The Deeds of Jason

Morris wrote in ink and made some corrections on the pages opposite his text. Words or passages which have been thus corrected are indicated by a star, and I have entered Morris’s corrections but indicated the original version at the bottom of the transcription of the folio in which they appeared; in unclear instances the passage has been left unchanged and an explanation provided below.

HM6434 notebook 1, ff. 1-73
notebook 2, ff. 74-168

Note at top of first page: This is all that was preserved of the original ms. of Jason in Morris’s autograph -- F. S. Ellis

[folio 1]

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The Deeds of Jason

Jason the son of Aeson King of Iolchus, having come to man’s estate demanded of Pelias his fa-thers kingdom, from which Pelias had wrongfully driven him. But Pelias said that if he would bring from Cholchis the golden fleece of the Ram that had carried Phrisius thither, he would then give up the kingdom to him. Whereon Jason sailed to Cholchis in the Argo with other heroes, and by means of Medea the King’s daughter won the fleece; and carried off also Medea, and so after many troubles came back to Iolchus again: There by Medea’s wiles was Pelias slain, but Jason went to Corinth and lived with Medea happily till he was taken with the love of Glauce the King’s daughter of Corinth, and must needs wed her, whom also Medea destroyed and fled to Aegeus at Athens, and not long after Jason died strangely.

In Thessaly beside the sounding sea
There dwelt a folk men called the Minyae

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For, coming from Orchonemus the old,
Bearing their wives and children, beasts and gold,
Through many a league of land they took their way,
And stopped at last where in a sunny bay
The green Anaurus clears the white sea-sand
And northward inland doth mount Pelion stand
Where shaggy bears the centaur’s arrows find;
And southward in a gentle sea and kind
Nigh landlocked, peopled with all kinds of fish,
And the good land yields all tha[t] man can wish.

So there they built Iolchus that each day
Grew great, until all these were passed away
With many another, and Cretheus the king
Had died, and left his crown and everything
To Aeson his own son by fair Tyro;
Who in unhappy days and long ago
A God had loved, whose son was Pelias

And so within a while it came to pass
This Pelias being covetous and strong,
And full of wiles, and deeming nought was wrong
That wrought him good, thrust Aeson from his throne

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And over all the Minyae reigned alone.
While Aeson like a poor and feeble lord
Dwelt in Iolchus still, nor was his word
Regarded much by any man therein,
Nor did men labour much his praise to win.

Now mid all this this [rep.] a fair young son he had,
And when his state thus fell from good to bad
He thought, though Pelias leave me now alone,
Yet he may wish to make quite sure his throne
By slaying me and mine some evil day;
Therefore the child will I straight send away
Ere Pelias feels his high seat tottering
And gets to know the terrors of a king,
That blood alone can deaden: Therewithal
A faithful slave unto him did he call,
And bade him from his nurses take the child
And bear him forth unto the forest wild
About the foot of Pelion: There should he
Blow loudly on a horn of ivory
That Aeson gave him, then would come to him
A centaur grave of face and large of limb,
Before whom he should fall upon his knees

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And, holding forth the child, say words like these,
O my lord Cheiron, Aeson sends me here,
To say, if you have held him dear
Take now this child his son, and rear him up
Till we have fully drained the bitter cup
The fates have filled for us, and if times change
While through the peaceful oakwood here you range,
And the crown comes upon the young king’s head
Then, though a king right fair apparelled,
Yet unto you shall he be but a slave,
Since now from fear his tender years you save;
And then,” quoth Aeson, “all these words being said
Hold out this ring, set with a ruby red,
Adorned with dainty little images,
And this same horn whereon twixt carven trees,
Diana follows up the flying hart;
They shall be signs of truth upon your part.
Then leave the child with him, and come to me
Minding what words the centaur saith to thee,
But of him needst thou have no whit of fear.
And ere thou goest bring me the child here.”

Then went the man, and came again to him

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With Jason, who was strong and large of limb
As for his years, and now upon his feet
Went firmly, and began to feel life sweet,
And longed for this and that, and on his tongue,
Bewildered, half articulate, speech hung.

But Aeson when he saw the sturdy boy
His fair round limbs, and face all lit with joy
Of very life, sighed deeply, and he said,
Ah child, I pray the Gods to spare thine head
The burden of a crown; were it not good
That thou shouldst live and die within this wood
That clothes the feet of Pelion; knowing nought
Of all the things by foolish men so sought;
For there no doubt is everything man needs;
The quiver with the iron-pointed reeds,
The cornel bow, the wood-knife at the side,
The garments of the spotted leopards hide,
The bed of bear-skin in the hollow hill,
The bath within the pool of some green rill.
There shall the quick-eyed centaurs be thy friends
Unto whose hearts such wisdom great Jove sends
They know the past and future, and fear nought

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That by the fates upon them may be brought.
And when the spring brings love, then mayst thou find
In some fair grassy place the wood-nymphs kind,
There choose thy mate, and with her hand in hand
Go wandering through the blossoming sweet land,
And nought of evil shall there be to thee,
But like the golden age shall all things be.
And when upon thee comes the fatal day
Fearless and painless shall thou pass away.”

So spoke he, foolishly, nor knew indeed
How many hearts hi son should make to bleed,
How many griefs his head, whitened with care
Long ere its time, before his death should bear.

Now since the moonless night and dark was come
Time was it that the child should leave his home.
And saddled in the court the stout horse stood
That was to bear them to the centaur’s wood,
And the tried slave stood ready by his lord
With wallet on his back and sharpened sword
Girt to his side: to whom the horn and ring,
Fit for the belt and finger of a king

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Did Aeson give, and therewith kissed the boy
Who with his black beard played and laughed for joy
To see the war-horse in the red torch-light.
When, being mounted forth into [the] night
They rode, and thus has Jason left his home.

All night they rode, and at the dawn being come
Unto the outskirts of the forest wild
They left the horse, and the still sleeping child
The slave bore in his arms, until they came
Unto the place where living free from blame
Cheiron the old roamed through the oaken-wood.
There by a flowering thorn-bush the slave stood,
And set the little Jason on the ground,
Who waking from sweet sleep looked all around
And gan to prattle, but his guardian drew
The horn from off his neck, and thereon blew
A point of hunting known to two or three
That sounded through the forest merrily
Then waited listening.
And meantime the sun
Thence from Euboean Cliffs, had just begun

[f. 8]

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To light the high tips of the forest grass
And in the thorns the blackbird singing was;
But mid his noise the listening man could hear
The sound of hoofs, whereat a little fear
He felt within his heart, and heeded nought
The struggling of the child who ever sought
To gain the horn, that glittered all of gold
Wrought by the sculptor Daedalus of old.

But louder still the noise upon him grew
Until at last in sight the centaur grew [for drew?]
A mighty grey horse trotting down the glade
Over whose back the long grey locks were laid
That from his reverend head abroad did flow.
For to the waist was man, but all below
A mighty horse once roan, now well-nigh white
With lapse of years: with oak-wreaths was he dight
Where man joined unto horse, and on his head
He wore a gold crown set with rubies red,
And in his hand he bore a mighty bow,
No man could bend of those that battle now.

So when he saw him coming through the trees

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The trembling slave sunk down upon his knees
And put the child before him, but Cheiron,
Who knew all things cried, “Man with Aesons son
Thou needest not to tell me who thou art,
Nor will I fail to do to him my part:
It were a vain thing truly if I strove,
Such as I am against the will of Jove.
So now, this youngling set twixt thee and me
In days to come a mighty man shall be
Well nigh the mightiest of all those that dwell
Between Olympus and Malea; and well
Shall Juno love him till he come to die.

Now get thee to thy master presently,
But leave with me the red ring and the horn
That folk may [know] of whom this boy was born
In days to come, when he shall leave this wild.
And lay between my arms the noble child.

So the slave joyful but still half afraid
Within the mighty arms young Jason laid
And gave up both the horn and the red ring
Unto the centaur, who the horn did sling
About him, on his finger with a smile

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Setting the ring, and in a little while
The slave departing, reached the open plain
And straight he mounted on his horse again
And rode unto Iolchus all the day,
And as the sunset darkened every way
He reached the gates, and coming to his Lord
Bid him rejoice and told him every word
That Cheiron said: right glad was Aeson then
That from his loins a great man among men
Should have been sprung; and so he passed his days
Full quietly remote from fear or praise.

And now was Pelias mindful of the day
When from the altars horns he drew away
Sidero’s cruel hands, while Neleus smote
The golden hilted sword into her throat
And without fire or barley-cake or cup
No pleasing victim, she was offered up
In Juno’s temple; So he feared that he,
Though sprung from him who rules the restless sea

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Should meet an evil fate at Juno’s hands.
Therefore he sent for men from many lands,
Marble and wood and gold and brass enow,
And day by day with many a sounding blow
The masons wrought, until at last was reared
A temple to the Goddess that he feared;
A wonder among temples for the stone
That made it, and the gold that therein shone.
And in the midst her image Pelias set
Wrought cunningly of purest gold, which yet
Had served him better in his treasury
So little store the Goddess set thereby.

Moreover to Dodona, where the doves
Amid the oak trees murmur of their loves
He sent a messenger to know his fate;
Who up the temple steps, beneath the weight
Of precious things went bending, and being come
From Argos back to his Thessalian home,
Gave forth this answer to the waiting king:

“O Pelias fearful of so many a thing

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Sit merry oer thy wine, sleep safe and soft
Within thy golden bed; for surely oft
The snows shall fall before the half-shod man
Can come upon thee through the water wan.”

So at this word, the king along the shore
Built many a town, and still more and more
Drew men unto him skilled with spear and bow
And through the streets full often would he go
Best with guards, and for the rest began
To be a terror unto every man.

And yet indeed were all these things but vain
For at the foot of Pelion grew his bane
In strength and comeliness from day to day
And swiftly passed his childish years away.

Unto whom Cheiron taught the worthy lore
Of elders who the wide world filled before;
And how to forge his iron arrow-heads,
And how to find within the marshy steads
The stoutest reeds, and from some slain bird’s wing

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To feather them, and make a deadly thing;
And through the woods he took him nor would spare
To show him how the just awakened bear
Came hungry from his tree, or show him how
The spotted leopards lurking place to know;
And many a time they brought the hart to bay
And smote the boar at hottest of the day.

Now was his dwelling-place a fair hewn cave
Facing the South: thereto the herdsmen drave
Full oft to Cheiron woolly sheep, and neat,
And brought wine and garden-honey sweet,
And fruits that flourish well in the flat plain,
And cloth and linen; and would take again
Skins of slain beasts, and little lumps of gold
Washed from the high crags: then would Cheiron hold
Upon the sunny lawns, high feast with them
And garland all about the ancient stem
Of some great tree, and there do sacrifice
Unto the Gods, and with grave words and wise
Tell them the love of elders passed away:
Then for some wished thing every man would pray

[13 v. is apparently a page from an early draft of another Earthly Paradise tale]

[f. 14]

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Or ever in their hands the steel did shine
And or [sic] the sun lit up the bubbling wine:
Then would they fall to meat, nor would they leave
Their joyances, until the dewy eve
Had given good heart to the nightingale
To tell the sleepy wood nymphs all his tale.

Moreover Cheiron taught him how to cast
His hand across the lyre, until there passed
Such sweetness through the woods, that all about
The wood-folk gathered, and the merry rout
That called on Bacchus, hearkening, stayed awhile;
And in the chase, the hunter with a smile
From his raised hand let fall the noisy horn
And to his ears the sweet strange sound was borne.

But in the night-time once did Jason wake
And seem to see the moonlit branches shake
With huge unwonted clamour of the chase.
Then up he sprung, but ere he went one pace,
Unto the cave’s mouth, Cheiron raised his arm
And drew him back, and said: “Surely no charm

[14 v. is apparently a page from an early draft of another Earthly Paradise tale]

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Thou hast, my son, against Diana’s sight
Who over Pelion goes abroad this night:
Now let those go to her that she doth call,
Because no fenced town, brazen gate or wall,
Nor coat of mail or seven-folded shield,
Can guard the wound that never can [be] healed
When she is angry: sleep again my son
Nor wish to spoil great deeds not yet begun.”

Then Jason lay and trembled, while the sound
Grew louder through the moonlit woods around
And died off slowly, going toward the sea
Leaving the fern owl screeching mournfully.

Thereafter wandering lonely did he meet
A maid with girt-up gown and sandalled feet
Who joyously through flowering grass did go
Holding within her hand an unstrung bow
So setting eyes on her he thought indeed
This must be she that made Actoeon bleed
For certes ere that day he had not seen
Within that wild one made so like a Queen

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So doubtful he held back, nor dared to love
The perfect feet nor ivory knees above,
And with half-lifted eyes could scarcely dare
To gaze upon her eyes or golden hair,
Or hidden bosom: but she called aloud
Tell me fair youth if thou hast een a crowd
Of such as I go through these woods today?”
And when his stammering tongue no word could say
She smiled upon him, and said,”Who art thou
Who seemest fitter for from some galley’s prow
To lead the heroes on the merchant-town
Than through the wild to hunt the poor beasts down,
Or underneath the canopy to sit
Than by the beech to watch the cushat flit?
Speak out and fear not:
“O my Queen said he,
Fair Goddess, as thou seemest well to be;
Give me good days, and peace and fair girl’s love,
And let great kings send out their sons to rove;
But as for me my name is little known
I am but Jason, who dwell here alone

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With Cheiron in the hollow mountain-side,
Wishful for happy days, whate[’]r betide."

"Jason" she said, "all folk shall know thy name
For verily the Gods shall give thee fame
Restless thou shalt be, as thou now art bold
And cunning, as thou now art skilled to watch
The crafty bear, and in the toils to catch
The grey maned yellow-lion; and now see
Thou doest my commands, for certainly
I am no mortal; so to Cheiron tell
No longer is it fitting thou shouldst dwell
Here in the wilds, but in a day or two
Clad in Magnesian garments shalt thou go
Unto Iolchus, and thee claim thine own.
And unto thee shall Cheiron first make known
The story of thy father and thy kin
That thou mayst know what right thou hast herein.
And say to him, I bid thee do this thing
By the same token, that the silver ring
Upon my altar, with Sidero's blood

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Is spotted still, and that the half charred wood
My priests had lighted early on that day
Yet lies thereon, by no flame burnt away."

Then Jason fell a trembling; and to him
The tall green stems grew wavering and dim
And when a fresh gust of the morning breeze
Came murmuring along the forest trees,
And woke him as from dreaming, all alone
He stood, and with no farewell she was gone,
Leaving no traces of her dainty feet;

But though the leaves ambrosial odours sweet
Yet floated as he turned to leave the place
And with slow steps and thinking on his case
Went back to Cheiron, whom he found laid there
Half sleeping, on the thymy herbage fair.
To whom he told the things that he had heard.
With flushed and eager face, for they had stirred
New thoughts within him of the days to come
So that he longed to leave his woodland home.

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Then Cheiron said, "O fair son thou shalt go
Since now at last the Gods will have it so:
And know that till thou comest to the end
Of thy loved life shall Juno be thy friend;
Because the lovely huntress thou didst see
Late in the greenwood certainly was she
Who sits in Heaven beside Almighty Jove:
And mighty things they do that have her love.

Now Son, today I rede thee not to go
Nor yet tomorrow for clouds great and slow
Are gathering round the hill-tops, and I think
The thirsty fields full many a draught will drink
Therefore today our cups shall not be dry
But we will sit together, thou and I,
And tales of thy forefathers shalt thou hear
And many another, till the heavens clear."

So was it as the centaur said, for soon
The woods grew dark as though they knew no noon
The thunder growled about the high brown hills,
And the thin wasted shining summer rills.

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Grew joyful with the coming of the rain
And doubtfully was shifting, every vane
On the town spires, with changing gusts of wind;
Till came the storm blast, furious and blind
Twixt gorges of the mountain, and drove back
The light sea breeze; then waxed the heavens black
Until the lightening leapt from cloud to cloud
With clattering thunder, and the piled up crowd
Began to turn from steely blue to grey,
And toward the sea the thunder drew away
Leaving the north-wind blowing steadily
The rain clouds from Olympus, and the sea
Seemed mingled with the low clouds and the rain.
And one might think that never now again
The sunny grass would make a pleasant bed
For tired limbs and dreamy languid head
Of sandalled nymph forewearied with the chase.

Meantime within a pleasant lighted place
Stretched upon warm skins did the centaur lie,
And nigh him Jason listening eagerly
The tales he told him, asking now and then

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Strange questions of the race of vanished men:
Nor were the wine-cups idle; till at last
Desire of sleep over their bodies passed,
And in their dreamless rest the wind in vain
Howled round about with washing of the rain

2nd Part

So there they lay until the second dawn
Broke fair and fresh oer glittering glade and lawn,
Then Jason rose and did on him a fair
Blue woollen tunic such as folk do wear
On the Magnesian cliffs, and at his thigh
And iron-hilted sword hung carefully;
Upon his head he had a russet hood,
And in his hand two spears of cornel-wood,
Well steeled, and bound with brazen bands he shook.

