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‘A Mask of Hope’
The Aeneid of Virgil, Book 1, Part 5
As the Father Flood
Enforces his awful peace
Weary Trojans ply their shattered oars
To the near Libyan shores.
*
There lies an island-sheltered bay
Jutting land on either side
A crescent of soft saltwater
Green groves rising above the soft tide
*
Sea nymph grottos cool the air
Below falling streams
Where hawsers tie ship to rock
And bearded anchors drop
*
Seven ships in the harbor meet
Remnants of the shattered fleet
Trojans, worn with woe
Hungry for land to plough and sow
*
Achates flinted the first fire
In a bed of withered leaves
Born at the hand of a human sire
Licking hopefully at Heaven’s eves
*
Trojans reclining wet
Standing on the strand
Drying sodden corn
Grinding grain between marble and hand
*
Aeneas scouts the high ground
Seeking vantage of the sea
Seeking for his sea chiefs
Where known were to be found
*
On the plain broad stags he saw
Bending his chiefly bow
He made seven fall
One for each ship
*
Generous jars of wine
Complimented the hunted flesh
At the feast of grief
Given by Aeneas their pious chief
*
“Endure and conquer!
May Jove see us blessed
To the future we are sent
Having survived the worst”
*
“Bank your courage
Douse your fear
Jove has spared us
A foredoomed fate”
"Not the slings of heaven
Nor the winds of hate
Will deprive we Trojans
Our restored place”
*
Unmindful of the past
The crews prepare their stews
Reclining besides meat pots
Drinking wine and broiling guts
*
Strengthened with meat
They wondered of the four lost ships
Lost following on or with the dead
Most missed was Lycian Orontes
And of Gyas, Lycus, and of Amycus
They ended their day
But not their sorrows
End 5
The landfall in Libya seems to have been an occasion for Virgil to reflect upon an ancient, tribal time in the measure of the story of Jason and the Argo, with the focus on crew and not family, suggesting a sense of piratical roots earlier reflected in the tale of the Sabine women.
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