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‘Twelve Swans’
The Aeneid of Virgil, Book 1, Part 11
[Love in disguise speaks to her orphan son]
You Heaven does not hate
Your ships driven on good a shore
Have courage in the face of Fate
Have faith and fear no more
.
Your scattered fleet is rejoined
Behold twelve swans above
Who have shepherded your ships
The birds of almighty Jove
.
My augury has come true
Now the path to Carthage pursue
.
The goddess turned in grace
Her scent ambrosial
Her hair a sweeping trace
To men queen Love is known
.
[the hero speaks]
You leave unkind and cruel
Your son you deceive and shun
In borrowed form and voice
Where do you run
.
They took the path
Her commands obeyed
Obscured in a misty shroud
The kindly goddess made
.
The goddess flew sublime
To her evergreen garden
In Paphos her holy shrine
Where a hundred altars smoke
And a thousand prayers chime
Aching hearts her powers invoke
Where garlands greenly vine
End 11
Notes
Both translations I am working from are extensively wordy, particularly where the doings and minutia of the deities were concerned, in much the way that modern comic superhero backstory and artifice are a never-ending object of fascination and focus. Please regard all such passages as those above as severely truncated. I do not consider this inauthentic according to the use of poetics as translucent portals upon events ancestral to the ancients, with such texts weighted doubly, in their original language and in English, with artistic accretions and poetic artifice.
Do note that the number of ships [7] making initial anchorage, the 12 swans and the 12 ships they guided, are assigned numbers of mythic significance, one being the days of the week and the other the months of the year as well as the number of greater deities of the Olympian pantheon. Also note that in Beowulf, “the swan road” is the name given to the sea lanes followed by seafaring men.  
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