Then from the centaur's hands at last he took
The tokens of his birth, the ring and horn
And so stept forth into the sunny morn,
And bade farewell to Cheiron, and set out

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With eager heart all free from care and doubt

Then lightly through the well known woods he passed
And came out to the open plain at last
And went till night came on him, and then slept
Within a homestead that a poor man kept,
And rose again at dawn, and slept that night
Nigh the Anaurus, and at morrow's light
Rose up and went unto the river's brim:
But fearful seemed the passage unto him
For swift and yellow drave the stream adown
Twixt crumbling banks, and tree-trunks rough and brown
Whirled in the bubbling eddies here and there.
So swollen was the stream, a maid might dare
To cross in fair days with unwetted knee.

Then Jason with his spear-shaft carefully
Sounded the depth, nor any bottom found,
And wistfully he cast his eyes around
To see if help was nigh, and heard a voice
Behind him, calling out, "fair youth rejoice
That I am here to help, or certainly

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Long time a dweller hereby shouldst thou be."

Then Jason turned round quickly and beheld
A woman bent with burdens and with eld,
Grey and broad shouldered; so he laughed and said,
O mother, wilt thou help me? by my head,
More help than thine I need upon this day."

"O Son" she said, "needs must thou on thy way;
And is there any of the giants here
To bear thee through this water without fear?
Take then the help a God has sent to thee,
For in mine arms a small thing shalt thou be."

So Jason laughed no more because a frown
Gathered upon her brow, as she cast down
Her burden to the earth, and came anigh.
Then in her arms she raised him easily
And stept adown into the water cold:
There with one arm the heroe did she hold,
And with the other thrust the whirling trees
Away from them, and laughing, and with ease

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Went through the yellow foaming stream, and came
Unto the other bank; and little shame
Had Jason, that a woman carried him:
For no man howsoever strong of limb
Had dared within that swollen stream to go
But if he wished the Stygian stream to know;
Therefore he doubted not, that with some God
Or reverend Goddess that rough way he trod.

So when she had clomb up the slippery bank
And let him go, well nigh adown he sank,
For he was dizzy with the washing stream
And with that passage mazed as with a dream

Then turning round about unto the crone
He saw not her but a most glorious one
A lady clad in blue, all glistening
WIth something more than gold, crowned like the King
Of all the world, and holding in her hand
A jewelled rod: so when he saw her stand
With unsoiled feet scarce touching the wet way
He trembled sore, but therewith heard her say

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O Jason such as I have been to thee
Upon this day, such ever will I be;
And I am Juno; therefore doubt thou not
A mighty helper henceforth thou has got
Against the swords and bitter tongues of men
For surely mayst thou lean upon me when
The turbulent and little-reasoning throng
Press hard upon thee: or a King with wrong
Would fain undo thee; as thou leanedst just now
Within the yellow stream: So from no blow
Hold back thine hand, nor fear to set thine heart
On what thou deemest fits thy kingly part.

So to the King's throne this day draw anear,
Because of old time I have set a fear
Within his heart, ere yet thou had’st gained speech
And whilst thou wanderedst beneath oak and beech
Unthinking: and behold so have I wrought
That with thy coming shall a sign be brought
Unto him: for the latchet of thy shoe
Rushing Anaurus late I bade undo

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Which now is carried swiftly to the sea.

So Pelias, this day setting eyes on thee
Shall not forget the shameful trickling blood
Adown my altar-steps or in my wood
The screaming peacocks scared by other screams,
Nor yet tonight shall he dream happy dreams.

Farewell then and be joyful, for I go
Unto the people many a thing to show,
And set them longing for forgotten things,
Whose rash hands toss about the crowns of kings."

Therewith before his eyes a cloud there came
Sweet-smelling, coloured like a rosy flame
That wrapt the Goddess from him; who indeed
Went to Iolchus and there sowed the seed
Of bitter change that ruins kings of men;
For like an elder of threescore and ten
Throughout the town she went, and as such do
Ever she blessed the old and banned the new;
Lamenting for the passed and happy reign

[f. 27]

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Of Cretheus, wishing there were come again
One like to him; till in the market-place
About the King stood many a doubtful face.

Now Jason by Anaurus left alone
Found that indeed his right-foot shoe was gone,
But as the Goddess bid him, went his way
Halfshod, and by an hour before midday
He reached the city gates, and entered there
Whom the folk mocked, beholding his foot bare
And iron-hilted sword, and uncouth weed;
But of no man did he take any heed,
But came into the market place, where thronged
Much folk about the man that had him wronged.
And when he stood within that busy stead
Taller he shewed than any by a head,
Great limbed broad shouldered mightier than all
But soft of speech though unto him did fall
Full many a scorn upon that day to get.

So in a while he came where there was set
Pelias the King, judging the people there

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In scarlet was he clad, and on his hair
Sprinkled with grey, he wore a royal crown,
And from an ivory throne he looked adown
Upon the suitors and the restless folk.

Now when the yellow head of Jason broke
From out the throng with fearless eyes and grey
A terror took the king that ere that day
For many a peaceful year he had not felt
And his hand fell upon his swordless belt;
But when the hero strode up to the throne
And set his unshod foot upon the stone
Of the last step thereof, and as he stood
Drew off the last fold of his russet hood
And with a clang let fall his brass bound spear
The king shrunk back, grown, pale with deadly fear:
Nor then the oak-trees' speech did he forget
Noting the one bare foot and garments wet
And something half remembered in the face.

And now by this grew silence in the place
For through the folk remembrance Juno sent

[f. 29]

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And soon from man to man a murmur went,
And frowning folk were whispering deeds of shame
And wrong, the king had wrought, and Aesons name
Forgotten long was bandied all about
And silent mouths seemed ready for a shout.

So when the king raised up a hand that shook
With fear, and turned a wrathful timorous look
On his Aetolian guards, upon his ears
There fell the clashing of the peoples spears;
And on the house-tops round about the square
Could he behold folk gathered here and there
And see the sunbeams strike on brass and steel
And therewithal new terror did he feel
But thought, Small use of arms in this distress
Needs is it that I use my wilyness;
Then spoke aloud: "O man what wouldst thou here
That heardest thus a king with little fear."

"Pelias," he said "I will not call thee king
Because thy crown is but a stolen thing.
And with a stolen sceptre dost thou reign

[f. 30]

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Which now I bid thee render up again,
And on his father's throne my Father set;
Whom for long years the God did well forget,
But now, in lapse of time, remembering
Have raised me Jason up to do this thing,
His son and son of fair Alcimide;
Yet how since Tyro's blood twixt thee and me
Still runs, and thou my fathers brother art
In no wise would I hurt thee for my part,
If thou wilt render to us but our own
And still shalt thou stand nigh my father's throne."

Then all the people when aright they knew
That this was Aeson's son about them drew
And when he ended gave a mighty shout;
But Pelias cleared his face of fear and doubt
And answered Jason smiling cunningly.

Yea in good time thou comest unto me,
My nephew Jason; fain would I lay down
This heavy weight and burden of a crown,
And have instead my brother's love again

[f. 31]

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I lost, to win a troublous thing and vain,
And yet, since now thou showest me such goodwill
Fain would I be a King a short while still
That everything in order I may set,
Nor any thereby scathe or trouble get.

And now I bid thee stand by me today
And cast all fear and troublous thoughts away
And for thy father Aeson will I send
That I may see him as a much-loved friend.
Now that these years of bitterness are passed
And peaceful days are come to me at last."

Now through the press of people Aeson came
E'en as he spoke; for to his ears the fame
Of Jasons coming thither had been brought
So now with eager eyes his son he sought
But seeing the mighty heroe great of limb
Stopped short with eyes set wistfully on him;
But with false honied words spake Pelias then.

"O brother Aeson happiest of men

[f. 32]

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Today thou winnest back a noble son
Whose glorious deeds this day has seen begun;
And from my hands thou winnest back the crown
Of this revered and many-peopled town,
So let me win from thee again thy love,
Nor with long anger slight the Gods above."

Then Jason holding forth the horn and ring
Said to his father: "doubtest thou this thing
Behold the tokens Cheiron gave to me
When first he told me I was sprung from thee."

But little of those signs did Aeson reck,
But cast his arms about the heroe's neck
And kissed him oft; remembering well the time
When as he sat beneath the flowering lime
Beside his house, the glad folk to him came,
And said, "O King all honours to thy name
That will not perish surely; for thy son
His royal life this day has just begun."

Wherefore unto him, like an empty dream

[f. 33]

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The busy place, the King and folk did seem
As on that sight at last he set his eyes
Prayed for so oft with many a sacrifice,
And fain he was awhile speechless to stand
Holding within his hand the mighty hand;
And as the wished for son he thus beheld
Half mournful thoughts of swiftly gathering eld
Came thick upon him till the salt tears ran
On to the raiment of the goodly man,
And then at last he said, "All honour now
To Jove and all the Gods, for now I know
Henceforth my name shall never perish; yet
But little joy of this man shall I get,
For through the wide world where will be the king
Who will not fear him, nor shall any thing
Be strong against him; therefore certainly
Full seldom will he ride afield with me,
Nor will he long bear, at his father's board
To sit well known of all, but with his sword
Will rather burst asunder banded throngs
Of evil men, and heal some great kings wrongs.

[f. 34]

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"And as as for thee O Pelias, as I may
Will I be friend to thee from this same day;
And since we both of us are growing old
And both our lives will soon be as tales told,
I think perchance that thou wilt let me be,
To pass these few years in felicity
That this one brings me."

Thereon Pelias said:
"Yea if I hurt thee ought, then on my head
Be every curse that thou canst ever think,
And dying of an ill stream may I drink:
For in my mind is nought but wish for rest:

"Now on this day I pray thee be my guest
While yet upon my head I wear the crown
Which this mornings flowers have fallen down
Your head shall bear again: now in the hall
Upon the tables the white clothes do fall
Even as we speak, and maids and men bear up
The kingly service, many a jewelled cup
And silver platter; and the fires roar

[f. 35]

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About the stalled ox and the woodland boar,
And wine we have, that ere this younglings' eyes
First saw the light, made tears and laughter rise
Up from from men's hearts, and made the past seem dull
The future hollow, but the present full
Of all delights if quick they passed away,
And we who have been foes for many a day
Surely ere evening sees the pitcher dry
May yet be friends and talking lovingly,
And with our laughter make the pillars ring
While this one sits revolving many a thing
Saddened by that which makes us elders glad."

Such good words said he, but the thoughts were bad
WIthin his crafty breast, and still he thought
How best he might be rid of him just brought
By sentence of the Gods upon his head.

Then moved the kinsmen from the marketstead
Between a lane of men, who ever pressed
About the princes, and with loud words blessed
The hero and his race, and thought no shame

[f. 36]

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To kiss his skirts: and so at last they came
Unto the house that rustling limes did shade,
And thereabout was many a slender maid
Who welcomed them with music and sweet song,
And cast red roses, as they went along
Before their feet, and therewith brought the three
Into the palace where right royally
Was Jason clad, and seemed a prince indeed.

So while the shrill string and the piping reed
Still sounded, trooped the folk unto the feat
And all were set to meat both must and least
And when with dainties they were fully fed
Then the tall jars and well sewn goat-skins bled
And men grew glad forgetting every care;
But first a golden chain and mantle fair
Pelias did on him, and then standing up
Poured out red wine from a great golden cup
Unto the Gods, and prayed to them, "O ye
Who rule the world, grant us felicity
This day at least nor let our sweet delight
Be marred by aught, until the silent night

[f. 37]

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Has come, and turned to day again and we
Wake up once more to joy or misery
Or joy itself if so it pleaseth you.
And is this thing so great a thing to do?"

Thereon folks shouted, and the pipes again
Breathed through the hall a soft and saddening strain
And up the hall came lovely damsels dressed
In gowns of green who unto every guest
Gave a rose garland; nor yet hasted they
When this was done, to pass too quick away
If here and there an eager hand still held
By gown or wrist; whom the young prince beheld
With longing eyes that roved about the hall.

Now longer did the cool grey shadows fall
And faster* drew the sun unto the west,
And in the field the husbandman opprest
With twelve hours labour, turned unto his home
And to the fold the woolly sheep were come;
And in the hall the folk began to tell
Stores of men of old who bore them well

*f. 36v. orig.: slowly

[f. 38]

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And piteous tales: And Jason in meanwhile
Sat listening as his uncle with a smile
Kept pouring many a thing into his ears
Now worthy laughter and now meet for tears.
Until at last, when twilight was night gone,
And dimly through the place the gold outshone,
He bade them bring in torches, and while folk
Blinked on the glare that through the pillars broke,
He said to Jason, "Yet have I to tell
One tale, I would that these should hear as well
As you, O Prince;" And therewith did he call
The Herald, bidding him throughout the hall
Cry silence for the story of the king.
And this being done and all men listening
He rose and said; "O noble Minyae,
Right prosperous and honoured may ye be.
When Athamas ruled over Thebes the great
Upon his house there fell a heavy fate.
Making his name a mere byeword; for he
Being wedded to the fair dame Nephele

[f. 39]

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Gat on her a fair youth and tender maid
Pryxus and Helle: but being nought afraid
Of what the righteous Gods might do to him
And seeing Ino fair of face and limb
Beyond all other, needs with her must wed
And to that end drove from his royal bed
Unhappy Nephele, who now must be
A slave, where once she governed royally
While the white-footed Ino sat alone
By Athamas upon the ivory throne.

And now, as time went on, did Ino bear
To Althamas two children hale and fair,
Therefore the more increased her enmity
Against those two erst born of Nephele,
Who yet in spite of all things day by day
Grew fairer as their sad lives wore away.
Till Ino thought, What help will it have been
That through these years I have been called a Queen
And set gold raiment upon my children dear,
If Athamas should die and leave me here
Betwixt the people and this Nephele,

[f. 40]

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With those she bore: What then could hap to me
But death or shame, for then no doubt would reign
Over this might town the children twain
With her who once was Queen still standing near
And whispering fell words in her darlings' ear.
And then what profit would it be that they
Have won through me full many an evil day.
That Pryxus base and servile deeds doth know
Unmeet for lords: that many a shame and woe
Helle has borne and yet is wont to stand
Shrinking with fear before some dreaded hand*
If still the ending of it must be this
That I must die while they live on in bliss
And Cherish her that first lay in my bed.
Nor is there any help till they be dead."

"Then did she fall on many an evil thought
And going thence with threats and money brought
The women of the land to do this thing
In the midwinter, yea before the spring
Was in men's minds, they took the good seed-corn
And while their husbands toiled in the dark morn,
And dreaded nought, they th[o]roughly seethed it all.*

39v. line inserted: Shrinking with fear . . . .
39v. orig: Unwitting of the thing, they seethed it all.

[f. 41]

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Whereby this seeming portent did befall
That neither the sweet showers of April-tide,
Nor the May sunshine shed both far and wide
Over the meadows, made their furrows green,
Nor yet in June was any young shoot seen.

Then drew the country folk unto the king
Weeping and failing, telling of the thing,
And praying him to satisfy the God,
Who'er he was, who with the cruel rod
So smote his wretched people: whereon he
Bade all his priests enquire solemnly
What thing had moved the Gods to slay them thus
Who hearing all this story piteous,
Because their hands had felt Queen Ino's gold
And itched for more, this thing in answer told.

That great Diana with Queen Nephele
Was wroth beyond all measure, for that she
Being vowed unto the Goddess, nonetheless
Cast by the quiver and the girt-up dress,
To wed with Althamas the mighty King

[f. 42]

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Therefore must she pay forfeit for the thing,
And though she still keep her wretched life
Yet she must give her children to the knife,
Or else this dearth should be but happiness
To what should come, for she would so oppress
The land of Thebes, that folk who saw its name
In old records, would turn the page, and blame
The chronicler for telling empty lies
And mingling fables with his histories.

Therefore is Altamas a wretched man
To hear this tale, and doeth what he can
To save his flesh and blood, but all in vain;
Because the people, cruel in their pain
With angry words were thronging the great hall,
And crafty Ino at his feet did fall
Saying, "O king I pray for these and me
And for my children." Therefore mournfully
He called the priests again, and bade them say
In few words, how his children they would slay,
And when the dreadful bearer of the bow
Would best be pleased to see their young blood flow.

[f. 43]

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Who said, That if the thing were quickly done
Seeing the green things were not wholly gone,
The ruined fields might give a little food,
And that high noon-tide the next day was good
Above all other hours to do the thing;
And thereupon they prayed unto the King
To take the younglings, lest, being fled away,
They still might live and leave an evil day
To Thebes and all its folk henceforth to bear.

Then men were sent, who by the river fair
Found Pryxus casting nets into the stream;
Who seeing them coming little harm did deem
They meant him, and with welcome bade them share
The glittering heap of fishes that lay there.
But they with laughter fell at once on him
Who struggling wrathfully broke here a limb
And there a head, but lastly on the ground
Bring felled by many men was straightly bound
And in an iron-bolted prison laid,
While to the house they turned to seek the maid.

