The Odyssey

by: Homer

Books 15–16

1
Laertes is still alive, but night and day
he prays to Zeus, waiting there in his house,
for the life breath to slip away and leave his body.
His heart’s so racked for his son, lost and gone these years,
for his wife so fine, so wise—her death is the worst blow
he’s had to suffer—it made him old before his time.
She died of grief for her boy, her glorious boy,
it wore her down, a wretched way to go.
2
As a father, brimming with love, welcomes home
his darling only son in a warm embrace—
what pain he’s borne for him and him alone!—
home now, in the tenth year from far abroad,
so the loyal swineherd hugged the beaming prince,
he clung for dear life, covering him with kisses, yes,
like one escaped from death.
3
They cried out, shrilling cries, pulsing sharper
than birds of prey—eagles, vultures with hooked claws—
when farmers plunder their nest of young too young to fly.