I grow weary of the foreign cities,
The sea travel and the stranger peoples.
Even the clear voice of hardy fortune
Dares me not as once on brave adventure.
For the heart of man must seek and wander,
Ask and question and discover knowledge;
Yet above all goodly things is wisdom,
And love greater than all understanding.
So, a mariner, I long for land-fall,—
When a darker purple on the sea-rim, 10
O’er the prow uplifted, shall be Lesbos
And the gleaming towers of Mitylene.
Ah, what detains thee, Phaon,
So long from Mitylene,
Where now thy restless lover
Wearies for thy coming?
A fever burns me, Phaon;
My knees quake on the threshold,
And all my strength is loosened,
Slack with disappointment.
But thou wilt come, my Phaon,
Back from the sea like morning, 10
To quench in golden gladness
The ache of parted lovers.
Phaon, O my lover,
What should so detain thee,
Now the wind comes walking
Through the leafy twilight?
All the plum-leaves quiver
With the coolth and darkness,
After their long patience
In consuming ardour.
And the moving grasses
Have relief; the dew-drench 10
Comes to quell the parching
Ache of noon they suffered.
I alone of all things
Fret with unsluiced fire.
And there is no quenching
In the night for Sappho,
Since her lover Phaon
Leaves her unrequited.
O heart of insatiable longing,
What spell, what enchantment allures thee
Over the rim of the world
With the sails of the sea-going ships?
And when the rose-petals are scattered
At dead of still noon on the grass-plot,
What means this passionate grief,—
This infinite ache of regret?
Surely somehow, in some measure,
There will be joy and fulfilment,—
Cease from this throb of desire,—
Even for Sappho!
Surely some fortunate hour
Phaon will come, and his beauty
Be spent like water to plenish
Need of that beauty!
Where is the breath of Poseidon,
Cool from the sea-floor with evening? 10
Why are Selene’s white horses
So long arriving?