[f. 44]

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Whom soon they found within the weaving room
Bent earnestly above the rattling loom,
Working not like a king's child, but a slave
Who strives her body from some pain to save.
On her they seized, speechless for very fear,
And dragged her trembling to the prison drear
Where lay her brother, and there cast her in
Giddy and fainting, wondering for what sin
She suffered this; but finding Pryxus laid
In the same dismal place the wretched maid
Bewailed with him the sorrows of their life,
Praying the Gods to show the kings new wife
What sorrow was, nor let her hair grow grey
Ere in some hopeless place her body lay.

"Now in that court a certain beast there was
The gift of Neptune to King Athamas,
A mighty ram, greater than such beasts be
In any land about the Grecian sea;
Yet the least wonder of him was his size;
For from his shoulders did two wings arise
That seemed as they were wrought of beaten gold,

[f. 45]

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And all his fleece was such as in no fold
No shepherd sees, for all was gold indeed.

And now this beast with dainty grass to feed
The task of Nephele had late been made,
Who, nothing of the mighty ram afraid,
Would bring him flowering trefoil day by day
And comb his fleece; and her the ram would pay
With gentle bleatings and would lick her hand
As by his jewelled collar she did stand.
And all his place was made of polished wood
Studded with gold, and when he thought it good
Within a little meadow could he go
Throughout the midst whereof a stream did flow,
And at the corners were there great lime trees
Hummed over by innumerable bees.

So on the morning when these twain should die
Stole Nephele to this place quietly,
And loosed the ram and led him straight away
Unto Diana's temple, where that day
Her heart should break unless the gods were good.

[f. 46]

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There with the ram close in a little wood
She hid herself anigh the gates, till noon,
Should brings those to the lady of the Moon
She longed to see; and as the time drew nigh
She knelt, and with her trembling hands did tie
About the gold beast's neck a mystic thing,
And in his ear kept ever murmuring
Words taught her by the ever changing God
Who on the yellow sands so oft has trod
Beside the flock of Neptune; till at last
Upon the breeze the sound of flutes went past;
Then sore she trembled, as she held the beast
By the two golden horns, but never ceased
Her mystic ryme, and louder and louder and more loud
The music sounded, till the solemn crowd
Along the dusty road came in full sight

First went the minstrels clad in raiment white
Both men and maids, garlanded daintily,
And then ten damsels naked from the knee
Who in their hands bare bows, done round with leaves;*
And arrows at their backs in goodly sheaves

*45v. Morris has added a correction, “meanwhile was,” but it is unclear where he intended to insert this.
*Morris had started a new clause but crossed it out and substituted “done round with leaves . . . .”

[f. 47]

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Gaudily feathered, ready for the strife.
Then came three priests, whereof one bore the knife
Our a great golden bowl to hold the blood,
And one a bundle of some sacred wood,
And then came gold and she could see the face
Of beauteous Ino flushed and triumphing,
And by her, moody and downcast the King.

And now her heart beat quick and fast indeed
Because the two came, doomed that day to bleed
Of whom went Phryxus in most manly mood
Looking around with mournful steady eyes
On all he never thought to see again:
But Helle as she went could not refrain
From bitter wailing for the days gone by
When hope was mixed with certain misery
And she took pleasure sometimes in the sun
Whose rays she saw now glittering on the knife
That in a little time would end her life.
Now she who in coarse raiment had been clad
For many a year, upon her body had

[f. 48]

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On this ill day a golden pearl-wrought gown,
And on her drooping head a glittering crown
And jeweled sandals on her fainting feet*
And on her neck and bosom, jewels meet
For one who should be wedded to a king;
So to her death went moaning this sweet thing

But when they drew anigh the temple gate
The trembling weeping mother laid in wait
Let go the mighty beast upon the throng.
Like as a hunter holds the gazehound [? sagehound? doesn’t look like greyhound] long
Until the great buck stalks from out the herd,
And then with well remembered hunting word,
Slips the stout leash: forth went the yellow beast
And dashed aside both singing-man and priest,
And girdled maidens, and the startled king,
And Ino grown all pale to see the thing,
With rising horror in her evil heart;
And thereon Pryxus seeing the crowd part,
And this deliverer nigh him, with spread wings
Ready for flight, and eager threatening head,
Without more words upon the beast back sprung
And drew his sister after him, who clung

*47v. line inserted on facing page

[f. 49]

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With trembling arms about him, and straigtway
They turned unto the rising of the day
And over all rose up into the air
With sounding wings; nor yet did any dare
As fast they flew to bend on them a bow,
Thinking some God had surely willed it so.

Then went the king unto his house again
And Ino with him, downcast that the twain
Had so escaped her, waiting for what fate
Should bring upon her doomed head soon or late.
Nor long she waited, for one evil day
For to the King her glittering gold array,
And rosy flesh half seen through raiment thin
Seemed like the many-spotted leopards skin
And her fair hand and feet like the armed paws
The treacherous beast across the strained throat drew
Of some poor fawn; and when he saw her go
Across the hall her footsteps soft and slow
And the lithe motion of her body fair,
But made him think of some beast from his lair
Stolen forth at the beginning of the night

[f. 50]

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Therefore with fear and anger at the sight
He shook, being maddened by some dreadful God.
And stealthily about the place he trod
Seeking his sword, and getting it to hand
With flaming eyes and foaming mouth did stand
Awhile, then rushed at Ino as she stood
Trembling, with cheeks all drained of rosy blood;
Who straightway caught her raiment up and fled
Adown the streets, where once she had been led
In triumph by the man whose well known cheer
Close at her heels now struck such deadly fear
Into her heart the forge of many a woe.

So full of anguish, panting did she go
O'er rough and smooth till many a field was passed
And on the border of the sea at last
With raiment torn and unshod feet she stood
Reddening the flowering sea-pink with her blood.

But when she saw the tireless hunter nigh
Shouting and joyous, with a dreadful cry

[f. 51a—there are two folio 51s]

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She stretched her arms out seaward and sprung down
Over the cliff among the seaweed brown
And washing surf, neither did anyone
See aught of her again beneath the sun.

But Athamas being come to where she stood
Stared vacantly awhile upon the blood,
Then looking seaward drew across his eyes
His fevered hand, and thronging memories
Came thick upon him, until dreamily
He turned his back upon the hungry sea
And cast his sword down, and so weaponless
Went back, waking to his sore distress.

As for the twain, perched on that dizzy height
The white-walled city faded from their sight
And many another place that well they knew,
And over woods and meadows still they flew,
And to the husbandmen seemed like a flame
Blown twixt the earth and sky; until they came
Unto the borders of the murmuring sea;
Nor stayed they yet but flew unceasingly

[f. 51b—there are two folio 51s]

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Till looking back seemed Pelion like a cloud
And they beheld the white-topped billows crowd
Unto the eastward 'neath the following wind.

And there alas an end did Helle find
Unto her life, for when she did behold
So far beneath, the deep green sea and cold,
She shut her eyes for horror at the sight
Turning the sunny day to murk midnight
Through which then floated many an awful thing
Made vocal by the ceaseless murmuring
Beneath her feet; till a great gust of wind
Caught the beasts wings and swayed him round: then blind,
Dizzy and fainting grew her limbs too weak
To hold their place, though still her hands did seek
Some stay by catching at* the locks of gold,
And as she fell her brother strove to hold
Her jewelled girdle, but the treacherous zone
Broke in his hand and he was left alone
Upon the ram, that as* a senseless thing
Still flew on toward the east, no whit heeding
His shouts and cries; But Helle as she fell

*51a v. orig.: holding to
*51 a v. orig.: like

[f. 52]

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Down through the depths the seafolk guarded well
And kept her body dead from scar or wound,
And laid it in her golden robes enwound
Upon the south side of the narrow murmuring straight
That still in memory of her piteous fate
Bears her sweet name; whom in a little while
The country folk drew round, and raised a pile
Of beach and oak, with scented things around,
And lifting up the poor corpse from the ground
They laid it thereon, doing everything
As for the daughter of a mighty King.

But through the straits passed Pryxus, sad enow
And fearful of the wind that by his brow
Went shrieking, as without all stop or stay
The golden wings still bore him on his way
Above the unlucky waves of that ill sea
That foamed beneath his feet unceasingly.
Nor knew he to what land he was being borne;
Whether he should be set, unarmed, forlorn
In darksome lands among unheard of things;
Or stepping off from twixt the gold beast’s wings

[f. 53]

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Should set foot in some happy summer isle
Whereon the kind unburning sun doth smile
For ever, and that knows no frost or drought.
Or else it seemed to him he might be brought
Unto green forests where the wood nymphs play
With their wild mates, and fear no coming day.
And there might he forget both crown and sword
And e'en the names of king and count and lord
And lead a merry life, till all was done,
And mid the green boughs, marked by no carved stone
His unremembered bones should waste away
In dew and rain and sunshine day by day.

So mid these thoughts still clinging fearfully
Unto his dizzy seat, he passed the sea
And reached a river opening into it
Across the which the white winged fowl did flit
From cliff to cliff, and on the sandy bar
The fresh waves, and the salt waves were at war
At turning of the tide: forth flew they then
Till they drew nigh a strange abode of men
Far up the river, white-walled, fair, and great

[f. 54]

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And at each end of it a brazen gate
Wide open through the daylight, guarded well.
And nothing of its name could Pryxus tell
But hoped the beast would stop for to his eye
The place seemed fair; nor fell it otherwise
For stayed the ram his course, and lighted down
Hard by the western gate of that fair town
Set foot full dizzy* with the murmuring sea*
And on the hard way Pryxus joyfully
Alighted weary of the cold grey sea
Numbed by the cold wind: and with little fear
Unto the guarded gate he drew anear,
And the gold beast went ever after him.

But they beholding him so strong of limb
And fair of face, and seeing the beast that trod
Behind his back, deemed him some wandering God,
So let the two-edged sword hang by the side
And by the wall the well-steeled spears abide.

But he called out to them, "What place is this?
And who rules over you for woe or bliss?
And will he grant me peace today or war
And may I here abide, or still afar
To new abodes of men go wandering?"

*54v. Three lines, “For stayed . . . sea,” were added on the facing page. “Right” is crossed out and “full-dizzy” substituted; Morris forgot to cross out “weary” but he seems to have meant, “Full dizzy.”

[f. 55]

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Now as he spake those words that city's king
Adown the street was drawing towards the gate
Clad in gold raiment worthy his estate,
Therefore one said, "Behold our King is here
Who of all us is held both lief and dear,
Aetes leader of a mighty host,
Feared by all folk along the windy coast.
And since this city's name thou fain wouldst know,
Men call it Colchis, built long years ago
Holpen of many Gods who love it well.
Now come thou to the King and straightly tell
Thy name and country, if thou art a man,
And how thou camest oer the water wan
And what the marvel is thou hast with thee.
But if thou art a God, then here will be [for we?]
Build thee a house, and everencing thy name,
Bring thee great gifts and much desired fame."

Thus spake he fearful, but by this the King
Had reached the place and stood there wondering
At that strange beast, and fair man richly clad

[f. 56]

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Who at his belt no sort of weapon had;
Then spoke he, "Who art thou, in what strange wain
Hast thou crossed o'er the green and restless plain
Unharvested of any: and this thing,
That like an image stands with folded wing,
Is he a gift to thee from any God
Or hast thou in some unknown country trod
Where beasts are suchlike? How soe'er it be
Here shalt thou dwell, if so thou wilt, with me,
Unless some God is chasing thee, and then
What wouldst thou have us do who are but men
Against the might of Gods."

"Then answered he:
"O King I think no God is wroth with me
But rather some one loves me for behold
Awhile ago, just as my foes did hold
The knife against my throat, there came this ram
Who brought me to this place where now I am
Safe from the sea, and from the bitter knife.
And in this city would I spend my life
And do what service seemeth good to thee
Since all the Gods it pleases I should be

[f. 57]

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Outcast from friends and country, though alive
And with their will I have no heart to strife
More than thou hast; and now as in such wise
I have been saved, fain would I sacrifice
This beast to Jove, the helper of all such
As false friends fail or foes oppress too much."

"Yea" said Aetes, This thing will we do
In whatsoever fashion pleaseth you,
And long time mayst thou dwell with us in bliss,
Nor worser service shalt thou have than this
To bear in war my royal banner forth
When fall the wild folk on us from the north.
Come now this eve and hold high feast with us
And tell us all of strange and piteeous
Thy story hath:"
So went he with the king
And gladly told unto him everything
That had befallen him, and in a grove
Where stood his altar, to almighty Jove
They offered up the ram the morrow morn,
That thitherward the Theban Prince had born

[f. 58]

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And thenceforth Phryxus dwelt in Cholchis long
In wealth and honour, and being brave and strong
Won great renown in many a bloody fray.
And still grew greater: and both night and day
Within his pillared house upon the wall
Hung the gold fleece: until it did befall
That in Aetes' heart a longing grew
To have the thing, yea even if he slew
His guest to get it; so one evil night
While the Prince lay and dreamed about the fight
With all armed men was every entry filled
And quickly were the few doorkeepers killed,
And Pryxus roused with clamour from his bed
Half-armed and dizzy with few strokes was dead
And thus King Aetes had his will.
And thus the golden fleece he keepeth still
Somewhere within his royal house of gold.

And now O Minyae is the story told,
And these things happened forty years agone;
Nor of the Greeks has there been any one

[f. 59]

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To set the Theban's bones within a tomb
Or to Aetes mete out his due doom;
And yet indeed it seemeth unto me
That many a man would go right willingly,
And win great thanks of men and godlike fame,
If there should spring up some great prince of name
To lead them; and I pray that such an one,
Before my head is laid beneath a stone
Be sent unto us by the Gods above."

Therewith he ceased: but all the hall did move
As moves a grove of rustling poplar trees
Bowed all together by the shifting breeze
And through the place the name of Jason ran,
Nor mid the feasters was there any man
But toward the heroe's gold seat turned his eyes.

Meanwhile in Jasons heart did thoughts arise
That brought the treacherous blood into his cheek
And he forgot his father old and weak
Left twixt the fickle people of the land
And wily Pelias, as he clenched his hand

[f. 60]

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[A]s though it held a sword [a]bout his cup.
Then mid the murmuring Pelias stood up
And said, "O leaders of the Minyae
I hear ye name a name right dear to me
My brother's son; who in the oaken wood
Has grown up, nurtured of the Centaur good,
And now this day has come again to us
Fair-faced and mighty limbed, and amorous
Of fame and glorious deeds, nowise content
Betwixt the forest and the northern bent
To follow up the antlers of the deer,
Nor in his eyes can I see any fear
Of fire or water or the cleaving sword.

Now therefore if ye take him for your lord
Across the sea then surely ye will get
Both fame and wealth nor will men soon forget
To praise the noble city whence ye came,
Passing from age to age each heroe's name."

Then all stood up and shouted, and the king

[f. 61]

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While yet the hall with Jason's name did ring,
Set in his hands a noble cup of gold,
And said; "O Jason wilt thou well behold
These leaders of the people who are fain
To go with thee and suffer many a pain
And deadly fear if they may win at last
Undying fame when fleeting life is past:
And now if thou art willing to be first
Of all these men, of whom indeed the worst
Is like a God, pour out this gleaming wine
To Him with whose light all the heavens shine,
Almighty Jove."
Then Jason poured and said,
"O Jove by thy hand may all these be led
To name and wealth; and yet indeed for me
What happy ending shall I ask from thee,
What helpful friends, what length of quiet years
What freedom from ill care and deadly fears?
Do what thou wilt, but none the less believe
That all these things and more thou shouldst receive
If thou wert Jason I were Jove today:
And ye who now are hot to play this play

[f. 62]

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Seeking the fleece across an unknown sea,
Bethink ye yet of death and misery
And dull despair before ye arm to go [or aim?]
Unto a savage king and folk none know,
Whence it may well hap none of ye to come
Again unto your little ones and home.

And do thou Pelias, ere we get us forth
Send heralds out, east, west and south and north,
And with them cunning men of golden speech
Thy tale unto the Grecian folk to teach;
That we may lack for neither strength nor wit,
For many a brave man like a fool will sit
Beside the Council board; and men there are
Wise-hearted who know little feats of war:
Nor would I be without the strength of spears,
Or waste wise words on dull and foolish ears

Also we need a cunning artizan
Taught by the Gods and knowing more than man
To build us a good ship upon this shore.
Then, if but ten lay hold upon the oar

[f. 63]

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And I the eleventh steer then toward the east
To seek the hidden fleece of the gold beast,
I swear to Jove that only in my hand
The fleece shall be when I again take land
To see my fathers hall, or the green grass
Oer which the grey Thessalian horses pass,

But now O friends forget all till the morn
And other thoughts and fears are duly born."

He ceased, and all men shouted, and again
They filled their cups and many a draught did drain
But Pelias gazed with heedful eyes at him,
Nor drank the wine that well nigh touched the brim
Of his gold cup; and noting every word
Thought well that she should be a mighty lord,
For now already like a king he spoke
Gazing upon the wild tumultuous folk
As one who knows what troubles are to come
And in this world looks for no peaceful home
So much he dreaded what the Gods might do.

