Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Oceanica
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Oceanica: Vol. XXXI.  1876–79.
Miscellaneous: Atlantic Ocean
The Sailing of Ulysses
Dante Alighieri (c. 1265–1321)
(From La Divina Commedia)
Translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

                            WHEN I
From Circe had departed, who concealed me
      More than a year there near unto Gaëta,
      Or ever yet Æneas named it so,
Nor fondness for my son, nor reverence        5
      For my old father, nor the due affection
      Which joyous should have made Penelope,
Could overcome within me the desire
      I had to be experienced of the world,
      And of the vice and virtue of mankind;        10
But I put forth on the high open sea
      With one sole ship, and that small company
      By which I never had deserted been.
Both of the shores I saw as far as Spain,
      Far as Morocco, and the isle of Sardes,        15
      And the others which that sea bathes round about.
I and my company were old and slow
      When at that narrow passage we arrived
      Where Hercules his landmarks set as signals,
That man no farther onward should adventure.        20
      On the right hand behind me left I Seville,
      And on the other already had left Ceuta.
“O brothers, who amid a hundred thousand
      Perils,” I said, “have come unto the West,
      To this so inconsiderable vigil        25
Which is remaining of your senses still,
      Be ye unwilling to deny the knowledge,
      Following the sun, of the unpeopled world.
Consider ye the seed from which ye sprang;
      Ye were not made to live like unto brutes,        30
      But for pursuit of virtue and of knowledge.”
So eager did I render my companions,
      With this brief exhortation, for the voyage,
      That then I hardly could have held them back.
And having turned our stern unto the morning,        35
      We of the oars made wings for our mad flight,
      Evermore gaining on the larboard side.
Already all the stars of the other pole
      The night beheld, and ours so very low
      It did not rise above the ocean floor.        40
Five times rekindled and as many quenched
      Had been the splendor underneath the moon,
      Since we had entered into the deep pass,
When there appeared to us a mountain, dim
      From distance, and it seemed to me so high        45
      As I had never any one beheld.
Joyful were we, and soon it turned to weeping;
      For out of the new land a whirlwind rose,
      And smote upon the forepart of the ship.
Three times it made her whirl with all the waters,        50
      At the fourth time it made the stern uplift,
      And the prow downward go, as pleased Another,
Until the sea above us closed again.

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