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The Shipwreck Of Idomeneus
by [?]

Amid the din of elemental strife,
No voice may pierce but Deity supreme:
And Deity supreme alone can hear,
Above the hurricane’s discordant shrieks,
The cry of agonized humanity.

Not unappeased was He who smites the waves,
When to his stormy ears the warrior’s vow
Entered, and from his foamy pinnacle
Tumultuous he beheld the prostrate form,
And knew the mighty heart. Awhile he gazed,
As doubtful of his purpose, and the storm,
Conscious of that divine debate, withheld
Its fierce emotion, in the luminous gloom
Of those so dark irradiating eyes!
Beneath whose wavering lustre shone revealed
The tumult of the purpling deeps, and all
The throbbing of the tempest, as it paused,
Slowly subsiding, seeming to await
The sudden signal, as a faithful hound
Pants with the forepaws stretched before its nose,
Athwart the greensward, after an eager chase;
Its hot tongue thrust to cool, its foamy jaws
Open to let the swift breath come and go,
Its quick interrogating eyes fixed keen
Upon the huntsman’s countenance, and ever
Lashing its sharp impatient tail with haste:
Prompt at the slightest sign to scour away,
And hang itself afresh by the bleeding fangs,
Upon the neck of some death-singled stag,
Whose royal antlers, eyes, and stumbling knees
Will supplicate the Gods in mute despair.
This time not mute, nor yet in vain this time!
For still the burden of the earnest voice
And all the vivid glories it revoked
Sank in the God, with that absorbed suspense
Felt only by the Olympians, whose minds
Unbounded like our mortal brain, perceive
All things complete, the end, the aim of all;
To whom the crown and consequence of deeds
Are ever present with the deed itself.

And now the pouring surges, vast and smooth,
Grew weary of restraint, and heaved themselves
Headlong beneath him, breaking at his feet
With wild importunate cries and angry wail;
Like crowds that shout for bread and hunger more.
And now the surface of their rolling backs
Was ridged with foam-topt furrows, rising high
And dashing wildly, like to fiery steeds,
Fresh from the Thracian or Thessalian plains,
High-blooded mares just tempering to the bit,
Whose manes at full-speed stream upon the winds,
And in whose delicate nostrils when the gust
Breathes of their native plains, they ramp and rear,
Frothing the curb, and bounding from the earth,
As though the Sun-god’s chariot alone
Were fit to follow in their flashing track.
Anon with gathering stature to the height
Of those colossal giants, doomed long since
To torturous grief and penance, that assailed
The sky-throned courts of Zeus, and climbing, dared
For once in a world the Olympic wrath, and braved
The electric spirit which from his clenching hand
Pierces the dark-veined earth, and with a touch
Is death to mortals, fearfully they grew!
And with like purpose of audacity
Threatened Titanic fury to the God.
Such was the agitation of the sea
Beneath Poseidon’s thought-revolving brows,
Storming for signal. But no signal came.
And as when men, who congregate to hear
Some proclamation from the regal fount,
With eager questioning and anxious phrase
Betray the expectation of their hearts,
Till after many hours of fretful sloth,
Weary with much delay, they hold discourse
In sullen groups and cloudy masses, stirred
With rage irresolute and whispering plot,
Known more by indication than by word,
And understood alone by those whose minds
Participate;–even so the restless waves
Began to lose all sense of servitude,
And worked with rebel passions, bursting, now
To right, and now to left, but evermore
Subdued with influence, and controlled with dread
Of that inviolate Authority.
Then, swiftly as he mused, the impetuous God
Seized on the pausing reins, his coursers plunged,
His brows resumed the grandeur of their ire;
Throughout his vast divinity the deeps
Concurrent thrilled with action, and away,
As sweeps a thunder-cloud across the sky
In harvest-time, preluded by dull blasts;
Or some black-visaged whirlwind, whose wide folds
Rush, wrestling on with all ‘twixt heaven and earth,
Darkling he hurried, and his distant voice,
Not softened by delay, was heard in tones
Distinctly terrible, still following up
Its rapid utterance of tremendous wrath
With hoarse reverberations; like the roar
Of lions when they hunger, and awake
The sullen echoes from their forest sleep,
To speed the ravenous noise from hill to hill
And startle victims; but more awful, He,
Scudding across the hills that rise and sink,
With foam, and splash, and cataracts of spray,
Clothed in majestic splendour; girt about
With Sea-gods and swift creatures of the sea;
Their briny eyes blind with the showering drops;
Their stormy locks, salt tongues, and scaly backs,
Quivering in harmony with the tempest, fierce
And eager with tempestuous delight; –
He like a moving rock above them all
Solemnly towering while fitful gleams
Brake from his dense black forehead, which display’d
The enduring chiefs as their distracted fleets
Tossed, toiling with the waters, climbing high,
And plunging downward with determined beaks,
In lurid anguish; but the Cretan king
And all his crew were ‘ware of under-tides,
That for the groaning vessel made a path,
On which the impending and precipitous waves
Fell not, nor suck’d to their abysmal gorge.