Art thou the top-most apple
The gatherers could not reach,
Reddening on the bough?
Shall not I take thee?
Art thou a hyacinth blossom
The shepherds upon the hills
Have trodden into the ground?
Shall not I lift thee?
Free is the young god Eros,
Paying no tribute to power, 10
Seeing no evil in beauty,
Full of compassion.
Once having found the beloved,
However sorry or woeful,
However scornful of loving, 15
Little it matters.
How soon will all my lovely days be over,
And I no more be found beneath the sun,—
Neither beside the many-murmuring sea,
Nor where the plain-winds whisper to the reeds,
Nor in the tall beech-woods among the hills 5
Where roam the bright-lipped Oreads, nor along
The pasture-sides where berry-pickers stray
And harmless shepherds pipe their sheep to fold!
For I am eager, and the flame of life
Burns quickly in the fragile lamp of clay. 10
Passion and love and longing and hot tears
Consume this mortal Sappho, and too soon
A great wind from the dark will blow upon me,
And I be no more found in the fair world,
For all the search of the revolving moon 15
And patient shine of everlasting stars.
Soul of sorrow, why this weeping?
What immortal grief hath touched thee
With the poignancy of sadness,—
Testament of tears?
Have the high gods deigned to show thee
Destiny, and disillusion
Fills thy heart at all things human,
Fleeting and desired?
Nay, the gods themselves are fettered
By one law which links together 10
Truth and nobleness and beauty,
Man and stars and sea.
And they only shall find freedom
Who with courage rise and follow
Where love leads beyond all peril, 15
Wise beyond all words.
It never can be mine
To sit in the door in the sun
And watch the world go by,
A pageant and a dream;
For I was born for love,
And fashioned for desire,
Beauty, passion, and joy,
And sorrow and unrest;
And with all things of earth
Eternally must go, 10
Daring the perilous bourn
Of joyance and of death,
A strain of song by night,
A shadow on the hill,
A hint of odorous grass, 15
A murmur of the sea.