[f. 64]

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But Aeson, when he first heard Pelias, knew
What wile was stirring, and he sat afeard
With a sinking heart, as all the tale he heard,
But after, hearkening what his son did say
He deemed a God spoke through him on that day,
And held his peace; but to himself he said,
And if he wins all, yet shall I be dead
Ere on this shore he stands beside the fleece
The greatest and most honoured man in Greece."

But Jason much rejoicing in his life
Drank and was merry, longing for the strife;
Though in his heart he did not fail to see
His uncles cunning wiles and treachery
But thought when sixty years are gone at most
Then will all the pleasure and all pain be lost
To me though my dead name be cast about
From hall to temple amid song and shout
So let me now be merry with the best.

Meanwhile all men spoke hotly of the quest
And health they drank to many an honoured man

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Until the moon sunk and the stars waxed wan,
And from the east faint yellow light outshone
O’er the Greek sea, so many years agone.

Part 3
Now the next morn when risen was the sun
Men gan to busk them for the quest begun,
Nor long delay made Pelias, being in fear
Least aught should stay them, so his folk did bear
The news of all this through the towns of Greece
Moving great men to seek the golden fleece.

Therefore from many a lordship forth they rode
Leaving both wife and child and loved abode,
And many a town must now be masterless
And women's voices rule both more or less
And womens hands be dreaded, far and wide
This fair beginning of the summer-tide.

Now all the folk who went upon this quest
I cannot name, but fain would hope, the best
In mens remembrance, ancient tales did keep

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Unto our time, letting the others sleep
In nameless graves--though mayhap one by one
These grew to be forgotten neath the sun,
Being neither poor of heart, or weak of wit
More than those others, whose crowned memories sit
Enthroned amid the echoing minstrelsy
Of old books written by the Grecian sea

Howe'er it be, now clinging to the hem
Of those old singers, will I tell of them
In weak and faltering voice e'en as I can.

Now was the well-skilled Argus the first man
Who through the gates into Iolchus passed;
Whose lot in fertile Egypt first was cast
The nurse of Gods and wonder-working men;
His father's name was Danaus, who till then
Had held the golden rod above the Nile,
Feared by all men for force and deadly wile.

So he, being brought to Jason said, "O king
Me have the Gods sent here to do the thing

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Ye need the most: for truly have I seen
Twixt sleep and waking, one clad like a Queen
About whose head strange light shone gloriously,
Stand at my beds post; and she said to me
'Argus arise when dawn is on the earth
And go unto a city great of girth
Men call Iolchus, and there ask for one,
Who now gets ready a great race to run
Upon a steed whose maker thou shalt be,
And whose course is upon the trackless sea,
Jason the King's son, now himself a King;
And bid him hearken, by this tokening
That I, who send thee to him, am the same
Who in the green wood bad him look for fame
That he desired little; and am She
Who when the eddies roared tumultuously
About us, bore him to the river side.
And unto thee shall such like things betide.

Therewith she told me many a crafty thing
About this keel that ye are now lacking,
Bidding me take thee for my king and lord

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And thee to heed my council as her word
As for this thing; so if ye would set forth
Before the winter takes us from the north,
I pray you let there be at my commands
Such men as are most skillful of their hands,
Nor spare to take lintel, rooftree or post
Of ash or pine, or oak that helpeth most
From whoso in this city lacketh gold,
And chiefly take the post that now doth hold
The second rafter in the royal hall
That I may make the good ship's prow withal;
For soothly from Dodona doth it come
Though men forget it, the grey pigeon's home.

So look to see a marvel, and forthright
Set on the smiths the sounding brass to smite
For surely shall all ye your armour need
Before these flowers beds have turned to seed

Then Jason gave him thanks and gifts enow
And through the town sought all who chanced to know
The woodwrights craft, and so the work begun

[f. 69]

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Taking great gifts of wood from many an one
And getting timber with great gifts of gold:
Nor spared to take the great post used to hold
The second rafter in the royal hall,
To make the new ships goodly prow withal.

So Argus laboured, and the work was sped
Moreover, by a man with hoary head
Whose dwelling, and whose name no man could know
But many a strange thing of the craft did shew
And mid their work men gazed at him askance
Half fearful of his reverend piercing glance
But did his bidding, yet knew not indeed
It was the Queen of Heaven, Saturns seed.

Meanwhile came many heroes to the town.
Asterion, dweller on the windy down
Below Philoeus, far up in the North;
Slow-footed Polyphemus, late borne forth
In chariot from Larissa, that beholds
Green winding Peneus cleaving fertile wolds:
Ergynus son of Neptune: nigh the sea

[f. 70]

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His father set him, where the laden bee
Flies low across Maeander, and falls down
Against the white walls of a merchant town
Men call Miletus.
Behind him there came
The winner of a great and dreaded name,
Theseus, the slayer of the fearful best
Who soon in winding [?] halls should make his feast
On youths and maidens, and with him there rode
The king Pirithones, who his loved abode
Amid the shady trees had left that tide
Where fly the Centaurs’ arrows, far and wide.

Black-haired was Theseus, slim, and still his cheek
Lacked all but down, for yet he had to seek
The twisted ways of Daedalus the old
While long and twining locks of ruddy gold
Blew round the face of the huge forest King
As carelessly he rode and feared no thing.

Great joy had Jason, gazing on the twain

[f. 71]

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Young though they were, and thought that not in vain
His quest should be, if such as these had will
The hollow of his great black ship to fill.

Next, threading Argive ways and woody lanes
Came Nauplius Son of Neptune to those plains*
Crossing Anaurus dryshod, for his sire
With threats and blows drove up the land stream higher,
And sucked the sea-waves back across the sands.
With him came Idmon mighty of his hands,
But mightier, that he was skilled to know
The council of the God who bears the bow
His unloved* father, who bore not to see
Untouched Cyrene wandering carelessly
Beside the Peneus; Iolaus came
From Argus too, to win a deathless name
And if thenceforth came any heroes more
I know know, and their names have died of yore

But from Arcadian forests came forth one
Who like a Goddess mid the rowers shone,
Swift-running Atalanta, golden-haired

*70v. orig.: Came Nauplius into the Thessalian plains
*70v. orig.: very

[f. 72]

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Grey-eyed and simple; with her white limbs bared
And sandalled feet set firm upon the sand
Amid the wondering heroes did she stand*
A very maid, yet fearing not for aught;
For she, with many a bow had dearly bought
Diana's love, and in no flowery stead
Had borne to hear love-songs, or laid her head
On any trembling lovers heaving breast;
Therefore of mortals was she loved the best,
By Her who through the forests goes a-nights
And in return for never tried delights
Has won a name no wonder else can have.

Next through the gates his car Oileus drave,
The Locrian King, red-haired, with fierce grey eyes
Wandering from right to left, as though some prize
He sought for in the rich Thessalian land
Then Iphiclus beside the gates did stand,
His Kine at all adventure left at home
That on a doubtful voyage he might roam.

Admetus from the well-walled Pherae came,

* 71v. orig.: She stood amid the heroes bow in hand

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Longing to add new glory to the fame
Of him whose flocks Apollo once did keep.
And then Echion who would nowise sleep
Amid Ephesian roses, or behold
Betwixt gold cups and dainty things of gold
The white limbs of the dancing girl, her hair
Swung round her dainty loins and bosom bare,
But needs must try the hollow sounding sea
As heralds of the heroes, nor was he
Left by his brother Eurytus the strong.

Neither did Caeneus the Magnesian long
Less than the others strange new lands to see
Though wondrous things were told of him; that he
Once woman, now was man by Neptunes aid
And thus had won a long-desired maid.

From nigh Larissa came Aetalides
Leaving a plain well watered set with trees
That feeds much wooly sheep and lowing neat.
Mopsus like Idmon knew of things to come
And had in Lipara a rocky home

[f. 74]

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Eurydamas tired of the peaceful lake
Of Xynias, was come for Jason's sake
To lay his well skilled hands upon the oar
Dealing with greater waves than heretofore.

Menoetius son of Actor from the land
Where swift Asopus runs through stones and sand
Bridged by the street of Opus, next was seen.
Eribotes, who through the meadows green,
Would wander oft to seek what helpeth man,
Yet cannot cure his lust, through waters wan
To seek for marvels, cometh after him;
Then a rich man[’s] son young and old, but strong of limb,
[seems to have first written: “Then a rich man grown old, but strong of limb,” then to have in-tended to change to: “Then a rich man[’s] son young and strong of libm,” but failed to remove the “old, but.”]
Eurytion son of Iras, leaveth now
His husbandmen still following of the plough
In the fat Theban meadows, while he goes
Driven by fate to suffer biting woes.

From Oechalia Clytius the king
And Iphitus his brother, felt the sting
That drives great men through woes to seek renown,
And left their guarded city looking down

[f. 75]

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From rocky heights on the well-watered plain.
Right wise they were, and men say, not in vain
Before Apollo's court they claimed to be
The first who strung the fatal cornel tree
And lossed the twanging bowstring from the ear.

Then to the gate a chariot drew anear
Wherein two brothers sat, whereof the one
Who held the reins, was mighty Telamon
And Peleus was the other's dreaded name
And from an island both the heroes came,
Sunny Aegina, where their father's hand
Ruled o'er the people of a fruitful land;
But they, now young rejoicing in their birth,
Dreamed not that ere they lay beneath the earth
Still greater heroes from their loins should come
The doomsmen of the Trojan's Godlike home.

Fair Athens, and the olive groves thereby
Phalerus left, riding through deserts dry
And rocky passes where no sweet birds sing,
And with him Butes with the howlets wing
Well-painted on his shield; and he at least

[f. 76]

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Came back no more to share the joyous feast
And pour out wine for well accomplished days,
Unhappy, who must hear the Lyreus lays
With feet unbound: nor happier than he
Typhys the pilot came, although the sea
Dealt gently with the ship, whose ashen helm
His hand touched; in the rich Boetian realm
He left outlandish [auerceries?] stored up
With many a brazen bowl and silver cup,
His heirs should feast from in the days to come
When men he knew not went about his home

Next Phlias came forgetful of the hill
That bears his name, where oft the maidens full
Their baskets with the coal-black clustering grapes
Far on in autumn, when the parched earth gapes
For cool November rain and winter snow,
For there his house stood, on the shaded brow
Of that fair ridge that Bacchus loves so well

Then through the gates one with a lions fell
Hung o’er his shoulders, on a huge grey steed
Came riding; with his fair Phoenician weed.

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Glittering from underneath the tawny hair,
Who loosely in his dreadful hand did bear
A club of unknown wood bound round with brass,
And underneath his curled black hair did pass
A golden circlet o'erwrought cunningly
With running beasts; so folk knew this was he
That in Amphytrion's palace first saw light,
And whose first hour began with deadly fight;
Alcmena's son the dreadful Hercules,
The man whose shout the close Nemean trees
Has stifled, and the lion met in vain;
The ravisher of Hell, the serpent[’]s bane,
Whom neither Gods nor fate could overwhelm.

Now was he come to this Thessalian realm
To serve with Jason on the wandering seas,
Half seeking fame, half wishing to appease
The wrath of her who grudged him ease and rest
Yet needs must see him of all men the best.

Laughing he went, and with him on each hand
There rode a squire from the Theban land,
Hylas the fair, whose sire Theodamas

[f. 78]

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Had given him great gifts of gold and brass
And gold wrought arms, that he should see no more
Glittering along the green Ismenian shore.

With him Ephelous came, who many a year
Had backed the steed, and cast the quivering spear
In Theban meadows, but whose fathers came
From Argus, and thereby left their name.

So through the streets like Gods they rode, but he,
Who rode the midmost of the glorious three,
Oertopped them by a head, and looking down
With smiling face whereon it seemed no frown
Could ever come, seemed like the king of all.

Now coming to the palace, by the wall
Sat Jason, watching while an armourer wrought
A golden crest according to his thought
And round about the heroes were at play
Casting the quoit; but on the well-pleased way
With clanging arms let down Alcmena[’s] son
Before the Prince, and said, "I who have won
Some small renown O Jason in this land

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Come now to put my hand within your hand
And be your man, if wide report says true
That even now, with Cimabar and blue
Men paint your long-ship's prow, and shave the oars
With sharpened planes: for soothly other shores
I fain would see than this my father’s one
Wherein great deeds already I have done;

And if thou willest now to hear my name,
A Theban Queen my mother once became
And had great honour, wherefore some men say
That in Amphytrion's bed my mother lay
When I was gotten; and yet other some
Say that a God upon that night did come,
(Whose name I speak not,) like unto the king
With whom Alcmena played, but nought witting.

Nor I, nor others know the certainty
Of all these things, but certes royally
My brother rules at Thebes, whom all men call
Amphytrions son, Eurystheus; in whose hall
Ever am I* the least loved guest of all
Though since my name is Hercules, the man

*78v. orig.: I seem to be

[f. 80]

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Who owes me hatred, hides it if he can.

And now O Prince I bid thee take my hand,
And hear me swear that till unto this land
Thou hast borne back the fleece across the sea
Thy liege-man and thy servant I will be.
Nor have I seen a man more like a King
Than thou art, of whom minstrel-folk shall sing
In days to come when men sit by the wine."

Then Jason said: "A Happy lot is mine,
Surely the Gods must love me since that thou
Art come, with me the rough green plain to plough
That no man reaps; yet certes thou alone
In after days shall be the glorious one
Whom men shall sing of, when they name the fleece
That bore the son of Athamas from Greece,
When I and all these men have come to nought"

So spake he, but the great eyed Juno brought
His words to nothing, stooping to behold
Jason's fair head whereon the locks of Gold
Curled thick and close, and his grey eager eyes

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That seemed already to behold the prize
In far off Colchis: like a God he stood
No less than he that in the darksome wood
Slew the lake-haunting, many headed beast.

But on that day the Minyae held a feast,
Praising the Gods and those that they had sent
Across the sea to work out their intent.

Yea ere the night, greater their joyance grew,
For to the throng of heroes came there two
In nowise worse than any of the best,
Castor and Pollux, who thought not to rest
In woody Lacedaemon, where the doves
Make summer music in the beechen groves,
But rather chose to hear the seafowl sing.
Whose mother wedded Tyndarus the King;
And yet a greater name their father had,
As men deem; for that Leda all unclad
In cold Eurotas on a summer morn
Washed her fair body, unto whom was borne
Fleeing from seeming death, a milkwhite swan,
Whom straight the naked Queen not fearing man

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Took in her arms, nor knew she fostered Jove,
Who rules oer mortal men, and Gods above.

So in the hall of Pelias, in their place
The twain sat down, and joy lit every face
When both their names the sweet-voiced herald cried

But the next morn into the town did ride
Lynceus and Idas, leaving far away
Well-walled Messenae where the kestrels play
About the temples, and the treasure-house.
But of the twain was Idas valorous
Beyond most men, and hasty of his blow,
And unto Lynceus would the darkness show
That which he lacked, and of all men was he
The luckiest to find the privity
Of gold or gems. And on the selfsame day
Came Periclymenes who folk did say
Had Proteus gift to change from shape to shape
Next, from Tegea, where the long green grape
Grows yellow in the dewy autumn night
There came Ancaeus stubborn in the fight.
Amphidamus and Apheus left the trees

[f. 83]

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Where sing the wood-doves to their mistresses
In the Arcadian forests, and where oft,
If through the springing brake he treadeth soft,
The happy hunter may well chance to see
Beside a hidden stream, some two or three
Of tired nymphs, stripping the silken weed
From off their limbs; nor shall Actaeons meed
Betide him there among the oaken trees.

Next came there Augeas, who at Elis sees
On his fat plains the sheep and kine and beeves
Unnumbered as the rustling aspen leaves
Beside the river: from the grassy plain
Anigh Pellene, where the harvest wain
Scatters the grazing sheep, Amphion came,
In nowise skilled like him who bore his name,
The deathless singer, but right wise in war.

Then through the town there passed a brazen car
Bearing Euphemus, who had power to go
Dryshod across the plain, no man doth sow.
By Tenarus he dwelt beside the sea
Anigh the temple of the deity

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Whose son he was, the Shaker of the earth.

Then came a fresh Ancaeus who had birth
In woody Samos of the selfsame sire
Whose heart white-footed Alta set on fire,
As on the yellow sands at dawn she went.

Then Calydon the great a hero sent
The fair-haired Meleager who became
In after days the glory of his name,
The greatest name of the Aetolian land;
While yet on him fate laid her heavy hand
In midst of all his glory so raised up:
Who nowise now dreaded the proffered cup
Of life and death she held for him to drain
Nor thought of death and wishes wished in vain.
With him his uncle rode, Laocoon
No longer young, teaching his brothers son
What longed to ruling men, and unto war.

