Only to exquisite lovers,
Fashioned for beauty’s fulfilment,
Mated as rhythm to reed-stop 15
Whence the wild music is moulded,
Ever appears the full measure
Of the world’s wonder.
“Who was Atthis?” men shall ask,
When the world is old, and time
Has accomplished without haste
The strange destiny of men.
Haply in that far-off age
One shall find these silver songs,
With their human freight, and guess
What a lover Sappho was.
When the great pink mallow
Blossoms in the marshland,
Full of lazy summer
And soft hours,
Then I hear the summons
Not a mortal lover
Ever yet resisted,
Strange and far.
In the faint blue foothills,
Making magic music, 10
Pan is at his love-work
On the reeds.
I can guess the heart-stop,
Fall and lull and sequence,
Full of grief for Syrinx 15
Then the crowding madness,
Wild and keen and tender,
Trembles with the burden
Of great joy. 20
Nay, but well I follow,
All unskilled, that fluting.
Never yet was reed-nymph
Like to thee.
When I pass thy door at night
I a benediction breathe:
“Ye who have the sleeping world
In your care,
“Guard the linen sweet and cool,
Where a lovely golden head
With its dreams of mortal bliss
Well I found you in the twilit garden,
Laid a lover’s hand upon your shoulder,
And we both were made aware of loving
Past the reach of reason to unravel,
Or the much desiring heart to follow. 5
There we heard the breath among the grasses
And the gurgle of soft-running water,
Well contented with the spacious starlight,
The cool wind’s touch and the deep blue distance,
Till the dawn came in with golden sandals. 10
Will not men remember us
In the days to come hereafter,—
Thy warm-coloured loving beauty
And my love for thee?
Thou, the hyacinth that grows
By a quiet-running river;
I, the watery reflection
And the broken gleam.