Lais that bloomed for all the world’s delight,
Crowned with all love lilies, the fair and dear,
Sleeps the predestined sleep, nor knows the flight
Of Helios, the gold-reined charioteer:
Revel, and kiss, and love, and hate, one Night
Darkens, that never lamp of Love may cheer!
For Death, not for Love, hast thou
Loosened thy zone!
Flutes filled thy bower but now,
Morning brings moan!
Maids round thy bridal bed
Hushed are in gloom,
Torches to Love that led
Light to the tomb!
(Leonidas of Tarentum.)
Theris the Old, the waves that harvested
More keen than birds that labour in the sea,
With spear and net, by shore and rocky bed,
Not with the well-manned galley laboured he;
Him not the star of storms, nor sudden sweep
Of wind with all his years hath smitten and bent,
But in his hut of reeds he fell asleep,
As fades a lamp when all the oil is spent:
This tomb nor wife nor children raised, but we
His fellow-toilers, fishers of the sea.
Ah Love, my Master, hear me swear
By all the locks of Timo’s hair,
By Demo, and that fragrant spell
Wherewith her body doth enchant
Such dreams as drowsy lovers haunt,
By Ilias’ mirth delectable.
And by the lamp that sheds his light
On love and lovers all the night,
By those, ah Love, I swear that thou
Hast left me but one breath, and now
Upon my lips it fluttereth,
Yet this I’ll yield, my latest breath,
Even this, oh Love, for thee to Death!
Thou hast Hera’s eyes, thou hast Pallas’
And the feet of the Queen of the yellow sands,
Thou hast beautiful Aphrodite’s breast,
Thou art made of each goddess’s loveliest!
Happy is he who sees thy face,
Happy who hears thy words of grace,
And he that shall kiss thee is half divine,
But a god who shall win that heart of thine!
Believe me, love, it is not good
To hoard a mortal maidenhood;
In Hades thou wilt never find,
Maiden, a lover to thy mind;
Love’s for the living! presently
Ashes and dust in death are we!
O gentle ships that skim the seas,
And cleave the strait where Helle fell,
Catch in your sails the Northern breeze,
And speed to Cos, where she doth dwell,
My Love, and see you greet her well!
And if she looks across the blue,
Speak, gentle ships, and tell her true,
’He comes, for Love hath brought him back,
No sailor, on the landward tack.’