From Lacedaemon, Iphiclus afar
Had travelled, till the rich embroidered weed
His father Thestius gave him at his need

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Was stained with sun and dust, but still he came
To try the sea and win undying fame.
Then came a man, long-limbed, in savage weed
Orcas the hunter, to whose unmatched speed
All beasts that wander through the woods are slow.
In his right hand he bare the fatal bow
Of horn and wood and brass, but now unstrung,
And at his back a well-closed quiver hung
Done round with silver bands and leopard's skin,
And fifty deaths were hidden well therein
Of men or beasts: for whoso stood before
His bended bow and angry eyes, no more
Should see the green trees and the fertile earth.

Then came two brothers of a wondrous birth,
Zetes and Calais, whom the mighty God
That rules the north-wind, on the flowery sod*
Begat on fair Oreythia, whom alone
In woody Thace, he found with loosened zone
In hot noon by a shady river side.
Now unto them this marvel did betide
That like fair morn in all else, from the head
Of each sprung wings, wherewith at will they sped

*84v. orig.: as the earth he trod

[f. 86]

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From land to land midst of the pathless air.

Next from Magnesia did roan horses bear
Pheus and Priasus well-skilled to cast
The whistling dart: then oer the drawbridge passed
Aetolian Palaemonius, who not yet
Had seen men armed in anger, or steel wet
With blood of aught but beasts, but nonetheless
Was willing now to stand among the press
Of Godlike men who with the Minyae
Were armed to bring the fleece across the sea.

Then came Asclepius, whom the far-darter
Saved living from the lifeless corpse of her
He once loved well, but slew for treason done
Fair hair Coronis; whose far seeing son
He honoured much, and taught so many a thing,
That he was first who knew to ease the sting
Of sickening pain, because all herbs he knew
And what the best and worst of them could do
So, many a bitter with death he had
And made the heart of many a sick man glad,
And gave new life to many a man who seemed

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But dead already wherefore people deemed
When he was dead that he was God indeed,
And on his altars many a beast did bleed.

Acastus, Pelias son, from wandering
Was come that selfsame day unto the King
And needs must go with Jason on this quest
Careless of princely ease and golden rest.

Next Neleus growing wan,* forgetting not
The double crime, had left the pleasant spot
Where the gray Apheus meets the green sea waves
And twice a day the walls of Pylos laves;
For he was fain to expiate the sin
Pelias shared with him long years past within
Queen Juno's temple, where the brothers slew
The old Sidero crying out, who knew
Then first, the bitterness of such a cry
As broke from Tyro in her agony
When helpless, bound within the brazen hall
She felt unthought of torment on her fall
With none to pity her,* nor knew what end
The Gods unto such misery would send

*86v. orig.: grey
*86v. orig.: Amid the slaves, she felt that first lash fall
Across her naked loins

[f. 88]

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So might Sidero feel, when fell on her
Unlooked for death and deadly hopeless fear;
But in their turn must Neleus oer the sea
Go wandering now, and Pelias must be
A trembling liar till death seizes him.

But now with Peleus, young but strong of limb
His wise farseeing offspring Nestor went
With eyes a little downward ever bent
Thinking of this and that which he had seen:
Who when his youth was flourishing and green
Saw many feats of arms, and ways of men,
Yet lived so long to be well honoured when
In Troy the old the Princes shared the spoil.

Next came Laertes to share grief and toil
With these upon the sea; yet had he not
An easy land in Ithaca the hot,
Though Bacchus loves the ledges of the land
And the glad vintager weighs in his hand
The heavy oozing bunches in the time
When frosts draw nigh in the rough northern clime

[f. 89]

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Next whom came Almenus of nought afraid,
Well armed and hardy, whom a mortal maid
Bore unto Mars, for he new come from Thrace
Beside Euripeus met her, and in chace
He held her long, who vainly fled from him
Though light of foot she was and strong of limb.

And last of all Orpheus the singer came,
The son of King Aeager, great of fame
Yet happier by much in this that he
Was loved by heavenly Calliope
Who bore him Orpheus on a happy day.
And now through many a rough and toilsome way
Hither he came the Minyae to please
And make them masters of the threatening seas,
Cheering their hearts and making their hands strong
With the unlooked for sweetness of his song.

Now was it eve by then that Orpheus came
Into the hall, and when they heard his name
And toward the high-seat of the Prince he drew
All men beholding him the singer knew
And glad they were indeed, that he should be

[f. 90]

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Their mate, upon the bitter tuneless sea
And loud they shouted, but Prince Jason said
"Now may the Gods bring good things on thy head
So Aeager, but from me indeed
This gold Daedalian bowl shall be thy meed
If thou wilt let us hear thy voice take wing
From out thy heart, and see the golden string
Quiver beneath thy fingers: but by me
First sit and feast and happy mayst thou be

Then glad at heart the hero took his place
And eat and drank his fill, but when the space
Was cleared of flesh and bread, he took his lyre
And sung them of the building up of Tyre,
And of all the fair things stored up over sea
Till there was none of them but fain would be
Set in the ship, nor cared one man to stay
On the green earth for one more idle day.

But Jason looking right and left on them
Took his fair cloak wrought with a golden hem
And laid it upon Orpheus, and thereto
Added the promised bowl that all men knew

[f. 91]

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No hand but that of Daedalus had wrought
So rich it was and fair beyond all thought.

Then did he say unto the Minyae
"Fair friends and well loved guests, no more shall ye
Feast in this hall, until we come again
Back to this land well-guerdoned for our pain
Bearing the fleece, and mayhap many a thing
Such as this Godlike guest erewhile did sing,
Scarlet and gold and brass; but without fail
Bearing great fame if ought that may avail,
To men who die, and our names certainly
Shall never perish wheresoe'er we lie.

And now behold within the haven rides
Our good ship swinging in the changing tides,
Gleaming with gold and blue and cinnabar,
And the long oars besides the rowlocks are.
The sail hangs flapping in the light west wind
Nor ought amiss can any craftsman find
From stem to stern; so is our quest* begun
Tomorrow at the rising of the sun.
And may Jove bring us all safe back to see
Another sun shine on this fair city

90v. “quest” facing page

[f. 92]

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When elders and fair flower-crowned maidens meet
With tears and singing our returning feet."

So spake he, and so mighty was the shout
That the hall shook, and shepherd folk without
The well walled city heard it as they went
Unto the fold across the thymy* bent.

91v. “thymy” facing page

PART [4]
But through the town few eyes were sealed by sleep
When the sun rose, yea and the upland sheep
Must guard themselves for that one morn at least
Against the wolf, and wary doves may feast
Unscared that morning on the ripening corn;
Nor did the whetstone touch the sythe that morn,
And all unheeded did the macquerel shoal
Make green the blue waves, or the porpoise roll
Through changing hills and valleys of the sea.

For twixt the thronging people solemnly
The heroes went afoot along the way

[f. 93]

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That led unto the haven of the bay,
And as they went the roses rained on them
From windows glorious with the well-wrought hem
Of many a purple cloth; and all their spears
Were twined with flowers that the fair earth bears,
And round their ladies’ tokens were there set
About their helmets flowery wreaths still wet
With beaded dew of the scarce vanished night.

So as they passed, the young men at the sight
Shouted for joy, and swelled their hearts with pride,
But scare the elders could behold dry eyed
The glorious show, remembering well the days
When they were able too to win them praise,
And in their hearts was hope of days to come.

Nor could the heroes leave their fathers' home
Unwept of damsels, who henceforth must hold
The empty air unto their bosoms cold,
And make their sweet complainings to the night
That heedeth not sweet eyes and bosoms white:
And many such an one was there that morn
Who with lips parted, and grey eyes forlorn

[f. 94]

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Stood by the window and forgot to cast
The gathered flowers as the heroes past,
But held them still within her garment's hem
Though many a winged wish she sent to them

But on they passed, and as the way they trod
His swelling heart nigh made each man a God
While clashed their armour to the minstrelsey
That went before them to the doubtful sea.

And now, the streets being passed they reached the bay
Where by the well-built quay the Argo lay
Glorious with gold and shining in the sun.
Then first they shouted, and each man begun
Against his shield to strike his brazen spear,
And as along the quays they drew anear,
Faster they strode, and faster, till a cry
Again burst from them, and right eagerly
Into swift running did they break at last;
TIll all the windswept quay being overpast
They passed across the gangway, and filled up
The hollow ship as wine a golden cup.*

93v. orig.: as red wine fills a cup.

[f. 95]

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But Jason standing by the helmsman's side
High on the poop lift up his voice, and cried,

"Look landward heroes, once, before ye slip
The tough well twisted hauser from the ship,
And set your eager hands to rope or oar,
For now, behold, the King stands on the shore
Beside a new-built altar, while the priests
Lead up a hecatomb of spotless beasts
White bulls, and coal-black horses, while my sire
Lifts up the barley-cake above the fire;
And in his hand a cup of ruddy gold
King Pelias takes: and now may ye behold
The broad new risen sun light up the God
Who holding in his hand the crystal rod
That rules the sea, stands by Daedalian art
Above his temple, set right far apart
From other houses, nigh the deep green sea.

"And now, O fellows, from no man but me
These gifts come to the God, that ere long years
Have drowned our laughter, and dried up our tears
We may behold that glimmering brazen God

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Against the sun bear up his crystal rod
Once more, and once more cast upon this land
This cable severed by my bloodless brand.”

So spake he, and raised up* the glittering steel,
That fell, and seaward straight did Argo reel
Set free, and smitten by the western breeze,
And raised herself against the ridgy seas
Still heedful of wise Tiphys skillful hand
With golden eyes turned toward the Cholchian land.

But silent sat the heroes by the oar
Harkening the sounds borne from the lessening shore
The lowing of the doomed and flower crowned beasts
He plaintive singing of the ancient priests
Mingled with blare of trumpets, and the sound
Of all the many folk that stood around
The altar and the temple by the sea:

So sat they pondering much and silently
Till all the landward noises died away,
And, midmost now of the green sunny bay
They heard no sound but washing of the seas*

*95v. orig.: drew forth

[f. 97]

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And piping of the following western breeze
And heavy measured beating of the oars:
So left the Argo the Thessalian shores.

Now Neptune joyful of the sacrifice
Beside the sea and all the gifts of price
That Jason gave him, sent them wind at will
And swiftly Argo climbed each changing hill
And ran through rippling valleys of the sea;
Nor toiled the heroes unmelodiously,
For by the mast sat great Aeger’s son
And through the harp strings let his fingers run
Nigh soundless and with closed lips for a while
But soon across his face there came a smile
And his glad voice brake into such a song
That swiflier sped the eager ship along.

“Tumultuous sea* O bitter sea
Full many an ill is wrought by thee,
Unto the wasters of the land
Thou holdest out thy wrinkled hand,
And when they leave the conquered town
Whose black smoke makes thy surges brown

*96v. orig.: O grey old sea

[f. 98]

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Driven betwixt thee and the sun
As the long day of blood is done
From many a league of glittering waves
Thou smilest on them and their slaves.

“The thin bright-eyed Phoenician
Thou drawest to thy waters wan
With many a fair eve and bright morn
Thou temptest him, until, forlorn,
Unburied, under alien skies
Cast up ashore his body lies.

“Yea, whoso sees thee from his door
Must ever long for more and more,
Nor will the beechen bowl suffice
Or homespun robe of little price
Or hood well woven of the fleece
Undyed, or unspiced wine of Greece,
So sore his heart is set upon
Purple and gold and cinamon;
For as thou cravest, so he craves
Until he rolls beneath thy waves,
Nor in some landlocked unknown bay

[f. 99]

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Can satiate thee for one day.

“Now therefore O thou bitter sea
With no long words we pray to thee,
But ask thee, hast thou felt before
Such strokes of the long ashen oar.
And hast thou yet seen such a prow
Thy rich and niggard waters plough?

“Nor yet O sea shalt thou be cursed
If at thy hands we gain the worst,
And, wrapt in water roll about
Blind-eyed, unheeding song or shout
Within their eddies far from shore*
Warmed by no sunlight any more.

“Therefore indeed we joy in thee,
And praise thy greatness, and will we
Take at thy hands both good and ill
Yea what thou wilt and praise thee still,
Enduring not to sit at home
And wait until the last days come,
When we no more may care to hold
White bosoms under crowns of gold

98v. line inserted on facing page

[f. 100]

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And our dulled hearts no longer are
Stirred by the clangorous* noise of war
And hope within our souls is dead
And no joy is remembered

“So if thou hast a mind to slay
Great prize thou hast of us today,
And if thou hast a mind to save
Great prize and honour shalt thou have,
But whatso thou wilt do with us
Our end shall not be piteous,
Because our memories shall live
When folk forget the way to drive
The black keel through the heaped up sea
And half dried up thy waters be.”

Then shouted all the heroes and they drove
The good ship forth, so that the birds above
With long white wings scarce flew so fast as they;
And so they laboured well nigh all the day,
And ever in their ears divine words rung,
For midmost of them still the Thracian sung
Stories of Gods and men; the bitter life

99v. orig.: rattling

[f. 101]

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Pandora brought to luckless men, the strife
Twixt Pallas and the Shaker of the Earth,
The theft of Bacchus, and the wondrous birth
Of golden Venus: Natheless when the sun
To fall adown the Heavens had begun,
They trimmed the sails, and drew the long oars up,
And, pouring first wine from a golden cup
Unto the Gods, gladdened their hearts with food,
Then having feasted as they thought it good
Set hands upon the oars again, and so
Toiled on, until the broad sun, growing low
Reddened the green sea, then they held their hands
Till he should come again from unknown lands
And fell to meat again, and sat so long
Over the wine cups cheered with tale and song,
That night fell on them and the moon rose high
And the fair western wind began to die
Though still they drifted slowly toward the East;
Then with sweet sleep the others crowned their feast
But Typhys and the leader* of the rest
Who watched till drew the round moon to the west,
And Jason could behold beneath her light
Far off, at first a little speck of white

100v. orig.: captain

[f. 102]

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Which as the grey dawn stole across the sea
And the wind freshened, grew at last to be
Grey rocks and great, and when the nigher drew
The skillful helmsman past all doubting knew
The shore* of Semnos; therefore from their sleep
They roused their fellows bidding them to keep
The good ship from that evil rocky shore.

Then set each man his hand unto the oar,
And, striking sail, along the coast they crept
Till the sun rose and birds no longer slept;
Then, as they went they saw a sandy beach
Under the cliff that no high wave could reach
And in the rock a deep cave cut, whereby
A man was standing, gazing earnestly
Upon their ship, and shouting words that tost
Hither and thither by the wind, were lost
Amid the tumbling of the ridgy sea,
Natheless they deemed that he still prayed to be
Their fellow, and to leave those rocky shores;
Therefore with backing of the ashen oars
They stayed the ship, and beckoned unto him
To try the sea if so be he could swim

101v. orig.: land

[f. 103]

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Because indeed they doubted there might be
Anigh the place, some hidden enemy,
Nor cared they much to trust their oaken keel
Too near those rocks, as biting as sharp steel
That lay upon their lea, but with a shout
He sprang into the sea, and beat about
The waters bravely, till he reached the ship,
And clambering up let the salt water drip
Fro off his naked limbs, nor spoke he ought
Until before Prince Jason he was brought;
But Jason when he set his eyes on him,
And saw him famished and so gaunt of limb
Bade them to give him food and wine enow
Before he told his tale; and still to row
Along the high cliffs eastward, nor to stay
For town or town, haven or deep bay.

Then being clothed and fed the island man
Came back to Jason and his tale began.

“O Lord or Prince, or whoso you may be
Great thanks I give you, yet I pray, of me
Ask not my name, for surely ere this day

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Both name and house and friends have past away.
A Lemnian am I, who within the town
Had a fair house, and on the thymy down
Full many a head of sheep; and I had too
A daughter old enough for men to woo
A wife and three fair sons, of whom the first
For love and strife had now began to thirst;
Full rich I was, and led a pleasant life
Nor did I long for more, or doubted strife.

Know that at Lemnos were the Gods well served
And duly all their awful ties observed,
Save only that no temple Venus had
And from no altars was her heart made glad;
Wherefore for us she wove a bitter fate,
Fr by her power she set an evil hate
Of man, like madness in each woman’s heart
And heavy sleep on us men for our part,
From which few woke, or woke in time to feel
Against their throats the pitiless sharp steel.

But that there might be one to tell the thing,
Nigh dawn I woke, and turning thought to cling,

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Unto the warm side of my well-loved wife,
But found nought there but a keen two edged knife;
So wondering much I gat me from the bed
And going thence found all the floor bebled
Of my son’s sleeping place, and nigh the door
His body hacked and hewn upon the floor;
Naked he was, but in his clenched right hand
Held tufts of woman’s hair; then did I stand
As in a dream a man stands, when draws nigh
The thing he fears with such wild agony
Yet dares not flee from; but the golden sun
Came forth at last and daylight was begun,
Then trembling I took heart to leave at last
The lonely house, but as I slowly passed
Into the porch, a dreadful noise I heard
Nor shall I be again by ought so feared
How long soere I live, as I was then.
Because that shout was worse than cries of men
Drunken with blood, but yet as in a dream
I went to meet it, and heard sream on scream
From dying men, and as I gained the street
Men wounded, flying for their lives did meet,
And turned and fled with them, I knew not why

[f. 106]

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But looking back in running could espy
With shrinking horror, what kept up the chase

Because indeed the old familiar place
From house-wall unto housewall was now filled
With frantic women whose thin voices shrilled
With unknown war-cries, little did they heed
If as they tore along their flesh did bleed
So that some man was slain, for feared they now
If they each other smote with spear or bow.
For all were armed in some sort, and had set
On head or breast what armour they might get;
And some were naked else, and some were clad
In such-like raiment as the slain men had,
And some their kirtles wore looped up or rent.

