament ifH4
however he is determined to sink our ship out of revenge for theseL3
homed cattle and the other gods are of the same mind I for one wouldV3
rather drink salt water once for all and have done with it than beL2
starved to death by inches in such a desert island as this is 'U
Thus spoke Eurylochus and the men approved his words Now theJ
cattle so fair and goodly were feeding not far from the ship theJ
men therefore drove in the best of them and they all stood roundS3
them saying their prayers and using young oak shoots instead ofQ3
barley meal for there was no barley left When they had doneC2
praying they killed the cows and dressed their carcasses they cut outO3
the thigh bones wrapped them round in two layers of fat and set someU3
pieces of raw meat on top of them They had no wine with which to makeD
drink offerings over the sacrifice while it was cooking so theyX
kept pouring on a little water from time to time while the inwardH2
meats were being grilled then when the thigh bones were burned andG
they had tasted the inward meats they cut the rest up small and putI4
the pieces upon the spitsL3
By this time my deep sleep had left me and I turned back to theJ
ship and to the sea shore As I drew near I began to smell hot roastI3
meat so I groaned out a prayer to the immortal gods 'Father Jove ' IE
exclaimed 'and all you other gods who live in everlasting blissL3
you have done me a cruel mischief by the sleep into which you haveI2
sent me see what fine work these men of mine have been making in myE
absence 'U
Meanwhile Lampetie went straight off to the sun and told him we hadZ2
been killing his cows whereon he flew into a great rage and saidN
to the immortals 'Father Jove and all you other gods who live inQ2
everlasting bliss I must have vengeance on the crew of Ulysses' shipN3
they have had the insolence to kill my cows which were the oneC2
thing I loved to look upon whether I was going up heaven or downJ4
again If they do not square accounts with me about my cows I will goN2
down to Hades and shine there among the dead 'U
'Sun ' said Jove 'go on shining upon us gods and upon mankind overF2
the fruitful earth I will shiver their ship into little pieces with aJ
bolt of white lightning as soon as they get out to sea 'U
I was told all this by Calypso who said she had heard it fromU3
the mouth of MercuryL2
As soon as I got down to my ship and to the sea shore I rebukedK4
each one of the men separately but we could see no way out of it forT
the cows were dead already And indeed the gods began at once toA
show signs and wonders among us for the hides of the cattle crawledL4
about and the joints upon the spits began to low like cows and theJ
meat whether cooked or raw kept on making a noise just as cows doA
For six days my men kept driving in the best cows and feasting uponA3
them but when Jove the son of Saturn had added a seventh day theJ
fury of the gale abated we therefore went on board raised our mastsL3
spread sail and put out to sea As soon as we were well away from theJ
island and could see nothing but sky and sea the son of SaturnY3
raised a black cloud over our ship and the sea grew dark beneathM4
it We not get on much further for in another moment we were caughtL
by a terrific squall from the West that snapped the forestays of theJ
mast so that it fell aft while all the ship's gear tumbled about atB4
the bottom of the vessel The mast fell upon the head of theJ
helmsman in the ship's stern so that the bones of his head wereF2
crushed to pieces and he fell overboard as though he were divingD
with no more life left in himS
Then Jove let fly with his thunderbolts and the ship went roundS3
and round and was filled with fire and brimstone as the lightningD
struck it The men all fell into the sea they were carried about inQ2
the water round the ship looking like so many sea gulls but theJ
god presently deprived them of all chance of getting home againQ
I stuck to the ship till the sea knocked her sides from her keelN4
which drifted about by itself and struck the mast out of her inQ2
the direction of the keel but there was a backstay of stoutO3
ox thong still hanging about it and with this I lashed the mast andG
keel together and getting astride of them was carried wherever theJ
winds chose to take meL2
The gale from the West had now spent its force and the wind gotL
into the South again which frightened me lest I should be takenC2
back to the terrible whirlpool of Charybdis This indeed was whatF
actually happened for I was borne along by the waves all night andG
by sunrise had reacfied the rock of Scylla and the whirlpool She wasL3
then sucking down the salt sea water but I was carried aloft towardO4
the fig tree which I caught hold of and clung on to like a bat IE
could not plant my feet anywhere so as to stand securely for theJ
roots were a long way off and the boughs that overshadowed the wholeP4
pool were too high too vast and too far apart for me to reachQ4
them so I hung patiently on waiting till the pool should dischargeK3
my mast and raft again and a very long while it seemed A jurymanC2
is not more glad to get home to supper after having been longD
detained in court by troublesome cases than I was to see my raftR4
beginning to work its way out of the whirlpool again At last I let goN2
with my hands and feet and fell heavily into the sea bard by my raftR4
on to which I then got and began to row with my hands As for ScyllaJ
the father of gods and men would not let her get further sight ofQ3
me otherwise I should have certainly been lostK2
Hence I was carried along for nine days till on the tenth night theJ
gods stranded me on the Ogygian island where dwells the great andG
powerful goddess Calypso She took me in and was kind to me but IE
need say no more about this for I told you and your noble wife allY
about it yesterday and I hate saying the same thing over and overF2



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