Last Night with Odysseus
―Noble son of Laértes, subtle Odysseus,
are you really going to leave me now and returnto your own dear country? Well, I wish you the best.Yet if you had any idea of all the hardshipsyou will have to endure before you can ever reach home,you would stay with me here and let me make you immortal,however you long for that wife of yours, whom you think ofday in and day out. But I am not any lessattractive than she is, surely, in face or figure;and indeed it would be unimaginable for a mere
woman to come even close to a goddess in beauty.‖
dysseus, the great tactician, answered her, ―Goddess,
don‘t be angry. I know it as well as you do—
that Penelope isn‘t as tall as you or as lovely.
And yes, she is only a woman, while you are immortaland will never grow old. I know that. Yet even so,I c
an‘t help longing for home. And if some god does
wreck me during the voyage, I will endure it;my heart knows how to endure great hardships. Before nowI have suffered many, both on the sea and in war,
and if I must suffer another hardship, so be it.‖
As they were speaking, the sun set and darkness came on.And they moved further into the cave, and they made love
with great pleasure, and then they slept in each other‘s arms.
royal son of Laertes, Odysseus, man of exploits,still eager to leave at once and hurry backto your own home, your beloved native land?Good luck to you, even so. Farewell!But if you only knew, down deep, what painsare fated to fill your cup before you reach that shore,you'd stay right her, preside in our house with meand be immortal. Much as you long to see your wife,the one you pine for all your days. . . and yetI just might claim to be nothing less than she,neither in face nor figure. Hardly right, is it,for mortal woman to rival immortal goddess?
How, in build? in beauty?‖
―Ah, great goddess,
worldly Odysseus answered, ―don‘t be angry with me,
please. All that you say is true, how well I know.Look at my wise Penelope. She falls far short of you,your beauty, stature. She is mortal after allan
d you, you never age or die…
Nevertheless I long
I pine, all my days
to travel home and see the dawn of my return.And if a god will wreck me yet again on the wine-dark sea,I can bear that too, with a spirit tempered to endure.Much have I suffered, labored long and hard by nowin the waves and wars. Add this to the total
bring the trial on!‖
Even as he spokethe sun set and the darkness swept the earth. And now, withdrawing
into the cavern‘s deep recesses,
long in each other‘s arms they lost themselv
es in love.Fitzgerald
―Son of Laërtês, versatile Odysseus,
after these years with me, you still desireyour old home? Even so, I wish you well.
If you could see it all, before you go
all the adversity you face at sea
you would stay here, and guard this house, and beimmortal
though you wanted her forever,