So ever at us shafts and spears they sent,
And through the street came on like a huge wave
Until at last against the gates they drave;
And we gained on them, till some two or three,
As still they struggled there confusedly,
Burst from the press, and heading all the rest
Ran mightily, and the last men, hard pressed

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Turned round upon them, and straightway were slain,
Unarmed and faint, and ’gan the crowd to gain
Upon the others, until one by one
They fell and looked their last upon the sun;
And I alone was held in chase, until
I reached the top of a high thymy hill
Above the sea, bleeding from arm and back
Wherein two huntsmens arrows lightly stack
Shot by no practized hands; but nigh my death
I was indeed, empty of hope and breath.

Yet ere these changed hands could be laid on me
I threw myself into the boiling sea,
And they turned back, nor doubted I was dead;
But I though fearing much to show my head
Got me at last unto the little beach
And there the mouth of that cave scar[c]e could reach,
And lay there fainting till the sun was high;
Then I awoke, and rising fearfully
I gat into the cave, and there have been
I scarce know how long, nor man nor mouse have seen.
And as for food and drink, within the cave
Good store of sweet clear water did I have*
But in the nights I went along the beach
And got me shellfish, and made shift to reach

106v. insertion on facing page “And as for food . . . did I have”

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Some few birds eggs; but natheless misery
Must soon have slain me had not the kind sea
Sent you O Lords to give me life again;
Therefore I pray that ye wish not in vain
For ought and that with goods and happiness
The Father of all folk your lives may bless.”

Then said the Prince, And be thou strong of heart
For after all thy woes, shalt thou have part
In this our quest if so thou willest it;
But if so be that thou wouldst rather sit
In rest and peace within some fair homestead
That shall some king give to thee by my head,
For love of me; or else for very fear
Shall some man give thee what thou countest dear

And if thou askest of us, know that we
Now make for Chochis oer the watery plain,
And think we shall not fail to bring again
The fleece of Neptune’s ram to Thessaly.”

“Prince” said the Lemnian “I will go with thee
Whereso thou willest, neither have I will

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To wait again for ruin, sitting still
Among such goods as grudging fate will give
Even at the longest, only while I live.”

Then Jason bade them bring him arms well wrought
And roes of price, and when all these were brought
And he was armed, he seemed a goodly man.

Meanwhile along the high cliffs Argo ran,
Until a fresh land-wind began to rise,
Then did they set sail, and in goodly wise
Draw off from Lemnos, and at close of day
Again before them a new country lay,
Which when the neared the helmsman Typhys knew
To be the Mysian land; being come thereto
They saw a grassy shore and trees enow,
And a sweet stream that from the land did flow.
Therefore they thought it good to land thereon
And get them water, but the day being gone
They anchored till the dawn anigh the shore,
And slept in peace each man beside his oar:

But when the day dawned most men left the ship

[f. 110]

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=Some hasting the glazed water-jars to dip
In the fresh water, others went with these
Who had a mind beneath the murmuring trees
To sit awhile, forgetful of the sea,
And with the seafarers there landed three
Amongst the best, Alcmena’s godlike son
Hylas the fair, and that half-halting one
Great Polyphemus: now both Hercules
And all the others lay beneath the trees
When all the jars were filled, nor wandered far;
But Hylas governed by some wayward star
Strayed from them and up stream he set his face,
And came unto a tangled woody place
From whence the stream came, and within that wood
Along its bank wandered in heedless mood,
Nor knew it haunted of the sea nymphs fair,
Whom on that morn the hero’s noise did scare
From their abiding-place anigh the bay;
But these now hidden in the water lay
Within the wood, and thence could they behold
The fair-limbed Hylas with his hair of gold
And fresh face, ruddy from the wind-swept sea

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Then straight they loved him, and were fain to have
His shapely body in the glassy wave,
And taking counsel there, they thought it good
That one should meet him in the darksome wood
And by her wiles should draw him to some place
Where they his helpless body might embrace.

So from the water stole a fair nymph forth,
And by her art so wrought, that from the north
You would have thought her come, from where a Queen
Rules over lands summer alone sees green:
For she in goodly raiment furred, was clad
And on her head a golden caul she had
All strange of fashion, and about her shone
Full many a jewel and outlandish stone.

So in his path anigh the river-side
She set herself until it should betide
That Hylas reached her, but as he came there
Over her face she laid her fingers fair,
And wept as though her very heart would break,
Heeding him not; who sorry for her sake
Asked her what ailed her; but she piteously

[f. 112]

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Lifted her streaming face, and “Sir” said she,
“Do me no harm for God’s sake, for I come
From the far Northland, where yet sits at home
The King my father; who, since I was wooed
By a rich Grecian lord, had thought it good
To send me to him with a goodly train,
Who, their base hearts being turned by hope of gain,
Fled with my goods last night the while I slept,
Nor know I yet indeed what kind God kept
Their traitrous hands from slaying me outright;
But surely yet the lion-haunted night
Had made an end of me, hadst thou not come,
Whom now I pray to guide me to some home
O simple men where I may end my days
In peaceful wise free both from fear and praise.”

And with these words she kneeled before his feet
And with clasped hands, and tearful eyes and sweet
She kneeled unto him, who stooped down and said,
“Nay weep no more I pray thee O sweet maid
And I will strive to bring thee on thy way
Though other things had I to do today.”

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Therewith he reached his hand to her but she
Let her slim palm fall in it daintily,
And with that touch he felt as through his blood
Strange fire ran, nor saw he the close-wood
Nor tangled path nor stream, nor ought but her
Crouching before him in her gold and fur,
Nor heard he ought but beating of his heart,
Nor thought of his companions left apart
Along the shore, but only thought of this
How, soonest and how oftenest he might kiss
The fair girl* from the brows unto the feet
And how he might behold her body sweet
Hidden of nought:*now meanwhile did she rise
And gathering under his bewildered eyes
Her garments from her feet began to go
Before him, who indeed cared not to know
Whither they went so that he had her nigh.
So mazed he followed her and presently
Following the stream* they reached a space of green
Left open twixt the trees, and there between
The river ran, grown broad and like a pool,
Along whose bank a flickering shade and cool
Gray willows made, and all about they heard

*112v. orig.: Her body
*112v. insertion on facing page: Hidden of nought
*112v. insertion on facing page: Following the stream

[f. 114]

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The warble of the small brown river-bird,
And from both stream and banks there rose a haze
Quivering and thin, for of midsummer days
This was the chiefest day and crown of all.

Then did the damsel let her long skirts fall
Over her feet, and sighing ’gan to go
Across the flowery grass with footsteps slow
As though she grew aweary, and she said,
Turning unto him her sweet, glorious head,

“Soft* is the air in your land certainly
But under foot the way is rough and dry
Unto such feet as mine, more used to feel
The dainty stirrup wrought of gold and steel,
Or tread upon the white bears fell, or pass
In summer, oer such fine and flowery grass
As this, that soothly mindeth me too much
Of that my worshipped feet were wont to touch
When I was called a Queen: let us not haste
To lease this sweet place for the tangled waste
I pray thee therefore, Prince, but let us lie
Beneath these willows while the wind goes by

* “Soft” is written above “Warm,” and Morris failed to cross out the latter.

[f. 115]

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And set our hearts to think of happy things
Before the morrow pain and trouble brings.”

She fluttered somewhat as she spoke, but he
Drew up beside her, and took lovingly
Her little hand, nor spoke she more to him,
Nor he to her a while, till from the rim
Of his great shield broke off the leather band
That crossed his breast, whether some demon’s hand
Snapped it unseen, or some sharp rugged bough
Within the wood had chafed it even now;
But clattering fell the buckler to the ground
And startled at the noise he turned him round.
But smiling said unto her,
“Fair and sweet,
Call it an omen, that this, nowise meet
For deeds of love, has left me by its will
And now by mine these toys that cumber still
My aims shall leave me.”
And therewith he threw
His brass-bound spear upon the grass, and drew
The Theban blade from out its ivory sheath,
And loosed his broad belt’s clasp that like a wreath

[f. 116]

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His father’s Indian serving man had wrought,
And cast his steel coat off from Persia brought,
And so at last, being freed of brass and steel,
Upon his breast he laid her hand to feel
The softness of the fine Phoenician stuff
That clad it it still, nor yet could toy enough
Within that fair hand; so played they for a space
Till softly did she draw him to the place
Anigh the stream, and they being set, he said,

“And what do’st thou O love, art thou afraid
To cast thy amour off as I have done,
Within this covert where they fiery sun
Scarce strikes upon on jewel of your gown” ?

But she spake reddening, with her eyes cast down
“O Prince behold me as I am today,
But if oer many a rough and weary way
It hap unto us both at last to come
Unto the happy place that is thy home
Then let me be as woman of thy land.
When they before the sea-born Goddess stand
And not one flower hides them from her sight.”

But with that word she set her finger white

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Upon her belt; and he said amorously
“Ah God, whatso thou wilt must surely be,
But would that I might die, or be asleep
Till we have gone across the barren deep
And you and I together hand in hand,
Some day ere Sunrise lights the quiet land
Behold once more the seven gleaming gates.”

“O Love” She said, and such a fair time waits
Both thee and me: but now give thee rest
Here in the noontide, were it not the best
To soothe thee with some gentle murmuring song
Sung to such notes as to my folks belong,
Such as my maids a while ago would sing
When on my bed a-nights I lay waking.”

“Sing on” he said, but let me dream of bliss
If I should sleep, nor yet forget thy kiss”
She touched his lips with hers, and then began
A sweet song sung not yet to any man.

I know a little garden close
Set think with lily and red rose

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Where I would wander if I might
From dewy dawn to dewy night
And have one with me wandering.

And though within it no birds sing.
And though no pillared house is there
And though the apple boughs are bare
Of fruit and blossom, would to God
His feet upon the green grass trod
And I beheld them as before.

There comes a murmur from the shore
And in the place two fair streams are,
Drawn from the purple hills afar
Drawn down unto the restless sea;
The hills whose flowers ne’er fed the bee,
The shore no ship has ever seen
Still beaten by the billows green
Whose murmur comes unceasingly
Unto the place for which I cry.

For which I cry both day and night,
For which I let slip all delight

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That maketh me both deaf and blind
Careless to win, unskilled to find,
And quick to lose what all men seek.

Yet tottering as I am and weak
Still have I left a little breath
To seek within the jaws of death
And entrance to that happy place,
To seek the unforgotten face
Once seen, once kissed, once reft from me
Anigh the murmuring of the sea.

She ceased her song that lower for a while
And slower too had grown, and a soft smile
Grew up within the eyes as still she sung.
Then she rose up and over Hylas hung
For now he slept, and then the God in her
Consumed the northern robe done round with fur
That hid her beauty and the light west wind
Played with her tresses that no cowl did bind,
And though her faint grey garment her limbs seemed
Like ivory in the sea, and the sun gleamed
In the strange jewels round her middle sweet

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And in the jeweled sandals on her feet.

So stood she murmuring till a rippling sound
She heard, that grew until she turned her round
And saw her other sisters of the deep.
Her song had called while Hylas yet did sleep.
Come swimming in a long line up the stream
And their white dripping arms and shoulders gleam
Above the dark grey water as they went,
And still before them a great ripple sent.

But when they saw her toward the bank they drew
And landing felt the grass and flowers blue
Against their unused feet, then in a ring
Stood gazing with wide eyes, and wondering
At all his beauty they desired so much;
And then with gentle hands began to touch
His hair his hands, his closed eyes at last
Their eager naked arms about him cast,
And bore him, sleeping still as by some spell.
Unto the glassy depths they loved so well.
There softly down the reedy bank they slid
And with small noise the gurgling river hid

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The flushed nymphs and the heedless sleeping man.

But ere the water covered them one sweet thing ran
Across the mead, and caught up from the ground
The brass bound spear and buckler bossed and round,
The ivory hilted sword and coat of mail,
Then took the stream : so what might tell the tale
Unless the wind should tell it, or the bird
Who from the reed these things had seen and heard.

Meanwhile the ship being watered, and the day
Now growing late, the Prince would fain away,
So from the ship has blown a horn to call
The stragglers back, who mustered one and all
But Theban Hylas; therefore when they knew
That he was missing, Hercules withdrew
From out the throng, if yet perchance his voice
Hylas might hear, and all their hearts rejoice
With his well-known shout in reply thereto;
With him that Polyphemus likewise go,
To work out the wise council of the fates,
Unhappy, who no more would see the gates,
Of white-walled fair Larissa, or the plain

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Burdened by many an overladen wain.

For while their cries and shouts rang through the wood,
The others reached the ship, and thought it good
To weigh the anchor, and anigh the shore
With loosened sail and run out ready oar,
To trim the ship for leaving the fair bay;
And therefore Juno waiting for that day,
And for that hour, hand gathered store of wind
Up in the hills to work out all her mind;
Which from the Mysian mountains now let slip,
Tearing along the low shore smote the ship
In blinding clouds of salt spray mixed with rain.

Then vainly they struck sail, and all in vain
The rowers strove to keep her head to wind
And still they drifted seaward drenched and blind

But mid their struggling suddenly there shone
A light from Argo’s high prow and thereon
Could their astonished, fearful eyes behold
A figure standing, with wide wings of gold,
Upright amid the weltering of the sea.

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Calm midst the noise and cries, and presently
To all their ears a voice pierced, saying: “No more
O Jove-blessed heroes strive to reach the shore,
Nor seek your lost companions, for of these
Jove gives you not the mighty Hercules
To help you forward on your happy way
But wills him in the Green land still to stay
Where many a thing he has for him to do.
With whom a while shall Polyphemus go,
Then build in Mysia a fair merchant-town
And when long years have passed there lay him down
And as for Hylas, never think to see
His body more, who yet lies happily
Beneath the green stream where ye were this morn,
And there he praises Jove that he has born
Forgetting the rough world and every care
Not dead nor living, among faces fair,
White limbs, and wonders of the watery world.

“And now I bid you spread the sail ye furled,
And make on towards the straits, while Juno sends
Fair wind behind you, calling you her friends.”

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Therewith the voice ceased, and the storm was still
And afterward they had good wind at will,
To help them toward the straits: but all the rest,
Rejoicing at the speeding of their quest,
Yet wondered much whence that strange figure came
That on the prow burnt like a harmless flame,
Yea some must go and touch the empty space
From whence those words flew from the godlike face.
But Jason and the builder Argus knew
Whereby the prow had told things strange and new
Nor wondered ought but thanked the Gods therefore.

And now the Argo flew on towards the shore
Where draws the sea into a narrow space
And first the country folk saw Helle’s face;
There fearful of the darkness of the night
Without the straits they anchored till the light,
And when the day broke sped them through the straits
With oars alone, and through the narrow gates
Came out into Propontis, where with our
And sail together, within sight of shore
They went until the sun was falling down
And then they saw the white walls of town<

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And made thereto, and being come anigh
They found that on an isle the place did lie,
And Typys called it Cyzicum, a place
Built by a goodly man of a great race,
Himself called Cyzicus, Euzorus’ son,
Who still in peace ruled over many an one
Merchants and others that city fair.

Therefore they thought it good to enter there,
And going softly with sails struck, at last
Betwixt the two walls of a port they past
And on the quays beheld full many a man
Buying and selling nigh the water wan.

So as they touched the shore, an officer
Drew nigh unto them asking who they were,
And when he knew, he cried, “O heros, land,
For here shall all things be at your command
And here shall you have good rest from the sea.”
Therewith he sent me to go speedily
And tell the king these folks were landed there

Then passed the heroes forth upon the fair

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Well builded quays; and all the merchant folk
Beholding them; from golden dreams awoke,
And of the sword and clattering shield grew fain
And glory for a while they counted gain;

But Jason and his folk, passing these
Come to a square shaded about by trees
Where they beheld the King all glorious stand
To wait them, who took Jason by the hand
And led him through the rows of linden trees
Unto his house, the frown of palaces;
And there he honoured them with royal feast
In his fair hall, hung round with man and beast
Wrought in fair Indian Clothes, and on soft beds
When they grew weary did they lay their heads.
Bade them to lay their much forwearied heads.

But he when on the mom they would away
Full many a rich gift in their keel did lay
And while their oars were whitening the green sea,
Within his temple he prayed reverently
For their good-hap to Jove the Saving God.
Hapless himself that there had ever trod
His quiet land; for sailing all the day

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Becalmed at last at fall of night they lay,
And lying there, And an hour before midnight
A black cloud rose, that swallowed up the light
Of moon and stars, and therefrom leapt a wind
That drave the Argo tottering and blind
Back on her course, and as it died, at last
They heard the breakers roaring, and so cast
Their achors out, within some shallow bay
They knew not where, to wait until the day.

There as they waited, they saw beacons flame
Along the coast and in a while there came
A rout of armed men thereto, as might seem
By shouts and clash of aims that now gain gleam
Beneath the light of torches, that they bore;
They could the heroes see that they from shore
Were distant scarce a bowshot, and the tide
Had ebbed so quick the sands were well-nigh dried
Betwixt them and the foremost of the foe,
Who ere they could push off began to go
Across the wet lands, and with man a cry
The biting arrows from their bows let fly
Nor were the heroes slow to make return

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Aiming whereere they saw the torches burn.

So passed the night with little death of men
But when the sky at last grew grey, and when
Dimly the Argo’s crew could see their foes,
Then overboard they lept, that the might close
With these scarce-seen, for fighting enemies,
And so met man to man crying their cries,
In deadly shock ; but Jason for his part
Rushing before the rest, put by a dart
A tall man threw the rest, put by a dart
A tall man threw, and closing with him, drave
His spear through shield, and breastplate weak to save
His heart from such an aim; then straight he fell
Dead on the sands, and with a waling yell
The others when they saw it fled away
And got them swiftly, to the forests grey,
The yellow sands fringed like a garments hem
Nor gave the seafarers much chase to them,
But on the hard sands all together drew.

And now, day growing they the country knew
And found it Czicum, and Jason said
Fellows what have we done; by likely head

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And evil dead I fear me, but come now
Draw off the helmet from his dead means brow
And name him: “So when they had done this thing
They saw the face of Cyzicus the King.

But Jason when he saw him, wept and said,
“Ill hast thou fared O friend that I was led
To take thy gifts and slay thee: in such guise
Blind and unwitting do fools die and wise.
And I myself may hap to come to die
By that I trusted, and like these to lie
Dead ere my time, a wonder to the world.
But o poor King, thy corpse shall not be hurled
Hither and thither by the heedless wave,
But in an urn thine ashes will I save
And build a temple when I come to Greece
A rich man, with the fair-curled golden fleece
And set them there, and call it by they name,
That thou mayst yet win an undying fame.”

Then hasted all the men, and in a while
Twixt sea and woodland raised a mighty pile,
And there they burned him, but for spices sweet

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Could cast thereon but wrack from ’neath their feet
And wild-wood flowers and resin from the pine;
And when the pile grew low, with odorous wine
They quenched the ashes, and the king’s they set
Within a golden vessel, that with fret
Of twining boughs, and gem made flowers was wrought
That they from Pelias’ treasure-house had brought
Then since the sun his high meridian
Had left, they pushed into the waters wan,
And so with hoisted sail and stroke of oar
Drew off from that unlucky fateful shore.

Now eastward with a fair wind as they went,
And towards the opening of the ill sea bent
Their daring course, Typhys arose and said

“Heroes, it seems to me that hardihead
Helps mortal men but little if thereto
They join not wisdom, now needs must we go,
Into the evil sea through blue rocks twain
No keel hath ever passed, although in vain
Some rash men trying it, of old have been
Pounded therein as poisonous herbs and green

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Are pounded by some witch-wife on the shore
Of Pontus: for these rocks evermore
Each against each are driven, and leave not
Across the whole straight such a little spot
Safe from the grinding of their might blows
As that through which a well aimed arrow goes
When archers for a match shoot at the ring.

“Now heroes do I mind me of a king
The dwelleth at a sea-side town of Thrace
That men called Salmydessa, from this place
A short day’s sail, who hidden things can tell
Beyond all men, wherefore I think it well
That we for counsel should now turn thereto
Now headlong to our own destruction go.”

Then all men said, that these words were good
And turning, towards the Thracian coast they stood
Which yet they reached not till the moonlit night
Was come, and from the shore the wind blew light.
So they lay to until the dawn, and then
Creeping along, found an abode of men
That Typhys knew to be the place they sought.

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Thereat they shouted and right quickly brought
The Argo to the landing place, and threw
Grapnels ashore, and landing, straightway drew
Unto the town, seeking Phineus the King.
But those they met, and asked about this thing
Grew pale at naming him and few words said,
Natheless they being unto the palace led
And their names told, they straight were bidden in
To where the King sat, a man blind and thin,
And haggard beyond measure, who straightway
Called out aloud, “Now blessed be the way
That led these to me, happiest of all
Who from the poop see the prow rise and fall
And the sail bellying and the glittering oars
And blessed be the day whereon our shores
First felt they footsteps, since across the sea
My hope and my revenge thou bring’st with thee.”

Then Jason said: “hail Phinews that men call
Wisest of men, and may all good befall
To thee and thine, and happy mayst thou live
Yet do we rather pray these gifts to give,
Than bring thee any gifts, for smoothly, we

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“Sail desperate men, and poor across the sea.”

Then answered Phineus; “Guest I know indeed
What gift it is that on this day ye need,
Which I will not withhold, and yet I pray
That ye will eat and drink with me today,
Then shall ye see how wise a man am I,
And how well skilled to scape from misery.”

Therewith he groaned and bade his folk to bring
Such feast as longed unto a mighty king,
And speed the board therewith, who straight obeyed
Trembling and pale, and on the tables laid
A royal feast most glorious in show.

Then said the king, “I give you now to know
That the Gods love me not, O guest, therefore
Lest your expected feast be troubled sure
Feast by yourselves while I sit here
Looking for what which scarcely brings me fear
This day, since I so long have suffered it.

So wondering at this words they all did sit

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At that rich board, and ate and drink they fill,
But yet with little mirth indeed, for still
Within their ears the king words harshly rang
And his blind eyes, made restless by some pang
They still felt on them, though no word he said.

At last he called out, “Though ye be full fed
Sit still at table and behold me eat,
Then shall ye witness with what royal meat
The Gods are pleased to feed me, since I know
As much as they do both of things below
And things above.”
Then when the heard this word
The most of them grew heavy and afeard
Of what should come: but now unto the board
The king was lead, and nigh his hand, his sword
Two edged and ivory hilted did they lay,
And set the richest dish of all that day
Before him, and wine-crowned golden cup.
And a pale, trembling servant lifted up
The cover from the dish; then did they hear
A wondrous rattling sound that drew anear

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Increasing quickly: then the gilded hall
Grew dark at noon though the night did fall
And open were all doors and windows burst,
And such dim light gleamed out as light the curst
Unto the torments behind Minos’ throne;
Dim green and doubtful through the hall it shone
Falling on shapes no mortal saw before
They fell awhile ago upon that shore.

For now indeed the trembling Minyae
Behold the daughters of the earth and sea,
The dreadful Snatchers, who like women were
Down to the breast, with scantly course black hair
About their heads and dim eyes ringed with red
And bestial mouths set round with lips of lead,
But from their gnarled necks began to spring
Half hair, half feathers, and a sweeping wing
Grew out instead of aims at either side
And thick plumes underneath the breast did hide
The place where joined the fearful natures twain
Grey featherhead were they else with many a stain
Of blood thereon, and on bird’s claws, they went

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These through the hall, unheard of skieking sent
And rushed at Phineus, just as to his mouth
He raised the golden cup to quench his drouth
And scattered the red wine, and buffeted
The wretched king; and one, perched on this head,
Laughed as the furies laugh, when kings come down
To lead new lives within the fiery town,
And said: “O Phineus thou art lucky now
The hidden things of heaven and hell to know;
Eat, happy man, and drink. “Then did she draw
From the dish a gobbet with her claw
And held it nigh his mouth, who vainly strove
To fee his arm from one hovering above,
Within her filthy vulture claws clutched tight
And cried out at him, “Truly in dark night
Thou seest, Phineus, as the leopard doth.”

Then cried the third, “Fool who would fain have both,
Delight and knowledge, therefore with blind eyes
Clothe thee in purple wrought with braveries
And set the pink veined marble ’neath thy throne
Then on its golden cushions sit alone,
Hearkening thy chain-galled slaves without, singing

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“For joy that they behold so many a thing.”

Then shrieked the first one in a dreadful voice
“And I, O Phineus, bid thee to rejoice
That midst thy knowledge still thou knowst not this,
Whose flesh the lips, with which thy lips I kiss,
This morn have fed on: “Then she laughed again
And fawning on him, with her sisters twain
Spread her wide wings and hid him from the sight
And mixed his groans with screams of shrill delight.

Now trembling sat the seafarers, nor dared
To use the weapons from their sheaths half bared,
Fearing the Gods, who there before their eyes
Had shown them with what shame and miseries
They visit impious men: yet from the board
Then started two, with shield and ready sword;
The North winds offspring, since upon that day
Their father wrought within them in such way
They had no fear: but now when Phineus knew
By his divine art, that the Godlike two
Were armed to help him, then from twixt the wings
He cried aloud, “O Heroes more than kings

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“Strike and fear not, but set me free today,
That ye within your brazen chests may lay
The best of all my treasure-house doth hold
Fair linen scarlet cloth and well wrought gold.”

Then shrieked the snatches knowing certainly
That now the time had come when they most fly
From pleasant Salmydyessa casting off
The joys they had in shameful mock and scoff
So gat they from the blind king, leaving him
Pale and forewearied in his every limb,
And flying, through the roof they sat them down
Above the hall doors mid the timbers brown
Chattering with fury. Then the fair-dyed wings
Opened upon the shoulders of the kings,
And on their heels, and shouting they uprose
And poised themselves in air to meet their foes.

Then here and there those loathly things did fly
Before the brazen shields and swords raised high
But as they flew unlucky words they cried;

The first said; “Hail O folk who wander wide

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Seeking a foolish thing across the sea
Not heeding in what case your houses be;
Where now perchance the rovers cast the brand
Up to the roof, and leading by the hand
The fair-limbed women with their fettered feet
Pass down the sands, their hollow ship to meet.”

“Fair to him who weds the sorcerer,”
The second cried, “and may the just Gods bless
The slayer of his kindred and his name.”

“Luck to the toilsome seeker after fame.”
The third one from the open hall-door cried,
Still seeking for a better thing than best
A fairer thing than fairest without rest
“Fare ye well Jason, still unsatisfied;
Good speed, O traitor, who shall think to wed
Soft limbs and white, and find thy royal bed
Dripping with blood, and burning up with fire.
Good hap to him who henceforth ne’er shall tire
In seeking good that ever flies his hand
Till he lies buried in an alien land”

So screamed the monstrous fowl, but now the twain
Sprung from the north-winds loins to be their bane

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“Drew nigh unto them, then with huddled wings
Forth from the hall they gat, but evil things
In flying they gave with weakened voice -
Saying unto them, “O ye men rejoice
Whose bodies worms shall feed on soon or late,
Blind slaves and foolish of unsparing fate,
Seeking for that which ye can never get,
Whilst life and death alike ye do forget
In needless strife until on some sure day
Death takes your scarcely tasted life away.”

Quivering their voices ceased as on they flew
Before the swift wings of the Godlike two
For over land and sea; until they were
Anigh the isles called Strophades, and there,
With tired wings, all voiceless did they light
Trembling to see anigh the armour bright
The wind-born brothers bore, but as they drew
Their gleaming swords and nigh the monsters flew,
From out the deep rose a black haired man
Who standing on the white topped waves that ran
On toward the shore, cried “heroes turn again,
For on this islet shall ye land in vain.

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But without sorrow leave the chase of these,
Who henceforth mid the rocky Strophades
Shall dwell forever, servants unto me,
Working my will, therefore rejoice that ye
Win gifts and honour for your deed to-day.”

Then even as he spoke they saw but grey,
White headed waves rolling where he had stood
Whereat they sheathed their swords and through their blood
A tremor ran, for now they knew that he
Was Neptune Shaker of the Earth and Sea
Therefore they turned them back unto the hall
Where yet the others were, and ere might fall
Came back to Salmydessa and the King
And lighting down they told him of the thing.

Who hearing them straight lifted up his voice
And midst the shouts cried, “heroes now rejoice
With me who am delivered on this day,
From that which took all hope and joy away;
Therefore to feast again, until the sun
Another glad day for us had begun;

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And then if ye indeed must try the sea,
With gifts and counsel shall ye go from me,
Such as the Gods have given me to give
And happy lives and glorious may ye live.”

Then did they fall to banqueting gain
Forfitting all forebodings and all pain;
And when that they had ate and drank now
With songs, harp music and a goodly show
Their hearts were gladdened, for before their eyes
Played youths and damsels with strange fantasies,
Clad as in Saturns time folk used to be,
With green leaves gathered from the summer tree
When all the year was summer everywhere
And every man and woman blest and fair.
So set twixt pleasure and some soft regret
All cares of mortal men did they forget,
Except the vague desire not to die,
The hopeless wish to flee from certainty
That music and fair sights will bring on us
That and sounds we love will bring on us sights
In this sweet mournful world and piteous.

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[Part 5]

But on the morrow did they get them gone
Gifted with gold, and many a precious stone,
And many a bale of scarlet cloth, and spice,
And arms well wrought and goodly robes of price
Did gifts past telling on that mourn belong.

Now as they stood upon the windy quay,
Ready their hands upon the ropes to lay,
Phineus, who midst his mighty lords was there,
Set high above them in a royal chair,
Said: “Many a gift ye have of me today
Within your treasures at home to lay
If so it be that through hard things and pain
Ye come to that horse nurturing land again;
Natheless one more gift shall ye have of me,
For lacking that, beneath the greedy sea,
The mighty tomb of mariners and kings,
Doubt not to lay down these desired things,
Nor think to come to Thessaly at all.”
And therewith turning he began to call

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Unto this folk to bring what they had there;
Then one brought forward a cage great and fair,
Wherein they saw a grey, pink footed dove.

Then said the king: “They very Gods above
Can scantly help you more than I do.
For listen: as upon this day ye go
Upon the narrow ending of the sea,
Anigh the clashing rocks lie patiently,
And let the keenest-eyed among you stand
Upon the prow, and let loose from his hand
This dove, who from my mouth today has heard
So many a mystic and compelling word,
He cannot choose being loosed, but fly down straight
Unto the opening of that dreadful gate;
So let the keeneyed watch, and if so be
He comes out safe into the evil sea,
Then bend unto the oars nor fear at all
Of aught that from the clashes may befall;
But if he perish, then turn back again
And know the Gods have made your passage vain.

Thereafter if ye will come back to me

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And if ye find nought in my treasury
That ye desire, yet ye at least shall have
A King and a Kings son to be your slave;
And all things here still may ye bind and loose,
And from our women freely may ye choose,
Nor spare the fairest or most chaste to kiss,
And in fair houses shall ye live in bliss.”

“O King” said Jason, know that on this day
I will not be for-sworn, but by some way
Will reach the oak-grove, and the Golden Fleece,
Or failing die at least far off from Greece,
Not unremembered; yet great thanks we give
For this thy gift and council and will strive
To come to Colchis through the unknown land
And through whatso perils wait us, if Jove’s hand,
Be heavy on us, and the great blue gates
Are shut against us by the unmoved fates.
Farewell O King, and henceforth free from ill
Live happy as thou mayest and honoured still.”

Then turned he, shouting, to the Minyae
Who oer the gangways rushed tumultuously

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And from the land great Argo straightway thrust,
And gat them to their work, hat with lust
Of fame and noble deeds, and happy prize.
And the bird Lynceus took, unto whose eyes
The night was as the day, and fire as air

But back unto his marble palace fair
The King turned, thinking well; upon the way
Of what had happed since morn of yesterday.

Now from the port passed Argo, and the wind
Being fair for sailing quickly left behind
Fair Salyndessa the kind gainful places
And so with sail and oar in no long space,
They reached the narrow ending of the sea,
Where the wind shifted, blowing gustily
From side to side, so that their flapping sail
But little in the turmoil could avail;
And now at last did they begin to hear
The pounding of the rocks; but nothing clear
They saw them; for the steaming clouds of spray
Sheared by the meeting, hammers every way
Quite hid the polished bases from their sight;

[f. 147]

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Unless perchance the eyes Lynceus might
Just now and then behold the deep blue shine
Betwixt the scattering of the silver brine.
But sometimes twixt the clouds the sun would pass
And show the high clouds glittering like glass,
Trembling, as far beneath the churned up waves
Were ground together the strong arched caves;
Wherein none dwelt, no not the giant’s brood
Who fed the green sea with his lustful blood,
Nor were sea-devils even nurtured there,
Nor dared the sear worm use them for its lair
And now the Minyae as they drew anear
Had been at point to turn about for fear,
Each man beholding his pale fellow’s face
Whose speech was silenced in that dreadful place
By the increasing clamour of the sea
And adamantine rocks: then verily
Was Juno good at need who set strange fire
In Jason’s heart, and measureless desire
To be the first of man, and made his voice
Clear as that Herald’s whose sweet words rejoice
The Gods within the flowery fields of Heaven

[f. 148]

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And gave his well knit arm the strength of seven.

So then above the crash and thundering
The Minyae heard his shrill calm voice saying
Shall this be there and for an ending to our quest,
And shall we find the worst who sought the best.
Far better had ye sat beside your wives
And mid the wine cups lingered out your lives,
Dreaming of noble deeds through trying none,
Than as vain boasters with your deed undone
Come back to Greece that men may sing of you.
Are ye all shameless, are thee not a few
Who have slain fear, knowing the unmoved fates
Have meted out already what awaits
The coward and the brave: Ho Lynceus stand,
Upon the prow and let slip from your hand
The wise King’s bird; and all ye, note, the wind
Is steady now, and blowing from behind
Drives us on toward the clashes, and I hold
The helm myself, therefore lest we be rolled
Broadside against these horrors, take the oar,

[f. 149]

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And hang here half a furlong from the shore
Nor die of fear, until at least we know
If through these gates the Gods will let us go:
And if so be they will not, yet will we
Not empty handed came to Thessaly,
But strike for a through this unknown land
Whose aims reach out to us on either hand.”

Then they for shame began to cast off fear
And handling well the oars kept Argo near
The changing, little lighted spray-washed space,
Whereunto Lynceus set his eager face,
And loosed the dove, and down the wind she flew.
Then all the others lost her, dashing through
The clouds of spray, but Lynceus noted how
She reached the open space, just as a blow
Had spent itself, and still the hollow sound
Of the last clash was booming all around.
And eagerly he noted how the dove
Stopped mazed, and hovered for a while above
The troubled sea, then stooping darted through
As the blue gleaming rocks together drw.
Then scarce he breathed, until a mighty shout

[f. 150]

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He gave as he beheld her passing out
Unscathed above the surface of the sea
While back again the rocks drew sluggishly

Then back their poised oars whirled and straight they drave
Unto the opening of the spray arched cave,
But Jason’s eyes alone of all the crew
Beheld the sunny sea and cloudless blue
Still narrowing but bright from rock to rock.
Now as they neared came the next thundering shock
That deafened all, and with an icy cloud
Hid man from man, but Jason shouting loud
Still clutched the tiller, and the oars grasped tight
By mighty hands still drave Argo forthright
Unto the rocks, until with blinded eyes
They blinked one moment at those mysteries
Unseen before, the next they felt the sun
Full on their backs, and knew their deed was done.

Then on their oars they lay, and Jason turned,
And o’er the rocks beheld how Iris burned
In fair and harmless many-coloured flame-
And he beheld the way by which they came

[f. 151]

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Wide open, changeless, of its spray clouds cleared
And through in his bewildered ears he heard
The tumult yet, that all was stilled he knew,
While in and out the unused seafowl flew
Betwixt them; and the now subsided sea
Lapped round about their dark feet quietly.

So turning, to the Minyae he cried,
“See ye, O fellows, the gates opened wide
And chained fast by the Gods, nor think to miss
The very end we seek, or well earned bliss
Where once again we feel our country’s earth,
And twixt the tears of elders, and the mirth
Of young men grown to manhood since we left,
And longing eyes of girls, the fleece once reft
From a King’s son of Greece we have again
In Neptune’s temple nigh the murmuring main.”

Then all men with eyes now cleared of brine
Beheld the many coloured rainbow shine.
Over the rocks, and saw it fade away,
And saw the opening cleared of sea and spray,
And saw the green sea lap about the feet

[f. 152]

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Of those blue hills that never should meet
And saw the wondering seafowl fly about
The much-changed tops, then with a mighty shout
They rose rejoicing and poured many a cup
Of red wine to the Gods, and hoisting up
The weather-beaten sail sped swift along
Having good wind at will, with mirth and song.

Three days with good hap and fair wind they went
That ever at their backs Queen Juno sent,
But on the fourth day about noon they drew
Unto a new-built city no man knew,
No not the pilot, so they thought it good
To aim themselves, and thus in doubtful mood
Brought Argo to the port; and being come night
A clear-voiced herald from the land did cry.
“Whoso ye be, if that ye come in peace,
King Lycus bids you hail; but if from Greece
Ye come, and are the folk of whom he hear
Who make for Cholchis free from any fear,
Then doubly welcome are ye, here take land
For everything shall be at your command”

[f. 153]

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So without doubt they landed at that word
And told him who they were, and when he heard
Through the fair streets he brought them to the king
Who feasted them that night with everything
That man could wish; but when on the next day
They gathered at the port to go away
The wind was foul and boisterous, so preface
They for then must they bide. For lest they should come to worse.

And there for fourteen days did they abide,
And for their pastime oft would wonder wide
About the woods, for slaying of the beasts
Whereby to furnish forth the royal feasts;
But on a day, a closely hunted boar
Turning to bay, smote Idomon very sore
So that he died; poor wretch who would forsee
Full man unknown thing that was to be
And yet not this; Whose corpse they burnt with fire
Upon a purple covered spice-strewn pyre
And set his ashes in a marble tomb.

Neither could Tiphys these escape his doom,
Who after suffering many a bitter storm.

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Died, bitten of a hidden crawling worm
As though the woods he wandered all alone.
Now he being burned and laid beneath a stone
The wind grew fair for sailing, and the rest
Bade farewell to the King, and on their quest
Once more were busied, and began to plough
The unsteady plain; for whom Ergynus now
Great Neptune’s son the brass-bound tiller held.

Now leaving that fair land, nought they beheld
For seven days but sea and changeful sky
But on the eighth day could Lyneus espy
A land far off, and nigher as they drew
A low green shore, backed up by the mountains blue
Cleft here and there, all saw, twixt hope and fear
For now it seemed to them they should be near
The wished for goal of Aea, and the place
Where in the great sea Phasis ends his race

So creeping carefully along the beach
The mouth of a green river did they reach
Cleaving the sands, and on the yellow bar
The salt waves and the fresh waves were at war

[f. 155]

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As Phryxus erst beheld them, but no man
Among them ere had sailed that water wan
Now that wise Tiphys lay within his tomb.

Natheless they wrapt in that resistless doom
The fates had woven, turned them off the sea
Argo’s fair head, and rowing mightily
Drave her across the bar, who with straight keel
The eddying stream against her bows did feel:
So with the wind behind them, and the oars
Still hard at work they went betwixt the shores
Against the ebb, and now full oft espied
Trim homesteads here and there on either side,
And fair kine grazing and much wooly sheep,
And skin-clad shepherds roused from midday sheep
Gazing upon them with scared wondering eyes
So now they deemed they might be near their prize
And at the least knew that some town was nigh,
And thought to hear new tidings presently.
Which happed indeed, for at the turn of tide
At ending of a long reach they espied
A city wondrous fair, which seemed indeed
To bar the river’s course; but taking heed,

[f. 156]

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And drawing nigher, soon found out the case,
That on an island builded was the place
The more pout of it, but tour bridges fair
Set thick with goodly houses everywhere,
Crossed two and two on each side to the land
Whereon was built with walls on either hand
And towered baily, lest that war should fall
Upon the land, and midmost of each wall
A noble gate: moreover did they note
About the warves full many a ship and boat.
And they beheld the sunlight glistening
On arms of men and many a warlike thing
As nigher to the city they were borne
And heard at last some huge deep booming horn
Sound from a tower oer the watery way
Whose last harsh note was taken up straightway
By many another further and more near

Now when they did therewith loud shouting here
Then Jason bade them arm for what might come
“For now” quoth he, “I think we deem the home
Of that great marvel we are sworn to seek.
Nor do I think to find there folk so meek

[f. 157]

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That they with few words and a gift or two
Will give us that for which they did forego
Fair fame, the love of Gods and praise of men;
Be strong and play the man I bid you then,
For certes in none other wise shall ye
Come back again to grassy Thessaly.”

Then loud they shouted, clean forgetting fear
And strong Ergymus Argo straight did steer
On to the port, but through the crowded waist
Ran Jason to the high prow, making haste
To be the first to look upon that land.
Unhelmed he was, and shieldless though his hand
About a sharpened brass bound spear did meet,
And as the ashen oars swept on his feet
Moved lightly to their cadence under him;
So stood he like a God in face and limb.

Now drawing quickly nigh the landing place
Little by little did they slack their pace
Till half a bowshot from the shore they lay.
Then Jason shouted, “What do ye today
All armed, O warriors, and what tow is this

[f. 158]

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That here by seeming ye have little bliss
Of quiet life, but smothered up in steel
Ye needs must meet each harmless merchant keel
That nears your haven though perchance it bring
Good news, and many a desired thing.
That ye may get good cheap: and such are we,
But wayfarers upon the troublous sea,
Careful of that stored up within our hold,
Phoenician scarlet, spice, and Indian gold,
Deep-dying earths, and wood and cinnabar,
Wrought arms, and vessels and all things that are
Desired much by dwellers in all lands.
Nor doubt us friends although indeed, our hands
Lack not for weapons, for the unfenced head
Where we have been may chance to join the dead.”

So spake he with a smiling face, nor lied
For he indeed was purposed to have tried
To win the fleece, neither by war or stealth,
But open handed offering heaps of wealth,
But by an open hand and heaps of wealth
If so it might be bear it back again
Nor with a handful fight a host in vain.

[f. 159]

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But he being silent, at the last he aw
A stir among those folk, who gan to draw
Apart to right and left, leaving a man
Alone amidst them, unarmed, with a wan
And withered face, and black beard mixt with grey
That swept his girdle, who these words did say.
“O wayfarers I give you now to know,
That on this town oft falleth many a foe,
Therefore not lightly may folk take the land
With helm on head, and naked steel in hand;
Now since indeed ye folk are but a few
We fear ye not, yet fain would that we knew
Your names and counters: since within this town
Of Aea may a good man lay him down
And fear for nought, at least while I am king
Aetes born to heed full many a thing.”

Now Jason hearing his desired name
He thought to hear, grown hungrier for fame,
With eager heart, and fair face flushed with pride,
Said; “King Aetes, if not over wide
My name is known, that yet may come to be,
For I am Jason of the Minyae

[f. 160]

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And through great perils have I come from Greece;
And now since this is Aea, and the fleece
That slayedst once a guest, to get hangs up
Within thine house, take many a golden cup,
And arms, and dyestuff, cloth and spice and gold
And all the goods that lie within our hold;
Which are not mean, for neither have we come
Leaving all things of price shut up at home
Nor have we seen the faces of great kings
And left them giftless, therefore take these things
And be our friend, or few folk as we are
The Gods and we may bring thee bitter war.”

Then spake Aetes, “not for any word,
Or for the glitter of they bloodless sword
O youngling will I give he fleece to thee
Nor yet for gifts, for what are such to me?
Behold if all they folk joined hand to hand
They should not striving be enough to stand
And girdle round my bursting treasure house,
Yet since of this thing thou art amorous,
And I love men, and hold the Gods in fear,
If thou and thine will land, then mayst though hear

[f. 161]

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What great things thou must do to win the fleece,
Then if thou wilt not dare it, go in peace:
But come now, thou shalt hear it admidst wine
And lovely things and songs well night divine
And all the feasts that though hast shared ere while
With other kings, to mine shall be but vile.
Lest thou shouldst name me, coming to thy land
A poor guest fearing man, of niggard hand.”

So spake he outwardly, but inly thought,
‘Within two days this lading shall be brought
To lie amongst my tresures with the best
While neath the eart these robbers lie at rest.”

But Jason said “King, if these things be such
As man may do I shall not fear them much,
And at thy board will I least merrily
Tonight, if on the morrow I must die;
And yet beware of treason, since for nought
Such lives as ours are, are by no man bought.

Draw on, O heroes to the shore if ye
Are waiting still this great king’s house to see

[f. 162]

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Thereat was Argo brought up to the shore
And straight all landed from her, less and more
And the King spake to Jason honied words
And idle were all spears and sheathed all swords
As towards the Palace gently they were brought.
But Jason smiling outwardly, yet thought,
Within his heart, all this is fair snow
Yet do I think it but on empty show
Until the end comes, natheless will not I
Like a bad player spoil the bravery
By breaking out before they call my turn,
And then of me some mastery they may learn.

Amidst these thoughts, between the fair streets led
He noted well the size and goodlyhead
Of all the houses, and the folk well clad
And armed as though good store of wealth they had
Peering upon them with a wondering gaze.

At last a temple built in ancient days
Ere Aea was a town they came unto,
Huge was it, but not fair unto the view
Of our beholding from with it without, but round
The ancient place they saw a spot of ground

[f. 163]

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Where laurels grew each side with temple door
And two great images set up before
The brazen doors, whereof the one was She
Who draws this way and that the fitful sea;
The other, the Great God the Life of man
Who makes the brown earth green, the green earth wan
From spring to autumn though quick following days
The lovely archer with his crown of rays.

Now over against this temple, towering high
Above all houses, rose majestically
Aetes marble house, silent it stood
Brushed round by doves, through many a stream of blood
Had trickled o’er its stones since it was built
But now unconscious of all woe and guilt
It drank the sunlight that fair afternoon.

That spake Aeters, “Stranger thou shalt soon
Hear all thou would’st hear in my house of gold,
Yet ere thou enterest the door, behold
That ancient Temple of the Far Darter,
And know that they desire hangeth there
Against the gold wall of the inmost shrine

[f. 164]

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Guarded by seven locks whose keys are thine
When thou hast done what else thou hast to do:
And thou mayst well be bold to come thereto”

“King” said the prince, “be bold and do they part
Nor look to see me turn back faint of heart,
Though I may die as my forefathers
Who, living long, their loved souls failed to hide
From death at least however wise they were.
But verily, O King, thy house is fair
And here I think to see full many a thing
Men love, so whatso the next day may bring
Right merrily shall pass these coming hours
Amidst fair things, and wine cups crowned with flowers.”

“Enter o guest, “the king said, and doubt not
Ye shall see things to make the heart grow hot
With joy and longing;”
As he spoke, within
Blew up the horns as when a king doth win
His throne at last, and from behind the men
Who hedged the heroes in, shouted as when
He stands up on his throne hidden no more.

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Then those within threw open wide the door,
And straight the king took Jason by the hand
And entered, and the Minyae did stand
In such a hall as there has never been
Before or afterwards since Os was Queen.

The pillars made the mightily roof to hold,
The one was silver and the next was gold,
All down the hall; the roof, of some strange wood
Brought over sea, was dyed as red as blood,
Set thick with silver flowers, and delight
Of intertwining figures wrought aright.
With richest webs the marble walls were hung
Picturing sweet stories by the posts sung
From ancient days, so that no wall seemed there
But rather forest, black and meadows fair,
And streets of well built-towns, with tumbling seas
About their marble warves and palaces
And fearful crags and mountains; and all trod
By many a changing foot of nymph and God
Spear-shaking warrior and slim-ancled maid.

The floor moreover of the place was laid

[f. 166]

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With coloured stones wrought like a flowerly mead;
And ready to the hand for every need
Midmost the hall, two fair streams trickled down
O’er wondrous gemlike pebbles green and brown
Betwixt fair banks of marble, and therein
Sported strange fish of many coloured skin.

Now midst these wonders, were there tables spread
Wither the wondering seafarers were led,
And there with meat and drink full delicate
Were feasted and strange dainty things they ate
Of uncouth savour, and drank Godlike wine.
While from the golden galleries divine
Heart-softening music breathed about the place;
And twixt the pillars at a gentle pace
Passed lovely damsels, raising voice sweet
And shrill into the music, while their feet
From thin dusk raiment now and then would gleam
Upon the gaudy edges of the stream.

Long sat the Minyae there, and for their parts
Few words they said, because indeed their hearts
O’er burdened with delight still dreaded death<

[f. 167]

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Nor did they think that they might long draw breath
In such an earthly Paradise at this,
But looked to find sharp ending to their bliss.

Part 6
So long they sat until at last the sun
Sank in the sea, and noisy day was done
The bade Aetes light the place that they
Might turn grimlooking night into the day
Whereon the scented torches being brought,
As men with blinking eyes and shadow’s sought,
Turning to Jason spake the King these words.

“Dost thou now wonder, guest, that with sharp swords
And mailed breasts of men I fence myself,
Not as a pedlar guarding his poor pelf,
But as a king shutting the door of heaven;
Behold O prince, for threescore years and seven
Have I dwelt here in bliss, nor dare I give
The fleece to thee lest I should cease to live
Nor dare I quite this treasure to withhold
Lest to the Gods I seem grown to overbold.
For many a cunning man I have to tell

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The strange divine words of the oracle,
And thus they worn me: therefore shalt thou hear
What well may fill a hero’s heart with fear
But not from my old lips, that thou mayst have,
Whether they life thou here wilt spill or save
At least one joy before thou comest to die:
Ho ye, bid my lady presently.”

But Jason wondering what should come of this,
With heart well steeled to suffer woe or bliss,
Sat waiting, while within the music ceased
But from without a strain rose and increased
Till shrill and clear it drew anigh the hall
But silent at the entry did it fall,
And through the place there was no other sound
But falling of light footsteps on the ground
For at the door a band of maids was seen
Who passed up towards the dais, one like a Queen
Being in their midst, who coming night the place
Where the king sat, passed at the gentle pace
Alone before the others to the board,
And said, “Aetes, father and good lord
What is it thou wouldst have me tonight”
And set our hearts to think of happy things



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